Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Glance into my Winter Training and an Event Teaser

Boy do I have lots to share about this past weekend's events.  I participated in Actif Epica, a winter endurance event held near Winnipeg, Manitoba.  I learned a lot, made some great friends and had quite the adventure.  There was snow and mud flying, a few tumbles into the snowy ditch and lots of laughter.  The event recap will be out soon!

Couldn't resist including a couple photos as teasers.
I am the back right and hubby is back left.

Hubby on the go pro, me back right and our riding partner on the left.  The 3 of us rode the entire way together.

Just heading out before sunrise, me in the colorful jacket just heading into the park and onto the lake.

Winter Training

I enjoy talking to other people about their training.  I am inquisitive by nature and always have lists of questions in my head about a ton of stuff.  It seems most things in life need experimentation as there is no one person with the exact formula for success in any given area.  So choices are good.  And it is a given that what works for one won't necessarily work the same for another.

I thought I would share a typical week during winter training along with the things that work and don't work for me.  Nov -Dec is typically base, Maffetone type training where the training plan is very loose.  More routined training begins after the New Year.
I do like a certain amount of routine but I also prioritize listening to my body above all else.  So basically, I call my plan a flexible routine.
Just for your information- the temperatures I deal with from Nov -March (or winter) are typically always below freezing with wind.  I won't run outside if it is colder than -20 C, however, I will bike or cross country ski in that temperature (or colder).

Monday- rest day, sometimes with an easy swim or easy walk

Tuesday- speed work run (am) usually about an hour, swim (pm) also an hour

Wednesday- interval bike in zone 4 or 5, 60-90 min (am), swim (pm) if I didn't swim Monday

Thursday- tempo run (am) usually 60-90 min

Friday- long swim (am) 90 min or so

Saturday- long bike ride zone 2-3 (am) sometimes on the trainer on the road bike and sometimes outside on the fat tire bike, typically between 2-4 hours in length

Sunday- long slow run 90 min- 150 min outside

* I like swimming after a run.  I use the sauna also and the combination of both seem to aid any inflammation, reduce swelling or decrease water retention that I accumulate from the run.  I don't love hot tubs.  Seems to increase soreness.

* The days I plan to go to the pool, I typically go 2X that day; once to get the laps in and the other (during my lunch break) I walk backwards and sideways against the current of the lazy river which is turned up to 80 %.  It seems to be an easy workout but I usually do 6-8 laps of backward, left side and right side which equates to almost 100 lunges for each.  This takes me 15-20 min and then I spend 15 min in the sauna.  Extra sweating seems to work really well for me to release the unwanted toxins and keep my body stronger.  I can usually do this 2-3x a week.

*I also spend a few minutes each day in the morning or before bed doing a couple additional strength exercises such as pushups, pullups, planks, stretch band exercises, single leg raises.  Basically I target the shoulders, and butt muscles.  Goal is to do this 5 x a week.

* Foam rolling, stretching and using a leg wand also happen 3-4 x a week.

* Epsom salt baths happen sporadically but generally once a week.

*I also use essential oils to aid in muscle recovery.  Wintergreen is one of my favourites.  For really sore muscles, I feel oils are most effective with more frequent use.  I use a couple drops without a carrier oil rubbed straight onto the muscle and reapplied every couple/few hours.  I may do this right after a morning run, then not until 4, then after supper then before bed.  Legs usually feel quite a bit better.

*I use amino acid powder in my water with NUUN.  I usually don't drink the entire bottle during the typical 60-90 min sessions so then I continue to drink from the bottle while getting ready for work until it is gone.  I feel like I have better strength and less muscle deterioration from long/hard workouts.

*I fuel my longer workouts with Generation UCAN as well as real food such as peanut butter sandwiches on sourdough bread, protein balls, nuts and coconut.

* One of my main goals is to keep my immune system strong.  I do this by getting more sleep when I need it, taking suppliments (grapeseed extract, zinc, magnesium and ascorbic acid) and using a vitamin powder called Phytoberry.  I also use a lot of an essential oil called Thieves for immune support.

*I have also scheduled massages every 2-3 weeks.  The goal is to aid in recovery.  These aren't enjoyable massages but those that involve some amounts of discomfort to keep my legs working better.  When my legs are really tired and I have a massage, they feel worse the next day then get a lot better.  When they are their usual, a massage hurts at the time but they feel better soon after.

Any tips on what works/doesn't for you?

Disclaimer: The above information is what is working or not working for me.  I am not promoting any product/service.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Weekend Roundup and Film Festival Review

Hello friends on this warm, sunny Monday!

So much cheeriness on a Monday-sickning isn't it.  Should be illegal.  It is a beautiful day in my part of the world; sunny sky, warm temperatures.  And Monday wouldn't be complete without my legs letting me know in some not so nice ways that they are still attached to my body and don't appreciate the last few days treatment.

Holy smokes, my 15 mile run yesterday was HARD.  Not sure what made it soo tough but I was struggling.  Lots of stretching, foam rolling and sleeping with the compression tights on.
A decent bike ride on the fattie on Saturday and a long swim Friday night might have contributed a bit.  Anyway, planning to work hard on my speed run tomorrow and tempo run Thurs with some hard intervals on the trainer on Wed but keeping the activities short in preparation for Saturday's long ride.
Actif Epica is looking at temperatures of close to the freezing mark which is totally unheard of.  I am still embracing this as a great adventure but still have to admit to being a tiny bit nervous.  You can play this game in your head about whether it will be easier or harder than you are expecting.  I don't want to be cocky and think my training will have me prepared to get this done but I don't want to intimidate myself either thinking it will be super hard.  There are basically 3 events; a shorter ride (85 miles), a longer ride (120 miles) and a run (85 miles).  I think I counted only 6 or 7 women currently entered in all 3 events.

I think I may be crazy.

I attended Banff World Film Festival about a week back.  I eluded to it in this post if you want to know more details.  It was a sold out show and though we were early, the only 2 seats together that were left were 2 rows from the front.  I felt like I was living in part of each film clip.
There was 5 film clips (3 that were shorter 5-7 min and 2 longer 25 min) then an intermission followed by 4 more clips (3 shorter and 1 longer).  I didn't know what to expect but I did think there would be some serious outdoorsy adventuring type of things.  There were some of those but others that showcased nature in other ways.  It was quite a mixture.  We had lots to talk about on our 1 1/2 hour drive home at 11:00 pm.
 Lucky for me, my favourite film clip is also available through you tube and is worth your while to watch.  It is very short and quite enjoyable.

Have a great day!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Not So Cocky Today and a Bit of Randomness

Most of us endurance junkies spend a lot of our time jumping back and forth from the "we got it" car on the train to the "we don't" car.  
One day, we really nail a ride or run and feel like we can absolutely accomplish___.  The next day we are sucking dirty pond water wondering what in the world we are doing thinking we will be able to do ___.
  This is recovery week, thank goodness.  I am more tired than usual.  

My previous post was so "everything will be soo good" in terms of my big ride in a couple weeks in Actif Epica.

Today- the roses aren't quite smelling the same.  

Mother Nature decided to bring back her frigidness (-29 with wind?).  And she took a bit of my cockiness with her.  

So from one train car to the other I have been thrown.  
I will be better prepared, more realistic and be in a better state of mind mentally to take on the challenges ahead.  This is a good thing.  If I tell myself that over and over that makes it true right?

On another note, I caved and ate from the bag of evil last night.  That big bag of munchie mix from costco always ends up in our cart and it is so darn hard to resist it.  Doesn't make the running the next morning feel as good as it did going into the belly.

I had a leg massage yesterday.  I have been trying to book an appointment every 3 weeks to assist in recovery.  Too soon to know if it is beneficial.  Didn't think my IT bands were tight but man when the therapist cupped them- I nearly needed the wooden spoon in the mouth.

In other randomness, we have been trying to find an evening to watch "Deep Water Horizon" and last night was the winner. 

An amazing true story of survival, courage, tragedy and some big company stupidity.  I would highly recommend it.  Like go watch it tonight.

And while on the topic of movies, I am super stoked about the movie we are going to watch tonight.  The Banff Film Festival World Tour movie is coming to a city not far from us.  Here is a clip from their website for those who have not heard of the Film Festival before.

  "The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival takes place each fall in Banff, Alberta (Oct. 28-Nov.5, 2017).  It is nine epic days of mountain stories that includes profound journeys, unexpected adventures, and ground-breaking expeditions told by authors, photographers, and filmmakers from around the globe. Tickets go on sale in early August. 
Following the Festival, the World Tour hits the road bringing audience favourites and special tour edits to a location near you."

You can find the tour dates here for the North American and International tour and/or watch the trailer below.

My oldest son has already seen it in his city and said it was long (3 hours) but very good.  He said it is a culmination of many short clips (5-7 min) of cool stories of adventures and journeys and would watch it again anytime.  
It's going to be a super late night for us but I am really excited.  Will give my review next post. 

Have a super day today no matter where you live or the weather you have.  Don't let anything insignificant change you- don't let the small stuff get you down.  Be adventurous and grateful.  
You have a chance to have an amazing day, make every moment count!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Crazy or Not?

Well, it is official- I am either really adventurous or an idiot.

I have been sitting on the fence with wanting to try Actif Epica (a 85 mile winter endurance event on a fat tire bike in Southern Manitoba Canada) or to spend a little more time shedding my "green-ness" in the fattie world.  If it was up to me, I probably would have picked door #2.  But the ever adventurous-carefree- jump in with both feet husband of mine decided we should take the plunge and live life by the seat of our pants.

"Actif Epica is a one-day, do-it-yourself outdoor active living celebration that will involve communities along the Crow wing Trail (part of the TransCanada Trail) in southeast Manitoba.
Set against the backdrop of a 130, 162 or 200km bike or run ultra marathon in the cold weather and brutal winds of a Southeastern Manitoba winter, festival sites will glow with the warmth of community spirit, the strength of human ingenuity and the beauty of having fun whatever the temperature.
Actif Epica is a human-powered event, bringing communities together in a DIY celebration of human ingenuity in a cold (very cold) winter environment."

I am very scared of getting cold; like really, really scared of being really, really cold.  In the past, I have spent a lot of time on a snowmobile freezing my bageegee off and the idea of being stuck in the middle of nowhere in the freezing cold petrifies me.  We had a super cold spell here the beginning of January but for the past couple of weeks, temperatures have been warmer than normal; melting, almost spring-like temperatures.  We seem to be making the shift back into seasonal temps so more likely to have -5 C to -20 C on the day of the event. This gives me more confidence that the weather won't erode my self confidence.  We did do some rides with the cold temps (-30 C) and now also while it has been warmer.  Each ride teaches us a bit more on how to be prepared. 
It isn't just a case of can I make it ___ distance.  The weather is a huge challenge, no doubt.  There is a list of mandatory equipment to ensure our safety through extreme weather.  Knowing how to dress is another huge challenge.  Working up a sweat and being overdressed will immediately have negative ramifications.  So dress just heavy enough while moving at a constant rate to not sweat too much.  Any stops are very short as you will get cold quickly. It is also I think a bit more challenging riding a fat tired bike through winter.  Different muscles sore after a fat tire bike ride.  You built power riding a fattie in the winter.  Snow and sand require a lot of power, strength and effort.   
I am so stoked to try something new and experience something different.  Ideally, I want to be riding my bike into the Forks in Winnipeg toward the finish line but I am good with whatever happens that day.  If I need to stop then I will. The south part of Manitoba (where the event takes place) has received an overabundant amount of snow so far this year.  I expect that will make for a more challenging ride.  Looking at past results, I expect it will take us 12-16 hours to complete.  It is nice that the last couple hours of riding will be near and in the city.  More stimulation, more lighting. And the best part is my husband and I are doing this together.  The whole experience is so exciting but getting to do these things with him is priceless.
I anticipate it may be the kind of event where events and challenges build relationships between people instead of competition. I know it will be an event that tests character and resilience.  I know there will be tough times but I also know that I am so blessed to have the CHOICE to do things like this.  
So now - training.  What to do to prepare?  I am currently intertwining 2 different training plans right now, there isn't much extra room to add in much more.  I am sticking to my "A" "B" "C" raced events and prioritizing.  The spring marathon in April is my main event.  The other couple events (triathlon and bike ride) are very important but I will maintain my training plan to reflect the marathon.  
We are trying to get 1 solid longer ride outside each week (2-5 hours) and just hope the current training fitness will be enough.  Some weeks I have gotten out for a short ride after work but it hasn't been consistent.  Time on the bike is important but endurance gotten from other things will be good too.      
The more time goes on, it seems the less I worry/get nervous/fear the actual event(race) day and the outcome.  The journey getting there is fun, enjoyable, uplifting and energizing.  I am becoming a person who looks more at the everyday quality of life rather than a few pivotal moments.  If the outcome is what you go for- hats off to you.  You are the type of person that likes to push yourself and you can handle the pressure that goes along with it.  I will give it all I have on race day and leave nothing behind.  I will test myself and push beyond what I think I can handle.  I will learn that I am capable of so much more than I thought but I don't want to stress about the outcome.  There is freedom in experiencing the "cake" part of life not just waiting to get the "icing".
Have a wonderful day!

Monday, January 30, 2017

A 2017 Goal that is getting me FATTER every week

I like beginnings.  A fresh start.  A do-over.  A clean slate.
We have beginnings all the time.  Every morning, each week, month, season change, start of school terms and especially each year.  At each of these "beginnings", I take a moment to think about what I want to accomplish in that time frame.  And I don't think I am alone.

 Anyone else make a daily list of what you need to do that day, what you are making for supper, groceries to buy, errands to run, activities to go to, email or calls to make?  

Almost every Sunday supper for as long as I can remember, our family has talked about what is going on for the upcoming week for everyone.  And my kids are probably tired of me telling them that each new term in school is a new chance to be and do whatever you want.  It doesn't matter what happened last term, this is a chance to start fresh. 

A new calendar year is also a fresh start.  I like to have a big yearly calendar where I can see each month.  I start putting in events we want to do, house and yard improvements we want to tackle. We discuss finances and things we need to purchase and what we would be able to purchase from our wish list.  

Things aren't perfect for anyone.  We all have challenges with our homes, geography, community, friends, equipment.  We all have those things that just don't quite fit.

The geography of where I live is one of those things for me.  The winters are typically very cold, summers are warm- except for the never-ending mosquitoes.  Spring and fall are the best.  I can be outside, and maybe it isn't super warm but there are no bugs.  Our heavily forested areas and lakes are a motorized enthusiast dream.  Our highways are busy with no paved shoulders.  It isn't the easiest exploring and enjoying the outdoors safely as a cyclist.

So sometimes, as I spend my time on the trainer in the basement, I feel sorry for myself and I imagine how much "better" my life could be in a different place where I could be outside more often with less barriers.

Until now.

I have decided to embrace my place in life more, enjoy each and every day and bloom where I am planted.  This has become my daily motivation.

Hubby and I have been checking out fat tired bikes for awhile now.  You know you are officially part of the "cyclist club" when you dream and work to have a bike of every kind.  Fatties are awesome, like really awesome but it seemed to be hard to justify the cost of them (in comparison to a mountain bike) and how much I would actually use it.  With the spring events I have planned, it's a full-time job getting in all the workouts never mind adding more into the mix.  I just wasn't sure I would get outside enough to justify the purchase.

Anyway, Hubby decided to go for it, found a bike he liked, got a great deal on it and he wanted me to come along with him for the drive to pick it up (3 1/2 hours one way).  It seemed to me to be a good solution that he purchased one, to see what it is really like.  He has a more flexible schedule through the winter months than I do and if it was working great for him, I would consider it.

His bike was ready for him and he took it for a spin around the block.  I looked around a bit and the salesman asked why I wasn't also getting one.  I explained my reasons and he said it was so much nicer riding with someone else and they had a used demo, maybe I would want to try.  Long story short- I fell in love and we came home with 2 bikes in the back of the vehicle.

There are some things I just don't understand.  Sometimes I research, thoroughly check things out, think a lot and then finally make the purchase.  Other times like this time, it was truly a spontaneous decision but it felt really right.  The bike fit perfectly and the ride was so sweet.

So now, we are getting outside, embracing whatever the weather brings us and having the time of our lives.  The learning curve is steep, figuring out how to drive through the snow, battle the wind, what to wear, how to transport things, how to keep the toes warm and how to keep the water and nutrition from freezing.  And oh what fun!

One simple purchase. One decision.  A big change in my way of thinking.  There is now a willingness to try and embrace what I have perceived as uninviting.

So my encouragement for you is to bloom where you are planted.  Take something you perceive negatively and change it.  I thought the only way to remove barriers was to get rid of them.  Imagine my surprise to find out that the only thing that needed to be changed was my perception of them.