Friday, March 30, 2012

Goldrush 375k multisport RR: DAY TWO!!!

After spending the night up high in Manorburn, the boy toy and I packed up our tent. And by "we" I mean he did all the work while I changed into cycling gear, a million layers and ate a massive breakfast while he did all of the work. What a great support crew! We drove from Manorburn to Poolburn, got my bike sorted, realized that the portaloos hadn't arrived and none of the hundreds of people could take their nervous dump! Ruh roh! They arrived a couple minutes before the day's race briefing and there was a collective sigh.

The day's breakdown:

Leg 4: 50km mtb
This stage was cancelled because of the track's conditions and the ability to move support crew in time to the Poolburn transition given the state of the support crew's 4WD track's condition. A bummer.

Leg 5: 24k road bike
Usually, by this time the competitors would have been spread out from the previous leg's mountain bike but because we were all starting, it ended up being a massive and FUN group ride.

Yes, I look flash... 

The group ride ended up being pretty self-explanatory. For me, it's always been "hang on until your legs burn so badly that you nearly die", get dropped from the group, recollect my beating heart and my self-respect, then when the next fast group from the following wave comes flying by, GET ON THAT TRAIN, and stay on. Myself, one girl and one guy had been dropped from the first group, and when the next wave's first group came by (Team Classic 50+ Men), I dropped the girl and guy and hung on with the older gents. Took my pull at the front when it came to my turn, and when I pulled off to the back, they all told me good job. If they'd offered me candy, too, I'd probably have taken it. Once in the transition, I pulled off the shoes and helmet, jammed my Asics Fuji Racers on, my Nathan pack, and headed out onto the 15k trail run on the Otago Rail Trail.

Leg 6: 15km trail run

The trail run is split into two segments: approx 3-4k's net uphill on farm 4WD track followed by the rest of the run on the Otago Rail Trail, net downhill. The Otago Rail Trail used to be where the train tracks were, but when they were no longer in use, they ripped up all the tracks and created a 160km "rail trail" throughout the beautiful Central Otago landscape. We were running on part of it, from Auripo to Lauder. This run included running through two 200m tunnels that were HUGE and PITCH BLACK in the center. Absolutely, 100% cool. I screamed like a girl and heard my echoes bouncing off the walls. Awesome!!

I must admit, after the previous day's 18k uphill run and today's 15k downhill run, my legs were TRASHED. I did the run in 1:15:xx, but boy oh boy, very unhappy legs after that!! I couldn't fathom how I'd manage on the next day!

Leg 7: 58km MTB
Luckily, we had a bit of time before we had to get to Tarras, which was the end of day transition. Tracey was off on her 58km mtb adventure going up and over Thompson's Gorge. Christian and I thus went to the Cromwell pool, where I floated in a hot tub, then did I think 50m of lap swim before I called it a day. We had lunch then drove to Tarras, where we were soon greeted with this:

It had rained/hailed up there for the mtb'ers.
Us down below were simply greeted with a
 rainbow! The food made by the Tarras Rotary
Club was amaaaazing, free beers too. 
Tracey had an amazing mtb after her disastrous/scary one the previous day... so glad she had a good day!!
Upon returning to Wanaka, we were greeted with fresh new
snow on the hills. That definitely wasn't there when we left! 
We luckily live right by Tarras so after the next day's race briefing and the spot prizes, we headed home for a nice shower, sat by the logburner and got toasty warm. We were still in 3rd, losing more time to first and second but with fourth closing in. Next (and last!) day's race report to come!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Goldrush 375k multisport RR: DAY ONE!

Okay, here gooooes trying to write up a race report for what was probably the most epic weekend of racing I have ever experienced. Goldrush is a 3-day multisport event throughout Central Otago on the South Island of New Zealand. For those unfamiliar to NZ terminology, triathlon means swim-bike-run, and multisport usually does not have ANY swimming but is kayak-mtb-road bike-trail run, in whatever order you want! Often, a race caters to the badass individuals that perform the entire thing on their own, the even MORE badass individuals that perform in a two-person tandem (2 individuals must be within a certain distance, usually not more than a couple meters, for THE ENTIRE RACE), and 2-3 person female, male or mixed teams. I was in a 2-person female team, and we were called Team Unquickly, mainly because we had NOOOOO idea how we'd do. I'd never done a multisport, multi-day race, nor have I ever been in a team for a race, and this was my teammate's first year racing multisport. We were nervous, and excited. Our support crew consisted of my teammate Tracey's au paire and my boyfriend. 

Friday March 23:
The day before the race. I spent the entire day packing, double-checking, and bringing far too much gear and clothing and food. We drove from Wanaka to Alexandra, where I picked up my race pack, had a wee swim in the Alex pool, set up tent in a campground, and went to the race briefing at 8pm. The race started at 8:30am the following morning, so right after I went to bed and slept. I knew that all I had the next day was an 18km run following Tracey's 2 stages (kayak and mtb) so I didn't have to worry about an early race. I had an entire day to get nervous!! 

Saturday March 24:

Leg 1: 1.5k run + 30k kayak
I was slow-moving in the morning, but thankfully checked my mobile in time to see that Tracey had called me about 1 million times. Her first stage is a 1.5km run to a 30km paddle from Alexandra to Roxburgh on the Clutha River. The rules changed last minute and it turns out the paddler needn't be the one running, so it made sense for her to have all her kayak gear on her at the kayak start and I do the quick 1.5km jog. Only, I found out about half an hour before the race that I needed to get to her, get our team bib and get back to the race start. It was hectic indeed, but I went off and ran the 1.5k in time. We saw her off, and drove down to Roxburgh to meet her after her paddle. 
The drive down was stunning. Really quiet roads. Winds
were gusting easily 60-80kph, absolutely ridiculous. 

Waiting at the dam, could barely walk straight. The paddlers
had tailwinds but so strong that they made the water really
rough to handle. 2nd place individual male (Gavin Mason)
was tipped out and had to swim to shore and run to the
transition. ROUGH. 
Leg 2: 35k mountain bike
Tracey came in and quickly left to go on a 35km mtb up the Knobby Range. Up at the top, the winds were so strong, over 100kph, and almost all of the riders were blown off (on a mtb!!), barely able to control their bikes and keep wheel to ground. Tracey had to hike her bike for up to 10k, as did many others. HARD AS. On the ground, myself and our support crew had to made the very windy drive from Roxburgh to Little Valley. The wind was so strong that we saw strings of cars pulling over to either throw their bikes into the car, more securely tighten and tie their kayaks and bikes to their roof racks or recollect their gear if it'd blown off. Seriously tough conditions, the worst I've seen... Could we please have an easy 375km multisport race, pretty please?? I got to my transition. We waited for Tracey. And waited. And waited. We knew she was having a tough time of it, but didn't know just how bad it was up there. At one point, the winds died down, cloud came over and it started to drizzle. Tracey came in and I started running...

Leg 3: 18k trail run
The 18k trail run is all uphill. No joke! We climb for 17k and in the last 1k we descend into Manorburn Station (in NZ, farms = stations). And this is the one leg where you want your strong Northwesterlies b/c this one heads Northwest for maybe 1k but then is a pretty straight Southeasterly shot to Manorburn camp. Unfortunately, the winds had died and the rain had come. The drizzle turned into a downpour and as I climbed, more and more of the rain drops were interspersed with snowflakes. All good, I was warm. 
Before the clouds and rain came through, all the runners and
support crew waiting for their mtb'ers to come in! Beautiful
Yes, that's part of the run. Easy 30-40% grade. We were
scrambling! Also, total fog out/mist made for very spooky
conditions. I had no idea if I was on course or not because
I couldn't see anyone around me, nor had I seen a red arrow
recently. Thankfully, I didn't get lost!

Fog out!
Manorburn Station. Starting to camp out and sunset
approaching quickly. The ugly skies cleared out for a
crisp, clear night!

I got cold REALLY quickly after the run. The temperatures
were near 0C. Lookin' like a kiwi, bro, in sheepskin
boots and possum fur mitts! 
I had an awesome 18k uphill run, in just under 2hrs! It was my goal, and I nailed it! We came in that day 3rd out of 5 female open teams, with first and second place racing away from us quite quickly, and fourth trying to close in... Still 2 days of racing left, anything can happen!! 

Some funny misadventures had by the support crew: All the support crew vehicles were coming in via another 4WD track, but the muddy conditions on the track meant that everyone was slipping and sliding everywhere. Inevitably, one car not equipped with 4WD jack-knifed off the track, causing blockages. Most support crews couldn't get into the day's race finish to see their athletes come in, so many athletes started running in with no warm clothes to get into. The race directors and their crew were amazing by giving us warm soup, providing their own warm clothes and sleeping bags while we waited for our crews to arrive. They finally got it sorted, but there was a long string of over a hundred cars all lined up in the middle of nowhere. Would have been a surreal sight!! 

Additionally, given the conditions, the next day's first stage (a 50km mountain bike) was cancelled for 2 reasons:
1- the stage itself would have been very dangerous for a lot of athletes but mainly...
2- there would not have been enough time for even the support crews themselves to get to the next transition given the current state of the track. In fact, because of predicted Southerlies and more rain for the night, those not comfortable driving in the muddy conditions were told to get out that night before it got dark and spend the night at the next transition (in Poolburn) rather than high up, rather exposed, in Manorburn. Many left. Some stayed. We did stay, trying to shield our tent from the winds using our truck. In the end, the overnight Southerlies weren't so bad at all, with it just gusting strongly for a dozen or so minutes in the middle of the night. It was cold, though. 

And the next morning would bring new adventures as well... race report to be continued!! Day 1 of 3 done!! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Goldrush 375k PREP!

So, last hard workout before Goldrush 375k multisport race was yesterday. Backing off to one-a-day's and ~1hr or less each day. I've started my prep and packing for the race, the logistics of which are a bit intimidating. You think you have a lot to pack for an Ironman? Try packing for a 3-day multisport race where you need kayak, mtn bikes, road bikes, perhaps a tri bike if you think you won't be in a group to draft with, run gear, camping and outdoor gear, an assortment of warm and cool "real life" and racing clothing. Here's the run down:

Race stuff:
- tri bike, road bike
- 2 pairs of run shoes
- socks, bras, shorts and crops, tech tees, long sleeve
- waterproof jacket, arm warmers
- cycling gear for all weather (bibs, tri shorts, cycling shorts, toe covers, shoe covers, cycling jerseys, tri top, gloves, cycling shoes, knee warmers, full-leg bibs)
- pump for tires, chamois cream
- extra tubes a-plenty!
- home-made gels, bars, extra water bottles
- camera to photograph all events and landscapes, CHARGED
- helmet, sunglasses, extra pair of sunglasses, garmin 310xt CHARGED, heart rate monitor
- couple bottles of sun block
- Nathan pack, nuun tablets
- liters and liters of water; at some locations no potable water is available and as far as I know there are NO aid stations on the course.
- food enough for during the day for both myself, my team mate and our support crew, which consists of her au paire (nanny for her two kids) and my boyfriend
- recovery food (Up&Go Energize, chocolate milk, fruit)
Camping Gear:
- foam mat
- tent
- sleeping bag
- pillows for head and under the knees
- head lamp/bike light
- first aid kit
Regular clothing:
- winter boots to keep warm, fur slippers
- warm socks, sweaters, mittens, hats
- toiletries (toothpaste, toilet paper, toothbrush, hair brush, shampoo, soap, moisturizing lotion, towels, extra elastics and bobby pins)
- jeans, shorts, underwear
- sweaters, tshirts, tanktop, LAYERS
- jacket
- compression socks
- Race rules and updates
- Support crew info
- Course description


Monday, March 12, 2012

Pretty Photos 014 - Glendhu Bay

Glendhu Bay to Wanaka point-to-point run. Brilliant late summer day.

Low-lying cloud still hanging around from yesterday's rains
Caaaaalm lake
Camera got all fogged up from my sweat...

Where I'm at... it's gotten interesting.

Woah, I've been through a rollercoaster of events lately. To sum it up: overtraining + anemia + 2 bike crashes had me out for the count for much of January and February. I gave myself a good rest and came back as if on FIRE! Before, I was hardly able to put in hard efforts and even steady efforts felt like a chore. Walking up the stairs was hard. My heart was tired. My muscles, surprisingly, were never sore from training, but during a workout, if I attempted an explosive effort, they'd near give out. So, I took my rest, and came back better than ever. I felt really really good. 

Except, when I returned to being coached, I was just SO OVER being told when to go hard and when to go easy. I didn't want a coach anymore. Despite having real faith in my coach, I just didn't want it. It's hard to explain, but all I could think about was how "un-fun" being coached now was. I was over it. So, in a rather abrupt way, I just decided to give being coached a break. It honestly felt like a break up. I'm quite certain he was hurt, because he proceeded to unfollow me on Twitter (odd?). Never mind, after the shit I'd gone through and the sadness and tiredness I'd felt in the last couple months, I just wanted control over my training. I was scared of digging myself into a pit of fatigue because, even though he is a coach and knows what he's doing, he does not feel what I feel when I'm tired, or when I'm on fire. I needed to be careful and be selective of giving myself rest when I feel I needed it, and giving myself a hard, stressing workout when I needed it. 

Of course, I knew that to develop and progress as an athlete, you need a smart, periodized plan that will have you improve the quickest, get stronger and faster, reduce junk mileage, and give you rest when you need it. 

So, for the moment I am self-coached although basing my training off a plan I got from TrainingPeaks that should get me prepped for IM 70.3 Hawaii. The plan is a bit easy, more base-building than anything, but it gives me an idea of when my long rides should be, when I should start putting in more speedwork on the bike and run, and reminds me when I should have my rest weeks. I modify the workouts to suit my strengths and weaknesses (i.e. I don't just do more of what I love doing the most). 

- I need to get faster and build my endurance for the swim, so I'm in the water ~6 times a week, 2 masters sessions, some enduro sessions (4-5k), and some loosens 30-40 mins after long runs to flush out the legs. 
- I need to really build my endurance up on the bike, and finish a long ride having neg splitted by power output, some spins, some rides where the terrain dictates my effort, some more structured rides, some rides with friends, etc. It's a huge mishmash, but I'm loosely following a plan. For me, I'm not at such a level where specificity is all-important. I know there's still at least another 2+ years of "time in the saddle" that will have me improving regardless. 
- I need more frequent runs, but less frequent high intensity sessions. Running has become a problem for me because of past injuries, but running frequently with no aim, I KNOW, creates an awesome enduro base from which I can build. I've got one high intensity speed session a week, one hills session, a long run, and some fluffing around on the various mtb tracks in town to get some strength and good form on the trails. Each run has a purpose. This is the trickiest of the 3 disciplines because I had gotten so stale and unable to hit high-intensity sessions because they were quite frequent. I think just an injection of speed work here and there will have me amped to run fast then and ONLY then that rather than the dreaded Z3 plateau, I'll be Z5B off the fucking wall, gasping for breath. 

I had been hesitant (and scared) to go without a coach as I've been with my coach for the last 2-3? years. It is a shocker, but I do need it at this time. I want to see if I can create a smart program that has me progressing, and not plateauing. Most importantly, I've come to truly value rest and recovery (having experienced overtraining, I do NOT want to experience it again). The Hawaii 70.3 race will be a test of my own coaching skills. If I beat Lance Armstrong, I know I've done well for myself (ha!). 

It's an exciting time, and I'm already starting to feel the love. I've got a slew of racing coming up, too, that should have me pumped. This includes:
Mar 24-25-26: Goldrush 375k multisport race. I'm doing all the road cycles and trail runs. My teammate is doing all the mtb and kayaking. Through the beautiful, desolate Otago countryside. 
Day 1: end of day 18km all-uphill run
Day 2: 24k road bike + 15k net-downhill trail run
Day 3: 42k road bike, a break while she kayaks, then 3k run + 53k road bike + 13k run, yeeha!!
Mar 31: Southern Lakes Half-Marathon. Time for a PB, the last time I ran a half was October 2010. 
Apr 6: Lake Hayes Easter sprint triathlon. A goodie. 3rd time around, hope to knock another 1-2 minutes off my time. Was 9th F18-39 yrs last time, including the pro chick(s?). 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

TrainingPeaks discount codes!

Ooooh some exciting news today!! TrainingPeaks is getting all 20 of the Athlete Ambassador bios up and running and I'll soon have my profile featured on their website. Very cool! They've also given me the privilege to give something back to you: discount codes to their services! 

You know TrainingPeaks is good if frickin'  Crowie is using it.
Holy shit, he is a beast. 
If you want 15% discount on their software, which includes Premium Edition planning and logging of workouts, then you've darn well come to the right place! 

What can you get when you sign up:
- Ability to log (and plan) your workouts and meals
- Ability to track daily metrics such as sleep quantity and quality, weight, etc
- Over 80+ devices are supported by TrainingPeaks (Garmin, Polar, etc)
- VirtualCoach race season planning
- Ability to build an Annual Training Plan (ATP)
- Calendar sync, mobile access
- In-depth and enhanced analysis for all you data geeks out there! This includes TSS (Training Stress Score, Normalized Power, Power:HR decoupling, and so much more... holy batman)

So, if you're keen on subscribing to some really powerful triathlon (and cycling, running, swimming) software, then use this discount link and use the discount code: TPA11 and you'll get a 15% discount on however long or short a membership you choose. Tell your friends!! 

(A "my life" update post coming up next! Some exciting stuff!)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Pretty Photos 013 - Cows

Cows look like cute creatures but when you've got a bull in the middle of the road (and takes up about half the road, too!!), refusing to move and all you are is a bike and a very thin-skinned human... you definitely don't want to take the chance of passing. If you've got THREE bulls on the road (as I do here), then you take your camera out, zoom in all the way, and take a picture. Then you ride back from whence you came!! 
This is the look of someone that does not give a fuck!
This here's a run on the beautiful Glendhu Bay track. We
had a dumping of snow on the mountains, but it cleared
up in the morning so I went out to play!! Didn't see any
cows this go-around, just heaps of sheep! Baaaaa