Saturday, 30 July 2016

Do You Hear my Heartbeat

I probably mentioned that my friend Barbara and I signed up for our big scary goal and will be running the Dopey challenge in Disney World and then the following weekend we are running the Rebel Challenge in Disneyland.  We will be running 6 races in 11 days, 109.4km, 10 medals coast to coast. Barbara and I ran the Goofy together a few years ago and we made a promise to do the Dopey together. Barbara wanted to do the Star Wars themed race so I suggested we do them back to and my big mouth.

I have been teaching the half marathon clinic and training for a half marathon and a marathon this summer, well sort of training for a marathon and I had this big goal in the back of my mind as well.  I was not sure how to train for this big goal and then I saw that Run Like a Mother was having a Dopey training plan.  I thought about it and thought about it and finally decided to look into it.  It turned out it was a heart rate based training plan and I was not sure if I wanted to do this kind of plan.  I have had a love hate relationship with heart rate training over the last three years.  I had my zones tested in 2013 and started with a heart rate training plan and gave up because I was running so S L O W.  I gave up after a few weeks and returned to my pace based training and did my Ironman training with my coach.  The thing about training for an Ironman is you do a lot of long slow workouts and I knew I was getting better but not faster.

Post Ironman I had my zones tested again to make sure I was training in the right zones based on pace and was surprised to see my new zone 1 was my old zone 3, I had improved my endurance base. The flip side was I had no speed and my zone 2 and 3 were small and I could not even get a reading for zone 4. I started adding some speed work and strength training and saw some results including my 2:02:28 half marathon in May, a PB by over 6 mins.

I know that if you keep doing the same thing over and over, you will get the same results and I wanted different results, not sure what they are but I know I wanted something different so I bought the program. When I saw the program I was in shock..where is the rest of the training, 2.5 hours in the first week...WTF???   Also the heart rate zones where low, my zone 1 was 137-157 and we had a 130 and 140 bpm runs...yikes. It was week 2 of the training program and I can't say I fully committed to it, I could not unprogram my past training and believe that this would work for me.  What is this I thought, I am use to doing 10+ hour training weeks, this won't work.   I started to listen to the podcasts that go with the training program and read the weekly newsletters and it made sense. Coach MK is a straight talking, no bull, fast talking ball of awesome and she draws you in, Dimity is the voice of reason to me, I have followed the AMR podcasts for years and she balances MK's whirlwind, word salad approach.

The first thing I did was defer the Wineglass marathon, it does not work with my Disney goal and I was not running enough distance but I am running the Army Run half (hopefully for a new PB) and Spacecoast marathon (as a training run) but my focus is heart-rate and Disney for now.   I look forward to this training cycle, I am willing to buy in totally now and see where it takes me and as long as it takes me to Disney it's a win. Next year I WILL run the Wineglass marathon and I am hoping I can have Coach MK can help me with that and together we will decide on my goal...I might just surprise myself :-)

Sunday, 10 July 2016

City Chase YOW 2016

So yesterday I did a different kind of race, Anita and I did the City Chase..maybe it should have been called the Weather Chase but more about that.  The City Chase has been on my must do list for a few year. As a huge fan of The Amazing Race and the Amazing Race Canada I had wanted to do this part obstacle course, part scavenger hunt race and pretend I was somewhere exotic and Phil or Jon was waiting for me at the finish-line ready to give me a big cheque...enough about my fantasy though. Anita and I signed up and then Neale and Andre signed up so it was also a battle of the sexes, may the better team win.

Anita and I headed to TD Place early to picked up our bibs and T-shirts and then headed to the bagel shop for some food and while there it started to rain, and the day continued that way, rain on and off, thunder and lightening and general comfortableness.  At 10am the heavens opened, thunder crashed and we were off, Anita ran one way to get one page of our clues, I the other to get the other page and then we were standing in the rain looking for each other.  We eventually regrouped and headed to the underground garage to get a notebook and pen and plan our strategy.  The City Chase give you 2 pages of clues to find the addresses to do the obstacle to get a chase point, you need 10 to finish and you have 6 hours.

We spent about 40 mins getting the addresses we needed, a few from friends on Facebook, thanks for the help, Rose, Leah and Amy and then headed out.  It was raining and a lot of the Chase points were closed so the indoor ones where getting really popular and had long lines.  Our first stop was a dance studio where we did the ChaCha.  I used the time in line to watch a how to ChaCha video so we quickly finished that one and headed to the next.  The next one involved Anita trying to hit an apple off my head with a bow and arrow.  Let's just say Anita was blindfolded and I am short so after 10 "arrows" they gave us the chase point and we were off.  Another team gave us misinformation for the third Chase Point but it worked out OK and we quickly re-routed and hopped on a bus for 2 stops to our third stop where we got to pull a bus, can I say that was really hard and my knees are still sore but oddly satisfying.

We zoomed through the next two Chase Points, we were soaked, hungry and need a bathroom so we stopped at my office and took advantage of the large computer screen instead of our phones and plotted our last 5 Chase Points.  The trick to this is plotting a critical path so you are not going back and forth across the city and we were in luck, there were 5 fairly close together.  I solved a puzzel while Anita ran on a treadmill at GoodLife, we Escaped the Room in about 3 mins, we, I should say Anita rocked the semaphore challenge and then we had 2 left.  A long bus ride put us back in the Glebe and we finished up on Glendale and Craig St and ran to TD Place.

We finished at 3:18 pm, tired, wet and starving but where were the guys?  Let's just say if this was my fantasy, Phil or Jon would have given Anita and I the cheque and I will leave them to tell their own tale.  I had a great day, hope to do it again next year and who knows, maybe Anita and I will turn up again on the Amazing Race Canada one day...anything is possible if you want it enough.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

So, now I know what it feels like in a washing machine...sort of anyway.  That is the image that comes to mind when I think of yesterdays swim and like a washing machine, my mind went in soiled and came out clean and fresh.  This is my race recap of the King Wolfe Swim.

Last year, a my friend Trevor suggested this 5ish k open water swim to me as a nice swim, flat water in the past and great support.  I decided to sign up around New Years Eve and made a plan to increase my swim distances in the pool through the winter.  I did manage one long open water swim the week before and swam the whole distance so I knew I was ready.
Trevor and I

We arrived in Kingston on Canada Day and I headed for kit pickup on the shore of Lake Ontario.  I was not planning on going to a practice swim but Deborah recommended it.  The Lake looked rough and the forecast for Saturday was the same so I thought I should get some practice in.  I had never swam in anything so rough and choppy and I was getting worried.  I tried to do the 500m swim but I drank the lake several times and really started to panic.

Saturday morning was nice and sunny and windy and the waves still looked rough, I was not sure I could do this or that I wanted to do this. I was trying to stay calm but the pre-race briefing did not help much.  Anita and Andre showed up to cheer me on with Neale and Stephen; Anita knew how panicked I was but told me I could do it and I knew I needed to start.  I had all these negative thoughts in my head, I could not do it, I was not a good enough swimmer, what if I had to stop midway through...the same old tape that plays in my head every time.
Looking terrified with Neale and Stephen before

I decided I had to start, I would do 1k and then decide, 1 k at a time if I needed to but I was not going to quit without trying.  I knew 11 people, including two that morning pulled out of the swim but like last year at the Ironman, I knew that giving up/not starting would hurt more than trying, giving my all and failing.
The Start
I started swimming and I felt like a cork bobbing in the water, wave after wave made it feel like I was not making any progress.  My Garmin said I was at 1km and I still felt good, I had not swallowed much of the lake so I decided to carry on.  At 1500m I had had enough, I was not having fun and not sure I was getting anywhere.  I called out to my kayaker that this was not fun and treaded water for a few seconds.  I looked back towards Kingston and then ahead at Garden Island and realized I was about half way between and I had to make a decision.  Could I do this for another 3.5k or should I stop.  I thought about last summer and the Ironman, I thought about everyone who said I could do it and I thought of Neale`s never-ending support and decided to keep on going, I was not going to stop swimming until I was pulled from the water or I got to Wolfe Island, I was going to finish this.  I started thinking of all the advice I gave others, I counted my strokes, everytime I got to 10 strokes, I did a breast stroke and sighted and then I repeated the mantra that came to me as I swam, too tough to kill, to determined to quit.

Eventually we got close to Garden Island and I heard cheering, I stopped and went over to my Kayaker and took in a gel.  I looked around and noticed there were people on the point cheering us on and that made me feel great.  Around the island I could see the bottom and that is comforting to me, I looked around and saw wood and weeds, zebra muscles and rocks and I could see I was going forward.  The waves slacked off a bit in the shelter of the island and I started having fun. Mike, my kayaker said I made great progress in this section, a straight line and I even passed another swimmer.
Mike and I before the swim
Once we hist the small rocks known as Goose Island I could touch the bottom so I stopped for a minute, talked to Mike about direction and remembered Deborah saying at this point we were 90% done.  All I wanted was to get this swim over with so I quickly started swimming again.  This section was really choppy, the wind was up and we were no longer sheltered by Garden Island.  I remembered Deborah saying stay right to avoid the ferry and all I could think about was where is that darn ferry, I had come to far to end my day as the hood ornament for a ferry.  A few quick corrections and Mike lead me into the beach, I was done and never so happy to be on dry land again.
The Finish!
I was surprised to learn my time, despite the wind and the choppy waters I had a good time, my goal was 2:15 and I was at 2:22 with my stops, not bad all things considered.  The best part was when I saw Trevor I asked if we were going to swim back now, I really felt like I could keep swimming and go back BUT taking the ferry back was nice as well.

I entered Lake Ontario full of doubt and exited full of joy and hope, the waves that bounced me around cleansed my soul and chased away my negative thoughts.  I always think I am not good enough, that I can`t do the task ahead of me but time and time again my body and heart have a different plan and it is that one I want to keep following.

 As Neale`s coach Ray Zahab says ...

Friday, 1 July 2016

Hitting the Reset Button

Happy Canada Day!

Time to dust off the blog and hit the reset button on it and my year "off" is over ( well 10 months), and I need to get back to it.  My idea of time off may not be the same as everyone else but I did cut back on my races and training, I taught a 10k clinic and am currently teaching a half marathon clinic and I tried a few things, a photography class, a trip to Peru and some business classes.  After my Ironman last year my business partners told me they would not support me doing another one but my training is important to me.  My relationship with my old coach at the end was tough on me and probably did not help but that is history, time to move on.  I have learned a lot in the last year, about myself, about coaching and about what I need and I am ready to get back to it!

I did do two races in May, I ran the Mississauga Half Marathon and the Ottawa Race Weekend 10k, they are a tale of 2 extremes, the half marathon was on a wet, cold, windy day and the 10k was on a hot, humid and as it turned out wet day, only the rain was the same.  One race I ran a PB (personal best) and the other a PW (personal worst) but I had a great time at both.  I am trying to have a high commitment to my training and a low attachment to my goals, we can only control what we do and weather or other circumstances are outside our control and can affect our goals.

I have also been struggling with being not good enough, not good enough at work, not good enough an athlete, not good enough at all. I have been looking at photos and hating how I look, this is stupid I know but I am human.  Anyway, enough is enough and I am getting back to what I love and loving what I do...time for a full life reset!

Last weekend I was in Mont Tremblant watching my friends do the 70.3 event and I had so much fun.  Anita did her first 70.3 and survived the heat to rock it, I am so proud of her.  Anita overcame her fear of Open Water Swimming and being clipped into her bike and had a fast swim and a great bike.  I saw her as she started her run, it was so hot and I knew it would be tough but she was tougher.

I was not thinking about doing Tremblant70.3 next year, I was thinking of maybe doing the 5150 race that weekend because a June 70.3 is tough, you do most of your training in the winter and you do not get a lot of time to train outside before race day.  I think I needed to be at this race to ignite my passion again, to remind me why I love this distance and to remind me I have unfinished business here so YES, I will be doing the 70.3 next June and I have a year to get better.  My friend Kory said she would help me with my biking which is my weakest link and I can keep going with my swimming and running with Anita and other friends.  I am good enough, I can do this, I want to do this so let's get this party started!