Thursday, September 29, 2011

Three Things Thursday - sleep, banned food, and avoiding running injuries

1. I'm tired

Really tired.  I've had the most bizarre thing going on the last week or so.  Crazily itchy hands and feet.  It makes it hard for me to go to sleep and wakes me up at night.  I don't know what's going on and Dr Google gives me a list of possibilities so wide as to be useless.  Last night I tried taking a benadryl, and it seemed to help.  I'm now wondering if it's allergy related?  If it doesn't go away soon, I'll see my doctor.  For now, I just want a solid night's sleep!

2. Further to my post about banning foods from my house...

A couple people commented that banning a food makes them want it more.  I get that, and it can be true.  Having said that, there is a difference between banning food from your house and banning it from your life.  I rarely keep ice cream in the house, but we occasionally will go for ice cream as a treat.  Same thing with cookies and other treats.  Everyone has to do what works for them, and I have accepted that I have issues with portion control and one of the best ways to deal with that is not to have unlimited portions at my fingertips.

3. Jen asked a question on Tuesday's post about how I've avoided running related injuries

First of all, I'll admit that I haven't totally avoided them, but the few things I've dealt with have been minor and fairly short lived.

The things I've done are: a. Build my running volume gradually, b. Avoid speedwork  c. Listen to my body

a. I have always followed the 10% rule, not increasing my total running volume by more then 10% a week.  Recently, I've also added in a recovery week where I drop my running volume about 40% every fourth week.  In addition to this, I don't let my long run be more then 50% of my running volume, and I try for less then that.

b. Yes, I've avoided speedwork, but I don't think this is a good recommendation for most people.  Having said that, I think it's one of the reasons I haven't had any serious trouble.  Many running injuries happen when people try to go too fast, too soon.  I read somewhere that the first year of running, you should focus on building volume rather then speed.  Although I am past that first year now, I've decided to wait a bit longer till I bring it in.  It's also a possibility that I'll have a coach in the new year, and if that happens, I'm hoping they can help me build speed without hurting myself.

c. Listening to your body is KEY.  When I was only 2 weeks into the C25K program, I didn't listen and pushed myself way too far on a hike.  It resulted in a knee that I couldn't run on for about a month.  Now, I'm very aware of any aches and pains.  Sore muscles are fine, and I will still run, but if I have joints that are bothering me or I have pain that feels wrong, I either take it easy or take a day off.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Weight loss Wednesday - the foods that help and hinder

So, as of this morning, my weight is at 194.8, for a weekly loss of 1.2 and a total loss of 48.6.  I'll take it!  I'm perfectly happy with anything over a pound.

So, in focusing on weight loss again, I'm having to focus on food.  Specifically which foods I keep in my house. Some are pretty basic.  Keep fresh fruits and veggies around.  Limit overly processed and refined foods.  Going beyond that though, are there any specific foods that you need to have, or not have, around?

One that really helps me is hummus.  It's easy to get bored grabbing celery or carrots, but for me, if I can dip them in hummus, raw veggies are where it's at.  I make it myself, so it's inexpensive, healthy, and I know what goes into it.

Recipe here
What about foods not to keep around?  Well, my house is pretty bare of convenience foods and any kind of sugary treat, but there is one food that I consider entirely healthy that I just can't have around if I want to lose weight.


I love nuts.  I love cashews and peanuts, hazelnuts or walnuts, almonds, pecans...  In my yogurt, on my salads, or just as a handful.  There's no denying nuts are very calorie dense and I just don't do well with keeping the portions reasonable.

It pains me to ban a food that I consider healthy, but for the time being, they're just not working for me.  I am able to have them around occasionally when my goal is to maintain my weight, but not when I'm trying to lose.

What are the foods that help or hinder your efforts?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I GET to run

Today, I did my regular Tuesday routine: Drop Spud off at preschool, take Sweetpea to her preschool (different location), then go for a run.  Sometimes I go back and park at Spud's preschool and run from there.  Sometimes, I go home and run.  I was just doing 12 km (7.5mi) today, so I headed home.  I figured I had a bit of extra time, and might be able to grab a shower before picking the kids up.

As it was, I puttered around a bit, and realized I'd eaten up my shower time, but I could still get in the run, so I headed out.  It was a beautiful fall day.  The leaves have all changed colour, and I'm going to make a point to get some pictures this week.  I could smell autumn in the air.  As I ran along, I noticed a bunch of these guys on and beside the pathway.

Image Source
There were TONNES of them.  I started counting them and got to 20 in about a minute.  I stopped though, because I was bored with it.  Plus, I didn't need a distraction.  I was having a great run.  Then it was up to the bridge and over the river.  Running along the other side, and through the trees.  It felt great, and I had a solid rhythm.  Then it was time to turn around.  When runs are hard, you sometimes need those waypoints.  Something to let you know you've hit a milestone.  It wasn't like that today.  I turned around only because that was where I needed to be for my mileage, and I had to be home in time to go get the kids.

The run back was great too.  I still remember when 12 km was a really long run.  Now, it's not even my longest run.  It's a mid-week medium distance run.  When I got to the end, I sprinted the last bit and finished strong.  I didn't run super fast over all, but my final kilometer was at about a 5k race pace.

Sometimes, if you're going through a tough patch you feel like you have to run.  You feel sick, but somehow you need to get out there.  That isn't true at all though, and runs like this are the perfect reminder.

We GET to run.

Nobody makes us run, and if I really wanted to, I could use my free two hours to clean the kitchen or watch daytime television.  Instead, I get to run.  I can run.  Seriously, what a gift.  What a wonderful opportunity.

When I got home, I only had a few minutes to grab a drink and run out the door.  No shower for me, but as I've mentioned in the past, I consider showers prior to picking up the kids optional.  Man, they'll hate me when they're teenagers...

On a side note, I need a travel drink container that is good for chocolate milk or smoothies.  Since I'm often grabbing and going, it would be great to have something I can just pour my recovery drink into and have on the way.  Any suggestions?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Going the distance

On Sunday, I did my longest training run ever: 20 km (12.4mi).  In preparation for my first half marathon, the longest I ever ran was 18 km.  Now, I know very well that a couple kilometers on race day isn't necessarily that big a deal.  If anything, your total training volume is far more important then just the weekly long run.  If I'm running once a week and doing 20, I'm in far worse shape then if I'm running a total of 45 km, but my longest is only 16.

Having said that, there is a certain mental edge you get from running as much as, or even over, the race distance.  It's an advantage you can get when you are running the shorter distances.  Once I start doing marathons, it's no longer an option to overrun the distance in training.

On Sunday, I felt strong and capable.  It worked me, but didn't push me to my limit.  I will have 4 more runs prior to my half mary of distances over 20 km (as much as 24).  Four more chances to get that feeling of going the race distance (or further) prior to my race.

Last time, I went into the half marathon believing (hoping?) that I could finish the distance.  This time, I'll go in without any doubt.  This time, I won't crash and burn.  I'll just burn up the pavement.  (okay, probably not actually fast enough for that.)

Am I crazy for doing these distances?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Don't think too hard about what's in the pool...

Last night I went to the pool for my Saturday night swim.  Yes, I swim Saturday evenings.  Then come home and go to bed.  I live an exciting life, and I know you are jealous.  ;)

Except this Saturday I didn't swim, because the lane pool was closed.  Because...  somebody had pooed in the pool.

Yeah.  It happens.  And you know what?  In another day, I'll be back in that pool regardless.  How's that for standards?

You just can't think too hard about what goes in the pool.  At least when there's visible poo, they know they need to add chemicals and do whatever they do.  Don't think too hard about all the unshowered people and toddlers in diapers.  Or the clumps of hair and other floaties.

Thank goodness for chlorine.

And some people get freaked out by swimming in open water where there's weeds...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Three things Thursday

1. My laptop is broken.  

Well, the power brick, or whatever is broken.  Which means, until it's replaced, no laptop for me.  I won't neglect my blog entirely, but it does mean I won't be on the computer as much - which can be good and bad.  The desktop computer is in the basement, far away from where the children play, so I won't be getting on it much during the day.

The other sad thing with this is the pictures that are trapped on the laptop.  Now, they're not lost, as my husband reassures me that the laptop can function again.  Even if it can't, I guess they can still be retrieved from the hard drive.  But, I had pictures from the race the kids did on the weekend that I can't post right now.  :(

2. We are getting a revival of summer!

I went for a run this afternoon while the kids were in preschool.  It was HOT.  Wow.  I'm not complaining though.  This time of year could give us blizzards or heat waves.  I'll take the heat if that's what I get.

3. Is it just me or are things slow in the blogosphere?

I've noticed that I'm not getting as many comments lately, plus it seems like a lot of bloggers aren't posting as much as usual.  Is it in my head, or is it actually slow?  I'm thinking it's just the time of year.  Tri season is over, so triathletes are taking a break?  A lot of the bloggers that seem to be posting as much as ever are the runners.    What do you think, am I just imagining it?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Weight loss Wednesday - losing weight while fueling training

Well, I'm one week in on the re-commitment to dropping the pounds and I'm thrilled with the first weeks results.  I'm down to 196, a 2.4 pound loss since last week and a total of 48.4 lost.

The thing that is the biggest challenge for me is fueling my training while still keeping a calorie deficit.  This was my big stumbling block over the spring and summer and the reason I put weight loss on a back burner.  Now, weight loss is on a front burner, and if I have to I'm willing to let my training suffer a little bit.

The key parts of that sentence is "if I have to" and "a little bit".

This week, my focus has been on eating a balanced diet while maintaining a calorie deficit.  I view this as basically separate from my training.  I allow myself to be hungry frequently.  I've learned in the last couple years that I don't lose weight unless I'm hungry sometimes.  When I listen to and follow all my hunger signals, I simply maintain the weight I'm at.

Then when it comes to my workouts, I fuel those separately.  I usually have a small snack beforehand - something like a banana.  (I don't do well with too much in my stomach while running or swimming anyways.  Biking allows me a bit more leeway, but not much.)  If it's a longer workout (longer then 1.5 - 2 hours), I'll drink gatorade and possibly take a gel or eat some food during it.  When possible, I time it to be done so I'm eating a meal afterwards.  If not, I have something small to eat afterwards to aid recovery.

I don't stress about the extra calories I take in surrounding my training.  I know very well that training uses fuel and that's not where I'm trying to get my calorie deficit from.  I still want to perform to the best of my ability and I can't do that without sufficient calories.

One week in, I'll call it a success!  I do find it a tricky balancing act, so I'd like to only be in weight loss mode until January.  At that point, I'll be stepping up training again.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

His and hers plates and don't assume

Here we have his and hers plates from dinner last night.  Same meal, approximately the same portions.  Guess who eats like an adult and who doesn't like their food to touch?

For some reason this picture refuses to rotate for me and I gave up trying to make it.
Last night was the first swim of the coached session.  I figured it would be a technique heavy session.  I even did an 8km (5mi) run a few hours before.  I told my husband as I left, "Angie won't be working us that hard.  I'm sure she'll focus on technique."  I figured I'd be fine even if I went into it a bit tired.

Well, I was fine, (aside from my calf cramping up near the end).  But, it wasn't a "easy" swim either.  The workout was actually pretty intense.  Angie told us at the beginning that she was mainly wanting to observe the first night to assess where everyone is.  Chatting in the locker room afterwards, it seems a lot of people had made the same assumption I had: It wouldn't be too hard; mostly technique.  Two lessons (re)learned: 1. Don't assume, and 2. I love the feeling after a hard workout.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The pool is open again!

Yay!  It's been three weeks since the pool in my town closed for it's annual maintenance and cleaning.  While I did swim a few times in the city (I had to, since my "a" race was two weeks into the closure), I've missed the convenience of the nearby pool.  I'm happy to get back to a consistent routine of swimming.

The other exciting thing is, coached swimming starts up again tonight.  I remember when I first joined in January, I was incredibly nervous and intimidated to be going to a program that was full of triathletes.  Now, I'm excited to call myself one of them.  I might still be in the slow lane, but there's no shame in being one of the "slow" swimmers in this group.  I still have a lot to learn and technique that stands to be improved.  I can't wait to start working on it again.

Yet another great part of the pool reopening is family trips to the pool.  Spud and Sweetpea love swimming, and it's a great activity to do either on weekday mornings or on the weekends with Daddy along.  I also rely on the pool, as a way to let the kids burn off energy on bad weather days.

Swimmy swim swim!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Looking forward - what's coming up next

So, it's now been a week since my Olympic triathlon.  This week, I took it easy.  My plan had been to just run and bike when I felt like it - no pressure.  I actually ended up doing a lot less then I planned, due to getting hit with a cold during the week.  Rather then train through the illness, like I would at other times, I took it easy and got more sleep.  I only ran twice, and didn't bike at all.  Now, that the week is over (and I'm feeling better), and it's time to get serious about training again.

Today, I sat down and planned out my run training for my next half marathon (the last chance half marathon, Nov 19).  In order to do this, I had to make a decision.  What are my goals for this half?

I seriously considered speed work.  I am honestly of the opinion that I have untapped speed.  I have the potential to go significantly faster then I have - if I work for it.  (And that work can't just come from just being tough on race day; I'd need to do speed work in training.)  I have never done any real speed work.  Sure, I occasionally push myself a bit more on a run, or I'll sprint to the finish.  Real, planned, consistent speed work?  None.

On the other hand, I have to ask myself what I want out of this race.  It's not my first half marathon.  I did do one in April, so my goal isn't "just" to finish.  Looking back though, I've always been disappointed with the Police half.  Yes, I finished, but I felt like the course and the distance beat me.  I paced poorly and crashed towards the end.  So, is speed what I want the most with my next half marathon?  Some serious thought tells me no.

What I want with my next half marathon is a solid and well paced race.  I not only want to finish, but I want to finish strong.  So, with that in mind, I'll continue to focus on running volume and consistency.  I am a good place with my run volume, as I kept it high going into my Olympic triathlon.  I'll build a little bit more and my last couple long runs before taper will have me doing 24km (15mi) rather then the 18 km (11mi) I topped out at last time.  I'm confident that having a few solid runs that are longer then the race distance will give both my body and mind the edge I need this time around.

In other news, I did a few google searches for half ironman training plans.  I won't be specifically starting to train for one until December or January at the earliest, but I wanted to see where I needed to be prior to beginning the plan.  I was surprised and pleased to see that my training volumes in all three sports are already at the point where I could start half-iron training.  Sweet!

(Today I volunteered at my first race, and Spud and Sweetpea raced a kids' 1 km.  The pictures are on my husband's phone though, so that blog post will come when he sends them to me...)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Three things Thursday - The school edition

1. This year, both Spud and Sweetpea are going to preschool

One advantage to having my kids so close in age is the fact that they only a year apart in school.  So, this year, Spud will be going to his second year of preschool while Sweetpea goes to her first year.  Spud goes four half days, and Sweetpea goes for 2.  They both LOVE it already.  Now, where this benefits me is it means I have 2  afternoons a week where they are both in school.  Accounting for pickup/dropoff times, I have about two solid hours each of these times.  Sadly, it's not during a lane swim time, but it means easy to fit in training time for the bike and run!

2. Along with school comes illness

The kids brought home a cold.  They were both sick for about two days.  Now, they're feeling better and I feel lousy.  I'm hoping it's as short lived for me as it was for then.  Having said that, as Jessica pointed out on facebook, it happened after my "a" race.  I really can't complain too much.  In fact, it is also during a rare week when I planned not to "train", but just run or bike when I feel like it.  (The pool is still closed, so I'm not swimming till it reopens next week.)  The thing is, I wanted to run and bike today.  I was going to do a short brick just for fun.  I haven't ruled out some activity, but a nap is very tempting during that two hour time block today...

3. The other thing with school is the endless forms

I got sent home a stack of forms to fill out, once of which is the volunteer form (which I do plan on doing).  The positions are broken up into categories.  One of those categories is "healthy eating programs".  Sounds great, right?  Under that classification, they have "Pizza Fridays".  Really?  Under "healthy eating".  I don't have a problem with the pizza fridays themselves.  If a kid is bringing a healthy lunch four days a week, having pizza once a week is not such a big deal in most cases.  But, don't refer to it as "healthy".  Classify it as fundraising, because that is what it actually is.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Weight loss Wednesday - Losing the pounds, finding the speed

So, my last triathlon of the year is done.  I completed my "a" race and transformed myself into a triathlete.  Now comes the time where I'm in danger of falling into the post race dumps.  Hmm, what does that mean?  I guess it means it's time for a new goal.

Or perhaps, it's time to refocus on an old goal.

It's time to drop the rest of the pounds so that I can get healthy and more importantly get fast.

Okay, so maybe my priorities are a bit mixed up?  Maybe...

Truthfully, my doctor is thrilled with my new level of health.  I saw her one year and I was a mostly sedentary obese woman, and the next year I had dropped 40 pounds and was training for a half marathon.  Still, the fact of the matter is, I'm not there yet.  I am still carrying 20 pounds more then I should be in order to be at the top end of the healthy weight range for my height.  I am in the best shape of my life, but lugging around that extra fat isn't helping any of my internal organs.

Then comes the speed side of it.  I am convinced that the extra weight I am carrying slows me way down.  It may not make a big difference on the swim, but it definitely does on the run.  Then, when it comes to the bike, there are people that spend thousands of dollars to upgrade their bikes to make them lighter.  I can lighten my load for free, and then I can climb those hills a heck of a lot better.

So, in a way my blog has come full circle and is going to return a bit to it's start.  Now, don't fear, I'm still training for a half marathon, and I'm signing up for a half ironman next season.  Most of my blog posts will still be training related, but I've decided Wednesday is the day I'll focus on the weight loss.

Since hitting onederland back in January, my weight hasn't changed much.  I'm the queen of maintaining my weight after all.  I've basically stayed between 198 and 201 pounds.  I did buy a new scale recently, which caused me to gain a pound.  Regardless, I'll still be using the new one.  My current weight (as of this morning) is 198.4.  My initial goal is to get that down to 179, which is the top end of healthy for my height.  I'm quite certain I'll be shooting for a lower weight once I'm there, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

And since no weight loss post is complete without pictures, here are mine.

Before, 244 pounds
Today, 198 pounds

(One of these pictures is taken by my husband, the other by Spud, my four year old.  I'll let you guess which is which.)

As far as I'm concerned, weight loss is about food.  I usually spend more then 10 hours a week swimming, biking, or running, and I maintain my weight.  For me, it seems the combination of a high level of training and mainly clean eating is the perfect formula to maintain my weight.  By adding in tracking and counting my food, I plan to lose some of it instead.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Banff Triathlon race report

The Banff Olympic length triathlon was my "A" race for 2011.  In other words, it was the main race I was training for.  In some ways, it was a risky race to choose as my "A" race.  In 2010, the inaugural year of this triathlon, the weather was brutal, and made for a really tough day, with frigid water, and cold air temperatures. 

I became an obsessive weather checker in the weeks leading up to the race.  This year, there wasn't rain in the week leading up to it and the temperatures were moderate or warm.  In the pre-race meeting, it was announced that the water was "about 14c-15c (57f-59f)" and that wetsuits were required.  I don't know if they didn't have a true, definite reading or if they just didn't want to give it.  Having said that, while this sounds cold, there was relief from everyone.  The fear was that the water temperature would dip below 12 again and they would have to shorten or cancel the swim (last year it was cut in half).  The weather forecast for the day was a high of 25c (77f).  With my heat starting at 10:34, that meant that it would be getting into comfortable temperatures by the time I got on the bike.


Race morning started later then most race mornings with my alarm going off at 5:45am.  I reached out to turn it off and apologized to my husband for accidentally setting my alarm for the weekend when we didn't have to get up.  Haha, I guess it's a sign that I was sleeping deeply and getting quality rest for the day.

I got up, and double checked everything.  Before long, I was on the road to Banff, with my different transition bags and a coffee.

When I got there, I went into T2 to drop off my run gear and headed over to the bus to take me to T1 and the lake.  They discouraged spectators from heading to the swim/bike course since there was no parking by the lake and they wanted to minimize traffic.  A lot of people went up there anyways, but it wasn't practical for my husband to get the kids up there.  Watching races can be hard on them, and we decided it would just be better if they planned to get there for the run portion.  Hence, I'm afraid there's no pictures of the swim or bike.

Once I was up there, I headed to my bike and put my nutrition on it and set up my spot.  (You weren't allowed to leave food on the bike overnight, because of bears in the area.)  For this race, our transition spots were assigned and I lost the transition spot lottery in both of them.  My spots were closest to the swim and run exits, rather then the bike exit.  This meant that I had to go all the way through transition in my bike shoes, which isn't ideal.  Having said that, in the grand scheme of things, not such a big deal.

At the transition rack, the big talk was whether to wear a jacket on the bike or not.  I figured it wasn't necessary.  I was already standing around in my tri top and bottom, and was comfortable.  It was still going to be at least an hour before starting the bike, so I figured by then I could be comfortable even while wet.

Once setting up, I got my wetsuit on up to my waist and headed down to the lake to watch the swim starts for the sprint and super-sprint races.

As I looked out to the buoys, they seemed pretty far out there, but this is where some experience definitely helps.  I thought back to my last open water swim race, and the times I swam with my Uncle and his canoe (thank you Wes!).  I actually have a bit of a concept now of swim distance outside of a pool now, and the distance seemed manageable.  I just had to take it one stroke at a time.

About 5 minutes before the Olympic start, I got into the water and did a quick warm up.  The water might be warm compared to last year, but it was still bloody cold.  I didn't want to spend too much time in it before the race, but I wanted to get the initial shock over with.

By the time the women's Olympic was getting started, I felt ready.  I was comfortable in the water, and it wasn't even as cold as I had expected.

This isn't from race day, but is a picture of the lake the race happened in.

The Swim - 1500 metres

My main goal for the swim was to stay calm.  After freaking out in my first open water swim triathlon, I knew the key for me this time was to stay out of the pack.  There is a speed advantage to staying with the pack and drafting (which is perfectly legal in the swim), but I have years to learn the techniques.  This race was about conquering the distance, not doing it at certain speed.

So, with that in mind, I started off wide.  Probably much wider then I needed to, but I figured if I still swam a mostly straight line to the first buoy, it wouldn't add too much distance.  When the whistle went off, I got in and started swimming right away.  I didn't have to fight for space at all.  I just had to swim.

I got into a rhythm almost right away.  Breathing every three strokes, sighting every nine.  And, *ahem* regularly swimming crooked and pulling to the left, going even wider.  I corrected it when I sighted, but I just don't seem to be good at swimming straight when there's no lines on the bottom to follow.  

Regardless, I stayed in my own space and just focused on the moment.  Sure, the first buoy started really far away, but that wasn't my goal at the moment.  My goal was just the stroke I was on and the next one that was coming.  I am really pleased with how I handled the swim.  I didn't let the thoughts of the distance overwhelm me.  I didn't freak out.  I held on to the knowledge that a 1500 metre swim is well within my abilities.  I stayed in the moment and did it.

After completing two laps, it was time to head for the swim exit.  When I sighted I could see people standing up at the shore and moving very slowly to get out of the water.  There are a lot of rocks along the shore line, and from swimming out there the previous weekend, I knew the footing was quite difficult.  I swam until my fingers touched the bottom, and then I swam a bit more, bending my arms more then usual underwater.  I actually passed somebody trying to walk at this point.  Then I stood up, and got my usual post swim dizziness.  The guy helping people out of the water warned me that it was rocky and slippery.  I actually got back down and pulled myself forward with my arms as long as I could.  Then I got up, picked my way gingerly over the rocks and got out of the water.

Swim done!

1500 metre swim: 37:42  - I kind of suspect the swim course was short.  That's about the time I'd expect to do it in if I swam a straight 1500 metres.  With how much time I added on swimming wide and sighting poorly, I'm sure I swam a lot more then 1500 metres.


Once I got out of the water and crossed the timing mat, I then had to head up the hill to T1.  I passed a couple people going up the hill because they were walking and I jogged up it while getting my wetsuit down to my waist.  I felt great and given I'd be running 10km later on, I figured a short uphill run wouldn't hurt me.

Then I headed to my spot.  I'd worn booties for the swim (I didn't really need them for warmth, but wore them because of the rocks, since they were legal).  I knew from trying the previous weekend that it was really hard to pull the wetsuit off over them, so I sat down and got the booties off, then I stood up and got my wetsuit off.

I got my socks, bike shoes and helmet on.  Then I took the time to take a gel and a swig of water.  I've gotten better at fueling on the bike, but I tend to slow down a lot to do it, so I figured taking a few extra seconds in transition were worth it.

Then I headed down the row.  I couldn't really run, partly because I was wearing my bike shoes, but mostly because I had to dodge people all the way down the row and got stuck behind somebody that was walking (fairly slowly).  Could have gotten stressed about it, or could just accept it and carry on.  I chose the latter.

I got to the bike exit, passed the dismount line and moved a bit to the side.  I'm not always fast getting on my bike, so I didn't want to block the way.  Unfortunately, a couple other people crossed right behind me but went in front of me to get on their bikes and took even longer to get in their pedals.  Again, out of my control.  I waited for them to get out of the way and then took off.

T1 time: 6:51 - not the fastest, but that is including the run up the hill.

The Bike - 38 km

I have to say, this course was a phenomenal course to race on, and the bike was no exception.  The scenery was amazing and the bike course was fun and challenging.  Having said that, this wasn't a bike course that caters to my strength.  This was a course with very few flats, a few gradual ups and downs and lots of true hills, up and down, with lots of curves.  I've got pretty good stamina on the bike.  I do well on flats and gradual inclines/declines.  I even do reasonably well climbing hills.  I'm not great on the downhills though.  I don't have enough confidence in my bike handling abilities and I get scared of the speed and have a hard time staying off the brakes.  So, I give up completely free speed on some downhills. 

My main goal for the bike was actually to try to stay off the brakes going downhills.  I'd say I partially achieved this one.  I did stay off them more then when I rode the course the previous weekend.  Having said that, my maximum speed was only 49.2 kph (30.6 mph).  That wasn't because of lack of effort, but rather lack of bravery.

Regardless, I LOVED the bike course.  It was 2.5 laps of the Minnewanka loop and then a ride into the town of Banff.  One lane was closed to traffic, so there was lots of room for the cyclists.  I tended to pass people on the uphills and get passed on the downhills.  There was one woman with whom I played cat and mouse the whole bike.  I think we passed each other about 10 times each.  It was all in good spirit though.  The final time I passed her, I told her she could smoke me on the run.  She laughed and said, "not likely!"

When finishing up the first lap, I started getting passed by the fast men.  They started a few minutes before the women, and let's face it, some of them would go on to finish over an hour faster then me, so it was no surprise they were lapping me on the bike course.  Wow!  Some of them were seriously fast!  One of them passed me going up a hill (probably faster then I go on flats).  He tried to encourage me by telling me that it was the last hill and it was downhill from there.  I laughed and told him that I still had another lap.  I don't know how he thought I could have been in front of him, but I didn't mind.  I still had fun with it.

I had a great time with the bike.  There was a lot of camaraderie with the lady who I played cat and mouse with.  The volunteers were all great.  I think I was smiling the whole ride.  When going downhills, I would talk to myself: "no brakes, stay off the brakes, relax, don't touch those brakes..."  I kept my cadence nice and high.  I felt great!

Once I was in town, I went past tonnes of cars.  Man, was traffic ever backed up!  I suspect the tourists weren't loving the fact that the triathlon was going on at this point...

As I approached the end of the bike, I heard Garry (Jen's Mountain Man) yelling encouragement.  (He was working the run route turn around, which I was going by.  Thanks for the lift Garry!

As I came towards the transition, I saw what looked like timing mats.  I thought maybe I had missed the dismount sign, and I slowed way down.  A volunteer told me to stay on my bike.  Not yet!  In hindsight, I think it was just mats of some kind to cover up extension cords that crossed over or something.  (I passed the finishing line at this point.)

Then, I turned a corner, and I could see the dismount line clearly.  I was already going really slow, so I headed towards it.  There were volunteers almost frantically telling me to dismount before the line!  I knew very well where the line was, and I was already going slow.  I wasn't going to get off earlier then I had to!

I reached the line, came to a stop just before it, and got off my bike.  Into transition!

Bike time: 1:24:22


You can just see me heading into transition with my bike.  I'm right next to the arch, on the left hand side.
 I headed into transition and went all the way to the far end since I lost the transition spot lottery.  I tried to run, and did for about half the distance, but I really don't run well in bike shoes.  Heck, my feet don't like me when I run barefoot or in sandals, and bike shoes are much harder to run in.

At this point, my family was there, but I completely missed them, and didn't hear my husband calling my name.  I was trying to have a quick transition.  Helmet off, hat on, change my shoes.  Grab my fuel belt (it was hot, so I decided to run with my own water and gatorade), my garmin off the bike and the wrist strap for my garmin. I was trying to be quick and planned to put my fuel belt and garmin on while I was moving.  Perhaps I should have practiced that...

Coming out of transition, fumbling with my fuel belt and ignoring my family
 T2 time: 1:23 - not bad, considering I had to run through transition in my cleats.

The Run - 10 km

I then started out on the run, and this is where I realized that if I'm going to grab a bunch of things with the intention of putting them on while running, I ought to practice that.  I was holding my garmin, the wrist strap for my garmin, and my fuel belt.  I tried to put on my fuel belt first, but didn't manage to get it secured and almost dropped it.  Then, I decided to get my garmin onto the wrist strap and on my wrist.  I managed, but was pretty fumbly, given I was still holding my fuel belt.  Then I went to put my fuel belt on again, and the detachable pocket came off.  Oops!  Run back a few seconds to grab it again.  I would have saved time by doing it while standing still in transition...

The view along the run path.  Not too shabby!
Then, it was on to the 10 km run.  This is the part I was still a little concerned about.  I can run 10 km, no problem.  My last long run before taper was 18 km, and I handled that with ease.  However, 10 km after the swim and bike?  If I was going to crash due to bad pacing, it would be on the run...

I didn't need to worry.  Were my legs kind of tired and heavy feeling on the run?  Yeah.  They were.  Yet, I felt strong and capable throughout.

My garmin went kind of wacky on me during the run.  I have it set to autolap every kilometer.  It was autolapping and giving me times of about 4:30 per lap.  I knew very well I wasn't going 4:30/km, and the distance wasn't matching up with the kilometer markers anyways.  Maybe the mountains messed with the satellite signals?  I don't really know.

I didn't know how fast I was going, so I just tried to maintain a steady pace and go.  I didn't have a strong goal in mind; I did hope I could run it at least at my usual long run pace of 7:00/km.  Mainly though, I just wanted to run the whole thing.

The route was two loops with a lot of out and backs.  It was great to see the other athletes along the path.  I tend to be chatty during races and offered encouragement a lot along the way.  Early on, it felt like something was poking me in the bottom of the foot.  I ran for a bit, but it didn't stop bothering me.  I considered pushing through it, but figured that 10 km was a long time to run on something that could cause a problem.  I stopped at a bench, took my shoe off (yay for yankz!) and checked.  It was just my sock.  It kind of gets thicker through the arch and that spot was bugging me.  Weird.  I've run in these socks a lot and never had a problem.  In fact, they were my favourite tri socks until this race!

Shoe back on, and back on the trail.  I saw my family this time!  My kids were there at a bench cheering me on, along with my husband.  Yay for the boost!

The run course was almost entirely flat.  The only place where there was a bit of a hill was coming on and off of a bridge that we took across the river.  There were some false flats, but I'm so used to a hillier terrain for my runs, that it didn't even phase me.

This was the first time I've worn my fuel belt for a race.  I'm not sure I would do it for an Oly distance every time, but it was really hot, and I was glad to have it for a few reasons.  Despite the numerous water stations, I suck at drinking out of those little cups.  I always have to either stop and walk to drink, or I spill most of it on myself and don't get any real water.  Yeah, I know, you're supposed to pinch one end and make it funnel-like.  Still not good at it.  I guess I'll have to practice that.

With the fuel belt, I drank when I felt like it.  At most of the water stations, I took a cup and poured it on myself.  That technique kept me mostly comfortable temperature-wise through the run.

Just before the turn around point, I ran past Jen (volunteering on the run route) and got another little boost.  Does anyone else pick up the speed for a minute when someone is cheering for you?  Then I had to run past the finish line to the turn around.  At this point, either headed for the finish line or do another lap.  Since I wasn't doing the sprint distance, I had to do another lap.

This was where Garry was volunteering and he told me he had to send me back.  I tried a little bit of negotiation with him to see if I could go to the finish instead, but he wasn't having it.  Truthfully I did a little self assessment while running past the finish and considered how it would feel to finish at that point.  I had to admit to myself that if I were finishing then, I would feel like I still had a lot in me.

Back to the route.  Some races, it's boring to do the same route twice, but this one was great.  It really is a spectacular course.  I passed my family again and got the boost, did a turn around and saw them again.  Sweetpea was pumping her arms above her head yelling "go Mommy go!  go Mommy go!"  As I approached, Spud asked loudly "you getting tired Mommy?"  I told him that I wasn't tired yet, and I kept going.

Back over the bridge, down the nice little path.  Grabbed more water and dumped it on myself.  This was the final out and back and I saw cat and mouse lady coming back.  We high fived each other as we passed and I said "told you you'd smoke me on the run!"  She laughed and we both ran on. 

I passed a volunteer and told her that if I was doing the sprint distance, I'd have my burger by now.  (This race, you got a great burger after finishing.)  She told me I was almost there and I was still smiling so I was fine.  I was still smiling.  And I was fine.  In fact, I felt great.  I was running strong, and I just kept going.  

Up the "hill" to the bridge and across the bridge.  There was Jen again.  She yelled encouragement.  I had to pass the finish line again, but this time I could head right back to it.  Beejay called from the other side of the street.  This time I saw him and the kids.  I got to the turn around and informed Garry that this time I was heading for the finish. 
In the home stretch
Turned around, and I did head for the finish.  I was already running strong, but I picked it up another notch. I passed Beejay and the kids.  I was almost there.  I almost started to cry, but I was sprinting and I knew it would be hard to cry and breath.  I crossed the finish line.  I had done it!

Run time: 1:01:05
I actually finished in 3:11:21, but the Men's Oly race started 4 minutes before the women, so the clock time reflects their start time.
I did this race with a main goal of finishing, rather then setting a time goal.  Let's be honest though, we all have an idea of the time we *should* be able to finish in.  When I had estimated and added up my times, I'd figured I could probably break 3:30.  I blew that estimate out of the water by almost 20 minutes!  My finishing time was 3:11:21.

I LOVED this race.  Both the course and the experience itself.  I would absolutely do it again.  However, I don't think I would make it my "A" race again.  I hit the weather jackpot, but the weather is just too unpredictable in the mountains at this time of year.  (If you want proof of that, read Jen's report from last year.)  Having said that, I don't expect that an Olympic distance will be my "A" race next year...  Maybe I'll do it just for fun.  :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

One year ago...

One year ago today, I ran my very first race: the Canmore Rocky Mountain 5K.  Reaching the point where I was capable of running, let alone running a solid 5km was a huge accomplishment for me.  That is a finish line that I will always remember crossing.
After completing my first race.  That one was in the mountains too!
Since that time, I have completed one more 5K, two 10Ks, one half marathon, three sprint triathlons, and an Olympic triathlon.  I have been reshaped, not just on the outside, but the inside too.  I am still the same person, but I have a focus and passion that weren't there before.

Running and tri-ing has changed me and redefined me - or rather I have changed myself.  I approach every area of my life with more confidence.  I handle the stresses in my life better, and am learning to balance things in a way I never could before.

One year after running my first 5K race, I ran another 5K in a race, only this time it was after swimming 1500 metres, biking 38km and running the first 5km.  I know you're all waiting for that race report.  ;)  It will come, but not today, I'm afraid.  For now, here's a teaser picture:

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Quick results from the Banff Triathlon

The full race report will come later, but for now, I will simply say that I conquered this Olympic distance while feeling strong, confident and capable.

I did it in 3:11:21.  I had added up my estimated times a couple nights ago and told my husband that I thought I'd probably break 3:30 by a few minutes.  Well, I did, but by more then a few minutes!

Race day! Today is it...

Sorry folks, no pre-race picture this time.  I'm feeling slightly frazzled, and while I have time to double check everything and put up a quick post, I'm not going to take the time to find my camera.

So, today is it.  It's the day I've been training towards all season.  Every other tri I went into knowing the distance should be a piece of cake.  After all, they were all "only" sprints.  I was training towards an Olympic, so I could handle them.  Today, there's no "only" about it.  This is the Olympic.  This is the primary race I've been aiming towards for most of the year.  While the day may come where I use the words "only" and "Olympic distance" in the same sentence, that day is not today.

This morning, I go out there and I trust my training.  I trust my preparation.  And I do this thing!

And since I didn't do my goals yet, and I determined after my last tri that goal setting is really important for me, here we go:


1. Stay calm on the swim.  Race my own race and don't stress about staying with the pack.
2. Don't ride the brakes too much going down hills on my bike.
3. Keep a strong mindset on the run and push through the hard spots.
4. Cross the finish line with a smile on my face.
5. Have fun!

See you all on the other side!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. Early morning drivers are inattentive morons

I run early morning.  I cross a number of streets but only one that frequently has traffic.  When I get to the corner, I stand under the street light.  If I see or hear a car coming, I look in that direction and wait until they are going to stop before I cross.  Or rather, I should say, I wait until they drive by before I cross.

Guess what drivers?!  I still have the right of way even though it's five in the morning.  And don't claim you didn't see me.  I'm wearing a freaking headlamp that I flash in your direction.  So, either you saw me, and didn't stop when you should have, or you are a hazard on the road because you aren't paying attention enough to see someone that is waving a light in your direction.

Yeah, maybe some of them would have stopped if I actually started crossing.  However, some of them might have kept driving.  I'm not quite ready to take my life in my hands just to enforce my right of way.

2. Two days till race day!

I'm getting better at avoiding the pre-race crazies.  I'm just now starting to feel a bit of anxiety creeping in and I'm hoping I can hold it off by getting ultra prepared.  Today, I'm going to give Bella (my bike) a good cleaning, and going over.  I'm also going to get all my gear organized and lay out my transition areas in the basement to make sure I have everything.

The weather forecast is looking great.  The high on Saturday is supposed to be 25c (77f).  It's been warm all week, so the water shouldn't be too cold (it will still be cold, but not brutal like last year).  My heat doesn't start until 10:34, so by the time I get on the bike, it should be nice and warm.  By the time I'm running, it will feel pretty hot, but it's going to be cooler then my last triathlon, so it will all be good!

3. It's a good thing Sweetpea's got some maturing to do before she has her own kids...

Ah, such a sweet girl.  Just playing with her toys.  But, wait...  What is in the bin?  Is that... *gasp*...  Is that a hand?

Oh my goodness!  It is!  It's Baby Bananpants!  Shoved in that cylinder!  Oh no!  Oh my...
Now, for the record, Baby Bananapants is the baby.  She has another much loved "dolly".  She has a couple other babies.  But, Baby Bananapants is the one that she carries around, shoves the soother in the mouth for and kisses good night.  She sometimes says that she is going to grow taller and taller and then she will be a Mommy too.  Let's just say she has some learning to do before she's ready to take care of a "real" baby...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A letter to the lady in the fast lane

Dear lady swimming in the fast lane,

I hope you had a lovely swim today.  I know I enjoyed mine.  Thorncliffe is a nice pool, isn't it?  It's a nice big facility.  The locker room is nice and clean.  They even have babysitting, and it made it so that I could get my swim in during the day.  The pool itself is decent.  Maybe a tiny bit warm, but not bathtub like.  They've got those little ropes dividing the lanes, and those cute signs at the end of the lanes that say "slow", "medium", and "fast".

Fast is such a relative term, isn't it?  I consider myself a great example of this relativity.  I don't generally consider myself a fast swimmer, but in the swims I've done at city pools, I've been the fastest person there.  So, on those days, I'm fast.  At my regular pool, I swim the same speed, but I'm rarely fast.  I'm usually medium, and occasionally slow, depending on who else is swimming that day.

Like I said, fast is relative.

Except when you aren't even relatively fast.

With all due respect, if I lap you every other length of the pool, you are not fast.  If I pass you while doing a kickset with a flutterboard and no flippers, you are not fast.  If my four year old can swim faster then you, you are not fast.

And that's okay.  There is nothing wrong with not being a fast swimmer.  Everybody has different reasons for swimming.  I do it to race, so I am always trying to get faster.  Some people simply enjoy their time in the pool.  Some don't like to get their hair wet.  Some are rehabilitating from an injury.

There is nothing wrong with being a slow swimmer...

Unless you choose to swim in the lane that has the cute little sign with the letters: F - A - S - T.  If you choose to swim in that lane, you should be able to consider yourself fast, at least relatively.

Please enjoy your swims, and please consider the cute little signs in the future.


Deb, a sometimes, relatively fast swimmer

Remember Deb Shrinks? I never finished that journey.

Life is a series of journeys.  Some are short and quick.  Others take years.  Like my ironman quest.  From deciding to do a triathlon to doing an ironman, it will take me four years.  Then there's my weight loss journey, the one that started this blog.  The one that you haven't heard about for ages.  And, the one that is not yet over.

I lost 45 pounds.  That's a great accomplishment, but it's not the end.  I am no longer obese, but I am still overweight.  There are countless things I can now do that I couldn't before, but my weight is still holding me back.

I want to be faster.  I want to keep running until I'm 80 (my chances of that are much better if I take some of the stress off my body now).  I want to climb hills better on my bike.  I want my legs to stop rubbing so much when I run.  I want to like my finishing photos.  I want to wear some of the smaller sized clothes hiding away in my closet.  I want to keep up with my kids.  I want more.

And, to get more, I'm going to have to weigh less.

You know how people say they want to do something and then put it off till tomorrow?  Well, I'm kind of going to do that.  I've got an important race in three days and I'm not going to throw myself into a calorie deficit right before it.  What I am going to do right away is get ready.  Pay attention to what I'm eating and keep it clean.  Get the right foods in my house and the wrong ones out.  Pick some favourite recipes.  Keep myself well hydrated - good for the upcoming race too!

This blog will never go back to being all about weight loss.  I've come to far now, and like I said, I want more.  It will, however, cover the topic again.  I will get myself down to a healthy weight, and then an optimal (for me) racing weight.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Checking out the race site

If you haven't heard yet, I've got a race coming up on Saturday.  It's my "A" race of the season, an Olympic distance.  (1500 metre swim, 38km bike, 10km run).  All my previous triathlons have been sprints, which are about half those distances.

There's a few things about the race venue that have been stressing me out.  First of all, the water temperature is suspect.  Last year was the first year for this race and the weather sucked.  The week leading up to the race, it pissed rain and the water was a chilly 10 - 12c (50-54f), depending who you talked to.  I believe they officially stated it was 12, but a friend who did the race thinks they said that so as not to scare people out of participating.

The next thing I've been worried about is the bike course.  I'm still a bit of a chicken when it comes to descending hills.  This is a very hilly and curvy course, up and down.  I do fine climbing hills, but I'm well aware that I give up all kinds of free time if I hit my brakes on the downhills.  On the other hand, if it's a steep downhill followed by a corner, I don't want to take that at too high a speed...

One of the best ways to deal with worries of the unknown is to make them known.  Then you can either put the worries aside or deal with what they actually are.  So, given Banff is only a 1 hour drive for us, we headed out with my bike and wetsuit.

I'm trying to be a better blogger and take more pictures.  Unfortunately, our camera battery died before more pictures could be taken.  So, just take my word for it that the black figure in the lake is me...

First stop was Two Jack Lake.  I not only had my wetsuit, but I also had a neoprene cap and borrowed booties from Jen.  I've used the wetsuit and cap before, but hadn't swam in booties, so I wanted to try them out.  When we got there, I went to check the water out, and it was relatively warm!  When I say relative, I mean it.  It was still cold, and I think you'd be crazy to swim there without a wetsuit, but it was warmer then the river I swam in with my Uncle spotting; it was warmer then the time I swam in Ghost Lake, and it was warmer then it was the previous weekend when we camped there.

I didn't even need the booties, but I decided to swim with them anyways.  I wanted to find out how it feels to swim in them in case the water gets colder in the next week, which is certainly possible.

So, I went in.  It was still that shocking cold, and it makes it clear to me that I do need to get in the water before the race start.  I got my face wet, and swam a few strokes.  I had to get my head out of the water again to breath a bit and get accustomed to the water.  It probably took my about 3 minutes before I was comfortable, and then I could swim more solidly.

I didn't have anybody spotting me or swimming with me this time, so I didn't swim the actual race course.  I just swam parallel to the shore line while my husband and kids played at the edge of the water.  The water was great!  This lake is really clear.  When they use the word "pristine" in the race description, you'd think it just means "cold", but in this case, it also means "clear".  Granted, it probably won't be when the race happens.

After the swim I got out and took off the wetsuit.  Or tried to.  I tried to pull the wetsuit off over the booties, and that was a mistake because it simply didn't work.  If I'd been in a race yesterday, I would have blown my first transition time.  If I do wear the booties next week, I'll know to take them off first!

Then it was on to the bike.  This is a point to point race, so after I got everything I needed, my family drove to the town of Banff to find a playground.  I rode the Minnewanka loop.  I'd been a bit nervous about the heavy traffic and lack of shoulders, but the speed limit is low there and the drivers were all really good.  It probably helped that there were other cyclists on the road.   On race day, there will be a lane closure, so I don't need to worry at all.

There was a short uphill to get out of the parking, and then it was mostly downhill - into massive headwinds.  Having said that, I found the downhills were not nearly as bad as I feared.  I could always see what was coming, so I had plenty of time to slow down if need be.  Or, if there was an uphill following the down, I could just ride that speed up the other side.

There was only one uphill that required my granniest of gears (I don't actually have a granny gear, since I don't have a triple; I do have a compact crank though).  As I was riding up it, I saw a woman wearing a bike helmet walking up.  There was a man a little ahead of her pushing a bike up.  When I passed, I realized it was a tandem bike, probably rented from somewhere.  I was very grateful in that moment to have Bella, my nice road bike.  I wouldn't even have wanted to do that uphill with my hybrid (though granted, I do have an actual granny gear on my hybrid).

Halfway through the loop, I really had to pee, and stopped at a day use area that was packed with people.  I rolled Bella right into the bathroom and got a dirty look from one lady.  Sorry!  Not going to leave my expensive road bike outside.

Then, I continued the ride.  The views were beautiful.  It's in the midst of the mountains, and that's why I picked this race.  I actually passed a couple other cyclists.  (I rarely pass people training around my town, but that's because everyone that lives in Cochrane seems to already be an ironman.)  I finished the loop,  then rode into town to find my family.  I just did 1.5 loops.  On race day, it will be 2.5, but I mainly wanted to get a feel for the course.

In the end, I found that the water wasn't as cold, the uphills not as hard and the downhills not as scary as I expected.  Given that the goal for the day was to feel more comfortable with the race course, I'd call it a resounding success!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I miss my pool

The pool in my town leaves much to be desired.  It's kind of falling apart, and sometimes it's so gross I just thank god for chlorine.  When you hop in, the water gives you a shock with how cool it is.  The hot tub is frequently closed or the water isn't actually that hot.  There's three showers in the lady's change room, but only one of them works well.  The other ones only turn on for a few seconds before you have to press the button to make it go again.  While they provide some equipment, all the flippers in my size are torn and unusable and the pull buoys have chunks out of them.

Having said that, my pool is a 5 minute drive from my house.  When I walk in, I'm greeted by a friendly face.  I never have to show my pass because the staff knows me and my children.  I have a locker that I usually use, right next to one of the broken ones.  When I enter the pool area, I say hi or briefly chat with the life guard.  Then I hop into the pool, cool at first, but great once I'm warmed up.  I know all of the regulars at the pool.  Some of them I chat with.  Others, I just give a brief nod of hello.  I know how they swim, so I know which ones are good lane partners.  I'm at an in between speed right now.  Some days, I'm fast (compared to others at the pool).  Other days, I'm just a medium speed swimmer (when the truly fast people are there).

Right now, my pool is closed for maintenance.  If I didn't have a triathlon next weekend, I'd just take a few weeks off swimming.  Since I do have a triathlon next weekend, I need to get a couple more swims in.

It seems early September is a popular time for annual pool closures.  When I considered where else to swim, the first 3 pools I looked at were also closed.  So, I headed to Renfrew, meaning a drive into the city, but not even to the edge of the city; it's almost central.

It was a 45 minute drive to get there.  When I went in, the pool staff were nice, but not familiar.  The locker room was in decent shape, and the showers all seemed to work properly.  I headed to the pool area where they actually had speed signs up for the lanes.  (I wish my pool did that!)  I hopped into a medium lane, since I figure that's where I belong.  The temperature was nice and comfortable when I got in, even a little warm.

I started my warm up, and promptly lapped the other guy in my lane.  As I moved onto my kick set, I considered whether I should move up to one of the fast lanes.  I glanced over and saw that I was passing the person in the fast lane next to me.  I was kicking with a flutterboard, no flippers, and I was passing her.  While she should probably move to a slow lane, the other people in the fast lanes were going at similar speeds, so no point in switching.

Before long, I heated up.  Really heated up.  Man, that water was warm!  I caught up with someone in my lane again unexpectedly and accidentally hit his foot.  That's okay!  We were almost at the wall, and tapping toes is the universal sign that you want to pass.  Oh, guess he didn't get it.  He pushed off the wall.  At least the lanes are wide, so I could pass him.  I pushed through my work out in the bath water and got out.  I considered the hot tub, which Keith said is great, but it was super busy, so I skipped it.  I went to the nice clean and functional showers and then left.

I miss my pool.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Swimming Post

After my last triathlon, I promised a post reviewing the swim and why I thought I'd had such a weak swim.  I did the 500 metres about a minute slower then I thought I should have.  I was disappointed in my performance, but rather then wallow in the disappointment, I needed to figure out why I didn't swim well.  The reason was pretty easily identifiable.  It had to do with my training.

I didn't race fast because I didn't train fast.

Simple as that.  I'm going to get into my swim training a bit more, but ultimately, I hadn't done any speed work in the pool since my coached swim course ended early June.  Now, it's not exactly that I decided to leave out speed work; more a fact that I didn't really have a plan going into the pool.  I put in the time, and did lots of drills, but don't really know how to develop a swim training plan.

A bit of background on my swim training:

May 2010: I decided I wanted to do a triathlon.  I didn't know how to swim - at all.
May-June 2010: I did my first adult swimming class.  By the time I finished it, I knew how to do front crawl, but couldn't even finish a full length without stopping for a break.
August 2010: I managed to swim a full 500 metres without taking a break.  I could do it in about 16 minutes.
Oct 2010 - Nov 2010: I took my second adult swimming class.  I theoretically learned side stroke and breast stroke and got a few tips on front crawl.  I could finish 500 metres in about 15.5 minutes.
Fall 2010: I continued to swim three times a week.  My training consisted of nothing but swimming endless laps.  I'd usually do three sets of 500 metres.  By the end of 2010 I could swim 500 metres in about 15 minutes.
Jan 2011: I started the coached program with Angie.  She introduced me to drills and started correcting numerous flaws in my stroke.
Feb 2011: I felt like I swam better but not faster.  I timed myself once on 500 metres, and could do it in about 14.5 minutes.  I decided not to time myself for a while since I was a bit disappointed I hadn't gained more speed.  I continued to use the drills Angie had taught in my own swim workouts as well as the coached sessions.
April/May 2011: Angie started doing speed work in most of the coached sessions.  Early April we did a timed 500 metre swim, which I completed in just over 12 minutes.  I continued to swim 2 additional times a week and do drills during my own swims.
June 2011: The swim session ended.  It was originally going to end in May, but got extended for June.  Unfortunately, we were going away, so I had my last coached swim at the beginning of June.
June 2011 - Aug 2011: I continued to train on my own 3 times a week.  I generally did drills and steady swims.

Hmm, see what changed?

After the swim session ended, I stopped doing the speed work that had been a key part of the coached swim for the last couple months of the session.  Not surprisingly, I slowed down.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to the fact that I didn't have a plan in the pool.  I would go in and pick a few drills to work on.  One part of my technique to focus on, perhaps body roll, or high elbows.  Sometimes keeping my entry wide enough or slipping my hand into the water rather then flipping my wrist up.  All important things.

But, I didn't work on speed.

And, I think that is why my swim suffered in my last triathlon and I slowed down.

Once I realized this, my plan didn't change significantly in preparing for my Olympic triathlon.  I did start doing some faster swims, but with only three weeks between Strathmore and Banff, it wasn't the time to bring in a new plan.  It does make something clear about next season though.

I need a swim plan.  I would love to have a coach.  Ideally, there will be somebody giving me my swim workouts who knows what they are doing and helps me balance technique work, speed work, and endurance work.  I don't know if that's in the budget yet though.  In the absence of a coach, next year's training plan is going to have more then just the minutes I am supposed to swim.

The group coached sessions start again in a few weeks...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Another reason why I run

I don't like cold weather.  I hate feeling cold, and I hate wearing socks all the time.  When the weather turns cold, I just want to curl up with a blanket and hibernate.  I should have been born a bear.

Having said that, running may not change my anti-cold inclinations, but it changes my attitude sometimes.  This morning, I got up and ready for my run.  A long sleeved shirt and pants, since I knew it would be a bit chilly.  Out I went.  I spent about 2 minutes wondering what the heck I was doing outside on this cold drizzly morning.  Much warmer under a blanket.  Then I spent 50 minutes feeling warm and great while I knocked off 8 km (5mi).

Now, I am back inside and blogging while drinking a hot tea.

I am also deciding what to do for the day.  I'm showered, dressed, and ready to go somewhere.  If I hadn't run, I would be grumpy, frumpy and more likely spending the day in pajamas.

My kids are always asking to go out in the rain.  (Mostly because they want to use their umbrellas.)  Maybe today I'll let them do just that.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. My pool is now closed.

There is a seasonal closure every year from the end of August until the third week of September.  Overall, it seems like an okay time of year to do it: kids are back in school and most triathlons are done.  BUT it inconveniences me this year.  With my final triathlon of the season and my "A" race coming up on September 10, I can't go without swimming that long.  Looks like I'll be driving into the city for a few swims, and I'm planning on getting a bit of open water time this weekend.  After Sept 10, I'll take a short break from swimming until it reopens Sept 19.

2. Summer is over?

Yesterday, on August 30, I actually turned the furnace on for a few hours.  How sad is that?  Having said that, today is a much nicer day, and the forecast is looking good for the rest of the week.  The current 14 day trend is showing a sunny high of 21c (70f) and low of 9c (48f) for race day in Banff.  Things can still change, but so far, that looks promising...

3. Want to read an inspirational race report?

Seriously, you should head over and read this one.  Trust me.