Oops I Did It Again

I have a bad habit.  A habit of making emphatic declarations, and then not following through.  In 2000, I did Ironman Canada, and said one-and-done.  Then in 2010 I did Ironman Arizona then declared my Ironman days over.  In 2012 I did Ironman Arizona again, and loudly proclaimed, with emphasis, that I was done with Ironman - I had achieved everything I wanted to.

Oops, I've done it again:

Just Keep Swimming...

Just keep swimming... just keep swimming... just keep swimming... I often get Dory from Finding Nemo stuck in my head during a workout, especially one with long sets.  And almost always during the swim leg of a triathlon.  I think Dory has great advice, particularly for this time of year, the "off season".

Many triathletes drastically reduce or drop their swimming all together during the off season.  While I definitely agree it's nice to have a couple of months of lighter workouts, I disagree with dropping swimming all together.  My recommendation is not to reduce the number of times you swim.  Most of the year I swim 3x/week.  There are times building up to a race I may throw a 4th (likely another open water workout) in there, but I think 3x is the minimum.  Instead of reducing frequency, I reduce duration.

Here's why.  Swimming is the most technique-based of all three triathlon disciplines.  It's so easy to lose parts of your stroke you've been working to perfect (not that I'll ever achieve perfection, but I'll keep trying!) by reducing the number of times a week you swim.  Honestly, it happens quickly!  So rather than dropping down to swimming 1-2 times a week at this time of year, keep your three (plus?) workouts, but make them shorter.  When I'm training, my swims are at minimum an hour, usually around 1:10-1:15, and once/week they're 1:30.  Right now I'm doing 30-45 minutes.  I still get a break, but I'm not losing the feel for the water and don't have to restart my technique work.

I'm currently just focusing on my stroke, doing snorkel work, swimming with fins to work on my glide, and drills.  I'm not a huge fan of drills; my caveat is you have to know what your stroke weaknesses are, and pick drills that focus on those.  Don't just blindly do drills you see other people doing, without knowing why or what that drill is accomplishing.  

Soon enough, I'll be back to 60-90 minutes, 3x week.  Here are a couple of basic workouts you can modify.  If you're not sure about the abbreviations, just drop me a quick note.  They are in metres, so if you swim yards then just add some more of the main set.

60 minutes, 2800 metres
Warm up:  3x200 (easy, kick, pull)
Main set: 2x (400 steady, 300 easy full gear (paddles, pull buoy & band), 200 tempo, 100 fast (10 SR)) 1 min between sets
Cool down: 200 easy

90 minutes, 4200 metres
Warm up: 4x200 (easy, kick, snorkel & fins); 4x50 band only 
Main set: 6x200 build to fast 1-3 (15 SR); 6x100 full gear alt steady & tempo by 100 (10 SR); 6x200 build to fast 1-3 (15 SR)
Cool down: 200 easy

Once I get into "serious" training next summer, I may even up my frequency to 5x/week.  I really want to see if I can break 32 minutes for a half iron and 1:05 for an ironman swim.  I'm close, but it will take a lot of work!

If only I could swim outdoors all year -
I'd be happy to brave the PNW rain!
Have fun, and just keep swimming!

Goldilocks Vegas

Last weekend, a couple friends and I headed down to Las Vegas to do another Goldilocks century (we did one in Boise in July), and Jason tagged along to volunteer.  It was yet another whirlwind weekend away; lots of activity with a 100-mile bike event sandwiched in the middle.  We absolutely loved everything about the Boise event, and that's what sold us on this one.  Of course a good time was had by all... but the event itself didn't quite live up to our expectations.

We stayed at the host hotel - the Red Rock Resort - which was great because it was on the outskirts of town and had pretty much everything you needed right on site.  It's a huge hotel with 60 rooms per floor, and the hallways were super long so we started riding our bikes between the room and the elevator.  We timed it once walking, and the trip from our door to the elevator was 3 minutes, and we are not exactly dawdlers.  But despite the infinite hallways, it was a gorgeous hotel and we took advantage of as many amenities as we could.

Riding out to Red Rock Canyon the day before.

We're definitely not on the west coast!


Looooong hallways!  They curved so you
never saw the end.

Friday involved a morning ride through Red Rock Canyon, an afternoon of relaxing at the spa pool (we chose that one because it was adults only, and had lanes for swimming), then package pick-up and dinner.  Saturday was an early wake up as the start time was 7 am and we were riding to the start (probably only about 15 minutes).  There seemed to be more nervousness at this start compared to Boise (-1 for Vegas as there weren't as many porta potties - the lines were long!), and a couple of women crashed right in the start chute.  Catherine stopped to see if they were ok, but kind of got yelled at by one of them, so we just carried on.

Jason volunteering as a "Papa Bear" - got to ride the course
and provide any help along the way.  Nice as he got to
spend the day with us!

Strong wind from WSW = in our faces for much of the day!

The road markings were flawless (+1 for Vegas as we went off course briefly in Boise), but there was A LOT of stopping as 75 miles of the 100 were in urban areas.  Lots of stop signs, and lots of traffic lights (-1 for Vegas as Boise was almost completely rural).  According to my Garmin, we spent almost 20 minutes stopped at intersections.  Boo.  That's really the only reason I wouldn't return to this event: too much urban riding.  The final 25 miles were out of town and absolutely gorgeous scenery, so it behooves the organizers to reroute things to take more advantage of that.  Skip the entire Henderson part, as that was just city city city.

Besides the traffic, another downer was the wind.  No fault of the event though, but we ended up going straight into a pretty significant headwind for much of the day - probably from mile 40-95.  A lot of the ride was me with my head down, trying to hold on to Catherine, Corinne, or Jason's wheel.   It ended up being a total grind, just keeping the bike going and trying to keep spirits high.  For the final 30 miles, the 100km course joined up with the 100 mile course, and so many of the 100 km riders were dropping out everywhere.  It probably didn't help that there was a 20-mile 3% climb in there.  Not steep, just infinite.  It seemed like the highway between the city and Blue Diamond was littered with women pulled over and calling the sag wagon.  We stopped at a gas station for a coke (-1 for Vegas as the aid stations weren't that well stocked), and that coke was the nectar of the gods... and pretty much the only reason we were speaking to each other for the last bit as the wind had stolen much of our souls by then.

Combination of sugar and fatigue makes things REALLY funny!

Finally out of town and almost out of the headwind.

Once we reached Red Rock Canyon where we'd ridden the day before, the winds were finally at our backs and it was downhill, so we screamed into the finish.  We didn't stick around though, as the post-race food wasn't as deluxe as the spread in Boise (-1 for Vegas), so we rode to a grocery store and stocked up with as much food and drinks as our jersey pockets could hold, and rode back to the hotel.

Post-event 2 R's: relaxing and rehydrating!

What do you do when you finish an event in Vegas?  Head to the strip and take in a show!  The next day we had some time before our flight, so did some sightseeing, and then a swim at the Henderson pool.  Have to enjoy the sun while we can, as it's home to the wet west coast for the winter.

Hello, off-season!  Hello, planning for next year!

Surprise! I Took Jason to Kona!

I've been keeping a secret for the past few weeks, and on Thursday picked Jason up from work, bag packed... and took him to Kona!  You see, he's raced there seven times but has never been a spectator, and has always wanted to "see" Ironman Hawaii.  So now he can check that off the list. We had an incredible weekend and packed a tonne into 57 hours.

Jason just learned we're headed to
Kona for the weekend!

We arrived in Kona Friday at noon (after a literal ferry, train, and airplane extravaganza - the price of living on an island and traveling to another island) and headed straight to the expo.  Jason got to fill up with all the latest and greatest gear and take in all the sights and sounds.  Of course I stopped by the Betty Designs booth and got some cool stuff from Kristin.  All of a sudden we were wondering how our two small carry-ons would work for the trip home!

The view from our host's, Steve, place -
sorry we couldn't stay longer and use the pool!

Later that afternoon we met up with Karlyn Pipes and group to swim the Ironman course.  We entered from the beach in front of the King Kamehameha hotel and swam around the pier to the where the course starts, and realized it would be a fun swim with some pretty serious swells and chop (I actually felt at one point that I might feed the fish...)!  The group took off, and soon I realized I was swimming with "real" swimmers... I'm not a bad swimmer and it's not often I'm fighting to hang on to the back of the group!  No surprise as Karlyn is an amazing swimmer, so of course her swimmer friends would be as well.  We ended up swimming through a bunch of jellies and got some stings; for Jason and I it wasn't so bad, but one guy had some pretty big welts when we saw him back at the beach.

Our swim group - thanks Karlyn for the invite!

Then it was off to dinner at one of our fave Kona haunts: Lava Java!  First we watched the sunset at Laverne's (which we call Lulu's as that's what it used to be called, and we can't seem to switch). After dinner it was up the hill to the suite we were staying in.

Saturday morning the alarm clock went off early - 5:30 am - but we were already awake as that's 8:30 am home time.  We headed down the hill into town and set up for the swim start in a beach park down the road from the seawall.  The excitement builds as soon as you hear the helicopters buzzing overhead, and Jason could barely contain himself for his experience as a first-time spectator. Once the swimmers were all past us, we headed up Kuakini Hwy to watch the first part of the bike. Then walked all over town to catch cyclists coming in, runners going out, runners coming in... spectating is hard work!

Waiting for the swim to start.

Jason pumped to be spectating.

Waiting for the first runners.

Finish line.
Lucky shot with my phone of the
men's winner running down the finish chute.

We actually headed back to Steve's for a nap as we knew we needed a rest before the midnight finishers.  The last couple of hours are the best, so once refreshed we headed back to the finish line and stayed right until the end.

Best part of the race - the finish line at night.

Sunday we had the entire day there as our flight didn't leave until after 9pm.  We headed to the pier in the morning to swim the course, went for a run in Keahou, did some more sightseeing in town and in Waikoloa, went to the Kona pool for another (!) swim, then closed out our time on the island at Huggo's on the Rocks.

The "big pool".

The "little pool".
A great end to a great weekend.

Best weekend ever.

Thanks to all my co-conspirators for your help in pulling off the surprise!

Tough Love

What does a three hour trainer workout look like?  Not pretty... Today I did Tough Love, which is part of the Troy Jakobsen "Spinervals" series.  I have a love-hate relationship with this workout; it's incredibly difficult but super rewarding.

What do you need to get through three hours on the trainer? (For the record, the longest trainer session I've ever done was 5.5 hours... but that was training for Ironman and the weather was horrid.  I certainly don't have the mental fortitude to do that right now).  You need lots of fluids, snacks, a towel, a fan - especially on a hot day like today.  This time I wasn't doing this workout to avoid riding outside in bad weather, I was doing it because I needed to.  I have one more event this year, a century at the end of the month in Nevada.  I needed a workout to kick my ass, and this one does just that.

Essential supplies

So here is what three hours on the trainer look like:

Hour Zero.  Smiling.  Not sure why,
I know what's coming!

Hour One.  Still smiling.  Must be delirious.

Hour Two.  I usually crack about about 2.5
hours and think I won't finish.  I always do though.
Hour Three.  Done.

I need to do this workout one more time in the next couple of weeks.  Hooray!

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I did the Cultus Lake Triathlon last weekend; I had never been to Cultus Lake (actually wasn't totally sure where it was - turns out it's in the mountains just south of Chilliwack), but it sounded like a fun way to end out the tri season here. And... with the RV it makes traveling to out-of-town races so easy. I decided to do a solo trip since Jason was just back from Mt. Tremblant and could use a restful weekend. So I loaded it up, headed for the ferry, got onto the mainland and drove for a about 1.5 hours inland.

I was staying at a huge campground right on the shore of Cultus Lake, and it was only about a 20 minute walk to pick up my race package the day before. I ran back to the campground on the run route - turned out the run turn-around was the beach right where I was staying - and got my race stuff all together. Sunday morning I unhooked the RV and drove over to transition, about a 5-minute drive. I love being right near a race venue!

Pre race. I got to sleep in since I was staying right next door!

I was running a disc rear wheel... and I don't know if you've ever tried to pump one up using a floor pump yourself without someone holding the disc adapter on to the wheel... but it's really hard. I really need to get one of the adapters that screw right on to the valve without having to hold it. I went over to the mechanic's tent and asked if he had a disc adapter and could inflate my tire. I wasn't that confident when he stared at me blankly, then looked through his tool box. He found one, I kind of had to talk him through it but basically all I needed was a pair of hands. Tire inflated. Morning drama over, as I set everything up in transition and waited around for the start.

Standing on the beach before the start, everyone was freaking out saying the turn-around buoy looked way farther out than normal. I hadn't been there before so really couldn't say, but it doesn't really matter, does it? We all do the same distance, regardless of what it is. I was doing the sprint race (they also had an Olympic), and they started us 10 minutes after the men. For some reason, they made us all stand in the water for those 10 minutes and listen to a pre-race briefing, so we couldn't do a warm-up swim. I was freezing from those 10 minutes and I was in a wetsuit. Many weren't wearing one and I'm sure they were absolutely frozen.

The swim was pretty uneventful other than I was in the lead pack for most of the way! After the last turn buoy, that pack split up and I was in the back of the split, but still came out of the water in a really good position. For some reason they had the timing mats way up the beach (probably 150m) at the entrance to the bikes, so I don't know what my actual swim time was because I don't wear a watch while swimming. But I do agree with everyone who thought it was long, as my time including the beach run was 17:19 - so yeah long for 750m - but first in my age group (F40-44) by over a minute.

I had a quick transition and I was out onto the bike course. It was mainly rolling with a shortish climb out of transition (which my legs just absolutely felt like crap on), and a few kilometres of flat at the turn-around. I was cruising along pretty quickly, and was almost to the turn-around when I realized I hadn't seen any women. So I started looking, and only 3 had headed back towards me by the time I hit the turn, so I was in 4th place overall! On the way back, I passed one woman and one passed me, so I came into T2 as 4th woman - pretty cool!

Another quick transition and I was out on to run. I later learned that I had a 4-minute lead on my age group after T2 - which is totally huge after only 750m of swimming and 20km of cycling - and I should have stopped there and rested on my laurels. I had an absolutely dreadful run. Worst in years.  Didn't help that I've been neglecting my running lately in favour of puppy training. Didn't help that about 1.5 km of the run course was on the beach (I super-suck at running in sand). Didn't help that because of a chronic knee injury I really haven't focused on running much. Didn't help that the 5km run course actually turned out to be almost 500m long and I got passed by 3rd place in my AG in that "bonus" 500m. I ended up finishing 4th in my AG by less than a minute. Yep, I blew a 4-minute lead and 4th overall to not even finish on the podium in my age group. Worst. Run. Ever.

But... I am still pretty pumped at how solid my swim and bike were. Especially considering I never felt over my limit on either of those during the race.

Another cool thing about having an RV at a race; while I was waiting for the results to be posted, I went back to the RV and had a shower. Oh yeah. Which meant I was nice & clean for the drive and ferry trip home!

My cute little RV bathroom.  Bonus - the shower
is great storage for post-race wetsuit and sweaty tri kit!

Driving the big rig (ok, the RV is actually a little 22'
motorhome) so I should wear a trucker hat, right?

Next up: 100-mile cycling event in Las Vegas at the end of October.  Which doesn't really motivate me to run much, and obviously that's what I should be working on.  Winter project I guess.

Pictures Say 1000's of Words

This past month, it feels like I've been going back and forth between not enough to blog about, and too busy to blog anyway.  So here is a collection of random photos from August so far.

Jason's been racing up a storm:
Taking the overall victory at the Victoria
Self-Transcendence Triathlon -
not bad for 45 years old!

Running to the age group victory at Lake Stevens 70.3

Some random pics from rides:

We bought an RV and are redoing the interior:

Soon will be the ultimate bike-travel-mobile!

Keeping busy:

Coordinating the 100km start line at the Tour de Victoria


Napping with the pup.