The other F-word

“If you don’t fail it’s because you did not risk enough, and if you didn’t risk enough it’s because you didn’t put your whole self out there.”

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Sometimes you just need a good run. 

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The view from Tim’s start line. Hubbards is beautiful!

Every year at my work we hold a “Surviving September” party for the team. It’s a celebration of making it through the events, the hustle and bustle of the “back at it” month. It’s a celebration on surviving those 12-14 hour days getting the events going, the magazine to print, the office moved, and to get everything else going. It’s non-stop.

These are the times that training and the health-conscious me begins hibernation. I know better to sign up for the final triathlon of the season, knowing that my training wains and I end up cursing my way through the course (it only took 2-3 years to realize this fact!). Miraculously, I’ve kept my swimming up, and leading classes at Cyclone keeps me in the saddle. But running. Oh, running. It’s like drying dishes, submitting my taxes, or cleaning out the fridge; I’ll do anything but that. Anything.

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September Sunflowers. My favourite!

I find it sad that running and I were taking a break. We’d become so close over the last 9 months. I promised myself – after countless ‘re-starts’ – that I wouldn’t quit running. If I didn’t give it up, then I wouldn’t have that horrible first run back. You know the one. The sweaty, slow, painful, first run back that hurts the lungs, the head and the heart.

But there’s this marathon that I signed up for in 2 weeks….I’ve been battling about which distance I should realistically complete on October 11th, because I sure as heck aint ready for a marathon. I ran home a few weeks ago (6K) and I wanted to stop and walk, no crawl home. It was hot, I was sore, slow and the whole experience just wasn’t what I had been experiencing with running over the past year. I could not motivate myself to go running this month, even with Tim coming home from really great runs, I just wouldn’t dig out the runners.

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My speedy love, kicking relay butt. (4th place!)

Rum Rummers Relay happened today. Tim and I had signed up for this relay in May, and today was the day. I didn’t set any expectations for myself, knowing my 9.3K leg was a hilly one. I wanted to finish without the desire to crawl into the ditch (that is so 2014). But you know what? I killed it. I frigging loved the hills, down and up. Seriously. I ran hard, pushed myself and wouldn’t let ol’ wheezy behind me pass, though he tried. One woman passed me on the first 3 hills, going up and I promptly passed her going down. I challenged myself. It was amazing. The sun was shining, but it wasn’t 25+C like last year, the wind was moderate and I was well rested and fed. I smiled at the volunteers and cheerers. I love it, and thus loved running all over again.

A good race was exactly what I needed to get my running mojo back. Do I think I can achieve a PB on my marathon next month? Not likely, but heck, let’s give it a go!

RUM RUNNERS 2015

Catching my breath and oh so happy at the finish line! (49:08 / 9.3K)

Post Race Blues. It’s a thing. Who knew?

“You have good nails for someone who’s just finished an ironman” my best friend says to me. It’s just over a week since I’ve crossed the finish line of ironman and I’m back at home.

“I don’t know what to do with myself!” defending my perfectly polished nails.

“You can join the rest of us mortals and do normal things like sit on patios and watch movies”

Touché.

We were teasing, but the truth was I felt a bit lost, and even more surprising – depressed. How could I feel this way after one of the coolest vacation and experiences of my life?

Not only were Ironman and Mont Tremblant amazing, I had four incredible days with Tim in Montreal celebrating our five year anniversary exploring the city by bike, tastings in beautiful vineyards and then visiting with dear friends at a cottage. There was a food tour, a spa, an eight-course meal at one of my favourite restaurants, swimming in a beautiful lake, laughter and wine with wonderful people. You get the idea. I had absolutely nothing to be sad about…but I was. In fact, I was down right sullen. People would ask me about the race, and I would struggle to show my enthusiasm for the entire experience. I had no regrets about the race and couldn’t imagine the day going any better…but why so blue?

I read up on this phenomena (I like to call it the ‘Boxing Day Syndrome’) – it turns out its quite normal! After working all year for one large goal and putting so much focus into Ironman, once it was over there is certainly a low to follow. There were some great suggestions that I tried to put into play.

  1. Sign up for a new race. Check. I decided to finish off my race season with the Valley Harvest Marathon. This is the closest marathon to my family’s home and I’ve enjoyed completing the 5 &10K over the thanksgiving weekend. Finish a run, watch the pumpkins races in Windsor and have Nanny’s turkey dinner. The marathon has always been on my bucket list so why not now? After committing to this via my registration fee, I dusted off my runners and went for my first post-ironman ran. My plan was 16K (delusional much?) and at 5K I stopped at a friends house and wondered if I had gone insane. My hips hurt. The humidity was ridiculous. I hated running. I managed the 5K home, but wondered if recovery was going to take a bit longer than I anticipated.
  2. Do some of those things that I put off when training. Paint the deck (eat nibs), paint the garage (eat more nibs), organize my house (over wine), read more (wine), cook more (with wine), walk the dogs more, clean out my closet. I’m on it.
  3. Write. More.
  4. I’ve reached out to a few local races and offered to help out 3 local events over the fall. I really do love cheering people on! 
  5. Reconnect with those amazing non-triathletes.
  6. Chase some big career goals and professional development.   

I am happy to report my post-race sadness has dissipated completely and I’m learning the fine balance between lazing on the coach with Netflix to 6-hour bike rides. There’s a happy-medium I’m aiming towards for the remainder of 2015.

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I am certainly committed to completing another ironman distance race, but I’m unsure it will be in 2016. Our family has plans in Newfoundland next summer, but I suspect there will be some local triathlons I get involved with, including Epic.

The Big Day!

I didn’t win, but it sure feels like a victory!

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This photo says it all. Except my real time 🙂 14:51:58

It’s the morning of the race and I look around to see my friends at the start line. My thought: We are really here. Excitement washed over me. Elation. All of my work – all of their work – today was finally our day.

Let’s do this.

I waited for anxiety to set in as I waited for the gun to go off, but strangely, it never did, not in the way I anticipated. We were in the water splashing around before 7am and I focused on sighting buoys through the fog and not swimming into anyone. I spent this first hour re-hashing my race plan – transition zones, nutrition, how to deal with the heat (the expected humidex was slated for 40C!) – and trying to swim straight 🙂 My garmin read 4200M when I came out of the water, but it didn’t matter, I was under 1:30 and now I could focus on the next task, the bike.

I knew the bike would be the toughest part of the race for me, and I was right. I started off with a 27km/h pace, and given the hilliness of the course, I knew I couldn’t sustain that speed. Tim and a few others started to miss me on the live tracker at some spots. You can see my speed variance here:

7 km 7 km 15:29 1:52:06 27.13 km/h      
73.5 km 66.5 km 2:40:43 4:32:49 24.83 km/h      
81.5 km 8 km 26:55 4:59:44 17.83 km/h      
89.5 km 8 km 19:11 5:18:55 25.02 km/h      
163.5 km 74 km 3:14:26 8:33:21 22.84 km/h      
171.5 km 8 km 29:29 9:02:50 16.28 km/h      
180 km 8.5 km 21:23 9:24:13 23.85 km/h      
Total 180 km 7:47:36 9:24:13 23.10 km/h

Lesson learned: I didn’t turn into a hero on race day. I had anticipated my time on the bike to be around 7h:30m, I wasn’t far off, and given the heat I’ll say it was a success. I didn’t have any mechanical issues which was a small miracle in itself. Betty’s 7 years old and has done me well. I managed to grab a big hug from my mom before I did a complete wardrobe change because it was SO. HOT. and I knew I was going to be donning some compression socks (thanks to my Fredericton Marathon experience!). I came out of the tent to find Ron chatting up my mom. I couldn’t help myself, I ran past Ron, give him a (friendly) smack and said “LET’S GO!” I was off!

The true test comes now. After spending close to 8 hours on the bike, how was a marathon going to feel? I’ve had lots of experienced Ironmen assure me I wouldn’t be running the entire 42.2K, but I was aiming to run half of that distance regardless! I saw many of my friends on the course and chatted with fellow racers throughout. There were mostly happy racers and one woman who grunted, to no one in particular,  “Why do I keep doing these races?! This is the last one, and I mean it!”. This made me smile. I think we’ve all had a race where we’ve thought that way, and I loved that she needed to verbalize it. However, I didn’t agree, at ALL. I felt strong. I kept pushing.

Our run course was a two loop trek – thankfully every marathon I’ve ever done has been the same! It can be pretty tough to come thisclose to the finish line, only to race another 21K. I’m happy to report my mindset was positive and I was truly enjoying this entire experience. The volunteers and spectators made the 5h:20m fly by. I’m serious! The rails-to-trails graced us with shade (and flatness!), and shortly after a sunset brought the much-needed cooling temperatures. High-fives and smiles from my friends from home was invaluable and I loved that so many Halifax Triathlon Club athletes made the trip and were sharing the experience.

With about 5K to go I was hoping that I could pick it up for that strong finish, but my legs had a different plan. I ended up walking/running with Pat Kennedy, someone I had only met once before and we chatted. It was his first Ironman too and he was still smiling, just like me. How exciting that we were experiencing this together! He offered to run me in, but I could tell he had a bit more gitty-up-and-go than I, so I told him to enjoy that finish line and I would see him soon. I felt confident I would finish in under 15h, and I was happy no matter.

I could hear the crowd. The announcer saying “YOU. ARE. AN. IRONMAN.” I started to tear up as I shuffled to the village. Trying to run up that final hill…I smiled and high-fived all the way to the bright lights of the finish line. I heard my mom, Karen, Sarah and everyone else that remained to bring us all across the finish line.

Becky Davison, you are an IRONMAN.

It was amazing. Outstanding. Out of this world. Dare I say, magical?  I knew I would love this experience, but I had no idea the scope. The pre-race dinner with over 2500 attendees and their collective energy. The expo where I did spend all of my allowance. The blind woman who went for it. The 75 year old man that beat me. My friends that surpassed their goals. Our families that knew what we had been through to get here and believed in us every step of the way. All of it. I want it again!

Do people actually do just one ironman!?!? Not this girl.

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Unbelievably lucky to have my mom with me. And for Sarah to have thought to take this shot!

Crossing the t’s and Dotting the i’s

I’ve been reminding myself to let every training session be a learning opportunity.

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As we get into the final weeks before race day I start making lists and thinking about all the things I should be focusing on to make sure my race day goes as smoothly as possible. Essentially, the training is complete, but making sure I have the right gear, nutrition and mindset on race day still need to be ironed out. Let’s hash it out for my own piece of mind.

Nutrition.

I’ve heard a hundred times to not try new things on race day. I’m promising to follow this advice! I’ve been struggling with nutrition on my bike, needing way more than I thought I would. I get 40-50K into a ride and the gels are just not enough. I typically stop of a chicken sandwich, or a grilled cheese, or a donut. I don’t think I will have access to these things on race day, so I better sort myself out. Mars bars – surprisingly – have been easy going down with no ill side effects. I think I’ll bring a PB & Jam sandwich for my special needs bag, but will test it out on this weekends ride. Gels will be taped to my bike, along with water and an electrolyte mixture. I think we’re sorted out there. I’ve also planned a decent meal plan leading up to race day to keep me healthy and on track. Fingers crossed.

The flat tire – a different kind of anxiety. Does anyone else feel this way? The flat tire anxiety. It like nothing else! Thankfully I forced myself to practice a bit last year, with the help of some seasoned triathletes. Last night I practised with the flat tire I go 500M from my car on Sunday.

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I took away a lot of lessons:

  • It isn’t quick to change a flat
  • I know the mechanics of changing a back tire (yes!)
  • My hand pump doesn’t work (!!) 
  • Take a deep breath. Flats happen.
  • I’m going to get dirty, so maybe carry a towel.
  • I’m carrying around a bike tool I don’t even know how to use!   

Gear.

Sorry guys, but ladies I found the mecca of bras. The Lululemon “Stuff your Bra”.

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Pre-marathon, literally stuffing my bra 🙂

I can swim in this. Bike. Run. I can carry lip balm and enough gels  for a marathon. Heck, last week I even stuck a chicken sandwich in there. No chaffing whatsoever and another place to store nutrition. Another Lulu win. And it works for all shapes and sizes 🙂 

I’ve also discovered Sport Shield Roll – on the best anti-chaffing product out there. Waterproof, sweat proof. It’s magical. 

I’ve also been modifying my packing list. Confession: I hate packing. I always pack way too much and not always orderly. But Ironman is where I bring my packing “A” game. I did ok with my Challenge half ironman but we’re next level in 2015.   

So here it is. It will be modified and I’d love feedback! 

THE LIST

Pre-race essentials:

  • Training clothes for final workouts
  • Casual clothes and sunglasses
  • Gear (watches, power meters)
  • Hear-rate monitor strap
  • Charging cords for devices and phone
  • Favourite pre-race snacks
  • Compression clothing
  • Flip Flops
  • Identification for registration
  • Electrical tape/Duct tape – add a few strips around bike for emergencies
  • Safety pins 
  • Timing chip
  • Reflective tape or clothing
  • Tums
  • Hand wipes 
  • Goggle defogger spray
  • Plastic bag for bike seat
  • Water Bottles
  • Pump
  • Band-Aids (where to have these?)
  • Hair elastics (do headband braid)
  • My own pillow!
  • Bike lock
  • chamois cream
  • Tide

Swim essentials:

  • Warm clothes for race morning
  • Race swim cap
  • Stuff your bra and VS swim bottoms
  • 2 sets of goggles
  • Old pair of flip-flops
  • Wetsuit (long or short sleeves?)
  • Body glide / other rolly thing
  • Old shirt or towel
  • Waterproof sunscreen (face only until body marked)
  • Earplugs
  • 1 gel to take right before take off

Bike essentials:

  • Helmet
  • Cycling shoes and socks (grey icebreaker socks)
  • Bike Shorts (MEC)/Capris – temperature dependant
  • Bike Shirt (HTC sleeveless or NS with Sleeves)
  • Sunglasses (MEC)
  • Water bottle(s) – fill one with Ignite (Use Hammer Bottle)
  • Taped gels to the bike OR Bento box
  • Seat bag and tool kit: tube (2?), CO2, levers, multi-tool
  • Salt tablets and advil on the bike
  • Sleeves – temperature dependant
  • Floor pump

T1: Banana & Gel

Run essentials:

  • Running shoes (Asics)
  • Compression Socks / Fresh socks
  • Visor (epic)
  • Running shorts/capris (tbc)
  • Race belt/ Nutrition belt (put mini bodyglide/2 Advil/2 tums/pepto/blistex/gum)
  • 2 ziplock bags with 11 gummies in each

T2: Banana / Mars bar / Fresh water
Special Needs Bag on Bike

  • Spare bike tube
  • Salted chips
  • Sandwich
  • Extra gels

Special Needs on Run

  • Salted chips
  • Sandwich or skinny bagel
  • Extra gels
  • Long sleeved shirt

Food for thought:

  • Gu Gels**Plan when to eat caffeine & how much!
  • Stinger gummies
  • Bananas
  • Cut up orange
  • Ignite for electrolytes on bike
  • White Bread – PB & Jam
  • Mars bars
  • V-8 juice
  • Boost

Post clothing options:

A loooong dress. Flip flops. That’s it.

Bubbly for celebration!

Things I may need to buy

  • More Gels
  • Compression Socks
  • Extra Goggles
  • Aero bottle?
  • Bike gloves?
  • Anti-fog spray

To Dos

  • Check bike cleats
  • New tires!

T-10 days, 19 hours and 24 minutes…but who’s counting? We take off Monday night and I’m just so excited. I had some self-doubt there for a bit but trying to remain positive. I’ve worked all year for this. 

Self reminder: This is a great read regarding nutrition: http://www.endurancecorner.com/library/nutrition/race_nutrition

Out with the old

I will preface this entry as saying I know I’ve come a long way in accepting my body and what it has done for me. Having a health scare and completing in endurance events have had an incredible way of making me be thankful for what I have, no matter the size or shape of my body. However, I’m not perfect – in body image acceptance and the thoughts that creep up from time to time  – and last week I found myself in a bit of a body image set back.

I was digging in my basement this week and I noticed my scale sitting dust-covered in the corner. I’m not sure what made me jump on it 3 days after Christmas and the best stuffing feed of my life, but part of me was feeling quite confident about my exercise habits over the past few months and curiosity got the best of me.

What I saw on the scale shocked me. I was my heaviest weight. Ever. My motto for weighing myself is this: Scales are for fish. They really are. But why am I (and so many others) drawn to that number that stares back up at us? I stopped to analyze my negative thoughts to try and understand my disappointment. Here’s my thought process. Right or wrong:

(1) What number would make me happy? My weight has fluctuated 35 pounds over my adult life and I have always felt there was this certain weight that I feel I should be. It was not the number flashing back at me. Linked to this number is a particular clothing size that is (what I consider) my happy place. I have a pair of skinny jeans in the bottom of my dresser that have not fit in an embarrassingly long length of time. Someday – I tell myself –  I will wear these again, as if happiness is linked to me fitting into those jeans.

(2) There was a reason I moved the stupid scale to the basement. I should have moved it to the curb. Muscle is heavier than fat. I haven’t spent a year of working out to be happy with my weight – it has nothing to do with that.

(3) The reality: I am the fittest and healthiest I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve worked hard this year and sweated my a$$ off in order to reach some pretty amazing goals.  These thighs may be bigger, but man can they ever take me so much further than I could ever dream about a few years ago.

(4) Body image is such a personal issue. I have a feeling every person struggles with it at some point of their lives, even if it doesn’t always make sense to the people around them. I mentioned my run in with basement scale to Tim and he scoffed and told me I look amazing. Why is it so hard to accept these compliments? Do the number get in the way?

(5) The skinny jeans and the scale are going. They taint my hard work and positive thoughts. This year is going to be about gaining strength and speed. Weight won’t have a say in the way I feel about my body.

Ramblings of a Runner

Ramblings of a Runner.

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(written in late July 2014 on a ferry)

The 70.3 triathlon was certainly what I’ve now learned to call, my A-Race for 2014. The event was amazing, I met my goal and now the dust has settled. I haven’t given much thought to what I would do after Challenge, race wise. I was primarily focused on enjoying some sunshine and gorging on poutine, with a side of beer. I did have s few races in my peripheral though, I’ll admit that!

Tim and I have been running the Boys & Girls 10K and Half Marathon race for two years now, and it’s becoming a bit of a tradition. It’s the perfect excuse to make it back to Tim’s homeland of Grand Manan. It was also the perfect excuse to convince my “other” mother and dad to explore a little taste of New Brunswick’s paradise (no that’s not an oxymoron!). My first year I completed the 10K and last year the half marathon.

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The view at Swallowtail, Grand Manan

The interesting thing about last years race was I expected little, ate far too many bagels beforehand an managed to finish with 2 times. 1:59:18 and 2:00:06. I could have lived with either of those times, if I had in fact broken the two-hour half marathon before. I swore redemption for 2014 at that time, the under 2 hour half marathon would be mine.

So here we are, 2014 and me not really having the best running situation given my earlier injury and still in recovery from Challenge. Tim and I signed up again anyway, it was a flat course and we were heading over on Thursday regardless! Low and behold Connie signed up as well. Her first 10K in, well, likely a decade!

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A comment I said to my friend in passing – and is surly a reflection in how far I’ve come this year – was: “I’m not expecting to beat records this weekend…but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try.”

And try I did. The race begins at 730 PM , which is a bit awkward for planning meals and I spend the whole day thinking about the race. I wasn’t worried, I was just going to do my best and see what would happen. I ate some more of those bagels that made me go so fast last year.

When the horn sounded I was off! I knew I was starting strong because I could still see Tim for at least 2 KM’s but I went with it. I’m always so bloody conservative and hold back until the end, etc. etc. Now was my time…I was ready to beat 2hrs or blow up.

The weather was beautiful, the aid stations were plentiful and I had a few runners to chase/pace/leapfrog with. Dad (and eventually Connie) were cheering me on and Tim, after winning the 10K, ran ahead of me for the second half of the race.

At 10K I was at 54 minutes and feeling strong, but the next 11.1K could have brought anything. I didn’t get excited. I ate my gels and drank my water.

My loving words to Tim were “Run ahead of me, I can’t talk……faster, faster.” Aaaaand that was about it for the next hour. (Sorry babe.)

I made it. 1:54:48 according to my garmin:

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It felt amazing and I was amazed at the entire mental side of this race. I continued to push myself and because I didn’t know anyone else racing, I didn’t get lost in what other people may have been thinking of me, because I didn’t care.

What if I could always have a strong mental attitude, and could push myself to the limit during a race? The ability to stomp out that self doubt that is always lurking in those low moments, and to maintain confidence. To focus on my own race and not worry what other people thought?

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Feeling happy and ready for wine @ 930PM on Grand Manan

In order to achieve a challenging goal, one needs to put in the training, the hours of running, biking, swimming and what goes along with that. Proper diet, sleep and dedication are also important factors to a successful race. Ideally, self-assurance would also be growing and help push through those mentally weak moments to cross that finish line feeling proud and accomplished.

May your training be smooth, your attitude be positive and amazing treats be waiting at the end!

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Amazing finds at Island Art Cafe in Grand Manan