Monday, 24 June 2013

Smith Falls Classic and Giving Back

So here is the much anticipated race recap of Saturdays sprint tri in Smith Falls.  So last year I got a DNF for my first Sprint Tri and I really, really wanted to finish this one Saturday night.  I had unfinished business with this distance and something to prove to myself.  I had a bike maintenance course  in the morning and watched others change their bike tire, I was not touching my bike on a race day but I will be trying to change my tire this week so I can fix it if needed in a future race.  It was raining all day and it was pouring when we were driving to Smith Falls, I was getting seriously worried about biking in this amount of rain but the weather channel said it would stop by race time so I was hoping.  I was not happy when I saw the swim course, the canal had pollution foam on it and the current looked strong, it was 250m downstream and 250 back up to get out, then there was a 150m run along a rocky path to get to the transition zone.  There was nothing I could do at this stage and I was not the only person worried about the canal and the swim.  At 5:50, I swam across the canal and did a bit of a warm up and then grabbed a piece of wall to wait for my 6:10 start.  The guys set off at 6:05 and were were told to get ready, we kept getting pushed downstream and had to swim back to stay behind the start buoys but it kept me warm.  I set my stop watch when the 10 second warning was called and we were off.  The swim was not too bad and except for the swimmer who wanted to stay super-glued to my side and the swimmer who was doing backstroke and did not make the turn to the exit.  I figured I could do the swim in 12:30 mins on a good day, it took 13:30 and I was pleased with that.  The first transition took 4 mins as I had to run to the bike, strip off my wetsuit and get my shoes and helmet on.  
Onto the bike, the rain had stopped just at 6pm and the road was dry.  I passed a few riders and called out to them as I passed, cheering them on and I was passed by a few as well. I knew I was way back but was determined to enjoy the ride.  I saw Neale  on his way back in and knew he would have a great time, I was right and he finished 2nd in his age group and 14th over all for the sprint duathlon.  I never did run into that train and I managed to avoid the potholes, cars and another flat tire.  I took a moment to be grateful as I rode, grateful for being there, being able to do this and for the people competing with me and especially grateful that I had Neale and Stephen there to support me.  I was so happy to make that final turn into the transition and even happier when I saw my friend Christine there to cheer me on.  Neale and Stephen where there to see me off the bike and I think Neale was as happy as I was that I actually finished the bike leg.  Just the run to do, 4.8K and I  knew I could do that.  As I left transition, I remember I had forgotten to eat my gel on the bike leg and I did not have one in my run belt, I was a bit worried about my energy but kept on moving.  I felt like I was hardly moving, my legs transitioned well but I felt slow and had to take a few walk breaks.  The funny thing is that after the bike, the run feels incredibly slow, even when it is not.  I did my 4.8K run in 29:40 and if you take off at least a min for T2 which is included in this time its a new PB.  It sure did not feel like that but I will take it!  Overall time was 1:36:48 and I did not finish last in either my AG or overall, much better result then last year.  All in all it was a successful day for both Neale and I.

On Sunday, Neale and I headed to Tremblant to volunteer at a water station for the 70.3 Ironman event.    This was a last minute decision and I am glad we did it, it was a great day and a great event.  If you are a runner or a triathlete, it is easy to forget about the 100's and 1000's of people to give up their day so you can do your event.  We were there at 8:30am to set up even though our first runner did not show up until almost 11am.  There  is a lot to get done before the first runner shows up and once they start and then it is a steady stream for  hours.  The triathletes on Sunday were great, most of them thanked us for being there, they were 66.2 miles (110.3 km) into their event and they thanked us.  There were a few who I think aimed at me with half full cups of coke but generally they tried to put their cup in the provided garbage can and even bent down to pick them up if they could.  Most had a smile on their face and a sense of humor as they passed, they looked focused and determined to finish.  I try to thank as many volunteers as I can on race day but I will pay more attention in future to where I throw my cups and try to thank them all because without them, I would not be able to race.  Next year I will be doing this event and I look forward to thanking the volunteers as I run past, smiling and looking determined to finish. 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Racing the Train

So Saturday night I have my first Triathlon of the season, a sprint tri in Smith Falls.  Last year a sprint tri in Ottawa was my first tri attempt and I got a DNF...I do not want another one.  Last year it was bike failure that caused my downfall and the bike is good to go and so am I , I think. Training has been going fine but I need to get the negative thoughts out of my brain, that I can actually do this event and I am not doomed to repeat the same finish.  Well, this is what I know for sure...I can do this and even if I have to run pushing my bike in, I will finish because I am a stronger athlete this year then last year, stronger physically and mentally.  

I have a few new things to worry about this time according to the event newsletter.

The cycle course travels on Jasper Ave. in Smiths Falls, and along Jasper Highway to Jasper and back.  The Avenue is NOT closed to motor vehicles, as local residents are allowed on Jasper Ave (they have to be able to get home!).  It will be closed to ‘through’ traffic, however.  Jasper Highway is an open road, shared with motor vehicles.  You must ride according to the Highway Traffic Act at all times – not doing so risks disqualification.  There will be a police officer at either end of the Highway to allow turning. 

During the event, the cycle portion may be interrupted for very short periods by the VIA passenger trains to and from Toronto-Ottawa. However, we have made accommodation for this, if cyclists are interrupted for any length of time.

So now I just have to worry about not becoming a hood ornament for a car or a train!    

Anyway, what will be will be and I will have a race report on Sunday unless I hop that train to part unknown.


Friday, 14 June 2013

Wetsuits and Hickeys

So my first Triathlon of the season is next Saturday night, a sprint tri to ease into the season of training and events.  This sprint tri is a 500m swim, a 21K bike ride and a 4.8k run.  The swim is in the Rideau river and since it is June, it is cold and I need to swim in a wetsuit.  I have only swam in open water 3 times and never in a wetsuit so I was a bit worried at how I would do.  First I needed a wetsuit, if you thought shopping for a bathing suit was  tough, try getting into a wetsuit gracefully.  I do not know what it is about triathlon gear, it is designed to make me look like the Pillsbury doughboy, it is all skin tight and shows off my rolls in all their glory.  Well I guess that is how I roll ( literally and figuratively) so I had better get use to it. I will try to get a photo of me in the wetsuit next weekend.

I headed to the beach with my new wetsuit and a 'can do' attitude, well a fake 'can do' attitude since I had no choice, I had to try it before my race.  A few words of advice from Coach and I headed into the cold water. I was not prepared for the feeling of the water filling the wetsuit, the wetsuit is tight and it is tight at the neck, wrists and ankle but water still gets in and it was cold! My feet and forehead were really cold and it was distracting at first.  We swim out and around a small island and back, about 600m and my plan was to do it once, coach said I had to do it twice....we would see.  Swimming in open water is very different then a pool, you do not have lane markers to guide you so you have to pop your head up every 10 or so strokes to make sure you are not going off course. When you do this you get a chance to see how much further you need to go, if you are use to swimming in a 25m pool, an island 250m way seems really really far.  As well you have to deal with waves, nothing sends you into a panic faster then going to breath air and getting lake water instead.  

So about 1/3 way back to shore from the turnaround island I started to feel panic, my arms were heavy, my butt felt like it was floating above my head (a wetsuit gives you buoyancy) and I started to feel claustrophobic.  I started to think about SwimBikeMom's book (see like to my review of her book below)  and her tips for open water swimming.  I was trying to get the panic and the "I can't" out of my head and I remembered a part of the book about a expert swimmer doing a 2 mile open water swim from Alcatraz to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  She came across a swimmer who was struggling and offered to swim with her and encouraged her to do 10 strokes at a time, stop and do ten more.  They eventually made it to shore and the struggling swimmer said she never thought she could do this, she said, "Everyone told me I can't do this".  The expert swimmers reply was " Do you want to know where 'I can't'  is, you left it back there at the start so if you want it you have to swim back to get it." I kept repeating this to myself when I felt the panic, I had left 'I can't' on the island and I was not going back to get it.  

I not only did one circuit but I did another as well so I would feel better about the experience.   I am so glad I did it again, the second time was so much better and I had no panic because I knew I could do it.  I spent an hour swimming in the lake and left feeling really pleased with myself and knew I would be back next week for more, maybe I will try to do 3 circuits next week.  

I have now conquered my first open water swim in a wetsuit, I have conquered my fear and I have my wetsuit hickey as a reminder this morning.  I need to pack Aquaphor next week so I do not get strange looks after.  I mentioned a wetsuit is tight at the neck so turning your head to breath caused chafing around the neck, hence the hickey.  Today I will wear it with pride as a reminder of my accomplishment.

Book review of "Triathlon for the every women"

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Boston Strong and Devotion

So this week I bought a copy of People magazine, something I usually do not do.  I did so to read about some of the Boston bombing survivors and how they were coping after they lost a leg or legs.  If I ever feel bad about my life, I just need to read this article again.  These people are so strong and determined to regain their lives and try to get back normal, or as close as they can.  One lady was a professional ballroom dancer and hopes to dance again with her artificial leg.  She also wants to run the Boston marathon next year and I hope she gets that wish.  They all feel blessed to be alive and sad that someone would do this but no bitterness about why this happened to them, they are true heroes.  I am sure they have bad days, we all do but their spirit is shining bright and strong and a guiding light to us all.  

I recently read "Devoted: The Story of a Father's Love for his Son" by Dick Hoyt, he is another bright light in the world.  He and his wife raised their oldest son who was born a spastic quadraplegic.  The doctors said to put him in an institution but they refused and fought to get him educated and integrated into society. One day, Rick asked his father if they could enter a running race to raise funds for someone who was in a wheelchair and he agreed.  What happened next changed direction of their lives and turned into one of the most amazing tests of strength and love I have ever seen.  Together Rick and Dick Hoyt have completed marathons, triathlons and Ironman events.  They have qualified for Boston based on Rick's age, not Dick's and completed the Kona Ironman Triathlon.  They have had success and failure and keep on trying to show that you can achieve anything, no matter your ability or disability.  If you do not know who Dick and Rick Hoyt are, please watch this You Tube video and be amazed. 

We all have challenges in life, we all fall or get knocked down, it is how we respond and what we do next that show our true character.  Will we give in or get up, brush ourselves off and get back to business, I know how I choose to live my life.  I have brushed myself off more times then I can count and I will continue to do so because people like this do not give up and give in and if they can keep going, I have no excuse that would ever be good enough.  

Someone posted this on a friends Facebook page, I love this video and I share it with you as inspiration or motivation, whichever you need. Enjoy

Sunday, 2 June 2013

What is Next?!?

So May madness is over, 3 races in 4 weeks and 3 PB's.  I am really please with my results, I made consistent improvements this spring, even with my injury and all the training paid off.  I really think that swimming paid a huge part in my improvement, I had never done cross training until January when I added swimming and spinning.  I know I need to add weight training to my schedule but I just added yoga and I will have to give up sleep to add anything else.  As it is I gave up my rest day to fit everything in, I need and extra day in my week.  Lucky for me swimming is not too taxing and I treat swimming days as my rest days.  

So what is next?  I started biking this week, for some reason I was afraid to bike after my experience last August with 2 flat tires at my Sprint Tri.  I was uncomfortable riding but I need to ride lots this summer so I needed to get over myself....quickly.   I went out with Neale and it made me feel better, and I remembered how much I love the speed and to cycle, I am looking forward to my first 30K ride next Saturday, postponed today due to weather.  I have 3 triathlons this summer, a Sprint, and Olympic distance and if things go well a Half Ironman.  I am very very nervous about the last race, I can downgrade to the Aqua event (swim and bike only) but I want to try the whole thing, time does not matter, it is just about finishing.  

There is always pressure to increase your mileage, to do bigger and better things to do more races and get more bling.  I have already registered for 2 events in 2014, the Goofy in January and Around the Bay in March. I know I need to do less next year, to consolidate my training and get stronger so I can be ready to do my Ironman in 2015.  I think we need to spend time at each distance, to get stronger and refine our technique before we move up to a new distance or new event.  We need to have enough time to train so that we do not get injured or get burnt out.  I know the Half Ironman is a stretch for me this summer and if I downgrade, I am OK with that, I will listen to my body and see how it responds and make the correct decision for me.  Lets face it, as I have said before, I will not qualify for Boston or Kona anytime soon and I do this for fun and to have fun and that has to be my main focus.  

Having spent a year doing half marathons, I am moving up to the marathon distance this fall.  I registered for the Philadelphia Marathon on Nov 17th.  Neale will run it with me, he always wanted to pace me for my first marathon and I am happy to have him with me.  I started running to run with him and he is so fast, I do not get  the chance, this will probably be the only time I run a marathon with him and I am looking forward to it.  I do not think the marathon is an event I will do on a regular basis, I love the 10K and half marathon distance too much but I look forward to doing at least 3, Philly, the one that is part of the Goofy and the one at the end of my Ironman.    

Whatever you decide to do this summer, I hope you have fun and do something you love.  Do not get pushed into any event or race because all the other cool kids are doing it, stay true to yourself and your dreams.