Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday Musings: Stepping outside my comfort zone


They say a picture is worth a thousand words, well this one pretty much sums up my week.   This week wasn't about any hard, gut busting workouts (there were a couple of those).  Nope, this week was about me stepping outside my comfort zone personally.  

Most of you that know me personally, probably see this fairly talkative, bubbly person that seems to have no problem when it comes to talking to groups of people.   You couldn't be more wrong.  I am petrified of speaking in front of crowds.  When we had to do speeches in grade school, I could write something witty and funny but the minute I had to get up and read or talk, I felt extreme panic and would fumble my words.  I had no choice in grade school, it was part of your marks, but moving forward in life, I always liked to keep to myself in groups.  Even in my old career, I would get sweaty palms and butterflies in my stomach when we had conference calls or pre-pro meetings that I had to speak at.  

When it comes to one on one work, I'm good.  That's my wheelhouse.  I feel I make great connections with people when it's one on one.  As a coach that's important.  But, not all coaching is one on one.  This year I told myself I was going to step outside my comfort zone and put myself out there.  The first time I did that was when I overheard two women chatting about training for a triathlon in the change room of my old gym.  I asked the one girl what she was training for and we started a whole conversation that ended with me telling her I was a coach and giving her my contact info.  (Hi Trish!!)  My next "outing" was joining the Toronto Triathlon club as a coach to lead the West end ride group.  That first night was so scary for me and I was so glad to have Eric with me.  Leading that ride on Tuesday nights has been one of the most rewarding things I've done.  It's challenged me to be creative and adaptable.  And it's helped to somewhat alleviate my fear of speaking to groups in public.  

The scariest, yet most rewarding moment for me came this past weekend.  Thanks to Miranda, a friend and fellow coach, I was approached by John Salt from Multisport Canada to be the honorary Race Director for the Toronto Island Women's Only Triathlon this past Saturday.  It was an opportunity for me to give back to the community and to put myself out there.  I was so nervous, I hardly slept the night before.   People kept telling me I'd be great but I didn't believe it.  Once I got down there and started working with John and company, the fear started to dissipate.  I got to work the finish line of the race and honestly, that was probably one of the most satisfying experiences I've ever had.  I was hoarse by the end of the morning.  John was great about the whole thing, he said if I wasn't comfortable talking in front of people just to let him know.  I said I would say something.  I had to, I couldn't bail.  Time to step out of my comfort zone.  Steve Fleck introduced me and handed me the mic and I said a few words and handed the mic back to John.  The hand off was a little awkward but a few people that I knew that were down there said I was great.  It was a big victory for me and kinda has me thinking that perhaps I should take some kind of public speaking class.  One more thing to add to my list of things to do, ha ha.

The other big thing I did this past week was take my new bike out for a spin.  G was only too happy to go for a rip with me on the grass and single track trails around the Humber path.  I went whipping around things that only a year ago I wouldn't have ever even thought of attempting.  The new steed, officially called Roll The Bones,  is amazing.  I am really looking forward to taking some CX classes in the fall.   Bring on the mud, grass and barriers!


There are a couple of other crazy things that I've got lined up that are going to take me WAY outside my comfort zone.  One of them is still in the works but the other is a done deal.  G and I along with 4 of our friends, have signed up to do Hawaii 70.3.  It's our friend Rick's 50th birthday next year and this is how he wanted to celebrate.  Soooo, we're off to Hawaii for two weeks next year.  This means I really need to get over my fear of swimming in the ocean.  I am freaking petrified.  Mostly because of the unpredictability of the water and the potential for swells.  I get motion sickness so I am very worried about NOT being able to get through the swim.  Good thing we're going back to Florida in February - I've told G we need to go swim in the ocean to practice.  Even if I do it a couple of times that's better than nothing!  

Like I said, this week was a big one in terms of stepping outside my comfort zone!  Training wise this week, things got shuffled around or missed completely so I could take advantage of the opportunity to be a race director.  I didn't do a long ride, nor did I do a long run.  But that's ok.  This week is my last big week of training before I start to taper for Placid and it's going to be a good one for sure! But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let's look at how this week rolled out...

Monday: OFF  

Tuesday:  7km run with my pal David, followed by a short 20 minute weight workout in the a.m.  TTC hill ride in the p.m.

Wednesday:  2600m swim

Thursday:  Awesome 30km ride around Ellis with Morning Glory in the a.m., followed by a 9km run with David.  

Friday:  25km ride on the cross bike.



Saturday:  OFF.  Meant to do my long run but was exhausted when I got back from RD duties.

Sunday:  Toronto Island Sprint.  Raced NAKED (ie no garmin).  750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run.  Although according to sports stats the distances are VERY different.  There will hopefully be a race report this week.  Suffice to say a fun time was had!

I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend.  Congrats to all the folks that raced this weekend and a huge shout out to all those that finished Ironman Mont Tremblant yesterday.  Enjoy your well deserved rest!

Happy Monday!

~ Coach PK







Saturday, August 19, 2017

Like a Fine Wine, Better with Age: Bracebridge Sprint Race Report

Given that I hadn't raced a sprint in 2 years, I had no real goals going into this race other than I wanted to have a faster bike split that my previous 2 years.  I have put a lot of time and effort into my cycling over the last year so I expected to see some kind of improvement.   Other than that I figured my swim probably wouldn't change too much and my run, well who knew.  I knew it wouldn't be as fast as previous years because I haven't been running that fast.  So this was a test to see what I *could* do.

The last time we did this race, we drove up the morning of the race.  This year the start time seemed to be much earlier than previously so we opted to drive up to Gravenhurst the day before and stay the night.  We stayed at the Residence Inn right on the water.   We wandered around downtown Gravenhurst and stopped for a drink at Sawdust City Brewery where I had a most delicious Raspberry Radler.  We made our way back to the hotel and went to grab some dinner.  It had gone from a nice sunny day to overcast and cloudy.   The forecast was calling for a thunderstorm and this time the weatherman got it right.  After dinner grabbed an ice cream and watched the storm roll in.

G watched some TV and I actually sat down and finished a book I'd been reading since MARCH.  We were both in bed asleep just before 10 am.  We were up at 5:15 so we could pack up and hit the road by 6 am.  We stopped at Tim Horton's for a coffee and some carbs and made the 20 minute drive to Annie Williams Park in Bracebridge.

The last time we did this race everyone seemed to show up at the same time so registration got so backed up they had to start the race later.  This year was much better.  We were also there fairly early as well.  We get set up in transition, picked up our kits and got body marked. I ran into two of the women from the Lake Placid Cycling Camp, Carolan and Jennifer.  It was Jennifer's first multi sport event - she was doing the swim bike.  I chatted with them for a while and then went back into transition to finish setting up.  G came over and told me that he saw Paolina and that she was racing.  I started laughing and knew that there was going to be at least one person in my AG that was going to crush me.  I saw her setting up and ran over to her and gave her a big hug.  She asked me what AG I was in and I said hers and she said Oh great.  "Like you have anything to worry about" I said.  It was so nice to see her.  She has such great energy.

She was running late setting up so G and I went into the water and started our warm up.  I did a bit of swimming but felt pretty good as I had done a bit of a dynamic warm up on shore (I am learning this is a good thing for me!).  I did a few pick ups in the water and then found G.  Once we stopped, I quickly realized that this swim was going to be difficult.  It had POURED the night before so the river was high.  This meant that there was a very strong current.  So strong that if you stopped swimming, it would push you down river at a substantial clip.  Fun!  Well, it would have been fun if I had been on a floaty with a beer.  But, I had to swim back into that current.  Oh well.  Nothing you can do about that except moderate your pace accordingly.

Because the swim takes place in a very narrow river, it's a time trial start, which I love.  Even then, it still gets pretty congested and today was no different.   I got in line with the rest of the folks in my age group and waited to for my turn to go.  3-2-1 and I was off.  The first half of the swim flew by, literally, because we were swimming down stream.  I practiced my new stroke / breathing technique and managed to swim relatively straight.  Sweet!  I got into a pretty good groove once I passed a few people.  So much so that I actually managed to pass the first turnaround buoy.  I remember seeing it but I guess because the current was so strong, I overestimated how far it was.  So I had to swim an a nice diagonal to try to get to the other buoy to swim back.

Once I got to the buoy it was like a traffic jam there were so many people.  I swam through a small pack and tried to stick closer to shore where you are less likely to be affected by the current. Swimming back was much more congested than the way out.  Probably due to the current.  I passed a lot of people and I felt like I was actually swimming fairly well.  I'm pretty sure I saw Paolina pass me with about 150m or so to go.  That totally didn't surprise me.  She is a strong swimmer.  Actually she's just strong, period, ha ha.

I finally turned around the last buoy and swam hard to the shore.  I ran up onto the beach and glanced at my watch:  14:53.  W.T.F.  My worst swim at this event.  I ran into T1 and thought I hit lap.  I pulled off my wetsuit, wiped off my feet, threw on my shoes, race bib and helmet.  I grabbed my bike and was off.   As I was running out of transition I realized that I had actually hit STOP on my watch.  So I hit resume, ran out of transition to the mount line on the bike and hit lap again.  One day I will get this right.  Ugh.  I had no clue how long T1 was but it seemed fast.

Sports stats times:  Swim:  15:18 (2:02/100m) and T1:  1:35, which isn't too bad for me!

I recall the bike being somewhat hilly but couldn't really remember much other than two good climbs.  Well, I was wrong.  It's very hilly.  There are two good climbs but there are a bunch of unpleasant rollers as well.  I went out hard, big chain ring, head down, hammering.  There was a fair bit of "on your left"for the first bit but then things spread out nicely.  I was so focused on the hurt I was feeling and the people in front of me that I didn't pay attention to the people coming back so I had no idea where I was in relation to Paolina.   I was riding hard.  My legs were screaming at me like they haven't screamed at me in a while.  I was actually dreading the run because I knew my legs were going to feel like garbage.  I passed a couple of ladies on the ride, but mostly guys that had started earlier.  I got passed by a couple of other dudes but no women.  Whew.  I knew G wasn't too far behind me so once I hit the turnaround, I kept my eyes peeled for him.  It didn't take me too long to see him.   He was about 3 minutes behind me which I figured he'd make up no problem so I was riding scared for sure.  I didn't want him to catch me.   I kept my head down and hammered away.  The next thing I knew I was turning back into the park.  I rolled up to the dismount line and jumped off my bike.  I really need to learn how to do a flying dismount because running in my cycling shoes is annoying and slow.  Things to work on for next year!

Garmin time:  20km:  36:31 / average speed 33.6 kph.  Sports stats:  36:48 / 32.6 kph.  Not sure how I lost a whole km per hour but whatever.  This was officially my fastest time on this course.  :)  What I was even more thrilled with / surprised by was the fact that my normalized power for the 20km was 215 watts and my watts per kg (W/kg) was 3.53!  Woohoo!

I ran into T2, racked my bike and pulled off my helmet and shoes.  I wiped my feet again and yanked on my running shoes.

T2:  53s - not bad, probably one of my faster T2's.

The run starts with an uphill and normally I will plow up this hill but I just don't have that speed right now.  So I ran up it but not all out.  As we exited the park there was a huge puddle and a lot of mud so I slowed down through there so I wouldn't slip.  Once I was through there, I got into a good rhythm and started passing people.  My legs actually didn't feel too bad.  The first km passed in 4:36.  For the first time ever, I didn't go out like gangbusters in the first km.  I was actually able to start picking things up and I felt stronger as the run went on.  I kept my eyes peeled for Paolina as I was running towards the turnaround.  I saw her when I was probably a good 600-700m away from the turnaround.  She was making her way back.  I yelled WOOHOO and she waved.  She had at least 1km on me, probably more.  I passed a couple of other ladies on the way back in but none of them were in my AG.  I was hoping that put me in second at least.

I made the turn into the park and ran down the big hill to the finish.  I'm always thankful that downhill is on grass because if that was pavement, it would be brutal on your quads, ha ha.

Me and my wonky arms! 

I crossed the line and hit stop on my Garmin.  I wandered back around and waited for G.  He wasn't that far behind me.   I was chatting with a couple of ladies at the finish when he crossed the line and came over to me.  We commiserated about our horrible swims and then went over to get some food.  I ran into Paolina and we sat there talking for ages.  I then ran into Meg, a physiotherapist that I used to see at Synergy.  I hadn't seen her in years so it was really nice to catch up with her.

G and I finally wandered over and got some food and then we sat down and looked at our respective times.  My Garmin said 1:15 and change which was wrong because I had stopped it in transition.  I skipped through everything to see what my run time was and it was 22:05.  Gary wasn't that far behind me.  We grabbed some food and then it started to pour so ran for shelter.  The rain let up shortly thereafter and G said he was going to get his stuff from transition.  I finished eating and went to look at results.  My overall time was 1:16:39 and I was second my AG and 3rd overall.  It wasn't my fastest time there but it wasn't my slowest either.  Paolina was 6 minutes ahead of me.  She was the women's overall winner which is totally not surprising.  She's such a strong athlete!  I looked below my name and who so I see, but G, listed right after me.  I beat him by 7 seconds.  W.T.H.  I didn't think that was going to happen.



We stuck around for the awards since G got on the podium as well.  When I checked the results afterwards, I noticed that 4 of the top 5 women on the overall podium were over 40.  OVER 40.  Heck YEAH.  Proof right there that like a fine wine, us ladies get better with age!


It's nice to see some new sponsors at the MSC races, F2C nutrition and Martin's Apple Snacks.  I sampled some F2C recovery product as well as their greens product and I quite liked both of them.  the greens product was especially good, no chalky or gritty taste and the flavour was really nice.  I need to get more greens in my life so that may be something I look an incorporating into my diet.

As usual the race was very well organized, the volunteers were awesome and the free finishing photos are always appreciated!   Next up, my favourite race of the series - Toronto Island.  Here's hoping there's no wind and the water isn't too cold!






Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday Musings: A new addition

Howdy Folks!

This past weekend was a BIG weekend of racing.  There was SeaWheeze in Vancouver, Steelhead 70.3 in Michigan, MSC Bracebridge Race weekend and Iron Girl to name a few.  I had a couple of athletes racing (SeaWheeze & the ENDURun Half marathon) and Gary and I also raced (recap to come this week!).    Hard to believe that there's only a few weeks left of the summer racing!  We've got yet another race on tap this weekend at Toronto Island.  And, there's less than 4 weeks until Lake Placid 70.3!

We had a pretty action packed weekend but that's what usually happens when we race.   We opted to drive out to Gravenhurst the day before and stay the night so we didn't have to get up at 4:00 am to drive out that morning.  After the race, we headed back home to Toronto.  By the time we got back, unpacked the car and showered, it was close to 4:00pm.   So much for Saturday!  Although I did still have enough time to get a bit of "shopping" in.

If you follow my IG stories, you will have seen a bit of video from my local bike shop, Wheels of Bloor.  I love those guys.   They have the best selection of bikes and they are the biggest Cervelo dealer in Canada.  Gary and I have bought all of our bikes from them.  The crew they have working there now are such a great bunch of guys.  Knowledgeable AND personable which is huge when it comes to bike shops.  I find that some shops are very knowledgeable but not always personable.  Anyway....that's my little shout out to the WOB guys.

You probably see where this is going right?

You don't?  Well, let me clear it up for you.  We added another "member" to our "family".  Yup,  I bought a new bike.   How many bikes does one need?  The right answer is N+1, ha ha.  That now makes 8 bikes between G and I.  I never thought I'd see the day that happened.   I have a road bike, a tri bike and a mountain bike and now I have a cyclocross bike.  By mid summer, I'm usually planning for the off season, and this year I wanted to try some cyclocross racing.  Now that my bike handling skills have improved, I think I'm ready to try a race or two.

Here he is.  It's a Felt F65x with a matte black frame with red, grey and white accents.  Dead.  Sexy.

He also needs a name.  In keeping with my current tradition of naming all my bikes after Rush songs, I have a couple of names in mind.  G thinks I should call him By-Tor since my road bike is named Snow Dog (as per the song By-Tor and the Snow Dog).  I kinda like Xanadu, but perhaps that's a bit too feminine.  I also like Roll the Bones and One Little Victory.  Granted I will probably never ride this to One Little Victory but I still like the name, ha ha.


So that's the latest addition.  I may try to take it out for a spin in the park this week just to get used to how it handles but the real adventures will have to wait until post 70.3 just to be safe.

Speaking of Lake Placid, this was supposed to be a bit of a scale back week for me given that I was racing on Saturday and for the most part, it was just that.  I kept the intensity and volume low all week, knowing what I was in for on Saturday.  Saturday hurt like hell and I thought for sure I'd be in rough shape on Sunday but I actually felt alright and I got the all clear from my HRV app to do some intense training if I wanted to.  My original plan was to ride 3.5 hours and run 50 minutes.  The 3.5 hour ride turned into a 4 hour and 20 minute ride, followed by a 1 hour run.  The ride was tough.  We climbed almost 950m according to G's Suunto (which I trust more for correct elevation vs my Garmin) and I was riding my TT bike instead of my road bike.  Needless to say, I'm feeling much better about my climbing on my TT bike, ha ha.  The run off the bike didn't happen right off the bike, more like 25 minutes off the bike but my legs were still heavy from the ride and it took me a while to find my stride but once I did I chugged along nicely.  That was the big workout of the week so let's look at the rest of my week.

Monday:  OFF

Tuesday:   26km with the TTC Crew and a 25 minute weight workout

Wednesday:  2450m swim

Thursday:  8km run in the a.m and 28km interval ride around Matheson, 15 minute weight workout.



Friday:  OFF - drive up to Gravenhurst, have a beer, dinner, ice cream, watch a huge thunderstorm, go to bed by 9:30 pm.  Oh the exciting life of a triathlete.



Saturday:  RACE DAY!  750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run.

Sunday:  119.2km ride, followed by an 11.4km run.



Totals:

Swim:  3254 m
Bike:  195 km
Run:  24.5 km

Total time:  10h 43 minutes

Still a big week but definitely scaled back from my previous week.   I had another big week mapped out but there may have to be some shuffling that takes place due to a very unique opportunity.  That's all Imma gonna say about that for now.  :)

Congrats to everyone who raced this weekend!

Does your bike have a name?  What do you think I should name my new steed?

~ Coach PK 




Friday, August 11, 2017

The Importance of Having a Health Care Team

Many of the athletes I coach are fairly new to running and triathlon so when things start to hurt and muscles start to get tight, they often ask me what I recommend.  Depending on what the issue is, my answer varies.  Over the years, I have assembled a team of people that I trust with my athletic health.   There are so many different types of therapies out there it's hard to know where to start so I'm going to break it down for you.



I'm going to classify things in terms of injury prevention and injury rehabilitation, mostly according to how I've ended up at each practitioner.  There is definitely overlap with all of these therapists as many of them can help in the healing of an injury as well as the prevention of an injury.

INJURY PREVENTION

My go to for any sort of muscle (soft tissue) related aches, pains and tightness would be my RMT (Registered Massage Therapist).   If you're going to have ONE person in your health care arsenal, I'd recommend it be an RMT.

For other muscle and joint related issues, I go to a chiropractor.  Chiros get a bad rap a lot of the time which is unfortunate.  My chiropractor also does A.R.T (active release technique) and acupuncture so that is what I go and see him for 95% of the time.  On occasion I have some low back / S.I. joint issues so he will do the odd adjustment or joint mobilization work.

Another excellent practitioner to have on your health care team is an osteopath.  I like to think of osteopathy as a combination of massage and chiropractic treatment.  Osteopathy, according to Wikipedia is a "therapy that emphasizes massage and other physical manipulation of muscle and tissue and bones."  I've used osteopathy for low back and SI joint pain with a great deal of success.

INJURY REHABILITATION

Physiotherapists are the folks that 99.9% of injured athletes end up seeing.  A physiotherapist will help rehab your injury by having you work at building strength back up progressively and safely,  They will also help correct the imbalances or weaknesses that caused the injury in the first place.  That's why they have you do all those exercises.  That's why those exercises should ALWAYS be a part of your fitness / strength routine.  Your body will eventually revert back to the path of least resistance once you stop.



A good sports medicine doctor is also a very important person to have on your health care team.  If they're really good, they can get you slightly faster access to imaging.  Sometimes they offer alternative treatments like PRP injections, cortisone injections etc.   Unfortunately you usually have to wait anywhere from a couple of weeks to sometimes a couple of months to get an appointment, depending on the doctor.  A sports medicine doctor will also be able to refer you to a surgeon or other specialist if required.

An RMT for massage, a chiropractor for A.R.T and acupuncture and a physiotherapist for when everything goes to hell in a hand basket.

But where do you find these people?

Word of mouth.  Ask your coach, or other athletes who they would recommend.  I'm in the west end of the city so if I know my athlete is west end or willing to travel a bit, I'll always recommend someone on my healthcare team.

If you don't know any other athletes, do a google search and read reviews.  I feel it's important that you see someone at a sports medicine clinic as they are usually much more attuned to the needs of an athlete.  In an ideal world, your practitioner is an athlete as well.

I've seen a lot of therapists over the years.  Sometimes it can take a while to build a network of people that you trust with your health.  Right now I think I have a pretty solid team of people that help keep me healthy.   These are the folks that help keep me healthy.

David Lamy, RMT at Synergy Sports Medicine
Peter Lejkowski, Chiropractor / ART / Acupuncture at Pivot Sports Medicine
Lauren Roberts at The Running Physio

Other folks that I'd also recommend:

Kris Sheppard, Chiropractor at The Runners Academy 
Mark Casmiri, RMT at Pivot Sports Medicine
Miranda Tomenson, RMT at Swansea Massage Clinic
Xsenia D'Abramo, Physiotherapist & NKT practitioner at Annex RMT

Having a group of therapists that know you, your sport and your body is so important to staying healthy and to addressing and treating injuries when they come up.

Do you have a group of people that you trust?  

~ Coach PK






Monday, August 7, 2017

Monday Musings: The Holiday Monday Edition

Happy Holiday Mondayyyyyy!

Well we are officially one week into August and I am coming off my biggest week of training since the Lake Placid training camp back in May.   I actually feel pretty good today other than some stiffness in my legs and a tiny headache.  I'm chalking up the headache to the pint of beer and two glasses of wine I had last night, ha ha.

Remember last week when I said that G and I would probably save our short course racing until next year.  Well......that has changed.  We've signed up for two back to back sprint races.  We're doing Bracebridge sprint on Aug 13 and then my favourite, the Toronto Island Tri on August 20th.  We weren't sure the Toronto Island race was going to happen due to all the flooding on the island but they reopened the Island last Monday so the race is a go!  I haven't raced a sprint since 2015 so I'm bracing myself for the hurt.  I suspect I'll be taking a couple of days off afterwards because I'm just not used to racing at that high intensity.  Actually let me rephrase that.  I'm not used to RUNNING that hard these days.  Should be interesting to see what I can manage off the bike.

Looking through my training log, I've definitely put in 3 solid weeks of training.  That being said, I have yet to ride more than 83km on a long ride, ha ha.  I've spent a fair bit of time on my bike, just shorter rides.  I've also made a concerted effort to get into the pool and open water more.  I've been working on my stroke in the pool and I'm seeing a bit more speed but I'm still not catching the water well when my hands enter the water.  I swim much better with paddles but obviously I can't race with those so I have to keep working at it.  That will be my focus for the off season for sure.

This week is a recovery week for me so that means dialling back my volume and a bit of my usual intensity.  We are racing at the end of the week so will be a speed workout.   I'm starting to add a bit of more targeted run speed work back into my training.  My glut and hamstring have been feeling better, still not 100% but definitely better so I'm testing out my legs with a little bit of faster running.  Nothing too crazy but enough that I am getting a bit of harder workout in.  Adding this extra intensity would probably explain why I was so tired on Saturday.   So much so that I gave up on my workout.  Shit happens.  If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's when I need to listen to my body and pull the pin on a workout.

With that, let's look at my big fat week of training....

Monday:  OFF

Tuesday:  Double ride day:  30km with MGCC in the a.m. and 18km with my TTC group in the p.m.

Wednesday:  2150m swim in the a.m.  9km run with 3x1km repeats at 4:20/km followed by a 30 minute weight workout.

workout = CRUSHED
Thursday:  45.9km ride with Morning Glory.

Friday:  2600m swim, followed by a 25 minute weight workout and then a 2.5km run to test out my race day shoes sock less.



Saturday:  1263m swim at the Quarry followed by a 28km ride in the howling wind.  That was enough.  I was exhausted.   I went to bed just before 9pm that night and slept until 5:30 am the next day.  I woke up rested and ready to tackle a very big day.



Sunday:  83km easy ride with Morning Glory followed by a 17.5km run.  The ride was easy (avg hr was 110 BPM, Garmin T.E was 1.6).  The run was good until about 13km and then my legs were tired.  But that's exactly the kind of workout I needed.   I found that in Tremblant my legs started to fatigue by the 14km mark so I wanted to make sure I got some longer runs done off the bike.




Totals:

Swim:  6013m
Bike:  206km
Run:  29.06km

Total time:  13h 8 minutes.  Yowza!

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday Monday, despite the crappy weather!   I'm going to spend the rest of my day off getting some baking and meal prep done.  Enjoy whatever you get up to today!

~  Coach PK 





















Friday, August 4, 2017

Vo2 Max Test vs. My Garmin 920xt Predicted Vo2 Max

Heart rate monitors have come a long way since they first arrived on the scene back in the 80's.  I didn't start training with one until 2002 when I decided to do my first marathon.  At the time they were super basic.  You got time, distance and your average and max heart rate.  There was no GPS capability until Garmin released the Forerunner series in 2003.  Now, the variety of watches and features is incredible.  One thing I have noticed is that the heart rate monitor strap has become an option in many of these packages.  An option???  If you're going to spend upwards of $500 on a fancy watch, why not make sure you have all the bits and pieces so you can take advantage of all the features?   Ok, mini rant over.

One of the features that Garmin came out with years ago when they introduced the Garmin 920xt and the Garmin Fenix 2, was an estimated Vo2 max feature.  I thought this was a pretty cool feature and often wondered how accurate it was.  

What is Vo2 max and why is it important?  Vo2 max "is the maximum rate of oxygen consumption as measured during incremental exercise, most typically on a motorized treadmill.  Maximal oxygen consumption reflects the aerobic physical fitness of the individual and is an important determinant of their endurance capacity during prolonged sub-maximal exercise" (Wikipedia).

So, the higher your Vo2 max, the fitter and potentially faster you are.  I say potentially because a few things can come into play that can affect your speed:  1) running form and your physical limitations and 2) your mind / tolerance for pain.  There have been several studies over the last few years that essentially say that our brain dictates our effort and will cause you to ease up even when you have a bit more in the tank.  Knowing that, you really need to give it 110% during one of these tests. 

Based on the Vo2 max determined by my Garmin and the predicted race times associated with it I should be able to run an 18 minute 5km, a 39 minute 10km, a 1:25 half and a 3:03 marathon.  If I look at my PRs for all those distances, I'm at 20 minutes for a 5km, 39:40 for a 10km, 1:27 for a half and a whopping 3:16 for a full.  The only one even remotely close was my 10km time at 39:39.  I like to think I know how to suffer so I don't think I can chalk it up to my brain (but who knows).  The only thing left is running form / physical limitations.  My running form is not ideal so I'm sure I'm losing a fair bit of time because of that.  Or, Garmin is grossly overestimating my abilities (which is also possible).

At the end of July, I had the opportunity to do a Vo2 max test.  Surprisingly it was the first time I've ever had this test done.  I've had lactate threshold tests and lactate balance point tests done but never a Vo2 max test so I was curious to see how my Garmin info would stack up to the test results and to see where my fitness would rank in terms of my age group.

The test is usually done on a treadmill and you have to either wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth or, breathe through a tube with your nose plugged.  It's kind of like breathing through a snorkel.  It's not natural and it can feel quite claustrophobic.  I had a few moments of panic at the start but once I got my breathing regulated I was fine.  The test is a graded test so you go through various stages of exertion.  I started by sitting on a stool on the treadmill with the "mask" on.  Then I started walking for 5 minutes to warm up.  After the warm up the testers set the treadmill to roughly my 10km pace and I started running.  They said they were going to increase the grade 1% every minute.  I settled into a good pace and before I knew it, they were increasing the grade again.  One of the testers asked me about the speed so I told her she could up it a little bit.  So they increased the treadmill speed a bit.  I kept going and they increased the grade again.  And then again.  Each time they increased the grade, I had to point to a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) on a chart.  The grade was increased again.  My breathing was becoming more laboured.  I was definitely starting to work harder.  The grade was increased again and then again.  I had to signal when I thought I had one minute left.  I was really starting to labour.  The testers were both women and they were awesome at encouraging me to keep going. They increased the grade again.  That increase was it.  I signalled I had one minute left and fought with everything to keep pushing for that one minute.

Holy smokes was that hard.


Could I have gone harder?  Maybe.  If I wasn't breathing through a tube, then yes, of course I could have.  But that's not how this test works.

So, what was my end number:  53.1 ml/kg which puts me well above the norm in my age group.  It even puts me above the top end of the 25-29 year old age group.  I'm not surprised given that I'm a long time endurance athlete.  What I am surprised about is how close that measurement came to what my Garmin predicted.  My Garmin predicted a Vo2 max of 54ml/kg.  According to what I've read on various forums, Garmin has been pretty accurate in it's predictions.

The other thing that surprised me was my max heart rate, which came out at 184.  I have hit higher than this number in training both running and on the bike, which leads me to believe that I didn't give it my all in the test but that my head got the better of me.  My legs were just starting to feel that lactic acid burn when I signalled one minute left.  My lungs were burning and my breathing was laboured but in retrospect, I think I could have done one more minute, possibly even two.  That probably would have gotten me closer to what I suspect my max HR to be.

Why does all of this matter?  Well, as a training tool Vo2 max is helpful in establishing heart rate training zones if the test is administered by someone that knows how to do that.  It's also a good way to measure improvements in performance.  However, the key to an accurate test is to give it your all and that means pushing through your perceived limits.   You need to train your brain just as much as your body.

Have you ever had a Vo2 max test done?  What other types of performance testing have you done? 

~ Coach PK












Monday, July 31, 2017

Monday Musings: Where is summer going?

Happy Monday!  And hello last day of July.  What the what???  Yup, it's the first day of August tomorrow.  Summer is flying by.  I'm pretty sure I say that every year.   The funny thing is that we haven't over scheduled ourselves this summer.  In previous summers we've raced almost every weekend.  Last year that didn't happen at all so I figured we'd have the itch to do that again but not so.  I think the fact that we've got a big late season race has kept a lot of our usual short course races off our radar.   I am thinking that next year we'll get back to some regular short course racing.

Despite our lack of shorter racing, G and I have been enjoying summer.  We've had just the right amount of chill out time, family time and fun non training time.  I think that balance has really helped us feel like we're not always training.  We had a conversation a few weeks ago about how we both feel like we haven't been training per se, even though we have been.  Training has never gotten to the point where it's become a chore or that we dread it.  I think we've been doing this long enough that we really recognize the need for breaks and adjustments and are ok with taking them.  Although, sometimes I think age dictates the breaks, ha ha.

This past weekend was my first open water swim since Tremblant and my first long ride since July 2nd.  Yup.  Almost 3 weeks of nothing longer than 35km.  I figured it wasn't going to be awesome but I was pleasantly surprised.  My swim coach has changed my stroke slightly so I was curious to see how that would translate in the open water.  Instead of bilateral breathing, my coach now has me breathing to one side every stroke for 3 counts, then three strokes with my face in the water, then back to breathing every stroke.  I experimented with switching sides while I was swimming, just to help me sight a bit better.  I swam almost 1900m and was pleasantly surprised to see my overall pace at 1:49/100m vs. my normal 1:55/100m.  And that was swimming at a comfortable pace, not pushing it.  I don't know how much faster I'd actually go given that I don't have a variety of speeds in the water, ha ha.  But it was nice to see some improvement!

I promised myself this time around I'd spend more time on my TT bike and I'd do more bricks.  During the week I'm riding with my cycling club, Morning Glory, so I'm on my road bike, but I still try to do a run after I ride.  It's much harder to run off a road bike than a TT bike.  I've also added a short strength routine into my training, especially since I have to work on loading my hamstrings to deal with that lingering tendonitis (which is getting much better btw).

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

Monday:  Off from workouts but did a V02 max test.  That experience and comparison to my Garmin predicted V02 max will be up on the blog this week

Tuesday:  Double ride day!  28km with Morning Glory in the a.m. and  22km in the p.m. with the Toronto Triathlon Club

Wednesday:  2150m swim followed by my 30 minute strength routine.

Thursday:  It rained so the Morning Glory ride didn't happen.  Instead I spent 45 minutes (20km) on the trainer watching Game of Thrones and then followed it up with an 8km run at 1:30 pm.  Holy crap was it ever hot.

Friday:  I ended up skipping swimming as I had a massage the night before and was still fairly sore from it.  I had a lot of work done around my shoulders and they were tired.

Saturday:  1883m open water swim, 74km ride that resulted in a few Strava QOM (!!!) and a 6.2km run off the bike.






Sunday:  16km run, 22 minutes of strength work, 2500m swim in the outdoor pool!

Yup, it was a pretty big week and I'm feeling it this morning.  There will be much stretching and foam rolling throughout the day!

Totals:

Swim:  6533m 
Bike:  144km - only 6 km short of my weekly mileage goal.   Arg.
Run:  30.3km

At least I hit my swim and run targets!

Total time:  10h 41 minutes

I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend!  Good news if you're in the GTA - Toronto Island is OPEN, which means that the Toronto Island Tri & Ontario Women's triathlon weekend should be a go!  Get on out and RACE LOCAL on August 20 / 21!

I'm off to tackle my To Do list but I'll leave you with this thought....




Find your passion and work for it!  

~ Coach PK




Monday, July 24, 2017

Monday Musings: Trying to get back on track

Hi ho!

I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend!  I spent it cheering and celebrating birthdays with family.  It was a big triathlon weekend here in Toronto.  The 5th annual Toronto Triathlon Festival was held on Sunday.  I had two athletes racing and I knew a TON of other people racing as well so I hopped on my bike and went down to do some cheering.  They had pretty much perfect conditions other than the really strong east wind.   It was overcast and not too humid.  I did feel a bit of a cool breeze and some rain while I was watching the swim but that didn't last long.

I'm not gonna lie, I was having some FOMO sitting there watching.  Funny because when G did it back in 2012, I remember looking at the channel and saying there was no way in hell I would ever swim in that water.   Yesterday it didn't look so bad.  Clearly I've come a long way, ha ha.  That being said, it was still fun cheering people on.  The Toronto Triathlon Club had a HUGE contingent of people out to try to reclaim the club championship, which they did handily.  YEAH TTC!

And I'm happy to say that both my athletes CRUSHED IT yesterday.  Both gals were grinning from ear to ear every time I saw them.  I know Courtney will post a race report sat some point (no pressure Courtney, ha ha) so make sure you check that out.  And Charlotte is now officially addicted.  YES!  One more person that has been brought into the fold, he he he.  It was also great to see some of my TTC hill crew out there kicking butt!

Happy finisher!  
Proud coach with a very happy athlete! 
These last few weeks have been a flurry of activity and a bit of inconsistency.  Looking through my training log last week I realized that I hadn't done a long ride since July 2nd.  Annnnddd...guess what didn't happen yet again this weekend.  FML.  We were out late on Friday night and then sat around Saturday  morning waiting to see what the weather would do.  When we eventually got out, it started to rain.  UGH.  I only rode for an hour and 10 minutes but I made sure it was a good ride.  I opted to do my long run almost right after that.  An hour and 15 minutes on my feet.  This week had been going SO well.  That being said, it was still a pretty good week.  Let's see how it unfolded, shall we!

Monday:  2700m swim.

Tuesday:  Double bike day!  35.8 km with Morning Glory in the a.m. and then 28km with TTC crew in the p.m. in High Park.  I'm definitely getting my fill of hills on the bike!

Wednesday:  3100m swim, 5km run, followed by a very quick 15 minute upper body / physio routine

Thursday:  30km with Morning Glory, followed by 7km with my friend David.  My legs were toast.

Friday:  2200m swim

Saturday:  33.7km ride followed by a 13.5km run

Sunday:  30.5km ride around High Park and down to the Toronto Triathlon Festival.

Totals:

Swim:  8000m
Bike:  159km
Run:  25.6km

Guys, this is the FIRST time in WEEKS that I've actually hit all my weekly targets.  WOOHOO!

Total time:  11h 4 minutes

My glut / hamstring soreness is still persisting.  My chiro suspects I also have a bit of bursitis in my glut.  I am a bit of a mess.  But it's not at the point where it's preventing me from being active.  I found that running slower on my long run felt ok vs. when I run fast.  Obviously I had wanted to add some speed work in but that may not be an option for me.  But we'll see how things progress with the exercises.  Hopefully my hamstring routine helps calm things down.  In the meantime I've taped it and that seems to be helping.  I had a V02 max test this morning at U of T and it seemed to keep the pain at bay so that may be something I do on regular basis.  I'll be writing a post on my V02 max findings later on this week!

Oh and things to note - rehydrating with Pina coladas and wine is a bad idea.   After cheering at the TTF, I raced home, showered, stuffed my face and then we went out to my Uncles place for the annual Welch family BBQ.  When your cousin is a chef at North 44, you know it's gonna be good.   It ended up becoming an impromptu birthday celebration as several family members are celebrating "significant" birthdays this year.  So that automatically means silly head gear.
This is my dad - he turned 70 in June, ha ha.

This picture KILLS me.  The placement of the birds was totally by accident, ha ha.
Whatever training I did on Sunday was negated by the food and drink I had on Sunday.  But, it was totally worth it.  The food was amazing and the company was even better.  My face hurt from laughing so much.  Such an awesome way to end my weekend.


Congrats to everyone who raced this weekend!  What do you think about the fancy celebratory head wear and glasses??  

~ Coach PK 










Monday, July 17, 2017

Monday Musings: Dr. Google & The Notorious Niggle + some NEWS!

Oh hi!

It's been a couple of weeks since I've done a Monday Musings but I'm back!  It hasn't been a totally action packed week but there have been a few things that have happened over the last couple of weeks that I haven't actually written about.  I've been horrible at updating my Facebook page with anything as of late, probably because I'm spending more time on Instagram stories.  I have to get better at cross posting on my social media channels.  Anyway.....

Firstly, this happened:



Yup.  I passed my personal training practical.  I am now a certified Personal Trainer.  I can officially PUMP YOU UP.  It's something I've wanted to have in my arsenal for a while, it just took me FOREVER to get my shit together and organize my program and paper work.  Oh and practice everything.  I was SO nervous doing this but once I got going, I was ok.  I always seem to doubt how much I actually know.

Secondly, this finally happened:

The card is actually white, this photo doesn't do it justice but that's what happens with an iPhone pic, ha ha.

YEAHHHHH.....I finally got my business cards!  Woot woot!  I wanted to wait until I had officially passed my Personal training practical until I got these done and I'm thrilled with them!  Now when I have people ask for me a card I actually have something to give them!  Next up, getting a few more toys for the basement pain cave so I can start training people there.  I'm also going to be offering some mobile training as well where I come to you so stay tuned for pricing on that!

So that's my latest bit of news.

As for training, well, things have been a bit sporadic this week.  I had what I'm calling a "sinus attack."  It wasn't a full blown infection but it was definitely inflammation that knocked me sideways on Thursday.  I spent most of my day sleeping the pressure in my head was so bad.  I was better on Friday but still not 100%.   I went to bed early and got up early on Saturday to ride, only to still not feel awesome.  So I skipped the ride and went to the walk in clinic.  By the time I left the clinic, I felt totally fine.  The doc told me it was a viral infection vs a bacterial infection so he didn't think I needed antibiotics.  Instead I got a prescription for a nasal steroid which I haven't gotten filled yet.  What I do need to do is get to my family doctor and get a referral to an ear nose and throat specialist because this happens to me at least once a month and when it happens, I can't function.

Saturday wasn't a total wash out as I managed to do a double brick consisting of a 30 minute ride, 10 minute run, 30 minute ride, 10 minute run, followed by 15 minutes of core and upper body work.  I had a good sweat going, which was nice.  By the afternoon, my glut / upper hamstring was throbbing and my low back was also feeling nervy and tight.  This upper hamstring issue has been lingering for a long time now.  It's been really bad since Tremblant.  I went through my training log to see what seems to trigger it and it happens pretty much every time I run fast and when I ride my TT bike.  Which would explain why it was so bad on Saturday.  I rode by TT bike on the trainer and then ran pretty hard off the bike. I've been getting ART and acupuncture on my glut / hamstring and my ART guy said he thinks I may have a bit of tendinitis in my hamstring.  So of course I spent a large part of Saturday afternoon googling hamstring tendinitis.  FML.  I have pretty much every single symptom but they are usually gone by the next day, which leads me to believe that with some eccentric loading, avoiding my TT bike for a bit and either not running, OR keeping my runs very slow and very short OR possibly pool running, I may be able to manage it without losing too much fitness.   Ironically I didn't hurt at all after last Sundays insane run up a mountain so that kinda gives me hope that it's not that bad.  I do think it's a combo of my hamstring and glut that's the problem.  I have 8 weeks left before Lake Placid so I'd really like to keep myself together so I can get to that start line.  If it means taking a bit of time off my feet now, then I'll do that.  My low back was bugging me a bit on Saturday night so I opted to skip every workout I had scheduled yesterday (a bike and a long run).  Better safe than sorry.

So.  Where does that put me workout wise for the week?  Let's take a look shall we?

Monday:  OFF - I spent it in a car

Tuesday:  Slept in - my legs were still pretty sore from last Sunday.  Tuesday night I led the TTC group around High Park.  13km ridden as I spent a fair bit of time waiting for two folks that got lost.

Wednesday:  2150m swim

Thursday:  MGCC Edenbridge - 26km, which was actually more like 31km because I forgot to restart my watch after we stopped at Eglinton.  This ride was AWESOME.  It felt good.  It was hard but it didn't kill me.  I set PR's all over the route and I climbed Edenbridge in the BIG RING ALL 5 TIMES.  That has never happened! When I got home I ran 6km right off the bike.

Friday:  2100m swim

Saturday:  Double brick:  30 minute ride, 10 minute run, 30 minute ride, 10 minute run.

Sunday:  OFF - mobility work, stretching and hamstring work.  Firmly planted myself on the couch watching Le Tour and then again in the evening for the season premiere of Game of Thrones (who else watched - that opening scene was THE BEST!).

Swimming:  4250m
Cycling:  65.3km
Running:  10.5km

Total time:  4h 50 minutes

Here's hoping to a better week this week!

I had serious FOMO watching all the race pics / ride pics in my IG feed this weekend.

Who raced this weekend??  How did you do?  It was a perfect weekend for it!!







Thursday, July 13, 2017

I Ran Up a Mountain! CanadaMan Extreme Triathlon Guide report

Where do I start with this latest adventure?  What started as some drunken New Years talk with my friend Lauren, ended up being one of the most amazing things I've ever been a part of.  This past weekend, we went back to Quebec for yet another race.   This time it was the CanadaMan Extreme Triathlon in Lac Megantic.  I had never heard of this race but I knew of other extreme triathlons like the legendary Norseman in Norway and the Celtman in Scotland.

These races are all Iron distance races (or close to it) but they are done on courses that are extremely difficult in terms of elevation gain, terrain and sometimes even weather conditions.  They are also completely unsupported in that there are no aid stations on the course. You have to bring your own crew.  Unlike Ironman, athletes are actually able to receive outside help.  It was mandatory for athletes to have a crew.  For the bike leg, you had to have a support vehicle and for the run leg you could have either a support vehicle or a cyclist that stayed with you and for the last 8.3km you had to have a guide because the last part of the run course was up a mountain.  On a trail.  I thought it sounded like a challenge and 2017 was going to be the year of me stepping outside my comfort zone so I figured why not.  Lauren had originally asked me if I wanted to do the swim but that was a hard no.  Especially once I found out that you start at 4:30 am IN THE DARK. Let's change that to a HELL.  No.  So with me volunteering to do the run, G didn't think I'd want to drive to Quebec by myself (he was right, it was far!) he said he'd do the swim.  Which worked out for the best since he's a much better open water swimmer than I am.

I'll give you a brief synopsis of what this race entailed:

3.8km swim starting at 4:30 am in Lac Megantic.  It was a point to point swim.  
180km bike with 2600m of elevation gain.  That is a LOT of climbing.  
42.2km run on road, gravel and trail, finishing on the top of Mont Megantic, with 1200m of climbing, 900m of it happening in the last 8.3km.  

Insane?  Definitely.  

On a side note, I now understand why there are a lot of very strong French Canadian triathletes.  When you have nothing but ginormous hills to train on, it stands to reason that you’re going to develop some solid all around strength. 

We left Toronto around 10:30 am on Friday to make the almost 800km drive to Lac Megantic.  We made pretty good time along the 401 save for when we stopped at rest stops.  It’s summer holidays so these places were JAMMED.  What is usually a 15 minute stop max turned into at least 30 minutes in some instances.  Welcome to summer road tripping in Ontario.  We got stuck in rush hour traffic as we skirted Montreal and that set us back a good 40 minutes or so.  Once we got through that we were really entering Quebec farm country.  Cell service got spotty and places to stop were few and far between.   It was beautiful though.   Even when the rain started.  The clouds opened up and it poured hard for a while.  We started seeing signs for Lac Megantic.  I was curious to see what  the town was like after the disaster there 4 years ago. 

We drove in and passed through an older section of town, along the main street.  We came up to a set of railway tracks and it became very apparent where the accident had taken place.  One side of the town had old buildings and the other side had brand new more modern looking buildings along with nice manicured gardens and a lovely waterfront.  There was still a lot of open empty space that was fenced in.  Land that had yet to be developed I suppose.  This new part of town was lovely.  But it was very surreal.  As Lauren had commented, it was as if someone just dropped a brand new town in the middle of an old one.   I don't think it was an accident that they scheduled it very close to the 4 year anniversary date of the tragedy (July 6th and the race was July 9th).


Still some space for new buildings



Even though this event is a small one compared to Ironman (roughly 200 competitors) I can only imagine what the tourist dollars meant to local businesses and the surrounding area.  The Inn we stayed at was completely booked as were several of the other local hotels .  On race morning, the local Tim Horton’s was jammed.  I don’t know if they were expecting to have that many people come in.  But they handled it in stride and people didn’t have to wait too long for anything.   


For a first time event, it was incredibly well organized.   There were a few hitches here and there, mainly due to language, but for the most part it seemed really well executed and the community definitely rallied around it.  

G and I brought our bikes with the grand plan of doing a ride on the Saturday but the forecast was not in our favour.   There was a small window of sunshine that we took advantage of and drove over to Mont Megantic with Lauren's dad Jim.  The plan was to ride the 5+km up the mountain.  By the time we got there, the clouds had rolled in and I bailed on climbing up it.  I didn't want to descend in the rain so I opted to just ride around the surrounding area.  I'm glad I did because holy crap, I struggled on the surrounding roads, let alone trying to climb up a mountain.  As I was out on the road, I could hear thunder in the distance.  I turned around and started heading back to the parking lot at the park entrance.  As I was riding back up the road, it started spitting.  I saw a cyclist coming towards me on the other side of the road.  As they got closer I realized it was G.  I asked him what happened and he said he had started redlining as soon as he started climbing and it got worse as he went up the climb.  He didn't think it was smart to continue pushing so he turned around at about half way up the climb.  I asked him what happened to Jim and he said he was still planning on going up.  So we pedalled back to the car just as the rain started to get heavier and heavier.  By the time we got back to the car it was raining pretty steadily.  I had suggested that G go back up the mountain and check on Jim so he loaded up his bike and I took mine into the park office.  Just after G left, the skies opened.  It was like a monsoon there was so much rain and wind.  If you saw my IG stories, you would have seen the insanity.  I sat inside and waited and about 15 minutes later I see Jim come flying into the parking lot.  He was completely drenched.  He came running into the park office with his bike and G showed up in the parking lot shortly thereafter.  I can't believe that he rode down the mountain in that downpour.   He said it was a bit of a slow go but was glad he did it.

We loaded up our bikes and headed back to the Inn.  By the time we got back the rain had stopped.  Of course, ha ha.  We showered,  got ourselves organized for the next day and then headed out for lunch.  The mandatory athlete briefing was at 3:00 pm so we went into downtown Lac Megantic and had lunch.  We met up with the rest of the team, sat through the briefing trying to figure out what was happening.  I could piece some things together because I understand french.  I can't speak it any more but I still have a pretty good understanding of words so I get the gist of what people are saying.   After the briefing we went over race logistics and then headed back to the Inn to get changed and head out for dinner.  G had to be up at 2:50 am to be down at the Arena for 3:30 am, which also meant that I had to be up.  So we wanted to be in bed early.  We wrapped up dinner by about 8:00pm and then headed back to the Inn.  G and I were asleep by 9:30.  I slept really well and woke up around 1:00 am to go pee.  I fell back asleep right away and the next thing I knew G's alarm went off.   We dragged our butts out of bed, G got himself sorted and we made our way into downtown Lac Megantic.

The hockey arena was a hub of activity.  G got his wetsuit half on and we went into the gymnasium to await instructions.   Finally, just after 4 am they announced that we'd be starting the walk down to the swim start.  We all started filing out of the arena into the parking lot.  I looked up to see a full moon.  It was beautiful.  The night was quiet except the footsteps and the odd bits of conversation.  We followed a boardwalk along the outskirts of the new part of town.  There were a bunch of locals along the path that came out and were clapping as the athletes walked by.  The local church was a lit up in a variety of different colours.  It was stunning.  The boardwalk was lit with little bamboo torches all they way to the water.  It really was a pilgrimage.

As we got closer to the water, I could hear people cheering.  I was shocked to see the crowd that had come out to see the racers off.  For a small town, there was a lot of people.  G handed me his shoes and his jacket and he zipped up his wetsuit.  I kissed him good luck and he wandered down to the start of the water.  I went around to fence to get a better view of the start.  There was a huge spotlight on the shore which cast enough light to illuminate the water at the foot of the beach.



There were some announcements and then they counted down to the start.  The horn went off and arms started flailing.  I figured I'd have about 1h - 1h 15 minutes to grab a coffee and get to transition.


It didn't take me too long to get over the T1, I think getting my coffee took longer, ha ha.  I was rewarded with this lovely shot when I arrived.  I found Lauren and saw Wade waiting in transition.


At 1:05 G still hadn't arrived so I was a little concerned.  I noticed the water was choppy at the start.  It was very windy.  So I suspected that would be a bit of an issue.  G showed up 7 minutes later for a 1h 12 minute swim for 3.8km.  Slower than he had anticipated but he said the water was choppy.  Wade headed off on the insane 180km trek and we went to go get breakfast.  Wade figured he'd be between 6-7 hours on the course depending on how bad the hills were so we had some time to kill.  After breakfast we managed to spot him pass the driveway to our hotel.  Once he had gone by G and I headed back to the room where I promptly fell asleep and G watched F1.



Lauren's parents were Wade's crew on the bike and Lauren's dad got some awesome shots of him and course.   Look at the climbs!



Best race sign ever!!!


Lauren had set up a Garmin live track so we'd know when she started running.  I had finished packing up all the goodies into the trail pack so I was ready to go.  I did a bit more work on training plans and then we headed into town to get some lunch.  Lauren texted me to let me know how Wade was doing.    He was cooking along on the bike given the amount of climbing.  G and I finished up our lunch and headed back to the room.  I was getting antsy.  So we packed everything up and opted to head over to T3 early.  I'm glad we did because it was packed.  We had to park on the road vs in the parking lot at the base of the mountain.  The transition point was obvious - it almost looked like a finish line.  I spent a lot of time running back and forth to the car, trying to get my legs warmed up and to calm myself down.  I was really nervous.  I had no clue what kind of trail we were going to end up on and I didn't want to slow Lauren down.

The Garmin live track was perfect.  We were able to track Lauren as she got closer so I had a pretty good idea as to when I'd need to be down at T3.  As she got closer, I grabbed the two extra bottles she wanted from Wade's mom, Patti, and I went down to T3 and waited.  I heard the announcer say Equipe Blood Sweat and Beers and then he said the team names so I figured Lauren would be around the corner any minute.  She rounded the bend and I could see on her face that the last bit had been tough.  Wade handed her a pepsi and she slammed that down.  She didn't want the bottles I had so we left them and we took off into the trail.

The first part of the trail was single track and not terribly technical but that changed quickly.  Lauren said her legs were tired so we slowed things down.  We chugged through the single track and the terrain started to change.  Things also started to get a lot steeper.  We were heading into a lot of rocks.    We went from running to climbing.  It was tough.  We were literally going straight up.  I could see why people were using poles.  Our first km took us almost 11 minutes.  Our second km took us over 22 minutes.  We also stopped for a bit a this point.  Lauren was hurting.  I don't blame her.  This course was no joke.  She had already gone through a really tough part earlier on around 28km that involved scaling some rocks.  Now she was back in the thick of it in the woods.   We pushed along, scaling rocks and sloshing through mud.  My trail shoes were getting a proper christening out here for sure.

We knew there was a small downhill in the course before it started climbing again and that couldn't come soon enough.  This was mentally taxing.  It was like climbing switchbacks up a mountain on your bike  You can't see the end, just turn after turn of uphill.  We scaled more rocks and we started to see the tree line thin out a bit.  Sure enough we came out into an opening with a stunning view of the valley and forest below.   The crazy part?  We weren't even close to being done.  We were just over 3km in.  Of course we couldn't pass up the opportunity to take a selfie.  We checked in with the two volunteers that we passed and headed back into the trail.

We were losing it a bit at this point.  And we still had a long way to go.
We went right back into all the mud and rocks.  I vaguely remember passing a sign that said 1000m.   It's no wonder my ears were popping, ha ha.  We eventually came out into another open space.  It looked like the top of a ski hill.  There was a big cross at the top and the view was amazing.  We found the blue trail flags and were pleasantly surprised to find that we were now running on a lovely undulating gravel trail.  We picked up a lot of time cruising along here, especially since it was mainly down hill.  Which meant that we were going to be climbing again eventually.  We enjoyed the downhill while we could.  Eventually the gravel trail ended and it turned into single track again.  This is where Lauren was at home.  She had gotten a second wind and was flying along this path.  I am not the most agile so I started to fall back.

It was muddy, rooty, twisty and turny for a long time.  The climbing was gradual so we didn't really notice it.  We caught another team as we went along.   That spurred us on to pick up the pace.   We had done a lot of descending and not much in the way of ascending.  That changed relatively quickly. We started scaling rocks and picking our way around tree roots while going up once again.  We could hear snippets of voices and what sounded like the finish line.  I glanced at my Garmin and we were at 7km.  We were close.  All of a sudden we came up on another team.  The two guys stepped aside and cheered us on as we passed them.  Lauren and I were booking it.  We found the uphill to be much better than the downhill.  We could really hear the announcer now.   We turned a corner and there was a random dude on the trail cheering people on.  He was super high energy and we high fived him and thanked him for being there.  We were so close.   We could hear the announcer clearly now.  We scrambled up some more rocks and saw an break in the trees.  We came out along the side of the road on the way up to the observatory.  There were a few people there cheering.  The road was pretty much straight up but at least it was road.  It was also SUPER windy.  Lauren ducked behind me so she could conserve some energy.  The road wound around towards the top and as we made the turn, we saw the finish line come into view.  There were people everywhere.  Lauren's husband, Wade, came running towards us.  I knew Lauren was going to get emotional.  It had been a long tough day and she said when she saw Wade she was pretty sure there would be tears.


The three of us jogged along towards the finish line.  As we got on to the finish line red carpet and they started to announce the team name, Lauren grabbed my hand and I'm pretty sure she had Wade's hand as well and we crossed the line as a trio.

G met us at the finish line and the team got their medals.  What a day.  What an experience.  That last 8.7km took us 1 hour and 52 minutes.  It was hands down the hardest run I've ever done.  But it was also the most amazing.  I'm so proud of Lauren, Wade and G.  That was a race of epic proportions and they crushed it.



After we had gotten back to our rooms to shower, they found out that Blood Sweat and Tears ended up being the second place mixed relay team out of 19 teams!  That is pretty freaking awesome.

I am so glad I volunteered to do this.  This took me way outside my comfort zone and, I actually enjoyed myself.  So much so that in our post race texts, I told Lauren that I want to do some trail running in the off season.   More adventures will result from that I'm sure!

I will leave you with the elevation chart of the last 8.7km....






What do you think folks?  Would you attempt something like this solo or as part of a relay?

I can honestly say that I have zero desire to do an extreme triathlon.  I don't mind suffering but only for a short period of time, ha ha.

Massive thanks to Jim, Lauren's dad for all the awesome pics!

~ Coach PK