Friday, September 30, 2011

Thank You Weather Gods

I don't know too many people that are going on a holiday to Hawaii and are hoping for cool weather but if you're planning on doing an Ironman there, you definitely are. An average of 20-21'c for the next week- 10 days is absolutely perfect. I'm feeling rested and recovered from IMC, I haven't done much training but it's a little late to be doing much now. If anything I've been too relaxed going into this event, I've kind of feel like I've been training very hard since January and now my body is starting to rebel. I got sick right before IMC and I'm just getting over another flu so I've just been resting. I'm still really looking forward to being in Hawaii again and spending time with Amber, we've both been working so hard that we see eachother for an hour before bed and that's it. Two days of prep before and then a great race, probably in the wind- which I'm definitely trained for and then a week of vacationing.
14 Day Trend: Kailua-Kona, HI
Oct 1 21°C 20°C Light rain
Oct 2 22°C 20°C Cloudy with showers
Oct 3 22°C 20°C Isolated showers
Oct 4 22°C 21°C Scattered showers
Oct 5 22°C 20°C Isolated showers
Oct 6 21°C 20°C Isolated showers
Oct 7 21°C 19°C Isolated showers
Oct 8 20°C 19°C Cloudy periods
Oct 9 20°C 19°C Variable cloudiness
Oct 10 20°C 18°C Sunny

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thanks for the Company Babe

This weekend was my last big training block if you can call what I've been doing after IMC 'training.' I did my crazy sauna ride on Friday night and that took quite a bit out of me even though it was only 30 minutes. I've been trying to get back to normal Ironman training but I was pretty tired going into this weekend. I planned on doing a long ride on Saturday and after waiting for it to warm up to at least 12-13'c I headed out around noon. The wind was absolutely screaming, which seems to be the norm in GP and great practice for Kona. I can't say I like riding in the wind but if I want to get stronger for Hawaii I better get used to it. The first 20kms to Sexsmith were in a cross wind so no real problems but then I made the turn west straight into a 40km/hr headwind and stayed there for the next 55kms. It was so tough to remain focused and not let the wind get you down when you look at the computer and you see 19-20kms/hr. I ran out of GU Brew so I was forced to used some Heed and my stomach did not like the change. After 75kms I made the turn south and had a cross wind again but at least I was moving a lot faster, I was getting really hungry but couldn't stomach any more Heed or gels so I decided to stop in Beaverlodge for lunch at 100k. I planned on doing at least 150k but by the time I was in Beaverlodge I was so drained and cold that I made the bailout call and asked Amber to pick me up which she thankfully did.

Sunday I woke up early (for a Sunday) and was in the pool at 8:30, I was happy to see a bunch of people there training again and it motivated me to get going. I pounded out a 3km swim and sat for 30 minutes in sauna, it seems that after 20 minutes whether I'm biking or sitting it's incredibly tough to get my core temperature down. I had a quick lunch and headed home to get ready for my long-run. At this point I was feeling pretty run down, my plan was to get in at least 30kms but my legs were really heavy and I didn't want to push my luck when it comes to staying healthy. I was already feeling swollen glands during the week and after the long-cold bike ride I was pushing my luck.

Amber felt like getting out of the house so she decided to join me on her mountain bike while I ran. We did the first 5kms with Harley and it was so awesome to run hard with the whole family. I think I may have been pushing the pace a little too hard but I wanted to try to do 30kms in 2 hours (or as close as I could get to 2 hours). I was on track when we dropped H-dog off at home and Amber and I went out for the rest of the run. Running into the park it was nice to have company and talk to someone while running my normal pace. I could tell I was pushing pretty hard when I started talking less and less and started hurting more and more. By the time I was at about 13kms I knew it was going to be tough to do the whole 30k today. I tried to stay steady and as smooth as possible but there were times when my heart rate just spiked a little to high and I needed to take a 20-30 second walk break. Amber was great out there, really supportive and kept giving me positive feedback while allowing me to go whatever pace I felt comfortable with. The end of the run was getting fairly ugly but I stayed within my pace and took short walk breaks and still managed to get in 26kms in 1:51, that's about a 14km/hr pace which is a little slow for just a run but great practice for an Ironman run; mentally and physically tough.

The rest of the day I was wiped out and my body is definitely telling me to take it easy this week. I can tell that if I pushed it any further this weekend I would be really sick. I need to be very, very careful to just stay healthy and not worry so much about training for the next three weeks. Nothing I do now will make me any fitter but I can ruin my race by not resting enough. I'm going to do a few 'easy' workouts this week and have some short sharpening up bricks this weekend. That's all I feel like I really need and then it's off to Kona for some fun in the sun!

Friday, September 16, 2011

So You Wanna Go to Kona... Are You Sure?

"...In the end, people either have excuses or experiences; reasons or results; buts or brilliance. They either have want they wanted or they have a detailed list of all the rational reasons why not." -Matt Erbele, It Takes Time to Get Good.

I was determined to do something to acclimatize a little before Hawaii. The last time I tried to do a race in high heat and humidity I suffered more than I could ever imagine, I do not want to go through that again. I had the idea of setting up my bike and trainer in the sauna at the Leisure Centre (good or bad idea has yet to be determined). I thought I could spin easy for about an hour- I only lasted 30 minutes. I'm so grateful we live in a city where they are willing to work with a local amateur athlete and they allowed me to do this.

Everything started out great but as I was setting up I couldn't believe how quickly I was starting to heat up, by the time I started riding I was already sweating. I could only spin easy and my heart rate was in the 150's, after 20 minutes I needed to take a break so I sat outside for a few minutes. I cooled down a little and jumped back in but immediately my heart rate went right up to the 160's so I needed another break after 5 minutes. I knew I was nearing the end of my ability to stay in there but I wanted to do at least 30 minutes so I jumped back in for another 5 minutes. I was barely turning the pedals but I was suffering just to get through the final 5 minutes.

At the end I couldn't believe how hot everything was, my water was hot, my bike was hot, the trainer was hot and I went through 3 bottles in 30 minutes. My clothes were so wet that I looked like I just got out of the pool. I'd like to get in a couple more rides in there and everyone at the Leisure Centre seemed pretty interested that someone was crazy enough to do something like that. One more big training weekend and then I'll start to taper things down.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Where Did Everybody Go?

Last week I started to get back into the routine of training a little bit but I couldn't help but shake this feeling like it just didn't quite feel the same. Normally thoughout the summer all the triathletes in town are showing up at the pool around the same time, out on the trails running or organizing bike rides. Now that it's September and IMC is over it feels like I'm out there training all on my own. I had no problem having a lane to myself during Friday and Sunday's swims (which is normally unheard of in this town). I was riding all by myself on Friday night and even though I did meet up with a bunch of athletes on Saturday morning for a run, they were in 'off-season' mode and I had to go out and do an additional 10k.

It's been a bit of a battle over the last couple weeks trying to keep myself focused on the fact that I still need to train. I know there is not a lot I can do to become fitter before Kona but I don't want to be out there 6 hours into the race and find out that I didn't do enough to maintain my endurance. I'm still feeling rough after IMC and I haven't had a good training session yet but I'm hoping with a little more rest, an easy build and recovery I'll be able to pull this thing off in 4 weeks.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ironman Canada 2011

Talk about a nerve wracking experience leading up to IMC 2011, my training was going along absolutely perfect leading into this year's event; I was swimming better than ever, biking consistently and strong in terrible conditions, and running on par with some of my best years. Two weeks before the race I did a swim-bike workout with Amber and I wasn't feeling quite the same as I normally felt, I chalked it up to pre-race tapering fatigue but only did a 90 minute swim and a 60km bike and then pulled the plug. I wanted to try and get in 120km ride but there was no way I had the energy to get through it on that day. The next day I geared up for my long run and I couldn't believe how tired I was, normally a 25km run at this time of year is no problem. I should be able to bang it off in 90-100 minutes but I was struggling to hold a fairly slow pace and every 5kms got harder and harder. I told myself that it was good practice for an Ironman run and finished the 25kms in 1:40.

The next day I was SICK, body aches, weakness, stuffed head, the works! ARRRGGGGHHH, not now! Two weeks before the biggest race of the year and I was out, I spent the next two weeks resting, hydrating and doing everything I could think of to get back to normal. The Thursday before the race I was still feeling rough and I was certain I was going to have to pull the plug and not race this year. Finally my body started to come around on Friday, my energy started to return and by Saturday I felt normal again, other than a little sinus congestion. Early Sunday morning I was on the start line again with 2800 other athletes and so excited to return to Ironman racing after a year off.

The start of an Ironman is always a gong show, swimming with 2800 other people at the same time is a rough way to start your morning. You get kicked, punched, crawled over and anything else you can think of that you don't want to happen while swimming. However this year I was trying to be a little more strategic than in past. Previous races it was just a matter of pushing hard and getting through the swim without getting damaged in the chaos. This year I followed the same strategy I used in my half ironman races and I just looked for swimmers that were about the same pace and I stuck to their feet, in the draft. I got knocked around a little between a few people but for the most part it was a perfect swim for me, conserve as much as possible while still pushing to keep the heart rate within the 'race zone.' I got out of the water and was ecstatic to see that it was my best swim ever; 59:47! Sub-hour swim, wow I wasn't expecting that, awesome way to start the race.

The transition went fairly smooth other than the fact that I had my heart monitor on to make sure I didn't overdo it and when I grabbed my bike I was at 165bpm. Anyone who has trained with me knows that a 165bpm for me is a 400m sprint pace, not something you want to see in an Ironman, but I said that it's probably just due to the quick swim and run to the bike so I spent some time trying to get that down. The first 64kms of the IMC bike are awesome, incredibly fast and that day we had a huge tailwind that was pushing us all the way to Osoyoos. I was doing 45km splits and the first 45kms flew by in 1:08! Woah, somedays I have a hard time doing 40kms in that time but I'll take it. My heart race was under control (but still in the 140s), my perceived effort was good, I could talk and breathe normally, I was taking in over 300 calories every hour (Gu, Maltodextrin, and gels) and my stomach was cooperating for the moment.

The tough part for me in the ride is climbing up Richter Pass, I get passed by a lot of riders and it's difficult for my ego to take but this is Ironman and you have to put your ego aside and be smart all day. I kept telling myself that this is not your speciality and if I'm patient my time will come. I went through the rollers and the out and back without much of anything exciting happening but when I started to climb Yellow Lake I ran into my first problem of the day. I tried to stand up to climb a gentle slope and just flush out the legs a bit and immediately my quads started cramping badly. I thought it might just be a temporary issue so I spun for a while and tried again and OUCH! Yeah I can't stand up, okay I had a problem how was I going to fix it. It wasn't a calorie issue I was taking enough calories to keep me going and I didn't feel bonky, I didn't think it was a hydration issue I was drinking more water as the day got hotter and then I realized that it was probably a sodium issue. I looked at my clothes and sure enough I was covered in salt, I had two salt tabs in each bottle, about 12 grams for 180kms which normally is more than enough. However I was drinking a lot more water than I normally do so I was probably diluting the salt in my body. I immediately took 3 more grams I had as an emergency and I'm so glad I did, I had to struggle up the toughest part of Yellow Lake with cramping legs but fortunately I had Steve and Ross there running beside me yelling and they pushed me all the way up that hill. Without those guys I might have just stopped and waited for my legs to recover. I got to the top and my legs started to come around on the descent, by the time I was riding back into town they were tired but not cramping anymore. I finished the bike in a slower time than I wanted but still fairly good for the day; 5:21.24 beginning the marathon in under 6hrs and 30mins is a great way to set yourself up for a sub-10 hour race and I was under that mark.

I started the marathon at the hardest part of the day, around 1:30 and the heat was unbelievable!! It must have reached 33'-34'C that day but at least the humidity is not an issue in Penticton. I've done a race where the heat is bad and there is nothing you can do to cool yourself because of the humidity (Louisville) and it's aweful, you suffer through this death march on the marathon and what ever you try to do to get yourself going fails miserably. That day I was dumping ice in my hat, drinking coke and water, taking gels, making sure I was taking salt and my legs were holding together. I still had to stop and walk through the aid stations but I was running pretty well in-between them. I had a few guys pass me on the first half of the marathon but I stayed patient and I passed a lot of them on the second half. The final 10kms of the race were absolutely excrutating, I was hurting from every point in my body but I made sure I didn't give up before I was in the finish shute. I kept up with the coke and water and unlike 2009 I didn't bonk in the final mile, I actually picked up my pace on the final 800m and I passed one person. It wasn't a fantastic marathon time for me but on a day like that I'll take the 3:17.15 and final time of 9:44.32. I finished 5th in my age group and 29th overall, in 2009 I also placed 29th overall but with a better time so I know the day was tougher this year.

I needed two I.V. bags after the finish and I was completely spent, I had no idea where I was or what I was doing and it took me over half an hour to find our car afterwards. I qualified for Hawaii again and this year Amber didn't let me off the hook when I told her I didn't want to do another Ironman again in 6 weeks. I signed up and after some rest I'm sure I'll be excited to be going to Kona with Amber. It's such a beautiful place that it's great to have a reason to go back and being a part of the Ironman World Championships is going to be incredible! We spend all winter watching DVDs of Kona on our bikes in the basement and now I get an opportunity to be in the race, awesome I can't wait...