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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Posted by: pursuingsub17 | August 9, 2012

On life’s treadmill – moving forward but going nowhere

If you’re in a bad mood, don’t read this. Or if you believe that misery loves company, go ahead. I’m not going to apologize for what I’m about to say. When I started this blog, I was very upfront that I’m not holding back on anything I’m going through – good or bad – because this is a personal journey, not how to complete a 13 hour Ironman. I’m writing in here for me and those of you like me who are going through the same thing. So if I sound like I’m whining and that there are people worse off, you can keep that to yourself. Sometimes, you can’t keep things bottled in. It isn’t healthy. I’m writing this because it’s helping me sort through life’s shitty days and personal demons.

On Tuesday morning, after the long weekend, and after my fourth night of insomnia, I felt like I was about to cry. I was drying my hair – miserable because I couldn’t sleep again, and not wanting to go to work so bad I thought I was going to break down. I fought the urge to cry and kept drying my hair – suddenly becoming empty. I’m not going to say “what’s wrong with me?” because I know damn well what’s wrong. I’ve studied psychology and I know what the signs are. I’ve been slipping into some sort of depression the last couple of weeks. I’m not sure if the lack of sleep is causing the depression or the depression is giving me insomnia but I feel completely empty.

What the cause is, I don’t know. Is it a really bad bout of post-race depression – the worst I’ve had since I took up running – or mid-life crisis? My boss’ first reaction would be that I’m having a mid life crisis. What is mid-life crisis anyway?  If it’s that moment when you realize you’re 44 years old and you’ve done nothing spectacular in your life that makes you feel content or satisfied and you’re running out of time, then, yes. That’s what I’m having.

Part of these heavy feelings are my lack of enthusiasm for my line of work. I’m not getting into that again. Safe to say, I need a change badly. Yes, my boss can be frustrating but the atmosphere and work environment are actually really good. I just don’t like what I’m doing anymore. There’s no challenge or feelings that I’ve accomplished anything other than letting the staff and my boss beat me up or stand on my shoulders. I feel like a drone at work. I’m totally numb towards what I do. I do it. I do a good job. I get paid. I go home.

A lot of my melancholy, however, is that I feel like a shell. There is no me. I don’t exist anymore. I am merely here for others’ successes. I am a robot domestique. In cycling, that can be an honour – like the king’s first knight. The domestique is bestowed with being just as much a hero – treated as such by the fans and the media and (hopefully) the other team members. But that domestique is human with their own aspirations and the opportunities to accomplish them. I’m a machine. Opportunities are not allowed for me. I move forward, keeping everyone’s dreams alive, but I go nowhere.

What I want out of life now isn’t lofty, extravegant or grandiose. They’re simple – but I can’t have them. I have two in particular but I can see the way things are going that it isn’t going to happen. I’m tired of sacrifice. I feel like I’ve been doing this forever – now I’m half way through life and still not allowed to have what I know will bring me some sort of inner peace. Everytime I want something, the door slams shut and I’m told to wait. I’m running out of time now. It’s too late to start my life over and get that little piece of self. What’s the point now?

I used to be angry, then anxious. Now I’ve just reached a point where I can’t see any hope in achieving those goals. They aren’t even a dream anymore. They’re just gone. It’s like my future just broke off and fell into an abyss – non existent. Now, I’m just a drone moving forward through the years until I get old, wrinkly and die. The only memories that I have is that I kept putting off what I wanted in life so I could be there for others – giving and never getting back.

But I deal with it by waking up in the morning and putting on a mask – because no one wants to listen to me when I’m sad. I’m not allowed to be sad or depressed. I’m supposed to be the one that is happy and joyful and lifts others’ spirits. My mom competes with me over sob stories. I don’t even bother telling her when I’m sad. My boss is miserable 70% of the time and needs me to pick her up. Everyone else around me “needs” me to pick up the pieces and keep things together. So I can’t have that future anymore – and I can’t be sad about it. At first, the mask worked –  but now I wear my mask with a hopeless kind of exhaustion – like the kind you see in an old circus bear who doesn’t even fight or growl anymore. They just dance with an empty look in their eyes – and deep inside they don’t care anymore.

This August, I am signing up for Ironman Canada 2013. At least, thank Christ, I have that. I forced myself to go to the gym last night (as for the 30th night in a row, dark thunderclouds appeared, bringing hail, torrential rain and all things chaotic). I had to talk myself into it by saying “just do 20 minutes on the eliptical trainer.” I wound up doing a 30 minute run. My legs are still tired – so I ran 4.5km instead of 5. But that’s okay. It also felt good and gave me a pick me up. Today, I realized, I have actually all my races picked for next year without thinking about it too hard. So this has given me a good distraction from my emptiness. Like I’ve always said, this is one goal I can set for myself and not let anyone prevent me from doing so. I just hope that I can somehow do the same with everything else in my life. This domestique wants to retire.

Posted by: pursuingsub17 | July 25, 2012

Missing triathlon racing already

It’s been three days since my last big race of the year. I feel like I did when I attended my college graduation, drove home after saying goodbye to everyone and had this weird feeling of emptiness. It was like I had a plan, executed it and then…suddenly everything stops. It isn’t even like a fork in the road and you can’t decide what route to take. The route just ends. So you ask yourself “what do I do now??”

I’ve had empty feelings before at the end of race season but it usually doesn’t happen until the fall. When we drove back from Sylvan Lake on Sunday evening, we were on the stretch of highway I did all my training on and I thought “I’m gonna miss you, little highway!” Maybe it’s because the past four months went by so quickly. I know that’s part of age – time going by too quickly. But the last four months were FAST – fast like a sprint race. I’ve had four good races this year – and they were all bunched up together. One in May, two in June and one in July. Sure, there’s some more running races in the fall but I miss triathlon! Soon I’ll be back in the gym because it’s too miserable outside to go for a run.

Last night I drove home from work and saw a young guy out for a run. You could tell he was training for something, looking very focused. I thought “ha! Thank God I don’t have to do that anymore.” Then I got home and just thought “what do I do now?”

I will get back into working out again – even if it’s just to maintain fitness for now until I think I’m ready to start working on or improve upon my small gain on the bike. But right now I feel like all my goals are gone. That’s the only way to describe it.

What doesn’t help is that I HATE my job and right now that’s all I do. I go to work. I come home and make dinner. I go to bed. I go to work. Repeat. I guess I’m missing training and racing because it was my outlet – my distraction from how freakin’ miserable my job is and how unhappy I am in this line of work and how badly I want to go back to school and can’t at the moment. I have a shitty day in a shitty job but I trained after work to feel accomplished in something I worked hard at. My greatest accomplishments have been in the last 5 years – all involving running or triathlon. At work, I feel drained, apathetic, and going nowhere.

Now that training is over – I’m left with the reality that I have a crap job and I can’t afford to go back to school right now to change careers. I’m in a personal purgatory with nothing to look forward to. Each morning I drag my ass into work and I don’t want to talk to anyone – despite having to put on a happy face and pretend I LOVE what I’m doing. At the end of the day, I go home angry, resentful and frustrated.

I guess the best thing to do right now is set some new goals for the next 6 months. I’m not ready to start plotting out next year’s races (except of course Ironman Canada 2013). But I think I should start looking at what I want to accomplish in the off season – training related or not.

Well, there’s the answer, isn’t it? While I complile my mini-bucket list, I will keep my head down, my office door closed, and plow forward to next year. I’m hoping by September 2013 I will be enrolled in my massage therapy course. It will be another year of new beginnings.

And really, before I know it, I’ll be back in my wetsuit, waiting for the gun to go off!

Posted by: pursuingsub17 | July 23, 2012

Sylvan Lake Half Iron race report – got my pr!

Thought I best get this done while my memory is fresh. I didn’t even write one last year – I was so exhausted or possibly disappointed.

This year was a success – even if I didn’t get the exact time I wanted. But 45 minutes faster than my last two attempts is a success in my eyes!

So here’s the story:

I went into this with a more positive attitude. I was ready. I put the training in that I could and more open water swims so I wasn’t nervous. I was calm with a teeny twinge of anxiety to stay focused – even on race morning. Only one thing nagged at me – I hadn’t had a sports massage in 6 months and my calves and hips were tight.

We drove to Sylvan Lake the day before. We ate a light dinner at 4:30 pm after picking up our race kits and checking into the hotel. Back at the hotel, Marc and I put our decals on our bike and helmets, and made our CarboPro/Gatorade concoctions for the bike rather than scramble in the morning to do it. After a dip in the hotel pool, we went back to our room to relax and got to bed at 10:30pm.

First lessons learned from the past two years: Eat dinner early so it digests; get your race-day nutrition ready the day before and get to bed early to get plenty of sleep.

We woke up at 5:15 am and I immediately put on my suntan lotion BEFORE my tri-suit to prevent the lobster look I had last year. I also put on my body glide around my neck, wrists and ankles so the wetsuit could be removed quickly. We then ate a couple Eggo waffles (brought a toaster) with our pre-race drinks and a cup of coffee and headed down to transition.

Check-in and body marking was a typical routine but this year, I was there in plenty of time to set up transition, pre-race bathroom break, hang out and then put my wetsuit on so that it fit properly. I like going early to relax, stretch and deal with issues in advance.

The swim was two loops. I positioned myself to the side and up the pack a bit and managed to control my heart rate in the first 300 meters and didn’t panic at all. I got a little ticked when I found myself in the middle of a pack that appeared to be swimming with their eyes closed so I pulled away using breaststroke (not usually the swim style of choice but my breaststroke is unusually fast and strong). Finding myself open, I set my sights on the second pack ahead and swam front crawl, utilizing my trunk rotations and smooth, strong strokes. I caught up to them but they were just as bad. At this point, I just dealt with it, despite getting clocked in the head by a woman not aware of her surroundings. I wound up with the same time as always – 45 minutes. But I wasn’t tired at all this time or out of breath. I was 23/56 in the women’s group on the swim.

Going with the wetsuit strippers was a mistake. They were disorganized and inexperienced. But hey – they’re volunteers and I’m happy they were there. It just wasted some of my time and I should have taken the wetsuit off myself. My T1 time was 4:28 and put me at 40/56.

I headed out on the bike like a bat out of hell and kept a steady pace of 28-30km per hour for 40km. This, my friends, was my first mistake of the day. The first 40k is flat to rolling hills. The last 50 are nothing but continuous climbs with short little plateaus. By the time I hit the last massive climb before town, quite a few passed me. At one point, I noticed I was only doing 7.45 km/hour up the hill. But the one difference is that I wasn’t ready to sob. I knew this was coming. I had my salt pills every hour and my gels every half hour. I was hydrated. I squeezed water into the holes of my helmet to cool off. To get up the hills, I used mind tricks that I used to use when I did hill work on my runs. Each hill I picked a category and listed off items alphabetically – race terms, summer objects, food. AT one point, I started singing “C is for cookie – that’s good enough for me.” Then, I heard “on your left” and as the guy passed me, he was chuckling. Good thing the sag wagon wasn’t around. I’m sure they would have thought I had gone insane.

My point is – a little distraction when you are suffering gets your mind off the fact you are suffering.

Again, it was that last big climb was what I dreaded the most. Single lane highway, narrow shoulders full of cracks and potholes, and a series of campervans, semi-trucks, Harley bikers, Chachis driving pimped up Dodge Rams, passed us with little respect. Last year this made me cry. This year…I got angry – and I used this anger to stand up on the pedals and shout “I want off this damn road! GRRRRRRR” and I kicked it into high gear. I climbed that *bleeping* hill like I was in the lead at the Tour de France. Suddenly, that climb seemed to go quickly and I hit the crest. All downhill from here!

Lesson learned? Anger is your friend. Recognize it. Harness it. Turn it into power.

I sailed into town in lying down on the bar and handles – low profile. I didn’t check how fast I was going. I didn’t dare sit up and look. I had done the same on the other hills earlier. So another accomplishment this year was getting over my fear of flying downhill on a bike. In fact, I liked it.

I finally checked my watch as I neared the bike dismount. 3:36. Sweet. However, I know that I have more to learn. I need more hill practice. I need to remember to stay out of the aero position on the uphill portions because my back and hips got extremely tight. I also need to treat racing on the bike like running. Quit going all out at the beginning and pace myself. I know that on the run. I need to learn that the bike is the same.

That being said, I headed out on the run feeling strong. It was hot by this point but my legs felt good. Last year, after 5 minutes, I realized I’d be walking the entire run course. This time I thought “four loops – easy.” Being four loops, too, I got to see Marc a few times. He was two laps ahead of me.

Unfortunately, there was only one aid station on the run but it was placed in the center so you passed it twice on each loop. Again, the residents were fantastic. The lady with the hose from last year was there again. Plus there were two water sprinklers set up down the road. Those saved me since I cannot handle the heat. On my way back to finish my second lap, I saw Marc and shouted to him I might walk the last half. I started experiencing dreaded gut cramps and could no longer stomach gels. I survived the rest of the run gulping down Gatorade and taking my salt pills, cooling down by wiping myself with a wet bandanna I had brought with me. I thought I should force myself to have a gel but the thought made me want to gag.

At this point, I’m not sure if I perhaps took on too much water in a panic that there was only one aid station – or I was just going hard in the heat. I was still running because my legs still felt strong – but I had lower abdominal cramps. Marc nodded his head when I said I might have to walk. Little did I know he was suffering at that point too.

I forced myself to keep running until I hit the second turn when I recognized a familiar name – a triathlete that both Marc and I knew and hadn’t seen for a few years. I shouted “Glen!” and he slowed up and ran with me. He was having trouble as well but only had one lap left after this one so I thought I would run with him to keep him going – it kept me going as well. On my last turn, with Glen being finished, I headed out alone. I saw Marc’s son. He gave me a high five and I said “I’ll be back! Tell your dad I’m craving Coke!!”

My last lap was the loneliest. There were just a few of us left. Thankfully I discovered they were handing out ice at the aid station so that cooled me down. I did walk for about 15 minutes – which cost me my preferred goal time I think – but I ran like heck the last 3km. I had to. I needed my pr. Jasper Blake told me to post how I did on Twitter and I wasn’t about to fail (talk about pressure by the way)! When I crossed the finish, the head nurse from the med tent was handing out the medal to me and talking but I didn’t understand a word she said. All I knew is that she was the nurse and I wasn’t about to start staggering or talking gibberish. All I wanted was my Coke and to jump in the lake. I smiled, nodded, and took the medal myself and put it on. She was trying to explain the inscription on the medal. I didn’t care. All I cared about is that my watch said 7:06.

I did it. I got my pr.

So the race was a success. I had my errors but the valuable lessons I learned from the first two were not forgotten. Looking back, I don’t think I could have swum or biked any harder. The swim will always be frustrating I think – but no longer fearful.  Maybe I could have been a little mentally stronger on the run and refused that 15 minute walk but that’s in the past now. In the fall, I’ll start focusing on strength training again and by January, I’ll start train my bike weaknesses – adding more hills and learn to be more efficient. I’ll try and remember not to over-do it on the first 40 and keep a steady pace. I also have to remember to get out of the aero position on the hill, according to Marc anyway, to save my back. As for nutrition, that will take some research and practice. Definitely going to get more massages while training as well.

Oh, and that wet bandanna I used to wipe myself down to keep cool? I wiped off all my suntan lotion. Today I’m redder than a tomato! LOL. Must remember that little lesson as well.

Posted by: pursuingsub17 | July 20, 2012

Two days before the last race of the year

I can’t believe it’s here already. I feel like it was just a couple weeks ago that I had “heavy leg syndrome” and thought it would be best if I took a year off. How did July suddenly get here?

I’m glad I changed my mind. I feel ready to tackle my third half iron distance. This year, despite having a background in swimming first, I improved my swim by swimming more often and mastering the turn of the trunk to make myself more like an arrow and less like a big barge. My time might only improve by a few minutes but my efficiency is better. I’m not as tired. I also had more open water swim races so that fear of the open water isn’t there like last year (or the year before). I also biked more – my weakness – and found that balance between not enough calories consumed on the bike and way too much. I did more hill work and my bike handling skills are better.

So I will go into this race hoping to do better than the previous two years. I think I’ve learned from the errors made on the other two and had some leaps forward in technique and confidence. I’m also racing a half iron triathlon for the first time WITH Marc. Although he will definitely be faster because of his experience, I will get a pick me up as we pass each other on the run loops.

Here is my list of things I promise myself I will and will not do on Sunday:

  1. I will go to bed early and get more than 5 hours sleep.
  2. I will not eat oatmeal for breakfast on race day (see my Calgary 70.3 race report)
  3. I will make sure I have two tire tubes and not over-inflate my tires – thus causing explosions and mass panic.
  4. I will put on suntan lotion before the race.
  5. I will not eavesdrop on “last minute advice” conversations from other triathletes.
  6. I will not find a spot at the back of the pack for the swim start because I think I’m not as good of a swimmer than I really am. No more fighting to get away from those who can’t swim, sight, and are shouting for help.
  7. I will not think that my wetsuit is suddenly shrinking and trying to choke me.
  8. I will not believe that the undead are going to float up from the watery depths and yank me down.
  9. I will not think that the buoy is so far away that I’ll never get there.
  10. I will not lollipop in T1, deciding if I should or should not wear socks or bike gloves. That decision WILL be made in advance of the swim start. No more 10 minute swim to bike transitions.
  11. I will set my watch to remind me when to eat and drink on the bike.
  12. I will not start crying on the bike on the last climb toward the finish because I’m hot and tired and my butt hurts and the semi trucks are blowing exhaust and dust all over me.
  13. I will remember, if I start blubbering like a baby, Johnny Hoogeland – who got back on his bike, shredded skin and all and finished stage 9 after crashing into a barbed wire fence.
  14. I will remember when I think I’m getting dropped off the back that Sorensen, the little Danish Engine that Could, never gave up. Neither should I.
  15. I will not say “it’s okay to walk”. It is not okay to walk. It is not okay to just finish in time. It is not okay to quit.
  16. I will do a little dance for the crowd at the finisher’s chute if I feel like it – cos I am one to entertain!

That’s it. This is my last blog before Sunday. Then I will write a stellar race report and finally have time to clean my condo. I will start looking at Ironman training plans and save up that last couple hundred bucks to sign up for Ironmman Canada next year. I will then start saving for a new wetsuit that will make me look like Batman. I’ll enjoy nachos and beer with my friends without saying “nope – gotta train.” Then it will start all over again in the fall!

Three words – don’t do it.

I’m at work – half asleep from boredom and the fact a thunderstorm kept me up last night. With not much to do, I googled “how long does it take to train for an ironman” and oodles of pages popped up from active.com, beginnertriathlete.com and various other highly recommended sites. As I perused the blogs and clicked on “sample plans”, I felt a shot of anxiety course through my veins.

“What? OMG – I didn’t do that.” or “I did that and this says not to.” There’s no time to correct mistakes I’ve made training for my half ironman – which is this Sunday coming up. Suddenly I wish I could turn back time. I regret all the “I missed a bike workout so I’ll add it on to my swim workout on Friday.” All the advice says I shouldn’t have done that.

What have I done???

Great. I had been feeling “ready” for this race for two weeks now. Yes, I missed some workouts but I did see improvements on my bike and swim. I reviewed the amount of time I spent training on the bike compared to last year – and I did do more bike training this year. My swim training stayed the same. My run training was down a bit but only for the period of time I was training for a triathlon. I did a considerable amount of running from January to May for the half marathon. But – uh oh, I may have missed some brick workouts – opting just for the bike due to time constraints or that I was tired. Crap. “I’ve failed.”

But as my step-dad has said many times, “you can’t spend your life looking in the rear view mirror or you’ll hit something in front of you.” Very applicable here.

So I shake my head, trying to get that little imp of a demon out that says “you haven’t done enough.” He wasn’t in there until today – and I refuse to let it get to me. I was happy with where I was at until today. I will look at those plans come the fall after I’ve signed up for Ironman Canada. THEN I will promise myself no diversions next year. No “I’m tired today – I’ll stack up my training on Thursday.” I’ll read the advice blogs from all the pros AFTER my race on Sunday and after I’ve had time to reflect on that race and what I can improve on even more.

So take my advice – DO NOT read training advice or review new and exciting plans a week before your race. Put away that brand new Triathlete magazine and save it for after the race. Don’t ask others their opinion. Don’t even think about the race other than reviewing your transition bag and race course maps. Do take a deep breath, say “I trained well and I will finish or do my damn’dest to get that PR!”

Meantime, I have a little spin bike session for a half hour tonight – swim tomorrow and then pack for Sylvan Lake. Yowsers – race day already? Seems like last week I was even pondering whether I wanted to race this year – but that’s another topic for another blog!

Posted by: pursuingsub17 | July 5, 2012

Lake Summerside olympic distance triathlon a success

Well, race three down and one more to go. Did I mention I finally signed up for the Sylvan Lake half iron? Like there was any doubt? Ha ha. My training has been going well so I did it. Marc just signed up today so this is our first half iron distance race together. He’s done 3 or 4 I think – along with 4 ironman races and this is my third half iron but first time we’ve done that distance together.

Anyway, back to my most recent race. First off – olympic distance triathletes are a whole different breed! Yowsa, those guys (and gals) are fast. I got a personal best of 3:18 and I was still last in my age group! I was also at the bottom 25% but really, my times for all three sports were all great so I have to say that this time, where I placed doesn’t matter.

I’ve never done that distance before – so I thought it would be a piece of cake. Hell, I’ve done well at the sprint distance and I knew I could do a half iron so this distance wasn’t bothering me. I won’t ever assume that again! I was faster than normal on the swim – doing the first lap in just over 15 minutes (faster than my pool swims!). I finished in 32 minutes…so I thought I rocked…until I realized there were very few behind me! LOL. My transition was THE BEST EVER!! I was so proud of myself – ahem ahem. I got out of my own wetsuit (no wetsuit strippers) and stayed focused – sticking to my plan of no socks or gloves – and I was out of transition and on my bike in 4 minutes. FOUR minutes! Yee Haw! Most of my T1 times after an open water swim are at least 7 minutes – even with wetsuit strippers. No lessons that nee

Bike was brutal – but it couldn’t be helped. The wind was relentless. It seemed like it was coming in all directions and I felt like I was going uphill 3/4 of the way. But everyone else said the same thing. I drank fluids and popped Endurolytes (salt pills) when due – and always when I felt “downhill” on the bike. Only mishap was losing a gel on the last loop. I only had one pack of Stinger candies for 160 calories and one Carb Boom gel. Mental note: Always pack more gels than what you need in case you lose any! That was a first for me.

T2 was also executed superbly! I was out on the run in 2 minutes. It took me about 2.5 km to get into the motion of running but oddly enough, I didn’t have a bad “rubber legs” feeling. I was huffing and puffing a lot though and the temps went up. I’m not good in hot weather – so when they told me they didn’t have water at the 2.5km mark, I thought I was done for. I kept my pace behind a woman about my age and she said “no water? that’s not good.” Thankfully, they got several refils from a local resident! So they were fully stocked by the time I came around the pond to go on my second out of four loops.

I was overheating but I followed my stragegy of not drinking way too much water (to prevent sloshy gut) and I remembered my salt pills. Thankfully I also had two gels with my run stuff so I didn’t bonk.

So it was a good race in terms of personal accomplishments. I even won a ladies Specialized bike jacket as a door prize! The best part was that my family was there cheering me on….including my mother of all people! She was there when I got out of the water and stuck it out all 3 hours and 18 minutes. She was fascinated. Thankfully Marc was there to explain things that were going on. My cousin and her hubby were there too – as they usually are when they can make it. And Marc’s son, Trev was there too. He’s also going to be a spectator at the Sylvan Lake half iron and Marc’s ironman in Penticton.

He’s taken a fascinated interest – I’m thinking he might be pursuaded to join the dark side! Muuuaaaahahahaaha!!!

It’s funny how a person walks a long road and suddenly finds themselves at the edge of a precipice, and he or she just jumps, without really wondering why or what it was that made them do it. They just do it….because it’s there and it seemed the logical thing to do.

What makes a person ready for something? What is it that makes one realize that they’re ready to take the plunge? Do they even ask if they’re ready or do they just do it regardless? Is it years of pondering and practice? Is it the words of a stranger that triggers a decision or some seemingly unrelated event speaking out to them through the subconscious mind (ie: a song on the radio seems to be about making that same decision)?

I can sit here and think why on a Thursday afternoon at work I suddenly came to the conclusion that, yes, I am signing up for an Ironman triathlon next year. I didn’t spend the last few hours thinking about all my training (or lack thereof sometimes), my race experience, or the elusive magical formula of nutrition that I’m still working on…or what my boss and family might think because I suddenly do not care. It’s not out of spite that I don’t care. I just simply don’t. It’s not even in my mind.

I didn’t say to myself – like I did last year – “I’ll make that decision depending on how well my half iron race goes this year. Then I’ll know if I’m ready or not.” I said that before – but not today. Because today, one more half iron race doesn’t matter.

At 12:48 pm on a quiet Thursday afternoon at work, sitting at my desk, I arrived at my personal precipice – my “razor’s edge” and said to myself, “I’m jumping.” There was no question if I was ready or am I being silly or imagining the reaction and consequences. It was just a logical matter of fact in the moment. I’m signing up for Ironman Canada 2013 – just like, “I am going to work today.” or “I’m going to brush my teeth after having breakfast.”

I think that surprises me more than anything. I’m not worried or nervous – or wondering if this is just plum crazy. It isn’t. Here’s the funny part. It’s like it has already happened – it’s fate – so why think about it? In my future, I’ve already done it so mulling over whether or not I should sign up is illogical. I’m sure I’ll have those moments again in my life where I spend hours wondering whether I should do something or not but in this very moment, I understand Nietzsche’s concept of Eternal Recurrence. If it’s already happened, why drive yourself nuts trying to make a decision? The decision has already been made. It’s already happened so just fill out the form, already.

No need to get into the metaphysical – I have another blog about that crazy side of me. But let’s state the facts. After writing in this blog for – what – 3 years now? My pursuit has become real. I am simply going to wait until tomorrow morning when they post volunteer opportunities for Ironman Canada to find a suitable position, sign up, board a plane on August 24th to Penticton (which was already booked 2 months ago), execute my volunteer duties on August 26th, 2012, watch Marc finish his race, wake up August 27th and slap down $700 in cold hard cash in the late morning and sign up for my first Ironman triathlon.

But back to my original question – what is it that makes one arrive at that decision? Marc said he was watching Ironman Kona on TV many years ago, butted out his last cigarette and stated he was going to do an Ironman race, much to the astonishment of his younger brother. He didn’t feel the need to explain why and he hadn’t been dreaming about it since he was a child – he just stated it as a fact. I thought about it – trained for shorter distances for 3 years – thought about it some more – and then, today, suddenly quit thinking if I was or wasn’t. I simply was. Why? Because I took the road not taken and it came to an edge – and I have to jump off it because it’s there and that’s why I took that road.

So what made you decide you were going to do an iron distance race? Or a sprint triathlon? Or a marathon? Or a 10km race? Did you think about it for some time? Were you always a swimmer/biker/runner? Did your parents encourage you to do triathlon since you were a kid or did you decide recently at 30/40/50 years of age that you want to do one? Why? Have you thought about it for years or did it just come to you over dinner or while driving to work?

This might be my new side project. In the meantime, I have to figure out how to save $700 before August 27th.

Well, my “last-minute race entry” for the Wasa Lake Triathlon was more of a success than I figured it was going to be! It was a great learning race too.

First off – Marc and I were fortunate enough to get a wetsuit for our races (he did the olympic distance). With the water at only +13 degrees celsius, regulations dictated that wetsuits were required. I wouldn’t have done it anyway. Past experience with “shock” because of the cold, despite wearing a wetsuit, has taught me that there was no way I was going to attempt racing if I couldn’t get a wetsuit. So hats off to Steve from Aquasphere – and the fact we made it there on time the day before so that he had one suit left each in our size!

Anyway, I was still nervous but I kept thinking that it’s not long – they wouldn’t let us in if it was too dangerous – I used to swim in these temps when I was a kid. Plus Marc paid my $150 entry fee plus $25 for the suit rental. I hate waste…and I’m stubborn. So I got to the water’s edge early, walked in slowly, put my face in slowly and blew bubbles (can’t remember where I read that but it helped). I swam a few strokes and although it was definitely freezing, I felt that I could handle 750 meters – 15-20 minutes in this should be okay. I then did some stretching, arm movements, and jogged in place for a bit to warm up. Never did the “jog and warm up” before an open water swim. Believe me – it worked. I warmed up.

When we started, I think I headed out to fast. Between that and the cold, I got winded fast and then started to panic. I looked for a canoe or kayak with volunteers – they were still way out! I resisted the urge to put up my hand and shout “help!” in the middle of the pack. I just took control of my breathing and did head up breaststroke until I calmed down. The buoy looked too far away but I eventually got there. When I did, one guy shouted “whoo hoo! We made it this far guys!” and everyone swimming in the pack cheered. This made me relax more and I managed to pull away and finish. There was Marc on the path to transition in his wetsuit – cheering for me and next up on the swim. I think he was waiting to see if I could handle it first before he attempted it for his race (they cut the swim portion back on his race by half due to the cold).

Next up T1. There were wetsuit strippers and I probably should have just by-passed as there weren’t that many. They were doing a good job – but they were high in demand. In transition, my hands were freezing. I almost fell over putting on my socks. I could barely do up my helmet. I managed to get my arm warmers on part way – tried my gloves and then threw them down, deciding I’d already wasted enough time. Shoved 3 gels in my jersey, grabbed my bike and away I went.

That was my best bike ever! I probably went a little too fast as I felt it on the run but for the first time, I felt like I was not lagging on the bike. My average speed wound up being 28km/hr – max speed was 38/hr. I was still smart on the bike. I waited 10 minutes, then started taking on calories. I had two gels and half my bottle of CarboPro/Gatorade mix. Oh, and I did manage to get my arm warmers up over my elbows! I was in the aero position for 95% of the way and cycling big circles, utilizing the “wipe feet” technique. Before I knew it, I was back in T2.

In T2, I had trouble with my bike shoes with the cold hands – and my toes were numb. Then I couldn’t find my running cap! Stupid me looked through my bags. Duh. It was in my shoe, good grief – hadn’t put them on yet. So I put it on, somehow managed to get my shoes on and tied and took off on the run, no feeling in my toes.

Here I kept a steady pace. I didn’t take on any gels but I did take some water and Gatorade at the stations. People were passing me but I couldn’t seem to go any faster than I was and I thought “hey – you weren’t even expecting to do a race this weekend and you’ve been training hard for a half iron distance all week.” So how I managed to cross the finish at 1:40:17, I have no idea! I wasn’t expecting to do that well – I just figured it would be “a training day”.

I was pretty surprised and happy with the final results. I made the 50% mark overall (I’ll post my results). I was 18/37 in my age group. My swim was 19 minutes but I was 9th in my age group finishing the swim! My bike was listed at 50 minutes (20/37 in my category) – I actually did it in 41 minutes and my run was 30:50 (23/37) so at this point, you can see where I screwed up – transitions.

It was a great race and a good learning experience. I felt I did well – faced my fear of the cold water and stuck it out, had a good nutrition strategy going, biked maybe a little too hard (could have dropped back even 1 km) but I still did my run in 31 minutes. My big lesson learned was – as always – transition. I wasn’t focused. Yes, I was cold, but I took too long doing stupid things. I’ve had some good transitions – all because I planned everything out well before the race start (where I placed my shoes, etc.). So I need to actually practice that more.

As for the race itself, highly recommended! It was well-organized and had great volunteers. Even the swag was great! I have a nice long sleeve tech jersey in cranberry and grey. Also included were some great coupons, a sample of Kicking Horse coffee and a PowerBar. We even got a barbecue lunch after! Charlie, the race organizer, did a great job and had to make some tough decisions regarding the cold water.

One more thing I have to comment on though – I have had an injured toe for a week leading up to the race. I thought it was broken but doing some research, I think it may be “turf toe”. Unfortunately, running on it that day lead to another injury. I’m pretty sure I have an extreme form of plantar fasciitis but it could be something else. During the run, to put less pressure on the toe, my foot placement was off and I did further damage in another area.

Two things I’ve learned here – my sexy black and hot pink Under Armour running shoes will be retired. They’re new. I wore them for my half marathon. I also wore them on a speed work run the day before we left for Kimberley (and the next day my toe was stiff and sore). I’ll write more on this – maybe tomorrow – but I’ve decided the whole “barefoot running/running in minimal support shoes” is not for me. I may have overextended the toe – and to compensate for the pain I wound up with another injury. Stupid. I have an important race in just a few weeks and I’m at my peak training for the Sylvan Lake half iron. Might have to sacrifice that one and just do the olympic after all. hmm – maybe my body is forcing me to make that decision??

But I digress. This blog is about the Gerrick Sports Wasa Lake Triathlon and learning experiences from races. If you have a chance to do it, go for it! (The lake temps are usually a lot higher btw!).

Well, I signed up for race two. So far, my commitment to training has been somewhat successful. I say somewhat because I’ve had some moments where work has just left me completely drained. But this week has been stellar – and I remember why I took up this sport. It’s saving me from boredom and giving me a sense of purpose. Okay – I might not get a PR but if I force myself to just get on the bike or go for a swim, I feel fantastic after. That’s the key right now. When “I just don’t feel like it” sounds in my head, I ask myself if it’s because I’m really physically tired (from being sick or maybe a hard training effort the day before) or if I’m just being lazy. Then I tell myself – just go for a half hour – and not even hard. Just do something. So I go and next thing you know, I’m running 9:30 minute miles or biking for an hour and a half.

I also remind myself of my parents – who are retired and becoming housebound. They never go out anymore. They don’t have any friendships outside of Marc and myself and the occasional visitor. My step-dad is wallowing in self pity – my mom does not seem to want to go out and at least join an aquafit class. She’s 66 years old. I see 80 year olds out at the gym making friends. I told myself this weekend, I refuse to do that and I see that this sport has also prevented me from falling into a vast, dark pit of loneliness, depression and lack of purpose. Well, really, lack of purpose is usually what sends people into that personal little Hell. I know. I spent the majority of my 30s there. I graduated from college, got a better paying job, and then spent every weekend partying because…what else was there left?

There is a lot left. I will not be like my parents – staring out at the trees in misery and alienating myself from people.

So once again, this sport has saved me – it has given me sense of purpose – be it just finishing a half iron race or getting a pr or to give back by volunteering at a race or using a race to help a good cause.

Anyway, back to where I started with this blog – signed up for Lake Summerside Triathlon – olympic distance. I discovered it is a fundraiser for Ronald MacDonald House so I decided to try and raise some donations to help out a good cause. If anyone wants to donate, you can go to the donation page and enter Lorel in the search.

I know times are tough – so if you can’t, that’s okay too. My point today was just to thank this sport for giving me purpose – and if you feel the same way, there’s ways to give back. Volunteer or utilize your triathlon race to raise money for a cause that’s close to your heart.

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