Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Six Pounds of Fat

This is how much weight I need to lose to once again feel comfortable in my own skin.  I was thinking about it when I bought a pound of butter at the store today.  I imagined each block of butter and slathering it onto my hips, belly, and butt.  Maybe a half pound on each arm.

I know six lbs isn't a lot to some people but on my fairly small frame, it's a lot. I'm now at the point where my clothes feel tight.  I need to make some changea.  Starting Tuesday, September 6 when I go back to school.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Number Crunching

I was curious about how many kilometres I'd ridden since I started riding my bike in 2006, so I went into my various online records to see what my totals were and decided to put the info into spreadsheet format.

From Beginner Triathlete, I was easily able to get my Swim, Bike, Run totals for 2007 to date, and I still had my bike numbers from 2006 online at Bikejournal.com.  It was really interesting to see how the numbers added up. I think I will put this chart onto my "Training" page (see the menu above) so it's easily accessible and I can update it twice a year.

Year Bike kms Bike Hours Run kms Run Hours Swim kms Swim Hours
2006 2774.67 132:38:18 0 0:00:00 0 0:00:00
2007 3472.71 155:13:29 156.36 18:04:02 0 0:00:00
2008 2743.65 117:51:59 508.07 62:18:13 64.45 36:38:01
2009 2152.08 102:06:13 502.33 65:42:47 41.25 20:10:00
2010 2358.59 99:52:27 703.23 89:34:43 96.6 45:37:53
to Aug 2011 1643.56 68:16:42 598.49 69:06:41 19.75 8:32:07
 (in miles)
675:59:08 2468.48
304:46:26 222.05

As you probably know, I'm a numbers junkie.  I find it tremendously motivating and I enjoy looking for patterns that help me better understand myself as an athlete.  On their own, the totals above don't mean a lot - it's the quality of my day-to-day training that important - but it's stll interesting to see the how far I've come in the past 5 years.

Erik and I were discussing the role technology plays in training today, after he read a facebook comment by somebody suggesting that we need to throw out our computers and just get out and ride (or swim or run). I think that in some situations, and for some people, this might be a good idea.  But for me, keeping track of my training is a very enjoyable and motivating aspect of working out. Most days when I finish a workout, the very first thing I do is sit down at my computer to upload or record my data, even before I shower. ;) The feeling of accomplishment is tremendous.

If you do not currently keep track of your riding, running, or swimming - I encourage you to sign up for one of the many free online journals such as Bikejournal, Beginner Triathlete, Dailymile, or Training Peaks and give it try. If you're not a computer nerd, you can buy a cheap notebook and record your training long hand.

And you don't need a computer to figure out how far you're run or ridden.  There are many free online mapping websites such as Map My Run that will do the figuring out for you, not to mention many apps that are available for your smartphone.

But no matter how you decide to record your info, the most important thing is to get out there and do it!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

When Worlds Collide

As many of you know, I have tried hard to keep my "real life" and my "internet life" separate, but after 4 years online, it's getting a bit more challenging. I realize of course, that anyone can look up my race results online and get my real name, but so far I've avoided having my real name in print on the same page as Kelownagurl. In other words, if you googled one, you wouldn't find the other.

However, I had an opportunity a few weeks ago that I just couldn't pass up - Adriana Barton, a journalist for Canada's National Newspaper - the Globe and Mail, was doing a piece on the huge influx of middle class professionals getting into triathlon.  In her research, she stumbled across my account on Beginner Triathlete, checked out my blog. and emailed me to request a phone interview.

Naturally I was suspicious - I get a lot of weird email,  and the last thing I wanted to do was make a fool of myself, responding to spam.  However, I checked out her articles in the Globe and Mail online and I emailed the newspaper to confirm she was legit, and then I contacted her and said I'd be happy to chat with her on the phone.  She was easy to talk to and I really enjoyed talking with her.

I was still a little nervous about what she might take away from our conversation and put into print, but I was pleasantly surprised when I checked out the article on Monday morning (August 22) and relieved to find she was able to make me sound reasonably intelligent. :)

At any rate, I'm not sure how long the article will be available online but here is a link to the article "Weekend warriors race to sign up for short triathlons" for now.  Of course, I bought a couple copies of the newspaper to keep for myself. And hey, if you read the article online, click the tweet, share, or like buttons at the bottom of the article, or leave a comment!  Thanks!

So there you go, Kelownagurl and the real me, all on the same page. Well, not on this blog haha, but it is out there!  Yikes! Now what?


So, I had foolishly read a number of stories online about how horrifically painful it is to have to dye injected for the arthrogram and not surprisingly, I was pretty anxious heading into the Xray department at the hospital this morning.  However, a few friends told me they'd had the same procedure and found it more than manageable so I tried to keep that in focus.
A little background info, for those who do not read my blog on a regular basis.  I have some very mild arthritis and small bones spurs in my hips. I've had some nagging mild pain when I move my hip in certain positions but nothing too bothersome, and definitely nothing that has directly affected my swim, bike, run.  My PT, Chiro, and I have discussed the possibility that I could be compensating for my affected hip and this may be causing some of the running injuries I seem to suffer with, but we really don't know for sure.

Fast forward to this past winter.  At the end of December, and in early January, Erik and I started skate skiing. I found it really hard and challenging but I liked it, so I spent  about 3 hours the first day practicing the lateral movement over and over again, trying to get the hang of it. Naturally, the next day, I was sore, and I mean REALLY sore, especially my groin muscles and adductors.

That evening, I bent down to pick something up and something in my left hip snapped, sending me to the ground, writhing in agony.  It lasted for a few minutes and then subsided.  I thought that obviously I'd really pushed too hard and would need to take a few more days to heal. I was super careful not to turn my left knee out as that was the movement that seemed to make it snap.  Within a few days, the wort was over but I continued to have a lot of nagging pain and I had to be really careful with my left hip when I was skate skiing.

For the next few months. I tried a number of treatments from ART to IMS but nothing seemed to last. Finally, the Chiro recommended I get an xray, and my doctor recommended I also see a sport specialist who diagnosed it as a likely a torn labrum.  You can see more info about that in my blog here.

In early May, I was put on the waitlist for an MRI, expecting to wait 8-10 months, and was told I could continue to swim, bike, run so long as I was not suffering any pain. By this time, skate ski season was done anyway so it wasn't too difficult to avoid the movements that cause pain. Then last week, only 3 months later. I got a call to come in for my MRI!  and that brings us up to today.

So what was it REALLY like?

I arrived at the xray department at 8am - I was allowed to have a normal breakfast (I didn't eat because I was too nervous), but no makeup, no hair product, no jewelry.  I knew I was going to be anxious so I took 1mg of ativan as soon as I got to the hospital (I had my own and they said it was fine to take it). It really helped make me feel much less anxious.

I checked in and waited in a chair for about 10 minutes, then I was given a gown to wear and I packed my clothes into a bag, filled out a checklist form, and was left to wait in another chair for about 15 minutes.

Then I was brought into an xray room and I had to lay on a bed. He exposed my hip, cleaned it with iodine stuff, and brought the xray machine over top of it so he could watch what he was doing when he inserted the needles. I choose to stare off in space and not look at the needles.  I also was prepared to dig my nails into my forearm if anything hurt so I could take my attention away from the source of pain.

The doctor was very good.  He told me exactly what he was doing at all times and was quick. First he injected some freezing into my hip. I barely felt the needle go in and only a small amount of burning as the freezing went in. This literally only lasted a few seconds and didn't bother me at all.

Then he took some time to insert a (or possibly more than one) needle into my hip so the dye would get right into the joint space. I felt no pain when he did this other than a little pressure.

Once he had it exactly where he wanted it, he told me he was going to inject the dye and that I would feel pressure as the joint filled up.  It definitely felt pressure, tight, and a bit of an overall ache but nothing I would categorize as "painful". As soon as he took the needle(s) out and I could move my leg a bit, it felt much better and from then on, nothing hurt at all.

I was moved to a wheelchair and moved to the MRI area.  The person ahead of me had moved during their MRI so they had to redo a section so I waited there for about 15-20 minutes. It was hard to tell because I was kind of buzzed out on the ativan.

Finally it was my turn.  I got up on the table, they gave me ear plugs, and put some sort of harness thing on my chest and some pads under my arms which were stretched out. I was also given a ball to hold and squeeze if I needed help for any reason. They made sure I was comfortable because I wasn't allowed to move for 30 minutes. At that point I was really glad I had the ativan because I am a pretty fidgety person at the best of times.  They slid me into the tube and started up the machine. It was REALLY loud, even with my ear plugs, and it made a lot of different sounds, kind of like a machine gun or a jack hammer. Although nothing was touching me, I could feel pressure from the sounds on my hip and groin.  Weird.  I just dozed off and on, they would talk to me once in awhile and let me know things were going well and ask how I was doing. Finally it was over, I changed back into my clothes, called Erik and he came to pick me up.

The freezing started to come out in about an hour and my hip is sore and feels a bit weak, and affects my range of motion. They told me to take it easy today and just relax so I have.  Always nice to have a forced rest day. :) :)

SO - if you are ever going to have a hip arthrogram, DON'T read up on it on the internet. This was definitely not a painful procedure.  Most of the stuff I've had done on physio is MUCH more painful. :)

And so, the doctor is supposed to get my report on Friday so I made an appt at 11:45.  Unfortunately, the doctor who recommended the MRI is on holiday until mid September so I will be seeing somebody else. That may be a good thing though - maybe I'll have two opinons then.

There are lots of ways to deal with and treat a torn labrum, IF that's what I have. Here is a link with some good information.  I am hoping to find a non surgical treatment if possible - we shall see.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Post-Race Musings

Well, another Pushor Mitchell Apple Triathlon is in the bag - and I had a GREAT day! The weather was perfect, the organizers and volunteers excellent, and the competition fierce.  I am so happy that I entered the race again this year even if I hadn't done any race-specific training in the past few months, and it looks like my overall fitness was able to carry me through.

The Stats

Time: 1:31:21  (Goal: 1:33:00)

Swim:  16:21 (Goal: under 16:30)
T1: 3:31 (Goal: 3:00 - again had trouble pulling wetsuit off left foot because of hip)
Bike: 41:18 (Goal: under 42:00)
T2: 1:46 (Goal: 1:30)
Run: 28:26 (Goal: under 30:00)


Overall, I'm happy with my race.  I had a lot of fun and I beat all of my goals with the exception of my transition times. I still seem to struggle with working quickly and efficiently in this area. Until my hip is better, I will have trouble getting my wetsuit off in races where there is no wetsuit stripping so that much is beyond my means, but I clearly dawdled in T2 - there's no reason to be 20 seconds slower than last year. I didn't FEEL like I was dawdling but I can't explain why I was so much slower. I put my socks on in T1 this year too. I need to practice more I guess.

I'm happiest with my swim - my swim time was EXACTLY the same as last year's swim time, amazingly enough. I have only swum 19,000m this year (8 hours in total) and most of that was before my June Half Iron.  I only swam 2600m in July and 4000m in August.

HOWEVER, I do not recommend my haphazard swim training by any means. I think I've been extremely lucky not to have my lackadaisical approach come back and bite me.  Now that Erik is interested in triathlon, I would like to hire a swim coach to work with the two of us once a week for a month or so and help me correct my stroke. I'm convinced that with continued upper body strength work and some stroke correction, I can shave at least a minute or two off my sprint swim time.

I was pleasantly surprised by my run - as I mentioned in my previous post, I had no idea if I'd be able to run a sub 30 minute 5k at this point, but happily, I did!  And now, the day after, my legs are feeling pretty darn good.  I'm pretty sure I will recover from this race pretty quickly, and with any luck at all, I'll be able to do my planned 16km run next weekend.

I am most disappointed by my bike leg.  I knew it wasn't going to be up to par because I haven't put enough time into my bike training this summer, but it still bugs me to see it in print.  My time was only 25 seconds slower than last year but truth be told, that 25 second difference is deceiving.  Last year I had some wind to contend with and this year's conditions were perfect. It's really more like a 2-3 minute difference.  I'm not too worried about my bike fitness though - I know it just takes more time in the saddle and that's easily remedied.

Placing in this race:

11/22 in my age group (Women 50-54)

On an interesting side note - last year's personal best time of 1:29:18, which gave me a 4th place in my age group, would only have given my 9th place this year. That goes to show you that you never know who is going to show up in any given race - so it's best to only race against yourself. :)

133/263 in women  (My bike was my strongest leg, 107/263)

292/466 overall (Again, my bike was my strongest leg, 267/466)

What did I learn?

It felt great to do a race just for the fun of it and not worry too much about how well I would do.  With my current focus on marathon training, it's pretty hard to simultaneously train for a sprint triathlon, but that's no reason to miss a fun, local race, just because I know it's not going to be a personal best this time.

When you're a newcomer to the sport, it's quite possible to make drastic improvements every time you race - your training becomes more and more race specific and it's not too hard to beat your last time, every time you race. But after awhile, those improvements may only be a few seconds in any given leg of the race, and oftentimes, you may peak in one area but fall off in another. 

As always, my main goal is always to have fun and stay fit, and keep facing those fears!  I think my greatest achievement in the past year is to finally be past the swim demons. I find that I now feel very confident in the water and yet I also know that no matter what happens, I will always be able to calm myself down and continue on in a race.  That has been my biggest challenge over the past 4 years and it's a good feeling to know I have finally kicked it.

Coming Up

* My hip MRI and arthrogram is tomorrow - I'll post about it when I get the results.
* Back to marathon training - long run on the weekend - hopefully 16 km (10 miles)
* Another tweetup - Erik and I spent some quality time this weekend with our friend Chad from the Can Do Tri Podcast.  
* KG in the news? More info to come.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Twas the Night Before Triathlon

So it's my 4th Apple Sprint Triathlon - what's the race plan this year?

First off, it wasn't my typical Day-Before-The-Race for me. Erik and I went to bed early so we could get up at 5am and get to Erik's FIRST ever triathlon this morning!!!!  Whooo hooo!!!

As a last minute decision, Erik signed up for the Kelowna Apple Try-A-Tri with a 300m swim, 15k flat bike, and 3k flat run, and in typical "Kelownaguy" fashion, did some last minute swim cramming to prepare for his race.  Once he confirmed that that the water was indeed only 3-4 feet deep, following the shoreline, he knew he'd be able to complete the race, so he swam almost every day at the pool or at the lake, to get himself ready. By race day, he knew he'd be able to do the 300m swim about 10-11 minutes, using a variety of strokes and allowing himself a few stops to catch his breath.

In the end, he killed the race, coming in 19th overall (109 people), 14/45 men, 2/4 in his age group.  Here are his splits.

Swim: 10:48
T1: 2:31
Bike: 26:38 (2nd overall in the bike - yahoo!)
T2: 1:22
Run: 15:04

I was so proud of his efforts - great work honey!

After the race, we went home for a shower and lunch, then we picked up our friend Chad (from the Can Do Tri Podcast) and went down to Tugboat Bay to swim the race course while the log boom was still set up. We met up with our friend Darryl H and Catherine (Tiscath) down at the beach as well.

I went out at a steady but comfortable pace in the choppy water and felt really good. I finished the swim in 16:37 which was considerably faster than I was expecting so I will revise my previous goal is 18:00 down to 16:30.  I'm pretty sure I can swim it faster but we'll see how I feel in the bigger crowd. Previous swim times were: 2008 - 17:30, 2009 - 16:27, 2010 - 16:21

I still don't know how the bike is going to go but I'm hoping I'm not much slower that 42 minutes, especially if there is no wind like there was for the past two years.

And as for the run, well, I haven't run a fast 5k since last year so I think a goal of just under 30 minutes should be reasonable.

16:30 + 3:00 + 42:00 + 1:30 + 30:00 = 1:33:00 and there you have it.

For the most part, I just want to go out and have fun - I love this race!

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

2010 Apple Sprint Triathlon Race Report

So that's it - holy cow, I'm doing it again!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Wow, where to begin?

First off, I cut and pasted my last two race reports straight from Daily Mile so I at least have a written record of them here on my blog. How incredibly lazy of me not to have posted for so long.

What can I say - I've been enjoying my summer!  July was pretty busy with 2 races, and at least 4 trips to and from Osoyoos to ride, race, and visit family and friends.  Before we knew it, it was time to head to San Francisco for our vacation/race.  We spent 2 nights in Santa Cruz, then 3 nights in San Francisco, got to meet a whole bunch of online friends at two amazing tweetups, toured the coast, Santa Cruz, Monterey and Carmel, saw the sites of San Francisco including Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz (order your tickets at least 2 weeks in advance!), China Town, Lombard Street, and of course, the amazing race which had us run along the waterfront as well as across the Golden Gate bridge. An awesome trip!

Once back in Kelowna, it was suddenly August and the heat had finally hit. I had been hampered by a minor foot injury early in July and although it now seems to be healed, my long runs are behind putting my hoped-for October marathon plans at risk. In fact, I think I've resigned myself to the fact that I won't be able to run a full marathon on October 9. To try to build up my long run between now and then would be fool-hardy and would likely lead to further injury. So - I am now looking at a possible marathon on November 6th either in the Vancouver area, or possible, in Hamilton, Ontario, thanks to the generous offer from podcast listener and online friend, Sheryl and her husband.

At this point, I will take a 'wait and see' stance before I commit to either option.  Mainly, I will be waiting to see if my legs can handle the long training runs, but also, I will have to see what happens with my finances.  I return to school on September 6th having taken a strike vote last June, and in all likelihood, I will find myself out on strike for a period of time, at some point this fall. In some ways, this could work to my advantage because I might be able to stay an extra day or so in Ontario if I'm not working, but of course, it also means, I will lose several weeks wages and may not be able to afford to take the trip at all.

And so I wait.  That's ok, I'm used to waiting. :)


I seem to have been struggling with serious training since my "A" race last June. That's the trouble with an early A race I guess.  I've had one excuse after another to not get my training back on a serious schedule. It seems like I'm much more interested in doing 5 hours a week during my summer vacation, than the necessary 10-12 hours a week for a good race.

I debated for several weeks whether I would sign up for the Apple triathlon this year but in the end, I couldn't bring myself to miss it, even if I knew if wasn't going to be a top performance. I decided that I'd much rather go out and have fun experienced the race, than I would skipping it just because I wasn't in peak shape.  And so, in a few days, I will be doing my 4th Kelowna Apple Sprint Triathlon.

Goal - finish with a huge smile on my face because I'm alive and I can do a race like this for fun, dammit!!  (Best time: 1:29:18 in 2010, Worst time: 1:33:11 in 2009 )

Swim: Under 20 minutes (Best time: 16:21 in 2010, Worst time: 17:30 in 2008)
Bike: Under 45 minutes (Best time: 38:18 in 2008, Worst time: 40:53 in 1010)
Run: Under 30 minutes (Best time: 27:39 in 2010, Worst time: 31:01 in 2009 )

Two exciting bonuses about the race this weekend - Erik signed up for his first try-a-tri on Saturday!  and Chad, from the Can Do Tri podcast is coming to race in Kelowna. Another tweetup!  How cool!

And so that's the Cole's Notes version of my summer so far.  Now that I have that pesky "first-post-after-a-long-time-away" done, I will get back into a more regular blog posting format. I miss it.