Monday, June 13, 2011

Thoughts while driving

Hello all!

Posts will be sporadic for the next couple weeks while I'm travelling. I do have some internet access, but not regularly. Plus during our family vacation, I am trying to spend time with my family. Having said that, a couple thoughts/comments had while driving:

Me: These shoulders are horrible! (on the road) What if I wanted to ride my bike here?
My husband: Then you'd have way too much energy after driving for 10 hours.

Me: There's no sidewalks? Where am I supposed to run?

You know you're a triathlete when...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Three things Thursday

1. This is the last week of Spud's school and then we are going away for three weeks to visit family in Manitoba and Ontario.

The other thing this means is we are going from a drizzly spring to a HOT summer. Today, it's cooler then it has been in Ontario, and it's currently 25c (77f) with a humidex of 31c (88f). The warmest it's been here so far has been about 20c (68f). It was up to 40c (100f) in Ontario with the humidex when I checked earlier this week. We don't even get enough humidity to have a humidex published on our weather site. In fact, I had never even heard the term until I read about it on some blogs last year.

Yes, I know everyone in the blogosphere is already suffering from the heat. I'm about to join you and I don't know how I will handle it! 4:00 am runs?

2. I started drinking coffee again and I love it

Coffee and I have had an on again - off again affair for the last couple decades. Every so often I decide I should quit drinking it because I'm too addicted. Last time was a couple years ago because it was giving me tummy issues. Of course, I had just had my gall bladder taken out, and everything was giving me tummy issues.

I'm not even a first thing in the morning coffee drinker, but I love it mid morning or late afternoon. Right now, I just have a french press, but I lust after single serve coffee makers...

3. I still haven't settled on a blog name for my husband

I used "Mountain man" a few times, since I've called him that in real life for years. I don't feel like it's working on my blog though. Plus, Jen, one of my best bloggy buddies (who has just revived her blog!) calls her guy Mountain man too, so it seems a little weird.

So, for now, you'll continue to see him referred to as the husband, or Daddy, or whatever I feel like at the moment.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lessons learned from my first triathlon

First of all, a quick disclaimer: This post is going to mostly be about what I could have done differently. That doesn't mean I regret a single thing about my first race. It was a fantastic day and an amazing experience. The fantabulousness of it also doesn't mean I can't learn from it. Hence, this post.

1. There is a reason most training plans include brick workouts. (For non-tri people, this is when you do a bike followed immediately by a run.)

Now, granted, I am following an Oly training plan because my "a" race isn't coming up until September, and technically, I didn't have any bricks in this part of my plan. Having said that, I knew I should have done at least one and I didn't.

The results for me weren't overly negative and I didn't suffer coming off the bike. BUT, I could have pushed harder on the bike and I held back because I didn't know how much I could push. Having done a couple bricks would have helped me recognize that better.

2. I need to practice my transitions.

Little things in the preparation like opening up my bike shoes beforehand. Getting my socks on quickly, etc. It also would be a good idea to do a practice run at the actual triathlon. Run into transition from the swim entrance, go towards the bike, etc. Finding my spot quickly and going the right way after would have saved me at least 1-2 minutes in this particular tri (seriously, maybe even more). I probably could have cut a bit more time off by being faster at the actual steps.

3. It's nice to have a garmin, but don't be too attached to it.

It didn't even make it into my race report, but I totally flubbed up my garmin use. I left it in run mode beforehand, so on the bike, it was giving me my pace rather then speed, and wasn't showing cadence at all. I also forgot to actually start it when I left transition, so it didn't get started until a km or so in.

Having said that, it was really freeing not to look at it too much! Because I'd flubbed it up, I only paid attention to it to give me a general idea of how I was doing. On the run, I wasn't constantly checking my pace or distance, just an occasional glance to see where I was.

4. Have fun!

Sometimes it's hard. Both with racing and training. Most races though, should make you feel great about yourself. Why else do you do it? Take some time to remember that while you're going. Now, I'm not saying you should actually stop to contemplate it, but while you're running or pedaling, take a moment to think "yes, I'm racing! I'm doing it!"

5. Make sure your camera is working.

Now, unfortunately, sometimes you have no warning ahead of time, but it was very disappointing to find out that a majority of pictures from both mine and my son's first triathlon may be gone. That's considering I am not even overly attached to pictures in general. Do everything you can to get good pictures, and if there's pro photographers present, remember to smile while passing them!

What lessons have you learned from your races?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Vulcan Tinman race review - part 2 (Deb's race)

This was one of those races that gave me my fix, made me feel better about myself and proved that I am capable of far more then I ever gave myself credit for. It was a fabulous race to do as my first triathlon and the atmosphere, people and other participants were completely encouraging.

My heat time was at 2:15 pm. Despite dreary, cold weather in the morning, by the time my heat drew near, it had warmed up considerably. Earlier, I had been sure I'd need to wear a jacket for the bike and run, and was worried about the fact that I hadn't brought any type of tights or leg warmers. By the time it was getting into the afternoon, I was seeing that I could get away with my tri shorts, tank, and at most, arm warmers.

Shortly before my heat, I checked my transition spot one more time. I wanted to make sure that everything was as I had left it, and reassure myself that I had everything I needed there. I took off my running hat and sunglasses and left them with the rest of my stuff. Somebody had gotten a bunch of dirt or debris on my belongings, which was slightly annoying, so I brushed it all off.

I went back to the husband and kids one last time. I left my other shoes and jacket with him, and got him to take a picture before I headed off. I wanted to make sure he got my number in the picture, although he kept referring to me as "inmate 248". Funny guy.
Sadly, we've had problems with our camera, and this is one of few pictures that didn't get eaten by our corrupt memory card.

The Swim (time: 12:50, including time to get to my lane and the short run to transition).

It was about 2:00, and we were encouraged to check in at the pool 15 minutes early. I headed over there and got in line. The heat times were obviously more of a suggestion then anything, as you just went to the back of the line regardless of what time your heat was. I didn't see it creating issues. Just an observation.

I chatted with the ladies in front of me as we watched some of the other swimmers. One of them was saying that she had given a faster heat time in hopes that she would be at that speed time by the time the triathlon came along, but she couldn't seem to get any faster. I mentioned that speed in swimming is almost entirely technique. If you don't have the technique, you just work harder, and don't always go faster.

We watched some people jump in and start really fast. One was a woman in a pink tri-it outfit. (Tri-it is the local triathlon store.) She looked like she ought to have been in another heat given how fast she was going. Then she slowed down. I made a decision to do my first lap easy. I didn't need to let adrenaline make me sprint the first 50 metres only to exhaust myself.

Then I was second in line, then I skipped over being first when both myself and the person in front of me got sent to our lanes. I headed straight there and jumped in. Took a deep breath and started swimming. I was vaguely expecting some kind of panic but it didn't happen. I followed through on my plan of starting off easy and quickly found a rhythm in the water.

I caught up to the first person in my lane at the end of the first 50 metres. She stopped at the wall and let me pass. I caught up to the next person right after the next wall. I tapped her foot to let her know I was going to pass and started overtaking her. She sped up. I passed her, but then she passed me back. Then she stopped at the wall, so I passed her again.

She passed me again. She was obviously sprinting to pass me, while I was just going slightly faster when I passed her. I decided I didn't want to keep wasting energy playing this game, so I just drafted her. I touched her toes pretty regularly while drafting and every time I did, she would speed up a bit. I'm not sure why it was so important to her to stay in front, but if she wanted to use that much energy, she could go ahead. I was saving energy by drafting her and since she sped up whenever I touched her, I was okay with the speed she was going.

She got out when I had about 150 metres left, and I felt great for that time. Really got into a rhythm and was nice and smooth in the water.

Then it was time for me to get out. I hopped out and headed for the transition zone. It was 100-200 metres to get there. I ran part of it, but some spots kind of hard on my feet, so it was run/walk mixture.

Transition 1

If there was a part of my triathlon where a bit of practice could have got me free time, it's the transitions. When I got to the transition, I went to the back row where my spot was and ran along it - right past my bike. I then turned around and ran past again. Then I stopped and walked slowly while looking at the bikes to find my spot.

I think next time, I need a florescent towel or something. Either that, or I could be smart and find a way to remember my spot better.

Then I put my socks on. They didn't roll on that well, despite doing the sock condom thing with them. I think I'll use a different pair next time. Then my bike shoes, which I had failed to open ahead of time. Not a big deal, but again, a few seconds of time I could save myself overall.

Then, I grabbed my bike and went off. (Well, I did put my helmet and garmin on as well, but details, details...)

The Bike (time: 35:32, including both transitions)

I'd been warned that you can feel a bit disoriented getting on the bike. I went past the mount/dismount line and clipped in carefully. No need to fall over in my first tri. I was doing fine, and found my rhythm almost right away. It was a short ride out of town and then we rode on the highway for the rest.

Going out, I thought I was heading into a bit of a headwind. I figured it wasn't too bad though and it would be easier on the way back. When I turned around, I realized that I obviously wasn't going into a headwind before. On the way back it was definitely a combination of headwind and crosswinds.

I just kept pedalling along. I felt good, and was going faster then I do in training, but I really didn't push that hard because the course was way flatter then what I normally do. I didn't want to burn out before the run and *ahem* I haven't actually done any bricks yet, so I wasn't sure how hard I could go.

I've often thought my bike is my weaker point, but I think I've underestimated how challenging my regular training routes are. I don't get great speeds in my normal training, but I do serious hills and frequently have a lot of wind. Having done that in my normal training made this seem easier, even though I heard from others that it was tougher then they expected.

I found bike to be a pretty zen experience. I was in my zone and went at a very sustainable (perhaps too sustainable?) pace.

When I got back into town, I saw my supporters. Jen was there (she had done the swim portion for Garry, her husband, and was now in spectator mode). My husband and kids. Just seeing them there gave me a boost.

Transition 2

I entered transition, and once again went right past my spot.

I had regular laces on my running shoes, which seemed to take forever to tie. I had picked up some yankz this week, but didn't get around to changing them until Friday, at which point I decided it was a bad idea to change my lacing system. Another spot where I can get a bit of free time.

Then, after changing my shoes, I got confused about which way to leave transition and headed back towards the bike exit when the run exited on the other side.

I took a moment to look around me and remembered that the run exit was at the other end. I went back that way and saw somebody I knew from town who cheered me on as I went by.

The Run (time 27:36)

The run was great! I was concerned about how it would go because I hadn't done a single brick (bike followed immediately by a run) in my training. I know it's normal to feel jelly legged, but I felt fabulous. I did feel slightly sluggish coming out of transition, but when I checked my garmin, I was going around 5:30/km. That's super fast for me!

Having said that, I felt like I could sustain it. I've also learned that I can get away with pushing myself more on shorter runs, so I let myself carry on at that pace.

One of the great things about the run was that you constantly passed people going the other way. Most runners would say something like "good job" or "nice pace". We constantly encouraged each other. I saw Garry at one point and we cheered each other on. There were a couple other women with the same shirt as me. I yelled "nice shirt" while one biked away (there was a section where the bike and run were next to each other. Another one with the same shirt told me "damn you look good."

The run was an out and back. The turn around point was close to start line, so I got to see my family again. The kids had tambourines and Sweetpea was sitting on Daddy's shoulders. I also saw Jen and Garry (he had gotten back by then) and they cheered for me too.

I grabbed some water at the water station and started back. The garbage can was right by the table, and the table was the turn around point, so it pretty much put you in a position of having to stop while drinking your water rather then keeping moving. Nobody else had tossed cups on the ground, like at some races, so I figured it wouldn't have been polite to do so. Having said that, I still wish they'd put a garbage can a bit further away so I could have moved while I swallowed my dixie cup of water.

Once I turned around, I knew I was in the home stretch. I was hurting a bit, and it was hard, but I only had 2.5 km left, and I knew I could keep going for that time. I also knew I was on the road for a FABULOUS personal record. My last 5km race was a fight to break the 30 minute mark, and ended up giving me a dubious record of 29:58, only because the course was short. This time, I was running every km well under 6:00/km, so if I could keep it up, I would break that time easily. (Well, "easy" is relative.)

I carried on. I still felt positive, but I was at the point in the race where I had to keep reminding myself how close I was. It wasn't easy, but easy doesn't mean anything in the long term. Pain is temporary. Pride is forever. All that stuff.

In those last 10 minutes, I remembered all of the people that have supported me along the way. The words of encouragement that always seem to come when I am starting to feel low and I really need them. My husband. My children. My Parents, and siblings. Before heading to Vulcan, my sister's facebook status read: "Virginia hopes her sister will be able to hear her cheering from across the Pacific". (She's currently teaching in China.) That thought helped propel me through my final km when I felt like my body was done.

Most of the time, I can increase my pace in the last stretch, but I was already pushing my limits for the entire run. Before long, I came in reach of the finish line. I mustered up a bit of strength for a finishing sprint and jumped across the finish line.

Total time: 1:15:58

I achieved the goals I set out for myself: finishing with a smile on my face and I had so much fun. I also far exceeded any time goals I might have considered setting and felt strong every moment.

In that moment, I completed a goal I had set for myself a year earlier. A goal that I didn't know if I could achieve. A goal that has changed my life in more ways then I can count. I completed a triathlon.

This is only the beginning.

I am a Triathlete.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Vulcan Tinman Triathlon race review - part 1 (Spud's race)

This day was overall a fabulous day, and I highly recommend the Vulcan tinman as a good first race!

The start of the day

I got up bright and early after a surprisingly good sleep. Despite my anxiety in the days leading up the race, I had it mostly together the morning of the race. Got the rest of my stuff packed up, my son's stuff packed up and food for the drive and the day. We waited until shortly before it was time to leave before waking up the kids. Then we just had to get them dressed, pottied and out the door. We let them eat breakfast during the drive.

The drive from Cochrane to Vulcan was about 2 hours. My husband drove and I "navigated". Unfortunately, I thought the little red numbers by roads were the numbers of the roads; turned out they were just distances. Fortunately, this mistake was made when there was another turn coming up that was almost as good. I think my husband might have lost his trust in my navigation skills...

When we arrived in Vulcan, we headed to registration and got body marked. It was my first time getting marked, and I still haven't washed it off. (I'm not avoiding washing it, just not going to any effort to scrub it off). I think it's cool. :) Spud was thrilled with his number. He got 56 and I got 248.

Then we set up our bikes in the transition areas. This is a very beginner race, but even so, I was surprised to see how much space some people used in transition. One person actually had their bike sideways against the racks and had an extraordinary amount of stuff beside it. Having said that, I've made a resolution not to stress about things that don't effect me. I had no trouble finding a spot for myself and set up my spot. I was also pretty pleased with my minimalist use of space. When I was at home, I kept looking at my stuff and going "that's all I need?" Yep. It was.

Then it was time to wait until the tinbit's (kid's) race. The weather was pretty dreary and cold in the morning, even though the forecast was good for later in the day. The kids played on the playground; we took various potty breaks; we hung out. Finally it was time to get going with the tinbits.

The tinbit race was for 8 and under and they did waves in age groups. Spud is only 4, so he was in the last group to go. It was good though, because I think it helped him to watch the older kids swimming. It gave him a clear idea of how it worked. The one thing about the setup is I was reminded of how tall he is. Standing next to the other 4 year olds, he looked like a little giant, a head taller then most of them.

I kept him wrapped up in a towel until right before his turn came. When it was time to jump in, he didn't even hesitate. I was concerned he would be cold, but at this point he was okay. He had a life jacket on, as did most of the kids in this age group. It was so fun watching them swim across. I cheered for him as he went. Since he isn't quite using "proper" swim form yet (of course) so he swam with his head above water and could still hear me.

He kept looking at the boy next to him, and I thought he was having a conversation or making a friend. After getting out of the pool though, he told me "I beat the red boy!" (The other boy had a red swimsuit.) Oy. A bit young to be so competitive...

The next part was the tough part. He was cold. It was less the 10c (50f) at this point, so tough to go do a bike ride while still kind of wet. It's easy to tell adults to htfu, but not something you can expect from a 4 year old. We took our time in transition. I dried him off really well and put his jacket on. In hindsight, I wish I had put pants on him, rather then just leaving him in his swimsuit. In fact, it would be better to get him a jammer type of suit. There's a reason male triathletes don't wear board shorts...

He also got nervous on the bike. He rides lots, and I usually jog, or go at a slow run to keep up, but he was shivering and unsure, so I was walking beside him. I think riding on the road threw him off, as he's used to riding on sidewalks or paths. I helped him get through it by telling him how good he was doing and that when he was done the bike, he got to run. He loves running, so that seemed to give him a bit of a jolt.

Then we got back to transition. This one was quick. All we had to do was rack his bike and take off his helmet, then he took off. And when I say took off, I'm not kidding. He ran FAST - a pace that I would not have been able to go at a year ago. As we turned the corner, he slowed just a tiny bit and said "whew, that's hard work," I pointed out the finish line, and he surged forward again. The kid may not have the pacing for long runs down yet, but he's quite the sprinter!

Then he crossed the finish line and got his medal and a yogurt tube. Turned out he didn't like the flavour of yogurt much, but the medal was pretty darn exciting and he wore it on and off the rest of the day.

After the fact, he says he LOVED every part of it. We went to a restaurant for dinner that night, and since he had his medal, a man asked him about it. He recounted how he swam and then rode his bike and then ran "really fast".

My 4 year old triathlete. :)
(Stay tuned. I'll get my report up tomorrow!)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A good time was had by all!

Despite chilly weather, Spud had a blast doing his triathlon. He led the pack in the 4 year old swim across the pool. He persevered on the bike, despite being really cold. He killed the run and finished strong! He LOVED the running part of it. Though, really, I think his favourite part was getting a number on his arm and getting a medal.

I had the time of my life. I had a strong swim, slightly confusing transitions, a great bike, and a superb run. In fact, remember my attempt to beat the 30 minute mark on a 5k? Back in December, I had a frustrating race, that ended up with "sort of" beating the 30 minute mark, only because the course was short. Today, my run split on the 5k was 27:36, beating that milestone by about 2.5 minutes - at the end of a triathlon.

More to come when I do the full race report! Sadly, pictures might be limited, as we seem to have a corrupt memory card. :( Saved a few. Might be able to get more up.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Crazy approaching...

One day until my first triathlon. Current weather forecast: Cloudy periods, high of 18c (64f). Current mood: approaching crazy lady status.

With less then a day to go before my first triathlon, I'm slowly becoming crazy. I did a short swim today to remind myself that I am, indeed, capable of swimming.

I came home to organize everything and put yankz onto my shoes. Then I remembered that would be crazy. I really shouldn't change my lacing system the day before my first race. So, I will lose 10 seconds or so in T2 to tie my shoes with normal laces.

Then I have to decide which socks to take. Yes, I will wear socks. I know some people bike and run in bare feet, but I never have and am not going to start on race day.

Should I bring an extra pair of shoes to walk around in beforehand? Or can I do that in my running shoes? Does this race supply swim caps? It doesn't say they do, and it is a pool swim, so I better bring my own to be sure.

Don't forget my bike pump. Helmets. I better bring an extra pair of socks, just in case. Should I leave the extra pair of socks in transition, or just have it in the car beforehand?

Don't forget the sunscreen. And bodyglide. Bodyglide is critical.

I can do these distances right?

Will I fall off my bike at the mount or dismount line? What if I fall down while running? Now, that would be really embarrassing. Lots of people fall over in clipless pedals, but it takes special talent to fall over running. I am talented, but am I that talented?

Oh right, goals?

My goal is to finish. My second goal is to finish with a smile on my face. My third goal is to have fun and finish with a smile on my face.

Wish me luck! Or don't wish me luck; tell me to break a leg! Ack, this isn't theatre. Luck is fine. Or better yet, tell me to rejoin normal person land.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Three things Thursday

2 days until my first triathlon. Current weather forecast: Variable cloudiness with a high of 16c (61f).

1. Yesterday I was at the pool. I'd just jumped into the one empty lane. There are 4 lanes at my pool and the other lanes just had one person each. As I was fiddling with my goggles, a bunch of newbies came out of the change rooms.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind sharing a lane - if the person has a basic understanding and respect of lane etiquette. Even when I was a newbie (not so long ago), I made sure I had that. Two of the people coming out, I have seen swimming before, and they certainly lacked any kind of etiquette. The others were question marks, but I knew I would rather not have them in the same lane as me if I wanted to have a smooth workout.

The woman beside me obviously observed the same thing. She's a nice lady whom I have chatted with occasionally. She's also a triathlete, and an ironman. Without missing a beat she smiled at me and asked if I would join her lane. I am not even close to being an ironman, and can't (yet) claim the title of triathlete, but it was neat to see that I am now considered a good lane partner by one.

2. I took mine and my son's bike in for the bike check today. The upcoming triathlon is seeming very real. I forgot to re-engage the front brake after I took my bike out of the car. (I have to take the wheels off to get it in the back of the car.

Note to self: make sure to re-engage brakes on race day. Otherwise, I might end up even faster then intended...
This is an old picture, from a time period when my apple of choice was golden delicious.

3. I am currently addicted to apples with peanut butter. It satisfies most of the cravings I get. It's sweet, but still has a richness to it. The peanut butter is natural, so there's no added salt, but somehow it also satisfies me if I am craving something salty. My apple of choice right now is gala apples. What is your favourite kind of apple?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Don't be a moron


Just don't be a moron. Don't be an idiot. Don't ask a woman how far along she is unless you're dead sure she's pregnant.

If you've been following my blog for a long time, you may recall the last time I was mistaken as pregnant. That was nearly a year ago, and when I weighed 30 pounds more then I currently do. I was actually somewhat forgiving because I could admit that I actually sort of looked pregnant.





Since I'm not going to post a picture of myself in a bathing suit, here's one of me in my new tri top and shorts. Pretty darn form fitting.
Now, I'm not an idiot. I know I'm still overweight, and I need to lose some more. But pregnant looking?

Just for the hell of it, here's a "belly shot":

I'm not entirely thrilled with where I am, but surely, surely, even if somebody thinks I might look pregnant, there would be enough doubt in their mind that they wouldn't ask. Right? Surely, I don't look pregnant enough that you would be enough of a dumb ass to ask how far along I am?

For the hell of it, here's my before picture:
NEVER refer to a woman's pregnancy unless you KNOW she is pregnant.

That is all.

An odd hangup of mine...

3 days until my first triathlon. Current weather forecast: Isolated showers with a high of 19c (66f).

I have an odd hangup. I can't bring myself to wish anyone good luck for a race. It's not that I don't want to give them good luck, but I just can't do it.

It comes from a background in theatre. In theatre, you don't say "good luck" because that could bring bad luck. Instead, you say "break a leg". For decades, it was a habit that I followed, and it's not easy to change ingrained habits.

I don't think most people want to hear "break a leg" prior to a race...

So, if I get a little tongue tied when telling you to "have a good race", it's because I'm biting my tongue on my instinct to tell you to "break a leg". Nothing personal. ;)