Sunday, July 29, 2012

Shampoo, Blow-dry & Run #001

Along with the Pretty Photos series of posts on this blog, I'm going to start another series entitled "Shampoo, Blow-dry & Run"... in which I will post one workout, created by myself, per sport (swim, bike, run). I simply adore creating workouts, along with organizing training plans (thus, why I coach). But, I figured I'd regularly start sharing some of the workouts in my brain!! I'll note what type of workout it is, and when it would be best to do it (e.g. in the build part of your season).


I did a shortened version of this one today. It's a good way to get hypoxic in the fly, and then force yourself to focus on form in the free... Best to do in a Long Course (50m pool) to experience the true hypoxic effect, but still good in a 25m/25y pool.

warm up:
(100 swim)
(50 fly kick with board)
(200 pull, paddles)
(100 swim)
main set:
3x1000, with the 1000 a continuous 4x repeat of (50 fly, 100 free, 50 back, 50 free)
warm down:
200 as you choose! very easy!

Type of workout: Endurance, focus on maintaining form after being hypoxic so slightly mimicking the triathlon race start.
When to do it: In the base/build or early peak stages of training. Don't do in taper or very late in the peak stages of training!


This is a classic, as it really trains you to focus on finishing rides strongly. Aim to consume more calories in the first 1/2 of the workout than in the second, though still consuming some in the back half, too!

warm up:
10 min. warm up, start easy, build in effort
main set:
1h to 2h ride OUT on an out-and-back course, or a loop course with relatively similar first and second halves. Ride at a pace that is sustainable but still "working hard". Note your average power for the way out.
1h to 2h ride BACK on said out-and-back course, this time demanding of yourself AT LEAST 5 watts higher average power on the return trip. Do not big-gear mash, this higher power output should occur at a higher cadence than before!
Keep on top of your nutrition and hydration, and never let yourself fall behind. Stay especially on top of it in the first half of the ride!
cool down:
10 min. very easy spin on a very high, easy cadence

Type of workout: Classic base-building workout, focus is on training you to pace yourself effectively, and to fuel yourself adequately.
When to do it: Base/build period of training. Do a much shorter version than is usual (but at a harder effort) in the peak period of training.


Find a hilly course with hills that aren't gradual but are more on the "spiky" end of things. Trails are usually better for this sort of stuff.

warm up:
10 min. easy running, if you encounter hills in the warm up, take them very very easy
main set:
40 min. continuous of running the uphills at a slightly stupid, unsustainable effort. Run with perfect form, but make these strength-building, short, gut busters! USE YOUR GLUTES, god damn it! At the top of each mini-incline, walk 10-15 sec. and then easy jog. Repeat for the entire 40 min., always attacking the hills with vigor and cruising the rest.
cool down:
10 min. easy running, this time walking the uphills (not bent over), and jogging the rest

Type of workout: Strength-builder, endurance builder.
When to do it: You can do a shortened version in the base period of training, but this is a classic "build" type of workout. The course makes you work hard.

Hope you like it! :)

I'm a coach, in the process of acquiring my TriNZ Level 1 coaching certification, and awesomely sponsored by TrainingPeaks!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mt Haig Trail Half-Marathon 2nd female!!

I flew to my friend's place in Cairns on the 20th of July and 2 days later we had hopped into a local trail half-marathon. This one was taking place outside of Cairns, by Lake Tinaroo, and the profile looked brutal! We were ascending for 10.5k's, and then descending for 10.5k's. It was an out-and-back with a total ascent of 1110m (3642ft)... that's more elevation gain than most 90k half-ironman bike courses!

We drove out to the race start, got our bibs, and cruised around waiting for the start. About 15' prior to race start there was a race briefing, which only told us that
1. The mandatory hydration packs weren't that mandatory b/c there'd be water jugs at 2.5k, 5k and 10.5k (the respective turnarounds for the 5k, 10k and 21.1k). No cups, though, so you'd refill your flask or drink from the "tap". I opted to leave my hydration pack and stuffed 3 gels into my bra instead.
2. Not to get lost. No seriously, there was one turn on the course (a left on the way out and a right on the way back). The race directly REALLY wanted us to make sure we turned right instead of left in the last 1.3k stretch, otherwise we'd have to do the whole 45k loop again...

After a very quick warmup of running and drills, the race abruptly started. It was 10.5kms of very painful uphill, where my HR was about 180bpm the entire time and it felt like either my heart or my calves were going to explode at any moment. I stopped for a couple moments at the 5k mark to take in some water, but it took me a frustratingly long while to figure out how to turn on the water (it was a pump, and I was trying to turn a "handle").

It was a beautiful race, though: wide, nicely adequately maintained fire roads (so not "real trails"), and incredibly forested. Lush Australian tropical bush. I had dreams (nightmares?) the night prior to the race that there were crocodiles in the nearby waters just waiting for my blue shorts to come running by...

At the turnaround, which is at the top of Mt Haig and our max elevation for the day (1200m), I had noticed that I was in 4th place female. Laura, the friend I was staying with, who was just coming off an incredible Ironman Cairns race herself, was first. Two chicks separated myself and Laura. Being a better descender than a climber, I tried to smash all 3 of them and win. However, the moment I turned around, I was faced with debilitating side stitches, on both sides! Constant uphill running meant my core was tired, very tired, and it definitely didn't want to experience the pounding of 10.5k's downhill. I tried to breathe through it but really only got respite in the brief uphills. Nevertheless, I did smash by 3rd and then 2nd place to move my way into 2nd, but simply ran out of real estate to nab Laura in the butt. She came away with 1st female in 2:08:07, while I came in 2:14:05. I remember when a 2:14:xx was my plain old half-marathon PB, on flat courses such as Ottawa or Montreal. That was... 3 years ago? Now, I somehow manage to do that time but after climbing up and then back down a mountain. Sweeeet!

I did think I'd enjoy the downhill quite a bit, but after 15' of pounding down, I was so over it. This was killing my glutes! My feet were taking a beating! My sidestitches were ripping me in two!

I finished the race and immediately felt wobbly and like utter crap. I *needed* something, not sure what, and I needed it desperately! I ate a small bag of salt and vinegar chips, along with watermelon slices, part of homemade granola bar, peppermint tea with milk and sugar, and hoped that would do the job. I started to feel better. On the way home, I drank an entire bottle of chocolate milk, and later in the day I ate a massive burger, along with salty salty rice cakes.

I'm ashamed that I didn't take my camera for before-during-after the race. I take it wherever I go, and I had completely forgotten it in the trunk of the car in my Nathan pack.
Thus, I can only present you with one photo: my very cool Australian stone trophy for 2nd place female!

Our car cleaned up quite nicely. I'd made the trip with my friend, Laura, and one of her flatmates Ben. He destroyed the men's race, finishing ~10 minutes faster than everyone in 1:35:xx, an UNREAL time for that course. Laura got 1st female, and I got 2nd. We quite nicely owned the course!

I'm quite happy with myself for this race. I had been in a huge build up to Yeppoon 70.3, with just a few days easier training leading up to the race. My body was a tired MESS just a few days prior from 5 solid weeks of GO-GO-GO, so despite not going into the race nice and fresh, I also wasn't a complete wreck. I've got more work to do, this time exploring Cairns while training, and then it's taper and a quick trip down the coast to Yeppoon for their 70.3 on August 19. Don't ask me how I'm getting there b/c
1. My driver's license, a Canadian one, expires August 13th and I haven't been anywhere near Canada in a loooong while, so I have no idea how to renew it. I thought I might do a little campervan-ing down the coast but I can't!
2. Every single bed of accommodation in Yeppoon is already booked for the race, and I clearly had not made any accommodation arrangements as early as everyone else. I'm hoping someone on pulls through for me, because right now I feel rightly fucked!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pretty Photos 020 - Windy choppy lake!

MTBing over farmland at base of mountains
Choppy lake in windy conditions (50+kph), and some
farmer's doing some burnoff. 

The cold!

I grew up in Canada. For 8 months of the year, I'd call it uncomfortably cold. Thus, when I could, my move to first Australia, and then New Zealand. I'd been summer hopping for a number of years until this year, when I finally decided to settle down and stay in one place throughout a winter-time.

Anyone that knew me growing up knew that I suffered from the cold. My mother would be so sick of me complaining how cold I was all the time, and she refused to turn up the thermostat in the house -- not that it was set to very cold anyway. I remember wearing a winter jacket to school and not taking it off for any of my classes, hoping I'd get to sit by the heaters so my hands and feet could defreeze.

So, when I made the decision to stay in New Zealand for their winter, I thought I'd be able to easily handle the cold, as it is nothing compared to the -20C we regularly get in Canada. Well, I've been struggling just as much here in NZ, primarily because of their poor housing situation. Kiwis, honestly, have no idea how to build houses. They are a joke! No insulation, single glazed windows, poor quality materials, and the heating systems are from the 3rd world. And they just deal with it!

However, my first winter in many years had me struggling to function properly. Once cold, I can't get warm. Period. I was tired, freezing, and unhappy. After medical tests in the summertime, and after my medical for Immigration NZ was done in the wintertime, I've pieced together valid reasons why I struggle so much.

- Low iron levels. I used to be anemic, but even in good condition, my iron levels are on the low side of normal.
- Low blood pressure. All hyped up at the doctor's, and it is still only 96/40. If I stand up too quickly, I go blind for a couple seconds, and fall down.
- Low resting heart rate. Not crazy low. Not 30. Hyped up at the doctors, it is 60. It's probably around 48-52bpm actually resting.
- High surface area to volume ratio. I am 5'4 and 108 lbs (49kg). My skin dissipates heat so easily!

None of these factors on its own would be cause for serious concern. Together, I'd say they present a good argument for my until-now-inexplainable feelings of suffering in anything under 26C (79F).

I'm heading to Cairns (tropical Queensland, Australia) this Friday for 1 month. Their wintertime is still 26C and high humidity. BRILLIANT. Just what I need.

I've also compulsively signed up for most of my future races:
Oct 21: IM 70.3 Mandurah, Western Australia
Oct 28: IM 70.3 Port Macquarie, New South Wales -- looks like I'll be doing another double!!
June 5: IM Cairns -- did the half-iron in 2011 when it was still Challenge Cairns. Gorgeous location! If you can, do the Great Barrier Reef swim at Green Island. Best thing I've ever done!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Wee winter update!

It's been pretty quiet back home. It's the middle of winter and training is sluggishly moving along. Well, it feels like life is sluggishly moving along. I struggle in the cold and I can barely get 2-3 things done in one day before I crap out because I'm frozen.

I'm in the process of:
- applying for another visa, which requires all sorts of things: forms, medical certificate, police certificate, more forms, passport photos, various proofs of partnership, written letters
- moving to a new home, the official move is on Saturday this week
- still training for a half-ironman even though I can't ride outdoors because of the ice and frigid temps!
- work, but only part-time

Actually, not much is going on, I guess, but the days are short, it takes me a long time to warm up, and sadly motivation is low. The only thing that excites me at the moment is... and here's another list:
- warm delicious food by a hot, pumping fire
- swimming, swimming, swimming
- my entire race calendar for next season (November 2012 to June 2013), which I have already got mapped out, see below
- all the training that said race calendar entails, and all in beautiful Wanaka, NZ
- visiting a friend in Cairns, Australia for 1 month, soaking up the warmth and sun
- getting a new puppy dog upon my return, yes that's right, a puppy!! A white german shepherd. One of these cute farts below:

His name shall be Zeus, yes like the god, and I shall train him
to be a superhero! 
Oh, so here's the plan. A bit more (winter) training in NZ, then hop plan to Oz for 1 month in Cairns. Race Yeppoon 70.3 Aug 19. Hope plane back to NZ, finish out the dregs of winter with some casual training, of my choice. Once end of September/beg of October rolls around, and hopefully milder temps, back to business, biatches!!!

The racing season looks like this:
Nov 3. Karapiro half-iron (potentially OR...)
Nov ?. Mt Somers duathlon (40k cycle - 24k mtn trail run - 30k cycle)
Dec 8. Taupo half-iron
Dec 15. Rotorua half-iron (back to back racing on the North Island!)
Jan 19. Challenge Wanaka half-iron
Mar ?. 3 Peaks 235k epic climbing cycle event, Victoria, Australia
June ?. Ironman Cairns

The training shall be epic, in particular the cycling required to ride for 11-12+ hours to complete the vertically-inclined ride in the Victorian Alps. Woah, baby! I wish it was summer already!