Worth it: Musselman and my half ironman debut

I always seem to procrastinate on post-race write-ups, but I have decided that the longer I wait, the less likely I’ll do the event justice! If you’ve been around me in the last couple weeks, you’ll know I’ve been gearing up for my half ironman debut at Musselman.

usselman

I chose this race because:

  • It has a cute mascot – the zebra mussel!
  • In 2011, my first year in triathlon, a woman at the local pool was raving about her experience at Musselman. She said that if I was ever to do a half, I should do this as my first—it’s very friendly to first-timers.
  • My locker neighbor at the rec centre (who KILLED IT on the weekend!) signed up and peer-pressured me into it. …Just kidding, she asked me politely and encouraged me, though!
  • Instead of doing a 70.3 (aka Ironman-branded) race, I wanted to avoid the tri-hards (and pay a little less to enter as a bonus, though I got my registration gifted to me by the awesome owners of the spin studio I work at!).
  • I could drive there!

As the week went on, I got more and more nervous for the weekend. First there was rain in the forecast, and then I rolled my ankle out for a walk with Brent. I am a really clumsy person, but I had all of these scenarios (and contingency plans) in my head of things that could go wrong: rolling my ankle was not one of them. Luckily a little physio and a visit to the chiropractor (because better safe than sorry) helped me to rest assured that I would be okay to run, even if it hurt, just knowing that I was doing my recovery a disservice if I chose to! I had some encouragement from some of the women I look up to in the sport (like Angela, who I thought of lots during my race for inspiration!). I had some athletic tape packed and I put my mind to it and got myself all ready.

I felt a little frantic running around town buying gels and bars and water bottles I wouldn’t mind tossing, etc. My friend Katie was a life saver along with Angela and all the other people I asked for advice. My coaches (for swim, Balance Point Triathlon with Gabbi and of course my coach Chris Helwig) gave me a lot of encouragement and of course advice. I got a card from the people I swim with and it made me feel so much more excited—such a simple gesture but also greatly appreciated! I finally had my things together and hit the road! I was going to do a quick swim because with the ankle situation I was feeling a bit sluggish, but the pool was closed so I just went for it.

packed

Packing light is not something I know how to do!

Taped up and ready to leave!

Taped up and ready to leave!

I drove down to Geneva on Friday afternoon. It’s about a 4.5 hour drive, plus whatever the border adds, which in my case was just less than an hour! I got there in time to pick up my key to get into the “Athlete’s Village,” where I booked a room for less than 50$/night. It was in an old college there, which meant no air conditioning but my friend advised me to pack a fan and it really wasn’t so bad. I also made it to the grocery store to grab some things and ate my last vegetables before the race (tapers are hard, not eating like normal is hard) along with my first big ol’ dose of pasta! I got a pretty good night’s sleep on Friday and then on Saturday I was up early enough to drive to course and head down to the site of the event to watch the “Mini Mussel,” a sprint triathlon, finish.

athletes village

I got lost a lot on the drive, but the course was beautiful and looked like a pretty moderate ride – not many hills I’d be avoiding if I was at home, but water so I was anticipating some wind. I got more and more excited as the day went on, and my ankle was bugging me less and less. I met up with one of the women from London, Jennifer, and watched her husband cross the finish line of the sprint tri (he’s training for an ironman and is twice as crazy as I am). She did her first half not too long ago and was super encouraging, even though we were both pretty nervous! Her son did the kids’ race on Friday—talk about a family affair!

Here I am with Jennifer after her husband, Mike, crossed the finish line!

Here I am with Jennifer after her husband, Mike, crossed the finish line!

We had a pre-race meeting on Saturday afternoon, but in between I rode my bike a bit (felt slow but good) and jogged around the campus a bit to prove to myself that I would be fine with my ankle. I also made it to the outlet malls about 15 miles from Geneva, which was a welcome distraction and let me get a visor that I was grateful for on Sunday! The meeting gave me butterflies. As I sat with Jenn and Ileana, the friend who roped me into this in the first place (:)!), I could feel us all getting more excited and nervous. I did have lots of my questions answered, though!

A snap from my bike ride on Saturday.

A snap from my bike ride on Saturday.

Ileana and I went to the pre-race pasta dinner, which was small but nice. We made friends with some people from Connecticut and also met up with some more people from London, who we don’t train with but were sure we recognized! Both of these couples were encouraging the day before, at the race in the morning, and post-race, of course! Triathletes are so friendly. We racked our bikes the night before, which was new for me, but nice since it was less to carry on the long trek from parking to the transition area Sunday morning.

Besides a little freak out before bed, which Brent had to put up with but also helped me with, I had a good evening preparing myself mentally and trying to get to sleep early. I probably got about 6 hours of sleep before my 4:25am wake up call. I managed to get some coffee and oatmeal with peanut butter and banana in before heading to the park. I drank Gatorade and chatted as I got ready for the race. There were lots of first timers, which made me feel better.

I did basically 0 warm-up, though I did hop in the water and get myself ready. We went in waves, with the gals 25-39 going second (after the young bucks). My goal was not to get caught by the ladies I was with – Jenn and Ileana and Pam, who is in her 60s but KILLED it and got second in her age category! By the time the national anthem was sung and we were getting shuffled into the water for the start (waist-deep), I felt ready to go!

Looking a little nervous..and trying to find the buoys!

Looking a little nervous..and trying to find the buoys!

pre race

Swim – 1.2 miles – 41:31 (1:59/100m)

The swim course was good for me. The buoys (doritos and cheese balls, in my head) were large and I could see them with the light just fine! I didn’t get too off course, and the waves don’t bother me as much as they do other people. I swam most of the way with one other pink capped gal, who breast stroked a lot for someone keeping up with me while I was swimming along steadily, but whatever! Some of the next wave (or two) caught us, but I ended up with an average pace faster than a lot of my shorter races. I liked starting in the bigger lake and then heading into the canal, where it was harder to swim off course. The swim training must have paid off a little. I think my new wetsuit and going to open water practices with Gabbi made a big impact, too! I was 10/25 in my age category, which makes me feel pretty good too! I peed in my wetsuit, yes, and I hope I left the water smiling because the worst part was over in my head.

Bike – 56 miles, 3:05:30 (29.1km/h average)

I wanted to bike in 3 hours really badly, but I am more of a 29 averager I guess these days. I used to have in my head that anything below 30km/h was not very fast, but I’m happy with this time. I was 5th in my age category for this leg of the race and not that many women passed me. It was windier than I thought it was going to be and I pulled over once to check my tire because I thought it was rubbing. I am NOT good at grabbing water bottles, and I definitely underdrank and did not eat enough – one gel, one pack of shot blocks, and most of a clif bar with two bottles. I felt okay though. There was one gravelly stretch, but I really enjoyed this bike course, which went along two coastlines and was relatively flat. There was one hill, and I passed a lot of people on it! Go me.

Run – 13.1 miles 2:04:43 (5:56/km average)

The run was HAWT, but there were sponges, kids with hoses on their front yards, and aid stations at every mile to help my case. My ankle not hurting kept me happy enough to ignore all the other pain I was in from running up hills and from a blister I got on my other foot. It’s all minor. I walked through each aid station and drank a mix of water, hose water, Gatorade, etc. I ate a few shot blocks but probably could have had more as I was hungry by the end. I was conservative at first and ran just over 6 minute km, which I tried to make shorter as I got further along. I walked up 2 hills but otherwise chugged along just fine. I was so happy to be doing it and realizing that I was going to finish made me feel like I could go a little faster, so I did. I got passed by a few people at the beginning, mostly men, but I passed some myself. I was 11th in my age category on this part. With the walk breaks, I still managed to finish in a respectable time, in my opinion, and I knew a few miles before the finish that I could make it in less than 6 hours (my private goal, with my out-loud goal being to finish between 6 and 6 and a half hours), so I had plenty of reason to kick it up a notch. I almost teared up when I saw the finish line, but I managed to cross the line with what I hope was a smile (or at least a grimace). My only regret? Not putting my hands up for a finishing photo (which you can check out, with the others, here!).

My total time was 5:58:10. I did it! I don’t ever have to do another one, but I probably will. My interwebs history would show that I’ve already researched other races. I was 8th in my age category out of 25, and in the top 50 of over 200 women. That made my ego happy, but I was just feeling proud of myself for achieving my goal, regardless of what other people did! And as for a full Ironman, maybe before I’m 30 seems like a goal that’s far enough away to seem realistic but pressing enough to keep me planning on continuing to train, albeit a little less, for this sport! I’ve got a new gig working as a Personal Trainer / Coach at Hybrid, which I am the most excited about. I know that being in that environment keeps me excited about all the strength sports (weightlifting, powerlifting, CrossFit, even Strongman) that are out there, and keeps me training for health and well-being, which is so important! I have been putting the two together personally and I know lots of members with triathlon on their bucket list or who have asked me questions about endurance stuff so I’m really glad to be working there now! With teacher’s college in the fall, my schedule obviously has less time for mid-afternoon bike rides or for long workouts on Tuesday (love grad school for that), but I know I can find a balance that will of course look different from these past few years but that will hopefully leave me racing, healthy, and happy!

...happy about something!

…happy about something!

pam winner!

Pam placing second in her age group!

Ileana on the top of the podium for her age group! She won wine and intimidated the third place woman, it seems!

Ileana on the top of the podium for her age group! She won wine and intimidated the third place woman, it seems!

As for the rest of the summer, I don’t have a plan. I am registered for Vulture Bait (a 25km trail run in October) but have decided I’m on the fence about keeping up the long distances. I’m feeling run down, but I know I need to give my body a chance to recuperate before I make any decisions. I’ll be making an appearance at the triathlon in my hometown, Bluewater, in two weeks, and hope to do something else later in the summer! Some bike touring and workouts with friends for fun sound like a good way to use this fitness I’ve got.

Speaking of recuperating, since I did an admittedly bad job of eating and drinking on the bike, I felt like a whole lot of crap on Sunday afternoon. I finally stopped rolling around and feeling sorry for myself late afternoon and drank some water and some Nuun from Ileana. I was able to eat dinner / suffer through (ha!) some ice cream, but I did not eat as much as I would on a normal day, let alone one with 6 hours of exercising! Headaches, nausea, all kinds of GI things you don’t want to hear about…it all sort of has lasted longer than I wish it had. I’m not very sore, but the aftermath of the dehydration has demonstrated the importance I’ll place on figuring out how to drink more during my next go at this kind of race!

post race ice cream

I also called that I’d be having a migraine this week and sure enough, one hit this morning. It was nothing a 3 hour nap couldn’t help me get past. I often get the migraine attacks with weather, post-stressful periods, and with my hormones. All three are coinciding so I’m really not surprised, and I will take feeling a little crappy for having that check off my bucket list! I’m drinking extra water and taking it easy this week—light swim yesterday, mobility at the gym today, working on my bibliography (home stretch!)—and am going to get back to more “training” when I feel like I’m ready, not when my ego says “GO!”

All in all, I am so glad that I signed up for that race (thanks Ileana for encouraging me!). I had great coaching to get to it. I had support from my friends and family and people who listened to me talk about this thing for months. I had wonderful company there (the women I was with ALL ROCK and everyone was SO NICE who I met!). The weather worked out great. I would recommend this race to anyone who is going to do their first half, or someone who wants to travel somewhere and stay a few days. Geneva was beautiful and I would have loved to stick around. I have to go back, mostly because I missed out on the “Wine Slushie” advertised in the region. Darn it, dehydration!

Setting a goal that seemed like it might knock me down along the way—and it certainly tested my resolve—was as cheesy as it might sound, exactly what I needed right now. I know that there are people who would call me out on being a sports evangelist, but all those pinterest quotes about achieving goals/focusing on the journey/sport making you a better person are true to me right now! I sometimes think of myself as a quitter, or as fragile. I’ve seen that I’m pretty darn tough, and I’m also more badass than I let myself feel sometimes. I can run in the snow. I can suck it up on the trainer. I can wake up early when I’d rather sleep in. I can do things I don’t want to or don’t think that I can! Maybe I can resist chocolate after all…nah!

Last month, I did that CrossFit competition and felt so friggin’ strong picking up a heavy barbell and swinging around on the bars and climbing ropes and things. This month, I showed myself that strong doesn’t mean I can’t still have success in triathlon or in doing the other things that I love. This race coinciding with me submitting my thesis has made for a pretty big week, if I say so myself. I may be tired, but I am feeling more accomplished than I have in a heck of a long time! Right now I’m relishing my accomplishments, but soon I’ll be setting some more goals, and with the reassurance that I can do the things I set my mind to!

stronger

worth it jump outta bed

understeim jump outta bed

worth it

Have you done a triathlon?
What’s your favourite distance to race?
Do you write down your goals?
What are you working towards right now?
What’s your proudest athletic moment?

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Body Positivity Tuesday: Make a Bucket List

I spent a lot of years “future-tripping,” caught up in all my worries about the future. I would think about what I was going to eat the next day, wear next Wednesday, and how I’d fit in my workouts next July (seriously). I’d be tallying my calories for the day, prepping my food for the next week, and obsessively trying to control my world by taking it out on my body. While I think it’s great to take responsibility for our health, I know that crossing the line into obsession took my focus on my health to a point where it no longer served me. A big shift for me was realizing that I want to create health in my world so that I can live the life I want to live, no longer wanting to live my life as a slave to food or exercise or the pursuit of perfection when it came to my health. 

This shift, though it didn’t happen overnight and still requires me to step back and gain some perspective from time to time, opened up a lot of energy to use towards doing things with the health that I do have. Running races, learning new sports, building relationships, taking up hobbies, reading books…these are all things that I can do with the energy that I used to spend loathing my body or obsessing over how to “fix” it.

So, what do you want to do? Even if it’s not an eating disorder that distracts us, sometimes we can get so caught up in our day to day lives that we forget to dream. I think making a bucket list is a great way to channel our inner dreamers and reading over it is a great way to re-inspire ourselves. This should be a different kind of to-do list, one that excites you.

Today’s task is to come up with a little list for yourself of things you’d like to do, places you’d like to see, people you’d like to meet. These things don’t have to be directly related to loving your body, but notice that if you’re being body positive and taking care of yourself, you’re a heck of a lot more likely to have the energy to do the things you’ve decided on and to enjoy checking things off the list.

If you have trouble thinking of some things, maybe start here:

  • Where would you like to travel?
  • When you look back on your life, what would you like to remember?
  • What is your dream vacation?
  • Do you wish you could learn how to play an instrument?
  • Is there a class you want to take?
  • Do you want to learn another language?
  • What is the race of your dreams?
  • Who do you want to meet?
  • What do you want to do before you retire?

etc. etc. etc.

I keep my bucket list on my computer, updating it on a regular basis. It’s never complete, and I like that. Things come off as I complete them or, at times, as I decide they are no longer for me. New things get added on as I discover new passions. This is by far my favourite to-do list of them all!

you shoudl go do them

Do you have a bucket list?

Race Recap: MEC London Race Two 15km

I used to have a firm rule about putting a race recap out onto the interwebs by the end of the weekend. This was around the time when I was photographing most of the food I ate and talking about my day to day activities a lot more on my blog. Just like I’ve let go of the need to document every morsel I eat and ever mile I cover in my training, I have learned that a race recap is better done late than never.

Last week was the second race in MEC’s race series here in London. I didn’t do last month’s race, but I knew from doing one of the trail options last year that the events are well-organized, supported, and perhaps most importantly—affordable! While I’m all for budgeting and making our health and our health hobbies priorities, I like the idea that I can sign up for a whole series of MEC races for 75$–less than the cost of some of the single races around!

On Saturday, the weather couldn’t have been better. I pre-registered for the 15km option on Thursday, when I knew the weather would be good—and good it was! I was in a tank top by the end of my warm-up, which always makes me a happy runner. I know some people prefer it a little cooler than me, but I love sweating and was happy to finally break one after the winter that keeps hanging on.

image1

I was running the same event as my friend/partner in training crime, Katie. She’s a little faster than me and when we went to the portajohns together and I came out before, I joked that I had her beat in one race that day. …ha!

image6

Katie and I just before the race — look at that sun! And those smiles!

After a somewhat mishmash start (all of the 5 and 10 and 15km race options started at once), we spread out quite a bit over the course. The people running the 5km option raced off ahead and then turned around and raced back. I got to see my coach, Coach Chris, turn around and give me some encouragement as I carried on (he broke his PR that day). Everyone turned around after 5km and came back on the same route, with the 10km racers heading for the finish while we tacked on another route. As I got to the turnaround at 5k, I realized I was running quicker than anticipated. I went in joking that I wanted to be faster than my half marathon from back in the day (1:48ish) and knowing that 1:30 was a reasonable goal for 15km (6 minute kilometres feel steady to me and I’ve been walking a bit on my long runs). I decided to keep on doing what I was doing and see what came, and rather than end up feeling too tired, I managed to keep the pace up and even kick it up a bit after we turned around at ~12km.

I finished with a smile (?) on my face and maybe a little more in the tank than I might have wanted in 1:23:04. I liked coming in, even though there wasn’t much going on at the finish line. Someone did have a cowbell, and Brent came out to see me finish. Katie was there too, relishing in her 1:12 finish, so that was just grand!

Is that a smile?

Is that a smile? (Yes)

Some of my friends from CrossFit were running their first trail race. I also knew a few other people doing the 5k who enjoyed the weather and impressed themselves. I loved the feeling of community, the sunshine, and the way that the event felt welcoming. Having a chip time always makes me want to run a little harder (in case someone googles my finish?), so that was nice.

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 5.10.32 PM

All in all, I was very happy with the race. I felt good the whole time, even though I’ve never run the distance. I think besides my half marathon, this is the first time I’ve gone that far. I passed someone in the last km or so, so that tells me I perhaps underestimated myself. I think that, assuming I can stay injury free, I like these longer races. I remember finishing the half marathon happy and having a fairly speedy recovery from it. Maybe it’s because with longer races, they hurt, but they don’t hurt like a 5km race or seem to be just another run like a 10km seems to be for me. The element of—will I make it? How will I feel when I do? Can I keep this pace going? is kind of the exciting part!

completes

My next race is my triathlon debut of the year at Woodstock. The race is a Sprint Distance Triathlon, which unfortunately for me usually makes me feel slow since I mostly go the same pace no matter how long you ask me to go for (this might be my greatest weakness, or my greatest ability, depending on how you look at it). At any rate, this is one of the early ones where everyone’s getting their cobwebs out. I’ll be happy if I make it out of my wetsuit without falling on my butt, or onto the run course without forgetting to remove my helmet after the bike. And if I can have a good time doing it, of course. Then I’ll have some time to gear up for my Half Ironman debut at Musselman on July 12. I’m not sure if I’ll like the half distance, but if this longer race was any indication of where the enjoyment lies for me, I think the chance to see if I can make it and how fast I can go without falling over sideways will be just the challenge I’m looking for!

I guesssss I'll take him as a prize.

I guesssss I’ll take him as a prize.

Have you done any races lately?
Have you ever done a MEC Race?
What’s your “big race” this year?
What’s your favourite distance to race? 

races and paces: Go the Distance 10km recap

Yesterday, I ran a 10km race here in London that just so happened to be in the name of Hope’s Garden, the eating disorders resource and support centre that I’ve decided to bike across the country fundraising for! People who register for Go the Distance can raise money that goes directly to Hope’s Garden and the race is part of a series here in London.

hg

I ran the race on my own, though last year I ran it with a friend (she couldn’t join me this year, unfortunately!). I haven’t done a 10km race since last spring and wasn’t sure how it would go, so I tried to just go in with a goal of feeling good during the run. I think that was a perfect mindset–and I had a great race on that front!

I ran most of the way comfortably and I was pacing along perfectly with a nice woman for the first 8km. We chatted a bit–mostly about running, but also about teaching since she is a high school teacher–and the kilometres flew by. The sun was out so it was hot, but there was a nice breeze and most of the course, which started at Covent Garden Market and went to Springbank Park and back, was flat.

I am definitely giving thumbs up here!

I am definitely giving thumbs up here!

My finishing time was 56:31–not my best effort on a 10km but not my worst. I know that a lot of people said that they were slower than they’d hoped, and I spent a little bit of time thinking “I should have run faster” but got over it pretty quickly when I was reminded (by that awesome boyfriend of mine) that:

  • my focus is on the bike ride anyhow
  • nobody cares about 2 minutes one way OR the other
  • I’m healthier and happier than ever before

I also know that doing the race was important. Exercising–and keeping it enjoyable–is a big deal to me. I know that sometimes people think of running as a sport where eating disorders can thrive–and that might be true. But running a race or just running around the block is a chance for us to use our bodies and to see what they’re capable of–something  I know is absolutely essential in making friends with your body. It doesn’t surprise me that people who don’t move in their bodies have a hard time respecting, appreciating, and loving their bodies, so I think that getting Hope’s Garden into the running community is a great thing. I also know that the more people can hear about it the better–and that maybe someone who needs it will find the brochure about the centre in their race kit and check it out.

I may not have run a personal best, but I had a good morning at the race running for something I care a lot about–and that feels pretty darn good! And, as a bonus, I got some pretty embarrassing sweet race photos out of the day!

This is the best of the bunch!

This is the best of the bunch!

Have you participated in a race in honour of something you care about a lot?

 

If you want to donate to my ride and to Hope’s Garden, please visit my Giving Page at https://www.canadahelps.org/GivingPages/GivingPage.aspx?gpID=37108. All the donations go directly to Hope’s Garden. If you want to get involved or have any questions, ideas, or other thoughts, please comment below! In the meantime, love your body and be happy and healthy. 

 

giving triathlon another tri: woodstock recap

Good morning strangers!

Lately, I’ve been busy with starting my summer job (as a camp counsellor, my days are filled with dodgeball, swimming, and huckle buckle), prepping for a sport history conference in Colorado this weekend, getting ready to move next month, and enjoying the warmer weather as much as possible. My bike shorts tan is coming in quite nicely, in case you were curious! Last weekend, I put the playing in the sun I’ve been doing to the test and gave a triathlon a go in Woodstock, which is only 45 minutes away from where I live and seemed way too convenient to pass up.

It’s been two years since I’ve thought about bricks, open water swims, and wetsuits and since I tend to get nervous take myself too seriously, the weekend was one filled with butterflies for me! I’ll give you a brief recap of the race.

Swim (750m/18:39):
The water at the conservation area was only 61 degrees, which of course made me question my sanity and that of all the other people who paid good money to willingly dive in. In hindsight, a trip to some open water and a swim in my wetsuit before the race would probably have helped me out. I spent the first half of the swim trying to remember how to sight, wondering how the people on their backs and doggy paddling were keeping up with me, and forgetting that I am a comfortable swimmer. This photo, which I swore I’d keep to myself but which I hope will make other people feel better about the bad race photo that always seems to crop up in the mix, sums up how I felt coming out of the water (for the record, I didn’t cry):

me

Bike (20km/41:33):
The bike course was pretty straight forward and flat and riding in the morning meant there wasn’t too much wind to fight with. I usually enjoy the bike part of the race the most and try to pass as many people as possible. This time, I didn’t get ahead of very many people but I was mostly passed by men on fancy bikes so I knew I mustn’t have been doing too badly!

Run (5km/26:46):
Like I said, it’s been a while since I’ve done a lot of running off the bike. I never really had a problem with it–I think I mentally decide that I’m warmed up and that “all that’s left is the run”–but I have been running slowly compared to the pace I’d like to be at lately. With that in mind, I just decided to take the simplest advice a friend ever gave me when it came to the run: “Go so hard that you wan’t to quit but then don’t let yourself.”

Transitions:
The transitions in a triathlon are never my strong suit. I can usually be found conversing with someone in the transition area (it’s important to talk to someone else who is similarly casual or risk pissing off someone in their zone), forgetting to take my helmet off as I head out on the run, or having a snack. I’m sure this approach isn’t helping my times, but I’m also not at the level where it really matters all that much!

me3

Going into the race, I had my secret goal of what I wanted to do it in. I didn’t make that time. I did, however, make it in the time I told myself I’d be happy with. The results are online but my overall time was 1:30:03. I kept flip flopping between being proud of myself for getting back into the sport, frustrated with myself for being on the 6th page of 8 results and not as fast as I was before, but as the week’s gone on and I’ve done some looking back on how my triathlon results went the last time I took up racing, I’ve realized that what I’ve done is given myself a fine starting point. Like this article about having a “bad” race suggests, you need a race to get you back into the swing of things sometimes. I forgot how hard to go during a race because it’s been a while and while I really wish I’d pushed harder, I didn’t know how I’d do with a race and all three things in a row again.

1

I’m also being careful not to compare myself too much to my past times because I’m in a different place now. Triathlon was good for me when I was dealing with my body image and eating issues–anything that let me see my body for what it could do and not just what it looked like was helpful–but I started at a time where I was still not exactly in a healthy place. Two years later, I can appreciate that I’m in a better place physically, mentally and emotionally. I’ve got my hormones back somewhat in order and have a regular period again. I don’t rely on exercise compulsively and more than ever use it as a way to de-stress instead of something to stress over. I’ve made time for other things–people and interests–in my life. I’m in a relationship–with a boyfriend who got out of bed super early on a Sunday for the race and made for a good looking cheerleader.

brent and i woodstock

Speaking of people, there were a handful of my friends and people I knew from when I was doing a lot more triathlons and duathlons doing the race on Sunday, and even more volunteering and helping out. That was comforting and I was pretty glad that I had friends who know what they’re doing to help me with my wetsuit and to answer all my last minute questions so I wouldn’t look like an idiot! My friends, along with Brent, who cheered for me whenever I ran past them, probably don’t realize how much more fun it is when there’s people who know your name cheering you on.

All of these things make a mediocre finishing time not such a big deal. I got to spend the morning surrounded by healthy, happy people in the sun, exercising. I’m not sure what would be better, except maybe if I got a shirt and some food after. Oh wait…

I’m also certain that the rest of the summer will only see things moving in the right direction. Next up on my agenda, after Colorado (and I’m hoping to rent a bike there!), are some longer bike rides-Pedal to the Pines and lots of time on my bike getting psyched for my tour next year–and another sprint distance triathlon at Guelph Lake in June!

Are you a triathlete?
How do you deal when you’re feeling “slow”?
What is your favourite part about racing? 
Are you doing any events this summer? 

Good and bad and everything in between

Hi! I’m back to London (and a computer) and I’ve been dying to make a real post, but there’s a lot on my mind so it could get messy.

I think a quote is in order to start this off and to let you know what page I’m on:

“I believe that everything happens for a reason.
People change so that you can learn to let go,
things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right,
you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself,
and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”

– Marilyn Monroe

Tough Mudder was in a word: tough. I don’t even think I can do a full race recap right now because I’ve blocked it out of my memory…but I’ll try ;)!

We got up bright and early and hit the road after some breakfast–our drive was supposed to be about an hour and a half and it was a nice morning with a pretty sunrise.

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Nina, Andrew and I carpooled and met up with Sonya and Sarah and their spectator friends to go to the race site (on a school bus — fun right?).

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Once we got there it was all about getting pumped up (aka waiting around for our 9:50 start time).

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To start, you actually had to hop over a mini wall. Funny. I used a boost.

After they totally pumped us up (lots of cheering, some anthem-singing, high fives, etc.), we were on our merry 16km way. Up and down and up and down and up and down and then up and down hills. Our 6th member, Steve, found us right away — and we were off! Ski hills, not bunny hills. So when I say that we “ran” the course, you can infer that it was a mix of running, walking, trudging, and crawling. Plus swimming, technically…

There were 20 obstacles (I think) and the ones that stick out as the most fun were the arctic enema, funky monkey (monkey bars over water which I totally made it across with a smile!) and the mud mile. There was also essentially a giant slip and slide down mud on a hill which was just plain old fun, but I’m not sure what that one was called!

For those 3 fun obstacles, there was also plenty of hills to climb and some really shitty obstacles. Like being zapped. Over and over again in two different obstacles — electric eel and electroshock therapy. Yeah, I survived, but I won’t lie to you — I cried. And I got cranky. And I had to apologize to my team for it and move on and thank god the hardest of the shocks came at the end. I literally crawled to the finish but whatever. Done and done.

We were lucky enough to have spectators who snapped some photos of us in action, but we look pretty dirty (and you can see my cranky face ;)!).

after you…into the ice!

In the ice bath, Sarah popped her shoulder out. Then she put it back in and went on with the race. Definition of epic.

The venue was gorgeous!

Those wires look little…but don’t be fooled. OW

Beer helped bring back the smiles.

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I probably wouldn’t do another tough mudder real soon. I’m not just shook up by the electroshock, it was also expensive (over 150$) and one of those things I think you can check off your bucket list 😉 and be done with! I am glad I did it — but I heard a story about a guy who did it 3x this weekend in Toronto and I think he is psycho. That is all. We did have fun hanging out after the race with our matching shirts and sunburns!

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After we kind of relived (whined about) the race for a while, we packed up and hit the road. The traffic back to Mississauga sucked, to put it nicely.

We pulled over for snacks (it was almost 3 and breakfast and the bananas, LARA bar, and apples I’d eaten weren’t cutting it). I had chili at Tim Horton’s and was much less hangry driving the rest of the route to drop Nina off. 20120820-171813.jpg

Even though we were late getting back to London, we met up for sushi. It was my first time! And it was delicious, but I’m not a big rice girl so I mostly ate meat and tempura. It is what it is.

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Afterwards, some of us went out for drinks. I don’t know how I was still awake–but I guess the coffee (which may or may not have had Bailey’s in it) did the trick. Today I had nothing important to get up for so I was in bed til lunchtime. So lunch was breakfast! I hung out with Angela and got my car checked out (it was making a hella funny sound but it’s okay and all fixed up), rebuilt my bike, and half-unpacked/repacked for Pennsylvania).

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lunch: sausage over kale, apples, and some maple dressing with dried cranberries

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snack at Starbucks

 

Now I just finished a quick dinner and am going to head to yoga. My body is NOT in the state to feel good teaching spin–my hip was a mess after the hills and the car ride yesterday and I feel like a train hit me (or like I got tough muddered…). I did get to the chiropractor today which left me feeling energized (though it might have been the positivity and the fact that I got to whine for a few minutes about how tough the race was ;)!) and like I can move my neck again! 🙂

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pork over swiss chard with raspberry vinaigrette

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Dessert: digging into my awesome chocolate find from the conference and trying out some cranberry tea!

Things I’m sick of include living out of a suitcase and eating tons of dried fruit and nuts. I am craving a little bit of routine but I know going to my grandma’s for a few days is going to be fun and relaxing. I’m looking forward to getting away–if that makes any sense since I’ve hardly been home–since where she lives is so rural and simple. I plan on reading, journalling, blogging, etc….all the good stuff I feel like I’ve been missing out on lately! I am bringing my TRX and my kettlebell and leaving my bike here–if I do much I think I’ll take it to the park or find a trail to run on while I’m there. I’m still tired from everything that’s been going on I think and one thing I am learning to take to heart is that if you’re tired or sick or injured, what’s the point in stressing yourself out with a workout that you feel like you SHOULD do? (Hint: there’s not much point for me!).

Anyways, it’s zen time! I hope you enjoyed my whining and ranting about the race and that you’re all happy since I’m back. 🙂

Have you ever done a Tough Mudder Race? What’d you think?
Do you do well with travelling?

Making progress

Howdy there…this time from London and my futon. Boy oh boy did I miss my space!

Right now it’s a bit of a disaster since my suitcases exploded with laundry…

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…and we all know how I feel about laundry.

Needless to say, I don’t feel too bad putting off the finishing touches of my unpacking and cleaning til tomorrow when I’m fresh…

Now for the good stuff.

Today was amazing. Warning–I’m terrible at race recaps, so bear with me!

Bluewater is like Christmas. Going home for this race means seeing so many familiar faces and being literally outside where I grew up. I did the duathlon for two years before making my switch to triathlon last year, which makes this my fourth time doing the event. It’s one of the ones people do year after year after year, and not just because the church ladies cook up a storm (too bad my camera was dead and I didn’t get any photos from the post-race spread). This year, I finished in 1:05 on the dot, which was almost 2 minutes faster than last year! It’s not a massive improvement, but I’ll take it. The results went up quick but I was mostly pleased that my stomach cooperated, I felt strong, and that I got to do the race!

I did snag some photos from the race (my mom took some, I took some, friends had cameras!) and it was all smiles and sunshine.

That pretty much sums it up, although I did have a near heart attack about 5 minutes before the start when I lost my goggles. And of course I didn’t have my spares. I asked all around the people on the beach and then finally with 3 minutes to go ran my butt up to transition area and offered to kiss the first person to lend me a spare. Luckily a kind kind soul gave them to me (and only teased me about following through on my offer) and I was able to adjust them and swim! AMEN for nice triathletes.  The 400m took me 9:12, but there’s a nice chunk of time for the run back to transition in there. I was faster than last year and felt loads better, so that’s a good thing, especially since I’ve done ZERO open water swims.

The bike felt awesome. I passed a lot of girls and guys alike (that’s normal — I am a cyclist and not much of a swimmer so it’s bound to happen). I even spent some time in my drops…which was new for me. What better time to experiment than during a race, right? (joke) The 18km took me 34:22, which is one of those times I’m proud of but nothing out of this world–though considering the biking I’ve been doing, I’m happy my legs were feeling good and not too tired from the mountains. Yay!

Another thing I’ve done NONE of this year = bricks. I guess all the bootcamp workouts have confused my muscles enough that a casual 4km run after the swim/bike wasn’t too much of a shocker. Maybe I should have run harder, but I finished up in 19:05, which really surprised me. Faster than 5:00 kilometres without training on purpose? I’ll take it with a smile!

Like I said, I ended up coming in faster than last year. I placed second in my age group again and this year I was third overall for the girls. That felt awesome–it was like the icing on the cake, especially since I went in with no real “training” per se! I also won a raffle prize–a $25 gift card for running room. Lucky bum, huh?

Props go out to all of the people who raced today! There was a lot of first timers, some comebacks, and a whole lot of great work out there. I was so glad to see SO MANY people I know. Did I mention I love this race?

Justin’s a friend from Western tri club – matching age group plaques!

Look who showed up — Dave and his wife Dina made their way out to say hello! 🙂

Amy’s a yoga instructor who makes me smile every time I see her! She killed it this year and was such a ray of sunshine/cheerleader even while neither of us could really breathe…

Haley also did great and cheered like a champ even during the race!

…since my stomach was off, I stuck to a bland tuna sandwich (blechhhhh sums up how I feel about this) and a cookie. My dinner tonight was delicious and brought me back to how I normally eat. Snacks today were all over the place: dried fruit, an apple, two bananas, a LARA bar, a granola bar. I’m so ready to not be flying by the seat of my pants, it’s not even funny!

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first things first, back to my kale!

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The post-race fun just made things even better. We started off on a patio…

And then made our way for a refreshing dip in the river. This is kind of a Sarnia rite of passage and it felt so good today.

someone’s on their own countdown!

Made it!

The river run was on my summer bucket list, along with a whole whack of other things I’ve been crossing off. Like drinking long island iced tea (it’s a rough life, ya know!)…

Now that I’m back in London, I’m feeling better and better–and I don’t just mean my stomach. This morning and the past few days, I’ve been feeling so gross. Dreading coming home and feeling fat and miserable. But ya know what I realized today?  When my friends asked me to stick around after the race, I wanted to say no. I wanted to come back right away and do…what? I don’t know. Be miserable? Binge? That’s definitely where I was at a year ago…but it’s not where I am today. There’s something empowering about realizing that you can choose something different and even if you start to stray from your healthy/happy/new ways, you can get back to where you need to be. Since it feels so good to choose the happy thing (going for a drink even though I felt “fat”, racing even though I hadn’t trained and thought I’d end up “slow”, spending time with friends instead of being miserable), it’s starting to become my automatic choice, I think. And that’s the way it should be…apparently happy is not only healthy, it’s also faster than last year, friendly. and all around awesome. 🙂

And now for the perfect ending to a pretty much perfect day — first my decaf coffee/nightcap (cuz I bought a bottle of deliciousness and had to give it a go) and then the face plant into MY OWN BED!

Have you ever done a triathlon? What’d you think? I love it — the physical part is challenging, the camaraderie is unbelievable! Nothing like any other kind of race — there’s competition but it’s such a different kind. LOVE. I think I re-caught the bug here…

What are you doing this weekend?

PS: Speaking of Christmas…

Here goes nothing

 

 

 

Oh hey there!

I’m home-ish so of course it’s back to regular posting for me. I missed you guys like crazy and I definitely missed having a place to check in and get feedback and all that good stuff daily. Who knew I loved blogging quite so much?

I’ll give more updates on my trip when I’m not in pre-race mode (doesn’t every triathlete spend their race day morning blogging? I think it’s a normal pre-race activity and worth getting up a few minutes earlier). To be honest, I don’t have a pre-race routine. Today my goal is to keep my breakfast down–I’m going to spare you the gory details of my GI experiences for the last 48 hours but it’s enough to say that I think I got a dose of some kind of bug or ate something that didn’t agree with me because it’s not been pretty. Or maybe I’m dehydrated, or maybe all the “weird” food that I’ve been eating, or all the excitement, or who knows…but the result is that my tummy has been sorting itself out for a few days!

That being said, I’m going to look at today as a chance to see lots of friends and to get a good workout with a bunch of new training partners ;). I’ll definitely be listening to my body and pushing myself accordingly.

…oh wait, that’s what all my races are like. Anyways, this is a 400m swim, 18km bike ride, and 4km run and I am starting to get excited now that I THINK this bland breakfast is going to sit. My stomach was growling when I woke up (no surprise there), so I am going with it.

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Some of my friends are also racing this race — so good luck to them! Like I said, mine is short and sweet. It’s a gorgeous day today so I’m hoping that the water feels nice and toasty so I don’t have to squeeze into my wetsuit. Truth be told, I don’t think it will zipper. I had an “OMG I LOOK LIKE A SAUSAGE” moment when I put on my tri shorts yesterday. I feel bloated after my trip and a bit confused because of all the food struggles I had for the last two week, but as I start to calm down from it all I’m realizing that I learned a lot and probably needed to struggle through this to get to where I’m going. How’s that for an unexpected lesson, yet again? It kind of reminds me of this post on health bent about finding motivation in frustration, which I know I’ve linked to before but like I said, it’s a reminder! 🙂 I came back to some reasons for why I gave up ED in the first place, some quotes about trusting your process, some friends and family members who gave me some good encouragement last night, and just being gentle with myself and I feel like I’m in a much better mood today.

I’m stifling any sausage thoughts (get your mind out of the gutter, you sickos!) and replacing them with some catchy songs that I heard way too much on our road trip:

Anyways, at the expense of running late and not getting the best spot in transition area (this is a joke, PS), I’m gonna wrap this up and talk to y’all later…wish me luck!

What I’m looking forward to most today = sleeping in my own bed tonight! Hallelujah–I like me some travelling but being gone for over 10 days is a long time!

 

It’s about time

Nah, I’m not talking about my race time from tonight’s Go the Distance race, but I do feel pretty content with my 41:36 8km time. I also feel good knowing that the money raised from the event went to such a good cause. I saw quite a few familiar faces at the race, including one friend who raised over $1000 for Hope’s Garden. AMAZING! She ROCKS.

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They sent home the age group winners (2nd and 3rd too) with gift cards for Runner’s Choice (a running store here in London) so I have $10 to buy…something. Suggestions? I felt pretty sick during the race. My stomach is off and I found the chest cold I thought was pretty much gone. Things were clicking and snapping and hurting so you better believe I have a date with my foam roller and I think I need to rededicate not just to doing those awesome strength workouts I’m so fired up about (I started a box of WODs and ripped out routines from magazines and posted a teaser about bootcamp on Facebook today) but also to stretching, foam rolling, wearing my compression socks, and doing the little muscle work that I know is important for injury prevention. Promise!

I’m not sure what was up with my stomach. Nerves? I found myself nibbling all kinds of things this afternoon–I’m definitely one of those stress eaters. I did a pretty good job of fuelling today though, I’d say. I went to yoga this morning. I blogged. I sort of cleaned. My mom came for a quick visit and ran some errands and read some magazines with me (I’m a sucker for this month’s fitness mags since they’ve all got Olympic specials in them!). I sat around. 🙂

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Now I am so glad to be done for the day. I’m pooped and my stomach feels off! Must be a combination of a busy week, weird eats, the race, and everything catching up to me but I just want to foam roll and face plant into bed. Laundry can wait. Dishes can wait. Sleep is essential! I just had some chocolate (dark–bring on those antioxidants) so cravings are satisfied. I am thinking cough syrup and bedtime are in order. Not going to get sucked into Facebook, into another Jillian Michaels podcast (I think I’ve heard 5 today–catching up on old ones!), or into reading blogs (sorry guys). I am hoping to go home for a bike ride in the morning tomorrow and then come back for some fun with friends in London tomorrow. Somewhere in the next 4 days I’ve got a lot of studying to do…gonna worry about that later! 🙂 I’m preoccupied with how excited I am for finishing the tasks on my summer bucket list, having time to read non-school things at my leisure, for the opening of the outdoor pool (sweet one piece tan, let’s go), and for starting bootcamp<–especially this, but I guess if you’re going to be distracted it might as well be distracted by awesome.

How do you unwind after a long week?
Have you ever raced an 8k? What’d you think of the distance? – For me, I prefer 10k because it’s a bit more comfortable. Or maybe just familiar and I wasn’t sure how hard to push, or maybe it was the cold, or maybe I’m over thinking this! I had a good run and I was on the edge of my comfort zone and those kinds of workouts are important so I’m going to call it all a success. 😀
What are you doing this weekend?

  

Long time coming

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?

Did you guys miss me since Friday?

This weekend was a bit insane, but more AWESOME than anything.

Friday afternoon it hailed, but that didn’t stop Nina and I from meeting up for a short run:

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We took walk breaks every 9 minutes so this wasn’t bad. And my hip felt good. I’m focusing on a faster cadence and on being lighter on my feet, as per the physio’s recommendation. I’m back! 🙂

Nina and I ended up spending the afternoon together and took ages to bake this cake and these cupcakes…

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The giant cupcake was in honour of one of the guys who was coming to the race this weekend’s birthday, and I made some smaller ones on the side for Chelsea’s blog birthday! Turns our her nut allergies meant she couldn’t have them (cuz you can’t be safe enough), but luckily I still got to see her and Andrea for some quality time on Friday night. 🙂

My meals this weekend were sporadic and random but you know what–that’s how it should be? I don’t feel any worse for it, and I probably ate less “junk” than if I’d worried about it. A couple handfuls of peanut butter m & ms here, a few mini eggs there, but nothing too wild. I feel good.

I also had some meat this weekend. What felt like a lot, because it’s been weeks, but I think this is the balancing out part. I read some articles about post-vegetarian, people will go back to either eating ethical meat (i.e. at least making an effort) or will rebound and eat the whole farm (my terms, not the stuff I read). I don’t want to do the latter, and I’m trying to do the former. This summer, heading to a farm might help dispel some of the emotion I feel over eating meat. I know avoiding factory farmed is a good option—at least a step in the right direction. I refuse to beat myself up over any of this, because it’s about finding a healthy balance, and right now, I’m feeling tired and like I’m not really exploring vegetarianism as healthfully as I should (something I would like to work on over the summer when I’m not swamped with work and school!).

Anyways…

There have been some overnight oats…

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Some meatballs (the first red meat in ages, and this one had a boosting  psychological effect since I think I might be a bit low on iron)…

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Some beer…

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Cereal for dinner when I got home yesterday…

kashi, how i've missed thee

…lots of delicious.

But more importantly, lots of fun and lots of quality time…

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5 hours in a car both days, no complaints. My face legitimately hurt from smiling so much. I’m pretty sure I laughed more this weekend than I did in all of 2010, so things were good, to say the least.

The race was, in a word: cold. BUT Alysha, the best teammate ever, agreed to do the swim for me so that I wouldn’t be biking in 3 degrees and rain wet. So she swam, I biked, and she ran. Perfect set up! She swam the 750 in about 12 minutes (faster than I’d have been able to), I biked the 20k in about 41 minutes, and she ran the 5k in about 24 minutes, so we ended up with transition times at about 1:18 for the race! Not bad. We were second place in the relay (to a team of boys who only beat us by a few minutes) and had no complaints—once we warmed up. There was plenty of complaining when we saw the weather and when we got lost en route, but then we decided to be Team Happy instead. 🙂

I felt okay on the bike, hip wise. Last night it was a little tight, but so was the good one. The 5 hour car ride probably had more to do with it than the bike!

This morning at swim I had to stop during the set because I felt my shoulder acting up. I thought of that quote about listening to your body when it whispers so you don’t have to hear it when it screams. It might have gotten louder than a whisper, but I was smart enough to back off. I’m going to swim Wednesady instead of Tuesday to give it a day off, plus I have spin tonight so it’s a late night anyways.

Now it’s time to get oh so serious. Everything seems to be due in the next 9 days, which means I need to focus and just get things done! I want to at least be able to chill a bit this weekend, maybe ride my bike outside and eat some Easter candy! Is that so much to ask?

…It’s CRAZY to believe that this year is coming to a close so quickly.

Have you checked out Chelsea’s blog?
Chocolate or vanilla cake? Or ice cream? Or something else?
What’d you do this weekend?
What’s your plan for Easter weekend?