Around the Bay Recap

Wowza. In what seems like the blink of an eye, my “A” goal race for the winter has come and gone. In lieu of a summary of last week’s training, I offer you  my race recap. This one is going to be long, and I don’t have any fancy photos to break things up, just a whole lot of words and thoughts about yesterday’s race.

I began training for Around the Bay way back in November when I started working with my coach. When asked to identify my race goals, I divided up the year and knew that I wanted 2017 to be mostly triathlon-focused. However, living in Canada, that meant I had a long winter to make it through before I would be racing outside. What would I do in the meantime? 

I thought about viable running goals to keep me motivated, and ultimately (perhaps arbitrarily, in retrospect) set my sights on cracking the 3 hour mark at Around the Bay in March. More than once over the winter, I asked myself why. It was far enough away to feel doable, I had come close to 3:00 the first and only time I ran it (3:02 and change back in 2015), I was finally feeling mentally and physically ready to start building my distance again (yet not quite ready to return to the marathon), so I thought, why not?

Other than a missed workout here and there (it happens to all of us!), my build for Around the Bay was without incident. I struggled on my peak long run *big time*, but I usually have at least one disastrous long run per cycle, so it wasn’t a big deal. In the last couple of weeks before the race, I was feeling relaxed and totally in the zone, especially after a confidence-boosting practice race at the Chilly Half.

Race week was something else. I was tired all. the. damn. time. My legs felt like lead and running was a challenge. Initially, I was worried, but as the week progressed, I remembered that this was normal for the taper. It had been so long since I had properly trained for a race long enough to feel the effects of the taper. I took my fatigue as a good sign. My last run before the race incorporated some strides that didn’t feel like death, so I felt more at ease heading into the weekend.

On Saturday, after sleeping for 8 glorious hours and then napping for two more, I hopped on the GO bus to Hamilton to pick up my kit. I didn’t dawdle at the expo, as I wanted to get home and grab some groceries before settling in for the evening. For those interested, I reverted to the pre-race/long run dinner I ate every week in my 2014 marathon training cycle: cheese tortellini. I did my foam rolling and stretching, crawled into bed by 10:15, and was asleep within minutes.

Race Day

The alarm sounded bright and early Sunday. I slept very well, and woke up ready to race. I toasted an English muffin, spread some peanut butter on it, and packed it to go with a banana. We got to Hamilton with an hour and a half to spare before the start. There were plenty of washrooms inside the stadium where the race ended (the start line was just outside), and I didn’t have to wait. Our crew took a photo and then I headed outside to make sure I got a warm-up in this time.

I jogged around the block on the way to the corral and managed to run just over a kilometre. I did some walking lunges and leg swings, and seeded myself in the corral just ahead of the 3:00 pacer. I always find the first kilometre or so of a race the most challenging, weaving in and out of people as I try to hit my stride. I felt like I was plodding along and my first kilometre beeped at 5:44. Oops. A solid 12 seconds faster than my goal pace.

After several kilometres more of trying to reel myself in, I didn’t want to waste any more mental energy on slowing down. I was making a conscious effort to slow down, but it wasn’t translating. I suspect I was trying to compensate for the hills, and pushing too hard for fear of falling behind. I was still feeling pretty good, so I tried to stay positive and hang in there. I figured that if I couldn’t dial it back, I would have some time in the bank in case I had to slow down on the hills in the final 10 kilometres. And I believed it. LOL. Note to self (and everyone else): This. Does. Not. Work. Ever.

I started to feel the effects of running too fast at around 12k, and things went downhill (har!) pretty quickly from there. Almost immediately after, I blew up internally and rode the struggle bus all the way to the finish. By some miracle, I survived most of the North Shore rollers, but I was running on fumes by the time I got to Lasalle Park, with 9k still to go.

At this point, I was so grateful to have run parts of the course a couple of times in training, and broke things up mentally so I could take it a little bit at a time. Once we climbed out of North Shore and onto Plains, I knew it was all flat and downhill until Valley Inn, and I tried to coast until then.  I kept myself distracted and tried not have too many thoughts, as I’m prone to slip into a dark place pretty quickly when the going gets tough.

Valley Inn Road was bittersweet for me. I had conquered it in training, but I had to walk most of it yesterday. Once I crested the top, I did some quick mental math and knew that my 3:00 time goal would be a stretch (I had lost the 3:00 pacer just after North Shore, but I could still see them way ahead.), but a PB was still within reach if I really pushed hard. I picked it up as best I could, but my legs were completely spent. For the first time that I can recall while racing, both my quads and hamstrings were screaming at me with every stride.

I passed the Grim Reaper and started to focus on the finish. As my PB slipped away, I refused to give up. I thought about walking to the finish, and I thought even harder about quitting altogether. I ultimately decided that the faster I ran, the faster it would be over. I went on auto-pilot and tried not to think about the pain in my legs. I saw a runner friend from social media, and we commiserated about the wind. She urged me to go, so I started to book it. I use the term ‘book it’ loosely at this point. I passed the Tribe cheer station in the last kilometre, and gave it everything I had left. I didn’t think it was much, but I pushed a 5:02/km crossing the finish line.

My official time was 3:05:31, over 5 minutes slower than I had hoped to run. As I stated on my social media post, I am proud of how I carried myself yesterday. Would I change anything? Well, sure, I would not have gone out so fast, but that’s how things shook out. I wanted to truly race Around the Bay, and I did. There will be many more opportunities to break the 3:00 mark in the 30k distance, and yesterday just wasn’t my day to do it.

I have other goals to turn my attention towards, and once my body rebounds, I’ll be tackling my spring and summer triathlon goals with full force. As always, it takes a village to get an athlete’s best self to the start line. I’m so very fortunate to have a supportive boyfriend, the best coach, an amazing run crew, and an army of friends and family who truly believe in me.

Thank you to everyone who encouraged me from the moment I committed to this goal. Your support means the world to me.

xo

 

Training Recap Week 8

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This week was the last full week of training before Around the Bay this coming Sunday. With no other races or special workouts on the schedule, I focused on consistency and eating well. I would say I stuck pretty closely to those goals, with the exception of one run that was cut short. Here’s what I was up to this week:

 

Monday

1600m swim: I did a little more volume than usual at practice today. We focused on 300m sets today and I was fairly consistent.

Tuesday

25km ride: The weather was pretty terrible outside, and I didn’t want to take my chances with the sidewalks, so we moved things around a bit, and I did my ride on Tuesday. Since I’ve been riding with Zwift again and focusing on my power output, I did a portion of the ride into Zone 3, and building into Zone 4.

40 minutes strength: I did my usual strength training routine after my ride. I was slightly more energetic than I usually am when I do my strength training post-run.

Wednesday

2000m swim: Whoa! For the first time in swim practice, I hit 2000m! I was swimming right until the bitter end, but it felt good. Today’s practice was focused on 500s.

4km run: This was supposed to be an 8km easy run. I went to a local Running Room to get some more information about a Ragnar Relay that I’m running in May with some friends, and I joined the local run group. It was either a short, easy run or hill repeats. You can guess which one I chose. 😉

Thursday

8km interval run: For today’s interval run, I went to the track near our house. For as long as I’ve been running, I’ve had a mental block towards the track. Since I’ve been gaining confidence on the run lately, I decided to see if I could overcome my fear of track running. I did 10 intervals in Z4, and they were all within range! It felt good to tackle them, and I finished strong.    

Friday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day.

Saturday

1875m swim: When I first saw what was expected of me for my endurance swim, I questioned my ability to complete it. I had 10 sets of 100s, each descending. These types of workouts occasionally cause me anxiety. Although there’s not usually as much riding on these workouts as I think, I have an intense fear of failure with speed-based workouts. I build it up in my mind, which can negatively impact my efforts. I tried to push that aside today, and told myself I would just do what I could do. I picked the 100s off, one by one, each just a hair faster than the one before, and left the pool feeling pretty darn proud of myself. Peacock moment of the week, for sure. Bonus: I did not forget my post-swim snack. Winning.

37km ride: Building on the momentum from my swim, I did my long ride once I got home, which included some longer blocks of work building through my power zones. It was a sneaky burn.

Sunday

18km long run: Ah, the last long run before Around the Bay next weekend. I dragged my feet on this a little bit, and the first few kilometres were not kind to me. Luckily, Ryan ran with me for the first 5km and helped me get in the zone. We chatted about our upcoming races, the beautiful weather we were having that day, and before I knew it, he was turning around to head home and I was feeling much better heading into the rest of my run. I had one last run up Mount Pleasant, across Eglinton, and down the rollers on Bathurst. My pace was pretty solid for a week out from the race, and I was able to turn it up a little for the last bit.

40 minutes strength: Although my run left me feeling race-ready and confident, the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was my strength workout. I was fatigued big time, and felt like I was just going through the motions.

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Swim: 5475m/2:15

Bike: 62km/2:21

Run: 30km/3:08

Strength: 1:14

Total Time: 9:19

I don’t really have a whole lot to say, except that I’m feeling ready to race. I had a phone call with my coach this week, and we started to talk a bit about my race plan. I’ve laid out my A, B, and C goals. Right now, I’m concentrating on visualizing myself powering up those hills. The race is 6 days away, and my typical race week behaviours are surfacing.

I fully recognize that I cannot control the weather on race day, but that doesn’t stop me from looking obsessively at the forecast to prepare myself mentally (and to choose the right race day clothes, of course). I’ve started thinking about which pre-race meals and breakfast options have served me best over this training cycle. I’m trying to get lots of sleep this week, with the most focus on Friday night’s sleep. I was not careful with my nutrition today, but I will be keeping myself in check for the rest of the week to make sure I’m properly fuelled for the race.

At this point, there is nothing I can do to improve my fitness. I’ve put in a lot of quality work this winter. Training has not been perfect, but it almost never is. I can honestly say that I fully committed to this goal, and I’m ready for whatever happens on Sunday. I’m feeling optimistic, but still a little scared and nervous about reaching my goal. I hope I’m writing my recap next week with good news of a shiny new PB.

Have a great week, friends!

Anyone else running Around the Bay this weekend? 

Chilly Half Marathon Recap

Last Sunday, I ran the Chilly Half Marathon in Burlington. It was my first time running the half marathon there. Despite having registered for it last year, I was injured and had to drop down to the 5k. The day before the race, it was looking like I would once again meet the same fate, but I woke up Sunday itching to get out there and test my pace for Around the Bay.

I didn’t make the journey out to Burlington to pick up my race kit, so I can’t comment on the expo and packet pickup situation. Instead, I had a friend grab it for me and I got it from her on Saturday before the race. If it was anything like last year, it was not crowded and had a decent number of vendors/sponsors on hand for a smaller race.

If you’re here for my thoughts on the event itself and the course, here they are:

The course itself was flat, with a small incline near the end. If you like quieter courses and can do without a ton of crowd support, then I would recommend this either as a winter goal race or a tune-up event. A lot of runners (myself included) use the Chilly Half as a dress rehearsal for the Around the Bay 30k, which is just a few weeks after. It’s a good opportunity to test out pacing, nutrition/hydration, and leaves just enough time to make any final modifications before ATB.

It was an exceptionally well-organized event, and well worth the entry fee. Having access to a large building with lots of washrooms pre- and post-race is a welcome perk, as the late winter weather is often unpredictable. Short massages were available from one of the local massage college program students before and after the race. I didn’t take advantage of that this year, but I did last year and it was great. It appeared that they had more students on hand this year, in fact.

If you’re here for the recap of how I personally fared, here it is:

Originally, there was a swim on my schedule for Saturday. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and I spent most of the day sleeping and otherwise relaxing. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, I had a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and spent all my waking hours trying to hydrate. I was in bed by 10:00 and despite napping for nearly four hours that day (!!), I had no trouble falling asleep. Point taken, body.

The race did not start until 10:00 on Sunday, but we got up super early to pick up a car and drive out to Burlington. Traffic can be a total unknown, even on a Sunday morning, but we arrived with plenty of time to spare.  

It was cold. For real. Stop rolling your eyes. We’ve been spoiled this winter with some occasional warm temperatures and not much by way of snowfall, so to have a cold, windy day for the race felt like a bit of a kick in the gut. They don’t call it the Chilly Half for nothing. If I had a dollar for every time someone said that on Sunday (me included), I could probably register for next year’s race with the proceeds. 😉

I knew a number of people running (in both the 5k and the half marathon), so the hour we had to kill before the race passed by fairly quickly. I ate my banana and sipped my Nuun water. The bathroom lines were not kind to me and instead of warming up for 2k before the race, I had to settle for a scrambled jog to my corral and some dynamic stretches. Not ideal.  

Nevertheless, I started. To be honest, it felt a little surreal to be running a half marathon, to be at a start line for the first time in over a year with a meaningful goal. Most of all, I was both relieved and thankful to be at the start line injury-free. My prescribed plan was to start slightly slower than goal pace for Around the Bay, and settle in at around 3k for the remainder of the race.

Despite a shaky start (which I blame myself for after not having properly warmed up), things evened out at the 3k mark. I felt great in the early kilometres, but knew that wasn’t necessarily indicative of what might come.

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Heel striking like a MF boss. Photo credit: Mark Gardner, Tribe Fitness

I saw both Ryan and Mark (separately) within the first 5k, and then headed out for the long out-and-back. Once upon a time, I disliked out-and-back courses. If I was having a particularly bad race, an out-and-back filled me with dread, and I often suffered in the final kilometres as a result. That all seems to have changed. I now spend most of the out portion looking across the course to look for runners I know. It’s a welcome distraction, and then I get to focus my energy on the back portion, where I often need it most.

I spent a lot of time looking at my watch during the race. I wanted to make sure I was staying on pace, and I was. As I ran through the quiet residential streets, I was pleased to see that I was staying eerily in my pace zone. The only 2 kilometres that were slower, were the ones where I walked as I took in gels, at 8k and 16k, and was able to make up the extra 20-30s per stop easily. I relied on the water stations on course without issue. Well, save a little layer of ice forming on top of the cups. 🙂

Luckily, the suck that I anticipated never really came. Don’t get me wrong: the last 5 or so kilometres were still challenging. The half marathon distance is no joke, and I had to put in a lot of work to stay on top of things in the last part of the race. By the time I got to the 19-20k mark, I still felt relatively well. Time to see what I had left and completely empty the tank.

As I came within the last few hundred metres, I really grit my teeth and dug in. I saw Ryan, Mark, and Heather cheering near the corner before the finish line and I used that energy for my final push. Sorry for not waving or smiling then, y’all, but I was in my zone. I saw my 21st kilometre tick at 5:31, and then I took off for the finish with whatever I had left. Garmin Connect later told me I was able to get just under 5:00/km for that last push, which I was very pleased with at the end of a half marathon.

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Epic Suffer Score, you say? Sounds about right.

I crossed the finish line in 2:05:26 (unofficial), with an average pace of 5:56/km. That was bang on for my ATB pace, and I executed the race plan perfectly (minus the warm-up, oops!). It has been quite some time since I have been able to say that. Many times along the course, I gave myself mini pep talks and all I came back to was how I thought I was never going to be able to run long distances again, and there I was. For once in my life, I was patient and it paid off. Ha.  

While it was not a PB for me, it was my second to fastest half marathon, and it certainly felt like a PB in many ways. It confirmed the progress that I’ve made over the last few months. Some days leading up to the race, it was hard to see the forest for the trees, but I’m so glad I trusted the work I put in and laid it all out there.

I think that another part of what made this race so special for me is that, after close to a year and a half of unpredictable training and racing due to my injury, I finally started to feel like my old running self again. I’ve talked about how I experienced this during a few of my training runs, but it was nice to have the old feelings come back as I raced. The race gave me hope that there’s still some life in this old body, and that I can still make progress. I wonder if there’s another marathon PB left in these legs down the road. But, first: I tri.  

Although I struggled to see how I could run another 9km at that pace on a more challenging course in just a few weeks, my coach quickly talked me down from that. For the next couple of weeks, I’ll be putting in my last bits of work pre-ATB and letting my training do the talking. I’ve put in the work, and I’m ready to see what I can do on March 26.

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Did anybody else race the Chilly Half or Frosty 5k? If you’re training for Around the Bay, how are you feeling in the last couple of weeks before the race?

 

Training Recap Week 7

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WOW. I find myself saying this in every recap, but last week was quite a week for me. No, seriously this time. 😉 Coming down from last week’s Chilly Half (my recap is ready! I’ll probably post it tomorrow or Wednesday.), I had my very first FTP test to look forward to, as well as my peak run before Around the Bay. Like most weeks, there were some ups and downs, but never a dull moment.

 

Monday

1509m swim: OUCH. I woke up the day after the race with a major case of the DOMS. I hobbled out of bed and got right back in just as quickly. No swim practice for me. I decided to pack my things in case I was feeling semi-human at lunch and could make it to the pool. I made it to the pool, but I’m not sure I felt human at any point. My body quickly revolted, and my swim turned into a mix of pull and fin sets, with some work on my drills as prescribed by my swim coach. It was not pleasant, but moving my body even a little helped. Maybe.

16km ride: After work, I did a super easy ride. There was no structure, just get on the bike and spin the pedals for 45 minutes. No more pleasant than my swim. I expected to be sore after the race, and it was the best feeling, if that makes sense. Happy to take a couple of easy workouts today.

Tuesday

7km run: Thanks to my success at the Chilly Half, I got myself a brand new set of HR training zones! Woo hoo! Along with it, I got some torrential rain, wind, and persisting soreness. Boo! Turns out my legs still worked and I didn’t die, but the run was a tough one.

40 minutes strength: Getting in my strength work after that run was a challenge, for sure. Not much to report.

Wednesday

1350m swim: Back to early swim practice, and still a bit exhausted. Part of me started to worry because my FTP test was scheduled for the next day, and everyone kept advising me that I should be well-rested for the test. After work, I went out for dinner with friends and got a good night of sleep.

Thursday

FTP Test: My very first FTP test! I ended up being the only one at The Lab for my test. I was initially a bit nervous and intimidated, but all that went out the window. Michael, the Head Coach at X3 and owner of The Lab, put me completely at ease and explained everything that was happening at various stages. With this being my first crack at the test, I faced no pressure to put up big numbers and because I was on my own, no worry of having to compare myself to others. For someone who is clueless about cycling, I have a lot of thoughts on my first FTP test and will be writing about it separately.

Friday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day.

Saturday

28km long run: I had a pretty rough run this weekend. I headed out to Hamilton once more with Ryan and a few others from my run group to get in one last long run on parts of the ATB course. My run *sucked* big time. I felt like garbage on many of the hills, especially the rollers. In addition, the weather was cold and terrible. I had a complete meltdown and even cried towards the end, wondering how I was going to be able to pull this off in two weeks. However, because I was running on my own for a while, I paid close attention to where I was on the course, as I know that will come into play big time as I come up with my race day plan. We also (literally) ran into my childhood friend and university room mate from Newfoundland who now lives in St. Catharines. She was out for her peak long run too, and it was the first time I had seen her in years. Yay, reunion!

Sunday

30km ride: I switched things up today, and did my ride using Zwift. I’m going to be experimenting with riding in my power zones now that I have some relevant data, so I did an easy ride with a few blocks of work in various power zones.

40 minutes strength: My normal post-run strength routine got moved to Sunday to accommodate my FTP test.

 

Swim: 2859m/1:07

Bike: 71.5km/3:01

Run: 35km/3:37

Strength: 1:15

Total Time: 9:00

Lots of ups and downs this week, as usual. I started the week on a high from the Chilly Half, despite being tired post-race. My FTP test took a lot out of me, both mentally and physically, so it should have come as no surprise that my run on Saturday went less than smoothly. My long run was also only my second run with my newly adjusted heart rate zones, so my pace was a little quicker than usual. I’m up for the challenge and although it is nice to see my long run pace dropping closer to where it once was, I need to keep myself in check before heading immediately into meltdown mode. HR training has proven an effective approach for me, and I need to be patient just a while longer.

My focus over the next couple of weeks is to get my workouts in, focus on recovery/sleep and eating mostly good food before Around the Bay. I still have some work to do in finalizing my race prep, like (maybe) selecting a B goal and a little more mental work in visualizing the course on race day. I think I’ve got this in hand, and now that I’ve had a test run at Chilly, I’m eager to see how Around the Bay will unfold. Stay tuned!

 

 

Training Recap Week 6

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What a week! So many things to be happy about in this week’s training: I pulled off some amazing PBs in swimming, had a really positive experience with running intervals (it usually gives me a ton of anxiety), AND I had a great race today! Here’s what I got up to over the last week:

 

Monday

1325m swim: Today, I got my individual feedback from last week’s filming. As I suspected, there are a few key points in my swim stroke that need work. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, my coach is going to have me work on one or two things at a time, starting with the timing of my stroke (I’m windmilling at the moment), and body rotation.

Tuesday

10km run with intervals: My first set of intervals in nearly a year! I was curious to see how HR training would factor into interval training – would I run intervals by pace or HR zone? It was the latter, and running intervals by HR actually took all the pressure off, and I was able to run all my intervals without issue and I wasn’t too far off last year’s paces, actually.

40 minutes strength: Post-run strength training tonight went better than it has in a while. I’m starting to hit my stride with this particular routine.

Wednesday

1050m swim: Time trial day again! We did our 400m and 50m time trials today. Holy crap, what an improvement! I got PBs in both my distances: my 400m went from 10:44 to 10:11, and my 50m went from 63s to 59s. My 100m CSS dropped from 2:46 to 2:37. I’m thrilled with these improvements in just one month!

34km bike: A long, low cadence ride with big blocks of low cadence work. Really got my sweat on with this one!

Thursday

9km run: An easy Zone 2 run on the schedule in advance of Sunday’s race. I was attending a nutrition seminar through the triathlon club, so I did my run, and finished at the seminar. It was c-o-l-d outside tonight.

40 minutes strength: After the seminar, I had to do my strength once I got home. I must confess, I was not feeling this workout at all. I was cranky and tired, and took more shortcuts than I care to admit, but there’s no point in dwelling on it.

Friday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day.

Saturday

1500m swimI had a bit of a health scare this morning, so my swim got cancelled. I had a suuuuuuuper long nap and a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs for dinner to get some extra iron. I was fully prepared to scrap Sunday’s half marathon if I wasn’t feeling 100% when I woke up on Sunday. Health > races. Always.

Sunday

21.1km run: Chilly Half Marathon! I woke up this morning feeling much better than I thought I would. I had a decent night of sleep on Saturday night, paired with the big nap and meaty meal, and I was ready to at least attempt the race. This was meant to be a dress rehearsal for Around the Bay in just 3 weeks, and I was able to execute it almost perfectly. It is certainly is deserving of a post of its own, and I’ll write all about it very soon.

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Swim: 2375m/0:57

Bike: 34km/1:30

Run: 40.5km/4:09

Strength: 1:13

Total Time: 7:49


How was your week of training? Did anybody else race the Chilly Half Marathon?

My Two Cents on Two Wheels

Check out that title, eh? I was pretty pleased with myself, too.

I digress.

Like many topics of discussion in the world of triathlon, I have a lot to learn about cycling. In fact, at present time, I would say that the bike is the discipline that I know the least about. It remains to be seen whether it is my weakest discipline per se, but it’s certainly the one I’ve spent the least amount of time and mental energy on. I suspect it is because I’ve been focusing so much on improving my swim, while also training for longer running races. Indeed, my coach has dialled back my cycling for the next few weeks as I build towards my goal race at the end of March.

Current State of Affairs

As I mentioned, I’m blissfully ignorant when it comes to cycling. I don’t have a fancy power meter, and I am just learning about cadence. I’ve often had to get clarification on my posted workouts. Some actual questions asked include, “So, dropping a gear means to make it harder?” and “What’s a single leg drill?”

My bike handling skills are rudimentary at best, I struggle with changing tires, fussing with my gears is a challenge, and I am also too afraid to ride clipped in. Eating and drinking while riding? Ha. The fast track to flipping over the handlebars, you mean. Group ride? Not on your life. That should give you some idea of what my coach is working with here, bless her heart.

I fully recognize that the bike is the longest leg of the triathlon and it will eventually make up the bulk of my training hours. I squeaked by on the bike portion of my first triathlon doing nothing other than getting on my bike and pedalling. I don’t recall changing gears once, and I certainly did not take in any nutrition (see above about flipping over the handlebars). I quite literally just coasted for the entire ride without a thought, except, “Don’t die.”

I signed up for Zwift, thinking that I would use it for all my longer rides. I used it for a while and created a few custom workouts in there, which has been great, but for the most part, I’ve been programming my workouts using Garmin Connect and using my trainer time to binge watch Game of Thrones. My watch beeps when I need to take on a new block of my workout and chirps at me when I’m out of a specified speed, cadence, or HR range. It’s a pretty decent system for now. I have both a cadence and speed sensor, as well as a heart rate monitor, but I am finding that Zwift overestimates my distance and speed, so I’ve been sticking with Garmin Connect for the time being. It’s nice to get a rough idea of the power I am generating that comes with Zwift, although without a power meter, I suppose it’s anyone’s guess. When I’m fully caught up with GoT and my rides get longer, I’ll likely revisit Zwift.

The Plan Going Forward

So, what’s next for Waltzing Matilda and I?

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Waltzing Matilda after a glorious ride last summer.

NB: Waltzing Matilda is my bike. I strongly believe that naming certain major pieces of training equipment is a fun way to appreciate them. Winnie the Wetsuit should need no further introduction. She will reappear in the spring.

Once Around the Bay is over, I suspect my cycling volume will pick up significantly leading into the summer. NB: My coach doesn’t give me my workouts beyond the current week, which frankly is in my best interest. We have broad conversations about what’s coming in the weeks and months down the road, but I largely just focus on the week that’s in front of me, lest I become overwhelmed.

I have registered to take an FTP (Functional Threshold Power) Test on March 9 through my triathlon club. Even though I don’t have a power meter of my own at the moment, it is useful data to have and we can measure improvement over time with subsequent testing. A power meter is definitely on my wish list, but it’s not a necessity at this level, especially as I have so many other cycling-related skills and concepts to get my head around.

I’ve read about the FTP test, and I’m scared shitless at the moment, to be perfectly honest. I tend to get worked up about things like this. Remind me to write about my first attempts at a Lactate Threshold running test someday. I really just need to cool it and realize that these are only ‘tests’ in the sense that they help me establish a base for training. Ultimately, nothing is riding on this (see what I did there?), and there’s no reason to make a big deal out of it. I’m trying not to think about it too much and build it up unnecessarily in my head. We’ll see how that works out over the next week. Ha.

I am also planning to attend a newbie skills clinic offered by my club in May. That will hopefully help me develop some bike handling skills and, most importantly, learn to ride outside clipped in. I currently have a set of pedals that allow both clipped and clipless riding, so I may learn one foot at a time. We’ll see. I’m riding clipped in to my trainer right now, so I hope that it’s giving me a feel for clipping in and out.

All of this is working towards me actually being able to go on some group rides with the club (and training friends outside the club) in the spring and summer. Much like my swimming started out, I’m a little too slow on the bike and lacking some important skills to just head out on a ride. Not only would I get dropped almost immediately, but I would be nervous and probably make things unsafe for myself and those around me. So I wait…


Any cycling tips for me as I get my bearings?