Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Run in circles, or run in the rain?

The plan yesterday?  Run 18km (11.2mi).  The weather?  Rain.  Ranging from steady to downpour.

I decided that it was as good an opportunity as any to test out my new shoes.  Since it's a different size then my last pair, I wanted to run inside with them so that I could return them if need be.  While I'm perfectly willing to run in the rain, if I'm going to do an indoor run anyways, I'm not going to do it on a day where the weather is beautiful.

Having said that, 18 km is a long ways to run at the track.  Previous experience has taught me that track running gives me aches that I don't get otherwise.  So, I figured I'd do 10 or so at the track and then finish off outside in the rain.

This meant a trip to the track to run in circles.  Now, I don't usually listen to music when I run.  For one, I don't need it, and for another, it's not allowed in triathlons.  May as well train how I'm going to race.  Having said that, the one place where I do use music is at the track, when I'm running alone.

So, I put on my shiny new shoes and turned on my ipod.  I walked a lap to warm up a bit and then started running.  Feeling good.  My toes felt like they had lots of room in these shoes, but they didn't feel too loose.  Actually, they were a bit tight across the top, where I tend to have problems.  I stopped after a couple laps to loosen them.  No problems after that, which is highly unusual for me.  I have almost always had at least mild pain across the top of my right foot no matter how loose I have my laces.

At first I just ran.  I turned up the volume on my music.  I wonder if I was one of those obnoxious people who had the music so loud everyone could hear it?  I was using my garmin to count laps, since I would be useless at keeping track in my head.  After a few laps, I started doing the math to figure out how many I needed to do.  It was 4.3 laps per km, so I figured every 13 laps was 3 kms.  (I somehow forgot about the 0.1 km I'd be losing every 3 km).  I figured I could do either 39 laps for 9 km or 52 laps for 12 km.

Fortunately, at my track, the direction changes every half hour.  So, just at the point where some of muscles started protesting against the continual turns, I'd be turning the other way instead.  I glanced down at my garmin after finishing a lap and realized that I was at 41 laps.  Oops!  Not paying attention.  Oh well, the rain was currently in a hard serious downpour state.  Maybe just as well if I stay inside a little longer.

Truthfully, it didn't become a true battle until I was nearing the end.  I remember looking at my garmin, seeing 47 laps and inwardly groaning that there was still more then a km.  Then when I hit 48, it meant I only had 4 laps left to go.  When I got to the final lap, I gave a bit of a push, and ran it in 59 seconds.  I've never been able to run a lap there in less then a minute, and I wasn't even full out sprinting, so that made me feel good.

I wasn't done yet though.  Time to hit the rain.

I drove home so I had a bit of a break.  (Since I'd be wet, I figured it was better to be at home at the end of the run so that I could shower right away.)  When I got home, I changed my shirt to a long sleeved one, ditched my ipod and went back out.  (I'd already changed shoes at the track.)  I started running right away, since I was warmed up there was no need to walk.

It was raining pretty steadily, but no longer the kind of downpour where the rain drops can actually hurt.  I find that I don't mind it as long as I wear my cap since the brim keeps the water off my face.  I headed straight for the river pathway.

Sometimes, it can be hard to get out in the rain, but I've never struggled with a rainy run once out.  Once warmed up, it feels good and yesterday was no exception.  I could definitely tell that my legs were not fresh, but I wouldn't expect them to be after already running 12 km.  I had a good rhythm going and was a bit faster then I usually am for long runs.  Sadly, no view of the mountains with how cloudy it was, but I was happy with my river, hills, and trees.

The 6 km (3.7mi) I had left went by quickly.  I was running strong and feeling great.  Even though the race I am really looking forward to is my Oly tri, I thought a bit about my next half marathon.  I am going to kill it.  I'm going to be well trained and really comfortable with the distance by the time I get there.

As I was nearing the end of my run, I passed the town's water treatment plant.  There was a guy outside, having a smoke break, who commented "that's what I call dedication".  It may have looked hard, because I know water was pouring off of me, but I didn't really think it was.  When I run in 30c (86f) weather, I think that's dedication.  Or when I run in -30c (-22f), yeah, I've got to be serious.  Running in the rain?  Meh, not so bad.

I picked it up for the home stretch and finished strong.  I still felt great even after running 18 km.  Heck, I probably could have done another 3.1...

So, what about you?  Are you a fair weather runner, or do you get out in anything?  Would you rather do the track (or treadmill) or run in the rain?

I have to say, rain all the way for me.  I actually really enjoy the sensation, and will reserve the track for truly bad weather - or for testing new shoes.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My weekend summed up

Yes, I realize today is Tuesday, so yesterday wasn't really part of the weekend.  However, my husband took yesterday off work so that we could have a long weekend and do a short camping trip on Sunday/Monday.

I have lots of things I could blog about, but just to get myself up to date, I'm going to do this in point form.

1. Saturday, a friend (Caroline) and I went white water rafting.  It was very cool.

2. We had to drive to Golden, BC to do it - a bit more then 3 hours (if you do the speed limit.)  Caroline doesn't do the speed limit in Alberta, but does in BC.  Apparently there is a warrant out for her arrest in BC, so she has to tow the line over there...

3. Prior to white water rafting, we went and found a couple geocaches.  Very neat!  A bit tricky to find one of them, but that's part of the fun of it.

4. The white water rafting was awesome, but not quite as thrilling as I expected.  There were a lot of class 4 rapids, but they didn't last that long.  No pictures.  We got the trip on a good deal by buying a groupon, and the cd with the pictures would have cost more then the trip itself.

5. On the way back, we stopped off to use the bathroom.  There was a super long line up for the women's bathroom and none for the men's.  So, I used the men's bathroom.  Caroline was shocked.  Really?  She's the one that could get arrested if caught in BC and she's shocked that I'm skipping a line up?

6. My kids are fish.  They both did a swim lesson last week.  The last class was Saturday, so hubby took them.  They loved it, though Sweetpea is a fish that only puts her head under water when she feels like it, so she's going to do the first level again.

7. Sunday morning, I did a long ride before we headed out camping.  60 km.  Now, if I start getting pre-race jitters in the next couple weeks, and worry that I can't complete 40, somebody please smack me upside the head.

8. I then proceeded to be useless in the camping preparations while my husband got everything ready to go.  I love that guy.

9. We camped at Two Jack Lake, which is also the location of my Olympic triathlon in two weeks.

10. Spud kept declaring "it's really fun to go camping."  It was nice to see him in his element.  Made me sad that we didn't manage to get out any other time this summer.

11. We didn't bring a single toy and there was no playground at the campground, yet the kids had a blast.

12. I waded into the lake, and it was cold, but no colder then the river I swam in at my uncle's.  I think I can handle it with a wetsuit - even though it will get colder in the next couple weeks.

13. We drove around the bike loop - in the wrong direction!  I kept seeing cyclists and joking that they were going the wrong way.  When we got home, I checked the race map, and it was us going the wrong way.  Good thing I got that straightened out before the race.

14. There's new shoes in our house!  There was a twenty percent off coupon for running room last week, and I was due for new shoes soon anyways. 

15. I wasn't the only one to buy running shoes!  Somebody else in my house is now taking up running!
My old shoes are dirty!  Is it bad that I'm jealous of how colourful hubby's shoes are?
 16. I've gone up half a shoe size.  While running, I've always had trouble with pain across the top of my foot.  Different lacing techniques have helped, but not solved it.  I also have perpetually sore toes, and a partially black toenail.  The staff at the store agreed with my suspicion that my shoes were too small.  I'm hoping the bigger shoe makes a difference.

17. It appears that hubby is a naturally faster runner then me.  I'm going to have to do some speed work so I can delay him beating me too soon.  I've got a headstart on endurance though!  (I'm not competitive.)

18. Despite my competitive side, the part I really like about him running is that I can now share it with him.

19. The day of my triathlon can now be seen in the 14 day weather trend.  Enter obsessive weather checking.  Right now, the forecast is for a sunny day with a high of 17c (63f) and a low of 8c (46f).  It's a bit of a late start (10:00), so if that ends up being the air temperatures, I should be good.  Now the question is, how cold will the water be?  Last year it was about 12c (54f).

20. The weather here this week looks to be a bit dismal.  We've gone from sun and heat to rain and dreary-ness.  Really though, as long as the temperatures stay above freezing, I can't complain.  (But it's still August!)

Alright, that's it for now.  If you've made it all the way through, congrats!

Have you ever used the opposite gender's bathroom?  Would you?  Ever discover you're wearing the wrong size shoes?  Is running (or tri-ing) something you share with your spouse/partner?

*Disclaimer: Caroline only thinks she *might* have a warrant for her arrest because of an unpaid traffic ticket.  I'm not hanging out with a really hardcore criminal.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The perfect swim

Last night I was at the pool.  I was doing an interval swim and working on a fast 100.  All of the sudden it happened.

All of a sudden I was just gliding through the water.  I could feel it all around me and instinctively knew the perfect way to grab it.  I was rolling from the hips instead of trying to use my kick to aid the roll.  Suddenly I got what Angie meant when she'd talk about using your core.  I knew it before, but I hadn't got it.

It seemed effortless, but I could feel I was going faster, and I was.  It was like my body just knew what to do and was doing it, perfectly, effortlessly.  Stroke, glide, stroke, glide...

I wonder if I will ever get that feeling back again?  I have a feeling it's like a runner's high.  Now that I know it exists, I'll always look for it, but it will only be there on the very rare occasion.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Three things Thursday

1. This morning when my 5:00 am alarm went off, the lyrics that came blasting out from the radio were: "run! as fast as you can..."  Kind of cool considering that alarm was to wake me up for a run.  You CAN'T go back to sleep when you get a sign like that.

2. Has anyone else been having trouble with your blog updating on blogrolls and in readers?  Lately, I've noticed a lot my posts haven't been showing up, and when they do it's a good half day later.  I actually first noticed it when I was on someone's blog and thought they'd taken me off their blog roll.  They hadn't; I was just way down the list because it wasn't showing my last post.

3. I think I may have started the pre-race crazies for my Oly tri and it's still 2.5 weeks away.  Yesterday, I was freaking out that I'm undertrained and can't do the distance - which is baloney.  I've done more mileage then a lot of Oly plans call for.  I'll be fine.  I just need to remember that and hold it together for the last couple weeks of training.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


My first couple races, I tried to find meaning in my race numbers.  Now, some of you are really good at that.  Me?  Not so much.  I would try to come up with something, and then after the first couple races decided that the number is just that, a number for the organizers to identify and keep track of me.

When I picked up my package for this race though, the number was 255.  Immediately, my mind went: "that means something".  I couldn't figure it out though.  Was it a number that actually had meaning to me, or was it just my mind trying to find meaning in the number again, even though I gave up that hobby?  I tried to brush it off, but whenever I thought about my number, or glanced at my bib, my mind kept reminding me that there was meaning there.

It wasn't until after I finished the race that it came to me.  I was sitting with my family, refueling in the shade when my husband mentioned "it's neat that your number is 255, because that's the maximum number of bytes you can have."  (I'm probably not getting the quote right, but it was some dorky computer thing.)

Then it hit me.  I knew exactly what 255 was.  And no, it had nothing to do with bytes or computers.

255 is the highest number of pounds I have ever weighed (excluding pregnancy and a couple weeks following).  I can even tell you the month that I hit that weight: June of 2006.

I'd had a rough year and I was at one of my lowest points ever.  I had worked 2 jobs to put my husband through school.  I was coming to the realization that my "dream job" was a nightmare.  In 10 months I went from 190 pounds to 255.  Serving tables combined with obesity had taken a toll on me and I had some injuries that wouldn't go away.  I conceived and lost my first baby.

And, somehow in that haze of sadness and depression came a light.  A new job.  Another positive pregnancy test.  Entry into a new phase of my life in which I changed and grew.  And 255 defined me no more.

On Sunday, I carried 255.  I now weigh almost 60 pounds less then that.  I'm in another phase of my life filled with change and growth.  I'm finding myself and figuring out who I am.  Does 255 define me?  Well, it did.  For a few hours.  As a way for the race organizers to identify and keep track of me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Some observations and lessons learned from my last triathlon

So, even though I didn't set goals for my Strathmore tri, I did learn some things from it.  In no particular order:

1. I need to set goals when I race.  Otherwise, I may as well save the entry fee and just train.  Goals don't have to be time oriented, but having them gives me extra motivation and purpose for the day.

2. I need to approach my swim training differently.  I've promised a separate post on why I felt my swim was weak, and I'll get to it.  However, I will say now that I think the main problem is related to how I trained.

3. I think I may have found the sweet spot for how hard to go on the bike.  I pushed myself on the bike, and definitely worked my legs.  I still had a decent amount left for the run - even if I didn't fully deliver on it.

4. Never underestimate your mental state.  I went into this race thinking it was going to be really hot and that would make the run really challenging.  Guess what?  It was really hot and it made the run a challenge.  Perhaps, I should have gone in with a plan for the heat and seen what I could do with it.  Methinks I sort of psyched myself out on this one.

5. I think I actually prefer races with open water swims.  Yeah, the only race I've done with an open water swim was the one I panicked on, but let's forget about that for a minute.  The thing is, when everyone starts together, it feels more like a race.  I like when it feels like a race.  I like pinpointing someone ahead of me and making an effort to pass them.  Now, I certainly get passed myself, but I even like that.  When the field is completely spread out (like in a pool swim), it just doesn't feel as much like a competition.  And, even if I don't expect to place, I still want to compete.

6. I can run faster.  I just didn't.  Again, mental.

7. None of the (3) races of done so far have body marked the age group.  What's up with that?

8. I like medals.

Strathmore women's triathlon race report

Alright, where to start...

This race was my third triathlon and a sprint distance.  When I signed up for it, I was really excited.  It had a reputation for being a really fun race, and I love racing.  It meant that I got one race each month from June - Sept, which was pretty cool.

In the weeks leading up to it, the excitement waned somewhat.  As I get closer to my Banff Olympic triathlon, I'm realizing just how crucial it is to keep up with my training, specifically the long runs and rides.  It was going to make it tough to get those in on a race weekend, and tapering?  No way.  Only three weeks out from my "a" race, I can't afford to taper for another one.

Having said all that, I think my biggest mistake going into this triathlon was not setting goals.  I don't mean time goals, as I think it can be good to set goals that are not time related.  I didn't even do that.  I didn't set a goal to have fun, or to nail the swim, push on the run.  None of that.  Heck, even a goal of looking good for pictures might have helped.

The race day started nice and early.  I like to get snag a good spot in transition.  Close to the bike exit.  That way I minimize the time running in my bike shoes.  I know it means I'm on the far end from the run exit, but running shoes are designed to run in.  Bike shoes, not so much.

There was a pre-race meeting at 8:00, which was supposed to be mandatory.  Deanna (the race organizer) went over some basic guidelines and rules.  She also let us know that there was fresh roadkill (a coyote) on the bike course which would hopefully be cleaned up before we got there.

Then, it was time to wait.  My heat wasn't supposed to be until 11:00, so I had some time to kill.  My husband and kids were coming later in the second car, which makes all our lives much easier.

I went over and watched the first couple heats.  The relay swimmers went first, and some of them were FAST.  Not surprising, since I would assume, if they are doing the relay, they would pick their strengths.  The next swimmers were the 20 minute plus swimmers (500 metres).  There was a huge mix of strokes going on.   I watched for a bit, and then headed outside.

It turned out they were running ahead of time, and they were calling for my heat at around 10:30.  I headed in right away.  I wanted to line up near the front, since I expected to be one of the slower ones of the heat.  The heat was for 10-12 minute swimmers, and I have done 500 metres in about 11:45 quite a few times in training.

I quickly observed that where I lined up would make little difference.  With 6 lanes, and a continuous feed system, you were going to be swimming with people the heat ahead of you, and by the time you finished people from the heat behind would probably be sharing your lane.  I was pretty much on with that assessment.

The Swim

When I got to the front of the line, I headed over to my lane, then jumped in, right behind someone else.  (The time starts when you cross the timing mat, so no point in waiting.)  I pushed off, and caught up with her immediately.  I had to slow right down, then when I was about halfway down the length, both of the other swimmers in the lane (there were four per lane) had passed, so I was able to move over safely and pass her.

Then I tried to concentrate on getting into my rhythm and totally missed the boat.  Somehow, I just wasn't feeling the water.  I probably had 3 laps where there was nobody around me, so I had no excuse.  I just wasn't there, and I felt awkward and clumsy in the water.

Soon after that, faster swimmers seemed to join the lane.  I was being regularly passed.  I made one attempt to draft, but they were too much faster then me for it to be a possibility so I just went back to trying to get back into my rhythm.  (not too successfully)

Before long (because even when you feel clumsy, 500 metres isn't that long a swim), the lap counter put in the flutterboard to signal I had one lap left (amazingly I'd managed to count correctly this time, so already knew it).  I went there and back, and got out.

Swim time: 13:17 - even including 30 or so seconds to walk to my lane and walk out of the pool building, it's a good minute over the time I could have posted.  I have some thoughts on reasons, but that will be a whole other post...


I headed out the doors to transition and jogged down the carpeted area, then to my spot in transition.  Unlike my first two triathlons, I wasn't feeling too dizzy or disoriented from the swim, so I had no trouble finding my spot.  I was relatively efficient, though I felt like it took way too long to put my garmin on.  I'm hoping to have a bike mount before my next tri, so that should make it quicker, and I can secure it to my actual wrist while running out of T2.

Time: Messed up my garmin a bit, but have an accurate bike split on it.  T1 and T2 combined were 3:15, about 2:20 I would say was T1.

The Bike

The bike was the part that I felt really good about.  The course was a perfect one for someone like me - lacking confidence in taking corners and downhills quickly.  (For the record, I'm not so bad as to be a hazard, but I give up a lot of free speed in those situations.)  It was a bit of a mentally difficult course, since it was a gradual downhill most of the way out, with some steeper sections (though nothing I was tempted to brake on).  That means on the way back, it was a gradual uphill most of the way, with some steeper sections.  I prefer to get hills out of the way early in a ride, and have an easier time on the way back.  ;)

I pushed myself fairly hard.  I haven't yet been able to burn myself out on the bike.  I knew I ran the risk of it affecting my run, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to see how hard I could go.  On the way out, I was going close to 40 km/h for a good part of the time.  I passed 2 people early on, but then the road was clear and I didn't see anyone ahead of me.  When I reached the turn around, I could see why.  The next closest person was about 2km ahead of me.

I decided I wanted to try to pass that person so I pushed on the way back.  (not really fair, since she was on a mountain bike, and I was riding Bella).  I wasn't going nearly as fast since I was now going uphill, but I knew the course would effect everyone the same way, so I wasn't worried.  Truly, even if I didn't catch up, I wasn't worried; it just gave me something to push for.

I didn't get passed at all before the turn around, but did get passed three times on the way back.  (not surprising, since the people starting after me were all faster swimmers, so some of them would obviously be faster cyclists as well.  One of the people that passed me was also from Cochrane and we had a 10 second conversation while she passed.

With about 2 km to go, I caught up to the woman on the mountain bike.  She looked like she was in way too high a gear and was struggling.  I was glad for her sake that the bike was almost done.

Then, I was in the home stretch, and thankfully, the home stretch was not uphill.  I rode in, dismounted and headed into transition.  I'd pushed hard, but still felt good.

Bike time: 41:37 (official time was 44:52, including both transitions).


T2 was quick and efficient.  I wasted a tiny bit of time by dumping my second bike bottle over my head.  It was a HOT day, so I figured a few seconds to cool down would help a bit.

Time: a bit under a minute.  Could have racked my bike a bit faster, but overall, a good time.

The Run

The run part of this race was a challenge, and a good reminder to respect the distance, even when it's "short".

Right off the bat, I felt like walking.  Seriously.  I was less then a kilometer in, and my mind said: "this is hard.  It would feel good to walk.  There's lots of people walking."

It's true.  There were a lot of people walking.  That was about the point where my bike bottle cool down was wearing off and it was HOT.  I didn't walk though.  Don't get me wrong, it's fine to walk if you need to.  I didn't need to.

The run had a similar quality to the bike, gradual downhill on the way out, gradual uphill on the way back.  This time, I didn't mind though.  I was in kind of rough shape starting off the run, but by the time I was really going up, it was the final push.

There was one water station, but since it was an out and back, you hit it twice.  This was the one point in the course where I did walk.  Most races have paper cups that you can kind of pinch to make them easier to drink.  These ones were plastic and I couldn't manage to drink out of them while running.  In hindsight, I had hydrated well on the bike, so I probably could have gone without drinking on the run and just dumped them over my head instead.

Just before the turn around was a house with a hose.  Man that felt good!  Too bad it wore off quick.  My pace wasn't as good as I would have liked.  I didn't feel like I was working that hard, but my breathing was really heavy.  I just wanted some shade, or some breeze, or rainstorm.

Before long, I was getting close to the end.  The runners coming the other way were all looking very strong (and some of them probably were the strongest runners of the day because of how the heats worked.)  As I passed one of them, she said "the faster you run, the faster you're done".  That gave me an extra push and I picked up the pace a bit.  As I approached the finish line, I started my sprint and then saw my family.  I tried to give high fives on the way past, but my kids are 3 and 4, not the most coordinated, so I actually ended up coming to a near stop - 50 metres from the finish line (doh!).

After that brief stop, I had renewed energy and finished strong.

Run time: 30:01.  Yes, that's right.  1 second above sub-thirty.  Plenty of ways I could have gotten that second...

Overall time: 1:28:08  20/50 in my age group, and 61/250 overall.  A good bike split, but otherwise nothing too impressive, nothing too bad.

Some lessons learned from this race, but since this report has ended up long, they'll be saved for tomorrow.  :)
Post race, found some shade and about to munch on a bagel

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Race day in Strathmore!

Up bright and early to head out to Strathmore and my race!   Wish me luck!

*It looks like I'm not wearing a shirt under my jacket, but trust me, I am.  I just don't want to take the time to get another picture to prove it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I'm Canadian. I don't do heat...

Where I live, in Cochrane, Alberta, 25c (77f) is a hot summer day.  We only get a handful of those, and those are usually days where I make an effort to get out early in the day for runs or rides.  Yes, those of you from the warm States can consider me a wimp, but in my defense, I run in cold weather.  Cold enough weather to use vaseline on any exposed skin.

So, I'm racing on Sunday.  It's a sprint triathlon with a pool swim.  I signed up for this race mainly for fun.  Now that the race is a few days away, the weather forecast is fairly reliable.  A high of 31c (88f).  Plus, since it's a pool triathlon, the starts are in heats.  I recently sent an email to change my swim time (yay!  I'm a much faster swimmer then when I registered initially.)  With that change, it means that my heat will be at about 11:00.  So, yeah, I'm doing the bike and run at the HOTTEST time of the day.

Yeah, I'm a wimp.  I have never run in temperatures that high...  Good thing I don't have a goal time for this race.

What are your strategies for dealing with the heat?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Three things Thursday - Swim, bike run

1. I went swimming across a river yesterday.

Initially I referred to it as a lake, but my aunt corrected me. It's the wide part of a river because it's just before a dam, but a river nonetheless. My aunt and uncle live on it, so my uncle took me out with his canoe. (There is boat traffic there, and they wouldn't expect a swimmer, so not too safe otherwise.)

It was great. I have limited open water experience, and getting more is going to be one key to being successful in the banff triathlon.

A couple observations:

I'm still not great at siting, but I'm getting better. When I swam with a group at ghost lake, I criss crossed a lot. This time, I still kept going off in one direction, but sited enough to fix it.

I feel better about swimming distances now. When I did the Chestermere tri, the first thing I thought was "wow, those bouys are far away". I thought the same thing when I looked at the opposite shore line. (My uncle figures it's about 400 metres.) Actually swimming, I realized it wasn't that far. Mentally, it's a huge benefit for me to see these distances and stop freaking out about them.

2. One thing this week has been great for is my biking.

With the kids in daycamp, I'm able to get rides in during the day, on my road bike. No resorting to doing them with my hybrid and chariot, or the trainer. It's a good feeling. I do what I need to normally, but it's nice to hit the open road.

3. I checked out a running track yesterday.

I've been really debating speed work. I know I can go faster then I do, and am considering bringing some speed work in after my Oly tri. One good way to do that is on a running track, so the kids and I drove over to one of the town's high school's to take a look.

Spud was very excited about it and wanted to race. Sweetpea was being grumpy and wasn't quite as excited. I was just glad it was there. Whether I use it regularly or not, it gives me options. It's much bigger then the indoor track in town (and more free). It also occured to me that this could be a way of getting in runs on occasion with the kids around. I could bring some outdoor toys and let them play in the middle while I run the track...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Trigger pulled

In reference to yesterday's post, you all knew I would do it right? That's what I love about the blogosphere. I knew it was a step I needed to take. Posting my hesitation publicly means I'll get the encouragement to follow through, and you all didn't disappoint. :) Thanks.

So, I'm signed up for the last chance half marathon in Calgary, on November 13.

Keith, thanks for the suggestion of Fernie, but it's only three weeks after my Oly triathlon (this year's "a" race). I want up to a week to be lazy after the tri and then plenty of time to build mileage before the half marathon. I will keep it in mind for future years though.

Does anyone else have a list of races that they would like to do eventually, but for whatever reason haven't managed to fit in yet?

This week is looking good, and it's easy to fit my training in. With the kids at half day daycamp, I can get all my bikes and runs in during that day. I only have to fit my swims in elsewhere (since there is no lane swim during the time they're at day camp). I'm also getting at least one lake swim in this week, at a cold lake, which will help prepare me for the cold lake swim I'm doing in September...

So, I'm feeling good. I'm doing another sprint (pool) triathlon this weekend. No taper for it, since it's too close to my Oly. But, I'm hoping to have fun and maybe iron out some of my transition and pacing kinks.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Do I pull the trigger?

Right now, I am sitting at the computer deciding whether to pull the trigger on a half marathon registration.

My last (and only) half mary was not superb. It was actually kind of brutal. I can chalk it up to constant sickness in the months before - causing me to miss a few long runs. I can chalk it up to horrible weather conditions. I can be proud of simply finishing - and I am. But...

But, I want to be proud of the outcome and the execution. I don't want to feel like I was defeated.

I want to do a half ironman next summer, and a half marathon is only part of that.

Given my primary goals of triathlons, this pushes running only races into the shoulder season, so I'm looking at November...

I want a redemption race.

I ran 16 km (10 mi) this morning. With three months to go till the half mary (two of which are after my "a" race triathlon), I can have very solid running mileage by then...

Why do I hesitate? Why don't I put my money where my mouth is and sign up for this race before it sells out?

Set the standard now

Yesterday marked Sweetpea's third birthday. Around here, three years old marks something else: the age when kids are old enough to attend unparented activities. So, for the first time ever, I was dropping both kids off at a daycamp for a 2.5 hour time period.

Now, I live in a small town. That means you get to know people. It's rare to take my kids to the pool or park without seeing someone we know. The kids in this daycamp will be some of the same kids mine go to school with, play soccer with, or do dance class with for years.

This means that the mothers will be the same ones that I see for the next 15 or so years as well. As it is, I already knew about half of them. Now, this means that I need to keep up appearances. I can't go to the grocery store in my pajamas, because I will see somebody I know. Likewise, I have to be aware of my public image every time I go somewhere in town or take my kids to activities.

So, I brought my kids into daycamp. I had a freshly done ponytail, and was wearing a cute running skirt and my running shoes with fancy bright yankz on them.

I picked them up a couple hours later. I was unshowered, stinky, and dripping sweat...

I don't think I can handle an expectation of being manicured and styled for 15 years. :) Like I said, set the standard now.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Sweetpea!

Today, my baby turns three years old.

Yesterday, we had a small party for her. I am simultaneously amazed with how old she seems, yet how little she still is.This little girl took the world by storm. Three years ago today she came into it, fast and furious. She continues to take on her world in the same fashion. She charms everyone she meets with smiles and hugs. She holds her own with her big brother and doesn't let herself get pushed around. She talks up a storm and rarely stops.

I wouldn't change her for the world.

Happy Birthday Sweetpea! (Oh, and stop growing up so fast.)

Friday, August 12, 2011

What do you watch while working out?

Yesterday, I had my first indoor workout in a while (aside from the pool of course). This time of year, I pretty much do all my runs and rides outside. However, I really needed to get a ride in last night. It was raining and thunderstorming. I probably could have gone out anyways, but my chance didn't come until after the kids were in bed. Add impending darkness onto the weather = indoor trainer ride.

Now, when I ride the trainer, I pretty much always watch tv. Occasionally, I do it while I'm home on my own with the kids. Then, I have to choose between a fan and the tv, so that I can still hear if they get into something. Even then I choose the tv. Sweat pours off of me without the fan, but at least I'm not bored. Last night, I had the benefit of a children in bed and a husband at home, so I didn't have to choose.

I took a quick look at what was on, and saw wipeout was showing. Sweet! It's one of those shows that keeps me entertained without too much investment of brain cells. Perfect for the trainer! (We don't have one of those fancy dvrs, so I'm limited to what is actually showing, what I can watch online, or what we have on dvd.)

Another favourite that I've watched is Mantracker. It's fun to watch while I pedal away and helps me keep my cadence high while I watch mantracker try to catch the prey.

What do you watch when stuck on the trainer (or while using any stationary exercise machine)?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Three things Thursday

1. Never underestimate the effect your example has on your children

Neither my husband or I wear a watch anymore. You can get the time from your cell phone, car clock, computer, etc. For our recent backpacking trip though, we needed one, so I went and bought a cheap watch.

When Sweetpea saw it, she got very excited. She declared "a little running watch! For me!" (The only watch she's probably ever noticed is my garmin.) She then proceeded to put it on and ran around the house with her "running watch".

Sometimes we don't think our kids notice what we do, but they do notice. Believe me, they notice far more then we realize. They are sure to repeat something embarrassing in front of a group of people at some point, but for the time being, I'll enjoy seeing it when the things they notice and repeat are positive things.

2. Practice makes perfect (or at least better)

Since my recent bike fitting (where my saddle got raised a fair bit), I've had renewed nervousness about clipping and unclipping. Previously, I would unclip both feet and touch down on both sides. Doing so made me feel secure in the knowledge that I wouldn't fall over. Since having my saddle raised, I couldn't do that without being on my very tiptoes (like a ballerina en point) and tottering side to side. Probably comical to watch, but not so fun to do.

When I was leaving for my last ride, I realized that I had a fair bit of anxiety about getting out of town. There are three intersections I need to go through to get out of town, and one of them can be busy, and tough to make the left turn.

So, rather then heading right out for my ride, I rode around my subdivision, stopping, unclipping, clipping back in. Rinse. Repeat. I found it easier to get down out of the saddle and back into it then I though. Perhaps because it's now a necessity. Once I took off for the actual ride, it was with more confidence that I could manage the intersections.

3. More feedback at the pool

One of the ironmen at the pool is in the process of getting certified to coach. I think she's noticed me as someone she can practice on: I'm serious about swimming, but still have plenty of technique flaws that could use correction. I don't mind at all; I've noticed her as someone that knows what she's doing, after all. Yesterday, she gave me feedback on my kick. I'm bending my knees too much again, causing my hips to sink and my body to drag.

So, she gave me some tips on it, and watched me kick a set and then swim a set with more focus on the kick. I felt a huge difference. Now, I know that my kick usually sucks, and I have to admit that I don't love kicking. I also know that I need to work on it. Yeah, triathletes need to save their legs for the bike and run, but that's no excuse for lazy form. Especially when that lazy form causes drag.

She even gave me her workout card and suggested I try it. Now, I had noticed how many kicksets she was doing during that particular workout. In fact, the thought had occurred to me, "Man, that's a lot of kicking! That must suck." I don't have to do it, of course. I don't currently have a coach, so I set all my own workouts. I will do it though. I know it's good for me. (I guess it would be cheating to put flippers on for the kicksets?)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Feeling the running rhythm and hanging with the cool kids

I got out for an early morning run today. 8km (5mi) at a nice steady pace. Lately I've been having a harder time getting into my runs. I still like them. I still get out the door to do them. I just haven't been getting into the rhythm. I rarely run with music, because I like to hear my footsteps, and be fully aware of my surroundings. I've been reconsidering it though, because sometimes I feel like I could use the distraction.

Today was different. Today I got out there, did my usual short walk to warm up, and then started running. I generally make a point of running easy for the first kilometer. Once I was through that, I just ran. It was one of those perfect runs. I didn't set any records or anything, but I felt great. Easy, but not too easy. None of those mind games I have to play with myself to keep me running.

It was over too quickly. In fact, if it wasn't for the fact that I need to be back by 6:15 (so my husband can go to work), I probably would have thrown an extra kilometer in there just for fun. If only I hadn't dallied so much after my alarm went off, I could have...

On another note, I had a good swim Monday evening. I chatted a bit with a couple of the triathletes (ironmen, to be specific) in the pool. Sometimes, I feel like they're the cool kids at school, but they let me swim in their lane with them and even give me the occasional tip - be it swimming technique or advice on local races.

In reality, I recognize that they are simply a few years ahead of me in this sport. I enjoy talking to them and hearing about their experiences because I know I can learn a lot from them. I wonder if they'll ever realize how much of an inspiration they are to me?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Enjoy the journey - Annual backpacking trip

This weekend was our sixth anniversary. For the second year in a row, we were able to go backpacking. (We used to go a lot pre-kids, but pregnancy and babies made that overly challenging for a few years...) When I talk about backpacking, I don't mean the type you do when you go through Europe staying in Hostels. Rather, I'm talking about the kind of backpacking where you strap a 50 pound pack on your back, and hike to your campsite.

We started our day early, but with a two hour drive first, we still weren't hitting the trail till almost 9:00. (We got up at 5:00 am though, so I'm not really sure what happened to the other two hours...) This year, we were heading into Yoho National park. Our main hiking plans included the iceline trail and the whaleback trail, sections we'd never hiked before.

This plan involved quite a bit of elevation, and it was right from the start. I was happy to find that I had more stamina for it then I expected. A few years ago, hiking with this kind of elevation gain had me gasping for air at every switchback. Now, it still takes an effort, but it's an effort that I'm easily capable of.

The thing is though, sometimes you need to stop and look around you. Sometimes you need to stop and look back at how far you have come. Sometimes you need to take a moment and enjoy the scenery.

While hiking, it occurred to me that in many ways this is like my journey into triathlon. I have big plans and big goals, and sometimes, I spend so much of my energy looking forward, rather then enjoying the part of the journey that I am on. In our backpacking trip, we had destinations to get to, but if we had spent all our energy worrying about that, look at what we would have missed along the way...

Don't forget to enjoy the journey. The destination might be great, but the views along the way are worth stopping for once in a while.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Six years

Six years ago was my wedding day. (Technically 6 years and 2 days, but on our actual anniversary, we were in a tent a full day's hike away from a trailhead and any technology.)

During our trip, I was reminded of all the reasons I married this man. For all the ways that he is like me: our shared interests and opinions. For all the ways that he is unlike me: he balances me. He is there with me through every difficult situation. He often knows what my needs are before I do. I have changed in the time we have been together, and I wouldn't be the woman I have become without his unwavering support.

We've had good times and bad in the last six years and I wouldn't trade a moment of it for anything. My journey into the triathlon world wouldn't be possible without him. While I change many other parts of my life, there is one thing that remains constant and will continue to be so.

Six years. One day it will be sixty.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Three things Thursday

1. I'm currently getting ready for our annual backpacking trip!

Tomorrow morning, my husband and I are leaving the kids behind with their grandparents. Then we're driving into the rockies, and hiking away from civilization for three days. I'm super excited. We're doing the iceline and whaleback trails in Yoho, which should be pretty amazing.

2. I'm really considering a race next year that has 70.3 in the name...

This past weekend, the Calgary 70.3 race came through town. I felt so much excitement in the lead up to it. Two weeks ago, I joined a swim and bike group where most of the triathletes were doing the race. I talked to a couple people at the pool. Then, yesterday, I noticed that the local paper published the names of all the Cochrane triathletes that participated. I think I should get my name in the paper next year...

3. I have concluded that my bike shorts suck.

Despite my new bike fit, I wasn't super comfortable on my last bike ride. The reason? My bike shorts. They're just $40 shorts from MEC, and I think this is a good example of "you get what you pay for". My tri shorts are way more comfortable to ride in, and that's considering they have minimal padding.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Some Q & A - The A part....

So, I went and posted an invitation to ask me questions, but then I didn't get back to answering them in a timely matter. My apologies. I am a bad blogger, but in my defense, the weather has been beautiful, and I've been outside instead. :)

Without further ado:

Leigh from All You Need is Love asked me:

What got you into racing whether it be running or triathlons?

One day, I decided I wanted to do something beyond the mediocre. I needed to set a goal that would be a challenge to complete and I didn't know if I could reach it. That was the start of running, the beginning of learning how to swim, and realizing that the expression "just like riding a bike" over simplified things. Even though it took me many months to change the name of the blog (it used to be Deb Shrinks), that was the day that my blog ceased to just be a diet blog.

What has been your greatest race and race experience so far?

Without a doubt, my greatest race and race experience has been Chestermere triathlon. (Race report part 1, part 2.) Yes, the swim was brutally difficult to get through (mentally), but the feeling of achieving it was like no other. That day I felt on top of the world, and like I could achieve anything. No matter how many years go by, I will still remember this triathlon.

Keith, from Keith's Odyssey to Planet Fitness failed to ask me a question. Instead, he gave me a little dose of SIUB (suck it up buttercup) in regards to my whining about the messy wetsuit patch. Every triathlete needs some SIUB once in a while. Thanks Keith! ;)

Michelle, from Miles for Breakfast asked me:

What is the one thing you find most annoying on a blog?

Music. I don't care if it's music I like. I don't care if it's my favourite song. When I open a new browser window and it's suddenly blasting music, I'm more likely to close it to make the music stop then read that blog. Sorry, but if I want to listen to music while I'm blogging, I'll pick my own.

Joe, from Rock Star Tri asked me:

How does your winter impact your training?

I've only been through one winter since I started training. I ran on one of the coldest days of the year, and got little ice globules on my eyelashes. You truly can run in pretty much any temperature. Swimming through the winter goes on like usually - at the pool of course. Last winter, my biking did suffer significantly over the winter. I didn't have a trainer until December, and didn't use it as much as I should have. Until recently, I undervalued the importance of getting strong on the bike, as I was most concerned about getting my running and swimming up to par. This winter, I'll keep things more balanced and the trainer will get a workout too.

When will your family join you participating in athletic adventures?

They already do. My son did his first triathlon the same day I did. We hike together as a family and go out for walks by the river. Both Spud and Sweetpea have bikes and like getting out on them. My husband and I are going for a backpacking trip this weekend. I still have hope of getting him into tris in the next couple years. ;)

At some point, it may be a more formal situation where we race together or even as a relay. For now, they see me race and love it, then they want to do it too. Never underestimate how much kids pick up by observation.

Julie, from You Just Have to TRI! asked me:

How do you handle the "bad mom" moments? You know the ones where you do something you regret almost immediately?

Wow! Nothing like putting me on the spot, hey Julie?

I strongly believe that every person is deserving of respect, even if they're only 3 feet tall. I try to avoid those moments, but let's be real, I still have them. Usually, my kid bursts into tears and I say sorry. I explain to them that I shouldn't have yelled (because that's what those moments are for me), but I was frustrated or scared (or whatever). Then later I tell my husband what a bad mother I am and he knocks some sense into me. (not literally).

How did you meet your husband?

Online. We met on a dating site and then went for breakfast at a pancake house down the street from my place. The next day, we went on a road trip to Drumheller, and I fell asleep during the ride. I fell asleep a lot in the early days of our relationship! I had just finished a job where I worked until 3 am.

Embarrassing race or training stories?

I think that has to be the day I fell over on my bike, right after telling my husband that I wouldn't. Not too many people have to skill to do their first clipless pedal fall in front of someone holding a camera...If you could only read one blog whose would it be?

My own, of course! ;)