Friday, 25 November 2011

More Fun on Bikes

Mary reminded me the other day that I haven't posted in a while, and since Christmas and all associated busy-ness will be here before we know it, I am finally making some time to write!

I am getting back into the swing of tri training, with my planned "A race" next year coming earlier than usual (for me) in June - Syracuse 70.3.  I am also planning to run the Around the Bay 30km in late March, so I will be running A LOT over the winter months!

In the meantime, I have been trying something new - cyclocross bike racing! Well, I am using the term "racing" loosely. :-)  For those of you reading this (anyone? LOL) who might be wondering what that is, the best way I can describe it is racing a bike over varied terrain such as grass, mud, and gravel, and riding, hopping or dismounting and running over various obstacles (while carrying your bike!).  A local bike group hosted two events this fall, on country properties generously provided by other riders.

The first race was preceded by a week solid of rain.  I was looking forward to playing in the mud, but soon realized that I completely underestimated how HARD it is to ride in soaking wet grass (tall and short), and through the slippery goopy stuff!  During my warm-up lap, where my heart rate was almost maxed out, I thought "uh oh, this is gonna be a challenge".  And yeah.  I was right about that!  I quickly learned that my tires would have benefited from more tread and less air, and that sinking into wet ground has the same effect on your quads and lungs as riding uphill.  Definitely not my speciality!  HOWEVER - the race was still a tonne of fun.  The spirit of the participants, organizers, and spectators, combined with a gorgeous fall day and trying something new, really made for a great time.  I could not wipe the smile off my face!  Here is a pic of me trying to get up a slippery "hill" after riding through a ditch.... my grimace showing a hilarious mix of emotions.  Too bad no one got a picture of my sweet fall during one lonely muddy forest section!

Two weeks later, the second race in the series was held at a different property.  There had been little rain and the ground had hardened up (or so I thought/hoped), and the organizers sent out a pre-race email telling us the race would be flat and fast.  But yeah.  It wasn't.  :-)  The race course was, however, really awesome, with a mix of terrain, some small hills, some weaving and bobbing, a couple of obstacles, and the BIGGEST patch of mud I have ever seen, let alone attempted to navigate my way through.  I adopted the dismount and run through strategy, and am not sure how anyone managed to ride their bike in that - although many did!  Despite the challenging the course, once again the race was SO. MUCH. FUN.  The turnout was awesome, the sun was shining, and I had a great time hanging out with my friends.  Once again, I fell off my bike in a slippery section, but there is no photo evidence :-(  Instead, I leave you with a pic where I quasi-look like I know what I'm doing. Ha!

And I want to give a shout-out to my buddy Geno, who hooked me up with a cross-bike for the events, and encouraged me (and other newbies) to come out and give it a try.  Thanks Geno!

Can't wait for some winter riding... bring on the snow!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Bike Shenanigans

Post Rev3 at Cedar Point, I haven't had much "formal" training on the schedule.  Coach Mary wanted me to mostly rest, definitely no running for a few weeks, with a few short bike rides and swims scheduled on Training Peaks, but nothing major or mandatory.  I must admit that I have been enjoying some down time, getting caught up on some projects around the house. Other than that I have been spending a lot of time chilling with the family and gaining a few pounds from too many indulgences... :-)

I haven't gotten around to doing any swims (just not ready to start waking up at 5am again!) and some easy runs just started up again recently. My 2012 Race Plan will be sussed over with Coach Mary later this week after she is back from kicking butt at Kona.  I did sign up for another half-ironman - Syracuse 70.3 - which will be in June and is a "tune-up" event for some of my friends who will be racing IM Tremblant later in the summer.

Among all 3 disciplines, I absolutely love riding my bike the best, and have been trying some new rides during my "downtime".  On Sept 24th, Mary and I joined a large group of area cyclists for the "Tour de Essex" (TDE).  The Tour is a circular loop of the outer rim of the county I live in.  It goes along two of the Great Lakes (St.Clair and Erie) and the Detroit River.  Total ride distance is about 180km, which would be by far, the most I had ever ridden.  We were a little nervous about riding so far and so fast (predicted speed was 32-35 kph), but knew that riding in a pack has the benefits of drafting, and figured we would just see how it goes. The ride was supported by a SAG wagon so if worse came to worse, we could just hop in for a drive!

The first half of the Tour took us to Leamington, where we stopped for lunch at approximately the 85km mark.  We worked our butts off to stay with the 50 or so people pack on the way there.  At times, it was extraordinarily fun, and at times it was really hard.  The biggest challenge for us is that we tended to stay towards the very back of the pack. Being the type of riders that mainly go out on our own or in small groups on TT bikes, group riding on a road bike is a very different thing.  I am comfortable in a group to an extent, but just found myself preferring the back.  The problem was that whenever we stopped at an intersection or slowed down for a turn, there is a yo-yo effect at the very back... which caused us to have to hustle to stay on with the group after each stop.  The end result is a lot of sprinting/hard efforts followed by coasting..... tough when you are used to steady, even riding!  Here is a shot that gives you an idea of the size of the group.

Here is a pic of Mary and I during the one point where we really did get dropped after an intersection, but our good friend Dave, a very strong rider, pulled us back on to the group. (It looks worse than it was because the overpass is blocking our view of others!)

We made it to the lunch break in about 2 hours 45 minutes, averaging just over 31kph.  During lunch, Mary and I decided that we would head back with two friends on a short-cut route as the day was getting long and we were a bit concerned with the amount of legs we had left to ride that hard for 100 more km! Turns out we made the right call, as we learned later that the 2nd half of the Tour turned out to be even faster! The four of us who took a different route home ended up doing 140.5km (yes, that 0.5km is important!) at an average speed juuuust under 30kph.  Despite the short-cut, this did still turn out to be the longest ride I have ever done. Yay! Andy is a champ as he spent the whole Saturday entertaining the girls while I was gallivanting around the county - thanks Andy!

Oh and here is another shot as we approached the lunch break... there was some gorgeous scenery along the lake and I really have learned to appreciate Essex County now that I can explore it on my bike!

All pix are courtesy of Chris Hilbert, who followed the ride all day in a SAG wagon. Very nice of him! 

I have also been getting out once a week on "Greenway" rides.  The Greenway is a hard-packed, fine gravel/dirt trail that runs directly south from my neighbourhood to Leamington.  On Tuesday nights, I have been hitting the trail with a group of guys (and sometimes girls) who are much faster than me. This has been an excellent work-out! We typically go to Harrow and back, which is about 50km, and it takes just under 2 hours.  It is amazing the difference in speed riding the trail makes versus road. I have been riding a bike borrowed from a friend that is more suitable for trails... wider and tread-ier tires, a bit sturdier. The best part of the rides is that a good chunk takes place in the dark! Everyone has headlamps/handlebar lights, so you can see a few feet in front of you, but the nighttime trail element is pretty cool. Very different from what I am used to and I really, really enjoy it.  One night we headed out shortly after it had stopped raining, and the mud was flying... that might be the most fun I've had yet :-)  Here is a not-so-great shot of me when I came home covered in mud splatter. Wish the camera could've captured the pieces stuff on my face, it was pretty hilarious :-)  

Happy riding everyone! 

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Congratulations Tri Moxie Coaching!

Wanted to give an Internet-wide shout out to my coach Mary and her partner Angela at Tri Moxie Coaching for their impressive results at the Ironman World Championships yesterday in Kona!!! 

Mary completed her race in 11:21:19 and Ange in 10:26:00!!

Congratulations ladies! Thanks for proving that having lots of kids and a busy family life doesn't mean you can't still KICK ASS at the same time!  

Check them out at Mary & Ange.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Check It Off the List! A 70.3 Race Report

For those of you reading this blog (anyone? anyone? Bueller?), you may recall that 2011 is the "year I would complete a Half-Ironman", only to have those plans scuttled by a 1.2 mile swim that never happened (see below).  After about 2 days of feeling certain that I was done for the season (the run was sooo hard at Steelhead), I signed up for another race at the Rev3 Cedar Point.  Coach Mary encouraged me, thought I would have enough rest in the meantime and was ready to go! The distance was a "Half-Ironman", but because the Rev3 is not a World Triathlon Corporation-sanctioned event, it is not officially called a "Half-Ironman".  So, this race was called a Half-Rev, but the distance goal was the same: 70.3 miles as a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run.

The weekend before the race was totally hairy around my house - with back to school prep in full swing, hosting a family party for 30 people Labour Day weekend, and full-on training continuing. Sure enough, I woke up the "first day of school" with a sore throat and other symptoms of unhappiness.  Sinus pressure, headaches, etc.  I stayed home from work sick on Tuesday and Wednesday, and went to see my doctor that day.  I was diagnosed with a throat infection and potentially a sinus infection. Great.  Fortunately, because I had been feeling kind of infected for about 6 weeks prior and had actually seen my doc before, he figured this crap had gone on long enough and finally gave me some antibiotics.  By race weekend I was feeling much better. Not 100%, but definitely a solid 85%!

After some discussion with Andy, we had decided the family would stay home and I would make the trip solo with my buddy Mary to contain costs and time.  The race was scheduled for Sunday, September 11, 2011, and since Cedar Point is about 2 hours from Windsor, we headed up Saturday mid-day and arrived at the park about 1pm (after a minor detour from our bunk directions - but we figured it out!!).  Parking, expo, packet pick-up, and transition were all close together just outside the entrance gates to the park, and it was a perfect set-up.  Almost immediately we ran into our friends who were also doing redemption races due to the bummer of Steelhead. We puttered around at packet pick-up which was dead easy.  They took a picture of each racer as we checked in, which apparently would flash on the jumbo-tron when you cross the finish line. I should've done my hair, LOL!  Packets included temporary tattoos for race numbers, which went on beautifully and stayed put contrary to other reports I had heard.  We also got a really nice visor and a t-shirt.  We dropped off our bikes in the transition area - and check out the awesome personalized spot each person got!

After scoring some sweet deals in the clearance section of the expo, we attended the "mandatory" athlete briefing (where it appeared that many people did not consider it mandatory) and were quite frankly, pretty bored.  On to the hotel! After scouring the room for evidence of bed-bugs (seriously, I am scared of that shit), we headed to dinner at TGIF's with the rest of the Windsor peeps. Contrary to Steelhead where I took everything very seriously and avoided alcohol for 2 months beforehand, I put caution to the wind and had a beer with dinner.  :-)  Mary and I had some errands to do after dinner, so we picked up a few things at Meijer and Target - tried not to get distracted by the deals we do not have in Canada! - and were in bed by 10pm, latest.  Because we were staying at a Cedar Point hotel, we were 5 minutes to the race site and did not have to get up till 6am - what a luxury!!

Unfortunately I slept really poorly, which seems to be par for the course when I stay in a hotel.  While our location was prime, the accommodations were not, and the bed was super hard and killing my shoulders & back.  Oh well, what can you do?!  Mary and I quietly ate breakfast in our room (we had both brought supplies), me with my usual PB on a white bagel, banana, and small tea.  In hindsight, I think I need to increase my breakfast slightly as I have felt hungry and depleted a little early in these long races.

The morning was gorgeous and the day promised to be warm with sunny periods and light winds. Perfect. We headed off to the race site and were in transition about 45 minutes before it closed.  While some people think I am insane for checking out hotel rooms for bed-bug evidence, I learned from a dude setting up near one of my friends that he got bed bugs just 2 weeks before Cedar Point, while staying at a hotel for a race in San Francisco!! Ok, I will continue my vigilance thank-you-very-much.  Back to the race - no problems setting up transition, a quick stop in the porta-potties where the line was quite reasonable (a smallish venue and crowd = not much of a wait for anything), and off to the beach to watch the Full Rev (or "Ironman" in other words) participants swim and get warmed up a bit.

It was funny to swim in Lake Erie, but from the other side of it (i.e. US not Canadian side).  After a very quick warm-up to get the shoulders loose, we rushed to the start line to realize that - holy crap! - they were starting our race! The first wave was just going, and we got in position to go off in about 10 minutes (both Mary and I were in wave 3 - Females 39 and under).  When it was our turn to line up on the beach, I went right to the front and a bit to the right. While I am not a "fast" swimmer, I am fairly comfortable and like to get out ahead of as many people as possible.  I wished Mary luck, and we were off! The horn sounded and we ran into the water.  It was knee-deep for several feet, but soon enough people were dolphin diving, I did one of those but then figured I would just swim. I hate f-ing around with the run/dive thing in the water.  Although the field was small, there was a lot of hitting.  I attribute this to the water being so black, you could barely see your own hand in front of your face. It was impossible to see if anyone was around you.  Although I got hit a lot on the shoulders, back, hip, leg, etc., I was lucky in that I did not take any blows to the head/face or hands.  I felt a bit sluggish until the first turn, the course was sort of like an isosceles triangle on it's side, and the first section was the short end.  By the time we made a right around the first turn-buoy, it was probably about 500m and I was starting to feel loose and smooth.  I started to catch some people from the 2 waves ahead of me (Females 40+ and Males 34 & Under), which is always exciting.  There were a few dudes doing a very slow backstroke and I had a momentary thought to ask if they were okay, but I'm no lifeguard and there were plenty of those around.  The lingering effects of my cold/infection/whatever caused me to have to cough a few times, but I tried to plan out how I would do that without interrupting my stroke and just ended up letting loose under water as a form of exhaling :-) That seemed to work okay.  I repeated turn/reach over and over in my head as I stroked and kept a good rhythm.  Right before the finish, I hit a leg in front of me, looked up briefly and realized it was my friend Dave! He had started in the wave behind me, but is a better swimmer. I thought it was so funny that we were in the exact same line.  I stayed right behind him for the last few strokes and we stood up at the same time. I shouted at him to get his attention, we high-fived, and hit the beach a few feet apart.  That was fun! After a few steps to get my balance and some breath, I started the run down the beach to T1.  Up a short little incline and under a shower I went, only to find wetsuit strippers there waiting! I did not know about them and was shocked when someone started yelling at me very forcefully to "sit down! sit down!".  Anyway, down I plopped and in about 5 seconds my wetsuit was off, 2 dudes grabbed each arm, tossed me up very easily and off I went into T1.

Swim = 40:06
13/32 AG

This was pretty much my pace personal best in any length race to date. Yay!

As I bent over to start putting on my bike shoes I actually felt a bit dizzy, so I stood there for a few moments to clear my head and get oriented.  I think the up/down/up/down events coming out of the water had me a bit out of sorts. I got all my gear on and headed out of T1, ready to ride!

T1 = 3:06. That's crap considering there was wetsuit strippers.... it includes the run up the beach, but I've got a lot of room to improve here.

I hit my Garmin to start as soon as I mounted my bike and started pedalling fast and loose.  Although Coach Mary's instructions were to start out in HR Zone 2, I found that I was a little jacked up from the swim, transition, etc., and found it hard to settle down.  I did eventually get things a bit more under control and concentrated on getting my nutrition in as planned (which I f-ed up at Steelhead). I took in about 20oz of fluid (both EFS and water) per hour, along with some EFS Liquid Shot to hit about 200-250 calories per hour.  Also took 1 salt tab every 30 minutes or so... I think.... it gets a little hard to keep track! The course was hillier than I thought it would be, with a bunch of rollers and a few steeper climbs that got me out of my saddle.  One spectator was cheering us on and saying - "and you thought northern Ohio was flat!!" She was right! It was all good though, the course was (mostly) enjoyable and took us by some very beautiful country homes.  At one point, I passed by a cemetery that was decorated with many small US flags.  Of course, the fact that race day was Sept 11, 2011 had been acknowledged by many, and there were lots of discussions that weekend about "where you were" on 9/11.  At the time I rode by the cemetery, for some reason I instantly thought of where I was - on my couch at home watching news coverage, 60 lbs overweight and wearing a size 20.  I briefly contemplated how much different things are now - both in the world and for me personally, and kind of became proud of what I can accomplish after losing weight. I must admit I got a lump in my throat for a moment! Nothing much of note happened during the ride... I had some shoulder & neck discomfort, still getting used to my tri bike and had lowered my handle bars a little to get flatter in aero.  It did rain very briefly towards the end of the ride, and the road leading into T2 was a little uncomfortably bumpy, but at least the view was great and there were residents out cheering.  I was hoping to hit 3 hours or less, and when my watch read 56 miles, I was at 2:59, but by the time I hit T2, my watch said 56.5 miles and it had taken me just over 3 hours. Bummer.

Bike = 3:01:57
Avg 18.47 mph
15/32 AG

I had already slipped my feet out of my shoes (my toes were numb! It must have been cool out there) and headed into transition after standing up a little rickety. T2 was pretty uneventful although I did sit down for a minute to put on my socks and shoes as my lower back was killing me.

T2 = 2:35. Man, I am pokey in there.

I headed out onto the run with a pleasant surprise - no stomach cramps! Yay! Super yay! I did have to pee though, and stopped at the porta-potty at the first aide station.  I also felt hungry, like actually hungry in my stomach, so I started eating small pieces of banana at most aide stations, along with some water and salt tabs every hour or so.  I had promised myself that I would put off the urge to walk for as long as possible, and wanted to make it farther than I did at Steelhead before giving in.  Technically, I think I did.  Besides brief walks at aide stations - I just can't seem to eat/drink while running - I kept plodding along.  At about 2 miles I saw my friend Russ heading back in. Yikes! He was almost done and I was just starting :-)  About 4 miles in I saw another friend Dave as he was on his way back. I actually enjoyed the way the run course was kind of zig-zaggy because you could pass by people in opposite directions and see them a lot.  I think I first saw Mary around 5 miles (maybe?).  She was behind me, it seemed about a mile or so.  She told me later I looked like I was running normally, and she did not think she would catch me.  I thought she for sure would because she has been running really well, and has been posting better times this season. We saw each other a few times at cross-over points and cheered each other on.  But then, I hit my wall.  It happened about 8 minutes later than it did at Steelhead, in between Mile 8-9.  My legs did not want to pick up and move, my back and shoulders could not stay upright, my nagging hip injury/whatever it is was hurting, and I was HUNGRY.  I ate almost a whole banana, and walked about a 1/2 mile while it digested.  Shortly thereafter, Mary caught me. I tried, really tried, to stay with her and use her cadence to pick mine up a bit.  But my legs Were.Not.Having.It.  I told her to kick ass and that I would see her at the finish, and then watched her disappear in the distance as I shuffled along :-)  Miles 10-13 were hideous.  I wobbled/stumbled to the right a few times, wondered if I was bonking, took in more EFS Liquid Shot, more cola, more everything.  Finally, sweet mercies, I was back in the park grounds and could see the finish line. Sort Of. I knew it was near a certain roller coaster/landmark and I watched that thing come closer on the horizon.  Finally, I was "running" through the chute, Dave and Russ were cheering for me, I groaned/weakly smiled at them, and kept shuffling along around a trailer where we hit a mat that alerted the announcer to our pending arrival.  A volunteer tried to pass me a US flag to wave but in true Canadian fashion I was embarrassed to decline and profusely apologized for doing so, and there I was, heading towards the finish line where the photographer was gesturing for me to raise my arms in triumph. Oh my god I could barely get them up over my shoulders! I managed to smile and stumbled across the line, where I found Mary waiting for me. What a relief!  I could barely stand up, and sat down for a few minutes before getting myself up to go visit with friends.

Run = 2:50:09 Holy Crap. This is horseshit.
Avg 12:59/mile
24/32 AG

So.  When I started running, I thought I was moving a bit faster than I actually was.  I did not really pay attention to my watch and was running by feel.  Apparently, according to my retrospective analysis of Garmin data, I started off running slower than at Steelhead, which I was really surprised about, because I felt much better. I am not quite sure what to make of this but know I definitely need/want to improve!

Total race time was 6:37:54, about 7 minutes slower than my goal. Although I am slightly disappointed in my run, my swim and bike went very well and the challenge of triathlon is getting all 3 to be perfect at the same time!  I also try to remember that even finishing the event is something I should be happy with, and I am.  I had a good time (mostly!) and accomplished a goal that I worked almost all year for.  Hopefully, I only go up from here!

Right now, I am in the middle of a 3 week rest period and haven't run at all since the race.  Although I have been up to some monkey business on the bike (future post material), I haven't been doing much.  I am thinking about what races I might want to do next year, as well as new goals.  In about a week or two, I will be getting back into it. And I actually really look forward to it!

Looks like I will continue my quest to "tri to balance".

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Once More with Feeling!! (Part 2)

Where did I leave off? Oh yes, 2011 was declared the "year I would complete a 1/2 Ironman!"  Training under Coach Mary's direction started the 1st of December 2010, and right away I marvelled at how many hours a week we were doing: 6.  In retrospect, this is pretty funny.  I clearly had no idea what I was in for :-)  While I must admit, my volume never got much higher than 10-11 hours per week - I just didn't have the time! - I did find it enough to satisfy my need to be moderately active and yet challenged, both athletically and in life LOL.  When all systems were running well, I managed to "make all my blocks green" on Training Peaks, which was very satisfying!  Some weeks of course, I just was not able to fit it all in... household responsibilities, family obligations, and my own darn body just refused to cooperate.  Like this past week, during which we hosted 30 family members for a party, I prepared the kids for back-to-school, and came down with a cold.

In an effort to not completely neglect my family (and I hope I didn't), I signed up for 1 race a month (a year in review will follow at some point) all leading up to the big show: Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Presented by Pizza Hut (what a hilarious title!!). And now I present - my first ever race report!

The weekend of August 15th, Andy and I headed off to Benton Harbor, Michigan with Little Mary and her hubbie Paul for an adult weekend away. Yes, that's pretty weak as far as weekend "getaways" go, but hey, I gotta take my chances where I can.   We arrived on Saturday under very dark & ominous skies, and were greeted shortly thereafter by a massive thunderstorm.  Scratching our plan to check-in our bikes the day before (the Transition area was closed due to the weather), we Expo-ed a bit and caught some dinner with a large group of triathletes who were also there from Windsor.  I tried to go to bed early (lights out at 9pm), but of course had trouble falling (and staying!) asleep.  Lesson learned:  always check the hotel alarm clock to ensure it is not accidentally (or on purpose) set to BLARE at 1:00am!! O yes, that's what happened in our room, and I could not figure out how to turn the damn thing off.  I think - in my sleepy stupor - I simply turned the volume down. In fact, it could be playing to this very day :-) I finally dozed on and off - having nightmares about the potential for a choppy (or cancelled) swim.

My (actual) alarm sounded at 430am, and it was time for my pre-race breakfast of a toasted white bagel with PB, a banana, and a small tea. I had organized my race bag the night before so getting ready was a snap, and except for a small 5am parking lot argument with my buddy Dave about how to get to the race site (none of us looked the night before? Sheesh!!), we were off!  Since Andy was running in a relay and did not have to set up transition, he dropped us off as close as we could get and we rode our bikes into the race site under the cover of darkness.  Some people had headlamps - good idea! My poor friend Dawn could not wear her prescription sunglasses (since it was still dark) and was practically blind as we rode in.  I love these minor pickles... they make me laugh.

As we made our way into the transition area - which was dark CHAOS except for when you got blinded by the smart people with headlamps - we started to hear rumblings that the swim was cancelled.  What we could definitely hear was a whipping wind and crashing waves.  Oh no!!! I had been hoping for an overcast day, since I suffer in the heat, but not a hurricane! Unfortunately, in very quick order, Mother Nature put the beats to my goal of "completing a 1/2 Ironman".  The swim was CANCELLED.  The race director announced that there were 7 foot swells, rip tide currents, and small craft advisories.  Now, I am known as "Safety Syd" among my friends, so I definitely appreciated that he did not want anyone to get killed, but I was soooo disappointed about the swim.  I swear I went through the stages of grief as I stood in the Mile long line for port-a-potties.  I trained 8 months for this event, and to top it off, the swim is my best discipline (or where I tend to place halfway decent).

Alrighty then, I sat around stunned for a while and got hungry while I waited for the "time trial" bike start to kick off.  Another lesson learned: pack extra food in case of emergencies!  If all had gone as planned, I would've started swimming much earlier and would not be or notice hunger.  As Bib #508 I waited for five hundred and seven other people to roll out before me, approximately 3 seconds apart, and eventually, I was off!

Coach Mary had yelled at me (well, she typed in CAPITAL LETTERS) that I was to be careful for the first bit of the bike... no major heart rate spikes, steady riding, high zone 2, ease into it and don't pay attention to what anyone else is doing.  And like the rule follower I am, I pedalled along getting warmed up, passed a lot (LOL), and into the groove of things.  Within the first 5 minutes I realized I had put my bike number sticker in a really dumb spot, and it scratched my inner right thigh every time it went by - so about 90 times a minute.  Realizing that this would annoy me the whole f-ing time and possibly make running uncomfortable later (and I don't need any extra help in that area), I decided to pull over and put it in a different spot.  Once I started up again, I then realized the adhesive had worn off and I was worried it would fall off the new spot.  OK, over to the side of the road I go, digging an elastic band out of my fuel box (I am not quite sure why I even HAD the band), and after stopping I secured the stupid bike number with the elastic.  Lesson learned (are we up to 3 now?):  Put your sticker in a better spot!!!  Now is about the time I realize I have to pee. Oh boy, I have never had to pee on a long ride - ever.  Buuuuttt, I sat around for a while and drank before the race, and never got to jump in the lake if you know what I mean.  So, following the sage advice of Coach Mary, I just pee'd on the bike! Well, it wasn't that easy. I did have to stop pedalling, coast and relax a little bit, and then wash myself down with some extra water.   Wow, not even 5 miles done and I've already stopped twice and taken a bit of a pee break.  Now that these issues are out of the way, the rest of the ride was WONDERFUL.  It was honestly so much fun, the rolling hills and changing gears kept me completely engaged, and the time just flew by.  After about 1 hour or so, I picked up my effort into a tempo zone, and with about 25 miles to go I just gave her the nuts.  I pedalled as fast as I could in as hard a gear as I could manage, and let my heart rate park itself in mid-zone 4.  This section of the ride had long rollers on beautifully paved roads with awesome descents.  I had an absolute ball.  I think I must have been having so much fun, I forgot to drink the amount I planned, and skipped one of my gels.  Would this come back to haunt me later?

Transition was no problem, I hopped off my bike with my feet already out of my shoes and gingerly trotted to my spot. On the way there I realized - stomach cramps!  This has been a problem for me for 2 seasons now.  They are not the kind where I may find some relief by visiting a bathroom, they are upper abdomen straight across under my ribs.  Ok, I tried to chill out, tell myself this was not really unexpected, and I would just start out easy on the run.  About 500m in, I realized I had to pee again.  What the?!  This never happens to me, especially since I didn't drink much on the bike.  I quickly stopped at the port-a-pottie at Mile 1 (I just couldn't pee my pants twice in one day!) and was on my way again.  I seriously took my time for the first 6 miles, just running by feel (horrible) and not watching my pace or heart rate.  I could not stomach the thought of taking a gel, and tried to sip cola and water at each aide station.  I also took salt pills every hour as planned.  I think this may be the ONLY aspect of my fuel plan that I executed perfectly! Pretty funny as this is quite contrary to how I usually am - meticulous about following the plan.

By about 7 miles, I was convinced I could not run any more. Between my stomach (still having cramps) and my quads (they were saying "no thank you!"), I was a mess.  Seeing how many other people were walking was an invitation to do it too, and before you know it I was mentally negotiating small walk breaks.  Well, each break got longer and longer, and I think I walked much of miles 7 through 10.  Every time I gave myself some positive self-talk, a little devil sitting on my shoulder said something contrary. I swear, it was like an episode of Bugs Bunny up there! I also ran into many other competitors from Windsor, some of whom were having a tough time, and we would walk/run together. I liked the double-loop course since it did lend itself to seeing people I knew.  Miles 10-13 went a little better, but I still walked a bit.  A friend came upon me with about a mile to go and wanted me to run with her, but my legs seriously felt like they were going to buckle at her pace, so she went ahead - but not without making me promise not to stop :-) Sure enough, I managed to hold on during that last mile and get 'er done with a bit of a kick.  I actually got passed by someone in my AG about 200ft from the finish chute, but I passed her back right away and did not let her back in. I am actually pretty proud about not giving up and letting her beat me. Small victories!!

I sat down in the sand for a loooong time right after the finish line.  Little Mary asked about getting me medical attention, but I felt I just needed some time and rest. That medical tent looks scary!! :-) Unfortunately they were not serving any food I wanted to eat (Pizza Hut pizza, big surprise! LOL) and henceforth, reinforcement of a lesson learned: pack extra food! A Snickers bar would've been absolute heaven at that time.  I was exhausted, happy, and relieved. I had done 69.1 miles.  But not quite a "1/2 Ironman".... it felt a little hollow.

Immediately, friends started talking about signing up for another event, the Rev3 Cedar Point Half, scheduled for Sept 11th. Little Mary signed up as soon as we got home! But I stated rather emphatically that I was done, tired, and not sure I was cut out for longer distance events.  Or triathlon :-)

But like any true triathlete (or Type A masochist), I could not resist the siren song...the lure of another race.  And the chance to ACTUALLY COMPLETE the distance.  Remember?  2011 is the year I will "complete a 70.3". Gah! I was 1.2 miles short.  Two days after Steelhead I felt remarkably good. So much so, I wondered if I had pushed myself hard enough?  Did I flake out on the run? Can I be tougher?  In retrospect, part of my problem I think,  was that I was short on calories and possibly experiencing hunger pains on the run.  I missed my mark on calories through drink and gels. I f-ed it up quite good actually.

And so here we are: 5 days away from another kick at the can:  the Rev3 Cedar Point Half.  Here is my second chance to get 70.3 miles under my belt and hopefully do a better job on the run.  Stay tuned!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Let's try this again... Once More With Feeling!!! (Part 1)

Well, here we are! An inaugural blog post! At the end of the season! This is the first chance I've found to get started :-)  And hence, the name of this blog: Tri to Balance. This has been the theme of my triathlon adventures to date.  I work full-time, my husband works more than full-time at a business he started last year, and we have two young girls, Sarah (7) and Allie (almost 5). Blah, blah, blah, most of you are probably in the same boat.  I have wanted to start a blog for a long time, inspired by many of you fellow bloggers and my pal Tri Like Mary, and I am finally taking the time to get down to here goes!

A little backstory: In 2007 following the birth of my second baby, my husband Andy and I realized we were F.A.T (technical term - obese - no lie), and were not setting a good example for our kids.  We made a commitment to lose weight, and long story short, I lost 65 lbs, and he lost about 40.  If you care to read it, the long story can be found here, as we were featured in our local paper at the time.  Well, I am happy to report that over 3 years later, I have kept off the weight I lost all due to the magic of triathlon! Ok, I guess most of you know it's not magic. The "magic" is an ongoing regimen of 3-4 runs a week, 3 bike rides, and a couple of swims for good measure.

For the past couple of years, I have participated in "try-a-tri" and Sprint distance events, with a few running races sprinkled in.  But then I started hanging with a "bad crowd". And by bad crowd I mean people who are really, really fit, really, really dedicated, and really, really fun!  These people are triathletes, the kind who I used to think were crazy - you know, competing in 1/2 Iron and Full Ironman distance events!  Last November (2010), after probably a few too many drinks, a few of us newbies (and more experienced folks too), got talked into signing up for the Steelhead 70.3 in Michigan....the closest 70.3 to my homestead of Windsor, Ontario.  And 2011 henceforth became the year I would do my "first 1/2 Ironman"! (after a slight hiccup... story still to come)

My buddy Mary and I, we had been running etc together for a few years (and taking ourselves quite seriously LOL), and decided to hire a coach so that we A) wouldn't over-train and injure ourselves, and B) would cross the finish line (with a smile on our faces as a bonus!) Enter: Coach Mary.  CM runs Tri Moxie Coaching with her partner Angela. They are both super-duper athletes, Kona-qualifiers, and busy moms. Check out their web-site!  I LOVE having a coach.  I am nothing if not a rule-follower, and when my coach says do something, I do it.  Run 40 minutes? I wouldn't dream of stopping at 39:50 even if I am right back at my house! I need to keep going till the allotted time is complete :-) Something LM (Little Mary) teases me about quite frequently.  So, I might be slow, but I am a diligent and studious athlete who does what they're told.

Since it has taken me about 6 hours to complete this post by working on it on and off (the kids only seem to fight when I look at the computer... and in fact I just got interrupted as I wrote that sentence by one reporting that the other cut some hair off their Barbie), and it has gone on waaayyy too long, I will tell the Story of Steelhead another day.  But I won't keep you waiting for long.  I have 10 months of sharing saved up :-)