Friday, May 30, 2014

Living Out of a Bag: What's in YOUR Gym Bag?

I think there comes a point in everyone's training cycle where they feel like they are constantly packing and unpacking their gym bag.  I am definitely feeling that way these days.  My life seems to be a never ending cycle of wet towels, spare underwear & Lara bar wrappers.  Oh the life of a triathlete. 

I'm linking up with Cynthia at You Signed Up For What? (LOVE that blog title), Mar at Mar on the Run and Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC,  for their Friday Five to talk about what's in my gym bag. 

1) First things first.  The bag itself deserves a special mention.  I used to carry another gym bag and my swim team would make fun of me because it was so massive.  I could have packed for a long weekend in that bag (and I have as a matter of fact).  A few months back I saw a couple of bloggers review the Apera performance duffel bag and my interest was piqued.  I wanted one of my own.  It was a little on the pricey side ($124 US) and without seeing it in person, I wasn't 100% sure I'd love it.  As luck would have it they were at the Boston Marathon Expo and they had an expo special of 20% off.  So of course, I bought one.  Or rather G bought it for me.  I think it was the best thing I got from that trip.  The bag is so awesome, it deserves a post of it's own.  Perhaps that will come down the road....

This is the colour combo I got. 

2) Two towels.  Why two?  If you've seen my hair, then you'll understand why.  I have a regular towel and then a microfiber towel for my hair.  It's something my hairdresser recommended.  Apparently wrapping curly hair in a regular towel will make it frizzy.  So I scrunch dry my hair with a microfiber towel to keep it from frizzing.  Seems to work.  Nobody ever said that having nice curls was easy, ha ha.

3) Snack food:  This is a must in my life because the last thing anyone wants is me with the "hangries".  I usually try to make sure I have a whole food option for a snack but since things like that are perishable, the next best thing are bars.  I generally have at least 2-3 stashed in my bag.  Lara Bars are my favourite.  I currently have 1 Pecan Pie Clif Bar, 1 Cashew Lara Bar and 1 Coconut Cream Lara Bar.

4) Flip flops.  I don't think these EVER leave my gym bag and there's a good reason.  Gym & pool floors are DISGUSTING. 

5)  Hair elastics & an extra swim cap.  Nothing sucks more than getting to the pool and either ripping your normal swim cap or forgetting said swim cap.  Trying to force an afro under a swim cap without the help of a hair elastic to tame it, also sucks.  I've learned my lesson so I keep extras of both in my bag. 

Bonus items: 

A lock.  Because getting to the gym and realizing that you've left your lock at home is not fun. 

An extra bra and extra underwear.  I've forgotten both (luckily not at the same time) and going commando or wearing my stinky sports bra all day are not high on my list of things that I love to do. 

What's in YOUR gym bag? 

Head on over to Mar on the Run, Eat Pray Run DC and You Signed up for What to see what other people are toting around in their gym bags!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dealing with the Demons: Woodstock Sprint Tri

To say I was a ball of anxiety leading into this race would be a gross understatement.  I was a complete headcase.  Mike and G had been trying to talk sense into me and calm me down for the good part of a week.  I got to the event site and was so close to switching to the duathlon but G said if I did that, then I'd be bailing.  He said you owe it to yourself to get in the water and TRY.  He's so wise.  Mike tried to get me to focus on the positive - how nice the weather was, how much fun this is supposed to be.  Don't race with expectations, go out and enjoy yourself.

These guys are so smart.  I'm really lucky to have them in my corner.   Despite their best efforts, I had a hard time calming myself down.  I don't remember ever being this panicked before a race.  Clearly my mind had started to blow things out of proportion. 

We got to Pittock Lake just after 7:30 and as usual the registration process was quick and easy.  This year they had a new system for transition, in order to make sure that someone doesn't "accidentally" walk off with your $10,000 bike.  You were given 2 numbered bands, one for your wrist and one for your bike and there were volunteers checking them on the way in and out of transition.  Good call Mr. Salt!

I always find the first race of the season a bit challenging in terms of getting myself organized in transition.  I think because I was so preoccupied with thoughts of the swim, I was very distracted while setting up my transition spot.  I managed to get everything sorted but it seemed to take me so much longer than usual.

While I was getting myself sorted in transition, I ran into Irina & Carol - two of my Daily Mile friends.  I saw Irina at Around the Bay but didn't realize it was her until AFTER the race, ha ha.  She came over and gave me a big hug.  She understood my anxieties about the swim so we chatted about that for a while.  I felt much more relaxed after talking to her and Carol. 

I got everything set up and decided it was time to get into the water.  Steve Fleck kept going on about how cold it was.  Awesome.  I got over to the beach area and found G.  I talked with him for a bit and then had someone help me with my wetsuit since G wasn't able to.  I made my way into the water. Steve Fleck wasn't kidding.  It was cold.  I got in up to my waist and then sunk down into the water.  Brrr.  It was 8:55 and the race was going to be starting soon so I had to start swimming if I wanted to get a decent warm up in.

I put my face in the water and started moving forward.  Slowly.  Comfortably.  I wanted to keep my heart rate down.  I needed to keep calm.  I swam out a few hundred meters, looked up, panicked and turned around.  I swam back thinking "I can't do this, I can't do this, I can't do this".  I could hear the announcements for the duathlon and wondered if I had enough time to change my registration.   I was beside myself.  I got out of the water and tried to find G.  I couldn't find him so I went back in and tried to calm myself down.  The race was getting ready to start so the lifeguard said we had to go back in.  I swam back to the shore and got out to try to find G once more.

I found him and Mike almost immediately.  Mike asked me how I was and I said not good.  He told me to focus on how nice the day was.  Don't think about the swim, it's 15 minutes tops, he said.  You can do that.  G told me to be calm.  I think he was getting frustrated with me.  I don't blame him.  I would have gotten frustrated with me too.  He told me to get in and stay at the back.  Let everyone go.  He said you know you'll catch them quickly but if it makes you feel better to start at an easier pace then do that.

Sure, I could have thrown in the towel right then and there and just not done it, but that would have been letting my fears win.  I had to go out and try.  I had to race with no expectations.  So I kissed G goodbye and got back in the water.  I submerged myself into the cold murky water and waited.  I was in the last wave which was great as it meant that I wouldn't have to worry about anyone swimming over me if I decided to take my time.

We all started bunching up in between the green buoys and I moved to the back of the pack.  An older woman beside me offered me the space in front of her and I said "No Thank You, I'm happy right here".  She laughed and said "me too".  She said she was nervous and I told her that I was as well.  I went on to say that this part of the race is always the hardest for me so I was happy to stay at the back and ease my way into it.  I said we could hang out at the back and swim together.  She said she'd like that.  So, that's exactly what we did.  The gun went off and the competitor in sat and stewed while the scaredy cat in me sat and waited for what seemed like an eternity.  It was probably only about 15-20 seconds but it was enough for the swarm to get going and spread out a bit.  My friend and I waded in and started swimming.

I was calm and relaxed.  My stroke seemed fine.  Within minutes I had caught a few stragglers.  Shortly after that my right goggle started leaking.  I ignored it for a bit but it proceeded to get worse and worse so I had to stop and drain it.  I got back into a rhythm.  Ran into a bigger group of people, stopped to tread water and position myself.  Started swimming again.  Stopped to drain my goggle again.  I was nearing the first buoy.  The closer I got the more people I swam into.  I got around the first buoy and had to drain my goggle again.  This time I slammed it hard into my eye socket.  It kind of felt like my eyeball was going to get sucked out of my head but it seemed to sort of stop the leaking.  Instead of pouring in, the water was just dripping in a bit.  It was tolerable.  Now it was time for me to get down to business.

I started to push the pace, passing people as I went along.  I was feeling good.  My breathing was laboured because I was starting to work hard but I was IN CONTROL.  And that my friends is the KEY.   The beginning of the race is always chaotic.  The chaos stresses me out.  If I can avoid that stress and deal with things at my own pace, get into my own groove and THEN start the work once I'm comfortable, then I *think* I should be able to avoid the panic.  Before I knew it, I had hit the second buoy.  As I rounded the buoy I swam right into someone and pushed her right under me.  That completely scared the crap out of me and I stopped and started apologizing profusely.  She just laughed and told me not to worry.  Off I went...

The last stretch of this swim seems so much longer than the first stretch even though I think they are roughly the same distance.  I just put my head down and swam.  I glanced up once to see where I was and then put my head back down.  I'm not sure why, but the Eurythmics song "Sisters Are Doin It For Themselves" was going through my head.  Probably because I was feeling pretty darn good about getting that far without freaking out.  I glanced up again to see the swim exit a few meters away.  I started to kick hard to get some blood down to my legs.  I don't think I kicked hard enough or long enough because when I stood up, I was woozy.

I saw G and I waved as I ran into transition.  I was having a hard time getting my zipper undone.  My hands didn't seem to want to work at all they were so numb.  I finally got it undone.  Then I had to try and get it over my damn Garmin.  That was a joke.  I almost dislocated my shoulder trying to pull the thing off.  I got out of my wetsuit pretty quickly after that but I felt really light headed and very discombobulated.  I got my helmet on and fumbled around for my shoes and a gel. I grabbed my bike and was off.

I ran out of transition on fairly wobbly legs.  There is an uphill run on grass, then you get to pavement and you have to run up to the mount line.  From there, you start climbing so your legs are burning from the minute you get on the bike.  I was in my easiest gear and climbing that hill was a struggle.  I was dying.  I thought uh-oh, I'm screwed if I feel this crappy now.  I got to the top of the climb and I was gasping.  Something didn't feel right.  I looked down at my tires thinking one was flat.  Nope.  I turned the pedal and then my wheel caught.  Awesome.  I stopped and pulled over.  I loosened my back brakes and my front brakes.  A volunteer came over and helped me spin my wheels.  Turns out my front wheel was rubbing on my brakes.  UGH.  So he adjusted it and I was off.  That probably cost me a minute.  Once I got going it was game on.  I dropped the hammer.  At some points I looked down at my Garmin and I saw anywhere between 36kph to 42kph.  Yes there were other points where I was doing 26kph (uphill) but I've never seen those speeds during a race. Clearly my winter of riding was paying off.

I caught 3 women in my AG on the bike.  I'm happy to say that no one in my AG passed me.  Usually at some point, someone in my AG will pass me.  Perhaps because I took so long in the swim this time around.  Doesn't matter really.  I was so happy to be flying along.  Ming told me to go out and inflict some pain on myself (did I mention he's crazy?).  I rode the pain train for the entire 20km.  It hurt.  But I felt strong.  I also felt pretty bad ass in G's aero helmet, ha ha.  I actually passed several GUYS.  I did get caught and passed by one dude towards the end of the ride and he blew by me like I was standing still.

I saw G as I made my way down the hill towards the dismount line.  He caught a pretty good picture of me.
I hopped off my bike and ran as fast as I could in my cycling shoes down the hill into transition.  I racked my bike, took off my shoes, then my helmet.  Grabbed my zoots and yanked them on.  I grabbed my sunglasses and a gel and bolted out of transition.  I was officially on the hunt.

I had no clue how many women in my AG were left on the course, if any.  There were a few bikes racked but we were mixed in with the 45-49 year old ladies so I didn't know who was who.  It's always a crapshoot.  You just need to go out there and leave it all on the course.  So, that's what I did.  Once again I started passing people left right and centre.  On my way out of transition, a "mystery lady" called my name as she was running back in to transition.  I was wracking my brain, wondering where I knew her from and why she looked so familiar.   Once again, I realized who she was after the race.  I'll get to that later....My legs were feeling good.  I saw the occasional flash of sub 4 min km's on my Garmin but I knew they were fleeting.  My first km beeped and I glanced down to see 4:13.  Not bad.  I knew I had more in me.  Especially once I got out onto even ground crossing the dam.  As I got closer to the dam, I ran into the first woman in my AG.  I caught her and motored away.  One down and who knows how many to go....Just after the first km, I saw Mike coming back on the run.  I waved and smiled.  I was cooking.  I let my legs fly on the down hill on the trail.  I figured this km would be a fast one.  Sure enough km 2 was 4:02.  Yes.  If I could only keep that momentum.  I was happy to get in amongst the trees for a bit as it was starting to get really hot out (I'm not complaining, just making a note, ha ha).  I motored along here, up past the water station and onto the road.

As I headed towards the turn around, I spotted another woman in my AG.  I got up behind her as we made the turn and as soon as we turned, I passed her and pulled away.  One more down, who knows how many to go and only 2.5km left to find them...if there were any left.  I could only hope there wasn't.

I really pushed the pace on the last 2.5 km.  Running back up that hill just about killed me and my pace slowed to 5:18's but I recovered quickly at the top and flew across the dam.  Every guy I passed offered words of encouragement.  I got a lot of "great run" & "running strong".  That made me feel good.  I saw my friend Michael who told me I had about 600m left. I was gasping I was working so hard.  I came barreling down towards the finishing turn and I caught a younger female athlete who wanted NO part of me passing her so we sprinted to the line.  She beat me by a hair.  I was grinning like an idiot the entire time.  I thanked her after I crossed the line.

photo courtesy of Mike Cheliak, My Sports Shooter

The love was back. 

I wandered around looking for G.  I quickly found him and then I found Mike.  Mike wanted to know where the results were so I pointed him in the direction of the tent.  I was heading over there with him when I ran into Irina and Carol.  Irina had a fabulous race.  She got 5th in her AG.  She was pretty stoked.  I chatted with them for a bit, then found G and got some food.  I then saw the mystery woman again - I looked at her bib and saw Jody, written across the front and I immediately knew who it was.  I ran over and gave her a hug and chatted with her for a while.  Yet another person I know from Facebook / my blog but had yet to meet in real life.  It was a great day for that for sure.

The best part of the day was racing knowing that my teammates were also out there.  Mike was racing his first tri in many years and Graeme was racing his first duathlon.  I had raced with Team Running Free for the last several years, which was cool but the team was so big and there were so many stores that I never really got to know who most people were.  I'd see people at races wearing the Team RF clothes and I'd wave and say hi and we'd chat afterwards but that was about it.  With Real Deal, it it much more personal.  And the support is GENUINE, as evidenced by Mike's pep talk to me at the beginning of the race.  We all had great days and we were all there to support each other as well.  As Mike so aptly put it, "Team work, makes the dream work".

I think Graeme is going to give me a run for my money in the crazy hair department!
 Mike had found the results board and told me that I came second in my AG. I was thrilled.  All I wanted to was to get on the podium.  The spot didn't matter at this point.  Graeme won his AG and was FOURTH over all.   And, he had the fastest bike split of the day by a LONG shot.  Amazing.  Mike ended up 6th in his AG, which was awesome for a first race back, especially since his AG is probably one of the most competitive age groups out there.  So needless to say we were all pretty happy.  Of course we stuck around for the awards.  They did the duathlon first so Graeme got up there twice, once for overall top 5 and then for winning his AG.   When they got to my AG, I was ready to run up when they called the second place finisher.  I stood there ready to go as Steve Fleck announced "and in second place, Jordie Seaton from Thornhill".  What?  I thought I had gotten second.  The next thing I knew, I heard Steve announce my name is the AG winner.  What the what???  Amazeballs.  I ran up to the front fist pumping in the air.  I jumped onto the first place podium and did the Real Deal Podium Salute (flexed my non existent guns).  Pictures were taken,  I hopped off and pretty much danced my way back to Mike and Graeme I was so happy.

What an awesome way to start off my season.  It was a beautiful day to race, I had teammates there to support me and of course, G was there to keep me sane.  If he hadn't gone with me, I probably would have switched to the DU, no questions.   Thankfully I didn't.  I now have a stronger sense of confidence for my next swim.   I know that if I want to avoid the panic, I need to slow down and ease into my swim.  I'm ok with that.  Thankfully I've developed the legs to help me make up the difference in the other two sports. 

A huge thanks to Real Deal Racing and all of our sponsors: Gears, WASPcam, Fieldgate Homes, Iler Silva Law Offices, Toronto Sport and Social Club, Morning Glory Cycling Club, Champion System (love my new race kit!), Powerbar, Balance Physiotherapy, RMP Total Fitness, Spin Kicks, Kenzington Burger Bar and Barnstormer Brewing

I am looking forward to toeing the line again in Binbrook in a couple of weeks!

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Season Opener: #Mingsanity Week 20

After my long weekend training camp, I knew I was scheduled for an easy week and I really needed it.  I had three really tough weeks of training and I was starting to physically and mentally feel it.  Ming gave me 2 whole days off this week!  I can't even begin to tell you how much I needed them.  I think I was toeing the line on mental burn out.  Plus I was feeling just a little overwhelmed.  Between work, training, G not doing well and trying to get all my aches and pains looked after (knees are still an issue), I was starting to feel a little stressed.  So, I took advantage of the down time and slept in, relaxed and generally enjoyed being a little lazy.  It was almost like a having a taper, without the taper madness.  It was perfect as I was slated to do my first race of the season on Sunday.  Of course I was dealing with a whole other slew of issues in regards to the swim, but, if you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I survived.   I'll share all the crazy details tomorrow for now let's look at how my week unfolded.  I'm joining in the #Bestfoot ladies link up with Krysten, Amanda & Ericka

This is how my week went down....

Monday:  Brick:  50km bike with 10km intervals.  Holy tough.   9.81km run (was supposed to be 10km but whatevs)

Tuesday:  OFF - thank goodness!

Wednesday:  2150m swim in a.m.  60 minute easy ride in p.m.

Thursday:  Easy 10km at lunch in the sunshine.  GLORIOUS.

Friday:   OFF - YES!

Saturday:  Brick:  30km bike, 5km run.

Sunday:  First Tri of the Season:  750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run.

Totals for the week:

Swim:  2900m
Bike:  130.07 km
Run: 30.29

Total time:  8h 6 min.  These next two weeks are going to be another two solid build weeks before my taper.  I've got another race on June 7th so we'll see how that goes. My goal over the next couple of weeks is to get a lot more open water swim practice in.  That's how I'm going to work on putting my #Bestfoot forward in June!

How was your week of training?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fear Less = Fearless

I've been tossing the double entendre of this word around in my head for a while.  Probably since my friend Jonathan claimed it as his "words to live by" at the beginning of the year.  The profundity of it struck a chord in me. It seems so simple, so easy.   But it's not.  At least not for me. 

The person you see in these pages is generally the person I am in real life.  Yes, I worry and obsess about things that are beyond my control (just ask G) but I've gotten a LOT better in terms of rolling with the punches as of late.  I'm not afraid of a hard work and I'm always happy to do it (despite my occasional grumbling).  Nothing much phases me in that department.  With the exception of one thing.

Open Water Swimming.

I thought that I dealt with this demon back in 2012.   I suppose I did because for a while I was totally fine with OWS.  Last year, old fears began to resurface and I suffered a few panic attacks while swimming.  Not full blown ones but close enough.

It's frustrating because I thought I had trained my mind to deal with it.  Now when I think about swimming 2km in open water, my heart starts to race, my palms get sweaty and I feel anxious and filled with dread.  There are several factors that feed my fear.  Get ready because a few of them are pretty freaking ridiculous.  I'm pretty sure I think too much.

1.  How do I occupy my mind for that long in an unnatural setting?  By unnatural, I mean that as humans, we are out of our natural habitat when we're in the water.  When I'm on my own two feet, I have no problem tuning out.  Put me in the open water and I can't quiet my mind.  I keep thinking about how much I want to be done...and it's not like I can just start walking.  No.  I HAVE to swim if I want to get anywhere.  Or I stop and have a lifeguard bail me out and I call it a day.  That thought has crossed my mind MANY times (I did say that I think too much).

2.  I have a deep seeded fear that all of a sudden I won't be able to swim anymore or I'm going to get too tired that I won't be able to finish the swim.  So incredibly illogical and the biggest crock of shit ever but that's where my mind goes.

3.  And then there's The Panic.   The Panic ensues from a myriad of things:  cold water, labored breathing, water up my nose, realizing how far I have to go, someone swimming into me, you name it.  When it starts, it's like every fiber of my being is screaming STOP STOP STOP.   It's almost paralyzing.  I am assuming it comes from already being anxious, so add some discomfort to the mix and it's like a molotov cocktail. 

4.  There's always that fear of touching something or seeing something in the water.  That scene from Jaws with Richard Dreyfuss when he is diving by the boat and pulls out a sharks tooth only to dislodge the head of the boat owner.....yeah, that's the stuff of nightmares and it's something that's always in the back of my mind.  Never mind that 99.9% of my swims are in LAKES. 

Clearly I have an incredibly overactive imagination.

How do I deal with all of this?  I know that practice helps immensely.  The more opportunity I have to swim in open water, the more comfortable I feel in it.  I'm usually pretty good by the end of the triathlon season, ha ha.   And by pretty good I mean that I might still panic a bit but I'm usually able to keep moving vs having to stop and roll over on my back to catch my breath and try to calm down.  

I think what really needs to happen is that I need to learn to love the open water.  To not be so afraid of it any more.  There needs to be a healthy respect for it but fear should not be part of the equation any longer. 

This, right here, is what I need to do.
Making the decision is easier said than done.  I feel like I can decide that but I don't feel like I have the right tools to enforce that decision when the fear starts.  THAT'S where I'm struggling.  I'm worried because I don't have a lot of time between now and my 70.3 to actually get into the water and practice.  I'm also scheduled to race this Sunday.  It's the first tri of the season and really, the last thing I want is for my first open water swim of the season to be in a race situation.   The C3 Quarry is supposed to open this weekend so I'm hoping that I can get up there for a practice swim tomorrow.

Mike has been a huge help in talking me through things this past week.  I feel pretty darn lucky to have two great people in my corner this year.  Ming gives me the work and Mike gives me support.  He even offered to be my swim buddy at my race this weekend!  I figure I'll be able to make it through 750m ok.  It may be slower than I want it to be but that's fine.  Either way, he's going to be there because he signed up to race it as well.  And of course G will be there cheering me on.  

Now, if I can only figure out how to turn those thoughts OFF between now and Sunday, all will be peachy.  

Does anyone else struggle with similar issues in the swim?  If so, how do you deal with them?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Recovery: How to #FuelYourBetter

Disclaimer:  I was given the opportunity to review this product by Fit Approach in conjunction with Vega, in exchange for an honest review.

The opportunity to review this product couldn't have come at a better time.  I was heading into a huge build for IM Luxembourg 70.3 and figured I was going to need all the help I could get to recover quickly.  I normally just use protein powder in my post workout smoothies.  Sometimes I use GU Brew recovery but I find that can upset my stomach.  I really like the Vega products I've used in the past so I was definitely game to give the Vega Recovery Accelerator a try.  According to the Vega Sport web site, the recovery accelerator is designed to:

  • Replenish energy and electrolytes
  • Reduce inflammation, muscle and joint pain
  • Support immune system function and protein synthesis
  • Reduce recovery time between training
Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator also features a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, a combination shown to increase muscle glycogen re-synthesis—a crucial component of post-workout recovery.

The little box of goodness arrived just as I headed into my first hard week of training and I didn't waste any time testing it out.  I received the Tropical flavour.  I wasn't sure I'd be a fan but I was pleasantly surprised.  It tastes like a combo of mangoes and pineapples.  Delicious.

Typically my Thursdays are my really hard days.  I do a LOT.  There's usually a swim, followed by a short weight workout.  Then I go to work.  When I get home from work, there's usually a hard bike, followed by a hard run.  It's crazy.  Now I normally have Friday's off from any sort of training but, being an "older athlete" I do find that my recovery time isn't what it used to be.  Sometimes it can take me more than a couple of days before I feel ready to tackle another workout but, that isn't always an option.  I used this after my first really hard Thursday workout.  I woke up on the Friday with no soreness.  None.  I figured Saturday would be the real test.  My long ride was actually pretty good.  There was some residual fatigue in my legs but I'm chalking that up to the A.R.T treatment I had the day before.  By the second half of the ride, I bounced back nicely. 

To really put it to the test I brought it with me to Deerhurst for my Epic Training Weekend this past weekend.   This is what I had on tap for the weekend:

Friday:  swim & bike
Saturday:  3+ hour bike on the Muskoka 70.3 course, 30 minute run
Sunday:  20km long run
Monday:  50km bike with 3x10 tempo intervals, followed by a 10km run.

That's a LOT of hard work.  I used the Vega Recovery Accelerator after my Saturday workouts. I thought for sure I'd get up on Sunday feeling like I got hit by a truck.  I was a little stiff when I got up but once I got going, I had an amazing run.  My legs had bounced back quite nicely.  Of course when I got back from my long run, the first thing I did was have the recovery accelerator again.   Monday morning when I got up for my ride, my legs felt a little stiff.  When I got on the bike, they didn't feel great but as I got going, once again, they bounced back. 

I pushed myself pretty hard this past weekend and I can honestly say that I think the Vega Recovery Accelerator was what helped me to do so.  Vega is getting better and better in terms of the quality of the products that are available to athletes.  I'm actually going to try their Performance Protein next and you know that I'll be putting the Recovery Accelerator into my regular training rotation.  Because recovery is just as important as the training. 

How do you #FuelYourBetter ?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Meltdown: #Mingsanity Week 19

It had to happen sooner or later.  I'm actually amazed that it took so long, although I think the events of this week had a lot to do with it.  Yes folks, I finally had my first training meltdown.  I usually have at least one of these per training cycle and it usually happens during a huge block of training.  Which has been the case for me over the last couple of weeks.  Coupled with what happened to G the other day, and the high crap factor of yesterday's ride and well, everything just seemed to be a bit too much for me.  I haven't been feeling very confident as of late.  I feel like the decision to do a 70.3 only 8 weeks after a marathon was maybe not the greatest idea.  I feel like I haven't had adequate time to prepare the way I would have liked to (lots of open water swimming, long rides followed by long runs).  I also feel like I've lost a lot of strength.  That seems to be the kicker for me.  I felt it yesterday on the climbs and in the wind and I can physically see it in the way my body looks.  I'm no longer the super lean athlete I was last year.  My body has changed.  I'm carrying more weight around my midsection and thighs than I have in the last 2 years.  I can only chalk that up to not lifting like I used to.  I'm also carrying 4 extra lbs that I somehow managed to put on after Boston and that I haven't been able to shake.  I know 4lbs doesn't sound like a lot but when you're already slim, 4lbs makes a difference in everything.  It can slow you down.  I feel and perform my best when I'm in the low 120's.  I'm hovering around 125-126lbs right now.  Anyway, all of this came to a head yesterday and after my ride, I sat on the couch and cried.

I touched on some of this with Mike yesterday (another coach & owner of Real Deal racing).  He gave me a pretty good pep talk.  Ming has also reassured me that things will turn around.  I am full of mixed emotions right now.  I'm questioning my reasons for racing as well as my desire to do so.  I was miserable on the bike yesterday.  If it wasn't for my friend David, I think I would have thrown in the towel.  Since G can no longer ride, I have also lost my main training partner for my long rides which sucks.  To top it off, my friend Heather and I went into the water yesterday and it was positively FRIGID.  I'm not sure how much open water swim practice I'm going to get before I get to Luxembourg.  Pretty much all the open water in Ontario is colder than normal.  My first triathlon of the season is next weekend and I can't even fathom getting into the water and actually swimming. 

But...things could be worse....every time I look at G with his arm in a sling, I am reminded of that.

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, let's look at the week that I had.  It was a high volume week but some workouts were shortened due to lack of time on my part + due to water conditions.  As usual, I'm linking up with the Bestfoot ladies to recap my week of training.

Monday:  2000m swim followed by a 50 minute bike with intervals

Tuesday:  10 km run.  Was supposed to be 12-15km but I got stuck at work late and got to run club just before they started.

Wednesday:  OFF

Thursday:  35 minute hard bike (probably should have done a longer warm up) followed by a 7+km run with 1km repeats.  Holy tough.

Friday:  2050m swim, followed by a 60 minute bike.

Saturday:  95.16km ride followed by a 5km run.  100km day baby!

Sunday:  A amazing 20km run followed by a 30 minute weight workout and then a 10 minute dip in the lake.

Totals for the week:

Swim:  4050m
Bike:  163.98 km
Run:  42.39 km

Total time:  11h 25 minutes

Thankfully this is a low volume week so I should have some good recovery time built in to my program.   I had a really hard workout today so I've asked Ming to give me tomorrow off.  Fingers crossed he does.

How was your week of training?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thinking Out Loud-Thankfulness

I had drafted my usual Thinking Out Loud post and was going to publish it this morning after my workouts.  But after the events of this morning, all the things I was thinking about seem so trivial. 

I had a brick workout scheduled this morning so I had to do a hard ride followed by a hard run.  G usually goes and rides with a local bike club - Morning Glory - so he went off to do that.  I got back from my run shortly after 7:00 and started stretching.  As an afterthought, I grabbed my phone so I could text G to see if he could pick up some cream on his way back from the ride.  I then saw that I had 2 missed phone calls, a voicemail and a text from a number that I didn't recognize.  I could feel a lump forming in my throat. 

I called into my voicemail only to hear the voice of my friend Michael telling me that G had crashed his bike.  I held my breath.  Apparently he was conscious even though he had hit his head.  The bad part was his shoulder.  They had called the ambulance because he was in so much pain.  I called Michael back right away and he assured me that G seemed to be fine that it was just his shoulder and maybe some broken ribs.  He said he'd call me when the ambulance got there.

I ran around the house grabbing clean clothes for G & inhaled my breakfast.  I was just about to get in the shower when  Michael called me back and said the ambulance had arrived and that they were stabilizing him and taking him to St. Joe's.  The paramedics suspected it was either a broken or dislocated shoulder / collarbone.  Not an ideal situation.

I got myself showered and dressed and G texted me to say he was at the hospital and that they were taking him in for an x-ray.  I made my way through rush hour traffic to the hospital and walked into Emergency to see G sitting there with his arm in a sling, his cycling jersey pulled open, a bit of road rash on his legs, a few bloody knuckles and a glazed look in his eyes.  They had given him 2 percasets and a gravol.  He was just waiting for the x-ray results but looking at his shoulder, there was a huge bump on it.  And it was sitting lower than his other shoulder.  I was amazed that he hadn't shredded his jersey.  I asked him what happened.

He was riding with a pack of guys along Lakeshore West but the Boulevard Club.  They were literally about 5-10 minutes away from finishing the ride.  By the Boulevard Club there are three concrete posts that go across the bike path.  Why they're there is BEYOND me.  But they are painted bright yellow and they are a decent height so they are easy to see.  However, there was a fourth, smaller post that the rider in front of G didn't see until the last minute.  He swerved but G had riders on either side of him and couldn't go anywhere so he hit the post full on, went over his handle bars and landed on his shoulder.  Then his head hit the ground.

I cannot even begin to tell you how bad this *could* have been.   Thankfully, he landed on his shoulder. 

The doctor called him back in to go over the x-rays and said that he had a separated shoulder.  He said if you were going to have any shoulder issue, that was the better thing to have apparently (instead of a broken collarbone or dislocated shoulder).  He said that G could continue to work out but that he'd have to let the pain dictate what was possible and what wasn't.  He also said it was important for him to move the joint around so that scar tissue doesn't build up and interfere with future mobility.  He did suggest that he to to the Fracture Clinic at St. Joe's and speak to a surgeon there to see if they thought surgery might be necessary.  The separation was fairly wide so it *could* be something that is required.  The wait at the Fracture clinic was insane so G is going to go back first thing tomorrow morning.

Of course this does not bode well for our race in Europe.  He's definitely not racing next weekend.  The doctor did say that G should continue to try to workout and to let the pain dictate what he can and cannot do.  Given the amount of pain he's in now, I don't think he'll be doing much for the next couple of weeks.  So his European race is up in the air.  I've been on the fence about it since Boston and now this has pushed me closer to the "I don't want to do it" line.  I signed up for it because we were going to do it together.  Triathlon is what we do together.  I wouldn't seem right to toe the line without him.

I clearly have a lot to think about but right now I'm just thankful that it wasn't more serious.  I'm thankful for the amazing people at Morning Glory Cycling Club as well as my pal Michael who stayed with him till the ambulance came and then he took his bike & checked it over.  The awesome folks at Morning Glory even sent G a get well cookie.  Little do they know that most of that will end up in my belly. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

PFS: It's Not the Bees Knees

Bees Knees:  (slang) an extraordinary person, thing or idea; the ultimate.  So says   Ironic that it would be the exact opposite of what's going on with MY knees.

Yes folks, I'm bringing back the 1920's slang for this one, ha ha.  It had to be done.

If you're a regular reader of this wee blog, you know that I've been having knee problems since January.  And by "problems", I mean soreness after running, usually when walking up and down stairs.  It's also been very uncomfortable when I start running but then it usually sorts itself out and I don't notice it any more.  The big issue I've been having is not when I'm running though.  It's been when I go to extend my left leg.  I can't fully extend it without feeling pain along the side of my kneecap.  This isn't problematic when I'm running, thank goodness but it is an issue when I'm at the gym.  It's difficult for me to do any sort of exercise that involves a fully extended leg.  Like planks, push ups or hip extensions.  It also started to bother me a bit when doing single leg squats, which Ming had me doing fairly regularly.

I assumed that a lot of this was due to my insanely tight muscles.  I had been going to physio and she had said she felt that all of this was stemming from my feet and ankles.  My ankle mobility was next to non existent so I was putting stress on my calves and my feet, which in turn put stress on my knees.  So I worked on my mobility.  A friend of mine suggested I try Graston to help loosen everything up.  I've been doing that regularly and that seems to have helped a lot.  Yet the pain upon extension was still there.  So of course my mind went down the "Oh crap, I've done some serious damage to my knee" road.  I was worried I might have torn my meniscus (no thanks to googling my symptoms).  So about 6 weeks before Boston I made an appointment to see a sports doc.  I couldn't get in until AFTER Boston so the week after I got back, I went in to meet with Dr. Schofield at Pivot.  He did a bunch of tests on me and dismissed the meniscus as the source of my pain.  YES!!!!!  He sent me for an x-ray to see if there was any sort of arthritis happening in my knee.  Apparently the x-ray came back negative.  His diagnosis?  Patella Femoral Syndrome. (aka Runner's Knee)


I've been told that it's a very vague diagnosis but in my case, it means my kneecap is not tracking properly.   You can actually see the difference in the way my left kneecap lays vs. the way my right one does.  My right one lies flush to my knee and my left one is angled up.  There are several factors that can contribute to this:

1.  Weak quads (totally not my problem)
2.  A weak VMO (vastus medialis) muscle.  This seems to be a bit of an issue on my left side.
3.  Very tight muscles (um hello, I do way too much moving and not enough stretching)
4.  A tight IT band (welcome to my world)
5.  Weak hip muscles
6.  Weak or inactive glute muscles

Apparently I have at least 3 of the 6 things happening, maybe even 4.   My IT bands are a mess.  Especially my left one.  I have been going to A.R.T for the last couple of weeks and I've been doing these crazy squat type exercises to try to engage my glutes more.  Because my kneecap isn't tracking properly, it's been irritating the fat pad below my kneecap.  Running irritates it anyway but when the kneecap isn't tracking properly, it makes it worse.  Needless to say, ice has become my best friend these days.  I even had my first ice bath of the year the other day.   The things we do to keep moving, right?

I think what it really comes down to is the fact that I clearly haven't been stretching or foam rolling enough.  Foam rolling used to be a regular part of my post workout stretching routine.  The more I started to do, the less time I had to foam roll.  It's a horrible catch 22.  Now, it's back in my life.  I do it after every workout.  I even do it on my rest days sometimes.  It needs to become a regular part of my routine once again.  I push myself like my body is still in it's 20's.  I have to remind myself that I'm nearing my mid 40's and that certain things, like flexibility, change as you age, especially if you don't work at it on a regular basis. 

I am relieved that it's nothing serious but it really made me think that maybe, just maybe, I need to slow things down a bit.   That will probably take more discipline for me than actual training, ha ha.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Peaking Out: #Mingsanity Week 18

Holy Moly.  This week was EPIC.  That's really the only word for it and the scary part is, I'm not even IN my peak week yet.  Because of my unhappy knees, Ming opted to get me on the bike 4 days in a row this week.  Yes, you read that correctly.  FOUR.  Although I ended up ditching my Monday night ride due to a very hard ART session with my chiro.  It was excruciatingly painful.  My IT band on my left leg is a mess.  But that's another story for another day.  Back to my week on the bike.  Can I just say that by Thursday "the Queen" was not amused.  My legs were ok but my girly bits, not so much.   But that's part of training.  I'm sure things will get better over the next 5 weeks.   As usual I'm linking up with the Bestfoot gals, Krysten, Amanda & Ericka to recap my week of training.  This is how it all went down.

Monday:  1700m swim

Tuesday:  a.m., slept in.  p.m.  Bike 35.85km

Wednesday:  a.m swim:  50x50 on 55s.  B-R-U-T-A-L.  Total swim:  2800m.  p.m. Bike  90 minutes with 5s max sprints every 20 minutes

Thursday:  a.m.:  2000m swim + 35 minute weight workout  p.m. 40 minute insane interval ride, followed by an interval run.  I told you this week was EPIC.

Friday:  OFF (thank GOODNESS).

Saturday:  84km horrendously windy bike followed by a 6.2km easy run.  We did stop for a mid ride treat though which I think helped me get through the last half of the ride.  Oh yeah, a pistachio cherry cookie.  So. Good.

Sunday:  14.55km run followed by a 3000m swim, 2000 of which was a time trial.  Holy frig was I ever tired.   But I still managed to pull off a 37 minute 2k swim.  It's not exactly where I want to be but, I right now, I'll take it.  Especially given the week I had.

Totals for the week:

Swim:  9500m - had I actually been on time for swimming yesterday, I probably could have pulled off a 10,000m week but alas I missed most of the warm up.
Bike:  185.95km
Run:  29.33km

Total time:  12h 50 minutes.  

I asked Ming if this was going to be the way things stayed for the next 5 weeks and he said pretty much.  Tuesdays will normally be a run day he just wanted me to rest my knees from the pounding of running.    Thursdays are going to be the days that kill me.  That is a whole lot of STUFF to cram in one day! I'd be lying if I said I wasn't feeling just a wee bit tired.  I didn't really have much time to relax over the weekend either so when my alarm went off this morning, I was VERY tempted to skip my swim and sleep in.  I didn't so I'll have to make sure I get to bed super early tonight.   I feel like getting enough good quality sleep has been something that has been missing from my routine for the last week and that can't be helpful to my recovery.  Sleep is one of the most important aspects of recovery.  That could explain why I've been generally cranky and lethargic as of late, ha ha.   Time to fix that, especially since I'm heading in to what looks like a peak week of training.  Oh boy.

How was your week of training? 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thinking Out Loud #10

Hey-O!  It's been a while since I've done one of these posts so it's time to get back on that bandwagon and link up with Amanda & Co for some Thursday randomness.

1.  Speaking of random, I was looking through some of my facebook pics the other day and I discovered these shots from 2011.   That dude on the left also happens to be Ming, my current coach! I had no idea who he was at the time.  We were the male and female "Grand Champions" at the Korean 10km (thus the gigantic trophies we're holding). 

2.  I think I have developed a mild allergy to eggs.  Every time I eat them, my stomach is in knots.   It only seems to happen when I eat the WHOLE egg.  If I just eat egg whites, I don't notice any issues.  Looks like I'm going to have to drag my butt to an allergist to double check that.  I'm hoping that maybe it's just temporary, ha ha.

3.  As much as I'm happy that spring is here, there is one thing I absolutely HATE about this time of year.  The swarms of bugs, or gnats or whatever the hell they are.  I freaking HATE them.  They are out in swarms right now.  I ran last week and I can't tell you how many of them I either swallowed, crushed, or spit out.  I ran with my hair back in a hair band instead of under a baseball cap and I think a bunch of them got caught in the 'fro.  I kept finding dead ones along my neckline while I was stretching.  G-R-O-S-S!!!!!!

4.  I have my first tri of the season in 17 days.  I can only hope the water is SOMEWHAT warm by then.  Last year it was in the low 60's.  I think we'll be lucky if it's in the mid 50's this year.  That might just be too darn cold for me to swim in.  Even if I am wearing a neoprene cap and even if this forecast holds true for the next few weeks!

5.  Let me introduce you to my latest obsession.

I have to keep it at work because if I had it at home, I'd eat it out of the jar while watching TV. 

6.  Speaking of watching TV, can I just say that I'm SUPER PUMPED that Jack is back!!  Yes, 24 finally started on Monday and it did not disappoint.  I can't wait to see what sort of crazy happens this year!

That's all the randomness I have in me today.  Now it's YOUR turn!

Tell me something random!

Monday, May 5, 2014

It's All About The Bike: #Mingsanity Week 17

Well, things are finally back to my version of normal.  This past week saw me back in the pool and on the bike.  I also had to do another FTP / CP test so Coach Ming could figure out if I actually improved on the bike over the last few months.  Thankfully I did.  You can read all about it here.  These next few weeks are going to be all about the bike.  My running has been short and easy which is good because my knees have been cranky.  More on that in another post.  For now, I'm linking up with the #Bestfoot ladies to recap my week of training.

Monday:  a.m. 2550m swim p.m. 60 minute easy ride

Tuesday:  TEST day

Wednesday:  2000m swim, 90 minute ride with 5s max sprints every 20 minutes

Thursday:  40 minute interval ride, including 2 minutes all out.  OMG was this ever HARD.  My data profile looks like a mountain range, ha ha. This bit of insanity was followed by a 5km run = FIRST BRICK OF THE YEAR! 

Friday:  was supposed to take it off but I swam 1800m instead

Saturday:  First outside ride!  Second brick of the year!  62km followed by 6km run.

Sunday:  10km easy run


Swim:  6350
Bike: 150.26km
Run: 21.29km.

Total time:  9h 50 minutes.

My training hours this week were more than double what I did last week, ha ha.  This didn't really feel like that much of a big week until last night at around 7:00 pm when all of a sudden I just wanted to go to bed.  I made it to 9:00 pm, ha ha.  This coming week is listed as a "medium volume" week.  I only have 2 runs this week, both of them are off the bike and he's brought back my strength routine.  Thank goodness because I was starting to feel a bit doughy.

I know a lot of you raced this weekend so I'll be stalking your blogs for recaps! 

If you didn't race, how was your week of training?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Longest 3 Minutes of My Life: The Mingate Algorithm

First off, I want to thank you all for your support & comments on my Boston race report.  That's what I love about the running community - we "get" each other and we all support each other.  You guys rock.

Now that Boston is done, Coach Ming has said he's shifting my focus from the run to the bike & swim.  We have 7 weeks to get me primed and ready to go.  I've been training in both disciplines throughout my Boston training, I just wasn't pushing myself in either of them.  I was in maintenance mode.  Subsequently, I started slowing down in the pool, which I wasn't happy about but I know that will come back once I start pushing myself again.  As for the bike, I've actually shown improvement which is generally what should happen when you actually log the time in the saddle.  I didn't do any of that last winter and if I did, it was sporadic at best.  This year, I rode 3 times a week during my Boston training.  About 80% of the rides were just recovery rides but sometimes he had me doing power work.  That consistency in the saddle has paid off.

Tuesday night I went down to U of T to the infamous "Pain Cave" because Ming wanted to do another test.  Of course I was apprehensive, but I was also curious.  He said it would be less than an hour including warm up and cool down.  Ok then.  I was chatting with one of my colleagues at the studio that was a part of Mings PhD study and he just smirked when I told him what I was doing.  He asked if I knew what test I'd be doing.  I said I had no idea.  He warned me to be prepared for a world of hurt.  Awesome.

I met Ming at the U of T Athletic Centre and he proceeded to take me through a labyrinth of hallways, down some stairs and into the underbelly of the building.  I wish I took a video because I felt like I was literally being led into the dungeon.  We walked past what looked like heating units and plumbing, all of which was enclosed in cages.  We rounded a corner to a hallway with a series of offices.  Ming opened the door to one of them and I had my first introduction to the pain cave.

It was a large-ish room with a couple of offices a large table and some chairs and a whole bunch of exercise equipment.  There was a treadmill and a couple of interesting looking stationary bikes. Ming had me get on one of the bikes and start pedaling.  I've never been on a bike like this.  The minute you applied pressure to the pedals, it increased the resistance so it made it harder to pedal.  He dialed in a cadence (95 rpm) so that's what I had to maintain, which was fairly easy for me as that is about where I'm at when I'm on the trainer.  There was a table in front of me that had a computer screen on it with a graph.  The graph was tracking my power so it was kind of neat to watch it.  He had me do a good warm up with some 5s max sprints that showed up as spikes on the screen.  After I was warmed up, he explained that we were testing for Critical Power, which is also known as Functional Threshold Power.  I tested for this back in December except that this test was a 20 minute test.  Mings PhD thesis was centered on developing a shorter more accurate way to test for this.  So, I knew that my suffering would be shorter than 20 minutes at the very least. 

Ming explained that I had to ride all out, as hard as possible until he said stop.  I didn't ask for how long as I figured he probably wouldn't tell me.  I had put my heart rate monitor on but he didn't want me see it so I had to put the watch on the table in front of me.  He then proceeded to remove the computer screen that was in front of me and he also turned the other screen he had away from me so I couldn't see it.  I had NO visual distractions, no music, no nothing.  I think he does this so you really have to go within yourself and focus on nothing but the pain so you can work through it.  As he started his countdown, my palms started to get sweaty and my heart rate spiked.  I said to him that I figured my heart rate was high and he looked at it and started laughing.  I was clearly nervous about what was to come.

pic courtesy of Ming - this was before the pain started. 
As soon as he said GO, I mashed the pedals.  Normally I will focus on something but I had nothing to focus on other than the black table in front of me.  I looked at that for a bit and then just closed my eyes.  Ming started encouraging me.  I concentrated on pushing those pedals as hard as I could.  The lactic acid started to build up fairly quickly.  My breathing became ragged and soon I was gasping air.  I was also hunched over with my head down.  That seemed like the most comfortable way to be when I was exerting myself to the extent that I was.  The encouragement kept coming and all I could think was "when will this be over?"  I couldn't even ask the question -nothing else was able to come out of my mouth except gulps for air.  But, I kept mashing, even though ever fiber in my body wanted me to stop.  I focused on not letting up or backing off but trying to push through the hurt.  I can do this on the run but I haven't quite experienced what it's like to do on the bike.  Until now.  It felt like forever but Ming finally started to count down.  I could taste blood that's how hard I was working.  As soon as he said stop, I sat up and let up on the pedals.  I knew I had to let my legs spin out for a bit after that kind of effort.  I did that for a bit but was thirsty so I got off the bike to get some water.  Oh my God, my legs were like jello.  I asked him how long that was and he said 3 minutes.  My response?  "That was the longest 3 minutes of my life". 

Yesterday Ming gave me the data from my test as well as "a picture of what my legs drew on the screen".  This what he said:

CP (critical power) = 216.5w (in December it was 186)
anaerobic work capacity (AWC or W') = 8759.76J

- The CP value is 30w higher than when we tested you in Dec, so that's a really good sign when we haven't focused on cycling yet and the supplementary bike workouts are helping
- so with your new and improved CP,  that means the training zones are different now.
- the "toughness" score (ie. the variance on the points along the line) is very good, that means you "know" how to push yourself!

 This is all Greek to me so I asked him what these numbers mean.  Apparently I have good Critical Power but I have to work on developing my anaerobic capacity, which, according to Ming makes sense because I have only really been training my aerobic system vs. my anaerobic system.  The really good news I took from all of this was that my CP (or FTP) went up by 30 watts with consistent easy training.  I can only imagine where it will go once I really start pushing myself. 

So when I opened my training log yesterday, I noticed a whole new set of values.

The next 3 weeks will be all about training my anaerobic system so I'm going to have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  I'll be hanging out in the higher end of this range a few times a week.  In fact, tonight will be my first hard workout.  It will also be a brick.  Nothing like having your first run after a marathon come AFTER a hard bike ride, ha ha.

#Mingsanity indeed.