Monday, May 30, 2011

Countdown to my 2nd Half Ironman

The Oliver Half Ironman - beautiful course through the South Okanagan wine country - rolling hills, pretty lake, and vineyard upon vineyard.  What's not to like? This race is a popular one and is now sold out with over 1000 athletes racing this year.

This description is taken directly from the race website.

"Located in the beautiful south Okanagan community of Oliver, BC, this race is a half Ironman distance competition consisting of a 2 km swim, 93 km bike and 21.1 km run.  The race  features a 2-loop swim in the protected waters of Tuc-el-Nuit Lake in the heart of Oliver, a 2 loop bike course in the lower Okanagan Valley featuring parts of the famous  Ironman Canada course past Oliver wineries and  ends with a 2-loop run through quiet residential neighborhood and along the banks of the Okanagan River."

So last year I did this race as my first half ironman distance. I had not previously run a full 21 km before and my running was only sub par. Be that as it may, I actually experienced my problems while on the bike, with a very tight IT band that locked up at the knee and caused me to limp through the run. I was happy with my 45 minute swim, my 3:22 bike, but my walk/run was deadly slow at 2:58.  I also dawdled through the transitions and ended the race with a time of 7:24:something. But I finished and I was relatively happy about that accomplishment.


I've been mulling over my race plan and goals for the past few weeks and for the most part, I think my original goals still stand.  Overall goal - beat last year's time by actually running all, or most, of the run.

My individual goals have changed a little though. I suspect my swim and bike will be a little slower than last year - maybe up to 5 minutes slower on the swim and 5-10 minutes slower on the bike. This is only based on recent training rides that I've done. But it's hard to say. I'm going to hurry up a little in transition but the fact remains that T1 is 1/2 km from the lake and even the fastest athlete has a minimum 4-5 min T1. Mine was 9 min, avg was 7-8 min. I"ll try to chop one minute off.

Swim - 45-50 minutes (45:17 last year)

Bike - 3:20-3:30 (3:22 last year)

Run - 2:20-2:30

T1 and T2 - 12 minutes

What does that add up to?  Looks like 6:35-7:00.  And yeah, I'd be happy with anything in that range since my main hope is to take half an hour off last years run.

Race Plan

Travel and Accommodation

Leave right after work on Friday and spend two nights in Osoyoos. This will mean a more relaxing time overall.  I will pick up my race packet when I drive through Oliver on Friday night, go for a swim in the lake on Saturday afternoon, meetup with some internet friends, leave my bike in transition, and attend the race meeting from 5-6pm on Saturday. Then I'll head back to the hotel for quiet relaxation, an easy dinner, and early sleep.


* Sugoi tank top and 2XU tri shorts (extra jersey at T1 in needed)
* Wetsuit, extra silicone swim cap, flip flops, bodyglide
* Bike with aerobottle and two seat bottles
* Shoes, gloves, helmet, sunglasses
* Garmin and watch, HR strap
* Newtons, socks, hat, racebelt, handheld bottle with gel flask

* Chicken, rice, pita, tzatziki, banana, graham crackers for night before
* Yogurt and banana and maybe a gel for breakfast
* Carbo-Pro and Nuun in all 3 bike water bottles
* Nuun in handheld and espresso Hammer gel with water in gel flask

Night Before

* Clothes laid out, gear packed up
* Unnecessary stuff in car already
* Water bottles ready, freeze some mix
* Yoga and read before bed
* Asleep early

Race Day

* Get up at 5am
* Try to get some food in me
* A little coffee
* Pack up and check out of hotel
* Leave Osoyoos no later than 5:45
* Get timing chip and body marking before 6:30
* Bathroom before wetsuit
* First wave starts at 7am, mine will probably be the 3rd wave again 7:20?


* Swim - swimming intervals works best for me. Go hard for awhile, recover if/when I feel tired and/or anxious. Swim hard for the last 400m (after rounding the last buoy).

* Bike - keep HR under control - avg 155-158.  Avg speed around 27.5-28 kmh. Stay aero, relaxed upper body, cadence 85-90 rpm, go hard up the hills, recover on the downhills.

* Run - who knows. Anything from 6:14-7:00 km. I'm not sure if I should try to go for a negative split or just try to maintain a steady pace for the whole run. I may have to wait until race day and see how I feel.


Remember my mantra from my very first race, back in August 2008.

          I am awesome, I can fly, I am gonna rock this tri......

I will post my race number on my facebook page on Friday or Saturday and you can click here on race day for Live Race Results.

My race will start sometime after 7am Pacific Standard Time.  Probably 7:20ish?  I expect to be finished between 2:00 and 2:30 pm. I will tweet my results as soon as I know them.

I want to wish the best of luck to all of my friends who are racing the Oliver Half Iron this year as well. Most of them are hoping for a Sub 6 time so I assume they will all be there to cheer me across the finish line. LOL...  Good luck to Carmelle, Brent, James, Darryl, Mike, Jocelynn, Klaus and probably a few others I'm forgetting right now.

I'd also like to send out a HUGE thank you to everyone who has supported and encouraged me throughout this journey - online friends, family, and most of all, Erik. :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Oliver Sprint Triathlon Race Report 2011

Well I survived. :)

Erik and I went down to Oliver on Saturday afternoon and I donned my wetsuit and inched my way into the water. It took me at least ten minutes to get myself completely submerged but once I had swum 10 strokes, I had made my decision - yes, I would do the race.  The water was around 14C on Saturday, but only 13C at 8 am Sunday morning, when the race began. 

The weather was iffy - overcast, threatening showers (which didn't materialize fortunately), and the air temperature cool as well, so I took extra precautions and kept my gear in large ziplock bags in case it rained while I was swimming or biking.  I knew that I wouldn't be able to race in my usual tank top so I wore my tri shorts and sports bra top under my wetsuit and planned to put on a jersey when I went out on the bike. I also threw in my arm warmers and my new Sugoi Versa jacket, just in case.

I didn't have high expectations for my swim this year because I've only been in the pool 3-4 times since last August, so my goal time was anything under 20 minutes.  I was happy to be only a minute slower than last year, with a time of 17:34, which includes a short run up to the timing mat.

This year, there were no wetsuit strippers, and because of my sore groin, it took me at least 2 minutes to get my darn suit off my left foot. Argh.  Then I struggled for another 2 minutes trying to pull on a jersey and socks over my damp body. T1 was not going well. LOL...

They do not have timing mats out onto the bike course so T1 and T2 times are included in the bike time in the results. However, I had my watch and my garmin on so I believe my T1 time was a little over 5 minutes. It shouldn't have been more than 2:30 max. Ugh and LOL.

Once out on the bike, I felt good. For some reason, my overall time was a minute slower than last year but I felt strong and passed lots of people out on the course, especially on the big hill.  Bike time was 37:13 according to my Garmin. Official results included T1 and T2 time.

I felt super on the run. My plan was to race at Half Iron run pace, not sprint run pace, and goal time was around the 30 minute mark (6:00/km). However, I felt so good I allowed myself to push the pace a teeny bit and came in at 28:45 for the run.

Overall, my time was a pretty pathetic 1:30:41, my slowest ever for this race, but the only real disappointment was my transition times, not my race times so I was pretty content with the race.

Oh, and I won second in my age group this year too. A medal instead of a wine glass but, ah well...  :)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Looks like I'll be racing.

Well I'm here in Oliver on Saturday afternoon. The water was about 60F. I took about 10 minutes to inch my way in, then finally took the plunge and swam a few strokes. It was nasty but tolerable. I guess I'll be racing tomorrow.
Goal time: under 1:30.
Sent from my iPhone

Friday, May 13, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

So, my first race of the season is almost upon me. Once again, it’s the Wine Capital of Canada Sprint Triathlon in Oliver. I have been registered for a few months, and have paid for my hotel room for Saturday night.  I often do not register for races until the last minute, “just in case” but this time, because I wanted to make sure I got a good deal on the hotel through Priceline, I registered early.  After all, I’ve done this race twice before, and being 3 weeks before my half iron, it’s the first and probably only opportunity I have to do any open water swim before the race. It was a safe bet.

However, there are always some concerns.  Last year, I raced hard and did my fastest run split ever (27:30) in a sprint race, winning my age group over 5 minutes ahead of the next competitor.  Subsequently, my shins were sore for the weeks following and I had to cut back on running any distance at a fairly integral part of my half iron training schedule.  This likely contributed to the difficult run split I had at that race.

Fast forward to this year. Thanks to El Nina, we have had a cooler than normal spring and a late thaw in the mountains. Normally, we would have had several weeks of warmer (20-25C, 65-65F) weather in late April which would warmed up shallow Tuc El Nuit Lake in time for the early race. However, as of last weekend, the water was still only 11C (52F).  Although we’ve had a few days this week in the 20’s, it’s mostly been cloudy and showery and I doubt the lake will have warmed up much.  It has to be 14C (57F) in order to do the swim, and the air temperature at race time cannot be more than 2C cooler than that.  Given the current forecast, it is very unlikely that the water will be warmer than 14C on race day, and the weather forecast is for cloudy with rain showers.

There are two scenarios that will possibly play out this weekend. 

1. The lake temperature will warm up just barely enough to do the race but I will have to swim in FREEZING 57F 14C water.

2. The lake will not warm up enough, or the air temperature will be too cool, and the race will be changed to a duathlon.

Decisions, decisions...
Neither of these choices is optimal. The worst case scenario is having to swim in ice cold water, even with a wetsuit.  Yes, I know, to some of you, this temp is tepid.  To some of you, it’s downright warm.  But to me, it’s effing freezing.  I am a cold water wuss. I get the shivers climbing into the heated indoor pool.  I hate being cold. 

By chance, yesterday we were cleaning and refilling our hot tub.  When turned it on to warm it back up, I kept checking the temperature until I saw it had reached 58F.  I put on my wetsuit and got in.  Well, let me rephrase that, I got part way in. Up to my waist. Until the water started to seep in through the back zipper.

My feet were like ice and I was shivering.  I put my hands to try to adjust them to the cold water temperature. I tried to force myself to dunk down lower but just couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t even begin to fathom actually having to put my face in and swim so I got out and waited until the temperature went up to 60F and then tried again. No go. 

To be honest, it did feel a bit warmer, and if push came to shove, I could probably force myself to swim in that temperature, but I would not like it and it would be a negative OWS experience which is exactly the opposite of what I want to accomplish 3 weeks before my half iron.

Decisions, decisions...

Of course the other possibility is that the race is turned into a duathlon.  This would be nice as far as swimming is concerned but would also defeat the main purpose of my doing the race – to experience a positive OWS swim practice before my big race. In addition, it would put extra stress on my legs which I do not need.

Ugh. Decisions, decisions...

My running has been hit and miss since the half marathon in March.  Some days my legs and shins feel fine, other days my shins are tight and sore and I can hardly run without pain. Some days my hip/groin feels ok, and other days, it pinches and aches and feels like it’s going to “slip” while I’m running.

I had a crappy run mid week last week, took 3 days off, and then ran 16 km  with no trouble at all on Saturday.  On Tuesday, my shins were sore again and I ended up doing a walk/run. Today, I did a test run for a block and my shins hurt enough that I decided not to run at all until the race on Sunday. If I do the race that is.

Decisions, decisions....

I have to look at the big picture – the half iron on June 5. If I’m careful over the next 3 weeks, I can maintain my run fitness by not running for 2 days between each run and by doing all my stretching etc. My half iron will definitely be slower on the swim, and who knows about the bike – depends on the wind, but I’ll definitely be faster on the run. Overall, I expect to have a faster time this year than last, and hopefully, I will be able to walk afterward. :)

Decisions, decisions...

Ultimately, I am going to decide when I get there. Since I’ve paid for the hotel and the race, and I have a house/dog sitter arranged, Erik and I are going to go down to the race.  But on Saturday, I’m going to try a test swim and if it’s still too cold and the swim isn’t cancelled, I may DNS on the race altogether.  If they turn the race into a duathlon, I’m going to have to look at it as a training race – a brick workout, and try my best to do the run at half iron run pace, not sprint run pace. I really do think I can do that because the protection of my shins is of utmost importance this close to the race.

We shall see....

Decisions, decisions...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Running on the Mission Creek Greenway

I was pretty anxious about my scheduled long run this week, after the crappy run I had after work on Wednesday. Then, after the doctor messed with my hip to find the source of pain at my appointment on Thursday, my hip was really sore for about 24 hours and I decided not to run last night as planned. I thought it might be better to get up early on Saturday morning and do my long run on fresher, more rested legs.  It turned out to be a good decision.

I got up early, had a cup of coffee, and headed out the door by 8am.  I took a gel and my hand held water bottle with me and drove down to Mission Creek to run along the Greenway. Erik stayed home to sleep a little longer because he was racing later in the day.

Today the plan was supposed to be running without orthotics for one hour and then wear them for the rest of the run but I really didn't feel like doing an out and back twice again, and the last time I did that, my feet felt weird with the heavy lumpy orthotics in them.  So, for better or worse, I decided to do the whole run without them and cross my fingers.

It was mostly overcast and fairly cool, about 8C, 46F and it had showered off and on overnight so I wore my tights, my Sugoi Mid Zero jersey, and my new Versa jacket.  After about 30 minutes, the sun started to peek through the clouds and it warmed up a bit so I took off the bolero style sleeves and tucked them into the jacket's back pocket. Voila, I was now wearing a vest - easy!

At this point, I was running on the more secluded part of the trail, so I decided to take out my headphones to be more aware of my surroundings.  I enjoyed the sound of the birds and the rushing creek, as well as the smells of new leaves and damp earth, and I realized once again, I am lucky to live in such a beautiful place.

By about the 40 minute mark, the posterior tibial tendon at the right ankle was starting to get sore so I decided to slow down a bit and focus on my form.  I wanted to make sure I wasn't overstriding or doing anything else that might give me pain later. All the way along the trail, there were tiny trails from little snails crossing.  I had to be careful where I stepped so I didn't crush them.  I was running slowly, not quite this slow...

Overall, I was feeling great.  In fact, I felt like I could probably have run for 2-3 hours without too much trouble.  I had turned around at the 40 minute mark, but decided that today I would run 1:45 instead of 1:30.  When I got close to the parking lot, I took another route and ran all the way down to Lakeshore, then doubled back and did another loop to enable me to get the extra time in.

Near the end of the run, I made my way down to the water, took off my socks and shoes, and put my feet in the freezing water. And boy was it cold!  The water is high right now with all the snow melt and I could barely keep my feet in the water for more than a few seconds at a time. After 5 minutes of dunking in and out, I put my socks back on and walked the last 1/2 km to the car.

Overall, I ran about 15 1/2 km in 1 hour and 45 minutes. I went straight home, ate, stretched a little, and got ready to leave for Erik's race in Penticton.  All the way along the 1 hour drive, I iced my foot, ankle, and posterior tibial tendon. Tonight my lower legs are feeling pretty good although my hip is aching again.

Tomorrow, I should probably do a 2-3 hour bike ride but the weather has been awful and I'm not sure I'll be able to get outside.  Trainer in May?  That's unheard of!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Time to update

Hi all - I haven't updated my blog for a helluva long time so I thought I'd try to get a blog post out tonight while Erik's watching the Stanley Cup playoffs.  The Canucks aren't playing tonight so I don't really care what happens. :)

At lot has happened in the past 6 weeks or so since my race. I went through another 'minor injury' period after the race, as per usual, when my shins were tender and sore.  I took about a week off running, did some elliptical, and focused on biking for a while. Meanwhile, I was going to chiro for ART and the physio for IMS for my stupid ongoing groin pain once a week and getting some results but not enough.  My chiro, Melanie, again encouraged me to get an xray to 'rule stuff out' and when I went in to the doctor to get a referral, he also set up an appt with a sport med doctor as well. 

Meanwhile, I got back to running and took is slow and easy for a few weeks.  Naturally, I had to start all over again to build up my long run - what a pain in the ass.  At the same time, Melanie also suggested that I phase out my orthotics and see if that would help my shin issues.  I began to run the last part of my run without them and felt ok but had some mild pain in the metatarsal pad of my right foot. Melanie, and others, said this was well within the norm so I persevered. I managed to get my long run up to 90 minutes, 50 minutes of which was without orthotics. Then last weekend I did a big brick, running 30 minutes after an 80 km hard bike ride on the half iron course. I felt ok during the run but my mid week run on Wednesday was crappy - my legs were sore, tired and heavy.  I am doing to try a long run tomorrow morning and hopefully it will go well.  Crossing my fingers.  I plan to do 60 minutes without orthotics and the remaining time with them in. We shall see.

The Xray and Sports Specialist Appointment

A few weeks ago, I finally had my hip xray and it came back showing mild degenerative osteoarthritis with some small osteophytes (bone spurs). This wasn't a great thing to hear but it was well within norms for someone my age and given that my mom has arthritis in her hands and back, not too surprising.  Although some of the literature I read online suggested that the osteophytes could be causing the snapping/impingement pain I get in the groin, I was still anxious to hear what the sports specialist had to say.

I had my appt with him yesterday and after hearing my story, checking my xray report, and  moving my hip/leg around to test for pain, he was fairly certain of a diagnosis. 

Labral tear at the hip. (No, not labial...  the tear is in the labrum, or lining around the hip socket.)  The photo above shows the labrum, and the video below explains it pretty well.

A few of the links I found, showed a connection between osteoarthritis and labral tears.  Here are a few links with more information.

Mayo Clinic

Orthopedic Specialist Website

Other info

So, now the crappy part.  The only way to confirm the diagnosis is by having an MRi with dye injected.  At this time, the BC Medical is extremely underfunded for MRI's and the wait list is about 8 months.  If I want, I can get an MRI privately and pay $1100 out of my own pocket, I doubt I will do that.

And part two of the crap - assuming the MRI does show a labral tear, nobody in Kelowna does arthroscopic surgery on the hip as it is relatively new procedure, and the waitlist in Vancouver is 3 freaking years.  Yes, I said years, not months. Oy vey.  There is a possibility that I could get it done in about 18 months if Alberta will allow me to come across the border for the surgery. At any rate, that is a decision that will have to be made after I get the MRI.

We got into a lively debate about the Canadian medical system on my Facebook page today and I'd like to cut and paste a rant by Trevor who summed up the problem quite succinctly.

"Unfortunately our wonderful Canadian Healthcare is being manipulated by right wing politicians who have an agenda to privatise healthcare, in BC there was no wait for MRI's up to the last election, immediately after the election funding was withdrawn, and once again we were being told that "public healthcare wasn't working", and now our new federal govt will be conducting a "review" of public healthcare.....sad, but true, we are heading for private healthcare, where coverage can be taken away overnight leaving people with no healthcare ala the U.S.....Tommy Douglas's legacy to all Canadians will be gone......rant over :)"

Thanks for that, Trevor, I couldn't put it better myself.  

So now it is Friday night, and I should have run today but my hip and groin have been really sore and tender for the past 24+ hours since the doctor manipulated the hip to test the pain points.  Argh.

I asked him what would happen if I didn't the surgery and he said, I could continue running, biking, and swimming but over time, I'd have more and more pain, exacerbated by the arthritis in my hip. Eventually, I would no longer be able to do triathlon.  I am continuing to research and look for more information.

On a brighter note, Erik's duathlon is tomorrow and I am looking forward to being his sherpa and watching him kick butt!