Monday, February 27, 2017

Monday Musings: Birthday Week & A Sneak Peek

Hey hey hey, it's Mon-DAY and I cannot believe that we've been here for a MONTH already!  February has pretty much flown by.  Normally I'm not a big fan of February but I'm not gonna lie, I'm LOVING February this year.   We're really enjoying the weather, the people and the fact that we can hop on our bikes and ride right from our front door.  G said he thinks he could live here.  I'm not sure I could, as much as I love the warm weather, I know I'd miss the changing of the seasons.   Not to mention my family and friends.

Speaking of my family,  my amazing sister made it on local TV to talk about a project that she has been working on for the last year.   To say I'm proud would be an understatement.   And I realize that it's been a while since I've mentioned my dad.  His heart attack back in November was quite serious but he's finally in cardiac rehab and he's on the mend.  He's changed his diet and he's now allowed to play some badminton and he's in the gym lifting weights.   So things are moving in the right direction!

We didn't get up to much this weekend as G had to jet off to Paris for work so there were no tourist escapades this weekend.   He's gone for the entire week and won't be back until late this Saturday.   So, I'm going to play tourist without him.  But I won't be going solo.  Nope.  It's my birthday on Friday so a few of my girlfriends are flying in from Toronto for a long weekend and we're road tripping to Clearwater Beach.  WOOOHOOO!  Nothing like a beach weekend with your gal pals to celebrate another trip around the sun.   I can pretty much guarantee that the only thing that will get a work out will be my dancing shoes.   Dancing counts as cardio right?  Ha.

And in other BIG NEWS, I'm finally getting ready to launch my website!!!!  We're getting so close and I'm SUPER EXCITED.   For now,  you can check out my Facebook page and you can get a sneak preview of my logo there.  WHEEEEEEEEEEE!

Ok ok, that's enough squealing.   Let's get to how this last week of training went down shall we?

Monday:   57km bike + 5km run G and I met up with my friend Deirdre and her hubby Jonathan as well as our friends Ruth and Keith for some TT intervals, followed by a run off the bike.  We drove out to Silver Lake in Leesburg and proceeded to create perfect circles in Strava, ha ha.

We did a really good warm up (3 laps) then hammered one lap all out so Jonathan could get the Strava KOM (he AVERAGED 48.5 kph.  BEAST!).  Then we did a couple more easy laps and did a one lap TT.  Then another couple of easy laps and then a 3 lap TT.   Given that it's only February and I haven't really put in a lot of high intensity interval work on my TT bike just yet, I'm SUPER happy with how that all went down.  To see those speeds this early makes me happy.  My normalized power (NP) for this part of the workout was 192W and my 20 minute power average was 215W.   My average watts per kg for each lap of the 3 lap TT were, 3.70, 3.60 and 3.86 respectively.   I'm pretty pleased with that and hope to improve on that over the next few months.

By the time we finished riding it was 12:30 and it was scorching hot.  But I had said I wanted to do a brick so G and I laced up.  He took off like a shot.  I shuffled out of the parking lot, legs and knees hurting.   I wanted to stop.  I figured it would probably take about 1km before I felt ok.  Sure enough just past the 1km mark, everything stopped hurting and I got into a groove.  I caught G and proceeded to bang out a 23 minute 5km.  Not even remotely close to what I used to be able to run off the bike but, you've gotta start somewhere.  It wasn't pretty that's for sure but I was pleased with the effort.
Target acquired!  
Tuesday:  Swim 2377m + 60 minute strength workout.  I knew I was going to need some serious recovery time after that workout so I skipped the Centre Hill ride.  I swam and went to the gym with Dee.

Wednesday:  This was supposed to be a big ride day with Dee but Mother Nature decided to pour rain for most of the day so we didn't ride.  I figured I'd switch things around and run but I missed my window of opportunity to get out.  And I really wasn't feeling that great so nothing happened.

Thursday:  22.5km bike. I hardly slept on Wednesday night so I missed my morning swim.  I was still pretty sore from the gym on Tuesday so I had figured I'd do an easy ride vs. doing the Centre Hill ride.  I got up and ate breakfast but felt so crappy I went back to bed (thank you "Aunt Flo")  It was raining in the morning and then cleared up around lunch so I went out at that point.   Not the best idea, I still wasn't feeling awesome.  But at least I got outside.

Friday:   8km run.  I slept much better Thursday night and had big plans for Friday but we ended up cleaning the house in the morning, then going to see another rental place that we might book for next year.  By the time that was done it was just past 11 so G and I laced up our shoes and went out for a run.  It was 32 degrees celsius.  I was a big sweaty mess by the time we finished.  But I was glad we did something.

Saturday:  77.5km ride with the Cycling Hub group in some crazy dense fog.  We climbed Sugarloaf Mountain again this week.  My legs were definitely feeling these last few weeks of bike time.

Sunday:  76.9km ride with Epic Cycles + a 5.8km easy run off the bike.  I love that there are two different group rides we can choose from!   The Epic Cycles group is a big one. They have a race team so there were some very speedy guys leading the front of the pack.   But the point of this ride was to put in some base miles so it was a nice easy pace.

Swim:  2377m ( I really need to work on improving this, ha ha ha)

Bike:  234km

Run:  18km

Total time:  12h 13 minutes

This week will be a very nice scale back week.  I had a deep tissue massage yesterday and I'm actually quite sore so I will be taking to the pool today which means I should be able to get 3 swims in this week!  I will have a nice 3 day break from training which should have me rested and ready to tackle another big week.

How was your week of training?  It's been a while but I'm linking up with Tricia and Holly for their weekly wrap!  Head on over and check out some of the other posts!

"It's Monday, don't forget to be awesome!"

Coach PK  

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Experiments in Eating

When I started this blog oh so long ago, I posted a lot about what I ate.  That's why you'll see a recipes tab.  I used to share some of my favourite creations.  Over the last two years, in particular this past year, my normally healthy eating habits fell by the wayside.  I became too busy and too tired to put the effort into properly fuelling my body.  Of course, I gained weight, despite the same level of training volume as the previous year.  I'm chalking some of that up to changes in my hormones (there will be a whole separate post on that fun!) but I suspect that most it was due to poor food choices and not lifting regularly.  I know when I ate "clean" and lifted 2-3 times a week, maintaining my weight was easy.  Hormonal fluctuations didn't dramatically alter my physique either.

Once the insanity of the holidays ended, I was determined to get back to regular meal prepping.  I was somewhat successful at that over the month of January and G and I sort of got back on track.  What really kicked me in the pants was after G's annual checkup.  His cholesterol has been on the higher side for a while due to genetics.  Never to the point where it was dangerous, just that it had to be monitored.  Over the last 3 years it has steadily increased to the point where this year his doctor wanted to put him on medication to control it because it was much higher than it should be.   So G got his prescription and started taking the medication.  I think he lasted 3 days before he said screw this.  The medication gave him headaches and he generally felt pretty crappy.   He said he wanted to try to control it with diet.  So we started looking at what he ate.

His breakfast was normally some kind of flavoured yogurt with a store bought granola and berries.  Sounds fairly healthy right?  Not really.  Flavoured yogurt is filled with sugar as is store bought granola.  He used to eat oatmeal all the time so we've gotten him back on that and he adds berries and maple syrup to it.  He still likes some crunch on it so he still buys store bought granola but doesn't use that much.  I made some granola before we left for Florida and that got eaten up in less than a week.  So I plan on making some more of that and doubling the recipe.  Eliminating dairy should be very helpful for him.  I've got him drinking cashew milk in his smoothies and we've found a coffee place here that does the best almond milk cappuccinos.  That being said, both of us still use dairy in our coffee.  I haven't been able wean myself off of cream in my coffee and he likes milk in his.  I'm trying to find a substitute that offers that same creamy taste in my coffee that cream gives me.  So far, I haven't found anything that quite fits the bill.   The best thing would be to find a coffee that I like the taste of just black.  I've only had that happen once and it was at a wedding.  It was the most amazing cup of coffee I've ever had.  I get that it's an acquired taste but the coffee also has to be good for it to be enjoyable. I gave up sugar in my coffee about 3 months ago and haven't looked back on that!

The biggest change for us has been a significant reduction in our meat consumption.  I had been gradually reducing my consumption and turning to beans, legumes and soy products like tempeh.  G was the big meat eater.  Normally his lunch would consist of a couple of sandwiches with some kind of sandwich meat and cheese.  Processed meat has become a no-no as has red meat so now he'll grill a bunch of chicken breasts and have them in either a wrap with some mustard and tomatoes or he'll put them in a salad.   I'm trying to wean him off meat altogether but I'm not sure that will happen.  When he's left to his own devices, he will always choose an animal protein over a legume or plant protein because it requires little effort to prepare on his part:  salt, pepper, fire = done.   We'll see if that is enough to help keep his cholesterol in check.  I'm a bit more adventurous in terms of what I'll eat so I will happily cook up some marinated tempeh and put that in a salad or sandwich.

I'm looking at alternate ways of getting protein into our diets without consuming meat or seafood.  G is allergic to shellfish to we don't eat that at home.  We do eat fish, at least once a week.  The rest of the week I'm turning to grains, beans and other vegan products.  Thankfully the inter webs is chock full of great resources.  I'm also not opposed to winging it like I did last night.

This was roasted sweet potatoes, roasted broccoli (SO GOOD) and roasted red onions, with quinoa, and grilled Fieldroast Smoked apple sausages and a maple dijon dressing that I made up.  I will make it again and post the recipe for those that are interested.  It was DELICIOUS if I do say so myself!

Another go to that I love to make is this noodle salad with peanut sauce.    You can add as many different types of veggies to this as you want.  My typical go to:  red and yellow peppers, match stick carrots, cucumber, edamame, green onions and cilantro.

For breakfast, I will alternate between oatmeal with some quinoa or buckwheat mixed in for added protein.  Or, I will make a chocolate peanut butter chia pudding.  It looks disgusting but it tastes so good.  My fave oatmeal combo is peanut butter and banana.  I think I've gone through 2 jars of peanut butter since we've been here and I'm almost done my third! (that's roughly a jar a week - you could say I have a bit of a problem, ha ha).

There are several things I've noticed since changing changing my diet.

1) I don't experience an afternoon crash any more.  My energy level is consistent throughout the day.  I'm also eating 3-4 large meals a day vs. having mid morning and mid afternoon snacks and I think that has helped as well because when I get hungry, my energy wanes a bit so eat something to bring it back up.  Now I just make sure I eat a bit of a larger meal and I find that it keeps me satisfied for at least 4 hours until I'm ready to eat again.

2) My skin is much better.  Not that I had bad skin to begin with but usually once a month without fail, I'd get some kind of nasty cystic acne around my jawline and forehead.  Now, I may get one or two minor bumps but they're gone in a day or two.

3)  My PMS symptoms, specifically bloating, seem to be less severe.  That alone is enough to keep me eating this way.

G goes back to his doctor in May so we'll see if this change in diet has helped his cholesterol levels.  I'm hoping it does.   If not, I think we may engage the help of a registered dietician.

Have you made any dietary changes due to health issues?  If so, what were they?

"Today is as good a day as any to make a change...."

Coach PK

Monday, February 20, 2017

Monday Musings: Playing Tourist


Happy Family Day to all my friends and family back home!  From what I've heard, the weather has been absolutely lovely there these last few days.  Hopefully it continues!  It's Presidents Day here so it's also a long weekend, which means that G is off work.  Once the fog burns off, we're going to take our tri bikes out and do some group TT practice with my friend Dee, her hubby, her brother in law and two of our local friends.  I may even do a run off the bike!  

Once again I seem to have fallen into the once a week post.  Which is sad because I've still got a bunch of posts in my draft folder.   I have so many things flying around in my head that I want to "get down on paper" but I can never seem to sit still long enough to get things out.  It looks like we're going to get some rain this week so perhaps I'll spend a few hours writing vs. riding.  

This past weekend we played tourists again and went back to Daytona to watch a couple of races.  We went to watch the Arca race and The Clash.  The Arca race went off without a hitch.  The weather was slightly overcast and the rain held off.  It actually looked like it was going to clear up as well.  We bought passes to be able to go over to the garage side and check things out so after the first race, we went over there and wandered around.  We got to see the pit crews working on the cars, we watched a few go through inspection.  Inspection is serious business.  It was pretty cool to see all the behind the scenes.  The passes we bought allowed us out on the infield for driver introductions which was fun.  People go nuts for their favourite driver.   I took a ton of pics.  Here are a few.

Obligatory selfie! 

Drivers "drive by" - this is Kyle Bush

Kurt Bush

The legendary Jimmie Johnson
 As the drivers were doing their drive by, it started to rain.  You can kinda see it in the pictures.  It wasn't too heavy just a light drizzle.   We made our way back to our seats and then the rain started to really come down so we went back inside.   The race was supposed to start at 8:24pm.  It was pouring at that point.  They had the track driers out trying to dry the track but it just wasn't happening so at 9:30 they called the race and rescheduled it for 11:30 the next morning.   We had planned on staying the night anyway since it's about 90 minutes from Clermont to Daytona.   When we got up the next morning it was overcast and cloudy.  The forecast called for sun and clouds by 11 am.  Sure enough, that's what we got.  It also go REALLY hot.  I sweat buckets sitting in the stands.

Another obligatory selfie!
The race was fun and LOUD.  I took a few videos but can't figure out how to get them to load properly on here.  All the crazy action happened in the last lap of course but it was still pretty exciting.  Check touristy thing #2 off our list!  Next up will be a trip to Clearwater Beach in a couple of weeks for my birthday!

In terms of training I had a pretty big week.  That being said, there are still a few red boxes in my Training Peaks account.  Yup, those are both runs.  My mileage goal last week was a whopping 15km of running and I couldn't make that happen.  I had one of those runs scheduled earlier in the week but I shuffled things around so I could ride with Dee.  My goal for the rest of my time here is to average between 200-250 km per week on the bike.  Which means my running is going to probably net out at roughly 20km per week max vs. the 40-45km per week I was running.  Once I get back home, the cycling mileage will be dialled back a bit and I'll be able to bring up my running mileage a bit more.

I've been making a concerted effort to get to the gym at least twice a week and I can really feel that's been paying off.  My legs are starting to feel strong.  I even managed to hang on / pull in the Centre Hill ride last Thursday.  Sure I died towards the end but I think that was due to improper fuelling post swim.  I'm going to change things up this week and see how I fare.

This is how my training rolled out this past week:

Monday:  OFF

Tuesday:  2583 m swim (we were back in the yard pool) + 50 minutes of strength work.

Wednesday:  81km ride with Dee and some of our local friends.

Thursday:  2500m swim (Garmin was way off due to running in and out of the pool), followed by a 90km hammerfest on the bike.

Friday:  Just over 60 minutes of strength and physio work at the gym.

Saturday:  84.7km with the Cycling Hub, one of the local bike shops here.  This was a super hilly ride.

Sunday:  OFF

Swimming:  5083m
Cycling:  256km
Running:  Big fat ZERO.

Total time:  12h:  51 minutes

"It's Monday, the perfect time to reboot your mind and have a fresh start"

How are you spending your holiday Monday?   

Coach PK

Monday, February 13, 2017

Monday Musings: Random Observations

Well it took me a week but I finally got my race report done.   Staying inside to write when the weather has been sunny and warm is a challenge.   I know, I know, I'll shut up.  I think all my friends back in Toronto hate me right now.   I don't blame them.  I've seen all the pictures on Facebook.  It's been a messy few days.

It's safe to say that G and I are totally settled in our wee little rental.  It doesn't have all the comforts of home (there's no usable bath tub) and it's a little bit small, but we're close to the lake and it's about a 5 minute drive to the NTC so we're in a great spot.  I can get on my bike and ride without having to deal with too much traffic and we're about a 10 minute bike ride from Waterfront Park and the trail system.  

When I'm traveling and staying in new places, there's always going to be a bit of comparison that happens.  Especially somewhere that is somewhat similar to home.  I have a few random observations from being here for a couple of weeks.

1.  People here are SO NICE.  You could be standing in line in the grocery store and the person behind you in line will strike up a conversation with you.  People always say good morning or smile and wave.  I can count on one hand the number of times that someone HASN'T smiled or said hello.   In Toronto it would be the opposite.  Maybe it's southern hospitality, maybe it's the fact that Clermont isn't a big city, I don't know.  But whatever the case, the folks here are absolutely lovely.

2.  Food here is EXPENSIVE.  Most of the time the prices are the same as at home.  Sometimes more depending on the item.  Since our dollar is so crappy,  I'm mentally adding 35% to pretty much everything we're buying, which always makes me think twice about what we really need.  I'm proud to say that we haven't thrown out any unused food!  We're actually doing some of our grocery shopping at Target & Walmart because the grocery stores here are so expensive.   We just discovered the local Farmers market so we'll be getting our produce and seafood from there moving forward.   I was amazed at the prices there.  Funnily enough, it's cheaper than Farmers Markets back home.

3.  There are a LOT of people that have permanently moved here from other climates.  In fact most of the people I've met are transplants vs.  born and raised in Florida.   I ran into a guy from Timmins at the local bike shop -he's been here for over 20 years. On the weekend I rode with someone from New England and someone else from Colorado.  One of the ladies I met last year is from North Carolina.   All of them love it here, but they've also said that summers here can be pretty gross.   Given that it's been an average of 27 degrees for the last week, with a little bit of humidity and it's only February, I can only imagine what the summer is like.

I'm sure there will be a few more things I notice over the next few weeks.  Suffice to say we love it here and are already planning on coming back again next year, probably for 2 months again.

I had planned on taking things easy this week, and I did in terms of effort level.  My volume went up a fair bit, probably a bit more than I would have liked but, the weather was great and G had Friday off so we opted to go out and play.  This is how my week rolled out.

Monday:  OFF.  My legs were pretty stiff from the half.  Not as sore as I thought they'd be but definitely "heavy" feeling.

Tuesday:  2800m swim + 45km easy ride.  My first swim with S.L.A.P (swim like a pro).  I was nervous but once I got there,  Coach Sarah made me feel totally welcome.   It was also my second time swimming long course.  OMG it was amazing.  I love that pool anyway but being able to swim 50m was fantastic.  It makes such a difference in being able to get into a rhythm.  And when we finished, the sun was coming up.  What a perfect way to start the day.

Wednesday:  6.7km run + 50 minute strength work.  This was supposed to be an 8km easy run but my legs still weren't feeling awesome.   Went back into the gym and did some light weight work.  Looking forward to getting back into heavier lifting this week.

Thursday:  2350m swim with S.L.A.P.  I had a ride planned but opted to give my legs the day off.  They were slightly sore from my gym workout and I knew G wanted to do a longish ride on Friday.

Friday:  100km ride on the Van Fleet Trail.  This was hard.  The effort was easy but because this trail is completely flat, you don't get a break.  We rode it from top to bottom and back.  But we did our 100km and I got the Strava Gran Fondo badge for February.  :)

Saturday: 60km moderately hilly ride with the Cycling Hub group.  I was the only gal on this ride but it didn't matter.  The pace was very comfortable and the people were great.   G and I will probably go back and ride with them again this Saturday.

Sunday:  12.6km run and an 800m open water swim.  My legs felt pretty crappy so I took some of my run to the trails in the Hiawatha Reserve.   I think the two days of back to back riding tuckered my legs out a bit.

Swimming:  5950m
Cycling:  206km
Running:  19.5km

Total time:  12h 31 minutes

The plan moving forward is to shift my training focus to the bike and scale things back in terms of volume with my running.  I probably won't run more than 12-16km for my long runs and I don't suspect that my run mileage will be more than 20-25km per week for now.  Once I'm back from Florida and more than likely back on the trainer, I'll bring my running volume back up a bit more.  But for now, the bike is going to be queen.  My goal over the next two months is to average between 200-300km per week of riding which shouldn't be difficult to do at all.

How was your week of training?  

"Monday is the perfect day to correct last weeks mistakes.."

Make it a good one!

Coach PK  

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Boogity Boogity Boogity - I Went Racing! The Daytona Beach Half Marathon

I'm just going to put this right here so folks that don't know Nascar understand where I got the title from.  

Now that I've cleared that up, can I just say THAT I'M SO DARN EXCITED I FINALLY GET TO WRITE A RACE RECAP!

Just a little.  Ha.

I had read about this race a few years ago and told G that if we were ever planning on going to Daytona, I wanted to do this race.  Coincidentally it was happening the week after we got to Florida.  So, once I was cleared to start building my mileage, I kept this race in the back of my mind.   I figured if I could manage to run 20-22km comfortably, then I'd be good to go.  I took my runs to the hills to work on my leg strength instead of doing speed work.  I managed 20 and 22km with no problems.  The 22km run was actually one of the better runs I've had in a while!  Once that was in the bag, I figured I was good to go.  I signed up for the race and we booked our hotel.

We headed into Daytona mid afternoon on the Saturday.   Daytona is 90 minutes from Clermont so it made sense for us to go out the day before and stay the night since the race started at 7:30 am.   We got to Daytona, went straight to the race track so I could pick up my race kit and then we went to the hotel.  It was insanely windy.  I really hoped the wind would die down by the morning because if it didn't I knew I'd be going into a 21.1km suckfest.

I picked up my t-shirt and bib and we walked around the mini expo and into the track area.  There were people doing the Richard Petty experience where you get to drive one of the cars around the track.  I freaked out just looking at that banking.  Then the cars whizzed by and I said to G if I was in one of those, I think I'd be screaming the entire way around the track.  I wouldn't have to worry about anyone hearing me either because the engine is so bloody loud.

We watched this for a bit and then G wanted to wander inside to the box office so we could get tickets for The Clash which is happening on February 18th.  One more touristy thing we're going to do!  YAY!

We headed to the hotel, checked in and then went for a drive to find some food.  We ended up a Ruby Tuesdays.  I was pleasantly surprised with the huge salad bar.  I had some grilled salmon, some veggies and a massive plate of salad.  That's usually my pre race dinner.  I forgo the starchy carbs because I don't feel I need them for a half, and they usually mean multiple trips to the bathroom on race morning.  #runnerproblems

I slept fairly well and woke up before my alarm.  I checked the weather.  It was 13 degrees and overcast, and there was very little wind.  PERFECT.  We drove over to the race track nice and early so we had time for a coffee.  We stopped at a Starbucks that shockingly opened at 5:30 am on a SUNDAY!  I don't think there's a single Starbucks in the city of Toronto that opens that early!

Coffee in hand, we drove into the Speedway, parked and made our way over to the start.  We got to walk onto the race track so of course there was the obligatory pic at the checkered line.

That was pretty cool.  I did a very short warm up and some drills, kissed G goodbye and made my way over to the start corral.  The announcer was introducing the girl who was going to sing the National anthem so I bobbed and weaved toward the middle of the pack.  I was trying to find the 1:45 pace group but couldn't.  I found the 8:00 / min mile pace group and stopped there for the anthem.  Once the anthem was over, I spotted the 1:45 pace group so I worked my way up to that group.  My plan was to start at a comfortable pace and try to negative split the race.  I figured just under 5 min /km would be good.  The announcer was counting down the arrival of a race car drive by - which was awesome - and then we were off.

I hung with that group for the first 3 minutes or so but felt like that pace was just a little bit too slow so I pulled ahead and settled into a smaller group of people.  It was eerily quiet running around the track.  I could hear some music in the distance but we seemed to be running away from it.  I didn't race with music either.  This was the first time in a long time that I haven't raced with tunes.  I stopped listening to music when I started running again after my injury and I haven't worn it since.  I was curious to see how I'd fare because I used to turn to music for an extra push in a race.

Running around the bottom of the track was a fantastic experience.  We ran about 2.5 miles on the track and then headed out into a tunnel and out of the racetrack, through the parking lot and into a residential neighbourhood.  The course was totally flat with the exception of a huge bridge that went across the river.  I had settled into a really comfortable rhythm.  I was running between 4:40-4:45's.  I felt pretty good.  I did have to pee and it wasn't something that I could hold so as soon as I saw the porta-potty at the 5km mark, I ran over to them.  Both of them were locked.  AHHHHGGGG.  2 seconds later, a woman came out of one of them and I jumped in.  That was THE fastest pee I've ever had.  I think it was probably just under a minute of stoppage time.

I jumped back out onto the road and into the crowd.  I had been keeping pace with another girl and lost her when I stopped.  I picked up the pace and caught her.  I stayed with her for a bit and then she started to slow down.  We were coming into a really nicely paved section that seemed to be slightly downhill.  I booked it along here, feeling pretty strong.  We had just passed about 8km.   We wound our way through this residential neighbourhood and into the "downtown" strip at Daytona.  I hit the 10km mark in just over 46 minutes.  My right calf cramped slightly but stopped as quickly as it had started, thankfully.   What was really starting to bug me was my left glut.  I think my speed work sessions had aggravated my piriformis muscle and I could feel it getting tighter and tighter as I ran.

Just past the 10km mark, it was time to tackle the bridge that went over the Halifax River.  G and I had driven over it the day before as our hotel was on the other side of it.  I turned onto the bridge, looked up and started working.   I got into a groove quickly and started passing people.  Apparently most Florida folks have a tough time with hills because there was a lot of grunting as I was passing people.  Before I knew it I had gotten to the top of the bridge.  All my hill running paid off for sure.  I caught and passed several people.  I let my legs go on the downhill and got back into a rhythm once I got to the bottom.

I knew we were headed towards the beach and I figured we were getting pretty close.  We were past the half way point.  There were more people out watching and cheering which was awesome.  A few zigs and zags and then the next thing I know I'm running down a ramp onto the beach.  The sand was hard packed but it was still sand so I had to work a bit harder.   As I was heading down the ramp to the beach I got a glimpse of the crowd coming back.  I was very surprised to see how close I was to the 1:40 pace bunny.  That was a pleasant surprise!  My goal was to negative split the race so the fact that I was reeling in the 1:40 pace bunny was a positive.  I ran down to the turnaround point, woohoo'ed the volunteers and trucked back to the ramp.  We ran about 500m or so on the beach.

Once we left the beach we were headed straight back up International Speedway Boulevard.  As I came off the beach and back onto the road, I was hit with a lovely headwind.  Awe-some.  I watched my pace drop from 4:40's to 4:50's.  I tried to duck behind a couple of guys so I wasn't expending as much energy.  I stayed there until we go back to the bridge.  Once we hit the bridge the wind seemed to stop so I passed them and motored up the hill.  My legs were surprisingly feeling ok other than my left glut.  Once again I passed several people on the bridge.   I got out onto International Speedway and settled into a rhythm.  The wind seemed to have died down.  I hit the 10 mile mark and knew I only had 5km to go.  I grabbed some Gatorade at the next aid station.  Even though it was overcast, it was still kinda humid and I was sweating buckets.  I had been taking fluid at every aid station so my hydration game was on point.  High five for that!

The last 5km passed in a blur.  By about 17km I was starting to get the race stupids and I was starting to fatigue.   It would have been easy for me to slow down but I was determined to finish strong.  Just before the 19km mark I caught a guy who was walking.  I slowed down and encouraged him to start running again.  I said "there's less than 2 miles, you can do it!".  He stuck with me for a bit and then I lost him.   I could see another woman ahead of me and even though I was really starting to hurt, that was all I needed to find a little bit extra.  I started to push the pace.  I got to 20km and really started to push it.  I knew I could run hard for another few minutes.  I caught two girls as we turned into the Speedway.  One of them said good work as I passed her and then a few seconds later, she passed me and I had nothing.   I gave it all I could as I turned onto the race track.  For some reason I thought the finish line would be closer but it wasn't.   I was sucking wind big time.  I saw G who was ready with his phone and snapped this.  Yup, that's a smile.  :)

I looked at my watch as I turned into the Speedway and saw my watch tick over to 1:40.  I turned myself inside out in those last few hundred metres.  I heard the announcer call my name as I came into the finishing chute and I raised my hands in the air and grinned.   I glanced down at my Garmin and saw 1:40:41.  Holy crap.   Sub 1:45 was the goal.  Once I started running I thought I could probably run a 1:42-1:43.  I certainly didn't expect to get that close to 1:40.  And realistically had I not stopped to go pee, I'm pretty darn sure I would have broken 1:40.

I was beyond thrilled.  G had said he figured I'd go sub 1:40 and I said I thought he was nuts.  Once again he was right.  This race squelched all the self doubt I had about racing again.  No, it wasn't a PR.  It was better than a PR.  As I said on Instagram, it was the tangible proof that my brain needed to realize that I'm better and that I've still got a little speed in these legs, even without putting in any solid speed work.

I saw some PT's offering some post race stretching so I hung around and had some work done which helped immensely.  I then went over and got some post race grub.  G said that they were posting results fairly regularly so we walked over to the board once I finished eating.  It took me a minute to find my name as I first looked under the 40-44 year old age group, ha ha.  Um.  No.  That's what happens when you go a year without doing a solo running race - you forget how old you are!  I found the 45-49 year old age group and was surprised (not to mention SUPER happy) to see my name beside the number two.  WOOOHOOO!

As my lovely friend Lauren said:  She's BA-ACK!!!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Monday Musings: One Week In

Here we are, Monday again.  We've officially been here for just over a week and I can safely say it feels like longer (not in a bad way!) We settled into somewhat of a routine fairly quickly and I'm finally figuring out where things are.  The last time we were here, I kept getting so turned around in terms of directions and where everything was located.  This time I seem to have my head on a bit straighter, ha ha.

G had said that he wanted to make sure that when we were here we were going to do more than just train and I agreed.   We want to travel around Florida, do some touristy things as well as a lot of exploring.   So we started that adventure on Friday night by heading down to Orlando to watch the Magic play the Raptors.  We had great seats save for the fact that we were seated DIRECTLY behind the net which made it difficult to see any play that was happening in the middle of the court.  We were pretty much surrounded by Raptors fans which was nice.  The game was painful though.  The Raps lost and didn't play well at all.  But it was still a fun night out.  

Saturday we packed up and made the drive out to Daytona, which is about 90 minutes away from Clermont.  I was racing the Daytona half on the Sunday so we opted to go out the day before, pick up my race kit and look around Daytona.  It was cold (for the beach) and super windy.   I got my race stuff and then we went into the box office to see about getting tickets for "The Clash" (which used to be called the Bud Shoot Out) that was happening in a couple of weeks.  We would have liked to come back for the Daytona 500 but G is going to be away for work that weekend so this was the next best thing.  We poked around Daytona, drove all the way down that part of the coast as far as we could go, saw some AMAZING homes and then turned around and looked for a place to eat.

Sunday was race day and I will have a race report up on the blog in a couple of days so stay tuned for that.  On our way home from Daytona we drove to Cocoa Beach to check it out.  I'm going to be spending part of my birthday weekend there with some of my girlfriends so I wanted to get a sneak preview before they arrived.  

G and I also joined a swim group for the next month.  If I swim with people I know I'll work harder than I would on my own so we joined the Swim Like A Pro group that swims at the NTC on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  Tomorrow will be my first swim with them.  I'm looking forward to it!

This was a pretty laid back week of training as I was tapering for Daytona.  I still had a pretty decent week though.  Now that I've gotten my run distance up, I'm going to dial the running back a bit and focus on cycling.  My friend Dee is here right now with her husband and both of them are super strong riders so I'm hoping I can go out and ride with them every so often.  There are also group rides that go out from one of the local bike shops early on Saturday mornings and there's also a Facebook group of triathletes that seems to organize things on a fairly regular basis so it looks like I'll have plenty of options.  

Anyway, this is how my week rolled out:

Monday:  32km easy ride with G

Tuesday:  6.25km run with some tempo work

Wednesday:  27km hilly ride + 60 minutes of strength work

Thursday:  5km easy run

Friday:  2500 yard swim

Saturday:  44km easy ride to Winter Garden 

Sunday:  Daytona Half!

Totals for the week:

Swim:  2500 yards (2283m)
Bike:  103km 
Running:  32.65km

Total time:  8h 34 minutes.

Pretty solid week for a taper week!  I suspect that this week won't be too crazy given how sore my legs are today, ha ha.  I'm definitely looking forward to getting on my bike over the next few weeks!

How was your week of training?  When you travel do you like to do touristy things or do you like to go off the beaten path?

Chase your dreams,

Coach PK

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What I've Tried Wednesday: Review of the On Cloudflow

Disclaimer - I was given a pair of the On Cloudflows in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.  All opinions are my own.

In a market saturated with choice,  many running shoe companies are thinking outside the box to develop a trademarked technology.  One that brings consumers a better or unique running experience and that is immediately associated with their brand.  Newton comes to mind with their lug sole technology.   Adidas with their ultra boost technology.   When I think of these brands, that's what comes to mind.  

With new technology, especially something that is not quite traditional (like Newton's lugs) there always seems to be extra scrutiny because these things are almost always seen as gimmicky.  That was definitely the case when I first saw On running shoes.  I originally saw these shoes on instagram back in early 2015.  They were being worn by several Australian triathletes that I follow.   The shoes reminded me of the old Reebok Zigtech shoes that came out in 2010.   Not as garish but definitely different.  

I never wore the Zigtechs so I can't really speak to their performance.   That being said, I'm never one to shy away from trying something different (after I've done a bit of research of course).   So when I had the opportunity to purchase a pair of ON Cloudsurfers at a heavily discounted price, I jumped at the chance.   There's nothing I hate more than paying full price for something (like a shoe) and I end up not liking it.  

Suffice to say, that didn't happen.   But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let me fill you in on the technology behind the On brand.

On is a Swiss company that was founded in 2010 by friends Olivier Bernhard, David Allemann and Caspar Coppetti.  Olivier was a 3 time World Duathlon Champion and a multiple Ironman winner who, when he retired from the sport, devoted his time to "finding a running shoe that would give him the perfect running sensation".    The concept that drove the creation of this brand was all about a cushioned landing and firm take off.   That is what the pods (or Clouds as they are called) on the bottom of the shoe provide.

From the On website:

When you hit the ground, the highly adaptive rubber elements cushion both vertical and horizontal forces (there is a great demo of this in on the website) for a soft landing.  Once on the ground, the Clouds lock firm to provide a solid foundation for a natural and powerful take off.  The Clouds act like tiny stability balls, responding to every movement of your foot.  They activate your postural muscles and enable you to stabilize your foot strike without artificial support.

I ran in the Cloudsurfer and loved them.  Shortly thereafter, I got the opportunity to test out On's new racing shoe, the Cloudflow.   I figured if it was anything like the Cloudsurfer, I'd probably really like it.

Like is an understatement.

I will boldly say that the Cloudflows are THE best shoes I've worn in a very long time, and I've worn a LOT of different shoes over my almost 20 years of running.

When I took it out of the box, I was a little concerned that it wouldn't fit as it looked quite narrow.  I have a neuroma in my left foot that gets aggravated when my toes are squished together, which is what seems to happen in most traditional running shoes.   So a narrow toe box would not be good for me.   I put my orthotic in and slipped my foot into the shoe.  It actually felt really good.  Taking a closer look at the shape of the shoe I noticed that the toe box is slightly squared which is probably what contributes to giving the shoe some more room.

My first run in them was 6km and it was fast.  The shoes felt great.  I didn't notice the clouds underfoot at all.  All I felt was support and excellent energy return.  I then decided to wear them on a long run.  Again, they felt fantastic.  And, to top it off, I had no blisters, no hot spots, no foot pain, nothing.   I'm chalking that up to what I feel is the best part of the shoe:  the upper.  Yes, the cloud technology is amazing but the upper is incredible.  According to the ON website, the upper of this shoe is "in a league of it's own".    It's made of an adaptive engineered mesh that uses the latest weave technology to blend breathability with support.   It's like wearing a supportive sock because it hugs your foot just like a sock would.  I haven't tested them without socks yet but plan to do so now that I'll be integrating some brick workouts into my training.

The clouds on the bottom of the shoe feature On's patented Speedboard technology that is built with a responsive flex and rocker that promotes "flow-motion".  According to the folks at On, it "encourages the natural rolling process promotes explosive take offs".  I definitely felt this when I was running.  I had no problem do an easy long run and a hard interval run in these shoes.  I also took them off road onto dirt and gravel trails with no issues.  They do lose their grip a bit on wet surfaces but other than that the grip is quite good.  The clouds occasionally get rocks stuck in them which is a bit annoying but they are relatively easy to remove.

If you've been reading this blog for the last few years, you'll know that I've struggled with knee issues.  Patella Femoral pain to be exact.  I worked at changing my gait, strengthening my gluts and getting them to fire etc but I was still experiencing some pain after my runs.  Even after switching to a highly cushioned shoe (Hokas).  I couldn't figure it out.  I started to suspect that it was due to impact.  I'm not terribly light on my feet so I figured that was part of the problem.  Since switching to these shoes, my post run knee pain has almost stopped completely.  I'm chalking that up to the energy return these shoes provide.   These shoes seem to keep me from landing too hard and they assist with push off.   Whatever the case may be, all I know is that I don't hurt like I used to and I've been increasing my mileage significantly over the last 2 months.  I've run almost 200km in these shoes and my knees still feel great.

As much as I love these shoes, they aren't perfect.  The one major issue I have with them are the laces.  They are ridiculously long and very skinny, which makes it difficult to tie the shoes well.  I also have to quadruple knot the laces to make sure they 1) don't undo and 2) become short enough that they don't hang over the top of the shoe.  I'm not sure why On has done this with their laces.  I'm going to try to replace the laces with my Nathan speed laces to make these shoes triathlon friendly.  The lace holes are quite small so it may be a challenge.  I'll let you know how that goes!

For those of you that like shoe specs, here ya go:

Specs:  Womens 7
weight:  6.7oz
heel to toe offset:  6mm <----  a good option for folks like me who can't wear zero drop shoes due to less than ideal ankle mobility!

At $170 Cdn ($140 US) the shoe is in the moderate to high price range.   I would have no qualms about spending that money for another pair, that's how much I love them.

If you're looking for a speedy shoe with a smooth, fast ride, then I highly recommend checking out the On Cloudflows.

What's your go to shoe brand?  Have you tried a shoe specifically because of the technology behind it?

Coach PK