Monday, April 30, 2007

Sage Words from a Clubmate

"There are only four months until Ironman so I'm going to train as smart as I can."

Sounds blindingly obvious but, considering how hard I've been going on my long rides and runs, something I needed to hear. I need to smarten up and sloooow down.

As well as deciding yesterday to take these words to heart, I also concluded that post workout naps are a very good idea. They'll make me even more boring (Saturday's sched will now be ride, run, pilates, stretch, eat, shower, nap - with me being ready to socialize at about 5pm) but the upside will be that I'll be far more pleasant to be around when I do socialize.

Four months - yikes!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Ticky Tacky Tiki Tour Ride

Saturday's weather was spectacular! Beeeeooootiful sunshine, nice breezes, no rain, not too hot - perfect riding weather.

I met the group at Cuppa Joe in Kits. We rode past scenic Kits Beach, over historic Burrard Bridge and then had the opportunity to admire the ocean view from the English Bay side - the harbour dotted with tankers and sailboats and Vancouver Island visible in the distance. We then went through the jewel of the city, Stanley Park, and over the iconic Lions Gate bridge. From there we took Marine Drive out to Horseshoe Bay and then up the Highway to Cypress, stopping at the first lookout to admire the view then turn around and head home.

As I ticked off the list of great Vancouver places we through or past I felt like we could have sold tickets to tourists as this was the perfect "why Vancouver is awesome!" tour.

Aside from the above, other highlights included:

  • Stephanie made it over Lions Gate Bridge (huzzah!)
  • My new bike computer worked
  • I felt strong and relaxed throughout the ride
The ride stats?
Duration: 3:35:42
Distance: 81.60 km
Top Speed: 63.??kph

After the ride I did a 35min run. Not my best run of the year but considering I'd done my first real climb of 2007 I was pretty happy with how my legs held up.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

3 mile time trial

Time: 23:13

Splits: 1st mile 7:52, 2nd mile 7:42, 3rd mile 7:40

Avg Pace/Speed: 7:44/mi, 1:56/lap, 4:50/km

It was wet and cold and rainy and I was tired and cranky and feeling like last week's cold was coming back for an encore. On my way to the track I decided to go in with low expectations, this workout was going to be more about toughing it out than setting a record.

At the end I was very surprised to be so close to the time of my last 3mi TT, considering how I was feeling 12 seconds slower is a totally reasonable time.

For the first mile it was a real challenge to stay focussed, I kept having to get the mantra "I'm going to die, I'm going to puke, I'm going to pass out" out of my head. It had a great rhythm so this was tough! I did manage to wrestle my thoughts into a more positive vein, thinking " head up, engage the abs, drive with the knees, catch Joyce, head up, shoulders back, pass Doneen" etc.

The second mile felt reasonably okay and I could relax and be comfortable in my running form, but the last mile was hard. I was given a kick for the end when Doneen passed me just before I finished lap #11 and I spent all of lap #12 trying to catching her. Keeping pace (almost) with someone who runs a sub-4 marathon is a nice boost to my ego.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Crazy Swim

This is the nutty swim course for the Cultus Lake Tri - for the Olympic race we have to do this twice! Not so good for those of us with an impaired sense of direction. I can go straight all day but make me start turning and I'm lost!

At least swimming is the one thing I've managed to do this week. I seem to be seriously low on energy and dedication, so far having missed a run and last night's ride. My sister is in town so tonight we're going for dinner and I'm missing the 32km time trial. Training-wise I think this week is a write-off, I'll take what I can get from it and get back on track next week.

In the way things tend to work in the world of tri training, a bad training week coincides with a great social week. "Coincides" might be the wrong word, it implies there's no cause and effect relationship going on. I've had a great week catching up with all sorts of non-tri people: my friend from waaay back when had a birthday bash on Friday, watching Saturday's hockey game turned into a pre-party warm up (I warmed up but skipped the party), yesterday my Dad was in town so we went for lunch and for the next few days my sister is in town so we'll be going for sushi and possibly catching the game tonight.

Know what? I can have a slack week of training, this is good for the soul!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Call to Action!

I want my parents to set up a blog for their photos so I can 1) see them as and when I please and 2) show them off to other. Yes, those are thoroughly selfish reasons but blogging is easy and their pictures are great.
Here are some samples of my Mum's recent photos from Steveston. Loyal blog readers (all four of you!), feel free to add your voice for the call for the Thompson photo-blog (Thomphoblog? blotoson?)!

Stained glass window in Steveston

Finn Slough

Sunday, April 22, 2007

What's Left?

This morning I was calculating now many more races I have left this year now that I've done Delta. At first I was thinking, "I only have a couple of races until Ironman." Then I started to do the math. Between now and August 26 I will be doing the following races:

  • Three Olympic distance tri's
  • One half Iron tri
  • One 4km swim
  • Maybe one 3km swim

Four months, six races. Nooo, I'm not addicted to this sport. Really!

Delta Surprise

I had a surprisingly spectacular race. I had major morning gong show moments, was saved by a an awesome clubmate, discovered (as yet useless) superpower, and had a really fun time.

But first things first - my results! I would have been thrilled with 1:25:00 and finished in 1:20:45, eleven minutes better than last year's time.

My splits were:
Swim (700m): 13:24
T1: 3:46
Bike (20km): 37:27
T2: 1.05
Run (5km): 25:04

My pre-race was a total gong show but somehow everything worked out - I left the house late then had to come back as I'd forgotten something at home but there was no traffic and I arrived at exactly the time I'd planned. I went to set up in transition and realized I'd forgotten my transition towel (my super-tacky and very bright beach towel has been with me at every race except this one) but I got a highly visible spot in transition so no need for it. I had to go back to my car four times for stuff I forgot, but my heat started late. I forgot goggles but Colleen had an extra pair because she'd just read an article that said you should take two to races. I seriously owe her!

Amusingly, when Colleen and I were rushing from the pool to get the goggles, Stephanie saw the two of us and yelled out, "Alison, what did you forget?" My reputation precedes me!

Once I finally got in the water everything went smoothly. I decided to just be loose and relaxed in the water and managed to get through most of the swim with no crowding issues at all (the swim's in a 25m pool and get a bit butty). I'm getting much better with crowds in the water and figuring out where to be and how to get around people and this was a good affirmation of that. i think my superpower may also have helped me be relaxed, but more on that later.

On the bike I got into my tri bars as soon as I could and headed straight into a headwind. I misheard volunteer directions (I swear she mumbled!) and almost missed a turn - embarassing more than anything else. It was windy but managable, nothing compared to a ride I'd done recently in the Fraser Valley, and a headwind on the way out meant a tailwind on the way back.
Had a reasonably quick transition off the bike and took off out of transition at a good clip. I tried to focus on form right away and was happy that my legs weren't feeling too dead from the run. I was tired through the run but felt strong had enough energy at the end to cross the line looking strong.

This was a neat race as they start the slowest swimmers first and I actually finished before some of my super-fast clubmates got out of the water. This was great as I usually don't get to watch them race and it was fun to cheer (and occaissionally heckle) them on.

So what's my super power? The ability to fog up any goggles, regardless of how super-duper anti fog and killer expensive they are (like Colleen's new goggles she lent me). I've watched enough Saturday morning cartoons to know that even though my power seems useless and silly and the other super-powered people may mock me, the time will come when I use it to save the world and I will earn the respect and awe of all!

The totally fogged goggles did help me deal with the crowding in the pool - hard to be freaked out by crowds you can't see. Although suddenly finding deemingly dismembered feet in front of me was somewhat disturbing!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Delta Tri

I had high hopes for tomorrow's race then got hit by a seriously nasty cold yesterday. I took antihistamines in the morning as I thought it was just bad allergies. After 20 minutes at work I realized that this was not an allergy attack but a particularly ferocious cold, with a side order of migraine headache.

A five hour nap, Cold FX, a heavy dose of garlic, and snoozing through a whole bunch of hockey games seemed to help. I've gone from thinking I wouldn't race to deciding to race but take it easy to realizing I'm not going to happy with anything less than 5 minutes off last year's time.

I think I need to take a remedial goal setting course!

That said, looking at my times from last year and my UBC times, I think it's doable:

2006 Delta sprint:
Overall time: 1:31:40
S – 700m 15:26
B – 20km 49:03
R – 5km 26:41

2007 UBC du:
R – 25:06
B – 44:43
R – 26:08

I should be able to match the UBC bike and run#2 times and I think I can average 2min/100m in the pool, which would put me on target for a 1:26:00 or 1:25:00 time. I could also over do it and bonk, which would kind of embarassing as this is a sprint.

Stay tuned for race results and post race commentary!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Week In Review

Last week was a tough week, guess that's why the call it the hard week. I'm three days into my recovery week but only now starting to feel recovered.

What have I been up to?
My masters swim was on hiatus so I made up my own program this week. Worked on sculling and pull finish on Monday and on Wednesday had a lovely (except for one tempermental moment) swim, doing 1500m continuous plus some shorter warm up and cool down pieces.
My pilates class on Easter Monday was cancelled but I managed to do a workout at home that hurt as much as anything the instructor's ever come up with (that's not how it's supposed to go!).

Wednesday's club bike workout was very tough. We did 5 x 4min pieces all out uphill. We were supposed to do it in decreasing pace lines (first time a pace line of 4 riders, next time 3 riders, etc.) but we had some issues with speed matching and Erin and I ended up doing a two person pace line for the first three then raced each other on the last two. This was followed by 10 x 1min all out on 30sec rest.

Thursday's run session was also hills. We did 6 x1min all out uphill (deja vu anyone?) on 3min active recovery. The hill was pure, unadultered evil - it started out steep and got progressively steeper the higher you went - I swear the fast folk way ahead of me must have been scaling vertical walls! After that we did 4 x 5min at race pace on 3min recovery. We were supposed to do five pieces but Andrew took pity on us and cut it down to four. Despite that it was still a long hard session, one of those "What did we do to make the coaches hate us this much?" workouts.

Saturday was also tough, I should know better than to try to keep pace with Joanne for a day! We did a great club ride out to Horseshoe Bay (or close to it) then a run. After which I headed out to Steveston and went for a walk in the bog with Penny, Gus and friends. The hour walk knocked the stuffing out of me! Although it was worth it to watch Penney going nuts in the mud.

Sunday's swim was all about pacing. It was a good workout but I was frustrated because I couldn't finish it. Nobody finished the workout, not even the speedsters, but I'm seriously anal retentive in the pool and if it's written up as the workout, darn it I want to finish it! Maybe I need to work on that? The run was nice, although I went a little fast (168 HR is probably somewhat high for an LSD run!), my calves were sore from the walk the day before and I forgot how long I was supposed to run so made it up on the fly, bascially a typical Sunday at the end of a hard week.

My challenges for the coming weeks will be dealing with allergies and hockey playoffs. Wednesday's game went to FOUR overtime periods and ended way after midnight - Stanley Cup season is going to kill me! Antihistamines and lack of sleep make me a bit of a nutcase but I'm trying to limit the carnage.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Finally out of Ontario

On my Fitness Journal map I have finally made it out of Ontario!

T4,051km is all the distance I have logged since April 4 2006 - fairly impressive!

While I'm talking about distance, according to FJ I've done the following so far this year:

Running Kilometers: 362.3
Cycling Kilometers: 739.9
Cycling Stationary Kilometers: 46.9 *
Swimming Kilometers: 56.2

* this is from two stationary bike sessions at the YWCA, I didn't log any of my other spin sessions.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Easter Weekend

Well, after a bit of an emotional blip on Wednesday things got back on track for the end of the week.

I was still tired at Thursday's workout but was in a good mood and put in a good effort, I'm usually a little behind Chris and on pace with June and that's where I was this workout (well, Chris was sick so he was a bit behind me, but close enough). We were on the trails by Jericho, so we had great cushioning for our knees on the soft trails and gorgeous views of the city, it was hard not to be in a good mood.

The workout was 5 x 3minutes at about 85% of max on 6 minutes recovery. That was followed by six short (~50m) hill sprints. Alan said the sprints were to clear the lactic acid but I think he made us do it because he's eveeel.

Good Friday was actually a great Friday. Mary and I headed out to Chilliwack to pre-ride the bike course for the Cultus Lake Tri and I convinced Helen to come along too. The ride was great and the one nasty hill wasn't as bad as I expected (it isn't even a "Hobbesian" hill - nasty, brutish and short - like the one on last year's Kelowna Apple).

We rode from my parents' to the start (about 10km) so we got to go up the hill on our way to transition. We weren't exactly sure where transition would be but, after surviving the bike eating "speed dips," came to a deduction of where we thought it should be.

Out of transition you immediately start climbing a hill, which could be a bit annoying. Worse yet, the one spot where you get to a good decline and pick up lots of speed ends at a 90 degree turn just as you really get going. After that it's some gently rolling hills into Yarrow and then the bulk of the ride is on the flood plain/farmland and flat flat flat (see photo of Campbell road from the race website-->).

On the way out I was thinking that this was going to be a superfast course. That, of course, was because the wind was behind us. Once we turned and had to fight the crosswind it was a bit tougher but I figured it was managable and I was doing okay. We then did a 90 degree turn into the wind and were totally slammed by it! It was on a bit of angle so we were leaning into it but it was also gusty so suddenly we'd have no resistance and almost overbalance but as soon as we got stable we'd be blasted again. In retrospect it was sort of funny (at the time it was just hard). I gues on race day if we don't feel the wind we should assume it's behind us.

Mary and I rode for 3:20 and did about 75km. Helen did about 60km and 2:45.

I didn't run after, as I was hosting my friends at my parents' house taking off for 30 minutes seemed a little rude. The three of us had a nice lunch with my Mum, despite the good service the food definitely didn't come fast enough!

Because I rode on Friday I took Saturday as my rest day and slept in*, ran some errands, went to the art gallery with friends and then headed out the Cassandra's birthday dinner and the viewing of the official video of her Dragon.con triumph (very cool!).

Sunday's swim was coachless, although Alan did provide us with a workout. Without having to stop to listen to the coach I definitely put in a lot more distance. I was worried about the run after as my usually pacer runners (Bronwyn & Teresa) weren't there. Luckily Amy, Colleen and Chung were looking for a slower run so I had a fun group to keep me company.

Sunday afternoon I went for coffee with Shawnee, a friend in from out of town, we had a good chat and she got in some retail therapy.

All in all a great weekend.

* I slept in until 8:30. By current standards that is exceptionally late. Measured against my entire life prior to triathlon training, however, anything still in the a.m. doesn't count as sleeping in.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Alison Through the Ages

Well, yesterday was our first outdoor bike workout and I have to say that I'm sure it will be nothing but improvement from here. How's that for a "glass half full" spin on a crappy ride!

Let's step back and set the scene. I have a not-so secret and fairly consuming addiction to Battlestar Galactica. Now before you think I've gone totally off my nut, this is connected! I finally got access to the season three episodes and I am attempting to catch up before someone blows all the surprises in the cliffhanger season-ender. So on Tuesday night I got to watching, manged to "just one more episode" myself into a very late bedtime.

Getting up for my morning swim was tough but it turned out to be a good workout (400m warm up and 1,500m easy swim - was planning on 1,000m easy but managed to "just one more lap" myself into another 500m).

The first hour of the morning was great. Sadly, at 8:30 things rapidly got not so great. The swim on top of not enough sleep, mixed in with lingering fatigue from the Populaire and allergies/the start of a cold (in the spring it's hard to tell) wore me out pretty quickly. I grabbed a second coffee in the morning and that bolstered me for a good 20 minutes, followed by a rapid decline. From there things got progressively worse throughout the day - cranky, short attention span, tired, etc.

Before heading out for my ride I figure I'd catch just one episode of BSG (I'm in control and can quit any time I want!). Due to some technical issues I couldn't catch the whole episode and had to leave for the ride without knowing if Kara made it off New Caprica or not - very distressing!

As well as watching BSG I had the brilliant idea of digging into the stinky french cheese I bought on the weekend. Now, this news may surprise you greatly, but it turns out that eating stinky french cheese before a time trial, and perhaps before any workout, turns out to be a very, very bad idea. It sits heavy and the "lingering nutty aftertaste" really isn't as thrilling as you'd expect.

So, despite everything that went wrong all day, I got to the time trial start expecting to lay down another blistering PR because that's what the spring's been all about. It only took thirty seconds into the time trial for me to realize how very wrong I was.

Instead of accepting the situation and trying to do the best I could, I got mad. Not the kind of mad that gives you the push to go harder and faster. Noooo, no such luck. This was the kind of mad you get from an over-tired eight year old who's been denied a treat and stomps her feet and refuses to go any further and yells "I am ANGRY!" That kind of mad.

Not only was I angry!, I was tired!, and my legs were sore!, and I lost my bike computer! so I had no idea how fast I wasn't going ...

Pretty charming.

Eventually I came across the front runners of the group on their return ride. By this point the eight-year old had matured a bit. Or gotten tired and decided to have a nap, she didn't really let me know. Anyway, I was still mad and didn't want to make eye contact with the returning riders or have them encourage me, I just wanted everyone to leave me along and get the ride over with. All I needed to do was have a yelling match with my mother ("You don't understand me!") storm to my room, crank "Hungry Like The Wolf" (Simon Lebon would understand, he was choice!) and sulk. Yup, good old 13-year-old hissy fit.

At the end of the ride, not satisfied with just being in a bad mood, I opted to go back to my overly self aware 20's and to beat myself up for letting a bad workout put me in a bad mood. Yeah, let's just kick myself when I'm down! Then, for some absolutely idiotic reason, the realization "I'm not cranky because I had a bad workout, I'm cranky because I'm cranky" made me feel better. This was so totally and inexplicably stupid that I couldn't do anything other than laugh at myself.

I caught up with Bronwyn shortly after and we had a good chat on the ride home and the evening ended well. I got home in a good mood, Kara escaped from New Caprica (I should never have doubted her!) and all was well in the world.

So, the moral of today's story:

  • Lack of sleep does bad things to me
  • Stinky cheese is good, but not before a workout
  • I need to lighten up on myself when I'm having a bad day
  • If binge on BSG this weekend I can get season three out of the way and resume my life (at least until the playoffs - then I'm doomed)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Things that make me happy (a slightly random, fairly silly and thoroughly incomplete list)

Cherry trees laden with blossoms make me ridiculously happy, magnolia trees in bloom even more so (which is odd as they really aren't my kind of flower). Yesterday I was so thrilled with the trees and the weather and life in general that I started thinking of other things that make me happy and things got a little out of control.

So, without further ado, here is my list of:
Things That Make Me Happy (a slightly random, somewhat silly and thoroughly incomplete list):

  • Flowers
  • Trees
  • Trees with flowers
  • Vancouer streets lined with cherry trees in bloom, with the blossoms so thick it looks like someone gave Amy a triple espresso and let her loose with a truckload of pink silly string
  • Magnolia flowers - especialy the deep pink ones and the ones as big as your head
  • The mental calm I get from easy slow runs where I'm relaxed, my form is good, my mind is clear and running feels almost effortless
  • Billy Holiday's music
  • Running while listening to Billy Holiday's music
  • Running by the ocean
  • Running in the morning or on cold days when there is almost no one around and you feel a secret comraderie with the few others who are out braving the early hour or low temperature
  • Did I mention running?
  • Being fit
  • Seeing the full moon in the daytime
  • Rainbows
  • Strangers looking at me like I'm a nut when I point out rainbows to them
  • Having a crazy training schedule and big goals to work towards
  • How good food tastes after a hard workout
  • Having a whole lot of friends with similar interests
  • Having friends with totally different interests
  • The quiet feeling of accomplishment that comes from having achieved something pretty cool
  • Sunny Vancouver days after a months of grey skies and rain
  • Cool spring days where, despite the chill, you can feel summer just waiting around the corner and you know you should savour the cold breeze as you'll be aching for it when the weather heats up
  • Thinking up with a list of things that make me happy
  • Having difficulty finishing the list because I keep thinking of new things to add
  • Reading good books
  • Having a cool roomate who lends me books (and who lets me read the one he's currently on because he only reads it on the bus whereas I'll plant myself on the coach for 4 hour binges and likely finish it in one or two sittings)
  • The serenity that comes from having a whole lot of little things go right in small ways

Monday, April 02, 2007

Populaire Review

The Populaire was definitely interesting, all in all a good day. Everyone showed up, from the Dads with their kids riding the trailer bike to the die hard roadies and uber competitive triathletes and everyone in between.

The start was nerve wracking - many hundred cyclists crowded together with very little room to manuever. I'm not used to riding in packs with more than 10 people so this freaked me out and I immediately lost the rest of of the "Red Wall" LETC crowd as they took off while I hung back nervously. Alan said later that when he drove past the ride on his way to paddle he saw me and I was not looking happy to be in the group. It turned out that Heather was having worse issues than I was so I eventually caught up with her and we rode together for about 30km. When the cyclists thinned out she took off at her comfortable pace and I couldn't keep up until she hit a traffic light or another big group. Eventually I lost her all together.

At the 50km checkpoint I was super excited to find that they had food. That poundcake was the best thing I've ever eaten!

Having lost everyone in my group I decided I was a triathlete and I'd be hardcore and ride on my own. Then I remembered I have no sense of direction, poor memory and an inability to read maps so I quickly latched onto a pair of guys, likely in their sixties, who looked like they knew what they were doing. This turned out to be a great idea as for the next hour or so we rode into wicked headwinds and I got to draft 2/3 of the time. Leif and Dave were obviously very experienced cyclists and I had no qualms having them on my back wheel. Along the windiest part we passed a guy who was seriously struggling and got to tag along on our back wheel. Turns out he wasn't part of the ride but he knew what he was doing and having him there menat we only had to pull into the wind 1/4 of the time, not 1/3.

Once we got back to UBC we hit the nice wide patch of pavement that starts at Camosen and SW Marine, it's a great place to get into your tribars and just go. I hadn't been in my tribars the whole time I was in the pace line and was itching to do so, so I said goodbye to the guys and took off. It felt great. I was on my own for about 20 min but just when the road narrowed at King Ed & Dunbar I suddenly had 15 riders show up out of the blue and had to spend the end of the ride jostling a bit. Luckily they all took a wrong turn near the end and I had the last 8 blocks to myself!

My time was 4 hours. Not stunning but it wasn't a race and the next longest ride I've done this year is 75km so I'm happy with it. The only big thing I'm not happy with from the race is that I obviously didn't eat enough while riding. I finished the ride and barely said hi to the LETC'ers who were waiting for everyone to finish, I believe my response to the "Congrats!" and "Nice work!" was "Where's the food?" It took a banana, a Cliff Bar, a fruit and a water bottle of gatorade to take the edge off my hunger. Then I had lunch!