Posted by: pursuingsub17 | September 17, 2013

Challenge Penticton Race Report – if at first you don’t succeed…

Not sure what kind of a race report this is going to be. It’s taken me just over 3 weeks to write it. I’m glad I waited though because I completely changed my mind about what I wanted to say and how I felt about everything.

I do know this – I learned a lot that day, experienced things that I realize now are new challenges to overcome, and re-affirmed my belief that things happen for a reason. They say if you learn even just one thing from a race, that’s still a success. So here we go…

To start, I really felt prepared for the race and of course our wedding after. Everything was in place for the wedding and it was going to be small anyway so I wasn’t even letting that interfere with my race focus. My training went well and I felt calm and ready. However, after arriving in Penticton Thursday night, there was a stream of things that I did that I know better not to do. I’ll get to that in a minute.

I woke up Friday to rain – first time I had ever seen that here in Penticton. Of course it was raining. It was my race curse! I didn’t let it get me down because quite frankly, I don’t do the heat well so I was hoping for cooler weather come race day. Friday’s registration went really smooth and there wasn’t a lot of athletes milling about the village. I checked out a few tents and then we went for a nice lunch at the Hooded Merganser – We decided not to go to the athletes dinner – despite that it is “mandatory”. This was a good thing for me. I know that from many of Marc’s races in the past that this is not something you want to do if you don’t want all the hype to get you worked up. Too many people talking about what their race strategies are can make you lose your focus. So we visited friends who were renting a house in Naramata Bench and it was a very relaxing evening.

Saturday morning, I went for a 20 minute run and felt great. Followed that up with a 15 minute spin on the bike to make sure everything was okay. Marc did the same and realized he needed to make some adjustments and then off we went to check our bikes in – where we noticed that there wasn’t a lot of room. They didn’t have that many bike racks and crammed as many bikes as they could together. I already had a premonition that this wouldn’t be good – but at least I didn’t have to set up a transition area. At this level, all your gear is in separate bags that volunteers give to you during transitions. That afternoon, we got our gear ready. I cross checked my transition list and had everything ready – even cut up my rice cakes (which later, discovered they were too big) and put them in my transition bags and special needs bags. There – ready to relax. No. No, not really. Fate wasn’t going to let that happen.

Now I’ve said before, I am not good company the day before a race, regardless of the distance. I prefer to keep myself isolated from people for good reason. Although I still felt calm and ready, I prefer to stick to a tried and true routine that I had finally mastered last year in order to stay focused, eat properly and in a timely matter, and get plenty of sleep. I do not subscribe to the “you don’t need much sleep the night before a race” myth. It doesn’t work for me. Just like filling up on pasta and meatballs the night before a race doesn’t work for me either. So here came mistake number one when Marc said “let’s have everyone over at our place to barbeque tonight!” I should have put my foot down, realizing that Marc hadn’t trained much and probably didn’t really care all that much about the race. I think he quickly forgot his first Ironman Ceour d’Alene back in 2006 when he couldn’t handle being around all the people we were staying with the night before the race and needed quiet time – and a quiet dinner. Well, I agreed. So we picked up marinated chicken breasts and peppers pre-stuffed with cooked brown and white rice. Both were loaded in spices by the way (I think you know where I’m getting with this). This is NOT what I learned to eat before a race. On top of that, we had to wait until 7pm for my cousin and her husband to get back from grocery shopping. Another big mistake. We should have had dinner between 3 and 4pm.

I was agitated that night and didn’t want to visit much. I had a hard time keeping up with the conversations going on because, frankly, all I wanted to do was chill out and go to bed. I wanted desperately to be left alone and was cursing myself for agreeing to visitors the night before a race. I never do that. NEVER! So I went to bed agitated after company left. Bed time wound up being 10pm rather than the 8pm I had originally wanted. My gut was bloated at that point from all the spice in the stuffed peppers and chicken. I drank water to hydrate and settle my tummy but that led to several pee breaks in the middle of the night. I tossed and turned – probably getting about 4 hours of total sleep.

Morning came and I put on my Betty Designs tri outfit. Despite the lack of sleep, I felt mentally good. I even felt a little giddy. I made myself 2 Eggos while sipping on Skratch Labs when after my third bite, I hacked. No – didn’t throw up – just gagged. Marc said “what was that?” and started laughing. I laughed as well and said “I just gagged!!” Well, after doing that about three more times, I decided that liquid calories might have to do. So I sipped on that as we walked over to get body marked and into transition. I was listening to ACDC – “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If you want to rock and roll)” on my ipod and was entertaining Marc with my fancy dance moves and singing (not! lol). A nice volunteer pumped up our bike tires and away we went for one more bathroom break and get into our wetsuits.

I was still feeling bloated and uncomfortable but my mind was calm. I calmly walked over the timing mat an onto the beach. Marc was already in his wave start. Everyone was calm and relaxed – despite the fact that the water was choppy! Well, accomplishment number one. The choppy waters didn’t bother me and my swim went really well. There was no anxiety! First time ever! Despite swallowing water and trying to fling my arms over the waves, I was passing people in the wave group ahead of me. My trunk rotations were awesome. Coming back to the beach, I was gliding swiftly to the shore thanks to the current. I got out of the water two minutes slower than Marc at 1:32 – walked up the exit, pointed at two wetsuit strippers and headed directly toward them like I had done this a billion times. I got my T1 bag and headed to the change tent. I didn’t ask for help but I think now I should have. Too late now. I made it out the other side of the tent with my Oakley’s on, helmet on, gloves on and grabbed my bike – knocking over the woman’s bike next to me of course (remember my premonition). No time to pick it up, I shouted at a volunteer and he looked after her bike. I felt bad but I had a 180km bike to conquer. I mounted, passed my cousin and our wedding photographer, Marc’s dad and step mom, and I was off!

This was the beginning of the end for me. After 10 minutes I tried to eat my rice cake and gagged again. So I drank my sports drink instead thinking I just needed to give myself some more time. Unfortunately, this continued for the next 40km. I tried to relax, taking in the amazing scenery, and just stay focused. I knew that an 11km climb was coming soon and realized I needed something in me to be able to keep going. I started grabbing gels from the volunteers. Those were forced down. I grabbed a banana by accident. Tried to eat that and almost threw up. I kept drinking water and taking salt pills but I was rapidly running out of fuel since I couldn’t swallow anything. Right when I started feeling better so I could eat, I picked up speed. That was a mistake. Trying to go fast and gobble down much needed calories is a no-no and I knew better but I wasn’t thinking. Then it came – Richter’s Pass. Thankfully I knew how long it was after talking to Marc and his friend Andrew so I didn’t feel defeated at 6km and there was still a big climb in front of me. But it was tough. I did make it but after that, I had 5 rollers to make it through before special needs and at this point, I knew I was done. I couldn’t even get over 15km on the flats. Then I realized that hours had gone by before I had gone to the bathroom. I sat up in the saddle – but nothing. I was dehydrated and out of calories to burn. Looking at my watch, I thought if I could at least make it to special needs at 120km, I might be able to push myself another 60. But the reality was, folks, logic stepped in and shut me down. I was going to end up in the med tent after the bike. I had a pounding headache, couldn’t keep food down, was dehydrated and even though my legs felt fine, I knew I wasn’t fine. I packed it in at 100km, knowing full well that even if I did make bike cut off, it would be a narrow margin and I might not make the 41km run after. At the aid station, I pulled over and they called the sag wagon.

I didn’t feel disappointed – even though I do now. But doing the math, I knew I probably wouldn’t have made it anyway. I just kept getting slower and slower. The sag wagon picked up three more people – and I found out later a lot of people packed it in early that day – but I knew that despite not training, Marc was too stubborn to do that. We passed him on the course and he looked beat up. I thought if I get back to the bike dismount in time and he sees that I didn’t make it, he might give up. Right.

They wouldn’t let me in to get my gear until 5:30pm – had an hour and a half to wait, despite the fact I already had my bike. I found my friends and family and hobbled over to them with my bike and in my bike shoes and told them my story. We saw Marc coming in an hour before bike cut off. I would have been an hour behind him if not more so I did make the right, but tough, decision. At that point, I was telling everyone that I wouldn’t do this race again. I had decided that I realized my limits out there and that was okay. Of course, writing this now, I have changed my mind. I managed to do a lot of research and thinking about what went wrong and I now definitely want to do this again – but that will be in another blog. I promised Marc we would take next year off – but I will definitely do a half and take what I learned from this day into my half next year and get another PR. Maybe even start coming in FIRST in my age group since I made it to third twice this year in the sprint distance!

Back to my story. Marc, of course, headed out on the run despite seeing that I did pack it in. His friend biked out to him on the course and told him what happened to me and that made Marc want to try even harder to finish even though the last time he ran was probably a year ago. He told me later it was because he knew I worked so hard for this race and he had barely trained and that it was just unfair that my body let me down. So he felt it was up to him to finish and give me his medal. I managed to shower, eat with my friends and head back out onto the course when we heard that Marc hit the turn around point at 8:48pm and we found out his special needs bag had gone missing. Remember at the beginning I said that I re-affirmed my belief that things happen for a reason? Well, I knew Marc needed to see someone he knew. It was going to be dark and lonely out there. Last year his son headed out to find him. I knew that I was still in decent enough shape to hike back as far as I needed to in order to find him and keep him going. So I told his family and mine what I was going to do and headed out.

As I trekked along, the participants became fewer. The wind picked up and I had to hold my hat and lean into it to keep going. I passed several aid stations. The volunteers were still encouraging whoever was left. They never wavered and packed up until they knew the last person had passed them. So proud of those people! That encouraged me to keep going. Then it started to rain and I saw lighting off in the distance. I kept thinking, poor Marc. He didn’t have his special needs food and clothing to keep warm. I had to find him. I saw an ambulance heading the other way and I felt sick. Ahead of me were three girls trying to find their friend on the course so I kept following them. At 8km I saw two volunteers biking back with flashing lights. “How many more people are out there, ” I asked.

“Just two” they responded.

I thought I was going to be sick. Maybe Marc was in that ambulance? Maybe they had already brought him to the med tent. Then I saw the three girls and their friend heading back to the finish. Behind them was a figure that looked like a man, power walking in a great big t-shirt and a glow stick around his neck. It was Marc. I’ve never felt so relieved. He looked at me with a big grin and said “Hi Sweetie! I better book it if I’m going to make it!”. He told me a volunteer gave him his t-shirt to stay warm. (another reason why Penticton volunteers rock!) We walked/ran back together. I texted my family that I had found Marc. He was the last one left at that moment but eventually dug deep and passed the woman in front of him in the last 2km – so he was second last. Now you might think that being one of the last finishers was a horrible experience but it was so cool! Nobody had any idea how little he trained and he was going to finish this race, even if he didn’t make the cut off.

The Challenge Pen finish chute was amazing. I got to run with Marc over the finish line. They had a conga line going right in the finisher’s chute! As we ran through, I realized that if I hadn’t decided that I couldn’t finish, I wouldn’t have been there for Marc. I wouldn’t have trekked back to find him and encourage him to the finish line and I wouldn’t have been able to cross with him. Things happen for a reason. I had wanted badly for us to finish this race together and although we didn’t technically finish, we both crossed that finish line together. The best part was that Challenge Penticton let him have a finisher’s medal and t’shirt. The Challenge Penticton folks rock. They knew that despite coming in after the cut off that he still did the full race (he was about 20 minutes past midnight). Marc turned around and gave me his medal – but I insisted he wear it and they let me put it over his head in the finisher’s area.

Marc still wound up in the med tent for about 10 minutes. I then hauled him back to the hotel room. He showered – we went to bed – and the next day moved on to the next event, getting married.

As for me, well, like I said, I changed my mind about giving up on an iron distance race. I am not quitting. Quitting would be easy. No, I’m going to take what I learned and do battle in 2015. Maybe Challenge Pen or maybe back to Ceour d’Alene where it all started for Marc and I. The gagging? It shocked me since I had never experienced it before. But I found out after I had some time to do some research that it was called “gag reflex” and was due to a combination of anxiety and excessive exercise. It is definitely not a rare occurrence. A friend of mine said she knew exactly what I was going through. It happened to her every time before a skating competition – but of course she said she could finish because she knew it was only a few minutes so she could get through that with little calories. I didn’t think I was feeling anxious but seriously, even the most seasoned pros have a little bit of race day anxiety. I just need to know how to control it. I also need to control my speed. I was going way too fast once I started feeling better and therefore had trouble now digesting food.

What a science this sport is!

So that’s it. My story is not ending and this blog will continue. This was just a first race that taught me things – things I can work on for the next one – and maybe I had to stop to help Marc. Plus, I conquered my fear of open water and battled tough waves to nail an awesome swim. I also made it up Richter’s Pass so I know what to expect next time. So I didn’t fail. I’m still pursuing sub 17. If Sister Maddonna can do this at 80, I still have time to work on my goal!

Posted by: pursuingsub17 | August 22, 2013

Life is like a triathlon – and I’m ready for battle!

Well, it’s been 5 years in the making and in three sleeps, my big race will be here. How did I get here? There’s been a lot of ups and downs in my life but, like an endurance race, I’ve stuck to my guns and plowed forward. Interesting – yes, life really is like an iron distance triathlon. You have a plan but at the same time, you have to know how to deal with the unexpected. You don’t expect to flat twice. You don’t expect they’ll run out of water at a critical point. But rather than give up, you just have to take what comes and deal with it. I think that’s what I’ve got out of all this in the past 5 years. I get frustrated. But life is a journey and one should expect that the road bumps and mistakes will happen and it’s all about the learning experience. Whether you finish first or dead last, it’s what you’ve learned along the way that matters – and remembering the funny experiences and the people you meet on the course are what really counts.

My tummy finally did a few waves of butterflies yesterday afternoon when I saw an email from Challenge Penticton that was entitled “Race Week”. Ga! I’m not nervous in terms that I don’t think I can do it. I know I can – mentally and physically. It’s more excitement I think. It’s the same flutter that I felt when I was 10 years old and was in a synchronized swimming competition and show. I had a solo routine and I had practiced over and over and I knew I would nail it but the excitement and anticipation put my gut in knots.

As I’ve said before, the training has been easy and other than two bouts of the flu, I have been relatively injury free. I trained by myself. I know people say that isn’t a good idea but I still pulled off two third place finishes in my division this year training alone. Some people can. I’m an introverted trainer. I know how to push myself and my life experiences has taught me endurance and perseverance. I’ve endured an abusive marriage, depression, body image problems, financial setbacks – I can certainly get through 15+ hours of physical and mental challenges. I’ve come out ahead on everything else. I can finish this race and feel accomplished.

So that’s it my friends – my musings before race day. Not nervous, just excited. And then I get married two days later! It’s been a whirlwind year so far but a good one. Lots of sacrifices had to be made to get to this point but I made it. I’ve grabbed my little demons by the horns and although they’re still hanging around, I’ve got them on a rope and I’m controlling them. They’re still a part of me – and sometimes I need to call upon them but I can control them now.

When I get to Penticton, I’ll write again before the race – followed by my race report sometime the week of August 26th.

Keep #599 in your thoughts on Sunday!

I have one more week left of heavy training and then I start to taper. I honestly don’t know where the time has gone. I guess it’s because you’re constantly looking ahead at your plan and completing milestones and next thing you know, you’re there.

It’s been such a whirlwind, I keep wondering if I’ve trained enough. But then I look at my last long bike ride and run and I think “yes – I can do this.” I’m not expecting a pro-level finish. But I do know I will finish anywhere from 15 hours to 16 hours and I think that’s a pretty reasonable expectation (personally, leaning toward 15:30 in my head doing the math). It just stuns me that almost three months have just flown by. I did have a bout of the flu and a bad chest cold that set me back a wee bit but I’m surprised that I bounced back quickly. It makes me realize that waiting for this dream goal paid off. I did get frustrated when I didn’t feel ready after completing a 70.3 or when I was too broke to sign up but maybe it happened for a reason. I know what to expect mentally. I’ve been preparing and built up my stamina and strength over the last four years so training for this iron distance race seemed a lot easier than what I expected. Although I did tell Marc last night that if I was pushing for an 11 or 12 hour finish, I’m sure I would have trained more often and harder.

So if anyone tells you it’s hard to train for an Ironman, don’t listen to them. Just set your expectations at a reasonable goal….and be patient and train for shorter distances for a few years first. I think it would have been tough for me to jump from a sprint to suddenly train for an Ironman. There’s no way I could adjust from an hour long training ride to suddenly sitting on that hard little seat for 5 hours. So that would be my advice I guess for anyone contemplating it. Two things – if you really want to do an Ironman next year without any prior conditioning, expect it to be tough and don’t set your finishing time expectations too high and definitely go on the 36 week plan. But if you want to build up to doing an iron distance, I highly recommend doing a couple sprints and a marathon, then the following couple years, train for sprints, maybe an olympic distance and a few half irons. Then when you are ready to train for the full distance, you’ll be in better shape and you have a better idea of what to expect. Two years ago I was ready to cry when my bike training day was approaching 3.5 hours, I wanted off the bike so bad. Two years later, I feel like I could keep going after completing 5.5 hours.

All that being said, there’s a few things to definitely expect. Expect to be tired…ALL the time. Get as much sleep as you can but you’ll still be tired. Eat properly. Make sure you’re getting your vitamin c. Take Cold Fx or Immunity Fx if you are feeling even slightly run down. But regardless, you will feel like you have a perpetual hangover for 4-5 months, depending on what training program you are on. I imagine that hangover will also last at least a month after the big race.

Expect to be hungry all the time. Well, for me, I can’t even think of eating solid food after a long workout. It usually takes at least a couple hours before I can eat something solid. But I will have liquid calories (no – ha ha – not beer and wine) in the form of a protein shake or a can of Coke. But then, I’m famished after those two hours are up. I also eat all day at work. My co-workers laugh at my cupboard full of snacks in my office. I jump from craving salt and carbs to suddenly craving sweets within an hour. Remember though – eat properly. I eat 6-7 times a day but I learned to eat healthy foods – no Big Macs at 2pm when I go to pick up the mail.

So that’s where I am right now – the training has been going really well, which is why I feel like I’m not training enough because I do have time to fit it all in. Yes, my bathroom gets cleaned once every 3 weeks and there’s always dirty water bottles piling up and the dog feels ignored but I don’t feel like “Why did I do this!!??. It’s more like “why is this easier than I thought??” I have had to make some sacrifices regarding family and friends but maybe I’m lucky because there haven’t been complaints. Maybe they get it. I know my boss doesn’t so I just don’t talk about it. I don’t train during my work hours anyway – and if they want to do something after work, I just say I have plans. I just can’t believe this goal that I set for myself back in 2009 is going to happen in about a month though…again, where has the time gone???

And in all this training, I’ve still had time to plan my wedding. Everything is almost done. Just have to wait for the date to come about. Maybe it’s just that I’m good at multi-tasking – and Marc and my cousin have been a big help with executing wedding plans.

But I am still fighting falling asleep at my desk! I’m sure when I get back from Penticton in September, I will sleep 24 hours.

Posted by: pursuingsub17 | June 12, 2013

Why? Because if I didn’t do triathlon, I’d be a Borg

We triathletes at one point or another – whether just starting out or having been in it for years – get that same question…”Why?” My boss doesn’t really understand – she’s more concerned I am going to get sick or badly inured and therefore, cannot come to work. My mom finally has accepted that this is a big part of my life and I get “that’s nice dear” and she’s even shown up for the race but she doesn’t understand why. I read Triathlete magazine and Triathlon Canada and blogs and books on the subject and there are oodles of articles about trying to explain to people why one would choose to do triathlons. Each answer is different – none were mine.

Let’s just put this out there….the majority of us can’t answer the question because we haven’t figured out why ourselves! We just do it. We’re not sure why but it gives us a rush and it’s addictive. I had this discussion with Marc last week over a pint and nachos – the racing anyway – is like a drug. The more used to the distance, the more (longer distance) you want. I’ve gone from running a 10k race to saying “pfft – half ironman – piece of cake”. But really, what is it that keeps me going? Why do I sacrifice friends and family for a 5 hour bike ride followed by a one hour run? Why do I squeeze into a wetsuit and risk going into shock in an ice-cold lake on a cold, wet, rainy morning to do an olympic distance triathlon? Why have I been obsessed with that sub 17 goal? Why AM I actually doing this?

When I created this blog, I listed some demons that I was trying to squash through my pursuit of amateur athletics. It has been quite successful (although they will always be a part of me to keep me in line – life is all about balance after all). But whenever someone asks me “why would you do that?” Or I get a look of astonishment and horror from my boss when she finally realized how long an actual swim, bike and run is for an iron distance race, I’m stumped. I’ve never known what to say except “well, it keeps me healthy.” To which I’m sure people are thinking that there are other ways to stay healthy. So then I say “well, it’s fun.” Is racing for 7 hours in the blazing heat, suffering from dehydration and sunburn or having to wear a wetsuit on your bike to protect you from the snow during a 70.3 distance race fun? How is that fun? That can’t be the answer. “It’s how I deal with stress.” No. When you spend each moment of your spare time training and still trying to fit in housework and socializing and paying bills and buying groceries, and even making healthy meals to eat… if anything – this adds more stress. My best friend would rather meditate or read a book.

At some point, the answer comes to you…sometimes during a long run or bike ride, getting inspired by a personal hero – or even during a quiet, mundane moment where a flash of brilliance bursts through the surface. While everybody has a different reason, I finally figured out mine.

It happened yesterday when my boss asked me to photo copy this 75 page book and give two copies to one of our ergonomic consultants and our industrial designer. Right away, I noticed it was a new concept on marketing – branding products. Well, isn’t that ironic, I thought. I have a diploma in Public Relations. What made me laugh is the book is just a new tactic utilizing age old marketing and advertising methods. I’ve seen the same concepts before in my advertising classes, studied them, practiced them – knew them quite well. To think though – and I just had to laugh – here I am, with all this knowledge in sales and marketing, photocopying a marketing book so that our consultants can learn how to brand our products…or our company. I don’t really know. I used to ask “what for” but that was always met with the feeling that I didn’t need to know because I was just the office assistant. So as I mindlessly copied each page, I started thinking about my life and all the goals I had set out to do as a young twenty year old and never finished – 3 years of post secondary education that never amounted to much in terms of a career. What surprised me is that I felt completely emotionless about the whole thing. I wasn’t angry, sad or resentful. It wasn’t even acceptance. I just felt nothing. It was more of an observation than feeling hurt because my talents were overlooked. That’s when I realized – all of my career goals that gave me a spark and something to work towards have turned to dust and unfolded into this mindless photocopying task. Career wise – I have failed to feel fulfilled. But it doesn’t bother me because I am good at this mindless work and I get paid well for it. But ultimately, I am a drone.

Sure, I have time to change that – but that change would have to come soon given I’m at mid-life. So why am I not worried? Why do I not feel the need to just quit this job and chase my dream job? Why do I continue to be a robot when it comes to work? Why have I accepted that fact when, the first 40 years of my life, I defined myself by what my career would be? Why was this not upsetting me in any way?

Because suddenly, my career goals do not matter anymore (maybe that’s a maturity thing???). Something else has replaced that need to feel accomplished. When I’m at work, I feel mindless and on auto-pilot. I am an efficient machine and excel at getting projects done and out the door on time. I work within a collective hive, all cogs in a wheel that produce work efficiently and in a timely manner. I am not allowed to think and I’m not asked for input – but when I’m asked to complete a task, damn it, I don’t ask questions – I just do it and I do it well without even taking a breath, a break, without having to eat or drink and without having to think.

However, when I’m training, I’m alive. I have to plan, think on my feet, celebrate success and deal with upsets.  I get angry when a truck drives too fast, too close to me when I’m biking on the highway. When I notice a swimmer in the lane next to me during a swim practice try to outpace me, I grin and think “ok…bring it.” After which, we both look at each other at the end of the lane and laugh and high five. A few days before race day, I deal with butterflies and a pounding heart and an overwhelming urge to go to the bathroom way too many times – the things that remind us that we are flesh and blood. Nerves tell me not to listen to race morning chatter but during the race, I happily exchange thank yous whenever I hear “on your left” and we both say to each other “good job” and we mean it. I get excited over my fellow athletes triumphs and I can relate to their nutritional woes. When I’m watching Marc or a fellow age group triathlete cross the finish line after enduring hours of pain and suffering, I cry for them. I get teary eyed whenever I watch Sister Madonna, with a bright smile on her face, cross the line at Kona under a dark, starry sky.. I feel that competitive spirit. I laugh along with the other back of the pack bikers who crack jokes about just wanting to finish under 17 hours. When I cross a finish line – no matter what type of race, I feel a jolt of electricity through me that says “You have accomplished something spectacular for yourself! You worked hard to get here and you did it!” I look at the volunteers smiling at me and people I don’t even know clapping and banging on the finisher’s chute boards and I high five little kids I don’t even know and I’m grateful to be alive and living in this wonderful moment with all these wonderful people!!!

At work, I am Borg. When I swim, bike and run…I am human!

So there is my answer. I am a triathlete because it makes me feel alive, human, accomplished, and part of a great group of individuals who are all have their own individual goals and means to get there.

Have you figured out your “why” yet?

Posted by: pursuingsub17 | June 8, 2013

My somewhat race report for Calgary half marathon

I should be writing these things the next day. I’m just usually too damn tired and of course, always have to be at work the next day and I’m so damn busy there, I don’t have time – and then I train.

Not much to say really. It wasn’t my best race – but it wasn’t the worst either – and given the conditions, I actually didn’t do too bad. I beat myself up over it when I finished but looking back, I actually did well all things considered.

For starters, it was in Calgary so I booked a hotel for the night before but we didn’t leave Edmonton until noon. That put us in Calgary for race kit pick up at 3pm and I was a wreck thinking we wouldn’t make it in time. But we were still rushed. I wanted to go to Tri-it to see if they had any sales on. Despite finding my cool race suit for Challenge Penticton, that put us at 4:30pm at the hotel. We had to rush to unpack, change, head to the Spaghetti Factory for an early dinner (reservations were for 5:30) and then back to the hotel so we could relax in the hot tub. Dinner was good – but alas, the hotel got rid of their hot tub. So back to the room where I stretched, decided to look at the race course for the first time (big mistake) and then hit the pillow.

There were several “pre-race” mistakes that were made here kids. First, my anxiety level was too high because we didn’t leave early for the trip and therefore had no time to just relax the day before. Everything was just go, go, go. NEVER will I do that again for an out-of-town race. On top of that, my back and hips were tight from the ride down – with no time to get out and stretch along the road trip. Mistake two was looking at the race course for the first time the night before. I knew there were no big elevations but I never bothered to study the course to make sure I didn’t get lost. While I was able to get to sleep okay, I woke up three hours later with an irrational fear that I would not remember the course and get lost.

Rookie mistakes – I should know better.

Additionally, we discovered at 2am that we were given a room directly below a double door party room. So after I finally got to sleep, I awoke an hour later to hear stomping and a fiddle. Far be it from me to get angry over a caleigh but in this case, I had to be up in three hours and I had only had about 3 hours of sleep. Earplugs in, I could still hear everything and Marc was furious. We had to call the front desk twice to get them to shut down the party and even then, it only lasted an hour before they started up again.

This isn’t a rookie mistake. This is just plain disappointing and one of those things that you can’t control before race morning. I was angry but I thought – well, I did my first half ironman with only 4 hours of sleep. This isn’t an A race. I won’t expect a pr now. It’s okay. (But I still complained to the front desk the next day).

Race morning – I was hydrated. I was so tired I was relaxed and acting silly. But at the same time, not thinking clearly. I decided to keep my jacket on since it was only plus 6 – not remembering I can handle the cold well racing and I tend to overheat more easily than others. Race day mistake number one. Number two was not doing a warm up. I had lots of time. But I hung around with Marc cracking jokes and acting stupid. Number three was suddenly realizing how many people were in the corral with me and getting overwhelmed. Yes, I had my watch ready to hit “start” but when I crossed the start line and heard my “beep”, I got caught up with the rest of those around me and bolted too hard too early. Mistake four.

Remember how I obsessed about getting lost on the race course? Well, to make sure I didn’t get lost, I tried desperately to keep up with anyone wearing a 21.1 race shirt because I had lost my pace bunny. Not sure if this is a rookie mistake – but in my foggy mind from lack of sleep, this is all I focused on for 3/4 of the race. Although – this might have been key to at least get me to keep moving.

Marc had suggested a throw away bottle of hydration mix and Carbo Pro. This was a good idea and I’ll remember it for race day at Challenge Penticton. However, mistake five occurred when I opted to blow past the water stations thinking I was plenty hydrated. I wasn’t. Remember that I decided to wear a jacket? I was sweating profusely at the 2km mark and peeled it off at that point already so, yes, I sweated a lot and did not replace it with much needed water. I know better. What the heck was  I thinking? This was not my typical routine.

I did have plenty of fuel though because of that bottle of magical mix as well as three gels along the way. But dehydration got the best of me at 14km when my performance declined considerably. At 10k, my time was 1:06. That should have put me at my current pr of 2:12. But somewhere between that point and 19km, I slowed down considerably. Everything hurt. I picked it up at 20km but by then, it was too late to make up for lost time. I crossed at 2:20 – 5 minutes slower than my slowest time.

It was, however, a fun race. The Calgary Marathon (and half and 10k) is well supported. There were thousands of people there to watch and all along the course there was quite a bit of entertainment and people holding signs that made you laugh and push on. I’d do it again. I’d just be better prepared.

I have to add though my final mistake was not making arrangements with Marc as to where we should meet after the race. There must have been 10,000 people just in the stands! I had no phone and no money. But I did find a good Samaritan who must have seen that I was tired and ready to start crying so she gave me her cell phone so I could call Marc. Whew!

After, I posed for my product shot for Big Chief beef jerky. It’s a good one! If I find the link, I’ll post it. Of course I munched on my protein stick from them afterward :).

But, friends, there is always a silver lining to every cloud. Back at the hotel, because I just did the half, we were able to still shower and pack before checking out. I then complained about the party above us (and was told it was a birthday party – to which I responded “yeah? so?”). Really, why would the hotel, knowing I was in the race the next day AND I was a Starwood Preferred Guest, put me in a room directly below a party room that they knew was booked for that night? Anyway, they offered a free brunch for both Marc and myself. I was a little disgruntled – thinking a free night might have been more in order because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay at that hotel again – but the breakfast proved to be the best thing about that weekend. The place was pretty empty as brunch was almost over. Marc and I helped ourselves to as much food as possible. Turning to go back to my table, I saw a familiar face – Simon Whitfield! We had wanted to meet him so badly that weekend for an autograph but missed every opportunity. And here he was.

Marc, being much braver than myself, got up and asked him for his autograph. What an incredibly nice guy! He was so friendly and both of us got to shake his hand. After years, Marc finally got to meet his hero…and I must admit, I was a bit starstruck as well but also very impressed by how gracious Mr. Whitfield was…and just really down to earth.

So, that my friends, is my long race report. Lessons definitely learned – including to quit beating myself up over my finishing time. I didn’t get a PR, but it got the race cobwebs out of my head, got some new lessons learned (big one being it might be my hydration and not my nutrition that is hampering performance) and was reminded of old ones, and we got to meet Simon Whitfield. So overall, 5 stars out of 5!

Next up – Lake Summerside Olympic distance triathlon next weekend. Just signed up today…why? Cause Marc got a great job and we’re suddenly in a whole new position financially!!!! Ah, but that’s another blog.

So it appears my nemesis is back.

This, my friends, is a good thing. It’s easy to download a training program and try to follow it as best possible, or even have a coach, but sometimes you need that extra push – that fire in your belly that drives you past the dreaded plateau – the one thing that quickly changes your mind from thinking it’s okay to miss a workout to “I better get my ass on that bike!” What motivates each of us to push the limits is always personal. In my case, the one thing that has been missing to give me that extra motivation to not just complete a workout, but crush it, is my Prima. Some of you may remember her. She’s been out of the picture for 4 years…until now.

I’ve always said things happen for a reason. Due to financial issues and crappy weather conditions, I opted not to sign up for the Run Wild race in St. Albert and instead, do the half marathon at the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon. I finally saved up enough to register two days before online registration closed. Scrolling through the registered list to not just confirm my name was on there but to see any familiar names, I found Prima’s. If I hadn’t been broke and our spring full of snow and cold, I wouldn’t have signed up for this race – and thus, would not have realized she was in the same race. Although it’s too bad I didn’t know that earlier, I still managed to call upon my inner viking for the 10km run workout immediately after registering and managed a 7 minute negative split without even feeling I was running hard.

Now this might sound like one of my pesky little demons affecting me but no – it is actually an accomplishment because I’m harnessing my emotions to make me more competitive – even if that means just beating my PB. I think it was Simon Whitfield who hung a sign with Javier Gomez’s name on it in his training room – if my memory is correct. Maybe it was two other triathletes but the idea is the same….sometimes you need that competitive spirit to kick it up a notch.

Therefore, as I go into my third week of training for my iron distance race at Challenge Penticton, I feel strong. I feel no regret for postponing my first season race (despite the fact that it is going to be wet and cool). I feel more ready. The past 4 years has made me stronger, smarter, faster. With my carrot dangling in front of me…or shall I say, running in front of me, I will most likely get a PB on Sunday.

So look out my dear – try not to wear anything too flashy on race day because, although I might not beat you… yet, if I spot you, I will have my eye on you, hunt you down, and you will hear my breath at your ear as you head toward the finish line.

 

Posted by: pursuingsub17 | May 14, 2013

Training season week 2 for Challenge Penticton

Well, I certainly have been a chatty cathy on here, haven’t I?

It’s been a tough 3.5 months. Marc’s renovations business just isn’t picking up speed for the first time in years. Usually he’s busy by now but he hasn’t been. So after a good discussion, we thought it was time to hang up the hammer. It’s been slow going for him but there are a couple really good prospects right now. He’s had a couple good interviews with a few strong, big companies here and after those tough 3 months, I’m starting to feel positive again. That’s why I haven’t been writing much. Counting every penny that goes in and out of your bank account is pretty stressful and it’s put a damper on the spirit of training. But I think there are clear skies ahead.

Timing couldn’t be better too. Just as my official 16 week training plan with Training Peaks kicked in last week, the weather has miraculously improved and I had enough money to at least pay for the plan. I finally have a structured workout schedule and so far, other than missing my swim workouts last week and one bike ride, I’ve stuck to it. The plan is a beginner Ironman triathlete plan developed by Gale Bernhardt. As I’ve been training for the Calgary half marathon and including bike workouts already, it was easy to get back up on the saddle. I’ve been a little lazy with the swimming but it’s not a huge concern for me. That’s my strength. But I will don the swim goggles and suit today for my first official swim training.

Speaking of plans, Marc and I also decided to just get this wedding ceremony done as well and what better place to do it than Penticton – right after our race! What a great way to celebrate. It was easy to plan too. I had the nuts and bolts all penned out in 6 hours on a Friday afternoon – right down to a triathlon themed wedding cake! LOL. Of course, it helps that the wedding is informal and small. We’re having it at the Penticton Ikeda Japanese Gardens just down the beach from the hub of the race activity. Not exactly a beach wedding but really, the Gardens are beautiful and I certainly don’t mind supporting them. This gives our close friends and family a chance to be at the race as well as the wedding too.

So nailing down a training plan that was a good fit for me and being occupied by wedding ideas has made the last depressing 3 months zip by. With Marc finding possible work in the next few weeks, he’ll be able to start joining me at the pool and actually wanting to go for a run. Tempting him with a bike ride hasn’t been hard. I think the both of us have come to really love that aspect of triathlon.

And the best part about the wedding is that the budget is all under five grand – probably looking more at 4 grand. The cake, dinner for our guests, the wedding officiant, wedding photographer, flowers and decorations, and a small after party back in Edmonton all fits a small budget. It’s been fun planning it and once a theme was picked, we just went with it. “Triathlon” – the sport that brought Marc and I together! LOL. We’ll have fun with it. I even found cowbells that we can customize for our guests to ring at the race AND the wedding. I’m such a nerd.

So, yes, things are looking up. I’ll be training and blogging more often. Big focus this year is learning about good nutrition! Hopefully I can dig up some good tips for everyone.

It’s great to be back!

So, it looks like it’s official – but my triathlete friends have all been talking about it for a few months. Edmonton will host the Grand Final in the ITU World Series in 2014. My boss said “as a group, we should volunteer for that and have the company give back to the community.” DAMN straights I’m volunteering. Only I’ll be volunteering as a massage therapist. I should have enough hours by then to be allowed to at least be a student volunteer. If they can recruit non-massage therapist trained individuals for giving athletes massages at Ironman Canada, I’m sure I could at least volunteer my services under an RMT at the ITU Grand Final.

Oh yes my friends – I WILL be going to school in September. I might have to cash in my RRSPs under our wonderful government’s “Life Long Learning Plan”, or take up pole dancing in my spare time (ahem), or…or promise Rumpelstiltskin my first born (good luck collecting though – I’m 45), but I am going back to school come Hell or high water… or however that saying goes. I found a great school finally that I feel I can trust for quality training and now with the Grand Final in 2014, I’ll have some great experience. Is this life finally easing up? Or is this destiny rising?

Bahahaha – destiny rising. Sounds like an action movie starring Jason Statham and Beyonce. WHAT??? That could happen. Oh wait, it did…kinda.

Well, aren’t I an odd duck today?

Anyway, at a time where I’m wondering how I’m going to pay my phone and power bill and I’m so exhausted lately that I’m getting headaches at work regularly and can barely stay up past 9:30, I feel like things are coming together. Goal setting and visualization really do work maybe. I said in two years I was going back to school. Ok, yes, I found out we actually have another year and a half left on one vehicle payment and two on the other rather than one being paid off by March but, I don’t give a rat’s hairy butt. Finding out about the government allowing cashing in on RRSPs and not getting taxed for 10 years unless you pay it back in that time gave me a little hope. Then, I find a great school that just opened up and there was no song and dance – just pure honesty. Now the ITU will be here in Edmonton at a time when I’m just graduating from year one. Excellent timing – almost…more than a coincidence…

Where is my training in all this? It’s been tough. I wake up every morning saying “this is it – doing a bike/run workout today with bike drills” followed by “‘cos this is all I have right now.” Then 5pm comes and I have a headache ripping from my neck, across my skull and into my eyes. My legs hurt. My hips hurt. I’m so tired that I can’t stay up past dinner. Well, each day is a battle I admit. But I try. I can’t afford a coach or to pay for a training program. But I did find a great 36 week Ironman training plan on Trifuel.com. I’m saving up for a Polar heart rate monitor and a zippy new race outfit for race day. I haven’t been able to register for any other races – but my heart is still set on the St. Albert Run Wild half marathon in May as my first race of the year – and I’ve already committed to Challenge Penticton. But for the first time, I’m looking beyond that big goal I set for myself. I shouldn’t. It was a goal I set before I even started this blog – but I can’t seem to get my head out of 2014.

I’m already struggling with wanting to read about anatomy and massage therapy techniques and having to get my workouts in. On top of that, the ever flowing stream of friends and family wanting Marc and I to come over frustrates the heck out of me. But I have to just say “school next year – this year is your big sub 17 goal”.

I’m sure my motivation will come back. I had a hard time last year and was ready to take the year off but then I started my program and got back into it. Maybe it’s just winter. I just want to hybernate. Or I need a holiday – somewhere different or somewhere isolated so I can be at peace and re-energize.

But I digress – exciting times ahead my friends. Tour of Alberta coming this fall (right when I go back to school as well) and with the Grand Final, maybe we little group of triathletes will start gaining respect on the bike training routes. Heads will turn – kids will look at us and say “Mommy, I want to be a triathlete.” And of course, massage therapy will be even in more demand. My evil plan is all panning out! Muuuaaahahahahahaha.

 

Posted by: pursuingsub17 | December 31, 2012

We are not so different, you and I

I’ve been meaning to post this for awhile. I don’t know where the time has gone. Even my week off at Christmas flew by  and I don’t know how. I feel like I’m drowning sometimes. I barely keep my head above water at work but I don’t know if it’s because we are very busy or I just can’t tolerate the job anymore. I was getting easily agitated – and then too burned out to write or even workout. My weekends are booked up with parties and obligations to visit family and friends. I haven’t been keeping in shape like I did last year. It’s like I’m letting everything get to me…then I noticed 5 lbs gained on the scales!

So no more. I’m going to use my agitation to my advantage. I’ve been looking for the metaphorical “Prima” that pushed me to train harder back in 2009. This will be it. My aggravating job and my resolution to start saying no and feeling guilty less will keep me doing swim drills, doing hill work on the bike, and running long. I’m going to be 45 in three weeks. It’s about time I started focusing on me.

That being said, as 2012 comes to a close and we’ve all survived the so-called Mayan apocalypse, I look back on the year, pre-bitching season (also known as post race depression season), I realized that I did accomplish a lot in terms of racing and training. I had amazing short races – moving from the bottom of the pack to the upper 30-40%. I landed not only a PR in my half iron race but I also managed to shave off a half hour in my bike that day. I even finally learned what works best for me for pre-race nutrition and sleep. I learned a lot of lessons last season – all with positive results this time. So I’m done bitching and I am going to turn my inner bitch into a lean, mean, fighting machine to conquer my “pursuing sub 17″ goal.

Now the reason I haven’t written in awhile is because I think I was whining too much. Yeah – my life sometimes sucks and sometimes I feel like I’m pulling a piano behind me or the treadmill is going in reverse and I’m not getting anywhere – but then I read posts from fellow runners and triathletes and they make me chuckle because I realize – we’re all the same. We have the same issues with “muffin top” and imagining zombies swimming up from the depths while swimming to grab you and pull you under. We are all frustrated with family obligations taking away from our personal time and an inability to say “no, I can’t make it to cousin Ed’s dog’s birthday”. We are all trying to find what nutrition works best with our own chemistry and we all feel like we’ve taken a step backwards when we are sick and can’t train. We all have aches and pains and set backs, be it financial or physical. We are all secretly dreaming of that day when we win the lottery and can walk into our boss’ office and say “Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to work here. I have learned much and feel that I have advanced in my career and everyone here has been supportive and wonderful to work with. However, I have the opportunity to now fulfill personal goals and thus, must give you my notice.”

Baahahaha!!! Yeah – that’s what we HAVE to say. You all know what you would REALLY like to say!

Where was I? Oh yeah. We all face the same adversity – battling demons who try and hold us back from that finish line. It doesn’t matter what country we come from, what our income levels are, what our family history is, or even age (to a certain degree). We’re all in this together. We’re all struggling with that annoying question from the boss, co-workers, family and friends…”Why do you do it?…and the most frustrating thing of all is that no matter what you say, they still don’t get it. Let’s face it – trying to get them to understand is futile so just get your gym bag and go workout and forget what they think or say.

Does that mean I’m done bitching? No. But when I do, I do it because I’m sharing what I’m going through because I know that someone out there is going through the same thing and it’s nice to see that you are not alone. It’s nice to hear that someone has a multitude of issues in their life and they are battling like hell to push through those problems by using any means possible. It’s great to find out how people manage and sacrifice to obtain their goals because, damn it, if “x” can do it and has the same problems as I, then I can do it. It does mean, however, that I will try and be less depressing and maybe share how I managed to say no to co-workers pressuring me to go for a beer after work instead of training. (“oh, come on – just for an hour – you can work out tomorrow.”).

Tomorrow, I will spend a couple hours finding a pre-season training program for January to April and then a full iron distance training program to get me motivated and focused. Next week I will finally nail down my anticipated 2013 race schedule. And I know all of you out there will be doing the same thing – and saying “no” to second helpings, decline a beer with the gang, determined to find time for yourself and your training. Just knowing we’re all in this together can give us the strength and courage we need.

See you at the finish!

Posted by: pursuingsub17 | September 17, 2012

Ironman – is it the name or the distance you care about most?

Well, I did it. Signed up for my first iron distance race three weeks ago today. I’m still miserable and depressed and haven’t been working out much. When I do, I’m exhausted. 4 mile runs are all I can handle. My friend climbed a big hill on her mountain bike out of the saddle and beat me to the top. By the time I got up there, she was off her bike, having a little rest and my legs were on fire. She doesn’t do triathlons - she doesn’t bike much. Yet she out biked me up a big, long climb.

Anyway, back to what I was originally talking about and meant to update for the last couple weeks. Penticton was beautiful as always. The race was perfect for Marc. Great weather. Not too hot – not too windy and no rain. He did well on the swim (I got to strip his wetsuit!) 1:14 and a bit. He had the best bike ever but tanked 10km into the run. He felt sick – nauseated – and had to walk the rest of the way. But he still did well. Came in under 15 hours! Unfortunately, due to some delays in the massage tent and the fact they took away his silver blanket, he started to get cold and wound up in the medical tent because they thought he was in shock. Good grief.

But the next day was a great one. I made up my mind that I didn’t care if Ironman Canada was no longer and it was going to be Challenge Penticton. I love Penticton. I love the people and the course is a great challenge (no pun intended). When I first found out from Marc the day before I flew down that there would not be an Ironman, I have to admit, I was put out. I wanted the “M-dot” tattoo on my leg! I wanted to be branded an Ironman. But after finding out about the history behind the Challenge group – very big in Europe – I wanted to give them a chance.

You see, not all of us think it’s about the name. An iron distance race is still the same distance. It’s still an amazing feat to conquer and you can wear that badge of honour proudly. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that. It’s the distance. It’s hammering it out for 15+ hours, crawling across the finish line few minutes before midnight and wearing a finisher’s medal that not a lot of people have. So it’s not Ironman. It’s the same course, same distance…and it’s Penticton. I’m known for supporting the underdog. I want to give the new kid a chance. Some people don’t like inaugural races – but I think it’ll be a cool thing 20 years from now and people at the gym or out for a run see my Challenge Penticton tattoo and they say, “wow! you were at that first race?”

I know it will still be fully supported by the town – the same volunteers who volunteered for Ironman for 30 years. There might be a few hiccups – but that’s okay. There were ALOT of hiccups at Ironman last year (like running out of water on the steep climbs in 40 degree heat). There were hiccups this year – such as not selling athlete dinner tickets to family and not finding out until you got to the door. There was a lot of miscommunication happening.

I’m not going to knock Ironman. The “M-dot” is a famous, well recognized symbol and I still would have signed up for next year had they continue to be Ironman Canada Penticton. There’s something about hearing your name followed by “You are an Ironman!” But a name is just a name. Anyone who has never fathomed running even 5km will be impressed if you say you swam 3.8km, biked 180km and ran 41.1km…all in one day and under 17 hours. It doesn’t matter what the name is – and it won’t in another 10 years or so. It’s the distance (or the journey!) that counts for me!

Now I have to get out of my rut. Just so damn tired still….or I’m homesick for Penticton. But I have a lot of training to do. And I have some new resolutions as well. Time to git ‘er done!

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