Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The road to Ironman is long and winding...

I have to say... yesterday was a crap-shoot in terms of training. After such a great day of training on Sunday, my legs were tired and my energy was low. After a long day of being on my feet at work, the last thing I wanted to do was train. So I didn't. The guilt I felt was not what I would like to feel often in the next few months leading up to Ironman. I think there needs to be some leeway in letting me bail from training. Maybe a couple "get out of jail" free cards a week. Or better yet, a realistic schedule. I am meeting with my coach on Wednesday, so I will talk to her about it. Also, I know that I need to set my Ironman a little higher on my priority list. The hard part of training for Ironman isn't just the physical part, it's the commitment part; one must give up certain things in order to train. So I've decided that I won't go to any shows that fall on a weeknight, that includes Sunday.

That being said, this morning I went for a stellar run! A 4.8km run with some sprint intervals in there. It felt good, even if the wind was fairly cold on my face. This morning it is -8oC and a pretty strong 17km/hr wind, making the windchill -15. Winter is here, my friends, and it's only going to get colder. While I'm not always "for" cold, I definitely like the crispness of the air in the morning, as the sun starts peaking over the horizon. Ahhh, winter. There's nothing quite like it.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Kicking it up a notch!

Tonight at running, we did a lot of short intervals. It was hard, but good. And I didn't even feel like I was going to throw up!

It helped that I ate some good food before I went. I also had a smoothie which helped with keeping my intensity. My smoothies include soy milk, frozen berries, hemp seed, and frozen bananas. So good! I love the smoothie train.

So tonight, we did 4 sets that went like this:
5 x 200m in 26 seconds, 26 second rest
5 minute rest between sets

It was good to remember what it's like to be consistent and find a rhythm that works well. We kept the intensity up and our group even did our last 200s in 25 seconds. While I think that this work is a little "exact" to be doing for triathlons, it really helps with form and finding a rhythm. It also helps to work on form. Apparently triathletes are known for their poor form. I'm definitely working on mine and these workouts will definitely help. My coach used to be a hurdler here, so he is all about form. While some people think that he's too intense and too hard on us, I think that we are lucky to have him coaching our club.

Workout ratings:
Energy level: 9/10
Skills worked on: 8/10
Fun level: 9/10
Overall: 9/10 - a great workout!

Running and swimming... and yoga

Yesterday, I did what I am considering these days as a "long" run. An easy pace for 8.75km along the river. The run started out kind of painfully. My shoulders were tight and my glutes were screaming at me. It must be residual from Tuesdays painful run. After I did a thorough dynamic warm-up and took it easy for the first kilometre or so, I settled in. I haven't went on a longish run like that in a while, so I wasn't sure how I would feel. It took a long time to warm-up and get my rhythm, but I did eventually get it. It was after about 6 kilometres that I felt like I could run forever. I love that point in a run. The point where everything feels loose and good, the breathing is even and uninhibited, and there is nothing that is hurting... and I feel like I could run forever, Forrest Gump-style.

After the run, I did a 40-minute yoga session from my "Power Yoga for Happiness" DVD that I absolutely love. I did the workout called "Daily Dose of Bliss" and it was quite blissful. After that, I felt good and grounded for the rest of the day. Not to mention thoroughly stretched and limber. I love yoga!

This morning, I woke up at the crack of 9:30 and decided to go swimming at the YWCA. I did a continuous swim for 2200 yards. I discovered that either I swimming extremely fast 500m intervals or it was a shorter pool. I think it's the latter. It was a good swim, but nothing really to write home about. Other than my shoulders feel tight now. That'll work itself out tonight at running, I suppose.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Settling In

Settling into a routine is key in training this far in advance for one race. The pot of gold at the end of this very long rainbow is hard to see, so it's important to incorporate the workouts into my daily life.

Lately, I've been having a hard time settling into this routine. It's mostly because of my hectic and chaotic life at the moment. Working shifts and trying to fit in workouts is fairly difficult. This summer it was much easier because everyday I worked the same hours. It's basically a mental hurdle that I have to get over... and soon.

Last night I had a good session at swimming from 10-11pm. I'm enjoying the late-night sessions because they tend to not interfere with the evening, which is nice. The session went like this...
300m warm-up, choice of stroke
4x50m, 25m skull/swim (skull=arms-only)
25m drill/swim
6 x 100m freestyle, 5-10 seconds slower than race pace
200m non-freestyle
6 x 50m, 25m kick/25m swim
6 x 100m freestyle, at race pace
200m cooldown
Total= 2400m

I swim in a lane with 2 other girls who are a bit faster than me. This is a good thing because it makes me kick it up a notch. Last night I started to throw in the ol' flip-turns, which I haven't done in a long time. I basically have to do the flip-turns because the other girls do them. It also makes everything faster and smoother. Plus, I don't get that extra breath of air when turning, which I tend to rely on too often. It's taken me a while to get back into flip-turns because I only do them when I'm truly comfortable with swimming and my stroke.

I go back-and-forth on whether flip-turns are useful or not because they are never used in triathlons. However, I've come to learn that they are useful in the pool. When you're swimming and get to the end of the length of the pool, stopping your whole body to change directions stops the flow of the stroke. When flip-turns are used, it keeps the flow going. This is key in a triathlon and I think that flip-turns might be good for this. At the same time, they are hard and sometimes I get water up my nose. Because I taught myself how to do them and I've never had it verified that they are correct, I'm a little self-conscious about them. I'm worried that I flip crookedly or that my push isn't right and that I'll be judged by the others. Sometimes the ego gets in the way of training. It's kind of weird, but it is a barrier that I need to get over. Perhaps I'll talk to my coach about my flip-turns. That's what she's there for!

This swim session was really good for my form. I actually felt like my stroke was coming together. I've been a fairly good swimmer for most of my life and I've been coached for a while, but my freestyle stroke always needs improving. Last night I tried to experiment with my hand and thumb position in the water. Trying to make it more like a spoon and less like a fork. I am slowly, but surely learning to push the water with my hand, not move my hand through the water. Pushing and feeling the water on my arm and hand is key in accelerating the stroke and pushing the whole body forwards. In triathlon, it is important that one doesn't use up their legs during the swim. It is very important that most of the swim is done with the arms. It's really the only time that the arms should really be tired. The rest of the race, they are just making things less difficult for the legs. It is important that I work on this now so that I can work on speed and endurance in the next phases of my training.

I just wish the biking and running would be at this same point. That's where settling into the rhythm of my workouts is key. Rhythms of the workouts, of the stroke, of each step and breath, and of each pedal. Triathlon is really about rhythm. Three different rhytms put together in one race. I love this sport.

Dear Crystal's body,

It would be really great if we could just get along. Cooperation will get us a long way and right now we're not cooperating very well. I understand that you're a little sore and I can give a little leeway, but soon you're going to have to keep up with me. Especially if we're going to do Ironman in under 13 hours.

Tonight at swimming, you were definitely performing better than in the recent past. Your performance went well with my yogi focus. Soon enough, we will be a swimming machine. Tonight we did 2400m in under an hour. We can do better.

Thanks for listening.

Yours truly,
Crystal's brain

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Doomed to have DOMS

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness... an athlete's enemy. I have been plagued by DOMS ever since Sunday, but I have walked, run, biked, stretched, and swam through the pain. I actually think that it has helped. On Monday I was pretty sore, but I did yoga in the morning, worked all day, and still managed to swim over 3000m at our coached swim session that night. However, I ended up with a headache at the end from my sore neck - a chriopractor appointment was made.

On Tuesday, I got up early and wanted to go for a run. I thought I'd take it easy since my hamstrings and glutes were pretty sore. Just a slow 5km run. It turned out to be THE SLOWEST 5km I've run in a while. My legs were so sore. It took me over 45 minutes to run the short route I had set out. It was brutal. Nonetheless, I had to go to work, where I walked almost the whole day. Most of the day was spent in pain, but by the end of the day I felt a lot better. My legs had loosened up and my back was feeling a bit looser.

I made my appointment with the chiropractor to be after work, so I had to sprint there on my bike to make it on time. He said that considering the amount and type of exercise I'm getting, my body is handling it very well. I give a lot of credit to doing yoga 3-4 times a week. I'll have to tell him that next time. I'm basically going to have to go see him every 2 weeks for as long as I'm training the amount that I am. I'm pretty okay with that because it really seems to help my body recover faster and I have little to no back pain anymore. That is worth it in my books. My chiropractor and I have just had our 1-year anniversary. Happy Anniversary!

I ended up taking Tuesday night off because I was bagged, but I've been doing a lot of biking lately sprinting on my commuting rides so I don't feel that bad. Today is Wednesday and I am taking it off. That's right, another Wednesday off. I think I am going to play Wednesdays by ear. If I feel ambitious and well-rested, then I will do a workout, but if I'm just not feeling it, I'm not going to push myself. 5am is very early to wake up and it really does mess up my body for the rest of the day. However, it's a whole day that I'm not sure I can afford to take off. From past experience, though, I know that rest is just as important as activity. In all aspects of life.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Today was my first workout in over a week. I had a coached running session with the triathlon club. I thought that it would be no problem because I could go at my own pace, which I mostly did. However, the workout was really hard. We did a circuit session with a 200m sprint in between. The exercises we did were split jumps, push-ups, crunches, back extensions, and toe hops. This is how it worked...
30 seconds of split jumps
200m sprint
30 seconds push-ups
200m sprint
... well, you get the picture. We did that twice. I will repeat myself... OUCH! After the first set my stomach was so not happy and I had to sprint to the bathroom to relieve myself. I felt a lot better after our second set, but I still felt like I was going to throw up.

Also, after we warmed up, my chest started to hurt a little. It went away, though. I couldn't help but hear my mom's voice in my head telling me to get my heart checked out before I do the Ironman (I have an irregular heartbeat that I've had checked out before and it is perfectly fine). But I didn't have it the rest of the time, so I think I'll chalk it up to just muscles jamming on me.

After the drills of death, we did some hurdle work. Since I am significantly shorter than most of the triathlets in our club, I had a lot of trouble with it. Luckily, I am extremely flexible and could get my legs up very high to get over the hurdles. However, it's the crotch thing that gets me with hurdles. It's just really uncomfortable. I hope I don't have any bruises! We basically did a lot of leg lifts and leg kicks. I've discovered that I can kick really really high. Good to know.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Yes, it has been a week...

A week has gone by and I have barely trained. Sometimes life just gets in the way, making it difficult to train. This was one of those weeks. However, I should be back to training by the weekend.

This weekend is the Kona Ironman. Grant Bryden, Saskatoon's most popular triathlete currently, is down there with his IronMATE Shannon Bews. They are posting blogs on STCI's bulletin board. Check it out. Saturday is the big race, which can be seen at http://www.ironmanlive.com/. I hope that Grant has a great race!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Late-night swim sessions

While Wednesday was technically an "off" day for me, I ended up biking about 15 kilometres commuting, so I'll count that as a light bike workout. :o)

This morning I did a 5km run with some short intervals in the middle. It felt good to get back to running after not running for about a week. Tonight was a late-night swim session with the Tri Club and it was pretty good:
200 warmup
4 x 50m, kick/swim
4 x 50m, drill/swim
4 x - 150m free
- 50m nonfree
- 50m fast free
- 50m easy nonfree
4 x 50m, kick/swim
4 x 50m, drill/swim
200m cooldown

Today I ran into a fellow Saskatoonian who's going to do Ironman next year. She got an online coach, which she says she likes. It's easier to tell them what she hasn't done. :o) I don't know, I like the fact that I can call my coach and have a chat with her. I'm feeling very motivated right now, which is different from yesterday when I wasn't feeling motivated at all. Having a day off work to organize my life was a good thing.

Another Saskatoon triathlete is doing Kona next weekend. He qualified at Ironman Canada, which is awesome. I can't think of a nicer guy to cheer on. I'm definitely going to be watching it live online. I wonder if some triathletes are getting together to watch it on the small-screen. If so, I'd love to be part of that. Perhaps people could come to my house to watch it. I'm kind of set up for that sort of thing.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

An After-Long-Weekend Training Update

After a fairly sedentary weekend (but I think hauling wood for a fire counts as lifting weights, right?), I had a couple of good biking days. Normally I wouldn't bike two days in a row, but I could not resist. Yesterday we got back fairly early from our weekend up north and the sun was shining and the road was calling my name. It is probably my last outdoor road bike ride before the snow flies, so I had to capitalize on it. It turns out that the westerly wind was blowing strong at 33-40km/hr giving me an easy ride out to my turn-around point, but a hard workout coming back. Before turning around, I was up around a 30km/hr average speed, but coming back, I probably averaged 17-18km/hr. I ended up with:
Distance: 41.64km
Ride time: 1:48:38
Average speed: 23.17km/hr
Max speed: 46.7km/hr (on a slight decline)
The hill that I usually fly down and have broke 60km/hr on, I felt like I was going backwards and barely made it past 30km/hr. The prairies may not have hills, but we sure do have wind!

This morning, I stretched out my legs with a good half-hour yoga session. Today was my scheduled bike workout with the Triathlon Club. We did 3 sets: the first set had 4 reps of 2 minutes each with a one minute rest; the second and third sets had 3 reps of 2 minutes each with a one minute rest. We did some abs (I hate using the ball!) and some stretching.

I've noticed that the days that I do yoga, my body feels so much better. I can honestly say that my back feels better when I've done yoga and my legs feel more limber throughout the day. It is definitely something I want to continue to incorporate into my life and my training. Maybe I should have named my site "Vegan Yogi Triathlete" ... hmm... not as catchy. :o)

Here is a picture of where I was this weekend in all its glory in northern Saskatchewan:

Friday, October 06, 2006

Lifting it

This morning I did some yoga before hitting the gym. I did a few light sets of the same workout from Monday. I felt really good. After that, I did a good core workout and tried out the ball. I kept on falling off, which was really embarassing. So I gave up and just did some planks. All-in-all, a great workout. The muscles felt good, good energy, but I forgot my music and they played the Grease Remix AGAIN! I must remember to bring my own music! I can't listen to that "song" ever. again.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Racing the sun

I feel like when I go for bike rides, I'm racing with the sun to see who gets home before who. Tonight, the sun won. It really is dangerous to bike after dark, so I try to avoid it, but it gets dark by 7:00. So I try to go faster and faster so that I can get in a little bike ride before the snow starts to fly instead of the leaves.

Distance: 26.82km
Ride time: 1:01:49
Average speed: 26.03km/hr
Max speed: 53.8km/hr

I felt awesome on the ride. Besides the wind blowing in my sore ear, it was awesome. I brought headphones just so that I could use them to block the wind - I've come to dislike riding and listening to music - it distracts me from my pedal stroke. The tops of my thighs were still a little sore, but they are definitely getting better. Note to self: stretch better before sprinting to avoid DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A day off

While I'm not scheduled to take a day off today, I'm going to. I have what feels like the beginning of an earache and/or infection, which is causing me to have a bit of a head achiness that I would like to go away as soon as possible. Also, today was a bit stressful in my life, so I'd rather take it easy. Plus, I'm going to see Kinnie Star tonight!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Crystal's Heartburn 101

Before I becamse vegan, I used to have chronic heartburn. I think it had a lot to do with my being lactose intolerant, more than anything else. When I went vegan, my heartburn pretty much went away. I rarely get it unless I've eaten a lot of greasy foods in combination with inactivity or some other very rare circumstances. So whenever I get heartburn, I can't help but wonder what the cause of it.

A couple of years ago, I swimming at a night swim with the Triathlon Club when it hit me hard. I thought I was going to throw up, which really sucked because I was going hard on that particular swim workout. However, I pushed through it and ended up being all right. Since then, I periodically get heartburn during the nighttime swim with the Triathlon Club. I think this is due to two things:
1) Exercising late at night is not optimal because of eating constraints and energy levels. Timing supper to give one enough time to digest food is difficult. Not to mention recovery eating after the workout. Also, I know I'm not the only one who gets wired after a workout and am left unable to sleep when I get home and want to eat everything in sight.
2) The position during swimming is quite horizontal. According to www.heartburnalliance.org: "Episodes of heartburn can also be precipitated by body position, certain movements, and/or exertion, such as lying down, bending over or strenuous exercise. One of the defense mechanisms limiting the reflux of gastric acid is gravity. In the upright position, gravity tends to prevent gastric contents from moving upward into the esophagus. When the body position is altered, the protective effect of gravity may be reduced. Lying down tends to decrease the effects of gravity. Bending over can also decrease the effects of gravity and increase abdominal pressure, increasing the potential for acid reflux."

This is some food for thought for all those hearburn sufferers out there. I'm definitely going to talk to my doctor about it and see if there are options, that don't include taking ant-acids, to hinder the presence of heartburn in my nighttime swims.

Bike day!

Today, I slept in due to staying up after the late-night swim last night. I worked all day, which is a workout in itself. Anyone who has served in a busy restaurant knows that being on one's feet all day is definitely some kind of workout. My chiropractor concurs. I went and there was definitely some issues with my upper back and neck, as always. My neck is constantly in need of adjustment. Sometimes I get really bad headaches. I've learned to deal with them and know that they are short-lived, but it is usually my body's way of telling me that my neck is out of alignment. It's always from biking. In the summer, it's from road riding and falling on my mountain bike. In the winter, it's usually from tensing up when riding on slippery ice and/or falling on said slippery ice. Going to the chiropractor is a simple solution to my neck and headache issues and with all the training and falling I do, it's necessary.

Tonight I biked with the Triathlon Club and it was pretty good. We did 2 sets of 4 repetitions of 2 minute intervals with 1 minute rest in between each interval and five minutes between sets. Wow, that sounds kind of confusing. It was pretty good. I don't feel like I'm quite getting into the groove of the whole spinning inside thing, but I hope it will come. I just feel like I'm not pushing myself as hard as I can. I'll try harder next week.

As for the heartburn as discussed yesterday, I'm going to try a few things. Yesterday, I ate 3 hours before the swim began, but maybe that's not enough time. So I'll try to make it 3.5 or 4 hours. Also, I have to talk to my doctor about other health things that I am looking into, so I'll talk to her about this as well. Next week I'm getting my blood work done so that I can make sure my nutrient levels are where they should be. Being a vegan triathlete isn't always easy, but it sure is interesting! Last time, my levels were all great showing me to be a very healthy vegan.

So tomorrow I'm doing a run - probably 8-10km with a bit of intervals in the middle. I have tomorrow off from work, so that'll be nice.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Let the training begin - Week 1

Today was the beginning of my new training plan. Susan, my coach, sent me my schedule for the week and, as expected, seems pretty mellow.

My thighs are a little sore from the running workout I had last night, which included some sprinting. It reminded me that I haven't sprinted in a long time and it felt really good. There really is something about pumping my arms and going as fast as I can for a short distance. I'm really built for short-distance and love the feeling of freedom I get at the max pace. Maybe one day I'll do a sprint triathlon. However, there is something really great about long-distance as well.

Today I did my yoga when I got up and it was really great to start off my day and week with the stretching of my power yoga DVD. I ate some breakfast, including my vitamins, and then headed to the gym - my local YWCA. I'm really not a fan of weights. In fact, in the past, I've claimed to hate weights. However, I know that it will help with my training for Ironman and triathlons in general, so I am willing to let go of my hate of standing in one spot doing the same exercise over and over again in order to have better results. One thing I learned today at the gym is that I must MUST MUST bring my own music. Unless I'm in a club, I really don't ever want to hear the remix version of Grease Lightning. Yes, call me a music snob, but I'd rather listen to nothing than listen to songs like that.

So I did my half-hour workout, which included step-ups, squats, seated-row, standing-row, hamstring curls, and a core workout. The thing I love about the YWCA is the diversity of the people there. From the young girls who come in pairs to the body-building guys to the elderly vision-impaired woman, all workout at the same time. I love it! So i had a great workout before heading off to work. Tonight I have an hour and a half swim workout with the Univesrity Tri Club (called STUC for short). I look forward to kicking it up a notch in the pool tonight.

Tonight's swim was really good. However, halfway through I got a nasty case of heartburn. This has happened before. It only happens when I swim at night. Sometimes it happens in morning swims, but I only get it when I swim. I'm not sure what my body is trying to tell me, so I'd better figure it out.

Tonight's workout:
300m warmup - freestyle, breast stroke, back stroke, and butterfly
4 x 100m IM (butter my back until my breast is free)
8 x 50m kick (alternating flutter and dolphin kick)
3 x 200m free
8 x 50m sprint free
500m free
100m cool down
= 2700m, time: 1:20
I felt pretty good. The sprints were hard; the last 10m of each interval was really hard - I felt like I was dragging a brick in the water and I felt like I would lose my form. However, the rest was really good. The tops of my thighs still hurt... in a good way.