Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Beach 2 Battleship

 “Mind is everything; muscle, mere pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind.”       - Paavo Nurmi

This quote was what I was banking on going into Beach 2 Battleship Half Ironman.  I wanted to PB at this race and I wanted to go under 5:30.  I was fully aware that this was an optimistic goal with how bad my hamstring has been.  But I was going to go for it and I was prepared to hurt for this.

Race Report
Beach2Battleship Half Ironman
Wilmington, North Carolina
Oct 20, 2012

The days leading up to the race were pretty uneventful.  I drove down with one of the Nacho's and we did the drive in one shot.  We arrived at our hotel which had complimentary breakfast AND fresh baked cookies at 5pm everyday!  We did the routine race check in, bike check in, short workout, and race meeting the day before the race.  Then we had dinner with the rest of the Nachos in their RV for some carb loading.  Race morning, I had some oatmeal, coffee, and Boost.

We drove to the site and parked in the race parking lot only to get completely disorientated in the dark.  We were parked less than a 5min walk to the transition area but for some reason we headed in the opposite direction and walked for about 20min before we realized we went the wrong way! Ha! That was a first!  Luckily we got their early enough that we had enough time to make the walk back and still did body marking, tire pumping, and getting the bike all prepped with nutrition and fluids.  Then we took a trolley ride to the swim start since the race was a point to point race except for the run.

the real battleship in Wilmington

Swim: 27:24 (2km)

The swim was in Wrightsville beach and it was in a channel so that meant swimming with the current.  Boy did I choose a year of fast swim times!  I was hoping for a sub 30min swim.  I was told it would probably be even faster.  I was in the sixth wave and  it was hard staying behind the start line as the current really was pushing us.  I swam backwards a few times to stay behind the line.  The gun went off and I started swimming hard trying to get out in front.  Not to far into the swim my Garmin strap broke off.  I took a chance swimming with it, it stayed on just fine on my training runs but I never did get it repaired after Savageman.  So before I lost it in the water I grabbed it and swam with my right hand holding onto my watch.  I was basically swimming one handed as I had my right hand in a fist.  After the first turn buoy, I was lost.  I really wasn't sure where the buoys were and where to go so I was following a group in front of me.  Then I lost them because I somehow made a wrong turn and was redirected by a lifeguard.  Oops!  Not until I saw the swim finish did I know exactly where to go.  And the swim felt long to me for some reason.  It felt like I was swimming forever.  I was pleasantly surprised when I looked at the Garmin and it read 26 something min for the swim! Woohoo!  Yup, another fast swim but I was 12th in my age group.  Guess I made a few too many wrong turns!  Got out to the wetsuit strippers, then ran the half km or so to transition to meet up with Limey!  Nb: I had the fastest T1 time in my age group! ;)

run to T1

Bike: 2:47:38 (90km)

I got on the bike and was ready to giv'er!  I recently purchased a Quarq crank which means I can now race and train with power! I was very excited for that!  My powertap was just on my training wheel so when I raced I depended on feel and my heart rate.  Now I got real power for everything!  I had no power goal though so I just pushed.  I was expecting a pancake flat bike course and it wasn't quite that.  There were a few long steady hills but nothing Savageman-like.  The big thing was the head wind we were facing.  Most of the ride was a head or a cross wind since the ride was point to point.  I was doing a lot of passing during the ride and it felt good!  My legs were feeling it though and I knew I was gambling a bit for the run.  However, I also knew that I probably could not run as fast as I would like to so I took this chance.  I was happy with my time and I averaged 32.5km/hr and 189 Watts!  Woohoo!  My past goal watts was 160W so this is huge!  The ride was about 500m long but no big deal.  I did have the 5th fastest bike split in my age group which moved me to 5th! Another rare occasion of my bike split placing higher than my swim split!

hammering the bike

Run: 2:07:48 (21.1km)

Now for the run.  In the last 10km of the bike I took two extra strength Advils in preparation for a painful hammy on the run.  I started the run with great feeling running legs but an immediately painful hamstring.  I just told it to shut-up and to go away and I managed to ignore it for the most part.  Since I wasn't running with my Garmin which I left with my wetsuit I had no idea of my pace.  I knew I was running a pretty fast pace for the beginning and maybe it was too fast.  But I was hoping to bank some time since I was inevitably going to slow down.  Who knows, maybe if I paced it better I would have run a bit faster.  I just focused on a fast turnover and ignored the pain.  However, I did notice my gait was changed and I was completely compensating for the right leg.  But I was so focused that I did not let it bother me.  I somehow managed quite a bit of passing but I got passed as well.  The last 5km were a struggle as my left leg was cramping up quite a bit while my right leg was barely moving through.  I must have looked funny.  If the run was any longer I would have been in trouble as I was really cramping up in the finishing chute.  I ended up averaging just over a 6min/km.  One of my goals for the year was to run a half IM run in under 2hrs,  I'll have to wait til next year.  Oceanside was my closest attempt but I knew it was not going to happen today.  I had the 18th fastest run time in my age group.  Yick!

in the finishing chute - almost done!

Finish: 5:28:15  (6th place AG)

New Half Ironman PB!!!! Woohoo!!!! Soooo happy!!!!!  I managed to hold onto 6th place overall in my age group out of 59 finishers!!!!  I was 35th female out of 306 finishers.  I was barely able to walk afterwards with the pain but with time I was getting more mobile.  I am extremely happy with my last race of the season!  And again, surprised at how mentally strong I was out there and how focused I remained despite the pain.  Now for a long rest before the 2013 season and hopefully a fully recovered hammy!

Afterwards, we headed down to Charleston, South Carolina and surfed at Folly Beach.  Here is a group pic of the Nachos after our surf lesson:

Friday, October 26, 2012


I am in the process of writing a full race report for my final triathlon of 2012. I am super happy with my result and am super happy with my 2012 season!  Truly, I am ecstatic! In the meantime, I wanted to post a pic of a new sport I picked up this year - surfing! Lol!  Here is digital proof of my success of getting up on the board!  And not just once!  (or twice!) So much fun!  Too bad I don't live near surf-able waters!

Friday, October 12, 2012


Is my attitude right now! Lol!  This is the first time I am letting an injury beat me up and I am not liking it!  I am in unfamiliar territory dealing with my hamstring and I am not having a lot of fun at the moment.  Last night was the first time I did not finish my workout due to my hamstring pain.  I have managed to push through the pain and complete what was planned, albeit slower but I would still finish it.  But not last night!  I was planning on running 8 x 600m on the track after taking 6 days off of running.  I ended at six!  And I was not even going all out or anything.  I could not even do strides without pain so I did not do them.  Then today after a 3hr ride I was planning on running 10km.  Nope!  Stopped just shy of 8km because I was just getting slower and in too much pain to push any harder.  This is not my first injury by any means.  I have had my fair share over the years but I have been pretty lucky at the same time.  The timing in my past injuries allowed me to rest it properly before training again or was really bad that I was forced to rest (not by choice) so I was able to heal.  But this hamstring is just not cooperating with me! ;)  I was going to write a post last week with the title of "Power of Mind Part II" where I was going to discuss how strong a negative mind can be.  My last three races were going to be my reference for this.  In both the olympic and half races at Savageman, I gave up on the run.  Particularly in the olympic, I just did not fight and push through.  In the half IM, I managed to fight in the second half of the run and I pulled it together well.  At the Taylor Creek 5km, I was holding a good pace but at about 3.5km in, I gave up and let up and ended up being slower than last year.  I was going to attribute it to being burnt out.  However, even though a negative mind does affect athletic performance, a broken body will too.  Maybe it was just my body trying to tell me to slow down to prevent more harm.  Or it could have been both, a crazy race schedule and a broken body!  I am burnt out both mentally and physically.  I even had a tough time on the bike today, I just wanted to turn around and go home.  Well, maybe the near zero temperature and strong headwind didn't help but I had no juice in me to push stronger.  I did finish the ride but was bummed with my performance.  And of course, I stubbornly refuse to pull out of any races! Ha!  One more to get through!  Next weekend, one last half IM!  At least I did not sign up for any more races as I was originally planning on running a fall marathon too!  Lol!  That will have to wait, not this year!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Road Trip!

Last week I did something I have always wanted to do!  Cross the border on my bike!!! :):):)

And guess what, this trip was not even my idea! Lol!  A friend wanted to ride to Buffalo to visit his brother and asked me to come along!  It definitely was a great ride!  We left Wednesday morning just after rush hour with the potential of hitting some rain.  It was a bit dodgy getting out of the city but we lucked out with the weather and never did get rained on! Woohoo!!!

Our route from TO to Buffalo - 191km

We kind of winged it in terms of a route to get there.  We both looked at maps and figured out a rough route.  Luckily, my friend memorized roads once we hit St.Catharines for us to get to the Niagara Parkway and eventually the Peace Bridge which was the bridge we needed to cross to get into the U.S.  

 Niagara Falls from the Canadian side

                                               Crossing the border using a separate entrance

Once we reached the bridge, I rode part of it and walked the rest of it as I wasn't a fan of huge trucks whizzing by me as I was on a narrow sidewalk.  We had a separate entrance to go through and it was pretty easy going.  No real questions were asked and it was smooth sailing!  Total ride was about 191km and took us about 7 1/2 hrs.  We stayed in Buffalo for two nights and stayed in a quaint little neighbourhood.  I really did have a nice stay there!  Then we made the return trip on Friday once the sun rose and tried out a different route.

 Buffalo to TO route (garmin died in Mississauaga)

The highlight of the trip was crossing the border back into Canada.  We got to use the car lane!  I always wanted to do that! Ha!  The border officer was very nice and really just chatted with us.  He did ask us if we made any purchases and if we had alcohol or cigarettes, lol!  The day was perfect for another long ride and we took about the same time to get back home.  We rode at a pretty good click though, just as fast as a training ride with minimal stops.  Getting back into TO was really sketchy as we hit rush hour traffic in the middle of downtown.  So once we got to my friend's place I waited rush hour out before I rode the rest of the way home.  The trip was a ton of fun with great company and a great ride!  Now I can officially say I crossed the border on my bike, we rode into another country, and we crossed the country from lake to lake - Lake Ontario to Lake Erie!  FUN!

                                                            Lake Ontario in Burlington

Monday, October 1, 2012

True Savage

Finally, my race report of the "True" Savage, aka SavageMan Double, aka SavageMan 100!

SavageMan Triathlon Festival
Sept 15-16, 2012
Deep Creek Lake, Maryland

This was one of those races I have read and heard about, thought about doing, but at the same time seemed so insane that I wasn't sure if I would, lol!  It has been labelled as one of the toughest triathlons in the world by reputable magazines and websites.  And I fully believe it! Ha!  I not only did the half ironman; I decided to do the "true"/double/ SavageMan 100 - which is racing the olympic distance on one day and then doing the half ironman the very next day.  This race was my final race of my crazy five week schedule.  I started off with a tough Ironman and ended this stretch with the toughest half ironman in the world the weekend after another tough half ironman at Muskoka!

The weekend started with the olympic distance race on the Saturday.  Since I raced the Muskoka 70.3 the weekend before I did absolutely no training in between the two weekends!  I needed to survive!  I also was not expecting or looking for any PBs this weekend due to the nature of the tough course!  I was sooooo nervous going into Saturday's race.  I do not think I have ever been this nervous before a race!  Not even for Ironmans - ok, maybe not! ;)  But seriously, I was feeling the butterflies in my tummy!  These nerves were not for the olympic race itself, it was for the half the next day!  I was already nervous about the half and the infamous Westernport wall and the descending!

SavageMan 30
The swim was a pretty fast swim, probably because it may have been a little short.  I felt good in the water and all nerves disappeared once the race started.  I came out of the water in 24:11, 2nd in my age group but first out on the bike due to a pretty decent transition.  On the bike I felt good as well.  I was a little hesitant at the beginning because I was worried about descending but none of the descents were bad so I was pretty comfortable out there and putting in a strong effort.  This bike course had four notable climbs ranging from 5-8% average grades with max inclines of 8-14%.  However,  I found two of them were tough and I had to go into the small chainring in the front.  To my surprise, I returned to empty bike racks in transition.  Bike time was 1:25:02.  I was first off the bike and starting the run first in my age group.  But this lead was short lived as I could not hang on during the run.  The run was pretty brutal itself.  More hills!  I struggled during this run!  Big time!  It took every ounce of energy to keep running.  I was hurting so bad!  My left ankle turned and every step was painful especially running up the Fire Tower Rd which was a steep gravel hill.  In addition, my poor right hamstring was just yelling at me to stop!  Or at least walk up the hills!  It was so bad I actually wanted to cry out there during the run.  I could not push the pace and I lost my lead! Lol!  I had two girls pass me in the last couple of km of the run.  Ah well!  I ran a 59:42 for a total time of 2:52:36 and ended up in 5th overall in my age group!  Not too shabby!

SavageMan 30
First race done!  Now back to being nervous!  Lol!  Watching You Tube videos of previous years' races did not help.  You watch buff men in all the gear falling all over the place trying to climb the wall.  It really is funny but really played on my confidence.  If these men can't get up, I had little faith in my ability to get up especially since I lack the ability to stand up on the bike on steep hills!  (I REALLY need to learn this skill!!!).  You see, there is an alternate option to climbing the 31% grade Westernport Wall on the bike course.  There is an actual detour we can take which is a bit longer but not as steep.  So I was not sure what to do!  Do I attempt the near impossible and risk injury or take the safe route around.  A couple of my friends decided to take me to the wall later that afternoon to give it a go.  We drove to Westernport and I was greeted with the steepest climb I have ever seen in my life!  At this point I was literally shaking with nerves!  I am not kidding either!  I was scared!  The climb leading up to the wall is no dance in the park either, there are pitches of 22% and 26% grades.  So I started climbing with my friends and strangers cheering me on!  I started really aggressively and was hammering away feeling pretty good.  Then I hit the crappy pavement of the 31% wall and just gave it all I had.  I tried to keep my wheel straight and tried to stay to the right which had slightly better pavement but soon enough as I was nearing the end I started wobbling and couldn't keep my line.  I went right into a pothole and I was done!  Down I went!  Haha!  But - it did not hurt!  So I decided at that moment I was going to give it a go on race day!  I tried it, I fell and I was not hurt!  And I was pretty close to the top!  Like a few metres away!  So with the added adrenaline on race day I thought I may have had a shot.  And my strategy changed to trying to go up the first part easy and then giving it all I have for the last part.

SavageMan 70
Race morning was pretty uneventful and I was not nervous at all!  I really had nothing to lose!  Lol!  The swim went ok; I think I went off course a bit and I was swimming on my own.  I swam a 32:46 for the 2km swim.  The run to transition was also uphill with stairs, surprise! surprise!  On my way to transition, my Garmin ripped off as I was taking off my wetsuit!  Oh oh! I tried to repair it in transition trying to get the tiny pin back in the holes and I did it but it wasn't stable.  Since I did not feel like losing a $400 watch I decided to leave it in transition and therefore, race with no watch.  Got on the bike and was greeted with Toothpick, a 0.5mile climb with a max grade of 16% and average of 9%.  Then the descending started!  My favourite part (enter sarcastic tone here)!.  This course really is not for me!  I can climb the hills and pass many people doing so but I just get passed back on the descents.  Boo!  All that work for what seems like nothing!  But as a fellow competitor told me during the race - climbing well is much more impressive than descending.  I was freezing during the descents and the cold did not help my hamstring either.  It felt really tight and I tried to pedal whenever I could just to get some blood flowing and warm up the muscles.  We descended until we hit Westernport - here goes nothing!  You can see my attempt in a previous post in the You Tube link video.  There were crowds of people lining the wall cheering madly while the Rocky theme song was blaring.  I wanted to pass a couple of people near the bottom because I knew they were weaker climbers so I went a little hard at first and then settled in to a rhythm until I hit the 31% wall.  Then I gave it all I had and unfortunately had to start further to the left than I would have liked to avoid people and rode straight into potholes and crevices.  Since I had some good momentum I rode right through them until two people crashed right in front of me. I managed to swerve and stay upright and kept going.  I even gave a loud savage like groan to turn my bike again until a guy came from behind me and to avoid hitting him I swerved one more time.  This time with less speed and right into another pothole I went down!  I got further up than my first attempt the day before and I was oh so close to the top!  Ridiculously close!  I could of had it if it wasn't for me trying to avoid the other guy!  But I did not hurt myself and I had fun!  This was actually the highlight of the race for me!  I went for it!

Going up the wall with my savage look!

There was still another ~60km to go on the bike and the wall was the start of Savage Mtn which took me by surprise.  I was hurting here!  We had to climb another 2.4miles with an avg grade of 6% peaking at 21%.  Then more climbing and more scary descending.  The climbing was relentless!  Hills just kept coming and coming!  I would look up and just see another one coming.  Geez!  This was no easy bike ride.  We had climbs with several 17%, 19%, 22%, 23% grades!  I was happy to reach Killer Miller which I was warned about and was told it is actually harder than the wall due to it's location in the bike course.  We climb for 1.3miles with an avg grade of 8% and a max of 22%.  I was surprised how long this climb was but the crowd support was awesome!  Since I passed 3 or 4 guys while climbing the crowd went nuts and egged me on.   When the climb got tough, a guy spectating ran beside me the rest of the way up giving me words of encouragement!  He was awesome!  Thanks stranger!  You got me up Killer Miller faster than if I were to do it by myself!  Later I found out my friends (all of them were guys) did not think I was going to make it up Killer Miller and asked me if I had to get off the bike!  I was angry at them for their lack of confidence in me!  But I showed them!  Haha!  After all the significant climbing was done I had one more obstacle.  As if the hills and the wall were not enough, I was chased by a dog!  No kidding!  A boxer came right for me and bit me!  I could not believe it!  First time I was ever bitten by a dog!  I yelled at it to try to intimidate it but to no avail!  He got my foot but did not break skin thanks to my bike shoes!  I did feel it and it hurt a bit but I was scared more than anything else!  I cycled like mad to get away and he chased me for a bit and then stopped.  Really?! I was so happy to see the end of this long bike ride though - took me a whole 4hrs 29min to complete this ride.  Ewww! Lol!

SavageMan 70
Finally got onto the run course and I was a mess.  I was struggling, my hamstring was hurting, my whole body was hurting! The run course was the same as the olympic with an additional hill and it was two loops.  I suffered the whole first loop.  It was awful!  However, I somehow managed to pick it up in the second loop and ran relatively well.  I did a lot of passing and was feeling stronger.  Maybe the coke I was drinking kicked in to give me my second wind.  I ran a slow 2:28:48 for the half and finished the whole thing in 7:29:10.  By far my slowest half ironman ever!  I was 6th in my age group for the half and finished 3rd woman overall in the SavageMan Double!  That was one hard race and it definitely lives up to its name!

I may be back to take care of some unfinished business! ;)