Monday, July 24, 2017

Monday Musings: Trying to get back on track

Hi ho!

I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend!  I spent it cheering and celebrating birthdays with family.  It was a big triathlon weekend here in Toronto.  The 5th annual Toronto Triathlon Festival was held on Sunday.  I had two athletes racing and I knew a TON of other people racing as well so I hopped on my bike and went down to do some cheering.  They had pretty much perfect conditions other than the really strong east wind.   It was overcast and not too humid.  I did feel a bit of a cool breeze and some rain while I was watching the swim but that didn't last long.

I'm not gonna lie, I was having some FOMO sitting there watching.  Funny because when G did it back in 2012, I remember looking at the channel and saying there was no way in hell I would ever swim in that water.   Yesterday it didn't look so bad.  Clearly I've come a long way, ha ha.  That being said, it was still fun cheering people on.  The Toronto Triathlon Club had a HUGE contingent of people out to try to reclaim the club championship, which they did handily.  YEAH TTC!

And I'm happy to say that both my athletes CRUSHED IT yesterday.  Both gals were grinning from ear to ear every time I saw them.  I know Courtney will post a race report sat some point (no pressure Courtney, ha ha) so make sure you check that out.  And Charlotte is now officially addicted.  YES!  One more person that has been brought into the fold, he he he.  It was also great to see some of my TTC hill crew out there kicking butt!

Happy finisher!  
Proud coach with a very happy athlete! 
These last few weeks have been a flurry of activity and a bit of inconsistency.  Looking through my training log last week I realized that I hadn't done a long ride since July 2nd.  Annnnddd...guess what didn't happen yet again this weekend.  FML.  We were out late on Friday night and then sat around Saturday  morning waiting to see what the weather would do.  When we eventually got out, it started to rain.  UGH.  I only rode for an hour and 10 minutes but I made sure it was a good ride.  I opted to do my long run almost right after that.  An hour and 15 minutes on my feet.  This week had been going SO well.  That being said, it was still a pretty good week.  Let's see how it unfolded, shall we!

Monday:  2700m swim.

Tuesday:  Double bike day!  35.8 km with Morning Glory in the a.m. and then 28km with TTC crew in the p.m. in High Park.  I'm definitely getting my fill of hills on the bike!

Wednesday:  3100m swim, 5km run, followed by a very quick 15 minute upper body / physio routine

Thursday:  30km with Morning Glory, followed by 7km with my friend David.  My legs were toast.

Friday:  2200m swim

Saturday:  33.7km ride followed by a 13.5km run

Sunday:  30.5km ride around High Park and down to the Toronto Triathlon Festival.


Swim:  8000m
Bike:  159km
Run:  25.6km

Guys, this is the FIRST time in WEEKS that I've actually hit all my weekly targets.  WOOHOO!

Total time:  11h 4 minutes

My glut / hamstring soreness is still persisting.  My chiro suspects I also have a bit of bursitis in my glut.  I am a bit of a mess.  But it's not at the point where it's preventing me from being active.  I found that running slower on my long run felt ok vs. when I run fast.  Obviously I had wanted to add some speed work in but that may not be an option for me.  But we'll see how things progress with the exercises.  Hopefully my hamstring routine helps calm things down.  In the meantime I've taped it and that seems to be helping.  I had a V02 max test this morning at U of T and it seemed to keep the pain at bay so that may be something I do on regular basis.  I'll be writing a post on my V02 max findings later on this week!

Oh and things to note - rehydrating with Pina coladas and wine is a bad idea.   After cheering at the TTF, I raced home, showered, stuffed my face and then we went out to my Uncles place for the annual Welch family BBQ.  When your cousin is a chef at North 44, you know it's gonna be good.   It ended up becoming an impromptu birthday celebration as several family members are celebrating "significant" birthdays this year.  So that automatically means silly head gear.
This is my dad - he turned 70 in June, ha ha.

This picture KILLS me.  The placement of the birds was totally by accident, ha ha.
Whatever training I did on Sunday was negated by the food and drink I had on Sunday.  But, it was totally worth it.  The food was amazing and the company was even better.  My face hurt from laughing so much.  Such an awesome way to end my weekend.

Congrats to everyone who raced this weekend!  What do you think about the fancy celebratory head wear and glasses??  

~ Coach PK 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Monday Musings: Dr. Google & The Notorious Niggle + some NEWS!

Oh hi!

It's been a couple of weeks since I've done a Monday Musings but I'm back!  It hasn't been a totally action packed week but there have been a few things that have happened over the last couple of weeks that I haven't actually written about.  I've been horrible at updating my Facebook page with anything as of late, probably because I'm spending more time on Instagram stories.  I have to get better at cross posting on my social media channels.  Anyway.....

Firstly, this happened:

Yup.  I passed my personal training practical.  I am now a certified Personal Trainer.  I can officially PUMP YOU UP.  It's something I've wanted to have in my arsenal for a while, it just took me FOREVER to get my shit together and organize my program and paper work.  Oh and practice everything.  I was SO nervous doing this but once I got going, I was ok.  I always seem to doubt how much I actually know.

Secondly, this finally happened:

The card is actually white, this photo doesn't do it justice but that's what happens with an iPhone pic, ha ha.

YEAHHHHH.....I finally got my business cards!  Woot woot!  I wanted to wait until I had officially passed my Personal training practical until I got these done and I'm thrilled with them!  Now when I have people ask for me a card I actually have something to give them!  Next up, getting a few more toys for the basement pain cave so I can start training people there.  I'm also going to be offering some mobile training as well where I come to you so stay tuned for pricing on that!

So that's my latest bit of news.

As for training, well, things have been a bit sporadic this week.  I had what I'm calling a "sinus attack."  It wasn't a full blown infection but it was definitely inflammation that knocked me sideways on Thursday.  I spent most of my day sleeping the pressure in my head was so bad.  I was better on Friday but still not 100%.   I went to bed early and got up early on Saturday to ride, only to still not feel awesome.  So I skipped the ride and went to the walk in clinic.  By the time I left the clinic, I felt totally fine.  The doc told me it was a viral infection vs a bacterial infection so he didn't think I needed antibiotics.  Instead I got a prescription for a nasal steroid which I haven't gotten filled yet.  What I do need to do is get to my family doctor and get a referral to an ear nose and throat specialist because this happens to me at least once a month and when it happens, I can't function.

Saturday wasn't a total wash out as I managed to do a double brick consisting of a 30 minute ride, 10 minute run, 30 minute ride, 10 minute run, followed by 15 minutes of core and upper body work.  I had a good sweat going, which was nice.  By the afternoon, my glut / upper hamstring was throbbing and my low back was also feeling nervy and tight.  This upper hamstring issue has been lingering for a long time now.  It's been really bad since Tremblant.  I went through my training log to see what seems to trigger it and it happens pretty much every time I run fast and when I ride my TT bike.  Which would explain why it was so bad on Saturday.  I rode by TT bike on the trainer and then ran pretty hard off the bike. I've been getting ART and acupuncture on my glut / hamstring and my ART guy said he thinks I may have a bit of tendinitis in my hamstring.  So of course I spent a large part of Saturday afternoon googling hamstring tendinitis.  FML.  I have pretty much every single symptom but they are usually gone by the next day, which leads me to believe that with some eccentric loading, avoiding my TT bike for a bit and either not running, OR keeping my runs very slow and very short OR possibly pool running, I may be able to manage it without losing too much fitness.   Ironically I didn't hurt at all after last Sundays insane run up a mountain so that kinda gives me hope that it's not that bad.  I do think it's a combo of my hamstring and glut that's the problem.  I have 8 weeks left before Lake Placid so I'd really like to keep myself together so I can get to that start line.  If it means taking a bit of time off my feet now, then I'll do that.  My low back was bugging me a bit on Saturday night so I opted to skip every workout I had scheduled yesterday (a bike and a long run).  Better safe than sorry.

So.  Where does that put me workout wise for the week?  Let's take a look shall we?

Monday:  OFF - I spent it in a car

Tuesday:  Slept in - my legs were still pretty sore from last Sunday.  Tuesday night I led the TTC group around High Park.  13km ridden as I spent a fair bit of time waiting for two folks that got lost.

Wednesday:  2150m swim

Thursday:  MGCC Edenbridge - 26km, which was actually more like 31km because I forgot to restart my watch after we stopped at Eglinton.  This ride was AWESOME.  It felt good.  It was hard but it didn't kill me.  I set PR's all over the route and I climbed Edenbridge in the BIG RING ALL 5 TIMES.  That has never happened! When I got home I ran 6km right off the bike.

Friday:  2100m swim

Saturday:  Double brick:  30 minute ride, 10 minute run, 30 minute ride, 10 minute run.

Sunday:  OFF - mobility work, stretching and hamstring work.  Firmly planted myself on the couch watching Le Tour and then again in the evening for the season premiere of Game of Thrones (who else watched - that opening scene was THE BEST!).

Swimming:  4250m
Cycling:  65.3km
Running:  10.5km

Total time:  4h 50 minutes

Here's hoping to a better week this week!

I had serious FOMO watching all the race pics / ride pics in my IG feed this weekend.

Who raced this weekend??  How did you do?  It was a perfect weekend for it!!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

I Ran Up a Mountain! CanadaMan Extreme Triathlon Guide report

Where do I start with this latest adventure?  What started as some drunken New Years talk with my friend Lauren, ended up being one of the most amazing things I've ever been a part of.  This past weekend, we went back to Quebec for yet another race.   This time it was the CanadaMan Extreme Triathlon in Lac Megantic.  I had never heard of this race but I knew of other extreme triathlons like the legendary Norseman in Norway and the Celtman in Scotland.

These races are all Iron distance races (or close to it) but they are done on courses that are extremely difficult in terms of elevation gain, terrain and sometimes even weather conditions.  They are also completely unsupported in that there are no aid stations on the course. You have to bring your own crew.  Unlike Ironman, athletes are actually able to receive outside help.  It was mandatory for athletes to have a crew.  For the bike leg, you had to have a support vehicle and for the run leg you could have either a support vehicle or a cyclist that stayed with you and for the last 8.3km you had to have a guide because the last part of the run course was up a mountain.  On a trail.  I thought it sounded like a challenge and 2017 was going to be the year of me stepping outside my comfort zone so I figured why not.  Lauren had originally asked me if I wanted to do the swim but that was a hard no.  Especially once I found out that you start at 4:30 am IN THE DARK. Let's change that to a HELL.  No.  So with me volunteering to do the run, G didn't think I'd want to drive to Quebec by myself (he was right, it was far!) he said he'd do the swim.  Which worked out for the best since he's a much better open water swimmer than I am.

I'll give you a brief synopsis of what this race entailed:

3.8km swim starting at 4:30 am in Lac Megantic.  It was a point to point swim.  
180km bike with 2600m of elevation gain.  That is a LOT of climbing.  
42.2km run on road, gravel and trail, finishing on the top of Mont Megantic, with 1200m of climbing, 900m of it happening in the last 8.3km.  

Insane?  Definitely.  

On a side note, I now understand why there are a lot of very strong French Canadian triathletes.  When you have nothing but ginormous hills to train on, it stands to reason that you’re going to develop some solid all around strength. 

We left Toronto around 10:30 am on Friday to make the almost 800km drive to Lac Megantic.  We made pretty good time along the 401 save for when we stopped at rest stops.  It’s summer holidays so these places were JAMMED.  What is usually a 15 minute stop max turned into at least 30 minutes in some instances.  Welcome to summer road tripping in Ontario.  We got stuck in rush hour traffic as we skirted Montreal and that set us back a good 40 minutes or so.  Once we got through that we were really entering Quebec farm country.  Cell service got spotty and places to stop were few and far between.   It was beautiful though.   Even when the rain started.  The clouds opened up and it poured hard for a while.  We started seeing signs for Lac Megantic.  I was curious to see what  the town was like after the disaster there 4 years ago. 

We drove in and passed through an older section of town, along the main street.  We came up to a set of railway tracks and it became very apparent where the accident had taken place.  One side of the town had old buildings and the other side had brand new more modern looking buildings along with nice manicured gardens and a lovely waterfront.  There was still a lot of open empty space that was fenced in.  Land that had yet to be developed I suppose.  This new part of town was lovely.  But it was very surreal.  As Lauren had commented, it was as if someone just dropped a brand new town in the middle of an old one.   I don't think it was an accident that they scheduled it very close to the 4 year anniversary date of the tragedy (July 6th and the race was July 9th).

Still some space for new buildings

Even though this event is a small one compared to Ironman (roughly 200 competitors) I can only imagine what the tourist dollars meant to local businesses and the surrounding area.  The Inn we stayed at was completely booked as were several of the other local hotels .  On race morning, the local Tim Horton’s was jammed.  I don’t know if they were expecting to have that many people come in.  But they handled it in stride and people didn’t have to wait too long for anything.   

For a first time event, it was incredibly well organized.   There were a few hitches here and there, mainly due to language, but for the most part it seemed really well executed and the community definitely rallied around it.  

G and I brought our bikes with the grand plan of doing a ride on the Saturday but the forecast was not in our favour.   There was a small window of sunshine that we took advantage of and drove over to Mont Megantic with Lauren's dad Jim.  The plan was to ride the 5+km up the mountain.  By the time we got there, the clouds had rolled in and I bailed on climbing up it.  I didn't want to descend in the rain so I opted to just ride around the surrounding area.  I'm glad I did because holy crap, I struggled on the surrounding roads, let alone trying to climb up a mountain.  As I was out on the road, I could hear thunder in the distance.  I turned around and started heading back to the parking lot at the park entrance.  As I was riding back up the road, it started spitting.  I saw a cyclist coming towards me on the other side of the road.  As they got closer I realized it was G.  I asked him what happened and he said he had started redlining as soon as he started climbing and it got worse as he went up the climb.  He didn't think it was smart to continue pushing so he turned around at about half way up the climb.  I asked him what happened to Jim and he said he was still planning on going up.  So we pedalled back to the car just as the rain started to get heavier and heavier.  By the time we got back to the car it was raining pretty steadily.  I had suggested that G go back up the mountain and check on Jim so he loaded up his bike and I took mine into the park office.  Just after G left, the skies opened.  It was like a monsoon there was so much rain and wind.  If you saw my IG stories, you would have seen the insanity.  I sat inside and waited and about 15 minutes later I see Jim come flying into the parking lot.  He was completely drenched.  He came running into the park office with his bike and G showed up in the parking lot shortly thereafter.  I can't believe that he rode down the mountain in that downpour.   He said it was a bit of a slow go but was glad he did it.

We loaded up our bikes and headed back to the Inn.  By the time we got back the rain had stopped.  Of course, ha ha.  We showered,  got ourselves organized for the next day and then headed out for lunch.  The mandatory athlete briefing was at 3:00 pm so we went into downtown Lac Megantic and had lunch.  We met up with the rest of the team, sat through the briefing trying to figure out what was happening.  I could piece some things together because I understand french.  I can't speak it any more but I still have a pretty good understanding of words so I get the gist of what people are saying.   After the briefing we went over race logistics and then headed back to the Inn to get changed and head out for dinner.  G had to be up at 2:50 am to be down at the Arena for 3:30 am, which also meant that I had to be up.  So we wanted to be in bed early.  We wrapped up dinner by about 8:00pm and then headed back to the Inn.  G and I were asleep by 9:30.  I slept really well and woke up around 1:00 am to go pee.  I fell back asleep right away and the next thing I knew G's alarm went off.   We dragged our butts out of bed, G got himself sorted and we made our way into downtown Lac Megantic.

The hockey arena was a hub of activity.  G got his wetsuit half on and we went into the gymnasium to await instructions.   Finally, just after 4 am they announced that we'd be starting the walk down to the swim start.  We all started filing out of the arena into the parking lot.  I looked up to see a full moon.  It was beautiful.  The night was quiet except the footsteps and the odd bits of conversation.  We followed a boardwalk along the outskirts of the new part of town.  There were a bunch of locals along the path that came out and were clapping as the athletes walked by.  The local church was a lit up in a variety of different colours.  It was stunning.  The boardwalk was lit with little bamboo torches all they way to the water.  It really was a pilgrimage.

As we got closer to the water, I could hear people cheering.  I was shocked to see the crowd that had come out to see the racers off.  For a small town, there was a lot of people.  G handed me his shoes and his jacket and he zipped up his wetsuit.  I kissed him good luck and he wandered down to the start of the water.  I went around to fence to get a better view of the start.  There was a huge spotlight on the shore which cast enough light to illuminate the water at the foot of the beach.

There were some announcements and then they counted down to the start.  The horn went off and arms started flailing.  I figured I'd have about 1h - 1h 15 minutes to grab a coffee and get to transition.

It didn't take me too long to get over the T1, I think getting my coffee took longer, ha ha.  I was rewarded with this lovely shot when I arrived.  I found Lauren and saw Wade waiting in transition.

At 1:05 G still hadn't arrived so I was a little concerned.  I noticed the water was choppy at the start.  It was very windy.  So I suspected that would be a bit of an issue.  G showed up 7 minutes later for a 1h 12 minute swim for 3.8km.  Slower than he had anticipated but he said the water was choppy.  Wade headed off on the insane 180km trek and we went to go get breakfast.  Wade figured he'd be between 6-7 hours on the course depending on how bad the hills were so we had some time to kill.  After breakfast we managed to spot him pass the driveway to our hotel.  Once he had gone by G and I headed back to the room where I promptly fell asleep and G watched F1.

Lauren's parents were Wade's crew on the bike and Lauren's dad got some awesome shots of him and course.   Look at the climbs!

Best race sign ever!!!

Lauren had set up a Garmin live track so we'd know when she started running.  I had finished packing up all the goodies into the trail pack so I was ready to go.  I did a bit more work on training plans and then we headed into town to get some lunch.  Lauren texted me to let me know how Wade was doing.    He was cooking along on the bike given the amount of climbing.  G and I finished up our lunch and headed back to the room.  I was getting antsy.  So we packed everything up and opted to head over to T3 early.  I'm glad we did because it was packed.  We had to park on the road vs in the parking lot at the base of the mountain.  The transition point was obvious - it almost looked like a finish line.  I spent a lot of time running back and forth to the car, trying to get my legs warmed up and to calm myself down.  I was really nervous.  I had no clue what kind of trail we were going to end up on and I didn't want to slow Lauren down.

The Garmin live track was perfect.  We were able to track Lauren as she got closer so I had a pretty good idea as to when I'd need to be down at T3.  As she got closer, I grabbed the two extra bottles she wanted from Wade's mom, Patti, and I went down to T3 and waited.  I heard the announcer say Equipe Blood Sweat and Beers and then he said the team names so I figured Lauren would be around the corner any minute.  She rounded the bend and I could see on her face that the last bit had been tough.  Wade handed her a pepsi and she slammed that down.  She didn't want the bottles I had so we left them and we took off into the trail.

The first part of the trail was single track and not terribly technical but that changed quickly.  Lauren said her legs were tired so we slowed things down.  We chugged through the single track and the terrain started to change.  Things also started to get a lot steeper.  We were heading into a lot of rocks.    We went from running to climbing.  It was tough.  We were literally going straight up.  I could see why people were using poles.  Our first km took us almost 11 minutes.  Our second km took us over 22 minutes.  We also stopped for a bit a this point.  Lauren was hurting.  I don't blame her.  This course was no joke.  She had already gone through a really tough part earlier on around 28km that involved scaling some rocks.  Now she was back in the thick of it in the woods.   We pushed along, scaling rocks and sloshing through mud.  My trail shoes were getting a proper christening out here for sure.

We knew there was a small downhill in the course before it started climbing again and that couldn't come soon enough.  This was mentally taxing.  It was like climbing switchbacks up a mountain on your bike  You can't see the end, just turn after turn of uphill.  We scaled more rocks and we started to see the tree line thin out a bit.  Sure enough we came out into an opening with a stunning view of the valley and forest below.   The crazy part?  We weren't even close to being done.  We were just over 3km in.  Of course we couldn't pass up the opportunity to take a selfie.  We checked in with the two volunteers that we passed and headed back into the trail.

We were losing it a bit at this point.  And we still had a long way to go.
We went right back into all the mud and rocks.  I vaguely remember passing a sign that said 1000m.   It's no wonder my ears were popping, ha ha.  We eventually came out into another open space.  It looked like the top of a ski hill.  There was a big cross at the top and the view was amazing.  We found the blue trail flags and were pleasantly surprised to find that we were now running on a lovely undulating gravel trail.  We picked up a lot of time cruising along here, especially since it was mainly down hill.  Which meant that we were going to be climbing again eventually.  We enjoyed the downhill while we could.  Eventually the gravel trail ended and it turned into single track again.  This is where Lauren was at home.  She had gotten a second wind and was flying along this path.  I am not the most agile so I started to fall back.

It was muddy, rooty, twisty and turny for a long time.  The climbing was gradual so we didn't really notice it.  We caught another team as we went along.   That spurred us on to pick up the pace.   We had done a lot of descending and not much in the way of ascending.  That changed relatively quickly. We started scaling rocks and picking our way around tree roots while going up once again.  We could hear snippets of voices and what sounded like the finish line.  I glanced at my Garmin and we were at 7km.  We were close.  All of a sudden we came up on another team.  The two guys stepped aside and cheered us on as we passed them.  Lauren and I were booking it.  We found the uphill to be much better than the downhill.  We could really hear the announcer now.   We turned a corner and there was a random dude on the trail cheering people on.  He was super high energy and we high fived him and thanked him for being there.  We were so close.   We could hear the announcer clearly now.  We scrambled up some more rocks and saw an break in the trees.  We came out along the side of the road on the way up to the observatory.  There were a few people there cheering.  The road was pretty much straight up but at least it was road.  It was also SUPER windy.  Lauren ducked behind me so she could conserve some energy.  The road wound around towards the top and as we made the turn, we saw the finish line come into view.  There were people everywhere.  Lauren's husband, Wade, came running towards us.  I knew Lauren was going to get emotional.  It had been a long tough day and she said when she saw Wade she was pretty sure there would be tears.

The three of us jogged along towards the finish line.  As we got on to the finish line red carpet and they started to announce the team name, Lauren grabbed my hand and I'm pretty sure she had Wade's hand as well and we crossed the line as a trio.

G met us at the finish line and the team got their medals.  What a day.  What an experience.  That last 8.7km took us 1 hour and 52 minutes.  It was hands down the hardest run I've ever done.  But it was also the most amazing.  I'm so proud of Lauren, Wade and G.  That was a race of epic proportions and they crushed it.

After we had gotten back to our rooms to shower, they found out that Blood Sweat and Tears ended up being the second place mixed relay team out of 19 teams!  That is pretty freaking awesome.

I am so glad I volunteered to do this.  This took me way outside my comfort zone and, I actually enjoyed myself.  So much so that in our post race texts, I told Lauren that I want to do some trail running in the off season.   More adventures will result from that I'm sure!

I will leave you with the elevation chart of the last 8.7km....

What do you think folks?  Would you attempt something like this solo or as part of a relay?

I can honestly say that I have zero desire to do an extreme triathlon.  I don't mind suffering but only for a short period of time, ha ha.

Massive thanks to Jim, Lauren's dad for all the awesome pics!

~ Coach PK

Monday, July 3, 2017

Monday Musings: The Next Adventure

Happy Monday!

I hope everyone had an awesome Canada Day!   We didn't get up to much on the Saturday.  The weather wasn't awesome and, it was the first day of The Tour de France so that meant I stayed in my pjs in front of the TV until 11 am, ha ha.  G went for a run, I did some laundry and we went for a cappuccino.  I spent the afternoon working on training plans and I was in bed asleep by 10:30 after watching a few fireworks from our living room window.

Yesterday we hit the road with Morning Glory for a 130km ride.  Might have been a wee bit ambitious a week after my half Ironman but I managed alright.  Today I'll probably head out for a short run.  G is out riding with Morning Glory again.  I didn't think that back to back 100+km rides were a good idea so I passed on that.  And I was cooked after yesterday's ride.  It was my longest ride this year.

Those of you that have been reading along regularly have seen me make mention of another adventure but I haven't really gotten into it much.  This other adventure is happening this weekend.  What is it you may ask?  Well, G and I are participating in the Canada Man Extreme Tri.  It's an unsupported Iron distance race (3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.2km run), much like Norseman or Celtic Man.  This race is taking place in Lac Megantic (remember that horrible train crash years ago?).    We're part of a relay team called Blood, Sweat and Beers, ha ha.  My friend Lauren and her husband Wade are the runner and the cyclist respectively and G is the swimmer.  The runner requires a guide for the last 8.5km so that's where I come in.  I will be running with Lauren up to the top of Mont Megantic.

The race starts at 4:30 am - IN THE DARK.  Yup, G has to swim 3.8km starting in the dark.  No bloody way would I do that.  Swimmers are required to wear a strobe light on their swim caps so they can be seen.  The race is point to point to point, which means I'll have to get up when G gets up, take him down to the swim start where they have a ceremonial walk to the start at 4:00 am.  He'll get in the water and then I'll have to drive to the other side of the lake to pick him up.  We'll then head back to our hotel and sleep for a bit.  Wade will be on the bike for about 6.5 hours give or take.  There is 2500 m of climbing on this course so it's tough.   The run takes place on road and trail so I know Lauren will be fast on the road sections but slower on the trail sections.  She's guessing roughly 6 hours for the run.  There is 1200m of climbing on the run course so we will be covering a lot of hills.   That will be some good hill training for Lake Placid for sure!

I'm looking forward to getting back to regular training.  I took four days off this week post race.  I really needed it.  I was sore all day Monday and Tuesday and had planned on swimming on Wednesday but I was still pretty tired so I slept in.  I had a massage that night and was feeling so much better by Thursday but still wanted to give myself another day.  There's no such thing as being too recovered ha ha.  I got back into the pool on Friday morning and then I went out for a run with my friend Jo-Anne Friday afternoon.  It wasn't pretty.  My legs were still feeling a bit heavy so Saturday was another off day.

I don't think this week will ramp back up to regular volume just yet.  I'll ease back into things this week and resume the regular business next week.

If you're interested in following along on the Canada Man Extreme adventure, watch my instagram stories feed over the weekend.  I'll be posting regularly.

How did you celebrate Canada Day?  Who went down to the waterfront to see the big duck???

Enjoy your Monday - hopefully you have it off!  

~ Coach PK

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Comeback: Mont Tremblant 70.3 Run

We go out in the world and take our chances....
Fate is just weight of circumstances....
That's the way that Lady Luck dances.....

Roll The Bones

I ran into T2 in my cycling shoes and shuffled over to my spot in transition.  I racked my bike, took off my helmet and then took off my shoes.  My feet were actually still damp so I had to dry them off before I could put my socks on.  Even then getting my socks on was a struggle.  In retrospect I should have chosen a different pair of socks but these matched my outfit so of course I had to wear them, ha ha.  It took me a solid minute to get both pairs on as well as my shoes and race belt.  I grabbed my hat, sunglasses and gels and started running.   I put my hat on as I exited T2 and shoved my gels in my pockets, keeping one out and ready to go.  Surprisingly my legs felt ok.  They didn't feel tired.  What was really bothering me was my left glut and upper hamstring.  It hurt.  I felt like the nerve was being rubbed.  I didn't want to try to change my gait because that would really mess with things.  So I plodded on.  My Garmin beeped and I looked down to see 4:39 for the first km.  Whoa.  I didn't feel like I was running 4:39/km.  It felt comfortable.  That was a good thing.

Still a whole lotta upper body twisting happening! 
I spent a lot of time running hills in my training leading up to Tremblant and it totally paid off.  I scampered up the first big climb like it was nothing.  I figured the rollers leading into the village of Tremblant wouldn't pose too much of an issue for me since I had done so much hill work.  I was chugging along, passing people, feeling pretty good, other than the fact I had to pee.  I had to pee at about 60km on the bike but I didn't want to stop and by the time I got onto Duplessis, that sensation went out the window, probably because I was working so hard.  But out on the run, I started to get uncomfortable. I thought perhaps I could run through it but I know that when I have to pee, I usually stop drinking and that wouldn't be a smart thing considering I was only 3km into the run.  So just before I started climbing into the old village, I stopped at a porta potty.  Luckily I didn't have to wait.  As much as I love my one piece tri suit, getting  in and out of it while sweaty is a pain in the ass.  I was in the porta potty for at least a minute, probably closer to a minute and a half.   But once I got out, I felt a million times better and started to pick up the pace again.

I had no issues with the hills leading into the old village and my km splits remained in the 4:40 range (other than the porta potty stop).  I knew that once I got onto the rail path, it was a false flat going down hill on the way out so things were going to feel really easy, which they did.  I settled into an excellent rhythm.  I'd grab water and the occasional gatorade at aid stations but what I really wanted was a coke.  I finally got one at the second aid station on the path.  Ahhhh.  So.  Good.

Since the run course was an out and back, I figured I'd see G so I kept my eyes peeled for him.  I saw a lot of the top age groupers on their way back, including Rob Wheeler, a guy we ride with from time to time.  I saw a few other Zoot athletes out on the course as well - easy to spot in our awesome kits!

I was ticking off the kms fairly comfortably.  I didn't feel like I was pushing too hard.  The pace felt sustainable.  I was figuring my average HR was probably around 155-157.  I don't know that my legs could have gone any faster even if I wanted them to.  I figured at the pace I was running I'd probably come in around 1:42-1:43, if I could sustain it for the entire run.  I finally saw G as I got closer to the 9km mark.  He had made the turnaround and was on his way back.  I'd say there was probably just under 2km that separated us.  He looked like he was running really well.  Old me would have had the speed to catch him for sure.  But, current me did not and wasn't even going to try.

I got to the turnaround and started the trek back.  I was halfway done.  Coming back I watched my pace start to drop a bit.  The sun was out in full force so it was getting a little hot and I was running up hill.  It was slight, but enough that it affected my pace.  I grabbed another water, coke, then gatorade.   I started seeing some familiar faces as a lot of my friends were now on the run.  I saw my friend Lois and I saw Nathalie again - we exchanged high fives and whoohoos, as you do, ha ha.  I had actually managed to catch a couple of women as well.  Once again, I wasn't sure if they were in my AG or not but I passed them both decisively.

At about the 14km mark, I was starting to hurt.  I told myself I only had 7km to go.  35 minutes or so.  My legs were starting to feel it.  I am chalking this up to a few things, mainly my lack of longer runs off the bike.   The next aid station, I stopped and walked through it, grabbing water and coke again.  I made sure not to stop for too long as it hurts like hell to start running again after standing around.  Soon I was at the 16km mark and the suffering was really starting.

So what did I start doing?  I started smiling.  An IG friend of mine had commented on one of my pre race posts and said "Smile every mile".  That stuck with me and when the going got tough, I started to smile.  It seems counter intuitive but honestly, it made me feel better.  Maybe not 100% but it made a difference.

At the 17km aid station, I stopped to grab another gatorade, coke and water.  I opted to take my last gel and instead of running and eating it, I stopped and stood at the aid station.  My legs were feeling it.  I ate the gel, grabbed another water to wash it down and I was off.  I hoped that it would give me enough energy to power through the last 4km because I was really starting to hurt.  My right quad was feeling crampy and my calves were sore.

As soon as I got out of the village, I knew the end was near.  There were spectators peppered along the road leading into the ski village and I smiled at each and every one of them.  I rounded the bend past the swim start and climbed the hill.  There were people walking.  Once again, I had no issue getting up it and I passed a couple more women.  I could hear the DJ and people cheering.  When I got to the bottom of the hill, there were people everywhere.  I started grinning from ear to ear and high-fiving people.  Anyone that had a hand out, I was going to hit it.  I passed the 20km mark and started to pick up the pace.  I also started to get emotional.  There were a few tears shed for sure.  I couldn't believe that I was almost done.   It felt like my first 70.3 all over again.  I caught two more women as I made the turn around the driveway of Hotel Quintessence.   The crowds were insane along here.   I made my way down the through village, right by the same spot I stood cheering last year and got choked up again.  STOP CRYING.   I composed myself as I followed the turn of the finishing chute.  Only a few hundred meters to go.  I ran into the open area just before the finish line and raised my fist in the air and yelled YES with a huge grin plastered on my face.  I glanced up at the clock and saw 5:35 something but that meant nothing to me because I had no idea what time I started at.

I heard the announcer call my name as I came towards the line.  I jogged down the ramp and started walking.  I had stopped my watch when I crossed the line but was so darn happy I was finished, I didn't even bother to look.  I wanted to find G.   I found him right away and I hugged him and started crying again.   I was overcome with emotion.  What a perfect day.   I collected my medal and my finishers hat and we immediately got in line for poutine.  I wasn't messing around.  I was hungry.  It was only then that I looked down at my watch and saw the total time.

5:09:12.  I blurted out "Holy Shit, I don't believe it!" G said You don't believe what?  I told him my time and I got a big hug and a congrats.   He was 5:06:31.  He took 18 minutes off his time from last year!

My official time was 5:09:44.  I didn't start my watch right away when I went into the water and, I stopped my watch by accident on my way out of transition so I lost some seconds there.  My final run time was 1:44:48 and I went from 10th to 6th.

I was positively gobsmacked.  I was hoping a good day would net me a 5:15 or so.  I didn't think I'd manage anything faster than that.   I went into this race with zero expectations in terms of where I'd end up in my AG.  I knew that I was a fairly strong athlete so I figured I'd probably end up in the top 10-15 at least if I didn't have any mechanical issues and depending on who else showed up.   That time got me 6th in my AG.  If I had raced last year and gotten that time, it would have put me in third.  The top 3 women in my AG went sub 5 hours.   That is just plain CRAZY.

I am absolutely thrilled at how the day unfolded.  We had fabulous weather, I remained calm during the swim, I nailed my power numbers, and managed a decent run.  This gives me a good benchmark for things I can work on for Placid.  I was less than two minutes out of 5th place and I know exactly where I lost it.  So, moving forward, I will be working on faster transitions as well as just making sure I get even stronger climbing on my tri bike.  And of course, I will be putting in a bit more speed work on the run, along with continued hill running because like I said yesterday, Lake Placid ain't flat.  That run course is no joke.

I want to give a massive shout out to everyone that wished me luck - THANK YOU!  My awesome health care crew also deserves special mention as they helped to keep me in one piece this year:  Dr.  Peter Lejkowski at Pivot Sports Medicine and my RMT and pal, David Lamy.  And of course, G, without him, I wouldn't be doing this crazy sport.  He introduced me to it all those years ago and I am forever grateful.  Here's to crossing many more finish lines together.

Thanks for reading!

~ Coach PK xo

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Comeback: Mont Tremblant 70.3 Race Recap - The Bike

Now that my least favourite part of the race was over, I was on to the bike.  This was going to be a solid test of my cycling fitness and fueling strategy.  Because this was an early season race, G and I both felt that we would probably have some room for improvement in Lake Placid.   I knew this course was hard, well, parts of it were anyway, and that you had better not burn yourself out too early because the last 16km of the course is pure evil. 

I came flying into T1 and over to my rack which was very close to the swim entrance.  I had caught Clare, another TTC athlete on the run up to transition and her and I ran to our bikes together.   I dropped my wetsuit, goggles and earplugs, grabbed my helmet, buckled it up and yanked on my shoes.  My feet were a bit cold but I figured they’d probably warm up as the sun was supposed to come out.  It was still overcast when I headed out of transition to start the bike.  I ran out to the dismount line and hopped on Tom Sawyer.  I had put my bike in the small chain ring but realized that even in the hardest gear my legs were spinning too high.  They were raring to go.  So into the big chain ring I went. 

The First 30km:  Pacing myself

Once you leave transition, it’s flat for about 800m then you start to climb a smallish hill.  You descend that a decent clip into a round about and then you start a longer climb up Montee Ryan.  Montee Ryan has two good climbs and an awesome descent.  There is a no passing section on here as well.   I didn’t want to hammer the first climb so I just settled into a good rhythm, ticking my legs over at about 85-90 RPM.   I had taken a GU as soon as I got on my bike.  My plan was to fuel mainly with E-Fuel (roughly 2.5-3 bottles depending on how long I was riding for) plus 2 gels + 1/3 of a Lara bar if I felt like I wanted something solid.  Using primarily liquid fuel meant that I was definitely going to be hydrated.  It also meant that I was carrying all my fuel on my bike, which adds a bit of weight.  But I figured most of it would be gone by the time I got to the really hard part of course near the end of the race.

The first 30km - look at that descent!!! 

 I settled into a good groove, passing a few people, really trying to keep my effort level in check.  My target power was 180w and I figured with the hills on the course, I'd definitely end up somewhere around there.  I find spinning up climbs at a lower power rate really spikes my heart rate so I try to pedal at a slightly lower cadence to keep my HR down, which ends up spiking my power into the 200-215w range.  Yes, that can be hard on your legs if you’re not used to it, but that’s how I’ve been riding for the last few years and it seems to work for me. 

Once we got down Montee Ryan, we turned on to the 117.   This was where I knew I could make up some good time.  I knew there was a long grinder of a climb on the way back but on the way out, you got that amazing descent.  We had one entire side of the highway so there was plenty of room to spread out.  I was very aware of the race marshalls.   The last thing I wanted was to get a penalty for drafting.  It was very difficult to avoid people.  There were draft packs everywhere.   In fact, there were several instances where I was passed by a paceline of guys.  I was so annoyed at one group I said “nice paceline, cheaters!” as they went by me.  The most frustrating part was that even with that pacelining, they didn’t get that far ahead of me.  I caught a bunch of them on a climb again.  Idiots.  I was quite happy to see that a few of them got busted for drafting, as I saw them sitting in the penalty tent on the way back. 

I cooked along the highway, feeling really good.  I tried not to surge too much but I kept coming up on packs of people that were moving much slower than I was and in order to get by them, I had to pick up the pace a fair bit because you only have 25 seconds to make a pass.  When it's a larger group, you really need to make sure you are moving quickly.  This happened a few times in the earlier kms along the highway.  I figured by the time we turned around it would spread out.  

My fuelling was on point, thanks to my new hydration bottle, it was very easy to keep sipping on my drink.  My energy level felt good.  There was never any lag or spike in energy, it remained constant.  I did wish that I had put my socks on as my feet were actually quite cold.  The sun hadn't come out and there was a fair bit of wind on the highway.  The forecast had called for sun in the morning but instead we were greeted with a low lying mist and cloud cover that didn't start to break until we made it into downtown Tremblant.   My legs were also a bit cold but I figured that once the sun came out that would change.

I hit the turnaround and didn't unclip like I usually do.  I can't believe how much better my bike handling skills have gotten.  Thank you Morning Glory!  

The Middle 30km:  Finding my groove

Once I hit the turnaround, I immediately started climbing again.  It wasn't a steep climb, just a bit a long grinder.  I knew the way back to downtown Mont Tremblant was going to be fast, other than the big grinder of a climb.  My plan for that climb was hit the small chain ring and just click over the km's.  Don't burn too much power.   I still had a ways to go before I hit that so I stayed in my aerobars and kept the cadence up.  I was closing in on 1 hour on the bike so I was curious to see how much ground I would have covered when I hit the 1 hour mark.  I got my answer a few minutes later:  33.4km.  HECK YEAH.  That was much better than I had expected.   

I was still feeling really good closing in around the halfway point.  I was starting to get into unfamiliar territory with my tri suit - I hadn't worn it for anything longer than 40km but I made sure I had used chamois cream and body glide to protect my delicate undercarriage.   At 45km I was still feeling ok but I had a sneaking suspicion that things would be different by the time I hit 60km.  I kept trucking along.  The big climb was coming up so I thought I'd take my 1/3 of my Lara bar before I started climbing.  There was a huge group of guys that had passed me on a descent and I caught pretty much all of them on this climb.   When I got to the top, I saw the penalty tent.  It was JAMMED.   The race marshals weren't messing around.

I booked it along the next section of the highway.  It was a long undulating descent that flattened out to an off ramp which we took into downtown Mont Tremblant.  There were a TON of people out cheering.  We did a little u-turn in town and then it was back towards Montee Ryan.  The big descent that I rode down on the way out, I had to ride back up.  So, it was back into my small chain ring again.  I knew what was coming up and I wanted my legs to be ready for it.  The race had definitely spread out by this point.   I noticed that I had only been passed by two women.  Lots of guys, but only two women.  I felt pretty good about that.   In retrospect that didn't really mean anything other than those women started after me and were faster than me on the bike.  I had no clue if they were in my AG or not.  That's the thing about a rolling start is that you have no idea who you're racing.  

The Final 30km:  Into the hills

I was watching my Garmin again as I was getting close to the two hour mark.  I hit 66.8km in 2 hours.  I was exactly the same speed as on the way out, ha ha.  How's that for consistency??  I was still averaging 33.4kph.  My goal was 32-32.5/kph so this was much better than I had anticipated.  That being said, I knew I was going to lose some time in the last 16km of the ride.  

The last 30km.  The km from about 68 to 78 are just plain brutal.  
My tri suit was really starting to be uncomfortable as was my left glut.  That oh so familiar nerve pain was rearing it's head and my glut and upper hamstring were aching.  That did not bode well for the run but I tried not to think about that.  I was getting closer to making the turn from Montee Ryan onto Chemin des Voyageurs so the hard part of the race was closing in.  Aside from the tri suit, I was still feeling pretty good.  I know I spent a large part of my day smiling.  How could I not after last year?

I rode past transition towards Chemin Duplessis.  I was totally shocked at the number of people that were out spectating through here and all the way up the road.  The first climb was lined with people.  It was amazing and it totally gave me an extra boost.  I powered up that first climb just fine.  I was trying to remember how many climbs there were on the way out.  I figured at least 6.  The second one comes right after the first and it's short and steep so I had to get out the saddle for that one, even in my small chain ring.  This section of the course reminds me of the first part of the Muskoka course.  Just bloody brutal.   I passed another photographer and waved and he made some comment about me not working hard enough, ha ha.

I continued chugging along, trying to spin my legs as much as possible through here.  Even in my easiest gear, I still had to get out of the saddle to get up some of the climbs.  This section is SO hard.  My quads were absolutely screaming at me towards the last big climb.  I was lucky if I was doing more than 10kph.  I was a little concerned that perhaps I had gone a little too hard earlier on.  Nothing I could do about that now except hope that I don't cave on the run.  I noticed that my Garmin wasn't matching the signs on the race course.  I seemed to be roughly 2km behind the course signs.  Oh well,  that just meant I'd be off the bike sooner, ha ha.

I hit the last climb and as I came around the bend I saw the turnaround.  Once again, I made it around a turn without unclipping!  WHEEEE!   I knew the way back to transition was going to be way faster than the way out.  When I looked at my Strava results for that segment, I was over 4 minutes faster on the way back, ha ha.  There was another no passing zone on Duplessis, at the big sweeping descent due to a couple of very serious accidents that have happened at previous races.  Luckily when I hit that zone, there wasn't anyone in front of me so I took full advantage of that and pedalled like mad.  Before I knew it, I was back into the crowds along the bottom of Duplessis and turned back in towards transition.  I jumped off my bike at the dismount line, glanced down at my Garmin and was shocked at what I saw.   2:42 and change.  Holy crap.

I crossed the timing mat and ran into T2.  

Official bike time:  2:43:01 for an average of 33.13 kph.   For the data geeks out there, my normalized power was 182w.  Pretty much where I thought I'd be.  I was hoping I'd have HR data to share but for some reason my HRM didn't work after the swim.  Probably due to the amount of body glide I put on in the morning, ha ha.  

I consumed 2.25 bottles of e-fuel, 2 GU and 1/3 of a coconut Lara Bar.

I managed to gain 13 spots from the swim to the bike.  I exited the swim in 23rd, came off the bike in 10th.  

Not too long ago I could only dream about holding a pace like I did for 90km.  My cycling has seen massive improvement in the last year.  Looking back on last year, had I not gotten injured, I don't know that I would have put as much time in the saddle as I have.  It's certainly paid off and I still feel like I have some more gains to make, especially climbing.  Which is good because Lake Placid ain't flat.

I'll be back tomorrow with the final leg and some post race thoughts.....

Thanks for reading!

~ Coach PK