Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015: The Year Of...?

2014 was supposed to be my #YearOfBigThings and even though I didn't hit all my goals, it was still a pretty awesome year. 

As I mentioned in my 2014 recap, I didn't really have any solid plans for 2015.  That is slowly changing.  My running is coming around.  The knee pain is subsiding and my legs are starting to feel better.  So much so that I actually registered for my first race of 2015:  The Frosty 5km.  I had told G last year that I wasn't going to run any early season long distance races in 2015.  My body needed a break from the high mileage.  My plan was to race short distance for the early part of the year and I'm sticking to that plan. 

I'm going to continue working on my bike and my swim.  I've been bumped up a lane in the pool so I'm back with my old speedy group.   Earlier this week I started laying out the ground work for a training plan to get me back on the bike on a regular basis.  Things are starting to come around.  I'm starting to feel like I've turned the corner so I'm going to lay down my athletic goals for 2015.

1.  Break 20 minutes for a 5km.  My current 5km P.R. is 20:07 and that was off the bike at Toronto Island in August this year.  I know I have a sub 20 5km in me.  I'm not sure where or when I'll aim for this but it will happen this year. 

2.  Do another 70.3.  Again, not sure where or when but it's going to happen.

3.  Reclaim my AG title in the Recharge with Milk Triathlon series for the third year in a row.  I'll be 44 next year (!!!) so I'll be at the top end of the 40-44 y/o AG.  I'm going to have to up my game big time this year as I'm sure a whole slew of younger fast ladies are aging up.  I've got my work cut out for me for sure.

Other Goals:

I've never done a vision board but I've started gathering images and I plan on spending a large part of tomorrow putting things down on paper.  Literally.

In addition to my athletic goals, I have a few other things I want to work on for 2015.

4.  Learn more.  Specifically in regards to coaching / health and wellness.  I feel like this is a path that needs more exploring.  It's a huge part of my life and it's something I'm very passionate about.

5.  Give more.  I get so wrapped up in work, training and racing that it's hard to find time to do this.  Whether this means volunteering at a race or elsewhere, it's something that I need to do more of.

6.  Work on cultivating my friendships.  I have met so many amazing people through blogging and triathlon and we see each other during race season and sometimes we train together but when it comes to just hanging out, that doesn't happen often.  Sometimes it's too easy to say I'm tired or I'm busy.  Friendships, like marriages, require some give and take and effort to make them work.  I find that when I take the time to get together with people, I'm a much happier person.   I may be tired or busy going into it but afterwards, I'm always in a better mood.

For once I can actually say I'm looking forward to the "unknown".  I don't have much planned and normally that would kind of a freak a planner like me out, but I've slowly become ok with this.  It's kind of liberating to not be too committed to anything.   I don't know why but Monty Python's "And Now For Something Completely Different" keeps running through my head.  Perhaps that's what 2015 will be all about.  Who knows.  One thing I do know is that I'm up for the adventure.

Wishing you all a healthy & happy 2015! 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas, Chaos & Colds

Happy Monday!  I'm still on holidays this week so today it's Happy Monday.  We'll see how I feel next Monday, ha.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  Ours was the usual bit of crazy.  It didn't help that both G and I were recovering from various sicknesses.  G had pneumonia and I got a crazy sinus cold that knocked me sideways last week.  It only lasted 3 days but it really put a dent in my workout plans.  It's just as well, I needed an easy week, ha ha.  It actually kept me out of the pool for 10 days!   It was quite nice to just putter around the house though.  G and I spent Christmas Eve day lounging on the couch watching movies all day.  THAT was awesome and much needed for the both of us.

 Christmas Day was spent driving around between families and Boxing Day everyone came over to our place for the usual Kennedy / Rodrigues Boxing Day Feast.  I cooked up a storm.  We did a massive ham on the BBQ so I had room in the oven to make roasted sweet potatoes with garlic and thyme and roasted maple bacon brussell sprouts.  I made fresh buns for the first time ever (thanks to our bread machine!) and we also had green beans, a spinach salad courtesy of my brother and this awesome turnip and parsnip dish courtesy of my mother in law.  Of course I had to save room for dessert which was a delicious cheesecake courtesy of my sister in law.  Thank goodness for jeans with lycra, ha!

The weather this past week has been phenomenal given it's late December so G and I tried to take advantage of that on Saturday and went out to Durham Forest to ride.  Unfortunately the trails were icy and slushy which meant that they were super slippery.  I was not comfortable riding on that so I went out onto the road and rode along the grass and gravel wherever I could.  G stayed on the trails for a bit and then came out and met me.  It was short but it was better than nothing.  The temperature got up to 9 degrees later on in the day so of course I had to get out and enjoy it.  I had done a pretty hard run on Friday and normally I wouldn't run the next day but it was too nice out to NOT run.   I've run 4 times this past week.  That is more than I've run in ages.  And, I am happy to say that I had no knee pain on any of these runs AND, MY GLUTES WERE WORKING!!!!  Things have finally clicked.  That's the only way I can explain my ability to run the paces I'm running at the effort level I'm running at. 

This was a pleasant surprise
New kicks & bare legs in late December.  Heck YEAH.
This week ended up being nice and easy in terms of volume and intensity and it was just what I needed.

Monday:  3.29km run - breaking in the new orthotics
Tuesday:  5.8km run - yet another run.  This one in new shoes.
Wednesday:  OFF
Thursday:  OFF
Friday:  7.76km a-ma-zing run.
Saturday:  8.72km mountain bike ride, followed by a 7km easy run.
Sunday:  3000m swim followed by a 1h 20 minute computrainer ride. 

Total time:  5h 9 minutes. 

I need to get back to the gym this week as well as the pool.  Coach Kim has decided that the remainder of our swim sessions this year are going to be hard - like a "mini training camp".  Awesome.  I missed a week and a half and I came back to a hard workout and got bumped up a lane.  Amazingly I didn't die.  My arms and shoulders were totally fried by the end though. 

I finally sat down yesterday and started working on a plan for myself for 2015.  I also did this:

It was weird to be signing up for the 5km vs. the half but I promised myself that the first half of the year would be all about short stuff and I don't like to break promises.  I've started thinking about my 2015 goals so expect a post on that sometime this week.

How was your Christmas? Did you get any cool gifts?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

And Suddenly It Clicked

I tightened up my laces and flipped on my shuffle.  "Here goes nothing" I thought.  I hadn't been feeling very good at all when I got up this morning and almost decided to skip this run.  But, I had a plan to follow.  I didn't have to be out for long, I just had to be out.

I walked down the steps and started moving forward, anticipating some kind of pain.  Nothing.  "So far so good."  I ran down the road, Sam Roberts singing in time to my footfalls.  I settled into a rhythm.  Arms relaxed, swinging low and straight.  This had finally become automatic.  All the other nuances of good form were still a work in progress.

Until yesterday.

When I start my run, it has become habit for me to do a "body scan".  How are my feet landing?   What is my breathing like?  Am I relaxed?  Are my glutes firing?   I think about all of these things once I get into a rhythm and make corrections as needed.  This is why my runs are short.  I need to focus on form until my body becomes used to these new muscles working and it all becomes automatic.  That and I'm breaking in new orthotics. 

I could tell from the first few minutes this run wasn't going to be like my others as of late.  Something just felt different.  It felt effortless.  I was almost immediately in the zone.  I can't remember the last time I felt like that on a run.  I could feel my glutes firing, my cadence was high and my body position seemed just right.   I felt like I was flowing.  I glanced down at my Garmin to see a sub 5:00/min km and a low heart rate.  Amazing.

I continued on and lost myself in the rhythm of my breathing, feeling like I could go on forever.  Feeling like my old self.  I allowed myself to think about racing again.   My mind drifted off into planning mode only to be snapped back to reality by the honk of a horn.   I glanced up to see G sitting in the car on the opposite side of the road. And just like that, my run was done.  As much as I wanted to go longer, I have to remember to be smart.

Even thought it was short, yesterday's run gave me hope that things really are moving in the right direction.  I'm allowing myself to be cautiously optimistic. maybe even hopeful that things will be back to normal soon.

Monday, December 22, 2014


Oh Happy Monday!  There is something WONDERFUL about sitting on the couch in your comfy pants with a coffee and your feet up, knowing that you don't need to go anywhere if you don't want to.  One of the many reasons I love holidays.  I'm off for the next two weeks!  I thought I'd have a bit of time to sit around but alas, we've got some things happening over the next couple of days.  And, it's G's birthday today!! We don't have anything crazy planned as we have a funeral to go to and G is coming off what the doctor at the walk in clinic thinks is a bout of pneumonia so it's going to be fairly quiet.

I just wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone who commented on my 2014 recap.  You guys are all amazing.  I feel pretty darn lucky to be a part of this awesome community of blogger / athletes.  Blogletes?  I don't see that term being coined anytime soon, ha.  Anyway, thanks again for your support! 

This past weekend was pretty low key as G was in pretty rough shape.   Had he been feeling better we would have gone out mountain biking for sure.  The weather was absolutely perfect for it.  Instead I logged two short runs on Saturday and spent the rest of the day puttering around & working on my athletes training plans while G stayed horizontal and watched a series of bad movies. 

Seen on my run:  you know it's a nice day when the lake looks like this.
 Sunday morning was spent on the computrainer with my friend David, followed by another short run (2.5km!)  I'm breaking in my new orthotics so I can't run too long in them, but the good news is that my knees didn't hurt!!  I then went for lunch with the lovely Irina at Panera (ALL THE BREAD!!).  We chatted up a storm.  I am so happy to have connected with this lovely woman!  After that I made my way over to my friend Sue's and hung out with her, the kiddos and her hubby for a couple of hours.  I capped it off watching the Sound of Music, which has to be one of my favourite holiday traditions.  I got to spend the day with a bunch of my favourite people and watch one of my favourite movies.  Yup, it was a pretty awesome day. 

I had a lighter week of workouts and I think my body needed it.   I suspect this week will be much of the same and that's ok.  I'll be ready to tackle things head on come next week.

Monday:  1900m swim. + physio work
Tuesday:  60 minutes strength & mobility + 7km run
Wednesday:  2200m swim + physio work
Thursday:  60 minutes strength & mobility + 7km run
Friday:  OFF
Saturday:  TWO runs:  6km in the am and 3.18km in the pm in my new orthotics.  + physio work
Sunday:  60+ minute ride + 2.5km run

Total time:  7h 8 minutes.  A little less than last week and everything was an easier effort, with the exception of my swims.  But we're on recovery for the next couple of weeks so that's perfect.

My Christmas shopping is all done, I just need to wrap things.  And I need to get groceries for our Boxing Day extravaganza.   Grocery shopping at Christmas.  My favourite.  Not. 

How was your week of workouts?  Are you ready for Christmas?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Five + A Giveaway Winner!


I'm excited because this is my last day of work for 2014.  I have a whole two weeks off.  YEAH!  Speaking of holidays, I'm linking up with the Friday Five ladies to chat about Holiday Traditions.  'Tis the season and all that.

But first of all I'd like to announce the winner of my RECOVERYbits giveaway:

Laura Smith!

Congrats Laura, the folks at ENERGYbits will be sending you your prize directly.

Thanks to everyone who entered! 

For me, Christmas has always been about family.  When I was a kid there were Christmas traditions abound.  Since I've gotten older, some of them have changed or disappeared, especially since we don't have kids of our own.  But one thing remains.  It is still all about family.  We usually have a busy couple of days at Christmas but I wouldn't trade them for anything.   Over the years we've made our own traditions.  These are my five favourites.

1.  Christmas Baking

Every year I spend an afternoon in the kitchen baking cookies for friends, neighbours and co-workers. This year I actually finished my baking at work, much to the delight of my co-workers!

2.  Christmas Eve presents. 

Since Christmas day is action packed, G and I open our gifts to each other on Christmas Eve.  It's a nice low key evening.  I usually make us a nice dinner and we'll watch a movie and open our gifts. 

3.  Christmas Day Cappuccino

Our Christmas Day is a busy one.  We split it between both of our families.  Christmas Day morning we drive out to Bolton to G's family (about 35 minutes north of us) and we hang out with them, have breakfast, open presents with the niece and nephew and do stockings with the rest of the family.  Around 1:30 we usually head out so we can go to Mercato to get a cappuccino for the drive to my parents house in Guelph (about an hour and a bit away from Bolton).   These guys are the only place open on Christmas day and they make the best cappuccino.  It's something I look forward to every Christmas. 

4.  Cracking the Christmas Crackers

This is one tradition that has been around since I was a kid and I still love it.  We do it at G's family's place for breakfast and then again for dinner at my parents.  And you HAVE to wear the silly crown.  We take turns reading the jokes and trivia questions as well. 

5.  Christmas Day Garlic Pork & Rum & Eggnog

Being part Guyanese means that I was exposed to many different Christmas traditions as a kid, specifically different kinds of foods.   I grew up eating all sorts of tasty, interesting things.   The one thing that has remained constant is garlic pork.   As soon as you walk into my parents house on Christmas day, the smell smacks you in the face.  It's essentially garlic, vinegar, thyme and pork.  If you think you're getting sick, eat this.  It will kill whatever germs may be hanging around.   My dad likes to eat it on bread.  Of course this is washed down with egg nog and good quality demerara rum.  If you don't have demerara rum, any good spiced rum will do.  Cause that's how we roll. 

Only 6 days till I get to do all of this!  I can't wait!

Head on over to the link up to check out all the other holiday traditions!  

Do you have a favourite holiday tradition?  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

#Mingsanity, Boston, A European Adventure & A Few Surprises: A 2014 Highlight Reel

Here we are folks, the last month of the year.  The end of the year is always a time for reflection for me as I'm sure it is for most people.   Did it meet all your expectations?  What were the highlights?  The low points?  The last few years I've written my year end recap with excitement and high expectations for the following year.  This year I can safely say, I'm not writing from that place.  For once I have no expectations for next year.   I have things that I'd like to accomplish but until I am back to running regularly, serious training for said things will have to wait.

That doesn't mean that this year was a wash out.  Far from it.  I tackled 13 races over the course of 8 months.  Racing all of them with messed up knees and a lazy ass.  Which is why I'm where I'm at now.  But that's ok.   I handed over the planning reigns to a coach, which was probably one of the best things I did this year.  I also learned a lot about what I'm capable of and ultimately, that's all I can ask for - that's what racing is all about for me.  Testing my mettle.  And I did so every time I toed the line.

This year's bling.

The Goals:

This year I had 3 racing goals.  Two of which were a little lofty but I like to dream big.  It forces me to work outside my comfort zone.

1:  Go sub 3:10 at Boston.  

This was a very lofty goal but one I thought would be attainable given my previous years performance.  Needless to say, my race didn't go as planned.  The Newton hills absolutely killed me this year.  I still had a decent race given the conditions but I can honestly say I was ill prepared going into that race.  Not enough hill work or time on my feet.  But that's what happens when you're trying to balance training for a marathon and a 70.3 8 weeks later.  Not something I'd do again.  I do think I have a 3:10 marathon in me but that goal will have to wait.  Long distance running is off the table for the first half of 2015. 

2:  Qualify for the 70.3 World Championships / Go sub 5:30 for a 70.3

Had G raced Luxembourg with me, the second half of my season would have looked very different.  I managed to snag a spot in the roll down but didn't take it because the plan was for the two of us to qualify and race it together.   Had he raced, he would have also gotten a roll down spot and we would have made our way to Mont Tremblant in September.  Instead, he raced Muskoka and I spent the day being cheerleader for him and the plethora of friends that I had racing. That was a fun day and probably the right move given the condition of my knees by that point.

My initial goal was to break 5:30 for a half ironman but as things progressed in my training, I thought there would be a good chance that I could go faster than that.  Once I got to Luxembourg and assessed the course, I figured 5:15 was probably doable.  If I had a really great day then I could probably hit 5:00.   I came in at 5:09:57 which landed me 10th in my AG in a super competitive field.  Those European women are REALLY fast.   I was over the moon with my result here and figured if I had managed another 3-4 weeks of solid bike training, I might have landed on the podium.  It was an amazing day.

I smile every time I look at this picture. 
That trip was the highlight of my year.  I had a fantastic race and we had a wonderful holiday.  It was the perfect way to celebrate 10 years of marriage.  The only sad part was that G didn't get to race with me.

3. Reclaim my Age Group Series Title in the Recharge with Milk Series.

Last year I raced 7 triathlons in this series.  I was not about to do that this year.  It was way too much for me.  My goal was to race the minimum number of races (4) and see where that got me.  I ended up having to race 5 in order to secure my spot at the top.  The competition seemed much stronger this year, even with my hugely improved bike times.  I PR'd on almost every course I raced on this year in comparison to last year.  I can chalk that up to #Mingsanity.   Ming made me understand what hard work feels like on the bike and it showed in my results.

The Training

To say that I worked hard for the first 6 months of the year would be an understatement.  Looking back at my training log, I can honestly say I busted my ass.  Having a coach, someone to be accountable to, took my work ethic to a whole new level.  I normally don't have a problem with motivation or training.  I do have a tendency to overdo things sometimes so having that guidance was a good thing.

After G got injured, I figured I was on my own in terms of training.  But thanks to my amazing friends, Heather, Jordan & David, that never happened.  They picked up the slack when G was sidelined.  I had one of my most memorable training days with David right before we left for Europe.  We rode the Tour de Grand and then dragged our sorry asses out for a 13km run after.  In the rain.   That was promptly followed by a burger, fries and timbits.  We're all about quality post workout fuel, ha.

Tour de Grand Fun!

Jordan, Heather and I at Binbrook

The Surprises

One of the other goals that I kept somewhat quiet about was getting my run coach certification.   I got that in March of this year and literally the day after I announced on Instagram that I was certified, I received an email from Megan, a lovely girl in Tennessee, who became my first paying client.   I coached her to her second half marathon.  She was an absolute joy to work with.  Since then I've had the pleasure of coaching several people to PR's this year.   Thanks to Christina, whom I've been working with for a year now, I've had even more people enlist my services.  Instagram and my blog have also brought people my way and I am happy to say that I have a full roster of folks for the first half of 2015.   I am so honored that these people have chosen me to help guide them to their goals.  I truly enjoy helping people see their potential and I can't wait to see what my crew of athletes pulls off in 2015.  I've had so much fun with this that I'm going to get my NCCP Triathlon coaching certificate in January.  Cats out of the bag now, ha ha.

The other surprise that happened this year was my last minute decision to ride in the Real Deal / Morning Glory Time Trial in August.  I had no expectations what so ever as I figured I'd be racing against some seriously talented ladies.  This was going to be about how much pain I could take for 15km.  Amazingly I managed to pull off 3rd place on a brand new bike and race wheels.  The best part was that I averaged 36 kph.   Never in a million years did I think that was possible.  Thank you Ming.

photo courtesy of Brendan Smyth @ Smyth Photo

The People

Thanks to the interwebs, I've met a whole bunch of wonderful people this year.  People that share my passion for triathlon, running and racing.  Some are local and some are not.  Some I've met and some I hope to meet someday.  Irina, Zin, Sam, Nicole, Jodi & Jessica, are a few of the folks that I'm really glad to have met this year.  Finally meeting Danielle in person this year after coaching her for a YEAR was also pretty darn awesome.  Especially since it happened when she PR'd at Hamilton.  LOVE that.

Two of my awesome athletes!

Post race at Bala Falls.  Photo courtesy of Irina Souiki

Freezing our butts off post race at Lakeside

The Changes

I definitely started 2014 in a different place than where I am now.  I feel like I'm slowly climbing my way out of a deep dark valley.  I vaguely remember what the sun looks and feels like but it seems like I still have a ways to go before I get back into it.  I am starting to see the light though and that's a good thing.  That's the thing about an injury.  It can erase any iota of confidence you had in yourself and your ability.  But, I've been patient and diligent and I'm starting to see glimmers of my old self.

One major thing I've learned this year is a greater awareness of my body and how it moves.  Having a gait analysis done was the first step in that growth process.  Seeing what I was doing wrong and what was potentially causing my issues was huge.  Doing pilates has been a big help in understanding my body and how everything is connected.  A huge thank you to Elyse for encouraging me to come and try it.  Working with her was wonderful and it's something I will continue to do moving forward.  It's definitely something I recommend every runner / triathlete incorporate into their routine where ever possible.   Focusing on the little things that make up the big picture is what will make me a stronger athlete moving forward.  That means that my physio work will always be a part of my routine now.  No more neglecting the little muscles in favour of the big ones.  Functional fitness is where it's at for me. 

I also learned that I can kind of survive without running in my life.  Would I ever chose to NOT have it in my life?  No.  I enjoy it far too much.  Not running regularly opened the door for me to do other things.  Like mountain biking.  That is something I had been wanting to try for a couple of years and this year seemed like the right time.  I am so thankful that I have an incredible husband who supports my endeavors to try different things.  It helps that he loves to mountain bike so he was more than happy to take me out.  It's fun, it's scary and it makes you feel like a kid again.  What more can you ask for?

The Thank Yous

It takes a village....or so the saying goes.  There is a huge network of people that are responsible for everything I accomplished this year and they deserve a shout out.

Firstly, my coaches Ming & Mike at Real Deal Racing.  Ming gave me the work & Mike helped with my mental game.  I couldn't have asked for two better people to guide me through the first half of 2014.  If you want to get to that next level, I firmly believe in working with a coach.  These guys know their stuff and are a pleasure to work with.

My friends and coworkers who a) get excited about and b) support every single crazy endeavor I've decided to do.  There are no words to express just how lucky I am to be surrounded by such amazing people.

My "caregivers".   The people that keep my body in good working order.  My friend and RMT David has been instrumental in keeping me mobile this past year.  The incredible folks at Pivot: Babs, Peter & Mary Ellen.  They have all played an important role in keeping me healthy or, as of late, getting me back to normal.

And most importantly, I would never be able to do what I do without the support of my amazing husband and partner in crime.  He is the ying to my yang, my voice of reason, my best friend and I honestly don't know where I'd be without him.   Doing all of this without him by my side is unfathomable.  Love you to the moon and back, G.   Especially when you make that goofy face. 

As for 2015, well, I haven't officially registered for any races yet but I suspect that will come in due time.   Along with some more concrete goals.  But that's a post for another time.  In the meantime, I just want to say THANK YOU to everyone that has been following along for the last 3 years.  I appreciate each and every one of you taking the time to read my ramblings.

Wishing you the happiest and healthiest of Holidays.  

PK  xo

Monday, December 15, 2014

Tis' The Season

ONLY 5 MORE DAYS OF WORK!  Sorry, I didn't mean to yell, I'm just a little excited.  As of Friday this week, I'm off for TWO WHOLE WEEKS.   I can't wait to lounge around in my pjs and watch movies.

Right.  Who am I kidding.  I'll probably end up busying myself with "things" around the house.   Like purging my closet.  And going through all those miscellaneous boxes under the stairs that have been sitting there for the last 3 years.  Although I'm sure there will be a day of lounging somewhere in there.  After all, I have a whole bunch of episodes of Sherlock Holmes to get through and there's nothing like binge watching a TV show. 

G and I had hoped to get out mountain biking again this weekend given the mild temps but the massive dumping of snow we had earlier in the week made that kind of impossible but we didn't know that until we got out to Albion Hills.  We had hoped that most of the snow would have melted like it did in the city but alas, we would have been better off with snow shoes.

Having our riding plans foiled meant that we actually had time to go and get our Christmas tree before I had to meet my friends David & Leanna for another swim technique session.  I also had time for a short but amazing run.  I busted out my trail shoes and ran along the spit by my house as well as the bike path.  On the snow I was slow but on the pavement, wow, I was chugging along at my old speed.  My legs felt awesome and I felt like I was actually using my glutes.  The best part was, it all felt NATURAL.  I paid attention to my form but didn't have to correct much.  A-MA-ZING.
 Saturday afternoon was spent working on technique in the pool.  We worked on body position and rolling.  These sessions with Leanna have been so helpful.  I'm swimming so much better, even my coach has noticed and commented.  I feel like I understand what my arms should be doing under water and how my body should be situated in the water.  Those were my two biggest issues.  She also corrected a few other things that I had no idea I was doing and they have also made a huge difference. 

Sunday morning was a wicked stroke and sprint session in the pool, followed by a hard ride on the trainer with David.  I am loving these Sunday morning rides.  It's so nice to have the company as I know if I was on my own, I probably wouldn't work as hard or ride as long.  I just do whatever time David is doing, minus the #Mingsanity.  Yesterday he had to 30 min @ IM pace, 20 minutes at half IM pace and then 10 minutes at Olympic pace.  Although had I done that my legs might not have been as fried.  I rode close to half IM race pace for 90 minutes.  But they felt good so I just kept it up.

I thought this week might actually be a bit more low key in terms of workouts but I still managed just over 8 hours. Even with a 12 hour work day on Tuesday.  This is how it rolled out.

Monday: 2500m swim
Tuesday:  60 minutes strength & mobility, followed by a 6.8km run and then 12 hours on my feet.
Wednesday: OFF
Thursday:  53 minute ride + core & physio work.
Friday: 2400m swim
Saturday:  5.75km run, 750m technique session
Sunday:  2300m swim, followed by 1h 40 minutes on the computrainer, followed by eating all the food.  And baking cookies.   And decorating the tree of course!

Now it's starting to feel like Christmas.  I'm pretty much finished my shopping, all I need to do is start wrapping. 

 Don't forget to enter my RecoveryBITS giveaway!  It ends this Thursday at midnight!

How was your week of workouts?  Have you finished your Christmas shopping?



Thursday, December 11, 2014

It's the Bits! Recovery Bits Review & Giveaway!

Disclosure:  I was provided a sample of RECOVERYbits® in exchange for an honest review.

In the words of one of my favourite TV characters:  "Winter is Coming".   And we all know what that means.  Cootie season is upon us.  Followed closely by the Season of Overindulgence.  Scratch that.  They go hand in hand.   I don't know about you but I find when I over do it, I end up getting a cold.  Too much sugar, too much booze and too little sleep can only result in a visit by the cootie fairy in my world.

Enter RECOVERYbits®.  I'm sure many of you have probably heard of ENERGYbits®, right?  These are part of the ENERGYbits® line up.  You can check all the products out here.  Of all the products, I was most intrigued by the RECOVERYbits.   Given the amount I like to race, I'm always on the look out for new recovery products, especially supplements because compression socks can only do so much, ha ha.  According to the company website:

"RECOVERYbits® algae tabs are the most natural way to build your immune system.  RECOVERYbits® can aid your detox or cleanse by removing toxins naturally. They also help build your digestion, improve longevity and help reduce hangover symptoms.  With all these benefits it's remarkable that RECOVERYbits® have just one ingredient - chlorella algae.  Chlorella algae has been used in Asia for fifty years where it is prized for its many benefits."

Before I get into my review, a little bit about chlorella.  It's an algae that has the unique ability to pull toxins out of our cells and eliminate them through natural means (sweat, urine, etc).  It's packed with vitamins and nutrients like vitamin C, zinc as well as all the B vitamins.  It also contains 60% protein.  It has also been used to increase good bacteria in the intestine, along with a host of other things.   How's that for a super food?  A word of caution though,  not all chlorella supplements are created equal.  It all depends on how the crop used to make the supplement in question was cultivated, harvested and processed.   RECOVERYbits® are 100% organic non GMO so the quality is there.

The folks at ENERGYbits® sent me a tin with 2 servings in it. A single serving is 30 tabs.  They are fairly small in size but it took a good half a glass of water to get them all down.  They recommend swallowing them whole and not chewing them as they have a very "green" taste (I agree, I bit one to test it out and didn't really love the taste).   I kept them in my purse with me for about 2 weeks after I got them because I wasn't really working out hard and I didn't have any parties on the horizon but I figured there may be a day where I didn't feel good.  Work had been busy and I was feeling a little run down.  Sure enough, one Friday mid-day I felt like I had gotten hit by a Mack Truck.  I felt completely exhausted, I had a bit of a headache and my face was starting to feel hot.  Which is what usually happens when I'm fighting something.  Time to test out the bits!  I took one of the servings.  By the end of the day, I felt fantastic.  The headache was gone and my energy level had returned to normal.

A few weeks later after a particularly rough week of work, I started to feel the same way.  This time I only took half of the serving as I wanted to leave the other half for a Christmas party I was going to attend in a couple of weeks.  A few hours after taking them, I felt better.

The real test came this past weekend.  Our friends had their legendary Christmas martini party and I partook a fair bit.  I'm not a big drinker, other than my one Friday beer a week.  And I don't really drink hard liquor.  But these martinis were so good.  We had two parties that night and at the first one I had a glass of wine.  At the martini party I had 3 martinis.  For me, that's a LOT.  We rolled into the house around 3:00 am and I promptly took the remaining RECOVERYbits® crossing my fingers that they would help me feel somewhat human when I got up.

Amazingly, the half serving worked!  I didn't feel awesome but I felt a heck of a lot better than I should have.   My head was a bit foggy but other than that, I felt totally fine.  No headache, nothing.  I even had enough energy to go for a run a couple of hours after I got up.   I can only imagine how much better I would have felt if I took a full serving.

Needless to say, these are now going to be a part of my regular recovery routine.  If they can kick a hangover to the curb, I can only imagine how well they'll work after a hard workout.

Now for the FUN part!  The awesome folks at ENERGYbits® will be giving away a sample of RECOVERYbits® AND one of their brand new iphone arm bands to one lucky reader!  The contest is only open to U.S. residents unfortunately.  Sorry my fellow Canucks!

Entering is easy - just head on down to the Rafflecopter below and click away!

And, because the folks at ENERGYbits are so awesome, they are launching a special promotion starting tomorrow!  If you buy two bags of bits, you'll get a a complimentary gift bag that includes the following items:

* ENERGYbits® sports arm band
* ENERGYbits® sunglasses
* ENERGYbits® headband
* ENERGYbits® tin of bits
* RECOVERYbits® sample pack
* Candy canes and festive ribbons, all in a black organza bag.  The retail value is $50!  Not a bad little gift. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 8, 2014

Freewill + A Plan

First of all, I'd like to say thank you to everyone for their comments and encouragement on my post last week.  Being injured sucks.  Being a part of an amazing community where EVERYONE gets what you're going through and knows just what to say...that doesn't suck.  The pity party is pretty much over and I'm accepting the fact that I'm just going to have to take things slow.  The good news is, I now have a plan!

I was fitted for new orthotics a few weeks ago by Babs and they came in last week.  If you've never worn orthotics, you can't just stick them in your shoes and start running.  You have to break them in and that usually means walking around in them for a few hours a day until you can wear them for a full 8 hours.  That usually takes about two weeks.  THEN you can run in them.  And even then you can only run short distances at a time.  So the plan that Babs gave me is to keep all my runs short.  No more than 5 to 6km at a time so I can really focus on my form without fatigue altering anything.  Once I start to integrate my orthotics in, I'll probably run a few more times a week, alternating between 5km and 2km a day.   He only wants me to run 2km in them to start and then slowly work up to running 5km in them.  After that I may be able to start to increase my mileage, depending of course on how my body takes to the orthotics.  If things get worse, it's back to the drawing board.  If I'm ok then I'll gradually start to build up.   It's nice to actually have some kind of plan in regards to my running.  It's actually kind of in line with what I was thinking anyway.  Except of course, I would have thrown a long run in there on Saturdays.  Eventually that will come but for now, I'll take the 5km. 

In other news, I went for my first ride on Freewill (the new wheels) on Saturday.  We went out to Durham Forest which is about an hour outside of Toronto.  There was actually snow on the trails which made me a bit apprehensive but once I got going, it was awesome.  G took me on a bit of single track again and I managed for the most part, but had to get off and walk a bit in some spots as the turns were just too tight for my confidence level.  But I'm getting better.  Towards the end of the ride I was bombing down a path towards the car and I actually jumped a root.  I landed, yelled WOOHOO and started laughing hysterically.  We got back out to the parking lot and I said to G, "Can we go back and do a bit more?".   I think this bike wins as the best Christmas present I've ever gotten.

I don't think that grin left my face...except for when I was on single track.
We had a pretty busy weekend with several Christmas parties and I figured I wasn't going to make it to swimming on Sunday (I didn't).  That's what happens when you have a glass of wine + 3 martinis and stay out till 2:30 in the morning.  I'm surprised I wasn't in worse shape on Sunday morning.  I'm chalking it up to the recovery bits.  Stay tuned for a review and giveaway on those babies. 

Me & G - we clean up alright sometimes! 

My and my favourite partner in crime, Sue.
 I did manage to get out for a  short run around 11:30.  It was just what I needed.  And, it was PAIN free AND, relatively speedy for my current fitness level.  Not to mention my legs felt awesome.  I'm chalking that up to my RMT & pal David, working the crap out of my knotty hamstrings on Friday.  He's the only person that can tell me my legs are lumpy without me being offended, ha ha. 

I had planned on an easier week of training and I guess that kind of happened as my intensity level was a bit lower even though my time was still kind of up there.  I went back to physio and she gave me even more things to do.  This time around, she has me doing a lot of standing work which is much more functional in terms of translating to running. 

The numbers for the week:

Monday:  OFF
Tuesday:  60 minutes of strength & mobility work + a 7km run in a.m.  Pilates in p.m.
Wednesday:  2350m swim in a.m., 45 minute ride in p.m.
Thursday:  60 minute strength & mobility, 5km run in a.m.
Friday:  2400m swim
Saturday:  16.2km mountain bike ride
Sunday:  6.19km run

Total time:  8h 23 minutes

That was a pretty decent week! 

How was your week of workouts?  Who else ran off a hangover this weekend?

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Psychology of Injury

I've had injuries before but nothing quite like this one.  There seems to be more of grey area, more "wait and see" with this vs. other things I've had.  Probably because it's joint related and joints are finicky creatures.  I have a difficult time with grey areas.  I like action, I like answers, I like forward progress.  I'm not a big fan of "let's wait and see" and I think that's why I'm struggling with this injury so much.  There is no concrete timeline as to when I'll be able to start regularly running again.  My body will let me know when it's ready and I can't rush it. 

Did I mention that patience is not one of my strong points?

Suffice to say this injury is doing a number on my head.  Yes, I have good days where I can run up and down stairs pain free, where I can swim without my patella strap and ride my bike but none of these are a substitute for getting outside and running.  I've even had a couple of short, slow pain free runs, which is a small miracle.  Of course I have bad days where I question if I'm ever going to be able to run fast again and I start to wonder if this is going to be something I deal with for the rest of my life.  I then think about how hard I worked to get to the level I was at and how it's all slipping away and I end up in a big puddle of tears like I did the other day.  I know I'm going to have bad days but the trick is to try to turn them around.  Or, at the very least, not let them get so bad that I'm a blubbering mess. 

I've been doing a fair bit of reading on the psychology of sports injuries in the hopes of finding some techniques or advice to help me get through this.  I've experienced a wide range of emotions ranging from frustration to sadness to anger.  Some of the things I've read say that an injured athlete can actually experience 5 stages of grief:  denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance and re-organization.  I'd definitely say I've experienced a few of these things over the last few months.  I feel like I've almost made it to the acceptance and re-organization part.  My injury journal has helped.  It helps me keep track of what I've been doing and when I have pain so I know what I can and cannot do.  Some days there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why my knees hurt but if I look back, I can usually find something.  I've actually had to eliminate a pair of jeans (skinny jeans with no lycra, what the heck was I thinking?!?)  and shoes from my wardrobe rotation right now because they both bothered my knees.  This has helped keep my head in check somewhat and it also serves as a reminder NOT to do something.

Another thing I experienced early on was anxiety and fear due to the expectation of pain.  I would dread walking down stairs because I knew that it would hurt so I started to adjust the way I went down stairs.  The same thing would happen when I started running - I would change my gait until my knees stopped hurting.  That was one of the many things that finally drove me to get myself checked out.  I'm sure that just added to my issues.  Nothing like a little compensation to throw things even more out of whack.  I've also become almost hyper aware of pain.  I notice every single little twinge or niggle in my knees.  It's almost like I'm in permanent taper mode but without the excitement of an impending race.  It's not terribly pleasant.  It is, however, making me much more aware of my body, how I'm moving and what is happening (or not happening in some cases).

Most injured athletes know that a certain amount of physical work is required to rehab an injury.  Rehabilitation work is often tedious and somewhat boring but it is a necessary evil on the road to recovery.   What a lot of people don't think about is the mental aspect of rehab.  An injury can mess with your head big time.  You worry about losing fitness and gaining weight (oh hello tighter than normal pants and slowly atrophying legs)  You lack an outlet for stress relief so you become a bit more irritable.  You lose your mojo.  Running is so much a part of me that I feel more than a little lost without it.  It's my ME time.  It's time for me to get lost in my thoughts, to work through a problem or to unwind from a stressful day.  Or come up with a blog post or two.  I've had some of my best ideas / stories come to me in the middle of a run.  And, as you can see, my blog has become a bit quieter since I haven't been out there pounding the pavement.

One of the most important things to do according to what I've been reading, is to stop negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones, which is much easier said than done.  Positive self talk is important in not only in every day life but especially when dealing with the diminished self confidence that arises from an injury.  Instead of worrying if I'll ever run again, I need to focus on what I'm currently doing to get better.  Focus on the positive things that you can control.  I am doing my exercises every day and while things may be slow going, I am seeing progress.  I have to remind myself of that when I start to get down on myself.

I'm doing my best to listen to my body and not set a deadline for anything in regards to my return to regular running.  I go out and test the waters every so often to see if I'm making progress and my body lets me know when I've overdone it.  I was lucky enough to have two pain free runs this week and I tried for a third but that seemed to be a bit too much.  All three were short and they were slow but they were better than nothing.   I'm slowly accepting that this is going to be my new reality for a while.  As I like to say, even a slow run is better than NO run.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tri Talk Tuesday: Race Season Planning

Well Hello December!  I can't believe you're here already..and since it's the first Tuesday of the month, that means it's time for Tri Talk Tuesday with my fellow triathletes Courtney & Cynthia

This months theme is Race Season Planning.

Normally I would have the first half of my season planned out by now but because I've been sidelined due to my wonky knees, I haven't bothered committing to anything for 2015.   I'm hoping that will change soon.

So how do I plan my season?

1.  Pick an "A" race.  Or two.  This year I had Boston in April and Luxembourg 70.3 in June.  Would I do that again?  Probably not.  I don't think that really gave me enough time to recover from Boston and ramp up my cycling the way I would have liked to before the 70.3.   But, it was a valuable learning experience for me.  Ideally if you're going to have two A races, you give yourself adequate time for recovery and another shorter build session.   Once you've picked your A races, work in your B races.

2.  Figure out if you're going to go it alone or work with a coach.  Normally I am self coached but this year because of the close proximity of my two races, I opted to enlist the help of a coach (remember all my #Mingsanity posts??).  It was totally the right call, especially for a Type A racer like myself.  He told me when to work hard and when to back off.  It was nice to just kind of go on auto pilot and not have to figure out what I should be doing when.  Not only that, I saw improvements that I don't think I would have seen if I didn't have a coach.

3.  Remember that rest and recovery is an important part of your season, especially if you have two A races on your schedule.   If you want to perform your best, you need to allow for some rest.  You're not going to lose fitness if you take a week or two off after a big event.  In fact, the fitness you've gained from said event doesn't normally kick in until about 2 to 3 weeks AFTER the event.  So bear that in mind when planning your season.

4.  Most importantly:  go out and have fun!  Remember how lucky you are to be ABLE to race.

What races do you have planned for 2015?

Tri Talk Tuesday will be back on January 6, 2015. Our theme for January will be resolutions and goal setting! We hope to see you in the new year and linked up!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Off The Beaten Path...On Two Wheels.

Oh Monday why are you so cruel?  Monday's always seem harder after a long weekend.   It wasn't a holiday here in Canada but it was in the US and since G's team / work is all in the U.S, he had Thursday and Friday off.  So, I opted to take the time off as well so we could have a little staycation.   We packed a whole lot into two days.   There was a little bit of outdoor activity, a little bit of culture and a little bit of shopping and some visiting with friends.  It was lovely.

Thanks to the generosity of one of my girlfriends, I went for my very first real mountain bike ride on Thursday on a borrowed bike.  OMG.  SO MUCH FUN!  I was really nervous but once we got going, I really enjoyed myself.  G was incredibly patient with me.  We spent most of our time on the main trails but he did take me on some single track which I found a bit challenging and a little less enjoyable given my lack of solid bike handling skills.  I wiped out once and had to walk up some of the twistier hills as I wasn't 100% comfortable.  But, I did it.  And I want to do it again.  This type of riding is so different from road riding.  You can't zone out, you need to be 100% present and you have to pay attention.  You also need to be ready to change gears on the fly.  I found climbing to be a challenge as well since I'm so used to getting out of the saddle.  On a mountain bike you want to keep the weight evenly distributed which means sitting down while climbing.  My glutes were BURNING.  But it was SO good.  I got more confident as we went along except for when we were on the single track.  I know I'll have to work up to that.  Just like anything it will take a little bit of practice.  And since G is so freaking amazing....Christmas came early for me.  I now have my my own set of wheels.  So you know we're hitting the trails again next weekend.

Meet "Freewill" 
Friday we went to the Art Gallery of Ontario to go see the Alex Colville exhibit.  He's one of my favourite Canadian painters.  Such a talent.  After the exhibit we wandered around downtown for a while did a little bit of shopping (I went a little nuts at Lush).  Friday night we went to a friends place for dinner.  We had planned on going riding again on Saturday but we got home much later than expected so an early morning ride wasn't going to happen.  Instead, what did happen was a run.  A short, slow but 100% pain free run.  WOOOOHOOOOO!  I can't even begin to describe how happy that made me.  I'm think going to go out again on Tuesday and see how I that goes.  Fingers crossed this wasn't a one off. 

Yesterday I swam and then hopped on the computrainer.  My friend David joined me in the Kennedy Compound pain cave for a 95 minute ride.  That was my longest trainer ride to date.  It was nice to have the company.  He's got a computrainer but no where to really use it so he brought it to our place and set it up with our bikes in the basement.  He's training for Ironman so I suspect there will be plenty of Sunday mornings spent in our basement.  That's what friends are for, right? 

I also closed out November by logging my biggest ever swim total in a month.  I swam 31,950m.  That's almost 32km in the POOL.  Guess that's what happens when you're not running and you're trying to keep the lb's off, ha.

This is what went down last week.  I think I'm going to have to start making some kind of plan so I'm at least training on a schedule rather than doing whatever I feel like.

Monday:  2050m swim + 25 minutes of physio work
Tuesday:  75 minute strength & mobility work
Wednesday:  2400m swim
Thursday:  75 minute strength & mobility work + a mountain bike ride
Friday:  OFF.  But I did spend about 3 hours walking around downtown.
Saturday:  6km PAIN FREE RUN + 15 minutes of physio work
Sunday:  2800m swim + 95 minute computrainer ride + 15 minutes of physio work.

Total time:  9h 19 minutes.  I think this week is going to have to be an easy week. 

 AND.....tomorrow Tri Talk Tuesday is back!  This months theme is Triathlon Race Season Planning.

How was your weekend?  Did you score any good Black Friday Deals?