Thursday, December 29, 2011

It could be worse! ;)

I decided to make an appointment to see a sports medicine doc after my fall two weeks ago jumping up the stairs at track practice.  A week after the fall I tried to run and I pushed myself more than I should have.  I ran 16km but it was a very painful 16km.  My right foot felt like it should not have been in the shoe and I resorted to walking the last bit home because it was hurting too much.   I gave it more rest and tried to run again.  Same thing but this time I did not run as far.  Ok...I fully admit that was not a smart thing to do which got me into trouble in the first place.  To stop this practice of testing it out each week and potentially making it worse I decided I should see someone to make sure nothing serious was done.  And at the same time I figured I should get my left foot looked at as well as the pain in my heel has been getting worse.  After getting assessed and being told I was like a typical health care practitioner who leaves things for a little too long, lol, the conclusion is as follows.  I have been diagnosed with plantar faciitis in my left foot and a sprain at the 4th tarsometatarsal joint in my right foot.  So I now have physio prescribed and I'll see how that goes.  Not exactly the way I want to start the new year but it definitely could have been a lot worse.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


I would like to wish all of you, your families, and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas!!!!!!

And here is one of my baking creations from this year!  The M-dot! Lol!  I made a batch of Ironman shortbread cookies along with my other varieties that I have gifted up for this year.  I didn't take a picture of them though but it is pretty much the same spread as last year!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!  Cheers and be merry!!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Keeping my fingers crossed!

I have been very lucky in the injury department the last couple of years.  And I really hope my streak continues.  My last serious injury was back in late 2009 around the time of IM Cozumel when I had a possible back stress fracture.  It was painful to just walk and after the Ironman I took two months off to heal and I was successful.  I have niggling stuff now and then with muscles and the latest is a sore right hamstring and quite possibly plantar fasciitis in my left foot which I have yet to confirm.  Based on the symptoms I am 99% sure I am dealing with that and maybe I should get proper treatment before it gets really bad.  But last night I did a good one.  I was debating about even going to the track workout because I came off of my night shift that morning, then went Christmas shopping during the day (which I am happy to say I am done!!!) and then decided to go to track with no sleep!  Not smart of me at all.  Worse is that I have been up since 6:30am Wednesday morning!  I never take a nap on my first night as I am up and training and doing errands.  Well, I was up all day, worked all night, and then was up all of the following day.  I should have known better and stayed home and go to sleep.  But I was feeling ok and decided to go and just run the 600s easy.  And I did exactly that.  I did not go hard because I did not want to injure myself and held a good pace and was consistent for all the intervals.  It was after the repeats that did me in.  We do circuits which include jumping up the stairs on one foot and two feet.  On the best of days I am not the greatest but I have improved tons since I first joined the club at jumping up the stairs.  But my coordination and balance was so off and I was all over the place.  On the third set, I was doing the one-footed jump on my right leg and instead of landing straight on my foot I landed on my toes unbalanced and then straight onto my ankle also hitting my left shin onto the concrete stairs.  And the pain that shot through my ankle left me on the stairs unable to move.  I have a high pain tolerance to begin with but I was actually brought to tears  I have sprained my ankle before in ballet class when I was a teenager and did not feel what I felt last night.  It was so painful I was afraid I actually broke it because I couldn't even move it.  After a couple of minutes I slowly tried to move it again and it was a lot better.  I was afraid to get up and put weight on it but I did and was relieved that I could move it and put weight on it.  So I followed coach's orders and iced it right away.  Now about 24 hrs later I have a swollen foot.  My ankle is not too bad but my foot is quite sore.  My range of motion is not the greatest and walking does hurt.  I am not limping though.  I actually even tried out yoga and swimming today (ok....again, not smart of me!).  I was a little tentative at yoga as putting weight on it does hurt but I managed ok and swim was fine; I just didn't push off the wall with that foot.  I am still icing it and I am hoping for the best.  If it is still bothering me a week from now I have decided I will get it checked out.  Lucky for me it is the off season and I can afford time off.  I just hope it really is nothing and just a freak accident that hurt at that moment and nothing else!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Santa Shuffle

Saturday I ran the Santa Shuffle 5km in Sunnybrook Park raising funds for the Salvation Army.  This was a different run from what I am used to.  This was more of a fun run and fun I did have.  We got bibs but no chip times.  There was a clock at the finish but no finishing times or results were posted.  I went into this trying to run a 22:30 for 5km but just missed the mark.  I was wearing my Garmin and realized midway through the run that the course was longer than 5km.  It was about 300m long.  That was ok except for that I did not press the stop button hard enough when I crossed the finish line so I really had no idea what time I finished the run in.  And I ran back to find a friend to help her run the last part hard so that was all included in my total time.  So based on my Garmin I hit the 5km mark in 23:10.  Not bad!  If there was a finish line at this mark I usually try to kick it into high gear and could have maybe brought this time down.  Something to work towards!  I did learn that I am not a good 5km runner! Lol!  I went out too hard and was slowing down considerably at the end.  I think right now I am better at pacing a 10km than a 5km.  I also believe I was 5th woman overall.  I noticed right off the bat two women were ahead of me.  I passed some early on but at the last km I had two women pass me.  So I figured that gets me 5th.  But since no results or awards were posted I really am not 100% sure.  It was a fun Saturday morning though and technically another PB for me! Yay! Lol!!!  I would like to try some more 5km races and see if I can get even faster! ;)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Maybe just one more.... I lied....I just signed up for one more race! This time I really think this will be the last one for the season! Lol! I will be running my first 5km road race at the Santa Shuffle this Saturday!  I am hoping for a blistering fast time (for me anyway!) even though this is advertised as a "fun run".  We'll see!  I'm looking forward to it! :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mixing it up a bit!

I decided to try a couple of different things to keep me in shape during my off season.  I figured I would get back into serious tri training in January but I didn't want to get too out of shape.  I am still running and swimming with the Masters groups so that definitely helps!  And really, I can't get out of shape with those groups!  They really do keep me in check!  I haven't touched my bike though since my last race in September except for commuting all around the city on my single speed (which I really do enjoy!).  But this time, I decided to give bootcamp and yoga a whirl!

I have done yoga before and have done ashtanga, moksha, and bikram classes but it has been more than a year since I have practiced any yoga.  I usually stop practicing yoga once training and race season starts but I am hoping this time it will be different.  I went to a new studio for me at Fireflow Yoga and I loved it from the moment I first stepped in which is quite different from my other yoga studio experiences.  In the past I had to return to a few classes to warm up to the studio and a couple of them I just never did warm up to because I felt it was a bit to stuck up for me.  But this one is great!  I LOVE going to classes!  They offer both vinyasa and athlete yoga classes and I am enjoying them very much.  And I really hope I can maintain a consistent practice throughout the year and for many years to come.

Bootcamp was something I wanted to try for a while.  I found an awesome deal through WagJag where I got one month unlimited for $30 so I figured I had nothing to lose.  Classes are offered every morning within a 10min walk from me.  So I started it and get my booty kicked.  I do have to say I am quite impressed with myself and I realized I am quite in shape.  Anything abs, core, and legs I can do no problem.  My weakness are my arms.  And I think I have never seen my biceps so defined as they are now, lol!!!  It is definitely a great hour of working out which I don't think I would ever do on my own.  There is a lot of pain and lactic acid involved but it is a lot of fun!  However, once the month is up I do not think I would continue because quite frankly it is too expensive for me.  It would be great to keep this up over the winter months and really tone up and get my core in tip top shape but I can't see myself paying that much for these classes.  I am hoping I can learn from them and do some of these exercises on my own though!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I can run!

On Sunday I ran which I believe would be my last race for 2011.  I ran the Whitby Waterfront 10km race.  Another fairly last minute decision but I wanted to see what I can run a 10km in since I have been working on speed on the track this year.  The last time I ran a 10km was in 2006 at the Sporting Life 10km which is known to be a fast course.  I wanted to go under 50min and I was hoping to better my 2006 time of 49:34.

Got picked up by Marianne as her son and his friend were running the 5km.  Got to the race site nice and early and I did a warm up run.  The weather was great for running except for the wind.  It was another very windy day!  So I decided to look more like a runner and by-pass my running hat that I always wear (except for XC this year) while running.  This decision was more due to the wind and I did not want to worry about losing the hat. 

The 5km, 10km, and 10 miler all started at the same time right after the kids 1km run.  This was a much smaller race then what I am used to and it was a nice change from the big crowds and having to try to get some space and run your pace.  The race started and the first km was pretty fast for me.  I went about a 4:30 but I also wanted to get around some of the slower runners/walkers.  I then tried to settle into a fast but comfortable pace and found myself trying to hold back a bit.  My plan was to hold back and then go for broke at the turnaround at the 5km mark.  Got to the 5km mark in 23:30 and was really happy with that.  I still felt really comfortable.  Then I tried to pick up the pace, however, we were met by a nasty headwind.  So I may have been assisted my a tailwind on the way out but now I was paying the price for that.  I then had to dig deep to keep pace and the wind was not making it easy.  I got passed by one guy just after the turnaround who I ended up passing back at around the 7km mark.  I also passed one other guy at about the 6km mark.  Without the crowds it was all up to me to push hard and I liked that.  I found that I was pretty focused and just tried to run as hard as I could and the last 500m I gave what I had.  Marianne actually ran with me for about 200m to get me to run a bit faster and I did.  I was gaining on one guy just in front of me but I did not catch him at the end.  Crossed the line in 47:33 for a new 10km PB!!! Yay!!!  I was really happy with that!  Later I found out I was 4th out of 41 in my age group and 7th woman overall out of 100!  Woohoo!!! Ok, so maybe it wasn't a fast field but I am happy!  I feel that I ran a smart race and left it all out there.

As I was updating my PB's on the right column of my blog, I noticed that all of my running PBs are from 2011!!! Woohoo!!!  I actually would have PB's at all distances (minus IM)  if it wasn't for the cancelled swim at Steelhead and the shortened swim at St. Anthony's!!!  Here's hoping for more PB's in 2012!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

OMA XC Provincials

On Sunday I ran in the OMA Ontario XC Championships in Guelph and I really had a blast!!!  This time it was a 5km run and the weather was quite favourable except for a pretty harsh headwind at times.  I travelled with two other teammates (thanks for the ride!) and got to see my first ever big cross country meet.  Other races were going on and it was fun to watch some speedy youngsters rip the course up.  I did a 20min run in the morning before leaving for Guelph and I did another ~10min run once we arrived in Guelph on the course. 

Part of the reason why I am having so much fun is being part of a team!  And I got to put on my UTTC singlet and spikes again! Furthermore, everyone is so encouraging and positive, how can I not have fun!?  We did our little cheer at the start line and then the race was on.  I think I started out way too fast because I had the lung-burning feeling early on.  I was also running close to people I normally don't run close to, lol!  But I paid the price for that!  Before the half way mark I was getting passed by other runners again.  No passing on my part this time....oh well!  And I was just hanging on at the end...I faded fairly quickly.  The wind didn't help though but I probably should have paced it a little bit better.  I ran a 24:33 for the 5km...a PB for me!  Yay!  I also got a medal for placing third in my age group...although there were only three in my age group! Haha!  But I can say that the first place woman is a pro-triathlete!  UTTC maintained our second placing for the OMA XC series!

Hmmm.....I am liking this XC thing!!!!  Too bad it's the end of the season and I'll have to wait til next year to try it again!

Up next: 10km road race in Whitby this Sunday....I'll be gunning for a PB!!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

XC Race #3

In my state of insomnia (flipping back and forth from night shifts to days is not working right now!) I have decided to finally get around to writing a report from my third XC race last weekend at Sunnybrook park.  This was the same course as the 4km we did a couple of weeks before this race but this time we ran the loop twice for 8km.  That meant we had to run up the steep muddy hill twice.

I did not have to work the night before and it made a huge difference in how I felt.  Ok, maybe not so much in performance but this time I felt like I was able to push it a bit more in places and my legs felt fine. I rode to the run again and that hill actually wasn't that bad either, lol!  It was an absolutely beautiful day to run though!!!  Even wore sunglasses!  As well, our girls team decided to dress up in Halloween costumes for this race and we came out as cheetahs!  One of our team members made some ears and tails for us!  Lol!  So much fun!!!  Oh....and and this was the first time I ran in a UTTC singlet!!!  Now I felt like a serious runner! haha!

The run started and I just tried to hold a good pace.  Also tried to be more aggressive in the downhills but I still need to work on that.  Got to the big hill and passed two guys who just passed me before the hill as we were going up.  I thought that they would re-pass me after the hill but I managed to keep them away.  Going up that hill actually was a lot of fun! It was so muddy that when I planted my foot down it would slide back a bit.  Also almost lost my shoe as my heel popped out when my shoe got stuck in the mud.  I passed one more person, a female runner, before the end of the first loop!  Yay!!!  I am finally passing some people.  Completed the first loop just a bit slower than the race a couple of weeks ago and then tried to push it more on the second loop.  Got to the hill the second time and I caught up to and passed my friend Tim as I was huffing and puffing!  I could not say two words to him!  I wanted to pass on some encouraging words but no can do!  Got to the top and I thought he was going to re-pass me and I tried my darnest to stay in front of him.  I was successful but at one point he was really gaining on me.  I was hoping for a 40-41min run but I was a bit ambitious with that goal and was off by a bit.  I clocked in at 42:30.

Good times though!  I am liking this cross-country thing! Haha!  UTTC managed to hold onto our second place overall in the standings! Yay team!!!  I also decided to run at the Ontario Masters Championships this weekend in Guelph!  Go figure, I am running at provincials!  Out of my league but I am having fun and hope I can just run my heart out!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Round Two!

Sunday I participated in my second ever XC race!  And this time I was equipped with spikes thanks to Marianne!  Yay!  The Don Farquharson Memorial Harriers XC race was at Sunnybrook park and was approx 4km.  I considered this race a bit harder than the Taylor Creek run...that one uphill was evil! ;)  I again was silly enough to race in between my 12-hr night shifts!  And again, I managed to push my body with no sleep and tired legs.  I rode my bike to the race site which involved one pretty steep hill.  I have ridden up that hill before on a bike with gears which is no problem.  But on a single speed commuter bike it was a whole different story.  I wasn't sure if I was going to make it up that hill when I was trying to figure out a route to get to the park.  I decided to ride it anyway and it was a toughy!  I suffered going up that hill.  I pretty much destroyed my legs going up that thing and I was winded and sweating...haha!  After I checked in I decided to do a warm up run and that lasted no more than 100m.  My post marathon and post night shift legs were done!  Their response: "ahem....what do you think you are doing! I want to go back and sleep!".  I honestly did about a 100m jog and then walked back.  I decided to save whatever I had for the race.  The gun went off and we were off.  I think I started a bit too fast because I felt myself die early in the race.  But the spikes made a huge difference.  I had a grip going up the hills!  Awesome!  There was one long downhill that I once again got crushed on!  Got passed lots but passed some back on the flats and some uphills.  The one steep uphill was muddy but the spikes did their job.  My lungs on the other hand were on FIRE!  They were burning and hurting!  And probably about half way into the run I got a good side stitch and I wasn't able to push the last part as much as I wanted to.  Oh....and this time I didn't follow my team mate's line.  It wasn't because I didn't want was because I couldn't!  Oy!  I had my a$$ handed to me! Haha!  I ended with a near asthma attack as I was coughing away trying to get my breath back.  I did have fun out there and clocked in at 20:58, good enough for a 3rd place medal in my age group.  LoL!  UTTC as a group came in 2nd!  Good job guys!  Nice work! I didn't contribute to that but am proud to be part of the team!  Next challenge is the Sunnybrook 8km XC race in two weeks!  I hope to get out on the course and practice a bit and try to become a better XC runner.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chi Town 26.2

October 9, 2011
Chicago Marathon
Chicago, Illinois

Chicago...the race I really wanted to do well at did not really pan out.  I arrived Friday morning with Marianne and Saila in Chi Town and we headed to the expo for registration and some shopping.  This expo was probably one of the biggest expos I have ever been at including all Ironmans!  It was huge!  Which meant lots of walking but that was ok.  I got some swag and then we played tourist for the rest of the day even trying out some famous Chicago deep dish pizza and Garrett's popcorn!  Saturday I ran about 6km in the morning with 3x1km at race pace and I felt ok.  We spent the rest of the day shopping along the Magnificent Mile and site seeing.  Had some pasta for dinner and went to bed early for our early wake up call.

Race day Sunday.  Got up, had some oatmeal, a banana, and a boost and got ready for the race.  We were really close to the start/finish area so that was really handy.  Walked over to the race site and got into the corral with about 45min left before the start.  I was not seeded so I was in the Open corral and went to the 4:00 hr section as that was my goal - sub 4hr.  This was for sure the biggest race I have ever been in.  There were over 50,000 people who started this run. Wow!  Insane!  The gun went off at 7:30am but it took me about 7min to cross the start line.  And I consider that pretty good! Lol!

My goal was to hold around a 5:40 min/km pace right from the beginning to about the half way mark.  If I felt good I would then try to bring that down, if not, maintain pace and reassess at 30km and if I still could not bring it down then just try to maintain the 5:40.  5:40 was what I needed to come in just under 4hrs and I REALLY wanted this!  I was prepared to hurt for this.  At the start I was really careful to try not to go out too hard as can happen with adrenaline and all the energy surrounding you.  However,  with all the tall buildings in the downtown core and running under some bridges I noticed that my Garmin was not reading my pace correctly.  It was jumping all over the place and I quickly realized I could not rely on my avg pace reading anymore.  Darn!  That was ok as I was quickly doing math to figure out the mile pacing.  Next time I will know what mile and km pacing I want.  I figured I needed to maintain around a 9min/mile and that was what I tried to do.  I was so focused on maintaining pace that the first half of the run just flew by.  This was also aided by the enormous amount of spectators!!! It was absolutely incredible.  The whole 42km were lined with spectators and in some places it went about 5ft deep!  We were never alone.  And it was also sooo loud with music and performers along the way.  It was so loud I could not even hear myself breathe.  At the same time though with the huge number of runners it made running in some places tricky.  The corners were tight and at times there was a bottleneck effect.  The aid stations were a bit crazy but they were so long that I waited until there was some clearing before I got fluids.

I was so focused on the pace that I did not notice or look around the different neighbourhoods we were passing.  I was careful to take both gatorade and water at the aid stations as it was a HOT day!  I believe the temp was about 30C!  Yikes!  And I was soaking wet!  I took a total of four gels throughout and I also took a couple of salt pills because I was caked in salt.  At about 22km I also took a redbull shot hoping it would give me some wings! ;)  As the temperature was rising I was really starting to feel the heat and I was grabbing sponges and running through water to try to cool down.  Just before the 30km mark the heat started really getting to me but I did not focus on that at all.  I was maintaining a good pace right until about 34km where I guess my wheels fell off.  I had stayed in front of the 4hr pacer until then and then I got passed.  I tried to stay with them but I just could not.  I tried to fight and was focusing on trying to push but it wasn't happening.  I made some more calculations and realized that I was not going to come in under 4hrs.  Maybe once I realized that I let my pace go even more but I tired to bring it back as I wanted to get as close to 4hrs as possible.  Yup...not so much!  With 2miles to go we entered the inspirational mile and I tried to pick it up again there.  I even had volunteers telling me I looked great!  But when I looked down at my watch the pace just wasn't there.  I had little left in me.

Crossed the line in 4:09:12.  And to be honest, I was very disappointed.  I really thought I was capable of a sub 4.  I consider myself to be realistic with my time goals and I thought sub 4 was possible.  Maybe it was too rich for me or maybe it just wasn't my day.  My garmin read a 5:48 min/km pace but it also read 43km, it looks like I ran a 5:55 pace with an avg HR of 164bpm.  Stats: I was 10,649 out of 35,628 finishers.  I was the 2839 women to cross the line out of 15,453 and I was 541 in my age group out of 2845.  On the bright side this was a PB for me! Yay!  My first marathon was a 4:16.  At the finish we were given free beer and here is me enjoying one:

Afterwards, we went to Niketown to get our medals engraved and look at the finisher's gear and we had the best welcoming party ever.  We had to enter through a specific door since we were finishers and the employees were lined up on either side and cheered us in as we walked inside.  It was a first for me and it was amazing!  That was a lot of fun!  I do have to say that this was a very well organized race.  All the aid stations were well stocked and the volunteers were great!  And we also got free medal engraving and photos courtesy of Nike!  How cool is that!

Right now I am considering a November marathon!  Do not know if this is insane or not.  Hmmm???  I do have the run training in me right now....maybe try again at a sub 4!?!?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Muddy, rainy, dirty!

And cold!!!  This was all part of my first cross country running experience!  This past Sunday I participated in the Taylor Creek 5km XC race as part of the Ontario Masters Athletics (OMA) series.  Unfortunately, I was working nights on both Saturday and Sunday which meant I was racing in between my 12-hr night shifts!  Not ideal!  Especially with the shifts that I sleep break for me! Boo!  It was quite busy!  But I always surprise myself as to how much I can push my body!

Sunday morning I rode my bike home from work in the pouring rain and I started to worry about the race.  I do not own spikes and even though the course is suitable for flats I wasn't sure if this was still the case in the rain.  So I sent out an email in the morning wondering if I did in fact need spikes or if this would be a good excuse to bail on the run and stay home and sleep.  I was honestly thinking of bailing!  I tried to sleep for a couple of hours but it wasn't the greatest.  I woke up at about 11am and went anyway without spikes and hoped for the best.  It was very rainy and cold and quite suitable to stay in bed! Ha!  Got to the race site and saw the Nachos which was nice and other members of the UTTC.  We were warned that the course was quite muddy and to be careful out there.  I drank a Redbull shot about 15min before the race in an attempt to wake my body up.

I was given advise from a few people when they found out this was my first XC run and all of them told me to not go out too hard.  So I did exactly that.  I went out at a comfortable pace, not easy but not balls to the wall either.  Got to the first downhill and almost wiped out.  I quickly learned this was a whole other world of running.  There is a whole different skill set to this and I had no idea what I was doing! Lol!  I got passed big time on the downhill as I was taking it cautiously.  Then the mud run began.  Every corner I was losing my footing, I was slipping and sliding, almost lost my shoe at one point and even turned my ankle and almost fell as I quickly gained my balance.  All I could think about was next weekend and Chicago and not wanting to do anything silly out there.  So I held back and made sure I did not injure myself trying to go faster.  It wasn't worth it for me.  Next time I'll be more aggressive but not that day.  So I stayed behind my teammate Duncan and followed his line!  Thanks Duncan!!!  When he ran right through the middle of the muddles, so did I.  If he took a corner wider I tried to do the same.  That was a huge help to run behind him.  And let me mention he is many years my senior and is an absolutely incredible runner!!!!  I truly admire him and my other teammates who are all incredible runners!  I hope to learn lots from them the more I train with the club.

I completed the 5km in 25:42 as I kicked it up in high gear at the end as someone else was chasing me down. The Nachos were yelling at me letting me know I was being chased and egged me on to go faster.  She did not catch me but apparently she was really hoofing it and I was afraid to look back to see how close she was.  I was hoping to run this in under 25min so I was just short.  The team I was on (W30) came in 2nd and UTTC as a whole also came in 2nd.  Not incredibly pleased with my time but again this was not road running and I found it to be technical.  I did have fun out there even in the rain and cold.  I am looking forward to getting a pair of spikes and trying this again and try to go even harder.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Centurion 50

September 18, 2011
Collingwood, Ontario

This was the first cycling "race" I have participated in and I had quite a lot of fun!  I managed to convince the Nacho guys to sign up for the 50  mile race and to do this as a team.  I originally wanted to do the 100 mile version of this but by the time this event came around I was glad I only had to do the 50.

I went up with some Toronto friends to the Blue Mountain resort where I was going to meet the Nachos.  Here is a pic of the Honda  we drove in and FOUR bikes on the roof rack:

We just made it on time to get through registration and check out the expo and the guys were there also getting through registration.  So that was easy enough!  Transferred my stuff over to their van and we went to the hotel we were staying at.  It was me and six other guys but at least this time we had two hotel rooms (as oppose to the tiny cabin for Triple T) and I got my own bed!  Pheww!  Let's just say some carbo-loading was done and I enjoyed some tasty home brew by the "kegmaster".  We had fun that night playing some pool at Boston Pizza with some more carbo-loading.

Got up super early as we had to be in our start corral at 6:30am for the 7am start.  I opted to start in the second group with the "serious riders".  The first group were the elites, then after us were the casual riders and then beginners.  It was also pretty cold and I wore knee and arm warmers as well as gloves and toe covers.  I really was not in race mode and just approached this as another ride.  I was also a little worried about the start because I wasn't sure how 1200 cyclists were going to start all at the same time without crashing into each other.  Happy to say the start went pretty smooth and I really did not have anything to worry about.  I managed to find my TO friend in the morning but we did not find half of the Nachos as the car I was in had to get there earlier for the guys to complete registration.  I was hoping to draft a couple of the guys that I was with at the start but I also had agreed to wait for my friend and in doing so I lost the guys right at the beginning. 

There was a lot of passing done right off the bat as we were trying to get away from some of the weaker cyclists and in an effort to warm up as it was only 4C that morning.  I was also hoping we would somehow catch up to the guys so we can draft as long as we could.  We managed to catch up to one of the Nachos that got dropped and I talked to him for a short bit and when I looked up I found that my friend had then dropped me and took off.  I was a little surprised by this as we said we were going to ride together especially since I had waited for her at the start.  Ah well!  I tried to catch up but the gap had widened and it wasn't in me that day.  So now I was riding on my own.  Being a triathlete I am not used to being able to draft while riding in a race and I did not take advantage of this.  I rode pretty much on my own the whole way.  I did draft a couple of times but the hills broke up the pace lines and then I was left alone again.  Riding in the Blue mountains was absolutely beautiful but also challenging!  There were three major climbs but nothing crazy steep.  I just need to learn how to climb faster.  There was also a good head wind for a good portion of the ride to make it that much more challenging.

Here is the profile of the ride from my Garmin

I was riding at a good pace and was averaging just over 30kph until I hit the last long climb and then that pace went all out the window.  And then there was a long descent and we all know how I descend - on my brakes!  So I lost lots of time here and the one Nacho I passed early on caught and passed me as I continued down the long and windy hill very cautiously.  At the end I completed the 84km ride in 3:14:35 for a 26.1kph avg according to my Garmin but my chiptime was 3:15:28, avg 25.6kph which probably was due to me waiting at the start.  Average HR was 148bpm and total elevation was 1,133 m.  I placed 10/27 in my age group and 588 overall out of 1216 cyclists.  As a team, the Nacho Average Triathlon Club finished in 17th out of 33 teams.

crossing the finish line and I did not even realize that was the finish! lol!

I had some fun out there that day but I wished I would have had a little more fire in me so I could have raced this a little more.  I honestly kind of gave up midway through and just wanted to get the ride done.  I also noticed that I did a very poor job of hydrating and eating.  I did not even drink one whole bottle and I had only one gel.  I should of done much better than that.  I definitely would do this type of event again though!  It was a nice change from triathlon.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Muskoka 70.3...more like 72.8

September 11, 2011
Huntsville, Ontario

Well I am finally getting around to writing up this race report!  Huge apologies! Lol!

I was lucky enough to stay up with my second family for this race and cut any hotel costs so I was very grateful for this.  We did our registration on the Friday, got my bike checked in for me on the Saturday (thanks guys!!!), and got up super early for race day Sunday.  I had a bagel with PB, banana, and coffee for breakfast.  Got to the race site and was getting Limey prepped with my nutrition when I realized I made a huge first for me!  I forgot my timing chip at the house!!!  How in the world I forgot to put it on I have no idea.  But I later found out it was underneath a bag in the room so I could not have seen it in the morning.  Nevertheless, I should not have forgotten it and there was no way for me to go back and get the chip.  Luckily I guess this happens often enough and Sportstats had some set aside for such circumstances.  So I got my new chip thanks to the race director and I was set to go.  There was a lot of time before the start so we just chilled in the lobby of Deerhurst so we can stay warm until it was time to head down for the swim.

I was in the third wave for the swim and the water was pretty calm.  The gun went off and I just tried to settle into a good rhythm.  Sighting was actually not the easiest with the bright sunshine but it wasn't all that bad.  I tried to follow some feet but I just found myself swimming on my own....well, more like people were following my feet.  Got out of the water in 35:24 for a 1:47min/m pace and 11th in my age group.  Once out of the water and the hills start immediately!  There is about a 500m run uphill to get to transition.  By the time I got there and got my gear and Limey I left T1 in 4:06.

Now the real hills start!  This bike course is quite challenging but can be a lot of fun.  I just tried to keep a steady effort and keep my heart rate in the 150 range.  However, I was getting passed quite a bit and I was getting a bit annoyed by this and decided to push the pace a little more and started passing people.  I was still feeling pretty good and managed to keep my HR in the same range.  Up and down and up and down...that was the whole bike course.  We also had quite a bit of wind to contend with to make things a bit more challenging.  But for some reason I had this awful feeling in my stomach throughout the bike course.  I just had a sense that something may go bad and all I wanted to do was finish the ride.  The course was open to traffic and I had a couple of really close cars whiz by me so that did not help.  Not sure why I was feeling like this but I was just relieved to have survived the bike as well as see my friends on the run because then I knew they were ok too.  I also started feeling weak in the second half of the bike.  A weird weak feeling as if I was losing some sensation to my legs.  Don't know what that was about.  I rode a 3:24:47 for the 94km bike ride (instead of the usual 90km) and averaged 27.5km/hr, 152bpm HR, 82rpm for cadence, with a total of 1008m of climbing.  I was also very happy to see my parents when I was heading to T2.  I think I surprised my dad as I waved at him since he seemed excited to see me and missed taking a photo! Lol!

Got off the bike, got through transition and onto the run.  As I posted before, I had a guy thank me at the beginning of the run for being his pace bunny on the bike.  Ha!  T2 time was 1:23.

Even though the temp was pretty cold in the morning it really warmed up for the run.  I started the run and wanted to hold about a 6min pace with the plan of bringing the pace down after the first hour.  Well that didn't really pan out.  I was well over a 6min pace and the hills just kept coming.  I think this demoralized me a little bit and I was getting frustrated with myself.  I tried to bring down the pace but just could not do it.  All I saw was 6:15, 6:18, was not pretty.  So by about 2km in I felt like I did not want to be out there.  Not a good thing.  I let my mind get the best of me and I defeated myself.  I had no fight in me for this race.  Then it became a mental battle to just keep running.  I resorted to walking part of one hill that was pretty steep and then I was fighting to not walk anymore and keep to the Nacho rule!  Then I was worried Marianne would pass me on the run so that helped me try to push the last bit some more.  I struggled for most of the run.  Not a good day for me. Boo!  I ran the 21.1km in 2:20:54 for a 6:41min/km pace and avg HR of 164bpm.  Yuck!  That was ugly!  Ended up in 23rd out of 44 in my age group with a time of 6:26:32.  I actually only had two girls in my age group pass me on the run. 

It was a great day to race and it was also great that my parents were out there to cheer me on!!! I love seeing them get all excited when they see me come by!  That was pretty awesome!  I did manage to still have fun out there but it was a tough day for me on a tough course!  Maybe next time!

Monday, September 26, 2011

More races...oh oh!

I have been a delinquent in the posting department.  I really do hope to write up a couple of race reports soon!  I do want to report that I have added three more races to my 2011 season!  If I wrote a report right after my last race (Centurion 50), I would have wrote about how I was done with racing for the year.  I mentally checked out of that race too and didn't actually race it.  More on that in another post when I get around to it.  I wanted some down time so I could get mentally strong for Chicago which I really want to do well at.  I am happy to report that I did do another 30km run (31k to be exact) and I did a 25km run just this past weekend.  I think I have the mileage under me...well I really hope so.  Not sure about the speed though.  I have also started to incorporate some power yoga into my training.  But now I got talked into some cross country races.  Mind you, no arm twisting was involved but I had two parties trying to get me to do this.  Lol!  I have been training with the UofT masters run group (UTTC and part of my torture Thursdays!) and love it!  I've been having fun with the group (while getting my butt kicked) and wanted to take part in a team event.  So I decided to give this cross country running thing a go.  I have never done this before and am excited and nervous about it.  I joked that I am more nervous about this than an Ironman! Haha!  I just hope I can make the team proud although I doubt I will be contributing any points.  This Sunday will be the first race at Taylor Creek Park for 5km.  Wish me luck!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Muskoka - the quick and dirty!

I will write up a proper race report in the next couple of days but here is a short recap of the day!  I am actually quite disappointed with myself and my performance out there yesterday.  I was actually pretty bummed about it last night.  I had an ok swim and bike.  The bike is a very challenging one and I think I did a pretty good job of attacking it.  I even had a guy pass me at the start of the run thanking me for being his pace bunny on the bike! LOL!  He said he was chasing me the whole time and couldn't pass me but I kept him in check!  Thought that was funny.  Oh....but the run.  What to say!?  By the 2km mark I was done.  And I mentally checked out!  Which is what I am very disappointed in.  I couldn't fight through this one for some reason.  Then I was wondering if I was just over-raced.  Maybe doing Guelph wasn't the smartest thing but thought it was a good prep for yesterday.  Who knows!? All I know was that I didn't want to be out there on the run and I let myself give up.  It is a VERY challenging run course with never ending hills.  You just keep going up and down and whatever I did I could not get my pace down.  Going to take the next few days off and then start really focusing on the running for Chicago.  I really wanted to end the tri season on a high note and this was not it! Boo!  Well, another half ironman in the books and I will need to take this as a learning experience some how!  On the bright side, I was 20min faster than the last time I did this course in 2008 but not sure if that accounts for much! Ha!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Guelph Lake II

Guelph Lake II Race Report
September 3, 2011

I decided to do this race as a prep for the Muskoka 70.3 next weekend.  I was working the whole long weekend anyway and I figured this would be the best way to get a good workout in.  So I raced Saturday morning and had to report to work that night for four nights! 

Race morning I had a bowl of oatmeal, a banana, and a cup of coffee.  Got to the race site and reunited with Limey who was staying up north until Muskoka.  Chatted with some friends, got my gear ready, and was set to go. 

The 750m swim went ok.  When the gun went off for my wave I decided to start pretty aggressively and I actually was leading the swim for all of 10seconds! Lol!  I started swimming hard but quickly the lactic acid built up and then I backed off.  I got into a nice rhythm and felt ok but I did not have a great swim time.  In fact, this was one of my slowest swims for the year.  By the time I crossed the timing mat (which was a good run uphill), I clocked in at 15:04 for a 2:01min/m.  Yikes!  That actually really sucks for me!  Anyway, I was 4th out of the water in my age group.

Transition went ok and then I was off on the bike.  Legs were not feeling that great and it took me until the turnaround before I really started hammering it on the bike.  Don't know if I pushed it too hard out there but I had my fastest bike split too date! Yay!  I tried a caffeine pill as well for the first time and I do not know if it helped me or not.  It did not bother me so I may try it again in Muskoka.  I completed the 30km ride in 54:02 for a 33.3km/hr average!  Good enough for 3rd in my age group for the bike! 

check out the bruise on my left leg from the dock jumping incident last week! lol!

Got through transition then onto the run course. here I died!  Maybe I pushed the bike too much or the humidity really got to me.  It was around 39C with the humidex.  Whatever it was, I was suffering out there.  I just had no running legs and was really struggling.  Then my mind went into doubting mode as I was trying to figure out how I am going to run a half marathon off a 90km bike next weekend!  Oy!  I actually had two guys who passed me turn around and asked me if I was ok.  That was how bad I was breathing out there!  I sounded horrendous!  Lol!  As much as I wanted to just stop I did not.  And I was getting faster as I continued running but clocked in my slowest run splits for this year!  Boo!  I ran the 7.5km course in 40:07 for a 5:44min/km.  9th in my age group for the run.  Total time was 1:52:23 and I lost 3rd place by 13 seconds as the third place girl in my age group passed me on the last corner.  I tried to stay with her but just could not.  Final standing was 4th out of 32 in my age group!  Not bad!  But not totally pleased with my performance.  I did get called to the podium and got a plaque. Lol!

Just hope I have a better time at Muskoka this weekend!!!  Eek!!!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

More Summer Fun!

I got to spend some more time up north with my second family this past week! :):):)  Originally I was planning on making a trip to the Okanagan and spend time with friends as well as watch and cheer IMC.  But since I couldn't manage a nice stretch off from work I decided not to go and save some money.  But I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend my free time!  Huge thanks to the Bialkowski's for always welcoming me into your home!!!!

I arrived Wednesday right after work and pretty much did nothing that day since it was passed noon when I arrived. There were actual tornado warnings for the area that afternoon/evening as well!  Great, I got to experience an earthquake the day before and now tornado warnings!  Thankfully nothing materialized but it was a stormy evening.  I did make a batch of chili for the family which appeared to have been a huge hit since it was all gone by the next night!  And that was a huge batch!!!!  Thursday morning I rode my bike for 2hrs with David.  It was an easy ride for him but I had my work cut out for me to keep up with him!  Lol!  He also realized that my seat was too high for me!  Ahhhh....thanks!  Too bad he didn't see this before as I rode the whole season like this! Ha!  Later that afternoon I swam in the bay with Marianne and it was pretty choppy so it was a slower swim than normal for me.  However, I always do enjoy fighting the waves.  Makes swimming more interesting! Following the swim I then did the club time trial.  I was really hoping for another bike PB but it just did not happen.  I think the back to back race weekends caught up to me as it was one of my slower bike time trials for the year and the run was absolutely disastrous! body decided it was tired!
riding along the Muskoka 70.3 course

Friday I got up before the crack of dawn because Marianne and I were going to ride the Muskoka 70.3 course in Huntsville.  One of Marianne's friends joined us for her first ever 94km ride.  We were on our bikes by 7:30am and set out on the course.  It for sure is a beautiful bike ride but also a difficult one.  I did this race three years ago and I was quickly reminded how hilly and challenging this course is!  I was trying to take mental notes as to when to go into my small front ring for the steeper climbs.  It was a great day for riding and kudos to Debbie for surviving it.  Even though we took it easy, the climbing forced you to work hard.  We did reward our efforts with a yummy ice cream treat on our way home!  It was one of the best ice creams I have ever had!!!! Yuummmyyyyy!!!

Saturday I decided to go on the club ride in the morning.  I was banking on some of the  Nachos showing up so I could go a bit easier.  Nope!  Hard core guys were out for this ride and I was the only girl!  If I would have known I may have opted to sleep in and go for a moderate ride later in the day.  But I went and did my best to hang on.  I wanted to just tuck in somewhere and draft and I was doing a good job of that until I had to pull.  The first couple of times I pulled were ok but I was for sure redlining it to keep the pace up.  By my fourth pull I was struggling on the uphills and was expending a lot of energy.  I should have been smart and dropped back right away and draft.  But I tried to take on my share of the work.  Soon enough I was struggling to keep with the pack and kept falling off the back. A couple of times someone would wait back for me and bring me back to the group but doing this enough times was taking its toll on me.  I was time trialing this whole ride.  The last bit we caught back on with the group but I was already going 42km/hr just staying with the three guys as we were waiting to get back on the train.  Once the train came barrelling across my speed hit 45km/hr and I discovered this to be my top end.  Last year my top end speed for drafting was 35kph, at that point I would drop off.  Now its 45kph! Yay!  But the lactic acid was just building up and I thought I was going to hurl going this hard and this fast!  I finally got dropped and decided that was it for me!  I was going to go do the rest of the route and climb the last hill and I was heading that way.  But my legs were fried!  I then decided to turn around and go home.  Still rode 50km in total and most of it was an all out effort.  Oh...and I saw a bear and 2 cubs during this ride too!!!  I was pretty excited about that but also freaked me out a bit as they crossed the road not to far ahead of me! Lol!

That was it for Saturday for me!  My legs were done!  I was contemplating riding later that day but I decided against it as Sunday was a big day for me.  Woke up once again before the crack of dawn on Sunday to now run 30km with Marianne.  I needed to get some long runs in to prep for Chicago and this was one of them.  I am happy to say that this run felt great!  I felt like I could have easily ran another 5km.  I held a good pace until 27km and then fell off a bit from Marianne; but it went very well!  I am super happy with my run!  We did it in exactly 3hrs.  One of my best 30km training runs ever!  Yay!  This has given me a boost for Chicago.  I am planning another 30km run after the Muskoka 70.3 and I should be set!  Following the run I went for an easy 30km bike ride to just spin out the legs. 

Later than afternoon we then went up to the cottage!  The cottage is such a novelty for me because I did not grow up with one!  So it is a lot of fun for me to go there!  I even attempted a silly stunt against my better judgement.  There is a ramp off the dock built to ride a bike off of it and jump into the water.  Well, I gathered up enough courage to do this and was successful on my first attempt.  But I had to get more speed and pedal harder to make this stunt more successful so I tried it again.  Only thing is that we are riding this kids bike so you have to stand and pedal and I fully admit to having poor bike handling skills.  So my second attempt failed as I was heading off the dock before the ramp and into some huge rocks.  I managed not to go head first into the rocks but not before I managed to bruise my whole left leg!  Haha!  After that I was not allowed to try it anymore!  I think I scared them more than I scared myself! Lol!  I was then taken on a boat ride where I got to try water skiing for my first time. it is a lot harder than I expected!  I never did manage to get up but I was persistent and kept trying until I was absolutely freezing and shivering in the water.  Then I called it quits.  Hopefully I can try that again as I think I was getting the hang of it...sort of!

the bike ramp we jumped off from!

my attempt at water skiing

enjoying a boat ride
Monday I finally got to sleep in! Haha!  Went out for a 45min swim in the bay with Morgan and then I did an easy 3hr bike ride.  It was another beautiful day and I just enjoyed myself out there.  Soooo much fun!!!!  I love how I get to sleep 7-8hrs, eat well, relax, have fun, and train!  I even read a book while I was there!  Just awesome!

Up next: Guelph Lake 2 sprint triathlon.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Midsummer Night's Run

Saturday August 22, 2011
30Km Run

I decided to do the Midsummer Night's run last year after cheering friends on last year.  I also figured this would be the perfect opportunity to get in a good 30km run before Chicago later this fall.

With having Steelhead in my legs from just last weekend I wasn't sure if I could even survive a 30km run.  I did a short run on the Thursday evening and realized my legs were still very tired from my half ironman effort.  They were not quite ready for another hard effort.  Saturday came around and I kept myself busy all morning.  The run was not until 5:30pm.  Got to the race site at about 4:30pm and just chilled until race time. 

Initially I wanted to run the same pace as I did in Montreal earlier this year, about a 5:25min/km.  Then I decided because I had a hard effort just last weekend that I would try to stay at a 5:30min/km pace.  Well, this was way easier said than done.  The race started and I immediately realized how humid it was out there.  By the 3km mark I was completely soaked and struggling.  The first couple of km were a little on the fast side and then I wanted to just settle into a 5:30 pace.  But I had to fight to keep the 5:30 pace.  I was successful for the first 10km or so holding about a 5:30-5:35 but this was not easy.  Then I decided to ignore the pace and fight through this and go as hard as I could go.  I played a little game and decided I would change my "gears" at specific km markers.  At 15km I would go into 2nd gear, 20km go into 3rd gear, 25km go into 4th gear, and then 5th gear for the final couple of km.  Around the 16km mark I then started passing lots of people.  These guys must of just went out too fast for their own good and were now slowing down.  I took in three gels throughout, some salt, and two cups of gatorade and water at every aid station.  I really was fighting the whole way and by about the 26km mark my wheels fell off!  I had no more gears and I was just hanging on.  I finished the race in 2:49:45 and I am happy with that.  I avg a 5:39min/km pace with an avg HR of 176bpm.  I had wanted to break 2:45 but I really wanted at least to be under 2:50 and I did!  It was tough though and I definitely want to hold a faster pace in Chicago but at least I have this 30km run under my belt.  I will be focusing more on running over the next few weeks to get ready for Chicago and put down a great time!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Steelhead 70.3...or more like 69.1

Steelhead 70.3 Race Report
Aug 14, 2011

First of all, I have to apoligize for my lack of blogging lately.  It is more laziness than anything else!  I have two races to report about so here goes the first one.

Before heading down to Benton Harbor, MI, I had a chance to do another time trial in Parry Sound.  This time I was outfitted with my aerohelmet and my race wheels, including the disc.  Don't know if the leg massacre weekend got me that much stronger or the wheels and the helmet made that much of a difference or the combination of the two, but I shattered my previous best time!!!  I went almost two minutes faster and did the 16.3km ride in 27:55 which comes to a speed of 35.2km/hr!!!!  My average cadence was 93rpm!  Too bad I do not have a powermeter on my race wheels as it would have been interesting to see the numbers.  I was pretty stoked about that!!!  The run was ok! Not a PB but still under a 5min/km pace.  So with this, I was looking forward to Steelhead!

We arrived on the Friday evening and took care of registration and groceries.  Saturday morning I did a quick bike and run before we went to bike check in and the pre race meeting.  All was good until the pre race meeting when all of a sudden a storm hit.  The clouds were covering the sky like a blanket and it was moving very quickly.  Here are some pics but they really do not do it justice:

As we took cover all I can think about was poor Limey on the bike rack.  I figured she had no chance at all at staying on the rack and there were reports that the bikes were blown off and were in a pile.  But by race morning she was racked in her spot and appeared unhurt! lol!!!!

Race morning: woke up, showered, had a bagel with peanut butter, a banana, and a cup of coffee.  Arrived at the race site only to see huge waves out in Lake Michigan.  I was hoping the swim would still be on but as I got closer to the water it was pretty evident that this was likely not going to happen.  The winds were really strong and the water looked really rough.  Shortly after we got body marked and entered transition the announcement was made that the swim was cancelled due to 7ft waves and riptides and the race was now going to be a duathlon.  Guess it was my time for this to happen.  In all the races I have done (and I have done LOTS!) this is the first cancelled swim for me.  So now this was going to be a bike-run only in a time trial start going by our race numbers.

With the wind I was getting pretty cold waiting around for the start.  Thankfully, Lynsey lent me her vest so I can race with it on the bike and provide some extra warmth for my core.  I also started to worry a bit about racing with the disc.  This would be my third time riding with the disc and I was not sure how the wind would affect the handling.  However, since I had no other wheel to switch with I just removed that thought from my mind and would deal with whatever I was faced with!  As it turned out, the disc was no issue.  We had quite a bit of wind out there but I had no problems handling the bike.

Finally it was my turn to go!  I took this start just like the time trials in Parry Sound so I was very comfortable with this format.  I took a Redbull shot right before my start and then I was off.  Since only women at this point started in front of me I was doing A LOT of passing!  I pretty much stayed in the passing lane for a good chunk of the 90km ride.  I was pushing the pace but felt very comfortable for most of the ride.  It wasn't until near the end that I wanted the ride to be over.  I did manage to PB this distance for me! Yay!  I rode a 2:45:46 for an average of, avg HR 150bpm, and avg cadence 87rpm.  There was also quite a bit of drafting as draft packs were passing me.  I am proud to say I rode an extremely clean race as I slowed down to allow those packs to pass.  Frustrating though!!!  Not much else to report for the bike.

Started the run and just tried to settle in a decent pace.  My goal was to try to run as close to a 2hr half as I could.  So I aimed to stay under a 6min pace when I started.  I was feeling pretty good and made sure I took in nutrition at every aid station.  As the km ticked away I tried to run faster.  Well, at least I tried to run stronger.  I just tried to push myself throughout and slowly I was picking people off on the second loop.  I did not run under 2hrs but I did run my fastest half IM run ever! yay!  Another PB!  I ran 2:03:31 for a 5:48min/km!  Avg HR was 167bpm.  I was very happy with that!

I completed this race in 4:52:13.  I figured if I had a bad swim I could have still come in under 5:30 including transition time!!!!  This could have been an awesome PB for me!!!  I biked about 9min faster than last year and I ran 5min faster!  If I swam exactly the same that would have been about 14min faster and well under 5:30 (I completed this race in 5:41 last year).  Ah well!  I was still pretty happy with my performance!!!!  I placed 32/104 in my age group.

Afterwards, we decided to play in the waves in the water we were not allowed to swim in that morning!  It was pretty rough out there and I was glad we did not have to contend with the water.  And this means a lot from me!  Swimming is my strongest event and I am pretty comfortable in rough waters.  But this was more than rough and I cannot imagine trying to send out more than 2000 people out there.  It was a good call.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Leg Massacre Weekend - Success!

Last weekend I travelled with the boys to do some major hill climbing in Massachusetts and Vermont.  We rented a house just outside of Williamstown in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.  I really had no idea what I signed myself up for.  I knew we were going to do some real climbing but nothing quite like what I expected.  In the last couple of weeks leading up to this I actually started to worry as the guys were passing emails around with possible climbs to do.  Then they were talking about gearing and then I knew I was going to be in a world of hurt.

We left TO Friday morning and arrived in Lanesborough, MA (which is where I believe our house was) in the early evening.  After unloading the car we went out for a short ride to circulate some blood in our legs.  We rode for about one hour and it was a pretty intense ride for me.  I hung on to the guys but I had to work a bit to stay on their wheel.  When we arrived back to the house I was relieved to hear that a couple of the guys thought that it was an intense ride as well! Pheww!  That night I, well the guys, changed my standard crank to a compact crank that I got specifically for this trip for my road bike.  Oh ya, I brought my road bike down for this trip.  I changed the cassette and the seat as well as the seat position in hopes that I would be more comfortable riding this bike and it worked!  I had a blast riding my road bike!  I call Friday's ride the prologue!

Day 1 of leg massacre weekend involved riding Mt. Greylock from the north.  In total we rode about 95km.  This climb is given a 4 out of 5 in climbing difficulty with an average grade of about 6%,  it is 9 miles long, and has a vertical rise of 2760ft.  The guys decided to time trial this so I went first and the next guy left 6min after me.  I wanted to just survive the climb so I just went steady but watching the guys chase each other was fun.  It took me about 80min to complete the climb, not exactly fast or anything but I got up without too much difficulty.  Don't get me wrong, I worked hard and sweated quite a bit!  If you have been following my blog you will know that I am not exactly a good descender.  Going down was not too bad for me here though.  I did have the death grip on my brakes for sections and I pretty much rode my brakes for most of the descent but it was better than my descending performance at IM France! lol!

Monument on top of Mt. Greylock

view from Mt. Greylock

one of my fav pics- Yui overlooking from the summit of Greylock

Now for Day 2!  In hindsight I am glad that I did not know exactly what I was going to face.  There is documentation on the web with a description of the climbs and I am glad I did not read this as it probably would have freaked me out a bit.  As we drove to Vermont and to the start area I saw the beginning of one of the climbs and I had a sick feeling to my stomach.  This was not made any better after AJ turned to the group and told us to be very careful descending!  And he was quite serious!  Oh great!  Now I am scared, ok, more petrified of this descent.  I overheard the guys discussing what they read on the web about rim cooling and taking breaks while descending!  Great! Just great!!!!

Our plan of attack was to ride up Mt. Okemo after a short warm up, then ride over to Mt. Ascutney, climb the second mountain and then ride back to the car. here goes nothing!!!  I rode for about 10min before I started attacking Mt. Okemo.  This climb is given a 4/5 in difficulty, is 4miles long with an average grade of 11%, and a vertical rise of 2200 ft.  I start climbing and quickly started feeling the lactic acid building in my legs.  This was no easy climb.  There were some steep pitches and even a bit of a headwind at the start.  And I was sweating buckets!!!  When I looked up I quickly looked back down as I did not want to see what I still had to climb.  I did get some cheers and fist pumping from drivers heading their way down and it did give me a bit of a boost.  I saw my bike computer reading a speed of about 4-5km/hr at times and my HR was well in the 170s.  But I kept going and did not doubt myself whether I was going to make it up.  I tried to do the mailman move but my wheels are a bit big for my frame and I get quite the toe overlap at low speeds.  My bike shoe hits my wheel and kills any momentum I have going.  I also had my rear wheel feel like it slipped from underneath me a couple of times.  Well I made it up!  Yay!  And later I learned that the guys did not think I could make it up!  Woohoo for me!!!!  But now - the descent.  I tried to descend but had the death grip once again on my brakes.  This time because of the steepness of the hill my brakes were not happy and screeched badly.  So much so that I stopped and felt the rims and they were scorching hot.  So began the ride til my brakes screeched, then walk til the rims cooled.  I did this all the way down and it took forever.  Luckily it was already decided that the guys were going to continue on with their ride and not wait for me so the pressure was off to get down as fast as I could.  Happy to say I made it down safely but never in my life have I heard brakes screech as much as they did! Ha!

On top of Mt. Okemo

  At the bottom I followed my Garmin and the cue sheets we printed to get me to Mt. Ascutney.  Unfortunately the directions took me to a dirt/gravel road twice which I decided against and stayed on the main road.  I made it to the base when I saw the guys who were heading back as they just descended from Mt. Ascutney.  I asked them whether it was worth it for me to even go up hoping they would tell me not to bother but they did not.  So I gave it a go with the plan that the guys were going to head back my way to pick me up with the car. 

Mt. Ascutney is a 5/5 in climbing difficulty due to its steepness.  It is apparently the steepest climb in North America and I had no clue about this.  In the first 1.5 miles, Ascutney gains significantly more vertical than any other climb with sustained 19% grade sections.  It is 3.7miles long, with an average grade of 11.7% and a vertical climb of 2266ft.  I started the climb and quickly felt how steep this hill was and on tired legs to boot.  I had to really concentrate to keep my line as I started doing the mailman and my shoe hit my front wheel and almost jammed and I thought I was going down.  I was pretty much doing a track stand.  I was only going about 3km/hr at times and I was wondering how slow can I go before I fall or even start rolling backwards! Lol!  My heart rate went into the 180s and I was breathing like there was no tomorrow.  I was in a world of pain.  I made it to just passed the 2 mile mark and I bailed.  I got to the point that I really thought I was going to fall or all my muscles were going to seize.  But I was determined to make it up.  So I waited until my HR came back down, jumped back on the bike, and started climbing again.  But when I started I just pedalled like mad to get going again and prayed that I clipped in.  It was probably hilarious to watch.  I ended up doing this 2 more times.  I had my front wheel lift up a couple of times as well as I probably was gripping the bars so hard as I tried to muscle up this beast.  Well, I made it!  Not sure how long it took but I did it!

The view from on top of Mt. Ascutney

My trusty steed that got me up the beast of a climb!
Got to the top and was debating whether I was even going to try to descend since I was given the option that the guys would be willing to drive up to get me.  I started chatting with a guy and his son at the top and was talking for a while giving me a good break at the same time.  I finally decided that I was going to go down, it is less than 4 miles anyway!  Ya...that took forever.  This was even steeper than the previous climb and I did a lot more walking down this hill.  Made it down in one piece though at the expense of some mosquito bites and my poor cleats!  I then continued riding back towards the car hoping to see the guys soon for my pick up.  My legs were quite trashed and any little uphill felt like a big climb.  I rode for a bit before I got honked at by the guys and I was rescued from any further riding! Lol!  Total ride was about 100km for me.

Day 3 of leg massacre weekend was another double climb but much more humane than day 2.  We all slept in and finally made our way out the door after noon and headed towards Petersburg Pass.  This climb I believe was about 8 miles with an average grade of about 7% according to the road signs.  This felt like a piece of cake compared to the previous days' monster climbs.  I still had to work though, it was a significant and steady climb.  Descending was much better!!!  Then we headed to Mt. Greylock and attacked it from the south for a longer and a bit easier version than from the north.  This was a 9 mile climb at an average grade of 5% with 2290 ft of vertical climbing.  The start of the climb actually started pretty steep and felt really rough on the legs.  I was actually a bit worried whether my tired and wrecked legs could handle another climb.  I was hurting!  But I continued on and it actually got better as I continued to climb.  Made it to the top in about 70min with a smile on my face!  Total riding for the day was about 85km.

Leg Massacre weekend epilogue involved one last climb up Mt. Greylock.  We woke up at 5:30am (yup! AM!!!) and rode towards the south side of the mountain (the north side was too far for us to fit in the morning).  Even on tired legs I actually was feeling stronger and made it up even faster in about 68min.  The view was spectacular with the sun rising above the mountain peaks.  No pics here as I did not bring my camera with me on this climb. 

The weekend was a huge success!!!  I got comfortable on my road bike which is awesome and I surprised myself as to what I did out there!  I even impressed the guys! Woohoo!  My legs actually felt like I just did an Ironman after that leg mashing weekend!  And proof to some of the numbers I quoted above is the website describing these climbs:

Oh...and we made it in their local newspaper! Awesome!  I wasn't there when the photographer took a pic of the guys (I was riding on Mt. Ascutney), but the guys did not forget about me! Thanks!!!  Here is a link of the pic and litte blurb!  I thought it was hilarious!

The first annual Leg Massacre weekend is now in the books and I am looking forward to next year!!!