Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pretty Photos 018 - West Wanaka

Colquhuouns Beach. 
View of West Wanaka and the Matukituki River (east branch)
View of Wanaka township from afar. 
Cows, scary bastards, especially if there are 50 ahead of you
and 5 behind you, charging to make the pass and join their
mates. I had to jump off the track so they wouldn't crush me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Goal-setting time!!!

It's the middle of winter, the shortest day of the year looms... it's the time of the year to sleep 10 hours a night, train short and sharp, stay warm, and eat high quality food in good company, preferably by a roaring fire. It's also the time of year to think about goal setting and how I want to approach the next year of my life -- sort of like Southern Hemisphere's New Years' Resolutions, only no one is doing this but me.

My goals:

1. Sleep a lot, rest a lot (and don't feel guilty about it!!!!) and do all the high quality work on the program. I have one more month in New Zealand before I head to Australia for a month, so the goal is to train hard but recover just as hard. Once in Australia, it will be a heck of a lot more about endurance.
2. I struggle with the cold. Like a bird, I can dissipate a lot of heat if I am in a hot environment (high surface area to volume ratio), but once cold, I need to use a LOT of energy to get warm again. Most of the time, it is energy I don't even have. I don't yet know of a medical term for it (it is not Seasonal Affective Disorder, as that has more to do with the amount of sunlight hours a person is exposed to), but it's close to. It's the reason I left Canada in the first place; I felt depressed and frozen for 8 months of the year. If I'm not in a warm to hot environment, I'm unable to function because I feel frigid. It takes me about 2 hours to warm up in front of the fire, but about 10 seconds to cool down if away from it. So, my goal here is to actively combat the cold by not being careless about clothing choices, by always having blankets nearby, by not being stupid and wearing enough cycling clothing while going out on SHORTER rides than usual, but working harder, so on and so forth. Rather than give in to feeling cold and depressed for weeks, I have to try to prevent getting cold in the first place.
3. Once in Australia for 1 month, I want to pile on the training, shed the layers, and soak up some sunshine/warmth (NEVER go without sun block!!!!)
4. Get ready to race Yeppoon 70.3, and race it hard!!!

Trail running on a crisp but clear day
Cycling in the cold (0-1 C)
Collecting free firewood!! I'm wearing a tshirt and 3 sweaters,
which only gives me the appearance of a bulked-up lumberjack.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Pretty Photos 017 -- Around Big Island

Southern point of Island... VERY wind-blown
One of many roadside stalls. 
Hilo side of island. Better surf, more rain, less sunshine. 
The last of posts about Hawaii. Just some non-race pretty photos.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sweet sweet swim workouts!!

I never understood how some triathletes hate 1/3 of their sport (swimming). I fucking loooooooove it!!!
Not only do I adore creating my own workouts, I love challenging myself to complete someone else's creations. Below is a list of places I find swim workouts for myself when I need motivation. I especially love to do mixed stroke (fly, back, breast, free) swimming in a non-serious period of training. It breaks things up nicely, and butterfly really strengthens you up. LIKE A (beautiful, graceful) BULL.

Sara McLarty's blog (ITU athlete, swimmer extraordinaire): NTC Masters Swim
What a goddess. These are GOLD. I tend to stick with B-level distances but A-level speeds. 
Mixed stroke/IM workouts: 50 swim workouts! 
Crappy website but killer IM and mixed stroke workouts. Slowly making my way through all of these. 
Another option, based on skill level: 100 swimming workouts
Haven't used these yet, but the page has been bookmarked!! 
Triathlete/free-focused workouts: Andy Potts' FB page
He regularly posts epic free-focused swim workouts (4-7km+ in length).

Do you have any to add???? I would love to know!! 

I have also been a part of 6 different masters groups (2 in Montreal, 2 in Melbourne, 1 in Colorado and 1 in New Zealand), and I have logged every single session in TrainingPeaks since 2008. I have an infinite number of swim workouts of all types, and I'm so thankful to have the ability to dig into any and all previous workouts. My comments are probably gold as well... For example, when I was swimming with 8-16 year old Australian fish in Melbourne, one session was:
400 free
2x150 biondi (drill, basically fly but you don't let the arms come back over once out of the water)
[4x50 fly easy on 1:05
[2x100 fly med on 2:00
[1x200 fly hard on 4:00
150 back easy

I think I ate a kilo of yogurt and passed out on the university grounds after this early morning session. Oh, the horror. I also added in the TP comments "Vomit inducing fly session, oh god."

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hawaii 70.3 Race Report

Alright, I'm going to knock this race report out tonight, otherwise I'll forget the race entirely, and have only soft fuzzy memories of my time there. The race wasn't soft, nor was it fuzzy. NOT AT ALL!!!!

Pre-race: Woke up 3:45am at our hostel in Kealakekua Bay, had to break into the kitchen because the door was locked and the girl that worked at the hostel didn't have they key, grabbed breakfast, changed, and drove the 1hr drive to Hapuna Beach State Park. Upon arriving at Hapuna Beach, all you could really notice or pay attention to was that there were some serious off-shore winds happening. Wind was swooping off the Kohala mountains and the volcano and aiming for the ocean. It was WINDY. Hard to open car doors kind of windy. At 5am. Ouch, it's going to be a cracker of a day.

Thoroughly unimpressed, but ready to race. 

The madness begins! 
Swim: Hmm, a 34:xx swim. Some of the time people punched me and massacred me, other times I swam side by side with one dude in white and blue, and we were just cruising next to each other, having a ball. Conditions weren't too too rough but one buoy got pulled off course, and there was a bit of a current I didn't know about. In fact, there ended up being a small craft warning out on the ocean at that time because of the chop/wind. Go figure. Still, a non-wetsuit swim and I don't own a fancy swimskin. I'll take it. 

Coming out of the water

In T1 putting on helmet. 
Bike: The one day where I wish I was one of those heavy-set chick triathletes that just big gear mashes the bike. I'm 110lbs and I barely made it out of that ride alive. The crosswinds were constant, epic, and I was blown off my bike. I couldn't switch gears except in the few and far between somewhat sheltered sections. I could eat and drink at few spots. I wasn't even really pedalling, more coasting, the entire ride as I physically pushed my bike into the ground. The time spent in aero was minimal because I kept getting blown around. I couldn't believe how lucky the guys were for just staying in aero and leaning a bit into it. I had blisters on my hands and my forearm muscles cramped from hanging on. It was fucking brutal. At no time, however, did I hate my life. I honestly felt awesome, and was exceedingly frustrated that I couldn't bike to my ability. I was gunning for a 2:45 bike split, and watts of about 135-140. I just couldn't put the power down, I couldn't really ride, because I was clinging on for dear life. My average watts were, what, 109? I MEAN, COME ON! I just want to ride!! I did get off the bike ready to run people down, but my sporadic nutrition and hydration intake on the ride came to bite me in the ass, big time. 

I think the most frustrating thing is that I felt better than what my ride produced. In the one calm section of the course (right in Kawaihae harbor), I could just get in aero and work hard. I was passing people all over the place. Again, right at the top near Hawi where it's more headwind than anything, I hunkered down and worked. Again, I passed people, FAST. How frustrating. It was a 3:15:xx?? bike time. 

Run: Into T1 and my partner told me I was 6th in my AG. I think I just laughed and looked surprised. The girls that could have stayed aero would have been at least 15-30 minutes ahead, then. If they were able to stay aero, a 2:45 ride is a piece of piss on this smooth course. Never mind, I do love trying to run people down. Out of T2 and onto the run:

The run itself went smoothly for the first 5k. I was running decently well for this heat, and passing people. But, the inability to take in nutrition properly on the bike really affected me. After about 5k, my stomach felt so bloated/distended. I ended up getting blisters all over my stomach from the kit rubbing against my bloated tummy. Everything that I took (Clif bloks and Coke) just wasn't getting digested. I was peeing a lot. I was SLOW, and people started passing me again. In the end, I had to stop at a portapottie and decide if I wanted to puke or poop. My body chose the latter. The half marathon ended up being 5k at approximately half-marathon pace, and then 16.1k of jogging/walking the aid stations/pooping. I was frustrated, but also, I felt as if my GI system had gone through an Ironman rather than just a half. It felt wrecked, more than anything else in my body. At first, I was incredibly disappointed with my time (6:03:xx), about 45-55 minutes slower than expected. EVERYONE had these conditions to face, why should I be any different? Then again, everyone has a minimum of 10 lbs on me, and most have far more (with the guys an extra 30-50 pounds minimum). I didn't see any girl around my size out there, and it is all about the weight on the bike in ferocious crosswinds. In the end, I am still disappointed that this should be one race out of so few this season, and I didn't do as well as I wanted to at it. Then again, I am happy to have finished despite things heading so far south. This was definitely the worst (physically, and somewhat mentally) I've ever felt in a half-ironman. It was just brutal. 2:08:xx half marathon... sigh, did I walk it all? 6th AG (out of 12).

There's that one-sided grimace I do...
The grimace of unhappiness!!!

I felt like I was about to puke!! A good sign, perhps
And then, I proceeded to pee every 10 minutes.

TrainingPeaks swim-bike-run files of the race are here: swim bike run

Now I have to decide if I can afford heading to the States to race while it is winter here in NZ, or go to Australia to do Yeppoon 70.3 in August, or stay in NZ for the winter because I am poor and can't afford to fly anywhere. It'll most likely be Yeppoon in August, but even if I qualify for Vegas 70.3 Worlds, I'll have to pass it by b/c of cost and NZ visa worries. I do have to sort out my next visa for New Zealand (this one expires in October), and that requires shit loads of proof of partnership (it's a partner visa), and going away for 2+ months doesn't look too good for immigration. I'll figure it out!!

I would like to thank my partner, Christian, for finding the money to come out to Hawaii (he hasn't left NZ in 8 years, since his arrival as a fresh-off-the-boat German), and for taking care of me on the Big Island, AND for pulling onto the side of the road to a beach whenever I wanted to take a nap in the days post-race.

I'd also like to thank TrainingPeaks, not only do I love rockin' the kit, but they are THE #1 TOOL I use to train, data-geek out on, communicate with my coach and race-file analyze with. Rock the TP!!!!

Now, time to regroup back in New Zealand. I took one week casually off (I went running once and swimming 4 times, only one of those was a proper "get some km's in" type of swims), this week is all about "training by choice" and "figuring out my next move", and back at it next week!! I honestly wish I could be the States training and racing my face off in the summertime but I so can't afford the 2.5k $$$ flight, nor being away for so long. I'll have to plan next NZ winter (CAN/US summer) really well in advance. I spent most of my traveling money on Hawaii, not staying there long enough, and only doing 1 race.

My Hawaii and 70.3 Honu verdict: I would do this race again in a heartbeat. If this is the worst they've seen, then the IM World Champs, and any other Honu race will be a piece of cake wind-wise (well, maybe). The course is beautiful, it's challenging, and the roads are so smooth they make me want to cry. As for an awesome place to train? Hawaii is so NOT one of them. There are too many cars and big scary trucks on the roads and by GOD people run on. the. roads/highways!! NO TRAILS!! That's blasphemy, honestly. I could never get over it. The swimming is amazing, though. What an ocean! And the Kona Aquatics pool is free, yo! 

Hawaii 70.3... not the race report, that's next

It's been one week and I have yet to write a race report... I'm back home in NZ and am still contemplating race day. It wasn't the race I wanted at all, at least not in terms of time (about 45 minutes too long!!!) but I can't possibly blame myself. All I feel is an inexpressible feeling of frustration that the conditions prevented me from putting together a performance I'm proud of; that is, I'm frustrated with myself and the goddess Pele in general.

I arrived about a week pre-race to 1. have fun in Hawaii and 2. to acclimatize to the heat and humidity. I had no idea that I also needed time to acclimatize to the vog (volcanic fog), which is so dense on that side of the island that it is seen as a grey thick mist. What it is is volcanic gaseous sulphur (and perhaps nitrogen compounds as well) that react with oxygen, water and sunlight, to produce sulphur oxides (acidic compounds) that react with the lungs. I spent about 5 days with the feeling of lungs burning, eyes watering, nose stuffed up and dripping. I felt fine, except that if I looked into the light, my eyes would not stop watering!! It did clear up 1-2 days before the race, for which I am very thankful!!

I took care of myself pre-race. I swam with dolphins (twice), I found turtles and colorful fish and reef. I attempted to body surf some waves. I ate heaps of poke bowls (yum!!), and did all the taper training. In one ride on part of the course, I was so overwhelmed by the winds, only to later find out that that day had had a storm/gale warning. Okay, I thought, it can't possibly be worse on race day. If that's as bad as it gets, I'll be okay!!! Never mind that Pele had something else brewing!!

Prior to getting to the race report, my thoughts on Hawaii in general:
- It still is American, it is so overwhelmingly car-focused. It is so not pedestrian friendly. I find it amazing that there are no gravel paths or trails to walk/run on. No where. People walk their dogs on the highway. People ride on car-riddled highways. Oh yes, huge shoulders and smoothly paved roads... but so congested with cars and trucks that it can't possibly be enjoyable. It isn't enjoyable! People run... on... the... roads... what is this craziness??
- Some items sold in the States are so insanely cheap. Americans have no idea how lucky they are. A 60$ pair of Nike Free Runs cost 200$ NZ. No joke. Shoes and clothing, processed foods, cars, gas. SO CHEAP. Oddly enough, fruits are about the same price in supermarkets, but farmers markets and roadside stalls are bountiful, and that's where you REALLY want to buy your papayas, mangos, avocado and citrus. Beyond delicious. Delectable. Jaw-droppingly tasty. Meat quality is despicable (especially their red meat), but their seafood is top notch. Especially ahi. I could live off of ahi.
- American trucks, which are owned by every individual on the island, I'm sure... they are HUGE. The trucks themselves are large, they then jack up the body and put MASSIVE wheels on them. Insane!!
- Hawaii, unlike almost every other part of America, is still shaped principally by nature and not by man. The lava fields are barren and exposed and windy, the rainforest is lush and wet, the desert and southern part of the island is grass and rock and wind-blown. The waves are either beautiful pipelines or messy as all hell.
- Few people actually live by the ocean. Almost everyone is tucked up on the slopes of the volcano far away from the risk of tsunamis. I wonder how many people actually regularly visit the ocean if they live a good 20-50km away from it.
- Those that do live near the ocean live IN it. They are one with the waves and the water, and that is beautiful to see.

Okay... this'll be a separate post. Next: the race report proper!! :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Photos Hawaii 70.3

Here, very quickly, are some Hawaii photos, including 70.3 Honu. It was the toughest race I've done, including my Ironmans. Tough conditions... Race report to come, but my goal of 5:05-5:15 resulted in 6:03. Oh yes. And yet... it's all about problem solving, figuring out what went wrong, and improving upon it. The time was not a reflection of my fitness, which in itself is frustrating, but also incredibly humbling. I can't just expect my PBs to drop with each race, as I'll be confronted with TOUGH conditions at times, and my body not responding at other times, and bad luck. I should still have the desire to race and to continue what I started, which I did have last Saturday June 2nd. I could have easily pulled out when I was being swept off my bike in the crosswinds, and I could have easily pulled out when I had huge gastrointestinal problems on the run, with my stomach so bloated that my kit rubbed across my tummy and created huge blisters, rubbed raw over 21.1km. Rough day, good enough for 6th AG (out of 12), but definitely not good enough.

Never mind, a proper race report to come when I return to New Zealand in a few days, but until then here are some photos.

Thanks again to TrainingPeaks for letting me wear their kit, and for representing their awesome company with pride!! Spoke to quite a few people about TP, actually! :)