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

Challenge Accepted.

I did it.

We did it.

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Crossing the 70.3 finish line for the first time

This weekend was a memorable one. Not only was it race weekend, something I have been counting down to for close to a year, but with Hurricane Arthur landing on Saturday, there was a threat to take our race away!

HTC ST andrews

What a team! Friday night pre-race gathering.

I kept surprisingly cool leading up to the race. I thought the anxiety would set in as we arrived in St. Andrews….or the night before….surely as I got dressed that morning…or treading water before the horn sounded.

But I didn’t. I knew I trained to the best of my ability, and I was going to give it my all. Funnily enough, I experienced more anxiety with my first sprint race in June, than Challenge St. Andrew’s.

My family and friends made all the difference in the world. They reassured me, they were there to have lunch with me, and play bingo the night before. We didn’t start dissecting the race or freaking each other out. Not even once. I had the best support there and I hope I was helpful to the people around me.

race eve

Race eve.

On race day, the alarm went off at 4AM and Karen and I rolled over to eat our “race cake” from Ironman/Hero Sam Gyde. We thought we may be able to grab an extra 20 minutes of sleep (fat chance!) and we were up and getting ready to move out shortly thereafter.

We racked our bikes and set up transition at 5:30. Karen and I were setting up next to each other, when we heard that dread “POP” of a tire. It was so close to us my eardrums hurt. I was ready…if it was me, I could do this. (Thank you Shane for your lessons.) But it wasn’t me, or Karen or Shannon (huge sigh of relief!), and I did a final check before leaving the transition area for the last time before the race.

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This looks like some kind of bizarre sleepover. Oh, wait….

I didn’t expect to enjoy the pre-race/pre-swim time, but my fellow HTC’ers united and we had fun. A few photos, well wishes, and smiles. Andrea Hachey, you have no idea how much your smile calmed me as I entered the water and swam to the start line, you are an inspiration.

As we treaded water and started at each other, I broke the tension with “What’s everyone drinking tonight!?” Val, Laura, Shannon and Devon, you made it fun.

swim girl

Girls (and Tony) just want to have fun

And when the horn sounded, I took a deep breath, went wide (no head kicking, please) and swam. The water was chilly (from 27C on Thursday, to 18C on race day) but calm and the staggered start time made it the best open water start l’ve ever experienced.

womens start

The women’s age group start. I’m in there!

Leg 1 would take me ~40 minutes and I focused on my breathing, sighting, reaching, sighting, and brining my body over my arm. And sighting.

About half way through the swim I took just a few seconds to take it all in. I’d caught up with a few men (!!!!) and a few aqua bikers had caught up with me. I looked at the beach and smiled knowing my support team was there, waiting for me to climb out of the water.

This is actually happening. This isn’t practice on Lake Banook, this isn’t the Navy Sprint warm up race. This is THE race, I thought. Now swim, finish it strong!

I came out of the water at 39:10, knowing that I kept it at my one of two speeds, “Steady as she goes”. The other being “Leave me laying for dead after 500M”.

exit water

Outta the way fellas, coming through.

I had mild fear of race brain. Fear of not being able to locate my sneakers, fear of forgetting the plan to take off the wetsuit and then run up the hill. Fear of forgetting fuel, sunscreen or not putting my helmet on before touching my bike.  T1 went seamlessly – if you saw my time (7:34) you may think differently, but the 400M+ climb up from Katy’s Cove to the Algonquin would clear up that confusion.

I could hear mom as soon as I got out of the water. Mike B. walked/ran up the hill with me, encouraging words all the way. I saw Tim taking photos and coaching me on. And I heard my friends cheer. Jenn & Mark had the biggest voices I’ve ever heard. And they were calling my name. I had no choice to be a grinning goof as I ran with my bike to the mount line. I’ve got this.

Amazing support. Amazing people.

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The mom’s cheering the athletes on!

And the bike. I had ridden the bike course just three weeks earlier, but I wouldn’t go as far to say that it was familiar. Fuel, fuel, fuel. I dug out my sandwich in the first 5K and had a picnic, loosened my legs, and get focused on the next 3.5-4 hours on my bike.

bike start

Amazing cheers from friends kept me smiling

My first thought as I neared the 10K point was: Ok, it’s time to get serious.  Do I want to finish this racing wondering if I could have done better, or knowing that I gave it my all? Let’s go.

mind

One of the highlights of the race course, was the partially closed course and Highway 1. Flawless pavement, lots of support and no traffic make for a cyclists dream. The fact that there were 2 loops made it so I always had someone near me on the course. I’ve done plenty lonely races, let me tell you. It’s true that some of those people whizzed by me in seconds, making me question if I was moving at all, but hey, they were there. I didn’t let their race interfere with mine.

I was feeling strong until kilometer forty, when I felt my first pain. My IT band was shooting pain from my hip, through my glute, and past my knee.

I couldn’t believe that my injury was coming back to haunt me so soon into my race. My IT band has never bothered me on the bike before. I was expecting some soreness in the run (which I got) but not on the bike. F*#@. I attempted to stretch on the bike and found that getting out of my saddle to pedal helped. At 60K I had to get off and stretch. Someone from a nearby aid station came to my rescue and offered salt tablets. I was skeptical that they would solve my problem (Do you have any dry needles?), but with no other choice I downed the four tablets he gave me (thank you, kind stranger) gave my legs one last stretch and hopped back on.

The final 30K were decent. I had no more pain, and despite the (up) hilly return, I stayed positive. Leave nothing on the road. The cyclists were fewer and further between, but I kept focus. I was averaging 25KM/hr and needed to remember that this is where I wanted to be – where I planned to be.  For a brief second I thought about some of the athletes that were likely minutes from the finish line. I commended them, and then crushed those thoughts. This is my race.

Seeing Coach Jeff and his wife Ashley at the turn off was like icing on the cake, for training with them in the cold winter months is where it started.

I reminded myself to eat more as I returned. Listening to more seasoned athletes, I knew that I may have trouble taking on calories for the final trek, so now was the time. Fuel, fuel, fuel. Gels, banana, Hammer.

I saw my mom first as I retuned from the bike leg. I heard Tim, his family and my friends. I saw Gus and Dawson dogs. I made it in and out of T2 much quicker. Again, I heard Jenn & Mark cheering me through…when I went beyond the regular T2 activities (having a drink, stretching my legs, perhaps thinking of grabbing a little nap) I could have bet my allowance that I would hear Mark say “Get outta there Becky!”. I heard it before I actually heard it. It made me smile and most definitely got my ass in gear. Thank you.

I couldn’t believe I’d already made it through the swim and the bike portion. I knew I’d been out for over fours hours already, but in an inexplicable way time was flying. I was feeling high as I headed out to the run course and received a high-five from Shane.

A saving grace of getting off the bike at the Algonquin was the gentle decline for the first three kilometers. True, I would have to climb back up (twice!) but to loosen my legs and to feel strong at the start was ideal.

I have yet to talk about the volunteers and race crew of this race. It could be a separate blog post. They are amazing, they were up all night to clear the streets after the hurricane. The roads were spotless, all the aid stations were present, they cheered us on. The people of St. Andrews went above and beyond throughout the run. The water, the sponges and the hoses were my saving grace under that blazing sun. And when I ran through town with Kenny Loggin’s “Footloose” blaring through the speakers, I knew I’d died and gone to triathlon heaven.

The run was challenging, but I managed to keep my pace between 6:10 – 6:40 min/KM. I walked only when at the aid stations drinking. I knew if I stopped for a walk break, I’d be done for. High fives from some ironmen kept me positive as I rounded for my second loop. Even up that final slope to the finish line where I thought about letting myself take a little walk break, I powered through and kept on running.

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Blurry, but captures the moment of friends cheering me to the finish

And then I heard it.

My team. 🙂

“GO Becky”

“You MADE it”

“100 meters left!”

“Amazing, Girl”

“Becky!”

Then, and now when I write this, I tear up.

The support I’ve had every step of the way – from people that may not even realize it – has made this experience more than I could have ever hoped for.

Crossing the finish line was surreal. I wish I could slow it down, or possibly relive it. I kept running an extra 20M to ensure that I was actually over the mat.

A medal. A Finisher T-shirt. A huge hug from my mom.

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In September I set up a goal time of 6:35:00, not knowing many factors (T1, surprise vacation/eating binge, and a 2 month long injury that prevented me from running, etc.). I’m not making excuses; I’m saying that my completion time of 6:45:20 sat really, really well with me, all things considered. Two years ago I ran the Bluenose half marathon for a time of 2:18:10, which was only 20 seconds faster then this half marathon and I had a few other activities beforehand!

htc finish line

And the fun post-race events that I loved every minute of:

  • The soak in Katy’s Cove with mom’s company.
  • Eating that Mars bar I had tucked away (in transition) for the occasion.
  • That shower. Oh, that shower.
  • The lie in the sun, with Tim, Karen and Gus with an ice-cold cider. Tim you’re the man for me.
  • The awards banquette.
  • The post Halifax Triathlon Club photo shoot/hang out/ice cream. You guys are amazing.

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Loved. Every. Minute.

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I love the people that were there to share this experience and their support I felt from home. To all the people that trained with me, early in the morning, mid-day, early evening; thank you, I know some workouts were better than others (Scott, I’m especially sorry about that bike ride in mid-May). To the people that lent me advice, on everything; thank you. And finally, to the people that have been so patient with me over the past six months (or more) as I put parts of my life on hold to train; thank you and I’ll be reaching out to you for a proper catch up (likely over wine).

Thank you Mom for your continued support and joining me to St. Andrew’s. It was amazing to have you there!

And thank you Tim, for knowing that I could do it. For pushing me out of bed at 5:30am, for walking the dog. Every morning. For making me dinner when I was too exhausted and cleaning up. For picking up spare tire tubes, gels, and other tri gear. For giving up your time to cheer me on always. You’re the best.

In the two hours I returned home from Challenge St. Andrews I had ventured to the hardware store, removed my broken screen door, primed the trim, scrubbed the bathroom and all my triathlon gear. Those chores that could wait until “after the race.” I’m looking forward to some down time…..but of course my head and heart can’t help thinking:

Now, when’s the next one?

Keep Calm & Bike On.

To become a better triathlete, it takes practise and dedication to the training plan. It’s also about building confidence. For the past 6 years of dabbling in triathlon I can safely say that the  amount of biking I did was just slightly more than my race distance. You read that right. If I did 2 sprints in the course of a summer, I would likely average 80K for an entire season, maybe 100K. I was not a biker. I kept to running and swimming. And I’m slowly realizing what was holding me back from the road.

1) I’m closer to a beginner than an expert.
The fact that I was at the back of the pack certainly didn’t help. I remember going on my first group ride (circa 2009) and my friends calling me when I was 10K from home, they’d been home for close to an hour and were worried I had landed in a ditch. A reasonable fear. It’s discouraging, but I knew that in time I would build strength and speed.
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2) My bike was no joy ride.
My bike wasn’t comfortable. End of story. I had aero bars installed that received about 1% of my time. I never felt natural in that position, and I just avoided it. I now know that I average 2-4KM/hr faster in that aero position..it is time I get comfortable there! My knees sometimes bothered me, but I didn’t connect the dots that it was because my seat was too low, stem too short, or something else. I just thought it was me, or maybe my lack of biking.
3) Fear of the unknown.
And the third, and likely the biggest hurdle, not knowing how to fix said bike. I paid attention when I watched my friends fix flats and I knew the logistics behind making the fix. Heck, I’d even attended a few bike maintenance courses over the years but never dived in. I never got my hands dirty.
In 2014, I vowed to move past this, to become comfortable on my bike, to really get to know Betty, the way she deserved. I started with a professional fitting of my bike that included a new seat and hight adjustments. For the first week or so I wasn’t sure, but after a number of longer rides I knew my bike was fitting well.
In my triathlon training camp I had a few seasoned ironmen watch me ride and gave me tips about getting comfortable in my aero bars (a little more each time) and some tricks on peddling, coasting and upper body placement and fuelling tips for longer rides.
Next I figured out the wheels and brakes. I finally, finally practised changing an inner tube and using my hand pump. After brunch this week, an experienced biker friend lead me through the inner workings of changing a flat (without tools!) and how to get the pesky back tie on and off.
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Getting taught the tricks of the trade

I could use more education around the gears and deraillers, but I’m ok with leaving some of it up to the professionals (for now!). Having a pro look at my Betty is important and she’s had 2 trips to the mechanic this year for check ups.
With this knowledge and practise I’m feeling more comfortable on my bike and am heading to a point where I don’t feel the need to take my cell phone or a friend on every ride (although I prefer it that way!).
Knowledge =  Power & Power = Confidence
balance

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

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.

St. Andrew's

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

In Like a Lion, out Like a Tiger (the tale of March)

We’ve officially entered the Spring season. I survived Winter!!!! Nova Scotians are still waiting for the Spring-like weather, but we’re ever optimistic and know it’s just around the corner……right?…

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Sunshine! Is that you!?

I’ve had the best 4 weeks. I feel back on track with the training, sticking – almost annoyingly – to the schedule. My legs scream at me every time I take the 13 steps up to my bedroom, but in a good way. I’ve been having THE BEST sleep I’ve ever had in my life. Head hits the pillow – it’s over. (Also the other stuff is going pretty great…family, work, friends….that’s the big stuff, but it’s not what this blog is about).

March

One of the best parts about training is marking it complete in this old school calendar. (geek)

Monthly totals: 17 hr’s of biking, 100K of running, 16.7K of swimming, 9 hr’s of strength training and a smattering of yoga & core.  This is my ramp up time.

Ironman in 1985. This guy is my hero.

1985 Ironman. This guy is my hero.

So, things are good. I often don’t report when things are good…because I’m too busy planning and biking and well being busy & happy. What’s to write about when everything is good? So it’s taken me a few weeks to actually sit down and write.

I’ve realized I haven’t made my goal public. It’s likely because I wasn’t sure if it was achievable. Then my dear friend Karen said:

“If you achieve all your goals, you’re not making them challenging enough.” 

Well said Karen, well said.

So this is a goal I set out for myself on July 22, 2013. It’s challenging, but if I keep with my training plan, I know I can achieve it.  (I actually just wrote I think I can achieve it,  and changed it to I CAN, boom diggity.) I have been warned that the St. Andrew’s course is quite hilly, but I’ve factored that into my training.

Panic…

i can i will

I’ll quit stalling now….

Goal time: 6h:35m. Whew. It’s out there now. 

2000M swim (45m:00sec @ 2m:20sec/100M pace)/ 90K bike (3h:30m @ 27.5km/h pace)/ 21.1K run (2h:15m @ 6m:15sec/KM) and 5 minutes for 2 transitions.

I made sure my goals weren’t pulled from the air, and looked carefully at my past races over the past five years and the time I have to train. Yes, I made sure they were “SMART” goals.

smart-goals-221x300My mom has booked her hotel and her plane ticket from Bermuda to come watch me cross the finish line in July. I am so excited she is making the trek, but wonder if she realizes that triathlon is not the greatest spectator sport? She will have about 50 minutes of trying to distinguish which swimming cap is her daughters (while likely panicking that I am borderline drowning), and then watch me try to rip off my wetsuit (more panic) and hop on/off the bike in the transition zones. But on the bright side, she’ll have ~4:45 to explore St. Andrews, perhaps fit in a golf game, have lunch and even take a nap before I cross the finish line!

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St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick

April should find Betty and I cruising out on the open road, wind in my hair, hills to conquer, which excites me. I’ve never taken the bike portion of triathlon seriously, in fact I practically neglect my bike except for the odd ride and race. It would be surprising if I put over 200K on my bike in a given summer in the past. It’s astounding that I can even call myself a triathlete with that record, I know. I’m hoping to gain confidence on the road – and early – this year.

I haven’t been riding outside since October (Riverport Duathlon), and given the time that I’ve been spending on my trainer or in a spin class, I’m excited to see an improvement on my outside riding. Running weather is improving (likely no more snow banks to dodge) and I’m back swimming with the Triathlon club, which pushes me further than I had been on my own. I’m stoked for training this month, and am grateful for my health and lack of injuries. (Touch wood).

Now, for my two-hour bike ride!