Monday, June 28, 2010

Ultra Anyone? - Kelowna's Scorched Sole 50 miler

This past weekend, we had a friend from Victoria come stay with us - none other Carlos, the Running Jackal, well known for his Youtube and RuncastTV videos. Carlos was here to run the Scorched Sole 50 Mile Ultra on Saturday morning and needed a place to crash, so we picked him up after he flew in Friday afternoon, and had dinner and a visit Friday night. He brought me a really nice long sleeved tech t-shirt - bright yellow - with the logo from Club Fat Ass. On the back it says "I may have a fat ass but I'm ahead of you!" It's hilarious! On Saturday morning, we were up at 4am for coffee and breakfast then we headed over to the bottom of the Crawford trail system (Myra-Bellvue Provincial Park), not far from our place.

I've never been to an ultra race start and I found it really interesting to be surrounded by all those wiry, zero percent body fat people. At least 2/3 of the runners were 40 years or older, further confirming my belief that with age, comes endurance. Carlos chatted with a few of his team mates, some of whom he had run with last year, and pointed out Ellie Greenwood, (#480 below) the young ultra runner from Banff, Alberta, who had recently won the Elk Beaver 100km Race on May 1, as well as capturing 5th overall and first woman with a 2:52 a few weeks later at the Calgary Marathon. Carlos predicted that Ellie would win today's race, and would later prove to be correct.

The runners hung around chatting about their various race exploits while the race directors busied themselves setting up a few tables, food, computer etc that would serve as a make-shift race headquarters for the next 12-14 hours. After a few brief words about the race course changes this year (no, they would not be running the flat KVR as they did last year - instead they would be climbing up, up, up and over Little White Mountain (2171 m, 7100 ft - starting point was about 400m or 1300 ft) not once, but twice!! Uh oh, this was news to several of them), Carlos and his 30 odd pals set off at 6am without much fanfare.

Carlos and I chat with another young runner, "Nazzer" from Kelowna.

The new course also meant that the runners would be encountering snow for at least 5km of their run, and that ropes had been set up to help them climb up and down a few of the riskier sections. Carlos' original plan of a 9:00-9:30 time clearly had to re-adjusted.

Erik and I hung around for a little while and then left to get on with our daily lives. Carlos was planning to head to the airport to catch a flight back to Victoria after the race. He would call us if plans changed and/or he needed a ride.

Later than day, 3pm came and went, and Erik and I started to wonder how Carlos was doing. We decided to head back to the race start and see if we could see him cross the finish line. We arrived around 4pm which was around the 10 hour mark and slowly, one by one, the runners were coming across. Ellie Greenwood had finished earlier in an amazing 7:58, which was only a few minutes slower than last year, despite the much more challenging conditions. The next runner, and first male to cross, had been Steve Russell in 8:23.

A section of the lower trail.

The runners finishing at the 10-12 hour mark were still the youngsters, 20-40 year olds, so we knew our friend, who is strongest on the flats wouldn't likely be in for a little while yet. Meanwhile, we were having a blast, cheering on the runners, most of whom didn't look at all like they had just run an ultra marathon once they crossed the finish line. It was hard not to feel the urge to run trails, and maybe even sign up for the "baby" 25km race in 2011 when you are sitting there in the midst of all the excitement.

Finally, we saw the familiar red bandana signally our friend Carlos. "Runner!" we cried, letting the race director know someone was coming down the trail. "Runner!" they responded, as they got the camera ready. Carlos ran down the trail, looking strong, with his video camera in hand, filming as he rounded the corner and crossed the finish line. He had made it in one piece, and more than that, he was smiling and walking around visiting like it was simply been a training run! 12:40:04 was his official time, 3rd out of 5 in his AG - wow, what an accomplishment!

Carlos was happy to see us and was ready to head back to our place for another over-nighter as the last plane would be leaving in 30 minutes. I was happy to be able to feed him and give him a place to shower, rest, and sleep for the night. We chatted over dinner and I turned on the recorder and got some great audio for my podcast.

I really enjoyed getting to meet another one of my online running friends. Carlos is a very friendly, easy-going, thoughtful and compassionate guy and we all got along as if we'd been friends forever. I am looking forward to visiting him in Victoria some day and hopefully running to coastal trails with him. And maybe next year, I will run the Scorched Sole 25k race!

If you want to hear Carlos talk more about his running and the race, you'll have to download KG Tris: Episode #67!

Here is the 50 Miler Video Carlos videoed while he was on the run. Check out his other running videos by clicking on his Youtube link.

The next morning, we dropped Carlos off at the airport at 8am and Erik I headed back to Crawford and ran the trails ourselves for the first time. It was exhilarating, beautiful, and I loved it! We ran for just under two hours and stuck to the lower trails, Fairlane and Lost Lake. If it wasn't for my ITB acting up once again when I was on the downhill home, it would have been a perfect run! Next year - I'm sure of it!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

June Days

It's that crazy time of year again. Teachers really have a tough time doing any serious training in September or June. At least I do. Not only do I have work related stuff to do like report cards, year end class parties, field trips, sports day, putting together gifts for my students, year end assessment, TONS of paperwork, cleaning my room, taking down everything from the walls, and more, there is also staff related stuff such as three retirement parties and 2 year end staff parties to attend, and parental duties such as my son's Grade 7 grad, keeping him organized for all of his year end activities, and buying gifts for his teachers.

Swim? I don't think so. Bike, well maybe if the weather was nicer and I wasn't so tired. Run? Yes! but I'm hurting right now.

I went for my 90 minutes trail run last Sunday as planned. I was excited to be heading out for a long one again but decided to play it safe and run on the flat greenway instead of the hills until I was sure my shins were ok. My shins were slightly twingey for the first km and then felt fine. Nothing I would call pain at all. I kept a nice, easy, slow pace (about 7 min km 11:15 mile) and for 5 km, everything was great, however once I passed the 5km mark, my stupid left knee started to tighten up.

By the time I was at the turn around point (6km), it was hurting enough that I had to start taking walk breaks. I tried running 400m, walk 10om and managed to maintain that for a few kms then had to start walking more frequently. At the 11km, I walked back to the car without running at all. It was the same kind of pain I had during my half iron only this time, I wasn't biking when it started.

Grrrrr. I am frustrated because I was thinking that the knee pain was caused by the biking and that if I solved that, I wouldn't have pain when I run. Now I'm not so sure.

My knee was sore for about 30 minutes after I got home and then it was fine and has been fine since then. However, my shins were a little sore the next day and I have not run this week as planned. I was supposed to do a Max HR run test on Tuesday and a LTHR test on Thursday but I didn't do either one. If I run that hard right now, I'll hurt myself for sure. It might have been good to get out for an easy run yesterday or today but I have not had a moment of free time when I'm not totally exhausted from work so I'm just taking it easy this week and letting my legs rest. It's probably what I should have done for 3-4 days after my 5km race anyway.

And so, that's it in a nut shell. 3 more days of school and then an admin day and I'm free for 65+ days of summer holidays!!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Non-Training Update

I'm calling it "non" training because I've hardly done anything this week. I'm kind of in a post race funk liberally mixed with year end stress. On top of that, two hard races in 8 days has caused a little shin discomfort although it's hard to pinpoint the exact cause.

My shins haven't hurt for months, and they were fine at the Half Iron and on my 5k race. My legs/quads were dead for two days after the 5k though and I didn't feel much like doing my planned 1 hour trail run on Tuesday. I decided to stick to a flat trail and go easy and for a change, I wore my Salomon Wings trail shoes with the orthotics in them. I had a tough time getting my legs to move and it was a slow run, covering only 6 1/2 km in 55 minutes.

The next day, Wednesday, my shins were a little achey, and then on Thursday, I was supposed to do a cruise interval run and part way into it ended up with quite a bit of shin pain. I don't know if it's from the race, from the trail shoes, from the orthotics, from the trail itself, from running on tired legs, or a combination of these things. Suffice to say, after my warm up and the first interval, I decided to pack it in and I walked back to the car, running a total of 4.2km in 30 minutes.

Yesterday they felt a bit better and today they feel ok. I'm supposed to do a 90 minute trail run in the hills tomorrow but I think I'll stick to Mission Creek Greenway instead, to be on the safe side.

I'm not going to wear the trail shoes again for awhile but tomorrow, I'll put the orthotics in my Newtons and see how that goes. The ball of my right foot is still sore off and on and I need to find a way to deal with that. Newtons encourages you to wear your orthotics so I think going back to them may help.

Also, coach has taken another look at my running video and thinks that I am still striking a little too far forward. As long I am doing that, it is putting the "brakes" on my stride, causing me to toe off. That can put unnecessary pressure and weight on my forefoot causing pain.

Check out the video that Coach took at his two day workshop at the Newton Running Labs. It gives you a better idea of how to run forefoot.

Also, Coach made a video for some running drills to help with forefoot running as well.

OK got to go. I'm in the midst of writing report cards and blogging is just another way of procrastinating. :)

PS Check out Simon Whitfield's blog. Apart from being a great read, he has a blogroll on the lower left side. He recently added my blog to his blogroll!! OMG, I was so excited and appreciative when I saw that! :D Plus, when I tweeted to him yesterday, he answered! :) I'm still waiting for Lance to reply to me on Twitter. Maybe some day...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fear and Thankfulness

A week ago, a friend from work was hurt in a fairly serious mountain biking accident. She's been mountain biking for years and wasn't doing anything particularly dangerous or technical at the time - she simply slid a bit, hit a rock at the wrong moment and bailed, landing on her left arm and sliding down the trail a ways. Fortunately, she was riding with a group of smart women, who quickly assessed the situation, contacted 911, and lead rescuers to their friend's aid. They were on a fairly difficult to reach section of trail so it took Search and Rescue close to 3 hours to get my friend to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder, broken humerus, and some nerve damage causing numbness in her arm from the shoulder down. The SAR team credited the women for helping speed up the rescue by directing their team to the area. She is now home and off work for at least month, and only just beginning the long healing process.

So why am I writing about this? Well it reminded that last year I did a podcast episode about safety when training. Among other things I mentioned the importance of carrying ID and a cell phone, letting people know where you will be running or riding etc etc. I told the story of the time my husband and his friend went mountain biking. After a few hours, his friend arrived on my doorstep looking for my husband after they became separated. He had hoped that maybe my husband had ridden home knowing they could reconnect here. Together we waited for Erik to arrive, not knowing if he had crashed or was back on the trails waiting for his buddy. Finally, in desperation, we were just about to go out looking for him when he arrived with a broken derailleur. He'd had to walk his back home at least 5-6 km and why? because neither man had carried a cell phone.

I know it sounds sexist of me to say this but I think my friend's accident was handled efficiently because she was riding with women, three of whom had cell phones. And they were smart enough to try not to move her - two of them stayed with her while others rode out to meet the search and rescue team and lead them back to the injured woman.

So please, the next time you head out, whether it's for a quick run around the neighbourhood or a day-long trek on your bike, carry your driver's license or Road ID, and consider carrying a cell phone, particularly if you are going to be far from amenities. You never know when something unexpected is going to happen. If you have a phone, you can make a quick call that at the very least will put your friends and family's mind at ease if you've been delayed.


Earlier on the day that my friend crashed, we had been talking about biking and how I'd like to get back on my MT bike. I talked about my fears of single track and of crashing, and told her how listening to her stories had encouraged me to think about getting back out on the trails again. Somehow now, fear has once again replaced my enthusiasm. I'm not sure when and if I'll get back on my MT Bike now. However, I'm happy to report that the day after her accident, my friend showed no fear of getting back on the bike. She's one tough cookie.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Post-Post-Race Thoughts and Unexpected PR!

Well I've had a week to mull the whole Half Iron thing around in my head and I've decided to cut myself a little slack. First of all, I read all of the wonderful comments you people posted on my blog, as well as the many messages I received on Twitter, Daily Mile, Facebook, via email, and of course from my real life friends and family. You guys are right, finishing a Half Iron is a great accomplishment and I need to be proud of that and let the rest go.

Not only that, twice this week, I got to say to someone, I just did a Half Iron. :D No, I didn't even have to create the opportunity, they outright asked me what kind of races I did. And I got all kinds of impressed looks! How cool is that? I thought that was reserved for IM racers. :) Not one person has asked me my time or seems to care if I ran, walked, or crawled. So I'm going to be proud and happy with my race effort and move on.

Knee Pain Update

This week, I stopped into my local tri store and had them take a look at my shoes/cleats. For awhile, I considered switching to pedals/cleats that have more "float" - which means my foot can turn left and right a little, putting less pressure on the same part of my knee/leg for an entire ride. However, once they put me up on the trainer, they could see that my knees turn in a little, mainly due to my overpronation, and suggested we switch out bike shoe insoles for these Specialized Footbeds. They provide some arch support and have a number of removable metatarsal pads that can be switched out to suit specific issues, such as overpronation. As soon as I put them in, they could see my legs immediately straightened out. I am hoping this does the trick but I may have to ride in them for awhile to know for sure. It's certainly a much less expensive solution than new shoes/pedals/cleats. :)

A PR without a Plan

So today, Sunday, a week after my Half Iron, was the Women's 5k Run. I've done this race for the past 3 years, last year with my daughter. It was also the first race I ever did back in 2007. Back then, I had been running for all of 4-5 months and had finally built up to a 5k distance. I decided to do a 5k race to see what racing was like. I had no clue and went all out for the entire race, my HR was at max, and my legs cramped up at the end, causing shin splints which lasted for months after. But I had a surprising PR, 26:17. At the time, I had no idea that this was a pretty darn good time for a girl's first 5k race, and I've never been able to reach that time again. Until today.

I hadn't put this race on my calendar or even talked to Coach Jeff about it because I had no idea if I'd want to, or even be ABLE to, run a 5k a week after my Half Iron. However, I felt pretty good on Tuesday so I went for a 30 minute run and we decided that I could do the race today.

I talked a friend from work into coming to the race as well, since neither of my daughters were able to run this week, and we headed down this morning. I felt it was a distinct possibility that I would be able to come close to, and maybe even beat, my 26:17 time from 3 years ago.

There were 425 women in the race, about half doing the 5k and half doing the 10k, but we all started together. I knew from experience that I should start fairly close to the front so I don't get stuck behind the walkers, and women with strollers. My plan was to start out with a 5:30 pace for the first km, then a 5:15 for the next two, and then a 5:00 for the 4th and all out for the last km.

In reality, I started out faster. Like about 4:30-4:45. Ooops. Also, I forgot to turn on my Garmin until the 250m mark (actually I hit the lap button instead of the start button). Double oops. Then my stupid HR monitor wouldn't work. I even wet down the contacts but no go. Double rats because Coach Jeff and I were hoping to use the race data to get my running HR zones. Of course, at the finish, I forgot to turn if off....

Ah well, I just kept running. It was a hot sunny morning, already 24C, 75F at 8am. In fact, it was the first hot day we've had in ages and definitely the first time this year I've run in any heat. Thanks goodness it was only a 5k. When I reached the turnaround point, I could see there were only about 15 women ahead of me. I was maintaining a fairly steady 5:00-5:05 pace and decided to go with it. Maybe I'd even be able to get a 25 min 5k - that would be so cool.

By the 4th km I was getting a little tired. And hot. The last 1/2 km is on gravel and I slowed down a little to about a 5:30 pace. But I managed to cross the finish line at 25:41 - whoo hoo!!!

I really felt like I had redeemed myself after my slow run last weekend. I ran with no pain, in fact, my cardio gave out before my legs did. I really wish I had an idea of what my HR was during the race, it definitely like it was up in the 180's.

I managed to get 3rd place in my age group (I had to get thrown into the 50-59 group, even though the younger ones were 40-44 and 45-49) but I did beat all the women in my former age group 45-49 so I was content with that knowledge. :)

Yippee yi oh!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Oliver Half Iron Race Report

The Day Before - June 5, 2010

We drove down Saturday morning and I dropped Erik off with his bike in Penticton so he could get a ride in. I went straight to Tuc el Nuit Lake in Oliver and sat on the beach, taking it all in. There were quite a few triathletes in the water and on the beach, so I decided to put on my wetsuit and go for a short swim while I waited for Erik.

I took my time and put my suit on slowly and carefully, getting it halfway on and then I just stood there with the arms dangling down, staring out at the water, trying to psych myself up for an OWS alone. Finally, I decided to put the rest of my suit on and just get it over with. As I put my arms in, something seemed to be wrong, and I had to struggle a bit to get them both in. As I reached down to zip up, I suddenly realized what I had done. I had the damn thing on backwards. I'm sure I turned several shades of red as I stood there looking like an idiot on the beach amidst all the other athletes and was a bit surprised that not one person even commented that I was putting it on the wrong way. I turned to the two guys standing beside me and laughed at my dilemma (if only so they'd know I had a sense of humour) and then I quickly took it off and put it on properly. Sheesh, what a n00b.

Since I was swimming alone, I didn't go out too far and really, I just wanted to get enough of a swim in to ensure I felt comfortable in the water. Erik arrived just as I finished so we headed over to the package pickup and I got my number #1048, and my swag - a nice tech T, a running cap, and a few others token items. By now it was close to 2pm so we decided to drive to Osoyoos and see if we could check into our hotel early, as we have the last two times we've been there. Unfortunately, our room wasn't ready and they apologized saying the hotel had filled (for the first time - new hotel) and they were scrambling a bit to get caught up. They promised us the room would be ready no later than 4pm (check in time) and took our cell number. We left for awhile and sat on the beach at the campsite we stay at during the summer and then headed back to hotel at 4pm only to find out they were JUST starting to clean our room. Clearly they wouldn't be ready in half an hour when we had to leave to go back to the race meeting so we left in a bit of a huff and said we'd be back around 6pm. So much for hanging around and resting my legs.

The race meeting was well organized and full of people, but try as I might, I couldn't find any of my twitter friends (Michelle, Don, Mitch, Auggie's Dad, Brent...). After the meeting, we went back to the hotel and had our dinner. This time, I cooked it ahead of time and brought it with us so I didn't have to go searching for GI-friendly food at a strange grocery store. We had my usual pre race dinner - chicken souvlaki, rice, pita, tzatziki, and greek salad with graham crackers for dessert. Then I set to work to get all my water bottles and hydration pack ready. My intention was to mix all of my Nuun/Carbo Pro fluids the night before, freeze half of it in ice cube trays, and some of it in my hydration pack so I would have cold drinks during the race. I find I drink a LOT more if it's cold.

Unfortunately, we had a mini fridge instead of a regular sized fridge in this particular suite and the freezer compartment was so small that nothing was getting cold, let alone freezing. Eventually, I took the ice cube trays out and left only the hydraton pack in, hoping that it would be frozen in the morning and then I went to bed. It was just a little past 9pm but I was tired. I slept well and woke up to the 5:15 am alarm.

Race Day - June 6, 2010

We woke to an overcast morning, unlike the beautiful sunshine of the previous day, with a threat of rain later in the day. The temperature was about 12C and the predicted high was supposed to be about 20C (68F). I figured as long as the rain held off until the run, I'd be fine.

I was happy to find the hydration pack frozen and I was able to fill my aerobottle and my water bottle with regular ice cubes and extra strength Nuun Carbo Pro mix so it was all good. I managed to eat a little yogurt and we packed up and headed out, stopping at Timmy's for Erik's coffee along the way.

Once in Oliver, we were able to park right at transition and I joined the long line for body marking and timing chip. I had been carrying my aerobottle in between my knees in the car so it wouldn't dump over and now that I was in line, I realized that my pants were soaked and I seriously looked like I had peed my pants. I tried to hold my bag in front of me but you can see it clearly in the photo. ---> LOL! Hopefully none of the people remembered me as the girl in the backwards wetsuit from the day before... (PS I am making my "I'm really cold" face in that picture... ;)

I was getting a bit anxious as time was getting on and I still had to set up transition, and get into the long line to the bathroom once more before the swim. Erik passed me stuff over the fence, then left to get my hydration pack from the car, while I went to the bathroom. (By now, I had gotten rid of the wet pants and was just wearing my tri shorts, although in retrospect, I may have been able to get to the front of the line if I'd worn them ;) The first wave was almost ready to set off and a lot of the young men were asking to cut into the front so they didn't miss their wave. By the time I got back to my spot, I had to rush to get my wetsuit on and get down to the beach.

The Swim

I was in the third wave (45+ men and women) which was a group of about 300-350 people. When the gun went off, I just waded into the throng, probably in the middle, and headed out. This was the longest OWS I've ever done so I just swam steadily, and focused on being calm. I was happy to be able to swim bilaterally this time, and could actually focus a little on my stroke for a change. My new Aquasphere Vista goggles were great although they did fog up a little about half way. For the most part, I was able to negotiate a fairly clear spot to swim and the swim was uneventful. I did sneak a peek at my watch a few times and I could see I was going to be fairly close to my goal time so I tried to swim fast for the last 500m. I was out of the water around 43 minutes and up on the beach to wetsuit stripping. I crossed the timing mat at 45:12 and ran, well mostly I walked, the 300-400m to transition.

Swim time 45:12 (goal 45:00)

706/972 overall
290/446 women
25/42 AG

Pace 2:16 / 100m

T - One

I had to run on the road and it hurt my feet (which have been sore lately) so I ended up walking most of the way. I got to my spot and put on a jersey because it was chilly and threatening rain, my helmet, sox, bike shoes and gloves. Erik was at the fence so I chatted with him while I got ready. I had my stuff in a large plastic bags so it took a little longer to get ready but it was worth it to have dry gear in case it rained. Then I took off with my bike only to realize a few moments later that I had forgotten my sunglasses. I left my bike on a rack, ran back, got the glasses and left for the bike course. Because I was at one end of the area, I had to run the full length of transition to get to the timing mat and bike course.

T1 time 9:40

910/972 Overall (LOL)
411/446 Women
37/42 AG

To be honest, I did not try to hurry in transition at all so I really didn't care if I lost time here, but clearly, it's an area that I could work on if those couple of minutes would actually make a difference in my overall time. :)

The Bike

I had a good bike overall. I felt strong and climbed well, always passing men and women on the hills. It was a bit difficult not to push really hard but for the most part, I was able to keep my heart rate in Zone 2 and 3 and only go into Zone 4 for the climbs. My goal was to do 27-28 kmh avg speed and after the first lap (40km) I was at about 28 kmh. I seemed to hang with the same group, leap frogging each other for most of the ride. Part way thru the first lap, the elites who had begun 20 minutes earlier, began lapping me. It was kind of funny to see them fly past us so fast. I was able to stay aero for a lot of the ride and my nutrition plan worked well for me. I drank my aerobottle the first hour, dumped in my extra bottle the second hour, and grabbed a 3rd bottle of water at an aid station an hour later. They poured it into my aerobottle while I dumped in some nuun and carbo pro premixed in a baggie in my bento box. In hindsight, I wouldn't have minded having a fourth bottle, especially if it was hot. I may buy one of those bottle holders for the back of my seat.

Erik was there to cheer me on at at least 4-5 aid stations and it really perked me up a lot to see him. Later on, during the run, it was the only thing that kept me going.

At about the 60km mark, my left knee started to bother me a little. It occasionally hurts a bit on long rides of 2 1/2 hours or more but never bothers me once I get off my bike. However, as the ride went on, I started worry a little about how it was going to affect my run so I slowed down a bit. At this point, I was averaging about 27.5 kmh so I figured I kept it just to 27 even, I'd meet my goal and protect my knee a little. We had some wind on on the sections heading North but it wasn't too bad and only slowed me down a little.

I found the last 12 km of the ride harder. I was tired and getting achey and just wanted to get off the bike and start running. But finally, I was on the final leg and back to T2.

Bike Time 3:22:43 (goal 3:20-3:25 yay!)

821/972 Overall
337/446 Women
31/42 AG

Avg Speed 27 kmh

Quite frankly, I'm surprised my ranking on the bike is so low, even in my age group, in fact lower than my swim. These people are amazingly fast, it was awesome to watch them fly by me. LOL...

T - Two

As soon as I got off the bike, I knew I was gonna be in trouble. My left knee hurt and buckled a little as I ran into transition. First order of business was to pee though and thankfully, the port-o-johns were available right at the entrance. All that liquid nutrition does have its downfalls. ;)

Again, I wasn't in a rush to change. Erik was chatting with me over the fence and I told him my knee was sore (left, outside). I put on my sox and shoes and was about to leave when I realized I'd forgotten my Zensah Shin Sleeves. D'oh. Off go the shoes and sox, on with the shin sleeves, quickly racking up the T2 minutes. Hat, sunglasses, hydration pack - finally I was ready to go. The timing mat was close to my bike but the actual run start was another 300m away.

T2 Time 8:49

934/972 Overall
428/446 Women
41/42 AG

The Run, ah the Run... or perhaps I should say the walk....

Right away, I had to run up a short hill and as I ran, I could feel my right calf tightening up a lot so I stopped and walked and then stopped to stretch it out a bit. My left knee was definitely sore and felt weak, like it didn't want to bend properly. I set off running and found my pace was too fast right off the start. My goal was 7:00 km for at least the start and I was already running 5:45 AND hurting so I tried to slow down a little. It's funny when you come off the bike, you just naturally start off hell bent for leather.

The first 2 1/2 km are rolling hills so I ended up walking the hills because it was putting too much pressure on my knee. I remember passing the 1km marker and thinking to myself, this is going to be a race of mental fortitude because I cannot believe I still have to "run" another 20 km. When I got to the first aid station, I stopped to stretch my calf again and it felt a lot better. I didn't see Erik, but he was there, taking pictures.

I just kept hobbling on. I decided that I was going to focus on a goal of 7 min /km for the entire race and be content with that. But I kept having to stop and walk when my knee hurt too much, or when I had to climb the stairs to cross the creek , or climb up and down the smallest of hills. In fact, going downhill was almost impossible. It hurt to run, and it hurt even more to stop running but walking was ok. Soon I found I was "running" at an 8 min km pace. And eventually, even slower than that. I was pretty disappointed and sad that I was moving along so slowly and I kept hoping that eventually my knee would kind of "numb" out and I'd be able to run a little faster.

The run course was a mentally challenging two loop, out and back course. When you've done 10k, you're back at the finish line, only to turn around and go back out for another beating. Not surprisingly, I was being passed by a steady stream of people all throughout the run, many of them already on their second lap. It was more than a little frustrating. On the second loop, Erik knew I was in a fairly bad way and he kept popping up in the most surprising places. He'd run or walk along with me for a little way to bolster my spirits and cheer me along.

By now, everything hurt - both knees, both calves, both achilles, my lower back, everything. I took a couple of ibuprofen and kept on the death shuffle. All I could think of was "I'm *never* going to do this again, never". In my heart, I knew it was probably like childbirth and that I'd probably forget the pain, but at that point, I was determined to remember it. ;)

Finally, I was on the final 5 km leg back to the finish. It still seemed an interminably long way to go. There seemed to be hardly anyone left on the race course now and even the few people who I commiserated with along the way at one point, had gone on ahead of me. Just before I turned the last corner, a man who was walking by, encouraged me along saying it was only 1/2 km to go and I was almost there. I nodded my thanks and then after he passed, started weeping out of pure emotional and physical exhaustion. I was horrified that once I started crying, I wouldn't be able to stop, so I shook it off as quickly as I could so I could go arrive at the finish line in some reasonable semblance of dignity.

I knew I was really close to an abysmal 3 hour half marathon time and was determined to stay under so I forced myself to run that last km without a walk break. I least I think I did -i t was all a blur near the end really.

The funniest part was when I got to the finish line, there was a short, very steep downhill to get to the timing mat. I didn't think I'd be able to run down it but since everyone was watching and Erik was there taking pictures, I gave it a shot. After the first 2 steps, both knees buckled just like the famous elites runners who run super super fast do at the finish line. Haha, at least I looked hard core, LOL... No one else was coming in at the moment so I had Steve King's announcements all to myself. He was probably stoked to have something interesting to say for awhile. He commented that it looked like this runner must have had a tough time on the run, as I struggled to walk down the hill.

Seriously, I could barely walk, my knees kept buckling, but only because it was downhill. I started laughing and trying to explain that I wasn't in that bad of shape, it was just the downhill I couldn't do. Luckily, when I got to the bottom, it leveled out and I was able to run across the finish line and get my medal! Yes, they even give medals to slow pokes.

Run Time 2:58:05 (goal time 2:30 max)

907/972 Overall
414/446 Women
39/42 AG

Overall Time 7:24:28 (goal time 7:00 max)

892/972 Overall
398/446 Women
38/42 AG

So how do I feel about the whole thing and what did I learn?

Well I would be lying if I said I was happy about the race. I was extremely disappointed about my run and although I've thought about it a lot, I'm not sure what I could have done differently, given the amount of time I had trained.

Yes, yes, I know, just finishing a half iron is a great accomplishment and of course, I am proud and happy that I finished, but I really an disappointed that I had such a crappy run. I knew that it wasn't going to be easy and I was ready for some pain, but my goal was always to run the whole thing, NOT walk/run it. I SO did not want to walk/run the race. In fact, I often said, back in February, that I didn't want to do a Half Iron if I expected to have to walk/run it. I'm not talking about the odd walk break every 5km or so, or even walking through aid stations, I'm talking about having to take walk breaks every 200-300m. I did not want to do that and yet, that's exactly what I had to do. And while I appreciate all the encouragement and congratulations, I know in my heart, that I did not do what I set out to do and that pisses me off just a little.

That being said, I was very happy with my swim and my bike despite the fact that I didn't really do all that well on paper, as far as rankings go. I was really happy and proud to meet my goals in both areas and for now, that's what I will focus on. :)

What did I learn?

I learned that a half iron race is a really, really hard race and you need more than 3 months to train for it if you want to do more than just "finish." I also think it's probably better if you run a half marathon distance first and do longer bricks before your race too. That's not saying I think my training should have been anything different than it was - Coach Jeff did the best with the time we had and for that I am grateful. Three months ago, I couldn't run 10km, now I just did a half iron. :) But seriously, I would probably have been better off training for the run all year and setting my sights for Oliver 2011 instead of 2010.

I also learned that it's really important to have a family member for support. I could not have made it through that run without Erik encouraging me all along the way. No way. Not a chance. I also kept the good wishes of my friends in my thoughts, both online and real life, and those positive thoughts helped keep me going. After all, I could hardly tweet that "the run was too hard so I quit" right? :)

As for my knee, it's still an anomaly. I have only had that pain a few times this year and I don't really know what's up. I suspect it's a cleat issue on my bike shoe so that is what I'm going to look into first. I'm also going to do some more strength work to keep working on those adductors etc. I guess another trip to the PT is in order.

My knees were both pretty sore that night, and all day Monday, especially going up and down stairs, but I didn't feel injured, just sore. I had a good post-race massage yesterday and today, I am only a little achey.

So there you have it. I hope you don't think I'm being too negative on my analysis. I'm a realist AND and optimist and I call them how I see them. I wanted more of myself and I didn't get it.

At least not this time. :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


OK, first off, I know I'm supposed to say my goal is to "just finish the race". But seriously folks, this is Kelownagurl talking. I'm too analytical and goal oriented to be content with "just finishing". I don't mean I have to have some pie-in-the-sky goal time - it's just that I know my speeds and how I've trained, and I think I can come up with some sort of time estimate for this race, however inaccurate it may be. :)

However, coming up with goal times for this race isn't easy. The bike is so dependent on the weather. And the run, well it's dependent on the bike and how my foot/ankle is feeling, and much much more. Anyway, I always like to record my goals to see how close I come so here goes.

Swim - goal 45 minutes or less

I swam the last 3 races (750 m) at about a 2:10 per 100 m pace. I have no clue if that's manageable for 2000 m but unless I have a panic attack or it's really choppy, I'm gonna say 2:15 per 100m and that'll be 45 minutes even.

Bike - About 3:25

If it doesn't rain, there's no wind, and I don't go too hard, I should be able to maintain a 27 kmh avg speed. (16-17 mph). I have ridden that distance much faster but I'm going to try to keep my heart rate in Zone 2 (141-152) and Zone 3 (153 -160) so I figure that means closer to 27-28 kmh.

Rain - will slow me down but won't tire me out.
Wind - will slow me down AND tires me out, which affect the run.

Run - 2:30 (?)

This, of course, is the big unknown. I've never run 21 km before and the longest I've run after a bike ride is 10km. The longest I've run period, is 18 km in 2 hours.

SO, I can only base my guess on my latest data.

My slow runs are usually 6:30-7:00 min per km.
My medium runs are 5:45-6:15 per km.
My fast runs are 5:00-5:30 per km.

Other contributing factors:

* ball of right foot has been achey and sore, sometimes downright painful.
* some numbness in the ball of both feet on the bike.
* PTT over the right ankle is sore sometimes.

If any of these things start to hurt, that will slow me down.

The run is a 10 km out and back loop, done twice.

I think my best case scenario plan will be:

First 5 km out, easy pace, 7 min km.
Next 5 km back, continued as above, maybe 6:45 (if feeling good)
Second 5 km out, pick up pace slightly, 6:15 -6:30 (if feeling good)
Last 5 km back, run as fast as I can comfortably run.

But then, that is only a plan. I may be so sore and tired after the swim and the bike, that I couldn't possibly keep up that pace, let alone do a negative split. However, I think it's possible so it's worth putting out there.

Realistically though, I'm going to hope to maintain a 7 min km for the 21 km. That would mean 2:27.

Transitions - 5 minutes

It's a long run from the swim to T1 and I'm not going to hurry, hurry in T1 or T2. I want to put on my sox, and gloves for the bike and my shin sleeves and hydration pack for the run so I will move quickly but not frantically. If needed, I may even stretch my calves before running.

Total time: 0:45 + 3:25 + 2:30 + 0:05 = 6:45

And just for curiosity's sake:

A choppy swim, windy rainy ride, and painful run time would be something like :50 + 3:45 + 2:45 + :05 = 7:25

And an absolute crazy fast time would be :40 + 3:15 + 2:15 + :05 = 6:15

So there you have it?

I wonder what will really happen?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Getting Closer

Wow, only a few days left. I'm mostly trying not to think about it too much.

I swam easy on Monday. Rode the trainer easy tonight. Tomorrow is an easy 30 minute run. Thursday I am supposed to swim again but I might have trouble getting there because the boy has guitar lessons after school. We'll see. Friday is biking again I think. Saturday is supposed to be T1 and T2 practice but I'm gonna swim in the lake instead.

My Sunday run went well despite a sore foot all day Saturday (ball of my right foot). It was a bit achey again on Monday and so-so today. If it hurts at all tomorrow, I won't run. I feel like I'm on the verge of injury so just don't want to push it.

I need to start getting my gear together so I'm not up too late on Friday night, like I was for my last race. I don't like feeling rushed or pressured.

My gear list is here.

Changes/additions are:

* Using aerobottle and one full bottle on the bike.

* Carrying a bag of carbo pro and nuun to add to water I get at an aid station IF I need more.

* Wearing my hydration pack for the run.

* Wearing my shin sleeves only on the run. Will put them on in T2.

* Taking large ziplock bags for my running shoes etc to keep them dry in transition.

* Bringing extra jersey and jacket in case of poor weather or rain.

* Bringing dinner, snack, and breakfast food with us. Friday night, I'm going to cook up a batch of chicken souvlaki and rice to reheat at the suite on Sat night. I'll also take pita and tzatziki.

* Take single hole punch for my race number and duct tape to hold my bike number in place so it doesn't flap against my legs. I forgot on the sprint and was glad the bike was short so it didn't drive me too crazy.

I'm having problems with my goggles so I may pick up another pair this week and try them out once in the pool and once in the lake.

Other than that, I guess I'm ready. I may post again later this week. For now, I'm tired.