Monday, 27 July 2015

Limitations are 90% Mental

What a Sunday!  I spent part of my day tracking friends on the IMLP and 70.3 Calgary course online and it was so much fun.  My friends Kory, Stephane and Meredith were doing Lake Placid and Kristine was doing Calgary. I was in awe of their accomplishments, it made me excited and scared at the same time because I know as I watched them that in three weeks that would be me and someone would be at their computer waiting for me to finish my long day.

This was our second last long training weekend, weekends designed to push our bodies and test our physical and mental limits and yes, both were tested.  Friday I went searching for a sleeveless wetsuit and finally found one but they had to order my size so I have to wait until this Friday to try it out.  We headed to Meech lake to do our longest swim to date.  I wanted Neale to swim the whole 3.8 distance tonight before we did Beach to Beach the following Friday. While I had never swum the distance, as a swimmer I knew I could and never really worried about myself.  In Tremblant we swim 1.9k into the middle of the lake, turn around and come back, it is a scary thing to do, so this time we set off across the lake at its widest point to swim across it.  It seemed to stretch on forever but when we were close to the other side it was only 1.25k in fact. We swam it slowly and I spent a lot of time looking for Neale, that man can not swim straight. We made it back across the lake and then did a large loop to the narrowest point, across and back for a total of 3.9k in 1:44.  I was so proud of Neale for going the distance, well below his IM cutoff time. I am looking forward to this Friday and the beach to beach swim, it will be a real test of the race day swim.

On Saturday we drove to Tremblant to bike for the day, on the road from Ottawa by 7:30, on the roads of Tremblant by 9:30 for a long bike ride.  We did the loop except the St Jovite part which is 80K.  I was nervous going on the highway, I did not like the idea of cars and truck going by at 100+k but the shoulders are wide and it was actually quite fun.  I hit 69.6k on one of the downhills (see the BIG drop on the graph, yeah that one), too bad I was crawling up it at 10k on the trip back but that is the great part of hills, what goes up must come down and helps balance out your speed.

the bike elevation profile, look at the last part, yikes

I loved the highway section but it was windy so that  slowed down my progress a bit but I was well above my average speed on that section so I know it will be a nice recovery section if it is not too windy on race day.  Duplessis is the toughest part of the course, there are three 8% grade climbs that make me want to cry.  The first loop I tried to go up them working down my gears to my smallest gear and the second time I had no pride and put it into my climbing ring and spun up the hills.  I know on race day that is the strategy to use, it is easier on the legs and I will need those for the run. We drove home around 5, I had done a 130k bike ride but not my run, I did not want to leave the bikes on the bike rack unattended and I would not miss a 3k run, Neale did 125k and a 12k run. Driving home was wild, a big rain and thunderstorm was passing through and all I could think is please don't let this happen on race day, I could not bike in this.

On Sunday I was up early to do a 25k run.  I was running 6ish K with Barbara and the rest with the marathon group.  As soon as I started I knew it was not going to be a fun run, my legs were like lead and it was already muggy. Barbara and I ended up running 8.7k so if I did the 19 with the group I would be well over but that was OK, or so I thought.  I did not take in enough electrolytes after my bike ride, or have enough recovery time to stretch properly and my left hamstring was not happy with me.  As I ran with the 4:15 group I knew I needed to keep the hamstring happy so when they dropped onto the trail at Trim, I stayed on the road and that was the last I saw of my group until almost the end of the run.  I was really hot, I was tired and my hamstring was really grumpy now.  This is when the mental part really kicked in.  I walked up Trim hill and then for the next 6k I played mental games with myself, OK run Trim to the power lines, then you can walk, run this section of the path, then you can walk across the street, run the next one too it's a short section and so on.  As I was waiting for the lights on Charlemagne I  saw my group so I waited for them and finished the run with my group.  I was not feeling well at all, I knew I was not dehydrated but I felt a bit light headed and just wanted to finish.  At one point I thought about walking it in and sternly told myself NO!!, that would be like walking it in at the end on your Ironman, that is not going to happen.   I made sure to drink lots of electrolytes after my run and hydrate well and today my hamstring feels fine and so do I.

I spent over 10 hours swimming, biking or running this weekend and I loved almost every minute of it, yes I am glad it is done but I was happy to do it all and look forward to doing it again this weekend and a little bit more...because I can.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Hot and in the Hurt Locker

Well I had 2 whole days off before I got back into training for IMMT.  I was happy that the day after the race, nothing hurt and I was feeling great.  I handled the heat in Geneva and my body responded well.  Little did I know that it was about to get hotter than that race and I was in for a few hot humid days in the hurt locker.

Ottawa is the city of extreme weather, +40C in the summer and -40C in the winter and I run in both, well maybe not -40C, my cut off is -30C :-)  On Saturday we were going to go to Mont Tremblant to bike the course but a weather forecast of rain and thunderstorms meant we changed it to Sunday. Saturday morning I headed out for my 30k run, it was hot and humid at 8am and I was soaked by 5k. I was happy it was overcast so at least I did not have the sun to deal with as well...yet.  I planned my route so that I would have places to fill my water bottles and by the time I reached my first fill up point I was running on empty, 15K and 36oz of liquid done.  By this time the sun had started to put in an appearance and it really started to heat up.

My plan was to run 22k straight through and then practice my walk/run strategy for IMMT.  I knew from volunteering and talking with others that I would do a lot of walking on the second half marathon loop and I wanted to have a plan.  I first tried walk 250m/run 250m repeat but found that was not comfortable.  I stopped at the Running Room for another waterstop, 23k done and another 28oz consumed.  I ran into my fellow IMMT friends there who were doing their long run.  They offered to run with me but I wanted to stick to my plan of walk/run and carried on the final 7k home. I next tried walk 250m/run 750m and that worked well so I used that ratio for the rest of the run and was happy how it worked.  My left hamstring and glute had been hurting while I was running but the run/walk portion helped it and it did not feel as bad at the end.  Over the 30k run, I had consumed about 90oz of water and I was still down over 2 lbs, which is a sign of dehydration, yikes.

I did not feel great the rest of the day, I was lethargic and felt off.  I hydrated and ate, had a nap and prepped for the trip to Tremblant the next day.  I decided not to go to Bluefest in favor of an early night and I made the right decision, I would need my energy for my 120k bike ride.  Sunday morning the thunderstorms started at 2:30am and when we got up at 5:30 it was still stormy.  Group decision was to stay home and ride inside, 5 hours on a trainer, what fun.  Eventually we decided that the weather looked good enough to chance a ride in Ottawa, from Orleans to Champlain lookout and out on Frank Kenny for those who were doing extra.  We were counting on the weather forecast, no thunderstorms until 4pm to be right but how often does that happen.

We started out a 8:30 and it was HOT and HUMID already but the bike gives us a breeze so it was fine while we were riding.  I had never biked this route before but it was on my to do list so I was happy.  We made it to the Gatineau Park parking lot and refilled our water and got ready to go the hilly part of the ride.  Just as we were starting out I had my second low speed tipover, I did not realize the gate across the road would be closed and tried to change direction and went over.  Luckily I was not too badly scraped up, I cleaned my knee with a wipe and got back on my bike, I had hills to climb.  The climb to the Champlain lookout is hard but I found it easier on my tri bike then on my road bike, I LOVE my tribike.  By this time it was midday and HOT, I had sweat dripping down onto my glasses as I pedalled up, up and up some more.  The best part of all the climbing is going down and I love the downhills.  I hit 61.7KMPH coming down King hill, it is such fun!

We headed back home and I had a near miss with another cyclist, I went off the path, onto the grass and almost into a ditch, my race flashed in front of my eyes but I managed to gain control of my bike and get back onto the path but that sure got my heart racing.  The rest of the ride home was uneventful, hot but uneventful and as we got closer to Orleans we noticed the sky getting darker and it was not 4pm yet.  We decided to cut the Frank Kenny part and head home and we were almost there when the storm hit, hail and rain poured from the sky drenching us in seconds.  As quickly as it arrive, it was done so we decided to do our run, I had 5k to do.  I started and I really tried but I called it after 2k, I could not breath and the heat was oppressive, like a weight pushing you into the ground.  I was hurting, big time and I knew nothing would be gained by pushing myself.  As usual I had that twinge of guilt for not doing a workout as prescribed but I had pushed myself this weekend, I pushed through the pain while running and biking and knew I could do it again on race day, I was strong enough.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Musselman Recap Part 2

So on your bike they say..back to my recap of Musselman 70.3, grab a coffee, this is the long part.

Swim done, now onto the hard part, the bike.  I am not a great cyclist but I am working on it and I know I am getting faster.  I was excited to see how I would do on my tribike.  It was slightly overcast and 24.6C when I started on the bike, it felt like there was a slight breeze as well but it was fairly flat to start, just some over passes and rollers to get the legs moving.  I saw several people with flats in those first few miles, the roads were OK but you had to pay attention for potholes and pavement issues.  I was playing leapfrog with a few cyclists, chatting as we passed and it was fun. We veered left onto a country road and it looked flat but it sure wasn't, my speed was terrible and I wondered if I could make my speed goal.  We turned onto a main road that was flat and suddenly Skyrider (my bike) and I were flying, in aero and over 30kmph.

From that moment I was one with my bike and it was fun...until mile 34 and we made a right hand turn and face a killer climb with no speed to help.  I had no shame, I flipped my gear to my climbing ring and spun my way up the hill or hills as it was the start of 5 miles of hills.  The rest of the bike ride was fine except the part in the park, a gravel bumpy road is not pleasant on the rider or the bike and all I kept saying was please don't let me get a flat. After that gravel stretch I was ready for the bike to be over and I had about 10K left to go so I thought where that would put me on my usual flat ride on Frank Kenny and visualized riding that, seeing the familiar landmarks in my mind and enjoying the wineries that I was actually passing.  When speaking to Neale after the race, he said he had done the same thing to help him get through the last few km.

I was so happy to reach the dismount line, my goal time was 3:30 and an ave speed of 25.75 and I had finished in 3:40 and an average speed of 24.8, I was thrilled.  One thing that did not thrill me was the temperature, while I had been running it had been steadily increasing and it was 30.8C when I started my run.  The run starts out in the park, it is flat but also very hot and as I was running out there were people running in to finish, never a cheerful thing to see.  I heard the noon clock chime and I knew I had 3 hours to do my run, that should be enough.  I had hoped to do a 2:30 half with a 7 min per km ave but with the heat I decided to walk the uphills and walk through the aid stations and try to stay under a 8 min per km pace.  This would be my strategy at IMMT so it was a good time to practice it and to see how my legs felt after a fast bike ride.

I had heard the run course was challenging and it was but I was sticking to my plan, running between the aid stations and only walking the big uphill sections and I felt really good, yes it was hot but my legs felt great, I did not have any stomach issues and I was happy.  Just after the halfway point we turned onto a gravel road and my mood totally changed.  First I hate running on gravel, second it was in the full sun and by then the temps had risen to 33.5C and there was a monster hill in front of me. I started running on the grass but it was lumpy and I did not want to turn an ankle so I started walking and many others around me were walking as well.  There was a band at the top of the hill and the drum made me feel like we were on a death march, looking back when I finally got to the top of the hill, everyone was walking , heads down, it was grim.  At the end of the gravel road the volunteer said we were at the highest point now and 95% of the rest was downhill, that was music to my ears and I took off running, turning right and onto a long downhill section.  I gave into gravity and flew down that hill, passing many people along the way.  My joy was short lived as my shoe insole was moving and I had to stop several times on St Clare to adjust it.  When I was 5km to the finish and called on all the positive voices in my head  to help me, I heard Stephanie tell me stand up straight and take little steps, I heard Barbara say you can never run too slow and I hear Anita say I am one one the most determined people she knew.  OK, time to finish this off and before I knew it I was able to see the finish line, well that was all I needed and I picked up speed I did not know I had and raced to the finish line.  I hear my SBM team cheering and the rest of the crowd and I was so happy.  My run was slow but I stayed under my 8 min goal and finished with a new PB/PR time.

Overall my day went like this:
Swim 43:23, distance 1.9km
T1 5:22
Bike: 3:40:45, distance 91.47km
T2 5:32 - included a bathroom break
Run 2:48:08, distance 21.1km
Total 7:23:11 for 114.47km

All in all it was a great race, I think if it had been cooler the run would have been better, well maybe not a few of the hills but no course is totally flat...right.  The volunteers were fabulous and I tried to thank as many as possible along the route, well maybe not the swim but I am sure they understood it is hard to talk and swim at the same time.  The organization was first rate, Score This did a great job for their first year.  I loved meeting other SBM's, I loved doing the race with Michelle, who finished her first triathlon ever, made it in before the cut off despite several falls on the bike portion.  I love doing these event with Neale, even though he beats me in by over an hour every time, he finished in 6:15.  It was a great event and I would definitely do it again... next time it is double mussel time!

Monday, 13 July 2015

Musselman 70.3 Triathlon- Part 1

So yesterday I completed the Musselman 70.3 in Geneva NY.  It was a beautiful sunny hot day, a great day to swim, bike and run.

We drove to Geneva Friday night and settled into the Athlete's Village aka the dorm of the local college.  The next morning we headed out to the bike shop and then packet pick-up, I needed tubes for my tri bike which I decided last minute to take.  So just to give you some history, I had a road bike and last fall I bought a tribike.  I have not ridden it much outside, just on the trainer inside this winter.  I am still getting use to being clipped in and the tribike was another new thing to be mastered, I felt unsteady  and unsure on it.  Anyway, the weather forecast looked good so I decided it was now or never and since I wanted to ride it for IMMT, I needed to ride it Sunday.  I decided to leave the road bike at home so I could not change my mind.

My friend Michelle was also doing the race so we met up at at 1:30 for the race briefing.  This was Michelle's first race and I was so excited for her, it was great to re-live this through her.  Tradition is to sign the I did and stopped for the mandatory photo op. I was not too nervous for the race, I had done this before and hoped I could do it again, the one thing I have learned is to take nothing for  granted.  Instead of the full 8 hours, I would have 7:45 as the course closed at  I was worried about this, 2 of my last 3 half HIM races were over 8 hours, I was going to have to hustle to make the cutoff this time.  

I had an "A" plan, 45 mins for the swim, 3:30 for the bike and 2:30 for the run.  I figured 15 mins for transition which would put me at 7 hours.  I knew that would be challenging, really challenging but I was up for it.  The closer we got to the event, the more I realized this would be tough with the anticipate temps.  I talked with a friend who has done several IM races and since the bike is my biggest challenge we decided I should push the bike and ease up on the run, I liked that plan, since this was not an "A" race but a long training day, I did not have a lot of recovery time in my plan.  The heat takes a lot out of me and I could not afford to loose a week of training after this race.  

Race day dawned and my day started at 3:45am, well before dawn actually.  We had to pack and be ready to go at 5am as we were driving home right after the race.  We met Michelle and her awesome hubby Chad and drove off to the race site. It was hopping at 5:15 am and after body marking it was off to transition to set up.  At body marking I saw Jamie who writes a blog I had been following "From Couch to Ironman"  She was doing the double mussel, sprint and HIM distances, with her hubs Mike.   Here is her blog From Couch to Ironman.  I read her recap of this race which helped me decide to do it.  

We met up with the SwimBikeMom group at our tent.  I love being part of this group, we support each other so much and it was so nice to finally met some of the other women in the group.  

Now the butterflies started to fly, I got in for swim warm-up just as they were calling us out of the water.  I only had time to get wet, no time to warm up which would be a problem at the swim start.  We were starting at 7:15 and because of the corralling and double counting for safety we were ready to go by 7am.  It was a water start, we waded in to the water and waited for the horn. It was rocky and not too deep and I tried to swim straight away but my hands kept hitting the bottom so I had to walk a bit at the start. Imagine 75 or so people spread out at the start all trying to head for the same point (turn buoy), it was chaos and I had to stop several time to avoid swimming over someone or being kicked.  The water was murky and full of weeds and as we turned the first buoy the waves there tough to swim through.  Finally we made the final turn and eventually we entered the canal portion.  I had an incident with some sort of marine life that head butted me.  It was the strangest thing but eventually I finished the swim and I was a few minutes before my goal time, 43:23 for the swim.  The swim was tough, I was not warmed up, I swam wide and it was wavy in the lake but all in all I was happy with my swim.  I really hope to do my IM swim in 1:20 - 1:30 and this puts me right no track.

I will recap the bike and run and final thoughts tomorrow, I still need time to process it all but enjoy this part for now.  

Friday, 10 July 2015

Fly like a Butterfly

So I am off to Geneva NY for Musselman 70.3 today and I am looking forward to a great weekend of fun, friendship and finishing another race.  It has been a stressful week, I have been stressing about IMMT during this taper week, stressing about my training, stressing about work and stressing about life stuff.  It was the perfect storm this week of emotions, I should have had a warning label over my head.

I have been lucky enough to have had a great coach for the 2 years, I would not be where I am today without her help.  She is a great coach and a great athlete but recently it started to go wrong, it was not working for me.  Yesterday I ended our relationship, it was hard, it did not go well but as soon as I did it, I knew it was the right thing to do. I believe people come into our lives for a reason and she entered my life at the time I needed her too, to help me get started on this journey, to believe in myself and to believe anything is possible.  

I am lucky enough to have 2 wonderful sons and as a parent I knew my job was to teach my boys, to help them grow into strong, independent and respectful men.  I knew if I did my job right, one day they would leave and go on to a successful life on their own.  I guess my coaching relationship was a bit like this.  My coach taught me what to do, she taught me to do it well and to believe in myself.  As I grew as an athlete, I wanted more independence and a chance to explore more on my own.  I was turning from a caterpillar into a butterfly and I wanted to test out my wings and fly.  

So as much as this week was hard, it was also rewarding, this week I became the butterfly and it would not have been possible without the help of my coach, to whom I will always be grateful.  I may fail, fall and falter but I will get there because I believe, finally, in myself.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Taper Crazies

I cannot believe IMMT is in 6 weeks, I should be in full training node but instead I am in taper mode and slowly going crazy.  I have a 70.3 in Geneva NY next Sunday as a rehearsal for IMMT and I have a taper week so I am ready. I am use to doing 15 or so hours of training a week and to drop to half that is hard, especially when I know what is to come.  A friend who is also doing the 70.3 started worrying about her race on Tuesday and it started a full blown panic attack for me that lasted 3 days, not for the 70.3 but IMMT.  What if I can't make the cut off, what if  I just make the bike cutoff and I have to do the marathon in 6:30 hours, I am planning to having 7 hours..what if...what if...what if. I could what if myself into the ground or I could train and do the work to make sure I could make the cut offs and that is what I did.  

Sometimes when I feel like this I look back at how far I have come and it shows me  I am improving and that I am not the same athlete I was a year ago or even 6 months ago.  This helps me believe anything is possible and that what I am feeling is just the fear of the unknown.  I have done the work, to the best of my abilities and I need to show up on race day ready to go, to be present and to be confident in my abilities.  

When I decided to do this event 3 years ago, I was not the person or athlete who could do it but I knew if I worked hard and wanted it enough, I could become that person and I am hoping I did enough.  A lot of people think I am crazy and I probably am but along this journey I have found myself, I have found something I am passionate about, something that gives me joy and sorrow, frustration and exhilaration, it makes me push outside my comfort zone and become a better person, a better wife, mother, friend and business women.  

If you had told me 6 years ago that I would be training for an Ironman, I would have laughed in your face, same with a marathon but here I am, 11 half marathons, 3 marathons, 2 Ironman 70.3's and one Half Iron Distance race later and I am still standing.  Let's face it, I don't know what will happen on August 16th, I hope to hear Mike Reilly say those famous words to me but whatever happens, I have already received so much from this journey and I will continue to grow, to train and to inspire others.... as long as I can.