Friday, September 19, 2014


I've shifted over to a tumblr account: krystyna47. Why? It more suits my sporadic, short posting style. Please come on over, I've already added some pictures from the last couple weeks. Be prepared for more frequent (but shorter) posts. Thank you!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Motivational Reading

Here I am, in depths of winter, going through the grind of training. Some weeks heavy, some weeks adaptation, all chilly and cold! I'm leaving for Canada mid-August... but until then it's just more of The Grind, a period of time that I actually really enjoy (as long as it doesn't last forever!)

Until racing is upon me yet again, I've been keeping quiet and doing a lot of reading. In that vein, here are a couple great reads, some motivational and inspiring, others just dang cool.

1. Suffer Camp: on Location with Team TBB
2. Nowhere to Run to, Nowhere to Hide: Mental Tactic Training
3. How to Do What You Love
4. Joe Grant's Hardrock 100 race report
5. 5 Things Mentally Tough People Don't Do
6. Sometimes Losing is the Best Thing That Can Happen
7. An Almost Foolproof Way to Achieve Every Goal You Set
8. How Olympians Stay Motivated
9. Personal Growth: Motivation: The Drive to Change

Monday, May 5, 2014

Low volume vs high volume training

Okay, so this debate has been rehashed a million and one times, but I always love hearing what people prefer. Do they prefer to do as little training as possible, with much of it high intensity? Do they prefer a lot of high volume training instead, with the intention of building resilience and durability? There are pros and cons to both, and I've gone through my fair share of coaches to have experienced the gamut.

Personally, it's hard for me to judge which is the best for me as no matter what you throw at a relatively young body with relatively little experience in any of the 3 sports, you'll garner improvements. In saying that, there's definitely a training style that I "prefer", in terms of life enjoyment. It's not all about the races, it's mainly about the training as you're training 95% of the year and racing maybe 5%?

High volume, low intensity: OMG, I can go forever like this, I just barely improve. There's definitely pace work in here, but it's more Ironman watts, ironman run pace, etc etc. It's great if you can include location adventures as there isn't much in the training that requires specificity, but damn, you're tired and not necessarily improving by leaps and bounds. I did this under the #teamhpb Hillary Biscay program and... while I improved, I found there should be so much more to it.

High-ish volume, with intensity: LOL, how my current coach Nicky Samuels recently started me off nearly a year ago now. Pretty much, I could do it and was excited to do it as I love high intensity painful huge bang-for-your-buck training, but I would SERIOUSLY crap out after 2-3 weeks of it, needing a break. Total loss of motivation to train, total exhaustion, throw your hands in the air "fuck it!" style. Still with Nicky Samuels but training slightly differently now. As an Olympian with far more experience, SHE can handle that load and more, but damn I definitely couldn't, not yet. ~Learning process~ for sure!

Low volume, with intensity: I never experienced seriously low volume (less than 12-13 hrs a week) but just over that amount with a British Level III triathlon coach. It was great in that I was mentally fresh, garnered minor PBs, the intensity wasn't hardcore, and had time to breathe. However, given the low volume, I couldn't exactly say the body was durable, resilient or strong. Just capable. So... really depends on what type of course you're racing. In saying all this, I definitely recommend low volume with some intensity as THE way to train when coming back from injury, burnout, overtraining or anything of the sort. This is what I did after I took quite a big break after anemia and overtraining double whammy (and a bike crash!) and it was the best thing for me. I enjoyed the sport and I improved without being overburdened by fatigue/high volume.

Low volume, low intensity: Ha! I call this the off season!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

End of season + Recipes

So I'm in my end of season 2 week break. It's boring but doing the body good. Thankfully, the weather flipped a switch from summer to winter here in Wanaka so it's been easy to cuddle up, bake, cook, watch Game of Thrones and take numerous walks with my dog.

I'm looking forward to training through the winter as my target for the next few months (and next 2 years actually) will be 70.3 racing or shorter. Specifically, my winter target will be the Timberman 70.3 August 17. I'll be traveling back to Canada for my sister's birthday and this race fit perfectly in that it was close-ish to home, and a week before her big day. I'll go nuts on race day, and then feast for a week, reveling in my sister's marriage and how we're all growed up big kids now.

Until then, here are some amazing recipes I've been digging on lately:
- DIY Energy Bars by the Wassner Twins
- Spinach-Feta Quinoa Cakes
- Banana Bread Protein Bars by OhSheGlows
- Salmon with Quinoa and Tomato Salsa, except I make the salmon like this: sweet and salty glazed salmon, which is really just salmon in the oven, with soy sauce drizzled on, then sprinkles of raw sugar on top. Bake until done. Yum.

And lastly... here's my staple breakfast recipe. Variations abound, but this is what I've got down to an (in)exact science.

Classic Yummy Oatmeal

~1 cup soymilk - even though I drink all kinds of milk, soymilk makes rolled oats taste the creamiest!
~1/3 cup rolled oats
pinch of salt
1 banana
~ 1 T ground LSA
handful raisins
raw sugar

1. In a small pot on med-high, heat the soymilk, rolled oats and pinch of salt. Cook to your liking (I like my rolled oats really liquidy, others enjoy theirs quite dense).
2. As the rolled oats are cooking, chop the banana into your breakfast bowl. Add in ~1 tablespoon ground LSA (linseed, sunflower seed, almond meal all ground up), a handful of raisins and a sprinkling of raw sugar.
3. Once the oats are done to your liking, pour them into your breakfast bowl. Remember that the oats will continue to absorb moisture even once they are off the heat, so be aware not to dry them out too much.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

XTERRA Motatapu, 2nd AG, 6th amateur, 10th OA female

I raced an XTERRA triathlon on the weekend, the XTERRA Motatapu, which is one of the longer ones on the XTERRA race circuit. It's a 2km (notoriously long 2km, mind you!) swim, 47km mountain bike and 15k mountain run. About the toughness of a half-ironman, but with quadruple the DOMS afterward due to the downhill running!

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a mountain biker! I got my first ever mountain bike last May, rode non-technical stuff on it throughout the winter (June-July-Aug), didn't touch it after that, then 4 weeks before the Motatapu, learned as much as I could about mountain biking to keep my shit together for the race. Not ideal,  but the XTERRA wasn't a focus. It might be next year, as I so thoroughly enjoyed myself!

Swim: not a bad swim, just 2-3 mins off the pro times, but I was seriously unfocussed here. Goggles fogging up, driving me crazy, cold water, etc.
Bike: oh dear lord, I was terrified. All I'd heard about the race was that there were many many river crossings, some thigh deep. And that in the last 10km of the race, there were several hundred meter steep drop offs that, should you fall, you wouldn't survive. This is what the race director repeated again in the race briefing the morning of. Dear lord. But I got on the bike, and was nailing people on all the uphills, and then getting re-passed again on all the downhills. I just didn't have the skill or confidence to let the bike flooooow without being on the brakes whenever the track tilted down. Very unfortunate, as the time lost on all the downhills cost me my XTERRA world champs slot and at least 10min overall. BUT, it was my first off-road triathlon, and I was absolutely amazed with myself that I did all the river crossings, only falling off half-way through the 2-3 biggest and scariest ones. Yes, I screamed, cried, and yelled: "OH MY GOD, holy shit" and other numerous expletives throughout each one, but I am just stoked I did them!
Run: Starting in Arrowtown, we run on flat trails for about 3 minutes before the path heads up, up, up. We run up the Tobins track, which I just easily jogged up (Mt Iron hill reps pay off, don't they??), then a wee couple minute downhill break, then we cross a stile to head onto a goat track that goes up up up, but it's a tiny track and tilted at an angle. Awkward! Continued to just spin the wee legs up. Then it just gets mad steep up. It is 9k's uphill, topping out at 1060m elevation or so? Just higher than the Crown Range rd. And then it is an absolutely quad-bashing 6k's down, with the first 2 or so being barely runnable slippery tussock and the last 4k being gravelly and more "bomb-down-able"! I bombed down. Throughout the entire run, I was nailing people, moving fast, and I wasn't putting in as much effort as I could. I got to the top thinking: oh shit, I should have worked harder!!

I was really scared of this race and the course especially going in. I am a road triathlete, never done any off-road racing, and I expected it to get impossibly hard around each corner. I was holding back throughout the entire bike ride, and again on the run, thinking I'd soon be crawling on hands and knees, better save the energy for when that happens! But it never did! So, I'll revisit this race next year and drop 30 minutes off my time, minimum. That's the goal! As for mountain biking, practice practice practice. My strength is there, my confidence downhill is not.

In the end, I was 2nd in my AG (with 1st getting the XTERRA Maui slot, 4 mins ahead of me), I was the 6th amateur female and I was 10th female overall (4 pros). Nicky, my coach, current XTERRA world champion, won by a million miles with none of the other female pros even coming close (and not many guys, either, she was 5th OA). Stud!

Happy with my effort on the day, but frustrated with how I was more mentally limited than physically limited in my own abilities.
Photos below:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Challenge Wanaka, 8th amateur, 4th AG

Rather than a traditional race report, I'll detail out my fifth iron-distance with the good and the bad. Let's problem solve this shit!

The Bad:
- I finished more than 1/2 hour behind "schedule", with a finish time of 12:05. This happened for a number of reasons.
- The cold was debilitating. Air temp 4C, water temp 14C, with it not warming up much on the bike (to maybe 11C), meant almost certain death to someone like myself, weighing in at 47kg. I was frigid, absolutely frigid and couldn't think straight in the swim, slapping my arms around like a monkey trying to swim faster. Onto the bike, and I spent the first couple hours shivering.
- My saddle fell down. I'm not sure how much this played into my race, because I didn't notice it at the time other than: "Why is it so hard to keep myself up?" Turns out my saddle tilted downwards quite severely somewhere in there, I had to hold myself up, and the inside of my crotch got severely irritated to the point that I have a nice lump of a hematoma, with several burst blood vessels on my leg/crotch.
- After about the 7k marker on the run, I visited a portaloo, thinking that was my "one and only" for the day. Well, I proceeded to bless every portaloo on the course over the next 35k's. I spent 20-30+ minutes of my run pooping, yay! And becoming extremely fuzzy/dry-mouthed as a result, and I stumbled around a lot. But I ran, and didn't walk (other than at aid stations to drink with a steady hand). It sucks to have improved your running phenomenally to the point where you can run a ~3:40-3:45 marathon off the bike, and then run 1/2 hour slower.
- It seems SOMETHING fucked my GI system up on the run, and I haven't figured out what: all the extra energy expended keeping myself warm, too much water not enough electrolytes?, too much caffeine? Not sure here, as the latter two really had been well-practiced in training. 
- I need to improve my cycling like woah. Still my biggest weakness like WOAH.

The Good:
- I swam a 1:04 near-frozen and was 3rd chick out of the water. That's not bad. Given, realistically, a 1:00 would have occurred in good (warm) conditions.
- It took a good ~1.5 hours for girls to start passing me! I call that a success!
- My nutrition on the bike was surprisingly good, never once felt nauseous, and stayed on top of food intake throughout. Peed 4+ times on the bike
- My finish time of 12:05 on a day of TOTAL FALLING APART, SUFFERING THROUGHOUT, on one of the hardest iron-distance courses out there was still good enough for 8th amateur, 4th AG (not that there were many of us), and way better than what I could have managed even a year ago.

Pre-race get up: ugg boots, winter socks, wetsuit, long-sleeve + winter jacket.
Swim start. Calm but cold as fuck.
3rd female out of the water!
Starting bike, yep put on dry jersey, vest, socks and armwarmers. Should have gone for jacket!
Finish chute running

A good race is coming my way, I need to work on bike strength as well as continue to problem-solve and get help with my race nutrition. Some people have iron stomachs, and others don't, and that's just one extra thing that I have to figure out as my tummy's sensitivity should NOT be the main predictor of my finish time.

Thanks to my coach Nicky, it looks like after some recovery, I'll be in cycling camp for the rest of my life??? And I'll attempt my first off-road tri: XTERRA Motatapu March 8th.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Lake Hayes Olympic tri, 6th F... and Challenge Wanaka this weekend!

Not staying on top of my race reports, am I? Well I raced Lake Hayes Olympic triathlon. I race this one every year, twice a year if I can manage it (they hold the same race every X-mas and Easter), since I first arrived in New Zealand. I LOVE THIS COURSE, it is honest and hard and crazy talented athletes always show up. For a local race, the competition is phenomenal. You don't often see pros turn up to local races, and here we had 3. So... I definitely wasn't top 3!

I rode to the race the morning of (50-something k's Wanaka to Queenstown going over the Crown Range)
Top of Crown Range on a nicer day. Queenstown is down there somewhere.
And I raced, hard as usual, same story as usual: come out of the water near the front, get passed on the bike (less this time, though!), and nail as many of them back on the run. In the end, 6th girl in, 3rd amateur chick (given top 3 were pros). Faster today by a couple minutes when everyone else was slower than previous attempts at Lake Hayes -- windier conditions than usual. So, improvement is there... and I hope that's a good indication of fitness for this weekend's Challenge Wanaka iron-distance.

This'll be my fifth iron-distance race; I'm psyching myself up to deal with the suffering with grace. In fact, I feel really bloody fit on the swim and run, and... I have definitely improved on the bike, yes, but just NOT ENOUGH and definitely not proportional to my swim and run abilities. So, that's a bit of a 2014 mission and beyond: improve my bike split.

Otherwise, I feel good, I'm looking forward to this race, it even looks like conditions might ACTUALLY be nice for once. When I did this race in 2011, my first iron-distance race, the winds were so severe that the female pros were going under 20kph the last 70k's into the wind from Cromwell to Wanaka, leaving them with 6+ hr bike splits. So, really, any iron-distance with better conditions than that is a blessing. Tomorrow's looks like a calm swim and relatively calm bike with winds and heat picking up on the run: yes, yes, excellent, excellent, let the heavier runners struggle in the heat. I never give myself time goals, I just aim to put together a good race, handle my nutrition well, and mete out my energy perfectly. Onwards! Excited!