A Place of Gratitude: Toronto Triathlon Festival Recap

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Hello, friends! Happy Monday Tuesday!

Well, it’s come and gone. On Sunday, I joined about 1,400 other athletes at my goal race for the season, the Toronto Triathlon Festival. Last week, I wrote about feeling relatively at ease about the race, knowing already that I had come leaps and bounds from last year’s first attempt. I headed into the weekend in a mostly ambivalent state of mind for this reason, although still ready to give it everything I could.

After talking with my coach last week, I ultimately decided against setting a specific time goal. Instead, I settled on three mini-goals for the race:

  1. Have a good swim (read: do not panic)
  2. Complete my ride clipped in (eep!)
  3. Cover my watch for the last part and run by feel

If you’re not interested in reading the incredibly long post ahead, here’s the skinny: check, check, and check. At the heart of this race for me was benchmarking, and I’m ready to get back down to business before my first Olympic race, which is just under five weeks away!

Anyhoo, here’s how things went…

The Day Before

Saturday morning was busy. We had friends coming from out of town to spend the night with us and race, so I was up early to clean the house and shuffle one of the dogs off for boarding. Then we headed straight to the expo so we could attend the in-person race briefing because we missed the boat on the online briefing. Poor life choices. We all make ‘em, people. After the in-person briefing was done, packet pick-up was very fast. Ryan did the swim familiarization while I waited. I didn’t want to risk my wetsuit not drying for the next morning, so I hung out while he swam.

From the moment we arrived at the expo, it was a completely different experience for me than last year. I felt at home, like I belonged there. I ran into so many people that I knew, and had a great time catching up with my Regent Park swim group friends. I miss them so much, and it was such a nice start to the weekend seeing so many smiling faces.  

We hung around a bit until our out-of-town friends arrived. I attended an event with Simon Whitfield, who talked to us about daily rituals. The expo had a great selection of vendors! Ryan had his sweat tested by Jason to see how much sodium he loses, which in turn, helps you develop an appropriate fuelling and hydration strategy. The solid black version of my tri shorts was at the expo for only $40, so I snapped them up and resisted the urge to buy more tri clothes. Other than the shorts, I picked up some gels, and a swim cap to match my sassy new swimsuit. I can’t wait to wear them both tomorrow at swim practice! Woo!

Before we exhausted ourselves too much at the expo, we went home to get our things organized, get dinner at senior-citizen-o’clock, and go to bed in anticipation of our 4:15 alarm. I ate some ginger teriyaki chicken rice bowl thing at a restaurant nearby for dinner, if that interests you. It was fine. Forgettable, and not too heavy. When we got home, I attached the stickers to my bike and helmet, taped a gel to the crossbar of my bike, and packed up the rest of my things. I was in bed by 10, and fell asleep almost immediately. I slept well and only woke up once before the alarm went off.

Race Morning

I had a cup of coffee and started in on a bottle of water. I made my breakfast of two gluten-free waffles with peanut butter and jam + banana to go. My race would not start until 10:00, so I didn’t want to eat 6 hours before and start the race hungry. Plus, I had hours to kill between the start of the Olympic race and my own race, so there was plenty of time to digest. We strapped all the bikes to the car and put our bags in the back and made the drive down to Ontario Place pretty quickly. Parking was simple, and there was a ton of it. Our parking spot was about a five minute walk from the transition area. Can’t ask for much better than that.

Like last year, I entered transition with the olympic athletes and got my area set up way early so I wouldn’t have to lug my bike and gear around while I watched the start of the olympic race. I did get a couple of looks from the volunteers that questioned my sanity of why I was there so early. The peace of mind of having my transition area set up so early was worth it. That’s the reward for a 4:15 wake-up, friends.

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Jess and I hung out and watched the start of the olympic swim, as both our Ryans were racing. I really enjoyed watching the swim, although I did see some heartbreaking DNFs in the water that made me want to cry. Once we spotted the guys and they appeared close to finishing, we moved over to the bike mount line to watch them start the ride. We missed her Ryan somehow, although managed to see my Ryan head out on the bike. By now, I had gotten a text from my coach saying she had arrived and it was close to time when I could (for real) enter transition, so I caught up with Phaedra briefly, said goodbye to Jess, and headed into the holding pen.

I really just had to double-check my set-up, and meander around transition being all social while everyone else set up their things. After one last trip to the porta-potty, I changed into my onesie and put my wetsuit on halfway, ate a banana, dropped my bag into bag check, and got out when transition closed at 9:00. We all headed down towards the swim start and started waiting out the near hour between transition closing and our swim wave, which was second to last. I took a gel 30 minutes before my wave left.

A few minutes before our start, we were allowed in a very enclosed area to “warm-up.” Due to the complexities of the venue, there really isn’t anywhere to do a proper, 15-20 minute warm-up. As I was easing myself into the water, I saw a straw from a juice pack, and a cigarette butt. Yum. I couldn’t wait to get into this cesspool and swallow a bunch of water. I took that as motivation to swim faster. Besides, Ryan helpfully pointed out that it’s the stuff you can’t see in the water that will really kill you. Duly noted.

Swim

(NB: All times and distances listed will be from my Garmin)

When the horn went off, I found myself starting in the middle of the group and to the left. Last year, I started the swim leg way at the back and off to the side. I had counted to five after the start and then got moving. Not this year. I eased into the swim very easily this time, and let people pass as they needed. My breathing settled very early on. I concentrated on sighting as well as I could, and fully extending in my stroke, while rotating my body. I was not kicking very much early on, so as not to expend all my energy. Every 100m or so, I would come up for a little breaststroke or side swimming. I really tried to keep moving the whole time.

Water conditions were perfect. Seriously. It was calm, and the water was warm. At over 17*C, it was much warmer than last year and subsequent years. Only slightly colder than Welland and Kincardine, which was nice. I was very comfortable in the (disgusting) water.

However, I admittedly did a little more watch gazing than I ought to have. I could have sworn that I saw the volunteer who saved my ass last year and paddled alongside me to the finish. That was motivation to get it done. I was eager to get out of the water and onto the bike. I felt good about my sighting, and remember thinking that I couldn’t wait to see the map when I got home.

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Before I knew it, the dock was right there. I came out of the water and popped my goggles up. I felt good. Not dizzy or otherwise disoriented, so I got moving. I tore my wetsuit down halfway, took off the goggles and cap, and ran. I passed my coach and the spectators smiling. Recalling that last year’s photo of me coming out of the water was more akin to Ursula the Sea Witch than a triathlete in transition, I was already making progress. Huzzah!

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Why, yes, I do have raccoon eyes. Photo: Finisherpix

832m//22:50 (2:44/100m)

T1 (Swim-to-bike)

As soon as I got to my area, I ripped off my wetsuit and put on my helmet. I heard cheers from the other side of the fence – it was Jess and our Ryans! They had already finished the Olympic race. I gave a thumbs up, and continued getting changed. I dabbed my feet on a towel, and put on my socks, sunglasses, and gloves. After a swig of water, I grabbed my shoes and bike and started the long run up to the bike mount line. Once you are out of the transition area, there is a short and fairly steep ramp up to a bridge that you run across and then mount your bike. The run up to the bridge wasn’t much fun. I took it easy. I was eager to try this clipping in business in a race, so as soon as I was past the orange mount line, I shuffled off to the side and put my shoes on. I struggled for a few minutes (seriously, a full few minutes) to get one of my shoes clipped in, and eventually got going without incident.

It is worth noting that the distance from my area to the bike mount line was 450m. Sportstats said my T1 was 3:23, so it looks like I spent 3:41 trying to get one of my feet clipped in. Sounds about right. I’ll definitely be working on practicing a faster start with my clips. I was across the bike mount line by this point, so all of this extra time was added to my bike split, even though I wasn’t actually moving. You live, you learn. How long can I play the newb card again?

T1: 7:04

Bike

I was excited to be on the bike. In fact, I think I was looking forward to the bike leg the most. The novelty of clipping in had me really jazzed to see how much of a difference I would see in my bike time. The first kilometre or so is weaving around side roads to get onto the highway. I immediately felt a difference in my legs with my shoes clipped in, so I was pumped to hit the road and get this party started. I briefly flirted with the idea of a 40-ish minute ride, and let the excitement set in.

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I’m having a good time! Photo: Finisherpix

Oh, HI, WIND! Where the hell did you come from?

The second I turned onto the highway, I was greeted by what seemed like a brick wall of wind coming from the east, which was the direction I was heading in for the first half of the ride. Naturally. I was not mentally prepared for the wind, and I am not an experienced rider in windy conditions. I spent so much time before the race bracing for rain. Wind? I hadn’t given the wind a second thought. Luckily, the bike course is relatively flat, with a few long and gentle ups and downs, although quite open. Sneaky. I was fighting the wind from the beginning and deflated (yes, yes. Let’s all enjoy these little puns now, hmmm?) to see I was, at times, unable to sustain more than 16 km/h.

Instead of getting into a dark place, I told myself to hang on because if the wind was this strong in my face now, surely it would push me on the way back and I could make up the time. Better to battle it now, than on the last half. Unless, the wind changed directions, which has been known to happen to me on long runs, so why not now? I digress. Ultimately, the weather is at the top of a list of things I can’t control, so I decided not to let it dictate my race. I stayed positive, encouraged riders as they passed and I passed, and smiled for the photographers. As it was an out-and-back course, I also used my distraction skills and tried to spot people I knew. I kept powering through until I got to the turnaround point, which is, of course, at the top of a hill. Bless the highway ramps. Har.

I turned around and let it rip with whatever energy I was willing to spend on the bike. I kicked my gears up so I wasn’t coasting the entire time and on some of the downhills, I was able to hit 45 km/h! That may be the fastest I had ever ridden outside. In fact, I’m certain that is the fastest I’ve ever ridden outside. Lots of adrenaline came with that. I decided then and there that I loved being clipped into my bike. How had I ridden in my running shoes before? It was a different world. Talk to me after I’ve had my first wipe-out, though, I guess. And now, I’m jinxed. My glutes and hamstrings were taking most of the work, and I totally agree that it saved a lot of energy and made for a more efficient ride.

You know what was not efficient? (Points for that segue? Thank you.) My hydration during my ride. I have practiced drinking on the bike quite a bit and my strategy is usually to drink every 10 minutes. Every time I grabbed my bottle on the ride, though, I fumbled and struggled to get it back quickly. With all the bumps and grooves on the highway and the high speeds I was hitting on the second half, I really struggled to take in more than a microsip. I know this will change as I get more comfortable riding and drinking. By the end of the ride, though, I had barely taken in 250ml of fluid. Oops. BTW: My drink of choice for longer workouts and races is Nuun Performance. Right now, I’m drinking the Orange Mango flavour.

On the other hand, taping my gel to the crossbar of my bike was positively genius. The plan was to take it roughly 10 minutes before I finished my ride, and I did so without crashing. I took the gel a little bit at a time and took the hairpin turn to come off the highway and finish the ride.

I clipped out just before the dismount line without issue, and jogged my bike back to transition. Coming down that hill after my ride with my bike and shoes in tow was no joke, and I had to take it super slow, lest I wipe out. Can you imagine how embarrassing that would have been? Ah, well.

It wasn’t quite the ride I had hoped for, and a good lesson in preparing for the unexpected. I am ever grateful that it didn’t rain, and I think I handled the wind very well.

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Look, Ma! Clipped in! Photo: Finisherpix

18km//43:41 (24.7 km/h)

T2 (Bike-to-run)

I scurried back to my area and racked my bike. I dropped my shoes instantly, and took off my gloves and helmet. I slipped into my running shoes and put on my hat, bib, and wristband to cover my watch. Jess and Ryans were still there cheering and I was so grateful to have them there for the confidence boost.

T2: 3:59

Run

To be honest, this was the part of the race I was looking forward to the least. I tried not to focus on the potential for disaster due to my poor hydration, and just got moving. Almost right out of the gate, Phaedra was there with her cowbell and I immediately perked up. I focused on running at 6-7 RPE and trying to start conservatively by feel.

The run course was a 5km out-and-back, so I broke things up mentally: first kilometre, turnaround point, 4km (when, if I was feeling good, I could drop the proverbial hammer.). The first kilometre seemed to last forever. When I finally felt my watch vibrate and beep, the temptation to look was high. I’m happy to report that I didn’t. Gold star, please. I also saw Damara a little before this point, one of my Ragnar teammates, which I had not been expecting. Yay for Ragnar reunions! Come to think of it, several of us raced at TTF on Sunday. Heh.

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Pact with self: Always smile for the photographers! Photo: Finisherpix

When I got to the first aid station, I took a cup of Nuun to drink and a cup of water. For the first time in my life, I dumped the water over my head. While it wasn’t particularly sweltering and there was some cloud cover, it helped keep my temperature in check. I repeated this at all 4 aid stations.

While I wouldn’t say the wheels ever completely came off, I struggled after the halfway point. There is a fairly challenging hill right after the halfway point, and I walked. Once I got moving again, I decided I would draw positivity from those around me, given I didn’t have my trusty sidekick with me this year. Three times, I saw people who had motivated me on the ride and I told them so. We all encouraged each other on the run to get it finished.

I saw my coach one last time in the final few hundred metres, and I was definitely ready to be finished. Spectators were great in the final stretch, and athletes who had already finished were on the sidelines cheering us all in, which I appreciated.

Just like last year, my friend Mark was near the finish cheering for the Tribe athletes. We occasionally joke about that final stretch last year, when I yelled at him, “I’m never f*cking doing this again!” I was in much better spirits this year, and yelled to him, “I can’t f*cking wait to do this again!”

I turned the corner and gunned it to the finish. By “gunned it,” I mean I ran a 5:16/km for about 50m. It was all I had left, and I dropped a victorious f bomb as I neared the finish.

5km//31:07 (6:12/km)  

Overall Time: 1:48:41 (27/34 AG, 154/191 Gender, 375/435 Overall)

After brief chats with everyone who was immediately at the finish line, I collected a Clif bar, and took a photo with Phaedra (and met a fellow athlete from Team PK – Hi, Charlotte!!!). After that, I hightailed it to the beer tent because #priorities.

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The Ryan Sandwich reunited! Photo: Phaedra Kennedy

The Benchmark

Let’s take a look at the numbers in comparison to last year, shall we? Drum roll, please.

Swim:

2016: 35:51

2017: 22:50

Difference: 13:01

T1:

2016: 5:16

2017: 7:04

Difference: +1:48

Bike:

2016: 51:38

2017:43:41

Difference: 7:57

T2:

2016: 2:38

2017: 3:59

Difference: +1:21

Run:

2016: 46:41

2017: 31:07

Difference: 15:34

Age Group Ranking:

2016: 30/31

2017: 27/34

Gender Ranking:

2016: 157/160

2017: 154/191

Overall Ranking:

2016: 323/330

2017: 375/435

Parts of my race didn’t go the way I had hoped, although I think I coped fairly well. It’s hard to argue with the numbers. There is no question that I’ve made a huge improvement over the last year, which was exactly what I wanted to measure on Sunday. As you can see, there is quite a bit of work to be done on improving my transitions. I fully expected them to be slower than Welland. I had much more distance to cover in transition at TTF, and my cycling shoe change added some time. Previously, I would change into my running shoes in T1, and keep them on for the remainder of the race, which made for a very fast T2. It’s extra time I’m more than willing to add for now because, in the long term, it will help me be a better cyclist.

The unexpected wind threw me for a loop. It felt too early in the race to let it wear me down, so I chose to save my suffering for the run. In all honesty, I had been hoping for a better bike split. I know it is coming and, like most parts of my triathlon training over the last 8 months, I’m trying hard to be patient.

Having a positive attitude while I’m racing is not something that comes easily to me. I surprised myself on Sunday with how nothing fazed me. I’ve given it a lot of thought, and it all comes down to gratitude.    

I know there has been a whole lot of whining from me throughout this process: I’m not ready, I’m not fit enough, I’m not sure I’m cut out for triathlon, I can’t swim well, I’ll never get it together on the run, and the list goes on. Having had such a successful race at Welland, I was seriously asking myself what I had left to race for, and the answer was staring me in the face on Sunday – it was all the people around me who help me silence my inner critic. My attitude went from ambivalence to immediate excitement with every hug, high five, and encouragement for a good race.

Having my coach there to cheer me on was very special, and I am so, so thankful. Week after week, she pushes me when I need it, and also gives me slack when I need it. There is absolutely no question that I wouldn’t have gotten to the start line without her, and I know that the best is yet to come. Right, PK? Right???

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Happy coach, happy athlete! Photo: Phaedra Kennedy

As my first triathlon, I’ll always have a soft spot for the Toronto Triathlon Festival, and I’m really glad it was on my race schedule this year. It was a great event with top-notch organizers and volunteers, a great venue (except the cesspool that is Lake Ontario), and truly the best community of people. I can now look ahead with trepidation for what lies ahead this summer, but some confidence that it is at least possible, which I would not have been able to say at this time last year. As a measurement of progress and improvement, I achieved all of my goals on Sunday.

Mission accomplished.

The biggest thanks go to Ryan, Phaedra, Tribe Fitness, Toronto Triathlon Club, North York Aquatic Club, and every single one of my amazing and supportive friends and family. You all make this little hobby of mine possible. Thanks for believing in me. xo   

    

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I Hope You Like Red!

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Ah. The return of the generic training recap photo. I didn’t take many photos at all last week, to be honest. No reason, just not in a snapping mood. So, what’s with the cryptic title? Why do I even care if you like red? Confession: I don’t. Last week, I didn’t train quite the way I should have, so – you guessed it – there were a lot of red boxes in my Training Peaks account last week.

Normally, I’d just get frustrated with myself and eventually get over it, but I’m less than a week out from my A race for the season, and I shouldn’t have dicked around last week like I did, even though it was unintentional. Cue: a string of excuses. Once again, my Lactate Threshold Heart Rate Test did not go to plan. I was pretty crabby about that for the rest of the evening on Tuesday. Then, we had a friend over for dinner on Saturday. I slept in a little, and completely underestimated the amount of time it would take to clean the house and prep dinner. Dinner resulted in too much wine, which botched my workouts for Saturday (and Sunday, to some degree).

Skip my last big brick workout before my goal race? Sure! Why not? What could possibly go wrong? Nothing, you say? Fantastic.

Someone tell me a story about a time when their training was sub-optimal, but they executed their goal race perfectly. Don’t all come at me at once, now. Okay. Here’s the deal: I’m not as nervous as I thought I would be at this point. I talked to my coach today, and even she observed that I was pretty calm. Surely, that’s a good thing?

Anyway, here’s the half-assed week I just spent a couple hundred words going on about. Judge for yourselves. Or don’t.

Monday

2850m swim: A whole lot of 400s in today’s set! For some reason, my watch added 50m. Even withstanding that, this was a personal distance record for me!

Tuesday

Lactate Threshold Heart Rate Test: We meet again, old friend. While I got further this time than my last attempt, I wasn’t able to continue past 6.5 minutes. I’d like to blame the humid conditions outside, but I just barrelled off at a pace that was unsustainable and couldn’t keep up the required effort to finish the test. Womp.

Wednesday

3000m swim: YAHOO! This was unexpected. I was swimming right to the bitter end of practice, but I finished the entire workout for my second distance record in as many days. I completely surprised myself. I thought this would be a nice comeback to set myself up for a solid remainder of the week. Spoiler alert: Nope.

35.2km ride: In the evening, I did my interval workout. When I programmed my workout, I wondered why the power targets were so high. Ha. Zwift was working with my brand new FTP, and setting my power zones from it. Challenge accepted. My intervals were hard work. Duh. Really, Courtney? I was dripping sweat by the end of it, and was finally able to get my heart rate up on the bike. Winning!

Thursday

45 minute run: Me run fast someday. Kidding. But I did run fast. I was exhausted at the end, and was so pleased with my effort, in fact, that I decided to skip my strength work after because I was so damn tired and had a monster headache. You can see where this is going.

45 minutes strength

Friday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day.

Saturday

1:45 ride

30 minute run off the bike

See bag of excuses above. I was slightly angry with myself on Saturday for skipping this. Then I thought I would do the brick the next day. Then I drank a whole bunch of wine and came close to writing Sunday off. Sometimes I’m not the brightest crayon in the box.

Sunday

75 minute run

30 minute open water swim

20km ride: In my delicate condition, I first had visions of doing my brick workout. Then I decided to just do the long ride. Then, when I started riding, I decided that I couldn’t go further than 20km. While still adjusting to my new power zones, I was working harder than my brown bottle flu could sustain. So, I called it quits at 20km. Better than no km, I suppose.

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Behold! Just a big ol’ rainbow going on up in here! I kid. That’s too much red. For real.

Swim: 5,850m/2:13

Bike: 55.4km/1:38

Run: 10.3km/0:56

Strength: 0:00

Total Time: 4:47

Tsk, tsk. As much as I’m tsk-ing myself, though, you gotta admire that swim mileage from me. 😉 My very first 3km swim, and I almost got to 6km for the week. That’s a huge amount of swimming for me. I plan to write all about my experience with long course swimming once I’ve fully settled into my new group, but for now, I’ll just say that it’s made a really big difference in a small amount of time.

Could I have done more last week? Absolutely. But I didn’t. While I admit that sounds rather flippant, I don’t really have time to keep beating myself up this week. There might be time for that next week after the race. Or the race might go really well, which might reinforce my lax attitude towards training. Just kidding.

In any event, the next time you’ll hear from me, it will be next week with a race recap after the Toronto Triathlon Festival. Have a great week, friends! Good luck to those of you racing at TTF and beyond!

Kincardine Women’s Triathlon Recap

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Welcome, friends! After a near perfect weekend away with some girlfriends, I am back and (mostly) settled into a new week. I’m just under 2 weeks out from my major goal race of the season. For the most part, I’m feeling pretty good.

Anyhoo, on with the recap of last week’s training, so I can tell you about my awesome weekend. It was a big week for me. I’ll try not to write you another novel. Try. I said try. Tri? Womp? Womp. Okay, on with it.

 

Monday

1887m swim: A perfectly executed workout at the 17m saltwater pool. I nailed the descending parts of my workout, and was able to negative splits my fast sets.

Tuesday

FTP Test: When I last took my FTP test in March at The Lab, it was 170W. If I lost you at FTP, this blog post gives a pretty good overview of it. I had been itching to retest, as I suspected I had gained some strength on the bike. I took my test last Tuesday using the pre-programmed test on Zwift (still using a 20-minute test like I did in March). I know there are some *slight* discrepancies between Zwift and a computrainer, but I was blown away when I was able to bring my FTP up to 300W. Even calculating for some inflation (or underestimating) in Zwift, that’s still a substantial improvement, and nothing to shake a stick at.

Wednesday

2200m swim: Hi there, distance record! I did a trial practice with a group at the pool close to our new house. The practice itself is longer, and it’s long course. I did surprisingly well, and I think practicing consistently in a 50m pool is going to help my swimming a lot.

Thursday

Lactate Threshold Heart Rate Test: Once again, I was not able to complete this test. I started and stopped, attempting it five times, but the humidity busted me almost instantly. I felt it in the warm-up, and hoped I would be able to work past it, but I couldn’t run fast for any longer than a minute. I tried not to dwell on it, and committed to trying again next week early in the morning before it gets too humid outside.

45 minute ride: Defeated by the LTHR test attempt, I did not do my recovery ride.

Friday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day. We drove to the cottage for the race and did a quick ride to make sure the bikes were in working order, but otherwise, I rested.

Saturday

Kincardine Women’s Triathlon: 375m swim – 12km bike – 3km run

Sunday

70 minute run: I woke up Sunday after the race having had a really great sleep, yet not wanting to run. Being at a cottage with friends who are all endurance athletes, though, gave me the nudge out the door. I did an out-and-back along the road near the cottage, and ended up on part of the bike course from Saturday. I stopped halfway to enjoy some beach views.

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Swim: 4,415m/1:55

Bike: 51km/1:41

Run: 13.8km/1:28

Strength: 0:00

Total Time: 5:04

Kincardine Women’s Triathlon Recap

We signed up for this race way back when registration opened on New Year’s Day. It sells out very fast, so we didn’t want to miss out. One of our friends has a family cottage near Kincardine, so we planned a girls weekend. We arrived on Friday afternoon, and stayed until Sunday afternoon.

Kat very kindly drove me, and we met Heather and Nancy up there. Once we all arrived and got settled, we drove over the race area to pick up our kits. We arrived right when it opened at 5:00. There were no lines, and everything went super fast. We stuck around for a few minutes to have a look at the transition area and the swim start, as well as check out a few of the expo vendors, but didn’t end up buying anything. We went back to the cottage and did a quick 20-30 minute bike ride to make sure everything was in order, ate a pasta dinner, chatted a bit, laid out our race gear, and tucked into bed by 10:30.

Race Morning

Since we were so close to the venue and it was a small race, we didn’t have to get up super early to get there. I got up, ate an English muffin with jam and got ready. We arrived at the race with close to an hour and a half to go. We weren’t the first to arrive, but we still had a good pick of transition areas. I chose the halfway point on my rack, and set up my transition area. We hung out until it was time to don Winnie (many people, including both Kat and Heather, chose to race without a wetsuit.). The water was 19 degrees, and I should have considered swimming without my suit, but having not tried it before, I decided to stick with what I knew.

Swim

Despite it being a short swim, it was the part of the race that I was most nervous about. The water was very rough and wavy. I did not go out for any open water practice since Welland, so I was worried that my sighting would once again be my Achilles heel.

Once the swim started, however, I settled in okay for a while. I knew I would only have to contend with the waves on the way to the first turn, stay steady coming across, and let the waves coast me in. That’s exactly what I did. There were a couple of panicked moments, but overall, not bad. As you can see, my sighting was *much* better this time around. My swim tracked short this time around, as it was supposed to be 375m.

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Swim time: 328m//9:15 (2:48/100m)

T1 (Swim-to-bike) – 4:10

As soon as I was out of the water, I ran up to the transition area and clipped on my helmet. I peeled off my wetsuit, put on my sunglasses, gloves, socks, and running shoes. I grabbed Waltzing Matilda and ran for the mount line.

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Photo: Nancy via Heather

Bike

The bike course started with a turn up a hill. It was a 6km out-and-back that allowed me to test my climbing skills a couple of times. It was pretty uneventful, although I have to say that, more often than not, people did not give any indication they were passing. Many times, I glanced to my left and saw people trying to get ahead of me. Maybe I am still new to racing, but I found this really unsafe, so I tried to keep an extra eye out. I definitely had to rely on my shoulder checks. I was hoping to ride the 12km course in 25:00-30:00. I finished in 28:09, so I was happy about that.

Bike time: 12.1km//28:04 (25.9km/h)

T2 (Bike-to-run) – 1:00

Even though I’m working towards riding clipped in (more on that after the race recap!), having my running shoes on already makes for a fast T2. I racked my bike, took off my helmet, flipped my bib around, put on my visor, and took off for the short run.

Run

I faded fast on the run again. I’m pleased to report that I did not look at my watch at all, so I didn’t let that get to me. However, I had to walk yet again on the run leg. I walked the water station at the halfway point, and two other times. During a 3km run. Part of me knows that my body will eventually get used to it, but it was still frustrating. I gave it all I had left as I headed towards the finish. Heather and Nancy were cheering me on, and Kat was waiting near the finish in the food tent, having come in a few minutes ahead.

Run time: 3:02km//17:35 (5:50/km)

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Photo: Nancy via Heather

Overall time: 1:00:04 <– Yep, you better believe that annoyed the hell out of me, especially after I walked on the run. I would have come in under an hour.

After I received my medal, I walked through the food tent. I was so hungry when I finished, so I grabbed a banana, Clif Builder’s Bar, a Kind bar, a bottle of water, and a chocolate milk. The post-race snacks were top notch! All the expo vendors, plus a few others, were near the finish area again.

We stuck around for a few minutes to snap some pictures and wait for transition to reopen, but went back to the cottage pretty quickly to relax for the rest of the day. We hung out at the beach and went into town for a delicious dinner. We got ice cream and watched/were part of a parade with bagpipers and a marching band, a Kincardine tradition.

On Sunday morning, we slept in and took our time having a lazy breakfast and I headed out for my long run. Once I got back and settled, it was time for me to learn to clip into my bike! Nancy, Heather, and Kat all had a few pieces of advice (Kat’s was probably the most sound, ha!), but ultimately assured me that, because I had been clipping in on my trainer, it would probably not be that difficult to get. Sure enough, I got it pretty much on the first try! I will still need some practice before TTF, but I’m so glad to be over that mental hurdle of doing it for the first time. I hope I’m not jinxing myself. I’m aiming to do my long ride this weekend clipped in, although I’m not sure what that will look like yet. Stay tuned!

We all agreed that the race was a lot of fun, and are already talking about making another trip out of it next year. I’ll definitely be registering for it again when the time comes. I recall it being a very inexpensive race, and I also have my Triathlon Ontario membership, so I saved on the one-time insurance fee. It was a great weekend away with my friends, and I came back Sunday evening feeling so relaxed and excited for the next couple of weeks leading up to TTF!

 

 

 

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!

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?