Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Starting Over: Great Clermont Triathlon Race Report

As I mentioned in this post the other week, I haven't raced an Olympic distance race in over 10 years.  I really didn't know what to expect.  And not having raced regularly last year, well, it felt like I was starting over.  Thankfully because I felt like I was starting over, I was super diligent about packing my bag early the day before and triple checking it.  What I did forget to do the day before was pump my tires and I spent half the night of my fitful sleep, reminding myself not to forget to do that when I got up the next morning.

Guess what I almost forgot to do race morning?  Yup.

Thankfully I remembered just as we were getting ready to leave the house.   We were already leaving later than I had wanted so add this to the mix and I was a bit of a stress bundle.  At least we were very close to the race start.  But I had lost about 15 minutes of chill out time due to the fact that we just couldn't seem to get ourselves sorted and out the door.

I didn't sleep well the night before the race which isn't surprising.  I was super nervous.  It was my first triathlon in over a year and my first Olympic distance race in a VERY long time.  I didn't know what to expect.   I had done a very short open water swim the day before and I felt pretty good.  The water was nice and calm and it was supposed to be the same for us race morning.   When I got up, I checked the temperature.  It was 14 degrees, which was perfect.  I knew I'd be just fine in my Zoot kit.  G had the news on and I caught a snippet of the weatherman saying something about a small craft advisory.  Um.  What?  There wasn't supposed to be any wind.  I dismissed that, figuring that they were probably talking about the coast.

The ride down to the park was a bit precarious in the dark.  Gary had put lights on his bike so I rode behind him.   I probably should have put a light on the front of my bike at least so I could have seen the road.  Even though I've ridden down this road pretty much every time I go riding, it's different when it's dark out.  The last thing I wanted was to ride over a piece of glass or hit a pothole and flat.  Luckily none of that happened and we turned into the park and rode over to transition.

We found body markers right away.  I have to say I'm not sure what the deal was with the body marking but I had my race number written all over my body.  It was on both of my arms, both of my shins and my age was written on the back of my right calf.  Seemed a tad bit excessive but hey, maybe that's just the way things are done here.

I made my way into transition only to find that the rack I was supposed to be on was totally packed save for a tiny little spot between two bikes.  Reason number 1005 that I like to get to the race site early.  Luckily I managed to wedge Tom Sawyer into the last little spot on the rack.  The other ladies shuffled their bikes over and gave me a bit of extra room.  I went about setting up my transition and getting my bike ready.  I went to pour my drink into my aero bottle and because my bike was racked and leaning forward, as the bottle filled up to the top, a whole bunch of it spilled out everywhere.  All over my helmet, my shoes, my towel.  Awe-some.   I quickly cleaned all that up and finished laying everything out.  I started to put my wetsuit on as I only had about 20 minutes to get ready and into the water to do a warm up.  Normally I like to do at least a 10 - 15 minute warm up so I was cutting it close.  I pulled the fro into a mini bun and went to put my swim cap on over it when all of a sudden heard pphhhhttt and felt the cap give.  You've GOT to be kidding me.  My cap had ripped.  I had my wetsuit half on so I waddled over to the registration tent to see about getting a new cap.  Apparently I wasn't the only one that had ripped their cap.  They gave me another one that was equally as flimsy so I stood by the registration desk and put it on just in case it split.  Thankfully it did not and I was off to double check everything in transition before I made my way down to the water.

I ran back into transition and gave everything a once over.  Then I went looking for G.  I had about 10 minutes left before the race start.  I booked it down to the beach and found G getting into his wetsuit. I wriggled into the rest of my wetsuit and had G zip me up.  A quick good luck kiss and I was off to try to get into the water and warm up.  I had less than 10 minutes.  NOT ideal but whatever.  Nothing I could do about it so I was going to make the best of it.

I waded in and let the water seep into my wetsuit.  It was cool, probably about 68 degrees, which is perfect for a longer swim.  I quickly dove in and started swimming.  The sun was just coming up so it wasn't quite light just yet.  I swam out past the buoy lines and noticed that the water was quite choppy.  Ugh.  So much for the little to no wind forecast.  I heard the announcer telling people to get out of the water so I turned around and swam back.  I made sure to swim hard so I could get my heart rate up.  I clambered out of the water and stood on the shore just as the announcer introduced the woman singing the national anthem.  My goggles started to fog up so I pulled them off.  My swim cap almost came off in the process.  I pulled it down a bit more but it didn't seem to want to cover my head and I was afraid to pull it down much farther just in case it ripped again.  The announcer counted us down, the gun went off and then all the women in the race were off.

I hit start on my watch and waded into the water.  I let the hordes go so I could ease into the swim.  I waded into the water until it was up to my thighs and then I dove in.  As soon as my feet left the ground I felt my timing chip start to slip off my ankle.  AHHHHH.   I stopped and grabbed it and then fumbled with trying to get it secure and under my wetsuit so I wouldn't risk losing it again.  I watched the pack swim away from me.  I finally secured it and managed to tuck it partially under my wetsuit.  I put my head down and started swimming.  Stroke stroke, gasp, stroke.  Oh boy.  The water was smacking me in the side of my head so I had to adjust my breathing to one side.  I chugged along, past the buoy line, out into the more open part of the lake.  The sun was starting to come up over the horizon and it was quite pretty.  The lake was PITCH black.  I could barely see my hands in front of me and I couldn't see anyone in front of me so when I came upon my first set of feet, I popped up out of the water.  I realized I had gotten into a bit of a congested pack so I swam off to the side to try and get around them.  I put my head down and started swimming.  I tried sighting but just couldn't get my breathing rhythm down, nor could I really see anything.  So I popped my head up again and realized that I had swum way off course.  Ok then.  I turned hard and swam towards the pack again.  Once again I tried to get into a rhythm with my breathing but I just couldn't.  I swallowed a bunch of water. So I stopped and breast stroked.  And breast stroked some more.  Surprisingly there was no panic, which is a first for me.  Not once did I think OMG GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!!!  It was more a slightly mild annoyance at the fact that I couldn't swim straight, that my goggles were fogging up and that the water was slapping me in the face.  I know that doesn't sound ideal but I was pretty darn happy about the fact that there was no panic.

I put my head down and started swimming again, counting strokes and making a point of really exhaling when I put my face in the water.   I managed to stay in somewhat of a straight line and got a better sight line on the first turnaround buoy.   I could feel my forehead getting cold and brought my hand up to my head.  All I felt was the skin of my forehead and my hairline.  I stopped to tread water and put my hand on the top of my head.  Sure enough my swim cap was almost off.   Piece.  of.  crap.  I pulled my goggles up, pulled my swim cap down and put my goggles back on.  I hoped it would stay in place.

I made it around the first turnaround buoy and managed to get into a bit of a rhythm for a bit.  I looked up to sight and realized that once again I swam way off course.  Good lord I was really struggling.  I reoriented myself and headed towards the second turnaround buoy.  The water was now slapping me directly in the face.  AWE-SOME.   Once again I swallowed a bunch and almost immediately started choking and coughing.  More breast stroke ensued.  I finally caught my breath and resumed swimming.  I was starting to get really annoyed but I kept swinging my arms in circles and kicking my legs, in the hopes I'd soon be at the shore.

I made it to the second turnaround buoy and was now heading towards the shore.  The waves were no longer slapping me in the face but I could feel my head getting colder and colder.  You have GOT to be kidding me, was all I could think.  I stopped and put my hand to my head.  Sure enough my swim cap had popped off again.  Grrrr.  Once again, I pulled my goggles off, pulled the cap down, put my goggles back on and started laughing.  That's all I really could do.  I put my head down and started swimming.  I could see the shoreline starting to come into view.   I looked for my extra gear.  Apparently I don't have one in the water at the moment, ha ha.  My hand finally scraped bottom and I took a couple more strokes and stood up.  I didn't have the energy to sprint out the water.  I jogged out of the water and up onto the beach.  I pulled my goggles off and once again my swim cap popped off, taking my hair band with it but I was so out of it I didn't notice until a spectator ran up to me and handed it to me.

Swim time:  30:25.  A personal worst for me in terms of time (pace per 100/m)  but a win in terms of keeping a cool head and no panic issues.

Even though this is only an Olympic distance race, they had WETSUIT STRIPPERS!  So of course I ran to the first group and let them go to town on me.  I was out of my wetsuit in no time.  But then there was the long run up to T1.  I had forgotten about that.   Once my wetsuit was off, I booked it towards my bike.  I crossed the timing mat into T1 and remembered to hit lap on my Garmin (winning!)  I was on the second rack so it was easy to find.  I dropped my wetsuit, grabbed my bike helmet and put it on, only to find that the visor was completely fogged up.  Once again I laughed.  Let's see what else this race has in store for me.  I scrambled to wipe my grass covered feet off and pull my socks on.  Normally I go without but it was a bit cool and I knew I was going to wear them for the run so I figured I might as well put them on now.

I grabbed my bike and waddled out of transition.  Both my ears were plugged with water so I couldn't hear anything.  Usually I'm able to shake some of the water out but I wasn't able to.   I ran up to the dismount line, hit lap again on my watch to start the bike timer and hopped on my bike.  I couldn't see a darn thing because my visor was completely fogged and I was deaf, ha ha.  I knew that the bike course starts with a nice little climb and a turn.  There are a lot of turns on this course as it’s kind of Y shaped.  Anyway, I at least had the foresight to have my bike in the small chain ring so I wasn’t killing myself trying to blindly climb the hill in the wrong gear.  There were a couple of climbs to get out onto the main part of the course so I kept it in the small ring until we got out of the residential neighbourhood we were in and onto the main road.  At some point along here, I opted to hit lap on my watch again because I had seemingly forgotten that I had already done so TWICE.

For those of you that have a Garmin 920xt, you know that you are only supposed to hit lap in triathlon mode when you’re transitioning between sports because that’s what tells the watch that you’re moving either into transition or into another sport.  Because I hit the lap button a third time,  my watch thought I was in T2, but I didn’t realize it at the time.   I was so focused on passing the handful of women in front of me.  I had my head down and I was hammering.  Trying to find the sweet spot between going too hard and just hard enough.  My legs certainly didn’t feel awesome.   Riding 55km the day before probably wasn’t the best idea but I’m down here to ride and this wasn’t an A race so it was what it was.  I was going to do the best with whatever my body had that day. 

I had ridden about 75% of this course on a regular basis over the last 6 weeks so I knew what to expect for most of it.   A  short steep climb, a couple of short grinder climbs, plus one longer grinder and that's about it.  I knew that once you hit the turnaround from the second out and back, you could get some seriously good speed which I had every intention of taking advantage of.   When I came out of the water, the announcer called my name and said I was 22nd out of the water so I had that number in my head.   I had caught and passed 4 women on my way out onto the main road and I had another one in my sights along the flats.  Once I started climbing on the first out and back, I caught two more.  That first climb was steep.  Normally I’d leave it in the big chain ring and muscle it out but 40km is a long way to go when you haven’t raced it in years, so I flipped it into the small ring mid way up the climb and spun my legs out.   I got to the top and was greeted by some wide open space, a false flat and a lot of wind.   No problem.  I've been riding in the wind ever since I got here.  Florida is very windy.  Don't get me wrong, it was still hard, I just wasn't as bothered by it as I normally am.  

The road in this section was fantastic.  It was smooth and rolling and there was a nice big shoulder.   There was also some crowd support at the turnaround which was great to see!  The turnaround was at the bottom of a hill so once you turned around, you had to start climbing again.  The turnaround was nice and wide which meant that for the first time in AGES, I actually didn't unclip when I made the turn.   A-MA-ZING!  I think all my bike riding is paying off.

I made the turn and started up the climb.  I was curious to see how I was doing time wise so I glanced at my Garmin.  What I saw confused me.  It was a screen I didn't really recognize.  So I looked at it again.  I saw 33 something in the corner of the watch face, not in the middle where I expected it to be.  I didn't any distance, speed or power stats.  I glanced at it again.  And then I realized what I was looking at.  Because I hit the lap button THREE times, my watch thought I was in T2.  UGGHGGGHHHHHH.  I didn't want to totally mess myself up for the run, so, I hit lap again and then hit stop and save.   Then I started my watch all over again until I got to the bike section.  At least I'd have half the data from the bike and all of the data from the run.  I did this all while climbing.

By the time I got back out to the main road, I had caught and passed two other ladies.  I was back on Cherry Lake Road, a road I had become very familiar with over the last several weeks.  The climbs out are grinders but the descents on the way back are SO MUCH FUN.   I went up the climbs, made it around the turnaround without unclipping once again (WOOHOO!) and then pushed the pace to the descent.   I put it in my hardest gear and pedaled like mad.   The descent on Cherry Hill has a wide sweeping turn that opens into a nice flat straight away.  It's like a sling shot.   It's such a fun stretch of road to ride.  I whipped along here grinning from ear to ear.  I had one more climb before I turned onto Jalarmy and took it down to Minneola Shores, which was the road I'd take almost all the way to transition.

Once I made the turn onto Minneola Shores, I was smacked in the head with a lovely headwind.  Thank you Florida.  I fought that wind for what seemed like ages.  I could really feel my legs getting tired.   40km is a long way to go when you're pushing the pace.  I was definitely starting to fatigue.  I think had I metered my pacing a bit better I might not have hurt so much.  But hindsight is 20/20.  I finally turned off of Minneola Shores and wound my way through residential streets back to transition.  There was lots of zig-zagging but before I knew it I was back on the descent towards the dismount line.  I hopped off my bike and shuffled into T2.  My legs felt like garbage.

Bike:  1:14:36 - pretty much right where I thought I'd be!  Pretty pleased with this given that it's only March.

I racked my bike and pulled off my helmet.  I was feeling a little discombobulated and I struggled to get my running shoes on.  I finally got them on, grabbed my sunglasses and race belt and ran out of T2 onto the bike path and into, you guessed it, an AWESOME headwind.   To top it off, my legs felt like tree trunks.  I'm not going to lie, I was questioning my choices at that point.  My first km felt awful but eventually I settled into a decent rhythm.  I actually started to feel pretty good in a weird sort of way.  Perhaps everything was going numb so I didn't know any different....Anyway, I was starting to catch some of the women in front of me and I think that lit a fire in me.  Nothing like a target to make you go faster!  Every time I glanced down at my Garmin I was seeing between 4:30's and 4:35's.  Woohoo!  I wondered how long I'd be able to hold on to that pace.  I was feeling pretty strong.  I caught one woman, and then another, and then another.  5km in and I'm still feeling pretty good.  I see the first place woman on her way back so I thought I'd count the number of ladies in front of me.  The first place woman had a pretty big lead on second place and second place had a pretty big lead on third place.  After that the women were much closer together.   At about 7km in, I was starting to fatigue.  Everything was starting to hurt.  I had counted 8 women in front of me at that point.  I caught one and was reeling in another.   There was a lot of YOU GO GIRL and Nice Work - I love that about triathlon - I ALWAYS see that with women when they race.  I don't hesitate to congratulate someone when they pass me or when I pass them.  I had moved up into 7th place.  As I entered the park, I knew the finish line was only about 1.5km away so I started to empty the tank.  The path was lined with spectators, I could hear the finish line music.  Up ahead I spotted another woman.  I couldn't see what was on her calf as the number had smudged.  As I got closer I saw there was a 4 but I couldn't see the other number.  Oh boy.  She was on Team Wattie Ink and a bunch of her team mates were cheering for her as I closed in.  One of them started yelling go go go.  The finish line was literally a few hundred meters away.  I was turning myself inside out to catch her.  I caught up to her a few meters before we turned into the finishing chute.  Her teammates were going nuts encouraging her.  I said nice work as I caught her and fully anticipated a sprint to the finish but I think she was already giving her all.  I passed her and ran like crazy to the finish line.  I left it all out on the course for sure.

Run Time:  45:43 - Better than I had anticipated and right where G thought I'd be!

Overall time:  2:35:34.   Exactly where I thought I'd be, ha ha.   It was definitely a hard fought effort and my Garmin recovery advisor confirmed that.

I had seen G out on the course a few times and he was hurting a bit.  I was hanging out with a few of the people I swim with here, waiting for him to finish.  Sure enough a few minutes later, he comes running into the finishing chute.

We went and got some food and then G asked if I had checked results yet.  I hadn't so we went to check and he told me I had won my age group.  WOOHOO!  He ended up in 5th and a couple that we swim with also ended up on the podium in their respective age groups.

Olympic distance racing is HARD.  It's definitely given me a good idea as to where I'm at fitness wise and what I need to work on over the next few months leading up to Mont Tremblant.  I'm also thinking that at some point I'd like to race another one, maybe later in the season, to see if I can break 2:30.  I know my swim needs some serious work and my transitions were atrocious (3:00 for T1 and 1:50 for T2!) so if I can work on bringing those times down, then I think I have a shot at it.   There's always room for improvement!

We'll be back in Clermont again next year so I think I'll probably race this again.  And I'll make sure I bring a back up swim cap, ha ha.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday Musings: The Final Days

Well, I've gone from weeks left to just days now.   We've met so many great people here over the last two months, I'm definitely going to miss them.  I'm REALLY going to miss the weather and the fact that I can just walk outside with my bike and start riding without having to deal with much in the way of traffic.   The two month stay was going to be a test to see if we'd like being here and the answer is a resounding YES.  Now if only the dollar would rebound a bit!!

As I mentioned last week G was on holidays this week so we did some exploring.  I had every intention of getting my race report done but alas, that has yet to happen.  Once again, it was too nice to sit inside.  With the exception of one day where it rained but I happened to be outside in that anyway, ha ha.  

On Monday we drove out to St. Augustine, which is apparently the oldest city in the US and spent the  afternoon walking around.  It's quite beautiful.  Very touristy but still really lovely.  It was a gorgeous sunny day so it was just nice to be outside enjoying the weather.  Both of us really needed to move around as we were both pretty stiff from the race the day before.  I think a couple of hours on our feet helped get the blood flowing.   By the end of the day we both felt a lot better.  I think the sunshine and lobster & shrimp tacos helped, ha ha.

Totally reminds me of Europe.  

Castillo de San Marcos - built by the Spanish in the 17th Century

On Tuesday G was hell bent on going for a ride as we both ended up sleeping in and skipping swimming.  I wasn't sure if I'd be recovered enough but I didn't want to sit around doing nothing so I agreed to go with him and just said I'd keep my HR in zone 1-2.  Which is exactly what I did.  We ended up riding WAY longer than we had anticipated.  It was just so perfect outside, it we didn't want to stop.  

On Wednesday G had a little bit of work to do and he wanted to ride again and go for a run.  I wasn't ready to run and I wanted to give my legs another day so we did our own thing.   I ended up going to the pool for a short swim and a very short weight workout.   For some reason on Wednesday night I developed a brutal sinus headache.  It woke me up at about 2:00 am so I used a bit of nasal spray and tried to go back to sleep.  That didn't happen.  I tossed and turned for another hour, my head pounding.  I resorted to taking Sinex Night, which is kinda like NyQuil.  Needless to say, I missed my Thursday morning swim AND my normal ride.  I finally got myself out the door around 9:30 and opted to ride to the top of the Apopka Trail.  I didn't quite make it there because the clouds were rolling in fast so I turned around and hammered back trying to beat the weather.  It didn't happen.  I got caught in my first Florida downpour.  Holy CRAP.  I was soaked.

Friday we planned on heading into Dunedin to see if we could get perhaps get Jays tickets but it was totally sold out.  They were playing the Red Sox and it was March Break.  We probably should have tried to get them before hand.  G was hoping to pick up something for our nephew but since we couldn't get tickets, we couldn't get inside to see what kind of merchandise they had.  We made the most of our trek and wandered around downtown Dunedin.  We stopped for lunch and once again I had fish tacos.  So.  GOOD.  We took the scenic route back to Clermont and I had a monster nap in the car.  Not sure why I was so tired but I was.

Saturday we had signed up to do the Clear Air ride.  They had multiple distances and we chose the 160km.  Mainly because you got a little finishers medallion at the end, ha ha.  And because I really wanted to get out and do a really long ride.  The ride started in Inverness, which was about a 55 minute drive from Clermont.  We got out there for about 7:30 am witnessed the most beautiful sunrise, got ourselves registered and started riding.

We were cooking along comfortably at about 28kph.  I felt good.  G felt good.  The sun was playing hide and seek in the clouds and then at around 10:30 it finally came out.  It was a stunner of a day.  At the rate we were going I figured we'd be done the 160km in under 6 hours, especially since the way back to the finish was mostly downhill.  We were motoring along, almost at 95km, when all of a sudden I heard a small pop followed by what sounded like steam escaping a bag.  I could feel myself slowing down.  CRAP.  I had a flat.  So I yelled to G to stop and we pulled off to see what the damage was.  He checked the wheel and couldn't see anything so out came the pit stop and he tried to fill up the tire.  I could hear air coming out of somewhere.  So we spun the tire around and sure enough, the pit stop was coming out of the sidewall.  With no spare tubular, I was done.  When you're riding tubulars, it's generally a good idea to bring a back up so you don't get stuck doing what I had to do, which was ride back on a flat tire.  When your tire is flat and you're on carbon rims, you cannot move quickly or you risk potentially damaging the rim.  I went from averaging just over 28 /kph to 10 kph.  It took me 26 minutes to cover the first 5km back.  I could have run the 5km faster than that.  I picked up the pace to about 13 kph and stayed there.  It took me almost an hour and 15 minutes to go 17km.  I was hungry and disappointed by the time I met up with G.  I had really hoped to be able to ride the 160km but alas, I'll have to save the century for another day.  I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunities this summer!

My Garmin Connect speed file from Saturday's ride.  Gee, wonder where I got the flat??

Anyway,  it was a pretty action packed week of fun in the sun.  The weather cooperated for the most part (save the rain storm I was caught in) and we got to explore a few more parts of Florida.

In terms of training, I had a pretty big week even with taking two rest days.  This is how it went down:

Monday:  OFF

Tuesday:  74.3km ride in zone 2.

Wednesday:  1829m swim (2000y) + 35 minutes in the gym.  I REALLY need to get back to lifting regularly again.  I had just gotten into a good groove then I slacked off again.

Thursday:  87km ride including a hammerfest back to the house.

Friday:  OFF

Saturday:  112.5km ride.

Sunday:  16km brutally hot (but stunning) run on the Clay Trail + 28km spin for coffee in the afternoon + obsessively checking Sports Stats for my athletes results from Around the Bay!  :)

Swim:  1829m
Bike:  301.5km - my biggest week of riding since I've been here!
Run:  16km

Total time:  14h 56 minutes.

Our days are numbered here and while I'm sad that this adventure has come to an end, I'm excited for the next round of adventures!

I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend! I'm going to try to bottle up this Florida sunshine and bring it back with me!

Coach PK

Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday Musings: Holidays & Shaking out the Cobwebs

Well that weekend went by in the blink of an eye!  We are getting closer and closer to packing up and heading home.   We have one last weekend here and then it's time to go.  Boohoo.   The house hunt will have to continue from afar.  We've gone to see a lot of places since we've been here and there have been a couple that have been pretty good, but we're still not ready to bite the bullet simply because of the dollar.  If the dollar drops, then I think making a decision on a place will be much easier for us.  Right now paying an additional 35% (give or take) in exchange makes things a bit challenging.  And so, we wait.

I suspect we'll probably do a bit more looking around this week as G is off (YAY!) so we'll have much more free time.  We're going to do some touristy things as well.  Today we're off to St. Augustine to check it out.  Later on this week G wants to try to get to Dunedin to see a Jay's game so fingers crossed that happens.  If we manage that then we will have seen 3 of 4 Toronto teams while we've been here!  We saw the Raptors play the Magic just after we got here and last Thursday we went into Tampa to see the Leafs play the Lightning.  I'm happy to report that the Leafs CRUSHED them.   That is the first Leaf game I've seen in a very long time.  The last time I saw a game it was at Maple Leaf Gardens.  Yeah, when I said a long time, I meant a LOONNNGGG time.  We had really good seats and there were a TON of Leaf fans, probably due to it being March Break.  

This was the first week I didn't really schedule much in terms of workouts.  I've been playing things by ear since I've been down here, with a few goals for each week, but there's usually some structure to my week.  This week, there wasn't much.  All I knew was that I was going to take things easy this week as I was racing on Sunday.  A cold front rolled in on Tuesday, stuck around until Friday and made it down right chilly here.  And VERY windy.  Which made riding not awesome.  But I did it anyway because 1) I'm going to be back home in my basement before I know it and 2) I'm Canadian, what's a little cold???   I probably would have done my swim on Thursday morning with an on deck temperature of 4 degrees but the NTC closed the pool until 9:00 am so our swim got cancelled.   I went out and did a ride mid morning and it was still only 9 degrees.  It's amazing how cold that feels when your average daily temps are around 25 degrees.  I admit it, I've gotten soft.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to freeze when we get back home.  Whawha.  

So, let's get down to my week of training, shall we?

Monday:  OFF

Tuesday:  2377m swim, 45km coffee ride with Lori-Ann - so many Canadians down this week!

Wednesday:  13km very easy run + 45 minutes of strength training / physio work.

Thursday:  20.5km hilly, windy ride.

Friday:  OFF

Saturday:  56km ride + 600m open water swim

Sunday:  RACE: 1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run.  Report to come this week.   If you've seen my Instagram post then you all know how that went.  :)

Total Time:  10h 48 minutes

The next few days are all about recovery and some down time.  A little sight seeing today is exactly what we need.

How was your week of training?  

Some Monday humour for you......

Go out and BE AWESOME!

Coach PK

Friday, March 17, 2017

Redefining my Why

As my first triathlon of the season approaches,  I've been thinking a lot about my goals for this race.   Actually, I've been thinking about my goals and expectations for the SEASON.  Normally by now my race calendar is full and I've got goals for each race.  This year is different.  I actually feel like I'm starting over in a sense because of my injury last year.   Being sidelined really messed with my head.  Looking back now I'd say that perhaps it was a blessing in disguise.   As I posted on Instagram earlier this week, before my injury, if you had asked me what my main motivation was for racing, I would have said, without hesitation, "to get on the podium".  That was the main reason I raced.  I liked winning.  I liked knowing I was strong enough to come out on top.  I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to win but when it's your main motivation (and you're not getting paid to race), I think it can take the enjoyment out of the process.

After I got injured, I lost my mojo.  The desire to compete withered up for a little while because I felt like I'd never get back to my old self again.  As I started rebuilding my running base, I began to realize that I didn't necessarily want to get back to my old self.  Instead I decided to focus on the process and the enjoyment of being able to move my body.  I stopped obsessing about paces and watts and just went out to play.  I'm continuing to do so.  As I get closer to my goal races, I know the more structured hard work will come.  The why behind the workouts has changed.  My WHY has changed.  I want to be able to go out and know that I have given everything I had on the day,  NO MATTER WHAT THE END RESULT and BE HAPPY with that.

The older I get the more I realize that I am my only competition.  Don't get me wrong, if you have a 45 - 49 written on your calf, I will still do my best to chase you down, because that's part of the fun of racing. But ultimately, it's about being the best I can be on that day, regardless of what the end result is.  I used to think this way when I started racing but lost sight of it when I started having success in the sport.   I used to get so anxious before races because I felt I had to perform.   That's not an enjoyable way to train and race.

That being said, I am a competitor, it's part of who I am and I am comfortable with that.  I'm not comfortable with the way it shaped my attitude towards racing so I'm changing that.

Sunday's race promises to be a fun journey.   I haven't raced an Olympic distance race in over 10 years (Guelph Lake 2005 was my last Olympic!)  I honestly don't know HOW to race this distance effectively.  I'm either going all out in a sprint or I'm pacing myself in a half Ironman so this will be interesting to say the least.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to consciously hold myself back on the bike so I don't completely cave on the run.  I haven't run more than 7km off the bike, nor have I done much targeted speed work.  Being in Florida has been all about playing, mostly on the bike, not so much on the run.

So how do I think I'm going to fare on Sunday?  These are my thoughts:

Swim:  27-30 minutes.  This will all depend on my state of mind / calmness level race morning.  I am in the first wave that goes off at 7:30 am.  It's still a bit darkish at that point of the day here.  And the water we swim in is BLACK.  It's really dark.  It's hard to see your hand extended in front of you it's that dark.  So yes, I find it scary and unnerving.  It can also get quite choppy.  Florida is super windy. The last few mornings here have been very windy so I'm hoping that perhaps it will die down by the weekend.

Bike:  1:13-1:15.  It will all depend on the wind and how my legs are feeling.  There are a few good little climbs on this road along with some nice quick descents.

Run:  47-50 minutes.  This will all depend on how well I execute my nutrition on the bike and how hard I go on the bike.

Factor in 3 minutes total for transitions since it's my first race and I'm more than likely going to be totally discombobulated.

If I nail everything and don't freak out on the swim, I'll break 2:30.  If I have a few hiccups then I suspect I'll be closer to 2:35-2:40 or so.  Considering my last Olympic was 2:42,  I'll be happy with anything under that!  But most importantly, I will be out there in my happy place, giving it my all.

I'm curious to know what motivates YOU?  What's YOUR why?

Happy St. Patrick's day and, Happy Friday.  I wonder how many people are skipping off work today to celebrate, ha ha.

~ Coach PK

Monday, March 13, 2017

Monday Musings: 3 Weeks Left

I look at this title and find it hard to believe.  It's funny when you say you're going away for three weeks it seems like such a long time but when you've been somewhere for a while and you realize you have three weeks left, it doesn't seem THAT long.  Why is that???  Seriously, our time here has flown by so quickly.  We are planning on coming back next year for sure and we may even look at coming back at some point in the fall for a few weeks.  We'll see.  I am going to miss it here for sure but I am looking forward to going back to the comfort of our own home.  Sleeping in my own bed.  Having a nice hot epsom salt bath.  There is no tub in the house we've rented so that is one thing I've REALLY missed especially with all the miles I've been logging on the bike.  First world problems for sure.

G was away again this past week so I was flying solo again.  Thankfully his travel is done for the next little while and we get to hang out together again.   The one week trips here and there are ok but when he's gone two weeks in a row, that's hard.  I really miss him.   He's booked next week off so we get to really play tourist!  I think we're planning on taking a trip to St. Augustine and after that I'm not sure what else we'll do.  I'm sure there will be a big ride in there somewhere as both of us will be doing the 160km Clean Air ride on our last weekend here. 

The weather here this past week was HOT.  Apparently it's been unseasonably warm here for February and March.  Training in the heat when you're not used to it definitely taxes your system and I think the temps this week in conjunction with a bit more volume than normal, tuckered me out.  I finally got my butt back into the gym twice.  I've been doing a brick once a week (actually a triathlon with long transitions ha ha) and I managed to get into open water again this past week.  G and I are going to try to get into the lake again this week before our race on Sunday.  

I'm feeling pretty good these days although my knees have been acting up here and there again.  Mostly after I ride my tri bike, which is a bit of a problem considering that's the bike I race on.  I may have to get my fit looked at again when I get back.   Speaking of my tri bike, I took it for a 90km rip with my Tuesday morning ride crew.  I'm glad I was on that bike instead of my road bike because the wind was ridiculous.  That's one thing I've noticed about Florida.  It's REALLY windy.  If the sun is out, it's going to be windy.  If it's cloudy, there isn't usually much wind.  That being said, it's been good for me to ride in the wind.  I've got my race wheels on my tri bike and G's deep rim Fast Forward wheels on my road bike so that's been helpful in terms of reducing drag when I'm riding into the wind.  It's also helped me improve my confidence in the crosswinds in terms of my bike handling skills.  I no longer get freaked out by gusts of wind blowing me sideways and I've learned to control my bike a bit better.   My group riding skills have improved a little as well.  I'm getting better at accelerating out of turns which is a big one for me.  I still struggle with uphill accelerations.  I just don't seem to have the leg power for that but I'm working on it.   My goal coming back from Florida was to be stronger on the bike and I think by the time race season rolls around, that should be the case.

With so much cycling, my running has slightly taken a back seat.  That being said I had two really solid runs this week.  I had planned on doing a longer run off the bike yesterday but my body just said no way.  So I opted to give it an easy day on the bike and then I took today off.   If I had done the ride I was planning on doing I would have died for sure.  And I would have ended up at over 300km of cycling for the week.  Which is double where I was the week before.  Not smart training.  

So let's see how things went this week:

Monday:  OFF.  I think I was still recovering from my birthday weekend celebrations, ha ha.   I still had birthday leftovers that had to be consumed as well....

Tuesday:  2377m swim, 90.5km bike, 7km run off the bike.  I forgot to start my Garmin so I only have 6.33km listed.  Grrr....

Wednesday:  60 minutes of strength work.

Thursday:  2300m swim, 47.7km bike in the a.m.  Then Swim Like A Pro had a Splash N' Dash in the evening so I got the chance to swim in open water (400m) and to let it rip on the run (5km)  I also got to test out this piece of AWESOMENESS....

This is the 2017 Zoot Team Kit.  I am IN LOVE.  I am supposed to get shoes as well but I haven't received them yet and I have no idea what they look like.  All I hope is that they match, ha ha.  Back to the event....I had an ok swim.  There was a fair bit of gasping for air and flailing around even after standing on the beach and letting everyone go.  I managed to average 1:53's/100m which is not awesome for me BUT given the fact that I stood on shore and walked in to the water vs running in like most of the other people, I will take it.   What really surprised me was my run.  I ran 5km in 21:19.  WTF.   Not close to my PR but substantially faster than I thought I'd be.  And that was with a stop at an aid station for some water.  I think it was my new Zoot Suit, ha ha.  

Friday:  60 minutes of strength work

Saturday:  65km ride with the Cycling Hub.  It was super windy today and my legs were feeling the gym from the previous day.  

Sunday:  55km ride along the West Orange Trail

Swim:  5077m 
Bike:  259km (yesssss!)
Run:  12km

Total time:  14h 18 minutes.  Now THAT is a big week.  Don't think I'll be repeating that kind of volume anytime soon.  I've found it hard to dial things back because there is always someone who wants to ride or do something and the weather is beautiful so you WANT to be outside.  It would be easy for me to do something every day but I'm trying not do to that and I'm paying close attention to my IF / TSS scores in Training Peaks.  I've also started working HRV (heart rate variability) training into my training and I find it to be very helpful in determining intensity levels every day.  I will do a more detailed post on this after I've gathered a bit more data.  

I hope everyone back home manages to stay safe today - I know there is a big storm coming.  Those of you that are on March break in warmer climes, ENJOY!

How was your week of training?  

What do you prefer, a one piece tri suit or a two piece tri suit?  

"New Monday, new week, new goals....."

Be Awesome!

Coach PK

Monday, March 6, 2017

Monday Musings: The Best Birthday Ever

I'm sitting here writing this in an eerily quiet house.  24 hours ago it was filled with the chatter and laughter of 3 fabulous women that I am lucky to have in my life.  This weekend was exactly what all of us needed.  Some time together and some time away.   The shenanigans started on Thursday night and went through the entire weekend.  I honestly don't remember the last time I went to bed at 4:00 am only to get up 3 hours later so we could hit the road.  I don't know how I made the two hour drive to Clearwater without falling asleep at the wheel but I did.  I'm 99.9% sure it was the company.

En Route to Clearwater after 3 hours of sleep.  
While I'm sad that G wasn't here for my birthday, it was really special to share it with my girlfriends.  They all have young kids so getting together is challenging.  Weekends away are even more so but, when a girlfriend is going to be solo for her birthday, well, that's not going to happen on their watch.  And thanks to G, we all got treated to some awesome down time at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort in Clearwater.

Charlie's Angels ain't got nothin on us!  Afternoon beach walk....
I honestly didn't think I'd do much in the way of workouts this weekend but, the girls wanted to get out and enjoy the weather so I managed 2 runs in 2 days, which I normally wouldn't do but they were both short and one was nice and easy.   Two of the girls I trained with all the time during my Ironman days and one of them I currently train with from time to time in the summer.   We are all at different levels of ability now but we still love to get out and move and the fact that we got to do it together was awesome.

The girls flew in on Thursday night and we stayed up until 4:00 am drinking and talking.  The only reason we actually went to bed is because we wanted to get to the beach before noon, ha ha.  That didn't end up happening as we were all moving a little slowly the next morning.  40+ year olds need more than 3 hours sleep to function properly.  But we made it to Clearwater around 12:30 and went straight to the hotel.  We couldn't check in yet but they let us go to the pool.  We had all put our bathing suits on before we left the house so we were pretty much ready to get our lounge on.   I haven't spent a day lounging by a pool in a very long time.  It was divine.  Add to that, the conversation, the laughter and the cocktails and it was a perfect way to spend my birthday.  We had big plans for the evening but, the previous nights shenanigans killed us all.  We like to think we can still party with the best of them but alas, we can't at least not two nights in a row, ha ha.  I was sitting at dinner and I could feel the wind leaving my sails.  It had also gotten very cold and we were all underprepared for that.  So we were back in the room by 10:30 pm and I think we were all in bed asleep by 11:30, ha ha.  But not after I had my "cake".

Ice Cream Sandwich for the WIN!!!
Saturday morning we all wanted to get out and do something so 3 of us went for a run and one of us went for a walk.  Sue and I didn't want to run on the beach so we opted to run together.  She was my training buddy when we did Ironman together and we had matching everything.  So it stood to reason that we'd match today.

Team Awesome out for a run in Clearwater
We spent a large part of Saturday lounging by the pool.  The girls really wanted to go to Target so we said we'd do that on our way home.  Apparently we treat shopping like any other endurance sport ha ha.  We were in Target for over 2 hours.  We went in when it was light, came out and it was dark.  The drive home was good until we got closer to Clermont and the street lights disappeared.  Nothing like driving on a pitch black two lane highway.  I missed one turn but the GPS corrected itself and we were back in business.  We got back to Clermont and made it to 12:30 am before we all pulled the pin.  G got home about 30 minutes later so I saw him for about a minute before I fell back asleep.  I slept for about 7 hours.  G was up when I got up so we got to hang out together for a bit before the girls got up.  The plan was to go down to Waterfront Park and The Energy Lab so we could go for a little run and have a coffee.  It was a cooler day and the wind was brutal.  But that didn't dampen our spirits.

Then it was another trip to Target to pick up things that they opted not to get the day before, ha ha. We hit up Panera for a late lunch then it was back to the house so the girls could pack up.  Then we all hung out on the couch with G and chatted.   There was so much snacking and drinking this weekend, I think I put on all the weight I lost after I got here, ha ha.  But, it was worth every sip and every bite.  I had SO much fun.  It was exactly what my heart and soul needed.

To top it all off, I got a text from one of my athletes telling me she nailed her race at the Chilly Half this weekend.   That was a great way to cap off an already amazing weekend.

I knew that this weekend would be all about the hang time, not the training time so I tried to make sure I got most of my volume earlier in the week.  We had a lot of humidity earlier in the week so I got totally killed with most of my workouts.  I was also due for a recovery week so the timing was pretty much perfect.  This is how my week rolled out:

Monday:  2286m swim

Tuesday:  2544m swim, 90km bike at pretty much tempo effort in the wind and humidity, then a 5km run off the bike at noon in 32 degree temps.  Yup, I died.  My Garmin said it was going to take me 48 hours to recover from those workouts.

Wednesday:  31.9km ride.  10 minutes into this ride my Garmin recovery advisor beeped to tell me that my recovery was only "Fair".  Ha.  No kidding.  I could feel it in my legs.  I had hoped to ride 50km but realized that was ambitious so I cut it short.

Thursday: 10.77km run.  I was up super late on Wednesday so I skipped my swim (again!).  I at least managed to get another run in with Shannon.

Friday:  OFF

Saturday:  7.5km run with 3km at tempo pace.  This felt pretty freaking awesome other than the wind.

Sunday:  Easy 6.5km run with the girls.

I didn't manage a single strength training session which is disappointing but this week I'll get back on track.  On Tuesday I'm planning to ride with the same group I rode with last week, this time I'm going to take my tri bike out so we'll see how that goes.  And I need to get back to swimming.  I also need to get some more open water swims in as we have a race coming up in a couple of weeks and I know that water can get really choppy so I need to practice.

Swim:  4830m

Bike:  122km

Run:  24.77km

Total time:  8h 33 minutes

How was your week of training?  What was one of your most memorable birthday celebrations?  I think this one will go down as one of the best ever.

This quote perfectly sums up my weekend:

"Best friends are people you don't need to talk to every single day.   You don't need to talk to each other for weeks but when you do, it's like you've never stopped talking...."

Have an awesome Monday!  

Coach PK

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A New Start + Another Trip Around the Sun

Remember my sneak peak from Monday?  Well, I'm happy to say that my new website is LIVE.  You can check it out here.   You may also notice a slight change in the header of my blog as well to tie in with my coaching website.

Everything was done by Chick and Owl Design.  They are a brother and sister duo and the sister, Katie, happens to be friends with my little sister for what seems like forever.  They were great to work with and I am thrilled with the end result.   I highly recommend them.  

The original plan was to launch on my birthday but they delivered early so I launched yesterday (happy early birthday to me!).  Quite frankly it's just as well because I spent a lot of time on social media yesterday and given that my girlfriends are coming in tonight, I don't think I would have been able to devote the time to do much if I was playing hostess. 

Tomorrow is my 46th birthday.  Forty Six.  WTH.   I still feel like I'm 30 something.  My body tells me otherwise every damn day but that's part of getting older, right?  Normally I'd have something clever to post like last year but alas, I do not.   Perhaps later on next week so I can reflect on turing 46.  

I did get a second early birthday present in the form of a meeting (along with an actual present - yay!).  It's not every day you get to meet Instagram / Facebook friends from another country but today I got that chance.  I finally got to meet my IG friend Shannon.  Today was an absolutely fabulous day.  We went for a run (as you do!) and she took me around her neighbourhood.  The conversation was easy.  I felt like I've known her for years.   It's funny how social media makes you feel that way about people.  And of course, as social media runners do, we had to document it.  You can see Shannon's post here.  So much laughing.  It was a lovely way to spend a morning and I'm grateful I got the opportunity.   I also can't believe that I got that much air!  ha ha ha.

Happy Almost Friday!

Coach PK