Monday, 14 July 2014

Disaster, Kindness and an Epiphany

I was ready and psyched for yesterday's triathlon and the day definitely didn't disappoint.  Between a disaster, an amazing act of kindness and an epiphany, the Subaru Vancouver triathlon will go down in my personal history books as a race that exemplified what triathlon is all about.

Imagine training hard for an event, knowing you've done everything you possibly could to have the best race possible.  Between the job, the kids, the aching back and overbooked chiropractor and life in general, it's amazing you're going to be able to do this at all.  All of the sacrifices will be worth it (and believe me, there's many if you're the working, parenting variety of triathlete).  Now imagine getting to your ready-to-go bike in the transition racks with less than two hours until race start, only to see a gaping hole in your tire staring back you.  Sure, one of your competitors will have a spare tube for you, but who carries an entire spare tire?  No one.   This is what my friend Speedy was dealing with at 5am Sunday morning, complete and utter disaster.

Enter our heroes of the day, Jeremy Wilson from Speed Theory and Chris Manore from Leading Edge Triathlon Club.  Faced with a panicking athlete, Chris used his connections and approached Jeremy, who had a spare tire and let Speedy use it.   Chris and Jeremy, you may never read this but if you do, you should know that your act of kindness made the difference between wasted sacrifices and Speedy finishing second in her age category.  So from the bottom of Speedy's heart (and mine), thank you!

My race was seemed typical to me.  The swim was the hardest I've ever done, every single meter of the 500 meter course was a battle with the freezing cold ocean.  The bike went well, even the downhill (yes, I white knuckled the brakes) and the run was what I expected, painful but I still managed to hold a slow and steady pace.  I expected to go home with a PB and toast myself with a beer.  Until I saw the posted times.  My time was one of the slowest I have ever had.  Ever.   Normally this would be the part where I questioned ever racing again, saying mean things to myself and wondering what's the point if you're so slow?  But not this time.  This time all I could see were all of the little victories that can't be described by a set of numbers.   Successful swim in breathtakingly cold temps, feeling stronger than ever on the bike and of all things, my fastest run to date.  I had fun, left everything I had on the course and actually felt kind of proud of myself. And it only took five years to realize this! Who doesn't love a good epiphany?  

Triathlon is all about the camaraderie between athletes and regular, every day humans pushing themselves into the "How is that actually possible?" realm.  Ask any triathlete and they've benefited from the kindness of others in unexpected disasters.  Stand on the bike course and you will hear the calls of "Good job" or "You're doing great" between competitors. How many sports can boast that kind of sportsmanship?  Just don't get in the water.  Nobody has any friends on the swim.

Another race done and dusted and more importantly, a big step towards the next goal:  A half-Ironman race in 2015.  Who's with me?

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Inspiration by Anticipation

Okay, I'm back.   It's been a long time and this post was supposed to be from the Broken Elbow but life is full of surprises.  Case in point-this morning was going to be all about lounging with coffee and a magazine, but no.  Inspiration started poking at me and couldn't/wouldn't be ignored (thankfully!).

What's got me inspired?  Anticipation.  In roughly 24 hours, I will be crossing the finish line at the Subaru Vancouver Triathlon.  This will be the first race post Elbow Incident and I fully expected this countdown to be like every other race:  anxiety, nerves gnawing at me, telling myself that this is ridiculous, you are not meant to be an athlete, go home.  But this one is different.  This time I'm ready and psyched.

Ready for my first open water swim since Lavaman and my first in Canada.  This week's open water practice (thanks Coach T!) was a great start for someone who had never swam in a wetsuit or open water in the Great White North, at least in the triathlon sense.  I expected cold as hell, seaweed, giant waves and monsters and instead got tolerable temperatures, little seaweed, gentle rollers and the only monster was some threatened motion sickness.  I'm ready to be Germany to the ocean's Brazil.  I'm psyched.

Ready to attack the bike course like never before because I've trained like never before, thanks to Alli and the Nutcracker and all those 6am weekend wake-up calls.  Truthfully, the one hill of the course has me a little bit worried but more for the down than the up.  I love to climb, but am a little worried about the downhill that should have me going 50+ kilometres/hour!  If you're looking for me, I'll be the one white knuckling my brakes.  Still pretty psyched!

Ready to run.  Ready because I've been training hard for the run, mostly thanks to my Nike + app on my phone keeping me inspired.  It's so nice to have crossed the line from complete and utter loathing of running back to loving it, because it's hard to do triathlon without a good, strong run (walking the whole 5km would look silly, wouldn't it?).  Psyched to run across that finish line tomorrow for the first time in over a year!

Tomorrow is going to be great.  Beautiful weather, an awesome course and hopefully a PR are all just a  day away!   Check back Monday for my race report and see you out there!

Monday, 26 May 2014

Remember the last kid picked for teams in school?  That was me.  Far from chubby or unpopular, I lacked completely in athletic abilities and it was obvious, even to seven year olds.  As you can imagine, the idea of growing up to be a triathlete was the furthest thing from my mind.
           
The furthest thing from my mind yes, but that’s exactly what happened.  One day, like a thunderbolt, an idea popped into my head: Must. Do. Triathlon.  Suddenly, everywhere I looked, there were triathlon articles, magazine covers, and people talking about it on the radio and I decided this was something I had to do, even though at the time I could not swim or run.

Shortly after my first child was born, I signed up for a 10k run and fell in love with running.  A few years after that it was time to tackle the pool. I had quit swimming lessons as a child and am generally uncomfortable around water, especially the idea of putting my face in the water.  Eight weeks after baby number two, I had my first lesson and it was love at first stroke!  Now I had all the components but where to take it?

In April of 2009 I signed up for my first triathlon, the Delta Triathlon.  Unprepared for the cold water, I panicked a little until the lifeguards kindly helped me out and the rest of the race went perfectly-I was now totally hooked and looking for more.  A friend and I signed up for the Langley Tri where the swim went well but I tripped over my bike coming out of T2 and bloodied my knees.  Couldn’t get worse right? Wrong.  During the bike, my chain came off multiple times, leaving me reliant on other racers to help.  Embarrassing!

Over the years I contemplated joining up with Team in Training in order to do the Lavaman Triathlon in Kona, an Olympic distance event that has participants swimming in the clear, warm ocean and cycling along the Queen K Highway, the same path ridden by the legends of Ironman.  I chickened out three times before finally registering in 2012.

The training certainly wasn’t easy but standing on the shore waiting to start my 1500m battle with the Pacific was one of the proudest days of my life because I finally felt like an athlete!  The swim went like a dream and so did the bike -probably because I spent most of saying to myself “Wow, this part of the Ironman route!  I’m practically an Ironman! Yay me!”  Then it was run time.  Excited to get to the finish line, I started to run.  Or rather, tried to start running but my very tired legs wouldn’t go no matter how hard I tried.   I decided I had no option but to quit and started looking for a volunteer to help me bow out.

Thankfully, the voice of reason in my head roared to life, yelling “NO! You have come too far and worked too hard to quit now.  5 miles to go is nothing.  Run!”  So I bargained with myself to jog a minute, walk a minute in the 30+ degree heat.  Slowly the miles ticked down until, 51.5 kilometers after I started, I stumbled across the finish line spent and ecstatic, one minute under my goal time.

I used to think the perfect race was the one where everything went smoothly and earned the coveted personal best time.  In truth, the perfect race is the one where everything goes wrong, the personal best passes you by and you cross the line, smiling and saying “That was so awesome, I’m signing up for another as soon as I get home”.

Monday, 10 February 2014

The best races in North America I'm not doing (just a few of them, too many to mention!!)

As promised, this post is about the best races in North America I'm not doing, and some of the ones I am, aka my intended race calendar.  I've been feeling a tad uninspired lately but now that the Olympics have started it's like a fire has been lit, so pumped to get out there!  So here in no particular order are the best races I'm not doing (judged by the sole factor of "OMG that looks amazing!  Must. do.)

Half Corked Marathon: Set in BC's picturesque wine country, the run features an 18km route with wine and food stations along the way and a bus to the finish line should you happen to over-indulge at any of the stations.  Waiting at the finish line is free lunch for participants and more wine-win, win, win!  Registration is limited to 800 people and sells out fast (10 minutes fast) so get while the getting is good.

Wildflower Triathlon Festival: Set to go May 2-4 in Bradley, California this is an Xterra (off road) triathlon featuring sprint, Olympic and 70.3/half-Iron distances, or for the exceptionally brave, The Ultimate Wildflower Challenge.  Anyone game enough to try this will do the 70.3 on the Saturday followed by the Olympic on the Sunday.  Known for it's festival atmosphere, you can listen to the live bands, swim or fish in the lake, rent paddle boards or just chill and enjoy the races-camping is available too.  If you're interested (and who wouldn't be??) sign up soon-sales end March 1st.

Escape from Alcatraz: Every year, 2000 ambitious souls jump into the frigid waters surrounding Alcatraz prison and swim, bike, and run their way to glory in this Olympic distance triathlon.  No easy feat to enter or complete, this year's version is happening June 1.  If you like the idea of strong currents, 55 degree water and a 400 step sand ladder towards the end of an 8 mile run, this one's for you.  Complete this one and you will be one of my sporting heroes for life!

Las Vegas Rock'n'Roll Marathon: Want to run the Las Vegas strip at night with a few thousand of your  friends?  It can be done, just sign up for the Las Vegas Rock'n'Roll Marathon!  There still plenty of time to train as this one isn't until November 17th and features and full, half and the 1/2 of the Half distances and live, local bands along the course. Something for everyone!  Marathon hopefuls should note the 5 hour cut off time.

Those are the top races I'm not doing but sure wish I was-what would you add?  Here are my intended races for 2014:

March-the UBC triathlon (sprint distance)
April-volunteering for my first time at the Delta triathlon
May-Squamish Loop the Lakes Trail Race (8 or 15km, will decide in later March)
June-undecided, any suggestions?
July-Subaru Vancouver Triathlon (Olympic distance
August-Zombie Run (hoping to do twice, once as a Zombie, once as a runner)
September-the Vancouver Triathlon (Olympic distance) and Colour Me Rad

That's all for now.  Thanks for reading!  Next up:  a post from the beast, the burden, the aching nuisance-my broken elbow!  I'm sure she'll have lots to say :)




Friday, 31 January 2014

Not quite what I had envisioned.....

Blah.  So here we are, thirty days later.  I really thought this post was going to be sunshine and rainbows but the truth is, it's not quite what I had envisioned.  The whole patina of the New Year has worn off and old habits, like ditching workouts in favour of couch time, are threatening to make a screaming comeback. 

 The running is not consistent at all, and I've sunk to a low of running once a week.  I don't know what it is about getting off my ass and getting out there, but to me it is ridiculously difficult.  It's all good after that first step and I really do enjoy the meditative aspect but how on Earth to make it happen more often?  Revised goal:  Just run 3x a week.  Revised reward:  Weight of regret on my mind will lessen.  Which counts as losing weight.

Cycling got off to a good start and it's a lot of fun, but so hard to fit in the schedule.  I am writing this now instead of doing my planned bike ride.  Not too worried about this one though, it's just a matter of getting back into it.  Tomorrow, I swear.  Revised goal:  Get back in the saddle, literally.  Revised reward: a) Knowing my triathlon time will be faster and b) see above

The planking challenge started off so promisingly but died at day 8 also known as 60 seconds of planking-my poor little office worker abs just couldn't hack it.  I still want that 5 minute plank and so it all begins again tomorrow.  With a squat challenge thrown in for extra fun times!  Same goal, same reward-just to be able to say I can!

The biggest success came from the grain-free/dairy-free challenge.  I really can't say enough good things about how well this is working for me.  My energy is through the roof (perhaps I could channel some of the new found energy into running?), the stomach issues miraculously cured after 18 years of getting progressively worse and eczema is a thing of the past, yay!  The only thing I miss is beer, although it turns out wine is really not so bad.

Despite the gloom, I am optimistic about February.  No reward in the world is going to motivate me-this is the one thing January has taught me.  Just gotta get out there and do it knowing I will be faster, stronger and not writing any more self-loathing posts.

Next up:  The best races in North America I'm not doing (and some of the ones I am doing)!








Sunday, 29 December 2013

Hasta la Vista, 2013 (read in Arnie's voice)

The final hours of 2013 are ticking away and it's my final post of the year.  Most of us, admittedly or not, are reflecting on our strengths and weaknesses of the past 365 days.  And most of us, whether we care to say it or not, are thinking about how to improve in 2014.   Resolutions are made with fervor and optimism but once the Most Miserable Day (reportedly January 23rd, when most resolutions have been dropped) rolls around, they're long gone and elastic waistbands are once again our best friends.

Maybe that's how it goes for you, but here's how it goes for me:  January is attacked with the fury of a woman who ate and drank her way through December (and the latter part of November if I'm being 100% honest).  February goes pretty well, but the training is not nearly as ferocious.  March training is a little on the slack side.  April hits and brings the first triathlon and every year I say "Eff!!  Why did I not keep up those promised changes?  How am I not hitting PR's despite not training all that hard? It all started so nicely.  Oh well, good enough-I'm a triathlete, aren't I?"

But I'm not settling for good enough this year because, like you, I deserve better.  Reflecting on past behaviours, I noticed that there was no real accountability or incentive to sustain my very best, top notch effort.  I enjoy doing it, but just as enjoyable is a night of socializing with friends followed by a long sleep.  So how to improve accountability and motivation?  Challenges and rewards!  Here's what I've signed myself up to do:

30 Days with no grains or dairy:  Sort of Paleo but with wine (Drunken Cavewoman, I guess?), giving this a go to soothe stomach issues and improve energy levels.  I'm on day four and it's been a success, albeit with some pretty intense grain cravings.  These are only supposed to last a week or so.  I hope.  *Disclaimer-I am in no way advocating the Paleo diet or anything like it, or saying you should do it.  I am doing what works for me, and encourage the everyone to do the same*  Reward?  Beer on my bday!

Run 20 miles every week from Jan. 6-March 2nd:  Running is my weakness.  The hardest part for me is getting out there for a run without a friend.  Don't get me wrong, once I'm running it's all good but getting up the motivation is sooooo haaaaard.  The challenge I've joined is through Run With Jess.  You have the choice of either 10, 20, 30 or 40 miles per week and there are prizes!  Woohoo!  20 miles seems pretty daunting right now, not sure how I'm gonna put that one together.  Reward? The possibility of those aforementioned prizes and signing up for the Rock'n'Roll Half's Vancouver debut.

Cycle 20 miles every week from Jan. 1-March 2nd: Made this one up myself in hopes of getting on my bike a little (a lot) more often.  Most of a triathlon is spent on your bike and thus has the greatest potential to lead to a PR.  20 miles a week sounds good now but on top of swimming, running, strength training and life, will I be able to fit it in?  Therein lies the challenge.  Reward?  New tri shorts.

30 Days of Planking-start at 20 seconds and go all the way to 5 minutes:  Does your stomach hurt just thinking of doing this?  Mine does.  You probably think I'm doing this to get a stronger core because the core is so important blah, blah, blah but no.  A stronger core is nice but mostly I've always wanted to be able to plank for more than 30 seconds.  You can find this challenge at Athleta or Tribesports.  Reward? Being able to do a 5 minute plank.

Speaking of Tribesports, I highly recommend checking out their site, they have TONS of challenges for just about anything you can image.  Anyways, these are my challenges, what are yours?  You've probably guesses I'm using the blog as a way to keep myself honest but I'll also try to post updates on Twitter and Instagram.  Best of luck to you in any challenges you take on and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Soothing the savage beast

Welcome to December!  Crowded malls, black ice, subzero temperatures, myriad social engagements, beer advent calendars, and Christmas baking are sapping our will to swim/bike/run and bringing out the (10 pounds heavier) savage beast within.

 It ain't easy getting out there these days to tame the beast, so what to do?  If you don't already, why not add music?  For the exercise-with-music types, why not revamp your playlist?  Half the fun of running with music (a new and very happy discovery for me) is in creating the perfect playlist.   As some of you know, nothing will push you through a weak spot like your favourite song.  I recently asked some friends to send me  their favourite running songs-some are surprising choices and some will be added to my list in the very near future.  Here they are:

Name: Race Vault
Pace: 10:30/mile
Favourite Distance: Mile repeats/any sort of drill
Playlist: - Born to Run/Bruce Springsteen              -The Dead Heart/Alexisonfire
               -Big Wheel/Down With Webster               - Fire Burning/Shawn Kingston 
               -Sandstorm/Darude                                     - Supersoaker/Kings of Leon
              - Angels of the Silences/Counting Crow   - Run to You/Bryan Adams
               -Break Stuff/Limp Bizkit                              -Rock and Roll/Skrillex

Name: Alli
Pace: 9:30/mile
Favourite Distance: 10k.  Fair weather runner, will run on the treadmill if it's too wet (unless it's a club run, then I'm happy to then I'm happy to get soaked with my friends as long as it's followed by a cold beer by the fireplace at the Rose!)
Playlist:- Blurred Lines/Robin Thicke                             -Get Lucky/Daft Punk
              - Can't Do Nuttin For Ya Man/Public Enemy   -Hey Ladies/Beastie Boys 
              -Come Dancing/the Kinks                                   -Jam for the Ladies/Moby
              -Devil Went Down to Georgia/Charlie Daniels - Lets Talk about Sex/Salt N Pepa   
             -We no Speak Americano/DJ Americano& Melinda
               Kool                                                                         -Dowutchalike/DigitalUnderground

Name: The Nutcracker
Pace: 9:00/mile
Favourite Distance: 10k-short and sweet.  Rain or shine, preferably shine.
Playlist: - Big Mouth/Santigold                   -Daft Punk Is Playing In My House/LCD Sound           
             -So Whatcha Want/Beastie Boys - Try It Again - The Hives
             -Insane in the Brain/Cypress Hill   -You've Got Another Thing Comin/Judas Priest
             -I Love It - Icona Pop                        -Jerk It - Thunderheist
             -Power - Kanye West                        -Blue Orchid - White Stripes (and Icky Thump!)     

Name: Special K
Pace: 7:00/mile
Favourite distance: 10k (but I'm making that up, I didn't ask)
Playlist: -Go/Pearl Jam                            -Kickstart My Heart/Motley Crue
              -Hollywood Nights/Bob Seger  -Against the Wind/Bob Seger
              -Run LIke Hell/Pink Floyd         -Clash City Rockers/The Clash
              -Why Go/Pearl Jam                    -Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)/Arcade Fire
              -Harder than you Think/Public Enemy 
              -Galvanize/Chemical Brothers
             
Name: The Rabbit
Pace: 8:00/mile
Favourite distance: 8k.  Ocean front run on a clear, cool day.  Or any run with friends and beer at the end.
Playlist: Sorry I have never tried running to music. I prefer the tap tap (thump) of my feet and my own inner thoughts which may be a bit monotonous like some music perhaps. Also I'm too paranoid to block out the sounds of the world outside and I don't really like to run on the treadmill. 

So there you have it, 40 great songs and 1 good case for running without them at all.  Hope these help you off get off of the couch, away from the fireplace and cookies and out the door.  Any "must have" songs that aren't on here?  See you out there!