Week 21: Just Staying Afloat

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Instagram airport selfie :)

Hey guys! Here’s another late post, from the airport while waiting to board a flight. This is the wrap up of what has been the single craziest month of my life: visits from friends, the LMCC, travel and Challenge Knoxville, graduating from med school, and now the big move to Vancouver. I need a longggg nap :).

This week I was back in Aurora to finalize the last details of the move, pack my clothes (not a small feat) and hang out with my family. I’ve just said goodbye to them at the gate and I know I’ll miss them (and all my Ontario people, really) very much.

This post is meant to be a quick training recap for May 20-26 and I’m hoping to be back tomorrow or Monday with a whole look at the month – it’s been so amazing!

Wednesday I got back on the bike for the first time after the race in Knoxville, for a quick ride in the Bamburg hills with Koach Rob and Steve. It was really cold, though, and to top it off I didn’t have anything except a pair of tri shorts and a hoodie because I’d shipped most of my stuff to Vancouver the day before. Managed 22 mi, 1:28

Thursday My last Koala’s practice! I have such mixed feelings about this. Obviously I’ll miss all of the Koalas and our Tuesday/Thursday brick rituals, but I know that Vancouver will be amazing for training (and if you guys are reading, you had better visit!). We actually didn’t do a swim today because we had a dinner out to send me off, but I did get in a nice 46 min run inWaterlooPark (5.2 mi).

 

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got it!!

Friday Graduation! Rest day but I did stay out dancing for most of the night :)

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heading out to celebrate with my favourites

Saturday Andddd recovery from graduation – another rest day :)

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champagne alllll day

Sunday Feeling guilty about all the missed workouts. My parents threw me a beautiful graduation party but I managed to sneak in a run in the morning. Not my usual long run by any stretch, but still 4.4 mi (34 min)

Monday This was a change from my usual route – I did about 40 km (25 mi) of biking through Aurora, King and Kettleby. The scenery was beautiful and there were some good climbs! 1:34.

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Tuesday This was such a hot day but I knew I needed to get something in. I ran 3 miles to my cousin’s house, then we ran/walked 3 mi back together (she is just starting to run and it’s been so nice to have a buddy!). When we got back I literally ran into my parents’ pool… clothes and all :). 6 mi + 30 min of splashing around/halfhearted swimming!

Totals: why bother? it was a crazy week and I’m happy that I got in anything at all. I’m lookingforward to getting back on track though, as the big race creeps ever closer! xo

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dad to the rescue – helping me pack up the bike

PS – I probably also deserve credit for all the packing I did! My entire Waterloo apartment got decluttered, boxed, and shipped and I am wiped!

 

Race Recap: Challenge Knoxville Part 2

20x30-CHKE0586Part 1, including the drive to Tennessee and my rationale for trekking across the country for a race is here!

So, the race started and I jumped in the water and started swimming. Good news is it was warm. Bad news is that every time I get into open water in a wetsuit, I need to tell myself to stop panicking. I’ve talked to other athletes who experience this (it seems pretty common), and it’s something I was prepared to feel, but it still took about 3 or 400 meters before I found my groove and relaxed. The swim was basically out and back, with current against us on the way out. Pretty soon I was out of the water and heading into transition (swim: 40:43… not exactly speedy :)

I took a few minutes to put on my helmet and shoes, stuff nutrition into the appropriate pockets, check my tires and finally headed out of transition. At this point it had started to rain and the roads were really slippery in cleats, so volunteers and officials were warning athletes not to run with their bikes out of transition. Fine by me! I crossed the line, hopped on my bike and headed out.

Before the race, I’d decided to just take the hills as they would come. I knew that I wouldn’t be in a position to win, so having fun seemed like a reasonable strategy. Although it was drizzly, the bike seemed to be going well and about 10 km in I suddenly felt so happy. It was probably the endorphins kicking in, but I suddenly realized that I was about to graduate from medical school, I was racing in my second half ironman, with friends and family waiting at the finish. I was moving to my favourite city, starting a job I love, and about to take a trip to Europe. I think I just smiled for 5 km straight!20x30-CHKF0468

Eventually I lost some energy on the bike and the climbs got harder. It continued to rain, which at least cooled me off, but also made me less willing to pick up too much speed on the descents. I finally pulled back into transition and racked my bike, happy as usual to be off. My final split was 3:29:41.IMG_2098

I felt pretty strong and took another couple of minutes to switch shoes, put on a hat, and grab nutrition before I left on the run. I was pretty happy with how my legs felt and for the first 5 km or so of the run I was almost fooled into thinking I was free and clear. At mile 4, though, the hills on the run course, the heat (of course it stopped raining) and the long day started to catch up to me and I hit a wall. I was walking through the aid stations, taking water and gatorade. Around mile 6 I took a salt pill and perked up a bit. Finally at mile 11 I found a bit of extra energy and pushed through to the finish. There’s not much to say about the run except that it wasn’t pretty, especially for this triathlete who thinks of herself as a runner. Final run time: 2:13:38.

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After I crossed the finish line someone put a medal around my neck and someone else put a gloriously cold towel over my shoulders – thanks Challenge!! My final time was 6:29:47. Not fast for me, not fast in general, but I’m really ok with it. It’s an early season B or C race, in heat I’m not used to, during a busy time! This is what I mean when I talk about being kind to myself :).

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After I started to feel human again, I got some food, which I didn’t feel like eating, and a gatorade. Dan, Catherine and Silvia were there to see the finish, so it was nice to have people around. Eventually I worked my way back to transition with them, and we (they) picked up my stuff and we all walked back to the hotel.

Dan drove us a few hours north to Cincinnati (I was totally spoiled post-race and got to relax!), where we stopped for the night. The four of us had dinner and bought some drinks at the Kroeger, then hung out at the hotel. We had so much fun but I was beyond tired, so I fell asleep pretty early :). In the morning we went to the nearby outlet mall for some quick shopping (Hello, J. Crew, I love you), and then made the drive all the way home. It was an awesome weekend!

Huge thank you to SOAS racing, Challenge Family, Dan, Catherine and Silvia, plus Koach Rob and the Koalas for getting me to this race! Next up: SWEDEN!!

Challenge Knoxville Race Recap Pt 1

20x30-CHKI3136This month I’m a little behind with posting, but as promised here is my report from the Challenge Knoxville half ironman! (Better late than never, right? :) Brace yourself, it’s kind of a long one, so it’s in 2 parts!

To start off, lots of people have asked about why I chose to go all the way to Knoxville, during the busiest month of my life, to race a long race (for me). I have to say that in hindsight, this was a lot to take on. Please, if you’re thinking about traveling to a race, or even scheduling a long race at all during a busy time in your life, consider how tired you might be heading into it and how much more of your energy it will require! That said, I picked this race for a bunch of reasons. One is that I felt I needed to do a longer race in this training cycle before heading to Sweden. Another is that a late winter has meant that I haven’t had much time to train outside. Finally, the Challenge family was able to significantly reduce the cost of racing to the SOAS racing girls (Kristy Schiano and pro Laura Siddall also raced!). So, cost + opportunity to race outside + the distance I needed + some time away from work meant the stars aligned for a road trip to Tennessee.

On Friday evening I packed up my little truck and took my good friend from Waterloo, my cousin and her best friend and started the trip to Knoxville. Since we left a bit late we didn’t plan to drive all at once. We crossed the border in Sarnia (which was perfect! So fast!) and went straight through Michigan before we stopped in Dayton, OH. The next morning we piled back into the truck and drove the rest of the way to Knoxville.

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Here’s the thing. I sort of signed up for this race in a rush, in the midst of moving and exams and graduation etc. So I sort of looked at the course profile, and I may have glanced at the maps, and quite possibly skimmed the athlete guide. I was not exactly prepared for our drive through the Smokey Mountains towards Knoxville… I pretty much sat in the passenger seat and tried not to panic for the last 45 minutes :).

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mojitos and tunes from this little guy on Saturday night

When we arrived, Challenge of course had a great setup at the expo and it was really easy to get registered. I picked up my kit and swag, signed out a chip and smiled for a photo, and headed into transition where a lovely volunteer helped rack my bike. For the rest of the day, I tried not to get nervous and we explored Knoxville. Obviously the best way to fuel up the night before a race is with handmade chocolate, ice cream, ceviche, and mojitos, right?

On the morning of the race I was strangely calm. I think that I knew I was pretty undertrained for this one, and since I was planning to treat it as more of a long training day than anything, the pressure was off. Plus, I really hate getting cold at the start of a race and jumping into cold water, and in east Tennessee in May, this was definitely NOT an issue :). I was glad for my sleeveless wetsuit!

The start was scheduled for 7, so I woke up around 4.30 and had my usual oatmeal + dates in the hotel room. I finished getting ready, put on my tattoos (had to wait for help with the calf tattoos!), packed up my gear and then woke up my very sleepy travel companions so we could head to transition to get set up. We left around 6.15, I laid everything out and put on the wetsuit, and we moseyed over to the race start at a dock in the river. I said bye to the girls and Dan and stood by the other women to watch the pros go out. After a few delays, they called my heat at 7.18 and before I knew it I was in the water and off!

Read Part 2 here!

Packing for a Far Away Race

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So, in 5 days I’m moving across the country. Last week, I packed up most of my little apartment in Waterloo and put all of my favourite things on a truck that will supposedly meet me in Vancouver. 9 days after I arrive there, I’ll be turning around and heading to Europe for a combination cycling trip (a grad gift to me, from me :) and then the ITU worlds. Needless to say, all this packing and logistics has made my brain feel a bit scrambled.

In case you find yourself packing for a distance race (or in case I’m somehow in this situation again, haha) here’s a list of what I’m bringing. In light of all the moving, I’ve really been trying to take a minimalist approach to how much stuff I need (both for the trip and for the rest of my life). Hopefully sometime in July I’ll do another post on how it all went and whether I would change anything.

General

  • phone, laptop, camera, necessary chargers
  • wallet
  • keys
  • passport
  • cash in the appropriate currency
  • clothes, shoes, toiletries
  • jacket/scarf (airplanes are cold!)
  • photocopies of important documents (especially when I’m travelling to more remote places or areas where it would be harder to find help, I always travel with photocopies of my passport, birth certificate and SIN card, and I keep those in a separate place from my actual passport)
  • Book and headphones

Race Gear

  • bike, helmet, pedals, bike shoes, seat bag with flat kit (I carry a tube, tire iron and CO2)
  • bike pump (note: I won’t bring this to Sweden, but I had it with me inTennessee for Challenge Knoxville, which was an international race. I liked being able to pump my tires after the bike had been in the car for a few days)
  • wet suit
  • goggles
  • towel
  • tri kit
  • sports bra
  • arm warmers / calf sleeves
  • gloves / hat
  • cycling jacket if it’s cool enough to need one
  • socks
  • running shoes (with QuickLaces, if you use them)
  • hair tie/headband/bobby pins
  • sunglasses
  • tape
  • number and safety pins
  • watch + charger
  • heart rate monitor
  • race belt

Pre-Race

  • coffee (I have also been known to bring a bowl, spoon, kettle, and oatmeal ingredients for pre-race breakfasts in my hotel room at the crack of dawn :)
  • sweatpants
  • sweater
  • if you’ll be in the area for a few days before, remember to bring some gear to train in: a bathing suit, swim cap, bike shorts, jersey, run shorts/crops, run top, sports bra, socks, hat

Post-Race

  • warm/dry clothes

Nutrition

  • hydration
    • Bike bottles
    • Decide if you’ll bring any of your own hydration or use what’s on the course
  • gels / nutrition (I like GU gels, Honey Stinger gummies, Clif Shot Bloks and Bonk Breakers)
  • salt capsules
  • Painkillers (yup, I keep 1-2 tablets of ibuprofen in my bento box)
  • post-race snack

What do you think? Did I forget anything? 

Week 20: I’m Still Alive

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Hello again! I didn’t realize how far behind I was with posting! This will be a mixed bag of training updates, April recap and plans for May. Stay tuned for my Challenge Knoxville race report as well!

I think I mentioned in a previous post that May was going to be a really big month. It started off with a visit from a close friend from California. We enjoyed a few days on the 9th and 10th, and on Monday the 11th I wrote my Medical Council of Canada licensing exam. There is no easy way to say this – the exam was hard. It’s a very long day and obviously designed to have challenging content, so I’m glad it’s done.

On the Tuesday and Wednesday after the exam, I threw all my energy into packing and sorted my life into boxes that would either go into storage in my parents’ basement, get donated/given away, or shipped to Vancouver. On Thursday I loaded all my furniture into a U-Haul (with a little help from some strong friends :) and drove it to Hamilton where my cousin and her friends adopted it.

On Friday, I packed up my little SUV and we started the drive down to Tennessee – more about that in the race recap! Now that I’m back this week is all about last minute things before graduation on Friday and flying to Vancouver next week. The moving truck came yesterday and picked up all of my things, so it really feels like I’m in the home stretch!

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Needless to say, with all of this the training has taken a bit of a hit. I’m looking forward to picking it up a bit more now that a lot of the moving stuff has been taken care of. I’ve basically taken days off when other parts of my life have been very busy, or when I would just rather spend my last few days in Waterloo with friends and family instead of fitting in a two hour bike ride or long run. At first I felt a bit guilty about this but I think that juggling everything is important! I’m not a professional athlete and I’m happiest when my life is balanced.

Here’s the April recap:

IMG_3578Happy//

Yoga sessions: 2

Books read: Didn’t finish any, but started the Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing

Time with family: Lots of quick weekend trips home

Favourite day: My birthday!

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Days worked: None! Med school ended so I only had to be at school a few days a week for lectures and exam prep. I definitely don’t count that as work :)

Rotations done: none

Exams written: none

IMG_3582Triathlon (Fast-ish)//

Swim workouts/kms: 7 / 12.0km

Bike workouts/kms: 12 / 491km

Run workouts/kms: 25 / 201.7km

Strength workouts: 4

Total hours: 46:30 (704.7 km!)

Best/favourite workout: Definitely going to give this one to the first outdoor ride of the season! Way back on April 3rd when a bunch of us braved the cold to get the bikes outside. It’s so nice to be off the trainer :)

Average RHR: To be honest, I’m not 100% sure because the app I use only saves data for 30 days (clearly I’m way behind on this post). From the last few days in April, though, it looks like I was averaging around 46 bpm.

IMG_3576Travels + Other goals (Life!)//

Places visited: Nowhere crazy, but spent lots of time going to my usual KW favourites.

Plane rides: None :)

Favourite location: KW. I’m really going to miss this little place.

Days I actually drank 1.5 L water: This is crazy bad, but the only way I could say I ever drank this much water is if we included coffee. Not sure how to get better but I will still keep at it!