Thursday, March 29, 2012

My new toy!

Those of you in the know will realize that the above picture is a Fancy Dancy Garmin Forerunner 910XT.  The wrist is mine.  :)

I have been lusting after one of these babies ever since Garmin announced them back in October.  Now, under normal circumstances, I never would have been able to justify getting one so soon after getting my 305 a mere year and a half ago.  However, the circumstances aren't totally normal.  I'm lucky enough to do some product testing with a Garmin company.  As such, I earn credit that I can apply towards garmin merchandise.

Merchandise like Fancy Dancy Garmin Forerunner 910XTs.

I love it.

So far, I've ran outdoors with it, biked on the trainer and swam in the pool with it.  From a running and biking perspective, I won't deny that it's similar to the 305 (though nicer looking and a bit smaller).

The thing I really I like the best about it is that it is waterproof and gives swim information.  Although I used to look at the pace clock on some sets, I'm now able to come home and look at all my swim data from a workout (technically you could do that on the watch, but much easier on the computer).  I've observed what part of a set I have a tendency to slow down during.  I'm able to look at how many strokes I use to cross the pool.  It counts my laps for me, which is awesome, because I seem to have an inability to keep track once I get past 200 metres.

I've also realized that if I stand at the end of the pool talking (and presumably gesturing), it sometimes thinks I'm swimming.  As well, my backstroke technique must be pretty bad; 100 metres of backstroke today registered as 125 metres of a mix of back, breast and front crawl.  When it comes to front crawl though, it's been remarkably accurate.

Did I need this watch?  Nope.  Us triathletes don't need the majority of toys that we buy.  Really, we just need the basics like running shoes, bikes and goggles.  (Actually the basics add up all on their own.)  Do I like this watch?  Yep.  Sure do.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fit issues continue...

I'm frustrated right now.  Last week, I posted that I was having knee pain caused by cycling.  I also mentioned that I was getting a fit adjustment.

Anyways, I had the fit adjustment.  He lowered my seat a bit and changed the angle of my left cleat.  I was ready to give it a good solid test at Tuesday evening spin class.

Almost right away, I could tell it felt wrong.  I felt like my toe was being pushed inwards and I was only pedaling on the outside of my foot (as opposed to across the ball).  I kept going and before long, I started getting knee pain, only on the outside of my knee rather then the inside.  I didn't even make it through the class. I felt ridiculous walking out halfway through, but I needed to stop while the pain was still in the warning phase rather then injury phase.

It's actually worse then before.

I just want to get this fixed.  I realize none of it is the end of the world, but I need to get the bike time in.  I declared that 2012 was going to be the year of the bike for me.  I'm in the second week of my half iron training plan, but my saddle time seems to be going down rather then up.  Arg.

Marcelo (fit guy) mentioned that I may need to consider a different pedal that has free float (mine has a little bit of float, but it's "friction float")  Cha-ching!  Sometimes it seems like the costs just don't end.  On the other hand, my bike cost a lot more then a pair of pedals would.  If the pedals mean I can actually use the bike, it would be a good thing, right?

On the plus side, I can still run and swim.  Anyone want to to pretend they're me and do the bike leg in my races?

Edited to add: I am not unhappy with Marcelo (the fitter) at all.  He isn't charging me for the adjustments, and is working with me to get this figured out.  Also, his explanation on the potential pedal switch was more detailed then I am giving here.  He just explains it better then I do.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Knee Niggle again

So, it's back.  The knee niggle and start of knee pain that keeps creeping in.  Last time it happened was a couple weeks ago.  It went away completely after I took 5-6 days off biking and running.

On the plus side, I swam more when it happened.  Angie even commented that my swim had really improved.  Undoubtedly the extra pool time helped.  On the downside, I can not continue taking nearly a week off of biking and running every few weeks.  Not when I'm training for a half ironman in 18 weeks.

I've quite positively linked the cause as cycling.  I'm also pretty sure it's linked to the tight calf issue I've had in the last six months.  I had a fit done in the summer (which I'm confident fixed many other issues).  I've emailed the fitter and asked his opinion.  He thinks that it could need an adjustment to a cleat or something, so I'm hoping that fixes the problem.  I'll see him on Monday.

I feel almost guilty complaining about it.  I know many of you are dealing with much bigger issues.  I can still run right now, and it actually made my knee feel better yesterday.  I might have to shorten or unfortunately eliminate my biking over the next few days, but I know that this is not a long term problem - yet.  I'm getting better at listening to my body when I have these little niggles popping up, so hopefully that will help me avoid the avoidable types of big problems.

It snowed again yesterday.  Not a surprise really.  We usually get snow in April still, and often in May.  Looks like I won't be going outside on the bike just yet...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

And that's why I blog

Sometimes you people in the blogosphere are way smarter then me.  Thanks for all the perspective on yesterday's post.  You are all right.  It was my first race of the year, and as such was a great one.  It got me back into the mindset.  It showed me how far I have come.  It was a good test of the legs.  Feeling good about it now.

Was it my fastest ever?  No.  But, it was a good solid race, and almost 2 minutes faster then I ran the exact same course last year.

On a side note, Keith did a good rant on his blog a couple days ago about word verification.

Has anybody noticed something about leaving comments on my blog?  I don't make you prove you're not a robot with the word verification.  That's because it's terribly annoying.  Now, you'll have to forgive me, because I know many of you have it, but lose it!  Seriously.  I have mine set to automatically detect spam, and I almost never have spam comments that are missed.  And, you don't have to type those annoying words every time you want to leave a comment.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Setting goals, setting expectations, setting PRs

So, if you read between the lines, you might have guessed that I wasn't thrilled with my race this weekend.  I wasn't unhappy either.  It was okay, but I didn't finish it feeling like I'd broken down any barriers or achieved anything new.


I think there's a couple things going on.  First of all, prior to the race I had a time goal in mind.  I also had a limit.  I didn't really talk about either in my blog.  The day before, I was concerned that it was going to be icy, and if that was the case, I was prepared to throw any expectations of finishing time out the window.

As it turned out, ice was not a factor, so I gave some thought to finishing time.

I really, really wanted to beat my time on this course from last year: 1:00:12.  Last year I was hoping to beat 1:02, and therefore should have been thrilled with the time I got.  BUT I never really got over the fact that I'd gotten so close to beating the one hour mark, then hadn't done it.  I figured that should be quite attainable this year.  I had run 56:33 in a different race in October.  Even though this one was slightly more challenging, going sub-60 should be well within reach.

Here's the thing.  In addition to deciding on a very attainable goal, I made a limit for myself.  I figured I probably was not capable of setting a new PR.  I'd run that 56:33 when I was a month away from a half marathon, at a time when I was already doing long runs over the distance of the half marathon.  My running volume was way higher then it is now, and I'd been doing more faster running.

Those were my reasons, but the point is, I told myself that there was a limit to what I could do, and I could not hit a PR.

So, I ran a solid, relatively comfortable race.

I finished with a fair bit in the tank.

I honestly think I could have pushed myself more and gone faster.

I don't know that I would have set a PR.  Maybe I would have.  Maybe not.

I really think setting that limit played a major role in my race as a whole.

On the other hand, I wonder if part of this is just a bit of disappointment that I did a race without setting a PR.  After thinking about it, I realized this is the first time I've raced without PRing.  Every other race I've done was either a first time at that distance (automatic PR) or I've done better then previously.

I have to accept that I won't always set a personal best in a race.

But... I still think I didn't do my best on that day.

Live and learn.

Monday, March 19, 2012

St Patrick's Day Race report

Some thoughts before the race report

Yesterday was my first race in four months, and training has been kind of topsy turvy since then.  I let my training volume drop somewhat after my last half marathon.  Then, when I started trying to build it back up, I got sick.  Then I got sick again, and again, and again...

Ultimately, I managed to get past the plagues that my children kept infecting me with and to a place where I felt comfortable starting my half ironman training plan.  Even so, my run volume is lower then it's been in over a year.  I'm following the plan as written, and not adding extra runs or run distance in.  It's part of my strategy to make sure I don't neglect my bike like I have in the past.

With that said, yesterday's race was a running race.  Even with it being "only" a 10K, I really didn't know what I was capable of.  There's no secret that a higher run volume usually helps with the speed as well.  So does running fast, which I haven't been doing a lot of lately either.  After being sick so much, I'd never really got my speed back, and I've been doing most of my training runs at an easier pace, just to get my volume back.

Was I capable of a PR?  (56:33)  I had my doubts.  I set that on a really flat course, at a time where my run volume was close to double what it is now.

Could I beat my time from last year on this course?  (1:00:12)  I hoped so.  Again, my run volume is lower then it was then.  My main goal, at this time last year, was a half marathon that was a month away.  However, I feel like I have way more mental strength, and I've made some serious breakthroughs since that time.

My worries about ice were for nothing.  There were two spots on the course that were icy, and there were volunteers warning us ahead of time to move to the side as well as right before to keep us off them.


I arrived bright and early for the 9:00 race, getting there at about 7:45.  Last year, I arrived with about half an hour to spare, parked really far away and barely made it to through the bathroom line up and to the start line in time.  I'd much rather be sitting around doing nothing for a bit then rushing around madly trying to be ready on time.

I saw Kelly, from spin class, and before long Heather arrived, with a bag of green accessories for us.  I put a clover leaf tattoo on my cheek and accepted a green badge and sparkly necklace (though, I must admit to ditching the necklace before the race because it was bouncing around and bugging me).  Deon and his wife, Tara also joined us.

Deon, myself and Heather
Tara, Deon's wife and photographer extraordinaire (the photographer never gets properly recognized)
Erin, a friend of Heather's who I met that day, also arrived, but she wasn't there for the prerace photo.  She's training for a marathon and had already run 10 or so km before the race.

We chatted for a bit.  I went outside for a short walk and run warm up.  Tried to take another bathroom break, and realized the line up was probably 20 minutes long with 10 minutes to go to start time.  Didn't need to go that badly.  Go line up, and it was starting time!

I found Heather.  I didn't bother to look for Deon or Erin.  Nothing personal; just that I knew they would both finish this race 15 - 20 minutes faster then me, so I wasn't going to seed myself in the same area as them.

The Race

I've learned not to go shooting off at the starting line, so when we began, I held back a bit, and made sure that the first bit felt easy.  Even so, we were running about 5:45km, which is on the fast side for me, but about what I hoped to pace the race at overall.  I had seeded myself pretty well.  I wasn't feeling pressure to go faster by being surrounded by super fast people.  I also wasn't needing to weave about to keep my pace.

After the first km, most of the people around us started to slow.  I still wanted to keep my pace, so I said my farewells to Heather and picked it up a little bit.  I felt good, but I don't think my body is used to a faster pace anymore.  My legs periodically told me to slow down, but whenever I did a self assessment, my head knew I could continue to hold my pace.

Now, while I'm talking about holding pace, that's not actually what I was trying to do.  One of the main things I wanted to do in this race was hold an even effort, rather then an even pace.  Most of the course was long, gradual slopes, either up or down.  Aside from two overpasses, there was nothing that I would call hills, but slopes certainly have an effect on pace, and I was going to let that happen.  When I was going down, I let the slopes help carry me.  When I was going up, I didn't stress about slowing slightly.  I just tried to make sure I felt about the same level of exertion regardless.

It didn't seem to take long to hit the halfway mark, and the water station.  I often use water stations as an excuse to walk for a minute since I haven't mastered drinking from those little cups while running.  Truthfully though, I neither needed the water or the walk, so I just kept running past it.

Then it was up across the overpass and down the other side.  This was the one part of the course I didn't really enjoy.  We were running on a path alongside Glenmore (a pretty major road) and you could smell and  basically taste the car exhaust.  It was also one of the long upward slopes, so I felt like I was dragging.  Fortunately, it wasn't that long of a section, but I must admit it was one of the points where my body wanted to stop and walk.  I didn't though.  After all, the slower I went, the longer I spent on that crappy section.

After that, there's a little neighbourhood loop and back over another overpass.  Before the loop is the one point where you see faster runners coming back, and I got to see Erin on this stretch.  We did a little high five and then I carried on.  I remembered this section from last year and I remembered really fighting and struggling in this part.  This time, I knew I was working, but felt strong.  There were only a few kilometers left, so I could already feel the homestretch coming.

It didn't take me long to get to the final km.  That last km had a bit of up and a bit of down then some more up.  I kicked it up a notch.  I always like to see what I have left in the tank at the very end.  In this case, I had a 5:20 km in me, about 30 seconds/km (45 sec/mile) faster then I'd run the rest of the race.  I kind of wonder if (with proper training) I could run a whole 10k at that pace?  It wasn't killing me; I actually could have gone faster at the end...

I passed Tara and Deon shortly before the end and threw my arms up for a picture.  They almost missed me because I'd ditched my red jacket before the race.

I must admit to cropping this picture, because the arms in the air gave an unflattering midrift shot.
 I saw Erin cheering just before the finish line.  I went in for a strong finish.

Easily broke that hour mark.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the St. Patty's race, so they did a medal.  It's probably the best bling I've gotten from a race, so definitely a nice bonus.

After I finished, we waited for Heather to come in.  She's been dealing with a knee issue, so it was great to see her coming in strong.

The four of us with our medals, (starting from the left) Deon, Erin, Heather, myself
It was fun hanging out afterwards.  This race has great food, and some good draw prizes.  You can win your weight in beer, and this year there was a draw for a weekend in Banff.  Sadly, I didn't win any of them, but I did have fun hanging out and chatting.

I also got to meet Sophia, from The Mama Runs.  I spotted her when I went to grab some coffee, and then she came and joined our group while we sat through the awards.  
Sophia and me
When I got home, Sweetpea immediately spotted and claimed my medal.  I was going to make them take turns, but Spud decided he wanted my badge instead, so it all worked out.

They weren't so into looking at the camera

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A bit of Pippy for race day morning

I don't actually have much green, so I've braided some ribbons into my hair in an effort to be festive.  What do you think?  Will they make me go faster?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lining up at the starting line tomorrow!

Tomorrow morning, I'll running my first race of the calendar year: the St Patrick's Day road race.  This isn't a race I've been specifically training towards.  It's one that I signed up for fun and to give me my race rush.

I'm not sure what I'll be wearing.  Looks like it is likely to be just below freezing.  Depending on the wind, that could mean jacket, or not.  Could mean toque or cap.  Gloves?  Don't know yet.

I do know what number I'll be sporting.  Number 300, a nice even number.

If anyone else out there is running, feel free to come by and say hi!

Goals for this race?  Man, I'm wishy washy, but that depends too.

Up until yesterday, I was planning on running to the best of my ability and pushing myself.

Now, the weather forecast is calling for a chance of rain or wet snow this evening.  With likely freezing temperatures at race time, that might mean a skating rink.  Or, it might be totally clear pathways.

Right now, my main goal will be one that I've used before: roll with the punches.  Don't let things that are out of my control stress me out.

And have fun!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How often do you shower?

It's generally accepted that most people shower once a day.  In addition, if you workout, it's expected that you shower.

I have an admission to make: I do not shower after every workout.

Here's the thing: I generally train 10 times a week, and sometimes, it just seems ridiculous to shower when I'm going to get sweaty again anyways.

Take yesterday, for instance.  I did a 40 minute run while my kids were both in preschool.  Practically speaking, I had time left for a shower, but instead I stretched, foam rolled and grabbed some food.  I was doing a bike class that evening, so I just didn't see the point.  Yeah, I was sweaty.  I probably stunk.  But my kids must be used to it by now, and if other parents want to judge me, so be it.  The other people I was going to interact with were the triathletes at spin class, and it wouldn't take long for all of them to be stinky and sweaty too.

Then there's rest days.  Frequently I don't shower on them at all.  I mean, there's a good chance that I sweated and showered the night before, and likely that I'll sweat (and maybe shower) the following morning.  What's the point?

I do shower every time I swim.  I seem to have a mild allergy to either the chlorine or something else in the water, so if I don't, I'm left sneezing until I get cleaned off.

So, what about you?  Any stinky admissions?

Monday, March 12, 2012

T minus 20 weeks

It's official.  Today is the first official day of my training plan.  20 weeks from now, I'll complete a half ironman.

The mission: get my mind and body ready.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Weight loss is not a hobby

I've got the beginnings of a problem starting.  The beginnings of an obsession.

It goes kind of like this: early January, I joined a biggest loser competition.  I did it with the intention of giving myself a kick in the butt to drop some of the remaining extra pounds I have.  Initially, I figured it would be great if I could come out ahead and win some money, but that wasn't my main intention, until things changed...

I've been on the weight loss wagon many times in my life.  Two specific times in the past, I lost large amounts of weight (50ish pounds) in short periods of time (5ish months).  Both of those times, I was obsessed.  I thought about weight loss all the time.  I thought about what I was going to make for my next meal, or how many calories I was burning by using a given exercise machine.  I counted everything that went into my mouth.  I read weight loss books and weight loss websites.  I made it into a hobby.

The problem is, weight loss is not a hobby.  It's not sustainable, because at some point, you're done losing weight.

There has to be some bigger purpose to it.  A bigger reason.  And, if you devote every extra minute to losing those pounds, what happens once you've lost them?  I can tell you what happened to me those other times.  I gained them back.  Every single one, plus a few extra.

This time, I started out similarly.  I began my blog: Deb Shrinks.  I thought about weight loss, I blogged about it.  I let everyone in my life know how committed I was to it.  I was on the road to making it into a hobby again.

Then I discovered triathlon.  And, suddenly I started pursuing a hobby which actually has potential to be a hobby.

The weight loss continued, albeit at a slower rate.  It wasn't my obsession anymore.  It wasn't my sole focus.  It was something I focused on only occasionally.  For the first time in my life, I gained the viewpoint of food as fuel.  I ate well because I needed to in order to fuel my next workout or recover from my last one.

And, far more amazing then the fact that I've lost a lot of weight is the fact that I didn't return to obesity.  I stopped the yoyo.  I stopped trying to let weight loss become a hobby.

Until now.

Because after joining that biggest loser competition with good intentions, I saw my standing in the top 10.  The top 5...  First place.  The top three spots win cash prizes, and I could do it.  I could take first place.  I just have to keep losing weight at rapid rate.

And, losing weight started to become a "hobby" again.  I stopped thinking about fueling my body and started thinking about how little I could get by on.  Rather then considering if I was properly fueled to get through a workout, I was thinking about whether I could do it on little to nothing.  I was waking up in the middle of the night because I was hungry.  I was viewing my training as exercise: a chance to burn calories rather then a chance to get stronger, faster, better.

I could still win this competition, but is it worth the cost?


Weight loss is not my hobby.

Triathlon is.

Losing weight can benefit my triathlon endeavors, but only if I keep things in balance.  Only if I allow the weight loss to work for my triathlon goals, not against it.

And with that, I am making training my priority again.  I'll still watch what goes in my mouth, making sure it's healthy whole foods.  More importantly, I'll make sure what goes in benefits my training, rather then working against it.

Am I going to win that biggest loser competition?  Probably not.

Am I going to lose some more weight?  Yes, though at a slower rate.

Am I going to feel strong crossing the finish line of a Half Ironman in 20.5 weeks?  Hell yeah.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The continued quest to break 2:00

Yesterday was another one of my coached swim sessions.  We started off with warm up, some drills, some pulling with paddles.  Then fast 100s.

Just last week, I wrote about how I'm trying to reach the illusive target of swimming 100m in less then 2 minutes.  I've actually been trying to hit that goal for around a month and a half, and have gotten close many times, but until last night, my best was 2:02.

Janice (Angie was away, so Janice was running the workout) explained that we needed to try to hold the pace on the 100s.  Our last 100 should be just as fast as our first 100.

I started swimming.  Pacing, pacing...  I made sure that I didn't blast through that first 25.  I've realized that's a big part of my problem.  I tend to sprint right from the start, and then I just don't have it in me to hold the pace for the full time.  As I finished the first 50, I checked my time.  1:03.  Made a mental note that checking the time probably cost me at least a second or two...  Yep, getting pretty uncomfortable.  Last 25, let it hurt.

2:04.  Not bad.  Generally the speed I can hold for subsequent 100s.  Hmm, if I cut out the glance at the pace clock, I should be able to cut that down a bit.

Once again, made sure I didn't go to hard right from the start.  I think I'm getting a better feel for finding the right pace.  This time, I didn't check the clock halfway.  I still do open turns, but it's surprising how much extra time it can take just to glance back.  Man, it gets hard in that last 50 metres.  Don't flail.  Keep form...

2:00 even.  My best ever.  But bittersweet.  Still starts with that "2".  Close, so close...

This time Janice had been watching me.  She made two observations.  First of all, I do this funny thing with my right wrist on entry.  It's hard to explain, but I understood what she was talking about.  The second observation was that when I got tired, I wasn't reaching as far on my entry and I was shortening my stroke.  Damn.  I had been concentrating so hard on my form.  But, sometimes I need those reminders to give me specific things to focus on.


The first 50 metres was pretty similar to the sets before.  Hold back just that tiny bit off the wall so I don't burn myself out.  Hold on for the next bit.  It's only 2 minutes.  You can do anything for 2 minutes.  Going into the last 25 metres.  Let it hurt, but don't let go of form.  It's almost like I detach myself in moments like that.  Stop thinking about how hard it is, and just break it into segments.  Keep my wrist from doing the flippy thing.  Pull, pull...  Pull all the way through.  Don't shorten it.  It feels simultaneously easier and harder.  
You have to fight against the feeling that you should be moving your arms really fast and instead concentrate on holding onto as much water as you can to pull yourself forward.  Almost there.


Holy crap!  I did it.

Yeah, won't be happy with just once.  I had another 2:00 100 last night, but didn't get below it again.  I've done it once, and I'll do it again.
(Yeah, I'm recycling photos that I've used before...)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Five things Friday

1. My ankle is bugging me.  Tuesday it felt twingy and I went out for a run anyways - a fartlek run.  Maybe running itself would have been okay, but I should have played it safe and dropped the speed intervals.  It was bad enough afterwards that I skipped spin class that night and haven't biked or run since.  Today it is feeling better, but not perfect.  I might just swim this evening and then do an easy test run tomorrow.  Maybe a spin today.

2. My husband thinks that "fartlek" is a ridiculous, made up word.  According to wikipedia though, fartlek originates from a Swedish word and fartlek training was developed in 1937.  Does anybody have a good old fashioned dictionary?  I'm curious if it is in there.

3. I bought some berries this week and it got me thinking about the strawberry patch I had in the backyard of my old house.  I am starting to think about gardening.  Prior to moving here 2.5 years ago, I had a pretty extensive vegetable garden (plus the strawberries).  Since moving, all I've grown are tomato plants, but I'd like to get back into it.  1. I enjoy it. 2. The kids really want to have a garden.  They are now at an age where they can "help" and their help will only make things take a little longer.  3. It's a great way to grow my own healthy produce, and much less expensive then the farmer's market.

I've got a bit of time to plan it.  Last frost here is a close to the end of May.  It is a challenging place to garden because of our short growing season.  I want to start some of my own seeds this year, so I'll need to start a few things in about a month.

4. Speaking of fruit, does anybody else have a problem with brown bananas?  I prefer my bananas in the squarely yellow category.  Yes, I know that they actually get sweeter when they are a bit riper, but I don't like the texture.  I like them pretty firm, not mushy.  Lately, it seems like whenever I buy bananas that are still partly green, they go straight from green to brown.  The kids will still eat them as long as the inside isn't brown, and then it's into the freezer for a future batch of banana muffins.

5. I'm back on the weight loss wagon.  It's not something I've talked about lately on my blog, but I'm making a serious push.  I gained a LOT of weight over Christmas.  I referred to it on here once or twice as a "few" pounds, and that was totally inaccurate.  It was more like a "dozen" (plus a couple).  Anyways, the good news is, I've lost all of that weight plus a couple more.  I've kind of hit a lull though, so I think the easily lost pounds are gone and now I need to work for it if I want it.