Thursday, December 19, 2013

Rotorua Half Iron, 6th F, fastest female run split!

Okay, you know when you walk away from a race feeling totally chuffed with your own race performance? Oh yes, plenty of things to work on in future training, but in general you fucking NAILED that race and oh baby yes it felt good!!

That was the Rotorua half iron tri for me last weekend. I was 6th F overall, with the fastest female run split on the day. 3rd AG F 20-29. STOKED.

Photo credit: Scottie T Photography
Swim: Swam somewhere in the top 10 girls, with some really sweet drafting behind this beautiful looking swimmer. 31:39. No idea if the course was long or short, but it was beautiful!

Bike: Mega clusterfuck. My brakes weren't working properly (forgot to swap brake pads to carbon braking surface ones), squealing like crazy as well, then my torpedo mount bottle cage broke so I was holding it in with my left arm for 60k, riding hesitantly and crazily. Only good thing is that I passed shit loads of people on the uphills. Still a good 10min slower than what I could have done on this hilly course (960m elev gain for 90k). 3:16 (includes T1/2, so I rode 3:10, and should have been 3:00?). Much to work on for cycling as it continues to be the weakest of my 3 disciplines. Except for the uphills it seems!
Run: SWEEEEEET. Another hilly course, off-road too: my fave! Beautiful running alongside Blue Lake and Green Lake. Really just aimed to crush as many people as possible. Successfully done, too! Fastest female run split of the day: 1:44:39, a half marathon PB for me on a course that doesn't exactly cater to PBs -- it had 430m elev gain.

Next up: training my way all the way up to Challenge Wanaka full-iron. Hometown race!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Wooing Tree Sprint Triathlon, 4th F

Okay here it is, a quick one. I did this race last year and placed 3rd behind
1. a very talented semi-pro adventure racer/multisport athlete
2. a 40+ woman athlete that is significantly faster than me over iron-distance

This year, a similar story unfolded:
1. a NZ pro triathlete
2. a 40+ woman athlete that is significantly faster than me over iron-distance (different lady, though!)
3. A young tri chick that I ran down at the previous sprint triathlon where I placed first, but was too tired to go over ~70.3 run pace in today's race, and so was 14" behind her, only seeing her in the last 3 turns before the finish chute. I'm a faster runner than her, but racing in a vineyard where you have a million 180 degree turns just didn't play into my advantage of loving to run people down. Pretty much, the accumulated fatigue meant I wasn't in race mode as much as I would have liked, and didn't have the mental toughness to fuckin' RACE from start to finish. What I learned: it isn't over until it is OVER, in which case, you should run as if you can see them 5m ahead of you, and you run like that ALL THE TIME.
Edit: Turns out this girl is ~15 years old and has been selected as part of Tri NZ's youth academy... Good going girl, jesus!!!!!
4. me!

The highlight of the race was the changed swim course. Rather than do 4 1/2 circular laps in the vineyard's irrigation dam, we did 5 laps, with each one having to climb out, run down a jetty and dive off. This makes for 4 dives, and with the boys going first, we had plenty of spectator enjoyment seeing their spectacular and not-so-spectacular diving performances. I can only say that I lived it up and dove like a challenged, but graceful, penguin each time. VERY FUN!!!

Now, a semi-taper begins to get me ready for Rotorua half-iron distance the following weekend. Bloody hell, I still haven't sorted accommodation out and I leave in 2 days.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Squamish 50

Oopsie, I just registered for a 50mile ultramarathon -- my first ultra. I've crewed/been a pacer at two, and have had the itch to run one myself for years.

Turns out my sister is getting married August 2014, I'll definitely be witnessing that event, wouldn't miss it for the world... as I was casually browsing Canadian running race calendars and whaddayaknow credit card slipped through my hands, bam, I am registered for the Squamish 50 miler, one week before my sister becomes a newlywed. Very exciting!

Now, how far is 50 miles again????

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Highlands Race Photos...

Photos from the race, surprisingly un-watermarked.

Definitely have a "Fuck my life" face for the entirety of the bike. Can't seem to find any run pictures, though. In case you couldn't tell, it was raining a wee bit!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Highlands Sprint triathlon race report, I won!

First triathlon of the season, done and dusted. In cold, pouring-rain-all-day conditions. Awesome!! Actually, I was dreading the start so badly, considering dying while eating breakfast.

I wanted to do this very early season race because it's set on the newly built motorsport RACE COURSE in Cromwell. I want to go fast, zoooom! Only problem with such an early season race is that spring brings highly variable weather. It was snowing on the nearby hills and mountains and pouring at town level.

In short, I walked around in the hours before the race start in winter socks, ugg boots and my wetsuit on in full. Oh, and my winter jacket!
As all the girls crept into the water to warm up, I was the girl shaking and crying at the edge of the water saying "Oh no, I really can't do this". Ice cream headache, frozen feet, I am not enjoying this at all!! But all of a sudden the race director yelled GOOOOOOOO and my brain went into full on race mode.

I dropped everyone but one girl who races for Southland Tri Club, she pulled away a tiny bit more with each buoy. I came out of the water behind her by about 10" or so?? She was just about to leave her nearby bike as I arrived at mine, talking aloud to myself "Oh fuck, oh fuck, it's cold". I spent my time putting on a jacket (ironman transition, yikes), but did finally get going soon enough. She was long gone! I never saw her once on the bike course! I cycled back and forth with another girl for the first lap of 5 on the race course, but then really told myself to start racing like a mofo, and so dropped her after that. In the third lap, I was told I was 1:30 down on 1st and didn't hear the split on lap 4 (it was now down to 1:00, as I found out later). I arrived into T2, got my jacket stuck on the zip somehow, had to step out of it like a monkey, was asked by the race director: "Are you going to leave any clothes ON for the run??" (I was in a sports bra underneath so as not to ride in a soaking wet tri top -- good way to stay warm!!). Onto the run, and I thought, well she's gone, haven't seen her all day... but after the 2 mini laps around the mini-lake, I saw her running out, told her she was running well, but then 50 meters later hit a turnaround. Holy shit! She's only like 100+m ahead of me. Time to nail this chick!! I hadn't been able to feel my frozen feet since before the race start, so had to run at a crazy 100rpm cadence, but legs were working so I just ran fast. Passed her quickly, and dropped her by a lot, to win by a very comfortable margin. Yahoo!

Not many racers for a number of reasons: very early season, it was bloody pouring and freezing, and the cost of the sprint was too high (70$ compared to the usual 30-40$ from other events in the area). It's a great course, really fun, and I can only hope that the event continues to grow (and is staged in prime summer months, e.g. February).

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

GOOD QUALITY girlie training clothing!

Okay, so, I'm not exactly a heels-and-handbag type of girl. I don't spend money on new clothes. I go to Wastebusters (local 2nd hand shop), get the job done for 10$, and am happy. What I do like to spend money on is: really fucking awesome training clothing (and bike gear).
Here's my list, so help me, give me some more options!!!! I'm always looking for more options!

1. Betty Designs: Really sick kits for cycling, running, triathlon, surfing, swimming, etc. The skull and crossbones look isn't necessarily always for me, nor is the snakeskin one, but most of it is really beautiful, like woah!
2. Smashfest Queen: Similar to Betty Designs, and I do believe they use the same kit (Squadra), but their designs are unique and really pop. I own 1 tri kit (and a cycling kit when the company was Michele Landry Designs) and they are AMAZING.
3. Team Estrogen: This is an online shop for all things sporty and girly. They've got a huge selection of brands, including SkirtSports (their tri tops run large, order one size down, but are THE BEST I've ever owned, I still race in mine to this day, even though I've got newer ones). Have not ordered from Team Estrogen yet, but I think it's coming soon...
4. lululemon athletica: This is where it all started. I worked at a lululemon back home in Canada in 2007-8 when I practiced yoga 6x/wk (this is pre-triathlon). Beautiful clothing. Their sports bras are the only ones I use. I've heard the quality of the clothing has deteriorated and given what I've seen in the shops, I'd say that is the case for SOME ITEMS but if you are getting an item in standard luon material, it'll still last forever. Two pairs of my go-to run crops are from bloody 2008, and I wear them 1-2x/wk EVERY WEEK. They are still perfect.
5. Oiselle: Primarily ladies running clothing. I really really want to order from Oiselle but I'm pretty sure shipping to NZ isn't happening yet.

Okay who/what company am I missing???

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Abel Tasman Coastal Classic 36k race

In short: I placed 8th F (out of approx 130), 4th FU40. Stoked! The coastal track from Totaranui to Marahau in Abel Tasman National Park is stunning! Meant to be a 36k race, but due to recent rebuilding of the track, it was 41k. I think everyone knew this fact but me. I was DONE by 36k mark, but no finish line in sight. At the time, any additional km's were seriously unwanted. But I passed 2 girls in the last 1-2k, so maybe it was worth it?

The nitty gritty: Family road trip! My partner and I drove up with our two dogs, fully loaded the car with gear, tent, food etc, and made our way up past Nelson to Marahau. All the driving reminded me of when I lived out of my car for 3 months traveling throughout the US of A two years ago. Except, in stark contrast, I was 100% on my own solo, which presented its own unique challenges. Both enjoyable in very different ways.
Obligatory photos of the Zeus-meister...

Race day rolled out like this: wake up, eat breakfast and change, make sure gear is all sorted, register at race HQ (about 80m walk from where we were camping), grab a bus to Kaiteriteri, grab a boat taxi to Totaranui -- all went smoothly, couldn't have asked for better race organization.

Once in Totaranui, I held on to my winter jacket for as long as I could; I get cold easily. The wind was blowing like crazy, sort of but not really raining (blue skies but still drizzling, I don't understand). At the race start, every single person's gear was checked to make sure all had their required gear (polypro LS top, hat, gloves, seam-sealed waterproof jacket, survival blanket, whistle, bladder filled with water). Out of 300+, only 3 fucked up. That's pretty good! Race brief, and we were off. In speaking with my coach, I made a comment about how I very rarely go out too hard in a race, in fact I'd say I'm rather conservative. She suggested that I go out slightly (SLIGHTLY) harder than I normally would and try to hang onto that. In the last couple weeks, it has been what I've been practicing as well. Getting comfortable being uncomfortable right from the get go, not 20k into the IM marathon.

Well, we were off, running comfortably with everyone all bunched up at the beginning, only to spread out in the first climb less than 1k into it! Did my job: went out harder than I usually would. How did this pan out? Well, I seriously seriously regretted my decision to go out and attempt to stick to such an effort from the 13-18k mark. Not even halfway, and I'm tired already. I did have a wee cooldown (water to my hips in places, yes!) crossing the Awaroa Inlet, so that was a nice break from the head-pumping, calves screaming beach running or single track hills!

And from there the pictures stop... which pretty much means: feeling progressively more fucked but trying to control it, staying on top of nutrition (100cals every 25min), avoiding rolling an ankle, etc. Once the race had spread out, I had this tiny voice in the back of my head saying: "Ease up, there's no one around you, you can take your foot off the pedal and just trot it in". Only, I would see someone every couple of minutes and race mode couldn't really switch off: I NEEDED TO PASS THEM! So the burners stayed on, my legs were fucked, I power-hiked some of the steeper hills, but in general I tried to run run run. Finally, as I approached the 36k mark (and the official race distance), I realized there was no finish line in sight. 36k's came and went. I had prepared and perfectly meted out my energy to be 100% DONE by 36k's, so where was this fucking finish line???? 5k's later... I'm still running... sort of hallucinating, grimacing like crazy, still passing people left and right in my "100 rpm-you-can-do-it" leg turnover mode, but in so much pain I could die. FINALLY, finally, we dropped down, hit the boardwalk and ran the last 500m to the finish line. Oh my god, my legs have never been so fucked. I was hissing and wheezing and panting/crying. I think my partner was smiling and simply saying: "This is why you sign up for these things, to feel this sort of pain". I was also 8th F, TOTALLY AWESOME, not expected. I wanted to be somewhere up there, but top 10 is choice. Out of like 130 or so? Neat!

Officially: Fucked.
4:22:13 (1st F was 3:57:xx), 8th F, 4th FU40, 64/314 OA. 
End of race day rainbow.

Did some post-race exploring but the end of the road trip can seriously be categorized by this:
Halfway down the West Coast on our way home, we got news that the Haast Pass had indeed been closed again (it had closed due to a major slip taking out the road, but had been reopened again during daylight hours last time I had checked). Well, a 600km detour later to return home by the East coast and Lindis Pass, we were back home in Wanaka. Ouch!

Extra pics:
Sunrise in Marahau the next morning.
Top of Takaka hill somewhere.

The white one
In the mystical faerie forest, West Coast

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Embarrassing triathlon moments

One of my friends, ultrarunner extraordinaire Steph in hometown Montreal, has been musing on the idea of maybe trying a triathlon. But she's slightly hesitant because she doesn't want to embarrass herself in sports she's not yet comfortable with. Fair enough.
Besides getting my undies in a knot of excitement just thinking about her giving triathlon a go, I've been painfully reminding myself of all the idiot things I've done in training and racing that give me a shudder of embarrassment (and now that the moment has come and long gone, a laugh or two).

So here it is, some embarrassing moments in triathlon, ft. me:
- In my first triathlon, I thought the ugly, XXL cotton tshirt given to me as memorabilia was official race clothing. As in, to participate in the race, I HAD to wear the shirt, otherwise I'd get DQed. Let's just say, I got laughed at, and some guy on a schmancy triathlon bike told me to get off the cycle course.
- I also didn't know what a wetsuit was, was wondering why everyone looked like seals, and proceeded to freeze my butt off in the water. I then spent the first 20k of the 40k cycle shivering uncontrollably. 
- To top it all off, in said first triathlon, I drank a liter of chocolate soy milk in transition once I had gotten off my bike and before I had started my run. Then I stood in the queue for a couple minutes to use a portapotty to do my business. THEN I started my 10k run. What!
- A year later, thinking I had learned a thing or two, I signed up for several triathlons. At one of those, I lost track of time in transition. Figuring I had plenty of time until my race started, I dawdled. Only to hear the horn go off. OMG! Turns out transition stayed open because so many races were happening at different times, and I'd just missed my starter horn. I booked it to the start line holding my wetsuit and goggles. Yep, there was my wave, already swimming! I started putting on my wetsuit in a mad dash, only to realize halfway that I was putting it on back-to-front, had to take it all off, put it on the right way, put my goggles on, and START SWIMMING. People were laughing at me (hopefully in a nice, encouraging sort of way). And then I got a 4 minute penalty for starting late, which I only found out about later. 

I'm sure there are more, but I think I've relived enough for today. What are your embarrassing triathlon moments??

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Recipe Sharing 01 - Smoothies

Okay, okay, okay, so life on this blog is a bit boring. If I'm not racing, it seems I'm not updating, even though life is still triathlon-ing away.

What do I do in the winter off-season in between swim-bike-running? Working, working, and if I am not working, then I am walking my dog and teaching him tricks (he's a genius!), making stuff in the kitchen, and reading either real books (!!) or online blogs. Life is ~fascinating~ as you can tell, but I'm actually really enjoying it.

I figure, if I don't have too much in my head to share, then why not share things that I've been eating and REALLY ENJOYING. I go through heaps of recipes and only save the really, especially, phenomenally good ones. Recipe sharing time? Yes, take a look below...

Some of my favourite SMOOTHIES in the last couple months have been:
- Orange Creamsicle and Iron Woman Gingerbread smoothies from Oh She Glows (killer website!)
- Pina Colada and almost ALL the smoothies in Blend: Simply Artisanal smoothies e-book (a couple $$ e-book that is SO worth it!)
- Tropical Mint Smoothie from food blog Carrots N Cake
- Going through all 365 smoothie recipes of Kathy Patalsky's "365 Vegan Smoothies" book

What are your fave smoothie recipes? Links appreciated and adored!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Life's To Do List

A list of things I want to accomplish in life (sporting or otherwise):

1. Race triathlon as a pro by the age of 28 (iron-distance, half-iron, XTERRA and miscellaneous distances, e.g. Leadman)
2. Complete an epic, stunning, hard ultramarathon
3. Be the event director and create Ultraman New Zealand!
4. Start a regular 5k/10k run race series in Wanaka
5. Complete an Ultraman
6. Race Norseman iron-distance
7. Hike/run/mountain bike the Te Araroa, a continuous link of trails running the length of NZ
8. Go on a train-cation: a vacation of 3-8 weeks in a beautiful, epic, summer-time location and train hard out. e.g. Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Switzerland (Davos?), around the Alps, random islands etc
9. Ride the Tour de France route as it is being raced -- do they do it the day(s) before/after? I know it's been done.
10. Win Challenge Wanaka
11. Not be poor
12. Never let money be the main deciding factor in what I do
13. Improve in the sport, both mentally and physically, with each and every passing year!

I'll leave it at 13 things, as my birthday approaches on August 13th. No, I won't be turning 13... rather, I'll be hitting the quarter-century mark. Twenty five!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Food Log

So, after pro triathlete and dietitian Kim Schwabenbauer posted a day's food log, I thought, firstly, WOW how can someone eat that much and then I thought, hmm, wait a sec, how much do I actually eat!? Today isn't necessarily representative (the first day off from training in 2 weeks, for example) but I figured I'd write a food log for a day (or a week) just to see what I actually eat. I remember doing this about 2 years ago and I am eating drastically different food now. Anyway, here it is, just the one day... I might post the rest of the week up IF I can remember to jot it all down as it happens...

bowl of plain full-fat greek yogurt with cut up banana and homemade granola
1 homemade coconut flour & chocolate chip cookie
before lunch snack:
1 kiwifruit -- we picked our neighbour's kiwifruit tree today!
1 bowl of split pea & venison soup (leftovers from the night before)
1 slice of homemade endurance chia seed "bread" with cream cheese on top
after lunch snacks:
2 carrots with homemade "cheezy" hummus
1 homemade mini date "choc fudge" bite rolled in coconut
3 kiwifruits chopped up
1.5 small pieces venison -- last of the venison leg!
red wine, onion, mushroom sauce
boiled broccoli, I wish I had a steamer!
oven baked potatoes + garlic + parsnip with ketchup
after dinner snack:
4 pieces of coconut milk chocolate
1 muffin serving of homemade blueberry oat chia squares

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ironman Cairns race report

I asked myself the question: "Why are you racing, why do you continue, when you are unable to do it to your potential???"
And I had several answers for it:
- I bloody carbo-loaded, I'm not quitting before I use it alllll up
- DNFing is complicated, emotionally taxing... I find it easier to continue than to stop.
- I want to experience pain and deal with it
- You never ever know when it'll turn around for the better.

In short, the swim was challenging, and I knew before I started that my goal of sub-1hr (I did 1:02 in IMNZ 3 months ago) was out the window as he 70.3 running concurrently had the first pro female (Sam Warriner) out in 30' and change. Me doing sub-1hr then? Nope, I don't think so... I'm happy with my swim as it was quite brutal. I got knocked in the right eye so many times that the suction of my goggles on my right eye was so strong it gave me a headache. I nearly lost my tongue getting kicked in the jaw with my tongue in between my teeth, and my sprained ankle that hasn't fully healed was pulled aggressively causing me to bubble-gasp in the water. All these things, completely minor.
I got on the bike and started nice and easy. I didn't want to go that little bit too hard for 3 hrs only to slow down in the back end. Instead, I had to deal with massive nutritional issues. I've yet to figure out my nutrition, because what was working for me in the cold, winter of Wanaka was NOT working in this heat. I am attributing it to the super-concentrated Hammer Perpetuem. My stomach grew to the size of a balloon, and nothing was being digested while I was in aero position. If I sat up, I could puke it up, which I proceeded to do. But then tried to get more down, only to have to sit up and gurgle-puke it back up not long after. This left me with an intense desire to quit only 2.5 hrs into the race. So, I let myself puke little portions up for the next couple hours, and ate nothing at all for 3 hours other than sips of on-course electrolyte drink. I easy spinned, and I tried to control the bloating (rather unsuccessfully). I finally made it to T2. I remember thinking that I could pretty much go for another 180km, that's how little the bike ride impacted my muscles. I did get off the bike with a stomach so distended I thought I'd die. But I slapped on the run shoes and visor and decided to at least start the run, at least to the portaloo. I lightly fed myself on sips of water, then I tried to see if I could handle coke, and I could, and then I was brave enough to try a gel, which worked as well. So although I ate about half as much as I normally would, I could feel my tummy settling. I was cruising at an easy pace and just ticked off the km's. I had always been nervous in an IM when I felt the need to go poop -- I assumed it meant that once I got the shits, I had them for the rest of the race. Today, I tried a different tactic: I let myself feel the need to poop, and I let the feeling spread throughout my body, and I told myself "Yep, you can go poo, no worries!" At the next portaloo, a nice normal poop and off I went again. To be able to gingerly step around my nutritional woes, figure them out and perform a run very close to the IM goal run pace I had trained at (goal: 5:30/km), was incredibly incredibly satisfying. I hadn't eaten for much of the race, I puked for 5 hrs, and I still managed a 4:01 marathon run split. Onto the run, two people passed me. I passed hundreds. Very satisfying.

So, despite the nutritional meltdown, I was only 19 seconds slower than IMNZ 3 months ago (which had been a 45 minute PB). To me, quite unreal. I had gained back all the time I had "lost" on the slow swim and disastrous bike on the run (bar 19 seconds).

I am super super stoked about my ability to problem-solve the shit out of this race experience, and to not give up despite the pukefest. Now, I've got some serious work to do nutritionally!!

1:07:34 swim -- 6:29:35 bike -- 4:01:44 run, total time of 11:46:13, 10th AG

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Opinion: Minimalist Shoes

An article was posted that declared the minimalist movement was over: Runner's World article.

And a lot of people heralded the day, as they truly believed the minimalist movement was an industry creation meant to get people buying more and spending more time in physiotherapy/doctor's offices. If you think that was the result of the minimalist movement, that's unfortunate, because that's such a negative take on it.

My thoughts:

"Although I don't run in strict minimalist shoes, I still think the minimalist movement did much to create awareness, especially about 2 topics: cushioning and heel-to-toe drop. It got people questioning these 2 factors in their traditional shoes and what was ACTUALLY best for them. I ended up transitioning to something that was just as cushioned as my previous shoes but far, far less drop (4mm)."

i.e. It got quite a lot of people thinking outside of the cushioned, massive drop shoe box, and I say that's a GOOD THING!

Friday, April 26, 2013

I'm in non-racing mode!!

Oh, race reports are always a good excuse to write up a post or two. And given I raced prolifically this summer, race reports abounded. Now that I'm in a boring training block for IM Cairns, there's far less to say. I'll stick with the basics:

-- Not long after IM NZ, I played race sherpa for Christian as he raced an off-road sprint triathlon. The spectacular views of Moke Lake:

-- I did indeed race Lake Hayes Olympic tri, where I placed 3rd OA female, and 2nd in my age group. Whee!!!

-- I had my quarter-life crisis, gave up training and racing Ironman, bought myself a mountain bike! I'm thrashing myself on it, and I'm going to give off-road racing a go next summer season.
-- I took one too many photos of my dog, now 10 months old:

-- Our home seems to have a bike-breeding problem. And that's with two bikes out of the picture...
-- And lastly, just to keep life amusing, two weeks ago I sprained my right ankle when I ran off the trail and got my foot stuck in a rabbit hole. A bruise and swelling developed, but I was back running in 6 days. And then, on the 3rd run back, I did the exact same thing... I ran off the trail through knee-high grass, and rolled my OTHER ankle. This time I heard a resounding crack. Bruising and swelling developed, but it hurt surprisingly little apart from the initial shock. I was back to running in 3 days. Oh, they are not better, I can easily roll them again... but I WON'T!!! The ankle ligaments are weakened, I need to make sure they don't become permanently so. Careful running and staying ON THE TRAIL where I can see my foot landing is key. Also known as: don't be an idiot!

-- I will be racing Ironman Cairns on June 9th, but I haven't had a typical build: it's cold, I'm on a mountain bike to keep warm, I hate road running so I'm just trail running in the hills. Plus, don't forget that quarter-life crisis. I'm only doing this because I had registered for it nearly one year ago, I'll enjoy this wee race in tropical North Queensland yet again, but then I'm going to go full-tilt into off-road racing and see where that takes me. It's going to be an exciting ride!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Changing course...

After my mini "I hate Ironman" melt-down, I sat down and wrote up a race season schedule that was ambitious and I thought "really cool". My coach said that we needed to talk.

Turns out, it is a bad idea to try to be good at everything and every race and every distance of multiple sports, while racing 2-4x/month for months on end. If I want to taste and attempt everything, I can do all these races. If I want to be good, get results and be fast, I can't DO EVERYTHING. So what do I want?

There was a flat road half marathon and a 100k ultramarathon on the schedule. There were heaps of short triathlons, both on and off road, and mountain marathons and potentially some multi-day multisport events. But... I also wanted to be really good... at everything! I wanted really good results.

What did I want more? As we spoke and as she described my conflicting desires and took examples from her other athletes, I realized a few things:

- I like racing short/hard and I like racing often. Like I said, 2-4x/month for 5-6 months non-stop. I looooove it. I make the races "adventures" too, by either cycling to/from them or something of the sort.
- I want to transition to more off-road racing. I want a mix of on and off-road, and I want to improve my mountain biking abilities
- I want to enter no-pressure endurance events and training days that keep things interesting and have me work on my long-term goal (2015-2016) of entering multi-day events and give me practice for adventure racing.

After I realized all this, I dramatically changed my race goals and became really really excited about the upcoming season. A lot of racing, mostly short (up to half-iron) and a fantastic mix of on and off-road, with plenty of unstructured endurance adventures as well. Time to be fast and race like crazy! Race schedule for 2013/14 will be posted soon. :)

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Ironman Delusion

So... I'll confess... I'm one of those Ironman athletes on the cusp of ditching the sport (to a degree) to venture into the far-more-exciting world of ultra running, of multisport races, of XTERRA, of multi-day races, of Ultraman, of adventure racing... really, anything and everything that seeks to challenge the mind and body.

I feel Ironman has become a serious delusion to many of those that participate in it. For many, they think it is the ultimate endurance event. At just about 12 hours, give or take a couple hrs, it is only the beginning of endurance racing. Ironman itself puts on races around the world that are, to put it lightly, not challenging, not breathtaking, and very often multi-lapped. It becomes more about completing the distance fast, who cares where you go or what you see... than it is about overcoming a challenge, a true challenge: a mountain pass, a challenging loop, an epic trail run. It is a pavement pounder's paradise, and I'm a little over it. There are, of course, exceptions.

I believe Challenge have the right idea for some of their races. Stunning locations, stunning and honest courses -- I dare you to find a more honest course than Challenge Wanaka half-iron!

Nevertheless, my real issue is with the training. Often, I feel I'm not allowed the flexibility in training to cover grounds as I wish: I want to mountain run, trail run, I want to switch it up between my tri bike, my road bike and my mountain bike. I definitely don't want to road run, who on earth would want to run on roads? I want to run/hike the great tracks of the area: Motatapu track, Grandview Range, Isthmus Peak, Routeburn, Hollyford, Greenstone-Caples, etc. New Zealand has a wealth of tracks, and I'm experiencing few, only in the off-season when I'm not in full IM training mode.

Honestly, I want to become a master of the terrain. I want to experience great suffering and pain in races. I want to sign up for a race totally batshit scared again. I also want to do the short races, whatever the discipline, turn off the brain, and go hard!

GODZone began last weekend. It is a non-stop multiday adventure race. The racers only have a day of prep for the course; the start location and disciplines are revealed at the last minute, one day before. I had some friends racing the last 2 years of the race, I followed via live tracking as they went off course, got lost, couldn't find their checkpoint, got frustrated, became sleep deprived and saw sleep monsters. I also saw when they paddled like crazy (despite their fatigue) down the Clutha River to make the dark zone cut off (i.e. no one can paddle on the Clutha river between 8pm and 7am). To say the least, I was inspired. I've written up a two, tentatively three, year plan to get me to that start line.

Well, really, when you're not excited and dreaming of qualifying for the world championships in your own sport (Kona) because you think the course is boring, and the on-road marathon is a joke, then you need to reassess your race choices and your goals. So, I'm reassessing. You'll definitely still see me on the start line of some choice half-iron or 70.3 events... think Boulder 70.3, St George 70.3, Lake Wanaka half, etc...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ironman New Zealand race report

Ayeee, how are the months flying by so quickly? We're nearing the end of summer in beautiful Wanaka. Soon I'll be doing my Ironman training in chilly autumn, bundled in all the clothes I own. However, summer stuck around long enough and I think Taupo was blessed with the nicest weather on IMNZ weekend in the history of the race: sunny blue skies, light winds, and warm (25-26C). Perrrrfect.

I wasn't sure what to expect, other than I technically had the fitness for 11 hours. I did 11:45:54. I gave my 100% on the day, I hate giving anything less than 100% on race days.

I was the epitome of calm and collected leading into the race. I didn't even really realize I was doing an ironman. I ate a lot, I rested, I did those silly taper-week workouts... I avoided the crowds. Other than that little squeal I gave in the Taupo waters with under 1 minute to go 'til race start, I'd say I was at peace.

Swim: 1:02:21, as in... yes! A swim that finally reflected my fitness. Boom! I remember thinking, about 1/3 of the way through, oh snap, I can do sub-1hr if I work a bit harder. I restrained myself, going strictly at what my body told me was ironman pace. There will be next time!
Everyone has crazy eyes coming out of the swim!
 Bike: 6:18:21. Ah yes, cycling. For skinny little me, cycling has always presented a challenge. I was on target with watts for the first 90k, at a couple minutes under 3 hours for the first half. Onto the 2nd lap, and my body just started screaming. I've never been in aero position for that long. Other than one sustained climb at the beginning of each loop, the course is "aerobar party time". I did not enjoy the party!!!!!! All sorts of pains cropped up: right foot, right hip, left knee, lower back. Everything was screaming at me, and my muscles were feeling it too, and so all I had left was "turn the legs over". Those last 2 hours were the worst of the entire race. I had an incredibly sore throat from whatever was in the air out there (very dusty farmland). Blah blah, all this complaining, all to say that I couldn't stick to my race watts. There are a couple solutions to my problem:
- I need to develop actual leg strength/muscle/power. Look at those skinny legs, they're not getting me anywhere!!
- Remove the spacer under my left cleat. It was placed there about 8 months back after I had trouble activating my left glute while cycling, but now I think it's just causing imbalances and pain.

 Yes, my wheels don't match. I had to borrow a friend's front race wheel after the discovery of a huge crack in the rim of my own. Thanks Ailsa for letting me borrow your wheel! 

Run: 4:17:52... as in, I managed the break down far better than I ever have, but still 30' slower than what my current IM marathon fitness is. That's alright... I got onto the run and after the disastrous experience of the last 2 hrs of the bike, I was surprised to feel so good on the run. The first lap (of 3) felt cruisey. I was happy. I snacked on on-course Powerbar gels (green apple, yuuuuum). At the very end of the lap, I developed tummy troubles. I knew that if I tried to hold anything in, for any length of time, I'd really have GI upset. Holding things in does not help! IMKY 2011 taught me that. So I waited in the portaloo queue (this drove me crazy!). Once running again, I felt better but still not 100%. I nursed myself on cola and water, and the moment I felt okay again, I took more gel. As I knew would happen, I also developed mean side stitches. My diaphragm and abdomen, for whatever reason, contract and spasm quite badly when running for any significant length of time on road or on steep downhills, and it hurts like fuck! I don't experience this while trail running, though. If anyone has any clues, please share! Anyway, for the life of me I tried to problem-solve this as quickly as possible. Only when I passed Gina Crawford (2nd pro female, also lives in Wanaka) did I think of changing things. I had been trying to maintain really proper run form, long legs, running out the back, etc etc. She looked like she was doing the classic ironman shuffle: quick feet, barely any knee lift, high high high cadence. She always runs like this, and she moves fast! For some reason, I thought that this might help, and so I shifted to that kind of running style: holy batman, that truly lessened the strain on my core and tummy and I once again was motoring along quite nicely. This took me to the beginning of the 3rd loop, once again I started to develop tummy troubles. I was running with another F25-29 girlie, and it gave me great pain to let her run off from me, but another visit to the portaloo was required. Waiting (again!) for one of them to be free was the most frustrating thing I've ever experienced. Once out, I cajoled myself into running faster and faster, and once I saw the last few turns, I started to tear up a bit. No one makes you suffer out there other than yourself. I could have taken longer for every single discipline and had a much easier time of it, but I really really really wanted to meet my targets and feel a lot of pain. I wanted to put together the best race I could.

I apologize if this race report is really robotic, but that is how I felt. On race day, I don't let emotions affect me much at all, I try to hit targets and if I encounter problems, I try to troubleshoot them. Repeatedly. For 11 hours and 45 minutes, I encountered issues and tried to resolve them. It gives me deep, great satisfaction to say that I did so to the absolute best of my ability on race day.

So, yes, 8th age group in F25-29, 36th amateur female. And there's still a loooong ways to go.
What's that really catchy song my a cheesy young popstar that has the lyrics: "Onto the next one, onto the next one"???
That's how I feel!!!

((As a sidenote, it drives me crazy that most race photography companies don't understand basic microeconomics. They'd do so much better if they simply charged 5-7$ per photo. Rather than limiting your buyers by jacking up the price far higher than what most value it at (100$ for a race photo package!!), they should lower the price and allow more of the market to actually buy it at what they actually value it for: a couple bucks here and there. They'd make shitloads more money. Drives me nuts!))

Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Toughen Up" training days - pre-Ironman self-talk

You know the days I'm talking about... not necessarily the longest or the biggest training days, but the ones that sneak up on you, really get you suffering physically and mentally, but you somehow pull through. You somehow survive and live to tell the tale. Whether you wanted to experience it or not, it's now made you a stronger athlete. Now that I'm in taper mode (for Ironman New Zealand, March 2nd), I like to run through all the days that I've seriously struggled and still come out alive.

1. the 3-day binge: Ride 165k's from Wanaka to Glenorchy, 40k's of tailwind, 125k's of headwind that got stronger and stronger until it was over 70kph. Nice. Day 2 was a team off-road sprint triathlon with my partner. I swam, ran, he rode. Nearly killed myself, but we won! Day 3 was where it all came crashing down. 30k run... meant to be ON ROAD as IM race simulation. I usually run on trails, never road, but the IM marathons are usually flat, road. It nearly killed me. The body was not used to the impact, I was tired, and I dealt with massive side stitches for the last 20 of 30k. I was delirious.

2. the confidence builder:  Ride 145k's. 45k easy, 100k @ IM watts. Nailed it within 1W of goal. Straight into 10k brick run, 8k blind (i.e. don't look at pace) at IM pace. Nailed it, 0:02/km faster than goal pace. Similarly, a long run, 35k, was 15k warm up, 15k @ IM pace, 5k cool down. Quite good, 0:04/km slower than goal pace, and that was wearing a pack.

3. need-help-from-a-friend: Mid-training block. I was tired. I really didn't want to sandbag a big swim session, but I knew I would if I did it solo. Got help from a friend and the 5.4k swim with a main set of 40x100 on 1:40/100m was NAILED.

4. total body shutdown: After subsisting on gels alone for far too long, I developed serious nausea and could not properly stomach food for weeks, absolutely dreading long rides/runs because it meant more gel consumption. It culminated in a 100k ride down to Lake Hayes, slow but 100% nauseous. Followed by an Olympic distance tri, where I raced on fumes alone. I remember being so nauseous, and so hungry but unable to eat anything that I convinced myself it was easier to keep going, km by km, rather than drop out or die because that would be emotionally taxing. After that, I changed nutrition plans entirely and was a happier camper.

I'm in Taupo now, avoiding all the IM craziness. IM people are crazy. I'm pretty sure I saw one guy, decked out in race wheels and fancy schmancy bike, ride through town in a loop about 6 times, showing off. I've been taking small walks, eating good food, doing that wee bit of pre-IM training, organizing and re-organizing all my race gear and nutrition, and mainly just reading or watching stuff on my laptop. I watched Dirty Dancing last night. And I think I'm going to the cinema - party of one - today to see Silver Linings Playbook.
Following that, I'm walking to the carbo party and race briefing, and hoping to hitch a ride back into town after that's done as I don't have a car. 
In all honesty, I'm entering race mode and shutting everything else out. I'm excited to EXECUTE THE PLAN, and everyone can leave me alone. This'll be the first time I'm in the 25-29 age group; despite being 24 years old, they age up to your age as of Dec 31 2013, so I'm playing with the big kids now!!!!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Paradise Off-Road sprint tri & weekend race report!!

The training that's hard, long or particular suffer-ful is more memorable, right? Then I'm going to remember this weekend for the rest of my life!!

It started off on Friday when I rode 160k's one-way to Glenorchy. I had a light tailwind for 40k's, then as I entered another valley and changed direction, I received a headwind that only got stronger and stronger, until I was in Glenorchy, at the head of the Wakatipu, battling 70kph winds, unable to hear cars as they passed. There was dust in the air from the braided rivers clouding the nearby mountains, and I was swearing like a madman. With 2k's to go, and no Glenorchy in sight, I completely lost it. I was riding downhill and still having to work my ass off for anything over 20kph and just went ballistic. I finally made it to Glenorchy, plopped myself at the local cafe and slammed a berry smoothie.

There, I met my partner who had driven over and we made the further 30k (dirt-road) trip to Paradise, where we camped at the head of Diamond Lake. The following day we were both scheduled to individually race the Off-road sprint tri (750m swim in Diamond Lake, 18k mtb and 6k off-road run). Well, that very night playing around on his mtb, Christian managed to slice open his heel on his chain ring so we made the drive back to civilization, through Glenorchy back to Queenstown to get him fixed up. Then drove all the way back.

The day of the race, two things prompted me to propose that we race as a team. He couldn't swim nor run, but if his foot stayed in one place, he could mountain bike. And I, having ridden one loop of the course on my 200$ mtb shitter, realised both myself and my bike were in way over our heads. I either would go easy and the mtb would play up (with the chain flying off violently if it didn't like which gear I had shifted into) or I would go hard and, given my aerobic abilities are far ahead of my technical abilities, I would "get stupid in race mode", as someone put it. Too true. So I suggested I swim and run, and he do the mountain bike. It included my partner and it made sure that I wouldn't get injured 1 month out from IMNZ. I've had this "bad feeling" at a race before and didn't follow my instincts, and I ended up crashing badly in a sprint tri the week before a half-iron, which I later DNF'ed because my leg went numb.

The race itself went phenomenally: I swam hard and came out first girl, he mtb'ed like a madman, and then I just went ballistic and sprinted the entire 6k to win the team category!! Yeehaw!

The next day was another traumatic day: I had a 30k run on schedule, which wouldn't bug me at all, but it *HAD* to be road running... No trail running here, as I'm training for two Ironman's that have flat road marathons. Bullshit, why would anyone want to do that to themselves!! Well, my core seriously doesn't like running for any length of time over 1 hour on roads, as it severely protested and I was left with debilitating back, abdominal and diaphragm pain. Not acute, generalised to the "core area" but it felt like a rope wound around my middle getting tightened. I struggled very very badly. I finished, off pace, but at least I continued to shove food in my mouth throughout.

Photos below:

View from the bike and run courses... dog ears not included...
View from mtb course!
This sneaky bastard got away while I was on my last 2k lap (3x2k) and sprinted the last 2k's with me. A guy I had passed near the end of the race as Zeus ran in front of me, happy as, was "HEY! ... No drafting allowed!!"
I'm f-ed now!
Yes, this is the makings of a pretty dorky team...
ONE MORE WEEK OF HARD TRAINING, before it all eases off... IMNZ in less than 1 month!