Friday, October 19, 2007

A lot has happened...

May have to revamp this blog, because I am tired of preaching to the converted, while the rest of us prance around in Prada and SUV's. Besides, I may only have a few years left. I'm just tired of it.

Going to watch TV and maybe indulge in a drink to go with my laziness this weekend, anyone care to join me... so I'm not such a loser...

Swam my first non-stop 2 kilometers last night (short course). Then followed it up with 500 more meters of drills and swim practice this morning. Disheartening to see my best time for 50m is.... drumroll please... 1 minute 5 seconds. On repeat, I could only manage 1 minute 8 seconds. The best kickers in the world can do 100m of flutterkick in 1 minute.

That's right... ONE HUNDRED meters of kick in 1 minute. So, more than twice as fast as I can SWIM.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Well, the first yoga class was great. Afterwards, it felt like I had just had a back massage, because finally the pain and tension was eased. Now if I could just fix the bike problem…

Swam yesterday, first time in a month. It felt good to get in the water, but I realized how little I’ve actually progressed in the past year… I’ve practically forgotten backstroke and breaststroke, and my kicking actually sends me backwards. I can barely kick for half of the 25m length. It’s time to re-think my strategy.

It’s also time to re-think my path in life. There’s a Buddhist saying that warns: “If we continue along this path, we’re liable to end up where we’re headed.” – or something to that effect. I’m not headed into a good place, that’s for sure. I already have some plans, but I won’t jinx them by stating them here.

For now, I’m not sure if, when or how often I will be updating this blog… there are some things I need to get in order first. So, dear readers, thanks for your attention thus far, and I wish you all the best of luck. When I know more... I will be back!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Dinner with Damon

The heat is stifling… yesterday’s 18k easy run turned into a hack-fest partway through. Whether it was the extreme humidity, the poor air quality, or the bug I swallowed as I ran through Mooney’s Bay Park, I don’t know—but I hacked myself silly on the way home. Maybe the bug stung my throat on the way down?

I consoled myself by watching the Bourne Identity afterwards (nothing like a bit of shirtless Matt Damon to cheer a girl up!). Dinner was the standard tuna curry with veggies. I am Day 2 into my “Drink 75 oz of water a day” plan. That’s about 5 bottles a day, but does not include what I need to consume during workouts. I’m also trying to drink one cup of green tea daily. We’ll see how I feel after a few weeks of this… I am attempting to smooth out my wrinkles. Actually, that’s not the main reason, but it is one of the reasons.

Also found a great website for sports nutrition and other related topics (Australian Institute of Sport). I was kind of surprised to see all the recipes for lamb (!!) but hey, it's Aussie.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Just Du It

The 2007 Canadian Half Iron Distance Duathlon has come and gone… and here I am to tell the tale. The event went much better than I expected; heck, I didn’t even expect to finish. My overall time was 11 minutes faster than last year, which is a respectable showing for me considering my injured state!

A huge spaghetti dinner on Friday night set the stage for Saturday morning; garlic bread, loads of pasta and meat sauce, a tasty beer and I was carbo-loaded indeed. But that wasn’t all: a decadent piece of chocolate cake and tea at Oh So Good… was oh so good. I slept pretty well that night: whether it was the food or whether it was my dread of the whole thing, I have no idea. My alarm rang at 6:30, and it was off to the races we go.

I packed in a frenzy (despite the race-day checklist I had made) and spent almost 45 minutes trying to decide if it would be cold enough to wear a long-sleeved jersey (16-21C and sunny… it wasn’t!). I couldn’t eat more than half of my pre-race breakfast (oatmeal pancakes with blueberries and Nutella) because of the butterflies in my stomach. Finally I had pulled on my leg and arm-warmers and was ready for the 10k warm-up ride to the race. It was a beautiful, cool and clear morning.

I enjoyed the ride to Mooney’s Bay, even more so because I had scrapped my aerobars for this race and opted for a traditional roadie position to help my back. The transition area was crazy; the venue had moved just south-east of the main field and was now situated in the infield of the track! The announcer was prattling like announcers do, and music was playing from the loudspeakers… I felt the first burst of adrenaline.

Racked my bike near the end of Row 4, set myself up and retraced my steps so I’d know where to find my bike. Then I went over to the Body Marking table and stood there for a bit (no volunteers to help this time!) until I saw man who looked stranded in similar fashion. I said, “shall we do this?” So I wrote this number on his arm, but it was a 900-number and I made the stick on the ‘9’ too long, so that his number stretched to the inside of his elbow. “Oops, sorry I ran out of space” said I. “What, you’re telling me my bicep isn’t big enough?” He joked. Yeah, yeah, no more party jokes for the calves!

At the start line, I looked around at my fellow racers and felt a bit awkward, like I usually do when standing next to the uber-serious guys and SLC’s (Super-Lean-Chicks, remember?) It was a relief to start, actually. I took the first 2k easy, forcing myself to slow down and breathe only through my nose. It was hard, because when the gun goes off you just want to sprint and get rid of all that adrenaline.

I re-entered the transition zone and grabbed my bike, gloves, and helmet, and shoved the Nutella sandwich into my pocket. It was a long run on the grass to the road. I had no idea how the bike leg was going to go… I was going to aim for about 30kph and hope for the best. It was somewhat windy along Colonel By and I worried that my road position would put me at a big disadvantage, but of course I had no choice. Up on the tops I went, spinning like mad, to show all those triathletes on $5000 Cervelos how to ride a bike.

Immediately I felt the difference; my back was happier, my legs were happier, my lungs were happier, and my brain was happier. Most of the following 90 kilometres were enjoyable, even! I smirked whenever I passed a SLC deep in the aero position, on a fancy tri bike. I smirked, and I passed them sitting up, hands on the tops. I even passed them riding no-hands. One of the women who did go by me yelled out as she passed: “Time to invest in some aero-bars!” I felt like laughing, or perhaps screaming, so I said back: “I just took ‘em off!” Then I decided that I wanted to beat that silly woman to the line, sitting up of course. I was having a blast until my seat-bag came loose and began to flop over my back wheel.

I briefly considered jettisoning it… but my health and credit cards were in there, so I pulled over, lifted my bike off the road and stood there, off the course, to re-fasten the straps. You can’t imagine how frustrated I was, having a great ride so far, and then this, yet another unfortunate event!! When I got back on the bike I had lost my cool and my pacing … I was furious. I practically sprinted the next half-lap, trying to regain my position. Another 15 minutes later and I had caught most of the cyclists I had passed before, but had over-drawn my legs. I zipped in 3 bike-lengths (it was a non-draft legal race) behind a dude going steady at 30kph, and stayed there to save my life. He was older and looked experienced, so I hung on. I hung on for the remainder of the ride, perhaps to his chagrin! He put some space between us on the headwind sections, and I caught up with the tailwind. At the dismount line, I was right behind him.

Running off the bike is always awful, and this time was no exception. My feet were numb from the ride so it wasn’t just the quads that were bricks. I had to stomp them several times to get some blood in there, making my T2 slower than it should have been. I also began the run with one glove still on, started to go back, then realized that was dumb and shoved it into my pocket. I saw people lying on the grass, eating, stretching, chatting, and relaxing and I thought “guys, you’re doing a RACE right now, time’s a-wastin’!”

I promised myself that in 10 minutes I’d get my running legs. And I did. Actually, I ran the second 10k loop at least as well as the first one. I was dimly aware, through the blinding sunlight and total-body pain, that all the marathon training miles were finally paying off. I kept chugging along, planning whether I’d take Gatorade or water at the next aid station, and trying to figure out which station offered Coke (never did, but I heard volunteers call it out!). At about 16k, I accepted a volunteer’s proffered banana, and I’ve never tasted such a cool and delicious treat in my life.

When I turned into the stadium for the finishing stretch along the track, I was certainly ready for that finish line. My wonderful friends were sitting in the bleachers, and put on quite the show of cheers as I staggered down toward the line. My parents also made it to watch at several of the race’s twists and turns. It’s funny really, how you can just forget your pain and fatigue if there’s someone there watching and cheering! And the other spectators were amazing too, calling out names from the bib numbers and clapping, clapping, clapping for hours. They made all the difference. I had no energy or breath to say anything intelligent back, but could usually manage a whispered “Thanks” or smile. Spectators, you mean the world to us crazies!

When it was over, I found out that I had improved my run time by 13 minutes over last year, lost a bit on the bike (which I later found out was slightly longer than 90k this time), and cut my transition times in half, to make the total improvement of 11 minutes. Not only that, but I could walk afterwards! In fact, I went for an easy 60k meandering ride around Gatineau yesterday. Altogether, while I will never be a competitive athlete, the event was a success... that doesn’t mean, however, that my focus won’t change for next year!

Thanks to all.

Friday, August 31, 2007

No more Tri dreams for me

Yes, that’s right: next year, no triathlons. My goal for next year is to increase my core strength and functional range to prevent future injuries to my back, neck and hips. I am presently dogged by lower back spasms, constant deep-tissue back pain, a tear in a ligament near the hip, strained hip flexors, a flare-up of my old trapezius injury, and neck issues severely limiting mobility; in short, I am a mess. And at my worst state of health so far this year, I am due to race a Half-Ironman tomorrow morning.

I am close to giving up cycling. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars and countless hours on physiotherapy, massage, new bike parts, bike fittings, medical appointments, and gear. I suck royally at swimming. My running has always been slow. I am at my wit’s end.

I will have to take up Yoga or Pilates (seriously, anyone want to join me?), probably continue swimming if it doesn’t hurt, and consider getting a personal trainer. I doubt I’ve seen my last massage treatment, and I’ll soon get to be good friends with the sports doc, x-ray machine, and painkiller bottle. But for now, I have tomorrow to worry about.

My bike has been modified to help me get through the race: my aerobars have been removed. I’ve ridden with aerobars all summer and now I’m back to roadie-style, just in time for the biggest event of my season… hoping that a straighter, more upright back will ease the tension and spasms. My bars have been moved up 0.5 cm’s; my bike still has a net increase in seat-bar drop of 2.5 cm’s over last year, and riding in the aerobars all season increased the virtual drop by another 2-3 cms. My poor back/ hamstrings/ hip group just couldn’t take it… I couldn’t get high enough on the seat to ease the hip angle (due to tight hamstrings and pedalling style), or forward enough (due to huge decreases in power and stability). I couldn’t even raise my bars further up due to stability issues. So tomorrow I’ll attempt the Half, riding on the hoods 60%, tops 30%, and drops 10%.

Frankly, I’m scared. I can barely bend over now, and woke up this morning with my back in spasm. Currently taking muscle relaxants and painkillers, and totally at a loss to fix this problem. From its gradual onset, I’d expect an equally slow recovery.

I just want to finish this one, last duathlon.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Do you have everything you need?

... that was what the guy called out to me as he sped down Cedarview N. I had pulled off the road to tighten my seat bolt. I had time to consider briefly the politeness of that question, because it did not necessarily imply that I lacked mechanical skill, but merely that I may have been so short-sighted as to forget to pack my multi-tool. Regardless, if/ when my chain breaks en route someday, I will certainly be at the mercy of some fellow asking that same question. In that case, I will say "Do you have a chain tool?"

But in this case, no help was needed. I gave my most macho, "I don't need a Y chromosome to fix a bike"-smile, and said "Everything except a cute cyclist like you."

Ok, actually I didn't say that. I just held up my multi-tool and said "Thanks".

I may have seen the same fellow on my way back (50k and a nasty bee-sting later), because he gave a distinct wave (most guys give me a half-hearted nod) and I grinned like a madwoman and waved back. So altogether, an okay ride considering I've just started to eat real food again. Averaged just less than 27kph for 100k, took some flat gingerale on the bike and just hoped to get home by dark without puking. In that light, success. Overall, still weak and tired. Still can't believe I have to do a Half Ironman next weekend in this condition.

*sniff* Also, a splash of vinegar helps a bit for the pain of hornet stings. Just so you know.