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!

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

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!

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?

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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.

2014: And it Begins!

And it begins….

Here we are in 2014. Like the rest of civilization, I’m sure, I have some healthy goals I’d like to achieve this year. And some short term targets this month as a result of an indulgent December. (Nom nom nom). I don’t regret a single cookie.

I know this month will lend itself to crowded gyms, a flurry of health-focused infomercials and individuals committing to participate in various running races in the spring and summer.  I commend and support the people that are taking the next step in making healthier lifestyle choices – just please make room for me in spin class!

Upon investigation, January 1st was a holiday in my training calendar. I know myself well! I didn’t overindulge terribly in the New Year’s celebration, but I was no angel either. Exhibit A:

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No Prosecco was harmed in this making of this photo

 

Training began today. Perhaps I was a bit too ambitious for day 1, given that December has not been ideal for running. Today’s agenda: a spin class and a 12K run (!!!).

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Last night before going to bed at an early 10PM, I packed my meals, put together my work attire, laid out my gym clothing so I basically had to roll out of bed and I would be dressed and ready to go. At 5:30. AM.

I made it to the gym by 6am and on my bike by 6:10….only to have our instructor not show up. Now, I’ve been to over 30 classes at various Goodlife gyms over the past few months and never has an instructor failed to show up. I had to push myself through some weight training for 30 minutes, but I was fully aware of my slack-assed workout. Pre-food, pre-coffee with no one to yell me through my first morning exercise? With today’s -29C windchill I will not be making it out to run either (-21C is my threshold for coldness, I discovered in December 2012).

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The gym from inside my car @ 6am, outside is -26C

So, this evenings cardio will be supported by my new purchase of “Sufferfest” videos in the comfort of my own home, on my trainer. What is Sufferfest? Training videos that someone essentially yells at me to pedal faster and harder for set intervals. The company’s motto is: “I will beat my ass today to kick yours tomorrow” (ahhhhh, OK)…No excuses of cold weather or no-show instructors. (Sorry Tim).

Wish me luck!