Monday, June 27, 2011
June is coming up to a close, and once again, I haven't exactly been on top of blogging. Call it busy with work, distracted by lots of happenings, or trying to conquer the wild kingdom otherwise known as my back yard. None the less, I intend to start writing again.
To very quickly recap, I completed the Oliver Half IronMan on June 5th. It was probably the least I have ever been to prepare for a race, so my confidence wasn't on top of it's game. I went in with low expectations, and curiosity as to how the body would react and perform. The race is held in desert country in BC's Okanagan area. Surrounded by beauty and dotted with farms and vineyards, it really is a beautiful spot. This race has been happening for about 10 years, so it has gained a solid reputation for being a great race.
To sum up the race, the swim was a struggle for me. I had only swam a couple of times prior to the event, and put the wetsuit on for the first time this year on raceday morning. I went in knowing that it would be a slow swim. It's a weird triangle-shaped swim, with 800m, then 300m, then 400m and finally 500m. Everything went over pretty well, until the final 400m. Out of nowhere, this guy from the silver caps category (aka 50+ age categories) swam by me, and smacked me in the lip with his elbow. Ouch. It threw me off of course, and slowed me down a bit because I couldn't concentrate because my lip was swelling up nicely and bleeding. Oh well. Finished the swim, had the wetsuit strippers help me with the wetsuit (an awesome detail I was most happy about) and then 600m race to T1. And then onto the bike...
The bike was good, I was able to get into a quick rhythm and move. I found my biking legs last year, so my speed was able to build as I progressed. I was worried that I would blow up on the bike, and leave nothing for the run. However, I managed to maintain a pretty steady pace throughout. Surprisingly, I had my fastest bike time ever on the bike (3:03 for 93km) which was good. And then onto the run...
By the time I started the run, it was starting to get hot, like super hot. In fact, the temperature hit 31C that day, which felt like a supreme punishment, since I haven't experienced that heat since Egypt in November and of course, IronMan Canada. Tough to run through, when I could only muster the mental strength to run from one aid station to the next. I had my worst run- 2:24, but it really didn't matter. You could say I blew up on the run, which is quite a likely factor, but the heat just really got the best of me. I just focused on getting to the finish, so I could collect my medal.
Total time: 6:24:14.
What I unfortunately learned from this experience, was that I could squeak by with minimal training, and still pull out a respectable time. But I also did learn that with solid training, I can kill it out on the course.
I would recommend Oliver Half Ironman to anyone who wants a scenic course that doesn't have a terribly difficult ride and super well organized. Hats off to the Dixons, who not only organize this race, but have it all down pat with their experience of organizing IronMan Canada.
Following then, I have been resting and thinking of the next steps. That seems to be including signing up for the Delta Half marathon in August, and thinking about signing up for Victoria half marathon on Thanksgiving weekend. Someday I promise to rest, someday. :-)
Saturday, May 28, 2011
In the Month of May...
- I jumped onto an airplane and spent a wonderful week in Puerto Vallarta with my husband's family
- Celebrated the news when a friend told me that her and her husband will be adopting a child
- Witnessed my younger brother marry the love of his life before family and friends
- Smiled when a friend proclaim one week of sobriety and declare determination of getting out of the Downtown Eastside
- Swam for the first time this year in the wonderful 137.5m saltwater outdoor pool at Kits Beach
- Cheered for a friend when she declared that she went from being a cancer victim, to become a cancer survivor
- Did the happy dance when the Vancouver Canucks won the series over the San Jose Sharks, and are going to be in the Stanley Cup finals, starting next week
- Was ecstatic to hear of a co-worker become a grandfather for the first time, and smiled when told of how he fell in love when he first held his new grandson
- Became saddened to hear of a co-worker be told that he was no longer employed
- Had my heart break a little when told of a close one separating from their spouse
- Gave a facebook cheer for a friend complete her first triathlon
- Held a wonderful celebration for my husband's parents as they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary
- Graciously drank some of the Dom Perignon that I had saved for so many years... finally
And to think that there are still a few days left.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
- Would I do something to guarantee me to be extremely fit, if it meant that I didn't race at all? or
- Would I do races, but it would not guarantee being really fit?
I will admit, I really struggled with this question. After all, I have been training and chasing after medals for over 10 years now. It is something that I know and love and hold dear. However, if I were able to take on a challenge where I would be super fit, but it didn't involve any races, would I be interested? I guess I struggled as I have always had that medal, or carrot, or whatever prize you want to describe it as, dangling in front of me. I don't know anything else, and I am driven by it. However, the conversation where I could do something, say, take up hot yoga five days a week to become super fit, would that be something I would take on?
I guess it all depends on what motivates us. Do we need shiny medals to be proud of, or is it just the fact that we feel satisfied with what we see when we look in the mirror? I have never been super fit and no love handles, so the concept of having a hard body is just something that I have thought that would be a nice to have, but not something that would motivate me to become super strict with diet and training. Do I lean towards racing because it's the familiar or because I love the challenge? This definitely sounds like the kind of question that I should ponder. Good timing, as Greg and I are going on holidays to Puerto Vallarta Mexico in roughly 36 hours (um, yay!) and I feel like I am mentally starting to check out.
In fact, I have all sorts of grand plans of sleeping, swimming, running, lounging and doing this thing I saw on the brochures called R-E-L-A-X-I-N-G. It's a fairly new concept for me, and I think I am a little keen to explore it.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
I came home feeling a little mopey, as I didn't want to drive around to the other pools to see what was available for lane swimming. It was absolutely pouring rain, so motivation for a run was even less. The swim spark was gone. And besides, I knew it would be something like 8:45-10pm for adult swim sessions. I don't know about you, but once I am parked on the couch with Piper the cat on the lap, there simply is no leaving the house for anything. Besides, how do you resist a face like this?
So the lesson that I take from this, is that sometimes there are somethings that you can control and others that you can't. Do the best you can to create a plan, and even a plan B if necessary. And if that doesn't work out, there's always cuddle time with the cat.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Sunday night before the race, we had gone for the pre-race dinner at City Hall, and then settled back into the hotel for the night. Greg organized details for internet so he could faithfully follow the Canucks game that was on at 10:30 that night, complete with headphones. We had a great night sleep on the Saturday night, so I was mentally prepared that my pre-race sleep was going to be crap. And yes, it was. I think it was 1am when I finally fell asleep. However, I managed to meet my goal, which was to ensure that I at least got more sleep than the number of hours that I would be running. Mission accomplished.
I was starting to get hot at this point, as the temperature for the day was quickly rising. The forecast had called for a high of 17C, so I wore my short sleeved IMC shirt, and my coolwings, so that I could pour water on myself to keep cool. I was really trying to be conservative with my pacing, and make sure to not get overheated during the race, and be consistent in my caloric intake.
I continued on my journey to Boston and had to really try to keep focus on pace while watching the sights around me. One of my favourite moments, was running by some fitness facility. They had organized about 20 small trampolines, and each trampoline had a little kid bouncing on it, holding up signs. There were little kids handing out licorice, orange slices, little glasses of water, or wet paper towels. There were kids lined up along the sidewalk, all hoping for a high five from the marathoners. It was so awesome to see how people went all out for this race.
Around mile 13 is when I hit Wellesley College. In fact, I was greeted with a large adidas sign aptly stating, "Wellesley with Screams." Wellesley College is an all-girls school located beside the course who get right into the spirit of the marathon. I was greeted with the "Kiss me!" signs that they are famous for. I believe for nearly half a mile, all I saw were signs saying: "Kiss me, I'm available! or Kiss me, I'm from Connecticut! or Kiss me, I'm bicurious!" or whatever else. It was hysterical some of the things that I saw. I didn't feel inclined to kiss anyone, however, I leapt at the chance when a girl held the sign: "High Fives for Canadians!" So I did, and then gave her a hug, I was so excited to see. There were a lot of signs for Canadians along the course, so it was great when they saw me in all of my IronMan Canada gear, as they went nuts with cheers.
I felt great physically, despite the concerns I had before the race with the periformis. Luckily, it decided to behave. The only concern was that I didn't feel like I had the necessary zip in the legs to push me hard that day. I was also hot, so I had to slow down at aid stations and grab water to pour over my arms or dump down the back of my shirt. I also started to notice an irritation in the back of my throat. I realized later in the race that I figured out it was the PowerGels Double Lattes that were the cause. So I kept drinking a glass of water to help alleviate the irritation.
The miles kept rolling along, and the smile persisted on my face. It was so much fun to see all the happenings. At mile 20 through 21 is when you take on the challenge of Heartbreak Hill. I am glad that Greg and I visited it on Saturday to get a feel of the hill, and concluded that it was really no different than running up part of the UBC hill or Highland Boulevard in North Van. Besides, it was only about 700m of hill before the descent towards Boston. I was so stoked going up Heartbreak, that when I got about 3/4 up, I let out a huge holler, and then said to the closest spectators. "I came here to take on Heartbreak, and I KILLED it!!!" It was a huge push to get up that hill and take on the last 10km of the race. I felt awesome!
The crowds kept getting bigger and bigger as I got closer to the end. By the time I hit Fenway, the crowds were seriously 12 people deep. I was shocked to see Greg again as promised at mile 23. He was screaming and cheering and it was great to see him, as I had just started having a side stitch. Seeing him put me immediately back in game mode and pushed on to the end.
The final couple of miles were almost a blur. I remember looking at my garmin at 40km, and thinking to myself, "Holy cow, realistically, I have only 10 more minutes of this!" I didn't know whether to push it to finish earlier, or slow down to take it all in. I decided to push as I realized that a girl who had started right before me was just ahead of me by 10 feet. I decided to make her my goal to beat so that I knew I pushed it. The plan worked, as I kept up and went for it for the final stretches of the race.
I crossed the line at 3:50:31. This was my fourth-fastest race, but I think it will be one of my most memorable ones. I shuffled through to grab my heatsheet and finally collect my long-awaited medal. I actually cried when I received the medal.
What I took from this experience was that this WAS the destination, and all races up to this were the journey. It's been full-circle for me to get to this point. When I first decided to try and qualify back in October 2008, my whole world was tilted when my Dad died on August 13th, 2008. I really struggled through the grief, and running helped me deal with the pain. And then I missed qualifying by 46 seconds.
The second thing that made this so special for me, was the fact that I trained for and qualified for Boston with my injured hip. I am on a waitlist for surgery, but was still able to overcome the issues with pain and stress to keep up the running and persist. So this was gratifying.
I decided to dedicate my race to my Dad and asked him to help me through the race. He looked after me to make sure that I could push through the pain and enjoy the experience. So thanks Dad.
And of course, I totally dedicate this race to my dear husband, Greg. You have been my rock, my confidant and my number one fan. I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't have you by my side.
For the next while, I am going to focus on biking and swimming, as my next goal is the Oliver Half IronMan in June and then maybe the Scotiabank half marathon. However, in the meantime, I am going to enjoy recovery and feel proud of what I have done. And it feels alright.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
This was the first time visiting Boston. Greg and I were pretty excited to go there, partly because we have seen very little of the East Coast together, it was an actual weekend, and of course, the big deal towards the end of it. I had gone so far to do research in advance and have a list of things to do and see while we were there. You know, make the best of it.
Now that I think of it, I should revisit that list to see what I had wanted to do, and what we actually did. Let me dig that up....
- Pick up race gear - DONE!
- Buy Finisher’s Gear after the race! -DONE!
- Go to see the Boston Red Sox! - DONE!
- Visit Harvard University- DONE!
- Patriot’s Day celebrations - Nope!
- Faneuil Hall Quincy Marketplace. (Originally built in 1826 as a meat and green grocery hall, it now contains over 100 shops, cafés and restaurants). - DONE!
- Go for a great dinner in North End, full of Italian restaurants - DONE & DONE! (two dinners, plus picked up some delicious cannoli at an Italian bakery-twice)
- RunBoston running tour (http://www.runboston.org/) -Nope!
- Outlet mall- Kittery in New Hampshire (1hr north of Boston, and 1 mile of outlets)- DONE & Nope... we just went down the street to the shopping district and brought financial stability back to the area with the amount of shopping done.
- Wrentham Premium outlet mall - Nope!
First up on the agenda for Friday, was to hit the Boston race expo and pick up my race kit. Seriously, if an adult runner needed an example of Christmas, it was the race, and package pick up was like going to visit Santa on Christmas Eve. I was so excited to be there, and even had the eyes well up a few times, I was so appreciative to be there. The expo is pretty big and the Adidas official merchandise section was already a zoo at 3pm on the first day. I decided to pick up the race jacket (of course), a green short sleeve tech shirt, capris, 2 baseball caps (white and green), and a BAA logo beer glass. It was more than I had intended, but Greg convinced me that I might as well get the wardrobe. What the heck.
We ventured through the expo and had planned to leave. One quick last bathroom break, and then suddenly, we realized that we had only been in part of the expo and there was a whole huge wing more to explore. From a work standpoint, there wasn't a whole lot there that I would call unique or innovative (can you tell that I look for trends and innovative ideas at tradeshows as part my living). From a consumer standpoint, there were all the big brand names with big flashy booths and lots of gear. However, there was a lot of redundancy, and saw over and over again, compression socks, various marathon organizers, nutrition and kitschy stuff. I bought four sports bras, all at 50% off and a cute sun visor to support breast cancer.
After the expo, we went back to the hotel to drop off our stuff, get changed, and then headed to FENWAY PARK to catch a Red Sox game. Greg, my super shopper, had scooped a pair of tickets that ended up being primetime at $50 each. We sat in the front row, right field, literally beside the Toronto Blue Jays' bull pen. We just looked at each other with shock on our faces at what we had scored for these seats, it was incredible. We fully enjoyed the experience, complete with Italian sausage hot dogs, kettle corn and a hot chocolate. The only thing we regretted of the whole experience, was not being prepared enough to handle the cold winds that came whipping through.
Sunday morning, after another big sleep in, I went for a short run (to try and work off the dinner) and then we went out to sightsee again. This time, we went along the waterfront so I could see the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. However, it didn't happen without controversy and will remain memorable for the fact that a bird crapped on my head. Yeah, that was a lot of fun, but I couldn't stop laughing. What else could I do besides find the closest bathroom to try and clean up.
Despite this wardrobe setback, we made the trip to Cambridge and explore Harvard University. I had never seen what the campus looked like, so I was curious to see what one of the most prestigious schools looked like. It was nice, there were some sections closed to students only, but yes, it was a school. Finished off at Harvard and then back for the pre-race dinner.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
- Organization is key. Having everything prepared in advance takes a lot of the edge out of the event, and allows the quiet focus to settle in and guide you. Do what you can ahead of time so you can enjoy the experience.
- The race starts out with a bang, but it doesn't need to end in a fizzle. I am a solid believer in going out almost ridiculously slow at the beginning of the race. Proper pacing makes the biggest difference, and will show up not at the beginning of the race, but at the end. Resist the temptation to bolt at the beginning and get into a comfortable pace by the 3km.
- Go with what you know. Never try anything new on race day. I decided to not go out and buy a new running outfit, because I want to be comfortable and know what to expect. I am taking my fuel belt and using my own nutrition to prevent issues. As a result, I will remember my super smile instead of my clothes as I look back at the photos afterwards.
- Stretch. I seem to always have serious periformis issues before the race, to the point of horrible hamstring pain. Take the time to stretch and relax and it will really help alleviate a lot of the stress.
- Rest. I have a serious shopping list that I want to take on in Boston. However, I want to ensure that I get plenty of rest to prepare both mentally and physically. It's going to be a big day, and fun, so I want to be prepared.
- Use a paceband. Believe it or not, long distance running is very strategic. How you play the game will determine how you will win. Mark when you are going to take in gels on the paceband, and write power words around the times when you expect it to be challenging (like 37, 38, 39, 40, 41 and of course 42km). I am STRONG, CONFIDENT and READY and I RUN FROM THE HEART.
- Remember why you got into this mess. I absolutely love marathon running. It's a sense of peace and freedom that I absolutely love. I also love the thrill of the challenge of the daunting task, and marvel of what our human bodies are truly capable of.
- Thank the volunteers. I am always amazed of the love and dedication given by the volunteers associated with the races. It continues to blow me away that they would give up so much for a stranger with a crazy goal. So I am always grateful.
It's been an amazing and complicated road to reach this point. I have learned a lot about myself, and what running can be. I have also been thankful for all of the people whom I have met along the way, and how they have made me appreciate this journey.
So while I am at it, let's remember the external gratification that I am lusting after to cherish for years to come.... ;-)
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
In all, I think it's rounded out to be a pretty darn awesome day. Yeah, it would have been nice to get out and run, but I really want to make sure that I show up to Boston feeling healthy and strong, so one more day of rest is probably for the best. And if I really needed something else to help ease the mind, at least there was Biggest Loser tonight, which is always a good thing. ;-)
Monday, March 28, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
On a separate note, we are confirmed for our glam hotel in Boston. We are staying at the Ames Hotel, which will be a 1-mile stagger from the finish line. I am really starting to get excited about our upcoming trip and doing the race. Yay! Did I mention it is now only 23 days away...
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
- Pick up race gear
- Buy Finisher’s Gear after the race!
- Go to see the Boston Red Sox!
- Visit Harvard University
- Patriot’s Day celebrations
- Faneuil Hall Quincy Marketplace. (Originally built in 1826 as a meat and green grocery hall, it now contains over 100 shops, cafés and restaurants).
- Go for a great dinner in North End, full of Italian restaurants
- RunBoston running tour (http://www.runboston.org/)
- Outlet mall- Kittery in New Hampshire (1hr north of Boston, and 1 mile of outlets)
- Wrentham Premium outlet mall
There is no sales tax on clothes under US$175 and only a 6.25% sales tax otherwise. Can you tell, I am excited??? Shopping in the states, yay!!!
In other news, I have been working on my plan for the upcoming Birch Bay 30km on Saturday. I have to admit, I am not sure what the best strategy should be going in. I have nicknamed this race "The Moment of Truth." It will certainly reveal how well the training has really gone. But also, it will give me one last big run before I begin taper for Boston.
Have I mentioned shopping following Birch Bay too? ;-)
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Although I swear I have been pretty darn good in eating and tracking these days, the weight has not been coming off as part of the Boston training. It's gotten to be a bit frustrating really. So my lovely husband sat me down last night for a "talk." He's willing to prepare all my meals for me for the next 3.5 weeks, around 1200cals, as long as I stick to it. I was a little blown away by his proposal, and so of course, I agreed. It won't be easy, but clearly, I have the best husband ever.
My hip flexors, gastroc and all sorts of other ligaments and tendons are super duper tight these days. Made the trip to the chiro this evening a little tense and interesting. I have been given the instructions to take the Stick to it, and roll out the knots. And then return in 1 week, after my Birch Bay 30km.
Just goes to show that I like to keep things interesting. Besides, what would training be like if it were completely injury-free?
Monday, March 21, 2011
Ever have one of those days when you come home from work, feeling a little exhausted and like you didn't get anything done? A day where you may have just felt you were running on a hamster wheel? Well, that's me, at 6:29pm, fresh home from work.
My company hired a new president six months ago who was "sales driven." This in turn, has created a whole new focus on building business and growing our existing accounts, rah, rah, rah. You catch my drift. Anyhow, there are just some days where I come home more exhausted than when I woke up.
But thank goodness it's my designated rest day! And to celebrate the occassion, I wore my brand new compression socks to work today, and made no apologies. I am such a trigeek! Hee!
In the meantime, I will see how long it takes before the hubby comes home, which should be anytime. Perhaps I should go see if we have any food for dinner.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
I know, it's been a very long time. I have been very busy stalking other people's blogs, and totally neglecting mine. Not that I haven't thought about it. Really. Just too darn lazy to type I guess!
I have been recently inspired to get back to the drawing blog board by a few things. It seems everyone and their dog have blogs (thanks to our modern narcissistic society), and quite frankly, maybe it's time I shared some of my thoughts too. Sure,why not.
So I did a little messing around on the 'puter, and perhaps it may be starting to take shape. There are a few things that I am going to have to get sorted. Like posting more than once a year, and maybe adding a few things like pictures. So baby steps. My first post for 2011.
A few things have happened since my last posting. Firstly, I finally qualified for Boston, and running it in 4 weeks time (yay me!). Secondly, I did a kick ass year of triathlon for 2010. I completed 4 half ironmans, 1 IronMan Canada and 3 marathons. I was busy, and then I was TIRED. But, I PB'd in all but one race (Sooke), but even then, I came 3rd in my age category, so what was lost in time, was made up with an extra medal. Nothing says awesome like external gratification!
Some things have stayed the same. Greg and I are still doing great. We love our house and celebrated 2 years in January. We have an awesome cat named Piper. I celebrated my second anniversary with RHPL just this past Wednesday. So in short, things are good.. really good.
Training for Boston has been good, and eventful. I had originally decided to use the Hal Higdon program. It's a bit crazy, and I didn't quite understand some of the rationale behind some of the schedule (like who does 16km race pace run on Saturday and then run 32km LSD the next day?!?!). So I fired Hal and returned to my Running Room standard. Ten years of RR does tend to keep consistency. However, I have tried to do lots of up/down hill running to prepare for Boston. My achilles heels and hip flexors aren't too happy about it, but I will keep them at bay with ART and push forward. As a result, I received a new PB at the First Half half marathon- 1:43:42, a 1 1/2 minute improvement from my previous PB at Delta half marathon. Huh!
Well, it looks like I should get my butt in gear and get some dinner. Apparently I am running 32km in the morning and will be rewarded with pancakes. Yum!