Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tri Talk Tuesday: Why I Love Wetsuits

Happy Tuesday Triathlete Peeps!  It's Tri Talk Tuesday so that means I get to geek out with my fellow triathletes and talk about all things tri related.   My lovely co-hosts, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Courtney at the Tri Girl Chronicles are going to be chatting about wetsuits a.k.a my safety blanket for when I'm open water swimming, ha ha.

Living in the Great White North, it's not often that I swim without a wetsuit.  Ok, how about never.  Up until Eagleman, I had never done an open water swim without a wetsuit.  I was completely petrified about swimming without a wetsuit.  But, looking back, it wasn't that bad.   However, if I had the choice, I'd always choose to wear a wetsuit and here's why:

1.  Increased buoyancy.   It is almost impossible to stay under water in a wetsuit, which is great if you get panicky and need to take a break to catch your breath.  You can roll over onto your back and float with little effort.  Try doing that without one.  You'll tire out fairly quickly.

2.  Warmth.   Most of the time, the water in Canada is fairly cool.  So wearing a wetsuit keeps you warm.  USAT and Triathlon Ontario have rules about water temperature and wetsuits.   I'm pretty sure that the rules are the same for temperature guidelines.  The rules state that anything 78 degrees F (25 degrees Celsius) and under you are able to wear a wetsuit.  Most bodies of water here don't get that warm unless they're small.  If it's between 79 and 84 degrees you can wear a wetsuit but you won't be eligible for any sort of awards.  If it's over 85 degrees wetsuits are prohibited.  The water at Eagleman was 80 degrees F on race morning and I couldn't imagine wearing a wetsuit in that no matter how freaked out I was without one.  It was warm.  In most of the lakes and rivers I swim in here, the temperatures don't get much above 72-74 degrees F.

3.  Speed.  This is the BIG plus for wetsuits.  A wetsuit puts your body in the most optimal position and it's a smooth uniform surface with a very low drag co-efficient.  If you're swimming in your tri suit or whatever you may be racing in, there are pockets, a neckline etc - all places that water can get into and cause drag.  A wetsuit generally fits tight so it eliminates this sort of drag.  I swim much faster in a wetsuit than I do without.  Case in point, last year at Luxembourg 70.3 I swam 34 minutes for 1.9k in a wetsuit.  This year at Eagleman, I swam 42 minutes for the same distance without a wetsuit (although I did have a swim skin on).  Granted, there was a pretty strong current as well but I still think I would have been about 37-38 minutes if we didn't have the current. 

Those are the main reasons I love swimming in a wetsuit.  In terms of wetsuits themselves, you have a few different options in terms of style;  long sleeve, sleeveless and two piece.  The two piece ones are less common but they are out there!   When wetsuit shopping, be prepared to SWEAT.  Getting in and out of one is not easy.  If possible, bring what you'd race in with you and try it on underneath so you really get a feel for how it fits.

Do you prefer to swim with a wetsuit or without?  

Head on over to the link up and check out the rest of the Tri Talk Tuesday posts!  And tune in two weeks from now when we talk about "getting aero".  Wheeee!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

Happy Monday!  It's been a few weeks since I've done a weekly update.  Probably because I've had nothing to update, ha ha.  After taking almost a week off after Eagleman, I've slowly started to get back into the swing of things.  I'm still not back to my normal workout schedule and I'm ok with that.  It will probably be another few weeks before I get back to that level.  I've got the run leg of Muskoka 70.3 this weekend and I'm sure that will do a number on my legs.   After that it's nothing but short races until Scotia.   Oh and the Epic Tour of Halton.  Can't forget that.

Last week was my first week back at work and it was a doozy.  So. Busy.  I had two 13 hour days back to back on Tuesday and Wednesday and was totally exhausted by Wednesday night.  I also felt like I was getting a cold but I went and signed up for a trail race anyway, ha ha.  I didn't end up getting sick but my sinuses have been bothering me for the last few days.  Full report on the trail race will be coming up later on this week.  Don't forget Tri Talk Tuesday tomorrow!!  (say THAT 5 times fast, ha ha)

This is how I eased back into things:

Monday:  2012m swim (2300 yards).  Our normal pool was closed for maintenance so we ended up in an outdoor pool that was 25 yards.  Nice way to start at Monday!

Tuesday:  OFF
Wednesday:  OFF
Thursday:  50 minute strength workout.

Friday:  OFF (recovering from the previous days strength workout and massage)
Saturday:  11.5km trail race.
Sunday:  60 minutes on the trainer + a whole lot of foam rolling and stretching.  It was 13 degrees and pissing rain so I really didn't feel like going outside and riding in that.  It's SUMMER.  It should be sunny and WARM. 

Total time:  3h 27 minutes 

This week should see a bit more action as I'm planning on getting back into the pool as well as joining Morning Glory for their Tuesday and Thursday morning rides, weather permitting.

How was your week of workouts?  How much down time do you take after a big race?

Friday, June 26, 2015


Hello People of the Interwebs!  I'm alive.  Back from holidays and trying desperately to catch up on work and get back into some kind of routine.  My body was pretty tired after Eagleman so I was happy to take the week off of any sort of workouts.  I just enjoyed relaxing, some shopping, a fair bit of walking around and lots of exploring.  Oh and eating and drinking of course. 

This biscuit weighed at least a pound.  I couldn't finish it. 

G chilling on the balcony

Selfie while we were exploring a state park in Delaware

 We got back home around dinner time on Friday, unpacked and lounged around.  Of course the first thing I did was watch the season finale of Game of Thrones.  WTF.....AHHHHHH!!!!!   I was going to have the Game of Thrones beer that I bought but opted to save that for another day. 

We did a ride on the Saturday, I went for a disastrous run on Sunday and got back into the pool on Monday.  Then I had two crazy long days at work.  Yesterday I went back to the gym after taking 5 weeks off lifting.  I'm a bit sore today.  I was going to swim this morning but opted to sleep in as I had a massage last night and felt that sleep was the best option.  Besides, I'm going to be getting up stupid early tomorrow because G and I have signed up for another race.  He's doing his first off road triathlon tomorrow and I've decided to do the 12km trail run they have happening as well.  Whether or not that's a good idea a week before the Muskoka 70.3 relay, remains to be seen.  I had planned on doing a run anyway so now, it's just going to end up being in a race.  I don't suspect I'll go that fast since it's on trails so that's perfect.  As long as I don't hurt myself, I should be just fine. 

I'll start to ramp things up again after Muskoka 70.3.  I don't have any more long distance triathlons (just short course for the rest of the season) but I do have a 125km ride that I signed up to do in September as well as the Scotia Half in October.   So I won't be sitting on my duff for long.  I'm actually going to join Morning Glory Cycling club to work on improving my bike even more.  I also want to learn to be more comfortable in a pack.  I'm always a bit nervous when I'm around other cyclists so this should help with that. 

Another little tidbit of info for you - Tri Talk Tuesday is now bi-weekly.  So next week we're back and we're talking about wetsuits.  If there is a topic you'd like us to discuss, send me a note phaedrakennedy (at) sympatico dot ca

Hope everyone has a spectacular Friday!!! 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

It Got Ugly Out There: Eagleman 70.3 Race Report

I didn't really have a goal going into this race.  Especially given the fact that we signed up for it 9 weeks out.  That's not to say that I hadn't been training because I had.  At least swimming and biking.   Running had taken a bit of a back seat in terms of longer distances.  I figured 9 weeks would be enough time to build my mileage up.  Looking at the Eagleman course, it looks deceptively easy because it's pancake flat.   A flat course usually means windy which the course description on Ironman.com verifies.  I had heard from other people that it could also be hot.  Ironman.com said that the temps were usually around 75-80 degrees F.  Ok that's a bit warmer than Toronto in June but not by much.  I figured both G and I could potentially have really good races.  I thought I might even be able to break 5 hours.  Until I joined the Eagleman Facebook group and got the inside scoop on exactly what Eagleman could be like.
Joining that group was a blessing and a bit of curse. It was great because you got to interact with people and virtually meet other participants before the race. My Tri Talk Tuesday co-host Cynthia was the mastermind behind it.  It created a wonderful little community and actually made me really excited for the race. There were a lot of locals and past participants that were able to shed some light on the course - most notably the swim and the ever changing weather and water temperatures. Going into this race, I didn't realize that the water was brackish-I thought we were swimming in a river so it had to be fresh water.  WRONG. Had I actually looked at a map I would have realized that the Choptank flows into Chesapeake Bay which then mixes with the Atlantic Ocean. AHHHH.  This was freak out number one for me. People mentioned jellyfish in the swim and I just about had a heart attack.  I had been stung by jellyfish before and it left me with some seriously uncomfortable welts on my arms. That was the last thing I wanted to deal with in a half Ironman. Then there was also mention of sting rays. GEEZ.  I was questioning my sanity in signing up for this race even before toeing the line. Someone in the group had put up a link to a buoy that monitored water temp and as the race got closer, I checked it every day.  A week before the race it was sitting at 69 degrees F which meant it would be wetsuit legal.  But temps were on the rise and people in the group were saying that we should be prepared for a non wetsuit swim.  Every time I thought about that I could feel my anxiety start to rise.  So I chose not to think about it. 
G and I had originally planned on heading out early Friday morning but decided to leave Thursday evening instead to break up the drive. Thankfully we did because the trip down was longer than we expected. We made it to Erie, PA and spent the night there. We hit the road on Friday morning at around 7:30 am. By the time we got through PA, the temps had risen a lot. It was just over 30 degrees Celsius at 10:30 am. I could only imagine what it was going to be like the further south we got. We opted to drive with the top down of course.
By the time we got into DC the temps had become unbearable. We actually pulled over and put the top up because it was so hot. It's not every day that you see 45 degrees Celsius!

By the time we arrived in Cambridge it was about 4:30 pm and it was still scorching out.  I knew that didn't bode well for the water temps being wetsuit legal.  We checked into The Hyatt then went right back out to the race expo to pick up our race kits and do some shopping. I didn't go too crazy this year. I didn't find the gear as nice as what they had in Luxembourg. I still picked up a few things though. I think that swim bike run beer dish towel was made especially for me, haha.
Saturday we did a short run and a short ride.  My knees hurt and my sciatica was still kinda there, although better than it had been.  I felt ok on the bike though so that was a plus. The plan for the rest of the day was to check our bikes in, check out the Choptank to test our swim skins out and then head to the 2:00pm athlete briefing.  After that we were supposed to then meet up with a bunch of the Eagleman facebook group members. We checked our bikes in and headed over to the water. We passed this young guy getting ready and I immediately recognized him. It was Aaron Reilly, the youngest group member - he had just graduated from high school.   I have him to thank for the title of this race report.   One of his favourite hashtags was #LetsGetUglyOutThere.  Of course, I stopped to say hello and we started chatting. He was getting ready to swim so we said we'd join him. I happened to look up and saw another familiar face, who also recognized me - it was Doug, aka Tri Silk.  He came over and said hello and we all chatted for a bit.  He had just finished swimming and was heading off with his buddies. So, G, Aaron and myself suited up and got in the water. It was a little cool at first but once I got going, it was quite nice.  And it was actually somewhat buoyant. I could taste a bit of salt in it but it wasn't bad. Not like the ocean. I was still apprehensive about the non wetsuit swim but there was nothing I could do about that at this point. After the swim we met Aaron's parents, who were absolutely lovely. Of course there was a photo op!

After the swim we went back to the expo for the athletes briefing. There we met up with a few of the folks in the Eagleman group and I finally got to meet Cynthia. Her dad was there as was her daughter. It was awesome to finally meet her in person. After the briefing we stood around chatting about racing and triathlons in general for a bit and then we all parted ways. G and I went back to the hotel and got everything ready for the morning. We headed off for dinner and were back in our room by 7:00pm.  I finished up my last minute packing and snapped this Instagram pic. Now all I had to do was sleep. Which didn't really happen. 
My alarm went off at 4:15 am and I was up and at 'em. G and I got ourselves ready and then drove to the school where they were shuttling people to the start. The race organizers did an awesome job with that. Waiting in line for the shuttle I was already sweating. The air was still and heavy. There was very little wind. We got down to transition and it was chaos. So many people. This was the largest field they'd had in a long time apparently with 2300 participants. I found my bike and laid out my things. G found me shortly there after and we made a beeline for the porta potties. I heard over the loudspeaker that the swim was officially a non wetsuit swim. ahhhhh. I knew it was coming but it still made me nervous. I saw Cythina and Doug again and said hi. We saw Aaron as well. It was his birthday so we wished him happy birthday and gave him a good luck hug. He was super nervous as was I. G and I then went over to the warm up area and got in the water. It felt cooler than the day before. I did a decent warm up and then went to the dock where the start line was to wait with G. I watched a few of the waves go off andi noticed that people were actually walking for the first bit!  So it was shallow which made me feel a bit better. I didn't know how long it was shallow for but even if it was only a couple hundred meters that would be enough for me to calm myself down and get into a groove. 
Before I knew it, it was G's turn to go. That meant I had 8 minutes left. I kissed G goodbye and watched his wave go off. I wandered around looking for other blue cap ladies. I found Cynthia and hung out with her for a bit. Then they called our wave and all 150+ ladies wandered into the water. It was go time. My nerves were starting to subside. The horn went off, I hit start on my Garmin and stood there for a bit until people went. I started walking out and then ducked under and started to swim. It was so crowded I got up and walked again and looked for some open water. I found some and started swimming. There were so many boats and kayaks lining the course, you were never really alone out there. I got caught up in another group and stopped again. It was still shallow so I could walk, which I did for a bit. I didn't care about my time, I just wanted to get through the swim without freaking out. I found some more open space and started swimming. I started catching people. I watched for the buoys and counted strokes between them. I swam at a comfortable pace. It was all about controlling my breath. I didn't want to push myself too hard and start gasping. I felt like I was moving fairly well but it did seem to take a while to get from buoy to buoy. I stopped a few times to make sure I was on track and not swimming off course. I hit the first turnaround buoy without incident. I started to swim a little harder. I got to the second turnaround buoy and felt like I was exerting more effort but not really moving that quick. I sighted and realized that I still had a fair ways to go. For some reason I thought the back half was shorter than the front half. oops. I put my head down and kept swimming. Saint Motel's "My Type" was going through my head. I counted strokes and sang that song in my head. I sighted again and saw people walking.  WTH? I stopped and put my feet down.   I couldn't quite touch the bottom but it was close.  Alrighty then. I put my face back in and started to push the pace. I just wanted to be done. It was at that point I realized that I was just about to complete my first ever non wetsuit swim and I didn't freak out once. Not once. I started grinning. The next thing I knew, my fingers were scraping along the sand. I stood up and started wading through the water. That was slow going so I did few dolphin dives to get me closer to shore. I stood up and started running again. I glanced down at my Garmin and was shocked to see almost 41 minutes. Wow. I knew I'd be slower without a wetsuit but not THAT much slower. By the time I hit the shore my Garmin said 2000m. Other people said the swim was longer so it wasn't just me. 
SWIM: 42:02
I ran into T1 yanking the zipper on my skin suit down and pulling the top down to my waist. I found my bike, pulled my skin suit off, put my helmet on, dried my feet off, yanked on my shoes and grabbed my bike. I ran as fast as I could out of T1. It was already really hot. I figured the next 90km was going to be interesting. 
T1: 2:46
The first bit of the bike course has quite a few turns. You don't get out into the open until about the 5km mark. After that it's pretty much straight open road. As soon as I got out onto the highway I got into my aero bars. There was a LOT of "On Your Left" - I should have just had a recording going for that first while. At 12 minutes in I took a salt tablet and a gel. By just over 30 minutes in to the bike, I had gone through my first bottle. Normally it takes me about a hour to get through a bottle. It was just so hot, I felt I had to drink. I had brought 3 bottles of GU Roctane, made at half strength and I had planned to get a bottle of water if needed. Fuel wise I had 6 salted chocolate Roctane gels + a package of margarita shot Bloks in case I got sick of the sweet stuff. The plan was 2 gels an hour + 2 salt tablets. I hoped that would be enough to keep me hydrated and cramp free. In terms of power my goal was to race in between 140-150w. Cruising along, that felt easy. I was averaging around 34-35kph. I'm pretty sure we had a bit of a tailwind. My 5km splits were averaging between 8:10-8:30. I started doing the math and figured if I could keep this pace up, I'd probably have a sub 2:40 bike split. Whaaaat!?!? 
The only time I got out of aero was when I had to refill my aero bottle, to eat a gel or to take a salt tablet. The rest of the time I stayed tucked. I'm clearly not used to my new fit because my shoulders and upper back were killing me by about 40km mark. Nothing I could do about it so I tried to get as comfortable as possible. 
There always seemed to be people around on the course. Sometimes I'd have one or two people around me and then all of sudden I'd come up to a group. Most people were obeying the 5 bike length rules. I was more surprised at the number of people that didn't seem to understand they needed to stick to the right of the road, not ride in the middle of it. Or even worse, riding side by side with someone. I had to yell on your left three times to one guy before he realized I was behind him trying to pass. And then there was the drafting. Good lord. I know it was rampant because when I passed the pentaly tent, it was packed. I also watched a group of four paceline the last 30km of the bike. Ridiculous. I seriously hope none of them got a Worlds spot. 
I was feeling really good and then I hit the 60km mark. People had said we would probably get a headwind on the back half of the course. I didn't notice a dramatic drop in my speed until about 60km. Then I noticed my 5km split dropped to 9:15. My next 5km split was 9:22. Things continued to stay in and around the 9:20-9:30 mark for the next bit. I could feel the heat radiating off the pavement and I was starting to get a headache which worried me a bit. I grabbed water at an aid station and swigged that back. At the 80km mark I decided to push the pace. I realized that I was probably just going to miss a 2:40 bike split. Oh well. This was still going to be way better than I had hoped for. I zig zagged back towards transition, dying to get my helmet off my head. I pulled up to the mount line and was shocked at just how hot it had gotten. I ran into T2 and back to my spot on the rack. 
BIKE: 2:42:20
I racked my bike and pulled off my helmet. AAAHHHHH. That felt so much better. I pulled off my shoes and was shocked at how much sand I still had on them so I wiped them off, along with my face, which felt really grubby. I smeared ultra balm on my feet (which had almost melted due to the heat) pulled on my socks and shoes, dumped my pockets except for 2 gels, grabbed my BASE salt, one flask of Roctane, sprayed some more sunscreen on, grabbed my race bib and started running out of transition. 
T2: 3:58
As I made my way onto the run course I saw Meredith jumping up and down and cheering with a sign. That totally made my day. I waved and did some kind of silly jump haha. I hoped to find her after the race. I had hoped to be able to run a 1:40-1:45 half given the conditions. As soon as I got out onto the pavement I threw that goal out the window. The heat radiating off the ground was stifling. I've never experienced anything like it.  It wasn't just hot, it was hot and humid. There was the occasional breeze but it wasn't enough to cool you down. I ran along at 4:40-4:45/kms for the first 2km. I was dying. As soon as I got to the first aid station I stopped. Surprisingly I had to pee, which meant that I actually hydrated well on the bike (yes!). I jumped in the stuffy porta potty. It was a feat to get my tri shorts off and back on. As soon as I got out, I dumped iced down my top and the front of my shorts. AHHHH. That felt so good. I started running again. I was passing people left and right. My legs felt pretty good. It was the rest of me that didn't. I could feel the sun beating on my shoulders and head. Locals that were spectating had sprinklers out so I took advantage of that and ran through each and every one. By the time I got to the 5km mark I figured a 1:40 half wasn't going to happen. Not in that heat. I was even questioning a 1:45 half. I was running fairly well when I was running but I'd have to stop at each aid station to cool myself down. By the time I got to the 9km mark I decided that if I made it in under 2 hours, it would be a good day. 
I was running towards the turn around looking for people that I knew. I had seen Aaron a bit earlier and he was having a tough time. I figured I should see G soon. Sure enough I saw him and ran across the road to give him a hug and a kiss. He was about 2 miles ahead of me. I wasn't sure if I'd catch him or not. I ran towards the turnaround and into a pocket of road that had absolutely NO air circulation. I imagine that it's kind of what the energy lab in Kona is like. It just sucked the life out of me through here. I hit the 11km mark in 58 minutes and thought ok, only 10km left. Less than 50 minutes at your current pace- keep it up! I couldn't. I decided that I was going to stop at every single aid station for ice. I hadn't taken a gel either. I couldn't face taking a gel so I went for the flat coke. At least it was supposed to be flat. Some aid stations it was and some it wasn't. I didn't care at that point, I wasn't running hard enough for it to matter. I took a handful of chips at one aid station. The rest of the time it was flat coke, water or Gatorade. I slogged along, the water I had poured all over myself, pooling in my shoes. I could only imagine what my already hideous feet were going to look like when I was done.
I got to the 16km aid station, grabbed my usual handfuls of ice and wet sponges and instead of running I contined to walk. My legs were starting to feel tired. I had 5km left. If I managed to eke out 5 min k's I'd be done in 25 minutes.  Ok. Get your ass in gear. You've got this. 
I started running again. I made it to the next aid station and grabbed more water and sponges. I didn't linger too long this time. My stomach wasn't feeling great. It was cramping and I was gassy.  Never trust a fart in an Ironman went running through my head. I thought about stopping and using the porta potty but I couldn't face getting back in that hot box or trying to get out of my soaking wet clothes. So I contined on and hoped that my stomach would behave. I hit the last aid station and grabbed another ice cold sponge and some water. Once again I didn't linger. I was so close. I was coming up to a guy with a hose andi threw my arms open - he turned the hose on me and I jumped through it. My legs were really starting to hurt and my form had gone to shit. I could hear the announcer at the finish line. I managed a smile and wave for a race photographer- probably because I was so close to being done, haha. I was running 4:40's once again. I could smell the finish line. I turned into Great 'Marsh Park and ran down the finishing chute. There was myself and one other guy. He wa high fiving people. I had tunnel vision on the finish line. I raised my arms in the air, grinning and crossed the line. I hit stop on my Garmin, got my medal,handed in my chip and went to find G. As I came out of the finishing area, I saw him standing there, looking spent. I went over to and high fived him. The we went to find some shade and some food. At that point I looked at my watch to check my time: 5:26:59.  I ended up running a 1:55:53 half. 
Certainly not what I had in mind time wise but given the day we were handed, it was the best I could do and that's all I could ask for. It was the hardest race I've done to date, hands down. 
Apparently the weather that day was 35 degrees with 99% humidity which made it feel like over 40 degrees. I don't think many people were prepared for that except for some of the locals. Amazingly I ended up in 11th place in my AG. Most of the women ahead of me were from Maryland or surrounding area. With the exception of one who was from Spain. I'll happily take it.
Next up is Muskoka 70.3 as the runner in a relay team. Looking forward to that. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Runner's Choice Foot Oil - Review

Now that I'm back in the swing of regular running, my feet have been taking a beat down once again. They're generally sore and usually quite tired after a run.  I usually roll them out with an accuball massage ball and that helps but sometimes they need a bit more TLC.

When Trusted Health products asked me if I'd like to try The Runner's Choice Foot Oil, I checked out the list of ingredients as well as the reviews and thought "Why not, it sounds interesting."  I don't normally use any sort of lotions or topical treatments for my feet.  If they are sore, I soak them in hot water with a bit of epsom salts but I thought it would be nice to try something different.   The Runner's Choice foot oil is formulated with 100% natural botanical oils of almond, eucalyptus  eucalyptol, wintergreen, peppermint, and spearmint.  As soon as I opened the bottle, I could smell the eucalyptus and peppermint.  I quite like the scent.  I didn't find it overpowering at all. 

I decided to test it out on a day where I knew that I was going to be on my feet for a good 10-12 hours.  The directions require you to completely coat your feet up to your ankles with the oil.  I made sure I did this in the bathroom so I wasn't touching any hardwood or carpet just in case the oil stained.  The directions say not to rub it in, that the oil will absorb into your pores.  I sat for a bit hoping it would soak in quickly but it didn't so I pulled my socks on, laced up my shoes and went to work.  My feet felt tingly and fresh for the first few hours of my day.  By the end of the day my feet were tired but not as sore as I thought they'd be.  I used it again the next day with the same results.

I meant to use it on my runs but I always seemed to be in a rush to get out of the house or I'd forget to bring it with me when doing an evening run with my group or off the bike.  My feet don't normally start to hurt or get tired unless I'm running more than 20km, which I haven't been doing this year.  So, I've ended up using it as a post run treat for my feet.  The menthol and mint combo really makes my feet feel great and because it's an oil, it leaves my feet feeling smooth, which is a miracle in itself.  I do wish it absorbed a bit faster but other than that, I like it.

Once I start ramping up my mileage again, I'll test it out on my longer runs.  #STWM isn't too far off so it's time to get back into the swing of things.  I'm planning on some over distance training if my legs cooperate so I'll give this a whirl on those longer distance runs. 

Disclaimer:  I was provided a free bottle of Runner's Choice Foot Oil in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tri Talk Tuesday - Race Day Etiquette

Happy Tuesday Gang! I'm coming to you from Ocean City, Maryland for today's Tri Talk Tuesday. Cynthia and I are fresh off our Eagleman races so no better time than now to talk about race day etiquette!

There is a lot to think about in triathlon and it can be so overwhelming sometimes. So much so that sometimes things like common courtesy go out the window. It doesn't have to be that way if you treat the race like any other social situation (for the most part) Here are my top 6 race day etiquette tips.

1. Know the Rules! Triathlon Ontario and USA Triathlon have rules that need to be followed. You can find them here and here. Read them and understand what you need to do to have a safe and fun race and avoid landing in the penalty tent or even worse, being disqualified. Apparently there were a lot of people that misread or misunderstood the rules because when I passed the penalty tent on the bike course, it was jam packed.

2. Be Aware of Those Around You. This is especially important on the bike. I was shocked at how many people were weaving all over the place or even worse riding in the middle of the road on Sunday's race. Not only is that dangerous for your but its also dangerous for other competitors. I can't tell you how many people I saw cross the centre line to get around other people. Which brings me to my next point.

3. Speak Up. When coming up behind someone on the bike that happens to be either riding in the middle of the road or riding erratically, don't just try to pass them, make them aware of your presence and intention to pass by saying 'On your left'. If you hear someone say that, move over to the right and let the person pass. I always make a point to say thank you when I pass someone that has moved over for me.

4. Stash Your Trash / Don't Litter! This is common sense. I do believe there are penalties now for littering. Keep your trash on your bike or person and dispose of it either at an aid station or in transition.

5. Share The Rack: Transition is always a tight spot, especially if the race is sold out. If you happen to arrive early, don't take over multiple spots. Rack your bike and set your stuff out neatly and as close to your bike as possible.

6. Use Your Manners: I always make a point to say Thank You to the volunteers. They don't have to be there, they've taken time out of their day to help out. So say thanks. I also make a point to cheer on my fellow athletes. If someone passes me, I always say good job. And vice versa. On Sunday's race I cheered on any girl I saw in a Smashfest Queen kit. There was a lot of "GO SMASH!" out on the course which made for a fun day.

Those are my few bits of advice to keep in mind while racing. Is there anything else you'd add to the list?

Make sure you head on over to the link up and check out all the other posts!





Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Simply Smashing - Woodstock Race Report

I wasn't sure what to expect for this race given all the issues I had been dealing with over the last several weeks.  I had been getting regular ART work done and making friends with my lacrosse ball in an attempt to loosen up my hips and glutes.  I didn't feel 100% but I felt much better than I had in a while.  My running off the bike certainly isn't what it was last year but it's not horrible either.  I've still got some decent speed that hopefully will get better as the season progresses.  And then there was the swim.  I had done exactly ONE open water swim this year before Saturday.   I was much calmer about that this year in comparison to last year.  I was totally freaking out before last year's race.  It definitely showed in my swim time too.  This year I was much more relaxed.  Of course I was still nervous but it didn't seem to be as bad which was a first for me. 

We got to the Pittock Lake a little later than I would have liked but what can you do.  I dumped my stuff in transition and went to pick up my bib.  The line up to get your race kit was unusually long which unnerved me a bit.  I ran into Irina who saved me a place in line.  After I got my bib, I joined her.  Tara Postnikof came by and said hello.  She said "I had no idea you were racing today.  A lot of ladies were really disappointed to see you walk into transition."  That made me laugh out loud.  I said that I wasn't 100% and that I'd been struggling with a lot of niggling injuries over these last few weeks.  I figured I'd do well, but I certainly didn't feel like I was my usual self. 

I got body marked, grabbed my chip and went back to transition with Irina.  I cleared a space for her to rack her bike right beside mine.  I started laying out everything.  Even though the sun was shining, it was chilly so I had opted to pack my lightweight Mizuno running jacket for the bike just in case.  I was wearing my lovely new Smashfest Queen kit and the top is a tank vs. a tri top so there is less coverage, especially in the shoulder area.  I had no idea how cold I'd feel after the swim so I thought it was wise to have a jacket just in case.  I finished putting everything out and started to get into my wetsuit.  I then went to find G.  I ran into the Double D's (my friends David Lamy and David Bhumgara) as I made my way over to the water.  David L and I were in the same wave, which was unusual, normally they seed the 40+ women with the older guys, not the younger ones.  Last year my wave went last.  This year we were first after the Elites.   G zipped me up and we both went in.  The water was warmer than last year but still a bit on the cool side.  I ducked my head under and started swimming.  It was super choppy.  I didn't feel relaxed at all.  I kept forcing myself to swim out a bit further.  The further out I got the choppier it got.  I had to breathe to my right if I wanted to avoid getting slapped in the face with a wave.  Awesome.  Nothing I could do about that.  I swam back and forth a bit more and then made my way to shore.  It definitely wasn't a long enough warm up but I had to get back to shore as the race was about to start.

I found Irina and Dana and we hung out and jumped around.  I kissed G just as the first wave went off and then seeded myself right at the back.  I let everyone go, stood there for a bit, then went.  I quickly caught the pack so I veered off a bit to the right.  My breathing was ragged and I tried to calm myself down.  The choppy water didn't help as I was breathing to the right every other stroke.  I usually breathe every three strokes, sometimes every four strokes but because I was gasping for air, I kept it to every two.  I couldn't calm myself down.  I stopped and breast stroked for a bit to catch my breath and I realized that I was a fair bit off course.  So I turned and started swimming towards the green buoy.  I got closer to the buoy and ended up in a big fray of people.  Lots of kicking ensued.  I made it around the buoy but had to stop again shortly thereafter to catch my breath.  I couldn't get into a rhythm no matter how hard I tried to relax.  The next thing I knew I was at the second green buoy.  Perfect.  I got around that and started swimming, only to get totally smoked by someone.  I stopped and looked up and thought "wait a minute, that looks like David".  I swam up beside him and stopped again.  Yup.  It was him.  I started swimming beside him.  I then remembered that we started together and that there was no way he was going to beat me out of the swim.  So I started to push the pace.  I had to get out of the water ahead of him.  I stopped once more to get my bearings and then hammered it home.  As I stood up to get out of the water, I looked down at my Garmin:  13:42.  WAY better than last year.  As I got out of the water I noticed a woman with a yellow cap in front of me.  Oh boy.  Time to boogie.  I ran into T1 pulling off my wetsuit.  I got to my bike and was surprised to see the girl that came out in front of me run up to the bike beside me on my left.  Now it was a race to see who could get out of T1 first.  I got out of my wetsuit really quickly but fumbled a bit with shoes and helmet.  She unracked her bike before I did.  As I was unracking my bike I heard the announcer call David's name as he came into T1.  Geez that was close.  I followed the other girl out of T1 and passed her running up the hill to the mount line.  I stopped to get onto my bike and she was right beside me.  She started riding first but I caught her on the hill on the way out of the park.  

Courtesy of my Sports Shooter
 T1:  1:12.  Hands down the fastest T1 I've ever had.  Normally I'm around 1:20-1:30. 

Once I got out of the park, it was hammer time.  I knew David was close behind me and I didn't want him to catch me.  He'd been riding all winter, which was more than he usually does so I figured there might be a chance that he'd get me.  So I put my head down and pushed.  My right glute was feeling a bit pinchy and I hoped that it would loosen up for the run.  It was really windy out on the course.  I opted not to wear my jacket and I was ok for the most part.  My feet were actually the things that felt the cold the most.  I played leap frog with several guys on the way out.   I finally managed to drop one just past the 10km mark.  The other one stayed in front of me and eventually pulled away.  I had no idea what my speed was as I don't have my Garmin screen set for that.  It's all time and power.  I do know I was working somewhere in zone 4.  I was riding the pain train for sure.  I kept motoring along to the turn around.  I didn't pass any women.  I knew there were girls in front of me from the Elite wave but there was no way I was catching anyone else.  I wasn't sure if there was anyone else in my AG in front of me.  About 5 minutes after I hit the turn around, I saw David heading towards the turnaround.  I had put a bit of a gap on him on the bike.  I hoped it was enough to hold him off on the run.  He's gotten REALLY fast, especially over short distances so I knew he'd be chasing me down for sure.  As I made the second last turn, I finally had the wind at my back.  I hammered down the course and before I knew it, I was making the final turn onto the road that led into the park.  I caught and passed a girl in a younger AG and she was the only female I passed on the course.  I was hopeful that I was in top spot.  I glanced down at my Garmin as I rolled towards the park and saw 34:58.  Holy crap.  I still had to get down to the dismount line and run into T2 but I was pretty sure that that was WAY faster than last year. 

Bike:  36:37  Over 2 minutes faster than last year!

I ran into T2 and saw ONE bike racked and it was a guys.  I know because he passed me on the bike course.  I was pumped.  Now I just had to survive a 5km run with my aching glute.  I racked my bike, took off my helmet, yanked my shoes on and grabbed my sunglasses.  My feet were frozen and it felt really weird to run.  I knew this run was going to be ugly.  I took off out of transition and booked it along the dirt path.  I figured once I hit the gravel, I'd slow down.  Which I did.  Luckily it didn't lat too long and I was back onto the dirt and then onto the pavement across the top of the dam.  I could see a woman in a Toronto Triathlon Club kit.  As I got closer I realized it was Tara.  I caught her and she said something like oh you're really having a bad day.  I remember saying that my glute was killing me as I ran down the trail.  It was.  I could feel the pinching with every step.  Granted it wasn't as bad as it was the week before.  At least I wasn't favouring my leg.  I booked it along the trail and out onto the pavement.  The temperature was perfect.  I got to the turn around and still hadn't been passed by David.  I was definitely running in the red zone.  I was heading back towards the 3km mark when I saw David.  Shortly after I saw G.  I started to push a bit harder.  David was close but I wasn't sure he was close enough to make up the distance.  I didn't want to risk it so I pushed hard across the dam as I figured I'd slow down again once I hit the gravel.  I got across the gravel and back onto the dirt path.  I knew I was home free.  He wasn't going to catch me.  I crossed the line, hit stop on my Garmin and was greeted by Jason Vurma.  John Salt wasn't able to be at the race so Jason was doing the finish line greeting duties.  I wandered out of the finishing chute and saw Zindine so I started chatting with him.  I hadn't even looked at my time until he asked me how I did.  I looked down at my Garmin and saw 1:14:14. 


That was over 3 minutes faster than last year.  Holy smokes.  My final run time was 21:08.  15 seconds slower than last year.  Given my lack of running off the bike this year, I will totally take that.  I think my new Smashfest Queen kit helped me smash it out on the course.

David rolled in a few minutes after me and then G showed up shortly after he did.  The boys got chicked.  I think that's going to be the only time that happens this year. 

Zin checked the stats and said that I was second in my AG.  I didn't think that was possible.  Especially after coming into T2 and seeing only one bike racked.  We looked at the results again and figured that the girl that beat me was in the duathlon and was put in the triathlon by accident.  I went to Sports Stats to double check and they confirmed that I was first.  The awards ceremony took a while as I think there were a lot of issues with Sport Stats so people didn't stick around.  When they finally got to my AG, I was the only one left.  So I got this lovely picture, ha ha.

That was exactly the race I needed to have going into Eagleman.  Now I need to channel all this positive into some good, chilled out vibes for Sunday's race.  It's looking more and more like a non wetsuit swim.  So I need to put my fears aside and become one with the water, ha ha.  I took my swim skin for a spin this morning.  It's interesting.  I'm not sure I felt faster in it but who knows.  I was super tired this morning so perhaps that wasn't a good test.   I'll get in it again once we get to Maryland.   FUN! 

Since race season is officially under way, our next Tri Talk Tuesday will be happening next week (June 16) and we'll be chatting about race etiquette so tune in for that!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Only Days Left

This time next week I will be sipping a coffee with my feet up at the Hyatt in Cambridge, wearing my Eagleman finishers medal.   We are down to days now.  Every time I think about it, I get butterflies and I kind of want to puke.  I keep watching the water temperature.  It went down to 68 degrees last week but now it's back up to 71.  Far too close to the wet suit legal cut off for my liking!  I'm praying a cold front sweeps in over the next week and drops the temperature again.  I'm thinking that's not going to happen but I can hope.  This is the current race day forecast.  Hotter than I'm used to but I suspected that would be the case.  But, every time I've looked at it, it's changed.  So I'm taking this with a grain of salt.

This past weekend marked the start of my triathlon racing season.  I did the Woodstock sprint, like I've done every year for the last 3 years.  I love that little race.  It was a really windy day so the swim conditions weren't ideal and we had a fair bit of wind on the bike but I still had a great race.  Full race report to follow later on this week!  And I got to hang out with this lovely lady and her hubby.

I'm really sore after these last two days though.  My glute / nerve issues aren't 100% gone.  I could really feel them on my long run yesterday.  I'm going back to see Peter tomorrow and I had a massage yesterday so things feel a lot looser but there's still some residual tightness.  I'm definitely going to take things easy this week.  I skipped my swim this morning in order to sleep in and I'm crossing my fingers that work isn't too crazy stressful this week!  I have one last task and that is to try out my skin suit in the pool on Wednesday.   It's looking very likely that the swim will be non wetsuit.  Of course I have the option of wearing one, I'd just have to go in the last wave and not be eligible for any AG awards.  I'm torn because I'd like to see how well I could place but I also want the security of swimming in my wetsuit.  I don't plan on taking a Worlds Spot if it happens to roll down so I may just end up swimming in my wetsuit.  It will mean I start a lot later and will be out on the course a lot later but either way, I'm racing in weather that I'm not used to so I don't think it's going to make much of a difference.

Anyway, this is how my last week of training rolled out.

Monday:  OFF
Tuesday:  OFF
Wednesday:  2200m in the a.m. at the pool and then 1050m at the quarry in the p.m.
Thursday:  20km trainer ride, followed by a 3km run off the bike.
Friday:  2400m swim
Saturday:  Woodstock sprint:  750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run
Sunday:  14km run, followed by about 1600m at the quarry in extremely choppy water.  Not really sure because my Garmin messed things up. 

Total time:  5h 39 minutes.  

Now it's time to rest, eat good food and get some sleep (good thing I watched Game of Thrones last night, haha).  As G says,  it's time to enter the Fret Free Zone.  There's nothing else I can do at this point except enjoy the journey and try NOT to finish this entire carton before we leave.


Woodstock race report to come so check back for that bit of fun!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Cautiously Optimisitc

Well after multiple visits to Peter and his steel thumbs, as well as a very scaled back week of training, my sciatic nerve issues seem to be settling down.  The pain seems to be much more localized now to a couple of specific spots.  Very small spots that I think Peter just crushed with his thumbs of steel.   Some Tylenol and maybe a bit of ice and I should be good to go for my first race of the season tomorrow in Woodstock.   I'm also feeling a little better about Eagleman.   I was very worried I wouldn't make it through the run after last weeks fiasco.   But, given how much looser everything feels, I think I'll be able to run the whole thing.  It's not going to be fast and it probably won't be pretty but at least I'll get through it. 

I'm definitely not feeling as strong or as confident about my speed this year as I was last year.  I've had too many niggles and injuries this year to really push myself the way I'd like to.  My running certainly isn't where it was last year, especially off the bike and my longest run to date has been 20km.  But I kinda knew that when I signed up.  I had hoped to be able to use the 9 weeks to get some good running speed work in but it never happened.  And the longest run off the bike I've been able to do has been 8km vs. the 13km I did last year.  Not ideal but it's how everything panned out so I'm going to go, enjoy myself and make the most of it.  The really exciting part is going to be the big Facebook group meet up on the Saturday and then meeting Meredith at the race on Sunday.  I'm pretty stoked about all that.  Plus, we're taking the week after and poking around Maryland and D.C.  We'll have some time to relax and unwind before I have to come back to the inevitable chaos of work.  So there's that. 

And then there's this.  Which makes me puke a little.

Someone in the Eagleman facebook group made a power point slide that we could edit to put our bib numbers on it.  I wasn't thrilled with my bib number until one of my co-workers pointed out the fact that it is exactly the same as the last 4 digits of Westside's phone number.  That's gotta be some good race ju-ju right there.

I am definitely going to have to get into open water a few more times before the race so it looks like another Quarry swim is in order for this Sunday.  Tomorrow's race is only 750m and I'd like to get 2km in so I'm in a good spot mentally.  Because the mental battle is the bigger issue with me, ha ha. 

We are all stocked up fuel wise.  This time around I'm going to be using Salted chocolate Roctane, salt tablets and a combo of Fruit punch Roctane in one bottle and Grape Roctane in another bottle.  Just for variety.  My taste buds got bored last year.   I may also bring back up Margarita shot bloks for the bike in case I want something really salty. 

I've got my race laces in and am going to test them out on a bit of a longer run on Sunday so I can figure out if there are any hot spots that I need to address.  Practice, practice, practice and test, test, test.

Who else is toeing a start line this weekend??? 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tri Talk Tuesday - Transitions

Happy Tuesday!  Here were are, the first week of JUNE already.  I've got my first race of the season this Saturday and then Eagleman is the following weekend.  GULP.   I have all sorts of mixed feelings about that...but that's another post entirely.  Anyway, on to the FUN stuff!  Today is Tri Talk Tuesday and Cynthia, Courtney and I are talking about Transitions.   Transitions are the perfect place to regroup, catch your breath or, make up speed.  There are so many things to remember to do when you're in transition, it can be incredibly overwhelming.  Here are my top 5 tips for smooth transitions.  I have a few more in this post as well!

1.  Remember where you racked your bike.  I kid you not.  It's like trying to remember where you parked at the mall except there aren't any pillars with letters or numbers on them. You are going to be disoriented when you get out of the swim so you'll need to get your bearings with visual cues.  I always try to remember the numbers that are posted at the end of the rack my bike is on. 

2.  Lay everything you need out in the order that you'll need it.   Bike shoes first (velcro straps open), helmet either sitting on top of your bike shoes or sitting on your aerobars (strap unclipped), sunglasses sitting inside your helmet.  Running shoes & socks (if you wear them) next.  Think about getting race laces for your running shoes so you're not fiddling with trying to tie up laces.  All you need to do is pull them on and you're good to go.

How I lay out my transition stuff.  My cycling shoes usually have the velcro UNDONE.

This was my transition set up for IronGirl last year.

 3.  Practice getting in and out of your wetsuit.  It's not easy to wriggle out of wet rubber so the more practice you have, the easier it will be.  T1 of my first ever triathlon was 4 minutes because I couldn't get out of my wetsuit.  I've gotten pretty good at it over the years.  I still think I could be a little bit faster but I'm not willing to chop anything off my $700 wetsuit.  That's how the pros get in and out of their suits so quickly - the cut the sleeves and the legs a bit so the opening is bigger.   I even made a handy video, ha ha.  Sorry about the sound....

4.  Take a walk through.  Know where the bike exit is and the run exit.  I've been lost in transition because I didn't take the time before the race to familiarize myself with where the exits were.  When every second counts, the last thing I want is to be running circles around transition.   

5.  BREATHE.  It seems so simple.  So logical but I know when I'm rushing, I don't always take the time to calm my self down and breathe.  When I do that I'm much more efficient at getting everything done quickly. 

What else would you add to the list?

Head on over to the link up to check out all the other posts or post your own!

Monday, June 1, 2015

T is for T-A-P-E-R

Wow, June 1st already.  13 days till Eagleman.  We did our last big workout yesterday in the pouring rain.  It was brutal.  If Eagleman ends up being 10 degrees and rainy, we'll be ready!   Well, as long as I get my back / sciatic nerve issues sorted out.   I had a decent ride yesterday but there was sciatic pain for most of it.  My run was awful.  I had sciatic pain for the entire run.  I had to stop and stretch twice and it got so bad in the 8km that I ran, that I ended up favouring my right leg so my left leg did all the work and started to cramp up by about 7km.  I am not going to be able to run a half marathon like that.  No way.  I have to get this sorted out ASAP.

My back and sciatic nerve bothered me all week long so I didn't get the volume in that I was hoping for.  I still managed to nail a couple of solid workouts though so that's a plus.  I also got some fit adjustments done to my bike and that seems to have helped my back immensely.  My power also seems to be back so that's good.  I'd like to say things are looking up but I'll wait until I see my chiropractor tomorrow for the verdict on this nerve pain.

I've got my first race of the season this Saturday - the Woodstock Sprint.  I don't have high hopes for a race like I had last year.  My running off the bike isn't even remotely close to where it was last year but I'm still going to give 'er.  It will be my first open water swim of the season and I'm actually debating on whether or not to use my new wetsuit.  I haven't been able to get in open water yet to try it out and the last thing I want to do is try it out for the first time in a race! I need to be comfortable as I'm always really apprehensive about the swim as it is.  I don't want to be dealing with breaking in a new wetsuit either.  I may try to get out to the Quarry one morning this week to do a swim, we'll see.

Anyway, this how my last "big" week of training panned out.

Monday:  OFF
Tuesday:  60 minute ride with power ups in the a.m. + a wicked humid 10km tempo in the p.m.
Wednesday:  2100m swim.

Thursday:  60 minute ride with power intervals.  Followed by an absolutely horrible 3km run. 

Friday:  2200m swim

Saturday:  OFF.  We had my aunt's internment at 1:30 and we were out very late the night before so Saturday morning was a write off for any kind of activity.

Sunday:  87km on the bike in the POURING rain and cold, followed by an 8.5km where I saw a coyote.  Yeah, needless to say that km was the fastest of the bunch, ha ha.

That's it.  That's all she wrote.  I feel woefully under prepared for this race, in comparison to last year.  I'm questioning whether this was even a good idea given I've been re-habbing knee problems that have now ballooned into other issues.  I said to G the other day that I haven't felt this broken in a long time.  I'm hoping the taper heals the niggles and that I get this sciatic business sorted out.  I've already accepted the fact that I won't be toeing the line 100% healthy.  But whatever, I think I'm more excited about the facebook group meet up the day before and the fact that I'm finally going to get to meet one of my Tri Talk Tuesday co-hosts!!  Cynthia is also doing the race!  We're going to take over your IG feed on the Saturday, ha ha. 

Speaking of Tri Talk Tuesday, it's that time of the month again!  Tune in tomorrow when we talk about TRANSITIONS! Just in time for race season!