The Big Day!

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

11890623_10153652427357845_3896559901109529912_o

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.

11896035_10155965568725385_3386504614418718599_n

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

The Clean Eating Experiment

It’s easy to determine if I’ve had a good training week or not. There are red and green boxes, sore muscles, and hours logged. Tangibles. It’s not quite as easy to talk about nutrition. If someone asked me how my week was, and I had just eaten an apple, I’d say great….if I has just finished off the doritos, I may second guess my choices.  

I’m no angel when it comes to food. I don’t deprive myself of anything, but have confidence I know what’s good and bad for me and tend to focus on the former.

Except for the past month. If I were being graded, I’d say my nutrition in March would result in a C. Minus. I’ve been struggling to make smart nutrition choices, and some nights been guilty of consuming three cadbury eggs, along with “loads of ketchup” potato chips. Gross (and delicious). I wondered to myself: Why do I even have this crap in my house!? I typically start my days off strong, fruit smoothie, eggs, salad, fish, vegetables and then….garbage, garbage, garbage! Sometimes the garbage starts earlier in the day…say around 3pm in the lunch room. This garbage consists of leftover meeting sandwiches, the boss’s jujubes, baked cookies and loaves from my coworkers. And on my worst days I realize that all of my meals have come through a window or out of a frozen tray. Disgusting.

If I was featured on one of those episodes of what I eat in a week, it would be shameful!(http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/what-the-world-eats-shocking-photos).

The sad thing is, I know better. I studied nutrition in school and one of my best friends is a nutritionist. I read about nutrition all the time and understand the importance of nutrients and vitamins found in whole foods. I’m also fully aware of  the empty calories / trans -fats / other harmful effects of processed, packaged foods. I know what is essential for a healthy body. Essential for an endurance athlete’s body.

But I suppose this is the part I don’t give myself enough credit for. That I’m not a real athlete. Not even a real runner. I’m an impostor trying to join the club.

The little voice in the back of my head pipes up: “Hey B. You’ve got an Ironman in 20 weeks. Now would be a good time to start believing you’re an athlete.”   

…..I’m an athlete. 

And I need to start fuelling like one. Despite my knowledge, it still felt overwhelming to start a new plan. There is so much talk about not eating carbs, fat, dairy, protein, but what’s left? Please don’t say legumes. And what’s all this talk about Paleo?

I don’t support diets, perhaps it’s because I haven’t been able to last for longer than 24 hours on one. Diets are so limiting and (in my extreme case) unsustainable….and I like so, so many food groups. I don’t crave sweet or salty or chocolate. I crave it ALL. And then I came across this book: 

eating clean for dummies

Don’t judge, I’m a HUGE fan of this line of books!

So, here goes my experiment. Clean eating. It’s a concept I can get behind. Removing the processed and fried foods from my life. Focusing on one-ingredient foods. Whole, fresh foods with ingredients I can pronounce and understand.

The simplest description of clean eating I’ve found is:  “If it had a mother, or grows in the ground, eat it.” Simple. Step two is focusing on non-GMO and organic. I was planning on starting with step one and buying organic when available. This plan reminds me of what I’ve been hearing for years….shop the parameter of my grocery store for the healthiest eating choices. I can get on board with that!

clean eating march 2015

My first round of grocery shopping, focusing on “Clean”

Eggs, nuts, fruits, vegetables, quinoa, lean meat, cheese and okay, okay! legumes. Fish, grains, whole grain pasta and bread and good god, did I read that right? Dark chocolate gets the green light.

So heres to trying something new (but with some concepts I’ve been practising for awhile now) and lasting at least 24 hours. I’m hoping that I can eat 90% clean for an entire week, and I started with a delicious salad from Pete’s! Here’s to the next (clean) week and the 20 weeks until the big race!    

salad - clean eating

My first trip to the gym in weeks was rewarded with healthy, clean greens.

 

    

March

March.

I was so excited to turn the calendar page to March…with hopes of running outside on clear sidewalks, warmer temperatures and even a somewhat disillusioned thought that my bike may hit pavement – maybe once.  As you know, I struggle with February (See: Surviving February 2014) but February was a joy compared to this year’s setback. March.

Let’s start with my red boxes.

red boxes march

Ouch.

This isn’t for lack of ambition. I’ve been sick in some form or another since the start of March, from food poisoning, to this nasty cold that feels closer to flu then I’d like to admit. Midnight hacking, chills followed by fever and a general sense of just take me out back and end the misery. I think my dogs are sick of me at this point. Maybe not. Thank you Gus.

IMG_6373

And I can’t tell if this weather is making things better or worse. With more storm days then I’ve ever experienced in my life (and I’ve lived in Labrador!) with the non-stop snow, followed by the need to shovel and lack of sun…its been a doozy of a winter. (Bermuda feels like a very distant memory, let me tell you!)  We are all suffering with this cold, gray nonsense. Especially Tim, our primary snow clearer and dog walker. My hero…I have certainly not been able to pull my weight over the past 3 weeks.

IMG_6359IMG_6355

On Friday I woke up feeling moderate – a huge step up from the rest of the week. A 6.5/10, I’d say. I declared: “This is it, I’m done being sick!” My coworkers listened to my lingering hack and gave each other sideways glances, “Suuuuuure” they were all thinking. It was a bright and sunny day, and I really wanted to make weekend training plans. Sadly, my wishful thinking didn’t turn into reality. I made it through Tim’s 40th birthday on Saturday, well-drugged, while calling people by their wrong names. (Amazing)

Sunday I surrendered into my sickness (again) and rested.

Here I am on Monday, still sick, and in no form to train the way I should be – the way I need to be – for Ironman. I’m even feeling a little panicky about how far behind I’ve come. In February I was annoyed at myself for missing the pool swims and strength training sessions, but now into my fourth week of inadequate training I can’t blame anything but this never-ending sickness and wonder how I’m going to come back!

But I will. I know I need to rest and not focus on the miles I’m missing on the treadmill (currently there are no sidewalks or foot paths for running in Halifax), pool and trainer. I will ease my way back into training and begin again with a new focus. It’s hard when I see my friends training and making progress and I feel weak and feeble, with zero appetite. Tonight I am missing my 3rd indoor computrainer session from illness and in exchange I will likely be reading or returning to Netflix with my box of tissues tucked under my arm.

My training plan is there. I will be ready and more than willing to get back on track when I’m recovered. I made a perfect training week in February and I hope to replicate this often in the twenty weeks to Ironman.

green

Do you think it’s too soon to start hoping for April?

IMG_9846

Ramblings of a Runner

Ramblings of a Runner.

 GM3

(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.

GM2

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!

GM

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:

GM half

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?

finsh line gm

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!

GM treats

Amazing finds at Island Art Cafe in Grand Manan

Challenge Accepted.

I did it.

We did it.

P1000235

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.

dressing

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.

P1000149

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.

P1000229

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.

P1000241

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.

P1000274

Loved. Every. Minute.

P1000251

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.
dont compare
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.
photo (62)

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!

photo (59)

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.

photo (60)

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.

photo (57)

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.

photo (58)

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.

photo (61)

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.

 

tri

Sprint Triathlon 2010