Friday, October 8, 2010

Strathmore Women's Only, Aug. 15, 2010

Strathmore Women’s Only Sprint Triathlon, August 15th, 2010
This race was FUN! I can’t describe it any other way! I picked up the ever colourful Leslie Anne McKenzie bright and early and we were off to the races, so to speak!
I was still building to the Kelowna Apple, so like Chaparral this was a training day for me. On top of that I had recently committed to racing Muskoka 70.3 in September so knew I didn’t have the luxury of resting into this one AND I needed a long run! So much training to do, so little time I had to problem solve to come up with a way to do it all! Mission accomplished and the best part was I had a BLAST doing it!
What are you to do when you need a long run AND are racing, all in the same day! In my distorted little world I decided to run loops of the course before the race to total 15k. That would give me a 20k run total for the day, with a really hard final 5k! Plus I could swim and bike hard in the middle!
The race was in heats, and I was in the last heat which left lots of time get my run in. I didn’t know where to go thus the decision to run the course. The best part of this was the volunteers! They laughed “with” me... OK... maybe “at” me, but were cheery and wonderful! On my 3rd time around I warned them I wouldn’t be as happy the next lap. I’d be in race mode! It was SO much fun, and there was NO PROBLEMS with me not knowing the course this week! No way! I knew my way!
The other thing my pre-race run did was it showed me the beauty and heart of a gifted devoted race director. Deana Jabs had the course SO well marked. There were volunteers everywhere I turned, and the best part were the motivation signs placed strategically along the way. Every woman in this race was lucky to be there, myself included!
The race went well! My swim... well, it was my swim. Argh... I must get to work on that! The bike! FUN FUN FUN! I raced at higher watts than I’ve seen in a long time! I was the only athlete with race wheels and an aerohelmet! I looked like a freak!!!! Still, so many women along the way gave words of encouragement! I was SO excited to be on my little white and red Kuota! I felt like I was flying!
The run... well, it was hard, but in such a good way! I paced well which is always important to me, and I ran as hard as legs and lungs could take me! Again, there was oodles of encouragement from the competitors, and the volunteers (more friends by now!) gave a final cheer as I huffed by!
I LOVED this race! I loved the course, the volunteers, the meal, how the draw prizes were given out, and that age group winners received a single rose. The day wasn’t about winning... it was about a race experience! The only downside for the women doing their first race is that their “expectation bar” has now been set very high! They might not come across another race like this for a very long time, unless they race this one again next year!
To finish, having Christina and Leslie-Anne there with smiles and great races made the day even better! On top of that Maureen M. volunteered in her TTL colors! I’m putting this one on my race calendar for sure next year! I hope you do too (If you’re a girl of course.)

Lake Chapparal Olympic Distane, Aug 8th 2010

This was a training race. I went in tired, with a plan to race as hard as I could and see where my legs and lungs would take me. During the race I had a few moments of thinking “racing on tired legs sucks”! Mission accomplished, I was tired!
The wonderful amazing Tanya Solomon and I traveled together for this one. I am very lucky to be able to train with such a talented athlete. The rides are fun and mixed pace when we do manage to train together; the conversation is better. She decided to do this race last minute, and it was fun to have her along!
The morning of the race we had laughs and giggles. I got my Starbucks and we had some great pre-race banter! It was nice to race so close to home.
Swim... not much to say. I wanted to stay on Tanya’s feet. (If at first you don’t succeed, tri tri again! It didn’t work with Sarah in Invermere... maybe I’d have better luck this time around!) I made it on her feet for the first lap. Somehow, on the start of the second lap I lost it! Her feet were gone in the turn of my head to take a breath! I’m still miffed about this!!

Onward and upward. I felt I swam well again, although my time was the same as always. It was after this race that I decided that I’m kind of at a standstill with swimming. It doesn’t seem to matter how much I do or don’t swim. I swim the same time every time. I’m stuck and need to work on that this winter. Still, my swim was OK.
The bike was fun! I really enjoyed the technical hilly course. By the 5th lap I decided I was good to be done with the big hill, but overall I was happy with how I executed. I stayed focused on watts and heart rate, and knew that the fatigue in my legs was a factor for both. Still, I thought I rode well. I was 3rd woman off the bike which was great! I knew that Tanya would be in front, and didn’t know who the other gal was, but I saw her during the bike. As it turns out I made up time on her and had the 2nd fastest women’s bike split of the day.
The run... a frustrating story indeed! It was supposed to be 9k. That’s what the race director advertised on his website. I’m fine with it being short as long as I know. Off I went for my 9k run. My technology failed me on this day as my footpod died. I was running nake! I was disappointed there weren’t any km markers, meaning I had NO idea how far or fast I was running. I don’t like that as most of you know.
I started the first loop and legs felt OK. I quickly got into rhythm and had a positive outlook. Then, I got MAD!
There was a “t” intersection on the course. It was maybe a km or less into the run, and it brought me to a standstill. There was nothing there to indicate which way to go. Not a pylon, a volunteer, a chalk aero, a surveyors flag. I couldn’t tell I was in a race, and was afraid to take a guess. I made a decision to run back towards transition to see if I could get directions. As luck would have it the 4th place woman off the bike was very pleasant and kindly showed me the way. She warned me that I would run along a long row of houses and not feel like I was on a race course at all... but to KEEP GOING! That was the best advice of the day.
When the race was over Trevor (TTL athlete) asked me why I came “back”! He saw me standing by the lake with my arms in the air. I was SO frustrated! I just about quit... but I didn’t; and I’m proud of that. What kept me going was the “What would I say to an athlete in the same situation” self talk? Would I be excited about an athlete quitting a race because of a wrong turn in the road? No... I would not. There are more lessons to be learned by finishing what you start, than by quitting because of dumb luck. If I couldn’t support it in others, I certainly could not support in for myself. So... I kept going!
My good friend Janice McCaffrey was a great cheerleader! She was on her cute little mountain bike, and rode along beside me a few times offering support. Get the “grrrr” Angie! You’re running well. Focus on the sign... just run to the sign! Her timing was perfect because as always, I was suffering!
The run took forever. I didn’t know how long I’d gone or how far I was running, but it felt like I was out there for a very long time! As it turned out the course was almost 11k. I didn’t know that, but I sure felt it!
In the end I finished 4th, and won my age group. The experience of traveling with Tanya, having Janice along to cheer, and Rena, John, Trevor and Steve there made it worthwhile for the day. Seeing Leslie Anne in tears over her AG placing was a beautiful moment in triathlon for me!
Will I do another Multisport race again anytime soon? Probably not. I was disappointed in several basic organizational expectations I have when I sign up for a race. I did talk to one of the race directors about it, and he accepted my feedback with kindness. It is my responsibility to know the course. That rule is a firm one. The fact that there was a volunteer at the infamous “t” intersection on my second lap tells me their lack of marking it was an oversight though, and it was careless.
The post race food was FANTASTIC! I must give kudos to the organizers for that! I will give credit where credit is due!
Oh... how did Tanya know where to go at the “t”? She didn’t! She guessed too! She said she had a 50/50 chance of getting it right, and was happy to make the right choice. Me... I got some extra running in and met a very nice young gal from Vegreville who runs FAST! She raced in Kelowna as well... but more on that next race report!
Angie’s Long Overdue Heart of the Rockies Race Report

I am a tardy race report writer! As of this moment, I have gone to the start line 5 times since I last sat down to write my tales from the trenches of triathlon. (I must be in a mood to “alliterate”!) It there’s a bonus to my procrastination, it is that each report has to be short; something I’m not all that good at but will do my best to accomplish this time round. Here is the first one.
Heart of the Rockies Olympic Distance, July 11th, 2010
This race was important to me. As you may know, my last race at Great White North Half Ironman was what I define a terrible day. I don’t need to relive it her, but it certainly moulded my goals for this race.
What did I want out of this one? Simple.... I wanted to race happy. I wanted to “enjoy” the process, and finish with a smile.
The few days before the race were filled with fun! Rena, Sarah and I had a great time dancing with a few glasses of wine on Friday night in Panorama. Saturday was filled with pre-race workouts with Sebastian, Jeff, Rena, Sara, Trevor, and Alanna.

Race morning I had a bit of chaos. First of all, I talked to way to many people and fell behind on getting ready. Secondly, the battery in my powertap died. I so badly wanted the data from this race to compare to last year. I had a brief moment of panic, the Sarah saved the day with a brand new battery in her HR strap! YAH SARAH!!!!
I got my wetsuit on with minutes to spare... literally! No warm up and the gun was off.
I hoped to stay on Sarah’s feet for at least a few minutes of the swim. “Dream Big Arnold” comes to mind here! NOT A HOPE! She was gone like a flash and I was left to fend for myself. I enjoyed the swim, felt I swam technically well, and was happy with my time.
The bike was fun! I had a ball on the rough road and hills. Last year when I did this race I was grumpy. I hadn’t recovered from GWN I don’t think, and the whole ride and run I made excuses for why I didn’t need to do this race. I was committed to not letting those thoughts override my attitude on this day. I actually thought I rode SO well! I was SURE my watts would be higher than one year earlier. They weren’t... oddly, they were exactly the same although paced differently. Last year I started HARD, and lost watts on the way home. This year I started and finished very close to the same. I didn’t improve my watts, but executed better. YAH ME!

The run was AWESOME! This course is a hilly hard 10k. You climb straight for 6k, get a bit of a break, climb again, then do a hard downhill run to Invermere. Knowing the course this year made it a lot better. Last year I walked a few times and wallowed in my misery. This year I forged on, smiled when it hurt, and hammered downhill! Unfortunately I got passed on the last k and lost 2nd place woman overall. The gal was FLYING! I didn’t mind at all though. I had race a GREAT HAPPY RACE! Process goal accomplished. Third place this year felt SO much better than first place last year. I did a little celebration at the finish line, and joyfully received my beer mug for winning my age group. Our team ROCKED the day as well which made it that much more special. BONUS... I won a free pair of runners from the draw prizes! DOES IT GET ANY BETTER!
I forgot to mention that I PR’d my 10k off the bike. 46:24 was my fastest to date on a tough course. This took me to an OD best time and made the day that much better. Maybe... just maybe... I’m a runner now
I highly recommend this race be added to your calendar next year if you can make it happen. I’ll be back! It was a GREAT race and an even better weekend.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Running with Socks, GWN Race Story 2010

I think most of you know my story. My new nickname “Angie Running in Socks” speaks loads as do the 2 big black marks on my feet. I suppose I should think of them as “badges of a hard day”... maybe I will soon.

The weekend leading up to race day was nothing short of amazing. I loved being in GWN with our team. AT the carb load on Friday I was a very proud coach! Not only for my athletes, but for Richelle and Sarah as well. They are a huge part of the success of this team. Pre-race workouts on Saturday were SO much fun even though the wind was on the edge of tornado force! When a rack with Sarah’s bike blew over and nearly clipped her, it hit me just how hard the wind was blowing. I thought that if it’s that way tomorrow “we” athletes from the South will do better than others because we are very familiar with strong wind! Luckily we didn’t need to draw on that experience as race day had perfect conditions.

Race morning went tickety boo. I changed my breakfast and went away from my standard bagel with a fried egg, cheese and tomato, and switched to my new favourite breaky of oatmeal with a half an apple and raisons, a wee bit of brown sugar and skim milk. On the bike I realized that I forgot my heaping tablespoon of almond butter! I had a brief moment of panic that I was racing without any protein The panic quickly dissipated as I realized it wasn’t really hurting me and if it was, there wasn’t much to do about it by that point anyway! The lesson to take from this little blooper was that I need to not be quite so casual about race morning. I’ve race... a lot, over the years. I find that lately I have a hard time being keyed up doing normal pre-race tasks. The last few races I’ve forgot simple little things that I believe help me work towards success. Do I think that missing almond butter was a key factor in the creation of a challenging day? No... but it was careless.

In the morning I think a lot of us felt like rock stars! Team TriLife supporters were in full force taking photos, candid and posed. Lots of hugs and have a good day. I took off for a few minutes by myself for a run in my keens... no extra running shoes! I also had my wetsuit on up to my hips. I looked like a bit of a freak, but it worked to warm me up and get my brain in race gear.

I stood on the beach with Tanya Salomon. She ended up being second overall woman for the day!!! We chatted briefly and then the gun went sooner than I expected. A quick dive in and I tried to stay on her feet. I thought I was swimming SO fast!!! I felt SO good in the water! If anything, I was a bit warm, but the goop and mud didn’t bother me, and I was very lucky to have very little contact. I found feet, fought to stay with them on and off throughout the swim, and felt I executed well. The hardest part was the run around the buoy to the second lap! Running through knee deep quick sand takes your breath away! I didn’t get my splits at the half way point because my watch was under my wetsuit. I’m pretty sure I slowed down the second lap, but that’s OK. It was still a good swim. Time 32:39. I’m consistant!

Bike: I had a really quick transition and was on my way! I was excited to ride and felt the conditions were ripe for fast times. At the mount line my aerobar pad fell off. There was nothing I could do so I got on and rode up the hill. This turned out to be a major distraction throughout the ride. My forearm was on metal and screws. At times I was grumpy about it, but then I would will away the anger and tell myself “control what you can, let go what you can’t”. I contemplated stopping for help, but honestly didn’t think that bike support would have anything to fix it. I rode in aero mostly, but I couldn’t quite rest comfortably on that arm. Still, my bike time was fantastic. It exceeded what I ever believed was possible. Nothing to complain about there. I did an analysis of my watts from the last 5 races at this distance I’ve done. It’s below in a chart.

• Oceanside March 2009,
o Average watts 165
o Normalized power 175
o Ride time without transitions 2:47:25
o Course... hilly and windy

• Great White North 2009,
o Average watts 181
o Normalized power 184
o Ride time without transitions 2:36:54 with transitions.
(2:34 “ish” without)
o Course... flat, tail wind out, head wind back.

• Sooke Sept 2009,
o Average watts 177
o Normalized power 190
o 2:43:19 for 86km not including transitions
o Course... VERY hilly! HARD!

• Clearwater Nov 2009,
o Average watts 184
o Normalized power 188
o 2:17:35
o Course... FLAT AND FAST!

• Great White North 2010,
o Average watts 172
o Normalized power 176
o Ride time without transitions 2:33:28 with transitions.
(2:30:30 “ish” without)
o Course... flat, slight head wind out, tail wind home.

As you can see over the year last year my bike fitness grew. Oceanside was done on indoor training. Average watts is set on my powertap head to only count watts when I’m pedalling. If I’m descending and not moving my pedals, the zero is not averaged into the watts. Normalized power is a way to compare one ride to another regardless of terrain or wind. It’s calculates your effort to create a wattage that you would have had WITH that effort on a totally flat course. As you can see Sooke the highest. That is because of the hills! It was a tough one. I knew that even though this ride was my fastest at GWN, it was not my best effort in the “Angie compared to Angie” mode of comparison. I could not have rode any harder. It was my best effort for the day. Nutrition went well; I consumed a bottle of infinit per hour. (Mind you, I wore a fair amount of infinit because the top of my aerobottle came off! I HATE it when my fingers stick together! At every aid station I would grab water and try to release the goo... it didn’t work, but I kept trying!)

One other interesting analysis... in 2010 I had the 65th fastest bike split. In 2009 I had the 96th fastest bike split. That is a really interesting comparison that surprises me. It makes the lower watts in 2010 a bit off. Hmmmm.... now I’m thinking.

The BEST thing about my ride was my dismount! For the first time in my racing career I did a gliding dismount It was SO fun and fast!!!!! THANKS to the TTL Tent Dwellers for all their cheers at the end of the bike. I loved seeing the orange and purple jackets on the course as well! It very much brings you back to focus when you hear cheers from teammates and friends!

T2 went well. Nothing much to talk about. I got in, and got out.

Run: This is where my challenges began. Let me prefix this by saying that if one of our team had a run like I did, I would discuss the following points with this athlete. I believe these points, and if nothing else, this has been a very good learning experience that what I say does make sense and I need to apply it to myself.
1. You learn more from a hard race than a race that goes well. Next time you toe the start line you will have a reference for how much you can hurt, and how much you want to not give in to the demons that make you slow down. This was a learning race... the harder the race, the more epic the learning.
2. You toughed out a very tough day. A lot of people would have quit, and you didn’t. You are an amazing athlete committed to your trade of racing at the edge of your abilities. Some days are diamond, and some are coal. You pulled out a pretty amazing finish of a really hard day.

OK... so that is what I would say, and actually, typing it out helps.

Stats first... I always hit my interval button at km markers. It’s part of my post race analysis. Below is what is on my watch from the run. I’m showing you this mostly because it’s how I analyze my race.
• Km 1 4:42
• Km 2 4:25
• Km 3 4:46
• Km 4 4:59 (walked to drink out of plastic cup)
• Km 5 4:40
• Km 6 4:48
• Km 7 4:53
• Km 8 5:19 (bathroom break #1)
• Km 9 4:36 (making up for bathroom break)
• Km 10 4:46
• Km 11 4:36
• Km 12 4:51
• Km 13 4:54
• Km 14 4:56
• Km 15 4:54
• Km 16 and 17 10:00 (bathroom break #2 in here I think)
• Km 18 5:06 (foot pain pretty bad)
• Km 19 4:48
• Km 20 – 21.1 9:56 (took off both shoes and ran with my socks)

What happened...

When I started the run I knew that I felt tuckered. Last year GWN was my zen race! I started to run and had to tell myself to slow down! I had a hard time keeping my pace back in a reasonable range. I felt SO good. This year it felt like a grunt from the start. Still, I was running well according to the km markers. Stay focused Angie. This is your job today. Get it done.

Early in the run my left lower leg went numb. It was like running on a stump... almost felt like I was dragging it along. I wasn’t, but that’s what it felt like. I did frequent “body scans” and would assure myself that as long as it doesn’t hurt, you can run through it. Pain is one thing, a numb limb is another. Keep running. The km’s were clicking off at a pretty good rate. I was surprising myself based on how my legs felt. All good.

Then... grrrr.... this NEVER has happened to me in a Half Ironman IN MY LIFE!!!! My bowel started to gurgle and brew. The pressure was mounting. I didn’t have gut issues, I just had to go! WHAT THE ....???? Into the bushes at about 8k. I’m not sure who could see me, and to be honest, I didn’t care a whole bunch. When I gotta go, I gotta go NOW! I don’t have much wiggle room. Thankfully there was a treed area for me to step into at my “moment of need”! Back to the run, I caught the fellows I was running with and continued on. My leg / foot were still numb but that’s OK. I knew that Sarah was working hard behind me, and I was motivated to stay in front. I timed her at the turn around. She had gained about :20 on me. That’s OK. I took :30 for the bathroom break. I can hold this. I had to walk thru a few aid stations to get water. Those darn plastic cups. I think you all know what I’m talking about. Sarah was the hand on my back pushing me. This was hard.

My bowel struck again! NO!!!!!! This can’t be happening! This one was quick! In and out of the trees. SORRY to residents of Stony Plain. Back on the run. Come on Angie... keep going.

At about 16k my leg lost the “stump-ness” and a pretty incredible pain went into my foot. I’ve race through a lot of “foot pain” having had a mortons neuroma removed. This felt worse, but my memory might have faded. I tried to walk and wiggle my foot to see if it would let go. It didn’t. I’d run, walk, run, walk. Sarah was right there. At this point it was hers. She blew by me like I was standing still!!! She was breathing harder than I’d ever heard her breathe, and I knew she was having THE RACE OF HER LIFE!!!!! As a competitor, it was a place lost. As a friend first, coach second, it was an amazing demonstration of what you an athlete can do with not only amazing fitness, but amazing determination and resolve to dig deep and ask your mind to allow the “push” when it’s SO hard! I was proud of her! I still am.

Just past the 19k mark I was walking. I was on a hill, and JoZ was on her way down. That darn JoZ yelled at me and told me to get running! After she apologized, but she was just what I needed. I’d seen Richelle, Ally, and Jeff and John, Cindy on the course. All I could say to them was “rough day”. They told me to stay strong, I felt like I was crumbling. For some reason when JoZ told me to pick it up, a light switch went off. At that moment, I took off my shoe, and the relief was instant. I tried to run with one shoe for a few steps, but that was a BAD idea, so the other shoe came off. Once I started running in socks (thus the name) my legs came back, the pain was gone, and I found the determination to finish strong that I had lacked the last several km’s. Sarah was in site, and I was pushing with everything I had to make gains. I carried my shoes for maybe 800m, and I dropped on right before an aid station. I threw the other one at the volunteers and asked them to please save them for me. (Amazingly I got my shoes back from a wonderful volunteer within minutes of finishing! THANK YOU!)

As I turned the corner and saw the TTL tent, and heard the cheers, my emotions started to build. I was going to finish what I would call the run from hell. I heard Annie say “where are your shoes” and I think I had a wee bit of a smile... inside... at that moment! Thank you Annie! I crossed the finish line, I think I hugged Sarah, and I started to cry. I’m still emotional typing this right now.

I kept thinking “it shouldn’t be that hard”. The pain in my feet and ankles hit me as soon as I stopped, and emotionally I was done. I ended up with medical for a few minutes which was OK. I’m still emotional as I type this.

I expected my run time to be much slower than it was. I was shocked to see I was only :15 slower than last year. When I was running I must have ran pretty fast... my suunto graph tells the tale well... run / walk/run / walk in the last 5k.

This feels a bit like Clearwater did. If I had finished in 4:48 with a 1:42:?? run AND I’d raced well, I would have been thrilled! At my age, PR’s are hard to come by! I’ve been at this game for quite a few years now, and to be honest, a PR is a gift. I am so attached to execution though that a fast finish time has very little meaning to me if I don’t race well. On this day I can say that my issues were not necessarily execution issues. I think I paced well, nutrition went well, my mental state was down and that is a negative that I can control, but apart from that, the aerobar pad, bathroom breaks and feet issues were pretty much bad luck. I can’t fix that. I did learn though about what I can push myself through although I hope not to go there again anytime soon!

I talked to Chad a few days after the race and was telling him my tale. He put me in my place in about 2 seconds. He said “at least you can race”. How true is that? At least I can race. That is a perspective that I needed to hear, and Chad and John are both examples of athletes overcoming incredible obstacles to get back to a start line. How much would Terry have loved to be at this race.

Perspective is everything. This was a rough day at “my” office, but there are better days ahead. I am so blessed to have triathlon in my life, mostly because of the people, and also because I get to challenge myself on a daily basis with training. The races are the proverbial icing on the cake. A tough race is not a season ruined, and yes, my finishing time was really solid.

I think that’s all I can tell you. Thanks for reading. Angie