Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday Musings: Buckling Down + Some News!

Happy Holiday Monday!

I hope everyone is enjoying the last day of the long weekend!  This is always though of as the unofficial start of summer.  I don't think Mother Nature has gotten the memo.   We had two gloriously hot days this past week and now we're back to overcast conditions and temps in the low teens.  If this is what we have to look forward to this summer, I'm going back to Florida.

I had a busy week this week between my part time work, social outings (girls night out and a concert), coaching and meetings.  The big thing that took up a fair bit of my time was going over my personal training practical.  I still haven't booked my exam.  I've been procrastinating like crazy because I'm nervous and I am feeling really overwhelmed about it all.  I spent a couple of days this week going over what was required with Ghina, my study buddy from the class.  She passed her practical with flying colours so she's been taking me through what is expected for the practical.   She was going to be my test subject for my actual exam but she's moving to Waterloo at the end of the month and I don't feel like I will be even remotely close to ready by that time.  My goal this week is to suck it up and book a date.

Speaking of goals, I finally got my butt out and did some speed work AND went to the gym!  Since I got back from Florida I kept telling myself that I'd be more consistent with running and strength training.   I finally got back into the gym this week and I've been diligent about doing core work at home.  My running is the worst it's been in a few years.  By worst I mean slowest.  But that's what happens when you always run the same pace.  You lose the extra gears.  I did a broken tempo run on Tuesday to see where things are at and holy crap was that hard.  I definitely have my work cut out for me over the next few weeks.  I've spent so much time focusing on my cycling that my swimming and running have fallen off.   So it's time to get down to business with my running and my swimming.  I looked at my Strava distance goal for swimming this year and it was 300,000km.  I'm at 82,500.  Normally I'd be well over 100,000 by now.   It's no wonder I feel like I'm always on the struggle bus in the pool, ha ha.

In contrast my cycling goal was 6500km and I'm already at 3100km.   Strava tells me I'm 601 km ahead of pace and I suspect that will continue to climb as now I'm going to be riding 4x a week.  I know what you're thinking....didn't she just say she needs to be working on her running and swimming, why is she adding another ride to her schedule?  Because I'm going to get to hang out with triathletes, that's why.  The Toronto Triathlon club has been looking to offer some more west end workouts so I will be leading rides on Tuesday nights in High Park.  So West End readers, come out for a mix of hills and skills!

Alrighty, so let's see what this sort of back on track week looked like.

Monday:  OFF.   I needed a recovery day after the previous week of heavy training.

Tuesday:  12.3km with 2x3km at tempo effort with 1km easy jog.  Paces for the tempo portion ranged between 4:24-4:35.  I remember when my tempo pace used to be around 4:10/km.  Sigh.

Wednesday:  2150m swim.  I totally died.  It had been 10 days since I had been in the pool and this was an hard endurance set.  Ugh.   I then went straight to the gym and did my physio routine and upper body and core.  50 minutes worth of sweating it out.

Thursday:  43.2km ride around Ellis with Morning Glory.  I set my fastest lap around Ellis this morning (34.6kph average!)  I felt pretty strong for this entire workout until the very last lap.   I had a run planned for after this but it was super hot and windy out and that ride was also very hard so I opted to push the run to Friday and allow for some solid recovery time (this old bod ain't 25 anymore!)

Friday:  9km of hills instead of swimming.  Skipped my swim as I was out late with the girls.  It was the first time we've all hung out since they came to Florida so I wasn't about to cut things short so I could get up to go swimming the next day.  Sometimes training takes a back seat.  It at least got a run in.  And I listened to Rusty Cage on repeat as a tribute to Chris Cornell as I ran up and down Lawrence.

Saturday:  85km out in the howling wind through the hills of Caledon on Tom Sawyer.  This was a bloody hard ride.  It was my first long ride on my tri bike since Florida and it was a LOT of climbing.

I used to love riding Tom Sawyer but I'm not much of a fan anymore.  He's a pig to ride - he's heavy and sluggish.  That being said, even though this ride was hard, I still rode really well, especially given the wind and I'm chalking that up to Tom Sawyer's ability to go fast in a straight line (there were some particularly awesome stretches of new pavement).   I know it was a hard ride because my legs were killing me by the end.  It's time for a massage this week for sure.  I've beat the crap out of my legs over the last two weeks so they need some TLC as we've got another big weekend of training next weekend.

Sunday:  3200m swim with so much pull my arms felt like noodles.  I don't think it helped that we were out late on Saturday either.  We went to see Midnight Oil, which was an absolutely PHENOMENAL show.  My swim was followed by a 16 km sufferfest.  My legs just didn't want to go.  I've switched shoes and I think that's part of the problem.  I'm back in my Zoot Solanas as I'm supposed to race in them and they are taking a bit of getting used to.  On the plus side, I didn't have one single blister and I was at the low end of zone two for the entire run.  WOOHOO.

Seen on my run.....


Swim:  5350m
Bike:  128km
Run:  37km <--- my highest run mileage since February!  

Total time:  10h 15 minutes

I hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend!  

~ Coach PK

Monday, May 15, 2017

Monday Musings: Short and Sweet

Have you ever gone on a trip that seemed to be longer than it was but also went by too fast?  I know that sounds weird but I can't think of any other way to explain this past "long weekend".   I went to Lake Placid and spent 5 days with 12 other likeminded women that I had never met before.   In fact most of the women there didn't know each other.  Groups like that can go two ways, either everyone gets along or, you have a group of opposites that just don't mesh.  I can safely say that this group got along really well - it was like we'd all known each other for years.  There were different levels of ability but that didn't matter.  We all supported each other and learned from each other.  I am so glad I decided to go to this, even after my girlfriend canceled.  I feel like I've gained a new network of ladies who love to ride.  Not to mention our awesome hosts in Lake Placid, Brian & Karen from High Peaks Cyclery.  I'm so excited to go back there in September to race the 70.3 and see them again, along with my new pal, Liz who is also racing and turned out to be the best roommate ever.  Brian will be racing as will one of the other guides, Karen (we had 3 Karen's in the group!) so it's going to be a big reunion, ha ha.  I had forgotten just how beautiful Lake Placid is.  It's changed a lot since I was there last in 2013 but the rugged beauty remains.

I will probably do a separate post on the camp itself and what to expect when going to a training camp but for now I will just say that it was a super fun experience!

Suffice to say this week was all about the bike.  I knew I wasn't going to get much swimming in and I had hoped that I might get at least one run in while I was in Lake Placid but sadly that didn't happen and it was probably for the best.  It's been a long time since I had done back to back to back days of riding and I think had I thrown a run in the mix, my legs wouldn't have made it to the end of the week.

Since I'm going to save the camp details for another post, I'll get right down to the nitty gritty and fill you in on how my week rolled out.  Literally, ha.

Monday:  2900m swim.  I knew I wasn't going to get any other swims in this week so it was off to the pool on Monday morning.

Tuesday:  FTP Test (30.2km on the trainer).  It had been over a year since I buckled down and did one of these and holy crap, I had forgotten just how much they hurt.  Thankfully I was rewarded with a shiny new FTP.  I'm chalking it up to all the riding I did in Florida.

Wednesday:  This was our first ride in LP and it was an easy spin to have Brian, our guide assess our skill levels.  I had forgotten to turn my watch to outdoor mode until about halfway through the ride so I missed a fair bit of the distance.   I think we covered about 30km or so but I only captured 18km of it.  Grr.

Thursday:  86.3km This was the climb up Whiteface and around some of the back end of Wilmington and Lake Placid.  The last time I climbed Whiteface was probably in 2005 and I remember suffering through it.  This time it hurt but definitely not as much.  I was very happy with how I climbed it.  I used to surge and fall back, surge and fall back, now I am a much steadier climber.  I get into a groove and I just chug along.  It also helps to have the right cassette on your bike!

Friday:  100km on the nose.  This was a ride around Saranac Lake which is somewhere I've never ridden before.  It was an "easier" ride in terms of elevation so we managed a nice steady pace.  We practiced pace line work both two up and single file, which was so much fun.   We pulled into the parking lot with about 700m left to cover so myself and two other ladies rode in circles around the parking lot until we hit 100km.  Yes, we have a problem.   This was followed up by an hour long yoga class led by one of the girls came to the camp.

Saturday:  101km +  This was supposed to be a shorter harder ride but I think our guides got us a bit lost.  This ride featured my nemesis, the descent into Keene.  It's an 11km descent that has some wide sweeping turns and I have white knuckled it every single time I've gone down it.  We were also going to climb it on the way back into Lake Placid.  My legs weren't feeling terribly fresh at the start so I was happy to just spin them out as we climbed out of Lake Placid.  We climbed a lot that day and I was concerned about climbing back up Keene.  But as usual, my body was capable of so much more than my mind led me to believe.  I crushed the descent with NO tears or fear or panic and I ate the climb back for lunch.  Steady effort all the way up and I felt strong the entire time.  If I had actually remembered to start my Garmin when I started the climb, I would have known how long the climb took me.  But alas, I didn't.  UGH. I think I missed about 2-3km of it.  So annoying.  So really I probably rode closer to 105km on the Saturday.  I was smart about the climb back.  So much so that I had enough energy to hammer it back into Lake Placid and spin around the lake to make it to 100km.  This was the best ride of the camp for me.  I burned every single match I had left on the way back in to Lake Placid and had a blast doing it.   This was the elevation for the day.  Yup.  All the climbs.

Sunday:  12km easy spin.  I had hoped to do a bit more than this and had I looked at my mileage for the week, I would have found I way to ride the extra two km to take me to 350km for the week, ha ha.  This was a very easy spin around the Lake and into the back areas of Lake Placid.  My legs didn't feel great but they were happy to be moving.  If I hadn't done this, I'm pretty sure they would have been super stiff after the drive home.

Totals for the week:

Swim:  2900m
Bike:  348km
Run:  ZERO

Total time:  15 hours and 2 minutes.

So, this week will be a bit easier.  I really want to get back on my bike tomorrow but I think I should probably give myself another day and go for a bit of a longer run instead.  Last week's TSS was pretty high so I need to dial things back a bit.

Have you ever gone to a training camp?  If so, where?  

What are your goals for the week? Whatever they are, tackle them at 150%!

Happy Monday peeps!

~ Coach PK

Monday, May 8, 2017

Monday Musings: Adventure is calling!

I hope everyone had an awesome weekend.  It was a big race weekend here in the GTA with the Goodlife Marathon and the Mississauga Marathon taking place yesterday.  The weather didn't look awesome but it turned out to be some pretty darn good racing conditions.  Cold, but good.  I had athletes racing in both races.  Everyone had good races, with one of my athletes completing her first marathon!  (YAY STACY!)

The sun has finally come out in Toronto but the temperatures are still lagging behind normal.  I am hoping things start to warm up soon!  It's hard to believe that I'll be racing a half ironman in 8 weeks. Apparently there's still SNOW in Tremblant.  That's not good because that means that the lake is probably still very cold.  It's a big lake that will take a while to heat up so it will be interesting to see what happens come June.  But I'm not going to worry myself about things I can't control.  I'm just going to make sure I've got my neoprene cap, ha ha.

Speaking of cold weather, I'm off on a bit of an adventure on Wednesday this week.  No, I'm not going skiing, ha ha.   It's the Morning Glory ladies trip to Lake Placid.  The weather forecast there is looking pretty darn crappy.   I've packed every single last bit of thermal clothing I have for the 5 days of riding.  I was really looking forward to this trip but my girlfriend that was going had to cancel so now I'm going solo, which is a bit of a bummer.  I'm not going to know anyone which would normally make me uncomfortable but this year is all about putting myself out there so I'm looking at this as an opportunity to meet a bunch of like minded women and potentially come away with a few more riding partners.  Here's hoping this forecast changes!  It is in the mountains so if there's one thing DO know from my many trips there, it's that the weather changes from hour to hour so, who knows!  My goal for the week is to log about 400km so we'll see if I can make that happen!

Knowing that I was going to be putting in some serious time in the saddle this week, I opted to dial things back a bit this week.   I had plans for some solid work but this week ended up being a bit of a gong show with a failed FTP attempt (power meter wasn't working), missing my Wednesday swim and dealing with a massive sinus headache / migraine on Thursday.   The crappy weather didn't help either.  So, the FPT test is going to happen tomorrow and I"m going to try to get at least two runs in while I'm in Lake Placid.   I'll miss about a week of swimming so I'm sure I'm going to pay for that when I get back.   Oh well.  At least this is the last trip I'll be taking before Tremblant so I will have time to get back into the pool on a regular basis.  I also found a brand new pool near our place that is FREE.  Yup.  FREE.  So, I know that is there as an option if I want to get some extra swims in.

With that being said, let's see how this past week rolled out...

Monday:  2500m swim.  My swim bag wasn't in the car so I ended up having to borrow goggles, a swim cap and fins from some of my teammates.  Not wearing my own fins ended up causing blisters on my feet and they were totally chewed up by the end of the swim.  OUCH.

Tuesday:  28.7km ride on the computrainer.  After spending about 3 hours trying to find my ANT stick to update the software on my pedals, I gave up on doing my FTP test and just decided to ride.  I chose a hilly course and made sure I worked the climbs.   By the time I got myself sorted, it was late afternoon and the rain had also started so there wasn't going to be a run either.  #trainingdayfail  I at least managed to get 25 minutes of upper body and core work in.

Wednesday:  Missed my swim so I could take G to the doctor.   The sun finally came out and the temps were actually quite nice so I went for a very easy run in the afternoon + 20 minutes of core & physio work after.

Thursday:  25.8km bike + 8.5km run.  I dragged my butt out to ride with Morning Glory.  I was totally overdressed and I felt like crap.  I managed 3 loops of Ellis before I called it a day.  I rode around the top of the park until I hit 25km and then went back to the car, grabbed my run stuff and went to meet my friend David for a run.  We ran trails and hills in High Park and stopped to visit the capybaras in the Zoo (because that's what you do!).  It was a tough workout and I felt horrible by the afternoon.

Checking out the capybaras

Friday:  2550m swim.  I still had lingering sinus issues when I woke up on Friday so I skipped my masters swim and waited to see how I felt.  By mid morning I felt much better so I opted to go to the brand new York Rec centre.  I had a lovely swim in an equally lovely pool, despite the fact my Garmin ate 25m of my swim for lunch.  

Saturday:  17km run.  This was a bit of a struggle.  My legs didn't feel great.  I really tried to focus on keeping my HR low, which wasn't that hard given how crappy my legs felt.  I think I'm training in the wrong zones these days.  I should have had my HR / V02max tested at the beginning of the year once I started running regularly again to establish my zones but I didn't.   I think I'm going to do that when I get back from Lake Placid.  

Sunday:  OFF - CHEER SQUAD DAY!   No good pics from the day because I am the worst at capturing any sort of running shots on my phone.  I need a real camera for that, ha ha.  I have to say that watching everyone  race yesterday and seeing the smiling faces, the medal pics, the tales of PR's all over the place really lit a fire in me to get my running mojo back.  It's been missing for the last few months.  So it's time to find that speed again.  Onwards and upwards!

Swim:  5050m
Bike:  54.5km 
Run:  31km

Total time:  7 hours on the nose

Congrats to everyone who raced this past weekend!   Enjoy your achievement and your recovery!!  

~Coach PK

Friday, May 5, 2017

Five Things I've Learned in Five Months of Self Employment

It's the fifth day of the fifth month and it's a Friday so it's a fortuitous day to do a "Five Things" post, don't you think?   Fittingly, it's also 5 months of self employment for me (amazing that I've littered a sentence with a bunch of F's and not one of them is an F-bomb, ha!) Anyway,  I can't believe it's been 5 months!  Time flies when you're doing what you love.  That being said, being self employed requires a fair bit of self discipline if you want to get things done and work at building / maintaining your business.

1.  Make a daily schedule.  If I don't do this, I guarantee that I will putter around and get nothing done.  I like to schedule my day into time blocks so I will schedule my work time, errand time, studying time etc.   It helps to keep me on track in terms of what I want to accomplish during the day.  Because left to my own devices, I could easily spend my day training, watching silly animal videos and reading.

2.  My calendar has become my life.  Now that I'm not leaving the house for work on a regular 9-5 schedule, the days of the week start to blend together.  So if I have athlete calls or meetings, they go in the calendar along with alarms / reminders.

3.  Don't be afraid to ask for advice and create a network!  Talk to people about how they started their business.  What worked for them, what didn't.   People are almost always willing to share their experiences.  When you're self employed you don't have the same network you would if you were working at a company so you need to create your own.  That was the weirdest thing for me when I left Westside.  I was completely on my own.  But I'm not really on my own, I know several triathlon coaches, therapists and personal trainers that I can turn to for advice.

4.  Not everyone I chat with / meet is going to work with me.  That is true of pretty much any business, especially one as personal as coaching.  This is still something that I struggle with from time to time but that's life and I'm learning to not let this bother me that much.  The world is a big place and online coaching allows coaches to work with anyone, anywhere so I've learned to look at the bigger picture.

5.  Each day is a blank slate and I get to choose how I fill it.  I am so grateful for that.   I'm learning to be open to new opportunities and I am slowly learning to put myself out there, which is something I've never been very good at (in my opinion)  I'd be lying if I said there weren't days that I've wondered if I'm cut out for this but I think that pretty much every self employed person has probably asked themselves that question at least once.  Even with those days, this was still the best decision I've made in a long time.

With that, it's time for me to get to work!  Happy Friday Folks, stay dry and stay safe!

`~Coach PK 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Monday Musings: It's MAY!

Yesterday that Justin Timberlake meme was all over my FB feed and it had me wondering what the heck happened to April.  Florida seems so far away.  I don't remember what HOT feels like.  Ok maybe that's a bit dramatic, it was hot last Sunday.  But I haven't ridden in hot weather since Florida.  I can't wait for the day I don't have to wear an extra layer or full fingered gloves on the bike.  Yesterday was particularly horrible.  I wasn't on my bike but I was playing sherpa for G who was riding Paris to Ancaster, yet again.  It was FREEZING and SUPER windy.   Kudos to all the crazy people that were out there racing because if I woke up to that, I would have bailed.   It was so windy it actually felt like November vs. the end of April.   The original forecast had called for rain during the race but thankfully that never happened or else it would have been truly miserable.  That being said, it was still pretty muddy and G's bike was definitely gross by the end of the race.

G at the start - nice and clean

G at the finish.  Not so clean.
I finally got back on track with hard work this week.  Well at least hard work on the bike.  I'm still not there yet with running.  The weather finally cooperated and I managed to get out with Morning Glory on Tuesday and Thursday morning.   The mid week rides are hilly circuits that are done up to 5 times.  There is a lot of surging and riding at close to or over threshold.  Tuesday morning was my first real test of my winter fitness and I passed with flying colours.  I actually managed 5 loops of Edenbridge. I can't remember the last time I've done that.  I think maybe ONCE last year.  This time I made it around 5 times, and out of the those 5 times, I managed to climb the big hill in my big ring three times.  Normally I'm in the small ring.  This means my leg strength has improved immensely over the winter, which I'm ecstatic about!  I know I went pretty hard because my Garmin said it was going to take me 53 hours to recover, ha ha.   I felt pretty tired on Wednesday but I was good to go again by Thursday.    Thursday we rode Ellis and I always struggle with staying with the group through the park due to all the twists and turns on the way out of the park.  This year, I managed to stay with the group through all of the turns, with the exception of the right turn out of the park onto the Queensway.   That is also HUGE for me.  I'm feeling much more comfortable in my bike handling skills and I'm chalking that up to all the riding I did in Florida.  All of this has me very excited for the season!!

This last week was spent doing a variety of things: attending a healthy aging workshop, trying to figure out my personal training practical, getting my CPR "A" certification and attempting to empty out a few boxes around the house.  I also went to the Toronto Triathlon Club Open House on Thursday night which was a lot of fun.  I saw a few people that I haven't seen in ages and met a couple of new people.   And I got these awesome socks from Courtney.  Ha!

I feel like I'm finally getting into a groove in terms of a schedule.  It's taken daily lists and some discipline but I feel like I'm on the right track.   There have been days where it's been too easy for me to sit on my laptop and link follow.  Sure I'm generally reading things that will benefit me as a coach but I'm also guilty of watching silly animal videos for a substantial amount of time, ha ha.  Time to buckle down!

Ok so, let's see how this past week rolled out shall we?

Monday:  OFF - my feet were in rough shape from my run and Mondays are usually fin days so I didn't want to subject them to any more torture.

Tuesday:  37.2km ride with MGCC.  This was hard.  Followed by an 8.5km run with my friend David.  This was also hard, mostly because my legs felt like crap.  This wiped me out for the rest of the day.

Wednesday:  1800m swim.  I was tired so I cut this short.   I also skipped my strength training workout.  Tsk tsk.

Thursday:  32.7km ride with MGCC.  This wasn't as hard as Tuesday, probably because I didn't do all 5 loops.  I only wanted to ride for 75 minutes and I had to be home by 7 am so I could get myself sorted and get out to my CPR class.

Friday:  1850m swim.  Tired once again.  I was also very disinterested in this swim for some reason.

Saturday:  42km ride.  This was a gong show from the get go.  The plan was to ride with MGCC but we left the house a bit late, then I flatted just before the lights at High Park so G changed my tire but we missed the group.  I didn't have another spare tube or C02 cartridge so we rode back home grabbed some extra stuff and rode solo.  The wind was so bad and we were both so cold that we turned around early and rode back home for coffee.   G didn't want to ride that long as he was racing the next day so this was good for him.

Sunday:  16km run in Ancaster, some on trails some on pavement, all of it in the wind.   It was beautiful though!

Swim:  3650m

Bike:  112km 

Run:  24.5km

Total time:  7h 27 minutes.  

April was a bit of a low month for me.  I still got some good workouts in but I definitely feel like I was lacking in direction and motivation.  Here's to May being a much better month!

How was your week of training?  

Happy Monday folks, make it a good one!  

~ Coach PK 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Monday Musings: Training Interruptus

How-day, Mon-day.

Who else stayed up last night after hopping on the Maple Leafs bandwagon?  I'm married to a sports fanatic (13 years today as a matter of fact!) so if there's a game on chances are it's being watched in our house at least by G.  That being said, I'm a sucker for playoff games so I will tune in if any Toronto teams make it in.  We had two teams in various playoffs so there has been a game on TV pretty much every night.  Sadly the Leafs lost last night but I think it's safe to say that the future looks bright for them!

I had big plans for the start of this build cycle.  After having a crappy couple of weeks, I was ready to start busting my butt again but my body had other plans.   I wasn't feeling so hot on Easter Sunday but I had a good night's sleep and woke up on Monday feeling pretty good other than a bit of a stuffy nose.  By Monday afternoon I had started sneezing and had developed a bit of sinus congestion.  Tuesday morning I woke up with a full on sinus cold.  I was totally zonked all day Tuesday and all day Wednesday.    I napped a bit, did a little bit of work but didn't have a lot of energy to do much of anything and I couldn't' concentrate on anything for too long so I didn't even get another blog post done.  Thursday I was feeling a lot better and was tired of being cooped up inside so I went out for a very easy 30 minute run.  That was probably a bit ambitious as my Garmin said it was going to take me 26 hours to recover.  I opted to skip swimming on Friday morning and take another rest day.  I wanted to be as close to 100% as possible so we could ride with Morning Glory on Saturday.

I've got 9 weeks left until Tremblant.  This time last year I was questioning whether or not I'd even get to the start line.  I don't want to jinx myself but I'm feeling pretty good these days.  I'm taking better care of myself and I'm doing the necessary work to keep my gluts and hamstrings happy.   I know if I want to have a solid run I need to start adding a bit more intensity to my run workouts.  That has been lacking since my race in March.  Everything I've been doing has been mostly zone 2 with the exception of yesterday's long run which brought me into low zone 3 (charging up every single hill you find will do what).  I need to start incorporating a few zone 4-5 workouts but I'm a bit afraid to do so because I know that's when injuries can happen.  I was thinking about this yesterday while out on my run and my plan is to do as much hill work as possible and alternate tempo / interval work every other week.  I think that will be the safest approach for me.  Running hills will keep my legs strong and it will only benefit me in Tremblant and Lake Placid because both run courses are fairly hilly.  Especially at the end.  So that's the plan.

Despite being sick last week, I still managed to log some solid training time on the weekend.  Nothing like jumping back into things with both feet, ha ha.  Let's take a look shall we?

Monday:  Rest Day - I got very little work done as I spent most of my day tracking all my friends running Boston.

Tuesday:  SICK

Wednesday:  STILL SICK

Thursday:  30 minute run in the rain.  5 minutes after I left the house it started raining.  I figured I was out I might as well keep going.

Friday:  REST

Saturday:  127km ride with Morning Glory and my longest ride this year.  This was hard.  It was WINDY all the way back.  My legs were killing me by the end.  I did a horrible job hydrating and I think that was the problem.   The fact that I was starving with about 10km left was also telling.  We actually stopped 2km from home for a "snack".

Sunday:  2100m swim + 18km hilly run.

Total time:  7h 18 minutes.  Not bad for a sick week.  :)

Here's to a healthier week ahead.  I'm off to a workshop on healthy aging today so stay tuned for a post on that later on this week!

Here's a little Monday humour for ya....

Do as the Captain says!

~ Coach PK 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Monday Musings: Marathon Monday

It's not just any Monday, it's BOSTON MARATHON MONDAY!  My Social Media feeds have been all Boston all the time since Friday and I've loved every minute of it.  I know what the excitement and anticipation feels like and it's so awesome to see it through other people's eyes.   It's also Easter Monday so to those of you that have the day off, enjoy!  Speaking of which, I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter Weekend.  Ours was spent with family eating, riding, running and eating some more.  It was a lovely weekend.   It was just what I needed to get me out of my funk.  Yup, I've been a bit down in the dumps for the last week.  I was feeling a bit out of sorts and very unmotivated.  I think it might have been the weather.  It was pretty grey and rainy this past week and I was worried that I had done something to my glut and hamstring again, which weighed heavily on my mind.  I had an appointment with my ART guy on Wednesday and all seems to be good.  Yes, things are really tight (surprise!) so I have to keep on top of that.  It may require another appointment but everything seems to be fine.   Ironically, it's coming up on the one year anniversary of my injury so staying on top of any issues is definitely in the forefront of my mind.   I do not want to piss away any more race entries!!!  Nor do I want to miss the Morning Glory ladies camp in Lake Placid coming up on the second week of May.  I'm SO EXCITED for that.  It will be excellent prep for Tremblant and Lake Placid 70.3.  I seem to have chosen all the hilly courses for my races this year so I should work on finding my climbing legs.  That is part of my next month of training....bring on all the hills!

Speaking of training, despite my low motivation this past week, I still managed an alright week of training.  I'm chalking that up to our 3 day weekend and the nice weather we had.  This is how things rolled out...

Monday:  1850m swim + 30 minute upper body & core workout at home

Tuesday:  8.2km easy run part of it with my friend David who is running his first Boston marathon today!

Wednesday:  2500m swim.

Thursday:  18km easy spin along the trail + 30 minutes of upper body, core and balance work.

Friday:  68.5km around the GTA with G.  It was a beautiful day for a ride!

Saturday:  15km run in the pouring rain.   I thought it was going to suck but it was actually quite nice.

Sunday:  78.5km ride with Morning Glory.  This was part of the development ride so it was a very nice easy pace.  Just what my legs needed after a 15km run.   I think I will be back out with MGCC this week, the mornings are looking warmer and rain free so that means all systems go!

Totals for the week:

Swim:  4350m

Bike:  165km (getting back on track!)

Run:  23km

Total time:  10h 45 minutes

How was your week of training?  Are you tuning in to watch the Boston Marathon this morning? I will be firmly planted in front of the TV for the next couple of hours!

Happy Monday folks, make it a good one!

~ Coach PK 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

These are a few of my favourite things.....Take TWO

It's been a long while since I've done one of these posts!   5 years to be exact.  Holy moly how things have changed, especially technology (look at my iPod shuffle, ha ha ha).   I'm still out pounding the pavement but I'm not listening to music when I run anymore (CRAZY!) and I'm spending a lot more time on my bike so there's some bike gear love in here too.  As a coach, I am always on the lookout for informative articles and videos so I'm sharing one of my favourite resources so without further ado, these are a few things that I either love (hello stroopwafel) or find incredibly useful, or both!

GU Stroopwafel in Salty's Caramel.

OMG.  What is a stroopwafel you ask?  It's a European thing, specifically from the Netherlands.   Honey Stinger was the first company to do these waffles and while I do like a few of their flavours, I am VERY partial to salted caramel anything.  At $2.59 a piece, they're a little more expensive than gels but they are a great option if you want something a little more substantial to eat without having to eat a bar.   I've also found the REAL stroopwafels in the odd European deli (once at a No Frills!) and they are way cheaper and just as tasty, however I strongly suspect that they don't offer the same performance benefits as one of these....

Kinetic Revolution.

I discovered this website when I was rehabbing my knee problems a couple of years ago.  This site is FULL of free exercise resources for runners and triathletes.  James Dunne is the face of Kinetic Revolution.  He's the guy you see in all the videos.  He's a total "form nerd" and he will often analyze the running form of various pros in a step by step post, which is incredible to watch when it's broken down the way he does it.  The site also offers fixes to various running gait issues.  There is also an entire section on mobility and stretching.  I've found some great stretches on this site as well as some excellent exercises.  

My wobble board.

I just re-discovered this when we got back last week.  As of late I've found that my transverse abdominus (lower abs) aren't that functionally strong.  Meaning when I run, I don't feel they are engaging.   I think my core in general could use some waking up so I've taken to the balance board for a couple of minutes a day to work on engaging those muscles.  Not only does it work my core but it also works my legs and ankles as well as my sense of balance (which is horrible).    I figure I should start incorporating this sort of thing into my training given that I'm going be helping someone run 8km up a mountain in the dark in July.  My goal right now is to balance on it for 30 seconds unsupported.  I'm currently at 7 seconds.  Clearly I've got some work to do!

Cat 5 Cycling Gear case.

This was an afterthought purchase last year at Watts Up and it is THE BEST THING EVER for keeping all my cycling bits and pieces in ONE spot.  I used to have my arm and leg warmers in a bin with my running gloves and hats and other stuff or, in another bin somewhere else and inevitably I wouldn't be able to find them when I needed them without having to rip the house apart.  Now, I keep pretty much everything in this handy compartmentalized bag.  It even has room for bottles on either side.  AWE-SOME.

Night Runner 270 Shoe lights.

I wrote a post about these babies when they first came out.  Now that I'm back to running at dark o'thirty from time to time, these are back on my shoes.  I had forgotten how awesome they are.  What's even MORE awesome is that the folks at Night Runner have designed a new pair called the Night Runner Pro.  This is from the press release:

"Built for adventure, the Night Runner PRO is equipped with two ultra-light, rechargeable, 300 lumen LED shoe lights that easily attach to shoelaces. The patent pending, bi-lateral winged design features 270 degrees of visibility with two rear-facing red tail lights so the user is visible from all sides. The removable lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack allow for up to 10 hours per charge. Night Runner Pro will be the first in the industry to provide visual performance feedback through flash alerts by way of bluetooth/smartphone integration".

From the sounds of it, these are going to be great. The one thing that bothered me a bit on the originals was the battery life. I found that after a couple of morning runs I had to charge them again. These ones come with a removable battery pack vs. having to plug in the actual light. You can also purchase additional packs if you need longer battery life. I'm also very curious to see what this visual performance feedback is like. They've got a kickstarter campaign happening right now that gets you a pair for $55 USD vs. the $89.99 USD that they will sell for. Plus you also get a playlist from Doug and Renata, the company founders. There's an even better deal if you have a partner that's a runner or if you want to get a second pair for a friend - you can get two pairs for $105.

The original Night Runner 270

So there you have it! I promise I won't wait another 5 years before I do another one of these, ha ha.

What are some of your favourite things?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday Musings: Preventative Measures

Well, here we are.  Monday again.  Our first week back home was a fairly busy one.  I still haven't finished unpacking my suitcase.  Does anyone else do that when they come back from holiday?  Every time I go to the spare bedroom, I grab another handful of clothes from my suitcase and put them away.  At this rate I should have my suitcase unpacked by the end of next week.  :)   Then maybe I can tackle all the remaining boxes that we have left to unpack.   I had completely forgotten that we still hadn't fully settled in to the house before we left for Florida.  So that is on my list of things to tackle this week.

Last week was all about finding a new routine.  I'm not getting out and riding 90km mid week anymore and although Morning Glory has started with their morning rides, I'm not ready to get up at 4:30 to ride in the cold and dark just yet.  The weather was pretty crappy last week.  That being said I did meet up with my running buddy on Tuesday and that run ended up being a very soggy one.  Wednesday was nicer so I actually went out for a ride mid-morning but that was about it.  Once the weather gets better, things will change.

During the last couple of weeks in Florida, I could feel some tightness happening in my left glut.  I made sure I stretched my gluts and hips but probably not as often as I should have.  I also took the accuball to my hips but again, probably not as often as I should have.   I would start to feel numbness when sitting for prolonged periods of time.  Sometimes I'd feel tightness and soreness in my glut when riding.   I knew I was scheduled for a massage when I got back so I figured that should help and if it didn't I'd go and see my ART guy.  I had my massage on Thursday and when I got up Friday morning my left glut was so sore and irritated.  It hurt for me to sit and standing wasn't that much better.  It was throbbing and aching so I called my ART guy for an appointment and got in for Tuesday.  I iced it and took an Aleve.  The Aleve did nothing, I would have been better off taking a Robaxacet.  The ice seemed to help.  I got up on Saturday and felt ok so G and I opted to go for a cruise down to the old 'hood.  Halfway through the ride I could feel my entire left glut aching.  And it was into the upper hamstring, right where I had torn it last year.  Of course my mind starting going down that "there goes my season" path again.  I was self diagnosing all over again.   Surprisingly after the ride I felt fine which made me feel a bit better.  I'm now hyper aware of any sort of tingling in my glut / hamstring.  As I sit and write this, I can feel soreness and a slight burning sensation in my left glut.  I'm really hoping it's just a very tight piriformis muscle.  I'll have a better idea tomorrow.  For now, I'm icing and rubbing arnica oil on it and will try to resist the urge to get on my bike today because it's supposed to be freaking GLORIOUS out.

I had originally wanted to ride with Morning Glory on Sunday but figured 100km with an irritated butt wasn't a good idea so I thought I'd swim.  Well, Mother Nature had other plans apparently.  I had cooked some salmon for dinner the night before and I think the piece I had was off.   I only had a few bites but that was enough to upset my stomach.  I woke up at 2:00 am and my stomach was churning. I got up again at 5:30 and took a Tums.  Up again at 6:30 to get ready for swimming and I was so exhausted that I fell asleep on the couch and skipped swimming.  I went back upstairs to bed and watched a couple of episodes of Ray Donovan and fell asleep again.  By about 9:30 my stomach stopped churning and I thought I'd try to eat something.  I had some plain oatmeal with a little bit of maple syrup.  That was fine.  I then had some coffee.  Also fine.  My stomach still didn't feel awesome but at least I had somewhat of an appetite.  I'm still not 100% but I'm definitely better than I was.  I may have to take some probiotics to balance things out.

All that to say that this wasn't a very exciting week of training.  This is the first real kind of setback I've had so I'm being REALLY cautious.  I DO NOT want a repeat of last year.  Ironically I'm getting close to the "anniversary" of my injury so if it means I have to chill out for a couple of weeks to be safe, then that's what I'll do.  I have resumed my regular hamstring rehab routine as well.  It went by the wayside over the three weeks as did pretty much all my strength training.  But I managed to get back to the gym twice this past week.  Woohoo!

Speaking the past week, let's take a look at what went down.  Not a lot as evidenced by my lack of photos.

Monday:  2800m of fins.  I actually felt really good considering I swam 3200m the day before!

Tuesday:  10.4km soggy run followed by 45 minutes of strength work.

Wednesday:  2300m swim, then 25km ride outside!

Thursday:  30 minutes of strength work.  Today just wasn't a day that was conducive to getting anything done.  I'm not sure why.

Friday:  OFF

Saturday:  50km ride

Sunday:  OFF


Swim:  5100m
Bike:  75km
Run:  10km

Total time:  6h 59 minutes.  Definitely a big change from the previous week but I clearly needed the down time.  

How was your week of training?  Does it take you a few days to unpack a suitcase or do you just get it done? 

Here's some Monday Motivation for you......

Make it a good one!
~ Coach PK

Friday, April 7, 2017

Building Mental Toughness

What is mental toughness?  It's a hard thing to define but you always know when someone has it.  I like to think of it as the ability to suffer through adverse situations to achieve a goal. 

If you are an endurance athlete, chances are at some point during a race, things are going to hurt and you're going to question your reasons for signing up in the first place.  You're going to feel like crap or maybe your perfectly thought out race plan is falling to pieces.  Whatever the case may be, I can guarantee there will come a time when you will have to rely on more than just your body to get you across that finish line.  That is when the race becomes a mental battle.  

How you react to adverse conditions like weather or a having a mechanical issue, will also ultimately affect your race experience.   Luckily, these are things that you can (hopefully) prepare for.  I say hopefully because you can't always control the weather.   That being said, this is Ontario, chances are you're going to get rain and possibly even snow on some of your early season outdoor rides.  When I see rain in the forecast for an outdoor ride, I often think about doing it inside on the trainer.  But doing that would be the easy thing to do.  Getting out in the crappiest of weather and getting your workout done is a good thing.  Yes, it sucks when you're doing it.  I can remember many a bike ride that was done in pouring rain and wind and almost always ended in tears.  But I went out and got it done.  You can't control the weather so what happens if you get a torrential downpour on race day and you've never ridden or run in the rain?  How do you deal with that mentally?   Do you resign yourself to having a less than stellar day?  Your reaction to all of this is a choice.  You can choose to embrace it or you can choose to worry about it. 

If you want to work at building mental toughness, you need to actively expose yourself to being uncomfortable.  Get out when it's raining (but be SAFE).   Go out when the winds are howling (again, be SAFE).   Workouts like these are called "character building" for a reason!   Mental toughness (and confidence) is built by pushing beyond your perceived limits and realizing that you are capable of doing more.  Just like nailing a hard workout, gritting it out in less than favourable conditions gives you a certain sense of accomplishment.  So when faced with said conditions on race day, you are ready.  You've been there.  

How do you harness this toughness when things start to go sideways?  For me, I find I have to just focus on the task at hand, what I'm doing in that exact moment.  I don't think too far ahead because then my mind starts to wander and I lose focus.  If you're in the water, think about your stroke and your breathing, focus on that until you get to the next buoy.  On land, think about your cadence and your breathing, focus on what you can control.  If you're like me, then you're probably carrying on a conversation in your head.  This is the time to rely on your positive self talk.  Don't think about what could go wrong, or what you should have done (shoulda coulda woulda!).  If you have a phrase or mantra, keep repeating it.  The body achieves what the mind believes so keep things POSITIVE.  

Take the opportunity to practice getting uncomfortable in your training and learning how to deal with those feelings.  That's part of what training is all about.  Race day will be the sum of all of your training experiences.  Make sure you're ready for anything!  

What are your go to mental strategies?

~ Coach PK

Monday, April 3, 2017

Monday Musings: Back on Home Soil


I'm coming to you from my favourite chair in our living room.  Yup, we're back on home soil.  I'm happy but sad at the same time.  It's really nice to be back in our own house, sleeping in our own bed.    And of course, the first thing I did as soon as we got in after grocery shopping, was fill up the tub with some lavender scented epsom salts and bubble bath.  HEAVENLY.  I'd like to say the drive home was a breeze, well the second half of it was but the first half was BRUTAL.  I think March 31st is probably NOT the smartest day to leave Florida.  At one point when we were crawling along the interstate, I looked around and noticed that the occupants of pretty much every single car around us were at least 75 years old.  It was the senior citizens exodus.  Which might have explained why the traffic was so freaking brutal.   It took us over 3 hours to get through 2/3 of Georgia.  Georgia isn't that big!  Our first day drive was about 13 hours.  It should have been 10.   Traffic karma made up for it the next day.  We flew through Virginia & West Virginia.   Even with stops, we still managed to make up time.  The Border was smooth sailing as well.  Gotta love having a Nexus card!

I was fully expecting to freeze my butt off when we got back but it was actually quite nice.  The sun was shining as we drove across the border and there was a nice breeze.  It definitely feels like spring. That being said, I don't remember how to dress for these temps so getting ready for yesterday's run was challenging.  It was 14 degrees but in Florida that would have been chilly so I put on capris and a very light long sleeve shirt.  WRONG.  I was quite toasty.  Shorts would have been a better idea, even after the sun disappeared, I was still pretty warm.  Lesson learned.

Now that I'm back home and I have an idea as to what the weather is really like, I think I'm going to try to brave things and ride outside.  I honestly don't know that I can face being back in the basement.  I know that Morning Glory has been out riding during the week and this past weekend and it was only 4 degrees out!  THAT'S crazy talk.  Although there is a good chance I will be drinking that Kool-Aid this weekend.  And I'm planning on suiting up and heading out on two wheels this afternoon to test the waters.

Now that I'm back home, a lot of people have asked me "Now What?".  Well, I currently have a nicely manageable roster of athletes and planning for and monitoring them keeps me trucking along.  I still have to do my practical exam for my personal training certification so that will probably take up a lot of my time over the next few weeks.  I'm also doing some part time work for the Canadian Public Relations Society so I have just enough on my plate to keep me busy-ish, which is perfect.   There are a few other things in the works but I'll keep them under wraps for now until they get firmed up.  That's all I'm going to say about that, he he.

Anyway, let's get to the real meat of this post.  My last week of fun in the sun!  Again, it was all about the bike, however, I surprisingly had a huge week in the pool as well.  Wonders never cease.

Monday:  2286m recovery swim.  My legs were pretty sore from the clay trail run so I had nice easy swim at the NTC.

Tuesday:  2469m swim with SLAP followed by a 90.5km ride to almost the top of the Apopka Trail.  I thought I reached the top when I got to Apopka Station but realized when I stopped at a map on my way back that the trail actually went 1.6 miles FURTHER.  UGH.  Guess I'll have to wait until next year to see what's at the top of the trail!  But I love that I was able to ride 90km on TRAILS.  I wasn't on the road ONCE during this ride other than to cross the street.  Florida has definitely got this whole trail thing right!

Wednesday:  20.5km Another really easy spin on another local trail.  I had planned to do a run and go to the gym but that never happened.

I did come home to this email though, which made me chuckle.   Can I represent Canada instead???

Thursday:  2100m:  last swim with SLAP in the 50m pool and then my last ride with the Clermont Crew.  They even took me on a different route!  My goal was to ride 100km that day but I was pretty pooched by the time I got back and it was scorching hot out.  I realized shortly after I got in that I was just shy of my 200km weekly cycling goal so I went back out and did another 5.8km  Total for the day was 91km.  I didn't have it in me to ride the extra 9km, not after fighting a headwind all the way back, ha ha.

Serious #RideMatchy action happening!  This WAS NOT planned!

Friday:  I had big plans for this morning, I was going to run and go to the gym but we were out the night before and I had a splitting headache when I went to bed so I slept in until 6:45 and then had to finish packing and cleaning out the fridge.  So no workouts.

Saturday:  Another day spent in the car.

Sunday:  Back home and up early to go swim with Normac.  3200m done, followed by a 12km run.


Swim:  10,550m  the biggest week I've ever had swimming!

Bike:  201km

Run:  12.3km

Total time:  11h 50 minutes.

Now that I'm back home, my workout schedule will be changing.  I'll be back to early mornings once again.  I'm kind of looking forward to that.  It's nice to come home after a workout and know that you still have most of your day to be productive.   That should result in some more content on the blog!

Now I need to finally finish unpacking and then go get on the bike!

I'll leave you with this Monday Mantra:

~ Happy Monday!

How was your week of training?  Has spring arrived for you yet??

Coach PK

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Starting Over: Great Clermont Triathlon Race Report

As I mentioned in this post the other week, I haven't raced an Olympic distance race in over 10 years.  I really didn't know what to expect.  And not having raced regularly last year, well, it felt like I was starting over.  Thankfully because I felt like I was starting over, I was super diligent about packing my bag early the day before and triple checking it.  What I did forget to do the day before was pump my tires and I spent half the night of my fitful sleep, reminding myself not to forget to do that when I got up the next morning.

Guess what I almost forgot to do race morning?  Yup.

Thankfully I remembered just as we were getting ready to leave the house.   We were already leaving later than I had wanted so add this to the mix and I was a bit of a stress bundle.  At least we were very close to the race start.  But I had lost about 15 minutes of chill out time due to the fact that we just couldn't seem to get ourselves sorted and out the door.

I didn't sleep well the night before the race which isn't surprising.  I was super nervous.  It was my first triathlon in over a year and my first Olympic distance race in a VERY long time.  I didn't know what to expect.   I had done a very short open water swim the day before and I felt pretty good.  The water was nice and calm and it was supposed to be the same for us race morning.   When I got up, I checked the temperature.  It was 14 degrees, which was perfect.  I knew I'd be just fine in my Zoot kit.  G had the news on and I caught a snippet of the weatherman saying something about a small craft advisory.  Um.  What?  There wasn't supposed to be any wind.  I dismissed that, figuring that they were probably talking about the coast.

The ride down to the park was a bit precarious in the dark.  Gary had put lights on his bike so I rode behind him.   I probably should have put a light on the front of my bike at least so I could have seen the road.  Even though I've ridden down this road pretty much every time I go riding, it's different when it's dark out.  The last thing I wanted was to ride over a piece of glass or hit a pothole and flat.  Luckily none of that happened and we turned into the park and rode over to transition.

We found body markers right away.  I have to say I'm not sure what the deal was with the body marking but I had my race number written all over my body.  It was on both of my arms, both of my shins and my age was written on the back of my right calf.  Seemed a tad bit excessive but hey, maybe that's just the way things are done here.

I made my way into transition only to find that the rack I was supposed to be on was totally packed save for a tiny little spot between two bikes.  Reason number 1005 that I like to get to the race site early.  Luckily I managed to wedge Tom Sawyer into the last little spot on the rack.  The other ladies shuffled their bikes over and gave me a bit of extra room.  I went about setting up my transition and getting my bike ready.  I went to pour my drink into my aero bottle and because my bike was racked and leaning forward, as the bottle filled up to the top, a whole bunch of it spilled out everywhere.  All over my helmet, my shoes, my towel.  Awe-some.   I quickly cleaned all that up and finished laying everything out.  I started to put my wetsuit on as I only had about 20 minutes to get ready and into the water to do a warm up.  Normally I like to do at least a 10 - 15 minute warm up so I was cutting it close.  I pulled the fro into a mini bun and went to put my swim cap on over it when all of a sudden heard pphhhhttt and felt the cap give.  You've GOT to be kidding me.  My cap had ripped.  I had my wetsuit half on so I waddled over to the registration tent to see about getting a new cap.  Apparently I wasn't the only one that had ripped their cap.  They gave me another one that was equally as flimsy so I stood by the registration desk and put it on just in case it split.  Thankfully it did not and I was off to double check everything in transition before I made my way down to the water.

I ran back into transition and gave everything a once over.  Then I went looking for G.  I had about 10 minutes left before the race start.  I booked it down to the beach and found G getting into his wetsuit. I wriggled into the rest of my wetsuit and had G zip me up.  A quick good luck kiss and I was off to try to get into the water and warm up.  I had less than 10 minutes.  NOT ideal but whatever.  Nothing I could do about it so I was going to make the best of it.

I waded in and let the water seep into my wetsuit.  It was cool, probably about 68 degrees, which is perfect for a longer swim.  I quickly dove in and started swimming.  The sun was just coming up so it wasn't quite light just yet.  I swam out past the buoy lines and noticed that the water was quite choppy.  Ugh.  So much for the little to no wind forecast.  I heard the announcer telling people to get out of the water so I turned around and swam back.  I made sure to swim hard so I could get my heart rate up.  I clambered out of the water and stood on the shore just as the announcer introduced the woman singing the national anthem.  My goggles started to fog up so I pulled them off.  My swim cap almost came off in the process.  I pulled it down a bit more but it didn't seem to want to cover my head and I was afraid to pull it down much farther just in case it ripped again.  The announcer counted us down, the gun went off and then all the women in the race were off.

I hit start on my watch and waded into the water.  I let the hordes go so I could ease into the swim.  I waded into the water until it was up to my thighs and then I dove in.  As soon as my feet left the ground I felt my timing chip start to slip off my ankle.  AHHHHH.   I stopped and grabbed it and then fumbled with trying to get it secure and under my wetsuit so I wouldn't risk losing it again.  I watched the pack swim away from me.  I finally secured it and managed to tuck it partially under my wetsuit.  I put my head down and started swimming.  Stroke stroke, gasp, stroke.  Oh boy.  The water was smacking me in the side of my head so I had to adjust my breathing to one side.  I chugged along, past the buoy line, out into the more open part of the lake.  The sun was starting to come up over the horizon and it was quite pretty.  The lake was PITCH black.  I could barely see my hands in front of me and I couldn't see anyone in front of me so when I came upon my first set of feet, I popped up out of the water.  I realized I had gotten into a bit of a congested pack so I swam off to the side to try and get around them.  I put my head down and started swimming.  I tried sighting but just couldn't get my breathing rhythm down, nor could I really see anything.  So I popped my head up again and realized that I had swum way off course.  Ok then.  I turned hard and swam towards the pack again.  Once again I tried to get into a rhythm with my breathing but I just couldn't.  I swallowed a bunch of water. So I stopped and breast stroked.  And breast stroked some more.  Surprisingly there was no panic, which is a first for me.  Not once did I think OMG GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!!!  It was more a slightly mild annoyance at the fact that I couldn't swim straight, that my goggles were fogging up and that the water was slapping me in the face.  I know that doesn't sound ideal but I was pretty darn happy about the fact that there was no panic.

I put my head down and started swimming again, counting strokes and making a point of really exhaling when I put my face in the water.   I managed to stay in somewhat of a straight line and got a better sight line on the first turnaround buoy.   I could feel my forehead getting cold and brought my hand up to my head.  All I felt was the skin of my forehead and my hairline.  I stopped to tread water and put my hand on the top of my head.  Sure enough my swim cap was almost off.   Piece.  of.  crap.  I pulled my goggles up, pulled my swim cap down and put my goggles back on.  I hoped it would stay in place.

I made it around the first turnaround buoy and managed to get into a bit of a rhythm for a bit.  I looked up to sight and realized that once again I swam way off course.  Good lord I was really struggling.  I reoriented myself and headed towards the second turnaround buoy.  The water was now slapping me directly in the face.  AWE-SOME.   Once again I swallowed a bunch and almost immediately started choking and coughing.  More breast stroke ensued.  I finally caught my breath and resumed swimming.  I was starting to get really annoyed but I kept swinging my arms in circles and kicking my legs, in the hopes I'd soon be at the shore.

I made it to the second turnaround buoy and was now heading towards the shore.  The waves were no longer slapping me in the face but I could feel my head getting colder and colder.  You have GOT to be kidding me, was all I could think.  I stopped and put my hand to my head.  Sure enough my swim cap had popped off again.  Grrrr.  Once again, I pulled my goggles off, pulled the cap down, put my goggles back on and started laughing.  That's all I really could do.  I put my head down and started swimming.  I could see the shoreline starting to come into view.   I looked for my extra gear.  Apparently I don't have one in the water at the moment, ha ha.  My hand finally scraped bottom and I took a couple more strokes and stood up.  I didn't have the energy to sprint out the water.  I jogged out of the water and up onto the beach.  I pulled my goggles off and once again my swim cap popped off, taking my hair band with it but I was so out of it I didn't notice until a spectator ran up to me and handed it to me.

Swim time:  30:25.  A personal worst for me in terms of time (pace per 100/m)  but a win in terms of keeping a cool head and no panic issues.

Even though this is only an Olympic distance race, they had WETSUIT STRIPPERS!  So of course I ran to the first group and let them go to town on me.  I was out of my wetsuit in no time.  But then there was the long run up to T1.  I had forgotten about that.   Once my wetsuit was off, I booked it towards my bike.  I crossed the timing mat into T1 and remembered to hit lap on my Garmin (winning!)  I was on the second rack so it was easy to find.  I dropped my wetsuit, grabbed my bike helmet and put it on, only to find that the visor was completely fogged up.  Once again I laughed.  Let's see what else this race has in store for me.  I scrambled to wipe my grass covered feet off and pull my socks on.  Normally I go without but it was a bit cool and I knew I was going to wear them for the run so I figured I might as well put them on now.

I grabbed my bike and waddled out of transition.  Both my ears were plugged with water so I couldn't hear anything.  Usually I'm able to shake some of the water out but I wasn't able to.   I ran up to the dismount line, hit lap again on my watch to start the bike timer and hopped on my bike.  I couldn't see a darn thing because my visor was completely fogged and I was deaf, ha ha.  I knew that the bike course starts with a nice little climb and a turn.  There are a lot of turns on this course as it’s kind of Y shaped.  Anyway, I at least had the foresight to have my bike in the small chain ring so I wasn’t killing myself trying to blindly climb the hill in the wrong gear.  There were a couple of climbs to get out onto the main part of the course so I kept it in the small ring until we got out of the residential neighbourhood we were in and onto the main road.  At some point along here, I opted to hit lap on my watch again because I had seemingly forgotten that I had already done so TWICE.

For those of you that have a Garmin 920xt, you know that you are only supposed to hit lap in triathlon mode when you’re transitioning between sports because that’s what tells the watch that you’re moving either into transition or into another sport.  Because I hit the lap button a third time,  my watch thought I was in T2, but I didn’t realize it at the time.   I was so focused on passing the handful of women in front of me.  I had my head down and I was hammering.  Trying to find the sweet spot between going too hard and just hard enough.  My legs certainly didn’t feel awesome.   Riding 55km the day before probably wasn’t the best idea but I’m down here to ride and this wasn’t an A race so it was what it was.  I was going to do the best with whatever my body had that day. 

I had ridden about 75% of this course on a regular basis over the last 6 weeks so I knew what to expect for most of it.   A  short steep climb, a couple of short grinder climbs, plus one longer grinder and that's about it.  I knew that once you hit the turnaround from the second out and back, you could get some seriously good speed which I had every intention of taking advantage of.   When I came out of the water, the announcer called my name and said I was 22nd out of the water so I had that number in my head.   I had caught and passed 4 women on my way out onto the main road and I had another one in my sights along the flats.  Once I started climbing on the first out and back, I caught two more.  That first climb was steep.  Normally I’d leave it in the big chain ring and muscle it out but 40km is a long way to go when you haven’t raced it in years, so I flipped it into the small ring mid way up the climb and spun my legs out.   I got to the top and was greeted by some wide open space, a false flat and a lot of wind.   No problem.  I've been riding in the wind ever since I got here.  Florida is very windy.  Don't get me wrong, it was still hard, I just wasn't as bothered by it as I normally am.  

The road in this section was fantastic.  It was smooth and rolling and there was a nice big shoulder.   There was also some crowd support at the turnaround which was great to see!  The turnaround was at the bottom of a hill so once you turned around, you had to start climbing again.  The turnaround was nice and wide which meant that for the first time in AGES, I actually didn't unclip when I made the turn.   A-MA-ZING!  I think all my bike riding is paying off.

I made the turn and started up the climb.  I was curious to see how I was doing time wise so I glanced at my Garmin.  What I saw confused me.  It was a screen I didn't really recognize.  So I looked at it again.  I saw 33 something in the corner of the watch face, not in the middle where I expected it to be.  I didn't any distance, speed or power stats.  I glanced at it again.  And then I realized what I was looking at.  Because I hit the lap button THREE times, my watch thought I was in T2.  UGGHGGGHHHHHH.  I didn't want to totally mess myself up for the run, so, I hit lap again and then hit stop and save.   Then I started my watch all over again until I got to the bike section.  At least I'd have half the data from the bike and all of the data from the run.  I did this all while climbing.

By the time I got back out to the main road, I had caught and passed two other ladies.  I was back on Cherry Lake Road, a road I had become very familiar with over the last several weeks.  The climbs out are grinders but the descents on the way back are SO MUCH FUN.   I went up the climbs, made it around the turnaround without unclipping once again (WOOHOO!) and then pushed the pace to the descent.   I put it in my hardest gear and pedaled like mad.   The descent on Cherry Hill has a wide sweeping turn that opens into a nice flat straight away.  It's like a sling shot.   It's such a fun stretch of road to ride.  I whipped along here grinning from ear to ear.  I had one more climb before I turned onto Jalarmy and took it down to Minneola Shores, which was the road I'd take almost all the way to transition.

Once I made the turn onto Minneola Shores, I was smacked in the head with a lovely headwind.  Thank you Florida.  I fought that wind for what seemed like ages.  I could really feel my legs getting tired.   40km is a long way to go when you're pushing the pace.  I was definitely starting to fatigue.  I think had I metered my pacing a bit better I might not have hurt so much.  But hindsight is 20/20.  I finally turned off of Minneola Shores and wound my way through residential streets back to transition.  There was lots of zig-zagging but before I knew it I was back on the descent towards the dismount line.  I hopped off my bike and shuffled into T2.  My legs felt like garbage.

Bike:  1:14:36 - pretty much right where I thought I'd be!  Pretty pleased with this given that it's only March.

I racked my bike and pulled off my helmet.  I was feeling a little discombobulated and I struggled to get my running shoes on.  I finally got them on, grabbed my sunglasses and race belt and ran out of T2 onto the bike path and into, you guessed it, an AWESOME headwind.   To top it off, my legs felt like tree trunks.  I'm not going to lie, I was questioning my choices at that point.  My first km felt awful but eventually I settled into a decent rhythm.  I actually started to feel pretty good in a weird sort of way.  Perhaps everything was going numb so I didn't know any different....Anyway, I was starting to catch some of the women in front of me and I think that lit a fire in me.  Nothing like a target to make you go faster!  Every time I glanced down at my Garmin I was seeing between 4:30's and 4:35's.  Woohoo!  I wondered how long I'd be able to hold on to that pace.  I was feeling pretty strong.  I caught one woman, and then another, and then another.  5km in and I'm still feeling pretty good.  I see the first place woman on her way back so I thought I'd count the number of ladies in front of me.  The first place woman had a pretty big lead on second place and second place had a pretty big lead on third place.  After that the women were much closer together.   At about 7km in, I was starting to fatigue.  Everything was starting to hurt.  I had counted 8 women in front of me at that point.  I caught one and was reeling in another.   There was a lot of YOU GO GIRL and Nice Work - I love that about triathlon - I ALWAYS see that with women when they race.  I don't hesitate to congratulate someone when they pass me or when I pass them.  I had moved up into 7th place.  As I entered the park, I knew the finish line was only about 1.5km away so I started to empty the tank.  The path was lined with spectators, I could hear the finish line music.  Up ahead I spotted another woman.  I couldn't see what was on her calf as the number had smudged.  As I got closer I saw there was a 4 but I couldn't see the other number.  Oh boy.  She was on Team Wattie Ink and a bunch of her team mates were cheering for her as I closed in.  One of them started yelling go go go.  The finish line was literally a few hundred meters away.  I was turning myself inside out to catch her.  I caught up to her a few meters before we turned into the finishing chute.  Her teammates were going nuts encouraging her.  I said nice work as I caught her and fully anticipated a sprint to the finish but I think she was already giving her all.  I passed her and ran like crazy to the finish line.  I left it all out on the course for sure.

Run Time:  45:43 - Better than I had anticipated and right where G thought I'd be!

Overall time:  2:35:34.   Exactly where I thought I'd be, ha ha.   It was definitely a hard fought effort and my Garmin recovery advisor confirmed that.

I had seen G out on the course a few times and he was hurting a bit.  I was hanging out with a few of the people I swim with here, waiting for him to finish.  Sure enough a few minutes later, he comes running into the finishing chute.

We went and got some food and then G asked if I had checked results yet.  I hadn't so we went to check and he told me I had won my age group.  WOOHOO!  He ended up in 5th and a couple that we swim with also ended up on the podium in their respective age groups.

Olympic distance racing is HARD.  It's definitely given me a good idea as to where I'm at fitness wise and what I need to work on over the next few months leading up to Mont Tremblant.  I'm also thinking that at some point I'd like to race another one, maybe later in the season, to see if I can break 2:30.  I know my swim needs some serious work and my transitions were atrocious (3:00 for T1 and 1:50 for T2!) so if I can work on bringing those times down, then I think I have a shot at it.   There's always room for improvement!

We'll be back in Clermont again next year so I think I'll probably race this again.  And I'll make sure I bring a back up swim cap, ha ha.