Friday, October 3, 2014

Week 1: Getting Back Into Things

It's been about 1 week since I was able to start training again! So far things are OK, but far from ideal. When you first get back into things after injury it's not easy! No doubt every athlete has been in my situation at one time or another. It's a mix of emotions, including an anxiousness to resume training, fear of re-injury, frustration about not being fit and maybe some worry about gaining weight!

So, what is my "game plan" for my return to training? Well, I have decided to follow Adam's recommendations (which are rarely the same as what I would recommend for myself!), but usually correct. He's a smart guy. So, I will go 2 months without very much intensity at all. Swimming, biking and running frequently, but never for a long time at once. And all of it in Zone 1 or 2. Especially the running. I will increase the volume gradually each week. I will add in strength training in a couple of weeks. The best time to get stronger is during a time of light aerobic training.

How do I plan to prevent re-injury? I am regularly checking in with a sports doctor and getting treated regularly by my chiropractor, Bill Wells at Urban Athlete. I am also trying to take extra care to self-massage, stretch and strengthen the muscles that were weakened during the injury. I won't run with music either so that I can pay extra attention to any niggles that come up. My runs are mostly on the treadmill, so that I can stop if needed. Or I plan a looped route so that I am never too far from home if I'm running outside.

It is a huge mental battle when you are in this state. I know I am not fit and that is stressful. But stress results in the production of cortisol and cortisol is a hormone that "breaks down" the body. So, I don't want to be stressed! I HAVE to remain positive, despite the situation. I do this by reminding myself that at least I AM able to train right now and, so long as I am patient and don't try to do more training than my body is capable of, I will get a little bit fitter every day. My race season won't start till next spring, so I have lots of time to get fit again. I also get confidence from the fact that I am building a solid base that will prevent re-injury in the future.

Like most competitive athletes, especially female endurance athletes (not all, but some), I am worried about getting fat with so little training! My "natural" self is about 10 pounds heavier than when I am in heavy training and in race shape. So, I know that if I eat normally and don't exercise that is the direction my weight will drift. I need to remind myself that this is OK. Any weight gain will just be used as fuel for when the training ramps up again. I have never had any issues putting on muscle or getting "race fit" (in fact, I tend to lose weight too quickly with training), so a few extra pounds is probably good for me.

Stay tuned for an update in the next couple of weeks!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

When it's time to stop fighting.

Some days are bright, some days are grey. Today is a very grey day. I have made the difficult decision to cut my 2014 season short and pull out of Ironman 70.3 Miami and Ironman Arizona.

I take pride in the fact that I am a planner. Right after Ironman last year I had my entire year planned out. I knew what training I would be doing, what races I would be doing and what I should expect from myself in my third year as a professional triathlete. I had made HUGE gains last year. I swam consistently, and was always one of the top girls out of the water. My bike leg was improving, and I was biking about 5 - 10 minutes faster than in 2012. My run hadn't seen many gains from 2012, so that was to be my focus in 2014. Unfortunately, that plan had to be re-worked when I battled an ITB/Hamstring issue that impacted my training from November to February. Which was the time when I expected to make most of my fitness gains. I wasn't pain free until mid-February, and only started running consistently again in March. This gave me 8 weeks to get ready for St. George Ironman 70.3. I think I did well in St. George, all things considered. But I was definitely not making the gains I had hoped for. The running was going well until Syracuse Ironman 70.3 and I was doing it with consistency. In the last mile of Syracuse I landed forcefully on a downhill with a hyperextended knee. This was what has caused the ultimate end to my season. I ran through the knee issues for the rest of the summer, but inconsistently and not without pain. I still managed to fit in two half ironmans in August. I am now paying for those small successes, because I will no longer be able to complete the rest of my season. The diagnosis is a fat pad impingement in my left knee, but I am also getting spasms in the muscles surrounding the knee. The treatment is rest. So I have decided to stop fighting it and for my season, because at this point, fighting won't do a thing. My only plan now is to let myself get healthy again.

This injury combined with other issues I have experienced this year has taught me many lessons. I warn you now, before you continue reading this paragraph, that I am an emotional person. If you don't want to hear me rant on in this manner, then I suggest you stop reading now :) As I grow up, (and yes, I still have a lot of growing up to do!) I have realized that life is not the easy path that you picture it to be. It is full of difficult decisions that you never think you will have to make. You can't be carefree and do things that make you happy without thought, because actions have consequences. What feels good at the time could effect you for the rest of your life. You can't take on too many commitments that you end up spreading your time too thin. And you can't rely on anyone or anything for happiness. In order to be truly happy you have to be able to rely only on yourself. All things that I have learned in the past year and have helped me grow as a person and triathlete.

Thank you very much to my supporters for everything they did this season. I apologize if I let you down.

Special thanks too...

My sponsors: Turner-Tomenson Wealth Management and Raymond James Financial continue to make my life as a Pro triathlete possible, Scott Judges at Fitt1st, Bill Wells (Chiro) at Urban Athlete, Brad Wilson (RMT), all my equipment sponsors: Quintana Roo, ISM Saddles, Gray wheels, Rudy Project, Karhu Running Shoes, eLoad sports nutrition, IBB Cyclery in Utah, The Bike Zone in Toronto, Swiftwick socks, Suunto, Perfect Fuel Chocolate, Funkita/Funky Trunks swim wear, SRM, Champion System, X-1 Audio.

The important people in my life: My parents, my sisters, Adam, fellow triathletes and friends.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Steelhead ironman 70.3 - A Mental Battle!

Race one of two 70.3s in two weekends has come and gone. As with every race that lasts as long as a half ironman, it was a mix of many ups and downs. Every time I race I want it to be the perfect day, but it's never going to happen with so many uncontrollable variables. The sport alone consists of 3 disciplines. It's one thing to aim for a peak performance in one on a given day, but for 3? That's even harder. Then there's everything else that could go wrong: losing a water bottle, mechanical issues on the bike, someone racking their bike on yours in transition, blisters, wind, heat, rain, etc. But there is one thing that you can always control if your try, and that's your mindset. Having a positive attitude no matter what happens (because no race is perfect) can turn your day around and lead to a successful race. This is what I learned in Steelhead.

Leading up to this race, Adam and I decided on an easier than normal taper. This was due to the fact that I was a bit more fatigued than usual a week away from the race and the fact that my knee was STILL somewhat painful. So I did very little biking and no running. Usually the week leading up to the race has 3 hour long bike sessions with intensity mixed in, and lots of brick runs. Out of necessity that was not possible this time.

The Swim:

Steelhead is a beach start, which puts me at somewhat of a disadvantage (as most short people will understand!). It is just much harder to run in water when it's up to your quads and not your shins! I had a choice: dolphin dive in very shallow water or TRY to run! I opted for running at first and was quickly in last place. Dolphin dives it was! Or, I should say, face plant into the sand it was! Oops! I finally found something that worked: just swim. I was still at the back of the pack when we reached deeper water. But, luckily, fellow Pro Cait Snow was also close by at that point. So I used her to guide me back to the front of the pack. The swim was pretty uneventful after that. I stuck on Cait's feet the whole swim. I did try to pass her, but I would just ended up swimming beside her and not ahead, so I decided to save some energy and draft. It was comforting to know that I could swim with her, as she was over a minute ahead of me after the swim in Eagleman. I felt my swim had improved since I started training with Bob Hayes at Somerville, in combination with the U of T tri club. This was proof of that. My knee did start to bother me about 3/4 of the way through the swim, however. So I stopped kicking very hard with the left leg. A bit awkward and worrisome. Once we hit the sand at the swim exit I knew it would test the knee. I was able to run just fine through 200m of beach though so that gave me good piece of mind.





The Bike:

After what felt like a long transition I was finally off and on my bike. I expected the legs to feel great and refreshed after such an easy week. Normally they feel pretty good at the start of a race. This didn't seem to be the case today. I felt like I was cycling through sludge from the very beginning. I did my best to stay positive, but it was hard. I couldn't help but think, "if it's this hard right now, how hard is it going to be at 60,70,80 and 90k?" The next series of events didn't help: getting passed quite easily by two other girls early on, my power meter reading wrong (it said I was at around 20-40W throughout most of the course, but I didn't feel THAT bad), the super bumpy Hagar Shore Rd, a calf cramp that forced me to stop pedaling and stand up on my bike to stretch it out several times in the last 30km...getting passed again at 85km and feeling deflated enough to ride the last 5km easy into transition. I had never felt so tired at the end of a ride and I thought about giving up. I just didn't understand how I could have felt so weak. How could my ride be almost 10 minutes slower than in last year's race? I questioned everything: my training, my equipment, my nutrition, my attitude leading up to the race. Mentally I was diving into a dark and unpleasant place.



The run:

A combination of seeing my parents and having a pretty quick transition boosted my spirits a little at the start of the run. This was enough to get me out of my dark hole. That, and I could see the fifth place female just up the road. It looked like she was gaining on me, but I refused to let her. I pushed hard up the 3km uphill run right out of transition always looking down the road at the "carrot" ahead of me. The race operations director, Tom (an awesome guy!), was at aid station one telling me I looked good and relaxed. Then I saw my parents at the top of the hill ringing their cowbells and cheering loudly. I can never smile at the start of the run, though. It's still too soon to tell whether it's going to be an ok run or a complete sufferfest. I acknowledged they were there but kept focused on my goal to make it into fifth. Sooner than expected, I did! The race wasn't over though. I had 16km to go. And I couldn't even run downhill properly because my knee had started to bother me. So, I cautiously ran the rest of the race. I managed to find a good rhythm at km 8, I smiled at my parents when I saw them on the second loop of the run, took in my water and nutrition (it was a HOT day!) and counted down the kms. After what seemed like forever I crossed the finish line in the final podium spot.



I am still unsure of why I had such a tough day on the bike. I had slept and ate well in the 3 days prior to the race, I felt completely at home at my homestay with Loretta, Mike and the dogs and I had an awesome cheering section. My conclusion was that my taper must've been TOO EASY. Probably good to ensure that I had topped up glycogen stores and was injury free for the race, but since it lacked intensity it's possible that my legs were just not primed for a 200W 90km ride. It will be interesting to see how next week's Ironman 70.3 in New Hampshire will go!





Special thank you to:

1. The family I stayed with in Benton Harbor. Loretta and Mike and their dogs made me feel right at home.

2. My parents, who were able to make it down for the race, again! I don't know what I would do without them. (Sorry for making you cry with worry when I passed during the run, Mamma!)

3. My friends, family and fellow triathletes for your ongoing messages of support! And Triathlon Magazine Canada for the write up in their post-race recap! And coaches Adam and Kevin for helping me to get me back on track with my running after my knee injury.

3. My sponsors: Turner-Tomenson Wealth Management and Raymond James Financial continue to make my life as a Pro triathlete possible, Scott Judges at Fitt1st, Bill Wells (Chiro) at Urban Athlete, Brad Wilson (RMT), all my equipment sponsors: Quintana Roo, ISM Saddles, Gray wheels, Rudy Project, Karhu Running Shoes, eLoad sports nutrition, IBB Cyclery in Utah, The Bike Zone in Toronto, Swiftwick socks, Suunto, Perfect Fuel Chocolate, Funkita/Funky Trunks swim wear, SRM for my power, Champion System, X-1 Audio.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Managing your injuries

Just when I thought that I was finding my stride after the Syracuse Ironman 70.3, I hit another obstacle! Within the last mile of that race I landed awkwardly on the grassy downhill. I knew that my knee took quite the blow at the time, but still was able to run strong to the finish line. Soon after the race I knew that something was not right. I hoped and wished that the pain would go away. After the race I took about a week off running, thinking that would do the trick. It definitely helped, but I decided to jump right back into hard training on the following Monday. Although I was conscious of the fact that my knee didn't feel quite right, I continued to press on. This was a mistake. Overcompensating for my knee I developed strains in the surrounding muscles and the inflammation in my knee worsened to the point where it hurt to even walk. This forced me to take a necessary break from training at the beginning of this week. You can't really train when it hurts to swim, bike and run :(



My initial reaction to my injury was to sit on the couch, sulk, freak out reading research online for ALL the possible causes of my injury and EAT ALL THE FOOD. Three bowls of ice cream later I re-evaluated the situation. I decided that the best thing to do was to figure out the best way to promote my recovery. Obviously eating tons of sugar wasn't a good start, but here are a few things that I did afterwards:

1) Iced my knee. Probably the obvious thing to do to reduce inflammation. I don't typically take NSAIDs to reduce inflammation, because they can DELAY healing if there is an injury. The inflammation brings in the cells needed to repair the tissue damage. Applying cold stimulates blood flow to the area to bring in those "repair cells". So does elevating the knee above the heart.

2) Made appointments with my awesome chiropractor, Bill Wells, and to get acupuncture. Many people make the mistake of JUST resting, but that can lead to scar tissue forming at the site of injury. Chiropractic techniques and acupuncture help expedite the healing process and reduce the chance of scar tissue forming. These specialists can also help to determine the underlying cause of the pain.

3) Use the foam roller on the surrounding muscles (hamstrings, quads, glutes) to make sure they were all nice and loose. If tight muscles surrounding the knee are the actual cause of the pain then this will help.

4) Booked an ultrasound to rule out anything serious (like a torn ligament, etc.). The worst thing to do is be left guessing what your injury is. Knowing exactly what you are dealing with allows you to better treat the injury and not take any chances rushing back into activity too soon.

5) Rested. Well, tried to. I suffer from a sort of "I can't sit still for more than 10 minutes" type of syndrome. Probably familiar to many triathletes. Some things that helped me rest: fuse beads, solitaire, Netflix...

6) Shifted my mindset from a negative one to a positive one: the extra time I would save by not running meant I would have extra time for stretching, swimming and biking and other things that I enjoy (like going to the zoo with Maddycake!).

7) Tried to eat healthy! You need vitamins and other nutrients for the injury to heal. So, when you are injured it is extremely important to avoid junk foods.

I am happy to report that today I have been PAIN-FREE for a few days AND my ultrasound showed no structural damage to the knee, just a bit of excess fluid (inflammation). I should be ready to run soon :)

This post is dedicated to Pete Miles. Because he was the one who emailed me asking why I hadn't been blogging recently! When I responded that being injured doesn't inspire creativity, I instantly realized what I could blog about.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Syracuse Ironman 70.3: 5th! Slowly making a comeback

I crossed the finish line after Sunday's race, held my hands high, and cried and cried into my parents arms. Not because I was sad, but because I was happy. I didn't win and I didn't have my best performance, but nonetheless, the race was a huge step forward after a tough winter.

THE PRE-RACE:

I drove down to Syracuse on Friday with fellow triathlete, and new Pro, Mikael Staar Nathan. We arrived at our homestay just before noon and were welcomed by our hosts. Lindsay, another competitor in the race, and her lovely family opened their home to us for the weekend. To compete well you need to be comfortable and that we were! We had all the bagels, peanut butter, bananas and coffee we could want!

From our arrival to race morning it was the usual pre-race routine: Eat (lots of Perfect Fuel Chocolate!), easy swim/bike/run, sleep, repeat until race day. Unlike previous races it was really nice to have company! And be the vet Pro to give guidance to rookie Pro, Mikael! He didn't even criticize my driving too much :)

Oh, one thing of note that happened prior to the race start was that I was having trouble with my rear brake. It was rubbing against the wheel. I took it to Jamie, the AWESOME mechanic at Bike Loft North and he fixed the issue so that I could ride the bike as it was on race day, and informed me I would have to get the rear brake cable replaced as soon as possible! So, a HUGE thanks to Jamie for helping me with my last minute mechanical issues. (My QR is currently in the caring hands of The Bike Zone.)











THE SWIM: 27:20

The swim started off with the usual craziness of a swim start. Unfortunately, I was feeling quite sluggish at the start, despite getting in a decent warm-up. There was just no "zip" at the start so I didn't get a good position after the gun. The result was that I found myself blocked in behind two slower swimmers and had to actually stop swimming to let them get ahead of me so I could swim around them. Once I was able to do that, I pushed hard to catch up to fellow Canadian triathlete, Jenny Fletcher. We swam side by side for awhile and I thought, "OK, let's be strategic here." So I thought, I'll sit on her feet for awhile and then I'll surge ahead and go fast and drag her along and we could do this and work together to be faster. It's hard to communicate this plan to someone while swimming though, so it ended up that we just swam side by side to the swim finish. I exited the water tied for 3rd.





THE BIKE: 2:38:13

The bike started out really well. I was out of transition in 3rd place and had a smooth mount onto my bike at the start of the ride. I was feeling strong and my power was high. Unfortunately, this feeling lasted only about 10 minutes. Jenny passed me at around Mile 5 and I tried to stay with her, but just couldn't. I was watching my power meter and it I knew I couldn't push it to keep up. The first 15km of the Syracuse course is a grind as it's almost all uphill. I knew this beforehand though, so I was prepared. It's always good to know a course prior to the race. Perhaps not every detail, but whether the course is hilly or flat, technical or not, etc. And not just in general, but where it is hilly or technical helps too. This just allows you to be a bit more prepared. Anyway, somewhere in the first 30km the super speedy Beth Shutt passed me like I was riding backwards! Quite demoralizing, but I still saw that my power was where it should be, and that kept me optimistic. It wasn't until the last 20km of the bike that my legs really started to hurt and my power numbers took a bit of a nose dive. My nutrition had been right on and I was well rested for the race, but I hadn't biked over 90km in a month due to all the racing I had been doing and I was certainly paying for it! In the last 10km, I was passed by Heather Leiggi and moved into 6th place. I really had nothing in the legs to get me to race her into transition. This was the hardest part of the race for me and I was so happy when I finally dismounted into T2.



THE RUN: 1:31:14

Still feeling the effects of a tough final leg of the bike, I started my run feeling quite tired. It didn't help that the first mile was uphill and mostly on grass! I really did feel like I had bricks for legs. I saw my parents at the end of that first torturous segment of the run and I was not happy...I had a feeling that the run would be a repeat of my run at Eagleman. I did start to settle in and found my legs once I hit the paved roads. I had about 1.5 miles of flat/rolling road before we would hit the infamous hill that is about a mile long with grades of about 8-10% the whole way. The hill was just as painful as it sounds, and I felt like I was running at a snails pace. But what pushed me along was the fact that I could see Jenny just up ahead. Catching her became my motivation to go strong up that hill. Oh, that and the fact that someone had written on the road "BEAST MODE" (I had this image of myself running like a beast up that hill that almost made me laugh out loud!). And I did manage to catch Jenny and move into 5th just after the turnaround at the top of the hill. I also saw how far back my competitors were...400m, 1.2km, etc. etc. I would have to continue to stay strong if I wanted to hold on to a podium spot. And I was hurting. So I started to focus on what I could control: taking in my nutrition, staying cool by pouring water over my head at the aid stations, taking water and coke as I needed, and focusing on my run form and my breathing. I thought of Adam telling me to "take the shortest line" on the turns and heard him saying "use the downhill" as I descended the steep hill and then the grassy part of the run. Once I reached the turnaround at the halfway point I started assessing how far back the rest of the girls were...it looked like I was actually gaining ground on them and not losing it! How this was possible I didn't know...but it gave me just the boost I needed. The next time I saw my parents I was in good spirits and waved and smiled. I knew I could do this. The rest of the run is a blur as I was so focused on maintaining my speed that I didn't notice anything around me. Even fellow competitors who saw me commented on how focused I looked! Before I knew it I was in the last (and longest!) mile of the course. I pushed as hard as I could and crossed that line and waved my hands in the air. I didn't finish first, but it was a huge personal victory for me.



FINISH TIME: 4:40:20 As I always say, I couldn't have achieved this result by myself. This is especially true this time. Last winter, I suffered through the emotional damage caused by November's "cyberbully" attack and a run injury, among other personal matters. And I was easily at my lowest point. Giving up on the sport seemed so much easier than continuing to go on. Racing and training for an event that lasts as long as a half-ironman doesn't just take physical strength, but emotional and mental strength as well. When you go through personal stress, training can become an outlet, an escape. But at the level that I want to compete at, that much stress is detrimental to everything: training, performance and recovery. But with each word of love and support I receive, which continues to sometimes surprise me (do I really deserve it?), that stress is lifted a little bit. And the road I am travelling on as I pursue my triathlon journey becomes smoother and less lonely. So, a very sincere thank you to everyone for lifting that stress enough for me to put together a solid result in Syracuse.

Special thank you to:

1. The family I stayed with in Syracuse. Lindsay and her family were absolutely wonderful and I couldn't have asked for anything more from them.

2. My parents, who were able to make it down for the race, again! And for ringing their cowbells super loud and dealing with my emotional ups and downs during and after the race.

3. My sponsors: Turner-Tomenson Wealth Management and Raymond James Financial continue to make my life as a Pro triathlete possible, Scott Judges at Fitt1st, Bill Wells (Chiro) at Urban Athlete, Brad Wilson (RMT), all my equipment sponsors: Quintana Roo, ISM Saddles, Gray wheels, Rudy Project, Karhu Running Shoes, eLoad sports nutrition, IBB Cyclery in Utah, The Bike Zone in Toronto, Swiftwick socks, Suunto, Perfect Fuel Chocolate, Funkita/Funky Trunks swim wear, SRM for my power, Champion System for the most amazingly comfortable race kit, X-1 Audio for allowing me to train to music (in the rain or pool too) !!!

4. My fellow friends/competitors from Toronto who raced! Mikael - who was 17th male pro in his debut race, Kevin - who had a World Championship qualifying performance, Jessica - who also qualified for Worlds (and cheered me on during the run SUPER loud, no less!), Janet - who PB'd on that crazy tough course! You are all inspiring!

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POST-RACE PHOTOS:







Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ironman 70.3 Eagleman: Learning the hard way

Unfortunately, the past weekend did not go so well for me. I had a strong swim, a strong bike (despite what the results say I biked a 2:27:01 - explained below) and then fell apart on the run. Rather than dissect the race in detail I have listed all the things that I learned below:

1. It is not a wise decision to race an Olympic distance in another time zone, 7 days prior to a key race. I did LOVE the OC triathlon last weekend, but the legs had not fully recovered for Eagleman. However, I'm sure I got a good training stimulus so all was not lost!

2. I should not drive 11 hours straight 2 days before a half-ironman event. It is one thing to be the passenger when you go for a long drive - you can put your feet up, sleep, etc., but quite another to be the driver...During the drive I got calf cramps, hamstring cramps, witnessed a jack knifed car two ahead of me on the highway and then there was the fact that I was afraid to hydrate because I didn't want to pee every 5 minutes!

3. While racing, the next time I catch up to a group of girls on the bike, I have to find the energy to pass all of them to avoid getting a drafting penalty. Yup, the extra 4 minutes tacked onto my bike split was because I was called for drafting. From my point of view: I caught up to a group of girls on the bike, and then went to pass them, but biked too hard to pass the first two and then didn't have the legs to pass the rest. I thought that I was still the legal distance from the girl in front of me so I tucked in. Wrong thing to do. Ref gave me a red card :( At least I've learned!! I did try to make the most of it and stay positive about the situation, but I was deflated. I spent the rest of the race about 30s to a minute back of the pack, keeping them in my sights but not taking any chances.

4. Sleep is important! The week before my race I neglected the most important part of a taper: SLEEP. I took the red eye home from LA on Sunday night, then had long days where I didn't get home till after 8pm on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, then a short sleep on Thursday so I could wake up early on Friday to start my drive. THAT was a recipe for disaster in itself. WHAT WAS I THINKING?!

Now, it wasn't ALL negative and there were definitely some highlights of the race: 1. I nailed my NUTRITION plan for the first time ever! Thanks to eLoad, zone caps and eGels I was well fuelled on race day and well hydrated - no cramping!

2. I posted my highest ever normalized power on the bike! Thanks to a combination of a good position and an awesome ride.

3. I didn't have burning feet and have to heel strike at all on the run. A constant source of frustration in all my long runs prior to this year.

4. I had SUPER FAST transitions!

5. Most importantly, it was another chance to do what I love most! I race because I love it, not because I love to win. If I can win then it's an added bonus.

I would like to again thank all of my supporters. Firstly, the family I stayed with in Cambridge was amazing - I was so comfy and they were so kind! And of course, my parents, who were able to make it down for the race. Especially my sponsors: Turner-Tomenson Wealth Management and Raymond James Financial continue to make my life as a Pro triathlete possible, Scott Judges at Fitt1st, Bill Wells (Chiro) at Urban Athlete, Brad Wilson (RMT), all my equipment sponsors: Quintana Roo, ISM Saddles, Gray wheels, Rudy Project, Karhu Running Shoes, eLoad sports nutrition, IBB Cyclery in Utah, The Bike Zone in Toronto, Swiftwick socks, Suunto (love my multisport GPS watch!), Perfect Fuel Chocolate (best recovery food, ever!), Funkita/Funky Trunks swim wear, SRM for my power, Champion System for the most amazingly comfortable race kit, X-1 Audio for allowing me to train to music!!! Oh, and again, THANK YOU SO MUCH Peter Karmaszin for letting me borrow your front wheel for the race! I do now have my new front GRAY wheel to debut the next time I race :)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Race Report: Orange County Tri Series Olympic Distance Triathlon

Orange County, California - what a great location for a race! I arrived here on Thursday afternoon and I know that I could live here. The roads are just made for cyclists, the outdoor pools are GORGEOUS and the running is perfect. Rather than go in to too much detail about the pre-race events, I thought I would highlight my top 5 pre-race events:

5. Thai food on Friday night!
4. Seeing the Oakley Headquarters

3. My set of 9x400 in the pool on Friday. Not really a taper swim, huh?
2. The king size bed and fluffy pillows in my hotel room
1. Meeting the awesome owner of One Capital, Don and his wife, Teresa, and their friends Tim and Marty (Thanks for making me feel like family!)

Now...the race report:

WARM-UP: At around 6:30am the entire swim course was in a FOG! You literally couldn't even see the first swim buoy. Of course, I had spent the night before defogging my mirrored swim goggles. Haha - wouldn't even be using them! I did a quick round of swim tubing exercises to warm-up. **special note to the athletes I coach - see, the coach does her swim tubing! why don't you!?! ;)** Then I got in the water for my in-water warmup that included about 20 minutes of easy swimming with a few pickups of about 40 strokes hard. The water was the perfect temperature (around 76F) and I was feeling half decent. I had lots of energy for the event ahead!

SWIM: It was a beach start and I was only one of 2 Elite females starting amongst a HUGE group of men in the first wave. Talk about intimidating!!! However, I put on my *be tough* face and started in the most aggressive position. Closest to the first buoy (we could see it slightly, by now) and closest to the water. The horn went and I ran as fast as I could into the water, determined not to get toppled by the big men (luckily male triathletes are usually not that 'big'). I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't get sucked into the washing machine that is typically a swim start. I had my own water and a good view of a pack ahead that I was going to catch. And catch I did. I swam my super hardest for about 200m and caught a very nice pair of feet - which I drafted off of the rest of the way. Not that I was swimming easy! I was still working hard to stay on those feet and even a moment of daydreaming and I would find myself scrambling to catch them again. I was pleasantly surprised to exit the water in 18:40 (a new PB for a 1500m swim).

T1: Uneventful and all uphill...don't need to say much more! :)

BIKE: I started out on the ride (the first 10km are uphill) feeling great. I had brief moments where I thought I might be superwoman. I passed a male athlete within the first few kms, I was holding power in the 250s, I felt like I was just cruising along...Reality struck at the 6th km though and my legs got heavy. I realized, no, I am just Miranda and I can't hold Zone 5 for an entire 40km ride and I should probably not try! I still had a super fun ride. Well, other than the fact that my SRM cadence magnet was barely stuck on the frame (it fell off in the morning and I had to scramble to get it back on). So, every bump I had to look down and make sure it was still there. It stayed on the whole way, thank you sticky tack! I also wanted to note that, even on the hilly course, I found I was rarely ever out of aero position (a combination of being on an awesome Quintana Roo bike, having an awesome Xlab aero drink system filled with my eLoad and Zone caps, my Rotor QXL rings and being perfectly fit by Scott Judges, and the fact that I wanted to look good for the camera which was filming me as I rode - cool!). There was a small section of the course near the turnaround that was super bumpy, with lots of debris on the road, which I don't like as a hesitant cyclist. After that was over it was super fast back into T2. Before I knew it I was at the dismount line. Literally, that line came up way too fast and I nearly went over the handlebars! I'm sorry to the volunteers that I scared. I finished the ride in 1:07:22, which is another PB for this distance.

T2: Smooth (thanks to my Xtenex speed laces) and uneventful. Oh, but my feet were numb (I really need to get men's cycling shoes to fit my SUPER wide feet).

RUN: I started out on the run feeling half decent, but not great. My feet were still numb from the ride and that made it hard to find a rhythm. The first 3.5km were a net downhill though so that was a nice way for the run to start. I was also passing a number of people from the duathlon (who had started before us) so that gave me some momentum. By the end of this section my pace was solid at 3:50/km and my feet had finally started feeling normal. However, the next 3.5km were on hilly trails including wood chips and loose dirt. Most people loved this and said if reminded them of their cross country days, but I never did cross country and I was very bad at running through the stuff! Finally, at the 7km mark we were back on the pavement and I started to feel my best. I finally felt warmed up by this point and ready to go. My last 1km split was a 3'36 for a final 10K time of 39:47! If only the race had kept going :)

All in all I am very pleased with the race. Not just my performance, but the course itself, the race director - Scott Davis of P5 Racing, the lead sponsor - One Capital, the volunteers, the weather, the location, the awards (I got a HUGE bear!), the post-race food (I ate way too many cranberry oatmeal cookies!), the camera crew (look for me on TV in a few weeks!), the spectators and the other racers! What a spectacular event. I hope to be back.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me! Especially my sponsors: One Capital who invited me to this event, Turner-Tomenson Wealth Management and Raymond James Financial continue to make my life as a Pro triathlete possible, Scott Judges at Fitt1st, Bill Wells (Chiro) at Urban Athlete, Brad Wilson (RMT), all my equipment sponsors: Quintana Roo, ISM Saddles, Gray wheels, Rudy Project, Karhu Running Shoes, eLoad sports nutrition, IBB Cyclery in Utah, The Bike Zone in Toronto, Swiftwick socks, Suunto (love my multisport GPS watch!), Perfect Fuel Chocolate (best recovery food, ever!), Funkita/Funky Trunks swim wear, SRM for my power, Champion System for the most amazingly comfortable race kit, X-1 Audio for allowing me to train to music!!! Oh, and THANK YOU SO MUCH Peter Karmaszin for letting me borrow your front wheel last minute for the race!

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