Let’s have some FUN!

The final days (hours!) of training and preparing are upon me now. The race day is 8 days away. If I opt in for Bridgetown, that leaves 37 days.

In all honesty, I thought by this time I would be filled with panic, worry and stress.

But what is there to stress about? I have done the training and will do what I need to do leading up to the race. Could I have trained longer, harder, and with more discipline? Always. Could I have improved my diet? Certainly. (More spinach and less chocolate for starters). But I’ve done what I can for this 70.3 and have learned a lot for future races. Let there be many future races!

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It’s true. I requested 36 Gluteny Cake pops to consume all on my own for my birthday. No shame.

I’ve pushed myself further than I ever have before. I’ve had some amazing moments training when I’ve done more than last year’s me could ever thought possible. I have this photo of Tim and I getting ready to race the bluenose two years ago. I was completing my second half marathon and you can tell in the photo – I was terrified! It’s a good reminder of how far I’ve come. I certainly need that when I hit a wall training or get left in the dust by a fellow athlete (this happens a lot).

I also have moments when I’m running (ahem, slogging) up a monster hill and think “why haven’t I been hill training more!?” or biking into the wind using every curse word I can come up with wishing that my legs were strong to push faster, faster, faster. Damn you, wind!

I won’t become an endurance athlete over night.

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A fun 60K in May with amazing support

I wasn’t sporty in high school, dabbling here and there in a multitude of soccer, basketball and track. I never took anything serious and just had fun. I’ve been swimming since I was 5, but not competitively. I never considered myself an athlete…and while I find it hard to consider myself one today, I know I’m moving in the right direction. At 35, I am getting there. It’s a slow journey, but I’m in it for the long run. Literally.  The difference between the past and this year is I’m pushing myself further, following a plan and focusing on an end goal. I know an end goal is key in my progression.

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Team “Cherries Were on Sale” pushed me through a tough 8K in 45 minutes. Without them there, it wouldn’t have happened.

I’ve had some amazing support over the past 6 months. Words on encouragement: (that I thought may be “turn off that alarm clock!” at 5am were actually “I’m really proud you’re sticking with this”.) to advice from experienced triathletes (“you got this!” and “gradually add more time in your aero position to get use to it”) to training swims, bikes and runs with amazing people. A not so great bike ride can turn into a good experience with a good friend to commiserate with and then remind ourselves how far we’ve come! I am lucky and have truly enjoyed this journey, I would have given up a hundred times without the help of my training partners.

I’ve completed my first 90K bike this week, which felt surprisingly good. My bike is fitting and the seat feels good (huge relief on both fronts (and backsides!)). Of course, I should have done more hills.

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My first 90K!

My run is almost back to 100% of where it was, I’d say. I’m even back to enjoying the activity and not constantly focused on “Is my knee ok? ….how about now?….now?” and last week I ran a 61 minute 10K under the scorching sun. I was hoping to break the hour mark but when a friend of mine confessed that she had been chasing me the entire time and couldn’t catch up it made me feel like I wasn’t the only one suffering out there!

And the swim; I’m in the open water and it’s an adjustment. My heart rate skyrockets and I feel like I’m floundering for the first 500M. Practise makes…better and I’m taking advantage of Banook Lake being open for public swims this week.

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I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some amazing people through the Halifax Triathlon Club. Here are a few inspirations.

My dear friend commented on one of my triathlon photos from back in the early days…[In the photo I’m trying to get my bike shorts on after the swim at one of my first triathlons. I wasn’t concerned for time or what the other athletes were thinking of me and I was just having a blast. I didn’t know any better]…and her comment was “I hope we have this much fun in St. Andrews”.

Amen. Let’s go have some f*cking fun.

 

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Sprint Triathlon 2010

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The Road (Trip) to St. Andrew’s

This past weekend was my first triathlon training camp. I recruited two friends to accompany me and we piled into the “mom van” bright and early on Saturday morning and took off to St. Andrew’s by the Sea, New Brunswick.

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3 bags for 1 night seems about right

I felt that experience the race route before the actual race day would help me feel more comfortable in the weeks leading up to the event, and this would also be a great way to devote a good part of the weekend to training. Alternatively, testing the route out could also scare the crap out of me. Risky business, I know.

The training camp was scheduled for a full day on Sunday, so when I arrived on Saturday I had the afternoon to focus on my favourite part of training; fuelling up and napping.

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A bird’s eye view of St. Andrews by the Sea (it looks flat from up here…right?)

Shannon and I quickly got out butt’s in great and headed toward the swim course. It was a dark, overcast day and we had to sneak through a fence to reach the water. We noticed 2 people swimming in the distance, and took that as a sign that the water was safe.

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Are you sure we’re getting in there?

The air was chilly, and despite our wetsuits the water was even chillier and somewhat cloudy. We couldn’t see the bottom, or 5 feet in front of us for that matter. I was 300M into my swim when I felt my hand brush by something mushy. I pushed the thought from my mind and swam on. 100M later, more mushy.

IT’SNOTADEADBODY. IT’SNOTADEADBODY. IT’SNOTADEADBODY. IT’SNOTADEADBODY. IT’SNOTADEADBODY. IT’SNOTADEADBODY.

We quickly realized that it was jellyfish. And as the water cleared they were everywhere. I’ve been stung before, it’s not a big deal but something about the situation caused me to panic. I quickly made my way to shore and exited the water at once, telling myself that was the last time I was getting in the water before the race directors pushed me in on July 6th.  But then I pulled it together. I don’t have the power to change anything about those little guys, and did they even have stingers on them anyways?

After the swim Shannon and I took off for a run. Good for training purposes, good for raising our core temperatures too. My run is improving. I finished the 5K feeling strong, happy and like I could run further. My GI system did not.

The rest of the evening the three of us explored the sweet town of St. Andrews that I fell in loved with over a decade ago. We found a nice meal (and wine!) at The Gables on the water and speculated about our training day. I knew tomorrow wasn’t a race, but I still was feeling anxious.

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From the patio of The Gables, NB

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View from the Gables

Sunday.

6:20AM

Anxiety. I still haven’t gotten in the long rides that I was hoping to for my training, I still have a bit of time, but truthfully, I’m not where I wanted to be on the bike.

90K. All at once. Phew.

It turns out however that we are only doing 60K, which was still a challenging ride, but not nearly as scary as I had psyched myself up for. I was at the back of the pack, but did my best NOT to focus on my position.

Training camp kicked my butt. But isn’t that what it’s all about?

On the way back in, I felt stronger especially after some tips from more experienced riders (ironman!) and my confidence grew (ever so slightly!). I’m not saying the course is easy – it’s not. There are hills and there was wind on this day. I knew that we may be dealing with warmer temperatures than I’m use to on race day, but wind and rain may also be a factor to contend with.

After biking, we swam. Yes I got back in the water but with 20 people so it didn’t seem that bad. We had a great 1K swim with my “mushy friends” and I only got stung once, answering my earlier question about the stingers.

I completed my second outdoor swim of the year in my brand new wetsuit that I was delighted to discover I can actually move in. This would be my 5th attempt as a wetsuit…and finally success.

Our training day continued with the biggest chicken sandwich of my life and a few talks from the race organizers.

And then for our final activity of the weekend, the 10K run. This would be my first 10K in over ten weeks. My knee was feeling fine form yesterday’s run and I was ready to get out there. Karen, Shannon and I started with the group. I should first mention that Karen did more training than the weekend entailed, including a half marathon and some serious hours on the bike above and beyond what was prescribed for the weekend. It was OK when she stopped at 4K. I didn’t feel OK about stopping though, but that sandwich was coming back to haunt me. I was just too full even hours after eating it. I threw in the towel and walked through St. Andrews back to the hotel. I didn’t beat myself up too badly. A 60K bike, 1K swim and 4K run coupled with some great advice (and great company!) was a pretty successful day in my books.

I was so glad to have made the 5.5 hr hike up for the weekend. It was time and money well spent for me. I had some great learning’s:

  • More biking….and running….and open water swims
  • Need to load up on calories on the bike
  • Transition 1 will be a nightmare. ~500M. Up a hill.
  • I need to really figure out what I’m wearing.
  • I need to practise fixing my flat.
  • I know where I’m going (more or less) on race day: WIN
  • Practice getting in aero position for minutes at a time…bit by bit I will be more comfortable here. I go 2-3-4K/hr faster down there
  • I’m dedicated to the final kick at the training plan.
  • Perhaps I will look at full coaching in future events
  • I’m hoping to incorporate the lactate/ HR monitoring more so for my next race.

I’m feeling good about completing the race. My (ever-fluctuating) time goal is less important to me now, but finishing the race is key. I will do my best leading up to and on race day. I’m even hoping to have a little fun!

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Practising my aero position & having some fun at the Algonquin Resort, NB

I don’t often visualize myself racing and I’ve never think about crossing the finish line of any of my races past or future, but this weekend as our group finished up the run portion they ran through our future finish line and we cheered each other on as if it was race day. Talk about fun!

I’m ready for race day….just about 🙂

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St. Andrew’s By the Sea, NB

The Countdown is on

I’m back in full swing training with 25 days left until race day.

life is a story

On Sunday, June 1st I completed my first triathlon of the season at the Navy Trident Sprint distance.

I surprised myself with pre-race jitters for this event. I wonder if it was the impending larger triathlon or the fact that I had a 2pm heat start, second from the last of the day. I had hours and hours to get lost in my own silly thoughts.

As I climbed into the pool I attempted to calm myself down with the following thoughts:

  • This is just a warm up for the season
  • No one is really watching
  • This will be fine.
  • HaveFunHaveFunHaveFun

You're right

Where I’ve seen distinct improvement in my run and bike over the past 12 months, I have to say my swim has been consistent for the past 6 years of triathlons. I take it easy. I avoid getting kicked. I find rhythmic breathing. I never burn out. Breathe, breathe, breathe. Oh, and where did I park my bike?

Navy Triathlon June 1 2014

A quiet moment of reflection post-race

I exited the pool last and experienced some mild humility. (Perhaps I should push it a little hard moving forward!)  I found my bike and headed up the small (yet mighty) hill to the runway, where participants make three laps on the tarmac.

I was feeling pretty confidant, given the flat nature of the course, but my confidence hadn’t accounted for the wind.  Oh the wind! When I checked my speedometer I wasn’t surprised, but still disheartened to read 20K/hr. I tried to find joy in reading 30-35K/hr with the tailwind.

Last off the runway.

And then the run. This 5K would be my third run since my physiotherapy treatments and I wasn’t 100% sure how this would turn out. I was happy to be pain-free at a 6min/km pace (my base pace) and after a swim and bike, I felt this was a win.  I certainly  felt my knee say “hello” but thankfully no pain.

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Crossing the finish line of the Sprint

I crossed the finish line feeling strong and happy. I still have work to do before my big race, but I am moving in the right direction. I am going to finish the 70.3 race. When I signed up for this race I thought at this point of my training I would faster and stronger than I am now, but I’ve got a long way to go. Building up strength on the bike (and run) takes longer than 6 months. I just need to keep at it.

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My cheering squad for the Sprint (They’re coming to St. Andrews too!)

It’s easy to see how much further I have to go, then realizing how far I’ve come. I was a ball of emotions after the race, I called in the big guns, and went to hangout with some ironmen, who happen to be long-time friends of mine. They helped quiet those negative thoughts that were creeping in. I am grateful.

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17 years of friendship with these amazing (ironman) guys

This weekend I’m participating in my first triathlon training camp in St. Andrews. I’m excited to have some great friends accompanying me, while also slightly nervous about the 90K bike, but I think that knowing that the route is will calm my nerves.

The countdown is on. The medals were reviled today. There’s no turning back now, I might as well enjoy the ride.

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I have really, really, really worked hard for this.