Monday, August 23, 2010

Kelowna Apple Triathlon Race Report

Well another great race in the bag - what a day! I was SO pumped full of endorphins all afternoon I couldn't stop moving or talking. LOL. Probably drove my poor husband crazy. :)

I went to bed around 10pm Saturday night, all packed up and ready to go, but took awhile to fall asleep. I did my usual wake-up-every-few-hours thing and then woke up for good at 3:50 despite having the alarm set for 4:30, so I decided to just do some positive race visualization as I lay there in the dark. 5 hours of sleep before a race - no problem. :)

(Kind of funny "posing" picture of me after the race. Hahaha...)

I actually got out of bed at 4:30, showered, drank a little coffee, ate a little yogurt, and drank some water then headed out of the house at 5:35. Last year, I left at 5:40, took awhile to find a parking spot, waited in a long line for body marking etc so I hoped the extra 5 minutes would give me a bit more time. Erik dropped me off right at Prospera Place and went to park the car and I was surprised to see NO lineups for body marking, so by the time he arrived over at the fence by transition, I was all set up. He gave me the pump and I carefully pumped up my tires (I'm always terrified I will break the stem because I find it hard to attach the pump thingy and keep it straight.)

My new Zoot Tri bag was awesome! It was so nice to have all my stuff in a single back pack, easy to access and know I hadn't forgotten anything. Once I was ready, I took the backpack and pump to Erik and he put them in the car while I hung around and chatted with my fellow age groupers. I'm in a new age group this year (50-54) and I didn't know the women but they all seemed to know each other. I was able to answer a few questions for some first-timers which was nice. Some of these ladies looked like serious triathletes, one had her name on her tri suit, and with 16 women in our division (only 6 last year), I knew I'd have some serious competition. It sounded like quite a few of them were strong swimmers so I figured if they were also strong cyclists, I may not even see them on the course.

The morning was cloudy, and very windy, which did not bode well for a bike PR, and would make for choppy water on the swim. There were showers in the forecast but it looked like they would hold off until later in the morning. This picture shows the wind on the beach, and although the water doesn't look too rough here, it was 'rollier' further out. Rough water doesn't scare me much but it does slow me down a bit. Although the air temp was warmer than expected, the wind made it feel quite chilly so I put my jersey out to wear on the bike and I left my shoes in large ziplock bags in case it rained while I was on the course.

I was able to make two trips to the bathroom before I put on my wetsuit and I could see that there were now LONG lineups for body marking etc so I was really glad I had come early. I finally put on my wetsuit around 6:45 and headed down to the beach. The lake water actually felt warmer than the air temp but I held off going in for a bit so I didn't have to hang around wet. Soon enough it was time to assemble on the beach and I kept to the left (on the buoy side) and in the front. When the horn went off, I ran into the water and started swimming. I felt good and swam about 20 feet or so before I realized I wasn't breathing out under water. LOL. Got into a good stride and just swam steady and as fast and I could without getting too out of breath. The waves were pretty rolling but the chop only hit me in the face if I looked up to sight so it wasn't too bad. I was about 1/3 way back from my group which was all sprint women, 40 and up. There were about 75 women, plus some Olympic relay racers.

I got out of the water and ran as fast as I could up to my bike. There is a long run and it hurt the ball of my right foot a bit on the cement but overall I was ok. Erik was there on the beach cheering and taking pics.

Swim Time: 16:21 ~ 205/378 overall ~ 97/202 women ~ 7/16 in age group

(2008 - 17:30, 2009 - 16:27)

T1 - I really tried to hurry as fast as I could in T1 because my time is always slow for some reason. Some women weren't wearing wetsuits and were on their bikes more quickly of course, but I got mine off fast, bike shoes on no sox, helmet, sunglasses, and I was off.

T1 Time: 3:01 ~ 197/378 overall ~ 100/202 women ~ 5/16 in age group

(2008 -
3:01 no wetsuit, 2009- 3:34 wetsuit)

The Bike

Overall the bike portion was uneventful. I tried to ride as fast, and as aggressively as I could. It's always fun going up Knox the first time and passing everyone that I can. I'm not the best cyclist, but I can hold my own on the hill and it's not too hard to pass people who are fast swimmers because their strength is often on the swim. :) It was windy in sections and that slowed me down a bit and when I finished the first lap in just over 20 minutes, I knew I wouldn't be breaking my best course time of 38 minutes. I went harder on the second lap and managed to have a negative split which made me happy. I passed lots of people and played leap frog with a few more.

Bike Time: 40:53 ~ 155/378 overall ~ 50/202 women ~ 4/16 in age group

(2008 - 38:18 no wind, 2009 - 40:12 windy)

T2 - again tried to speed up in transition. I always put my sox on here so that slow me down a put but I did manage to shave some time off the last two years. Change shoes, helmet off, cap and race belt on and we're off!

T2 Time: 1:26 ~ 219/378 overall ~ ?/202 women ~ 4/16 in age group

(2008 - 1:49, 2009 - 1:53)

The Run

Right away, my legs felt good. Nothing was stiff or heavy and I knew I was going to have a good run if my ITB didn't act up. I went out at a steady pace and tried to keep it steady for the whole run. My heart rate was pretty high and my legs felt good so I kept plugging away and tried to keep loose. It was a more a mental battle than a physical one - my brain kept saying it was time to slow down but I wouldn't let myself do that. The last km was the hardest and I was SO happy to see the finish line with Erik waiting at the end taking pictures, that I ran straight over to him and kissed him once I crossed the finish line!

Here are my splits: (5:30/km is about 8:50 mile)

5:22, 5:25, 5:30, 5:35, 5:25

Run Time: 27:39 ~ 236/378 overall ~ 105/202 women ~ 5/16 in age group

(2008 - 29:45, 2009 - 31:01, Oliver 2010 - 27:31)

Whoo hoo! I was SO happy!!!!

Overall stats:

Time: 1:29:18 ~ 190/378 overall ~ 82/202 women ~ 4/16 in age group

(2008 (perfect weather) - 1:30:04, 2009 (windy, sore itb) - 1:33:11)

I am very happy - the ladies who "podiumed" were pretty far ahead of me so any small improvements wouldn't really help my chances and obviously better weather would have helped all of us.

Here are their times:
1st - 1:23:26
2nd - 1:24:48
3rd - 1:25:30 - (she was 2 min faster swim, 1 min faster T1, and 30 seconds faster run.)

Thank you so much to everyone who tweeted, emailed, DMed, and FBed good wishes. I brought all of you with me and kept your thoughts in my head to keep me going. I appreciate it all!

And of course, as always, thanks to my darling husband who got up early, followed me around carrying my stuff, lent me his brand new goggles, took pictures, and cheered me on before, during and after my race, and drank wine with me last night. I love you!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pre-Race Jitters

So tell me, those of you who have raced for years - does that feeling ever go away? This will be my 6th triathlon, and it's *only* a sprint (ooh, there now *I'm* saying only a sprint - ugh.) Anyway, I don't have any big time goals so why am I nervous? I'm not afraid of the swim anymore. I know I can do the bike. Even if my shins and/or ITB hurt, I know I'll still finish the run. So why be nervous? What a waste of energy....

Haven't given a training update on the blog lately so here goes.

Last week I swam twice and then afterwards, instead of running, I hiked up in the hills behind my house for an hour. I also did 2 one hour rides - one hill reps and one force reps. Then last Saturday, I did a brick with a 2:15 bike and an easy 15 min run. It was the first time I'd run in over 10 days and I was supposed to stay in HR zone 1-2 but I just couldn't force myself to go slow. I felt ok and I pushed it a little to see how things were feeling, ready to pull back if ANYTHING twinged. Nothing did so I was happy.

My shins were a little achey for the next day or so and then yesterday, I went for a 30 minute taper run. I kept the pace moderate and did 5 km in 30 minutes. Again, all felt fine. Today my quads are sore-ish but nothing feels injured. I'm supposed to do a short brick on Saturday but I've decided to play it safe and skip it. I think my legs feel ready to race on Sunday and I'm not gonna jinx it now.

I did an OWS at Gyro yesterday afternoon, mainly to make sure I can swim in my tri shorts and tank top that I'm planning to wear at the race. At the moment, the lake temperature is 23C, one full degree above the cutoff temp so that means probably no wetsuit, again. Boo. However, it's supposed to cool off Friday and Saturday so it could quite possibly drop a degree by Sunday morning.

The temps have been in the mid 30's for the past week (about 94-100 degrees) but today it was a tiny bit cooler (30C, 86F), tomorrow - cooler, yet, and Saturday/Sunday have predicted highs of only 21C, 70F with a 40% chance of showers so it's quite possible the lake will cool down enough to allow wetsuits. It also means I should probably throw a jersey into my kit bag in case it's cool when I get out of the water.

I picked up my race packet today - always so exciting! My race number is #611 (when I first saw it, I thought it said #911 and thought that was a little ominous.) I registered ONE day too late to get a tech shirt. If I want one, I have to line up at 8pm on Saturday night to get one. Not sure I care all that much though.


* have fun!
* finish without injury
* try to meet or beat my 2008 race time (1:30:04)
* go harder on the swim (whether I'm faster or not)
* try to match my 2008 bike avg speed if it's not windy (31.3 kmh), or my 2009 speed if it *is* windy (29.8 kmh)
* run 5k in under 30 minutes, preferably beating my 2008 time of 29:45. My run has always sucked until last May when I ran 27:30 in a sprint but since I've been injured for the last two weeks, I'm not going to hope for that pace again. I'd still like to beat 30 minutes though. :)

If you are interested, here are my previous race reports for the Apple Triathlon:

2008 Apple Sprint Triathlon Race Report

2009 Apple Sprint Triathlon Race Report

So that's it - holy cow, I'm doing it again!! Cue stressed out feeling. Gahhh...........

Friday, August 13, 2010

Zoot Triathlon Bag Review

A few months ago, I picked up a Zoot Triathlon Bag at my local tri shop (Fresh Air Concept). It was a bit pricey at $159.99, but I really wanted something that would carry ALL my gear to and from a race. This bag does all that, and more. It is exceptionally well built with high quality zippers and pulls, the backpack harness is adjustable and feels very supportive if you actually have to walk around with it for any length of time, and it tons of storage spaces.

The back of the case has "ribs" sewn in for extra strength and support, and the lumbar strap at the waist is attached by velcro and can be easily adjusted. It opens in half like a suitcase, and it has several pockets that open on the outside as well as inside. There is even a removable wetsuit / wet gear bag inside.

I am able to fit everything I need for a triathlon in this bag and still have room to spare. On the right, you can see one shot of the bag without anything in it.

Below is all the stuff I need for a race that can easily fit into the bag. Fully packed with this gear, the bag weighs about 14 lbs. There is still room to tuck in additional items such as extra clothing.

See below each picture for comments. You can click each picture for a larger view.

I am missing my Body Glide in this shot. :)

The wetsuit slides into this removable water proof zippered bag. Here's my wetsuit partway in. I usually throw my goggles on top of the bag, once it's zipped up.

Once closed, this section will keep your wet stuff separated from your dry stuff.

The wetsuit section is under the silver on the right. You can see three zippered net pouches on the two sides. I keep a variety of items in these and as you can see, there is room for more.

The left side has an upper and lower zippered section handy for keeping shoes and clothing. I'm not too big so I can fit both running and biking shoes in there.

In the upper section, I have my towel and my tri top, socks, and shorts. I could easily fit more clothing in here such as extra socks, a jersey and a vest

Once the bag is zipped closed, there is access to the other compartments - this form-fitting section holds my bike helmet (and anything that might fit inside the helmet.) The top section has a space for ID, papers, wallet or ? and has a built in "gear" list printed right on the flap.

In addition to a zipper, there are straps that click shut and hold the two halves together, and you can always hang stuff from these straps as well. A water bottle holder is on one side, and a small flat pocket for papers etc is on the other side. There is a pouch on the waist band and an ipod earbud cord hole in the top the bag.

Overall, I think think this is really good bang for your buck if you are looking for a well-made, roomy, versatile travel bag.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Another Aspect of Mental Stamina

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.


When I think about the concept of mental stamina in endurance sports, I often conjure up images of "toughing out" a difficult race, or perhaps, forcing myself to head out for a training session despite not being "in the mood". However, lately I've been thinking a lot about another aspect of mental stamina - the issue of how we deal with setbacks, frustrations, or injuries, and often, the subsequent change of plans or goals we've previously set.

If there's been a consistent thread throughout my three year "Triathlon Lifestyle Journey", it's been that nothing is consistent. It seems that any time things seem to going well, something else crops up to mess with my body and my head. It could be pressure from work, an unexpected injury, a too-busy life schedule that negatively affects my ability to prepare for a race in the way I had wanted. All of these things are challenges that every athlete must face from time to time, and perhaps even more so, for the new, or older, athlete. We want it all, too soon, and when things go wrong, we get can get frustrated and often, we quit.

The ability to persevere in the face of these normal and ongoing challenges is an important quality of a successful endurance athlete. To be able to stop when a roadblock is thrown in your path, reassess the situation, and then continue on, is a critical feature.

For me, it follows a common pattern. Things are going well, I am feeling good, my training is working well, everything is going according to plan, and then BAM, I have another minor injury - shins, ITB, hip, pain in the ball of foot, you name it, I've had it. Suddenly, I can't do what I was planning to do, in the way I was planning to do it.

I seem to have to go through several stages - often, my gut reaction is somewhat childish and I usually have to rant or whine for a short while. I need to get mad and get it off my chest. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself, but usually, I'm just frustrated and angry. I think these are all pretty normal reactions. But the difference between a "regular" person and an endurance athlete, is mental stamina - the ability to "deal with it" and move on and not just give up when the first problem occurs.

I am constantly reminded of Randy Pausch's statement in his presentation called "The Last Lecture" when he said, and I paraphrase,

"Roadblocks are there to test your commitment to your goals".

I see this ability to persevere through adversity as a form of mental stamina. An endurance athlete must be able to get over the frustration/feel-sorry-for-yourself stage of a new problem quickly, and then move on. Deal with it or accept it, and move on.

On Sunday, April 25, 2010, I went for a run. It was a perfect long run ~ 18.2 km in 2 hours. I felt wonderful throughout the run and had a huge burst for speed at the end - in fact, at that moment, I felt as if I could have just kept on running forever. I hold that day clearly in my mind ~ I can see it, feel it, hear it, smell it, and taste it ~ it was a peek into my potential. And now, whenever I feel frustrated with my running, I reflect upon that day and know that I can, and will, do it again.


Once again, I find myself waylaid by shin splints. How and why isn't really important but I suspect it is from running a little too fast and too long a few weeks ago. Who knows. At any rate, they hurt constantly on my last run a week ago, and it was clear to me and my coach that I was going to have to take some time off running again. Although it was supposed to be a big training week, only 2 weeks out from my race, I wasn't going to be able to run. Suddenly, I was torn - should I do the race or should I skip it this year? This race is huge to me but I've been plagued with nagging injuries all summer and my training and fitness level are not where they should be.

After my successful sprint last May, I had big dreams of PRing the race in August. Later, as my ITB acted up for a month after the Half Iron, I readjusted those dreams and changed my goal to completing my first Olympic distance triathlon. Now I find myself having to change my plan yet again, only 10 days out from my race. There's nothing I can do about my shins, so it's time to reassess my goals and move on.

However, I've decided that I won't let this setback cancel my race plans. I will focus on my successes earlier this season and know that I can be proud of my season - I had a great sprint tri in May, and I survived my first half iron and ran a PR 5k race in June.

So on Sunday, August 22, I am going to compete in the Apple Sprint Triathlon. I probably won't be hitting any PR's or experiencing a new challenge (the olympic distance), or placing in my division, but I've decided I'm just going to go out there and have fun. That's what this is all about isn't it? Being fit, enjoying life, getting out there and doing our best with whatever set circumstances we have to deal with? Definitely.

I won't be running all this week. I will pool run on Saturday. If all goes well, I may do one easy run next week but probably no bricks. And then on the following Sunday, I will do my best because I choose to find success in life and in my training and I'm choose to beat the mind game.