Monday, June 27, 2016

The Rollercoast ride of Endurance Sport

I hate roller coasters.  Like really really hate them.  I know that life is a bit of a roller coaster and I have gotten pretty good at staying consistent.  I have discovered that training for an endurance sport (like an Ironman) is like a crazy scary roller coaster.

It started out pretty well, a bit scary to look at the big picture but I kept my head in the day to day workouts and everything was fine.  The workouts were manageable with good recovery.  It was pretty easy to keep positive.  The event is still a few months into the future (20 weeks) and the thoughts around it are basically ones of excitement with a few drops of trepidation.

The weeks roll by and now in the middle portion, the workouts are taking more time.   Adjustments are needed to keep the commitments of everything else in my life on track as well as the training. Social life starts to take a dive.  Workouts are harder, longer and I am happy for a recovery week to reset.  There is still a positive outlook around as I was able to get in some times and distances that were positively confirming and I am still taking things day by day.

Home stretch-I am now a crying, hot mess with no confidence, little excitement and a lot of anxiety. Workouts are hard and long.  I feel like I might as well be sleeping in my bathing suit with my runners on and will I ever have a break from that darn painful saddle?  Nagging soreness comes and goes.  I'm close to falling asleep MANY times throughout the day.  My crying fits have exceeded even the craziest hormonal pre-menstrual level.  I think of quitting or pulling out at least 100 times a minute in almost every workout.  I get the event athletes guide and have a major freak out.  The thought of me in the water with 2000 friends send me into a full blown panic attack.

What the heck has happened to me????

This is new- I don't know what to expect when training for a long endurance event. What's normal?  I don't know if this reaction is typical.

I see 3 predominant ways of dealing with a huge training workload and the companion anxiety.

  • The comedian- laughs and jokes, sometimes at the expense of themselves.  Appears like they are so cool with everything but it is a  bit of a mask at dealing with some of the fear and concerns they have. Handling things with a smile and good humour which is very effective with calming the nerves.
  • The tough guy- game face on and ready in a second to knock out anxiety with a kick or punch.  Can appear very intense but also has a great ability to stay focused with an eye on the goal.  Has huge mental strength but needs to ensure the small details are taken care of (ex how is your nutrition plan)
  • The worrier- gets panicky at every thing as event draws closer, confidence is high or low depending on mood. Looks at the details of the event and is well planned.  Has the deer in the headlights look about them race day, wishes to climb into a hole the 3 weeks leading up to race day.  Finds a new strength once the event is under way.
NO surprise- I am the worrier.  I am also a list girl so I am starting my list making.  Lists about everything.  I need a list to get me to the starting line in 1 piece, a list to keep myself calm, a list to remember the important things, a list to identify WHY I am doing this.  At 3 weeks out, it will be a true test for me to find strategies to keep it together and more importantly, find ways to keep the journey fun.  Will keep you posted.

Happy Monday!

**An after note to this post- A great blog post found it's way into my inbox shortly after I posted mine.  If you need confirmation you aren't a crazy endurance athlete, you should read here!


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Grand Valley Duathlon Race Recap

Grand Valley Duathlon was held in Brandon, MB on Sunday, June 5th.  It is a nice season kickoff race for us folks up north where open water still needs another few weeks to warm up.

It was a 3km run, 18 km bike and 3 km run event.  There was about 80 registered in the event and this ranges from family relay teams to many front line competitors that are part of the local triathlon club. The fee to register is only $40 and though it is a lootless race, there are prizes you can win, a great spread of food and refreshments post race and free pictures available off the sponsor website.  There is also free bike check/tune up.  Parking is right beside the race event so the vehicle is only steps away.
Oatmeal for breakfast, banana and UCAN about 1/2 hour before the race.  Only water with Nuun during the race.
 
Both runs are on the same course which is on a pretty nice path and partly shaded.   There is 1 huge hill to climb but otherwise is flat.
The bike course is an out and back on a quiet highway.

The whole event was well organized.  Check in was easy, body markings no line ups, nice door prizes and great snacks waiting for us at the finish line.
Quick ride on the bike to ensure it was all good and a short warm up run to get things limber.  Needed to pee so many times before hitting the start line!  It is so frustrating.  Even a small, fun event like this gets the nerves rocking a bit.  Met up with friends from our community who came out to participate also.

Hubby and I seeded ourselves closer to the front and our plan was to do our best to keep up with the 20 somethings that were toeing the line, ready to take off like a shot.  First mile was fast, though I was passed by a few people.  All too soon the big hill was upon me and not long after conquering it, I was running into transition.  Hubby had come in just before me and I told him to kill it on the bike.  Someday, I hope to be able to ride like him!  The out part of the bike was straight into the wind.  Darn prairie winds!  But my goal was to push hard with this short ride to see what was under the hood.  The day before had been long ride day (4.5 hours) so I knew my legs wouldn't be fresh but I wanted to push them hard today.  It was easy to put the hammer down on the back portion with the wind pushing along.  I saw 3 ladies in front of me as I was approaching the turn around.  I passed one very quickly but didn't think I could catch up to the other 2, but I sure tried.  Back at transition, a quick shoe change and off I went.  Wind wasn't as noticeable in the sheltered run course but temperatures were increasing and run was hot.  Big hill a bit of a struggle but pushed through.  Then there was the finish line.  I needed a good cool down walk before finding my husband and getting a snack.  Saw I won a door prize which was a nice surprise.  Walked over to the finish area to cheer for my friend and her daughter.
Packed up, "showered" with our baby wipes, changed and hit the road.

Official unchipped time: 1:06:55  run 1 14:42      bike 37:13      run 2 15:00
                              hubby 1:00:11  run 1 13:56    bike 31:58       run 2 14:17





Surviving the Big Weekend of Training

Morning
Well I survived.  Week 15 of the training plan was a doozie.

I wasn't sure what to expect so I have broken things down day by day for future reference.  I was very nervous about how things would play out with each big day, not that each one was unattainable but the combination of the 4 days had me worried.  I probably made it way harder on myself mentally because I was so freaked out about how it was going to go down.  It seems very important to record this so I will know (and others also) that things may seem really difficult but we get through them and that in itself is a huge accomplishment- the new mental perspective that then encourages us for the future.  Perhaps a non-consideration for those who have many times completed an Ironman distance triathlon, but the mental aspect for newbies seems pretty big.

Thursday- swim day 
3200 meters in 1 hour 35 min
I feel that I am getting better in the water and more comfortable but I don't think time reflects this. I am not going to focus on the time right now as it is more productive to know I can feel comfortable in the water and cover the distance necessary.

Considerations:

  • This was split between 2 swim sessions, long one in the morning and shorter one in the afternoon
  • It takes almost 1000 m before I start feeling a rhythm


Friday- long bike
92 miles in just over 6 hours


We left from home very early in the morning with about +16 temp and rode for a couple hours of rolling hills and into the wind.  Had all our water and fuel needs along with us.  This sent me off with 2 large bottles of UCAN fuel (3 scoops powder in each), my front xlab water bottle full with water  and 1 Nuun tablet as well as 3 additional water bottles full each also with water and 1 Nuun.  I was planning to have my xlab water empty every 1 1/2 - 2 hours then refill with one bottle that I was carrying.  I carried this all in a small backpack.  Each UCAN bottle was to last 3 hours.  3 big mouthfuls every 45 minutes.  I also brought along a quest bar, peanut butter sandwich on gluten free bread and a banana.  I felt like I was struggling a bit mentally as I was truly unsure how I was going to make out.  When those little voices of doubt just don't stop, you have to work so hard to stay focused and positive. Traffic was pretty good.  We have no bike lane nor paved shoulders so we try to go on roads early in the morning to avoid traffic as much as possible.  The traffic on this particular road we knew would be heavier coming toward us not with us.
Stopped at the 2 hour mark for water refill, bathroom break and banana.  Felt good and glad to have a change of direction and a bit of a break from the wind.
The remaining portion of the ride took us straight south through some bigger hills.

A wonderful road, smooth, without a lot of traffic and a nice shoulder to ride on.  Elevation gain just over 2500 feet.


 Stopped again around the 4 hour mark for a quick snack (sandwich) and bathroom break. We actually rode over the mountain and were back again on pretty flat prairie and the wind was now very strong.  We decided to turn around and do the hills twice rather than continue with the wind so strong.

 The wind seemed vicious back over on the other side and I started feeling like I was well on my way to "spentville".  I had a my quest bar and tried to drink more water.  It was getting pretty warm and the challenge certainly for me has been when my fuel starts to get warm, it tastes very unappealing.  It was a real push the last part up the hill to where I needed to turn off.  Hubby stayed with me for the first 2 hours on the busier road then we rode our own pace but met up after the next 2 and then again once I was up the hill and at the turn off to go to our destination, it was a huge relief to see him coming back for me.  Those last 4 miles were going straight into the wind and I found myself starting to have an emotional breakdown.  It was so hard and I felt there was no way I could have still done another 20ish miles and ran 26 after that yet and this possibility seemed to be my undooing.  We barely had our bikes parked at the vehicle and he came to me and hugged me and the tears let loose.  I kept saying that I wouldn't be able to do it and he said I would that this was a very hard ride with the wind being as strong as it was.  I calmed down and we continued to get everything loaded up.  We planned on running for close to an hour after this but we changed our minds and ran/walk for about 20-25 min.  Our daughter who picked us up went to get us each a hamburger and a G2 for the drive home.  Funny how I don't really every drink G2 but can't wait to consume one each time we are exercising in the heat for a long period of time.

Considerations:

  • This was the longest ride I have ever done with hills and a very strong wind and I am proud of this accomplishment
  • My fuel was pretty much dead on for my needs, I think I would just like another solid food (bar probably) in the mix.  I have planned to use UCAN bars as well as the liquid fuel but my timing sucked and I didn't restock my supply in good time.  (FYI- my order came in on Monday)
  • I do wonder if my "hitting the wall" feeling toward the end was due to pushing myself beyond or because of a fueling insufficiency.
  • I have heard that the more you suffer in training, the less you suffer in the event.  I am counting on this!
  • A hamburger and G2 right after was really helpful in restoring my energy and balancing my emotions
  • Using Young Living Oils have been helpful in my recovery- today was no exception.  I used lemongrass, wintergreen and Cool Azul on my legs as well as magnesium spray.
  • I also elevated my legs for the 1 hour trip home.
Saturday-long run
We chose to do our long run today (rather than ride again based on the logistics of having your own business and not having that kind of time slot available for a second day)  Run was just over 2 hours and we started in the afternoon. (again due to the farmer needing to be on his fields first thing in the morning)  It was 25 C with a decent wind from the east as we started just after 4.  Made a bottle of UCAN with 2 scoops and divided it into a small hand held bottle and a glass.  Planning to use the fuel in the bottle in an hour and share the cups worth right now.  Ran straight into the wind for a couple miles.  Again, a good chance to mentally stay strong and not get beat down with the crazy winds again.  Our next turn had us going south, a nice change and a chance to start talking as we could now actually hear each other without yelling.  The road took us up a very steep hill, my quads were thanking me many times.  Turned around and ran back down and continued on our loop course.  


Our youngest daughter came out with cold water and our fuel bottle.  I was struggling a bit in the middle part but seemed to find my rhythm again.  My biggest complaint was needing to stop and pee so many times.  I know that I retain fluid when my body has some inflammation and due to yesterday's ride, I had a lot of dribble stops.  After we were done, I again thought of how many times I have ran 2 hours and more and it isn't a big deal, what did I have my panties in a wad about with this.  We had a recovery shake but didn't have an appetite for the macroni and hot dog meal the kids prepared in our absence.  I find that a lot of the time I am not starving after a big training session- the next day is another story but often a shake and something else (gluten free muffin and some fruit) is enough.  

Considerations
  • Ran with the fuel and water to simulate race day strategy and felt good
  • Need to wear the clothing I am planning to wear to ensure it is a good choice.  I know many run the marathon with running gear and though my shorts are very comfortable, I was thinking of running with my tri shorts to have more pockets.  I like that they will be a bit of compression for my legs but I don't like anything tight around my waist and my tri shorts may be problematic in this area.  
  • Good strategy to run in the afternoon and deal with higher winds and hotter temp.
  • Used my recovery oils and elevated my legs again.  There was discomfort going up and down the stairs throughout the evening.   
Sunday- long ride #2
On the bike trainer this morning as the forecast of rain proved right.  I don't mind getting wet but safety is a bigger concern so the trainer and the television worked for me today.  Hubby couldn't get his watch to pair with his sensor and spent a lot of time trying to fix it.  Felt bad that it wouldn't work for him.  I plugged along for a 4 hour ride to get in 60 miles.  Legs weren't really sore but seemed a bit tuckered out.  My speed was pretty slow but I did keep a consistent overall pace for the first 2 hours then seemed to be able to pick it up after that a bit.  I had planned to ride 3- 3 1/2 hours but really wanted to get to 4 hours so I did.  I actually think my legs felt better as time went on.  My fuel was 3 scoops of UCAN and 2 bottles of water, so my fuel and water consumption was on the low side for the 4 hour ride.  I also had a banana and 2 peanut butter protein energy balls.  Recovery lunch was protein waffles and sausages.



Considerations
  • Not really pleased with the pace/speed of this ride but with the accumulated training of the prior 3 days, I think it was ok.  A starting point I guess.
  • I was very happy that after feeling like my legs were dead weight Sat night, they felt really good on Sunday.  Tired but good.
Overall:
  • Had a really sore neck and shoulders but only lasted a day.
  • Didn't use any compression gear; should try next time.
  • Overall, pleased with how things worked out.  I  had some tough conditions and worked through them.  
  • Not sure if the bike run bike was better/worse than the bike/bike/run combo would have been but it was what we needed to do. 
  • Would have liked a longer bike run brick after the first long ride.
  • Made a point of getting to bed earlier for a couple nights to get more sleep for recovery- was very important.
  • The skin on my face had a lot of salt reside on it after the first long ride and after the long run.  I had Nuun in my water so not sure if there should be 2 tablets instead of 1 or if that meant I needed to be drinking more overall.  
  • Took Monday as a full rest day and Tues was and easy swim day to aid in recovery. 


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Journey of the Long Run

The long run takes on different forms, purposes and execution for every runner.  But in truth, the long run is similar to the journey of life for all of us; one foot in front of the other, mostly moving forward at varying speeds.  There are times you feel good, times you want to throw up, times you want to quit and times it seems you can go on forever.

My long run are usually always run with my husband aka roaringrunner.  Sometimes we run the entire time in silence with the exception of an occasional "Doing good" usually followed by a grunt. Some runs are spent getting everything out on the table that we have each had to deal with that week. We find solace, peace and healing in the miles despite the weather conditions or the problems that we are dealing with.

I think this is similar with most people.  Running makes you free.  The fact that running can often take on different forms is what is the best part.  There is and there isn't predictability. It become what you need and fills the tank that is the lowest.  It never lets us get to full of ourselves and keeps us on the road of learning.

My long run 2 weeks ago was a bit different.  It had been a big week.  In reality, when are they not? Besides the regular, there was a few more things on the table to deal with.  A trip to the hospital may or not have been on the schedule.



Me and my only running partner today.


Hubby's long run

Though I really needed a run, it was hard to enjoy it as I felt selfish guilt for running when he couldn't and I knew how badly he wanted to.  A week of pain, sleepless nights and chaos in the house resulted in emergency appendix surgery on a perforated appendix.  He didn't stay in bed long though- was up and about and making laps a few hours later.  
His first question to me in ICU after major heart surgery 5 years ago was if he could go for a run now. (He couldn't run for 5 months prior)  This time in ICU, the first thing he said was that he loved me.   

We truly don't know each and everyday how things will work out.  I wish that all the hours spent sitting in the hospital or in the vehicle driving (surgery was 2 hours away each way x 3 days) were actually spent on my bike or running, with my kids or experimenting in the kitchen but this was not the case.  Life is precious, lessons come in varying experiences and none of us are immune from interruptions from injury, surgery or life events. We get so caught up in the routine of life that sometimes we forget to appreciate.  

Roaringrunner has encouraged me to continue training hard and not to feel bad that he isn't able to.  I know it won't be long and he will be crushing things again.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Skipbo still ROCKS and lake adventures

A couple of my kids and I headed to the cottage at the lake last Tuesday night along with a friend who is visiting for a few days.  A light brushing of snow was on the ground and the trees on either side of the road glistened and sparkled in the lights.  Snow always has that effect on me; magical.  The cottage was very cool inside.  Half hour later we were huddled on the floor in front of the roaring fire in the fireplace with blankets all around us, eating nachos and cheese, playing a mean game of skipbo.  Might be one of the best memories of the time there.  The simple things get you every time.
The next morning I went for a run on the snow covered road, doing the 6 mile loop that circles the cabins on the other side of the lake.  The clouds were so thick and close I think I could almost touch them, not a breath of wind and trees full of frost.  My favourite kind of winter mornings. Complete silence with only a deer to keep me company.
A hike to the Copernicus Look Out followed after brunch.  A 1 hour round trip hike taking us up a pretty steep trail to a lookout tower with a view of the lakes around.  Spent a fun 1/2 hour at the top talking and comparing who's phone had any reception.  Brace yourself for what I am about to share: yes there are places in this world where there is no cell phone coverage.  The lake we go to is one such example.  We thought to check though since we were so high up.  Had fun trying to text each other up there.

The next adventure was kayaking.  There was ice for about 30 feet along the shore so it took some fierce paddling to get through but wow, what fun!


Rounded the day off with pizza for supper then unfortunately had to pack up and head back home.  It was a great way to spend a day off.

The privilege of being in such a great place in this wonderful country was not lost on me this Remembrance Day. So thankful for those who have made this freedom possible.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Celebrate

It's been awhile folks.  Lots to say,  where to start?
Celebrating is a great place!

There has been a LOT of celebrating in our house lately.  My oldest son graduated the beginning of June with his diploma in Agribusiness from the University of Saskatchewan. He is looking forward to finishing the next 2 years and receiving his degree. So he wasn't keen on us making a big deal of this graduation but after the fact, I think it really encouraged him and he was glad we went.



The youngest graduated from grade 8 at one school and will be moving schools in the fall to the high school.  A very small school to a large one- she is very nervous.



The middle 2 graduated from grade 12 last week.  It was a wonderful celebration.  I didn't cry my eyes out ;yet.  It is such an accomplishment so it was time to celebrate that with them.  When they both leave in September, that may be the time I can be happy for them and sad for me.



I have been in a few events the past couple months.  I will be posting the recap for each soon.  Brandon Duathlon, Saskatchewan Marathon, Swan River Fun Run as well as and a bike event this weekend.

My training world is good now but I had a real rough patch of disappointment and discouragement through April and May.  An infection and adrenal fatigue have sidelined me so my plans for the summer have changed.  I am still staying active but have taken the "go hard" portion out for the most part.  The mind so wants to "go" but the body says it is tired.  I never once thought I was trying to be supermom- but being super busy does catch up with some people.
 I have come to enjoy the spontaneous training of doing what I want when I want to do it.  Biking is happening the most.  It allows me to explore, get a workout in and it isn't too taxing on the body.  I am loving the many hours of rides down quiet gravel roads, on mountain trails or on the highway.  Both my tri bike and cyclocross are getting a lot of action.  Sometimes a great run happens but mostly, it is a struggle.  I long to fly in the wind and run hard but it will come.  The water temperature at the lake is looking good and with summer now here, I am anticipating some great morning swims.
 
In everything I do and in each moment I am privileged to do it, I am thankful!

Nutritional and motivational support for hubby during his long run.  I just got chased for 1/2 a mile by a dog that was going to leave me with only 1 leg.  The only picture that turned out in a batch of 6 or so because I was still so shaky!  Maybe need to travel with bear spray.





Have a great day!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Written off

Morning
Mid week and I should be at work but am instead home on the couch, trying to count my blessing in between blowing my nose.  I have felt better.
But the sun is shining and it is certainly spring in Manitoba.  Nothing green yet, but I love being on the edge of it.  You know what I mean- it is so close but just not quite yet. That time is special.

Hard post today.  Not sure how to collect my thoughts and get them down on paper.  I have been hurt, maybe not intentionally but hurt none-the-less.  I am a people pleaser and I do care too much of what others think of me.  Not a good thing. I am getting harder and more confident in myself but still will always be a struggle to not let the opinion of others of me color how I see myself.  Sharing this on a blog post has the potential of being a catastrophic event.  But I also want people to see that not always is it our words but our lack of words that has the potential to wound.

I have told myself for the last 3 weeks to get over it and move on and I think I am.  Maybe writing it will be the cleanse that I need to rid myself of the baggage.

I have never had a coach.  Not for running nor now triathlon.  In the endurance world today, it seems like an anomaly to NOT have someone coaching you.  I have considered and tried with 2 coaches that are relatively close to me (3-4 hours away), both were hesitant because of the difficulty with the distance.
Fast forward a year. I know tons of people are being coached from a long distance so I thought to try again.  My thoughts about things we have a passion to do is that when you know better you can do better so getting more information from books, internet, other athletes, coaches is a great way to get better and smarter at what you do. A coach might just give me that extra boost of info that I needed to really feel like I was making progress. Not complaining, but I have very little in terms of "support" where I live.  It is just my reality.  No groups, no others training for long course triathlon events, weather challenges.  It's just different.  Everything on my own.

So I hooked up with a coach many miles away who seemed to share the same idea that I have and was around the same age. We talked, discussed a trial period of coaching because an event I was training for was 6 weeks away and it was best to not interfere with the current training plan. BAM; I got myself a coach.  The relationship would be a few phone calls to guide, advise and assist me with the last bits of training and how to approach the event.
I did get a couple call and a promise to track me at the event.  I don't know what the normal is or what to expect but I did think good luck wishes would be in my in-box a day before and I did expect a follow up email or call after the event.  But nothing- not a thing.
So just to add 1 more thing to the story.  I had another event the weekend before the half-ironman, which was the main event.  The coach thought it was a crazy idea to do both. I know it is silly to have events so close to each other.  Please before judging, understand, the geography of where I live does not allow for many events close by and if I am going on holidays and can take in a couple events that I wouldn't get to ever get to otherwise, I am going to take it.  Will this affect my performance at the half-iron event- absolutely and I knew it.  But I just couldn't pass up the opportunity.

The comment made was that instead of being a competitor, I was a participant.

I was bothered for days about this.  I do get very anxious before a race and my nerves can get the best of me.  I am NOT the fastest nor will I be on the podium in the near future.  I have always been very athletic and the funny thing is that now when I really want to perform well, I can't seem to find the formula to get there.  But I bring my game on just like everyone else there.  I am pushing myself, expecting my best and not holding back.  Everyone deserves a chance no matter what their ability is because if they knew how to be better and faster, they would be.

So, just like that I was labelled a participant.

And wrote off.

The other interesting part, maybe the hardest, was that I confessed to the coach in an earlier convesation that I was seriously considering Ironman Canada this summer (2015) but just needed a bit more confidence to know that I could tackle this.

So, coles notes version- I trained my butt off since Nov 2014 hoping to do well in Oceanside California March 2015 then would make a decision about Ironman Canada July 2015.  Left Oceanside with great memories but a slower time that I expected.  Disappointed and discouraged because I worked so hard and thought the results would show the effort that I had put in.  No confidence in myself or decision made about what to do with Ironman Canda.
 
The coach and I had discussed her coaching me after Oceanside to Ironman Canada.  Now nothing from the coach.

What should I think?  It is obvious my time meant everything.  Not my hard work ethic, nor dedication, nor careful nutrition, nor my passion and determination.  Not my desire to learn more and do better.

Just. my. time.

Maybe my small town thinking but I don't treat people that way.  I teach adults who need their high school diploma to move forward.  Traditional school didn't work for them and most of them made less than great decisions in their youth but my job is to get them to reach the potential they have.  Not to judge or with- hold.

Just to clarify: I don't need someone handling me with kid gloves and building my fragile confidence up.  I am a big girl.  But, I also know there are many others like me that are passionate people; who care so much and wear it all for the world to see.  My confidence isn't a roller coaster, I believe in myself and my abilities.  Just hurt when someone so openly judges.  Doesn't make you feel like you can tackle the world.

SO for all of you like me, passionate, caring people who are sensitive and compassionate; we need to build on these types of situations to make our foundation stronger despite what others think.  Because we will accomplish our dreams.  It may take longer or the road may be harder but the journey and victory is ours alone.

And to those who write people off because of a small insignificant thing such as number or time; well you are missing the big picture and I hope you find it someday.