Sunday, June 24, 2012

Paying the Piper

First off, my race report is almost complete.  Just need to add some pictures to it and give it a quick proofread.  Should be up tomorrow.  (On a side note, it feels like I'm back in school making excuses for not completing my homework.)

Unfortunately, when it comes to training, this weekend has not quite panned out as planned.  If any of you recall, my son was sick the day before last weekend's race.  I said more then once that I just hoped that I didn't get sick before the race.  I could handle it after, but please not before.

So, I suppose I asked for this...

The past week was mediocre as far as training was concerned.  I got some decent training in, but felt like I was fighting exhaustion all week.  I started thinking we had dodged the bullet and my son probably had food poisoning rather then something contagious.  Then my husband came down sick on Wednesday.  Crap.

Ever the optimist, I carried on ignoring the possibility that I could get it too.  Ignoring the signs.  Then Friday, a day where I was exhausted and tried to use excess coffee to compensate, I arrived home to find that my daughter was sick.  And I knew.  In fact it was so clear to me that I headed out for a quick shopping trip so that I could get it done before I got really sick, since my husband was still kind of sick.

It was time to pay the piper.

So, rather then training all weekend, I spent one night violently ill and two days in bed.  No four hour bike ride.  No swimming, no running.  On the plus side, I had done my long run during the week, so at least that wasn't missed.

Just trying to keep things in perspective.  Trying to remember that a little bit of lost training won't be the end of the world.  Even if I'm lying in bed rather then getting close to my highest training volume of the year.

Because at least I wasn't sick right before my race.

Ironically, I think this is becoming a habit.  I seem to get sick after big races - consistently.  I just need to remind my body that this wasn't the big race, so I'm hoping it will hold off before getting sick again...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Packed and ready to go! I even have a bike.

And it's not my hybrid.  Well, technically, I suppose I still have the hybrid, but it's not coming with me to the race.  Bella, my road bike, is fixed up and good to go.

I've set up my transition area in my basement, and then put it in my bag.  I always do that race eve, just to double check I've got everything.

Tonight was a pre-race meeting and dinner.  The food was good.  The company was good.  I ran into Keith (who is doing the half iron distance) as well as a couple other people I knew.  Truthfully though, it's not my preferred way to spend race eve.  I'd rather be home so that I can wind down earlier and hit the sack.

I'm feeling good about tomorrow.  I went to an open water swim clinic on Thursday and am feeling pretty good about my swim.  Bella's fixed up, so I'm set for the bike course.  And the run?  Well, I like running.  All is good.

This will be my longest race to date!  Yes, it's my second Olympic, but my first one had a 38 km bike route, as opposed to the standard 40 that I'll do tomorrow.  Bring it on baby!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Getting ready for race day - along with some challenges

Did I mention I was racing this weekend?

Oh, alright, I'm racing this weekend.  I'm doing the Chinook Olympic distance triathlon.  Somehow, the same distance race that was my giant goal at the end of last season has become a part of the journey in reaching an even bigger goal in a month and a half.

So, I've had some bike issues lately.  After a routine tune up (during which they changed the chain), my bike started shifting badly.  Then it started shifting worse.  I read some books, got some advice, watched some utube videos and tried to fix the front derailleur myself.  No luck.

I took it back to the bike shop, and even they couldn't get it adjusted for nice shifting.  So, they changed the chain again (back to a shimano, which is what I originally had, as opposed to a sram that they had put on).  She was shifting nicely, until my ride yesterday.

It was a challenging ride with serious headwinds as I rode away from town.  Of course, that meant some serious tail winds coming back.  I was hitting 50km/h (31mi/h) on flat roads.  I came down a hill, and almost came to a stop waiting for traffic to pass (I was turning left, back onto the highway).  Then I started pedalling again.  I shifted from my large chain ring to my small one.

And, my drive train SEIZED up on me.

I couldn't pedal at all, but fortunately had enough momentum to coast into the shoulder and come to a safe stop.  My memory picked up something that I had read at some point, and later googling confirmed it.

Chain suck.

Photo Source
My drive train is cleaner then this one, but it gives you a good idea what it looks like, though mine is a double chain ring, rather then a triple.
Basically, my chain had wrapped itself around the chain ring, rather then disengaging, and had jammed in the front derailleur.

My bike was stuck.

I was about 4 km from home.  Four very short kilometers if I was riding my bike.  Not even so bad if I had running shoes on.  But, in bike shoes, with the potential of walking my bike, that was potentially 4 very long kilometers.

I gently tried to pull the chain out.  No go.  I tried taking the rear wheel off.  I got it a bit off and then couldn't get it back on, or off further.  Crap.  I kept fiddling with it and then just tried to get the wheel back on.  Without the wheel on, it would be way tougher to even walk the bike.  Miraculously, the wheel popped back into place, and somehow, the chain also came free.  Relief!

I rode the bike back home and hoped all was well.  After picking my kids up from school and a playdate, I came home and googled it.  Along with some explanations why, I learned that it could cause damage.  I went down to check how my bike was shifting.  It shifted nicely into the large chain ring, but wouldn't shift back to the small one.  I looked down at the front derailleur.

The broken front derailleur.


My first thought was to fix it myself.  I called around to bunch of bike shops and nobody had the derailleur I needed in stock.  Really?  Shimano 105, clamp on, front derailleur.  Really?

Then I calmed down a bit.  I decided to take it back to the bike shop.  Even though I've had constant issues since my tune up, I decided to let them deal with it.  On the plus side, it means not paying for the part myself.   The downside is it's out of my control.

I was terrified I wouldn't get my bike back in time, but they have assured me it will be ready to ride.  I have a suspicion that they will have to use a different derailleur, but at this late in the game, whatever works, right?

So, with two days to race day, I have no road bike.  Now, on top of that, I also have a sick kid.  Throwing up sick.

I'm desperately hoping that I won't be riding my 15 year old hybrid, while getting sick on the side of the road, Saturday.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Becoming a triathlete - one year later

It's been just over a year since the day I became a triathlete.  Just over a year when I realized how much I believed in myself.  I can pinpoint the moment when the change happened.

Unlike many, I didn't become a triathlete as I crossed the finish line of my first triathlon.  I had done almost everything necessary to earn the title, short of one: I didn't believe it.  I had it in my head that I needed to do an open water triathlon to be worthy of that title (my first triathlon was a pool swim).  Of course, when I did that one, would I then decide that a sprint distance wasn't enough?  What other limits was I prepared to put on myself?

The moment that I became a triathlete came the next day.  It was Monday night, which is the evening of my coached swim sessions.  In the locker room after the swim, Angie (coach) was talking to a couple of us.  When she realized that I'd just completed my first triathlon, she asked me to say four words: "I am a triathlete."

I felt awkward and a bit put on the spot.  Even so, I managed to squeeze out the words.  "I am a triathlete."

But, I wasn't.  Not yet.  Not quite.

The moment I became a triathlete came a few minutes later, all alone, on the drive home.

I tentatively tested the words out again.  "I am a triathlete."

I tried them out again.  Over and over.  Each time with a bit more confidence.

As I drove, I considered the year before.  I thought about the person I was becoming.  How doing something that I once considered impossible had changed me.  Letting go of my limits.  Believing in myself.

"I am a triathlete."

I was still testing the words out.  Each time they became more real to me.

"I am a triathlete."

And, in that moment, the words became true.  In that moment, I believed them.  In that moment that I became a triathlete.

It's easy to think that being a triathlete is all about the physical work.  All about training your body.  The hours spent on the bike, pounding the pavement, moving through the water.  Those things are necessary.  But they aren't what makes you a triathlete.

What made me a triathlete is belief.  Belief in myself.  The changes that have happened to my body are tiny in comparison to the changes that have happened in my head.  Without that belief, I could just be someone that works out a lot.  With it, I am a triathlete.

I am a triathlete.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A message to drivers and cyclists

Drivers and cyclists have to share the road.  And for the most part, both groups are respectful of each other.  But, there are always a few that are jerks.  Then some drivers complain about all those cyclists that take up the whole lane and run lights.  And, the cyclists complain about the drivers that buzz them (pass really closely) and cut them off.

For the cyclists:

It's quite simple, if you're riding a bike on the road, follow the rules of the road.  Don't ever try to take right-of-way when you don't have it.  At stop lights, don't zip over into the crosswalk and ride straight across.  Wait your turn like the rest of the traffic.  Yield to pedestrians when they have the right-of-way.

There's right-of-way, and there's riding smart.  You might have the right to take a full lane, but shouldn't do so unless you need to for safety reasons.  For the most part, you should stay as far right as is safe.  Having said that, it's not smart to put yourself in a position of weaving back and forth.  If there are parked cars along the side of the road, it's generally better to stay in a position to clear them then going between them and back out.  Also, leave enough room so that you won't get doored (have a car door opened into your path).

Whenever possible, signal your intentions.  There's the old fashioned road signals, but it's becoming more common to just point the direction you are planning on going.  It can also be easier for everyone to understand what you are doing.

There's no advantage to pissing drivers off.  When you do have right of way, take it, but always always remember that the motorists may not see you and be cautious enough that you can avoid an accident in those cases.  It doesn't matter if you had the right of the way if you get hit.  You still lose.

For pedestrians on bikes:

By a pedestrian on a bike, I mainly mean you are riding on sidewalks - which is something you shouldn't generally be doing unless you are a child.  Having said that, I will admit to doing it at times with my hybrid bike, when I have the kids in a bike trailer, so I get that there are times it is safer.

So, pedestrian on bike?  You need to act like a pedestrian at intersections.When crossing intersections, you should dismount.  At the very least, you need to slow down a lot.  Drivers are not looking for something going 20km/h in crosswalks.

As well, give right of way to pedestrians on feet.  Let them know when you are passing them and do it at a safe speed.  Always assume that children and pets may be unpredictable and make sudden movements.

For the drivers:

Please pay attention.  Please.  Yes, bikes are smaller and less noticeable then cars, but if you can't notice one on the road, you shouldn't be driving.

Give sufficient passing room.  In many places, the legal requirement is 3 feet.  Keep in mind, that's a minimum.  If it's safe to do so, it is really nice to give more.  If it isn't possible to give 3 feet, you need to slow down and wait for a few seconds until it is safe.

If a cyclist is riding out from the right edge of the road, rather then getting angry, consider there might be a reason.  There may be glass in the shoulder, or perhaps they're about to make a left turn.  Give the benefit of doubt rather then just getting annoyed.

Don't give up your right of way just to be polite.  I know it sounds odd to ask you not to be polite, but when someone on the road gives up their right of way, it just causes confusion.  Last week, while on my bike, I was waiting for a gap in traffic so I could turn left onto a road.  (There were no traffic lights, but I had a stop sign.)  A vehicle coming from one way stopped for me, but it took me a minute to figure out why he was even stopping.  Initially, I thought he was about to turn left without signalling.  Plus, it wasn't safe for me to pull out anyways, because there was still traffic coming from the other way.  Seriously.  Treat us like vehicles, not pedestrians.

If you are turning right at an intersection, don't pass a cyclist immediately before the intersection.  They'll run right into you.

Keep in mind that bikes sometimes go much faster then you expect.  Don't pass just because you think you should always pass cyclists.  When going downhills, cyclists often keep pace with the traffic.  Likewise in lower speed limit zones.  There's a school/playground zone around the corner from my house with a speed limit of 30 km/h (18.6 mi/h).  It's also a little bit downhill, so I am almost always doing at least the speed limit there.  I've had cars that speed up to pass me, but then go slower in front of me then I'm even riding.

For everyone:

My final point is not to generalize the whole group as jerks because you've encountered one.  Yes, there are cyclists that ride 4 wide, take up the road and are generally jerks.  There are also motorists that throw things at cyclists, and pass them close enough that they clip them with their mirrors.  As with any group of people, the existence of one moron does not make the whole group morons.

Disagree with me on any points?  Want to add anything?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The kids' race!

So, a highlight of the day last Sunday (yes, rather behind on blogging right now) was the kids race.  The fact that they had a kids race was one of the reasons I picked this one for my own sprint distance.

Now, just to be clear, I do NOT push my kids to run or do triathlons.  Last year, I didn't even consider enrolling Sweetpea when Spud did his first triathlon.  She wasn't even close to ready.  This year, I did enroll both kids, but registration was only $3 per kid, so if either of them hadn't wanted to, I would have been quite okay with it.  Truth is, I wasn't sure Sweetpea would be ready, but I knew there might be tears if she wasn't given the opportunity when her big brother did it.

Having said that, kids often want to do what their parents do.  Every day, when I pick him up at school, Spud and I have a race to the car.  Sweetpea joins in sometimes and has learned not to get upset when she doesn't finish first (Spud is enough bigger then her that she doesn't stand a chance.)  So, when I asked them if they wanted to do a triathlon, they were both completely into the idea.

The kids in their life jackets, waiting to get started

The swim is one length of the pool, so pretty low key.  Plus, both kids wore life jackets.  Sweetpea was first on the list (they had them listed by age), so we got called up right away.  Spud wasn't long after, in the same wave.  I went over to a lane with Sweetpea, and as I was about to lift her into the water, she had a sudden fit of nervousness and insisted I join her.  Fortunately, I was still wearing my tri clothes under my regular clothes, so I quickly stripped down and hopped in the pool.  Then Sweetpea started to kick her way across.

About a quarter of the way across the pool, she seemed to change from scared to excited.  She started saying "I'm doing it!  I'm doing it!" as she kicked her way along.  I was walking alongside her until we got to the deep end.  I realized that I actually suck at swimming with my head out of the water though.  I switched to swimming on my back, and somehow she kicked herself almost on top of me.  Then we were at the end of the pool.  I got out, pulled her out, and we headed to transition.

Meanwhile, my husband was with Spud.  Also wearing a lifejacket, he blasted across the pool without any nerves.  Apparently he kept looking behind him.  Making sure he was staying ahead of the competition?  Turns out he was, because he was the first in his wave to get out of the pool.  He was also in the first wave, and continues to tell me how he was the first out of the pool.  That kid is competitive...

Then it was out to transition and the bike course.  I carried Sweetpea to her transition spot in a towel and helped her to get dried off.  Her transition was somewhat more involved then mine.  Dry off, put on pants, put on socks, shoes, jacket.  Of course the helmet.  Then walk the bike over to the mount line and go.

I was one of few parents out on the course with Sweetpea.  She did get a bit nervous on the bike, and my husband tells me that Spud did as well.  I know from taking them on bike rides around the neighborhood that they can go fast.  But, I think the combination of riding on the road, surrounded by crowds, and having older kids zipping by made them a bit unsure.  Regardless, they both kept going and finished the bike!

Then it was onto the run.  Spud excels at running, so he was off with Daddy.  The only disadvantage to doing the race with one kid is essentially missing the other kid's race.

Sweetpea got passed by the majority of the field on the bike, so we had the run course almost to ourselves.  She started telling me she was tired at the turn around, but once I held her hand, and she saw the finish line, she was good and running again.  She was the youngest participant that day, and she was the last across the line.  Regardless, as she passed it, with the crowd cheering her on, she started yelling "I win!  I win!"  Yes.  She did.

Crossing the finish line with Mommy.  (I'm planning on buying this picture.  Just have to decide between 3 similar ones.)
 Both kids still talk about the race, even a week later, and took great pride in bringing their medals to show and tell day at school.  The distances were short, but perfect for them.  Above all else, they had fun, which is something us adult triathletes could learn from kids at times.

Monday, June 4, 2012

And the swim groove is back!

So, a couple weeks ago, I posted about how much my swimming was sucking because of all the muscle cramps I was getting.  I'm thrilled to report that things are much improved!

After seeing my doctor, she recommended a magnesium/calcium supplement.  It made a difference almost immediately.  I'm still getting the occasional foot cramp, but nothing compared to what was going on.  No more swim workouts cut short.  Swim confidence is no longer getting sucked down the drain.  No more constantly sore muscles from cramping.

Tonight, I had a solid swim.  While dealing with the cramping, it seemed like I'd lost all feel for the water, but it's come back phenomenally quickly and it almost feels like I've got a bit extra in the deal.  I was almost keeping pace with another triathlete that I admire and used to think of as a super fast swimmer.  I find it almost bizarre to realize that we actually make good lane mates now.

I also swam 100 metres under 2 minutes for the first time in at least a month.  Not only did I do it, but I did it at the end of the workout, when I was already tired.  :)

I'm back baby!

I'll bring my blog back to active status too!  We've been having some computer/laptop issues that have made blogging a challenge, but I have lots to catch up, including my kids race (that post is half written even), run with Sophia and Keith, bike stuff, run stuff, etc.