Taking the Plunge?

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Yeah, yeah. Go ahead and groan, but there really is no other title that is more appropriate. I’d like to tell you that I’m still riding the high of last weekend’s race (again! I’m on fire today!), but in truth, I’ve been lacking energy this week.

I am trying (yet again) to make some positive changes to my nutrition game, so I made a commitment to track absolutely everything for a week. That fell by the wayside after a day or two. I’m just not mentally in a place anymore where documenting everything that goes into my mouth is an appealing (or healthy) activity. I think I probably eventually need to enlist the help of a nutritionist/dietician, but it’s been an expensive month with moving, and we have some travel coming up (both racing and fun!), so that will have to wait. The good news is, I’ve actually been craving healthy foods lately, so that’s a step in the right direction.

I digress.

Despite being less energetic than usual, my mind is totally revved up! Since last weekend, the wheels have been turning (okay, I promise I’ll stop. For real.) and I’ve been batting around the possibility of doing a 70.3 race next year.

I know what you’re thinking. I won’t even tackle the olympic distance until later this summer. Why am I thinking ahead to next year already? I should just be focusing on what I’ve got in front of me. Point taken. However, I would argue that having an idea of what some of my long-term goals are can be beneficial for my training right now. It’s always nice to have a “someday” driving you, and helping you push through that final interval of your workout when your race day visualizations aren’t cutting it.

I’ve also been pretty open about the fact that I want to tackle another full marathon next year, so I’m not sure how well those two will play together, if at all. I’m not sure which I would choose if I had to prioritize one over the other, so there are lots of things to consider in this equation.

All this might be void if I don’t do well at the olympic distance in August, but right now, I’m trying to find a way to seriously consider both events. I’m not sure if I would do a spring marathon and a fall 70.3, or vice versa. If anyone has had experience doing both in the same calendar year and has suggestions for me, I’m all ears. 🙂

Anyway, that’s what has been going through my little endurance sport brain. Here is what my training looked like last week: 

Monday

1900m swim: Today’s workout consisted of some solo 500s

45 minutes strength: I had no good reason for skipping this, really, aside from being tired after my swim and wanting to finish writing my Rose City race report. 🙂

Tuesday

1 hour ride: You may have heard me discuss my struggles with changing my bike tires in the past. Since a different tire is required for my trainer and racing season has started, the tire change is happening more frequently. I’m not the handiest person. Sometimes the tire is completely changed within 10 minutes; other times, it’s a multi-attempt affair. This week, it was the latter, so off to the gym I went to tackle my brick workout. The spin bikes at this particular gym had no computers, so I have no cadence, distance, or speed data. Instead, for the parts of my workout that called for a specific power range, I kept my HR in the corresponding zones. It wasn’t perfect, but it got the job done. I was a sweaty mess by the end.

10 minute run: Immediately after my ride, I hopped on the treadmill for 10 minutes.

Wednesday

7.4km run: A 45 minute easy run. I had some new shoes to take out for a spin, and I finally got out to explore my new neighbourhood on foot. I continue to be amazed by how hilly it is up here. Lots of rolling hill and gradual inclines. I’m looking forward to all the strength I’ll build running outside consistently. It’s been some time since I’ve done a training run longer than 15-20 minutes outside, and it was humid! I keep forgetting how long it takes the body to adjust to running outside in the humidity.

40 minutes strength: I got right down to it after my run. I’m still not a fan of burpees, but they’re a necessary evil. 😉

Thursday

29.4km ride: Zone 4 intervals. These were incredibly sneaky. The first few felt ‘easy’ and then all of a sudden, they felt like a lot of work. It felt great to conquer them.

Friday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day.

Saturday

42.6km ride: Today was supposed to be the day I tried clipping in outside. It was spitting rain off and on outside and I’m still being a wimp. I know what I need to do, I just can’t pull the trigger. I’m afraid of wiping out and hurting myself. Send help, please.

3.65km run: Following my race, I was curious how well I could run by feel off the bike. Per my coach’s instructions, I covered my watch and just ran for 20 minutes. It was *awful* and when I got home, I realized that I ran an average of 5:29/km. That’s quite fast for me, and I struggled through the humidity. It’s a good indicator of the conditions I’ll face on race day, so I’m glad I stuck it out.

Sunday

60 minute run: Another hot, soupy run. I won’t complain, though, because before you know it, it will be -30 and snowy AF again. I slapped on some sunscreen, and left a lot later than I should have. I set off on a different route, and ran in some really pretty parts of town, and I have many more to explore. As I mentioned before, my new neighbourhood and the surrounding areas is much hillier than anywhere else I’ve lived in the city. I had to focus on slowing down to keep my HR in check, and not going out of control trying to barrel up the hills. I actually cursed out loud a few times, though, because the area is new to me for running, so every hill that I came upon was a surprise. I reached the top of Hogg’s Hollow with 2 minutes to go, though, and you better believe I ran down that sucker as fast as my roasted legs could carry me.

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Not Hogg’s Hollow, but a small sampling of what I encountered.

1836m swim: Solo 200s at the small saltwater pool. Good end to the week!

 

Swim: 3,736m/1:33

Bike: 117.2km/3:34

Run: 22.4km/2:15

Strength: 0:40

Total Time: 8:02

There you have it. The post-race week of training was stronger than I thought it would be. I’m one week closer to TTF, and things are still coming along. This week coming up is a big one! It’s test week! I’ll redo my FTP test this week (using Zwift), and also my lactate threshold heart rate test to see if my running zones need adjustment. The latter has been something that I’ve struggled with. You may recall that I’ve attempted this test twice in the past, and have been unable to finish it. Here’s hoping this is the week to get it done properly!

On Friday, I’ll be heading to a cottage with a couple of my girlfriends for the weekend, and we’ll be doing the Kincardine Women’s Triathlon on Saturday! I’m excited to get away for the weekend. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a ladies weekend away and it’s a new place that I’ve never been. More to come!

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Rose City Sprint Race Recap

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Happy Monday, friends! I hope you’re all settling back into your routines after the weekend. If you follow me on social media, then you likely saw my race results from Saturday. Spoiler alert: I raced a *huge* PB in the sprint triathlon this weekend, which I’m about to recap in a super long, verbose essay. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I’m still on cloud nine from the weekend. After my own race, I spent Sunday tracking some club friends and my coach, who were all busy kicking ass at the Ironman 70.3 in Mont Tremblant. Needless to say, I’m feeling pretty darn inspired right now about my long-term goals for triathlon, and can’t wait to see how the rest of the season pans out.

I digress.

Anyhoo, you may recall that last week, I was kinda, sorta not really feeling the greatest heading into my race. After a good talking to from my friends and coach, I was semi-successful in relieving some of my stress knowing that Saturday would be a ‘test race’ to see what we need to work on in advance of the Toronto Triathlon Festival.

The second I sort of destressed a bit, I got sick. A dull earache that I dismissed on Monday turned into some congestion, fatigue, and by Wednesday, I was laid up on the couch. I was confident that, unless my cold progressed significantly, I would still be okay to race, just maybe not as hard as I would have liked. I went back to work the next day, which probably wasn’t the greatest idea, but by the end of the day Friday, I was getting close to 100% again.

For those who are interested, on Friday night before the race, I ate a baked sweet potato with some chicken, peppers, goat chevre, BBQ sauce, and a few stray tortilla chips just because. Not an ideal pre-race meal, but I’m experimenting and this isn’t my A race, so that’s what I ate. It was tasty, and my iron stomach was happy. I’ll probably continue eating some variation of this before my long workouts and races for the rest of the season.

I spent the rest of the night packing and fussing over my bag and gear. There’s so much more to remember and bring for a triathlon, and I’m still getting used to it. Luckily, there is a handy race day packing list on the inside of my triathlon bag, so I didn’t forget to bring anything. Once I was satisfied that I hadn’t forgotten anything absolutely crucial for the race, I was in bed with the lights out by 10:00 in anticipation of my 4:15 a.m. wake-up call to drive down to Welland.

Race Morning

My race was scheduled to start at 8:30. I wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to pick up our zipcar (across the street), load it up with Waltzing Matilda and my sack of horrors, drive to Welland, set up my transition area, and leave enough time for me to take my first dip in the open water for the season. NB: I do not recommend doing your first open water swim of the season on race morning. Do as I say, not as I do. Or something. In order to make sure all that happened, we had to get up at stupid o’clock. I made breakfast to go and ate in the car (a whole-wheat English muffin with almond butter -> about 2.5 hours before the race, along with a banana -> about 30 minutes before the race). I had a cup of coffee and some water before we hit the road.

The drive down to Welland was fast and there wasn’t much traffic. Getting to the race site at the Welland International Flatwater Centre was easy, and there was a ton of (free) parking. Checking in was a breeze, and I was given a pair of bracelets with a number: one to fasten to my bike, and one for my wrist. They were checked as I left to ensure I was going home with my own bike. Nice touch, I must say.

I assumed we would be racking our bikes by bib number and when I got to my place, I was jazzed to discover that I was directly outside of the swim exit, and equidistant between the bike and run exits. It was probably the best place I could have asked for. I set up my transition area carefully, and headed inside to pick up my bib, which took about two minutes in total.

I used the washroom in the basement of the facility twice before the race. There were no lines and every stall was stocked with toilet paper. It was the best setup, and a nice step up from the usual porta-potties. I put on my wetsuit, ate my pre-race banana, and headed down to the lake for a quick warm-up.

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The water temperature was 21 degrees, and it was a dream. Wetsuits were optional, although there was no way I was going without it. I’m not in contention for any podium spots over here, so Winnie and I hopped in the canal with a bunch of others and got to it.

You guys. I felt zero panic from the moment I got in the water, which was unexpected. I found a groove quickly on an out-and-back, floated around for a bit, did a range of strokes to open up my shoulders, chest, and back, and headed back to shore. We listened to a pre-race briefing, I took a gel, and it was time to head down to the canal for my 8:36 start in the third wave. The only other person I knew who was racing the sprint at Welland was Amber. I managed to spot her in the minute or two before our swim wave left. We wished each other good luck, and off we went.

The Swim

Unlike my first triathlon last summer, when I was scared out of my wits, I seeded myself around other people. I felt confident enough that I didn’t have to start all the way off to the side and in the back. I still let people go ahead of me, but I had a really relaxed start and found a rhythm pretty quickly. I was able to breathe bilaterally almost right away and I wasn’t thrashing my legs and kicking wildly. When I first had to come up for air, I was at around 150m and feeling pretty good. I was still surrounded by people. I did breaststroke for a minute or so, and headed right back to freestyle. I repeated this process for the remainder of the swim, and it served me well. I got smacked in the face about three-quarters of the way through, but I was fine. Another rite of passage under my belt.

Volunteers were on hand at the end of the swim to help scoop you out of the water. I did what I read in my former swim coach’s recent blog post about transitions: out of the water, googles up, unzip and peel wetsuit while running, goggles and cap off. I noticed that no one around me was running out of the swim area. I kept on motoring along the side of the canal and passed a couple of people, booking it (safely) up the stairs, where Ryan was cheering me on in the stands.

My sighting needs *a lot* of work. According to my watch, I swam an extra 131m, which could take a few extra minutes off my swim next time and, in theory, get me below 20 minutes. I’ll be working on swimming in straight lines and sighting effectively over the next few weeks, fo’ sho’.

I know I will have the endurance to swim the full 750m without stopping once I get in some practice in the open water. The swim course was a perfect rectangle. Lest you think I am embellishing about my lack of sighting skills:

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Swim time: 750m//21:39 (2:53/100m) [Watch says: 881m//21:28 (2:26/100m)]

T1 (Swim-to-bike)

Remember that sweet spot I snagged in transition because I showed up early? Yeah, that was great. I crossed the swim mat and was literally in front of my spot. I grabbed my helmet and clipped it on. Sunglasses on. Wetsuit all the way off. Dab feet on towel. Socks on. Sneakers on (nope, still not clipped in! Baby steps, friends.). Bib on. Drink of water. Tuck a gel in my back pocket. Take bike off rack. Jog out to bike mount line, and GO!

NB: I am aware of how ridiculous I probably looked in transition with my helmet on and my wetsuit, but I was nervous that I would forget myself and touch my bike before my helmet was completely done up, so I put it on right away. #noragrets. No DQs over here. No, sir. I did, however, forget to put on my biking gloves. I ended up being fine without them, but I’ll be sure to remember them next time, and maybe stick them in my helmet.

T1 time: 2:35 [Watch says: 2:57]

The Bike

The bike course was boasted as being fast and flat, and it delivered. I had also been warned that it can be windy. It also delivered some wind. Okay, a lot. Or more than I’m used to riding in. Part of the bike course was open to traffic, which caused a mild internal tantrum, but I decided that if everyone else could do it, then so could I. The fact that this logic even occurred to me is a testament to how far I’ve come in a year.

Despite being a nervous cyclist, I was looking forward to seeing how much my cycling had improved. I noticed a real difference in feel between my indoor trainer rides and the outdoor ride on race day. Duh, Courtney. Hear me out. When I ride inside on the trainer, I am clipped into my pedals. I’m not used to clipping in outside, so I rode on Saturday with my sneakers on flat pedals. I was engaging different muscles, and could probably gain some speed and efficiency once I learn to clip in.

The bike course itself, aside from being fast and flat, was pretty uneventful. There were plenty of volunteers and police officers giving directions, and I never felt unsafe on the road. On the parts of the course where we shared the road with vehicular traffic, all vehicles I encountered gave me plenty of space. Whenever other athletes passed me, everyone was courteous and encouraging, so I tried to give out the same good karma.

Every time I passed someone else, I made sure to call out with plenty of time, give lots of space, and offer an encouraging word. I actually had to ask my coach about this in a previous phone call. “What do I do? I don’t even know how to pass people in a race.” The last time I did a triathlon, I was so slow out of the water that almost everyone was finishing up the bike course by the time I started to ride. I was pretty much all alone for my ride last year, and I never had to worry about passing anyone else, or getting passed. My coach assured me that it wouldn’t be the case this year, and she was right. I was a lot more comfortable passing people and getting passed than I thought I would be.

My watch beeped every 5km, and I was maintaining a steady pace of 26-ish km/h. This is fast for me. The terrain and elevation were in my favour, but once I settled in after the first few kilometres, it was a sustainable speed.

Another first this weekend: I was able to grab my water bottle to drink during my ride. I slowed a bit, grabbed the bottle long enough to get a quick sip, and returned it. I was so very nervous doing this, but like most things, I know that practice will make it easier. I still didn’t drink as much as I probably should have (about half a bottle during my ride), but I’ll add that to my list of things to work on. I was definitely not comfortable enough to take the gel I brought with me while riding, which may have led to low energy on the run. However, I heard a tip that I should tape the top of the gel to my bike’s crossbar, and just rip it off whenever I’m ready to fuel. I can’t wait to try it, and see if it improves my energy levels on the last part of the race.

Anyway, before I knew it, the ride was over, and I was wobbling into T2 with my shaky legs.

Bike time: 20km//45:58 (26.1 km/h) [Watch says: 19.49km//45:25 (25.8 km/h)]

T2 (Bike-to-run)

From the moment I hopped off my bike at the dismount line, my legs felt like jelly. It was a familiar feeling, thanks to all the brick workouts I did before the race. Shut up, legs. I quickly returned my bike to the rack, took off my helmet, grabbed a drink to wash down a gel, and adjusted my bib. Ryan was still hanging out in the swim exit area watching, so I was able to see him as I was getting ready to head out on the run. It was just the boost I needed, even though I was feeling pretty good. By this time, it was getting warm, and I anticipated some slight discomfort on the run.

Off I went.

T2 time: 1:51 [Watch says: 1:46]

The Run

The run course for the sprint was a double out-and-back. While I normally enjoy an out-and-back run course because of the people-watching and its powers for distraction when needed, the thought of battling through it twice was a lot for me. BUT, I was hopeful that I wouldn’t suffer too much and tried to tell myself that it was 5km and before I would really feel any pain, it would be over.

For the first few minutes of the run, I felt like I was crawling. I refused to look at my watch at all during the first kilometre because I didn’t want it to dictate how things would go mentally. I couldn’t resist a peek as I passed the 1km marker and felt my watch beep. 5:28. Alright, you. Slow your mother-effin’ roll. My breathing quickly became laboured, I started to hunch over, and I lost steam quickly. My second kilometre was 5:44, which is probably closer to where I should have started the run. Somewhere on that first out-and-back, Amber was making her way back, and we yelled out to each other. Besides that, I tried to focus on breathing consistently and getting this thing done.

It was around the 2km mark when I noticed that my average heart rate was 175. I know I can expect a high heart rate while racing, but I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep it up. I switched the screen to see my current heart rate. No zone – 204. Hmmm…So, I walked for a minute or so until it came down to the low 160s. Then I picked it up to run again. I had to do that 3 times in total to keep my heart rate manageable, but I wonder how much of it was mental versus physical. At another race, I’d like to try covering my watch for the run just to see what would happen.

Ryan was waiting near the finish, so I saw him as I taking the turn to head out for the second out-and-back. When I came back and was going for the finish, Amber was with him, and they both cheered me in. I had plenty of gas left to sprint to the finish, so I think I let my mind take over and I probably could have gone a touch harder in the run.

Run Time: 5km//28:32 (5:42/km) [Watch says: 4.8km//28:56 (5:59/km)]

Overall time: 1:40:36 [Watch says: 1:40:21]

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HOLY CRAP!

I have gone on about how the Toronto Triathlon Festival will be my true A race for the season, and how I want that one to be my benchmark, but it’s hard to ignore the improvements from last year’s triathlon to this weekend. Most noteworthy is taking my swim from a panicked 35:51 down to a calm 21:39 (with room for improvement, no doubt, but still…). Overall, I raced a 41:26 PB on Saturday!

I definitely got what I wanted from the race, and that was to see what needs adjusting before TTF.

Things to work on:

  • More open water swimming, with particular focus on sighting
  • Practice fueling on the bike while riding
  • Try to clip in on the bike
  • Pace myself on the run, and maybe cover my watch

The race itself was great. It was easy to get to, parking was plentiful, transition setup and bib pickup were snappy, the bathroom situation was downright luxurious for a race, the swim was perfect, and the organizers really know how to put off an excellent event. The volunteers were top notch, and this race is clearly a well-oiled machine. All the race photos will be free once they have been uploaded, which I love. I’m sure there will be a few gems in there, so I’ll be sure to share them when they become available. This race will be on my calendar next year, for sure.

Post-race food was pizza and fruit, but the star of the show were the pretzel sticks. I probably could have just eaten a plate of pretzel sticks. Ha. I also grabbed a sample of the F2C 3:1 recovery drink in vanilla. It was super sweet, and I loved it! I might have to invest in some to help after my longer workouts this summer.

Would I recommend this race to a friend, or a new triathlete? Absolutely. Everyone was welcoming, encouraging, and the event itself was a really positive experience. I loved the vibe at this race, and am looking forward to the rest of the Multisport Canada events that I’m signed up for this summer.

As always, I can’t say thank you enough to both Ryan and my coach. They’re the first ones to give me a good kick in the ass when needed, and it’s really made all the difference. There have definitely been days over the last seven months when I questioned my ability to do another triathlon, but they, along with my awesome friends and family, never let me quit. Ryan gives up so much of his time driving me around to races and cheering for me, and it means the world having him there, no matter what the outcome is. I’m feeling so grateful for my amazing support network, and eager to see what the rest of the summer brings!

Thanks for reading this tome, y’all, and for encouraging me along the way. It truly means so much. Have a great week!

xo

Anybody else race this weekend? Where? How did it go?

 

You’ve Got This

Soooooooooooo…

Welcome back, me! In case you missed it, things have been pretty bananas around these parts. When I last wrote, we were gearing up for a big move. I’m really happy to say that our move went smoothly. I took a solid week off training. Zero exercise for 9 days. The week after, I eased back into things, but didn’t put any additional pressure on myself. Last week, it was on and I focused on getting in all my workouts in advance of the race, and I’m happy to say I was successful!

Instead of recapping training while the move was happening (there really wasn’t much), I wanted to give myself a bit of a pep talk tonight. I confessed on Facebook last week that I was feeling less than prepared for my upcoming race on June 24. My friends and coach quickly took me to task, and reminded me of all the hard work I have already put in. One of my friends, Heather, jokingly commented that I should write a blog post about it and, well, here I am. As always, my friends and coach were incredibly supportive, but I wanted to focus on just one comment that was particularly helpful from Kat.

It may have had something to do with the move-related stress, but about a week before we moved, the reality that I would be racing a triathlon pretty soon set in. Something clicked, and I started freaking out. I have been training for 7 months now, and the fitness I’ve built is comforting, but thinking about actually executing a race has been shaking me up a little.

Pre-race jitters are totally normal, I know, but there was something about putting together all three disciplines that I’ve been training for threw me for a loop.

 

My friend, Kat, summed everything up nicely:

“Please turn off the expectations tap immediately. You’ve done this before, it’s the first race of the season in an ice bath, you’ve got this.”

My coach confirmed that we would be using the Rose City sprint this weekend to test the proverbial waters, and see what needs adjusting before the Toronto Triathlon Festival on July 23, which is my major goal race for this season.

I’m having some doubts about the swim, of course. I’m getting concerned that the water will be too warm for a wetsuit, and I also have not been in the open water yet. However, as Kat said, it’s time to take it down a notch, and not put so much pressure on myself, especially for a race that isn’t my A goal race.

For what it’s worth, I kicked ass on the training front last week. 9 glorious hours of solid training. I’m as ready as I’m going to be at this point.

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When you hear from me next, it will be a race report. Here’s hoping I have some good training news to share next week! 🙂

 

 

#TRIBExRAGNAR

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Howdy-ho, friends! Today is a holiday, so I hope you’re enjoying it doing whatever makes your little heart sing. Me, I’ll be taking an extra rest day, on account of the Ragnar Niagara relay and joining some friends for a BBQ this afternoon. I plan to do a little food prep this evening, and otherwise just enjoy a nice day off.

As you know, this weekend was the Ragnar Niagara relay, and I was part of a team of 12 women from my running group, Tribe Fitness. We ran 304km from Coburg to Niagara starting on Friday morning and to say it was an amazing experience would be an understatement. Naturally, I’ll post a more in-depth recap of how that went, but first, here is a summary of my lighter-than-usual training load leading up to the race:

 

Monday

39km ride: This morning’s ride was a mix of endurance and some zone 5 intervals. My legs were turning over pretty well, all things considered, and the intervals were just challenging enough.

40 minute swim No go on the swim today.

 

Tuesday

39 minutes strength: Well, #twofertuesday is over, so today’s workout was my strength routine. It felt SO strange doing this on its own. I almost always do it immediately after a run, so when I finished, I was kind of thinking, “This is it?” It wasn’t that I didn’t push myself, but I suppose I now have an association of strength work as being a post-run thing.

 

Wednesday

21km ride: Strictly a 45 minute spin in zone 2. Nothing to tax the legs, just to keep my body moving before Ragnar.

1372m swim: I looked ahead at what my swim group would be doing on Wednesday, and they had some hard efforts on the schedule. I didn’t think that was wise so close to the race, so I did a lunch swim that included some descending 100 sets with my fins. I used the pull buoy for both the warm up and cool down to save my legs.

 

Thursday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day.

 

Friday –> #twoferfriday just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

9.1km run: My first leg of the Ragnar Niagara relay! I am going to recap my legs and the race in more detail below. For now, I’ll just say that it was a hilly, bug-filled run. 😉

4.7km run: My second run was actually through the Upper Beaches. So close to home, yet so far to go!

 

Saturday

5.5km run: Third and final leg of the relay for me. This was both mentally and physically tough.

 

Sunday

Rest. If I ever earned a rest day, it was this one!

Swim: 1,372m/0:32

Bike: 60.1km/2:07

Run: 19.2km/1:48

Strength: 0:39

Total Time: 5:07

#TRIBExRAGNAR

On Friday morning, I set out with a group of 11 other women from Tribe Fitness to run 304km from Cobourg to Niagara Falls in the Ragnar Niagara relay. Way back in the fall, I (apparently) coaxed my run crew into registering a team for this race. A Ragnar relay has long been on my bucket list, so I was eager to check it off my bucket list.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of a Ragnar relay, it is an event that usually covers 300-ish kms, with a team of 12 (or 6, if you choose an ultra) runners tackling legs and passing off a baton (slap bracelet in this case. The ’90s are alive and well at Ragnar!). Repeat the process until all 36 legs of the course have been run.

Saying that this race requires a lot of organizing and planning logistics might be the understatement of the century. Heather and Mark did an *incredible* amount of work to make this happen for us, everything from calculating predicted paces and exchange times to booking vans to making sure we had somewhere to chill out on our breaks. We are all so grateful for everything they did to make this happen. An unforgettable weekend, for sure.

Anyway, after logging some #twofertuesday double runs to prepare, the big day was here. Bright and early at 6 a.m. on Friday, Ryan (who was one of our drivers) and I met up with our team mates from the first van to head to the start line in Cobourg for a pre-race briefing in advance of our 9 a.m. start.

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To be honest, it seemed like a false start, like it wasn’t actually happening yet. I can’t quite explain it. Before we knew it, our first runner had set off on her first leg. We drove to meet her at the exchange point, and sent off our second runner (and repeated the process for each exchange). We were all a little surprised at how windy and cold it was at the start of the race. Thankfully, there was no rain in the forecast, so we had that to be thankful for. I was really hoping that it would warm up, as all of my race outfits consisted of shorts. Eep.

Leg #1 – 9.1km//52:50 (5:48/km)

I got my wish. The sun came out and I even got a little sunburn on my first leg. I had studied my legs in advance of the race, but I was not expecting my first leg to be as hilly as it was. Yikes. If I had not trained for Around the Bay this winter, I would have been toast. My initial plan was to run the first two legs easy, and turn it on for the third and final leg, if I had any gas left.

That kinda went out the window in the first few kms of my first leg. Adrenaline was pumping, and my heart rate took off big time. It became clear that my body was treating this as a race, and I better fall in line. Alrighty, then.

So, yeah. Hills for days. Rolling hills, steep hills, you name it. A few downhills, a couple of flat stretches, but for the most part, I was climbing. During this whole leg, we were also constantly running through swarms of little black flies. It was either windy, or calm with swarms of bugs. I found myself having to breathe aggressively through my mouth to avoid swallowing them. Around 6km in, I regretted my decision to start out so fast, but decided to hang on.

I was totally ready to be done when, somewhere in the 8-9km range, we got stopped for a passing train. I couldn’t decide whether I was pissed to be losing time, or relieved that I would get a little break to recover for the last push.

Once we got going again, I was relieved to settle back in and see my team waiting for me at the exchange. My legs immediately felt trashed, as if I had just crushed a long hill workout, which I guess I did. I started to worry about my remaining two legs. At least they were shorter. Yay!

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There might be a bug or two stuck to me, but happy to be done 1/3!

After all of our van finished their first legs, we had a few hours to kill while van #2 set out on their first legs. We were not far from Oshawa at this point, so we grabbed lunch at Kelsey’s as a group and ducked into Mark’s parents’ house for the quickest of naps. I was still wired at this point, and had trouble sleeping, so a 30 minute cat nap was all I got. Better than nothing, I guess.

Leg #2 – 4.7km//24:20 (5:13/km)

By this time, we were back in Toronto, and my second leg was at around 9 p.m., and going through the Upper Beaches. I was quite close to home, in fact. At this point, Ryan took a break from driving to run my second leg with me. Even though I had run hard that morning, I knew that this would be my only chance to get in a speedy run. I expected to be legitimately tired by my third leg the next morning, so I decided to start at a speedy pace and see how far a nice downhill and having Ryan as a pacer would take me.

Turns out, it took me far! It was a hard run, but almost all downhill and I actually felt really great! Maybe adrenaline? Whatever it was, it felt fantastic. We only got stopped at one light, which helped. Ryan was a fantastic pacer. He encouraged me every step of the way, and asked how the pace was early on. Once he was satisfied that I wasn’t in distress, he didn’t let up, which I’m so thankful for.

Perhaps the best part of this run was that had this been a road race (and 300m longer, of course), I would have gotten a 5k PB! Once again, a confirmation that my running is heading back in the right direction. I handed off the slap bracelet to the very speedy Kim B., and hopped in the van to recover. I was completely spent, and glad I pushed myself when I had the chance.

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As I was checking off my leg on the van window, I noticed this on our back windshield. It was then that I started to get a little emotional, and it was nothing but gratitude for my team, our support crew, and Ryan from there on out.

Once Heather finished up the second set of legs for our van, we hopped in the van and headed to Hamilton to have a quick nap at Heather’s dad’s place before meeting the van for the final round. Once again, a quick sleep (about 1.5 hours this time for me), but enough to recharge.

Leg #3 – 5.5km//31:24 (5:44/km)

As predicted, I was running on fumes by the time my third leg rolled around. Luckily, Ryan was also going to run this one with me to ensure I stayed upright. I felt so very tired from the first step, and couldn’t wait for the leg to be finished. The thing with a relay is that, you never quite contemplate quitting, as you might do on your own, because there is a group of people waiting for you and counting on you to give 100%.

My third and final leg went through Grimsby and I got to see parts of the IronGirl course and the Grimsby Half Marathon course. I haven’t run either, and Ryan distracted me with stories of his first Try-a-Tri in Grimsby on this course. I was grateful to have somewhere to focus my mind, and when I handed off that bracelet, I was both relieved and amazed that I had managed to nail all three of my legs. My originally projected pace was 5:56/km for all of my legs, so it was a big confidence booster to have run all three of them faster than predicted.

After I finished, we cheered the rest of our runners, and handed off to van #2 for the last push to Niagara Falls. We all waited together at the final exchange to send Anna off on the last leg up the Escarpment and through a gaggle of tourists to finish on the Falls. Watching her come in was absolutely surreal. As other teams did, we joined her and did a collective run to the finish as a team.

Oof. I actually got teary as we crossed the finish. As I mentioned above, the planning and organization that it took to pull this off was incredible. We had four amazing drivers (all significant others of team members) who shuttled us around, did coffee and food runs, took on pacing duties, ensured that we had photos to remember this weekend, and just generally supported us in whatever we needed. We are so very lucky to be surrounded by the best support network, and I know I’m speaking for the entire team when I say that we truly appreciated everything they did for us this weekend.

In addition, Nuun Canada kept us hydrated and New Balance Canada gave us matching tank tops to race in. It was very generous of them, and we are very grateful for their support!

There was a point earlier in the winter when I wondered what I had gotten myself into. Dare I say that I even dreaded the thought of running this race? Well, I did. I worried that my plantar fasciitis would flare again, and that I would be unable to run. I worried that the relay itself would cause my plantar fasciitis to flare, and that it would wreck my triathlon training season. There really isn’t much one can do to prepare, expect run doubles, which I did once per week as my triathlon training schedule allowed.

Did I feel prepared going in? Not really. Much in the way that you never actually feel prepared for your first triathlon, your first marathon, your first race, in general, I guess. I was heading into the unknown and unsure of how my body would react.

I was immediately sore upon finishing my third leg, and knew it would be a rough couple of days. Upon getting home, I made sure to stretch and foam roll. It was incredibly painful, and I have been having a little pain in the centre of my leg below my kneecap, off and on. I took rest days Sunday and again today, and won’t run again until Thursday, so hopefully that gives my body time to reset. PK has recommended that I get a massage, so I may have to look into that, even though it will be painful as hell.

So, that’s that. I’ve checked this off my bucket list. I went in thinking I would do “one and done,” but I can’t say that I would turn down the opportunity to run another relay if it came up. The good definitely outweighed the bad. It was worth every minute of sleep I lost, and every painful step down the stairs that has followed in the last couple of days.

I know I’ve flooded my social media with updates on the race over the weekend, and I wanted to say thank you to everyone who followed along and sent us good vibes. It was great to know we were being cheered on!

Did anyone else run Ragnar this weekend? Or any other Ragnar race? How did your training go last week?

 

 

On (Doing, Being, Trying) Enough

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Happy Monday Tuesday, friends!

Another week done. One week closer to the start of my triathlon racing season. This also means that we are one week closer to moving. Time, man. It marches on. After last week’s discussion and public declaration that I would start eating all the nutritious things and prepare my food to set myself up for success, I had a pretty good week. As stated, I never intended to eat 100% clean all the time, as that sets me, personally, up for failure. I relaxed a bit on the weekend, and ate dessert when I wanted, all while focusing on mostly whole foods at meal and snack times. I kept up my hydration too, and I was feeling much better last week. Naturally, I felt the positive effects in my workouts. Here’s what I got up to last week:

 

Monday

32km ride: A low cadence ride before work. I’m not sure if I’ve said it before, but low cadence work on the bike is quickly becoming one of my favourite workouts. I feel strongest when I’m grinding those big gears and pushing high power. Pre-work endorphins for the win!

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1486m swim: I joined my old swim group tonight for a workout focused on non-freestyle strokes and kicking. Basically, all my weaknesses in the pool. It was a fun workout, and even though I had to use fins for much of the time, I felt the benefits of focusing on backstroke and my kick.

 

#twofertuesday

9km run: The last edition of #twofertuesday! Ragnar Niagara is this weekend, so this will be the last of the double running for a while. I covered 9km before work and it took me a while to come around. I ran around 5km before I felt human. Truthfully, I’m not sure I’ll ever be cut out for morning runs, but I won’t close the door on it completely.   

4km run: A short jaunt home that ended up being on the faster side, although not as fast as last week’s run home.

 

Wednesday

1486m swim: A lunch swim that I didn’t really have a ton of energy heading into, but I knocked out some ‘make the pace’ workouts with hard 150s. I surprised myself by doing more of these than I initially thought I could handle. I credit this to taking them one at a time mentally.

36km ride: Oh, hey, intervals! Tonight’s ride consisted of some blocks of work in my power zone 4.

 

Thursday

6km run: As in weeks past, by the time Thursday rolled around, I was feeling tapped out. This week’s exhaustion was mostly of the mental sort, though, and I did my 6km easy run without incident.

39 minutes strength: I tackled my strength workout immediately after my run. It started as a mental slog, but I came around, reminding myself that this is what makes me a stronger athlete. Also, I kept telling myself that a few wall sits and planks were all that stood between me and a rest day. 🙂

 

Friday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day.

 

Saturday

49.2km ride: My long ride was a mix of endurance blocks and some race pace work. I turned on “13 Reasons Why” and went to town, specifically Richmond…via Zwift, of course.

3.3km run: My usual run off the bike felt pretty good. We bumped it up to 20 minutes this week.

 

Sunday

50 minute run

40 minutes strength

Welp. Almost a perfect week. The day started with the best of intentions, of course. I volunteered at the Sporting Life 10k this morning, and fully intended to do my run and strength in the afternoon once I got home and settled. I really underestimated how much energy that would take. I was standing in the same place for 4.5 hours and in the sun at times. When I got home, I was completely exhausted. Once we had eaten a celebratory lunch (Ryan ran a PB at the race!), I came home and passed out for the better part of the afternoon/evening. I peeled my cranky self off the couch long enough to go get some groceries, but didn’t move much. I also had a nagging headache, which I assume came from standing around in the sun and maybe being a little dehydrated. I had an amazing time volunteering at the race, even though I spent the evening being a complainypants.

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The Sporting Life finish line after the race

Swim: 2,972m/1:16

Bike: 117.2km/3:51

Run: 22.3km/2:13

Strength: 0:39

Total Time: 7:59

 

I could get hung up on Sunday’s missed workouts, but I won’t. I probably should have spent some more quality time with my yoga mat and foam roller, as well. There were things to be proud of last week, like another high volume (for me) week of cycling.

My coach made an interesting observation this week. Although I thought my running had been progressing nicely in terms of pace, Coach PK pointed out that it had been a very long time since I had reported feeling ‘fresh’ on my runs, and maybe we need to revisit my heart rate zones. My heart sank a little (har, har) at the thought of doing another lactate threshold heart rate test, but if my zones do indeed need to be adjusted to avoid fatigue, so be it. Read: PK, please don’t make me do another one of those tests. Just kidding. Sort of.

On to the meat of the post. It’s no secret that I’m a Type A, all-or-nothing kind of personality. I’ve talked about it on here before, and my efforts to let go of perfection, particularly as I train for triathlon. My thoughts have been percolating about this for a while, and I was being extra hard on myself Sunday as I was laying about, barely able to move after my morning of volunteering. This was my inner dialogue after I woke up from my first nap.

 

“Ugh. You need to get up and run.”

“Girl, you lost your marbles? You can’t even get up for a glass of water.”

“It’s just 50 minutes. Plus, it’s a long run. Nice and slow for you to recover.”

“My head hurts.”

“Yeah, but you won’t die. You might even feel better.”

“Nah. You’re also supposed to do strength work after. If you have to prioritize one of the two, you should choose strength.”

“Why choose? You can have both. Get your ass off the couch.”

“Or you could stay here and rest, and feel better in the morning.”

“You need to learn to work through fatigue. How are you ever going to progress to long-distance triathlon if you can’t handle a build week in your plan? Are you really doing enough?

“Burn in hell.”

 

Fall back to sleep. Repeat a couple more times over the course of the night.

All in all, not a very productive conversation with myself. Not only that, it was quite clearly an indication of my body asking for some rest after I had spent the day on my feet in the sun. I wasn’t wrong – I do, in fact, need to learn to work through fatigue. However, there is a limit to this. I ultimately ended up giving into the fatigue and resting for the evening. Not without a major guilt trip, though. Look back even on how I recapped my day on Sunday above: “Almost a perfect week…I spent the evening being a complainypants.” Good grief, woman. Relax.

I compared (red flag right there) how I felt during marathon training versus triathlon training. Granted, I have had a couple of rough marathon training cycles, but for the most part, when I was fully dedicated, training for distance running had treated me well.

Nothing got in the way of my workouts during marathon training, full stop. Invited to a night out with friends? Long run in the morning. No can do. Errrrrrrrm, wait a minute. Can do, but only having one glass of wine, and have to be home by 9. Oh, and we need to eat at a restaurant that has pasta. Weekend at a friend’s cottage? Tune-up race that weekend, sorry. I eventually let up a little bit and found that I could, in fact, maintain some semblance of a social life while training hard.

However, that approach to triathlon training has not seemed to work for me, at least not so far. I continued to puzzle over why. Then, the obvious dawned on me: I’m trying to train for three sports instead of one, plus strength training. This is completely new territory and, as a result, I’m constantly questioning myself.

Am I exercising enough? Am I sleeping enough? Am I making enough time for my relationships? Am I eating enough? Am I eating too much? Am I swimming enough? Am I doing enough strength work? Am I doing enough in general? Can I do more? Am I giving 100% to all aspects of my training?

Oof. Deep stuff for an endurance athlete, right? Understandably, asking myself all of this at once (which I am definitely guilty of) has caused some anxiety. Deep down, I know the answers to all of these questions. The logical part of me knows that, right now, with my current circumstances, I truly am giving everything I can to my training. It’s not the picture perfect, zero-missed-workouts-ever routine that my occasionally perfectionist self demands and all other progress be damned, but I’m hanging in there.

I really haven’t been training for triathlon long enough to fully assess how it impacts my life. I’ve told myself on more than one occasion, “You can’t even handle this training load. How will you ever train for an Ironman?” (Yes, I have aspirations of taking on long course in the future) It really is not a fair criticism to make of myself right now, though. I’m just getting started with triathlon. When I was less than a year into training for long distance running, I wasn’t constantly saying, “You can’t even handle this training load. How will you ever train for a marathon?” No, I ate the elephant one bite at a time.

So, why haven’t I been able to apply this mindset to triathlon training?

I’m not really sure, to be honest. There is the obvious argument that there are three times as many sports, therefore three times as much training (loose interpretation there, but I was going for a bit of alliteration. Humour me, won’t you?), so I simply have to adjust to a higher training volume and manage other parts of my life accordingly.

I haven’t figured it all out yet. What I have figured out, though, is that I truly do not believe in balance when it comes to this stuff. When people talk about work-life balance, training-life balance, etc., I don’t buy it. One thing will always take priority over another, and I believe that we conflate that with balance. A push-pull, if you will. When there is a break in my personal life, I give more to training. When there is a break in training, I give more to my personal life. And so it goes. While some call that balance, I picture balance as giving equally to all things all the time. Perhaps this mindset is contributing to my near-constant feeling of not giving enough to my training – I haven’t yet made peace with the push and pull of such a high volume of training.

And why should I expect it to happen overnight? It could take a few training cycles before I truly get the hang of this. I’m not sure I will ever feel human when the alarm blasts at 5 a.m. to get out of bed and swim. I’m not sure I will ever be cut out for early morning running. I’m not sure I will ever be a truly happy run commuter. But I’m sure trying hard to fit it all in, and experimenting with my workouts. I won’t know if I’m a morning runner or not until I give it a fair shot. If I’m going to train for multisport, I’ve got to see what works best for me. It’s no longer a question of isolating an hour after work to get my run in and then I’m done for the day.

Which brings me back to my big question: Am I doing enough? The answer is yes. Could I be doing more? Ask me in a week or two, and the answer will probably still be yes. My right now will be different next week, if that makes sense, allowing me to give more. Or maybe give less. I’m not really sure. But, right here and right now, yes. I am (doing) enough.     

Have you ever felt like you weren’t giving enough to your training? How did you work through it? Any big PBs over the weekend?

Just Eat It

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Hello, hello! Two weeks in a row now, I’ve used clever song titles/lyrics for my post title. You’re welcome. Anyway…

How is your week starting out? Mine is starting out pretty well. I’m feeling (mostly) rejuvenated after a (mostly) restful weekend. Other than working out and adulting, not much went down. I had plans to visit my friend and her brand new baby, but I was feeling sick towards the end of the week, so we have to take a raincheck on that until I’m feeling 100% better.

I watched many of my friends post solid performances yesterday at both GoodLife and Mississauga. I was pretty envious that I wasn’t racing myself, especially since my running has been progressing so well lately. However, in the name of being patient and not adding extra pressure amid my triathlon training, I sat this weekend out. I still had workouts of my own to fit in last week, though, so let’s get down to recapping those before I talk about my favourite F word – FOOD.

 

Monday

1646m swim: I was a bit tired this afternoon and thought I might be getting sick, so I didn’t swim at lunch, as I had initially planned. I did make myself go after work, and did some 600s.

27.2km ride: My swim brought me back to life. At least, enough to ride for 55 minutes. I had a fun pyramid workout on the schedule.

#twofertuesday

8km run: The first of my double run was okay. I still can’t *quite* get my stride in the morning, and my heart rate seems to take off. Today was no exception, and I was plodding along, but ended up just a hair out of my easy zone.

4km run: On my way home, it was a different story. I couldn’t seem to get my heart rate up and ended up running quite a bit faster than usual to finish up where I needed to be. Today was one of my fastest runs (5:08/km avg.!!), so I was glad to see there’s some speed in these legs of mine, even if I was completely spent when I got home. 😉

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Wednesday

1646m swim: I slept really poorly, so I opted out of my morning swim. Instead, I did the prescribed workout on my own at lunch. The main set was 7 X 200.

28.6km ride: An interval ride that didn’t feel the best.

Thursday

10km run

40 minutes strength

Oof. Another missed Thursday workout. I came home from work feeling like absolute garbage. My head was congested, and I was just so damn tired. I spent the night curled up on the couch and took a bath.

Friday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day. Except it wasn’t so glorious, because I wasn’t feeling so glorious.

Saturday

41.8km ride: I woke up feeling no better, but also no worse. I was starting to get a little stir-crazy, so I did my brick workout. We kept the long ride in zones 2 and 3, just to make sure. My congesty face was a little annoying while I was riding, but otherwise fine.

2.72km run: I surprised myself with a solid run off the bike. Each time I do a brick, I get a little more comfortable. My form is strong, and my paces are improving.

Sunday

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9.96km run: Since I don’t have any running goal races coming up, we’ve switched my long run over to a time-based workout. I resisted temptation to run just a little longer, and stopped my watch exactly at the one-hour mark. My Type A self is growing, I guess?

34 minutes strength: Before my body could figure out what was happening, I did my strength as soon as I got home. I had a 360 degree burn on my legs when I did my wall sits. Hurts so good…or something. 🙂

 

Swim: 3,272m/1:14

Bike: 97.6km/3:26

Run: 24.7km/2:26

Strength: 0:34

Total Time: 8:20

All in all, not a bad week. Given that it’s Monday, and I’ve still got some lingering congestion, I suspect it is sinus-related or seasonal allergies. I’m not better, but also not worse. My runs continue to progress, and I’m getting more comfortable on the bike. I’m seeing improvements in my brick workouts, so I’m eager to see how that will play out in my early races.

The F Word – FOOD!

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My initial plan this week was to write a post about the benefits of joining a triathlon club. However, nutrition has been on my mind lately big time. Many refer to it as the fourth discipline in triathlon, so it’s something that I really should be giving a little more thought.

I’ll spare you the details of my personal history with food. Summary: rocky, and inconsistent. I lost a ton of weight in my mid-20s and ate a (mostly) clean diet. A couple of years ago, I became much more relaxed with my diet and gained back some weight. While it’s certainly an oversimplification of my relationship with food, it might give you some insight as to why I’m struggling so much with nutrition right now. Long story short: Everything related to weight loss is ten times harder the second time around.

Since I started training in November, my nutrition has been up and down. I was fresh off a Whole30 and, although I was feeling good, I knew it was not sustainable in the long term. Ever since then, I’ve been in a cycle of eating well for a few days or weeks, and then letting old habits creep in.

I’m not willing to cut things completely out of my diet. There will always be room in my diet for dessert, burgers, beer, wine, and all of the other foods that I love. However, I’m not the best at moderation sometimes, particularly when I’m either really happy or sad or stressed.

I will eat healthy food consistently if it is available to me. A once-a-week, big food prep session is crucial to keeping me on track for the week. So, that’s just what I did yesterday. That photo above are the fruits (and vegetables, and meats, and baked goods) of my labour yesterday. As stress picks up with our move, I’m going to make a conscious effort to control what I can control. That includes the food I’m using to fuel my body.

I’m not saying there won’t be treats; there will be. You’ll still see the occasional beer or glass of wine, and an ice cream sandwich here and there. 😉 However, I’m hoping that the food prep photo above will be more of the norm, especially heading into my training build.

While I have a *lot* of thoughts on food and our relationship with it as endurance athletes, I really just wanted to throw out my half-baked thoughts on nutrition. Accountability is always a good thing, too. I used to (half) joke that I was ready to hire full-time for someone to come and slap unhealthy foods out of my hand.

As always, I welcome constructive advice if you have something to share about your nutrition. 🙂

If you raced this weekend, how did it go? Besides the weekly food prep, any tips for me to get my nutrition back on track?

Baby, Let’s Cruise

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Have I given you an earworm? No? Well, have a little listen of this, and return. Great. On to last week’s training…

Monday

35km ride: I switched things up this morning and did my ride before work. It will be tricky to make Monday swim practice work before we move, so I did my low cadence ride nice and early.

1486m swim: I swam at night with my old group. It was a challenging workout that, while the actual swim volume wasn’t huge, there were core workouts on deck between swim sets. For example, planking on deck for a while, then hopping into the pool and throwing down a moderately paced 100yd set. I definitely need to get some core work in. I made it through the workout, but holy, does my core need some TLC!

#twofertuesday

7km run: #twofertuesday continues! 7 easy kms before work. About halfway through, it started poooooooooouring rain. I was glad to have this one done!

6km run: The run home called for some hills in the mix, so I ran uphill and then down to make it home. I struggled to get my HR up to where it needed to be, and ended up running just under 5:00/km for my last split! Wowza, it burned!

Wednesday

900m swim: Today’s swim workout was all about technique drills. Pretty low on the distance side, but it was good to get some targeted feedback on parts of my swim stroke that need work. Spoiler alert: almost all of them need work. Despite making gains in the pool, I’m not sure I will ever be a very efficient swimmer, truth be told. There are so many things to keep straight while you’re swimming and every time I focus on one, everything else falls apart. I used to pride myself on my multitasking skills. Thanks, swimming. 🙂 

37km ride: A moderate aerobic ride building through my power zones. Felt pretty good.

Thursday

9km run

40 minutes strength

Well, well, well. Two Thursday workouts in a row skipped. It has happened before that, if I spend a lot of time working on my swim kick, my foot tightens up the next day. I woke up with enough pain in my foot (it was okay once I stretched it out, just tight and sore all day) that I scrapped my run. As has been the case in the past, if I take a day off and stretch like a boss, that’s usually enough to keep the pain from getting worse.

Friday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day.

I initially thought I would attempt my interval workout today, but I decided to be cautious and give it an extra day. With some slight throbbing in my foot, I have nothing to prove. My goal races are a ways out, and my running fitness is coming along nicely. No need to push the envelope here.

 

Saturday

49.5km ride: OH, HEY THERE, GROUP RIDER! I survived my very first group ride outside today with the Toronto Triathlon Club. I also rode further than I ever have, so that was pretty exciting! More on the ride below…

2.4km run: I thought my legs would feel like absolute garbage running off the bike after that big ride. They didn’t feel any worse than they normally do on a brick workout. Fatigue didn’t really kick in until about 10 minutes in, when my body finally figured out what was going on. At that point, there were only 5 minutes to go. A solid day of exercise.

Sunday

TTC Learn to Tri Clinic: This one probably deserves a whole post in itself, and I will do a separate post on it. I spent half the day in Scarborough with a couple of the Toronto Triathlon Club coaches covering the basics of triathlon in a beginner’s clinic. There was a nutrition segment, a swim clinic, a bike clinic, and a run clinic. We didn’t cover a lot of distance throughout the day, as there was a big focus on learning the sport, but I was absolutely spent for the rest of the day when I got home. My planned long run did not happen. I have so much to practice and we learned a lot throughout the day, but the bike handling skills portion was definitely the most useful for me.

 

Swim: 2,569m/1:04

Bike: 121km/5:06

Run: 17.5km/1:45

Strength: 0:00

Total Time: 7:55

Oof. Another goose egg on the strength training. I have to wonder how much my foot would have hurt, had I stayed on top of my strength for the week. Alas, there is no sense in dwelling on last week’s workouts, but only try to do better this week.

My First Outdoor Group Ride

As you read above, I had my longest ride ever on Saturday. It was also my first outdoor ride of the season, and my first time riding in a group. Group road cycling has been something that has scared the bejesus out of me since long before I even considered participating in triathlon. I’ve always been a lone wolf on the bike. Much like my early days of group running, I am self-conscious about being too slow and inexperienced to ride with others. There are not many groups in the city that accommodate my speed and distance limits right now, so I knew that my first group ride would have to be one with no expectations and a group that wouldn’t drop me.

I met up with the Toronto Triathlon Club just before 9:00 at Cherry Beach. There were a nice few people out for the ride. I estimated 20 from my look around, but could have been a bit more, could have been a bit less. I’ve been out to enough club events now that I’m semi-comfortable approaching people to chat, so I quickly found a few people that I knew, including one of my Ragnar team mates. There were some post-ride announcements and then we were off.

As I expected, I was at the back, but I was able to keep someone in my sights the entire time. The ride leaders took turns staying back, and we were super friendly. Each one asked about my upcoming races, encouraged me on making it out for my first group ride, and gave tips on navigating the ride, etc. The ride was in the city, but there was still some gravel and uneven terrain to get around, especially on the Leslie Street Spit.

We were on some city streets, which made me really nervous from the outset. I don’t usually ride my road bike around Toronto (except on trails), and we were even riding on streets that have streetcars. The ride leaders talked me through everything, and it was not nearly as unnerving as I had expected.

After the ride, there were donuts and coffee, and everybody chatted about the ride and upcoming races, etc. Even though I didn’t quite get up to the speeds that I have been training with, I’m so glad I went on the ride. I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable I was handling my bike, even on the rough parts of the route. Despite training on the bike inside all winter, I think I’ve got a pretty good feel for handling Waltzing Matilda. Now I just need to get to work on my technical skills. 🙂

Once everyone started dispersing, I rode home, which rounded out my mileage for the day at 49.5km (If I had known the total at that point, I would have ridden around the block. Ha.). I immediately did a 15 minute run off the bike, and was expecting my legs to feel like death warmed over. It wasn’t as bad as I thought! In fact, I felt probably just as good as I have on any other brick workout, so that’s encouraging. I was so tired for the rest of the day. And the hunger! Oh, man. The hunger. It. Is. Real.

The club does group rides every week from Angus Glen, which are free, if you are a member of the club. There are details here, and I’m hoping to make it out to a few once we get settled after the move.

Have a great week, friends! 🙂

How was your week of training? Do you participate in group cycling rides? How did you get more comfortable?

Life Stress & Training

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Hello there! Last week was a mostly good one for my training. I hit a big cycling milestone, but struggled with some of my swimming. My runs felt good last week, and I was finally able to get back to strength training. All in all, a great week. Here’s what I was up to on the training side of things:

Monday

39km ride: Most of the city’s pools were closed for Easter Monday, so I didn’t have swim practice. In the evening, I did a steady ride with some short zone 5 intervals thrown in for good measure.

#twofertuesday

6km run: Oh, hi, morning running! For the second week in a row, I was able to get a run in before work. This time, however, I did a run commute! I bought a little running backpack over the weekend and packed my clothes and lunch up. It was an awkward 6km because I’ve never run with a backpack before, but I’ll get the hang of it. I used the shower at one of my work gyms and got it done!

5km run: Running home was a bit maddening with the crowded sidewalks at rush hour. I ran a bit faster than normal to get up into zone 3. It was such a great feeling to get home from work at my normal time, having accomplished two workouts. I plan to run to/from work occasionally when we move.

Wednesday

650m swim: I was supposed to do my 400m time trials and filming this morning. I got my filming done, but when I started my 400m time trial, I had a panic attack just before the 100m mark. I tried to regroup and finish up, but I just couldn’t. I had difficulty breathing, my mind was racing, and I just had to get out. It was both scary and embarrassing, even though I know I had no reason to be ashamed. I am not sure what triggered it. I know I have been stressed lately, but not in the day or so leading up to this particular swim. I dwelled on this for a bit longer than I should have.

39km ride: A really awesome low cadence ride. I made up for the botched time trial, and then some. I’ve already mentioned this in last week’s recap and told my coach and others, but I’m really surprising myself with how much I’ve been enjoying my rides. I look forward to each one, and it truly has been the best stress relief lately.

Thursday

8km run

40 minutes strength

I had intervals on my plan, but Mother Nature had a monsoon on hers. Okay, maybe not an actual monsoon, but it was raining hard enough that I deferred my intervals to Friday. I can tolerate some rain, but it was excessive and I knew the weather was forecasted to be much better on Friday. I wasn’t ready to take the red boxes in Training Peaks, though, because my body was itching to run and I was actually looking forward to the intervals.

Friday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day. It was also a holiday, so everything was closed and I couldn’t even run errands. It was a great day to recharge!

8km run: I felt great the whole time during my intervals! Pushing them back by a day was definitely the right decision. I had 12 repeats of 2:00 in zone 4 on my schedule. I was picking them off, one by one, and seeing my paces get faster, which was very encouraging. When I had a few left, I thought to myself, “Hey, I bet I’m covering close to 400m in these repeats.” Even last year, seeing 400m repeats on a training plan would have paralyzed me with fear of failure, but here I was, powering through them like it was no big deal. I was very happy with how this run went.

40 minutes strength: Still on a runner’s high from my intervals, I knocked out my strength training right after. As I stated last week, my big focus this week was getting back to strength work. This was my first attempt since before Around the Bay! It was sufficiently challenging, but manageable. I was afraid that I would be super sore the next day, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. The body, it rebounds. 🙂

Saturday

1825m swim: I went to Regent Park today for my endurance swim, which is always quite chaotic and busy during public lane swim. However, it’s close to home, free, and I had a busy day on Saturday, so close to home was best. I did a couple of longer sets and finished my swim over in the fast lane. Fancy.

39km ride: The long ride was a real mixed bag today. You don’t get to choose where you ride on Zwift, so on Saturday, I was riding in “London.” That meant it was a super hilly course, which was reflected in the mileage covered. I was fairly frustrated to cover the same distance in 1:40, as I had previously covered this week in 1:15 and 1:20. I avoided temptation to kick up the gear and push my wattage to get over the hills. I stuck to the planned power zones. Ah, well. This ride put me over the 100km mark for the week (117km, to be exact), which is the most I have ever ridden. So, I really couldn’t be too mad about it. 😉

Sunday

14km long run: Perfection! The sun was out, and my run was ahhhhhhhhh-mazing! Seriously, I enjoyed every step from start to finish. I forgot sunscreen (oops!), but other than that, everything on the run was smooth sailing. I focused on proper form the entire time. My paces were back in old long run territory, so it’s safe to say that I’m feeling much better about my running these days.

40 minutes strength: My legs were very tired after the run, but I knew that I would regret it if I skipped my strength. Let’s just say that my weighted wall sits were quite the struggle!

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Swim: 2,475m/0:57

Bike: 117km/4:16

Run: 33km/3:17

Strength: 1:21

Total Time: 9:51

Wow! What a week! With the exception of the time trial that didn’t go to plan, I had a near-“perfect” week of training. I know I really should let go of the idea of striving for perfection in my workouts. Compared with last week, it was another improvement, which I’m really happy about. I was also thrilled to have ridden 117km for the week! I’m consistently riding 3 times a week now, and I’m eager to see how I will do on the bike portion of my races this summer. I’m also curious to see if my FTP has changed. I’d really like to have it re-tested before we move, if at all possible.

Looking ahead to this week, I’ve got my first group ride on Saturday with the Toronto Triathlon Club, followed by a half-day clinic for new triathletes. I’m looking forward to learning some new skills, and I hope to connect with some other beginners. It should be a fun weekend ahead!

Life Stress & Training

It’s no secret that things have been a bit hectic around here lately. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have to move. The stress of finding a suitable space that will allow two dogs (one of which has special needs) is not easy in this city. We were willing to give up some of the ‘extras’ that we were fortunate enough to have in our current space, but finding a place still wasn’t easy. We looked at 7 places in total, which cut into my training for a week or so. When a landlord calls, you drop things and go. Otherwise, there are many others who are willing to take your place. That meant a few missed workouts, even though it was necessary. I tried to be kind to myself, but my mental game took a real hit that week as I tried to juggle everything.

We ultimately settled on a house that we’re really excited to move into. However, it is far away from where we live now. We are going to miss our neighbourhood and house so much, although I think the new neighbourhood will be good for us. There’s a big pool close by. It’s not free, but city swimming passes are reasonably priced. I will have to leave my swim group, which makes me sad, but I’m already researching my options.

Our moving date will be sometime early in June, so there’s still time to find a good moving company and pack everything. I’m certainly not naive enough to think that the move won’t affect my training any further, but I’m just trying to roll with it. The benefits of having a coach become increasingly evident to me at times like this, and I’m lucky to have a amazing one. In advance of the move, I am trying my best not to dwell on having to potentially miss a workout or two, and preparing myself for some of my workouts not going as well as I would like.

I’m not the best at dealing with stress to begin with, and I generally take an all or nothing attitude towards things, which I am working on. I’ll definitely be writing a little more about the move as far as how it is affecting my training. I’m trying to be optimistic and think ahead to when this will all be a thing of the past.

How did your training go last week? How do you balance major life changes while training?

What’s Next? My Summer Race Schedule

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Hola! Happy Monday, my friends! I hope your long weekend was filled with family time, lots of chocolate, and workouts that met all your expectations. The majority of you (myself included) likely spent some time today following the Boston Marathon and being inspired. There’s nothing like watching the Boston Marathon to help you dream big. This all got me thinking ahead to what’s coming next on the training front. Buckle up – this is a long one! 🙂

I want to discuss my upcoming races this season, but first, here’s what my training looked like last week:

 

Monday

1375m swim: Today’s swim focused on 100s at CSS pace. We have time trials and filming again next week, and this workout felt quite a bit harder than I hoped it would. I’m a little nervous to do my time trials, truth be told.

26km ride: My post-work ride was just what I needed. The blocks of work in Zone 4 felt like a good way to shake off the day.

#twofertuesday

6km run: I did something today that I almost *never* do – I ran in the morning before work! I’m just not a morning runner, so these double runs in advance of the Ragnar relay are going to be a mental challenge. My legs felt heavy during the 6km Z2 run, but got it done. Gave myself a big pat on the back for this one. Perhaps a little too soon…

5km run: I came home from work all set to run when we got a call about a last-minute house viewing, so off we went. It was a bit out of the way, so by the time we got home, it was close to 9:00. My stomach was eating itself, so dinner took priority and off to bed I went. #onefertuesday? Not quite the same ring to it.

Also of note on Tuesday: After my run and before work on Tuesday, I had to go to a cardiology appointment and get hooked up to a Holter monitor for 2 days. Initial conversations with my doctor and my own research indicated that I would be able to exercise normally (but not swim because the monitor can’t get wet, which also means – wait for it – no bathing or showering! Sorry, friends and loved ones. I know it was a rough couple of days.). However, when I got to the appointment, the technician told me that I could exercise, but not to get too sweaty in case the electrodes stuck to my body came loose. Womp.

Wednesday

11km ride: Despite being hooked up to the Holter monitor, I was determined not to let it get in my way. I taped everything to my body all nice and secure-like and hopped on my bike to ride for an hour or until I became so sweaty that my electrodes were soaked, whichever came first. I made it through about half an hour of awkward riding before the monitor came loose and my sweat was getting just past an acceptable level. I held the monitor to my body for a few minutes and continued to ride before I threw in the towel (heh). Abort. But better than nothing.

40 minutes strength: See above. Being sweaty and not able to keep the monitor attached to my body posed a definitely challenge in strength work.

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Oh, hi, medical device that interferes with my training!

Thursday

1029m swim: With the monitor having been removed that morning, I made the most of my lunch hour and swam. Not as far as I would have liked (1500m prescribed), but I made my mileage (yardage?) count. I did 5 faster-than-usual 100s as my main set, and it felt decent, I must say.

7.7km interval run: First set of intervals since before Around the Bay! I started my run feeling like absolute garbage. My super easy warm-up felt like death, so I did not have a lot of hope for my intervals. Oddly enough, I felt better when I was pushing the pace on my repeats. They were not super fast, but par for the course with how I was feeling.

Friday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day. It was also a holiday, so everything was closed and I couldn’t even run errands. It was a great day to recharge!

Saturday

37.4km ride: Today’s long ride was the perfect stress reliever for me. I’ve been finding lately that riding has been the most enjoyable part of my training. Even though I’m still riding inside, there’s something about turning my brain (almost) off and zoning out that has been exactly what I’ve been craving on my stressful days.

2.6km run off the bike: Upon finishing my ride, I was out the door within 5 minutes for a 15 minute run off the bike. Like last week, the focus was getting out quickly. My body felt surprisingly good for the first few minutes, but then I started to feel tired. Turns out my paces for the brick run were faster than they were the week before, but I hung in there and finished up my workout feeling like a beast.

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Sunday

14km long run: First long run since Around the Bay. I started out to find that it was hot outside. Heh. Hot and a bit breezy. Yay, but what the hell?! Some of the run was a bit of a struggle, but I was pleased with my overall pace.

 

Swim: 2,404m/0:58

Bike: 74.4km/2:58

Run: 30.3km/3:01

Strength: 0:00

Total Time: 6:57

There were still a couple of red boxes in Training Peaks and workouts cut short, but it is a big improvement over last week. I’m not feeling nearly as discouraged as I was at this time last week. My strength training has been seriously lacking since Around the Bay, so that is going to be my highest priority this week because I need to stay injury-free as I head into a big summer of training (see below). I’m hanging in there, though, and I hope I am done with heart monitors and house viewings. Next up on the life front is finding a moving company from the helpful recommendations that we got, and moving early in June! You’ll definitely be hearing more about that over the next little while, as it is sure to impact my training in more ways than one.

My Summer Race Schedule

I’m a planner, there’s no question about it. It should come as no surprise, then, that I’ve already mapped out and registered for the races I will be doing through to the end of the summer. As someone who once used many races as training runs and motivators, I often have to stop myself from registering for all the things. I’m trying to be more strategic in choosing triathlons to avoid burnout. Needless to say, I’m fortunate to have a coach to reel me in when my mouse finger gets trigger happy and the FOMO kicks in.

I have two major triathlon goals this year:

  • A PB in the sprint distance
  • Complete an olympic distance event
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Big day for race registration!

I’ve already put in a fair amount of work to get me there, but there is still much more to do. Here’s what I’ve lined up so far:

Ragnar Relay Niagara, May 19-20 – I’ll be running my first Ragnar relay with a team of fierce ladies from Tribe Fitness. I’ve read tons of recaps from other bloggers who have done Ragnar relays and we’ve already started the planning. It should be an awesome weekend. I’m really looking forward to checking this one off my bucket list!

Rose City Sprint Triathlon, June 24 – This will be my first triathlon of the season. I chose it partly because the swim is in the Welland canal and the bike course is flat. It is also early enough that I can make any necessary tweaks to my training before my first ‘A’ race in July.

Kincardine Women’s Triathlon, July 8 – I will be joining a couple of my girlfriends for a weekend at a cottage, which will include my first women’s-only triathlon. It’s a shorter event (375m swim, 12km bike, 3km run), so that should allow me to push myself a bit and test my fitness.

Toronto Triathlon Festival, July 23 – I’ll return to the Toronto Triathlon Festival this year and take on the sprint distance once again. I know I want to challenge myself with longer distances, and initially thought that doing the olympic race there was a no-brainer, but I ultimately decided to do the sprint again to see exactly how far I’ve come in a year. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I am really looking forward to comparing last year’s numbers to this year’s.

Toronto Island Women’s Sprint Triathlon, August 19 – Another local event that I am looking forward to so much. The swim is slightly shorter for this one (500m swim, 20km bike, 5km run). I can’t wait to race on the island, and I’ve heard such wonderful things about this women’s-only event.

Wasaga Beach Olympic Triathlon, August 26 – This will be a birthday present to myself, and I can’t wait to attempt the olympic distance!

Niagara Falls Barrelman Relay (Run), September 17 – I’ll be running the half marathon portion of the 70.3 in Niagara. My bike and swim partners are forces to be reckoned with in their respective disciplines, so I’ll try my best to keep up!

So, that’s it! It’s a very full and ambitious race schedule for someone just starting out, I realize. However, I’m in such capable hands to get me to start line in the best shape possible. It’s been a few years since I’ve been so excited about my training.

You may have noticed that, with the exception of the Ragnar relay, there are no running events listed above. I have been experiencing some longing to run certain road races as of late, especially since I missed my goal at Around the Bay.

After I had a day or two to reflect on my experience at Around the Bay, I looked closely at my splits, and thought I might be ready to race a 10k again. My 10k PB is 5 years old, and with both Sporting Life and the Waterfront 10 coming up, there are a couple of good opportunities to bring that one down. NB: The 10k is my most challenging and hated distance, so feeling motivated to take this on felt like a sign that I should.

In addition, the marathon has been calling my name over the last couple of months. It was my first love in running, and one that has been missing since my last marathon blow-up in Chicago in October 2015. I was lost last summer without marathon training. I’ll come back to it again, but not until my running returns to a place where I can put in some hard work for a significant PB. The marathon distance is challenging, no doubt. It takes my body a long time to build to it, race it, and recover, so I want to be sure it’s the only thing I’m doing when the time comes.

I thought *very* critically about what I want out of this season and checked in with my coach. I’ve decided to back off on setting road race goals until after triathlon season is over.

As you can see above, I’ve already got a lot on my multisport plate, so I don’t want to throw something else in the mix and potentially jeopardize any of my summer races. I’ve run all of those road distances already, so I know I am capable of completing them. I will not be looking to chase any big running goals until I’m certain I can focus all my energy on it, and that window of time is not coming up in the immediate future. The races and distances will always be there.

But, first, I tri!

How did your training go last week? What races are you registered for or thinking about this summer? 

Training Recap Week ??

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HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! It’s certainly been a while since I’ve had something to say about my training, hasn’t it? I know what you’re thinking. Usually when people go incognito online, it means that things have gone terribly awry. That is only partially true. While there have been days (arguably a week) where things have been in the toilet since Around the Bay, I’m alive and still trucking along…mostly.

I thought about doing a monster recap of the last two weeks of training, but I’ll summarize it nicely here: Roller coaster. There have been hard ups and hard downs. Thanks to both Ryan and my coach, I’m doing okay-ish at keeping myself in check. Left to my own devices, this would be much worse. Without further ado, here’s what went down last week:

Monday

12.9km ride: It’s been so long since I’ve written, that you probably would not have known that I was away last weekend for Ryan’s marathon in Raleigh. We were checking out of the hotel on Monday and coming home, so I was able to do an easy 30 minute spin on the hotel bike. Just enough to get moving again after having had a sloth-like few days. Much needed and felt pretty good. #noragrets

#twofertuesday – Wait, what?! Yes, I’m running doubles for Tuesdays until the end of May in preparation for the Ragnar relay. Aren’t I just full of surprises? Or something else… 🙂

5km run: There was some pandemonium on Tuesday. We got home overnight Monday heading into Tuesday (a few hours later than expected) in the middle of a torrential downpour and also with the news that we have to move before the end of June. With coordinating dog pick-up and trying to get at least some sleep, my “morning” run happened late in the afternoon. It was still raining heavily and very windy. Not so much a time. I was really excited to get home, knowing that I would have to go out again in a couple of hours to run 5km more.

5km run: So, the rain stopped and the second run was fine. I did have to change clothes in between, though, because my others were so wet. I’m not sure I felt the full benefit of the double run because both occurred so closely together. I was incredibly nervous about today’s double because the one and only other time I ran twice in one day was the day before my plantar fasciitis presented itself. Luckily, this went without incident and I felt fine.

Wednesday

1450m swim: Today was my first swim workout in a while, relatively speaking. With an extra day of vacation under my belt, I was somewhat rested and ready to swim, although I was fully prepared for this swim to suck. The workout consisted of a lot of short, fast sets that left me tired, but you can’t stay away from the pool forever if you’re going to train for a triathlon. Done and dusted.

30km ride: A good ride, with a few blocks of work in power zone 4. Not much to report here.

Thursday

8km interval run

40 minutes strength

I skipped my workouts on Thursday for no other reason than being stressed. Oh, and it was pissing down rain again. I try my best to get out there when the weather is crappy because character building and such, but the terrible weather, combined with my heightened stress, got to me, and I hibernated for the evening.  

Friday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day. I thought about making up my missed workouts from Thursday, but I had a mini-triathlon of sorts on my schedule for Saturday, so I wanted to be rested for it. I was pretty excited, even, which was something. It’s no secret that I’ve been dragging since Around the Bay, so my enthusiasm for my weekend workouts was promising.

Saturday

1800 457m swim: I went to the quiet pool near work to find it much busier than usual. I hopped into the medium lane with a few others and started to do my thing. It became apparent that I had stumbled onto some sort of private, informal lesson/instruction. I asked if they would be okay to share the lane by going straight up and down and they could have one half of the lane to themselves. All agreed, but it didn’t quite work. I switched lanes and, after dodging an army of breaststrokers, I lost all resolve and called it quits. NB: There is nothing wrong with doing breaststroke at the pool. It’s hard for me (especially as a beginner) to get around other swimmers, though, as I still try to navigate swim etiquette. I suppose I should be happy that I was swimming fast enough to require passing others. Ha.

We were on a time crunch with some house viewings that evening, and I made no effort when I got home to do my brick workout. Womp. I went to bed disappointed in myself and still letting my external stressors get to me.

1:15 ride

10 minute run off the bike

Sunday

14km long run

40 minutes strength

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Post-brick on Sunday

I know what you’re thinking. It looks like this week was nothing but a series of strikethroughs. I ended up salvaging my Saturday workouts on Sunday, after all. I was way more excited to try my first brick workout of the season than I was to do a long run, so I ended up doing my long ride and run off the bike. Sunday proved to be the busiest day of all for us last week. We had a Toronto Triathlon Festival event to attend in the morning, followed by a baby shower, and two more house viewings. There was no more time for self-pity and procrastination. I got up early and was on the bike by 7:00.

35.4km ride: A little Zwift action to start the morning. I was feeling determined on the ride. I usually watch TV or movies while I’m on the trainer, but our current trainer setup shares a wall with our bedroom, so I didn’t want to wake Ryan. I turned on my music and watched the Zwift screen without too much thought.

10 minute run off the bike: The last time I had done a brick workout of any kind was on the day of TTF last summer. It did not go that well, ha. I had laid out my run things, and was out the door within 5 minutes of finishing my ride. I did a short run (1.6km) wearing my bulky bike shorts. I’ve been told my numerous concerned parties that it’s time to invest in a pair of tri shorts. Twist my rubber arm. 😉 Anyway, I finished my workout feeling strong and confident that I had made time to fit it in. I hope I can channel this in the weeks to come, as the stress is likely to continue.

 

Swim: 1450m/0:42

Bike: 68km/2:47

Run: 11.6km/1:10

Strength: 0:00

Total Time: 4:39

No doubt, last week was one of my lowest volume weeks since I started triathlon training back in November. I’ll continue to deal with a fair amount of personal stress over the next little while, so survival is key. It has been difficult for me to see all the red boxes in my Training Peaks account, but I know the stress is temporary. I’ve already registered for the rest of my summer races, so I’ve got something to keep me motivated.

I’ve got some other things that I want to tell you about (such as my FTP test and a bit more on my summer races), so I hope to find time to write more soon.

Have a great week, friends!