Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Keep Calm and Triathlon

I can not believe it is the end of July. where did the month go....oh, maybe it went the same place as the summer heat.  I am enjoying the cooler temperatures for training and sleeping but a bit more heat during the day would be nice.  I was very happy it was cool on Friday when I did my longest brick workout, a 75k bike ride and a 12k run.  When I got my schedule from my new coach at the beginning of the month, I laughed, I would never be able to do that.  Well, I was wrong, I did it and I had fun doing it.  Neale rode the bike portion with me and rode beside me as I ran, I was glad to have him with me even though he is not very chatty.  It was my hardest workout and I was happy and tired when I was done.  It was the first time I actually though I might be able to do my Half Ironman at the end of August, it was such a good feeling.   On Sunday I ran 21K with my marathon group, it was a hard run, my legs were sore and I was happy to have my biggest training week behind me.  

me after my workout on Friday

Yesterday I got my August schedule, good thing I had fun doing this workout the first time because I have to do it twice more in August!  This Saturday is my Olympic Tri but next weekend I get to do an 80K bike ride and 90 min run Friday and a 100K bike ride Sunday.  The next weekend I do a 75K bike ride and 90 min run on Friday and a 30 km run on Saturday. This time I looked at it and shrugged, I did it once, I can do it again and again and then again on race day, no problem...what a difference a month makes. 

I love my new coach, I get regular feedback, a sounding board when I have questions and someone who responds to my needs.  I had to re-arrange some things during the month and I was worried how that would be received.  I was happy to learn it was not a problem and I took that as a great sign.  This month I am volunteering at a few events, I have 2 races and other general busyness that makes up life and coach put it all together into a schedule. I do not have to think about, I just have to execute it, I love that it is one less thing I have to worry about. I let coach worry about the details and getting me to race day, I worry about my body and food to keep me in tip top shape to follow the plan.  

Next up, the National Capital Olympic Tri on Saturday.  Last year this was the same race I got my first DNF due to a flat tire at my first triathlon. Tomorrow night I am learning how to change a flat tire so history will not repeat itself.  I am hoping for little rain this week or the river will get red flagged and I will have to make a decision about turning my triathlon into a duathlon. Whatever happens I will keep moving forward, keep having fun and I will report back next week.  

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Looking Forward By Looking Backwards

So last Friday I did my first swim/bike brick workout with my friend Helene.  Helene and I are the perfect swim partners, we have the same stroke rate, the same stroke length and we breath on opposite sides so we see each other and smile as we swim.  We then hopped on our bikes and headed out to do the Gatineau loop.  I had never done this hilly route before but I knew it was a right of passage for all Ironman wannabes and I knew I had to do it.   I saddled up, embraced my granny gear and just kept pedaling to the Champlain lookout.  I focused on the task at hand and kept spinning my pedals, just keep moving forward.  On Thursday my friend Roy was visiting so I took him with me to my open water swim practice.  After we drove the loop I had biked the week before.  As we drove up the hill I was surprised how big the hill was and how long it was to the top. The rest of the route was just as surprising, big hills and fast downhills but I had done it.  I had done it...me...fat Ally, the person who would have been winded climbing a flight of stairs 3 years ago.  I did not stop, I did not complain, I did not think that I could not do it, I just did it because I had to.  

Helene and I at the lookout

This weekend I did a big set of back to back workouts, I biked 68.4K yesterday and then ran 40 mins and today I ran a fast 5k warm up and then ran 16.5 K with my marathon group.  Last year I was running 12K with the half marathon group wondering how I would be able to run 21.1K in Sept.  Today I ran 21.5K and it did not even faze me and I did it the day after an other big workout.  I biked 68.4K and ran 26.75K over 2 days, something I could never imagine doing a year ago or even a few months ago.  Next weekend is 3 big workouts in a row and I will do them one day at a time, moving forward and believing I can do whatever my coach schedules for me.

We get focused on looking at what else we need to do, how much further we need to go and we forget to look back and see how far we have come.  We need to embrace and remember the good workouts and especially the ones that sucked, they all helped us get to where we are today and from where I stand, that is a pretty great place to be.  

Monday, 15 July 2013

Boilermaker recap

It was the best of times and the worst of times....oops wrong blog post.  It was a hot and hazy Sunday and about 15000 runner gathered to run 15K, because they could...or thought they could.  

Last year I watched Neale run the Boilermaker in Utica NY and I decided then I wanted the chance to run it myself, so we registered for this years race.  A week before the race our B&B called, they had a flash flood and we could not stay there; we ended up in East Syracuse, 45 mins way from Utica which meant we had to be up at 4am to eat, get ready and be there by 6am before the roads closed.  It was already hot at 6am and when we started at 8am it was even hotter and humid, not ideal racing conditions.  Security was on high alert, checked bags were searched, lots of Police and Army personal on the course and people were being extra cautious. Just before 8 the bugle/trumpet belted out the Star Spangle Banner and the crowd sang on-mass, it was quite moving.

The race started slowly, there were a lot of people ahead of us, a quick kiss to Neale and he was off, way faster then me and he quickly disappeared into the crowd.  I was at the top of a small rise and ahead of me was wall to wall runners, it was quite inspiring until I hear a spectator shout..."Only 9.2 miles to the finish line", that was not inspiring.  Did I say it was hot, really really hot and I was sweating before the first mile marker.  They had over 20 water and ice stations on the 15K course, good thing too as I think I stopped at 17 of them along the way.  I would drink a cup of water and put the ice in my top (front and back) to cool down.  At one stage I reached in to grab an ice cube and the guy next to me did a double take, I smiled and said it was my ice chest and ran on laughing to myself.  There were a few hills and totally enjoyed the downhill on the other side.  As we came down through the golf course I saw a runner in a bit of distress, I asked her how she was and did she want to run with me.  Patty from Albany was having leg cramps in the heat so I shared my e-load tabs with her and we ran together for a bit before she had to stop, I hope she finished the race.  

I had a really really bad mile at mile 6, I was totally zoned out and over heating.  For the first time in a race I thought I might need medical attention at the end, if I made it that far.  I focused on the next landmark in front of me, one step at a time, counting my footfalls  to take my mind off how I was feeling.  I was scheduled to have a gel at this point and as much as I did not want to, I did. My mind said yes you need it but my stomach said no way but after a stop at the next water station and a run through the shower provided (heaven) I perked up and started to run faster.  I passed the 8 mile marker and though I might be able to make my goal time of under 1:45.  I had my Garmin on time, not training so I had no idea of my pace but  I eventually switched over happy to see only 3K left to go.  That is 3x1K sprints, let's do this I said to myself.  I guess the sugar in the gel had kicked in as I did 2 of them at 6:09, the last was slower, that I know but I do not know how slow, I just focused on finishing.  I finished in 1:46 and am really happy with that given the conditions. 

I zombie walked through the finishers area looking for more water and food at least food I could eat. Someone put a finishers pin in my hand and I remember putting it in my fuel belt pocket so I would not lose it, good thing I did that as I was dropping everything I touched at this point.  The crowds were huge but I eventually made it to bag check to get my bag and my melted recovery bar and went to the place Neale and I had arranged to meet.  I was so wet with sweat and the water I had dumped on myself, you could have wrung me out and made a very large puddle, except it would have evaporated in seconds.  The change of clothes and sandals I had in my checked bag were wonderful, so glad I packed them.

It was not the best run I had ever done but given the heat, I was happy I finished it and so close to my goal pace and time.  Neale had a great race as well finishing 4 seconds off his goal time.  It was a great event, the crowd support was fantastic and if you get a chance it is well worth the trip to do this race.  Did I mention it was sponsored by the local brewery and there is a party after with all you can drink beer...need I say more? 

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Strength in tough places

So I have had a bit of writers block and did not post last week..and I was away, it was the Canada Day long weekend.  I asked some friends for ideas and they gave me some that I will use in the next few weeks.  As usually happens, a topic presented itself to me via a friend or in this case friends.  

We train for a long time for our events, days and weeks, sometimes months and they can be good days or really bad days.  We need to have the bad training days so we know what to do if things go wrong in a race and to show us how strong we are.  We have tough days but we are tougher or they make us tougher. Sometimes it does not seem that way but when we are in the middle of it, sometimes it is hard to see lessons we need to learn.  We sometimes want to give up when things get tough but what is that old saying "When the going gets tough, the tough get going". Sometimes we get tough quickly, sometimes it takes a few days but we usually realize we can keep going and get through it. This is a sign of strength.

Another sign of strength is knowing when to give up, sometimes we are injured or get injured during a race and we need to stop and not continue.  Sometimes we have equipment malfunctions and do not get to finish, which happened to me on my first Sprint Tri.  All our training and hard work for this one day and it does not turn out the way we planned.  We can have a pity party or we can find the silver lining in the clouds, there is always one, even if we do not see it at the time.  I know after my DNF, I cried for a minute, got mad and then immediately said, I would be back to do another Tri, as soon as possible.  I could have given up but the though did not even enter my mind, I trained too hard to give up and I did great on the other 2 legs of my tri. My new coach had to stop her race today after she felt a muscle pop in her calf.  This was not her goal race and she knew not to push it.  Instead of having a pity party she immediately went into cheerleader mode for her fiancee who was still racing, that is strength. 

So I have a new coach, I though long and hard before getting one again but I know I found a good match.  I was clear on what I wanted and needed and was able to find someone who is willing to provide me with that.  I am stronger, I can now stand up for myself, I may not know everything but I do know what I need and I refuse accept less.  This was my first week on my new training plan, it was tough but I could do it, all of it, even the tough parts and I surprised myself....I am getting stronger.