Saturday, July 30, 2011

Belwood Triathlon Race Report

Belwood Tri
July 24, 2011

Again, I am a little late in writing this! Oops!  This was not an originally planned race.  I decided to do this last week as a push to get training again after France. 

I also decided to try out my disc wheel that I had sitting around for a couple of years.  So race day was the first time I used a disc and was also the first time I was on Limey since France.

I went sans wetsuit for the 1km swim.  I started putting it on and a few people were talking about how warm the water was so I made the very last minute decision to go without it and use my speedsuit instead.  Yet during the swim I actually wished I had my wetsuit on as I really felt the difference in my legs.  The wetsuit allows my legs to rest a bit more and float but this time I had to kick the whole time and my legs were actually feeling a bit tired.  The water was nice but I did not have the greatest swim.  I got out of the water in under 18min but by the time I crossed the timing mat I clocked in at 18:48 for a 1:53/100m average.

coming out of the water

heading out of T1

Got onto the bike and just wanted to go steady.  I was pushing the pace a bit though and my legs were feeling it.  However, I felt like I was cheating the wind a bit a few times with the disc wheel.  It was funny, I normally hear the whoosing sound of someone else passing me on their disc wheel.  This time I heard the whoosing sound and realized it was me! hehe!  I actually had fun out there with that!  Got off the bike and averaged 32.9kph for the 30km course for a time of 54:43.  Not bad at all for me!

Started the run and my legs were trashed!  Probably the effects of very minimal running since France and pushing the bike both on race day and the days leading up to the race.  I was aiming for a 35min 7km run knowing very well that was very rich for me.  I just focused on trying to push my pace and as I kept running I was slowly getting faster.  I again had two people chasing me down on the run and I just barely managed to keep them away from me but I had to work hard at that.  I pretty much gave it my all!  And a bonus, Marianne and her son were out there cheering me on at the end of the run for a last little boost!  I came in at 37.07 for a 5:19min/km average!  Not bad for me again!  Although I believe the course was a little short.

Total time 1:53:09, good enough for 7th out of 21 in my age group.  This was the first time I raced at Belwood and it was a good course!  I had fun out there!  Up next is Steelhead in a couple of weeks and I need to get my running back soon!  But first I am near Williamstown, MA for a cycling weekend with the boys! 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Quick update!

This will be a short post as I actually want to get some sleep before heading to work!  I headed up to Parry Sound on Thursday right after work for a short visit with my second family! ;)  I came off of six night shifts in a row, went straight there via the bus, and then participated in the club time trial.  Since I did not bring my bike I borrowed Morgan's and her bike shared some of her speed with me.  I PB'd the bike portion, yay!  With no sleep and that was my first time on a bike (besides my single speed) since the Ironman.  The run was another story!  Friday I had a fabulous day watching the tour, rode a hard 90km bike ride with Marianne, and then spent the evening in Snug Harbour for a dip and a sail in Georgian Bay!  Saturday I joined the guys for the club ride before heading home and it was another hard one!  I felt like I was time trialing most of it but I did not get dropped.  However, I knew I kind of just destroyed my legs for today's race!  Great workout though!  So today I headed to Belwood for the sprint triathlon.  I'll write up a proper report but I managed a 7th place finish out of 21 in my age group.  I did struggle today especially on the run.  But considering that I did not do much running since IM I am pleased I was able to gut this one out!  I signed up for this race as a kick start to resume training and I think I am ready to get back into it! Goal accomplished!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Getting my running legs back....slowly!

Tomorrow will be three weeks since the Ironman and I think my recovery is going well.  I started somewhat training again this week.  I jumped right back into swimming and swam with the masters group three times and logged a total of 12km.  I feel pretty good in the pool except that my right leg completely cramped up when we got into the heart of the swim set on my first day back.  Boo!  I've been on my commuter bike almost everyday since I got back getting to and from work and the pool so that is some cycling.  Not much but it can account for something, right? ;)  Then I went out for my first run yesterday.  That was when I realized that my legs are a little more trashed than I expected.  It was slow and I just went out for 5km and I felt ok but today my quads and calf muscles really feel it.  So I went out again today!  I tried to push the pace a little bit more and I went out for about 7km.  Sore right now but happy that I went out for a run.  I also signed up for another local race for next weekend!  More for fun and to kick start my training again.  So I will be heading to the Belwood triathlon with a friend next Sunday and I will see what I can do!  I probably will not see some fast times but I plan on having some fun out there!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ironman France Race Report

June 26, 2011

I have wanted to write up this race report for a little while now but my little rendezvous to Italy delayed this report a bit. Even though I wanted to forget moments about this race I did not want to wait too long before I forgot too much! Lol!

Over the winter I worked a lot on intensity and strength in hopes of getting faster. So coming into this race I wanted to PB knowing very well that this was a difficult course and this would be a large feat. I wanted to go under 12:30, about 5min faster than my awesome race at IMC last year. I also wanted to run under 4:30, about 20min faster than my best IM run. Unfortunately, neither came true on this day. I will just have to move this goal for next time!

IM France is known to be one of the hardest races on the IM circuit in the world and I fully knew this going in and now understand why. First of all, earlier in the year the organizers posted an elevation profile for the bike. Okay, lots of climbing but looks manageable, one big climb for about 20km and then a long descent home. Here is the elevation profile that was posted online and what I thought I was going to bike (thanks to Larbi for pointing out these profiles, I took these from his email - you can click on the profiles for more details):

Well, on race week, this is the profile they reposted:

Quite the difference; a LOT more climbing with the second profile. They went from about 600m elevation to about 1100m. My Garmin data from race day also confirms the second profile and actually looks quite dramatic, haha!:

So, onto the report. Race morning I drank my typical three chocolate high protein Boosts. No oatmeal in Nice so I had a plain bagel with Nutella, a banana, and some espresso! I was feeling pretty good but barely got any sleep. We headed over to transition and I got Limey ready with my bottles, race nutrition, and pumped up my tires. Oh ya, I decided to go with the Zipps and I have absolutely no regrets! I saw and old friend in transition who moved to London and quickly gave her a good luck hug! Then, after I found Larbi, we put on our wetsuits and headed over to the swim start. There was plenty of time to get to the start but with over 2600 athletes and a small opening to the swim start we were in a traffic jam and it took longer than expected to get to the water. I wasn’t going to bother with a swim warm-up but at the last second I decided to jump in the water and just do a couple of strokes.

Swim: 1:10:02
over 2600 at the start line, and only 200 women in pink caps!

I have heard about how rough the Europeans are in the water and so I was a little nervous about this. I am no longer a fan of the mass starts and dislike being clobbered! I can deal with the grabbing but the hits to the head are not always fun! I decided to start very conservative and went into the 1:15 corral and to the back. I would have normally tried for the 1:05 corral as my swim times are usually around that but I did not want to deal with the chaos. The horn went off and the swim start was a little slow to get going. The pebble beach may have had something to do with that as we had to walk on the pebbles to get into the water. Once I started swimming I was surprised at how civilized the swim was, I still got clobbered and grabbed but I did not have that initial panicky feeling I sometimes get with the mass starts. So I started just aiming for gaps in the water and swam hard until I reached the next group and continued doing that for the whole swim. I found the second loop a bit choppier and had to fight a little with the water but no big deal. One mistake I did do was not know exactly what way we were suppose to swim. It was a two loop swim course and it changed directions on the second loop, but I wasn’t sure which direction we were swimming when. I figured I would just follow the crowd, however, I felt like I was swimming all over the place because I wasn’t sure which way to go. I knew my swim time was going to be slow but I also figured I wasn’t using a lot of energy so I will come out of the water I bit more fresh than others. Sure enough, I posted one of my slower IM swim times but I actually felt great out there. My stroke felt strong and I was comfortable. And I did not feel tired at all.

Link to my Garmin swim stats (prob not very accurate though)

That's me in the middle of the pic - pink cap and blue panel on the back of my wetsuit!!!
T1: 6:05

T1 was pretty uneventful. No wetsuit strippers here and no volunteers to help you sort out your stuff. I have definitely been spoiled in the past. We did not have to go into the change tent if we were not changing so I did not bother. I took my wetsuit off, took a gel, a salt pill, and water, put my shoes, helmet, and sunglasses on and quickly sprayed some sunscreen on. Then I ran off to get Limey. And boy was it a looooong run to get to where Limey was sitting waiting for me, about 700m.


Bike: 7:34:53

The bike course, where to begin!? Lol! I posted the elevation profile above of the French mountains we were to climb and descend from. I started the bike feeling great. Legs were going, I started eating and drinking my carbo-pro/eload mix, salt, Clif shot bloks/honey stingers gummies and had my watch beep every 20min to remind me to eat something. Being one of only 200 women in this race, I got a lot of support from the guys passing me and from the spectators. They were almost excited to see a girl and cheered extra for me. Well, from what I understood in French! 20km into the ride we started climbing and hit the steepest climb for the day but it was only about 1km. I started this hill completely forgetting about it. I noticed people in front of me standing on the bikes so I quickly geared down and went into my smaller ring in the front. I remember thinking to myself, boy, this is a steep climb and then it hit me! Oh ya....the steep climb! We were on a narrow road and I was just hoping everyone held their line along with myself because it was very congested here and some guys were doing the mailman and clipping out! It was a tough climb and my heart rate spiked to 175bpm but it was manageable. Again, the organizers told us the steepest pitch would be 12%, both Larbi and I got much higher than that on our Garmins. I got a max grade of 17% and an average of about 12-15%.  I continued on and was focusing on trying to keep my cadence up.  We just kept climbing and climbing and climbing. It was pretty hot and I was sweating buckets. I ran out of water before reaching an aid station a few times. I remember reading some advice on making sure you take in your nutrition while climbing because it will be very difficult to do this while descending and I tried to do this. I think I did a pretty good job at taking in my nutrition this time around, maybe my best yet. We hit special needs at 80km and it was still on a bit of an uphill. I had a great volunteer hold my bag for me and pass me my stuff. He was talking to me in French but I had no idea what he was saying. When I was ready to get going he actually gave me a push start so I can get going again on the hill! Awesome! There was a lot of climbing and I did have to work hard at this but the descending was a whole other story for me. Ugh! I am not strong at descending; I am just a big chicken more than anything else! I was just plain nervous of these descents. Most were blind corners and not knowing the course did not help! So I unfortunately pretty much rode my brakes the whole way down and I lost LOTS of time!!! It was pathetic and as we kept descending, it was getting more technical, and I was getting more frustrated! I was getting passed and there was little I can do. I do have to say that I was becoming a bit more aggressive the more we were descending and I wasn’t riding the brakes the whole time. So much so that I took a few corners a bit too fast, well for me anyway! I did find that when we were not descending I was passing people on the flats and the climbs only to be passed back by them when descending. This actually got me angry! Lol! I tried to follow other cyclists’ lines but couldn’t keep up with them. I even had an official on a scooter cheer for me when I was passing people on the out and back and then he noticed how pathetic of a descender I was. He proceeded to start riding right beside me telling me which way to turn for the next upcoming corner! I thought that was hilarious! I hit the 6.5hr mark and I still had another 40km and I was disappointed. I did not take any nutrition during the whole descent. I knew there was no way I was going to PB now. I was upset by this and actually had a bit of a potty mouth out there. When I finally stopped descending I then let the hammer down trying to make up for some lost time. I just went into my aerobars and started hammering the bike knowing fully that this was probably not a very smart thing to do. So for the last 30km of the bike I averaged over 30kph and passed a whole lot of people that previously passed me on the way down. I just aimed for the next cyclist and time trialed it to pass them risking a lot for the run. I was not a happy person out there at this point. I was very angry with myself and my poor bike skills. Made it to T2 in one piece though which was my main goal!

Link to my Garmin bike stats.


T2: 5:07

Had another long run in transition before I got to hand my bike to a volunteer and grab my run bag. I quickly went about getting my bike stuff off and putting on my socks and running shoes. I also had a gel, salt, and water and grabbed my Redbull.

Run: 4:47:22

I started the run on a mission! I wanted to run hard and try to have the run of my life and post a good time. Well this lasted for the first 2km. I went on a pace a bit too rich for me. My first km was a 5:50min/km and then I dropped to 6:15min/km and then I dropped to 6:30-6:45min/km and held that for a bit. And then it went downhill, my running performance that is. I started to fall apart. It was very hot out there, about 36C plus humidity when I started the run and the sun was a scorcher. I had trouble breathing throughout and got into trouble a couple of times. I walked all the aid stations and was drinking coke right off the bat, normally I wait until I hit the half way point of the run. I was worried about dehydration so I tried to drink lots and take in salt. Many other racers were walking, taking brakes sitting under the shade or had collapsed. I fought with myself mentally during this run, or should I say shuffle. I soooo wanted to walk but I stuck to the no walking rule! That was tough! I started looking ahead for an aid station so I could walk. At one point, when I was struggling to breathe I actually started to cry! Haha! That was a first! I think I may have panicked a bit and was in pain and tears were rolling down my face. Thank goodness for sunglasses! I quickly pulled myself together though and started focusing on the next aid station. This was a four loop run course and at the end of every loop you got a bracelet which gave me something to look forward to. I resorted to taking an Advil on my third loop because my hip and knee were hurting quite a bit and I started limping. Now I was running 7:30+min/km...oh boy! The plan was to run the last 4km strong but I decided I was going to go for broke on the last loop, the last 10km. So after I received my last bracelet I started to go as hard as I could go and see how long I could do that for. I brought my pace back down to 6:30s and was getting closer to 6min/km. I started eating some solids in the form of bananas at the last turnaround as per the plan. I continued to push as hard as I could go and was playing with fire as my whole right leg started cramping. I had brought my pace down to under 6min/km but had to back off a bit on the final 2km as I did not want to completely cramp up and not be able to continue to run. On that whole final lap I just targeted the person in front of me and as soon as I passed them I had my next target. This kept my mind busy and that was all I was focusing on. It also helped that almost everyone was walking at this point. So after having 1000 or so people pass me on the bike I passed about 500 people on the run. I ended up having my best IM run time, go figure! However, I believe the course was short by about 500m or so as per my Garmin.

Link to my Garmin run stats.

who decided to place a ramp at the finish line?!
Finish: 13:43:29

Got to the finishing chute and was just praying I wouldn’t completely cramp up. My legs held up but I was having trouble breathing. I made my way out of the finishing area, no catchers at this finish line and saw Larbi, nice to see a familiar face. But once he saw me he saw that I was having trouble breathing. I couldn’t put two words together and he redirected me back into the finishing area and towards the med tent. They wouldn’t let him back into the finishing area though so I was stuck trying to tell the person at the med tent entrance that I couldn’t breathe but I was not getting far when I couldn’t talk! Haha! Someone did figure it out and I got taken into the med tent and assessed. My vitals were all ok but I just had to slow down my HR and my breathing. The language barrier did make it tricky as a few of the volunteers only spoke French. They did find me an English speaking doctor though and that helped. He gave me some sugar water and wanted to give me an I.V. Eventually I gained control of my breathing and I told them I was ok and then left. I wasn’t sure how things were running in there and I just wanted out.

I am not going to lie; I am disappointed with my time and I did not have tons of fun out there. I was 21/36 in my age group, 101/201 women, and 1567/2615 overall. This was my third slowest IM but on one of the toughest courses that I have ever done with almost 2000m of climbing on the bike.  I once again surprised myself at how mentally strong I got out there. I could have easily given up at any point during the run but I did not. I kept to the Bialkowski rule of no walking between the aid stations and it’s the finish line or the ambulance! Lol! I almost gave in though (to the first one).  After this IM, I actually want a break from them! This was crossing my mind during the run, I just did not want to do another one anytime soon. Unfortunately or fortunately, I have already committed myself to an IM next year. I’ve got time for revenge!