Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thank You Puerto Rico

What an incredible country and great place to have a holiday, it was a long trip but well worth it. Definitely the highlight of the trip for me was the race and all the training leading up to it made experiencing the hot humid conditions bearable. The first couple days Amber and I took in the the expo and after dealing with having our bike boxes ripped through by the stupid US transportation security administration and them not putting it back together properly, we got our bikes in working order. It was great being at the expo, we bought a lot of stuff that is usually hard to get at home this time of year and after swimming in the lagoon and biking the run course we were ready to go.

The race was an age group wave start which is fantastic when you're up against 1600 athletes and it made the swim bearable in the small Condado lagoon. Swimming in salt water is always an adjustment but I told myself that I was going to race smart, not hard. I stuck to someones feet for the first 700m and although I thought I could have been swimming faster I stuck to my strategy and stayed with him until he started to fade. The turn around was at that 700m mark and I found someone else with a similar pace and stuck to his feet for another 700m, he must have been cursing me because I was tapping his toes most of the swim and I was not going to pass. With 500m left to go you swim under a bridge and the waves from the ocean knock you back so I saved my energy until that moment and then I took off. It was a great swim and I finished in 31.24. There was a 400m run to transition and I came out of the water sprinting as hard as I could to the stadium where our bikes were parked. I ended up I missing the bike rack and I was looking for my ride for a little while.

The bike course was fantastic, very fast on the way out and very windy. I was continually passing people and I felt like I was having a great ride. I stayed on top of my nutrition, took 5 gels, 10 salt tabs, when through 4 bottles. I started to fade during the last 20kms but with no outdoor riding leading up to this race I think that was to be expected. I finished the ride in 2:22.23, one of my best times ever for a 90km bike and I still had legs to run (for a little while). I don't normally wear a cap when I run, I find the hat tends to trap the heat on my head and does more harm than good but it was just soooo incredibly hot out there I had no choice. I was either going to suffer some serious heat stroke or find a way to run with the hat.

The run was a lot more hilly than I expected and I was dumping water and ice on myself whenever I had a chance. I started out strong running 6:04 miles but slowly the course and the heat wore me down and I faded to 7:30 miles and finished out-on-my-feet like a boxer that's just gone through a 12 round war. A 4:29.18 is fantastic for me during March and it'll give me something to build on for the rest of the season.

The remainding week Amber and I spent soaking up the sun, eating and drinking too much, recovering from our race and checking out Puerto Rico. It is a very populated country (4 million people on one tiny island) but we had a great time and will look at doing something just as fun next year. We were both kind of eyeing the 70.3 in Oceanside for 2012 but there is a lot of time to decide before we commit to a schedule next year. I'm glad we took a winter break and now we're both re-energized to get back to work and be productive members of society again.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We're Outta Here!

Yes the time has finally come, Amber and I haven't taken a real vacation since we were married in Hawaii, October 2008. We've earned this well deserved break and we both need it, physically I'm exhausted from training very hard for the upcoming San Juan 70.3 and mentally I need to get away from work for a while, as I'm writing the market is down 200 points today... ugh. I'm glad I don't let the market determine my mood, otherwise I'd always be miserable.
Time for a break, not a lot of people (other than my training friends) would consider a 1/2 IM a holiday but I'm really excited not only to test myself but to see how Amber feels out there. She's never ridden her new bike outside and has been away from swimming and biking for quite a while. Her training has gone extremely well I just want her to have a good day and have fun, that's what I'm planning on doing. I think sometimes I work and work and work towards a goal and I tend to put too much emphasis on the result when it's the work leading up to it that is the rewarding part. The race is just the celebration of all the hard effort (and liters of sweat) that brings you towards that goal.

There is going to be wave starts during the swim, which is great and the bike course is a little long (93k) so I'm not expecting a PR but I'd like to still do well. In the end we're not going to make more or less money based on my time so it really doesn't matter, I'm glad I'm not a pro.

The one thing that's always tough when Amber and I fly somewhere is not being able to take our big boy with us. Harley definitely knew something was up last night when I was packing and this morning he was pouting... we'll miss you buddy.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tired of the Basement

Yes it's been a very long winter all my pictures of Amber and I training are of us spinning or running in the basement because it's too cold outside. I feel sorry for Harley most of all, he is so excited when I get home with the faint hope that I will take him for a run like I used to but when he sees me get my biking gear on he lowers his head and walks off to bed. I wish it was nicer out so I could run with him more than our regular Saturday jog with the boys. He lives for Saturdays now and he knows exactly when it arrives, he's stuck to my butt all morning while I get ready and won't let me leave his sight. He's gained a lot of weight over the winter and I'm afraid that's my fault too, my guilt has manifested with feeding him more treats and now he's a very heavy 91lbs. However spring is just around the corner and I know I'll be out there with him at least three times a week and I'm sure Amber will take him out a couple times a week too. The treats have stopped and now he's just allowed his kibble and maybe one treat a day, we'll whip him into shape in no time.

We have a very nice basement to train in and I can't say that the environment is not motivating but there comes a point when you just need to get outside again. Part of the reason I love this sport is the fact that I can be outside and see a lot of the surrounding country by biking or running. The days are getting longer and I can tell that spring will come it's just a matter of time. Amber and I are feeling good lately, something has shifted for me mentally I think it's just the fact that I know I will be doing a 1/2 IM in a week and I better be in good shape by now. All the time spent in the basement is going to be worth it when I'm out there swimming in the warm San Juan lagoon, biking the beautiful countryside and running along the coastal waters of the Atlantic. The taper has begun it's an easy run tomorrow, and a relaxed Saturday swimming for 40 minutes and biking for only 2 hours. Wow what am I going to do with all the extra time on Sunday?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Part of the Process

I'm not sure why I decided to do a 1/2 IM in March but after training very hard for 4hrs in the basement and at the pool on Sunday with Amber I definitely feel like we are earning our holiday. It is freaking hard to train for a hot and humid race in the Caribbean when you live in Northern Canada and the temperature is 60'C different. It was -30' with the wind chill in Grande Prairie on Sunday and it was +32' with the humidity in Puerto Rico. It is going to be an absolute sufferfest when I try to race in those conditions but I'm doing everything I can to prepare.

Saturday I had a nice easy run with the guys and H-dog for 11k and then a coffee, it was a little nicer that day but the recent snow made for some tough footing. After coffee I went home and ran another 10k on the treadmill and felt pretty good, I was half thinking about getting on my bike for an hour because the previous week I hadn't done much training. However I thought it might be better to save myself for Sunday and Holy Hell was that a good decision.

Sunday Amber and I made our way to the pool and had a great 50 minute swim, I was really impressed with how fast Amber is getting after a few good weeks. She said she can feel herself getting smoother and faster and it's obvious when seeing her in the water. I had a good swim too and I finally feel like I can push a little longer, 1k before I start to die. After our swim we had a 3.5hr ride scheduled but I refuse to go longer than 90k for a 1/2 IM, I ended up picking a course that was 95k so I did that. I was dressed in a long sleeved jersey and leg warmers and immediately I was sweating heavily and didn't stop for the next three hours. I felt fairly good until about 2.5hrs and then my legs started cramping badly and at the end of the ride I could barely get off my bike, every muscle in my legs locked up and I was rolling on the floor in pain. Needless to say I couldn't do my 15 minute t-run and I spent the rest of the day in bed or on the couch. Let's hope the race goes better than that, I've put in a lot of hard work and I want to at least feel decent afterwards. After this I can say that I will definitely not do an off season Ironman, 1/2 IM is okay but I can't imagine spending 6 hrs on the trainer in the middle of winter. Thank God I have Amber to keep me motivated to get me through 3 hrs.