Questions & Answers & Questions

Yesterday I had a big workout on the schedule - biggest one ever.  It would answer some questions - like where I am at in my training, how is my recovery going, how much laundry can I create in one day... and give me the chance to practice race-day nutrition, pacing, etc.  I did a shorter version of this workout two years ago.  Well, actually more riding that time but less running.  Yesterday my coach had ordered a 90 km bike, 15 km run, 50 km bike then 10 km run.  Big day.

I prepped all my bottles, set out clothes and got everything ready Friday night, so I wouldn't forget anything and I could make the transition times between each segment efficient.  I headed out on my own Saturday morning, and the first day of fall dawned pretty quiet, with only a few cyclist and runners out on the roads, and of course the ubiquitous garage sale early birds.  I took the first part of the ride easy, then gradually increased the pace until I was working pretty hard for the last half.  The 90 km went by pretty quickly, and soon enough I was back at home to switch gears for segment number two.

Morning solo roll out.
Jason joined me for my 15 km run - he rode along and acted as a mobile aid station (as well as good company).  We covered a combination of road and gravel path and I stuck to my plan for IM of 8 minutes run, 2 minutes walk.  Seemed to work fine, but my legs definitely felt tired by halfway through and I felt like I was slowing down.  I didn't want to push the pace too much as I still had two other workouts to do, so just carried on, concentrating on staying fueled up and positive.

Being followed by my mobile aid station.
Jason decided to join me for ride #2 as well and we headed out.  I wanted to make sure I was working hard the whole way, and he was under instructions to make sure I didn't slack off.  I stood and powered over every hill, and stayed aero and worked it on the flats.  There were a lot of Jens Voigt-style "shut up legs" self talk moments as my legs were tired from the earlier ride and run I'd done already that day. But I just kept reminding myself that an Ironman ride was 180 km, and today I was doing a total of only 140 so had nothing to complain about.

Ride #2 of the day.
The last segment - run #2 (10 km) - was where things got really tough.  Jason and Humu joined me on a short section through the trails for the first 10 minutes, and I could barely run.  My legs were sore and they didn't want to do any motion that resembled human running.  I just kept going and knew they'd eventually come around.  I turned out onto the road, leaving Jason and Humu to play in the woods.  After about 15 minutes, my legs had settled in and I felt good again.  That lasted for about a half an hour, then they were getting tight and sore.  Great mental training, as I reminded myself what that last 10 km of an Ironman marathon feels like.  I decided I would focus on my pace, and I determined to keep my pace for the remaining few kms the same as my "regular" run pace, and my walk breaks could be easy.  It took all the concentration I had: watching the numbers on my Garmin, gritting my teeth and just putting one foot in front of the other.  But it worked, even though my legs didn't want to, I made them cooperate and hit the pace I wanted.

Heading down the road for the last 10 km.

I was pretty happy to see Jason at the end of my run, but had to choke back a couple of tears as I was exhausted, sore, and by that point running on fumes alone.  After a shower, compression tights, pizza, and Netflix I was feeling a lot better, but my legs were still pretty much on fire.  As expected, I tossed and turned all night (I never sleep well after a hard workout), but to my surprise I feel better than I thought I would today.  Not that I want to run today or anything - and Coach Kiki if you're reading this, I am definitely looking forward to my upcoming recovery week!  

Looking at the calendar, I know there will be the final big push during October.  I am ready and looking forward to the increase in hours and intensity.  I feel like my running is slowly improving - I am not really running faster than ever, but I think I can hold my pace longer and not slow down as much over the last half of the marathon.  Cycling - I still have a lot of questions around where I am at and where I'd like to be, and am hoping and know that my coach will be challenging me over the next month.  I can't wait!


I have some exciting news to share - I will be working with GOTRIbal!  What is GOTRIbal, you ask?  It's a social network for active women, but it's more than that.  It's a way to get connected with women from all over who are active, live healthy lifestyles, and share the adventurous spirit.  It's a place that's full of amazing resources - coaches, advice, discounts, tips, inspiration, and pretty much anything you could need to get going in endurance sports.  Their facebook page summarizes it best:

"For women who are passionate about living active,
healthy lifestyles through endurance sports"

I met GOTRIbal's founder, Tanya Maslach, when I was in southern California this August (after meeting online).  We bonded over our love of active living and our love of bread at what is one of both of our favourite restaurants: Pizza Port!  She is a super-energetic woman who is totally pumped about getting out the message of being healthy and active - how women, individuals, families, society and the greater good benefit from that lifestyle.  She is inspiring and passionate, and I am really stoked to be a part.

Tanya and I.
I will be involved as a GOTRIbal Influencer, meaning I'll be helping to spread the word of healthy, fun, adventurous living to more women, helping them make decisions about what they can do (hint: anything!), what they need to do it, how, when, why, where, etc. etc.  I couldn't be more thrilled to represent such a powerful message and a fabulous organization.

You'll be hearing more about this on my blog (and of course those who know me in person), so stay tuned.  GOTRIbal is online, on facebook, and on twitter - so check them out now!

Ironman Gear

It takes a lot of stuff to do an Ironman.  Some pieces of gear are absolute necessities, and others are luxuries.  I thought I'd put together a little list of all the things I plan to use during Ironman Arizona... coming up in merely two months from now!

The Swim
- Swim cap - provided by the race.
- Goggles - for an outdoor event I always use tinted goggles.  I also put them on underneath my cap, so in case I get hit by another swimmer they won't get knocked off.
- Wetsuit.
- Body Glide or other anti-chaffing material - spread liberally around the neck and armpits, and anywhere else your website may rub.
- Tri kit - you need to wear something underneath your wetsuit (or the spectators will be in for quite a surprise when it get stripped off...), and I like to wear a tri kit for the entire event.  No changing in transition; find something comfortable for all three events and stick with it.  An important part of my kit are a couple of bracelets with "inspirational" sayings.
- Watch - whether it's a Garmin or just a regular old sports watch, I always like to know where I'm at.  I'm not a slave to time goals, but I just like to have the info.
- Fuzzy socks - not for during the race, but when you're ready to go and standing around beforehand on cold concrete, your feet get cold!  So I bring a pair of warm socks I can toss just before I get in the water.

Pretty much the coolest race kit around!
Check out Betty Designs for other bitchin' stuff.

"Dig Deep" and "HTFU"

The Bike
- Bike!  I have a Specialized Transition, which is a bike made especially for triathlon.  But a road bike with clip-on aerobars works as well.
- Race wheels - these are definitely a luxury, and I'm lucky that Jason races.  That means I have race wheels (as long as he's not doing the same event!), with tubular tires which are nice and fast, and a pretty smooth ride.  I do have to practice changing them as I don't normally ride tubulars, but when I get the hang of it, it's a quick change.  I also run sealant in the tires to help prevent flats.  For a course like Arizona, it's perfect for the rear disc cover.  I am going to defer to Jason for tire choice - fast and puncture resistant are the criteria and he has waaaay more knowledge than I do in this department.
- Bike shoes - normally I train in regular road shoes, but I race in tri shoes for quicker transitions.
- Helmet - a legal necessity, but my aero helmet is a luxury.  Again, with a course like Arizona it would be silly not to use one.  Even though they look silly.
- Bottle cages - for racing I run one bottle between my bars and two behind the saddle.  Nothing on the frame.  Don't want to compromise that aerodynamic design!
- Fuel belt box - behind my stem to carry some specific nutrition that I can't get on course.
- Sunglasses - my eyes water like crazy if I don't wear them, plus it's pretty important to protect my baby-blues from the sun, dust, and debris.
- Garmin - I'm toying with whether or not I run my Garmin during the bike leg.  I'll have a watch on, but I almost always ride with my Garmin so I'm pretty used to having it.
- Chamois cream - Ironman is a long ride, and generally tri kits don't have the same plush pad that cycling shorts do.  Chamois cream on the seams helps a lot, as well as on yourself to help prevent chaffing.
- Spare tire, tire levers, and CO2.  Hopefully I won't have to use them, but I can and will if I need to!
- Nutrition - in bottles, in my pockets, in my fuel belt box.
- Number belt with bib number.

HED Stinger 6's with rear Wheel Builder disc cover.

Aero helmet.  For racing only.
- A couple of things I don't use on the bike during a triathlon: 1 - socks.  Don't need 'em cycling, so I don't bother with them when racing.  2 - gloves.  A must during training, but I don't bother with gloves racing.  An exception was Lake Stevens 70.3 as it was raining and a lot of corners, so I wore them just because there was a chance of crashing.

The Run
- Visor to keep the sun off my face.  I will be sporting my super-cool GOTRIbal visor!
- Running shoes and socks.  I also put vaseline on my toes (I have weird toes) and this lubes them up and helps to prevent blisters.
- Of course I'll still have the tri kit, shades, number belt and watch on.
- It gets dark early in Arizona in November, so I'm thinking of getting a fun glow-stick bracelet or something to meet it easier for my peeps to see me coming.  Haven't firmed that one up yet.

Phew - a long list!  And that doesn't include training gear, pre-race morning, and post-race stuff I'll also be taking to Tempe.  Needless to say, my packing list is lengthy.  Let me know if I've forgotten an essential piece of gear!


It's not even been two weeks since I got home from California, and that seems like a lifetime ago!  Things have been crazy around here and I feel like I'm just starting (maybe) to come up for air.  

When I got home, I had a couple of days to do all the stuff, appointments, errands, etc. that had to be done before going back to work after two months off.  I didn't quite get all my work stuff done, but I sort of had an extra day because I had no classes the first day of school.  I only have grade 11's and 12's this semester, and our first day is grade 10 students only - an easy introduction to their new school.  So although I had to be at work, I had some time at my desk.

Then it was helping Jason get ready for his trip to Vegas for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships.  I wasn't originally going to go (something about just getting back from two weeks in SoCal, just back at work, couldn't take any days off, and couldn't really justify the expense of a plane ticket for 48 hours there...), but at pretty much the last minute, my mom offered up a plane ticket for me! I scrambled to get a bit ahead at work, and caught a total milk-run flight Friday after work to Vegas where I got in after midnight.  

Saturday I was able to squeeze in a swim at the Henderson Multigenerational Center which had an amazing outdoor pool and a run in the desert while Jason was checking in his race gear.  Two different transition areas a half-hour drive apart gave me a bit of a chance for some sightseeing.  I also learned something:  a one-hour run on an asphalt path in the desert in 104 degrees F heat = heat blister on the bottom of my toe.  

Sunday we were up at 4 a.m. because T1 closed at 6 (and was the far away one), even though Jason's wave wasn't until 7:45.  It was spectating in the crazy heat, a couple of hours by the pool in the afternoon, and then Jason dropped me off at the airport that evening.  Midnight arrival in Victoria, and back to work for Monday morning.

Despite the hectic schedule Jason and I seem to keep, we always end up having amazing experiences and never regret the whirlwind around us.  However, I am planning to chill out for a while (OK, I actually have a pretty busy semester at work, but that's just the way it goes sometimes).  Wait, chill out - I have an Ironman in 68 days!  Chill out = focus on training for the next couple of months.  It's never dull around here!