Tuesday, June 28, 2011

School's (almost) Out!

....and it can't happen a moment too soon.  The last few weeks have been exhausting and it all finally caught up with me Sunday night and Monday - headache and fatigue to the point of nausea.  I actually ended up missing the 2nd to last day of work, and our year end beach party.  I spent most of the day sleeping and then later in the day, I started to feel a little more alive.  With any luck, I'll feel my old self again tomorrow, my last day with kids.

So what's been going on with me?  Well with the usual June school craziness, endless Canucks games ending with a crushing defeat, helping my daughter find an apartment for her move to Vancouver, and Erik's race this past weekend, it's been too hectic to do much training.  I have not been swimming or biking at all this month but I have attempted to get a few runs in.  It's been a long haul since June 6th though, and it's taking awhile for my legs to feel back to normal. For a couple of weeks, I found I needed to take walk breaks during my run and then I did manage a steady 10km run last weekend that felt good.  I only had time to run once during the week though and then I ran 13km this past Sunday.  I knew my legs were still feeling heavy and tire easily so I decided right at the start to run 9/1 so I could be sure to get the entire distance in. The first hour felt good, the last 30 minutes were more difficult but I was happy to have done a decent 13 km. 

I am also finding that my HR is quickly moving into Zone 3 whenever I run right now, despite the fact that all my runs were in low Zone 2 in the last 6 weeks of my half iron training.  I suspect that over the next few weeks, my fitness will increase and I'll be able to stay in Zone 2 again.  Of course, the other problem is that I've been running in warmer weather - that seems to increase my HR as well.  Now that summer holidays are beginning, I'm planning to do most of my runs in the early morning, before it gets hot.


I started doing Gordon's (from This Running Life) Around the World core workout, which he got from Beginner Triathlete.  I started slow and only did it twice as week as recommended, but my plan is to increase the frequency once school is out. I will also do some of the other core exercises I was doing in the winter to mix it up a bit.


This summer, I've also decided to focus on upper body strength, in particular swim-specific dryland exercises to complement my lack of swim training. My thinking is that the main reason I lost a couple of minutes in my swim time was the loss of strength in the pull phase of my swim.  My theory is that if I focus on building upper body strength, I can continue with my minimal swim training and maintain my swim fitness.  I really don't feel it's worth it for me to spend hours and hours in the pool/lake and only gain a minute or two in swim time. That time is much better spent biking, running, and drinking wine.


My summer goal for the lower body is to continue to strengthen the gluteus medius to help stabilize my hip.  Overall, so long as I am careful with my movements, my groin/hip has not been bothering me much. The only time it has hurt is when I've spent a lot of time walking (ie 10km round Vancouver a couple week ago).  I am optimistic that strengthening my core and the surrounding muscles will help keep any further damage in check until I can get my MRI.


July 9 - Desert Half Iron in Osoyoos.  Erik and his brother want me to do join their relay team and do the swim.  I find this amusing since my swim is so sucky but as long as Erik's legs are capable of running a half marathon, I will do the swim for them. Yogi will do the bike. 

July 31 - San Francisco First Half Marathon.  Erik and I are signed up and we plan to do this race for fun, and run together!

August 21 - Apple Triathlon - I'll do either the sprint or the olympic - haven't decided yet.

October 9 - Okanagan Marathon.  Yes, you read that right.  I have 15 weeks to train for my first marathon. I am optimistic that this is the year. I hope. Only time will tell. :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Oliver Half Iron Race Report 2011

Well it's done - another half iron in the bag. And the best news is - I met my goals!

First the stats, because that's the part you really want to know about.

Swim:      51:07    (Goal: 45-50 min)
T1:            8:34     (Goal: 8:00-9:00 min)
Bike:    3:16:57     (Goal: 3:25-3:30)
T2:           4:47      (Goal: 4:00-5:00 min)
Run:     2:36:31    (Goal: 2:25-2:45)

Total Time:  6:57:53 (6:35-7:00)

Then the Story: An Eventful Weekend

I packed up all my gear Thursday night and Erik picked me up right after school Friday so we could head down to Oliver and get to packet pick up before registration closes at 5:00.  We made it in time and I managed to get my wrist band and swim cap, but unfortunately, my race bag had accidentally been given away to the wrong person.  The RD suggested I come back Saturday afternoon and see if it had been returned, since my name is on the bib and they person will eventually notice.

Afterwards, we went down to the lake to check out the water temperature and I decided to take an impromptu swim.  It was a bit chilly to put my face in, but once I was under a few times, I felt comfortable and I swam about 300 meters along the shoreline. I definitely felt like I was ready to do the swim as it was much warmer than 3 weeks ago at the sprint.

After getting dressed, we drove the 20 minutes to Osoyoos and checked into out hotel. Or rather, we tried to check into the hotel.  After much searching, the clerk was unable to find our reservation. Once again, heart began to beat a little faster - first my race bag, now my hotel reservation. And there are few, if any, rooms available in town with the race on. I had to go back to the car and bring in my computer print out of my reservation to prove I actually had paid for the room (via Hotwire). As it turned out, they had no more junior suites, so we had to be upgraded to a lovely one bedroom (thank goodness they had a few available).

We finally got up to our room, unpacked and relaxed for awhile, before venturing out to have a lovely meal at the Italian restaurant, Campo Marino.  I had gnocchi with meat sauce which was delicious.  Earlier in the afternoon, I had been chatting with Gina (@SheTrisAll3) on Twitter, and it turned out she was at the same restaurant. I walked around until I found her and we had a quick chat.  She and her family seemed very nice, and I ran into her a couple more times during the weekend.

We had a fairly early night of it and then went out for breakfast at the Holiday Inn where we met up with Darryl (@DarrylH from Twitter).  We chatted about the race and our Garmins, then headed back to hotel where I relaxed while Erik went for a run.  It was hot and sunny so when he got back, we went down to the pool and lay in the sun and read for an hour or so.  Eventually, it was time to head back to Oliver.

I was surprised to find out my race bag till hadn't been turned in so the RD gave me 2 choices. Wait until the race meeting, or get a new number. A new number would mean I wouldn't have my name on my bib and I wouldn't be with my age group in the transition zone. I opted to wait, but asked if they'd let me check my bike in without the number for now. We headed back to check out the expo when I got a call that my bag had turned up so we had to make another trip to transition before things were finally put right. We went to the Expo and sat with our friends Rob and Carmelle, and then headed back to our hotel for the night.  Erik watched the hockey game while I packed everything up and got my race gear all ready to go for a quick departure in the morning.  I went to bed around 9:30, took half an ativan, and slept well until the alarm went off at 4:45 am.

Race Day

Although I had most of my stuff ready to go, it still took us almost an hour to get on the road.  I was only able to eat a little yogurt before we left but I wasn't too worried.  We got to the race site about 6:05 and Erik dropped me off to pick up my timing chip and get body marked. I ran into Paul Eby and said a quick hello. Erik passed my gear over the fence and I quickly got transition set up then headed to the long line for the porto-potties. Unfortunately, the ones I chose ended up being a VERY long time and by the time it was my turn, they were already calling us to leave transition.  I hurried to get my wetsuit on, took one last look at my setup, and hurried down to the beach. I wasn't too worried because I was in the 3rd wave, but I wouldn't have minded a couple more minutes to make sure everything was set up right. It all turned out ok though.

The day was already warm and sunny and the highs were expected to be at least 30C (86F). Very few of us had had any training runs in the heat due to a cool spring so we were not looking forward to the run. The upside was that I didn't need to worry about taking in extra clothes for the bike - I'd be plenty warm enough.

The Swim - 51:07
Estimated 2100-2200m 
Pace 2:20-2:25 /100m

26/49 AG
254/327 Women
664/783 overall

My wave left at 7:14am and I got into the middle of the pack and just started swimming. My goal was to try to swim straight, the go steady to the first buoy (900m), pick up my speed a little to the 2nd buoy (1600m) and then swim hard for the last 400m.  My time at the first buoy was about 20 minutes so I felt I was on pace at 2:13/100m.  I felt good and picked up my pace a little but was surprised to be closer to 40 minutes at the 1600m point. (2:30/100m).   The last 400m plus the run through wetsuit strippers to the timing mat, put me at 51 minutes for the swim. It didn't make sense to me because I really felt I was swimming about 2:15 / 100m like I always do.  Later I heard this was a common complaint among the athletes, and many people thought the swim course was long, possibly 100m over.

This year I left my flip flops on the beach and was able to wear them the half km run to transition.

T1 - 8:34

38/49 AG
267/327 women
666/783 overall

I tried to move a little faster this year and managed to cut off over a minute off my time, but judging by my placing, this is clearly an area where I could lose another minute or so.

The Bike - 3:16:57 
91.1 km - avg speed 27.8 kmh  17.3 mph

23/49 AG
194/327 women
594/783 overall

I felt great on the bike and as usual, I was able to pass lots of people.  Keep in mind that I'm in the 3rd wave (women 45+ and men 50+) and all the younger, and faster, people are already gone, ahead of me. :)  My goal was to keep a steady pace and a steady heart rate but I was feeling strong and was able to push the pace a little faster than I had planned. The best news was that there was no wind. What a huge bonus!  I had given Erik last year's splits for certain points, and each time, I came in ahead by 3-5 minutes. In the end, I was done about 7 minutes faster than last year. The course claims to be 93 km, but it's really only 91.1 km.  I drank my aero bottle and emptied two regular bottles into it as well. I was out of fluid for the last 25 minutes but didn't bother to stop and refill at an aid station.

The only down point of the bike was when a truck stopped right in front of me and I actually had to unclip and stop my bike. Argh.  Other than that, the ride was uneventful and my second lap was only slightly slower than my first.  My knee had started to tighten up halfway through the second lap and I began to worry that I'd have the same ITB/knee issue as last year so I was a little more conservative on the hills after that point.

T2 - 4:47

36/49 AG
244/327 women
614/783 overall

As soon as I hit T2, I stopped at the porto-potties at the entrance, then ran my bike to my spot. A quick change of shoes and hat, grabbed my water bottle and left transition. I forgot to hit my Garmin when I crossed the timing mat so my run data was about 200m short.

The Run - 2:36:31
Approximately 22 km
Pace 7:06/km 11:26/mile

27/49 AG
222/317 women
591/783 overall

Right away, I noticed two things: my legs felt great and it was freaking hot. Super duper hot. Unbearably hot.

I was running a good pace right away and my legs felt good. No ITB problems, no sore shins, no sore foot, no sore PTT. My first 4 km were all about 6:15-6:30 / km and that included walking up the small hills.  My goal pace was about 6:30 / km so I was right on track.

The problem was - my heart race was crazy high. In all my training runs, including all my brick runs, my heart rate is usually high zone 1, low zone 2. Today, it was well into Zone 4 and climbing. This would not do. I had to get it down so I stopped and walked for 20-30 seconds. Once it was down to zone 3, I ran again. But it just kept slowly climbing back up again.  As soon as I hit the first aid station, I grabbed some sponges and tucked them under the straps of my tank top. I poured water over my head every chance I got, and I took ran through the sprinklers that were out on the course. Although my heart rate lowered a little for the second half of the run, I was getting really tired and continued to take frequent walk breaks throughout the run.  The last 5-7 km were really hard. I just wanted it to be over at that point but I struggled on. I tried to dig deep and played little games to make myself run to the next spot before I could allow myself to walk for 10 seconds.

Erik kept popping up on the course, cheering me on, and that really really helped. I looked forward to seeing him and it encouraged me to keep on running so I'd see him at the next point. Eventually I was on the last 2-3 km. I had been watching my watch and was trying really hard to come in under 7 hours.At the 1 km mark, I saw Erik walking ahead. He was heading back to the finish line and I was gaining on him. I called out and he was surprised to see me. He had to run some of the last km in order to get there in time to get my picture. :)

I seemed to be on track for a 2:30 half marathon but again, it turned out the course was long (my Garmin said 21.8 km but I had missed about 200m after the timing mat, so it was pretty close to 22 km over all.)  The official results say my pace was 7:24 / km but it was actually 7:09 according to my Garmin. And my Garmin is always right. :)

The End - 6:57:54

22/49 AG
217/327 women
604/783 overall

Overall, I am VERY happy with my race.  My transition times were faster, my bike was surprisingly faster, and my run was faster. I was even impressed with my swim considering I only swam 7-8 times since last August. I believe the extra length in the course accounted in part for the places where my times seemed a bit slow, and given the extreme heat, I am very very happy to have my run within my goal range.

I had very sore quads, lower calf/achilles, and back muscles on Monday and Tuesday, but today (Wednesday) I am feeling much better and I may be able to go for an easy run tomorrow.

Next up - a fun 5k!  The Women's Run on Sunday.  I hope. :)