Thursday, 16 October 2014

Time to head back indoors….

One of the things I like best about living on the West Coast is being able to train outdoors year-round.  It's not always easy when the sun and humidity are out full-on in the summer or when the mercury drops below -10C in the winter, but it does make for a tougher, stronger athlete.  That said, there comes a time every fall that it's time to put the bike on the trainer and be glad that you aren't out fighting the wind and rain (because doing that on the run is enough), and that time is fast approaching.  
Farm road pic from the last road ride of the season

If you don't have a trainer for your bike, I highly recommend getting one!  Athlete, triathlete, or just looking to stave off winter weight gain, trainers let you ride your bike inside, safely, day or night and without the risk of breaking any body parts (unless you go for the roller-style trainer! Be careful!)

Another thing indoor riding is good for is going back to basics and experimenting.  Maybe you want to try clip-less bike shoes (I'll be posting an article next week on Muuve on riding safely when clipped in).  Maybe you want to start going longer distances or riding more efficiently.  Being safely indoors with no worry of traffic, weather, or limited daylight means you can practice any time, no excuses.

My cycling goals for this season are to ride more efficiently and longer.  If I'm going to tackle a half-Ironman, that's going to mean being on my bike for about 3 hours without crashing or dying, yikes.  To learn efficiency, I've started riding at about 90rpm.  This is the cadence that most cycling experts believe allows cyclists to ride longer with less fatigue by recruiting our "slow twitch" muscle fibers and burn fat as fuel.  The best way I have found to keep an eye on your cadence is to have a bike computer that attaches to your rear wheel.  I've tried other ways (cadence sensor that came with my watch, some apps, trying to count in my head), but they just didn't work that well.

Learning to ride longer indoors really isn't that fun unless you can keep yourself entertained.   Some people spin with friends, some use movies, I like to watch the Kings of Leon concert DVD, whatever works.  I've also downloaded a few apps that have been very helpful, namely CoachMyRide and Indoor Interval Cycling.  CoachMyRide has workouts grouped by duration, level of fitness and type (speed, endurance, tempo), while Indoor Interval Cycling is similar but also includes visuals for target cadence and exactly where the chain should be on the rear cog, which is great for newbies.

If you have any apps, tips, tricks for indoor riding, I would love to hear them.  Until next time, stay safe!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

It's been a few weeks….

Confession: I thought it had been a few weeks since my last post but turns out it’s been two months! Yikes, time flies when you’re having fun I guess. So what have I been up to? Well I believe last time we talked I was gearing up for my first half-marathon with a view to crushing my first Half Ironman.

Turns out, my legs are nowhere near ready for 21 kilometers of pavement pounding. Once my training hit the 5 mile mark, the legs literally started crying (it may have been sweat) and I try as I might, my pace would not go south of 13:30, no matter the distance or effort. A nice try, better off to go home and drown the sorrows in a nice IPA. But I didn’t, because I suck at giving up and going home.  Instead, Coach T’s mantra of “Relentless Forward Motion” played over and over in my head and since I could never let her down, my 21km goal has become a time-to-smash-the-10k-PR in the making. 

Crushing the Half Ironman will only be possible if I can do the swim, which is 2000 metres. Given my lack of swimming these past months along with, and because of, the always aching elbow, two kilometers in the water seems like a formidable opponent. That is, until my return to Sunday night swimming with the South Delta Tri Club. I managed to finish the entire hour-long workout for the first time in 15 months aaand I remember now just how much I love swimming, yay!

Not much to report, the running and swimming are coming along nicely, and although Half Iron race day is 9 months away, I’m super psyched to tackle the pen-ultimate triathlon challenge (join me!  It will be fun, promise.). The updates will be more frequent in the coming months, hopefully filled with tales of successful training and conquering of the inevitable bumps in the road, along with some app reviews and who knows what else. See you out there!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Disaster, Kindness and an Epiphany

I was ready and psyched for yesterday's triathlon and the day definitely didn't disappoint.  Between a disaster, an amazing act of kindness and an epiphany, the Subaru Vancouver triathlon will go down in my personal history books as a race that exemplified what triathlon is all about.

Imagine training hard for an event, knowing you've done everything you possibly could to have the best race possible.  Between the job, the kids, the aching back and overbooked chiropractor and life in general, it's amazing you're going to be able to do this at all.  All of the sacrifices will be worth it (and believe me, there's many if you're the working, parenting variety of triathlete).  Now imagine getting to your ready-to-go bike in the transition racks with less than two hours until race start, only to see a gaping hole in your tire staring back you.  Sure, one of your competitors will have a spare tube for you, but who carries an entire spare tire?  No one.   This is what my friend Speedy was dealing with at 5am Sunday morning, complete and utter disaster.

Enter our heroes of the day, Jeremy Wilson from Speed Theory and Chris Manore from Leading Edge Triathlon Club.  Faced with a panicking athlete, Chris used his connections and approached Jeremy, who had a spare tire and let Speedy use it.   Chris and Jeremy, you may never read this but if you do, you should know that your act of kindness made the difference between wasted sacrifices and Speedy finishing second in her age category.  So from the bottom of Speedy's heart (and mine), thank you!

My race was seemed typical to me.  The swim was the hardest I've ever done, every single meter of the 500 meter course was a battle with the freezing cold ocean.  The bike went well, even the downhill (yes, I white knuckled the brakes) and the run was what I expected, painful but I still managed to hold a slow and steady pace.  I expected to go home with a PB and toast myself with a beer.  Until I saw the posted times.  My time was one of the slowest I have ever had.  Ever.   Normally this would be the part where I questioned ever racing again, saying mean things to myself and wondering what's the point if you're so slow?  But not this time.  This time all I could see were all of the little victories that can't be described by a set of numbers.   Successful swim in breathtakingly cold temps, feeling stronger than ever on the bike and of all things, my fastest run to date.  I had fun, left everything I had on the course and actually felt kind of proud of myself. And it only took five years to realize this! Who doesn't love a good epiphany?  

Triathlon is all about the camaraderie between athletes and regular, every day humans pushing themselves into the "How is that actually possible?" realm.  Ask any triathlete and they've benefited from the kindness of others in unexpected disasters.  Stand on the bike course and you will hear the calls of "Good job" or "You're doing great" between competitors. How many sports can boast that kind of sportsmanship?  Just don't get in the water.  Nobody has any friends on the swim.

Another race done and dusted and more importantly, a big step towards the next goal:  A half-Ironman race in 2015.  Who's with me?

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Inspiration by Anticipation

Okay, I'm back.   It's been a long time and this post was supposed to be from the Broken Elbow but life is full of surprises.  Case in point-this morning was going to be all about lounging with coffee and a magazine, but no.  Inspiration started poking at me and couldn't/wouldn't be ignored (thankfully!).

What's got me inspired?  Anticipation.  In roughly 24 hours, I will be crossing the finish line at the Subaru Vancouver Triathlon.  This will be the first race post Elbow Incident and I fully expected this countdown to be like every other race:  anxiety, nerves gnawing at me, telling myself that this is ridiculous, you are not meant to be an athlete, go home.  But this one is different.  This time I'm ready and psyched.

Ready for my first open water swim since Lavaman and my first in Canada.  This week's open water practice (thanks Coach T!) was a great start for someone who had never swam in a wetsuit or open water in the Great White North, at least in the triathlon sense.  I expected cold as hell, seaweed, giant waves and monsters and instead got tolerable temperatures, little seaweed, gentle rollers and the only monster was some threatened motion sickness.  I'm ready to be Germany to the ocean's Brazil.  I'm psyched.

Ready to attack the bike course like never before because I've trained like never before, thanks to Alli and the Nutcracker and all those 6am weekend wake-up calls.  Truthfully, the one hill of the course has me a little bit worried but more for the down than the up.  I love to climb, but am a little worried about the downhill that should have me going 50+ kilometres/hour!  If you're looking for me, I'll be the one white knuckling my brakes.  Still pretty psyched!

Ready to run.  Ready because I've been training hard for the run, mostly thanks to my Nike + app on my phone keeping me inspired.  It's so nice to have crossed the line from complete and utter loathing of running back to loving it, because it's hard to do triathlon without a good, strong run (walking the whole 5km would look silly, wouldn't it?).  Psyched to run across that finish line tomorrow for the first time in over a year!

Tomorrow is going to be great.  Beautiful weather, an awesome course and hopefully a PR are all just a  day away!   Check back Monday for my race report and see you out there!

Monday, 26 May 2014

Remember the last kid picked for teams in school?  That was me.  Far from chubby or unpopular, I lacked completely in athletic abilities and it was obvious, even to seven year olds.  As you can imagine, the idea of growing up to be a triathlete was the furthest thing from my mind.
The furthest thing from my mind yes, but that’s exactly what happened.  One day, like a thunderbolt, an idea popped into my head: Must. Do. Triathlon.  Suddenly, everywhere I looked, there were triathlon articles, magazine covers, and people talking about it on the radio and I decided this was something I had to do, even though at the time I could not swim or run.

Shortly after my first child was born, I signed up for a 10k run and fell in love with running.  A few years after that it was time to tackle the pool. I had quit swimming lessons as a child and am generally uncomfortable around water, especially the idea of putting my face in the water.  Eight weeks after baby number two, I had my first lesson and it was love at first stroke!  Now I had all the components but where to take it?

In April of 2009 I signed up for my first triathlon, the Delta Triathlon.  Unprepared for the cold water, I panicked a little until the lifeguards kindly helped me out and the rest of the race went perfectly-I was now totally hooked and looking for more.  A friend and I signed up for the Langley Tri where the swim went well but I tripped over my bike coming out of T2 and bloodied my knees.  Couldn’t get worse right? Wrong.  During the bike, my chain came off multiple times, leaving me reliant on other racers to help.  Embarrassing!

Over the years I contemplated joining up with Team in Training in order to do the Lavaman Triathlon in Kona, an Olympic distance event that has participants swimming in the clear, warm ocean and cycling along the Queen K Highway, the same path ridden by the legends of Ironman.  I chickened out three times before finally registering in 2012.

The training certainly wasn’t easy but standing on the shore waiting to start my 1500m battle with the Pacific was one of the proudest days of my life because I finally felt like an athlete!  The swim went like a dream and so did the bike -probably because I spent most of saying to myself “Wow, this part of the Ironman route!  I’m practically an Ironman! Yay me!”  Then it was run time.  Excited to get to the finish line, I started to run.  Or rather, tried to start running but my very tired legs wouldn’t go no matter how hard I tried.   I decided I had no option but to quit and started looking for a volunteer to help me bow out.

Thankfully, the voice of reason in my head roared to life, yelling “NO! You have come too far and worked too hard to quit now.  5 miles to go is nothing.  Run!”  So I bargained with myself to jog a minute, walk a minute in the 30+ degree heat.  Slowly the miles ticked down until, 51.5 kilometers after I started, I stumbled across the finish line spent and ecstatic, one minute under my goal time.

I used to think the perfect race was the one where everything went smoothly and earned the coveted personal best time.  In truth, the perfect race is the one where everything goes wrong, the personal best passes you by and you cross the line, smiling and saying “That was so awesome, I’m signing up for another as soon as I get home”.

Monday, 10 February 2014

The best races in North America I'm not doing (just a few of them, too many to mention!!)

As promised, this post is about the best races in North America I'm not doing, and some of the ones I am, aka my intended race calendar.  I've been feeling a tad uninspired lately but now that the Olympics have started it's like a fire has been lit, so pumped to get out there!  So here in no particular order are the best races I'm not doing (judged by the sole factor of "OMG that looks amazing!  Must. do.)

Half Corked Marathon: Set in BC's picturesque wine country, the run features an 18km route with wine and food stations along the way and a bus to the finish line should you happen to over-indulge at any of the stations.  Waiting at the finish line is free lunch for participants and more wine-win, win, win!  Registration is limited to 800 people and sells out fast (10 minutes fast) so get while the getting is good.

Wildflower Triathlon Festival: Set to go May 2-4 in Bradley, California this is an Xterra (off road) triathlon featuring sprint, Olympic and 70.3/half-Iron distances, or for the exceptionally brave, The Ultimate Wildflower Challenge.  Anyone game enough to try this will do the 70.3 on the Saturday followed by the Olympic on the Sunday.  Known for it's festival atmosphere, you can listen to the live bands, swim or fish in the lake, rent paddle boards or just chill and enjoy the races-camping is available too.  If you're interested (and who wouldn't be??) sign up soon-sales end March 1st.

Escape from Alcatraz: Every year, 2000 ambitious souls jump into the frigid waters surrounding Alcatraz prison and swim, bike, and run their way to glory in this Olympic distance triathlon.  No easy feat to enter or complete, this year's version is happening June 1.  If you like the idea of strong currents, 55 degree water and a 400 step sand ladder towards the end of an 8 mile run, this one's for you.  Complete this one and you will be one of my sporting heroes for life!

Las Vegas Rock'n'Roll Marathon: Want to run the Las Vegas strip at night with a few thousand of your  friends?  It can be done, just sign up for the Las Vegas Rock'n'Roll Marathon!  There still plenty of time to train as this one isn't until November 17th and features and full, half and the 1/2 of the Half distances and live, local bands along the course. Something for everyone!  Marathon hopefuls should note the 5 hour cut off time.

Those are the top races I'm not doing but sure wish I was-what would you add?  Here are my intended races for 2014:

March-the UBC triathlon (sprint distance)
April-volunteering for my first time at the Delta triathlon
May-Squamish Loop the Lakes Trail Race (8 or 15km, will decide in later March)
June-undecided, any suggestions?
July-Subaru Vancouver Triathlon (Olympic distance
August-Zombie Run (hoping to do twice, once as a Zombie, once as a runner)
September-the Vancouver Triathlon (Olympic distance) and Colour Me Rad

That's all for now.  Thanks for reading!  Next up:  a post from the beast, the burden, the aching nuisance-my broken elbow!  I'm sure she'll have lots to say :)

Friday, 31 January 2014

Not quite what I had envisioned.....

Blah.  So here we are, thirty days later.  I really thought this post was going to be sunshine and rainbows but the truth is, it's not quite what I had envisioned.  The whole patina of the New Year has worn off and old habits, like ditching workouts in favour of couch time, are threatening to make a screaming comeback. 

 The running is not consistent at all, and I've sunk to a low of running once a week.  I don't know what it is about getting off my ass and getting out there, but to me it is ridiculously difficult.  It's all good after that first step and I really do enjoy the meditative aspect but how on Earth to make it happen more often?  Revised goal:  Just run 3x a week.  Revised reward:  Weight of regret on my mind will lessen.  Which counts as losing weight.

Cycling got off to a good start and it's a lot of fun, but so hard to fit in the schedule.  I am writing this now instead of doing my planned bike ride.  Not too worried about this one though, it's just a matter of getting back into it.  Tomorrow, I swear.  Revised goal:  Get back in the saddle, literally.  Revised reward: a) Knowing my triathlon time will be faster and b) see above

The planking challenge started off so promisingly but died at day 8 also known as 60 seconds of planking-my poor little office worker abs just couldn't hack it.  I still want that 5 minute plank and so it all begins again tomorrow.  With a squat challenge thrown in for extra fun times!  Same goal, same reward-just to be able to say I can!

The biggest success came from the grain-free/dairy-free challenge.  I really can't say enough good things about how well this is working for me.  My energy is through the roof (perhaps I could channel some of the new found energy into running?), the stomach issues miraculously cured after 18 years of getting progressively worse and eczema is a thing of the past, yay!  The only thing I miss is beer, although it turns out wine is really not so bad.

Despite the gloom, I am optimistic about February.  No reward in the world is going to motivate me-this is the one thing January has taught me.  Just gotta get out there and do it knowing I will be faster, stronger and not writing any more self-loathing posts.

Next up:  The best races in North America I'm not doing (and some of the ones I am doing)!