Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Root of the Problem

I'm still here! I've been struggling with my focus lately.  I feel like I've got too many irons in the fire and I'm not sure which one to pull out first.  I also haven't really had the time to sit down an properly WRITE.  So I've decided to put myself on a weekly schedule where I allocate ONE full day a week to writing.  Hopefully that will breathe some life back into this space!

If you follow me on Instagram stories, you will have seen an underlying theme for the last few weeks.  I have not been myself.  I have not felt like myself.  I don't know how else to explain it other than I felt "off" both in body and in mind.   The fact that my body has felt off has kept me from moving the way I would like to.  I have not been able to do much without some kind of pain afterwards, whether it be in my knees, my shoulders or my lower back.  My plan was to get back to lifting weights but I couldn't even manage to do that without pain.  I was starting to get incredibly frustrated and very discouraged.   When things you love to do start causing you pain, you start to feel a bit lost.

I went to see my osteopath and sure enough my pelvis was slightly twisted.  That was causing me to compensate elsewhere.  My osteo helped fix things and get me back to my normal but I knew there was still work to be done.   I needed to figure out what the root of the problem was.

Enter my friend Lauren, The Running Physio.   I needed someone that could assess things and give me the tools to get back to normal.   Given my complaints and my symptoms, she suspected that things were stemming from my lack of core activation.  The fact that I have had two abdominal laparoscopies also comes into play (I had endometriosis).  There was never any sort of rehab after those surgeries because they were considered "minor".  I would beg to differ given how long it took me to recover after my first one.  I never gave those surgeries a second thought.  They solved one problem but probably created another.

So in addition to the mobility work that I have been doing, I am now doing physio work.  I'm really trying to focus on the mind / muscle connection.  I know that probably sounds kinda hokey but it's really SO important.  Muscle activation is controlled by the brain and our nerves.  When a muscle contracts, that's your brain sending a spark through your neural pathways.  Generally we can feel a muscle when it's working, especially our larger muscles.   But sometimes we can't.  In those instances, I've found that putting pressure on the muscle itself will help trigger it to start firing.  I do this a lot with my left glute when I'm trying to activate it in a single leg stance.  I used to get a lot of funny looks when I did this at the gym, ha ha.  I didn't care, I was going to do whatever it took to get that sucker firing!

My current self care arsenal...

The physio work I'm doing is targeting my deep core muscles.  I'm not doing crunches or leg lifts.  Nope.  The movements are so much more subtle.  They have to be in order to re-program my body.  That's essentially what this is.  A giant reboot from inside out, ha ha.  In the week and a bit I've been doing these exercises I'm feeling much better all around.  I'm running better and I'm actually swimming better.  Amazingly I'm starting to be able to rotate in the water, which was a problem for me previously.

So here's to doing all the little things that will hopefully add up to a stronger and healthier me in 2018.  Cause I've got some goals to crush next year.  More on that in another post down the road.  Right now, I'm here:



What little things are you doing to make you stronger?  

~ Coach PK


Monday, October 23, 2017

Go to Training Gear

A few weeks ago I put a call out on IG stories to see what people would like me to write about on the blog.  I covered one topic last week.  This week I'm going to talk about gear that I love and use.  This is NOT a sponsored post, these are products I've bought with my own dollars.

Let's start from the ground up.

Shoes:

I spent most of the last year running in On running shoes.  Specifically the Cloud Flow and the Cloud Surfer.  I much prefer the Cloud Flow, it's a very sleek, light and responsive low profile shoe and it was my go to racing and training shoe this year.  The Cloud Surfer is also quite responsive but I found it to be much bulkier.  I put over 500km on the Cloud Flows and I think I could probably squeeze out another 100km or so before I have to say goodbye to them.


I've also been running in the Hoka Clifton 3's.  I like the fact that they reduce impact but I'm not totally in love with them for anything longer than about 12km.  After that my feet start to hurt.



Socks:

I am SO picky about socks.  My go to for training runs or running races especially longer races, are Ijinji's.  Yup, the toe socks.  They keep my feet blister free.  For triathlon racing, I have been loving Swiftwick socks.  The longer ones offer a little bit of compression which is great over a longer distance ride and run.  Why do I wear two different kinds of socks for similar events?  Simple.  It's all about the ease of getting them on.  Injinji's are not pull on and go type socks, because you have to make sure the sock is pulled up over each toe.  So I have a back up in the Swiftwick.



Bottoms:

My go to gear for tri shorts for years has been Zoot.  Specifically the Zoot Ultra series.  The design of the chamois is perfect for me.  There is no seam underneath the chamois which means there is no chance of any sort of rubbing on your girly bits unless your shorts are too big and they start bunching.    Many other brands place the chamois ON TOP of a seam, which for me, is a recipe for major angry kitty and some kind of chafing.  Coeur is another company that makes their tri shorts the same way (they coined the slogan "no angry kitty", ha ha).  This year I finally embraced the one piece tri suit and I loved it.  It's not the easiest thing when you have to go to the washroom but for racing, it's extremely comfortable.   It doesn't ride up, you're never pulling your top down, nothing.

For running, I actually run in my older Zoot tri shorts a lot because I like the functionality of them.  They have built in, easy to access pockets so it's easy for me to stash a couple of gels and my keys.  I'm also a fan of the Oiselle "Roga" shorts.  They fit well, don't ride up too much and the waistband is fantastic.  For tights, I'm a big fan of Oiselle.  I have two pairs of their tights, the Portman tight and the KC tights, which they no longer make.  They are comfortable, functional and stylish.  In fact, I've worn both as leggings with tunics and boots!  That's a win / win for me!

Oiselle KC tights

Sports Bras / Tops:

Most of the time when I'm working out, I prefer to wear tank tops with built in bras so over the years I've worn a lot of Zoot tanks.  Now that I've put on some weight and my breasts have come back with a vengeance, I only wear tanks with built in bras when I'm on the trainer or working out in the gym so I don't have to worry about any bounce.  Even when I was leaner, I still wasn't that small.  More like I was a small in the back, big in the front kinda gal.   That's why I was thrilled when Moving Comfort started making bras that were based on bra sizing vs. just small, medium, large.  I review one here.   The range of bras available now is amazing.  Manufacturers like Brooks and Lole are taking into account band and cup sizes and are making sports bras that are functional, supportive AND cute.  No need to hide them under a tank top any more!   I'm currently in the market for some new sports bras so when find something I like, I'll either update this post or do a separate review.

So, there you have it.  Most of my go to gear from the bottom up.

What are your favourite go to pieces?  Any new companies you're really loving?  

~ Coach PK






Friday, October 13, 2017

Maintaining Fitness in the Off Season

For many beginner triathletes, the off season is a funny place. What does off season mean?  Do you stop training?  How much rest is too much?  How do I structure my training?  These are some of the questions I've gotten as a coach and I will do my best to tackle them in this post.

I know when I started out in triathlon, after my last race of the season, I stopped training completely for at least a month, probably longer.  I had no fall races planned and I thought because I was relatively fit, I could stop all activity and pick up where I left off.  HA.  Was I ever wrong.  You know that saying Use it or Lose it?  That's exactly what happened to me.  I didn't have a big fitness base at the time so taking over a month off resulted in some serious deconditioning.  I would stay that when I got back to regular activity that I was starting from square one but it was pretty close.  It usually takes about 7-14 days for endurance to start to decline so bear that in mind when taking time off.  The theory is the bigger the base of fitness you have, the longer it will take you to become deconditioned.   So seasoned athletes can afford to take a bit more time off without losing too much fitness.  Beginner athletes shouldn't take too much time off if they want to maintain a good measure of fitness.

How much time is enough? 

How much time "off" depends on the length and intensity of the last race of your season.  The shorter the race, generally the faster you recover.   If you've done a summer of sprint racing, then I'd suggest a week to 10 days off any structured swimming, biking or running for you to relax and regroup.  That may not be necessary for you to fully recover physically but you may need to mentally recharge as well.  If that means sitting on the couch for a week binge watching Game of Thrones, then so be it.  After that getting back to some kind of regular activity is key to maintaining your fitness over the winter.

For myself, I always like to take at least 5-7 days off completely after a major event like a marathon or a half ironman.  That doesn't mean I'm sitting around on the couch.  I still like to move my body so I will go for a walk or do some gentle yoga.  If I've run a marathon, I find one of the best things for my legs is swimming.  Recovery varies by individual.  Some people take longer to recover, others take less time.  Men tend to recover faster than women and the younger you are, the faster you recover.  So us old broads really need to learn to listen to our bodies, ha ha.

Structuring Your Training

As I mentioned in this post, this is the time of year where you focus on improving your weakest link in the sport.  A typical training week in season looks something like this:  Swim 3x a week, run 3x week bike 3x a week.  In off season for me, it looks more like this:  Swim 4x a week, bike 3-4x a week run 2x a week.  Running is hardest on my body so I prefer to do less of it.  That is just enough to maintain a decent amount of running specific fitness, especially if one of the runs is a long run.  Swimming is my weakest link so I'm adding a 4th swim that is all technique and drill focused vs. volume.   And it's now cyclocross season so I will be doing one ride a week like that and then ideally 2-3 more easy rides.

Off season isn't the time for high volume or a lot of high intensity.   My training volume in the off season is about 1/2 to 2/3 of what it would be during my race season.

Integrating Strength Training

This time of year is the best time of year to bring regular strength training back into your training as well.  You don't need to spend hours in the gym.  Two 30-45 minute sessions a week is great.  If you can do three times a week that's even better.  Start by working on muscular endurance with lighter weights and higher reps, and build to working on strength and power with heavier weights and lower reps or some plyometric work.  In the off season I like to do my weight workouts after a short run or ride.  The cardio element can be your warm up so you are ready to tackle your weight workout.  I have some weights in my basement along side my indoor trainer so when I'm done my ride, I can start my weight workout.  It's the most effective use of my time.



Staying Motivated

Over the years I've managed to become fairly self motivated in terms of my cycling and running.  Swimming is where I have a hard time.  Knowing that, I joined a Masters swim club.  If there is any sport that you have a tough time getting done on your own because you either 1) don't enjoy pushing yourself in that sport or 2) you're not sure what kind of workouts to do, then I'd highly recommend you join a training group.  The Toronto Triathlon Club offers coached swim sessions across the city and there are various Masters groups as well.  If the thought of spending solo hours on the trainer isn't appealing, there are plenty of places to ride inside with other people.  There's Watts Up in the West End, Dig Deep Cycling Fitness uptown and The X3 Lab in the east end.   If none of those are convenient, there's always ZWIFT. which is social in it's own way.



Alternatively, you could always hire a coach to help you take the guesswork out of your off season planning and to help you make the improvements you're looking for leading into your next season of racing.

On that note, I do have a couple of openings for coaching as of November 1st so if you're interested head on over to my coaching site and take a look around.  Shoot me a note if you have any questions!

Thanks to all the folks that responded to my IG stories question in regards to posts they'd like to see.  This was the first one and I'll be putting together more over the coming weeks!

Happy Friday!

~ Coach PK













Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Who Wants to Go to Camp? Florida Training Camp 2018

Winter Training Camp with coaches Eric D’Arcy (Limitless Coaching) & Phaedra Kennedy (PK Performance Coaching) March 10th-18 in Clermont, Florida

Join us for a week of swimming, biking and running in the sun!

Clermont is Florida’s triathlon hub.  It is situated in Lake County, 40 minutes from Orlando. 

Get in some early-season open water swimming in Lake Minneola and get the opportunity to train at the world class National Training Centre (NTC).




Ride outside in the sunshine on quiet country roads and paved cycling trails with a surprising number of hills. Yes, this part of Florida is actually hilly! 



 Run along the Waterfront Trail and on the beautiful Orange Grove clay trail.




We will wrap up camp, with a local race:  The Great Clermont Triathlon on Sunday March 18th.   There will be a discount code available to those that are interested in racing.  The amount of discount will depend on the number of people that are going to participate.

As we would like to keep the coach: athlete ratio small, allowing everyone to get a proper amount of attention, camp will be limited to 10 participants.

Camp Accommodation:

Shared accommodation is available. We have a large house with a pool and hot tub, in a gated community (just outside of Clermont) in Groveland, Florida, that can accommodate 10 athletes.

$300 CDN per person for the week’s accommodation.  Breakfast is included.

Camp Pricing: 

Early bird pricing before December 1st : $700 CDN per person
After December 1st: $800 CDN per person
All prices are subject to HST.

Contact either Eric or Phaedra to reserve your spot!




Friday, September 29, 2017

When Life Gives You Lemons

I've been really enjoying my down time but I had planned on getting back into the swing of things this weekend.  That was until my body had other plans.  

Last Friday I emailed my chiro / ART guy to fill him in on how Lake Placid went and to say Thank You.  I said something like "Since I won't need to come in and see you any time soon...." yada yada yada.   The following Monday, I was back in his office.  Yup.  I totally jinxed myself.  

What did I do?  Well preliminary results say that I have ischiogluteal bursitis.  What the heck is that?  

A bursa is a fluid filled sac that is situated between the tendon and the bone and it helps to reduce friction between the two.  When a bursa is subjected to repeated stress it will swell and get inflamed.   Ischiogluteal means that this bursa is in my glute situated near the ischial tuberosity, which are essentially your sit bones.  Your hamstring muscles originate at the ischial tuberosity.  This is where I tore my hamstring last year.  Not fun.  The hamstring tendon, also originates at the ischial tuberosity.  The bursa in question is located in between the tendon, my pelvic bone and three small muscles in my glute:  the piriformis, the obturator interns and the gemellus superior.



As you can see, there are a lot of things around this bursa that when they get overworked, can cause the bursa to become inflamed.   Truthfully I'm not surprised this happened.  I've put a lot of stress on my glutes recently, especially with the addition of teaching a lower body conditioning class.   It was getting ready for that class that actually brought me back into my Chiro's office.  It was a very simple move, I was bent forward with my legs split, like I was getting ready to do a split squat and I was trying to find comfortable footing for a standing bent over row.  I found it and then pushed off to stand up again and that's when I felt my glute spasm.  It hurt so much I couldn't put any pressure on it.  I could walk but it was awkward.  I definitely couldn't go up stairs.  So that afternoon I found myself back at Pivot.  I was instructed to not do anything, except to get an ultrasound, ice, rest and take some anti inflammatories,  until we had a better idea of what was going on.  

So, what to do with all my non workout spare time?  Well let's see:

*  SLEEP IN!  

*  Stay up later than normal reading because I don't have to get up at stupid O'clock.  I managed to finally finish "How Bad Do You Want It" which is amazing considering I started it a month ago.  Lately it's taken me almost 6 months to read one book!  I've now started this.



*  Spend my mornings cooking.  Well, I did that one morning.  I made sweet potato breakfast cookies AND french toast.  

*  Go out with girlfriends you haven't seen in ages and have ice cream



*  Focus on my mobility work.

*  Spend more time focusing on building my business and working on my blog.

*  Be grateful that this happened AFTER my last race of the season.  

I was originally told I'd need to take 2-3 weeks off everything except swimming and pool running.  I took most of the week off with the exception of swimming this morning .  I'm seeing my Chiro again today at lunch and we'll figure out a game plan for my rehab.  At least I know by the time I get back to regular activity, I will definitely be very well rested! 

Life may have just handed me a lemon, but I'm making some pretty awesome lemonade.

Happy Friday!

~ Coach PK 









Friday, September 22, 2017

What's Next?

I am officially in "off season".  Or as badass coach Jen Rulon calls it: "the Season of Improvement".  I think that's a better way to look at the down time between the last race of your season and the time you start to build for the following season.  Off season kind of implies that you're taking time off.  That being said, I suppose you could say you're taking time off from structured training i.e focusing on hitting certain paces or power numbers.  This is the season to re-charge mentally and physically and not put a bunch of pressure on yourself to tick all the green boxes in your Training Peaks account.  In fact, ideally there are LESS boxes in your Training Peaks account.  This is not the time to be concerned about volume.  You want to do enough to maintain a good base of fitness.

This is the perfect time to focus on your limiters.  The things that need improvement.  If it's your swim, then maybe you drop a run workout and replace it with an extra swim workout that is technique focused.  This is also the time to bring strength training back into your life.  You don't have the heavy training load, you don't need to worry about DOMS affecting your ability to hit certain paces or numbers.  There couldn't be a better time to start working on your strength.



This is also an excellent time to go out and do things that you may not have tried during race season.  I'd say that's part and parcel of re-charging mentally.  It's nice to take the focus away from structured training and just do things for fun without worrying about hurting yourself or if the whatever it is you're doing will affect your training.

I've got a few plans for my "Season of Improvement".  Firstly, I'm planning on adding one day of swimming a week that is purely a drill and technique based swim.  It won't be too long, maybe half an hour to 40 minutes max.  I really need to work on the entry and catch phase of my stroke.  When my hands go in the water, they just sort of hang out until they get to my waist and then I feel them pulling the water.  So, I foresee a whole lot of sculling in my future.  Time for me to figure out how to use the drill function on my 920xt.

Next on my list of "things to work on" is my run form.  There are a few small tweaks that I'd like to make.  My cadence is good (anywhere between 176-192 depending on how fast I'm running) but I'm not driving my knees up enough so I feel like I'm missing out on some of the gait cycle.  I also need to work on keeping my shoulders back and up.  I'm still rotating a fair bit at my shoulders and that needs to stop.   I believe that these things are muscle and mobility related so before I can tackle new movement patterns, I need to work on my mobility to allow those movement patterns to happen.  This is something I've started to work on daily.   A few minutes a day of dedicated mobility work with a yoga strap, some bands and a lacrosse ball, usually when I'm watching TV.  Hopefully it pays off when I start to build my mileage again for 2018.

While I'm not a huge fan of riding in the cooler fall temps (which don't seem to be happening right now - YAY!), I do love touring around country roads on two wheels and checking out the foliage.  So there will be a lot of that this fall.  There will also be some time spent working on my skills.  Just because triathletes race generally bikes in straight lines, doesn't mean you can't benefit from bettering your bike handling skills.  It will make you a more confident rider when you're around other people and in traffic.  Bettering your skills means riding outside.  My bike handling skills have improved immensely since riding with Morning Glory but I do think there is some room for improvement.  So, I've bought myself an entry level cyclocross bike and  I'm planning on going to the Midweek Cycling Club Tuesday night races starting in October.  Nothing like learning how to handle a bike on GRASS and dirt.  I'm a little scared, but this year has been all about doing things that scare me.

Speaking of things that scare me, I will be bringing strength training back into my life in the form of TEACHING classes.  Yup.  Scaredy cat me is leading a lower body conditioning class at Pur Energy Wellness Lofts on Thursday mornings at 10:30am.  I will be leading other classes as well once the strength studio opens up.  So, not only am I getting a workout in, but I get to work out with other people AND get paid for it.  I taught my first class yesterday and it was SO AWESOME.  I was super pumped after.  I am pretty sore today.  My Garmin told me it was going to take me 21 hours to recover from that workout so yeah, I kicked my own ass for sure.

My first day greeting! 
I love this time of year because you have usually just finished your triathlon race season and can take the time to reflect on what went well, what you might change and what you need to work on while all of it is still fresh in your mind.  I think reflection is important in your growth as an athlete and this is the best time to do it.  It's also a great time to start thinking about your 2018 goals and looking for someone to help you get there.  As a coach, I've noticed in the last 2 years that October and November have been busy months for me.  I have some athletes wrapping up their racing season with fall races and other athletes (usually triathletes) that want to start working on their base fitness for a build to a big summer race.  If you're looking for either run or triathlon coaching, I will have limited spaces opening up at the beginning of November.  Hit me up if you want details or you can go to my coaching website.

G and I have been taking full advantage of our down time.  I've started volunteering with the Morning Glory Grass Tracks program on Wednesday evenings and we've been out pretty much every night this week at various social gatherings.  We've really dialled our workouts back.  I swam on Wednesday and it was probably one of the best swims I've had in a while.  So the bit of time off we've taken has helped us recover so we perform better.   Come the beginning of October, we'll get back into something a bit more structured.  For now I'm enjoying doing what I want, when I want.

Is your season done or do you have fall races planned?  What do you want to work on in your season of improvement?

TGIF Gang, enjoy your weekend!

~ Coach PK






Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Season Finale: Perpetual Forward Motion: Lake Placid 70.3 Run

I booked it out of T2.  Well I guess booking it was relative.  My legs felt like tree trunks, which was not surprising.  I figured they'd probably feel like that for the first few km.  At least that's what I hoped.  I started trucking along, trying to focus on keeping my shoulders back, my head up and my turn over high.   I was passing a lot of guys as I went along.  I only passed one woman.  Judging by the number of bikes in transition, there wasn't a ton of people on the course.   I didn't want to get ahead of myself, I knew this run course was tough.  I remember thinking that I was glad I wasn't going to have to run this twice, ha ha.

I motored along, down the first big down hill out of town.  When I did Ironman they dubbed that hill the Degree of Difficulty hill, as Degree deodorant was one of the race sponsors and well, that hill is a BITCH to get climb on the way back.  I chugged along past the DJ who was cranking out some tunes, past the first aid station and up a small climb.  past the horse stables and down the big hill that I had ridden down earlier.   Instead of turning right, you turn left onto River Road.  It's absolutely lovely along here.  There are some horse farms and some nice homes as well as a beautiful river.  Thus the name River Road.   That first bit is really the only flat part of the course.  The rest of it is false flats or hills.



I ran along at a comfortable pace.  My heart rate didn't feel that high.  I was really trying to measure my effort because I knew coming back was going to be the tough part.  I was averaging 4:40/km comfortably.  I knew I'd lose some time on the two big hills on the way back but figured if I could manage to average 4:50's for the entire race, that would be good.  My legs started to feel a bit better around the 5km mark.  Shortly there after I took a gel.   I wanted to get some fuel in earlier rather than later.

I could hear foot steps behind me and a dude with long flowing hair came blowing by me.  I said "nice pace" as he went by and he said "thanks, I'm on a relay team".  I said "aha, that explains why you look so fresh".  He laughed as he pulled away from me.  Shortly there after we got into the first bit of rollers.  I spotted a race photographer so I made some lame hand gesture and smiled.  I have this exact same picture from the last time I raced on this course in 2006, ha ha.  I posted that on Instagram the other day.


These first few rollers didn't feel horrible but they didn't feel easy either.  I took my first gel just past the 6km mark.  I had skipped the first aid station but made a point of grabbing something at the next few.  I was really looking for flat coke but figured I probably wouldn't get that until the later aid stations so I was taking water and Gatorade Endurance.

I saw the first place woman on her way back and she looked STRONG.  I yelled out GO GIRL as she went by.  She had a solid lead on the group.  Once I saw her, I started counting the number of women.  I didn't see another one for a while.  After I saw the second place woman, I started to see more and more ladies.  I got to 10 and then I started seeing people that I knew so I completely forgot to keep counting, ha ha.  But, I knew I wasn't that far away from the turnaround.  I saw my friend Zin who said that G wasn't that far ahead of me, maybe 300m or so.  I wanted to try and catch him but my legs didn't seem to want to go much faster.  I ran through another aid station that was filled with  volunteers in costume.  They were AWESOME.  Such high energy.

I knew I was getting close to the turnaround point.  I was still managing to hold on to 4:40-4:45/kms but I was definitely starting to feel rough.  My hamstrings and glutes in particular.  I wasn't experiencing that same pain I had in Tremblant but I felt like my hamstrings were super tight and I just didn't have that normal range of motion I would normally have.  My left foot was also starting to hurt.  I'm chalking that up to my left big toe.  I've had issues with it since mid-August on my longer runs.  The joint has started to get stiffer and stiffer so it's causing all sorts of issues on longer runs.  Toe yoga is in my off season list of things to do!

Anyway.

I was starting to hurt.  I saw G about 5 minutes before I got to the turnaround.  He was farther than 300m ahead of me.  We high fived each other and both commented on how shitty we felt on the bike. I pushed it a little to the turnaround and had thoughts that maybe, just maybe I might be able to catch him.  I hit the turnaround and started making my way back.  I noticed the increase in gradient right away.  I knew the run back was going to be tough. Tougher than I had thought.  I kept bargaining with myself.  Ok, just try to hang on to 4:50/km.  Ok, just try to hang on to 4:55/km.  Ok, just try to hang on to 5:00/km.  By the time I hit the 12km mark, I was no longer averaging sub 5:00/km.  To be fair, the course had really started climbing.  I thought if I could manage 5:00/5:05/km through the rollers on the way back, I'd still be ok.  I knew we had two massive climbs on the way back that were probably going to slow me down a lot.  My goal was to NOT WALK on either of them.

By the time I hit the 14km mark, which was the start of the first big climb, I was fully entrenched in the hurt locker.  I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other.  Yes I was hurting, but I was still moving fairly well.   I was actually passing people on this climb.   I got to the top and thought well that wasn't too bad.  I hit the aid station by the horse jumping grounds and grabbed some flat coke.  I had been drinking that along with water just past the turnaround.  It gave me just the boost I needed.  I was just past the 16km mark and I started playing the "you can do anything for x amount of time" game.  I was foolishly hoping I could average 5:00/kms from that point until the finish line.  I had moments where I felt good and then they were quickly followed by a whole lotta hurt.  I was in a world of hurt when I looked up to see my friend Irina wearing this awesome cat shirt.  She was just heading out on the run and her excited cheering and that fantastic shirt put a huge smile on my face.  Thank you lady, you always brighten up my day!

Earlier on, at about the 13km mark, I was passed by a female in the 35-39 AG.  She blew by me like I was standing still.  Other than that, I wasn't passed by another woman.  I hadn't passed any either but I was closing in on someone who had  4-something on her calf.  As I got closer I saw that it was a 44.     It took all my focus to reel her in.  I passed her just as we were heading towards the last big climb.  There was a DJ at the start of the climb and he was spinning some great tunes.  I can't remember the song as I ran through but it was definitely a good one and as I ran by we made eye contact and I pointed at him and he pointed back at me and there was a whole pointing finger exchange to the beat of the music.

via GIPHY

There was a bit of a moment and it was just what I needed to get me started up the Degree of Difficulty hill.  I started that climb grinning from ear to ear and I started thinking back to the last time I ran up it, which got me suddenly very emotional.   I choked back some unexpected tears as I ran up the hill.  It's been quite the journey since I last raced in Lake Placid and that first race was incredibly special.

I plodded up that hill and caught another woman about half way up.  We exchanged some words of encouragement and I focused on the the road in front of me.  Put one foot in front of the other.  Get to the top.  I got to the top of the first part.  The hill is two stages.  There is a super steep part at the beginning that takes you up to Main Street, then you hang a left onto Main Street and start a long, somewhat less steep climb to Mirror Lake Drive, where you turn right and continue climbing for a bit and then the road flattens out.   I shuffled up that hill.  I remember huffing and puffing as I passed a guy and I said "I fucking hate that hill" as I went by and I heard him laugh.   I was almost at the 18km mark.  Only 3km left.  17 minutes or so at the rate I was going.  I could see G ahead of me getting ready to turn onto Mirror Lake Drive.  I still hadn't made up much ground on him.  At least it didn't seem like it.

I made the turn onto Mirror Lake Drive and could feel my legs starting to cramp up.  I had complete tunnel vision going through here.  When I start to hurt,  I don't notice much going on a around me.  It's like my brain shuts down and I go on auto pilot.  I remember running through an aid station and grabbing a flat coke that a little guy was holding out for me.  I said thanks buddy as I went by.  No matter how much I was suffering, I made sure I thanked the volunteers.  They were all so amazing.  They MADE that race.

I could see another woman running with a guy just ahead of me.  I couldn't see what was on her calf but I was spurred on to dig a little deeper to try and pass her.  I caught the two of them just past the aid station.   She had a 36 on her calf.   At this point the course was flat but it didn't matter, I was still really struggling.  I had slowed down a lot.  My entire body hurt.  I was starting to run really sloppy.  My form had gone to complete shit. I could barely hold myself upright I was so tired.  The out and back along Mirror Lake Drive is only about 2km but it seems to take FOREVER.   I could see the signs for the turn around coming up and was thinking I'd see G any minute.  I rounded the bend and saw the turnaround but no G.  I remember saying out loud, "Where the heck did he go?"  I ran around the cone and about 20 seconds later I see G coming towards me on his way to the turnaround.  I asked him what happened and all he said was porta potty.

I had passed him and now I just had to keep him behind me.  I didn't really much in the way of an extra gear and I was seriously hurting by this point.  Everything was falling apart.  The expression on my face says it all.  Nice background though!  😃


I could hear the finish line announcer and people cheering.  Every step I took hurt.  I just wanted to be finished.  I willed my legs to turn over faster.  Thankfully the road back to the finish line is downhill so I had momentum to carry me towards the Olympic Oval.  I made the turn back onto Main Street and then into the chute that funnelled you onto the Olympic Oval.  It was lined with people cheering. I remember hearing my friend Liz yell GO PK as I went running along the top of the oval.  I could see the finishing chute.

As I turned the corner, I started smiling and I raised my arms in the air.   What a bloody hard day.  I was tested much more than I thought I'd be.  So much so that I had thrown my original goal of getting on the podium right out the window.


As I came in towards the line, I heard the announcer call my name.  I glanced up at the clock and saw 5:40 something.  Which didn't really mean anything to me because I didn't know when I started.

So happy to be finished! 
As soon as I crossed the line, there was a volunteer that came up to me and asked me if I was ok.  My hamstrings were screaming at me but other than that I was fine.  She walked with me to get my medal and hat and then I got some water and she continued to walk with me to make sure I was ok.  I told her I was fine and then stood off to the side to wait for G.  I figured he wasn't going to be too far behind me and he wasn't.  I went up to him and collected a hug and a kiss.  On our way out we saw a photographer so we had to stop for a pic.  We did the same thing 11 years ago.


My final time:  5:30:14  G's final time:  5:30:44   There was exactly 30 seconds between us.  My run was 1:45 on the nose.  G's multiple porta potty stops on the bike and run slowed him down.  See, peeing in the grass in T2 worked out in my favour!

We saw my friend Liz on our way out of the finishing chute and we hugged and congratulated each other on our races.  She came in at 5:28 and change.  She went off to cheer on some more TTC people and G and I were both feeling a bit hungry so went went off to get some food.  We spent a long time chit chatting with a bunch of other guys that had raced, all of whom rode with Morning Glory, as well as Tara and Liz who joined us shortly after we had sat down.  Finally we were able to go into transition to go and get our things so G and I hobbled over to the entrance.

On our way over, I saw my athlete Keith, who was grinning from ear to ear.  I gave him a big hug and asked him how it went.  We had seen each other on the run course and he was looking really strong when I saw him.  I thought for sure he'd catch me.  He said that was the hardest thing he'd ever done. He raced fairly conservatively for his ability but now that he's gotten one under his belt and he knows what to expect, I suspect he'll push himself harder on the next one.  He was waiting for his girlfriend Grace to finish so he went off to the finish line and G and I went into transition.

I started collecting everything and tossing things into my bag.  I was curious to see where I ended up in my AG so I pulled my phone out and saw 4 texts from my friend Sue, one of which was a pic.   It was a screen grab of my finish time and preliminary ranking.  I saw 3rd out of 174.  Say what??  I couldn't believe it.  I got all choked up and almost started crying.  My goal after Tremblant was to get on the podium in Lake Placid.  With the way my race went, I didn't think that was going to happen but it looks like everyone suffered in the weather.  I may have been slower than I had anticipated,  but so was everyone else.  I ended up 3rd place female in my AG and 17th female overall.  First fastest bike split in my AG and the 4th fastest run.  My how things have changed!  😃






I couldn't have asked for a better end to my season, especially after last year.  I am beyond grateful that I GET to do this crazy sport and that I get to do it with G.  I am truly lucky.

Now it's time to unwind, sleep in a bit more and just move for the enjoyment of moving.

A massive thanks to everyone that has been reading along this year.  I know my writing has been sporadic and I am going to work on improving that over the next few months.

Happy Sunday!

~  Coach PK xo






Friday, September 15, 2017

The Season Finale: Out of the Ice Bath and Into the Freezer: LP 70.3 Bike

The Lake Placid bike course starts with a very steep but short downhill with a sharp turn at the bottom.  In previous years, there used to be a big bump half way down the road but that has been fixed.  The one year G and I volunteered we were stationed at the bump and had to warn people to slow down.  This year there was no worry about launching a bottle or anything else off your bike in the first few hundred meters.  You still had to be careful at the turn.  I didn't see any hay bales lining the corner this time around.  Probably because it wasn't wet out.

As soon as I clipped in, I went whipping down that hill.  I was immediately grateful for my last minute decision to put on my rain jacket.  Sure it wasn't going to be the most aero thing but I wanted to stay warm.  My legs and toes on the other hand, were FREEZING.  I could not feel my feet.  I held my effort in check for the first few kilometres.  I took a gel, and settled into my aerobars.  Once I got out of town, I started to push the pace.  There were a lot of people on the course.   I was feeling pretty good, other than my legs were really cold.  According to my Garmin, it was 3.9 degrees when I started the bike.  Had I been going out for a training ride, I would have covered my legs.

Having ridden the bike course more times than I can remember, I was very familiar with most of it.  They changed the course slightly in the last few years.  There used to be one out and back section in Wilmington, which was beautiful.  That has been taken out and has been replaced by TWO out and backs.  The first of which came at about 6km into the bike after the big downhill by the ski jumps.  I flew down that hill and used the momentum to push up the climb that followed.  I could hear someone coming up behind me, so I moved closer to the shoulder to let them pass.  All I heard was "Nice butt" and I turned to see G go flying by me up the hill.  I was a little surprised to see him as I figured he would have been out of the water before me.  I watched him motor up the climb.  I was spinning my legs, trying to measure my effort.  I eventually caught up to a huge group of people so I went around them and started pushing.  I stayed out and just kept passing people.  I couldn't believe the amount of people on the course.  It was just as bad as Tremblant if not worse.  I could see G just up ahead of me.  I kept motoring up the hill.  I crested the top and then made the descent towards the first out and back.

I made the turn onto a road I've ridden by so many times.  It was the road into the bobsled track.  It had been recently paved so riding through here was awesome.  I stayed in aero as much as possible.  Again, it was super crowded in here so I was dodging a lot of people.   The course took us right up to the entrance of the bobsled track where we turned around and went back out.  I could still see G.  He was probably only about 600m or so in front of me.  After we exited the out and back, we started climbing again.  Once again, I got caught in a large group of people.  Once again, I pulled out and pushed up the climb.  I was closing in on G.  Eventually I caught him and passed him.  And, it got caught on camera, ha ha.

Sorry honey, you're getting chicked 
That didn't last for too long.  He caught me and passed me about 5 minutes later.  I realized I hadn't heard my Garmin buzz so I glanced down at it and noticed that all too familiar screen.  The screen that meant that I was in transition.  CRAP.  So I hit lap and glanced down again only to see the run leg come up.  DAMMMMITTTTTT.  I had done it again.  I had managed to screw up my race stats.  I don't remember hitting lap three times before I got on the bike but apparently I did.  Luckily it was only about 8km into the bike.  So I stopped the activity and saved it and then started all over again.  All of this while I was climbing.  The descent into Keene was coming up and I wanted to make sure I was recording the bike segment because I wanted to see how fast I could get going down that descent (Strava told me my max speed was 73.4 kph!).

THAT is a serious downhill.

My eyes started watering as we headed down the descent and once again I was incredibly grateful I had pulled on my rain jacket at the last minute.  Not really being able to see while going down this descent is scary as fuck.  I kept blinking hard to clear the water from my eyes, all while sitting in my aerobars.  I gotta say, I have come a LONG way.  A couple of years ago I wouldn't have even attempted this in my aerobars.   Now I was fully in aero position, tucked as far in as possible, pedalling as much as possible.  Downhills are free speed, if you coast, you're not taking FULL advantage.  I had been yo-yoing back and forth with a woman and I really wanted to drop her.  I figured this would be my chance.  So I hammered the descent.   I sat up for a bit through the wide s-turns but immediately got back into my aerobars.  She was right behind me.  As we came down to the bottom, there's a wide right hand turn.  That turn managed to get fairly congested.  Someone tried to pass me on the inside, which is totally legal but I had no where to move over to so he had to stay behind me until we got out of the turn.

Heading in Jay, I knew this next section was going to be flat and fast and it did not disappoint.  It was also so incredibly congested, it was almost impossible to maintain 6 bike lengths from anyone.  There was a lot of surging to get by people but I always seemed to end up around the same group of people. That girl was in there and I watched her draft off a few guys.  Annoying.  The draft packs along here were ridiculous.  There were also several guys who were completely fucking clueless.  They were riding all over the road, blocking and weaving in and out of people.  Yet they just didn't seem to really get anywhere.  I tried hard to get away from them but I just couldn't.   Once in a while I'd find these little gaps so I'd try to take advantage of them.

Cruising along by the river
The second out and back on the course came along this section.  On the old course, you'd get through Jay and Upper Jay and then hang a left and start climbing into Wilmington.  Now, you continued past the turn and rode out about 9km before you turned around and rode back.  This section was also fairly flat.  Well, it was a false flat so it was easy on the way out and a bit harder on the way back.  By the time I got to the turn around, I had to pee so bad, it was uncomfortable for me to be in aero.  So I was in and out of my aero bars through here.  My legs were also starting to feel it.  I was having trouble holding my power.  My feet had finally warmed up but my legs were still cold and I think that's why I couldn't hit my power numbers.

My legs may have been cold but all the layers I had on on top were starting to feel really hot.  I took my gloves off and shoved them down my vest.  I knew once I started climbing I'd have to remove something.  As I got closer to the turn to start the climb into Wilmington, the sun came out in full force.  I started the climb and was totally dying so I stopped just past the aid station to remove my rain jacket and my disposable arm warmers.  I tossed those and packed up my vest and shoved it into my vest pocket.  That felt much better.  Now I was ready to roll.  People were strung out all along this climb.  I pulled into the road and just started passing everyone.  This climb is a long grinder, which is exactly the type of climb that I love.  I motored up it no problem.  I had forgotten about the rollers on this part of the course.  There was a fun descent and then a nice flat spot, followed by some more climbing.  I got a little chilly on the descent but it wasn't too bad.  I flew along through here.  I glanced down at my bike computer to see where I was at distance wise (thankfully I had that as back up for distance and time).  I had just under 20km left to go.  Knowing what was ahead, I started doing the math.  I figured I'd be lucky if I squeaked in under 3 hours on the bike.  Not what I had hoped for going into this race.

I made the turn onto Highway 86 to start the climb back into Lake Placid.  The first part of this climb is horrible.  It's a false flat that really is a grinder and there is ALWAYS a headwind here.  Always.  Today was no exception.  It wasn't horrible but it was enough to affect your forward momentum.  I still really had to pee and that urge had reached critical.  I wasn't going to stop by the side of the road as I'd get a penalty if I got caught.  So, I peed on the bike.  The minute I felt it on my leg I got so grossed out, I stopped peeing.  It was only a little bit but it was enough to relieve the pressure I was feeling.  I figured it was enough to get me to transition.

I got back into my aerobars and spun my legs up the false flat.  I was still passing people so that was good.  The course then starts to climb in earnest.  I was starting to get cold as the road was in the shade and with the headwind, my hands were starting to freeze again.  So I pulled out my gloves and put them on.  I saw Tara P along here and we commiserated about the cold.  With my hands covered I felt better.  My legs were still feeling cold and I was riding more in my small chain ring than my big chain ring, which is not normal for me.  My power was dwindling.  I caught the girl I had been yo-yoing with earlier.  I don't actually remember her passing me but obviously she did.  I think everyone was suffering from the ill effects of the cold.  After some more climbing, the course flattens out for a bit and you can get some good speed along this section by the High Peaks Gorge.   But, you are in the mountains so the flat doesn't last for long.  We started climbing again and I knew the 3 Bears were coming up.  I had ridden them multiple times and the only kind of tough one is Papa Bear, the last one.  I flew up the first two climbs in the big ring and flipped to the small ring for Papa Bear.  Again, not normal but my legs did not feel good.  After the climb, you turn right and are faced with another short really steep climb about 1km in.  That is by far the worst climb because it comes at the worst possible time.  After that, the course is mostly downhill and flat to the finish.  All I could think about was getting off my bike.  I flew along Mirror Lake Drive, took the turn onto the back road really quickly, powered up the hill by the post office and made the wide sweeping turn onto Main Street.  There were a TON of spectators out cheering which was awesome.


I made the final turn off Main street and made my way around the back of the school in up to the dismount line.  I was watching my Garmin the entire time.  I was hoping I'd come in at 2:55 but no, it was 2:56 and change when I crossed the timing mat.  I was SO happy to get off my bike.  I hobbled into T2 and found my rack.  I looked around and only saw ONE other bike on the 3 racks around me. SWEET.

Official Bike:  2:56:53.  Fastest bike in my AG and the 10th fastest bike split overall.  Guess I didn't suck as bad as I thought I did!

I racked my bike, took off my helmet and debated about going into a porta potty.  I knew trying to get my tri suit off would be time consuming and difficult so, I plopped myself down on the grass and peed while I pulled off my vest and cycling shoes and put on my running shoes.  It was like Niagara Falls.  I sat there for much longer than I should have but I wanted to make sure I didn't have to go again on the run.  I grabbed my wet towel that I had used to dry off after the swim and gave myself a quick wipe down.  The girl that I had yo-yoed with on the bike was now in T2.  She had a whole lot of clothing to get off.  I think she was in my AG as she was racked fairly close to me.  I grabbed my hat, stood up and started running.  I felt better but my legs didn't feel awesome.  Here goes nothing, I thought.

T2:  2:48.

I was in the home stretch.  I hoped that I could hold on for a strong finish.

Stay tuned for the run.....