Monday, December 31, 2012

End of 2012

As I sit down to write up my year in review and make some decisions about my goals for 2013, I am feeling a little discontented.  My last few months have been decidedly slack. I've hardly been on my bike and even my running has been haphazard.  I've not been working very hard at healthy eating, especially in the past month, and I feel tired and indecisive about what I want for my focus next year.

Last March, I decided I didn't want to be counting calories all the time so I tried to just eat what I wanted (within reason) and hope that my training would take care of any extra calories.  By summer, I still hadn't lost the 5lbs I had gained the previous fall. I gained another 2 lbs in Sept-Nov, and 2 more in December. It's clear I need to go back to the drawing table with my eating habits. More on that tomorrow but suffice to say, I'm kind of excited about my plans.

I didn't race as much as I have in previous years, especially in triathlon, although looking back I can see that I did have a few accomplishments (like my first marathon!) and I can honestly say that I really enjoyed myself at the few races that I did do.

I spent the first 5 months of the year training for my first marathon.  I put all my energy into my running and only cycled as cross training.  Ultimately, I was really happy with my race and had a blast - I definitely want to do that race again.

May 27, 2012 - Abbotsford Run for Water Marathon - 5:04:54 (1st marathon)

After the marathon, I took a few weeks to recover and since it was June, I was way too busy at work to focus on training anyway.  Once summer holidays arrived, I was busy with a family wedding and a couple of trips away. Before I knew it, the Apple Triathlon was looming and I felt very unprepared.  I almost decided not to race, but in the end I decided a fun race was better than no race so I hit the pool/lake a couple of times and did it anyway.  After all, I had a free entry this year and it would be a shame to miss a year right?

August 19, 2012 - Kelowna Apple Sprint Triathlon - 1:37:33 (slow but fun!)

September was another busy month back to work and as usual, I could barely get my runs in let alone do proper training.  I ate vegetarian for a month and although I enjoyed it, I gained another 2 lbs. Despite everything, I did manage to get my long runs in on the weekends and had a super race in Victoria on Thanksgiving weekend.

October 7, 2012 - Victoria Half Marathon - 2:14:31 (a course PR)

Since then, I've been running but that's about it.  As I mentioned earlier, I'm now up about 9 lbs. It's clear, I have to go back to counting calories and watching what I eat because working out isn't enough to keep the pounds off if I just try to 'eat healthy' most of the time and enjoy life once in awhile. So - what do I want to accomplish next year?  There is certainly room for improvement in a number of areas and I have a lot to consider. 

Tomorrow I will blog about my goals for 2013. Happy New Year everyone - I wish you all the best in the upcoming year!


Here are my totals from the Beginner Triathlete website for the past 5 years. I'm not super religious about tracking my strength, yoga etc workouts but my Swim, Bike, Run stats are pretty accurate. It's kind of interesting to see patterns over the years.

2012 Totals  - about 188 hrs Swim, Bike, Run +

35h 16m
843.27 KM
121h 04m 41s
1041.5 KM
7h 05m 35s
14500 M
13h 22m
Core Training:
0h 40m
Elliptical Training:
1h 13m
Rowing: 2h 05m
Skate Skiing: 0h 20m
2h 50m
2h 00m
0h 30m
2h 10m

2011 Totals  - about 180 hrs S, B, R

70h 48m 50s
1699.06 KM
100h 45m 05s
871.45 KM
8h 57m 07s
20750 M
13h 25m
Core Training:
2h 20m
Elliptical Training:
3h 20m
Rowing: 1h 10m
Skate Skiing: 3h 30m
2h 50m
1h 30m
8h 50m
4h 25 min

2010 Totals - about 234 hrs S, B, R

100h 50m 17s
2366.49 KM
88h 00m 43s
690.33 KM
45h 37m 53s
96600 M
6h 05m
Core Training:
1h 30m
Elliptical Training:
8h 50m
2h 15m
2h 00m
1h 10m
Skate Skiing:
7h 45m
1h 30m
7h 50m

2009 Totals - about 188 hrs S, B, R

102h 06m 13s
2152.08 KM
65h 42m 47s
502.33 KM
20h 10m
41250 M
9h 52m
Core Training:
2h 20m
Elliptical Training:
4h 03m
2h 00m
2h 25m 29s
1h 42m
Stationary Biking :
1h 15m
5h 50m

2008 Totals - about 216 hrs S, B, R

117h 51m 59s
2743.65 KM
62h 18m 13s
508.07 KM
36h 38m 01s
64450.00 M
26h 35m
24h 05m
2007 Totals - about 173 hrs (S) B, R
155h 13m 29s
3472.71 KM
18h 04m 02s
156.36 KM
3h 00m
3h 35m

So what will 2012 hold for me? I guess we'll have to wait and see. :)


Monday, November 12, 2012

Muscle Imbalance

Muscle Imbalance - I know I've written about this before but sometimes it seems like things don't really sink into my head until after I've heard it and read about it and experienced it multiple times.

I went for an hour-long run on Saturday and had a bit of time to kill while I was waiting for Erik so I went into the gym and did a little core and leg work.  Now, I'm not stupid. I know if I haven't done something for a long time, I need to take it easy, no matter how I feel while I'm doing it. So I did take it easy.

I did 2 sets of single-leg press, 1 set of step ups, 1 set of walking lunges, a single 30 second back bridge and plank, some crunches and some stretching.  That's it. Seems reasonable doesn't it?

Um, no.  I guess not.  On Sunday, I could barely walk - my legs felt like I'd run a marathon. WTF? Seriously?? I guess I need to start with 2-5 walking lunges instead of 15? Argh.

I think the first inkling that I might be in trouble was during the stretching after I did the lunges - I was feeling twinges and twangs every time I moved my legs - especially the adductors that run down the insides of the thighs.

Now, I do know I have a muscle imbalance - not only left vs right, but also my weak gluteus medius and hip flexors sometimes cause tight ITB and shin pain, respectively.

This site has a really good chart that shows the opposing muscle groups and how they affect one another if one is weak and the other tight.

" ...‘muscle imbalance’ occurs when opposing muscles provide different directions of tension due to tightness and/or weakness."

 So I pulled out my books and started surfing the net to find out good exercises to work the glute med and other related muscles.

This led me to some sites that discussed muscle imbalance, which led me to sites that discussed diagnosing and treating muscle imbalances. Along the way, I found lots of sites that had some good info and suggested exercises.

Here are some of the sites, in no particular order.

After perusing these (and other) sites, I was eventually led back to my book, Core Performance Endurance, by Mark Verstegen.

It has been awhile since I cracked this book open.  As much as I liked it, and the website,  I found it complicated and a little confusing.  I prefer plans that are a quick read and easy to follow.

However, it does have some good sections.  First off - it shows a couple of quick tests you can do at home to check for muscle imbalance.

1. Stand in front of a mirror with good posture. Now lift your right leg, knee bent, so it forms a 90 degree angle, and keep your foot flexed.  Hold that pose for one minute.

* Look to see if your hips are level, or if the left hip is jutting out to compensate for the right leg being lifted.

* Is your right shin straight up and down?

* Is your upper quad parallel to the ground?

* Is your "down" leg straight, foot planted flat, and rolled in toward the arch?

* Is your raised foot, parallel to the ground with toes pointing up, not down?

* Can you maintain a straight line from your nose, down through your chest, belly button, inseam?

* Can you hold this position comfortably, without fatigue for a full minute?

2. Try the same thing with the left leg.  

You should be able to hold that position, equally with both legs. In my case, my right leg is stronger than my left.

If you are dropping one hip to compensate for the raised knee, you have weak core stability.

3. To really see this weakness, try a one-legged squat.  In particular, watch that you are keeping your hips level.

When I do a one-legged squat, not only is my hip jutting out to compensate, I can barely drop down any distance.

Another important thing to watch for in the squat, is that you knee isn't bending inwards. One of the video links above, discusses this in more detail.

Naturally, the book goes into a lot more detail about what to look for, and explanations as to why it's happening. 

They have some information on their website on how to correct a muscle imbalance.


Next, the book has a specific plan to follow. It's way too complicated to post here but I will briefly describe the "parts."

First of all, there are two levels, each with 3 stages (which I guess you could call 6 levels in total). The examples I will give you are all Level One, Stage A.

There are 3 types of workout days - Power, Strength, and Regeneration days.

Power and Strength days both start with a 7 minute warm up called "Movement Prep" which is meant to activate your muscles and get them firing before you start your workout.


Power days have 3 parts, taking a total of 30 minutes plus your intended S, B, or R workout (they recommend 18-26 minutes).

7 min - Movement Prep (as described above)

10 min - Prehab - 5 exercises that target hips, torso, shoulders (strengthen and stabilize)

12 min - Elasticity - 2 X 3 exercises (train your body to be reactive, "springy")

Then your cardio workout - most likely a swim, bike, or run.

They call cardio - ESD - Energy System Development.  It doesn't seem to matter what you do, but the plan gives you a suggested interval workout based on your heart rate.

On a Power Day, the ESD workout would be 18-26 minutes with a 5 minute warm up and cool down then 30 second intervals at 80-90% of max HR, with 90 second easy active recovery between. You start with 4 intervals and build to 8.  Again, this could be done with any cardio activity.


Strength Days have 3 parts, taking a total of 27 minutes plus the ESD (21-37 min)

7 min - Movement Prep

21-37 min -  ESD - This time you go straight to your cardio workout (SBR or ?). A 5 min warm up and cool down, then 3 minute intervals at a moderate pace (65-75% of max HR) with 5 min active recoveries. You start with 2 intervals in Stage A, and move to 4 in Stage C.

20 min - Strength Circuit - a variety of strength exercises mostly using hand weights of bands etc. Stuff you can do at home.


Regeneration Days have 2 parts, with the time varying, plus your ESD (20-40 min)

General Self Regeneration - a variety of targetted exercises depending on your needs - trigger point with tennis ball, foam roller, flexibility (stretching).

Self massage - again using the tennis ball or foam roller

20 - 40 min - ESD - this is meant to flush out your system after the workout. You should do 5 min of Movement Prep first, then 20-40 minutes of light intensity exercise (60-65% of Max HR)


So that's a brief overview of the program - there are many pages of explanations, information, descriptions, suggestions for adaptation and scheduling, and colour photos of all the exercises.

I guess I'll try it. Can't hurt, right?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fall Update

Wow, it's been awhile.  But now that the hectic school start up is over, I think will start blogging again.

First of all - my race report for the Kelowna Apple Triathlon is on Daily Mile so I won't rewrite it here.  Swim, Bike, and Run.  The short version is that I met my goals and expectations overall and had a super fun time. Finish time. 1:37:33. Happy. :)

Second - my Victoria Half Marathon Race Report is on Daily Mile as well.  Here's the link.  My chip time was 2:14:31 - an unexpected course PR for me! Again, I was happy!

Diet / Weight

Still trying to lose that last 6 lbs (7lbs? 8lbs? it depends on the day).  I've gone back to counting calories on My Fitness Pal.  It works for me and I like it.  I'd like to lose 5 lbs before Christmas so I can gain it back over Christmas and only have 5 lbs to lose again in January instead of 10 :)

I had fun eating vegetarian for the month of September.  It was really easy to cut out meat and I didn't miss it at all.  However, once October hit, I gradually added meat back into my diet again mainly for the simplicity of feeding my family.  Currently, I eat meat 3-4 dinners a week, and vegetarian the rest.  I rarely eat meat for breakfast or lunch.


As usual, my goal for the fall/winter is to do strength and core, and maintain cardio fitness doing mostly Zone 2 workouts. I'm trying to run 3 times a week, do 8-10km on the weekends and 30-45 minutes Tuesdays and Thursdays. I have set up the trainer and I try to ride in Zone 2 for 45-60 minutes a few times a week. In addition, I am trying to go to the gym twice a week for a strength workout. Once in awhile, I swim.

I know. I said that bad word "try".  There is no try, there is only do.  However, I still have to fit in work and family so at least one of my workouts gets bumped every week.  I've also had some health issues this past couple of weeks which I hope will be resolved by the end of November. More on that later, if necessary. :)

Upcoming Race!

Gee, I almost forgot!  We have a great Daily Mile team all set for the Kelowna Pub Run on Sunday, November 18th!  Erik and I, Mellissa, Dustin, Jason SP, and Jason R will be donning DM Superhero costumes (black tights, underwear, capes, and DM logos) and running from pub to pub. Of course, the runner must down a beer before the next person can start their leg. All in good fun!  


Catherine at the Vancouver Half Iron
And this just in...

I was devastated to learn that my twitter friend Catherine Clarke, @TisCath on twitter, who I finally met at the Apple triathlon last year, was killed in a car accident in New Zealand yesterday.  I'm not sure her exact age, but she raced the 45-49 age group in the Olympic race at the Worlds in Auckland and then planned to spend a month travelling around New Zealand.  I talked to her last, a few days before she left.  She was really excited. I'm so sad for her family. :(  Here's a link to the news report.

Update:  Here's a link to a more detailed article in the Victoria Times Colonist

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Apple Tri

Tomorrow I will participate in my 5th Kelowna Apple Triathlon. This race has always had a special place in my heart as it was my very first triathlon.  In January of 2008, I signed up for swimming lessons, started running, kept up with my cycling, and by the end of August, I was ready.  That first race, I had a decent swim, an excellent bike (in fact, I've never come CLOSE to my 2008 bike split in subsequent years), and an ok run.  I came 4th in my 45-49 age group (it was a much smaller race back then) and finished with a huge smile on my face.

That first triathlon on August 17, 2008 was defining moment for me - it was a moment that made me believe I really COULD do something that may seem impossible if I broke the goal down into little steps, worked hard, stuck with it, and believed in myself. I look back now and I can see I was incredibly cautious and it's almost funny to see that I carefully took over eight months to train for one sprint tri, but for me, it was the right way to do it. I didn't just want to just "finish" the race, I wanted to be the best that I could be. In order to do that, I had to learn to swim, overcome my huge fear of open water, and suffer through my ongoing run injuries. Even more importantly, I had to overcome the mental block that I was NOT an athlete. Doing that first Apple Sprint Triathlon changed the way I think about myself forever and set the stage for many challenges for the future. I may have done much longer, harder races since then, but that first sprint tri will always be my most important 'athletic' accomplishment.

August 17, 2008
Because the Apple holds such a special place in my heart, I feel compelled to do it every year. I had a running injury in 2009 but went out and did my best. I had my best race in 2010 - a PR that I won't likely beat, and since then, I have done the race simply for the joy of racing.  Because of the timing of the race, I always find it a challenge to do any serious training.  During the summer, I love to train haphazardly and not following any set plan - I get up each day and I decide then whether to swim, bike, run, or just sit and read a book in the shade with a mojito in my hand.  I no longer train to compete in the Apple, I just try to stay fit, and then on race day, I go out and have fun.

Tomorrow, I was participate in my 5th Apple Sprint Triathlon.  And I will cross the finish line with a huge smile on my face, because I can!  :D

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Abbotsford Run for Water Marathon 2012

Getting my stuff together the night before.
Erik and I drove 3 1/2 hours to Abbotsford on Saturday morning to race my first marathon!  We checked into the hotel then picked up my race packet, bought a cowbell and a hat, finally got to meet Daily Miler and fellow grade 3 teacher, Duane M. , and then drove the course to check it out. I'm REALLY glad we drove it.  It made a huge difference always having a fairly good idea of where I was and what I still had to do while I was running today.  We grabbed a very late lunch then went back to the hotel to relax for the evening. Early to bed at 9:30.

I decided on the early start (6 am) because I really didn't know what my back was gonna do and if I had a tough race, I'd be dead last (since all the other slow pokes like me started an hour earlier). So - it was a good decision.

We got up at 4:30am, left the hotel about 5:20, parked, porta-pottied, and chatted with fellow racers.  There were about 25-30 people at the early start, including my facebook and daily mile friend Gary J., and world record holder, Ginny Turner. She has raced a marathon on all 7 continents, in the fewest number of days. Wow. She doesn't run them any more, now she power walks them, so she was out for the early start as well.

The early start crew.
My race plan was simple, and based on my previous long runs. I planned to run the first downhill 5k straight through at a relatively fast pace (6:20/km),  then settle into a comfortable running pace (6:25-6:55/km) and take walk breaks every 14 minutes for the next 32km.  For the final uphill 5km, it was anybody's guess but I was hoping to be no slower than an 8:00/km average pace due to slower running and extra extra walk breaks. If I ended up at the slowest run pace for the 32km, I'd hit a 5:00:00 marathon.

And We're Off!
It seemed like no time at all before the horn went and we were off in the morning sun.  Air temp was about 12C (54F) with predicted high of about 18C, so I wore my tri shorts and Sugoi tank top, with my Versa vest overtop for the first bit, until I warmed up. I had my Nathan Fuel vest and my hand held water bottle, 2 gel flasks with 6 gels and water, 4 Nuun tablets, and one extra gel packet. Erik had his cyclo-cross bike and planned to ride the course and stop every now and again to cheer me on and take some pictures.

As luck would have it, as soon as my legs started moving, everything in my body started moving and so 1.5 km into the race, I had to stop at the porta-potty again. Argh.  I was not alone however, two others were doing the same thing. Back on the road two minutes later, took off my vest and gave it to Erik, and hit the road.
I kept my pace steady but by the time I hit the 5k mark, I was two minutes behind my goal time due to the bathroom break. No worries, I didn't really care if I didn't make my goal time, but I thought it might be possible to make up the time later if I was feeling good. Time would tell.

(Although you may think I look lonely out there, I prefer that actually.  I always knew Erik was close by and I enjoyed the peace and chance for introspection.)

Over the next 10km, I was playing leap frog with a couple of Marathon Maniacs who were doing 5/1 run walk so we kept passing each other and chatting. Eventually I left them at a water stop and never saw them again. from then on, I ran alone. Not many of the early starters were ahead of me. The country side in this section was absolutely gorgeous, pastoral, green, with pretty farms and farm animals. In the early morning, it looked very pretty. 

From then on, I was passed quite frequently by the fast 7am marathoners. Ah well. :)
The fastest male marathoner caught and passed me around the 19km mark - I love the look on my face as he flew by me!

A little while later, the lead bike came by and said "Hey, you're ahead of the lead woman!"

"Not for long", I replied.

Whooo hooo Ryder!!!!!
Around the 20km mark, we got the news that Ryder Hesjedal had won the Giro D'Italia and I was so stoked, I ran one of my fastest kms. Nobody on the course seemed to know who he was - well I think they will soon know his name over the next few days.  Thanks to a couple of twitter friends for DMing me the results. :)

I stopped and tweeted my progress at the 10k, 20k, and 30k mark, but that was easy enough to do during my walk breaks. :)  The walk breaks became a little sporadic, not always following the 14/1 exactly. In fact, between 10-30k, I felt really strong, picked up the pace a little, and skipped a few of my walk breaks.

The clouds rolled in and the wind picked up at the 20k mark and although I wasn't cold, I wasn't warm either. I considered putting my vest back on but decided against.  The head wind in some directions was hateful.

As I hit the 30k mark, I was starting to tire. I stopped for a quick pee break, adding another minute to putting me over the 5 hour mark.  My legs were beginning to rebel so I started to use some of the mental tricks to ignore the pain and continue on. Most of it was fatigue and sore muscles, so I wasn't worried.  I stopped to stretch my calves a couple of times when they started the first tinglings of a cramp, and I stopped to stretch my back out a few times as well, but other than that, I keep on trudging along. Erik was a great support, encouraging me, and letting me know that I still looked strong and had good form.  It made an incredible difference knowing he was always going to be around the next corner.

Digging Deep - a determined look on my face.
Everything past 34km was uncharted territory and it FELT like it too. I was tired, my legs didn't want to keep on moving, and everything was starting to hurt. The closer to the last 5k hill I got, the harder it became to put one foot in front of another.  I had kept to my fuel and water strategy and so I don't think I ever bonked per se, but I sure was wishing it was all over. At this point, I just dug deep and told myself I could do it, don't worry about the time, and just finish the race. 

The toughest part was knowing I was pretty darn close to being under 5 hours if I had a good finish and pushed a little harder from 30k on, but I just didn't have the mental or physical stamina to run faster at that point.

About km 40.  Up another hill?
I had a few darker moments at the 37-38 km mark, and then rallied a bit and got up the worst of the hills.  I think I ran them all actually, surprise surprise, although I was taking more frequent, but short walk breaks from time to time.

When I hit the 41 km mark, I knew I was almost there and somehow I managed to speed up and run a very fast-for-me 5:30-5:45/km for about 500m, then I slowed to 6min/km and finished the race strong.  My daughter was there videotaping me cross the line and Erik had the camera.  And suddenly, it was over!

About to throw my arms up, as I cross the finish line. I did it!!

5:04:54.  Good enough!  I was happy and tired and glad to be done.

Bling was a medal AND a little plaque!  Coolest part was being called a "marathoner" by the race guys. :)  Yahoooo!!!

Additional Stats:  I was 152/175 overall, 51/62 women, 9/13 in my age group.  I think I did fairly well as far as the early starter group.  I was near the front of the pack, although I don't know if many passed me when I was in the bathroom.

As for what's next?  I'd totally do another marathon. Just don't know when. Maybe next year. I have the Apple Triathlon in August, and Victoria Half Marathon in October. Not sure what else I'll do this summer. Lots to think about. The hardest part of marathon training is giving up my tri training. Ah well....

I found this race easier than my first half iron, and about the same as my 2nd half iron. I think it's because I'm not a really strong runner. Your miles may vary.  However, the day after - I have never hurt so much as I do this morning. Every fiber of my body hurts (except my low back!).  I think I'll use the elevator at school today. :)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Packed up and ready to go!

Well I'm  packing up all my gear and heading to Abbotsford this morning. To be honest, packing for a marathon is one hell of a lot easier than packing for a triathlon.  Shoes? Check!  Go!

OK, really, I'm a bit more anal than that, but there's still a lot less gear. As always, I'm totally undecided on what to wear tomorrow, despite having kept careful records of the temperature and what I wore on every run since December. Trouble is - I have a very narrow range of 'comfortable' and I don't want to be stuck with too little, or too much, clothing.

The forecast for tomorrow is great - mostly sunny, with an overnight low of 12C (54F), and a high of 19C (64F) although it likely won't hit that high before I'm done.  The part I can't decide is whether to wear my Sugoi Versa vest (with pockets) or a t-shirt and my Nathan fuel vest. Both are tested, both work well, both are very comfortable. But if I get too warm, the t-shirt is easier to shed (I'll toss it to Erik at some point).  If I shed my vest, I'm left with no pockets.  So - I'm thinking I'll go with the t-shirt (over my tank top) and the Nathan vest now that I know it's going to be warmer.

I've decided to do the early (6am) start for anyone who thinks they will run longer than 5 hours. I figure if I am able to run under 5 hours (not really likely given my back issues this past 2 weeks), then it will be nice to be in before noon.  Plus if I'm slower, I won't be alone.  There are about 20 people doing the early start, and only about 200 people doing the marathon, so it'll be funny running with such a small group. I imagine I'll be alone for much of the race, with faster runners eventually catching and passing me, but I'm ok with that. :)

As for water and fuel, I have 6 Hammer gels mixed with water in two gel flasks (2 chocolate and 1 espresso in each bottle) and I'll grab one Gu at the race site to keep in my pocket. I have 4 Nuun tablets for my hand held water bottle which I will refill about every 12km or so. Other than that, I'm good to go!

The course is more or less flat but the first 4 km is a gradual downhill (1-3% grade) and the race ends with that same 5km uphill. Obviously, that will be the toughest part. I've mentally divided the race into a 5km, three 10k's, and a 5k.  Because the first 5k is downhill and I'll be feeling good, I'm planning to run it straight through and at a decent pace (about 6:15/km) and then take my first one minute walk break at the 5k mark.  I hope to do 14/1 run walk for next flat 32 km with a goal to average from 6:40-7:05/km depending on how I feel. That means I need to try to run 6:27-6:55/km plus the walk breaks.  The last 5km is anyone's guess. I am HOPING I'll be able to run enough to average about a 40 minute 5k but who knows, I'm prepared to talk the entire last 5k if needed. We'll see. :)

At any rate, this is only a plan, based on a best case scenario.  I suspect I likely won't be able to follow it, but I need to have some kind of plan to keep my brain focussed. But this is one race that no matter HOW I do, I'll just be happy to finish.

I signed up for race tracking on facebook so it's supposed to auto-post updates. I have no idea if it posts splits, or just the final time though, we'll see.  I'll have my phone so I may tweet a couple times when I'm walking (can't resist ;)

Thank you for all of your support over the past 6 months - especially Gordon Harvey who has given me tons of info and help over the past 6 months - I will feel your good vibes when I'm out on the course tomorrow. Watch for the mini-race report tomorrow night, and a full report when I get home!