Monday, April 17, 2017

Monday Musings: Marathon Monday

It's not just any Monday, it's BOSTON MARATHON MONDAY!  My Social Media feeds have been all Boston all the time since Friday and I've loved every minute of it.  I know what the excitement and anticipation feels like and it's so awesome to see it through other people's eyes.   It's also Easter Monday so to those of you that have the day off, enjoy!  Speaking of which, I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter Weekend.  Ours was spent with family eating, riding, running and eating some more.  It was a lovely weekend.   It was just what I needed to get me out of my funk.  Yup, I've been a bit down in the dumps for the last week.  I was feeling a bit out of sorts and very unmotivated.  I think it might have been the weather.  It was pretty grey and rainy this past week and I was worried that I had done something to my glut and hamstring again, which weighed heavily on my mind.  I had an appointment with my ART guy on Wednesday and all seems to be good.  Yes, things are really tight (surprise!) so I have to keep on top of that.  It may require another appointment but everything seems to be fine.   Ironically, it's coming up on the one year anniversary of my injury so staying on top of any issues is definitely in the forefront of my mind.   I do not want to piss away any more race entries!!!  Nor do I want to miss the Morning Glory ladies camp in Lake Placid coming up on the second week of May.  I'm SO EXCITED for that.  It will be excellent prep for Tremblant and Lake Placid 70.3.  I seem to have chosen all the hilly courses for my races this year so I should work on finding my climbing legs.  That is part of my next month of training....bring on all the hills!

Speaking of training, despite my low motivation this past week, I still managed an alright week of training.  I'm chalking that up to our 3 day weekend and the nice weather we had.  This is how things rolled out...

Monday:  1850m swim + 30 minute upper body & core workout at home

Tuesday:  8.2km easy run part of it with my friend David who is running his first Boston marathon today!

Wednesday:  2500m swim.

Thursday:  18km easy spin along the trail + 30 minutes of upper body, core and balance work.

Friday:  68.5km around the GTA with G.  It was a beautiful day for a ride!

Saturday:  15km run in the pouring rain.   I thought it was going to suck but it was actually quite nice.

Sunday:  78.5km ride with Morning Glory.  This was part of the development ride so it was a very nice easy pace.  Just what my legs needed after a 15km run.   I think I will be back out with MGCC this week, the mornings are looking warmer and rain free so that means all systems go!

Totals for the week:

Swim:  4350m

Bike:  165km (getting back on track!)

Run:  23km

Total time:  10h 45 minutes

How was your week of training?  Are you tuning in to watch the Boston Marathon this morning? I will be firmly planted in front of the TV for the next couple of hours!

Happy Monday folks, make it a good one!

~ Coach PK 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

These are a few of my favourite things.....Take TWO

It's been a long while since I've done one of these posts!   5 years to be exact.  Holy moly how things have changed, especially technology (look at my iPod shuffle, ha ha ha).   I'm still out pounding the pavement but I'm not listening to music when I run anymore (CRAZY!) and I'm spending a lot more time on my bike so there's some bike gear love in here too.  As a coach, I am always on the lookout for informative articles and videos so I'm sharing one of my favourite resources so without further ado, these are a few things that I either love (hello stroopwafel) or find incredibly useful, or both!

GU Stroopwafel in Salty's Caramel.

OMG.  What is a stroopwafel you ask?  It's a European thing, specifically from the Netherlands.   Honey Stinger was the first company to do these waffles and while I do like a few of their flavours, I am VERY partial to salted caramel anything.  At $2.59 a piece, they're a little more expensive than gels but they are a great option if you want something a little more substantial to eat without having to eat a bar.   I've also found the REAL stroopwafels in the odd European deli (once at a No Frills!) and they are way cheaper and just as tasty, however I strongly suspect that they don't offer the same performance benefits as one of these....

Kinetic Revolution.

I discovered this website when I was rehabbing my knee problems a couple of years ago.  This site is FULL of free exercise resources for runners and triathletes.  James Dunne is the face of Kinetic Revolution.  He's the guy you see in all the videos.  He's a total "form nerd" and he will often analyze the running form of various pros in a step by step post, which is incredible to watch when it's broken down the way he does it.  The site also offers fixes to various running gait issues.  There is also an entire section on mobility and stretching.  I've found some great stretches on this site as well as some excellent exercises.  

My wobble board.

I just re-discovered this when we got back last week.  As of late I've found that my transverse abdominus (lower abs) aren't that functionally strong.  Meaning when I run, I don't feel they are engaging.   I think my core in general could use some waking up so I've taken to the balance board for a couple of minutes a day to work on engaging those muscles.  Not only does it work my core but it also works my legs and ankles as well as my sense of balance (which is horrible).    I figure I should start incorporating this sort of thing into my training given that I'm going be helping someone run 8km up a mountain in the dark in July.  My goal right now is to balance on it for 30 seconds unsupported.  I'm currently at 7 seconds.  Clearly I've got some work to do!

Cat 5 Cycling Gear case.

This was an afterthought purchase last year at Watts Up and it is THE BEST THING EVER for keeping all my cycling bits and pieces in ONE spot.  I used to have my arm and leg warmers in a bin with my running gloves and hats and other stuff or, in another bin somewhere else and inevitably I wouldn't be able to find them when I needed them without having to rip the house apart.  Now, I keep pretty much everything in this handy compartmentalized bag.  It even has room for bottles on either side.  AWE-SOME.

Night Runner 270 Shoe lights.

I wrote a post about these babies when they first came out.  Now that I'm back to running at dark o'thirty from time to time, these are back on my shoes.  I had forgotten how awesome they are.  What's even MORE awesome is that the folks at Night Runner have designed a new pair called the Night Runner Pro.  This is from the press release:

"Built for adventure, the Night Runner PRO is equipped with two ultra-light, rechargeable, 300 lumen LED shoe lights that easily attach to shoelaces. The patent pending, bi-lateral winged design features 270 degrees of visibility with two rear-facing red tail lights so the user is visible from all sides. The removable lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack allow for up to 10 hours per charge. Night Runner Pro will be the first in the industry to provide visual performance feedback through flash alerts by way of bluetooth/smartphone integration".

From the sounds of it, these are going to be great. The one thing that bothered me a bit on the originals was the battery life. I found that after a couple of morning runs I had to charge them again. These ones come with a removable battery pack vs. having to plug in the actual light. You can also purchase additional packs if you need longer battery life. I'm also very curious to see what this visual performance feedback is like. They've got a kickstarter campaign happening right now that gets you a pair for $55 USD vs. the $89.99 USD that they will sell for. Plus you also get a playlist from Doug and Renata, the company founders. There's an even better deal if you have a partner that's a runner or if you want to get a second pair for a friend - you can get two pairs for $105.

The original Night Runner 270

So there you have it! I promise I won't wait another 5 years before I do another one of these, ha ha.

What are some of your favourite things?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday Musings: Preventative Measures

Well, here we are.  Monday again.  Our first week back home was a fairly busy one.  I still haven't finished unpacking my suitcase.  Does anyone else do that when they come back from holiday?  Every time I go to the spare bedroom, I grab another handful of clothes from my suitcase and put them away.  At this rate I should have my suitcase unpacked by the end of next week.  :)   Then maybe I can tackle all the remaining boxes that we have left to unpack.   I had completely forgotten that we still hadn't fully settled in to the house before we left for Florida.  So that is on my list of things to tackle this week.

Last week was all about finding a new routine.  I'm not getting out and riding 90km mid week anymore and although Morning Glory has started with their morning rides, I'm not ready to get up at 4:30 to ride in the cold and dark just yet.  The weather was pretty crappy last week.  That being said I did meet up with my running buddy on Tuesday and that run ended up being a very soggy one.  Wednesday was nicer so I actually went out for a ride mid-morning but that was about it.  Once the weather gets better, things will change.

During the last couple of weeks in Florida, I could feel some tightness happening in my left glut.  I made sure I stretched my gluts and hips but probably not as often as I should have.  I also took the accuball to my hips but again, probably not as often as I should have.   I would start to feel numbness when sitting for prolonged periods of time.  Sometimes I'd feel tightness and soreness in my glut when riding.   I knew I was scheduled for a massage when I got back so I figured that should help and if it didn't I'd go and see my ART guy.  I had my massage on Thursday and when I got up Friday morning my left glut was so sore and irritated.  It hurt for me to sit and standing wasn't that much better.  It was throbbing and aching so I called my ART guy for an appointment and got in for Tuesday.  I iced it and took an Aleve.  The Aleve did nothing, I would have been better off taking a Robaxacet.  The ice seemed to help.  I got up on Saturday and felt ok so G and I opted to go for a cruise down to the old 'hood.  Halfway through the ride I could feel my entire left glut aching.  And it was into the upper hamstring, right where I had torn it last year.  Of course my mind starting going down that "there goes my season" path again.  I was self diagnosing all over again.   Surprisingly after the ride I felt fine which made me feel a bit better.  I'm now hyper aware of any sort of tingling in my glut / hamstring.  As I sit and write this, I can feel soreness and a slight burning sensation in my left glut.  I'm really hoping it's just a very tight piriformis muscle.  I'll have a better idea tomorrow.  For now, I'm icing and rubbing arnica oil on it and will try to resist the urge to get on my bike today because it's supposed to be freaking GLORIOUS out.

I had originally wanted to ride with Morning Glory on Sunday but figured 100km with an irritated butt wasn't a good idea so I thought I'd swim.  Well, Mother Nature had other plans apparently.  I had cooked some salmon for dinner the night before and I think the piece I had was off.   I only had a few bites but that was enough to upset my stomach.  I woke up at 2:00 am and my stomach was churning. I got up again at 5:30 and took a Tums.  Up again at 6:30 to get ready for swimming and I was so exhausted that I fell asleep on the couch and skipped swimming.  I went back upstairs to bed and watched a couple of episodes of Ray Donovan and fell asleep again.  By about 9:30 my stomach stopped churning and I thought I'd try to eat something.  I had some plain oatmeal with a little bit of maple syrup.  That was fine.  I then had some coffee.  Also fine.  My stomach still didn't feel awesome but at least I had somewhat of an appetite.  I'm still not 100% but I'm definitely better than I was.  I may have to take some probiotics to balance things out.

All that to say that this wasn't a very exciting week of training.  This is the first real kind of setback I've had so I'm being REALLY cautious.  I DO NOT want a repeat of last year.  Ironically I'm getting close to the "anniversary" of my injury so if it means I have to chill out for a couple of weeks to be safe, then that's what I'll do.  I have resumed my regular hamstring rehab routine as well.  It went by the wayside over the three weeks as did pretty much all my strength training.  But I managed to get back to the gym twice this past week.  Woohoo!

Speaking the past week, let's take a look at what went down.  Not a lot as evidenced by my lack of photos.

Monday:  2800m of fins.  I actually felt really good considering I swam 3200m the day before!

Tuesday:  10.4km soggy run followed by 45 minutes of strength work.

Wednesday:  2300m swim, then 25km ride outside!

Thursday:  30 minutes of strength work.  Today just wasn't a day that was conducive to getting anything done.  I'm not sure why.

Friday:  OFF

Saturday:  50km ride

Sunday:  OFF


Swim:  5100m
Bike:  75km
Run:  10km

Total time:  6h 59 minutes.  Definitely a big change from the previous week but I clearly needed the down time.  

How was your week of training?  Does it take you a few days to unpack a suitcase or do you just get it done? 

Here's some Monday Motivation for you......

Make it a good one!
~ Coach PK

Friday, April 7, 2017

Building Mental Toughness

What is mental toughness?  It's a hard thing to define but you always know when someone has it.  I like to think of it as the ability to suffer through adverse situations to achieve a goal. 

If you are an endurance athlete, chances are at some point during a race, things are going to hurt and you're going to question your reasons for signing up in the first place.  You're going to feel like crap or maybe your perfectly thought out race plan is falling to pieces.  Whatever the case may be, I can guarantee there will come a time when you will have to rely on more than just your body to get you across that finish line.  That is when the race becomes a mental battle.  

How you react to adverse conditions like weather or a having a mechanical issue, will also ultimately affect your race experience.   Luckily, these are things that you can (hopefully) prepare for.  I say hopefully because you can't always control the weather.   That being said, this is Ontario, chances are you're going to get rain and possibly even snow on some of your early season outdoor rides.  When I see rain in the forecast for an outdoor ride, I often think about doing it inside on the trainer.  But doing that would be the easy thing to do.  Getting out in the crappiest of weather and getting your workout done is a good thing.  Yes, it sucks when you're doing it.  I can remember many a bike ride that was done in pouring rain and wind and almost always ended in tears.  But I went out and got it done.  You can't control the weather so what happens if you get a torrential downpour on race day and you've never ridden or run in the rain?  How do you deal with that mentally?   Do you resign yourself to having a less than stellar day?  Your reaction to all of this is a choice.  You can choose to embrace it or you can choose to worry about it. 

If you want to work at building mental toughness, you need to actively expose yourself to being uncomfortable.  Get out when it's raining (but be SAFE).   Go out when the winds are howling (again, be SAFE).   Workouts like these are called "character building" for a reason!   Mental toughness (and confidence) is built by pushing beyond your perceived limits and realizing that you are capable of doing more.  Just like nailing a hard workout, gritting it out in less than favourable conditions gives you a certain sense of accomplishment.  So when faced with said conditions on race day, you are ready.  You've been there.  

How do you harness this toughness when things start to go sideways?  For me, I find I have to just focus on the task at hand, what I'm doing in that exact moment.  I don't think too far ahead because then my mind starts to wander and I lose focus.  If you're in the water, think about your stroke and your breathing, focus on that until you get to the next buoy.  On land, think about your cadence and your breathing, focus on what you can control.  If you're like me, then you're probably carrying on a conversation in your head.  This is the time to rely on your positive self talk.  Don't think about what could go wrong, or what you should have done (shoulda coulda woulda!).  If you have a phrase or mantra, keep repeating it.  The body achieves what the mind believes so keep things POSITIVE.  

Take the opportunity to practice getting uncomfortable in your training and learning how to deal with those feelings.  That's part of what training is all about.  Race day will be the sum of all of your training experiences.  Make sure you're ready for anything!  

What are your go to mental strategies?

~ Coach PK

Monday, April 3, 2017

Monday Musings: Back on Home Soil


I'm coming to you from my favourite chair in our living room.  Yup, we're back on home soil.  I'm happy but sad at the same time.  It's really nice to be back in our own house, sleeping in our own bed.    And of course, the first thing I did as soon as we got in after grocery shopping, was fill up the tub with some lavender scented epsom salts and bubble bath.  HEAVENLY.  I'd like to say the drive home was a breeze, well the second half of it was but the first half was BRUTAL.  I think March 31st is probably NOT the smartest day to leave Florida.  At one point when we were crawling along the interstate, I looked around and noticed that the occupants of pretty much every single car around us were at least 75 years old.  It was the senior citizens exodus.  Which might have explained why the traffic was so freaking brutal.   It took us over 3 hours to get through 2/3 of Georgia.  Georgia isn't that big!  Our first day drive was about 13 hours.  It should have been 10.   Traffic karma made up for it the next day.  We flew through Virginia & West Virginia.   Even with stops, we still managed to make up time.  The Border was smooth sailing as well.  Gotta love having a Nexus card!

I was fully expecting to freeze my butt off when we got back but it was actually quite nice.  The sun was shining as we drove across the border and there was a nice breeze.  It definitely feels like spring. That being said, I don't remember how to dress for these temps so getting ready for yesterday's run was challenging.  It was 14 degrees but in Florida that would have been chilly so I put on capris and a very light long sleeve shirt.  WRONG.  I was quite toasty.  Shorts would have been a better idea, even after the sun disappeared, I was still pretty warm.  Lesson learned.

Now that I'm back home and I have an idea as to what the weather is really like, I think I'm going to try to brave things and ride outside.  I honestly don't know that I can face being back in the basement.  I know that Morning Glory has been out riding during the week and this past weekend and it was only 4 degrees out!  THAT'S crazy talk.  Although there is a good chance I will be drinking that Kool-Aid this weekend.  And I'm planning on suiting up and heading out on two wheels this afternoon to test the waters.

Now that I'm back home, a lot of people have asked me "Now What?".  Well, I currently have a nicely manageable roster of athletes and planning for and monitoring them keeps me trucking along.  I still have to do my practical exam for my personal training certification so that will probably take up a lot of my time over the next few weeks.  I'm also doing some part time work for the Canadian Public Relations Society so I have just enough on my plate to keep me busy-ish, which is perfect.   There are a few other things in the works but I'll keep them under wraps for now until they get firmed up.  That's all I'm going to say about that, he he.

Anyway, let's get to the real meat of this post.  My last week of fun in the sun!  Again, it was all about the bike, however, I surprisingly had a huge week in the pool as well.  Wonders never cease.

Monday:  2286m recovery swim.  My legs were pretty sore from the clay trail run so I had nice easy swim at the NTC.

Tuesday:  2469m swim with SLAP followed by a 90.5km ride to almost the top of the Apopka Trail.  I thought I reached the top when I got to Apopka Station but realized when I stopped at a map on my way back that the trail actually went 1.6 miles FURTHER.  UGH.  Guess I'll have to wait until next year to see what's at the top of the trail!  But I love that I was able to ride 90km on TRAILS.  I wasn't on the road ONCE during this ride other than to cross the street.  Florida has definitely got this whole trail thing right!

Wednesday:  20.5km Another really easy spin on another local trail.  I had planned to do a run and go to the gym but that never happened.

I did come home to this email though, which made me chuckle.   Can I represent Canada instead???

Thursday:  2100m:  last swim with SLAP in the 50m pool and then my last ride with the Clermont Crew.  They even took me on a different route!  My goal was to ride 100km that day but I was pretty pooched by the time I got back and it was scorching hot out.  I realized shortly after I got in that I was just shy of my 200km weekly cycling goal so I went back out and did another 5.8km  Total for the day was 91km.  I didn't have it in me to ride the extra 9km, not after fighting a headwind all the way back, ha ha.

Serious #RideMatchy action happening!  This WAS NOT planned!

Friday:  I had big plans for this morning, I was going to run and go to the gym but we were out the night before and I had a splitting headache when I went to bed so I slept in until 6:45 and then had to finish packing and cleaning out the fridge.  So no workouts.

Saturday:  Another day spent in the car.

Sunday:  Back home and up early to go swim with Normac.  3200m done, followed by a 12km run.


Swim:  10,550m  the biggest week I've ever had swimming!

Bike:  201km

Run:  12.3km

Total time:  11h 50 minutes.

Now that I'm back home, my workout schedule will be changing.  I'll be back to early mornings once again.  I'm kind of looking forward to that.  It's nice to come home after a workout and know that you still have most of your day to be productive.   That should result in some more content on the blog!

Now I need to finally finish unpacking and then go get on the bike!

I'll leave you with this Monday Mantra:

~ Happy Monday!

How was your week of training?  Has spring arrived for you yet??

Coach PK

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Starting Over: Great Clermont Triathlon Race Report

As I mentioned in this post the other week, I haven't raced an Olympic distance race in over 10 years.  I really didn't know what to expect.  And not having raced regularly last year, well, it felt like I was starting over.  Thankfully because I felt like I was starting over, I was super diligent about packing my bag early the day before and triple checking it.  What I did forget to do the day before was pump my tires and I spent half the night of my fitful sleep, reminding myself not to forget to do that when I got up the next morning.

Guess what I almost forgot to do race morning?  Yup.

Thankfully I remembered just as we were getting ready to leave the house.   We were already leaving later than I had wanted so add this to the mix and I was a bit of a stress bundle.  At least we were very close to the race start.  But I had lost about 15 minutes of chill out time due to the fact that we just couldn't seem to get ourselves sorted and out the door.

I didn't sleep well the night before the race which isn't surprising.  I was super nervous.  It was my first triathlon in over a year and my first Olympic distance race in a VERY long time.  I didn't know what to expect.   I had done a very short open water swim the day before and I felt pretty good.  The water was nice and calm and it was supposed to be the same for us race morning.   When I got up, I checked the temperature.  It was 14 degrees, which was perfect.  I knew I'd be just fine in my Zoot kit.  G had the news on and I caught a snippet of the weatherman saying something about a small craft advisory.  Um.  What?  There wasn't supposed to be any wind.  I dismissed that, figuring that they were probably talking about the coast.

The ride down to the park was a bit precarious in the dark.  Gary had put lights on his bike so I rode behind him.   I probably should have put a light on the front of my bike at least so I could have seen the road.  Even though I've ridden down this road pretty much every time I go riding, it's different when it's dark out.  The last thing I wanted was to ride over a piece of glass or hit a pothole and flat.  Luckily none of that happened and we turned into the park and rode over to transition.

We found body markers right away.  I have to say I'm not sure what the deal was with the body marking but I had my race number written all over my body.  It was on both of my arms, both of my shins and my age was written on the back of my right calf.  Seemed a tad bit excessive but hey, maybe that's just the way things are done here.

I made my way into transition only to find that the rack I was supposed to be on was totally packed save for a tiny little spot between two bikes.  Reason number 1005 that I like to get to the race site early.  Luckily I managed to wedge Tom Sawyer into the last little spot on the rack.  The other ladies shuffled their bikes over and gave me a bit of extra room.  I went about setting up my transition and getting my bike ready.  I went to pour my drink into my aero bottle and because my bike was racked and leaning forward, as the bottle filled up to the top, a whole bunch of it spilled out everywhere.  All over my helmet, my shoes, my towel.  Awe-some.   I quickly cleaned all that up and finished laying everything out.  I started to put my wetsuit on as I only had about 20 minutes to get ready and into the water to do a warm up.  Normally I like to do at least a 10 - 15 minute warm up so I was cutting it close.  I pulled the fro into a mini bun and went to put my swim cap on over it when all of a sudden heard pphhhhttt and felt the cap give.  You've GOT to be kidding me.  My cap had ripped.  I had my wetsuit half on so I waddled over to the registration tent to see about getting a new cap.  Apparently I wasn't the only one that had ripped their cap.  They gave me another one that was equally as flimsy so I stood by the registration desk and put it on just in case it split.  Thankfully it did not and I was off to double check everything in transition before I made my way down to the water.

I ran back into transition and gave everything a once over.  Then I went looking for G.  I had about 10 minutes left before the race start.  I booked it down to the beach and found G getting into his wetsuit. I wriggled into the rest of my wetsuit and had G zip me up.  A quick good luck kiss and I was off to try to get into the water and warm up.  I had less than 10 minutes.  NOT ideal but whatever.  Nothing I could do about it so I was going to make the best of it.

I waded in and let the water seep into my wetsuit.  It was cool, probably about 68 degrees, which is perfect for a longer swim.  I quickly dove in and started swimming.  The sun was just coming up so it wasn't quite light just yet.  I swam out past the buoy lines and noticed that the water was quite choppy.  Ugh.  So much for the little to no wind forecast.  I heard the announcer telling people to get out of the water so I turned around and swam back.  I made sure to swim hard so I could get my heart rate up.  I clambered out of the water and stood on the shore just as the announcer introduced the woman singing the national anthem.  My goggles started to fog up so I pulled them off.  My swim cap almost came off in the process.  I pulled it down a bit more but it didn't seem to want to cover my head and I was afraid to pull it down much farther just in case it ripped again.  The announcer counted us down, the gun went off and then all the women in the race were off.

I hit start on my watch and waded into the water.  I let the hordes go so I could ease into the swim.  I waded into the water until it was up to my thighs and then I dove in.  As soon as my feet left the ground I felt my timing chip start to slip off my ankle.  AHHHHH.   I stopped and grabbed it and then fumbled with trying to get it secure and under my wetsuit so I wouldn't risk losing it again.  I watched the pack swim away from me.  I finally secured it and managed to tuck it partially under my wetsuit.  I put my head down and started swimming.  Stroke stroke, gasp, stroke.  Oh boy.  The water was smacking me in the side of my head so I had to adjust my breathing to one side.  I chugged along, past the buoy line, out into the more open part of the lake.  The sun was starting to come up over the horizon and it was quite pretty.  The lake was PITCH black.  I could barely see my hands in front of me and I couldn't see anyone in front of me so when I came upon my first set of feet, I popped up out of the water.  I realized I had gotten into a bit of a congested pack so I swam off to the side to try and get around them.  I put my head down and started swimming.  I tried sighting but just couldn't get my breathing rhythm down, nor could I really see anything.  So I popped my head up again and realized that I had swum way off course.  Ok then.  I turned hard and swam towards the pack again.  Once again I tried to get into a rhythm with my breathing but I just couldn't.  I swallowed a bunch of water. So I stopped and breast stroked.  And breast stroked some more.  Surprisingly there was no panic, which is a first for me.  Not once did I think OMG GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!!!  It was more a slightly mild annoyance at the fact that I couldn't swim straight, that my goggles were fogging up and that the water was slapping me in the face.  I know that doesn't sound ideal but I was pretty darn happy about the fact that there was no panic.

I put my head down and started swimming again, counting strokes and making a point of really exhaling when I put my face in the water.   I managed to stay in somewhat of a straight line and got a better sight line on the first turnaround buoy.   I could feel my forehead getting cold and brought my hand up to my head.  All I felt was the skin of my forehead and my hairline.  I stopped to tread water and put my hand on the top of my head.  Sure enough my swim cap was almost off.   Piece.  of.  crap.  I pulled my goggles up, pulled my swim cap down and put my goggles back on.  I hoped it would stay in place.

I made it around the first turnaround buoy and managed to get into a bit of a rhythm for a bit.  I looked up to sight and realized that once again I swam way off course.  Good lord I was really struggling.  I reoriented myself and headed towards the second turnaround buoy.  The water was now slapping me directly in the face.  AWE-SOME.   Once again I swallowed a bunch and almost immediately started choking and coughing.  More breast stroke ensued.  I finally caught my breath and resumed swimming.  I was starting to get really annoyed but I kept swinging my arms in circles and kicking my legs, in the hopes I'd soon be at the shore.

I made it to the second turnaround buoy and was now heading towards the shore.  The waves were no longer slapping me in the face but I could feel my head getting colder and colder.  You have GOT to be kidding me, was all I could think.  I stopped and put my hand to my head.  Sure enough my swim cap had popped off again.  Grrrr.  Once again, I pulled my goggles off, pulled the cap down, put my goggles back on and started laughing.  That's all I really could do.  I put my head down and started swimming.  I could see the shoreline starting to come into view.   I looked for my extra gear.  Apparently I don't have one in the water at the moment, ha ha.  My hand finally scraped bottom and I took a couple more strokes and stood up.  I didn't have the energy to sprint out the water.  I jogged out of the water and up onto the beach.  I pulled my goggles off and once again my swim cap popped off, taking my hair band with it but I was so out of it I didn't notice until a spectator ran up to me and handed it to me.

Swim time:  30:25.  A personal worst for me in terms of time (pace per 100/m)  but a win in terms of keeping a cool head and no panic issues.

Even though this is only an Olympic distance race, they had WETSUIT STRIPPERS!  So of course I ran to the first group and let them go to town on me.  I was out of my wetsuit in no time.  But then there was the long run up to T1.  I had forgotten about that.   Once my wetsuit was off, I booked it towards my bike.  I crossed the timing mat into T1 and remembered to hit lap on my Garmin (winning!)  I was on the second rack so it was easy to find.  I dropped my wetsuit, grabbed my bike helmet and put it on, only to find that the visor was completely fogged up.  Once again I laughed.  Let's see what else this race has in store for me.  I scrambled to wipe my grass covered feet off and pull my socks on.  Normally I go without but it was a bit cool and I knew I was going to wear them for the run so I figured I might as well put them on now.

I grabbed my bike and waddled out of transition.  Both my ears were plugged with water so I couldn't hear anything.  Usually I'm able to shake some of the water out but I wasn't able to.   I ran up to the dismount line, hit lap again on my watch to start the bike timer and hopped on my bike.  I couldn't see a darn thing because my visor was completely fogged and I was deaf, ha ha.  I knew that the bike course starts with a nice little climb and a turn.  There are a lot of turns on this course as it’s kind of Y shaped.  Anyway, I at least had the foresight to have my bike in the small chain ring so I wasn’t killing myself trying to blindly climb the hill in the wrong gear.  There were a couple of climbs to get out onto the main part of the course so I kept it in the small ring until we got out of the residential neighbourhood we were in and onto the main road.  At some point along here, I opted to hit lap on my watch again because I had seemingly forgotten that I had already done so TWICE.

For those of you that have a Garmin 920xt, you know that you are only supposed to hit lap in triathlon mode when you’re transitioning between sports because that’s what tells the watch that you’re moving either into transition or into another sport.  Because I hit the lap button a third time,  my watch thought I was in T2, but I didn’t realize it at the time.   I was so focused on passing the handful of women in front of me.  I had my head down and I was hammering.  Trying to find the sweet spot between going too hard and just hard enough.  My legs certainly didn’t feel awesome.   Riding 55km the day before probably wasn’t the best idea but I’m down here to ride and this wasn’t an A race so it was what it was.  I was going to do the best with whatever my body had that day. 

I had ridden about 75% of this course on a regular basis over the last 6 weeks so I knew what to expect for most of it.   A  short steep climb, a couple of short grinder climbs, plus one longer grinder and that's about it.  I knew that once you hit the turnaround from the second out and back, you could get some seriously good speed which I had every intention of taking advantage of.   When I came out of the water, the announcer called my name and said I was 22nd out of the water so I had that number in my head.   I had caught and passed 4 women on my way out onto the main road and I had another one in my sights along the flats.  Once I started climbing on the first out and back, I caught two more.  That first climb was steep.  Normally I’d leave it in the big chain ring and muscle it out but 40km is a long way to go when you haven’t raced it in years, so I flipped it into the small ring mid way up the climb and spun my legs out.   I got to the top and was greeted by some wide open space, a false flat and a lot of wind.   No problem.  I've been riding in the wind ever since I got here.  Florida is very windy.  Don't get me wrong, it was still hard, I just wasn't as bothered by it as I normally am.  

The road in this section was fantastic.  It was smooth and rolling and there was a nice big shoulder.   There was also some crowd support at the turnaround which was great to see!  The turnaround was at the bottom of a hill so once you turned around, you had to start climbing again.  The turnaround was nice and wide which meant that for the first time in AGES, I actually didn't unclip when I made the turn.   A-MA-ZING!  I think all my bike riding is paying off.

I made the turn and started up the climb.  I was curious to see how I was doing time wise so I glanced at my Garmin.  What I saw confused me.  It was a screen I didn't really recognize.  So I looked at it again.  I saw 33 something in the corner of the watch face, not in the middle where I expected it to be.  I didn't any distance, speed or power stats.  I glanced at it again.  And then I realized what I was looking at.  Because I hit the lap button THREE times, my watch thought I was in T2.  UGGHGGGHHHHHH.  I didn't want to totally mess myself up for the run, so, I hit lap again and then hit stop and save.   Then I started my watch all over again until I got to the bike section.  At least I'd have half the data from the bike and all of the data from the run.  I did this all while climbing.

By the time I got back out to the main road, I had caught and passed two other ladies.  I was back on Cherry Lake Road, a road I had become very familiar with over the last several weeks.  The climbs out are grinders but the descents on the way back are SO MUCH FUN.   I went up the climbs, made it around the turnaround without unclipping once again (WOOHOO!) and then pushed the pace to the descent.   I put it in my hardest gear and pedaled like mad.   The descent on Cherry Hill has a wide sweeping turn that opens into a nice flat straight away.  It's like a sling shot.   It's such a fun stretch of road to ride.  I whipped along here grinning from ear to ear.  I had one more climb before I turned onto Jalarmy and took it down to Minneola Shores, which was the road I'd take almost all the way to transition.

Once I made the turn onto Minneola Shores, I was smacked in the head with a lovely headwind.  Thank you Florida.  I fought that wind for what seemed like ages.  I could really feel my legs getting tired.   40km is a long way to go when you're pushing the pace.  I was definitely starting to fatigue.  I think had I metered my pacing a bit better I might not have hurt so much.  But hindsight is 20/20.  I finally turned off of Minneola Shores and wound my way through residential streets back to transition.  There was lots of zig-zagging but before I knew it I was back on the descent towards the dismount line.  I hopped off my bike and shuffled into T2.  My legs felt like garbage.

Bike:  1:14:36 - pretty much right where I thought I'd be!  Pretty pleased with this given that it's only March.

I racked my bike and pulled off my helmet.  I was feeling a little discombobulated and I struggled to get my running shoes on.  I finally got them on, grabbed my sunglasses and race belt and ran out of T2 onto the bike path and into, you guessed it, an AWESOME headwind.   To top it off, my legs felt like tree trunks.  I'm not going to lie, I was questioning my choices at that point.  My first km felt awful but eventually I settled into a decent rhythm.  I actually started to feel pretty good in a weird sort of way.  Perhaps everything was going numb so I didn't know any different....Anyway, I was starting to catch some of the women in front of me and I think that lit a fire in me.  Nothing like a target to make you go faster!  Every time I glanced down at my Garmin I was seeing between 4:30's and 4:35's.  Woohoo!  I wondered how long I'd be able to hold on to that pace.  I was feeling pretty strong.  I caught one woman, and then another, and then another.  5km in and I'm still feeling pretty good.  I see the first place woman on her way back so I thought I'd count the number of ladies in front of me.  The first place woman had a pretty big lead on second place and second place had a pretty big lead on third place.  After that the women were much closer together.   At about 7km in, I was starting to fatigue.  Everything was starting to hurt.  I had counted 8 women in front of me at that point.  I caught one and was reeling in another.   There was a lot of YOU GO GIRL and Nice Work - I love that about triathlon - I ALWAYS see that with women when they race.  I don't hesitate to congratulate someone when they pass me or when I pass them.  I had moved up into 7th place.  As I entered the park, I knew the finish line was only about 1.5km away so I started to empty the tank.  The path was lined with spectators, I could hear the finish line music.  Up ahead I spotted another woman.  I couldn't see what was on her calf as the number had smudged.  As I got closer I saw there was a 4 but I couldn't see the other number.  Oh boy.  She was on Team Wattie Ink and a bunch of her team mates were cheering for her as I closed in.  One of them started yelling go go go.  The finish line was literally a few hundred meters away.  I was turning myself inside out to catch her.  I caught up to her a few meters before we turned into the finishing chute.  Her teammates were going nuts encouraging her.  I said nice work as I caught her and fully anticipated a sprint to the finish but I think she was already giving her all.  I passed her and ran like crazy to the finish line.  I left it all out on the course for sure.

Run Time:  45:43 - Better than I had anticipated and right where G thought I'd be!

Overall time:  2:35:34.   Exactly where I thought I'd be, ha ha.   It was definitely a hard fought effort and my Garmin recovery advisor confirmed that.

I had seen G out on the course a few times and he was hurting a bit.  I was hanging out with a few of the people I swim with here, waiting for him to finish.  Sure enough a few minutes later, he comes running into the finishing chute.

We went and got some food and then G asked if I had checked results yet.  I hadn't so we went to check and he told me I had won my age group.  WOOHOO!  He ended up in 5th and a couple that we swim with also ended up on the podium in their respective age groups.

Olympic distance racing is HARD.  It's definitely given me a good idea as to where I'm at fitness wise and what I need to work on over the next few months leading up to Mont Tremblant.  I'm also thinking that at some point I'd like to race another one, maybe later in the season, to see if I can break 2:30.  I know my swim needs some serious work and my transitions were atrocious (3:00 for T1 and 1:50 for T2!) so if I can work on bringing those times down, then I think I have a shot at it.   There's always room for improvement!

We'll be back in Clermont again next year so I think I'll probably race this again.  And I'll make sure I bring a back up swim cap, ha ha.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday Musings: The Final Days

Well, I've gone from weeks left to just days now.   We've met so many great people here over the last two months, I'm definitely going to miss them.  I'm REALLY going to miss the weather and the fact that I can just walk outside with my bike and start riding without having to deal with much in the way of traffic.   The two month stay was going to be a test to see if we'd like being here and the answer is a resounding YES.  Now if only the dollar would rebound a bit!!

As I mentioned last week G was on holidays this week so we did some exploring.  I had every intention of getting my race report done but alas, that has yet to happen.  Once again, it was too nice to sit inside.  With the exception of one day where it rained but I happened to be outside in that anyway, ha ha.  

On Monday we drove out to St. Augustine, which is apparently the oldest city in the US and spent the  afternoon walking around.  It's quite beautiful.  Very touristy but still really lovely.  It was a gorgeous sunny day so it was just nice to be outside enjoying the weather.  Both of us really needed to move around as we were both pretty stiff from the race the day before.  I think a couple of hours on our feet helped get the blood flowing.   By the end of the day we both felt a lot better.  I think the sunshine and lobster & shrimp tacos helped, ha ha.

Totally reminds me of Europe.  

Castillo de San Marcos - built by the Spanish in the 17th Century

On Tuesday G was hell bent on going for a ride as we both ended up sleeping in and skipping swimming.  I wasn't sure if I'd be recovered enough but I didn't want to sit around doing nothing so I agreed to go with him and just said I'd keep my HR in zone 1-2.  Which is exactly what I did.  We ended up riding WAY longer than we had anticipated.  It was just so perfect outside, it we didn't want to stop.  

On Wednesday G had a little bit of work to do and he wanted to ride again and go for a run.  I wasn't ready to run and I wanted to give my legs another day so we did our own thing.   I ended up going to the pool for a short swim and a very short weight workout.   For some reason on Wednesday night I developed a brutal sinus headache.  It woke me up at about 2:00 am so I used a bit of nasal spray and tried to go back to sleep.  That didn't happen.  I tossed and turned for another hour, my head pounding.  I resorted to taking Sinex Night, which is kinda like NyQuil.  Needless to say, I missed my Thursday morning swim AND my normal ride.  I finally got myself out the door around 9:30 and opted to ride to the top of the Apopka Trail.  I didn't quite make it there because the clouds were rolling in fast so I turned around and hammered back trying to beat the weather.  It didn't happen.  I got caught in my first Florida downpour.  Holy CRAP.  I was soaked.

Friday we planned on heading into Dunedin to see if we could get perhaps get Jays tickets but it was totally sold out.  They were playing the Red Sox and it was March Break.  We probably should have tried to get them before hand.  G was hoping to pick up something for our nephew but since we couldn't get tickets, we couldn't get inside to see what kind of merchandise they had.  We made the most of our trek and wandered around downtown Dunedin.  We stopped for lunch and once again I had fish tacos.  So.  GOOD.  We took the scenic route back to Clermont and I had a monster nap in the car.  Not sure why I was so tired but I was.

Saturday we had signed up to do the Clear Air ride.  They had multiple distances and we chose the 160km.  Mainly because you got a little finishers medallion at the end, ha ha.  And because I really wanted to get out and do a really long ride.  The ride started in Inverness, which was about a 55 minute drive from Clermont.  We got out there for about 7:30 am witnessed the most beautiful sunrise, got ourselves registered and started riding.

We were cooking along comfortably at about 28kph.  I felt good.  G felt good.  The sun was playing hide and seek in the clouds and then at around 10:30 it finally came out.  It was a stunner of a day.  At the rate we were going I figured we'd be done the 160km in under 6 hours, especially since the way back to the finish was mostly downhill.  We were motoring along, almost at 95km, when all of a sudden I heard a small pop followed by what sounded like steam escaping a bag.  I could feel myself slowing down.  CRAP.  I had a flat.  So I yelled to G to stop and we pulled off to see what the damage was.  He checked the wheel and couldn't see anything so out came the pit stop and he tried to fill up the tire.  I could hear air coming out of somewhere.  So we spun the tire around and sure enough, the pit stop was coming out of the sidewall.  With no spare tubular, I was done.  When you're riding tubulars, it's generally a good idea to bring a back up so you don't get stuck doing what I had to do, which was ride back on a flat tire.  When your tire is flat and you're on carbon rims, you cannot move quickly or you risk potentially damaging the rim.  I went from averaging just over 28 /kph to 10 kph.  It took me 26 minutes to cover the first 5km back.  I could have run the 5km faster than that.  I picked up the pace to about 13 kph and stayed there.  It took me almost an hour and 15 minutes to go 17km.  I was hungry and disappointed by the time I met up with G.  I had really hoped to be able to ride the 160km but alas, I'll have to save the century for another day.  I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunities this summer!

My Garmin Connect speed file from Saturday's ride.  Gee, wonder where I got the flat??

Anyway,  it was a pretty action packed week of fun in the sun.  The weather cooperated for the most part (save the rain storm I was caught in) and we got to explore a few more parts of Florida.

In terms of training, I had a pretty big week even with taking two rest days.  This is how it went down:

Monday:  OFF

Tuesday:  74.3km ride in zone 2.

Wednesday:  1829m swim (2000y) + 35 minutes in the gym.  I REALLY need to get back to lifting regularly again.  I had just gotten into a good groove then I slacked off again.

Thursday:  87km ride including a hammerfest back to the house.

Friday:  OFF

Saturday:  112.5km ride.

Sunday:  16km brutally hot (but stunning) run on the Clay Trail + 28km spin for coffee in the afternoon + obsessively checking Sports Stats for my athletes results from Around the Bay!  :)

Swim:  1829m
Bike:  301.5km - my biggest week of riding since I've been here!
Run:  16km

Total time:  14h 56 minutes.

Our days are numbered here and while I'm sad that this adventure has come to an end, I'm excited for the next round of adventures!

I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend! I'm going to try to bottle up this Florida sunshine and bring it back with me!

Coach PK

Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday Musings: Holidays & Shaking out the Cobwebs

Well that weekend went by in the blink of an eye!  We are getting closer and closer to packing up and heading home.   We have one last weekend here and then it's time to go.  Boohoo.   The house hunt will have to continue from afar.  We've gone to see a lot of places since we've been here and there have been a couple that have been pretty good, but we're still not ready to bite the bullet simply because of the dollar.  If the dollar drops, then I think making a decision on a place will be much easier for us.  Right now paying an additional 35% (give or take) in exchange makes things a bit challenging.  And so, we wait.

I suspect we'll probably do a bit more looking around this week as G is off (YAY!) so we'll have much more free time.  We're going to do some touristy things as well.  Today we're off to St. Augustine to check it out.  Later on this week G wants to try to get to Dunedin to see a Jay's game so fingers crossed that happens.  If we manage that then we will have seen 3 of 4 Toronto teams while we've been here!  We saw the Raptors play the Magic just after we got here and last Thursday we went into Tampa to see the Leafs play the Lightning.  I'm happy to report that the Leafs CRUSHED them.   That is the first Leaf game I've seen in a very long time.  The last time I saw a game it was at Maple Leaf Gardens.  Yeah, when I said a long time, I meant a LOONNNGGG time.  We had really good seats and there were a TON of Leaf fans, probably due to it being March Break.  

This was the first week I didn't really schedule much in terms of workouts.  I've been playing things by ear since I've been down here, with a few goals for each week, but there's usually some structure to my week.  This week, there wasn't much.  All I knew was that I was going to take things easy this week as I was racing on Sunday.  A cold front rolled in on Tuesday, stuck around until Friday and made it down right chilly here.  And VERY windy.  Which made riding not awesome.  But I did it anyway because 1) I'm going to be back home in my basement before I know it and 2) I'm Canadian, what's a little cold???   I probably would have done my swim on Thursday morning with an on deck temperature of 4 degrees but the NTC closed the pool until 9:00 am so our swim got cancelled.   I went out and did a ride mid morning and it was still only 9 degrees.  It's amazing how cold that feels when your average daily temps are around 25 degrees.  I admit it, I've gotten soft.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to freeze when we get back home.  Whawha.  

So, let's get down to my week of training, shall we?

Monday:  OFF

Tuesday:  2377m swim, 45km coffee ride with Lori-Ann - so many Canadians down this week!

Wednesday:  13km very easy run + 45 minutes of strength training / physio work.

Thursday:  20.5km hilly, windy ride.

Friday:  OFF

Saturday:  56km ride + 600m open water swim

Sunday:  RACE: 1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run.  Report to come this week.   If you've seen my Instagram post then you all know how that went.  :)

Total Time:  10h 48 minutes

The next few days are all about recovery and some down time.  A little sight seeing today is exactly what we need.

How was your week of training?  

Some Monday humour for you......

Go out and BE AWESOME!

Coach PK

Friday, March 17, 2017

Redefining my Why

As my first triathlon of the season approaches,  I've been thinking a lot about my goals for this race.   Actually, I've been thinking about my goals and expectations for the SEASON.  Normally by now my race calendar is full and I've got goals for each race.  This year is different.  I actually feel like I'm starting over in a sense because of my injury last year.   Being sidelined really messed with my head.  Looking back now I'd say that perhaps it was a blessing in disguise.   As I posted on Instagram earlier this week, before my injury, if you had asked me what my main motivation was for racing, I would have said, without hesitation, "to get on the podium".  That was the main reason I raced.  I liked winning.  I liked knowing I was strong enough to come out on top.  I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to win but when it's your main motivation (and you're not getting paid to race), I think it can take the enjoyment out of the process.

After I got injured, I lost my mojo.  The desire to compete withered up for a little while because I felt like I'd never get back to my old self again.  As I started rebuilding my running base, I began to realize that I didn't necessarily want to get back to my old self.  Instead I decided to focus on the process and the enjoyment of being able to move my body.  I stopped obsessing about paces and watts and just went out to play.  I'm continuing to do so.  As I get closer to my goal races, I know the more structured hard work will come.  The why behind the workouts has changed.  My WHY has changed.  I want to be able to go out and know that I have given everything I had on the day,  NO MATTER WHAT THE END RESULT and BE HAPPY with that.

The older I get the more I realize that I am my only competition.  Don't get me wrong, if you have a 45 - 49 written on your calf, I will still do my best to chase you down, because that's part of the fun of racing. But ultimately, it's about being the best I can be on that day, regardless of what the end result is.  I used to think this way when I started racing but lost sight of it when I started having success in the sport.   I used to get so anxious before races because I felt I had to perform.   That's not an enjoyable way to train and race.

That being said, I am a competitor, it's part of who I am and I am comfortable with that.  I'm not comfortable with the way it shaped my attitude towards racing so I'm changing that.

Sunday's race promises to be a fun journey.   I haven't raced an Olympic distance race in over 10 years (Guelph Lake 2005 was my last Olympic!)  I honestly don't know HOW to race this distance effectively.  I'm either going all out in a sprint or I'm pacing myself in a half Ironman so this will be interesting to say the least.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to consciously hold myself back on the bike so I don't completely cave on the run.  I haven't run more than 7km off the bike, nor have I done much targeted speed work.  Being in Florida has been all about playing, mostly on the bike, not so much on the run.

So how do I think I'm going to fare on Sunday?  These are my thoughts:

Swim:  27-30 minutes.  This will all depend on my state of mind / calmness level race morning.  I am in the first wave that goes off at 7:30 am.  It's still a bit darkish at that point of the day here.  And the water we swim in is BLACK.  It's really dark.  It's hard to see your hand extended in front of you it's that dark.  So yes, I find it scary and unnerving.  It can also get quite choppy.  Florida is super windy. The last few mornings here have been very windy so I'm hoping that perhaps it will die down by the weekend.

Bike:  1:13-1:15.  It will all depend on the wind and how my legs are feeling.  There are a few good little climbs on this road along with some nice quick descents.

Run:  47-50 minutes.  This will all depend on how well I execute my nutrition on the bike and how hard I go on the bike.

Factor in 3 minutes total for transitions since it's my first race and I'm more than likely going to be totally discombobulated.

If I nail everything and don't freak out on the swim, I'll break 2:30.  If I have a few hiccups then I suspect I'll be closer to 2:35-2:40 or so.  Considering my last Olympic was 2:42,  I'll be happy with anything under that!  But most importantly, I will be out there in my happy place, giving it my all.

I'm curious to know what motivates YOU?  What's YOUR why?

Happy St. Patrick's day and, Happy Friday.  I wonder how many people are skipping off work today to celebrate, ha ha.

~ Coach PK