Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Amazing end to an amazing year!

This triathlon was so overshadowed by the 1/2 ironman I did that I kept forgetting I'd even signed up for it. Throughout last week I wasn't thinking of it at all -- just when someone would ask me if I had plans this weekend and I'd go: oh yeah! I have a triathlon!
Though I've done other sprints, I'd never done this shorter distance before: 750m swim / 20k bike / 5k run. When you look at this distance compared to the longer ones you think automatically that shorter is easier, and in a way it is, but it's a different type of race – faster! If you've been training for endurance, as I have been these past months, you won't necessarily do well in a short race.

So, the swim was pretty good although the water was FREEZING! They said it was 72 degrees, but there is no way it was that much. I'd say maybe 62. Thank God for wetsuits! A few people did not use them, and I don't know how they did it. The first 2/3 of the swim I did fine but I had a really hard time seeing the last big bouy to swim to and definitely swam a very curved line toward it. Also, at the end it got quite shallow for about 50m -- too shallow to swim but very tough to run through. My time was not bad, but definitely could have done better. 15:56.

T1 was a little hard because it wore me out getting through that water at the end, but my time was not too bad. 1:46.

The bike was going amazingly. I think it was my best bike ever. I was just racing past everyone. Only two people passed me and I must have passed at least 50 people. That is, until the last 3k or so. I had just passed a great big group of people and was going down the last hill planning to steam my way to T2. I switched to a nice big gear to get some extra speed at the end of the hill and then CLUNK! My chain fell off. I won't repeat here the words I said there. I pulled to the side and that chain was not just off, it was tangled! I don't know how long it took me to get it back on, but it was at least two minutes. I estimate between two and three. In my peripheral vision I saw all these people I'd just passed, pass by me. Humiliating! I managed to get back on the bike and pass two or three of them before we got into the very very irritating no passing zone, where I felt like I was crawling my way to the finish line. (we're all going at the pace of the slowest person at that point) On the whole I would guess that chain incident cost me a minimum of four minutes. Bike: 36.30

T2 was pretty good, even with wiping the oil from my hands all over the grass -- 1:13

The only problem with the run was that my feet were still numb from the swim - honestly! (72 degrees! Yeah right!) In fact I heard quite a few people say the same thing. It probably took until 2k until I could feel my feet. That's just about the point that my left lace became untied, which didn't cost me too much time.

If you've never been in a triathlon before, you should know that your age is written in big numbers on your calf. I had not noticed anyone in my age group (45-49) until that point, but at around 4k I noticed a woman with 46 on her calf. My competition! I found another hidden gear, powered my way past her and just kept powering to the finish line. Run time: 27.11.

Total time was 1:22:36. I was pretty happy with that, especially considering the chain loss. There is no doubt I would have been well under 1:20 had that not happened.

After grabbing some water and food and walking around a bit, the results were posted and I saw that I'd won my age group again! Yippee!

I'll post a picture when I get one.

So in my four triathlons this year I came 4th, 3rd, 1st and 1st. My husband is joking that we'll need a new room to hold all my hardware!

I just hope people aren't disappointed in me when I sign up for some highly competitive races (with international competitors!) and don't place as well. I'm warning right here and now that it's going to happen next year, so don't be disappointed in me when it does.

What I do in my races, and what I'll continue to do, is just set my own time goals. I can't dictate how other people do; I can only do the best I can myself. If that results in a 1st place, that's a bonus, but if it results in a 10th or 15th, then that's okay too.

I'm deciding already on my races for next year, and yes -- the finale will be a full Ironman!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I spent the last week riding my bike in a city that is not known for an exercise adventure, the City of Sin. Darin had a conference in Los Vegas and I joined him for 5 days of riding in the Dessert, part of the lure for us was the beauty of the bike course in a triathlon I had done a few years earlier in Lake Mead National Park. We travel with our bikes almost everywhere we go and have found that every city has a handful of bike routes, a cycling community with open group rides, and beauty unique to the city we are in.

So this trip we found ourselves on the famous Los Vegas Strip, staying in the new Aria Hotel, and driving to the outskirts of the city for some amazing riding in 42+ degree heat. We carried water everywhere we could, in pockets, inside jerseys, and stopped at every opportunity to re-fill our bottles. We rode the beautiful Red Rock Canyon (see the picture of Darin), a bike path through Lake Mead National Park (see the video - it rose up to 50 degrees this day and I ended up calling a cab to cover the last 30 km, too hot for me, but not for Darin), and up to a ski resort where the temperature went from 39 degrees at the bottom to 24 degrees at the top in a beautiful forest that offered completely different scenery than the dessert landscape we had been riding in. Other routes were planned, we just ran out of time and decided to spend our last day at the pool instead of on the bike, a welcome change for me as I felt like I had been frying on the BBQ the last few days.

The beauty of riding in different cities is that it provides a completely different view of the place being visited, a peek into another part of the city’s culture, and a way to stay fit while also giving in to taste bud temptations. Traveling with my bike also keeps me motivated to ride, it’s exciting to explore new places on two wheels, to really see, smell, and experience the location at a slower pace and to venture in to places you wouldn’t do in a car or by foot.

I would encourage everyone to plan a bike trip, doesn’t have to be far from home, even an hour or two from the cities we live in offer new experiences when pedaled. As someone who is happiest exploring new place by bike I would love to hear about places that you have enjoyed riding, so let me know about your favourite hometown route, the most beautiful place you have ridden, a memorable vacation destination, and exotic locale, I am excited to read about your recommendations and become motivated in planning my next vacation.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

After a miserable Olympic last year I somehow made myself feel better by signing up for my first 70.3, the Vermont Half Journey at Lake Dunmore. Of course, I had to pick one in hilly Vermont! I found and booked a cottage shortly after registering, booked the week off work and planned to get to Vermont (a 12-hour drive) on Friday the 27th, race on Sunday the 29th and then have the rest of the week as a vacation with my family.

The location was spectacular. Honestly I don't think they could create a better venue. Jerrod Rushton, who runs it, was always approachable and helpful and the wonderful volunteers were ... well, wonderful. I truly love the volunteers at all the races, and I even get choked up when they're thanked at the end, because my own thanks are so heartfelt.

Anyway, back to the race. I knew going in that my training was not as great as it could have been, but also that it would be adequate for me to finish. If I looked at my best times for each event (minus transitions) I would end up somewhere shy of 6 hours, but seeing as I'd never done the events together and seeing as the terrain was hillier than I was used to, and seeing as it was going to be a hot, hot day, I figured I'd be happy with 6:30, but secretly hoped to be closer to 6.

The swim was fine, as always. I really feel the swim is not ever adequately long for these events, and that's as someone who doesn't swim all that often and certainly does not train enough in the water. Honestly, it's not too tough to wing it, which is unfortunate for an endurance event. My swim was 34 minutes.

T1 - transitions are never my specialty, and I'd told myself going into this race to take as much time in transition as I felt was necessary. Mine was 2:18. Not bad, for me.

The bike was a pretty nice route, mostly on a not-too-busy highway with great paved shoulders. The one direction was a little more uphill but with the wind at the back and the other way was more downhill but facing the wind, so I guess they were fairly even in difficulty. The worst part of the whole bike was this hill after turning off the highway when I thought it would be smooth sailing back to transition, and this unexpected hill just knocked me out. Honestly it took all my willpower to get up it, and it really wasn't all that huge. Finally did make it up after lots of positive talk to myself, and then it was an easy ride into T2, but to be honest I was feeling pretty beat already.

T2 - 2:02 -- this was the first triathlon my husband had ever been to, and he was a little worried about me, asking if I should stop. Of course I didn't!

Run -- here's where things got tough. Finished the bike and said to myself "okay, now you just need to run a half-marathon!" But really I didn't find the distance too intimidating. I repeated to myself: "It's just two hours. You can get through anything for two hours." It ended up being longer than two hours, but there you go. It worked.

The run was really quite hilly. I live in a hilly area, but it's a different type of hill. My hills are anaerobic hills; you power up and then go down. These were longer, aerobic hills that wear you out. And the heat made it worse.

I really worked at staying positive through the whole thing, joking to the volunteers about whether they had a beer instead of Hammer gels. The last three miles felt like 12 miles. They were not even the hilliest, but they were tough. I felt throughout the run like I was just plodding, and began to re-think my time. Maybe if I come in past 6:30 it would be okay. I knew with the swim and bike I was a little under 4 hours, and I figured I would be at least 2:30 on the run. Lots of people were walking or walk/running at this point, but I felt like if I stopped running I'd never start again, so I just kept going.

Finally reached the finish line and saw 6:15. Yahoo! By my calculations that means I did it in 6:09 (because of waves) although my official time was 6:11:11. Honestly at that point I was so happy simply to have completed the race I almost didn't care about the time. Then I slowly became quite happy about my time, and then the results were posted and I found I'd won my age group!

So this was my first 70.3 and my first 1st place at any distance. What a day!

Almost immediately after the race my son told me he figured I'd now be doing an IM in two years. My first reaction was to tell him there wasn't a chance, but he said "you trained for this one for what, eight months? Now you have two years to train for an Ironman!" and now I'm thinking "hmmm..."