Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Toronto Island "Give-it-a-Tri"

It was an early (4am) wake-up on Saturday for our first tri (!!!) - even though the race wasn't starting until 8, we wanted to catch the first ferry to Toronto Island (6am) and had to pick up our race kits before that. It's a bit more challenging logistically with the ferry ride, mostly because I was super paranoid of forgetting anything in the car and because we needed to haul everything with us on the boat and across the island to the race site.

It was an extremely foggy morning and it was pretty spooky on the ferry ride across the lake. We could not see anything!

Other than that, it went smoothly and we arrived on-site extra early without forgetting anything. After setting up in transition, we puttered around to scope things out and pass the time.

The buoys were not even visible from shore with the fog, so the start was going to be delayed by 15 minutes. Ahhh, more time to get nervous ready.

Thankfully the fog started to clear and we weren't going to be delayed any longer. Pretty soon our friends/cheerleaders/photographers arrived and it was time to suit up and head to the beach.

We went for a short warm-up swim in the chilly water (17C/62F) including the obligatory wetsuit pee. The water was crystal clear with a nice sandy bottom and very calm - definitely not what we expected in Lake Ontario after our practice swim from the mainland last week.

Hubs' wave with the 30-34 men started seven minutes before mine so I was able to see him off before waiting for my turn. Then it was time to wade in (we started about knee-deep) and wait for the horn.

I made the decision to be aggressive and place myself front and centre. Looking at previous results and my own open water swim times, I knew I could probably swim near the front of the pack.

At 8:29AM, we were off!

It was mad chaos at the start. People were all over me and it was impossible to find a groove. I was glad to have had practice last week swimming in a tight pack and getting clobbered, because I was able to stay calm and hold my own pretty well.

Once we made the first turn, it cleared out considerably. I had plenty of room to actually swim and found a pretty good rhythm. It was still super foggy and difficult to sight now that I wasn't in a pack and had to find my own line. I caught myself veering off slightly a few times, but nothing major.

I made the second turn and was headed back to shore. I passed a couple of people on this home stretch and before I knew it, my hands were grazing the bottom.

My friends were cheering like crazy and called out my actual swim time for me (8:20). I was excited that it had gone well and ready to tackle part 2!

And then I face-planted in the sand.

I completely lost my footing in all the excitement (I blame for cow-bellers for being so distracting) and the next thing I knew, I went down. Naturally, it was caught on camera...

That's what friends are for

My friends were laughing like crazy, and let's be honest - so was I. How can you not? It was hilarious. Anyway, I pulled myself up and continued on my merry way. I was soaking wet so I was now covered in sand from head to toe, especially my hands. Luckily I was having so much fun that it didn't even phase me.

It was a bit of a trek (about 300m) on sand, board walk and grass to transition. I passed at least a few people along here who were walking or jogging slowly.

400m - 8:20
+ 1:38 run up from beach
official time - 9:58
3/47 F25-29

Found my rack, yanked off my wetsuit, strapped on my helmet, slipped on shoes, buckled my race belt, strapped on my Garmin, grabbed my bike and I was outta there.

T1: 1:10

I wheeled my bike out of transition and hopped on after the mount line.

The entire 10K out-and-back route would be along the paved (flat!) park trails, which were relatively narrow and open to the public. There was a strict no-passing zone for about 400m near the beginning so I used the time to secure my feet in the cages and suck back a gel that I had taped to my tube.

I was stuck behind a few people moving very slowly (average speed at this point was 23kph/14 mph) and I was itching to get moving, but had to be patient.

Once passing was allowed, I turned it on to make up time for the slow start. It was going to be a short ride, so I really cranked it and passed people like crazy. The paths turned out to be relatively clear and I never found that it was crowded.

10K goes by fast on a bike. Before I knew it, I was hitting the turn-around and on my way back. Not one person passed me the entire time!

We followed a path parallel to the bike finish to complete a short out-and-back before bringing it in. It was great to hear everyone cheering and get a quick boost to wrap up the ride.

I hopped off just before the dismount line and ran into transition on wobbly legs.

10.0KM - 18:22 - 32.7 kph (20.3 mph)
1/47 F25-29

Rack bike, remove helmet, grab head band, GO!

T2: 0:33

Time to run! We headed out on grass for the first few hundred metres and I struggled to find my legs. I felt "normal" by the time we hit the paved trail for two short out-and-backs; lots of turning in this 2.5K run! There was more traffic than on the bike since we were on such a short course, and I liked having people around to chase. I passed quite a few people and offered encouragement along the way.

Next thing I knew, I hit the final turn-around and made my way back across the grass to finish.

2.5KM - 11:18 - 4:31/KM (7:16/mi)
1/47 F25-29

Official time - 41:18
Overall - 11/266
Females - 2/147
F25-29 - 1/47

I have to admit, there is something special about a triathlon finish line. It may have all been over in just 41 minutes, but there are wardrobe changes, equipment changes, THREE disciplines. It was exhilarating and very rewarding. It definitely won't be my last.
Pretty neat to hit the podium on my first shot, too. :)

Great big thanks to my awesome cheerleaders and photographers for tons of support - but mostly, for kicking sand at me laughing at me when I was down. I have a feeling this memory will bring us laughs for years to come.

Congrats to hubs on an awesome race and 2nd place in his age group! I love that we can share this sport, too.

Next up: Wasaga Sprint Tri on September 10th - our anniversary. :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Week 12

This week ended up being lighter than planned. There were two days that I wasn't feeling too hot, so I listened to my body and rested. Having a short distance/high intensity race on Saturday also reduced the volume I was able to do, but I think it all worked out for the best because I was able to complete my longest run of this cycle on Sunday feeling good.

Here's the run down...

Monday - rest

Yep, I took a rest day. Sometimes I eat my words. ;) I just didn't really feel well at work all day and while I was feeling better that evening, I opted to be lazy clean my bike and watch some TV instead.

Tuesday - run x 2 + swim

2 for "Tuesday"

AM: 16.2KM (10.1mi) - 1:27:46 - 5:26/KM (8:44/mi)
Noon: 6.0KM (3.7mi) - 33:15 - 5:32/KM (8:54/mi)

PM: Open Water Swim Clinic

~500m/~30 mins. [not recorded, mostly drills]

Wednesday - bike + run

Windy bike-mute to work

bike: 45.5KM (28.3mi) - 1:57:44 - 23.2 kph (14/4mph)

After work I joined the Wednesday night group for run club (I didn't bike home). We set out for a recovery run, which turned into a fartlek at the end when we caught caught in an insane thunderstorm with torrential rain and wild lightning. I was happy I wasn't alone or far from home. Yikes!

run: 13.3KM (8.3mi) - 1:16:20 - 5:43/KM (9:12/mi)

Thursday - run + swim

I ran with clinic and we headed to the track for some intervals. The plan was (800-1200-1600)x2. All day I had been feeling weak and tired so I knew I would have to play it by ear. After a couple of repeats, I knew it wasn't going to happen. I wasn't sure if I was just beat up from Wednesday or fighting a cold, but I wasn't going to push it either way. I ran an 800 (3:33), a 1200 (5:18) and stopped at 1200 on the next one (5:35) before calling it quits and jogging slowly around the track while everyone wrapped up their workouts.

We had originally planned to go to the pool for a late swim, but decided to head home and go to bed early instead based on how I was feeling.

12.8KM (7/9mi) - 1:10:45 - 5:31/KM (8:52/mi)

Friday - run rest

I had planned to do an easy recovery run Friday morning, but decided to sleep in and give myself a rest day to ensure I was feeling better for Saturday. I can not afford to get sick! I took it easy and got ready for race day instead.

Saturday - swim + bike + run

Toronto Island "Give-it-a-Tri"

swim: 400m - 8:20
bike: 10K - 18:22
run: 2.5K - 11:18

Race report coming soon!!

Sunday - run

It was not fun waking up at 4am for the second morning in a row, but I was meeting the group for a big long run. A pool party and brunch would follow, so that made it a bit easier to get out the door.

I needed to run a bit extra before the group in order to his the distance I wanted for the day and was able to rally a friend to join me. We ran a few before meeting everyone else for a scenic run on a mixture of roads and trails.

We were treated to a fantastic refreshment station about two thirds of the way through with drinks, fruit, gummies and even chocolate - it was the perfect boost to get through the last leg of the run, which was also the most challenging in terms of terrain.

I was definitely ready to be done by the time we finished, but felt pretty strong throughout. Happy to get this big distance under my belt! And a cool dip in the pool followed by a huge meal made it all worthwhile.

35.0KM (21/7mi) - 3:21:19 - 5:45/KM (9:15/mi)


Total Run Distance: 85.8KM (53.3mi)
Total Run Time: 8:00:43
Average Run Pace: 5:36/KM (9:01/mi)

Total Bike Distance: 55.5KM (34.5mi)
Total Bike Time: 2:16:06
Average Bike Speed: 24.5 kph (15.2mph)

Total Swim Distance: 800m
Total Swim Time: 38:20

Total Training Time: 10:55:19

Friday, August 26, 2011

Foto Friday

Triathlon requires a lot of STUFF

I think I'm all set! First tri tomorrow at Toronto Island. [hubs too!]

Here goes nothing...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. Sardines...

On Tuesday night hubs and I attended a free open water swim clinic with the Trek Toronto Tri Team. It was our first time swimming in Lake Ontario, which is where our swim will be at this Saturday's tri. Hello waves! It doesn't look very choppy in this picture (and probably wasn't by Lake Ontario standards), but it was quite a change from our usual swimming hole!

In addition to swimming in waves and more weeds than we're used to, we did several drills in groups to practice mass starts, sighting, swimming in packs (we were encouraged to be aggressive!) and swimming around buoys. Now I know what it feels like to be a sardine!

2. Wind blows...

 Yesterday morning I biked to work and took an extended route since I would not be biking home. It turned out that I was riding into a constant headwind of about ~30 kph (19mph) nearly the entire time. It was relentless, demoralizing and sucked the life out of me.

I pedalled and pedalled and pedalled and felt like I was going nowhere. Going uphill? Might as well have been standing still. It was my hardest and slowest ride to-date, but I made it - 45KM (28ish miles).

beautiful sunrise on the way

but I couldn't even force a smile
I know rides like this will make me stronger... but that doesn't mean I have to like it!

3. More cowbell...

Finally, a great big good luck to all the bloggers embarking on the epic Hood To Coast Relay this weekend! Can't wait to follow along on your 200 mile adventure.
And to Robin who is headed to Kentucky to complete her first Ironman. Robin has been one of my favourite tri-pushers all along and has always been a great source of inspiration... even when she was hounding me to step over to the dark side. ;) Go get it, girl!   

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sole Searching

I've been having a bit of a "Tri-dentity" Crisis lately - struggling to find the balance to incorporate two new sports that I love, training for two upcoming triathlons, but also staying focused on my "A" goal [marathon] on October 16th.

Last week I mentioned that the summer heat/humidity along with various setbacks had really been beating down my marathon training and confidence. Combine that with my "tri-dentity" crisis, and my run mojo was suffering. I even found myself wishing I could just get the next two months over with so I could move on. GASP! Who am I?!

I had a much-needed session with Dr. Pain (who is as much a coach, mentor and friend to me as physiotherapist) last Friday and he was able to help me talk it out while pummelling working on my muscles.

I admitted that I have not been running as well as I'm used to and that I have not been able to build my mileage given the recent increase in cycling and swimming combined with setbacks noted above. As much as I know that cycling and swimming are making me stronger in the long run, I just didn't feel like I was putting in adequate run mileage for a strong marathon.

I even confessed that I've been feeling like I just want to survive training at this point, run the marathon and move on. Dr. Pain knew immediately that that's not me! I caught myself getting a bit choked up because I know I owe myself more than that, and this marathon is worth more than that to me.

I had considered putting the marathon on the back-burner and riding out this season, possibly running a half instead. I was ready to sit back for now and tackle a new training cycle in the winter for a spring marathon, when historically I tend to do better. But it just didn't feel right. I knew I wasn't quite ready to give up on this race.

After running the 30K on Saturday at a pace not far off my BQ marathon from May, my confidence and drive have been restored. Those final miles reminded me what it feels like toward the end of a marathon.... completely and utterly exhausted but proud of what I've accomplished and ready to give it all I've got to the finish, no matter what time ends up on the clock.

I want that in October. I'm ready to run another marathon and see what I can do. The season is not over yet and I'm ready to take my marathon back.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2 for "Twosday"

Today started with a chill in the air (11C/52F) for a brisk morning run. I almost regretted my shorts and tank top, but felt comfortable once we got going. You certainly won't catch me complaining about cool temps!

J and I met at our usual 5AM and ran our warm-up over to a flat 3K loop that is perfect for repeats - except for about a half mile stretch in complete and utter darkness. Time to bust out the headlamps.

The workout was 1000-2000-1000-2000-1000 tempo intervals with recovery jogs of a few hundred metres in between. We set off at our own paces, regrouping briefly after each repeat for safety reasons. It's a tad spooky out on the paths at that time!

It was a crystal clear night morning and the crescent moon and stars were easily visible in the sky. It slowly started to lighten up toward the end of our run. Summer is definitely waning.

Back to the workout - my goal was about 4:30/KM, though I knew it would be tough to maintain at that hour.

1000 - 4:33 ... hmm, this feels harder than it should
2000 - 4:32, 4:33 ... wow, 2000 is long
1000 - 4:27 ... sweet, 1000 is short!
2000 - 4:31, 4:35 ... hold on hold on hold on
1000 - 4:26 ... last one, piece of cake


I added on a few more Ks after dropping J off at the car. Part 1 of medium-long day complete.

16.2KM (10.1mi) - 1:27:46 - 5:26/KM (8:44/mi)

At lunch I headed out for run # 2 to finish off my mileage. It was hot and sunny (11C/52F already a distance memory) and I forgot both sunglasses and water. Lunch run fail! Luckily it was just a short one and I managed.

6.0KM (3.7mi) - 33:15 - 5:32/KM (8:54/mi)

Tonight we're off to a tri clinic downtown with an open water swim in lake Ontario. Good timing with our first tri this weekend!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Midsummer Night's Run: 30K Race Report

On Saturday afternoon I loaded up the car with 4 friends and we headed downtown for a whimsical evening at A Midsummer Night's Run.

We snagged great parking right near the start/finish and milled about looking for the rest of our gang. Time passed quickly as we used the plastic green facilities multiple times, collected some product samples, fussed over our outfits and posed for photos.

Pretty soon it was time to line up. We probably waited a tad too long and had to worm our way through from the back, but this ended up affording me the opportunity to run into Aneta, Cynthia, Hunnybee and Lish in the process. By this point, my friends were asking, "Is there anyone you don't know?!"

Marlene, Sam, Cynthia, Aneta
photo stolen from Aneta
We eventually found a spot and waited for the horn. Many of us were starting together, which was fun, including two of my fellow princesses. We received tons of comments from volunteers, spectators and other runners along the way, especially when all 3 of us were together. This race has so much spirit!

At 5:30PM, we were off! And right off the bat, we knew it was going to be one humid run. As I mentioned on Friday, I didn't have great expectations and I was already thinking it was going to be quite a slog.

The first 12K or so takes us through industrial areas with a short stretch along the water, then looping back past the start again as we gradually make our way toward the famous Leslie Street Spit (a headland in Lake Ontario, aka Tommy Thomson Park).

*salt at start
5:14 *gu
5:11 *salt

We enjoyed a bit of a breeze as we ran along the water, but the air was thick and we were all drenched with sweat. I was running with 4 others at this point and went along with their 15:1 run/walk ratio (which is clear from my splits approximately every third KM) so I could enjoy the company for a while longer. We were maintaining a good clip and I knew I would be pleased with my result if I could maintain it.

even Coach dressed up - that's him in red
It felt good to hit the half way mark at 15K. I needed to refill on my handheld and did so easily without slowing down much through a water stop.


The turn-around for this "leg" of the race was at the lighthouse and immediately after circling around it, the breeze was gone. I was hit with a wall of hot, heavy air and it did not feel nice. I reminded myself to drink frequently and stuck to my planned gu/salt schedule (gu every 5 miles, salt every 10K). I kept telling myself not to let it get to my head. Just run.

the princesses
5:13 *gu
5:01 *salt

I gradually felt myself pulling away after this point and knew I needed to start running my own race. I was feeling better than anticipated and it was time to pick it up and see what I could do.

There are several out-and-back sections on the route and it was fun looking out for people. I got to see lots of friends from my training group as well as Kenny and Laura (she does exist!) out on the spit. It gave me a great boost each time I spotted a familiar face.

I hit the half marathon timing mat (1:51:21) just before making my way off the spit toward Lakeshore Boulevard.

5:09 *gu

I was holding my pace pretty steady and focusing on mini milestones to keep going - gu at 24K; just 5 to go at 25K; counting down the KMS from there. I did catch myself slowing down a few times and had to focus on finding that pace again. I have not been practicing this pace at all, so I was pretty surprised that I was able to pull it off with relative consistency.

We ran all around Ashbridge's Bay park for a few loops and it was packed with groups out enjoying picnics, beach volleyball or a stroll on the boardwalk. It was definitely crowded and required some dodging on the paths (and the BBQ smells were torturous!) but made for some good people-watching.

The route can be confusing through here and it was getting dark, but the volunteers were easily visible in fluorescent tops positioned at every possible turn. Unfortunately something went wrong with the route this year, and it was cut short. The 25K marker came about 500m early.

Looking at the official route map and the route recorded by my Garmin, it's clear that they cut off a small section of the park.

Of course, I didn't realize this at the time so I spent the rest of the race wondering if/when we were going to give back that distance. It wasn't until the home stretch toward the finish that I realized the course would finish short. I was pooped and ready to be done, but it's still disappointing and discredits everyone's race to some extent.
2:03 for 470m (=4:21 pace)

I picked people off over the last couple kilometres and knew when the finish was just around the corner. I was able to speed up and finish very strong, knowing I had crushed my previous PR of 2:42 and my course PR of 2:49, even when adjusting my time to reflect a full 30K.

Official Chip Time: 2:33:10
Average Pace: 5:06/KM (8:12/mi)
Adjusted 30K Time: 2:35:30
Actual Average Pace: 5:11/KM (8:21/mi)

Overall: 120/834
Females: 21/432
F25-29: 9/86

Needless to say I am very pleased and exceeded my expectations by far. My average pace was only about 4 seconds slower per KM than my BQ race, so I have some renewed hope and restored confidence for October.