Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Week That Wasn't

If life keeps going at the pace it's going, my weekly updates are going to start happening mid-week instead of Mondays, ha.  I can't seem to carve out any decent chunk of time to do anything these days.

When things go to hell in a hand basket, they really go.  I had another big week of training on the calendar last week but it just didn't happen.  My back has decided to cause me problems so I had an appointment with Kris Tuesday morning.  He told me my SI joints were locked.  Awesome.  He did a couple of adjustments and then followed it up with some acupuncture.  My back ached for the rest of the day.  It felt somewhat better on Wednesday morning so I at least got a couple of workouts in.  They weren't great.  Thursday morning I had an appointment with Peter who did ART on my hips and lower back, followed up by acupuncture.  I think I wrecked his thumbs.  I was really sore after but I felt much looser.  Of course that meant I did nothing on Thursday night.  Another day of workouts missed.  Friday night I had my bike re-fit and I was so hopeful that it would be great.  Those of you that follow me on Instagram know that it was anything but.   I had my first meltdown on the bike in a very long time.  I was also hoping to get my first open water swim of the year in but it was 4 freaking degrees at the Quarry in Caledon so I opted to sit and sip my hot coffee while G and our fellow Normac Masters pal, Phil, went it.  Apparently the water was warmer than the air.  I dunno, the thought of stripping down to my bathing suit and wriggling into my wetsuit in 4 degrees just seemed really unappealing.

The highlight of my entire week...heck probably of my entire year so far was on Sunday.  I spent Sunday morning working as a Mizuno Run Bird at the Toronto Women's Half.  It was hands down the best day I've ever had at a race.  To cap it all off, I got to see some of my favourite InstaGals, Elise, Michelle, Christina, Robyn, Krysten & Morgan.  The morning deserves a recap of it's own and it will get one when I find the right words.

I ended my Sunday with a second run with my pal David followed by a hot bath and my last bowl of Kawartha Dairy ice cream.  If it wasn't for Sunday I'd say that this past week pretty much sucked.

This is how my week unfolded.

Monday:  31km ride with 2x10km at 190w. 
Tuesday:  OFF
Wednesday:  a.m.:  2450m swim p.m. 70 minute ride, followed by a hard 5km run.
Thursday:  OFF
Friday:  2500m swim
Saturday:  100km ride, followed by a 5km run.  I had wanted to run at least 13km off the bike but my back was having none of it.  So I toughed out 5km in the heat and called it a day.
Sunday:  9km at the Toronto Women's Half in the a.m and then 8.3 with my pal David in the p.m.

Total time:  10h 7 minutes.  I was hoping to be around the 13-14 hour mark. 

I'm heading back to Gears tonight to have my fit adjusted again.  I may actually get them to put it back to my original fit (before I started messing with it), maybe with a few tweaks.  This all started because I wanted to get more aero.  So my LBS dropped the front end of my bike slightly but didn't compensate for anything else.  I then had G adjust my saddle.   Once I got outside, the issues started.  Now this current fit has sort of addressed some of the issues but I've lost a lot of my power and my back still hurts after riding.  So Here's hoping these next round of adjustments do the trick.  I'm just going to have to ride my bike a LOT over the next week before I start my taper.  I've also got my first race of the season at Woodstock in a couple of weeks.  So that will be a good test of whether or not my fit is really dialed in.  I should be able to hold around 190w for a 20km bike.  We shall see.  Now if only my back would settle down, I'd be happy. 

How has your week been?  Did you race last weekend?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thinking Out Loud Thursday

Hey!  It's been a while since I've linked up with Amanda for a T.O.L.T and since there are so many random things flying around in my head, I figured why not.  So here comes the thought vomit.

1.  I am addicted to these little guys.  One of my co-workers gave me a couple a few weeks ago when my stomach was bugging me and wow.  Not only did they help ease my tummy ache but they were freaking delicious.  I now have at least two every day.  

2.  I've recently discovered Spotify and I can't get enough.  They have pretty much everything / everyone you can think of on there.  And you can create your own playlists.  I've been on an old school soul / funk music kick as of late so I created a play list called Soul Food which has been on repeat for the last few days.  Nothing like a little James Brown to get your day started on the right foot. 

3.  Thanks to Cynthia, I'm a part of a FB group for all the people that have participated in or are participating in Eagleman.  Someone posted a question about jellyfish being a potential problem in the swim and I just about s**t myself.  I've been stung by jellies before and it's not pleasant.  I'm already freaking out about the swim and the fact that there is a very good chance it will be NON WETSUIT.  Don't add jellyfish to the equation.  I'm seriously questioning my sanity in signing up for this race.  I figured the Choptank was a river so it would be a pretty safe environment.  Turns out it's a brackish river (a mix of fresh and salt water).  That means more critters.  That also means tides & currents.  Not cool for a skittish open water swimmer like myself.  On a positive note, Cynthia is organizing a meet up the day before so we can all meet each other and commiserate together! 

4.   I'm going to break all the triathlon rules and get my bike re-fit on Friday.  Normally this is something you're supposed to do either in the off season or really early in the season so you have time to get used to it.  But my back is causing me so many problems right now, I have to do something.  Both of my chiro guys suspect that it's my bike fit that's causing all my issues.  They seem to think that I'm now over using my glutes and hamstrings.  Typical.  I can never find the right balance, ha ha.  I'm hoping the re-fit will fix my issues.  At least I still have a couple more long rides to get used to it before race day. 

5.  Thanks to Michelle, on Sunday I'm going to be working as a "Motivator / Cheerleader" at the Toronto Women's Half / 5km.   I think her and I are looking after the 5km race participants.   Mizuno has graciously outfitted all of us in their awesome new spring line!  I can't wait to sport this stuff!  The weather is supposed to be cool-ish in the morning with a high of 23 so I think I may start with the long sleeve and work my way in to the tank. 

That's about all the randomness I've got right now. 

What about you?  Tell me something random! 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ice Cream + Beer x Good Friends = One Awesome Weekend

Normally I do my weekly recap on Mondays but since yesterday was a holiday and I was still out of town on a training weekend, it's coming at you today.  This past weekend was the Victoria Day long weekend, which us Canucks always think of as the first long weekend of the summer, even though it's technically still spring.  It's the weekend that sees people heading north to open up their cottages after a long winter.  If we had been in the city, I probably would have dealt with the garden.  But that's going to have to wait.  Instead, we headed up to our friends parent's place in Huntsville for a training weekend that involved riding, running and eating copious amounts of ice cream & treats. 

As well as the consumption of a few adult beverages and a few games of Cards Against Humanity.   We even had a knife / axe throwing competition.  In short a good time was had by all. 

G tossing a few knives
 I even ventured into the water after my long run.  Not in my wetsuit, I'm not that crazy.  I went in in my running gear and submerged my legs.  It was cold but not as bad as I thought it would be.  I still figured I'd give things another week to warm up.  This weekend I'll look at braving the open water if the C3 Quarry is open.

The view from where I stood in the river
I was hoping for a bigger week of training this week but my hips and lower back were really bothering me so I made an appointment with Peter for Thursday morning for some ART work.  That meant I had to shuffle my bike ride to Wednesday, which didn't happen because I ended up staying at work late.   So I missed a key bike workout and a run.  C'est la vie.   I still had a pretty good weekend of training.  One more big weekend and then it's taper time.   I do think I may have to look at my bike fit, which I hesitate to do so close to the race but if I can't run off the bike because my back is a mess, then I may have to suck it up and change things around.

This is how my week went down:

Monday:  2350m swim
Tuesday:  70 minutes on the bike with power intervals, followed by 45 minutes of strength work in the a.m.  11km tempo run with WTP in the p.m.  ALL HILLS.
Wednesday:  2300m swim
Thursday:  OFF
Friday: 2100m swim
Saturday:  99.48km ride on most of the Muskoka 70.3 course  (I should have ridden the last 502m ugh) followed by an 8km trail run.  I felt like CRAP on this.  My back was killing me.   If I feel like that on race day, I'm screwed.   There will be more walking that running I'm sure. 
Sunday:  20km on the Huntsville Half Course.  Nothing but hills.  But I had great company which made the hills and the time fly by.  Thanks D!

The Huntsville Half Course Profile
Monday:  31km ride with 2x10km at threshold pace.  In the hills.  Again.  Good thing Eagleman is flat, ha. I took my new Smashfest Queen race kit out for a spin and I definitely felt fast and loud, ha ha.

This coming weekend will be the last big push for me I think.  I'd like to try to get one more big weekend in before the beginning of June but logistically I don't think that's going to happen as the last weekend in May is going to be a very busy one for us...but we'll see.  I'm sure G and I will find a way to make it work if need be. 

How was your week of workouts?  Who else went out of town for the long weekend?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Running to a Faster Beat - New Balance Fresh Foam Zante Review + A Contest!

Disclaimer:  I was provided a pair of Fresh Foam Zantes in exchange for an honest review.  I did not receive any other compensation.  All opinions are my own.

I run with music all the time.  The only exception is when I'm racing in a triathlon as it's not allowed.   Music definitely fuels my workouts.   99.9% of the music on my running playlists is faster paced music.  Since I'm working on my running cadence, I find music with a faster beat helps me keep my turnover quick, which is the goal these days.  Music helps to keep me focused and it picks me up when I'm starting to fade.  There's something about hearing my favourite songs during a run that really gets me going.   I've got current favourite playlist that I've been listening to on a regular basis.  I've put a sampler of it on Spotify - you can check it out here.  Which leads me to the CONTEST part of this post.  Who doesn't love a good contest?

New Balanced has partnered with Spotify and they want to hear what music fuels your workout.  They want to know how you #RunToAFasterBeat.  The grand prize is a trip for two to a music festival of your choice and $1000 in New Balance gear (ahhh!!!).  There are two ways to enter:

1.  Head on over to and submit a 5+ song playlist through the Spotify plugin
2.  If you're already a Spotify user, log in and submit an existing playlist that meets the above listed requirements.

But wait, there's MORE!  New Balance is celebrating the arrival of the Fresh Foam Zantes at Sport Chek and Sports Experts with the chance to win the following prizes with the purchase of a pair of  Fresh Foam Zantes:

* A one month premium Spotify Gift Code
* Spotify Brookstone Boost Power Bank 4000 mAh
* Spotify AIAIAI TMA-1 X headphones

At the point of purchase, a contest code will be provided.  The code can be entered at Weekly random draws will determine prize winners.  Full contest rules and regulations are available at

Now on to the shoe!
It's been a while since I've run in New Balance and can I just say WOW, I'm really impressed with this shoe. 
First Impressions:
When I took the shoe out of the box, I was amazed at how light it was.  It weighs nothing (7.6 oz to be exact).  It's easily one of the lightest shoes I've tried.   The colour way I tested was the grey and pink.  I prefer a brightly coloured shoe so I'm not a huge fan of this colour combo but, New Balance does have that base covered as there is an awesome purple, blue and green combo in the Fresh Foam Zante line.


These shoes fit like a wonderfully snug slipper.   They hug your foot without being restrictive.  The heel counter is a bit lower cut than other shoes which I quite like even though I wear orthotics, which pushes my foot up a bit higher in the shoe.  My foot was still held quite snugly in the shoe despite the orthotic and low heel counter combo.  It never felt like it was going to slip out.   The upper has a molded sock liner and no sew material application which means there is nothing in the shoe that will rub on your foot in anyway.  I could easily run sockless in these (triathletes take note!!)

From the New Balance Canada website:  Sleek, snug and dialed in for speed, Fresh Foam Zante has a bootie-like design that wraps the foot like a second skin. Designed from data gathered from fast runners, it has an aggressive toe spring that delivers a quick, incredibly smooth heel to toe transition.

Function / Ride:

I did my first run in these the Tuesday after my 10km race.  I thought my legs would be recovered but boy was I wrong.  The sluggishness of my legs did nothing to dampen the springy feel of the shoes.  I tackled a nice easy 7.5km. Because of the name I think I expected a cushier, maybe even mushier ride.  I was pleasantly surprised by the responsiveness of the ride.  Because it's so light, the shoe feels very minimal.  It's almost like running in bare feet but with memory foam strapped to the bottom of your feet for protection.   I went out again on Wednesday for 3.5km.  I wanted to go longer but I cut it short due to the kamikaze gnats that are out in full force right now).    On Thursday morning I did a brick so I rode for an hour then immediately laced up the Fresh Foam Zantes and went out for a 6.5km run.  My legs always feel horrible in my first few bricks of the season but I have to say, the spring in these shoes made up for what my legs were lacking.   I did another brick on Saturday and I was positively flying in these shoes.  Yes, I'm pretty impressed with these kicks.  They are going to be well used this summer.  Nice work New Balance!

Who else has tried the Fresh Foam Zantes?  What do you think?  Don't forget to check out the contest at

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Big Weeks Are Coming

Haaaaappppy Monday!!!  What a FABULOUS week / weekend last week was.  It was like we skipped spring and went directly to summer.   Saturday felt like a mid July day it was so hot.  It was good training for Eagleman because apparently it can get really hot in Cambridge.  Speaking of Eagleman, they released the swim waves last week.  There are 21 waves.  Yes, you read that right, 21.  I head off at 7:52 am. which means I will be on the run course at the hottest point of the day.  Awesome (not really).   You can't control the weather but you can prepare for it so I busted out the salt tablets on Saturday and used them on my ride.  I think they helped but it was an easy paced ride and shorter than normal so who knows.  But I'll definitely use them throughout the rest of my training.  They'll get a good test this coming weekend.  It's the long weekend so G and I are headed up north to our friend David's parents place for a training weekend.  They live in Huntsville so we're going to be riding the Mukoka 70.3 course.  Bring on the hills.  If it's anything like last year, it's going to be a high mileage weekend for sure.

I dialed back the intensity this past week since I had two pretty hard weeks leading up to this one.  I could definitely feel it, especially in my knees.  I had a stretch of a couple of weeks where I was pretty much pain free, now my right hip, right knee and right glute are causing me nothing but problems.  I have to go and get some ART work done to loosen things up.   Especially since the next two weeks will be my last two big ones before I start to taper.  Gah.

Last week's workouts:

Monday:  OFF.  I was totally wiped out from the weekend and the thought of doing fins didn't really appeal to me or my sore legs.
Tuesday:   am)  7.4km run, then 60 minute strength workout with Justin at Runner's Academy.  pm) easy 60 minute spin
Wednesday:  2200m swim in a.m. 3.5km run in pm. that was cut short by kamikaze gnats.  So disgusting.
Thursday:  Brick #2 of the season.  60 minute ride then a 6.5km run all done before 7:00 am.
Friday:  2400m swim
Saturday:  50-ish km ride, followed by a 3km run all in the mid-day sun. Even with the heat my 3km was speedy.  Must've been the fancy New Balance Zantes.  Full review coming on those later on this week!

Sunday:  2700m swim, followed by an 18km run. Which also happens to be my longest run this year. 

Total time:  10h 37 minutes.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Always Give It Your All - Mississauga 10km Race Report

Those of you that have been reading this blog since the beginning know about my last experience with this race - you can read about it here.  I vowed not to have that happen again so this time I didn't run out to the start line.  I don't think my legs would have let me run the 13km out after riding 75km that morning anyway.  Instead,  I had G drive me out to the start nice and early.

We got home from our ride around 1:00 pm and I stretched, showered and made some scrambled eggs (thank you Burnbrae Farms!).  I encased myself in compression and sat my butt down on the couch.  I can't sit still for too long so about half an hour later I was up getting my race attire ready.  I pinned my bib on my WTP singlet and laid it out on the kitchen counter.  I took the envelope with the timing chip in it and put it off to the side with a mental note to make sure I put the chip on my shoe before we left.

I puttered around a bit more then sat down again.  This time I was really tired so I told G I was going to have a nap and asked him to set an alarm.   I napped for about 30 minutes and woke up feeling incredibly groggy and out of sorts.  I contemplated having a shot of espresso but decided against it.  Instead I had 2 cups of almond milk with a scoop of vanilla protein powder and a teaspoon of espresso powder.  YES.  Jet fuel.  I gathered up a few more things and threw them into a knapsack.  I grabbed my Garmin, ipod and sunglasses and told G I was ready to go. 

We got to the race start with roughly 40 minutes to spare.  We parked in the lot behind the Tim Horton's at Lakeshore just east of Clarkson.  I hopped out and went in to use the facilities.  I then went and did a short warm up run.  My legs felt heavy when I started out.   As I went along they started to feel a little better.  I got back to the car, shed my warm up jacket, took a Roctane and had G snap this little gem.  Nerd Alert!

I kissed G goodbye and ran off to the start of the race.  There was still at least 10 minutes to the start but the start line was jammed full!  I had to duck and weave through so many people to try to get close to the front.  There were also a ton of kids as there was a school relay.  A lot of them had situated themselves up at the front so it was difficult for me to get too close to the start line.  I wasn't too fussed though as the road was wide and I knew from last time the the crowd disperses pretty quickly.

I stood in the start corral and listened to Rod Black introduce the young girl that was going to sing the national anthem.  She was adorable and did a great job.  After the anthem, Rod chatted a bit more with the crowd about the weekend races.  I glanced down and my shoes to make sure my laces were ok when I suddenly realized I was missing something.

I didn't have my timing chip on my shoe.  I had left it at home on the kitchen counter.  YOU IDIOT (insert Jeremy Clarkson voice here).

I felt my heart sink.  I've always heard no chip, no time.  I whole slew of curse words went through my head.  I thought about throwing in the towel right then and there but then I thought no, you're here to see what you can do on tired legs so shut the eff up and run.  If it doesn't count it doesn't count.  Suck it up.

The gun went off and I crossed the start trying not to get too caught up in everything.  It's a downhill start so my first km was sub 4 minutes.   As the pack thinned out in the first km, I was joined by a guy on a bike.  I could see another guy on a bike just ahead of me.  He was with the girl that was in front of me.  So 2km in and I think I'm in second place.  Kilometer two was also a sub 4 minute km.  I knew there was no way I'd keep that up so I tried to slow myself down.  10km is a long way to go when you're going hard and I knew that if I didn't pace myself now I'd seriously pay for it later.  The guy on the bike stayed just up in front of me.  It was like dangling a carrot.  It actually kept me focused.  I had no idea where the 1st place girl was and I didn't really care because all I could think about was the fact that this entire race was probably not going to count.  I was so mad at myself.

At about the 4km mark I was right beside the guy on the bike and I asked him if I was indeed the second place female.  He said yup.  I said I didn't have my chip and he said just tell them your name when you cross the finish line.  I thought oh ok, that makes sense.  But I still thought that it wouldn't matter.  But I kept running hard.  4:02, 4:05, 4:06.  I could see the 1st place girl just ahead of me.  Probably about half a km ahead.  At about the 7km mark, I started to struggle.  My legs were feeling the 75km I rode that morning.  They were also feeling the lack of speed work.  My Garmin beeped and I saw 4:15.  Yikes.  I picked it up again and got even closer to the first place girl.

We went running through this lovely neighbourhood just before we got into Lakefront Promenade Park and there were tons of people cheering.  I ran by a family that yelled "Go on, you can get her, you're so close!"  I actually laughed and said No, it's ok. (WTH??) I was still convinced that it wasn't going to count and that if I passed her, I might be called a cheater - because there was no record of me crossing the start line.  I kept thinking about Rosie Ruiz.  I know, I have a bit of a flare for the dramatic.  And it's not like I was on track to win the Boston Marathon but still. 

As we came into Lakefront Promenade Park I got within a few hundred meters of the first place girl.  I could see her just ahead of me.  I couldn't tell if she was struggling or not but I didn't care.  My normal killer instinct was nowhere to be found.  I let my mistake get the better of me mentally and I threw in the towel.  Had I not forgotten my chip, I know I would never have given up the way I did.  I would have turned myself inside out to catch her.

I came running down the path towards the finish and I saw G and yelled I forgot my chip.  I heard him laugh and say Oh well.  Nice.  Just before the finish line I saw Nicole and Sam who were cheering wildly.  I smiled and said the same thing to them - I don't have my timing chip.   You can see me saying something in this shot, ha ha.  So not flattering but then again most running photos aren't.

Thumbs up - thanks for this Nicole! 
I heard the announcer say Here comes the 2nd place female!  I crossed the line and kept walking.  I was incredibly pissed off and not sure what to do with myself.  It was even caught on video (see below, ha ha).  People told me I wasn't far behind the first place girl and this confirmed it.  I know had I dug deep I could have made up the gap. 

I walked through the finishers chute, collected my medal and thought I might as well go to Sports Stats and tell them I didn't have my chip.  I made my way over to the booth and explained everything and they reassured me they had my time down.  They had me in the system already since they register your chip, name and bib number when you pick up your kit at the expo.  They told me to stick around for the awards.  I went from mad to happy in 2 seconds.   My official time was 40:51.  Just over a minute off my 10km PR from 2013.  Considering my lack of speed work, I'll take it.

Of course there had to be a photo op with the Burnbrae Farms banner.  A huge thank you to them for giving me the opportunity to do this race.  I hope I did you proud! 

I got a bit of a lecture from G when I told him everything.  He said that you should never give up just because you "think" something to be the case.  As usual, I let my thinking spiral down to the worst case scenario situation. All because of a little black chip.

I've definitely learned my lesson.  The next race I do that has those chips, I will make sure the first thing I do is fasten the chip to my shoe.  I might not be so lucky the next time.

Anyone else forgotten something important on race day?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tri Talk Tuesday: Improving the Run Leg of a Triathlon

It's the first Tuesday of the month so that means another edition of Tri Talk Tuesday!  This month my co-hosts Cynthia and Courtney and I are talking about my favourite leg of the race:  The RUN.  Running is my strength and it's usually where I make up a lot of ground in a triathlon. 

So without further ado, here are my top tips for acing the last leg of the race.


The run may be my strength but that does not mean that I am an efficient runner by any stretch.  I've learned this the hard way by pushing and pushing myself only to end up suffering knee issues for the last year and a bit due to my lack of proper run form.  I've been working on rectifying this over the last few months.  While I'm making progress, it is very slow going.  It will probably take a year before my new gait feels normal.  Proper technique will make you faster so it's worth your time to work on it.  Don't know where to start?  Find someone who offers a gait analysis.  It could be a run coach or a physiotherapist or sports doc.  Get in front of a camera, have someone asses your gait and most importantly, help you fix it.  I've been working on my form for the last few months and I've found that not only is it making me a faster runner, I'm more comfortable running off the bike.  I'm not sure if it's because I'm using my glutes and hamstrings more and not relying so much on my quads but whatever it may be, I think making sure you have good form is of utmost importance.


Running off the bike is no easy feat.  Your legs always feel like crap and it takes a while for you to find your stride.  If you want to shorten the time it takes for you to get into a groove, incorporate a weekly brick into your training.  What is a brick you ask?  It's a ride followed immediately by a run. As I get closer to race day, these workouts are the meat and potatoes of my training.  I will do a shorter, high intensity ride followed by a short high intensity run during the week and then on the weekend I will do what I call an endurance brick, which is a longer ride followed by a longer run.  If you're racing a 70.3 or an Ironman these longer workouts are a great time to practice your race day fueling strategy.  How you fare on the run leg of the race will be directly impacted by how well you fuel on the bike and how hard you go.  Pace yourself, especially if you're going long.  It only takes one bonk to know that you don't ever want to go down that road again. 


Measuring your cadence isn't just for the bike.  The faster your turnover is, the less time you spend smashing your feet on the ground.  This is a good thing because it will help you avoid impact related injuries.   It will also help you get faster.  How do you measure that?  Well, if you're lucky you've got a Garmin 920xt that will tell you.   If you don't have that then what I've done is pick a foot and count the number of times it hits the ground in a minute, then multiply it by two.  The ideal running cadence is around 180 steps per minute.   I'm usually around 177-178 for most of my runs - I'm trying to get to 180 for all my runs but it's tough.  When I'm racing I'm actually mid 180's.   This is some of the data from Saturday's 10km race.

This is pretty self explanatory

Jeff Galloway has a very simple drill that you can do once a week to help you focus on cadence.   Since I've started working on my gait, I've incorporated these drills into my weekly workouts.

What other tips do you have for improving the run leg of a triathlon?  Be sure to check out the other blogs in the link up for more great tips!

We'll be back again on June 2nd, talking about the 4th leg of triathlon - TRANSITIONS.  Woohooo!

Monday, May 4, 2015

My Big Phat Crazy Weekend

Monday.  You are always such a slap in the face.  Especially after a most excellent weekend.  The sun was shining, it was finally HOT and I got my first bad tan lines of the season (yay for perma shorts!).  I could have easily kept that party going but alas, I'm not independently wealthy so I have to work now so I can play later.

I had the Mississauga 10km scheduled on Saturday even so that meant I had to get my race kit on Friday night.  I ducked out of work a bit early so I could get over to Port Credit.  Made my way in and out of the expo fairly quickly even with a stop at the Burnbrae Farms booth.   I grabbed my swag bag and headed home.  The folks at the Mississauga Marathon know how to do a swag bag right.  Look at all the goodies!

I was exhausted so I hit the sack early.  We had planned on a 3 hour ride for Saturday so we were up and out the door by 7:30 to meet the gang for 8:30 am in Inglewood.  We couldn't have asked for a better day.  My legs felt pretty crappy but the fabulous weather and company more than made up for it.  We ended up riding 75km which was more than enough for me.
My 70.3 World Champion Friends!

Happy Socks and Post Ride Treats

We got home and I showered, stretched and had a bit of a nap.  My legs felt heavy.  I also wasn't sure what to eat so I had some scrambled eggs mid afternoon and then just before we left for the race, I had a scoop of protein powder with some almond milk.  I figured I needed something in my stomach.  G dropped me off at the start of the race, I did a warm up, took a gel, fought my way through the crowd to get to as close to the front as possible and then we were off.  I'll save the full race report for another day because there is a good story in it.  But suffice to say, even though my legs didn't feel great I still managed to pull off a sub 41 minute 10km and I ended up as second place female overall. Pretty pumped about that.   Of course this is how I celebrated.

Sunday I got up early, skipped my swim and hopped on my new road bike to ride out to the Mississauga Marathon race course so I could cheer on some of my friends and a couple of my athletes.  Nicole was running the half AFTER running a 15km "warm up" (coach's orders) and Mike was doing his first marathon.  I found Nicole and Sam just before the 16km mark.  Both of them were smiling and happy, which was awesome to see.  I saw my friend Kiki as well who decided to race last minute.  Gotta love her.  After I saw that crew, I got back on my bike and rode out to Clarkson & Lakeshore to about the 22km mark of the marathon.  I was hoping I'd see Mike here but then figured it might be better for me to go further down the road so I doubled back and rode into the subdivision that was part of the route.  I saw the men's leader who had a huge lead on the second place guy.  I then saw Emma who was the bike marshal for the 3rd place guy.   I rode along and eventually came to the aid station just north of the 28km mark.  I sat here and waited for Mike.  I didn't have to wait too long.  He came motoring along.  I took a picture and let Caitlin, his fiance, know that I just saw him.  I sat there for bit longer and then decided to ride down and see if I could find Mike.  I found him again just before the 25km mark and I rode with him for a while.  He hit the turnaround so I turned around and stuck with him on and off along here.  He went into the little park and I rode up Clarkson to my original position at the aid station.  I waited here for him.  As soon as I saw him I could see he was struggling a bit.  I kept him company all through the subdivision.  He had to stop and walk a bit so I rode ahead.  I kept Caitlin in the loop with texts every so often.  I stuck with Mike from 30km almost right to the finish.  He had a tough go of it but he finished and I'm really proud and happy for him.

So this weekend was a BIG one.  As was my week for the most part.  I think I pushed myself a bit too hard this past week so I'm going to take a recovery week this week.  No high intensity anything.  I have a massage scheduled on Thursday night that can't come soon enough.  This is how my week went down:

Monday:  Pilates
Tuesday: 80 minute trainer ride with power sets, 45 minute weight workout in a.m.  10km run in p.m.
Wednesday:  2200m swim
Thursday:  OFF.  I was still wiped out from Tuesday's workout, ha ha.
Friday:  2100m swim
Saturday:  75km ride,  10km race, 2km warm up, 2km cool down (14km total)
Sunday:  43.5km ride

Total time:  12h 4 minutes

I keep having grand plans of getting out and doing a long run of 19km but I haven't been able to make that work yet.  I"d like to get at least one 21km run under my belt before race day.  And I need to start getting more bricks in.  Even if it's just 10 minutes off the bike.

How was your weekend?  Who else raced?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mud, Sweat and thankfully No Tears: St. George to Ancaster 40km Race Report

There is no doubt that the Paris to Ancaster bike race has become a spring classic in Canada.  It usually brings out all the heavy hitters in the local clubs.  From a spectator's point of view, I could see why.  The race organizers have everything down to a science.  It's an incredibly well oiled machine.  The volunteers are also awesome and the post race food and facilities are also excellent.  When I was approached by the race organizers in February to be an Ambassador, I was a little surprised.  I'm not really a cyclist per se.  At least I don't think of myself that way.  I can hold my own on two wheels, especially if there is a swim and a run after it but a cyclist in the purest sense of the term, I am not.  Looking back, I suppose that was the reason.  You don't HAVE to be a cyclist to participate and enjoy the race.  You just need to have a bike and be willing to suffer. 

Including this year, G has ridden the 70km four times and I have been his sherpa for three of those four times, so I would definitely consider myself a seasoned spectator.  Since it's a point to point race, you need to get to the start with your bike.  The race offers a shuttle service for yourself and your bike when you register for a nominal fee.  They also offer a free shuttle service for riders that drove to the start AFTER the race so they can pick up their cars.  Every year I've been there, I've witnessed mud covered grimaces of agony as people have climbed that last insanely steep hill to the finish line.  I always said there was no way I'd do it.  But then I got a mountain bike.  I knew there were shorter distances as well so when the race organizers approached me, it didn't take me too long to make up my mind.  I was going to ride the 40km on my mountain bike. 

Leading up to this race, I had exactly 3 rides on my mountain bike.  And they were all last year.  This is what happens when you sign up for a 70.3 in JUNE.  You spend all your time on your tri bike.  I took Freewill out for a spin on the Saturday to test out my new tires and get a feel for the gearing again.  To say I was nervous would be an understatement.  I felt grossly unprepared.  Not because of lack of fitness.  More because I was stepping way outside my comfort zone.  You give me two wheels and an open paved road and I'm good.  I'll hammer away with the best of them until my legs can't take anymore.  But you put me on single track with mud and other people and that's a whole other ball of wax.  I wouldn't say that I'm terrified, just lacking serious amounts of confidence.  But we all have to start somewhere.  And there's nothing like a 40km off road race with wicked mud chutes to whet your whistle.  Kinda like when I did my first triathlon.  I didn't bother with a sprint or try a tri.  I went and did a long course - 2km swim, 55km bike, 15km run.  Why?  Because that's just what I do when I don't let my head get in the way.

I went into this race knowing I had good cycling fitness but you need more than that to be even remotely competitive.   You need to be fearless.  You need to have good bike handling skills and you need to be willing to plow through mud on two wheels vs. two feet.  I have none of those things.   At least not right now.  But those things will come the more I practice.   I figured I could probably average around 17-18 kph on my mountain bike with the mix of trails and road.  So my goal was around 2:15-2:20.

My friend David had signed up to do the 70km but dropped down to the 40km as his big race is next weekend and he didn't want to put too much stress on his legs.  Which was perfect for me as I figured I'd be lolly gagging through the trail sections anyway.   We killed time at the start listening to the radio and chatting away.  Of course we had to take the matching sock selfie.  The Pain Cave socks were out in full effect.

Eventually it was almost Go time so we got suited up and took the obligatory BEFORE photos.

Look how clean we are!!!
We then rode over to the start.  I looked around at the wide variety of bikes and people.  There were lots of people on mountain bikes, a few on cross bikes and a bunch of people on fat bikes as well.  Just like at a marathon, there were all shapes and sizes too.  Such an awesome thing to see.  Apparently this was a record year for registration and the race was close to capacity.

We were in Wave 2.  I had thought about going up to the front but I was so nervous I stayed towards the middle / back.  That was a mistake.  I actually managed to get a lot of speed going on my mountain bike, once I managed to get clipped in.  We were barreling through people until we hit some gravel and had to slow down a bit.  Then we hit the first grassy, spongy section and I panicked.  I slowed down a lot and remembered the advice that Rol and David had given me:  Brakes cause accidents.  Keep up the speed.  So I resisted the urge to stop and I kept pedaling.  I made it through the first muddy, spongy section unscathed (i.e no wipeouts).  Shortly thereafter we hit single track and that's where things got a bit hairy for me.  It was narrow and undulating with some turns and a bit of mud and there were people everywhere so I stopped and got off my bike and ran through here.  David waited patiently for me up ahead.  Of course unclipping meant I had to try to clip in again.  That proved to be the bane of my existence all day.  I'm not used to the egg beater pedal system yet and because it's such a small surface in comparison to my Look system, I have a hell of a time figuring out where to put my foot.  I gave up trying at this point and rode unclipped.  Thankfully G had put the eggbeaters with the platform on my bike so I at least had a somewhat flat place to rest my foot.  Not being clipped in was fine given that we had all of a sudden come to a dead stop.  I wasn't sure what the issue was but we weren't moving.   We finally started moving a few minutes later, only to stop again.  It went on like that for at least 10 minutes.  Start, stop, start, stop.  Eventually we discovered why - we had come to our first little mud chute.  Of course, I ran down it.  I hopped back on my bike and tried to clip in again.  Eventually I managed to get one foot in.  So I rode partially clipped in for the next little while until I finally got my other foot clipped in.

On the rail trail and open roads, David and I made up some good time.  We were moving fairly well.  The minute we got off road or off the rail trail, I'd slow down.   But as we went along, my comfort level increased.  I started handling the spongy, mildly muddy sections a bit better.  Even David commented on that.  I was still having pedal issues and at several points, David, being the most excellent friend that he is, actually took my foot and guided it into my clip.  We motored along through farmers fields, rail trail and back onto the roads.  At about 28km in, my back started to ache.  I wasn't used to sitting up like that.  I was worried it would spasm when I had to start climbing, it felt so tight. I knew I was going to have to climb one monster of a hill at the end so I hoped it wouldn't get any worse.

We hit another mud chute which I walked down.  I managed to get really muddy here and was thrilled to see two guys with power washers offering to hose people down.  I went and got my shoes cleaned out and my bike hosed off.  Then I spent about 3 minutes trying to get my feet into the clips.  David offered to help so he got my left one in.  He then offered to do my right but I said no.  I'm stubborn and figured the best way for me to learn it to keep practicing.  A few minutes later I got the right clip in.  Victory!  It was just in time for us to start climbing again, ha.

Motoring along before the last big mud chute.  I'm still relatively clean!
 We climbed a few more rollers and then we were back onto rail trail and then back into the woods.  We were heading towards the last big mud chute.  I saw the sign, rode up over the crest, looked down and immediately got off my bike.  Holy crap.  It was like a river of mud that went straight down.   David rode down for a bit and then got off his bike.  He eventually got back on further down and rode the rest.  Impressive.  I shoved myself and my bike through the mud.  I was wishing I had a lighter bike so I could pick it up, put it over my shoulder and carry it.  But alas, I'm not the incredible hulk, my bike weighs at least 30lbs so there was no way I was carrying it anywhere.  So through the muck I waded.  I passed a photographer who actually caught me laughing.  There were plenty of us wading through here wondering out loud why we were doing this.  I got to the bottom without losing a shoe or twisting an ankle.  I was very glad I wore my PRO level socks, ha ha.

Awesome shot courtesy of Apex Photography
 Once I got to the bottom, I found David who handed me a stick and I proceeded to clean off my wheels and my shoes, which were completely caked in mud.  I spent a good five minutes doing this.  What a mess.  We hopped back on our bikes and soldiered on.  David reassured me that was the last of the mud.  But we still had The Climb.

We made our way out of the last mud chute area onto paved road.  As soon as I hit the pavement, I was immediately reminded that I still had a lot of mud in my tires.  Mud was being flung everywhere.  A chunk of mud got flung into my mouth and I spent the next few minutes spitting it out off to the side.  I went to wipe my face but realized I had mud all over my gloves.  So I used my sleeve.  A guy rode by me who was also flinging mud everywhere with his tires - he apologized profusely and I just laughed and told him not to worry.  This paved section of road had a nice steep down hill with a few twists and turns.  Had I been on my road bike I probably would have been petrified but the wider tires of my mountain bike made me feel safer.  I went barreling down the hill and turned onto a gravel path where I could feel my back wheel going out but I saved it and motored on.  Not without my heart pounding in my chest though.

 We were heading back into the woods.  The trail was wide in some spots and then there were some narrower more technical bits.   I got off and walked wherever I felt like I couldn't get the momentum to move forward safely.  There were a couple of short steep climbs, one of which I started to hammer up - I got into a good groove.  I came up behind a guy and was going to try to get around him when all of a sudden he stopped.  I was right on his wheel so there was a stream of oh sh**t oh s**t oh s**t as I unclipped and grabbed my brakes.  I almost crashed into him and then fell over.  My heart was pounding.  I was half way up the hill so there was no way I was getting back on my bike and riding up.  I walked to the top and got back on.  Once again having to fuss with my pedals. 

We rode along a flatter section and I was able to clip back in, which was good because the next thing I knew David said here comes the hill.  He wasn't kidding.  I looked up and saw the trail snaking up this hill.   I saw lots of people walking everywhere.  Riding up was going to be a challenge because we'd be dodging people.  I cleared my throat, switched gears and started hauling ass.  The hill starts to get steep almost immediately.  David tucked in behind me as I led the charge.  I was trying to take the path of least resistance.  Passing on the left was not possible in some instances so I would yell cyclists coming through the middle!  I only had to do that once and I said thank you and sorry as I went through.  The further up the hill I went, the less energy I had for niceties.  That last climb is on serious bugger.  I came up around the bend to see a whole bunch of people lining each side of the climb and I knew I was close to the top.  The last bit of the climb jacks up to about 12% (so says Strava).   My lungs were burning and my legs were spinning like mad.  Thank GOODNESS for all the gears on my bike.  I caught a woman as I neared the top and I yelled on your left.  She then veered to her left.  I had to yell passing on your left twice before she realized that I was coming up on her left.  Had she run into me, I probably would have fallen over into the gully at the side of the climb.  I felt bad about yelling so loudly but I know what my brain does when it's oxygen deprived.  I don't hear anything and my judgement is not always 100%.  So I find it's always better to err on the side of caution and be as loud as possible for as long as you can.

I passed her without incident and crested the hill shortly there after.  My lungs and legs were burning.  I rode like crazy into the finishing chute.  As I whizzed by I saw G and the other David and I heard them yell Go Phaedra!  I finished 40km of mud and trails in 2:28.  Not even remotely close to my goal.  I got my butt handed to me that's for sure.

We met up with G and David and G asked me how it was - he said you're still smiling so I'm guessing you didn't hate it.  I paused before answering.   "I didn't hate it...but it's not my kind of racing".  I mentioned my pedal issues and said that if David wasn't with me the entire time, I don't think I would have had as much fun.  Which is true.  I also said that I didn't think I'd do it again.  Now that I've had a few days to reflect on it, I think I'd be willing to give the 40km another go sometime.  After I've had some quality time on the trails and really learned how to handle my bike. 

A huge thanks to the folks at Paris to Ancaster for giving me the opportunity to ride.  You guys put on an incredible event.  I can see why people come back year after year.

I didn't manage to get a post race selfie but I did get this shot.  Thank goodness for power washers.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Less Than 7 Weeks To Go

Yup. Just under 7 weeks left until Eagleman.  Geez.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  I know I'm going to have to really dial things in over the next few weeks.  Especially my running.  I had grand plans of running 19km on Saturday but my legs had other ideas.  I think it was just as well since they would have been completely useless in Sunday's race.  Instead they were ok, it was my bike handling skills, or lack thereof, that were useless, ha.  But I'll save that for the recap.  I will tell you this, it took me way outside my comfort zone, and, surprisingly I didn't hate it. 

Once again, I sat around Sunday night, wondering what the heck happened to my weekend.  Friday night we went out for our anniversary dinner, Saturday morning we had a nice sleep in, which I followed up with 10km run and a wee spin on my mountain bike, then it was off to grocery shop, take my tri bike in for a tune up and pick up last minute things for Sunday's race.  The next thing I know it's 5:00 pm and we're just making our way back home.  WTH.  I didn't sleep well on Saturday night, probably because I was so nervous about Sunday.  Paris to Ancaster is almost always a full day affair so we didn't get home until almost 5:00 pm.   I had grand plans to cook dinner but I was so exhausted and hungry that all I wanted to do was eat and eat NOW.  So before I got a major case of the hangries, we stopped at Tim Horton's for a bagel to tie us over until we ate dinner.   When we got home, G called this in:

Yeah, I figured pizza and beer was the best way to celebrate my first off road race.   I think I made it through half the beer before I almost fell asleep, ha ha.

Looking back on my week, it's no wonder I was exhausted.  I didn't actually have a day off in terms of workouts.  This was my action packed week.

Monday:  Glorious 17km long run after work.  Clearly it was very humid, ha ha.
Tuesday:  a.m 60 minute strength workout with Justin at the Runner's Academy.  p.m.)  80 minute ride with power work.
Wednesday:  2300m swim in a.m. with an easy 60 minute spin on the bike in the p.m.
Thursday:  60 minute strength & physio work in a.m.  6.5km run in the p.m.
Friday:  Gut busting 2300m swim.  I was still sweating when I got into the car.
Saturday:  10km run followed by 8km on my mountain bike.  Of course I had to test out my anniversary gifts.
You know you have a supportive spouse when these are your anniversary gifts!!
Sunday:  Paris to Ancaster 40km.

No wonder I went to bed at 8:30 last night!

How was your weekend?  Did you race?  Would you ever try an off road bike race?