Sunday, December 30, 2007

Winter Training!

I know that it is only December and winter has only been around for a couple of months, but I'm really loving it right now and I hope the love continues on into March. It stems from my newfound love of cross-country skiing. It is relaxing and a great workout at the same time! Because my feet are still not feeling 100%, I am mixing my running with skiing and I think it is adding a lot of good stuff. Combine that with yoga and I am a happy, healthy, fit vegan triathlete!

I officially signed up for the Saskatoon half marathon on May 25th. I'm pretty excited about it. I was thinking today about setting a time goal. If the training goes well, which I'm hoping it will without injury, I would like to run a sub-2 hour half marathon. My half marathon time in the half Ironman has been around 2:30 both times I did the half IM, so I think I should be able to do a 2-hour half marathon without all the swimming and biking. It will be so different though. I'm excited for it!

In January, I'm going to hit the pool and the bike as well. I'm hoping to get to the pool 3 times, ski at least once, run twice, and bike twice a week. I am going to get myself organized in January and just get back in the swing of things so that February will have specific goals and workouts. I'm excited to get back into training - so much fun! Hopefully my personal life stays pretty stable so that I can concentrate on my training.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Winter Training Fun!

On Sunday, I embarked on my first cross-country ski adventure of the winter. It was a beautiful, crisp, sunny day and my friend and I went out for a quick run on a ski trail that I hadn't been to before. Admittedly, this is the first time I have ever sought out skiing in the city, as last year I went skiing for the first time in my life and went to a beautiful area in the northern part of the province. Sunday's ski was great, but it really worked my lower back (as I found out later that day with uncomfortable tightness). A nice soak in the tub helped it out. As did last night's two-hour yoga session with lots of spinal twists. What will I do if my yoga teacher/good friend leaves for Mexico for the rest of the winter?! Today, my back feels great, my abs are sore, and I feel taller and lighter. Yoga, seriously, is THE SHIT!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Perspiration and Inspiration

Today I did some holiday baking and knew that I had to get out into the winter wonderland that I live in. So when I got my first reminder about Saskatoon's 30th Marathon, I was reminded that I am going to do my first running race since I was in Junior High School. I have completed an Ironman, two half Ironmans, numerous other triathlons and duathlons, but I have never ran a long-distance running race. I decided after Ironman that 2008 was going to be my year to do that. My co-worker and I made a pact to do it train and inspire each other for this.

So I went out today and got in a good 40-minute run. I have to admit, though, that my feet weren't necessarily happy about it. My form started slipping near the end and my back wasn't as straight as it could have been and my pelvis was "tipping." So my ankle protested with a slight ache that I took note of right away. I walked for a bit and stretched my ankles a bit. I was near the end of my run, but I wanted to see if fixing my form would quiet the ache and it did. So I ran the rest of the way home, focusing on my form and cooling down.

I have to say that I am very anxious to get back into the full swing of training, but I'm not quite sure that my body feels the same way my mind does. Easing back into it is the best way, but I'm just so excited about it. Luckily, I'm playing lots of guitar, practicing yoga, and developing my website. So I have lots of distractions, but I'm definitely feeling the itch.

So I put up a countdown on this page to remind me of how much time I have to train for the half marathon. A good plan is what I need. I'll work on that to curb the itch of training.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Ironman advice

So I subscribe to many online 'zines about triathlon. The one I got today from Trifuel is a really good one on racing for Ironman. I tried to transport myself to a year ago when I was starting on my training plan and thinking about what this article would have done for me. I don't honestly think I would have known what it was talking about, but now that I've been through it I can really appreciate the advice given. So I thought I'd add the four keys that they talk about and add my comments. The whole article is here.

The Four Keys

by Rich Strauss (Crucible Fitness) and Patrick McCrann (Performance Training Systems)

1. Execution, not Fitness.
All you've done for 9 months is build a vehicle. Ironman racing is about how you DRIVE that vehicle, it is NOT about the vehicle. The majority of athletes on race day are fitness-focused (look at my T-shirt, look at my abs/veins/etc, look at how fast I can go in the first hour of the bike, etc.) As coaches we can make you stronger, but we can't fix stoopid if you decide to race your own way.
I definitely took their advice before my race. I am glad that I did this one right.

2. The Line.
Nothing on race day really matters until you reach The Line on the run. The Line is the point at which continuing becomes very, very difficult. You define success as simply not slowing down at The Line. EVERYTHING before The Line is simply about creating conditions for success for when the Line comes to you.
I had no idea what The Line was before Ironman. After reading this article and looking back, I know what The Line is. For me, it was after the sun went down and I was running with a few people with our glowsticks dangling. I was carrying my purple Powerade bottle and suddenly it felt really really heavy. I thought that my arm was going to fall off if I kept carrying it, but I kept it because carrying it outweighed the thought of drinking anymore orange or yellow Gatorade.

Additional Kool-Aid flavored thoughts we'd like to put in your head regarding this point are:
a) A successful race = a good run. There is no such thing as a good bike followed by bad run, period. In our world, if you showed up with solid run fitness, had a "good" bike and a poor run, we will ALWAYS assume you boogered your bike pacing unless you are missing a limb or are in the ICU with an intestinal parasite.
ABSOLUTELY!!! I 100% agree with this and race every race with this in mind.

b) If you think you can ride faster than we're telling you, prove it by running well off the bike first (preferrably not attempted for the first time on IM race day).
c) Ride your "should" bike split vs your "could" bike split. Your Could split is what you tell Timmy you could ride on a good day, when you're out together for your Saturday ride. If you say you "could ride a 5:50," your Should split is likely 6:00 and defined as the bike split that yields a good run (see above).
d) Don't eat the paste. Ironman in general, but especially the bike leg, is at best a special ed class: you only have to show up with your C game to be at the head of the class. If you find yourself doing the opposite of everyone else, you're doing the right thing. If Jimmy and everyone else is in the corner eating the paste, don't join them! Sit down, do what we're telling you, and don't eat the paste! Lots of people passing you in the first 40 miles? That's good, don't eat the paste. Going backwards through the field on a hill? That's good, don't eat the paste.
Not eating the paste is really really hard to do when everyone around you is eating the paste and you're thinking "Why can't I eat the paste? Everyone looks like they're doing so good by eating the paste." However, I'm glad that I didn't eat the paste. I'm glad I prepared myself to not eat the paste. My first memory of not eating the paste was in elementary school where we were being tested compared to national standards. We were doing a "long" run and everyone was sprinting right off the start. I ran at the back of the pack at a slow-and-steady pace and then I passed everyone. It was really hard to be at the back of the pack at the start, but it ended very well.

e) Think you made the mistake of riding too easy? You now have 26 miles to fix that mistake. Make the mistake of riding too hard? That mistake now has 26 miles to express itself, to the tune of X miles at 17-18' walking pace vs X miles at 8-10' running pace. Do the math. How is that bike split going to look as you are walking/shuffling the last 10 miles of the run?
Absolutely! Struggling for the run of any triathlon is my worst nightmare. I race every race so that I can finish the race by sprinting to the line. I sprinted at the end of my first triathlon 5 years ago and I sprinted the end of Ironman in August. It is the most satisfying feeling.

f) Every time you feel yourself about to get stupid, look at where you are. Are you at The Line? No. Then sit down, shut up, do what you're told and don't be stoopid. Please. :)
These guys are pretty harshly amusing.

3. The Box: all day long you are going to race inside a box defined by what you can control. Ask yourself "What do I need to do right NOW to create the conditions for success at The Line? Is what I'm doing right now counter to this goal? From what we've seen first hand on the IM courses this season, we believe you should ask yourself "Am I participating in some short-term tactical masturbation?" If yes, STOP!!

On the swim, the Box is the space your body occupies in the water: focus on your form and the rest will come. On the bike, the box is probably about one aid station long. On the run, the box begins as 2-3 aid stations long but often diminishes to "from here to the next lampost/manhole cover/mail box." Regardless:
a) Keep the box as big as you can for as long as you can.
b) Keep in the box only the things you can control. Let go of the rest.
c) Exercise this decision-making process inside your box: Observe the situation, Orient yourself to a possible course of action, Decide on a course of action, Act (OODA Loop).
I don't think I understand what the Box is.

4. The One Thing. If you swallowed the Kool-Aid we're serving you here, you will show up at the Line, in your Box, ready to git'erdun and simply not slow down. But we're not done yet. There is still some psychological stuff you need to address.

During the course of your race day, expect your body to have a conversation with your mind: "Look, Mind, you've had me out here slogging away for 132 miles. This is really starting to get old and very painful. You need to give me a good reason to keep going forward. If you can't give me a good one, I'm gonna slow down and you can't stop me!" Before the race, you need to ask yourself "Why am I doing Ironman?" In other words, you need to determine what is the One Thing that put you in this race? To finish in the daylight with a smile on your face? To run a 4:10? Whatever your One Thing is, be absolutely clear and rehearse your mind/body debate beforehand. But be warned: your body can be a helluva good negotiator at mile 18, especially if your mind hasn't prepared its rebuttal arguments beforehand.
Absolutely! For me, I told myself "You have been waiting to do this race since you knew it exists. You absolutely can do this... you will BE AN IRONMAN." That was what went through my mind when my body started to protest, but it helps that I had a great run.

Unity of purpose creates clarity of focus, yielding breakthrough performance.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


In yoga, balance is my biggest problem. Some days are better than others, but usually I have a hard time standing on one foot for too long. This is quite opposite from when I was a kid and the balance beam was my favorite part of gymnastics. So it really isn't surprising that I need more balance in my general life as well as in my yoga practice.

Last night I went running with my friend and her baby. It was snowing and we got a few centimetres of the white, fluffy stuff. We went for about 40 minutes (according to my friend) and it was really good. I've been having some emotional difficulty, but the run really helped with that. I think I just need to keep getting out and getting the old cardiovascular system going.

During the run, I couldn't help but marvel at how easy it was to run like this after being on hiatus for the last few months. Apparently my base is pretty good. It always surprises me when I can do things like that. Good to know.

My right hamstring is a bit sore right now after Monday's intense yoga session, but I have been stretching it and I think it'll work itself out soon enough. I could really feel it last night during the run. I'm going to ice it tonight as well.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Pure Bliss

This week I spent more than 12 hours in a car driving for work. The work I did was worth it, but my body felt more than lethargic. Last night when I got home, I had to muster all of my strength just to eat some food before crawling into bed. Long days do that sometimes. I had every intention of popping right out of bed and into my running shoes, but when the alarm went off and my eyes had to open, I knew it was not happening. Rest is what I needed.

However, after another day in the car, my legs needed an outlet. So after work, I promptly put on my layers for a really cold run-walk. It was 5:30pm so rush-hour traffic was at its peak. So I went to where the cars weren't and I could just do my thing. That is the great thing about living near the river... no cars, just the trees, the snow, and my feet. I'm not sure if it was all the rest that I've given my body over the past couple of months, but I felt like I was flying down the trail. I didn't see anybody on the trail... it was just me. I felt this complete sense of peace and calm in my body, in my mind, and I remembered that THIS is why I run... THIS is why I do triathlon. It's for the sense of peace that I get when my heart is pumping, my nose is running, my feet are thudding, and my breath is laboured. It was dark out, the trees were sparkling from the snow, and my breath looked like smoke coming out from under my neck-warmer.

I have no idea how long it took me, but it felt like my fastest run of the year. It was effortless. I had to make myself walk periodically, but all I wanted to do was run and run and run until I passed out. But I know my injury well and know that I must not push it even close to my limit. So I just enjoyed the break in between the bursts of flying through the crisp air. Amazing. Purely amazing.

Monday, December 03, 2007


Tonight I went to a 2-hour yoga session that my friend, Georgina, teaches. It was so so fantastic! We did a ton of partner stretching and poses, which was really awesome. It works the core, the balance, and the strength. I couldn't really do much for inversions tonight because I was having lots of issues with dizziness and blood pressure, but I did do a tripod headstand and held it, which I haven't done before. G shows us so many poses and some of they are so hard and at first I was intimidated, but now that I've went so many times I'm definitely getting the hang of it. I can even do crow now! It's so great to be able to see my poses progressing.

Tonight we did a 4-person downward dog partner pose and there are pictures! We also made a pyramid, facing the mirrors and it was really awesome. We also did some partner stretching, which I'm sure made me grow. Just a fantastic session!

Walking down there, I could feel the muscles around my shins from walk-running yesterday. It feels good to get my body going again. Having a healthy body is imperative to having a healthy mind and these days both are doing great. It's interesting how when one door closes, a myriad of other doors open. I knew that it would happen, but I did not expect my path to be so apparent and easy. Who knew life didn't have to be hard!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

I'm back!

Today I went for a run-walk and it felt really good. My feet feel good and my body was happy to be back into doing cardio workouts, even if the weather is a little on the chilly side (ie. -20 degrees Celsius). I love it when the frost collects on my eyelids and on my neck warmer. I wish I could get a picture of it, but it melts as soon as it hits the warm air of my house. After my run, I did some meditation and yoga just to let the feeling of the run sink into the muscles. It felt really good and I'm hoping that by going slowly, I will be running regularly in January. I'm also going to set up my wind trainer next weekend and maybe invest in some Spinerval videos for the winter. And I may have found a coach for the next season.

So far, my season looks like this:
* - Bridge City Duathlon - Saskatoon, SK
May 24, 2008 - Saskatoon Half Marathon - Saskatoon, SK
June *, 2008 - Spin off Spadina Olympic Triathlon - Saskatoon, SK
July 6, 2008 - Great White North Triathlon - Stony Plain, Alberta
August 11, 2008 - Frank Dunn Triathlon - Waskesiu, SK

I might also do a bit of road bike racing and definitely will be doing some mountain bike racing. I'm looking forward to next season!