Sunday, December 30, 2007

Who's to Blame??

This morning I was reading blogs and forums (rather than getting my butt out the door and training) and I read a very moving post on the Slowtwitch Forum.

So who got me into triathlon? Possibly my roommate (very indirectly), probably my run coach (much more directly), could be Simon Whitfield, or maybe even my sister.

I'll tackle this chronologically.

I'm an Olympics junky, I would happily take two weeks off work and watch the Olympic coverage all day. I watched the CBC coverage of Simon Whitfield winning the first ever Olympic triathlon at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and was swept up in the excitement of it all. Of course I was swept away by every sport that was covered (with the exception ice dance, I get wound up by all the Olympic sports, even curling). It never occured to me at the time that I could actually do this sport, just that it was cool.

Skip forward a few years to the fall of 2003. My roommate had some friends in from out of town and the basement suite suddenly felt incredibly small and I needed to get out. I walked to Kits Community Centre and looked through one of the calendars for the 2004 programs and thought about signing up for something. Pottery didn't look that interesting, dancing held no interest for me, running looked sort of interesting though. I had no desire to run a marathon or even a 10km race but I was getting bored of ultimate after more than a decade of playing and was looking for something else to keep me in shape so this sounded like the ticket.
The run group coach, Andrew, is big on getting people to have goals to train for so I somehow ended up deciding to run the Vancouver half marathon in May. I still have no idea how or or when this became something I wanted to do, obviously it was Andrew's voodoo mind tricks!
The run actually turned out to be a lot of fun. I missed my time goal by a minute but three of my very good friends came to cheer me on which more than made up for it. Having missed my time goal meant I really had to sign up for another half and I succeeded in breaking two hours at the Fall Classic in November. I was definnitely hooked on this running business!

My sister moved to Penticton (I can't remember exactly when) and as we're very close friends I visit her fairly frequently. In the summer of 2004 I was there in late August, right at the same time as Ironman. I had very little idea what the race was all about but am big on spectacle so I borrowed my brother-in-law's bike and rode down to see the swim. I just missed the swim start, so I stuck around to watch the athletes exit the water and was thrilled to hear the announcer say the name of some I recognized - Andrew Tuovenin, my run coach. Now that I had someone to cheer for watching the race became way more interesting.

My sister lives just off the race course so I'd take a break from playing with my nephew to cheer on Andrew as he headed out along South Main on the bike course and then back in along Skaha Lake Road. I caught him as he was heading out on the run then I had to head back home to Vancouver.

The whole Ironman thing struck me as very cool (no way I could ever do it!) and got me thinking about triathlon so when, at the end of the fall 2004 running session, I overheard Andrew saying he was starting a tri club I was very interested. I emailed him and asked if the fact that I was a slow biker and swam like a rock would make me a bad candidate for this tri club business. He said I'd fit in no problem and the rest is history.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Home again, home again jigety jig!

There's been a fair bit of travel over the past week, all worthwhile but I'll be happy not to do any road trips in the near future!

I bussed out to Chilliwack, drove from there to Penticton with my parents and then did the reverse six days later. Greyhound was chaos, bad in Vancouver and absolutely nuts in Chilliwack, so the busing wasn't so fun. I guess it isn't really the holidays unless you have some crazy travel stories.

A great time was had by all: my nephews were so much fun and were very good at letting their aunt play with their toys, my parents were in heaven hanging out the grandkids, and my sister and I had a great time despite the fact that we didn't managed to break the cribbage tie (one win each this visit). I kept my Boggle crown despite grossly unsportsmanlike conduct from the other competitors, it was good thing the boys weren't around to see!

It was interesting being back in Penticton. When we drove through Keremeos I realized that this was my first time on the IMC course since I did the race. I found it quite emotional and was surprised by this. On boxing Day I went for a run along South Main - again it was a very odd feeling, everything was obviously very different (less people, more snow) but I felt I could hear echos of race day. The biggest mental wallop came when we were heading out and I could see the slash of Highway 97 alongside Skaha lake and I remembered what it felt like riding down it and knowing I was so close to the end of the bike course. I know that having just said goodbye to my sister and the boys left me susceptible but again this was unexpected.

On a training note, I managed to get in two good runs of just under an hour each. I'm finally feeling good running for the first time since I came down with the flu. I'm pretty far behind as far as fitness is concerned but Alan promised he'd go easy on me for January (probably means I should be very, very afraid come February!) so I don't feel the need to cram in training sessions to prep for the season starting.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Power Of Belief

I've been following a number of Elite/Pro triathletes' blogs for some time (much easier now that I'm using Google Reader). I think it's very cool that they share their insights into training, racing and life in general. Often it's a peek into an entirely different world but sometimes they iterate my feelings precisely. Colin Jenkins came pretty darned close with his post on the power of belief, nicely describing why it's important to have a great coach (or coaches) you trust and great people to train with.

I found Leading Edge largely by fluke (another story for another day) and am incredibly lucky to have access to two skilled and experienced coaches, fantastic one-on-one coaching, and an incredible group of enthusiastic clubmates.*

I'm looking forward to getting back to training in '08!

* We might be less than enthusiastic if Alan or Andrew ever tried to get us to do the N+1 drill Colin mentions!

Monday, December 17, 2007

12 Days of Christmas

In the spirit of the season (with some humour added):


Overall it was great weekend - trip to Chilliwack to visit the parents, X-country skiing in Manning Park, Gisels' house party, watching a classic movie from the '90's, hanging out with a good friend, sleeping in ... Pretty good by most standards, so I really shouldn't let 50 minutes get me down.

I decided to go for a run on Sunday, it was raining and windy and cold but I needed to get out of the house so I bundled up, got some good tunes lined up on the iPod and headed outside for an hour run. After about 20 minutes I wasn't feeling so hot so I downgraded from aiming for an hour to 55 minutes (woohoo, a whole five minutes off!). After 30 minutes things weren't getting any better, despite my attempts to go at a slow easy pace my heart rate was over 180. This is the point where an intelligent athlete would realize today was not the day for them to run and go home. I have never claimed to be intelligent nor am I comfortable calling myself an athlete so this was not an issue.

It is incredibly frustrating to know that a few months ago I could run for several hours but now I'm struggling to get close to an hour. Yes, I know that I'm still fighting the after-effects of the flu and I've been away from running regularly for a while and I should be running within my current abilities, not where I think I should be but, but, but ... I can't even run for an hour! I should be able to do an hour easily darn it! In fact, I'm signed up for the First Half half marathon in February so I have to be able to run for longer otherwise I'll tank in the race.

With this mindset in place, despite the fact that at 45 minutes I was pretty much done in, I kept running and rounded off at an even, if completely unsatisfying, 50 minutes. Then I hit the couch and felt terrible for the rest of the day. Definitely not the smartest bit of training I've done this year.

This week I will get in a couple of runs but I will really, really try to go easy and will be willing to pull the plug if it doesn't go well.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Benchmark Day

Today was the last day of the fall swim session and I was looking forward to Fun Day. Usually the last class of the session is a good hard workout but with lots of goofy stuff and a lot of fun, which is why it's called "Fun Day". Turns out that as Paul missed Monday's class the benchmark session got bumped to today.

I was choked that I missed the previous benchmark class (I slept in) so I guess it was a good to get to at least one of the benchmark sessions. However, as I'm still kicking the dregs of the flu I'm not feeling anywhere close to full speed and as I've put in so much time in the pool this fall I really wanted to have a good solid speed session to see if I've improved.

After a shaky warm up, the swim session didn't go too badly. I did sound bad enough that Paul suggested I do the second set of 100's with a pull buoy so as not to stress my lungs too much. (Hearing me cough after my first 100m set he commented "I don't want to have to use that shiny new spine board on you," pointing to the first aid stuff on the wall.)

I did the first two 100's in the second set with a pull buoy then the last without as I wanted to go all out at least once. I had a decent last hundred but seriously felt like I was going to pass out. No spectacular times but considering the state of my lungs I'm pretty happy with the session.

25m Fly: 28:9

3 x 100m Free (on 60s rest):
1 - 1:50
2 - 1:48
3 - 1:45

50m kickboard - 1:14

3 x 100m Free (on 90s rest)
1 - 1:49*
2 - 1:49*
3 - 1:43

25m Free all out - 21.0

* with pull buoy

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I forgot about the Flu

I forgot about the flu. Okay, not that the flu exists, I know that. I know it makes you miserable for a week and everyone avoids because you look and sound awful, I remembered that. I even know a bit about the great flu epidemic of 1918. In fact I've had the flu a lot in my life, one of the joys of being an unfit asthmatic couch potato as a child, so I'm pretty familiar with the whole experience.

What I forgot about was the after-flu. You know, the week or two after the flu where, despite having kicked the virus, you still feel like horrible, like you've just been run over by a road train. You're tired, still a little sniffly and generally cantankerous.

The reason I forgot about the after-flu is that I haven't had to deal with it for a while. The last three years I've had a flu shot. I still got the flu, but it wasn't as bad, didn't last as long, and there was no after-flu. This year I didn't quite get around to getting a shot, next week always seemed like a convenient time. And then I got the flu last week, so now I have the after flu, and I'm really not enjoying it.

I'll be getting that flu shot. This week.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Things to do in the off season

Things I've been up to in the past months:

  • Sleeping in (anything past 7am counts)
  • Spending time with friends of the triathlon and non-triathlon variety
  • Heading out to the 'Wack to see my parents
  • Setting unrealistic goals in the ST Swim Challenge
  • Catching up on my reading
  • Discovering new authors (thanks Jason!)
  • Planning my apartment repainting
  • Procrastinating about painting
  • Snowshoeing!
  • Running the Fall Classic 10km (52.48.8, 41 out of 172 F3039, 117 out of 570 women)
  • Getting sick but not getting stressed about it
  • Trying to be girly (next time I won't wear a dress the same colour as the photographer's backdrop!)
  • Going to parties, and staying past 9:30pm
  • Finding more cool Google programs
  • Generally relaxing, recharging and taking it easy

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Swim Challenge

So this is technically the "off" season, in which one supposedly takes time "off" from training to mentally, physically and socially recover. Some crazy folk don't seem to do much downtime, if the majority of triathletes are like the posters on the Slowtwitch forum then the average triathlete spends their off season trying to get stronger, faster, skinnier, and fitter. I'm not sure how this differs from their on-season, or how this counts as taking time "off" but they seem to think it works.

Yes, I may mock them but I am also quick to join them.

Some Slowtwitchers started a swim challenge for November, where you set your swim goals for the month, track them with a Google spreadsheet and post updates on the forum. As I mentioned in an earlier post, after my month long recovery from Ironman I decided to focus on my swim, so this seemed like a grand idea.

I did the math and figured I could do 28km, and I signed up for 35km. Unsurprisingly, I got a bit behind.

As of last Monday I had four days in which to do 8km. 2km a day isn't too tough, less than an hour of swimming per day so it wouldn't be too hard. I could do it. I was psyched! I was ready to finish the challenge! I was, um, sneezing. And dying of a sore throat. And really wishing I'd gotten a flu shot.


So I missed my goal, ending November with 26,800 metres swum and 8,200 to go. I didn't even hit the 28km I "knew" I could do. I did, however, put in a solid swim effort for the month so I'm thinking all's well that ends well.

I've decided not to sign up for the December swim challenge!


My sister has recently entered the blogosphere and, as is usually the case, she is doing way more interesting things with it than me despite the fact that she's been doing it for far less time. Being related to highly intelligent people can be such a burden.

A lot of the stuff she's doing is quite cool and it inspired to me change up my blog, something I've been meaning to do for ages. (Now I just need someone to inspire me to paint my apartment!) Having been down with the flu all week it sort of makes me feel I'm doing something training related.

It's the same basic set up, with a few minor changes. Let me know what you think!