Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The decision not to do Ironman

My blog has been repeatedly quiet over the last year.  Repeatedly, I've come back and tried to catch up.  "Still on the way to Ironman!" I'd say.

Now, it's time to say, I'm not.  Not right now.  I made the decision around 6 weeks ago, but have been missing the words to put it into a post.

In the last year, my life has changed and shifted.  In March of this year, my family moved to a different province and a different lifestyle.  We left Cochrane and moved to an acreage in the West Kootenays of British Columbia.

And with the move, I found my focus changing.  We had bought a homestead, with the garden of my dreams.

We were in the middle of the mountains, with little trails to explore.

My own backyard often held the makings of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I continued to train for triathlons.  I made some running and triathlon friends.  I had some awesome races, and some character building races.

But, as time went on, more and more, the magic was just missing.

There were other things I wanted to do and could never seem to fit in.  I found myself saying no to too many things.  Berries went unpicked and seeds unplanted.  I didn't explore places with my kids, like I'd hoped to, over the summer break.  No, I can't go on that hike today.  A bike ride on the trail after I've just done hill repeats?  I don't think so.

I have always said that you have to enjoy training.  We all have workouts that we don't feel like and push through.  But, the majority should be fun or satisfying or rewarding.  They weren't.

I wasn't loving it anymore.  I was resenting it.  Sometimes even dreading it.

I walked into my husband's office and once again started a "I'm not sure I still want to do Ironman" conversation with him.  We'd had the conversation before.  It had always ended with the decision to carry on.  This time it didn't.  This time the conclusion I came to was that doing Ironman Arizona in 2014 was no longer the right decision for me.

The decision wasn't without tears, but when it came down to it, the biggest feeling I had was that of relief, which is why I am confident that this was the right decision.

I strongly believe that life is about balance.  Part of finding balance is about going through periods where the balance shifts.  The balance has shifted for me.  For 4 years, triathlon was a central focus after my family.  Now, that focus has changed.

Is triathlon still in the cards for me?  Yes.  For a couple weeks, I took a complete break from it all.  Then, I started casually running.  Then, I started feeling that drive reawakening in me.  I will race next year, but they won't be the half iron distances of my previous three years.  I'll do sprints and maybe Olympic distance races.  Allowing myself to get my training done in a time frame that works for everything else in my life.

Is Ironman still in the cards for me?  I think so.  But, maybe, maybe not.

I do know one thing though.  Happiness is in the cards for me.  I just have to reach out for it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cyswog'n fun race report - the one where I broke my bike...

Sometimes, life sends you a message.  This weekend, in an Olympic distance race, among other things, the message it sent me was that I needed to blog again.  Because this was a race report begging to be written...

While not my first race of the season, this is THE local race in the area I've just moved to.  It's a gorgeous course in the middle of the mountains.  Hilly, so not one where you're likely to set a personal best, but the hills give it variety and add fun.  The organization of this course and the enthusiasm of the volunteers is top notch.

Race morning was relaxed and happy.  I was up early to eat breakfast and head out.  Got a gorgeous picture of mountain peace on the early morning ferry ride.

Once there, I was in a great mood.  I love the race morning energy.  I have done some of my training with a local triathlon group, and it was awesome seeing all the people I knew.  I also found a couple of people who are members of my Alberta triathlon group.  I am incredibly blessed to be part of two amazing triathlon families.

Getting body marked by Ali, one of my Mountain Spirit teammates.

With Brent and Yvonne, Team Trilife teammates.
Some race morning nerves, but just the right amount.  Enough to give me energy without getting in the way of positivity.  Before long it was go time!

I had a stellar swim.  35:08.  My garmin measured the course as being a bit long, but open water swims are what they are.  It's also possible that I swam crooked.  :)  Had good feet, and felt really strong.  I found out later that I knew the person whose feet I swam on, as well as the person who I kind of edged out to get on their feet.  (I didn't intentionally edge her out, but it did happen.)

Coach Angie had told me to hammer the bike.  Truth is, I usually play it safe on the bike, so this was different for me.  Hammer the bike, manage the run.  Those were big parts of my race plan.

I loved the bike course.  A lot of it was along the edge of a lake.  Lots of rolling hills.  No seriously steep ones, but definitely enough to keep you interested.  I was biking hard, though at an effort level that I expected to be able to maintain.  A couple times I considered how much this bike could make the run hurt, but I pushed those thoughts off to the side.

 Unfortunately, it seems I hammered it hard enough to break my bike...

I was approaching the end, and only had 3 km to go.

TWANG!  Broken spoke.  I knew immediately that had to be it.  I'd had a broken spoke a couple weeks prior and never knew when it happened.  Google told me that I should have heard a huge twang.  This time, that's exactly what I did hear.

 I got off my bike and took a look. As I thought, broken spoke.  With only 3 km left, I thought I'd be able to ride it in easy.  That wasn't happening.  The wheel was jamming, obviously it was nowhere near true anymore.  It wasn't jamming in the brakes, so opening them up didn't help.  It was jamming in the frame itself.

"Only 3 km." 3 km is such a short distance when you are on your bike.  Suddenly, I knew that my bike was not going to carry me the rest of the way to transition.  Fact.  Whatever choice I made was based upon that fact.

This is where I am really happy with my reaction.  I stayed totally calm and assessed the situation.  I was "only" about 3 km away from the bike finish.  I couldn't ride my bike.  The race time was about 2 hours in.  Cut off for the race is 4 hours.  I took a moment to consider if I could walk 3 km in socked feet and then run 10 km within the time I had.  (Walking in bike shoes, particularly in my speedplay cleats was not an option.)

I decided I could.  Unfortunately, I couldn't even roll my bike.  So, I carried it.  About 2 km.  People kept asking if I needed a spare tire.  I know how to change a spare!  If only that was what it was.

With about 1 km to go, there was a volunteer out on a bike.  He offered to trade bikes.  I took him up on it.  Fortunately, the remainder of the bike was either flat or downhill, because I could neither clip in or figure out how to change gears.  (He carried my bike back to transition and switched bikes.)  Vince, a really amazing person.

1:50:19 on the bike, including both transitions, which I had at 3:10 and 1:40.

I knew I was very close to last.  There is a guy that does the race every year, and comes in last, so nobody else will.  I knew he wasn't far behind me.  I acknowledged that thought and let it go.

The run was hot and hilly.  I stayed steady and strong on it.  I was feeling a bit fried, but held on through the whole thing.  I was happy, and I smiled.  The volunteers were amazing.  I've never seen such great positivity from volunteers, even when it was so late in the race.  The threw water at me when I asked, and there were a couple people out with hoses on the course.  It helped a lot to deal with the temperature.  It wasn't my fastest run, but I finished it with everything I had.

1:15:08 on the run.

This is one of those races that reminded me why I do triathlon.  It brought back the magic for me.  The magic that I've been reaching for and getting hints of.  The magic that isn't magic at all, but rather is the strength I carry within myself.  The strength that I found a well of when I needed to reach for it.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Blog revival on my 4 year runniversary

Hello out there!

I think my blog has had one of it's biggest quiet periods ever.  For good reason.  My family has been in the midst of a major change.  A move between provinces.  From town to country.  To an acreage in paradise.  I've been busy.

And a bit at a time, I've explored my new surroundings on my wheels and in my running shoes.

A ride on a sunny day
My first run in my new home.  Before everything turned green, but beautiful regardless
Everybody's definition of paradise is a bit different.  Mine includes mountains, and a climate conducive to gardening.  Places to ride and run and swim.  I have all of those now.

Since arriving, I've planted part of my huge garden, and watched my fruit trees blossom.  I've joined a local triathlon group.  It's largely a beginner group, and there's so much excitement in seeing soon-to-be new triathletes work towards their first race.  At the same time, there's also some seasoned triathletes in the group who have already given me excellent feedback on training routes and I am hopeful may become new training partners.

I have done two races.  A 10K race where I came DFL (dead f-ing last).  More on that in a future post, but let me just say that there is honour in being the last person across a finish line.  Yesterday, I did an 18km race through wineries.

Today marks the 4 year mark from the first day I went for a run.  Four years since I stopped saying "I can't".  For the last 4 years, I've been confronting my fears and inhibitions.  The journey has been amazing and it's far from over.

I didn't feel like blogging till now.  I just felt like living and experiencing.  Now, I am ready to add reflecting and writing to my list.  So, I think I can safely say that DebTris is getting a revival.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Anybody that has following me lately may have noticed that there's been nothing to follow for quite some time.  I've made a few attempts to revive my blog, but keep falling short and not getting back to it.  I've hinted at major life changes that are distracting me.

So, now that things are fairly settled, it's time to come out with the major life change.

A big move.

We are moving away from Cochrane, the town we live in, which is right next to the fairly big city of Calgary.

We are moving to a small community in the West Kootenay area of British Columbia.  Trading in mountains in the skyline for being surrounded by mountains.  Giving up my river pathways for different river pathways, though they are unlikely to be paved unless I make the drive into one of the cities (which are smaller then the "town" I currently live in).

Giving up our small urban lot for 1.5 acres of gardens, fruit trees, and play space.
A view of part of our new backyard.  Even with the garden space, our kids will have many times the amount of space to run around.
I couldn't be more excited.

So, what does this mean for my triathlon plans?

Ironman is still on baby!  The climate is milder, so it's likely I'll get more outdoor riding in at both ends of the season.  Running will be a bit different.  There's no paved pathway system, so I'll be doing some running on roads, some on trails.  There's a couple "rails to trails" in the area that should give me lots of pathway to run along.

There are lots of lots of hills which I'll be running and biking on.  Ironically, I'm signed up for one of the flattest Ironman races in the circuit, and I've moved to a very hilly place to train in.  Hill work is speedwork in disguise, right?  The pools in the area actually have much better lane swim times then the restrictive ones in Cochrane, so even though it's a longer drive, it will be easier to schedule.  Plus, there's more places to swim in the open water.

So, what does it mean for the blog?  Right now I'm not making any promises for the next month.  I'll blog when I'm moved to do so, but I'm not putting pressure on myself to keep it up.  I've thought about the reasons I blog, and even though I enjoy my "audience", I do it for myself.  It's a place for me to share thoughts, and writing focuses and calms me.

I do expect the blog to have a resurgence once we get settled after the move.  I'm excited to find new places to run and ride, and getting to know the new pool that I'll be frequenting.  We move at the end of March, so it's a quick timeline.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Facing that moment when your dream becomes the goal

A snippet from May 18, 2010:

"Next summer, I'd like to do a triathlon. 

Overly ambitious? Maybe. For one, I can barely swim, so I'll need to take lessons and get some serious practice in. I also don't run. I'm still worried about the impact the extra weight I'm carrying will have on my knees. I do bike and I figure the 70 pounds of kids I pull in the trailer is a bonus for training.

I am setting a goal that I don't know if I can complete. But, I do know one thing. This time I'm going to try. Actually try."

Three and a half year ago was the first day that I dreamed about the world of triathlon.  Setting the goal to do one was almost a whim.  I wanted to think of something really hard.  Something that pushed me.  Something where I was going to have conquer some of my "can't"s.

So, rather then pick a single thing, I picked three, in the sport of triathlon.  I had never ran, and I was terrified of deep water.  I'd say it fulfilled my challenging requirement as well as defeating the voice that used to say "I can't do that".

When telling people about my triathlon goal, I remember saying more then once "I'm not going to do an Ironman or anything."  The very idea was crazy at first.  Then gradually it became less crazy.  Then one day, it became a dream.  It was a year before I did my first sprint triathlon and by then I was "dreaming of Iron".

Now, it's more then a dream.  It's a goal.  Because I am officially signed up for Ironman Arizona 2014.

I've had moments of being terrified and moments of not thinking about it.  The Deb from 4 years ago would have told you it was impossible.  I am a different Deb.

One of the most valuable lessons I've learned from triathlon is how to break things down into pieces.  I'm not doing Ironman today.  Today, I am going for a swim and then doing core work.  Tomorrow an indoor spin and short run.  One day at a time and one workout at a time.  Pieces that put together will eventually form a ladder towards my big goal.


Getting ready for today's step.  The swim.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Big News - taking things one step at a time

I'm going away for a weekend trip on Friday, to Arizona.

Those of you that are plugged into the triathlon community may already recognize the significance of a trip to Arizona this weekend.

I'm going there to enjoy some time in the sun, spend some time with friends, swim outdoors, run in a tanktop, volunteer at an Ironman...

And sign up for Ironman Arizona 2014.

Last night I had a minor panic about it it.

"I'm not ready to do an Ironman."

It's true.  I'm really not.  I've never run more then 25 km at a time.  My longest bike rides are probably in the 100 km range.  The lane swim times in my town often only last an hour, and I'm not a fast enough swimmer to get 4000 metres in that time.  (Because let's be honest, I won't swim straight enough to keep it down to 3.9km).

Fact: I am not ready to do an Ironman
Fact: I am not doing an Ironman - yet.

See, the beauty of Ironman sign up is that you usually make the decision a year ahead of time.  When I picture the reality of doing the 140.6 miles, it makes me feel incredibly overwhelmed.  When I think about what I have to do this week, or this month, it's all doable steps.  In fact, if there's a life lesson triathlon has taught me, it's to look at big projects as steps, rather then one overwhelming thing.

I've often had conversations with people that think a half marathon is a big deal.  It's really not, I tell them.  I honestly maintain that the hardest steps I ever took when it came to endurance was going from 0 to 5 km, rather then 5 to 20.  After that, it was a matter of building on what I already had.

I'm not quite convinced an Ironman is the same.  It's a whole lot longer then any race I've ever done before.  Distance-wise, double.  Mentally, I suspect it's more then double.  I expect I'll learn a lot in the year I take to prepare.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Knowing when to be smart and when to be tough

Today is race day.  I won't be making it to the starting line.

I was supposed to be doing my second half marathon of the fall, the Last Chance Half.  I was excited about it, and feeling ready.  Honestly, I was expecting to set a PB, but I was expecting to put out a solid performance and prove to myself once again that I have got this.  I am a runner.

Until Friday.  When my stomach went into rebellion.  Which continued on Saturday.  It wasn't like some of the full fledged stomach bugs I've had.  After the intial couple hours, I've actually felt almost normal - as long as I don't eat and don't move around much.

I sent Angie, my coach, an email yesterday morning.  I told her I had a stomach bug and I wasn't sure where it put me for race day.  I mentioned that I'd dropped a couple pounds.  (Now, getting closer to race weight might make you faster, but not so much in the two days before the race.)  I told her that if I was feeling good race morning, I expected to race.  If I couldn't eat a proper breakfast, I definitely wouldn't.  I acknowledged the grey area in between those.

Angie also raised the concern that if I wasn't eating much the day before the race, I was put myself into a calorie hole that could get me into trouble on race day.

I spent a lot of time thinking about it.  Was I really sick enough to warrant a DNS (do not start)?  I could do this race.  I know I could.  I'm tough.

Yes.  I'm tough.  I've proved that.  Twice, I've done half marathons when I shouldn't have gone to the starting line.  Once, in a blizzard, where people broke bones on the race course.  Once, when I started the race with a broken bone, in the form of a stress fracture in my foot.

When it comes to training, I'm pretty smart.  When it comes to racing, I get into a mode where the only thing that matters is the race.  I forget smart and focus on tough.

Maybe it's time to learn a bit of balance.  Maybe the universe is teaching me a lesson.

One thing that hit me in Angie's email was this phrase: "You don't need to prove anything to anyone Deb."  My initial response was: "just to myself."  There's a little part of me that still feels like I'm Deb, the fat girl.  There's a part of me that is still in awe of the fact that I even can run.  It's like I still need to be reminded of it.

But, I don't.  I don't need to prove, even to myself, that I am capable of doing a half marathon.  I've done that 6 times, if I include my half ironman runs.  (And I'm definitely going to include them.)

Don't get me wrong, skipping this race is hard for me.  There's a reason it's called the "Last Chance Half Marathon".  It is the last half marathon of the season in this area.  It's not like in the spring where there's one almost every weekend.

But it doesn't change who I am or what I can do.  It has no long term effect on my training.  I am Deb.  I am a runner.  I am a triathlete.  I am tough.  I am also smart.

Sometimes it's harder to be smart then it is to be tough.