Thursday, May 26, 2016

Airdrie Triathlon Review - Swim and Run!

I have been taking a cycling class this past month with Leaping Dog Racing, and knew one of the gals from the class would also be at this Triathlon.  I was happy to see her both on Saturday at the transition seminar, as well as on race morning.  Together we found our bib numbers, got our (unecessary) body marking done, and found a good spot in the gym (which was awesome because this eventually became the transition and we had a sweet spot close to the exit door).

Once settled in the gym, we waited for our turn to be called to head to the swim deck and get our timing chip.  I was in wave 3, and was originally scheduled to swim at 8:40.  Even with all the craziness of the morning, my swim wasn't too far off of that.  I was really excited to see my hubby and kids arrive shortly after 8:20 to watch me swim and transition from the mezzanine above.

Timing chip on, and some good advice from my swim mates came true.  I had originally placed myself in the 20+ swim category, but they advised me not to do that.  People would be doing backstroke, breaststroke, and I would get really frustrated.  As I stood on the swim deck watching, it was true.  There was even one gal who was doing a drill of side stroke to freestyle.  As I headed to the lane, the race director told me not to look so nervous - it was that obvious ha ha!  A quick wave to my people and I was in the water.

A slower swimmer was just exiting the water as I was doing my second length, and I had to tread water for a bit behind her as I couldn't pass.  This unfortunately screwed up my Garmin count and I didnt' realize until I was at the far end of the lane and it read 225m.  I'm REALLY bad about counting laps.  I just can't get it straight.  I had no idea if I was at 200 or at 250.  My friend got out of the water just before I did, and my time showed 18:40.  I either swam a minute faster than normal, or my count was out.  My watch showed 725m so I had no real way of knowing.  A review of my Garmin that night confirmed I only swam 700 rather than the 750m.  Out and into transition!

I had a strategy in place to get my winter run gear on.  I dried off as well as I could, tossed my wet run tank, and tried to get my run tights on.  That's a bit tricky lol.  I then realized that my socks were still in my cycling shoes, now secure in the truck.  Shoot.  Oh well.  Running shoes on without socks!  I was happy to see somehow my hubby captured that moment on camera.  I also decided to toss the idea of putting on my heart rate monitor.  Seemed like too much at the time.  Results don't show a transition time, as there was just one mat outside of the gym to show the start of the run.  So transition was lumped into our swim time.  My Garmin showed however that I transitioned in just over 3 minutes.  Given the race weather and needing to re-dress, totally ok with that.

The run.  Wow so much snow.  The ground was pretty slick going over a couple of bridges as the snow was heavy and wet and left a good slush on the ground.  I had taken a gel before the swim, and worked on a second one during the first lap of the run.  I ditched it about 1K in as I wasn't getting much of it in and my hands were cold.  My knee felt a little awkward but worked itself out, and from 3K to the finish I was comfortably able to push my tempo and finished just under 30 minutes.

Photo captured by Tri It Multisport
Photo line finish captured by Tri It Multisport
Overall, I placed halfway both in my division and for overall females.  Really happy with that!  There were 111 people who completed the Sprint, and I was in the mid 90's for the swim.  SO... not a fast swimmer, but I know that.  Gives me something to work on!

I was happy to see that Multisport Canada e-mailed out a discount for a future race, as well as another race stepped forward to also offer a discount on their Tri.  Now that I have a swim/run under my belt, I'm really looking forwad to completing my first Tri.  I e-mailed a race director last weekend and hope to hear soon if that Tri will become a reality in just a couple weeks!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Airdrie Tri turned Aquathon

Wow what an INTERESTING first "Triathlon"!

Race package pick up was on Friday night, and I left rather confused.  There was no bib for the run portion, and the package only had a unisex adult t-shirt and a couple magazines.  Why did we need to pick this up?  Turns out, we should have had our race number written on our package bag.  More on that in a bit when I talk about race morning.

Saturday afternoon I headed over to the pool location to attend the triathlon seminar.  This was fantastic being race specific.  It helped take away first time jitters knowing where we would exit the water, seeing what transition looked like, knowing the rules of how to properly rack our bike, and a little bit about where to mount our bikes and come back into transition for the run.  The word "snow" was mentioned a few times - what? wait?  SNOW is in the forecast??  Saturday was overcast and cold.  Not awesome for racing conditions, but it was at least dry.

I came home and organized my various piles that I would need.  I emptied out some large ziploc yarn bags (I smiled seeing my two passions cross paths - ha!), and thought about how I could keep everything dry, and keep myself warm.

Race morning I woke up at 6:15am and thought "let's get this party started!".  I came downstairs, saw rain/snow falling heavily and thought "is this a smart idea?".  I quickly changed my game plan a little bit, and grabbed a waterproof rain jacket for the bike, and decided I would fully change after the pool in the change room so I would be dry on the bike other than wet hair.  I loaded Ruby into the back of the wet truck and headed for the Tri.

Getting out of the truck I was quickly told the bike portion had been cancelled.  Rain had now turned to snow and it was 0 degrees Celcius.  A smart call by the race director, but this being my first Tri, there was a touch of disappointment as I took Ruby's front wheel off to securely lock her into the truck.  I started pulling things out of my ziploc bags to re-organize for a swim/run.

For all the changes race morning, the race directors handled it as quickly and as efficiently as truly possible.  We headed inside to find everyone confused and wondering what and where to go.  Finally someone arrived for body marking.  But wait?  Half of us did not know our race numbers!  We were told to head outside.  I found the race director who directed us to the original transition.  Snow was now falling heavily.  The lady in the tent instructed us we should have our numbers or we should get it inside.  As you're seeing, there was some confusion.  Apologies were also given that this was a mess up at package pick up.  Numbers received and back into the gym. Things got sorted, and transition was moved to a gym across from the pool exit.

The swim was supposed to start at 8am, and by shortly after that, the party was started and Olympic distance swimmers were entering the pool.

How did I do on my first Aquathon?  Tune in tomorrow!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Learn to Knit Socks!


Do you know how to cast on and do the knit stitch?  Have you always wondered or wanted to learn to knit socks?

Here is your chance! 

I will be teaching a top down (meaning knitting from the cuff to the toe) using double pointed needles (those five short sticks you may have seen knitters using - don't worry, it's fun I promise), sock class here in Calgary!  


We will be meeting Monday nights from 7-9pm in a central location May 30th, June 6th and June 20th (the break in between the last two classes will give everyone a chance to get some knitting done so the last class we can work on the toe!)


$40 Please send an e-transfer prior to the class start, or bring cash with you to the first meet up.

What to bring:

Fingering weight/sock weight yarn and double pointed needles.  Many knitters find they use between a 2.25mm and a 2.5mm.  You will also need to bring a stitch marker.  I will bring the pattern for everyone.  

If you are interested, please leave me a note below and I can provide you the details of where we will be meeting!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

As ready as I can be!

This coming Sunday (May 26th) I will be putting together months of swimming, cycling, and rehab, and toeing the line at my first Triathlon.  Even though the distances alone seem very manageable (a 750m swim, a 20K bike, and a 5K run), I question if I'm up to it when I think about putting those ALL together.

Last week to get into the mental game, I hit the pool and did a 750m swim in my tri gear, followed by a 10K bike on Ruby.  It was windy and cold outside, and it was the first time taking Ruby out on the road.  It was really good for me to see I could ride in those conditions, and to deal with a bit of the panic in the pool (I had to remind myself that this was all a trial and to just BREATHE a couple of times). I also gave the Triathlon function on my Garmin 920XT a go.  I loved it, but it was good to find out since I didn't google beforehand, that the swim portion of the function defaults to an outdoor swim NOT a pool swim.  Looks like to get around this, you can create your own workout in Garmin but then you lose the transitions.  Haven't decided what I will do for the race yet.  

I have zero understanding of how to appropriately train for a triathlon, so I've approached the sprint with the premise of "spend as much time as possible on the sports I am weakest at".  For me that has been the swim, and the past two weeks, time on the road bike.

Garmin 920XT results after the swim/bike using the Triathlon function.
On Saturday I wanted to get in a 20K bike on Ruby and then do a run afterwards.  Unlike the swim/bike day, Saturday was lovely and it was so nice to get used to how to position myself on the bike so my hands didn't ache (I was noticing this on my earlier rides), and then how stump like my legs felt into the run, and how much time it took them to feel "right" again (about 1.5K).

This week I plan to do both of my swim classes (Tuesday and Thursday), and maybe throw in a light brick on Wednesday.  Then that will be it til SUNDAY!

Any Tri tips on transitions or otherwise you would like to throw my way?  I'm all ears :)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

9 months later and back in the game!

It's been an interesting 9 months since I've been in this space.  After not getting much from the physio I was seeing in August, I made the decision in September, to take a go at rehab on my own.  I started incorporating HIIT routines, and pretty much put running aside.  I took out a membership at our local YMCA and began swimming once a week and riding my bike.

By December, my husband and I thought it was time to seek out professional help again.  I had heard about a clinic associated with the University of Calgary that had done research on patellafermoral, and I signed up for a biomechanical assessment.  Holy crips!  I was weak in my glutes, my ankles, and was told I might also be looking at chondromalacia (that was more than disheartening).  But I was also told I would be back running by February (I didn't believe it).

But I started doing my nightly physio exercises, and by January that saw me doing 45 minutes a night - almost a workout in itself!  And amazingly, I was back running.  Slowly.  I started with 1 minute run and 1 minute walk.  By the end of January I was up to 10 and 1's and running 5Ks again.  From there it's been onwards and upwards!

In March I ran the St Patty's Day race, and was so pleased with how my knee felt, and with my time.  I clocked in at 58 minutes.  I took the course easy, and did my prescribed 10 and 1's, then pushed it right at the end.

April saw me starting a triathlon swim class, and starting to work on increasing my distance past 10K.  This has been challenging, as my calf seems to tighten up when I get at the 10K distance.  On a training run of 14K my calf was so tight afterwards I had a hard time walking down stairs afterwards.

Just last weekend I ran the Eyeball the Wall 15K run, and was SO pleased with the race.  I ran a negative split, and my run times on the last half were all under 5:30m/k!  And my knee felt GREAT, with my calf only tightening up halfway through then releasing.  BUT, the next morning getting out of bed, my knee collapsed under me.  Oi.  Looks like I have more work to do and that the patellafemoral is alive and well.

I have my first Tri (a Sprint), in just two weeks time, so my focus right now is to get acquainted with a new to me road bike (affectionately known as Ruby), and to keep at my swim to try and clip some seconds off my 750m time. I'm feeling nervous and excited at dipping my toes into the triathlon world.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Letting Go

Sometimes the hardest decisions, are also the easiest ones.  It's a strange place to be when you can so clearly see both sides.

I had been holding out hope that I'd still be able to run the Victoria Marathon, or at least the half.  I would get to 3K on my treadmill and somehow think it was doable.  But the reality is, I'm scared to run after my kids, I'm afraid to run outside, and sometimes taking that first step after a walk break on the treadmill feels alot like "oh sh*t, what might happen?"

I had had two successful runs this past week with no pain.  I started incorporating a knee brace, and with that on, ran a 5K and then two days later a 7K.  But yesterday, I did my run walk, and had pain at 6.5, then again at 7.5.  I made it 8K before I shut the treadmill off.  I tried picking up my phone to cancel our hotel, but just couldn't do it.  Not because I was overly upset, it was just something too big for me to do.  So I had my hubby do it.  I sat and stretched while he cancelled our flights and our room.  I just needed to have that weight off of my shoulders.  These crazy distances looming there that I thought somehow I could acheive.

And with that lifted, I have nothing else on the calendar other than Winterstart in Banff, which is a 5 miler.  Easy enough that I can walk, and I'm there with a girlfriend, so will have company along the route.

I have learned alot this past Summer, and credit alot of it to my knee injury, but also to watching Ironman Whistler.  I was humbled by the marathoners, who after a swim, and bike, AND in grueling conditions, made that marathon look "easy".  When you attend a marathon on it's own, there is carnage everywhere near the end.  Not at the Ironman.  And I clearly saw that there is a better way to train.  I took a swim class in August through our city, swimming twice a week working on stroke improvement.  And I got onto my bike and started cycling at least once a week.  I've incorporated yin yoga, and just recently some pilates to focus on my core.  On top of all that I'm doing my physio exercises and icing my knee.  Truth to be told, I'm more active now than when I was just logging long distances.

With Vic off the table, I'll be cancelling my physio appointments, and taking time to just BE.  I'll be doing all I wrote above, and running no more than 5K's.  I might even take the next few weeks off.  It's also two days from my 36th birthday, so I've been reflecting on what some of my yearly goals will be.  With rehabilitation in mind, here how I hope to approach things:

1.  Take time off running until I no longer hear a click in my knee going up stairs.
2.  Get to the point that without thinking, I freely chase after my kids (right now, I'm scared to run after them at all).
3.  Once those two are hit, back on the treadmill and see how the knee is fairing.
4.  Get back outside and running on the road.
5.  Get stronger and faster at swimming.  I've taken out a Y membership so I can swim twice a week while my littlest is at preschool.  I am right now doing 1K in 1 hr.  I'd like to see that get faster, and I'd like to improve my endurance on my front crawl.
6.  Try out a cycling class.  Tricky due to timing, but I'd like to find a way to give it a go.
7.  Try a triathlon in the Spring.  I've looked at the Strathmore Diva Run or the Vulcan Tin Man.  I don't have a road bike so need a nice introduction, with a run no longer than 5K as I don't know where my knee will be at.
8.  Maybe, maybe, thinking a year away to next Fall, maybe a half will be possible.  Maybe not.  Not clinging too tightly to that as a goal.  Maybe a distant wish.  Time will tell.

I've had some say (and even myself) that my family has had a really crappy year.  It is true that it could be looked at that way.  But there is a positive lining to everything, and I have learned alot about myself, my family, my friends, and I truly feel blessed to see the world the way I see it now.

School starts back up here on Tuesday, and hopefully I'll be in this space more often!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Runner Down

The past two months were filled with year end school activities, a family trip to Vancouver Island, spending our days wondering when the next thunderstorm would hit, and catching some rays when the days brightened.  I also managed to run the Millarville Half Marathon, the Stampede Half Marathon, and the 5 Peaks Glenbow run.

Those first two halfs, and my training in between, I was on FIRE.  My times were coming down, I felt strong, and fast.  I recall thinking that it was too good to be true.  Maybe those words/thoughts shouldn't be uttered, because about 3 weeks ago, I went down fast.

I ran a 16K run in Victoria, hoping for 25 but my legs were so tired.  I checked Strava and saw that my kilometers were close to 500 on the shoe.  Holy cripes!  And I did a foolish thing.  Maybe.  I left those shoes there, and came home and the NEXT day, ran the Stampede Half Marathon.  That race was great despite the early start and time change.  I love the course around the Reservoir, the race shirt never disappoints, and this year I had the pleasure of my brother and SIL also running the course.

Dudes, then things crumbled.  That following week, I texted my hubby at 9K and asked for a pick up.  9K.  I don't think I've ever done that.  I trudged through and made it to 17.  From then on, I would near 4K and my knee would feel like it was being cut.  I've never experienced a running injury like it, and I've had a few.  I tore my achilles before Boston and was in an air cast, and I'm no stranger to IT injuries.  But knee.  Never the knee.  And here I was, 4K and I could not run.

A friend referred me to a great physio close to home, who told me it was Runners Knee as well as Quadricep Tendonitis.  I have been receiving acupuncture and some torturous ultrasound as well as wearing Kinesiology tape 24/7.  I saw Chiro last week who told me that my knee is showing the symptoms, but she thinks it is due to tight hip flexors and that my SI was locked.

I am doing EVERYTHING I can to try and beat this.

Yoga - almost daily now since my brother sent me some Yin Yoga tapes.
Icing twice daily
Rolling as allowed
And running as far as I can before pain.

I made it 10K on the treadmill this past weekend and had to stop to put my kids to bed.  Coming down the stairs was NOT good.  I made it 1K more and decided I needed to be smart and stop.

I was doing SO well maintaining a half marathon base after Vancouver, and this is honestly killing me.  I run not for fitness, but because it gives me time just for me.  To get my mind cleared as I pound the pavement.  To process and deal with things I need time to think through.  Space to take in the air and beauty around me.  I just do not get that same release in a 25 minute run.

I'm sad dudes and am close to having to make some hard decisions about an upcoming 5Peaks race this coming weekend, but more so, my Fall marathon.  I should be running kilometers around the 25K mark and I can't manage 11 comfortably.  My physio said that physiologically a half is the same as a full.  But to me I know it's not for my body.  I don't know what to do.  My heart knows where it is leaning though, I'm just holding back.

Last night my hubby and I were out for our anniversary date and at one point he gently said "do you know you've been talking about endurance sports for over an hour".  Cripes.  I need an outlet.  Maybe laying it all out here will help.  And I'm starting swim lessons Tuesday and getting better acquainted with my bike.

But wow do I miss my running shoes.

Have you ever had an injury that's taken you out for awhile?  How did you cope physically and emotionally?