Sunday, 27 April 2008

SHAZZAM! What A Weekend!!!

What an amazing weekend! Not to mention a huge training weekend. Kelsey and I rode for 3 hours on Saturday. On the trainers, unfortunately, but when we met up it was still a bit chilly out. The trainer said 70 km. Not bad. I was doing 10/5’s and felt pretty good for the most part. Towards the end it was getting harder as I was trying to keep my speed up around 28 km/h during the 10 minute sections.

Once in a while I would utter an ‘OUCH!’ and Kelsey would laugh. Gotta love when your buddy laughs at your pain! Just another reason she’s my friend. LOL. It was a ton more fun being on the trainer and having a buddy there. I even let her have music on!! No reason she had to follow my ‘no tv and no music’ rule. Plus, during the breaks we were chit chatting. Although I did notice in the last hour it got quieter; I think we were both getting a bit pooped.

After the trainer session we headed out for a run. What a gorgeous day it turned out to be!! By the time we headed out it was sunny and warm. YAY! We had a great ½ hour run. I enjoyed showing Kelsey a bit of my neighborhood and where I train.

Sunday was time for the Policeman’s Half Marathon. I have to admit, I’ve never done a three hour training ride the day before a friggin half marathon! I wanted to get a ride in though and this race wasn’t a goal race or anything.

I drove to the race this morning with Richelle. We were stoked that it was so nice outside. My plan for today was to run, and that was it. I figured I would just go by feel, if my legs felt good, I’d run as fast as they would take me. An easy plan really.

It’s funny, because for a while I really didn’t feel like doing this race. I even said if the shirts were ugly I wouldn’t do it. (Cause you can’t wear a shirt when you don’t do the race!). Low and behold, the shirts were ugly, but by then I decided I wanted to do this. I almost felt like I had to do this. I’m not sure why.

By the morning of the race I was excited about doing it. It was going to be nice out and it’s a great course really. When we’d got to the race, I met up with a ton of people I knew. It reminded why I love being involved in running and triathlon – what a great community!

At the start of the race I had met up with my good friend Sean, who had gotten me involved in running three years ago. Last year we ran this race together in my attempt to break 2 hours. This year both of us were just running it to run it. So when the ‘gun’ went off, we ran!

I hadn’t seen Sean in a long time, so for the first bit we chatted and got caught up on life, work and his family. Shortly after our friend Jenny caught up with us. It was then the three musketeers. Although we were running together, we still did our own thing.

I felt great during the run. Not to mention totally surprised that my legs felt this good after my bike yesterday. I had picked up my pace at about the 12 km mark and kept going.

We made it down to the Weaslehead, although it was pretty icy down there. The police were there to slow everyone down and I even saw one dude wipe out. Yikes! The tiptoeing around the ice gave me a bit of a break and then I was off again. I had no idea what my pace was at that point. I had seen that I was at the 0:57 minutes at the 10 km mark. I just can’t calculate pace on the run though, so I by the time I hit the 15 km mark and the hill out of Weaslehead I had no idea how I was doing and really, I didn’t care. All I knew is I felt like the wind, so I kept running like that.

They had a group of bagpipers at the top of the hill – it was so awesome! Tickled the Scotswoman in me, that’s for sure.

The last few kilometers of the run were challenging, but I was in a groove. Finally I was at the school, I rounded the corner and saw the Finish Line sign. YAY! I crossed the mat and shut my watch off. That’s when I noticed it….I’d had a personal best run!! Kelsey was there cheering on the finishers so I ran up to her with gave her a hug and was practically yelling ‘I PR’d!!’. I was on cloud nine.

I went into this race with the attitude that I was just going run by feel and have a great time. Not expectations, no worrying about the outcome. Sure enough I had a great surprise at the end of it! Oh and later on I realized I had run my first negative split. It really can’t get better than that…or could it?!

Get this - after the run, Richelle, Lisa, Kelsey, Dr. Phil and I went for a 57 km bike ride!!! Seriously, never in my entire life would I have thought that I could ride 3 hours on one day, run a PR in a half marathon the next day, then friggin ride for 57 km after the half marathon. INSANE!!! We did the Horse Creek loop and it was brilliant. I felt great, but was pretty slow on the uphills. Gee, I wonder why?! I couldn’t keep up with the gang once we hit the hills, but they were sweet and stopped for me at the stop signs. Normally, I’d say keep going, but today I appreciated it. I had tried to keep up for while, just so I could draft! Alas, I’d lose them after a bit.

Seriously, I had a smile from ear to ear the entire ride. Even the mega headwind on the way back didn’t bother me. I was just happy to be out there and riding. In fact, I had the Peanuts theme song going through my head most of the way (cause it’s really hard to do the Snoopy Happy Dance while on the bike).

Man, I’m on a major endorphin high right now. What a great friggin weekend! I got to bike and run the whole time IN THE SUNSHINE, hang out with my buds and see some friends who have been absent from my life and whom I’ve truly missed. Life is damn good!

Peace out my friends.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Keeping The Perspective...

So I have not been happy of late. Well, mostly not happy on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Why? Because my bikes on those nights have been sucking. Big time. That’s WHEN I can actually get them done. It’s been brutal and I’ve been really upset about it.

Here’s the stupid thing. I kept trying and not succeeding and getting more and more frustrated, but I didn’t tell IG. Well, I think I did mention it one time, but I didn’t really explain how long it had been going on or how I’d been feeling. So how exactly could he help me right?

By the time I did say something, or rather write something as I was so upset I knew I’d burst into tears when I talked to him, so instead I sent an email, my perspective about the whole situation was totally out of whack. I pretty much had thrown my goal time for IMCDA out the window, figured I was the worst triathlete EVER and had no mental gumption whatsoever. The email was so negative that IG was so disappointed, he couldn’t write back that evening.

Typically I have a really positive nature about training, life, and keep a good perspective on things. So why did it all go to hell? I haven’t actually figured that out yet, but I have a few ideas.

First off, training for an early season event can be somewhat challenging when the winter seems to be dragging along and you can’t get outside to ride. I think the lack of sun and vitamin D have also been playing a role in this. Perhaps I should get one of those S.A.D. lights, haha.

Second, I swim before work on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Then I work a long day, have a long commute and am exhausted when I get home. Had I kept things in perspective I would have realized that I’m just too damned tired those evenings to be able to dig deep and push a hard workout. I wouldn’t have been thinking ‘why am I so weak?!’ I would have contacted my coach and said, ‘Look, I need to change things up because this isn’t working for me’. It’s silly really. I was so caught up in looking towards the race I let things get way out of hand in my mind.

So that leads me to another thing that contributed to me losing perspective. I have been spending way too much time in the future. No, I haven’t been time traveling; rather my thoughts have been in the future a lot. Now this is a bad habit that I’ve needed to break for a long time. I keep thinking about outcomes. The outcome of races, especially Ironman and outcomes of life choices.

In truth, I don’t think this is necessarily a trait uncommon to triathletes, or athletes in general. We constantly plan and think about what we have to do this week, the next week and so on. If it’s not planning our training, its planning our food, planning our races, planning our traveling, hell, planning what we are going to wear! Will it be the black tights with red top and matching toque, or the black spandex and purple top with clashing green toque?!

Thing is, I don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing to do this all the time. I think it can contribute to losing perspective on things. At least it did for me. What I need to be focusing on is the ‘right now’. I’ve had some help with this. I’m seeing a life coach who’s helping me, as well as reading Eckhart Tolle’s ‘A New Earth’, which I love.

This is one of the reasons I’ve been riding in the dungeon without music or the t.v. on. I want to train myself to stay in the present moment, not only when I’m training, but when it comes to race time.

I don’t want to be thinking of the bike when I’m in the water, or the run when I’m on the bike. I want to think of each stroke and kick when I’m in the swim. I want to be smooth and relaxed on the bike; have power and cadence. This time I actually want to run on the run! I want to be completely in touch with my body and mind.

This hasn’t been easy for me or my brain gerbil, but we are learning. The times I have maintained focus and stayed in the present, whether its during a swim, on the trainer or on a run, have been bliss. It’s truly a zen like feeling when it happens, even if it doesn’t happen too often yet. Of course, I’ve also been practicing this in my daily life and found that I’m more at peace.

So I will continue to practice staying in the moment and therefore keeping things in perspective. No more thinking about outcomes! Whatever happens on those days will, so there is no sense wasting brain energy on it now.

All together now…’OHMMMMMM’.

Peace out my friends.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

The IronGod's Must Be Crazy...

Last year when I was doing my long rides I had a ton to write about, because I was outside. As I told a friend earlier this week, who commented I had been quiet, one can't write too many exciting things about staring at a couple of walls in one's basement...

I assume the IronGods heard me, so they decided to spice things up a bit.

Today's ride was going to be about 4 hours long so I wanted to be on my Cervelo, rather than the Cannondale. It's about time I got used to being in the aeros for long periods. First off I had to change the back tire to an old trainer tire. I'm pretty quick at changing tires, so this was no biggie. I got all my nutrition ready and headed for the dungeon, I mean basement.

Next off I had to add the 'lift' to my trainer so it would accommodate the Cervelo tire, which are wee 650 tires. Again, no biggie, with the help of my handy dandy ratchet and allan keys. Finally, everything was all set up and I was good to go. I hopped on the bike and started warming up when I noticed that I wasn't getting any readings on my computer. What the....?

Dammit, the speed monitor is on my front spoke! Mumble, mumble, mumble. As IG's program was about speed today, I needed to have readings. Fine, I'll just unwrap it from the brake cable, unsnap the one clip from the spoke, and move the monitor to the back. Easier said then done of course.

Dale set up my computer, so needless to say it was hooked up in a way to never, ever, ever moved or be removed. Finally I got it all undone and attached to the back fork. The clip that goes on the spoke was another issue. It didn't want to clip back on. I will spare you with all the gory details or how long it took me, suffice it to say with the help of some needle nose pliers I was able to partially squish it together. I used a bit of scotch tape just to make sure it wouldn't slide down the spoke too.

Okay, with that done, all should be fine, right? Wrong. I got back on the bike started pedaling and realized the back tire was slipping. For the love of....what now?! I checked my back tire and felt it was slipping on the trainer. Adjusted the the tension and tried it again. That's when I realized the damn tire was FLAT! My heart rate monitor was showing a slightly elevated heart rate at this point. I was doing fairly well staying calm though - I figured this is just one of those things and as long as I stay relaxed, it will get fixed and I can start my workout.

Thankfully I remembered to take all my nutrition off my bike and removed my profile bottle BEFORE flipping my bike over to change the tube. Once again I practiced my tube changing skills. I saw that in the process of inflating the tube when I changed the tire I had ripped the valve stem. I've done this sooo many times before using the pump I have that it's rather annoying. Finally, it was all done, bike was righted, nutrition put back on, computer was working, tire was inflated, tension was adjusted and heart rate was fairly reasonable.

So I started pedaling....

Okay, this was good. Everything was working. Nice. Hope the IronGods got a good chuckle out of all that excitement! Time to focus and ride.

I kept the T.V. off and had no music on. I wanted to try and focus on what was going on with my body and my mind. For the first 1.5 hours all was well. I was following the program - I did a 30 minute warm up, then did four 10/5 sets. For the 10 minute segments I was to pedal at 27 km/h and then go down to 25 km/h for the 5 minute segments. And so I did.

The next hour I was to do the same thing, but pedal between 27-28 km/h. I managed to pedal between 27.5 and 28.5 km/h. I was really struggling with my focus though. External problems that started in the first hour were now starting to grate me. The nerve in my shoulder was zinging big time when I was in the aero's. I kept sliding on my saddle so that my seat bones weren't positioned where they should be. This meant I had to keep sliding back every few minutes. Rather annoying when you are trying to keep a steady pace.

With all this sliding I wasn't able to keep my shoulder blades down, which is what I had to do to get my shoulder to stop hurting. Seriously, I wanted to scream. Instead, I kept telling myself to focus on my breath. To keep going.

My mind would then slip to the position of my saddle and how I could change it. I must be on a down angle or something. Nuts! Then I thought of the height of my aerobars, maybe I need to raise them. Then I'd realize I wasn't focussing and would get all pissed. At about 2:10 hours into my ride I realized I needed to call I did.

I, of course, called Gregory as I felt he was partially responsible for the situation. There was no answer, so I left a message that went something like this...

"I really needed to complain to someone, so I choose you. I F***ING HATE THIS! My legs hurt, my shoulder is killing me, I keep sliding on my seat, we need to raise the aerobars, I can't focus, I can't stay in the aero's, I don't have the tv on or radio and I'm going to try and do that as long as possible. Oh, the one good thing is I'm achieving the speeds you want me to. Bye.". (I learned after my workout IG got a great laugh out of this message - at least someone was laughing! I wasn't at the time, but certainly can now).

The remaining ride I did my best to stay focussed. I'm proud to report that I was able to for the most part. I wasn't the happiest triathlete though. If you think Lisa Bentley's grimace is scary, you should have seen mine. It would have given an indication what was going on in my brain. As I went up in speed (I had worked up to 29.5 km/h for the sets) my grimace got more severe. Until I realized this was taking up way too much energy, then I stopped and made my face neutral. My legs were burning towards the end. Finally, I finished the last set. I just had to do a 1/2 hour cool down at 25 km/h.

Bang! I was at 4 hours. YES! It was then I allowed myself to see how far I'd ridden. (I was hoping to be at 100 km. I flipped through my computer screens...94 something km. NUTS!!!! The next screen indicated I'd only ridden for 3:51 hours.

You see, I'd taken a couple of bathroom breaks and just before my phone call to Gregory I had to take a mental break. I stopped pedaling and had a little talk with myself about focussing on the present and not thinking about my shoulder, the race, etc etc. Apparantly this took longer than I thought.

I couldn't leave the situation as is. So I started pedalling - fast. I pedalled around 30 km/h. I have no idea how I found the strength in my legs! I watched every second that ticked down until it said 4:00 hours. Sweet! I flicked the screen over and saw that I had ridden..... 98.7 km!

I will refrain from writing out the obscenities that then spewed from my mouth. They aren't for the faint of heart...

Once again I pedalled my heart out until the monitor read 100km. At last! The time was 4:03 hours. DONE, DONE, DONE!

Oh how I wanted to just sit on the ground and stretch. Things hurt. Lots of things. Unfortunately, I had a 1/2 hour run to do. I seriously wasn't sure how the hell I was going to pull this off. My quads were screaming.

I switched clothes (as mine were saturated), bundled up for the cold and off I went. I was hoping my braids wouldn't freeze and break off. Yes, it was that cold. As I started running I thought, hey, this feels pretty good. And it did!

I made my way down the hill and into the next neighborhood. I started laughing to myself. Just a few moments before I was totally struggling, pissy and wondering how I was ever going to make it through the ride. Now I was running and feeling fabulous. My legs felt great, my feet felt light, all was well in the world.

At one point when I was running on the pathway I had a bunch of birds flying ahead of me. They'd land, then I'd catch up, and they'd fly a few more feet ahead. We repeated this process a few times. There were some big chubby robins with bright orange bellies, tiny sparrows, and another bird that I'm not sure of it's name, but it was gorgeous. I felt like Snow Friggin White, with all these birds twittering around. It was hilarious.

I ran up the last hill and was home at last. What a workout! It was a mental and physical struggle, to say the least, and I was rewarded with an awesome run. THIS is why I love being a triathlete! The absolute thrill that you feel when you've worked your arse off, faced and then defeated those challenges. I think this one deserves a big ass HOOYAAAAAH!

Peace out my friends.

Monday, 14 April 2008

The Solo Triathlete...

So a theme has cropped up this week - training solo. A couple of people have brought it up to me, and so, of course, that got the wee gerbil a spinnin' on his wheel.

I spend a great deal of my time training solo. I've found there can be positives and negatives to training alone. First though, I feel I should give a little background about me so you can put my thoughts in context...

I'm an only child. I failed sharing in kindergarten. I've learned to share since then, well, to a certain extent.

I will not share my Bridge Mixture. If you want some, get your own bag. Don't worry if you can't eat a whole bag, I'll finish off mine and gladly eat yours too.

I will not share my sushi; however, if you have something I want to try, I'd be happy to swap comparable pieces. No, I won't swap a spicy tuna cone for a tiny ass piece of california roll. Comparable is the key word here.

I will always share my Jack Daniels with you. Just bring a tumbler and some ice and I'll pour ya some sweet nectar of the Gods. We can then sit and talk about music, triathlon, movies or whatever.

Now this wee bit of background may lead you to believe I don't play well with others, hence I like to train alone. However, this would be a falsehood. I love swimming with the gang on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Having them there pushes me on days when I'm tired and have troubles finding the strength within to go harder. I loved riding with Richelle on the weekend; she brought my biking up a notch and I look forward to future Sunday rides for that reason. There is comaraderie to training with others that I enjoy.

So when is it good to train solo, and when is it good to train with a group?

I can only speak for myself, of course, but sometimes I find training with a group can lead to some negativity. Not on part of the others, but on my part. I loathe to admit this, but I have been known to fall in the trap of comparing myself to others. GASP! I know, it's hard to believe, yet it is true.

It matters not that I have only been doing this sport for two seasons. Nor does it matter that I started at a later age, I have weight lifting background rather than a running/biking/swimming background and I have completely different DNA from anyone else. For some reason, I feel I should have miraculously become the fastest, strongest triathlete ever within the past two years. I actually compare times, speeds, race results and wonder, how come I'm not like them?! The practice of comparison is silly of course. We all do it though.

Realistically, unless we are being paid to do this sport I think we should worry less about what others are doing and concentrate on all the little achievements we make.

Training on your own can have its advantages too. You won't be as tempted to compare yourself to anyone...because there is no one there! (You'll still do it after races though!)

The biggest gift I get from training alone is building up my mental strength. It is a well known fact that endurance races are 80% mental. So why not spend 80% of your time training alone and working on your mental game? Afterall, on race day, even with your family and friends cheering you on, it is just the totality of your mind and body that will get you through the day.

One of the bigger mental challenges I face is staying in the moment; staying focussed. I believe this is a necessity, not just in training and racing, but in life. It takes practice to stay calm and focussed. So practice I do. I sit on my trainer in the basement with no television, no radio, no distractions. I go out for a run without the MP3 player.

The majority of time I train alone my mind is busy with thoughts of the day, thoughts of what I want to write. Just thoughts. Zipping here and there - zing, zing, zing! Then I start to focus on my breathing. I focus on all my muscles working. If I'm lucky, a sense of calm washes over me. This is the zone. This is Nirvana. This is peace. I love being in this place, and I know I wouldn't get there if I weren't training alone.

The negative aspect of training alone is, of course, not having someone there to keep you going or to push you when you are struggling. One can only hope this doesn't happen to often.

So, what would you rather do - train solo or train with a group?

Peace out my friends.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Bugs In My Teeth...

FINALLY! We have sunshine!! It's supposed to be short lived, but hey, I'll take it! At least it was on the weekend rather than when I'm chained to my desk.

I went out for a ride yesterday AND today and it was absolutely brilliant. I'm still giddy.

Yesterday I went on my own and was smiling so much I got bugs in my teeth. I am not complaining though because a) it was warm out enough for bugs and 2) I was OUTSIDE riding! Oh joy, oh rapture, unforseen!

I went riding north of town and saw a fair amount of cyclists. Always a good thing when you are on a solo ride. At least you know there are a ton of people about, just in case.

I saw my first prairie dog of the season, he was kind enough not to run so close in front of me that I'd have to hit the brakes or bail. Phew. You see, me and the prairie dogs in this area have an understanding. I will not run them over and they will only run out in front of me if there is enough space. It seems to work. Not that I would ever run over anything - I'm pretty sure I'd bail first. This troubles the parental unit. :)

I also saw a herd of mule deer. I'm not exaggerating about the herd part - there had to be at least 50 of them. It was an amazing site to see them run in unison through the farm field. Ahhhh, nothing better than being outside!

Today I did a similar route as yesterday, but rather than being solo I was with my buddy Richelle. I was stoked about riding with her as she is a very talented triathlete/runner. I wasn't sure if I could keep up, but thought she would be a great inspiration to take my biking up a notch.

I was able to keep up till we got to the first hill. Then I started losing her, but she was still visible so I wasn't too worried. On the flats I was able to chase a bit.

The whole time riding with her I could feel I was riding at another level. My legs felt strong, which is not bad considering I rode yesterday as well and wasn't slacking then. At about the halfway point I was starting to be able to keep up with her. I don't think I've ever ridden with so much power for an entire ride. It was like I needed an hour warmup or something, haha. Oh, I should likely add my average heartrate was about 10 bpm higher today than yesterday.

We hit some good headwind as we headed west, then it changed and we got it from the south. So basically the entire last half of the bike was battling headwind. At one point we were both riding on ~95 degree angles because the crosswind was so strong. It was insane! I will still say it's just Mother Nature helping me to be tougher on the bike!

It was a truly brilliant ride! It's rather indescribable how I felt today. Let's just say I think I'm making some progress on my biking. Not a huge step - I'm not going to be finishing the IM portion of the bike in IGs time or anything. I'm more hopeful though, unforseeable circumstances notwithstanding, that I won't be on the bike course as long as I was last year. Oh how I beg of the cycling Gods to make this so!

I must say, I was totally flattered when Richelle said she'd like to ride with me this season. I think it will be a great experience for me. I hope, too, that I will be able to help her with her season as well, in whatever way I can! What an awesome two days!!!!

Two days of riding, 5.5 hours in total, 146 km distance. Cool.

Peace out my friends.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Why Do You Do It???

This week I was asked the following questions: What are you running from? What are you running to? Why do you do triathlon?

Befitting the questions, I started to ponder them on my run tonight. Am I running from something? If I asked myself that question three years ago, the answer would have been yes.

I was running to escape the hurt and anger of a betrayal. Had I not run I am sure my head and heart would have exploded trying to deal with all the emotion. Running helped me survive. I would run so hard that all I could think about was the burning in my lungs and my legs. There was no room for other thought. For many months it was the only activity that allowed my brain to focus on something other than the never answered question 'why?'. Thankfully, I no longer run from anything.

Nowadays I not only run, but I swim and bike. So what am I swimming, biking and running towards? That's easy - I move towards challenge.

Many moons ago I struggled with self esteem and confidence. People who know me now have a hard time believing that, but it's true. It was taking on challenges, big and small, that lead to gaining self esteem and confidence. Rather than cower from a challenge, I become like a rabid, frothing linebacker going in for the quarterback sack. Of course, the biggest mental and physical challenge was Ironman. Not just the race itself, but every day of training leading up to that momentos day.

So I was also asked why do you do it? Well now, that's easy. I do it because I am rewarded by attaining the goals I set out for myself. The question was then asked, do you do it for approval?

At first I scoffed at that, what a silly question. No way! Of course, that's when the wee gerbil in my brain started spinning. Huh. Do I do this for approval? This was a very hard question to ask myself. I don't want to do this for anyone. I want to do this for me. If I need to seek approval, isn't that the wrong reason to be in this sport?

It seems a can of worms was opened with that one simple initial question.

I like to be honest with myself, so after much thought I finally had to admit that there was a part of me that did this for approval. Look world! Look at what I did! Remember that little girl who would rather quit than fail at a task?? Well look at her now! I can do anything I set my mind to! I'm a frigging Ironman for crying out loud!

The good thing about being honest with yourself is that if you don't like the answer to the question - you have the power to change it. I would prefer to do things for myself. So maybe the whole triathlon/Ironman thing started out so I could prove something to the world, but it's not the reason I continue on.

Seriously, if I was competing in triathlon JUST for the approval of others, I wouldn't continue to do it. It's really hard work!! Not to mention it takes up a lot of time, and it can hurt. LOL.

So the other answers to the question 'why do you do it' would be as follows.
  • The constant challenge of the sport - even the pros haven't mastered it. Once you finally figure something out, like your swim technique, then you get to figure out how to go farther, faster. I love that.
  • The people invovled in the sport are truly like family. They encourage you, challenge you, share your laughter, your accomplishments, your tears and your fears. They are there with you every lap, pedal stroke and step.
  • The zen moments, where you think you've found Nirvana, are addicting. Once you've experienced it you want more. Droool.
  • The big accomplishments, like finishing your first triathlon, as well as all the wee ones make it so much fun. Swimming 1000 m under 20 minutes. Riding 60 km, 90 km, 210 km for the first time! Seeing your running pace get faster and faster.
  • The funny moments. Let's not forget those! Having a Nuun volcano in your car. Swimming into a bright blue paddle boat - that's docked! Dodging prairie dogs on your bike. Having your friend do a farmer blow on her bike in front of you, and feeling the spray. Getting caught on video shaking your booty to 'Baby Got Back' at the start of your very first Ironman run.

I think those are some pretty damn good answers. So now it's your turn to answer, 'Why Do You Do It?!'

Peace out my friends.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

The Glencoe Icebreaker 10 km...

What a gorgeous morning for a run! Okay, yes, I'd prefer if it was warmer, but hey, one mustn't complain about low plus temperatures and blue sky. I didn't even have to wear my mittens!

I had a good 20 minute warmup before the run. My heartrate seemed a smidge high, but I had just taken a couple of 'hits' off my inhaler so that likely drove it up a bit. I met up with some of the gang and then it was time to line up.

Finally, people up ahead started running - time to go. I'm not good at seeding myself so I was a bit back and had to wind my way up to where people were running my pace. That sounds funny. 'My pace.' I mean, seriously, what the hell is my pace?! I just run by feel. If my legs can, I get them to take wee steps very quickly. If they can't, I just beg them to take wee steps as fast as they can go. LOL.

I didn't train for this race, in the sense that I have done no speed work to date. My focus is on IMCDA and building an aerobic endurance base. I was pretty curious how this would play out today. Also, I was on the bike for 2.5 hours yesterday so I wasn't sure if my legs would be feeling that or not.

Everything felt pretty good for the first part of the run. At about the 2.5 km mark you start to ascend a long hill. My thoughts were to keep my step light and keep my pace going, and that's what I did. After the long hill there is about a 100 m recovery and then a short, yet steep climb. I was feeling great through all of this.

As I descended down towards Stanley Park a gal said 'doing great, almost at the halfway mark!'. Huh, so far so good. I had hoped to pick up my pace a bit at the halfway mark. At least that was my unplanned plan. There was an elderly woman in front of me as we ran past Stanley Park. I giggled to myself cause I thought a) I want to be like that when I'm a 'wrinkly' and b) I really have to get ahead of her. LOL. It's not fair!!! I'm younger I should be able to run faster. YA RIGHT!

When I ran past the 5 km marker the volunteer called out 27:30-something. Okay, I am on track to be somewhere around last years time. Also, I passed the grey hair in front of me. Cool. Then the stitch hit me. NUTS! It was in my ribs on my right side. Well this sucked. Nothing you can do about that but run it out, or stop. There was so no way I was stopping. Instead, I slowed my pace slightly, but kept pushing on. I find that if I focus on my breathing sometimes it will go away. It was then that the grey hair passed me. Son of a...

I saw a few of the speedy Cochranites heading back as I made my way to the turnaround. This is the one spot where you can get a water. I wouldn't even think of it because at the pace I was running I would hurl it up for sure. The grey hair in front of me did stop; however, so I took full advantage of this to advance myself past her!!! LOL.

The stitch had faded a fair bit so it was time to pick up the pace again. At this point I was wheezing quite a bit and starting to feel some fatigue. Nothing horrible though. There was a guy running in front of me and I thought I just want to keep pace with him. If I can do that I think I'll be ok.

Near the 7km mark is when you hit some rollers. This is why I love this course, because it isn't flat. You have two good hills at the start and when the fatigue kicks in and you are sooo close to the finish you have to deal with a couple rollers. Very sweet.

I kept saying my 'fast' mantra 'Jack be nimble, Jack be quick'. This never fails to keep me going. At the '1 mile to go' marker they called out 46 minutes. I tried to do some math in my head - I secretly wanted to get in at 52 minutes. I realized pretty quickly I couldn't pick up my pace enough to do that....I wasn't actually sure what time I would make it in. I was starting to wheeze more and the stitch was back and making its way up into my shoulder/neck area.

Finally I was back on Elbow Drive and headed to the finish. I had this rhythmic breathing/wheezing thing going that must be driving the few around me nuts. I tried hard to pick up my pace for the last bit, but couldn't.

Clock time: 54:41 minutes. Susi's Suunto time: 54:22 minutes. Both times are a personal best. Okay, only by 17 seconds (clock time), but dammit, I'm going to take it!! LOL.

I realized some valuable stuff today. First, I can get a PB on legs that did a 2.5 hour bike the day before. Nice. Second, I can get a PB after doing no speed work yet this season - I'm getting stronger! Suhweet. Third, my average heart rate during the race was 166 bpm - this is approximately 10 bpm slower than what I normally run a 10 km race at. I told IG all this after the race and said 'I think that's a good sign, right??' Apparantly it IS a good sign. It means all that running at a low heart rate is paying off and I'm making some gains on my aerobic endurance. This is VERY VERY cool.

Gotta love it when you start to see your training pay off....let's hope I keep improving and all comes together on June 22....

Peace out my friends.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Bike Zen...

Today's bike workout was different from any other I've had. I think I hit the 'Zen' zone.

I wasn't sure how today's workout was going to go as training has been very up and down to this point. I realized recently that there has to be a mental change in how I approach my workouts, or the struggle would continue. I didn't necessarily have a plan of how I was going to change things when I got on the bike, I just had a feeling...

From the moment I started pedaling I knew something was different. Usually it takes me a while to get up to 90 rpm, even in an easy spin. Today it was like that right away. I didn't get too excited because I still had over two hours to go.

I started in on my first 10 minute set. I was doing 7/3 high/low zone 2 sets. As I got into the set I thought to myself, well now, this is a good start. My legs felt great. Relaxed and strong. The 7 minutes flew by. By the time I got to the fourth set I decided to try something with my breathing. Recently, I had started meditating somewhat. I would close my eyes and focus on my breathing while counting. Breathe in - 1; Breathe out - 1. I would do this till I got to 10, then start over.

So this is what I started doing when I was on the bike - eyes open of course. Obviously, it's not as relaxed as when I'm sitting in a pseudo lotus position on my couch, but it worked! I was able to maintain my cadence and strength, but my heart rate came down about 5 bpm. This was good as it was a little high going at the start.

The other side effect from this was that I was in a very calm, relaxed state while still pedaling strong. I was totally focused on my pedaling. I could almost picture the wee gerbil in my brain sitting off in a corner on a stack of brightly coloured pillows chillin' with a hookah pipe. LOL. I kept thinking that THIS is how I want to feel at IMCDA. Strong, consistent, powerful and yet relaxed and calm.

I wasn't sure how long this would last, but amazingly enough it did for all my sets. It was absolutely brilliant. Indescribable really! I have no idea if it was just the breathing or maybe the quinoa I decided to try for breakfast! It was truly yummy as I cooked it with diced apples, cinnamon and sunflower seeds. Then I topped it off with a little bit of agave nectar. I will have to eat this tomorrow morning and see if it helps me with my 10 km race.

Oh ya, I am in a 10 km race tomorrow! I have no idea if I will be able to actually race it as I put in a good 2.5 hours on the bike today, but we'll see how it goes. When IG asked if this race meant anything to me I indicated it didn't. I wanted to make sure I didn't miss a long bike workout because IMCDA means more to me. Therefore we kept the bike in and tomorrow I will race on tired legs.

It will be interesting to see how my ego does with this. Will I take it easy, or give it all I've got? Originally I wanted to break my 54 minute personal best, but this may not be so. Ah well, they have a really great brunch after the race so it will all be worth it whatever happens!

For those that have no plans for the afternoon feel free to drop in and visit me as I volunteer at the Footstock booth from 2-4 pm in the Roundup Centre! It's all part of the Outdoor Adventure Show that is on. I hope to check out the show beforehand as well - I will be in my element surrounded by other fitness, peace, love and granola people!! YAY!

I almost forgot to add - 3:16 minute front plank today. I didn't even bother to try to attempt side planks after that! Ow, ow, ow!

Peace out my friends.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

The Grocery List...

I went to see Kevin, my chiropractor/ART dude, today with what I like to call, a grocery list. The list went like this - I have a lump in my left calve and I think I've worked most of it out, but it needs more squishing; there is a knot in behind my left shoulder blade that is making it somewhat difficult for me to turn my head; I really, really need my spine crunched right between the shoulder blades; and last, but not least, there is something wrong with my elbow - I know not what.

Ah yes, the elbow. I can swim no problem. Phew. So what's the issue? Well, I was having troubles opening doors, lifting a glass, or rather, trying to grab hold of something then bend my arm without feeling a shooting pain go through my elbow. I remember it tweeking in Malaysia. I was lifting weights and the 20 lb dumbell was gone, so I used the 25 lb one. I was doing my second set of a one arm bench press when I felt something go. Huh. Well, as I often do, I ignored it till I could ignore it no longer. Turns out I pinched a nerve. Ow.

As most of my visits go with Kevin, I give him my list then let him get at it. Pretty much the only thing you hear out of me as he gets in there and says 'Aah, yes, I can feel that' is 'Mfffhhrugh, uurghheff, fbombagggh, ow!' Really, he should hand out leather straps to bite down on as he works out those knots and nerve pinches!! The good news is the pain paid off and things are feeling a bit more loose. Suhweet.

My run tonight started off pretty well. IT WAS SUNNY!! For some reason I thought this meant I could dress like it was actually spring. Riiiiight. All was well as I headed east, but once I turned around it was "holy hannah that's a friggin cold headwind!!".

I was getting a little bummed about my run on the way back as I was feeling somewhat sluggish. Considering I just came off a rest week, I didn't think I should feel this way. In fact, all my training, with the exception of my swimming, has been feeling this way lately. There are few reasons for this and I have to work through them. It can happen during IM training, that much I know. Hopefully things will feel better as I get closer to the race. I least I pray it does! In the meantime I shall muddle through.

I should mention something interesting...this was the first time since last October I wore my Garmin. I tend not to wear a lot of electronics as I prefer 'natural' running. I don't know why I chose to wear it today, I just did. As I reset it I noticed the time and distance of the last run I did.

I fully planned on running the full time, but as I was running up the hill to home I started losing feeling in most parts of my bod. The wind was freezing and killer! For some reason I could feel the liquid boogers streaming down my face though. Nice! I started to worry I was going to become some cryogenic mishap broken into a million pieces on the road, so rather than running around the neighborhood, I kept going up, up, and up the hill. The total time of the run was 1:24 hours.

When I got home, and after I thawed out, I started flipping through my Garmin looking at the times and average pace. Remember how I said I felt sluggish? Well my average pace tonight was 6:43 min/km. This is about a minute faster than almost all of my average paces last year. Another interesting point, last year I ran at a much higher heart rate than I have been since being under IronGreg's tutaledge.

Okay, so I'm still not super fast, and maybe I'll never be, but this was a training boost I needed. And yes Gregory, I belieeeeeeve! :)

As a side note, I want to congratulate my friend, Maureen, on her son Callum's performance at the Olympic swim trials today. Although he didn't make the team for the 100 m backstroke, he did absolutley amazing. Just the fact that he was there show's what an incredible athlete he is! Great job Callum!! A great big HOOYAH shout out to you.

Peace out my friends.