Monday, June 30, 2014

Mingsanity, The Final Chapter: IM Luxembourg 70.3 - The Run

I wrote most of this post in my head in the days following the race it's just taken me some time to get it down on virtual paper. Vacationing and blogging don't really mix well. Unless of course you're sitting on a beach in the French Riviera.....
I figured that once I got out onto the run,I was home free. This was going to be the easy part because I can run off the bike no problem. Boy oh boy was I ever wrong. Towards the end of the bike my stomach was feeling a little funny. Nothing major, just a little off. As soon as I got my shoes on, I bolted out of T2 like a bat out of hell. You had to run around the back of transition and then down a road that took you to the main road / bike path where you'd run three loops and then up a small side street into a courtyard where the finish line was. As soon as I came around the back of transition, I saw G standing at the top of that side street. I was so happy to see him. I smiled and waved. I didn't feel like I was running that fast but when I glanced down at my watch I saw 4:15's. I knew that wasn't going to be sustainable. My heart rate was also through the roof. I tried to slow down a bit to bring it down. No go. I hit that first km in 4:19. Oh boy.
I had hoped that by starting the race at 1:00pm that by the time I got out on the run,it wouldn't be so hot. Totally not the case. It was scorching. It was almost 5:00 pm and it felt like it was noon. There wasn't much shade on the run course either. There were some trees towards the back end but I figured I'd probably be running in the sun for the entire first loop as well as most of the second loop. I hoped they had a sponge station.
I cooked along for the first couple of km but by km three my stomach started to really bother me. It was cramping a bit and it just felt gross. I had grabbed 3 gels and brought then with me and I knew I should probably take one but it was the last thing I wanted. I hit the first aid station and took 2 cups of water, one to drink and one to dump down my chest. Then I saw the kids with the sponges and the hose. Oh yeah!!! I ran through the spray of the hose and grabbed two sponges. One I squeezed over my head and the other I shoved down the back of my tri top. That felt so much better. I felt like my energy was flagging a bit but I pushed on, despite the unsettled feeling in my stomach. I was passing a lot of guys and the occasional woman which kept me motivated to keep pushing. Running back towards transition was nicer as you actually had some shade but it was ever so slightly up hill, which was a bit of an energy suck. Once you closer to transition to what the race organizers called "The Iron Mile" the crowds got bigger and the noise level increased substantially. This part of the course was basically outdoor bars so pretty much all the spectators were drinking and cheering people on. At some points they were lining the road like in the Tour de France, it was crazy. It gave me the energy boost I needed to go and collect my first wristband. Because the run course was three loops, they gave you a different colour bracelet at the end of each loop so it was easy for race officials to see where you were at.
I got my first wristband and headed out onto the second loop. I was really starting to feel rough. The thought of having to get through this loop and one more was incredibly unappealing. I just wanted to walk. I thought about walking almost constantly for the next couple of km. I told myself I would walk through the aid station when I got there and that's exactly what I did. As soon as I rolled into the aid station I grabbed a water. I was dying. I felt totally gassed. I needed something but I really couldn't face a gel. Then I saw it. It was like a beacon calling to me. Rows and rows of it. Cups of flat Coke. I grabbed one and gulped it down. OMG. It was like food from the Gods. It was exactly what I needed. A few minutes later I was flying along the run course. I picked off a girl with the same coloured wristband as me. Yes!! Before I knew it I was at the turnaround. My game plan was now going to revolve around fueling with Coke. It didn't upset my stomach and it gave me the energy I clearly needed. Nothing like caffeine and sugar to give you the kick in your pants that you need!!
I got to the next aid station and had another cup of water and a Coke. I ran through the spray and grabbed another two sponges. I was soaking wet but at least I felt cool. The sun was still pretty strong on some parts of the run course. I shouldn't have been surprised given that it didn't really get dark until about 10:30 pm! I went through waves of feeling great and then feeling crappy. The sugar high would wear off and I'd start to suffer. I wished the aid stations were a little closer together. I went through the second loop in a bit of a haze. All I could think about was how much I wanted to stop. I was tired and I was starting to feel sore. Mentally I was checking out. I had to get my head back in the game or else I was going to start walking. I started to focus on people in front of me, trying to figure out who I could catch. I'd pick a person and will myself forward. I told myself the only time I'd allow myself to stop was at the aid station. There were only two on the course so that meant I could stop twice. That was going to have to be enough. Much like my Ironman marathons, my mantra became just make it to the next aid station. I got to the second aid station and came to a full stop. I grabbed a cup of water and two cups of coke. I walked over to the table with the oranges and had a slice. I walked over to the kids with the hose and had them spray me. I grabbed another sponge and tossed my old one. Then I went to the curb to stretch my hamstrings an ship which were both starting to hurt. I could have parked myself on the curb and taken a nice little break. I think I was probably here for at least a minute if not longer. Then a girl that I had passed earlier ran by as I was stretching and that was motivation for me to get my ass in gear and go.
As I ran towards the wristband check to get my third and final wristband, I started to pick up speed. I don't know if it was the crowd, or the thought that I only had another 7km to go. Less than 35 minutes at my current pace. I could suffer through 35 minutes. I had caught the girl that passed me and I was reeling in another that also had the same amount of wristbands that I had. I didn't feel like I was moving quickly but I guess I was. I was actually passing some guys. Which wasn't difficult given that 85% of the participants were men! It still made me feel good to actually pass people, especially on my last loop. I was coming up on the first aid station and stopped and walked through it, grabbing a coke, water and a sponge on my way through. I glanced at my Garmin. I had no idea what the time of day was, I could only guess. I had estimated that I'd finish around 6:15-6:30 depending on how my day went. I tried to scroll through my Garmin to see if it would give me an overall time but in my current state, anything more than scrolling through the screens was going to require more effort than I was capable of physically and mentally so I put it back to the original screen and kept going.
The timing on the run course seemed to be off as did the distance. I didn't realize that until the second loop. It could have been because I was running loops but the closer I got to finishing, the more obvious it became. My Garmin hit 19km and I was telling myself that I only had 2km left. Less than 10 minutes at my current pace. The next thing I knew, I was running through the IronMile and I could see the turn off to the finishing chute. I ran past the wristband crew and flashed my wrists and they pointed me to the finishing chute. I almost started crying right then and there. I was hurting so much. I made the turn down the side street and then took the turn into the finishing chute like a woman possessed. I was crying and laughing all at the same time. The closer I got to the finish line, the bigger my grin got. I saw G within meters of finishing and he caught my absolute favourite race picture ever. Even the official race pics aren't this good!
I didn't even have the where-with-all to look at the clock as I passed under the finish line. I didn't really care, I was just happy to be done. I hobbled over to a volunteer and he congratulated me and handed me my medal and I got a bottle of water and went off in search of G. I found him quickly and he was grinning from ear to ear. I ran over to him and hugged him, breaking into tears in the process. That was so hard.... Then G asked me if I saw my finishing time. I said no and then he told me: You finished in 5:09:57. You were 10th in your age group.
Holy crap. And he told me I ran a 1:35 half. I can remember when running a regular 1:35 half was a dream for me, never mind running it after a 90km bike ride and a 2km swim!
My goal at the beginning of all this was to break 5:30. Then when I started doing the math, I figured 5:15 would be possible. If I had a REALLY good day then maybe I might even break 5:00 hours. But if I came in between 5:00-5:15 I'd be a happy camper. And a happy camper I was. When I started this journey, I was excited by the possibilities. I wanted to be able to race a half well. I can honestly say I gave it my all. In the days that followed the race, I thought about what I'd do differently, if anything, and you know what? I wouldn't change a thing.
There is a small army of people to thank and I have several post race thoughts that have been running through my head so there will be another post later on this week. Perhaps from the French Alps....
I hope everyone back home is enjoying their Canada Day long weekend!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Mingsanity, The Final Chapter: IM Luxembourg 70.3 - The Bike

The Bike:

Having ridden the first bit of the course as well as the first climb and having driven the rest made me feel a bit more comfortable about what I had gotten myself into. Yes there were a couple of good climbs but nothing horrible. The first 38km of the race was pretty much pancake flat but man oh man was it ever windy. I wanted to be conservative along here and resist the urge to hammer it. It was so tempting, the road was so nice. The wind made it difficult to keep up a really good speed - at some points I was comfortably doing 35 kph and staying within my goal wattage but when that wind came up, I was knocked back down to about 31 kph. Still not too bad. I knew I'd be able to bank some time on the way back as the wind would be at my back heading towards the climb in Greiveldange. I flew along the river, in my aero bars, making sure I drank regularly. I stuck to my fueling plan of one GU roctane every half an hour. It was quite hot on the bike course, even with the wind. I was glad I opted to down a couple of salt tablets before the swim start. As soon as I started riding, I started smiling and I don't think that smile ever really left my face for the entire ride. There were all sorts of people in the little towns that we rode through, all of them cheering or waving cowbells. The turn around in Grevenmacher was quite technical with lots of twists and turns but once we got back out onto the main road, it was smooth sailing. The wind was actually at my back almost all the way to the climb. The climb into Greiveldange was a long grinder, probably just over 1km and I spun my legs up it. I caught one woman on the way up.

But like everything that goes up, it must come down and the descent into the next little town was a bit harrowing, especially since there was a sharp turn on cobblestones at the bottom of it. I suck at descending most days so my brakes got a good workout here. I didn't think we'd start climbing right away again but we did. Another long grinder of a climb. This one was longer than the other climb and somehow we were riding into the wind. Awesome. I was coming up to the half way mark and figured I'd see some kind of timing mat. Nope. So I glanced down at my watch and saw 1:27 and change. Not bad. I had hoped to be a bit faster but the two climbs really slowed me down. I knew there wasn't much more in the way of long climbs so I hoped to be able to pick up some speed in the second half of the course.

I got to the top of that second grinder and expected a downhill but that didn't really happen. We were heading into farm country. We went through another little town so there we're some more slight twists and turns. Then it was back into farmland. This was where we got some awesome little sections of rollers and false flats. We then rolled into another small town that I remember driving through; Moutfort. I knew after this town we'd have some good sections of country road before we hit Syren and another little climb. I figured we'd ride along country roads but no, there was a Marshall directing us to get onto this random path. Ok then. I rode through this tree lined path and then came out to a field. It was super fast through here so I hammered along. I was singing the chorus to Rush's "The Enemy Within" OUT LOUD as I rode along:

I'm not giving in to security under pressure, I'm not giving up on the promise of adventure, I'm not giving up on implausible dreams, experience to extremes....experience to extremes.

To You, is it movement or is it action? Is it contact or just reaction, and you....revolution or just resistance, yeah you! It takes a little more persistence to get up and go the distance...

I was singing out loud and grinning like an idiot, I was having so much fun. I had conquered the swim and was feeling really good on the bike. The scenery was beautiful and it was a glorious day, I couldn't really ask for anything else.

The bike path ended in Syren and we made our way through here quite quickly. It was basically ride into the town and climb the nasty little hill there and get back out onto country roads again. I was riding with two other women through here, one if whom I passed on the climb. Yes! It wasn't easy to pass folks here, there were a LOT of very strong female riders. I pushed up the climb and rounded the bend to come out onto another country road when all of a sudden I heard my name. What the..!? I look over to see G sitting there with his road bike and his iPhone out trying to get a picture of me. I was already smiling but seeing him made me smile more and I yelled "see,I'm smiling" as I passed him. His response was classic G: yes, I see, now ride faster!

Gotta love him. He even got a few pics. Looks like someone could probably get a little more aero...

Once we left Syren, we got back onto a smaller road that went through farmers fields. This road was absolutely spectacular. It was mostly flat with a few small rollers and then some really good long descents. I flew along here, it was awesome. There were some pretty decent crosswinds that popped up every so often which kept me on my toes. I still felt pretty strong and I think my fuelling plan was working perfectly. From Syren we went through Filsdorf, still flying along. I couldn't get over how awesome the roads were that we were riding on. From the course descriptions that I had read, I knew that there wasn't going to be another climb until we were leaving Mondorf-Les-Bains so I had a bit of time to enjoy all this free speed. The crazy part was that there were guys passing me like I was standing still. Amazing.

I passed the Casino and the aid station in Mondorf-Les-Bains and knew that I had just over 20km left. I told myself 40 minutes max. I couldn't believe I was almost finished the bike course. We wound our way through the town and then I remembered we were coming to that steep descent with the hard right turn. I started to slow down. Sure enough, as I turned the corner the road started to drop. Oh boy. I rode the brakes and went over to the right. More guys were whizzing by me and taking that turn at almost full speed. I went squeaking around the bend, riding my brakes. As soon as we made that turn, the roads changed. At that point I knew we were in France. I remember one of the race reports had said that the quality of the roads wasn't that great in France...he wasn't kidding. It was chip seal. Ugh. Luckily we weren't on here for too long. The course went along country roads again and then made its way into the tiny town of Contz-Les-Bains. There was a decent sized group of spectators hanging out at a cafe, all ready to make some noise for the riders coming through. They had cowbells and were cheering for every rider that went by. I came rolling in and waved my arms in the air. That drew a huge cheer from the crowd and had me grinning from ear to ear one again. We came down a road and started to snake our way along the river. I was getting closer. Before I knew it we were in Schengen. I had less than 15km left. I was starting to feel a little mentally fatigued. I was almost ready to be off my bike.

I had ridden this part of the course a few days earlier with G so I knew exactly what to expect. Completely pancake flat. And into the wind once again. Awesome. I hit the 80km mark,glanced at my watch and did the math. I started to push the pace. There was no way I was going to make my 2:50 time goal but there was a good chance I'd come in sub 2:55. I was riding just above my prescribed watts for the last 10km. That probably wasn't the smartest thing but I just wanted to be done. I passed a few more ladies along here. Woohoo! My Garmin clicked over to 90km. Still no turn off. What? A few seconds later I saw it. Yessss.

Bike time: 2:53 and change for 90.1km


This went a little more smoothly than T1 did. My spot was right by the bike exit so as soon as I got in, I racked Scotty and started running. It probably would have been smart of me to take my cycling shoes off but I wasn't thinking. I found my red transition bag right away and ran into the tent. I grabbed my running shoes and socks and then dumped my helmet and shoes in the bag. I slathered my feet with Lush's Ultra Balm, pulled on my socks and shoes and headed out for my favourite part of any triathlon....the run.

Stay tuned for the final leg....we're heading out for dinner.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mingsanity, The Final Chapter: IM 70.3 Luxembourg - Preamble and The Swim

I don't even know where to begin. Those of you that have been reading along for a while know that I was on the fence about whether or not I was actually going to do this race after G had his crash. I didn't want to race without him out there. I know how hard it's been for him to sit on the sidelines and watch. At one point part of me would have been quite happy to sit there with him and spectate. In fact right up to race day I was on the fence, more so from fear than anything else. My mind really is my worst enemy sometimes. But, I went through the motions and tried my best to reframe my thoughts to a more positive mindset. Thanks to some great tips from my pro star friend Linnea, I went into the race feeling somewhat relaxed and even, dare I say it, a bit excited. I was going to be racing in Europe once again, in the only race on the Ironman circuit that goes through three different countries. I couldn't pass up on the opportunity. And I wanted to see what I'd be capable of after my 6 months of training.

When I heard that this race started at 1:00 pm, I was a little put off but in retrospect, the late start was fabulous. It meant that you got to sleep in a bit and not have to wake up to an alarm at some ungodly hour of the morning. It also meant that you didn't have to force yourself to get to bed early and then lie there watching the clock until you fell into a restless sleep. I went to bed at midnight (crazy talk right there!) and woke up just after 8 am. Transition opened at 11:30 so I had plenty of time to eat breakfast, have a coffee, relax and get down to the race site. It was all very civilized, which also helped keep me fairly calm. We made it down to Remich in about 25 minutes and G dropped me off at transition and went to find parking. I had checked my bike and transition bags the day before so I didn't have the usual huge pile of stuff with me.

I found my bike, filled up my aero bottle and checked my tires and brakes. Everything was a-ok. I went and double checked my racked transition bags and then made my way out of transition to the "chill out garden" (I kid you not). I met G at the exit of transition and he accompanied me into the Chill Out garden. He had picked up his race package so he had a wristband and could go wherever I went. I was SO thankful for that. Having him there really helped to keep me calm. The Chill Out Garden was located at an outdoor swimming pool so that's where we did our warm up. It was strange swimming in a pool in a wetsuit but it gave me the opportunity to get a really good warm up in. I knew once I got down to the water, I wouldn't have time for a good warm up so I used my time wisely at the pool and practiced my breathing technique. Breathe was the word of the day for me. I get so nervous that I forget to do just that sometimes.

Before I knew it, they were calling the pink caps down to the water. It was almost GO time. G and I walked towards the river chatting away. We started talking to another woman who was from Canada but now lived in the UK - small world! I got my customary good luck kiss and as I walked away G said "I don't want to see any stink face today, only smiles." That made me laugh out loud and I promised I would do my best to smile all day. I wandered off to join the ladies as we made our way down the ramp into the Moselle River.

The Swim

This was clearly the part I was most apprehensive about. But once I got down to the River, I was actually a bit excited. The river was probably only about 400m max across, it was so narrow. You could swim close to shore for the first half of the loop, which was amazing because the shoreline was filled with spectators. I positioned myself at the back of the pack towards the shoreline and waited for the horn to go off. There was a countdown and all the women started cheering. I remember just treading water and grinning like an idiot. Nerves be damned. The next thing I knew, it was go time. I hit start on my Garmin and sat there for a few seconds then I started going. The pack was moving at a pretty good pace but I still caught some feet fairly quickly. I made my way closer to the shore and was completely gob smacked by the sheer amount of spectators. It was awesome! I could hear music and cheering. I found a good spot and got into a groove. I made sure I exhaled into the water as soon as I put my face in. I didn't sight at all for the first while as I didn't really have to, I just followe the crowd. I got a little tangled up with some ladies and could feel the panic rise and I just focused in my breathing. I finally noticed a buoy so I remembered what Linnea told me and I started counting my strokes until the next buoy. That became my game. 101 strokes, 87 strokes, 110 strokes...I felt pretty good in that first stretch and before I knew it, we had hit the turnaround. The way back was apparently into the current but I didn't notice any difference in my effort. If anything I felt like I was swimming better. I had moved away from the crowd and was a bit wide. I am pretty sure I was swimming in the German part of the river haha. I corrected that and moved closer to the pack. I didn't have anyone around me so I made sure to sight every so often. The big yellow buoy was getting closer by the minute and I was still feeling really good. I found a pair of feet to draft off of for a bit as my shoulders were starting to tire just a little. The next thing I knew we were turning around the final buoy and heading back to the exit ramp. I got a bit tangled up with a few girls and that landed me a swift kick in the jaw. Which made me take in a huge gulp of water. There was a bit of panic but I recovered quickly and focused on getting towards that swim exit. There were volunteers pulling folks out of the water so the minute I stepped onto the ramp, I had someone pulling me up. I thanked him and started running. I glanced down at my watch and grinned. Then I heard G yell my name, which made me smile even more. I waved and ran into transition.

Swim time: 34:23 - I had hoped for around 35 minutes so to come in faster than that, even with my slower start = super awesome!


This was a bit of a gong show as you had to fuss with getting stuff out of your bag out and putting your wetsuit in. I think my first transition was just over 3.5 minutes. And that was even with the visor on my aero helmet popping out. Annoying!! I grabbed Scotty and we were off on our 90km adventure.

To be continued......I'm heading out for some gelato.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

European Adventure: Day 4

I can't believe it's Thursday already. I guess I shouldn't really be surprised since Monday was a total write off. We didn't get to the apartment we're renting until almost 8:00 pm on Monday night. Getting out of Charles de Gaulle airport with our bike boxes was a gong show. We landed in terminal 3 and had to make our way over to Terminal 2 to get the rental car. Of course there was no signage, we had to keep asking people for directions. An hour and a half later we made it out. Thankfully both of us managed to sleep on the plane for a few hours so we weren't totally useless.

The drive to Luxembourg ended up being 4 hours. It was 4 hours of driving through some beautiful countryside. I nodded off a few times despite my promise to stay awake. We made it to our apartment just before 8pm and had to get in touch with the owners housekeeper. She only spoke French and German so our conversation was quite entertaining. I at least understand French so I was able to communicate in broken French / English with her. The apartment we're in is huge even by Canadian standards. It's so different than the place we stayed in when we were in Zurich. We can walk into the Clausen district where all the restaurants and bars are and, if we're up for a bit of a workout, we can walk to downtown Luxembourg city. It's only 3 km from the apartment but it's 3 very hilly km. There's one hill by the apartment that is listed as having a 12% grade. We walked up it on our first night here and decided we weren't going to do that again, haha.

We are 17km away from the race start though. When we booked this place I didn't think anything of it but now I feel like it would have been more convenient to be closer to the action instead of having to drive in everyday. We did look at a place that was along the bike course but they didn't have as as many amenities (no wifi!) as this place so we didn't bother pursuing it. Hindsight is 20/20. We do have a really nice view though.

We've spent Tuesday checking out Remich, trying to find a bike shop and a grocery store. Neither were easy tasks. We also drove a large part of the bike course. Wow. The roads are stunning. There are a few decent climbs, most notably one that takes you out of Remich. It's a long grinder of a climb. We rode it yesterday. The view along the way up is absolutely gorgeous. We're going to drive the remainder of the course today before registration. There's a course recon ride today that covers 60km but I'm not sure I'm up for riding 60km 2 days before the race. The other thing I noticed in yesterday's ride was the wind. OMG. There is so much wind along the river it's crazy. It's in your face on the way out to the turnaround and then it's at your back for the most part until you start the climb out of Remich. That also means it will be in my face heading back into transition as we follow the river back in from France. The course is very similar to IM Switzerland except the roads seem to be much nicer.

The run is pancake flat and it runs along the river which also means there will be wind. It's 3 loops so I'll be dealing with it in my face several times. Just means I'm going to have to find someone to duck behind, haha.

The swim is what I'm most concerned about obviously. I haven't been able to get in the water here as the river is a busy waterway. There is an obviously strong current in the middle of the river. The river is surprisingly narrower than I had thought. G and I are guessing that it's only about 150-200m across. So I will always be close to shore. According the race's Facebook page, the water temp is currently almost 23 degrees. 24.5 is the cut off for wetsuits. It's been cool at night so I'm really hoping the temps don't rise any more because I don't want to swim 1.9km without a wetsuit. That is my safety blanket. I was planning on trying to get into the water today to see what it's like. I'm sure I'll probably get a lot of werid looks as no one seems to go in the water here. Lots of people just sit on shore and soak up the sun, haha. I'm assuming that we'll see a lot more triathletes in the city today so hopefully there are a few other like minded folks that opt for a little dip.

One thing I've noticed is that you're never too far from any town here, despite what it seems like when you're driving on the highway. This country really is small. Small but beautiful. Definitely a place I'd visit again.



Sunday, June 15, 2014

It's Almost GO Time: #Mingsanity Week 23

I can't believe that in less than 12 hours we're going to be on our way to the airport to begin our European adventure!  Normally I'd post this on Monday but given that we're going to be in transit for most of the day, I thought I might as well get it up today.  This was my last real week of training.  Ming has me doing a bunch of short stuff while we're in Luxembourg.  I'm hoping I'm able to do it.  We're not really close to the race site, it's in another town so we'd have to drive in there every day.  G isn't too crazy about that idea so we'll see what happens.  I'm sure we'll do it a couple of times just so we can get familiar with where everything is. 

Anyway....let's see how my last week of workouts panned out.

Monday:  2200m swim

Tuesday:  OFF

Wednesday:  15km run (wth??)

Thursday:  60 minute hard interval ride that was supposed to be followed by a run but my knees hurt way too much to run hard so I didn't bother.

Friday:  2150m swim at U of T - this was AMAZING. 

Saturday:  2000m open water swim, 40km bike with G and a 10km race pace run

Sunday:  1800m open water swim at Professor's Lake which was super nice.  Was supposed to do an 8km run but I wanted to rest my knees.

Beautiful place for a morning swim!


Swim:  8170m
Bike:  68.49km
Run: 25.03km

Total time:  7h 6 minutes.  I was feeling pretty rough at the start of this week but I think I've turned the corner.   The taper tireds are moving out.  Now I'm going to replace them with jetlag, ha ha.

I probably won't be blogging regularly while we're away but I'll try to make a point of getting a race report up at least.  I will definitely be very active on instagram so if you don't follow me there already, what are you waiting for, ha ha? 

Thanks to everyone who's been reading along for the last 23 weeks! 

Friday, June 13, 2014

T-Minus 8 days & An Update

I can't believe that I am 8 days out from my 70.3.  Eight freaking days.  And we leave in 3 days.  I've only *just* started packing.  There is SO much to think about / remember when you're doing a destination race, it's kind of stressful.  Especially one that involves 3 different sports.  I am a list maker at the best of times but when I travel it gets taken to a whole other level.  Thank goodness I have a huge suitcase.

Because there's no such thing as too organized.   

I may not have my packing done but I am SO ready for this vacation.  I think G is too.   Speaking of G, a few of you have asked how he's doing (which I really appreciate, thanks!).  He's still out for this race, which sucks, but, his prognosis is much better than originally thought.  He was originally diagnosed with a grade three separation which meant that he tore 3 of the 4 ligaments in his shoulder.   The doctor at St. Joe's told him to take it easy and let the pain guide him as to what he could and could not do.  No mention of when he should start physio, nothing.  Luckily for us, I have an amazing chiropractor who, when he heard about what happened, emailed me asking how G was.  He then said that G should come in right away to see him and a physiotherapist.  If we hadn't gone away that weekend, G would have been in to see him on the Saturday, a mere 2 days after his crash.  He got in to see him on the Wednesday and then in to see a physiotherapist on the Thursday and has been going to see both of them once a week since the crash.  He's gone from having to keep his arm in a sling to now having almost full mobility.  It's still somewhat painful for him to move his arm certain ways but it's so much better than it was.   Needless to say when G went back to see the Dr. at St. Joe's for a follow up appointment 3 weeks after the crash, the Doc was amazed at how well he was doing.  He even took a second round of x-rays.  He was able to see a lot more since the swelling had gone down and he actually thinks that G has a grade 2 separation, which is great because that means the healing time *should* be less.   G was given the all clear to ride on the trainer a couple of weeks ago so he's been doing that 3 times a week and he was just given the ok to start running as long as his shoulder is taped up.  He went for his first run on Wednesday and he felt pretty good.  This makes me SO happy, I can't even begin to tell you.  He's also been cleared to get into the pool to try some breast stroke.  No front crawl yet.  I think he may go give that a whirl on Sunday morning before we leave.  The best part of all this?  He's feeling confident enough to join me outside for my last ride before we leave.  I was so happy when he told me that yesterday, I started jumping up and down.  It's the little things, folks.

I finally got my race info yesterday.  All 27 pages of it.  Holy moly.  Apparently the race starts at 1:00 pm.  In the original info on the website there was conflicting information.  One area said a 10:00 am start and the other area said a 12:00 pm start.  Now it's a 1:00 pm start.  Ugh.  The pros go off at 1:00 and 1:02 pm respectively (males first, then females), then it's ALL the women at 1:10.  I was a little surprised at that until I went through the age groups and counted up the number of ladies participating.  There are only196 age group women!  That's it.  The men have been divided up into waves according to AG because I think there are at least 100 men in each AG if not more.  This should make for an interesting swim.  The 50+ men start after us at 1:20.  I hope I don't get caught by too many of them.   I feel bad for the relay teams and the 40-44 year old guys, they don't head off until almost 2:30 pm!

I'm a little concerned about the later start time.  I guess it just means I'm going to have to eat the same meal twice.  Once for "breakfast" and again just before we head to the race.  I'm also going to make sure I pack a bunch of Lara bars.  The last thing I want is to start the race feeling hungry.  That is a recipe for a bonk of epic proportions towards the end of the bike. 

Every time I think about the race, I get butterflies.  I'm nervous.  I know that's natural.  I'm also kind of excited.  Way back at the beginning of the year I set out a time goal and I mentioned another goal that I wasn't ready to share yet.  I'm happy to share it now:  my goal for this race was to qualify for the 70.3 World Championships in Mont Tremblant in September.  For me to do that at this race, I'd have to win my age group since there's only one spot available.  There is a chance the spot will roll down but in all honesty, I'm not that fussed if I don't make it there.  That goal has caused me to put too much stress and pressure on myself and kind of took the fun out of my training and I don't want it to take the fun out of my race.  Yes, I want to do well.   How I define "well" is the question.  I think it's going to come down to a few things.  1) Did I execute my race plan successfully?  2) did I give it my all on the course?  If I can answer "yes" to both of those questions at the end of my race, then I will have "done well".  Anything else is just gravy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Getting into a Groove: Binbrook Race Report

Coach Ming had warned me that I'd be tired going into this race.  He wasn't kidding.  I can only imagine how totally crappy I would have felt if I actually DID all my workouts for the week.  But I didn't so I had a nice little mini taper.  I'm sure the rest helped but judging by the way my legs felt on the run portion, I probably could have used a bit more rest.  But, given the way everything turned out, I really can't complain.

I did this race last year and enjoyed it so it was definitely going to be on my docket again this year.  The bike course is fairly flat with a few small rollers so it plays to my strengths.  I've come to realize that I'm much better on the flats than I am in the hills.  The swim is a typical conservation area body of water, much like Pittock Lake (in Woodstock).  Last year it was quite cold but this year it warmed up quite nicely and we had temps around 20 degrees.  Which is a little on the warm side when you're going hard.  But as long as it remained a wetsuit legal race, I was happy.

A bunch of my training pals were also doing the race so it was going to be a fun day regardless.  I woke up to a beautiful sunrise and we drove out to Binbrook with the top down.  I definitely wasn't as nervous about the swim this time around either.  I figured I'd go in with the same strategy as Woodstock.  The lovely Irina also sent me this amazing article that helped me immensely.  I read the first page and a light bulb went on.  I realized that I don't breathe properly.  I actually hold my breath under water and start to exhale as I'm turning my head to inhale.  So. WRONG.  This article said that you should exhale as soon as you put your face in the water as it helps to make you relax.  So I was actually looking forward to testing this out in my warm up swim.

We got to Binbrook Conservation Area at about 7:30, which was a little later than I wanted but whatever.  We ran into our friends Heather and Jordan in the parking lot and made our way over to registration.  I got my bib, went to get my chip and body marked when I ran into my friend Joe.  Joe is hilarious, he's always joking around.  And he's ALWAYS taking pictures.  So of course there was a pre-race photo op.

pic courtesy of Joe Park
Then it was off to transition to get myself sorted.  On my way over, I heard a woman call my name and I looked up to see a vaguely familiar face.  Before I could make the connection, the woman said "It's Sam" and extended her hand to shake mine.  Which I did and then said "Oh please, give me a hug".  This was another Daily Mile pal of mine and a fellow blogger whose blog I quite enjoy reading.  She's got a great sense of humour.  I was kind of surprised to see her there so of course I asked her what she was doing.  She let the cat out of the bag and said she was there for the Try-a-Tri.  Say what?  I only knew her as a runner but apparently because she's been having plantar fasciitis issues, she started swimming over the winter.  Her friend Mari convinced her to do a the Try-A-Tri with the logic that "you don't want to let all that swimming go to waste".   I love it.  Good on ya Mari!  I chatted with Sam and Mari about the race and the swim and then headed off to get myself set up in transition.

I was surprised at how relaxed I was feeling.  I was checking out the ladies around me, trying to see who was in my AG.  I had somehow ended up being mixed in with the 35-39 year olds so I didn't have a clear idea as to who my competition was.  I looked around and found a few of them racked over in the 200's.  Duly noted. 

I got everything laid out in transition and then took my bike out for a spin.  I double checked my brakes as I didn't want the same thing that happened at Woodstock to happen again.  All was good.  It was time to make my way down to the water.  I regrouped with my friends David & Heather and we made our way down to the swim start.  I found G and had him zip me up.  The race announcer said it was 8:09 which meant I had exactly 6 minutes to warm up before I had to get out of the water.  Ugh.  So I made the best of it.  I jumped right in, the water was really warm, and started swimming.  I made a conscious effort to practice my breathing and I was amazed at what a difference it made.   I did a quick swim out to the first buoy and was promptly told to turn around as the race was going to start.  So I swam back and got out of the water to look for G and the rest of the crew.

I found G, got my good luck kiss from him and then I found Heather.  She was also in my wave so we hung out together and watched all the other waves go off.  Our wave was up next at 8:23 am so all of us white capped women got into place.  I stood near the back once again and let everyone go when the gun went off.  I didn't wait as long as last time though, probably about 10 seconds or so, then I went.  I got into a good rhythm right away.  There was no panic.  No laboured breathing, nothing.  I just swam.  I thought I'd catch some people early but I hadn't found any feet.  I finally looked up to sight and discovered why I hadn't found any feet.  I had swam WAY off course.  Like out into the middle of the lake, off course.  UGH.  So I swerved to the right and headed back towards the group.  At least I thought I was headed back.  And I'm sure I was for a bit but I looked up again only to see that I had veered to the left again.  Holy cow.  This time I did a 90 degree turn and started swimming towards the pack.  A few seconds later, I found them and I was quickly entrenched in a group.  I swam right into someone so I stopped to try to get around them.  I was almost at the first buoy.  Amazingly I found some clear water.  I made it around the buoy without any issues and started to pick up the pace.

I found a pair of feet that I drafted off of for a bit, got around them, sighted the buoy and managed to stay on track.  I was starting to pass people.  Every time I turned my head to breathe, I was passing someone else.  I was feeling really good and I felt like I was swimming well.  The next thing I knew, I was at the beach.  I didn't actually look at my Garmin until I was halfway up T1 and at that point it said 13:46.  So, I knew I had a much better swim than at Woodstock, even with waiting for everyone to go.

T1 wasn't too much of a gong show this time around.  Although the visor on my aero helmet did pop out as I was trying to put it on, so instead of fiddling with that I grabbed my sunglasses.  I did forget to hit lap on my watch as I came into transition so I did that just before I picked up my bike.  Then I hit it again just after I crossed the timing mat on to the bike.

I had a solid bike here last year and I hoped to improve on that this year.  As soon as I started pedaling hard, my legs weren't happy.  They were tired, there was no if ands or buts about it.  Oh well.  Coach had told me to ride at a certain wattage (160w) but I completely forgot about that and rode at whatever pace I felt I could sustain.  The first 10km were fairly unpleasant but then something clicked and I started to feel better.   I made a point of drinking every 10 minutes or so.  I got into my aero bars and stayed there for as long as possible.  There are a lot of turns in this race so it's difficult to stay down for the entire ride.  Just after the15km turnaround,  I got stuck in a pack.  All of us were going about the same speed and none of us seemed to be able to go much faster for too long so we kept leapfrogging each other.  I was getting really annoyed.  At one point I yelled "we're all drafting".  I gave up trying to pass people and hung back until we got closer to the park entrance.  Then I put my head down and hammered.  Once you get to the park entrance, you have to slow down and I wanted to get ahead of the pack.  I glanced at my watch as I came up to the dismount line and I saw 51 minutes and change.  Holy smokes.  I was cooking.

I ran into transition and promptly racked my bike.  I then took off my shoes, then my helmet.  I reefed on my zoots, grabbed a gel and started running.  My stomach had been feeling a little weird towards the end of the bike and as soon as I started running, it really didn't feel good at all.  Awesome.  My legs were also not happy.  Ugh.  That first km was incredibly unpleasant.  Once I got out of the park and on to the pavement, I started to feel a bit better.  I was passing guys on a regular basis.  There was lots of "nice work" as I went by.  I settled into a good groove and started watching for the women.  I saw my friend David and we waved to each other.  Shortly after I saw him I saw the first woman, then the next.  And then the next.  By the time I got to the turnaround, I had counted 6 women in front of me.  Now, I had no idea what wave they were in or if any of them were in my AG.  There were two that I figured I could probably catch.  Sure enough just after I rounded the turnaround, I caught one.  Then just past the 4km mark I caught the other.  Had I been running my normal pace, I might have been able to catch another but I was only managing 4:16's-4:20's.  At the 6km mark, my stomach developed a huge stitch and I slowed down a lot.  Every breath hurt.  I worked at breathing through it and as I climbed the hill back into the park, I could feel the stitch releasing.  With less than one km to go, I really started to push.  I was hurting.

I ran around the bend and as I came to the line, I heard Steve Fleck announce my name and say that unofficially I was one of the top 3 ladies.  Huh?  Cool.  Hopefully that held up.

I wandered out to see Joe and G standing there and then David made his way over.  G looked up the results and confirmed that I was 2nd in my AG and 3rd place woman overall.  The woman that beat me was amazingly fast.  She crushed me by 3 minutes.  That's a LOT on a short course.  Whatever, I still made it on to the podium.  G then informed me that I averaged almost 35 kph on the bike.  Whaat???  Wow.  I was pretty pumped about that.  Heather and Jordan finished shortly there after as well as the other David so we milled about waiting for the awards to start.   Of course there was more picture taking and some goofing off.
This wins for Best Pic of the Day.  The folks at Recharge With Milk weren't laughing though.

We look pretty good considering how sweaty we were.

Joe finally won his AG.  He's pretty fast for an old guy (he's 51!).   Pic courtesy of Joe Park.

All in all it was a super fun morning.  Nothing beats racing with friends.  I'm definitely going to do it again next year.

I'm really excited about my newly acquired swim tricks.  I'm actually looking forward to getting into open water again and testing them out on a longer swim.  Looks like I'll have another date at the Quarry this weekend.  Bring it on!

A huge thanks to Real Deal Racing and all of our sponsors: Gears, WASPcam, Fieldgate Homes, Iler Silva Law Offices, Toronto Sport and Social Club, Morning Glory Cycling Club, Champion System (love my new race kit!), Powerbar, Balance Physiotherapy, RMP Total Fitness, Spin Kicks, Kenzington Burger Bar and Barnstormer Brewing

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sometimes You Need a Break: #Mingsanity Week 22

Remember how ginormous my previous week was?  Remember how I said that this week was supposed to be an even bigger one?  Well, it wasn't.  Yes, I had the workouts scheduled but my body just did not want to cooperate.  I was busy at work, I had two really crappy nights of sleep after my big weekend so I don't really think I recovered properly.  Add to that a serious ART session on Monday night and my body was a bit of a mess.  I was dragging my butt for most of the week.  I even skipped my Friday morning swim in favour of sleeping in, which turned out to be ok as the pool ended up being closed.   Clearly I needed the rest.   The rest was probably a good thing considering what I had on tap for the weekend.

Sooo, let's see how this past week went down.

Monday:  1500m swim.  Had to get out early to get to the dentist.  ART appt in p.m. so no workout.

Tuesday:  Had an 80 minute bike on tap but skipped it and opted to rest my hip and knees.  Spent some quality time with my pal Ice Pack instead.

Wednesday:  2800m swim.  This was a tough set.  Was supposed to ride / run when I got home but I worked late so I didn't.

Thursday:  a.m.  40 minute bike, 2km run.   This was supposed to be an interval workout but I had absolutely NO gas in the tank.  I was exhausted.  So I did what I could.   I did get to see a beautiful sunrise though.

Friday:  Was supposed to swim but I got up looked at my bathing suit and said, screw that, and went directly back to bed and fell into the best sleep ever for the next hour.

Saturday:  Binbrook Tri.  750m swim, 30km bike, 7.5 km run.  Total time:  1:40:55.   A full 3 minutes faster than last year!  Landed me in 2nd place in my AG (the woman who beat me was a MACHINE) and 3rd place female overall.   Race report to come!

Sunday:  106km ride at race pace followed by a 13km run at race pace. What an epic day of workouts.


Swim:  5050m
Bike:  156.15km
Run:  22.74k

Total time:  8h 32 min.  Most of which was on the weekend, ha ha.  

Now I am officially in taper mode.  Only 6 days until we leave and I haven't even started packing yet!  I better get on that soon.

How was your week of workouts?  Anyone else have any fun summer vacation plans?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tri-Talk Tuesday Link Up: Pre-Race Jitters

Today I'm joining in the fun with Courtney, Cynthia and Miranda and their Tri-Talk Tuesday link up.  Today's theme is Pre-Race Jitters.  How do you deal with them?  I find for most of my running races, I don't really get the jitters.  I'm never really nervous.  I'm more excited than anything.  With triathlon however, that's a whole other ball of wax.  There is something about triathlon that kick starts the butterflies into overdrive and I know exactly what it is:  it's the swim.  It turns my normal pre-race jitters into almost a full blown freakout

So how do I deal with this? 


1.  Visualization & Course Recon.   Before my "A" races, I usually try to spend some time visualizing myself out on the course.  Obviously it's helpful if it's a race I've done before but if it isn't (i.e. Luxembourg) I will at least do an online course recon so I know what I'm dealing with before I get there.  And then when I actually arrive, I will drive the course.  In the days leading up to the race, I will ride sections of the course and I will definitely swim. Thanks to the interwebz, I've become very familiar with what the Mosell River looks like online.  Now all I need to know is what the water is actually like.  Thankfully I will have 5 days to get used to it.  This past week I've been trying to picture myself swimming the loop of the course and coming out of the water with a big smile on my face.

2.  Train your Brain:  Training for any sort of endurance event isn't just about the physical aspect.  There is a mental aspect to it as well.  Distance events are going to wear you down mentally and physically.  If you're out there long enough, things are going to get tough, period.  You have to be ready to talk yourself out of the black hole and figure out what keeps you going.   I'm thankful that I'm stubborn as that seems to be what keeps me going when things get tough. 

Race Day:

3.  Set Up My Transition Area:   This is something I do almost immediately upon getting into transition.  It helps me get my "race face" on.  Once I have everything laid out, I feel settled and can get on with my morning

4Talking.  I can be pretty chatty at the best of times.  When I get nervous, look out.  I will talk your ear off.  I will strike up a conversation with pretty much anyone in transition.  It actually helps me to relax.  Weird right?

5.  Warm up.  I am big on the warm ups.  Being an older athlete it's become a necessity for me.  I will take my bike out for a spin, make sure everything is in working order.  I'll do a short run and then lastly, I wriggle into my wetsuit and get out into the water and swim.  I usually try to warm up for at least 10 minutes in the water. 

How do you deal with the pre-race jitters?

Monday, June 2, 2014

It's a Part Time Job: #Mingsanity Week 21

Yes folks, this past week was GINORMOUS.  Which scares me because apparently this coming week is supposed to be a high volume week.  Last week was classified as a medium/high volume week.  Good lord.  I was so exhausted by Sunday evening I was in bed asleep by 9:00 pm.  Oh yes, I know how to live it up, yo!  But, even though I was tired, I was happy.  I put in a solid week of work and I didn't die, ha ha.

Let's take a look at how my week unfolded.

Monday:  2000m swim in the a.m.  40 minute easy spin in the p.m.  Was supposed to be 60 minutes but my legs didn't feel good and I was bored so I got off the bike.

Tuesday:  80 minute ride in the a.m.

Wednesday:  2100m swim in the a.m.  60 minute interval workout on the bike (4x8 minutes at 180-200w with 2 minutes rest), followed by a 8.5km run with 3x1 mile repeats within it.  Followed by a Vega Recovery accelerator + a bag of ice on my knees.

Thursday:  OFF

Friday:  2450m easy swim

Saturday:  1800m open water swim, 71km bike, 8km run.

Sunday:  100km ride with 70 of it at race pace all along the DVP & Gardiner with my friends David & Heather.  SO much FUN!  Followed by a 6km run at race pace.  Followed by eating ALL THE FOOD.

The weekend was tough, I felt like it was non stop and I didn't really get as much sleep as I would have liked.  But, on the plus side, I got into the water and I am pretty sure I've figured out my fueling strategy for Luxembourg.  YES!  Now if only all my aches and pains would go away, I'd be a happy woman.  I feel like I'm operating at about 75% these days.  My knees still bother me and now my right hip is acting up.  Apparently I have a knot or something in there.  I've got an A.R.T appointment tonight and I suspect that it's REALLY going to hurt after all the work I did on the weekend.

Totals for the week:

Swim:  8350m
Bike: 257.37 km - the biggest week of mileage I've had on the bike in a LONG time
Run:  22.67km

Total time:  14h 9 minutes.  Yeah, I'd say that qualifies as a part time job!  Bring on the next week of Mingsanity!

How was your week of training?