races

Welland Race Prep: Domination Mode

Pop quiz!  What triathlon happens in three weeks, recently got a brand new shiny name and will be not only my first triathlon this year, but my first half-iron distance EVER?   If you said Welland Rose City Triathlon, you get a cookie! But it has to be a healthy one – that race weight isn’t gonna make itself.

You might be thinking I’m a little crazy to be going all domination mode (is there any other mode?) on my first half.  I’m not going to deny the crazy part, but with so much Ironman training under my belt 1900m + 90km + 21.1km feels so totally doable that it might even be about something other than survival.  Don’t get me wrong, domination mode takes some major work. I’m going to share some of the ways I’m preparing specifically for the conditions of this race, and fortunately I’ve got some race-specific tips from an expert: Tommy Ferris from Ignition Fitness puts together these handy videos for Multisport Canada Races.

I know you’ve probably seen these videos before (I have) and thought, “oh yeah, I should watch that,” and then didn’t because you saw a funny cat picture.  Focus!  The cat pictures can wait until you’re in the midst of the taper-crazies and need some real distraction.

 

Swim Preparation

The canal swim is a narrow rectangle that has portions both with and against the current, which makes it difficult (and probably a bad idea) to maintain a certain pace throughout. Since I’m a numbers girl, and also recently acquired a 910XT that actually allows me to see my splits in the water, I’m going to have to be very careful to avoid getting too caught up in pace times that would push me too hard at the beginning, raise my expectations in the middle and dash them perilously to the ground in the final stretch against the current. (Can you say “bad way to start the bike”?)

Mental preparation is key for this kind of swim, because you have to be prepared to see slow pace times without freaking out early on – not that I would EVER freak out about slow pace times, right workout buddies?? :)

Learning to pace by feel is also one of the key skills in this swim; in the next few weeks I’ll be doing a couple of swim workouts designed to get a feel for my goal race pace of 1:55/100m (note that these are not designed to work on fitness – they’re a mental workout as much as physical).  A great way to get a feel for pacing is to pick a distance (100, 200, 400) and repeat it over and over and over until you get tired/close to the race distance of 1900m.  Maybe make that 2k because round numbers looks so much nicer, and we all know none of us will swim straight anyway.  Time the intervals but don’t check the clock until you’re done, and focus on trying to hit the same pace every time.  I’ll be doing something like 4×400 or 15×100 because I think 200m is a silly distance (for no reason in particular – it’s not as bad as 75m, but still…just a weird place to stop in my opinion).

Bike Preparation

Coming from a self-proclaimed hills girl, a flat bike course is TOUGH! It also has the potential to be windy, which is basically my arch-nemesis on the bike.  You know how I like doing difficult stuff?  Well don’t tell me, “Oh, Welland is easy because it’s so flat!” because dammit, flat IS difficult!

That being said, it’s also a good way to PB the bike.  As much as I love hills, I do have to admit that they generally have a negative effect on time.  The biggest focus of this bike will be setting up for a good run, which means getting in lots of nutrition and maintaining a high cadence so there is some energy left in those legs after 90km.  Practice that nutrition strategy ahead of time, particularly at race pace! Try adding 3×20 minutes at half Ironman race pace, and figure out what you can handle.  I recently did this calculation for one of my long rides as an experiment, and it worked because it got me closer to understanding my nutritional needs and what I can handle.

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Run Preparation

Two words: heat training!  Last year’s race was unbearably hot and while there’s no guarantee this year will be the same, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. It doesn’t take much – one or two runs a week at noon is usually enough to get me acclimatized – but you have to start now because it takes time for the physiological adaptations!  For example, today’s long run accidentally doubled as a heat training run, mostly (okay, completely) because I slept in way later than usual and stubbornly refused to get off the couch until late morning.  We all have days like this.

Usually I schedule one run a week at lunchtime from about March until September. Yes, it sucks when it’s 42 degrees out and you’re getting weird looks as you suffer through the slowest 5k you’ve ever run, but when you finish a race in 35 degrees thinking, “oh yeah, I guess that was a little warm,” you’ll thank me.  You’re welcome.

 

 

 

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Sporting Life 10k Race Report

I think this race gets filed under the “I forgot I’m doing an Ironman” category of race entries.  In February, March and even April it was easy to keep thinking that I had lots of time before my long course races – Welland, Ironman Canada, Barrelman – that is, until I realized that Welland Rose City Tri is on June 15th, which is NEXT MONTH. Exactly 5 weeks, which is considerably less than the “lots of time” I thought I had.

I pretty much signed up for this race because I wanted to buy an Icebreaker merino shirt, and I got a $35 gift card with my $40 race entry. That was about 87% of the reason, the other 13% being that I really love racing.  Like, really, really love it.

That being said, I did pretty much everything wrong in training:

#1: I haven’t done any speed training since last October unless you count a track meet, a half marathon, or a 3x1200m that I did sometime in March.

#2: I’m only doing two decent runs a week: hills on Tuesday and long on Sunday, with some scattered recovery (read: mind-numbingly slow) and brick (read: mind-numbingly slow and uncomfortable) runs. Did I mention that I walk-run my long runs? I don’t know what fast is anymore.

#3:  I spent over 9 hours training in the week leading up to the race, including 5 spin classes from Wednesday to Saturday.  I went a little too hard on my Thursday class, because apparently I don’t have an off switch.  Oops.

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But who cares about race-specific training for a 10k, right? I have a half to train for in…oh yeah (eep!)…5 weeks. (more…)

TTC Track Meet Report

I started off Sunday morning with a wonderfully meditative easy run to finish off my recovery week, and I spent most of the hour thinking over my races in the last couple of weeks and reflecting on the progress I’ve made.  I never really got a chance to think too much about the track meet two weeks ago because I was so preoccupied with my half marathon, but on Sunday morning I was able to relax and enjoy the success of the last two weeks.  So my run wasn’t really about the run; it was about getting outside, enjoying the sun and soaking in all the results of steady and consistent training.

Sunny snow along Leslie St on my way home.

Sunny snow along Leslie St on my way home.

With all of that being said, I really do want to share my experience at the Toronto Triathlon Club‘s inaugural track meet.  I haven’t run track since high school, when I finished last in the 200m sprint at the city track meet and swore I hated running.  Before that race, I would train with the track and field team sometimes (it didn’t last long), and I distinctly remember being out on the track early one morning with the most impossible workout ahead of me: 16 laps of the track, sprinting the straights and jogging the turns. I think I made it through 5 laps before I gave up and decided I’d never be a runner.  I really wish I could go back and talk to myself then; I’d tell high-school Kim that being a runner isn’t about innate ability (although some people have that), it’s about sticking with it long enough to see results (and that’s the part most people are missing).  I’d also tell her that running teaches you amazing things, leads to to wonderful places and introduces you to the most caring and dedicated people you’ll ever meet – and that none of this requires you to run fast or far.  It’s not about numbers, it’s about the community.

…I told you I was feeling reflective.

Fortunately I didn’t leave this track meet swearing that I hate running.  If anything, it made me love running more: I saw people of all abilities and ages out racing in the middle of winter, and having a fantastic time on a Saturday afternoon.  There were kids that looked like they were barely 8, Master’s runners who win their age groups, triathletes who haven’t been running all year, and what felt like more spectators and volunteers than there were athletes!  And that’s not even counting the food…

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The track meet was hosted by the Toronto Triathlon Club at Monarch Park Stadium, which is a real treat in a city without indoor tracks.  We started with a 1600m, followed by 400m and – for those brave enough to extend their suffering – capped it off with a 3000m race.  My main race was the 1600m since I’m not really a short track runner – 400m brings a completely different kind of pain – and I didn’t want to hammer a tough 3000m the weekend before my half marathon.  All three events were open, so I decided to race the mile and 400m, then take it easy on the 3000.

The Mile:

I did remember one important thing from doing 800m and 1600m intervals in the summer: it’s really easy to start out too fast, and a mile feels like five when your body gives up on you halfway through the race.  Unsure of my fitness level at shorter distances, I decided to take it quite easy in the first 800m and really hammer it home in the last lap.

Starting off easy meant I spent the first two laps in last place, and last is a tough place to be – especially when there are only four people in the race.  It took a lot of determination to hold my own pace rather than racing everyone else. I was able to pass two of my three competitors in the third and fourth laps, but despite some pretty decent suffering I wasn’t able to catch that last person in front.  Second place in my heat, and 6:09 finish!

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Photo by Hector Rodriguez

The 400m

Second only to the 800m in suffering, the 400m race is all about giving everything you’ve got for a single lap of the track.  There was no pacing strategy for this race: the pace would be all-out from start to finish.

My heart rate was about 180 before the gun even went off because I was so excited!  This time I started off in first place, which came with a new challenge: constantly checking over my shoulder to see if anyone was gaining.  Although I was terrified I would get passed the entire time, I held on to win my heat in 1:17.  That one really hurt!

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Photo by Hector Rodriguez

The 3000m

After all this you might be thinking, “who would attempt to race ALL THREE EVENTS at a track meet?” and I can tell you sure wasn’t in any condition to be running anything after destroying a mile and 400m!  Although I had intended on running the 3000, I was so high on adrenalin that I was shaking and knew that I would be sacrificing too much the week before a big race.  I told the organizers I was pulling out and started walking to cool down.

Funny thing though…I felt better after a lap of walking, and I ended up caving and agreed to run in the second heat of the 3000m; yes, with all the Masters runners who could whup me on an easy day.  But Michael said he was taking it easy too and he’d run with me the whole way, and we all know I’m a little crazy – so I said yes!

I’ve never taken it so easy in such a short race! Although we were running well below 10k pace, it felt easy and I had enough breath to return some good-natured heckling from certain (ahem) people yelling “if you’re smiling, you’re not running fast enough!”.  We knew we’d get lapped (and we did) but it was the most fun I’ve ever had running so fast!  I loved the finish: we decided to kick it, and when Michael said “come on, give it everything!” I sure did! We crossed the finish line less than a second apart in 13:22.

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Photo by Hector Rodriguez

Post-Race

Hanging out with like-minded people always makes my day, and when food is involved I’m in heaven. I took some of my vegan, gluten-free lentil spice muffins – and was so incredibly flattered when four people asked me for the recipe!

I haven’t posted this recipe yet because it will be featured in the launch of a new project I’m working on with Hector: Our Fresh Kitchen, a resource for health-conscious people where we’ll share easy and delicious recipes for any diet using fresh, whole ingredients.  I hope you’ll check us out and sign up for our newsletter for some sneak previews and a reminder when we go live on March 20.  You can also find us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Chilly Half Marathon

Chilly Half certainly lived up to its name this year!  Despite the -20 wind chill and a dusting of snow overnight, over 2000 brave runners came out to Burlington for the Chilly half marathon and Frosty 5k – and brought along even more courageous spectators who didn’t have the benefit of running to stay warm.  This was my first time running the Chilly Half, but I had heard great reviews; it’s certainly one of the more popular winter races among my group of running friends and a nice way to keep some motivation going through the winter.  After having the best race of my life, I have to agree!

Starting off with my goals and expectations…

This was my first race following a DNF at Scotiabank half marathon and a disastrous marathon debut in Hamilton last fall.  Although I’ve done six half marathons, I’ve never felt that I raced a half to my full potential – there were always cramps, blisters or piriformis injuries that held me back – and I knew that my PB of 1:52 from fall 2012 didn’t really represent my current fitness level.  So with having done next to zero speed training since taking 6 weeks off after my marathon – I’m not completely sure racing the 400m, mile and 3000m races at the TTC track meet last weekend counts as an ideal speed training strategy – my time goal was to finish under 1:45, taking 7 minutes off my personal best…and honestly I wanted to beat that goal by a couple minutes and hopefully finish in the 1:42-1:43 range.  I also wanted to do this with a negative split, and feel strong at the finish.  Having fun goes without saying! (more…)

Hamilton Marathon Race Report

It’s taken me a while to put my thoughts down on paper because this race was one of the most emotional and difficult I’ve ever attempted, and it took a while for everything to sink in.

The pre-race report is here.

Standing at the start line alongside so many other future marathoners, I was filled with anticipation for a good race and a solid undertone of apprehension about at distance I had never run before.  Forty two (point two!) kilometers and many tears later, I would be a marathoner!  I thought back to 13 years ago, when I remember watching the Sydney Olympics and wondering how in the world anyone could run 10km without stopping; I never would have imagined I would attempt a marathon.

Way too much energy...but I LOVE my neon pink compression socks!

Way too much energy…but I LOVE my neon pink compression socks!

With nearly perfect weather and gorgeous views for the first 10km, I almost managed to forget that for some reason my toes were numb and my hip was supposed to be hurting by 8k.  To my complete surprise, my pirformis syndrome didn’t flare up until everything else hurt worse – and by then I was in too much pain to care.

I held a nice steady pace around 5:10 for the first 10k, but it didn’t feel as smooth as the first 8km of Scotiabank Half two weeks ago.  I followed my race and nutrition plan perfectly, at 10k I added a little push and for a solid 8km I was floating through the course: meditation has nothing on how I felt on Sunday morning.  It was magical.

It took me about 19km to realize that I wasn’t having a good day.  Not that I was having a bad day exactly…but I knew I shouldn’t be starting to hurt 2km before the halfway point. I hit 21k within 1:49, and the triumph of beating my half marathon PB by three minutes (note: this was a BAD IDEA) was overshadowed by an overwhelming urge to walk the 21k aid station. That is, until I realized that walking hurt more than running (what’s with that?).  Running it is, I guess.

Everything between 21 and 29 kilometers is a blur; the breeze picked up and turned into a cold headwind, I wasn’t able to take advantage of the downhill between kilometers 21 and 22 because my legs hurt too much, and I was incredibly disappointed to be passed by the 3:45 pace bunny running down the parkway.  Did those runners have to make it seem so damn easy? Couldn’t they see I was in PAIN??  I was keeping a decent pace around 5:30 but it hurt like hell, and my first tears came as I was running up the off-ramp to the 29k aid station.  Fortunately I had a backup consolation pack of gummies, and they were the best thing I’d ever tasted.  Moment salvaged.

We hopped onto a section of trail to get over the QEW (hopped being a figurative, not literal term, because nobody is “hopping” anywhere 29km into a marathon), and I even managed to pop a smile and victory pose for the photographer across the bridge – I honestly don’t know where that energy came from. A second wind caught me as I ran down through the crowds surrounding the 30km mark, realizing that I was only 10 minutes behind my goal pace and getting a little teary and emotional as I ran by Dad and Brenda who were cheering and snapping pictures.  My legs were hurting, but I only had 12km to go!

My energy lasted until 32km, where the real race started to unfold (or should I say, unravel?). The first real tears came as the 4:00 pace bunny passed me, and I just couldn’t bring myself to run anymore so I walked and cried until I got to the 33km marker.  Little did I know, this would be close to the last running I would do in this race, and covering the last 7km would be the toughest finish I’ve ever done.

At 35km, as I turned back towards the finish line, my legs stopped cooperating.  A brief attempt to run…jog…shuffle meant I nearly collapsed, and I resigned my self to walk the remainder of the race in tears – and I literally sobbed for the next hour and a half as I limped my way to the end.  Low blood sugar, pain and a profound sense of frustration and disappointment were the highlights of my walk to the finish, and while I appreciated the cheering and attempts to motivate me as the kilometer markers grew further and further apart, I felt like kicking everyone who said “come on, dig deep and run it in!!” – with their happy smiles and legs that still work.

I almost quit at 40.5km.  I hate walking from the elevator to my car in the parking garage, let alone the last 7km of what was supposed to be a race, and WHERE THE HELL was the 41km marker?  Shouldn’t it be here by now? But I didn’t just complete 40.5km to give up now.  No matter what, I finish.

Although I walked almost until the last meter, at 4:41:20 I jogged across that finish line in tears.

The Numbers

Chip time – 4:41:20
Average pace – 6:49
Age group placing – 32/43
Overall placing – 852/985

The Aftermath

My sense of disappointment took several days to dissipate, and for that time I was so embarrassed with my finish that I didn’t even tell people I’d run a marathon.  Of course they caught on as soon as they saw me walk or attempt stairs (which was actually pretty hilarious if you’re not the one wincing), but I needed to spend some time internally processing my feelings.  I’m still feeling a little sensitive about it, but realized that overcoming an incredibly difficult finish and actually completing the distance is a success.  Having big goals means failing sometimes, but that it’s just an opportunity to do better next time.

Also, some things just came together perfectly:

  • I didn’t have to deal with any specific pain or injuries during the race, not even blisters or chafing anywhere.
  • Compression socks are the most incredible thing ever because nothing hurt below my knees (thank you EC3D for having amazing socks)!
  • My nutrition was almost perfect, although I ended up with extra gels and wouldn’t carry as much next time.
  • I ran the race perfectly, I just wasn’t quite ready for 42.2km; ten weeks ago I had never run more than 21.1km, and with 7 weeks of training I ran and finished a marathon. Now I know what I have to do for the next one, and 30+km is no longer the daunting distance it used to be.

Finishing the toughest, longest and most emotional race I’ve ever done gave me the confidence of knowing what I have to do after I get off the bike on July 27, 2014, and if it gets me to a better Ironman finish it was worth the tears.  I can’t wait to do it again next year!

Toronto Waterfront (Half) Marathon 2013

How did I start for the half marathon and end up handing out water at the 16k water station? Funny story…

Today’s race strategy was to run a relatively comfortable 1:45 half marathon, which would not only confirm my goal marathon pacing for Hamilton in two weeks, but would also be an easy 7-minute PB over last year’s finish.  Sounds simple, no?  It should have been, but I’m starting to think that I have a half marathon curse; I’ve never been able to run a half marathon to my fitness level because something always ends up getting in the way.  This year I was nervous that my recent hip issues would flare up, but hopeful because everything was feeling normal for the past few days.

Starting out on the slow side of a 5:00 pace felt so easy, just like I was floating (more…)

Duathlon National Championships 2013

Typical for me, my race in Montreal was just another whirlwind trip as part of a busy weekend and training schedule. My main focus right now is the Hamilton Marathon in November, so this was a training race with the goal of qualifying to compete in the duathlon world championships in Spain next year; going in to the race I was aware that I wouldn’t need to go all out just to qualify, and decided not to waste precious energy on trying to place.

Of course, the week leading up to the race wasn’t exactly ideal: I didn’t taper – in fact, I did a bonus 9km run with Mike (B) and Mike (O) on Thursday – and I hadn’t been on my bike since the world championships almost a month ago. But since when have I let details like that bother me??

I drove to Montreal on Friday, arriving at the hostel at 10pm and going straight to bed as I was up again at 5:30am and trying to find somewhere to get breakfast. I had planned on my usual Tim’s bagel breakfast sandwich and coffee, but settled for a 24hr McDonalds down the street from the hostel (which messed up and gave me an egg mcmuffin rather than a bagel breakfast sandwich). Mistake: thinking an egg mcmuffin and coffee at 7am would keep me satisfied until noon when I finished the race.

I arrived in time to see the start of the Ironman distance race, and realized why the transition was so gigantic: the Esprit Triathlon de Montreal included sprint, Olympic, half iron and full iron races on the same day, on the same site, in addition to the sprint and Olympic duathlon races! I have to say the race organization was stellar, although the French race briefing was significantly longer than the English one…so I wasn’t really sure what the course was. Oh well!

The weather was initially threatening, but cleared up before the start.

The weather was initially threatening, but cleared up before the start.

First Run – 10k

The first run started out in the middle of nowhere on a gravel path, but quickly joined the main trail for two laps around the Olympic basin. I had planned on running about a 50 minute 10k, but my legs were tired and I was struggling by the halfway point so decided it wasn’t worth trashing my legs. I managed to draft off a bigger runner for one particularly windy section (which helped maintain my pace) and I finished the run in just over 51 minutes. Heading into T1 I and was feeling a little less lethargic (although a little hungry) and looking forward to hopping on my bike for some speed!

Bike – 40km

As soon as I got onto the main bike course, my first thought was OMG the bike course is the Formula One racing circuit. I had been worried about a crowded bike course because I had to do 9 laps and the full and half-iron athletes were already on the course, but it was fantastic! The turns were tons of fun, the road was wide enough that passing and staying out of the drafting zone (which was 12m per ITU rules) wasn’t really an issue. The trickiest part was remembering to say “gauche” and ” droit” instead of “left” and “right” when passing.

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I don’t think I stopped smiling for at least the first three laps, and by then I was almost halfway through and my legs had warmed up. I glanced down at my watch and realized I was averaging about 32km/hr, much faster than usual! The wind picked up a bit in the second half (and my legs were tiring) so I ended up finishing the bike portion in about 1:18, matching my 40km personal best from August. And I even managed to count to nine laps!

Second Run – 5k

I was feeling great heading off the bike, especially knowing that I was on track to beat my goal time of 2:45 by a significant margin. My legs felt strong coming out of T2 and I ran my first kilometer in 5:16, but the lack of taper and proper breakfast was starting to catch up with me and my pace slowed as I continued around the basin. With a few hundred meters to go I glanced around to see if there was anyone else close by in my age category, but was surrounded by men and decided my legs didn’t have a sprint in them anyways. I picked up the pace a little as I neared the finish, just to make sure the photographer caught my good side, and crossed the line in 2:39:40 with a 27 minute 5k.

Photos and Sportstats Results

Mission accomplished! My 5th place finish snagged me a place on Team Canada for the AG duathlon world championships in Spain next year, and I finished the day knowing that I executed my race plan perfectly. Although I could have gone faster had I tapered and focused more on the race, I was satisfied with a solid time in each event and knowing the race fit into my marathon training plan.

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Doing the Audacious: Road2Hope Marathon

Marathon training officially starts today! Fortunately it was pretty easy to get started because Mondays are my off day in my new training plan, so I spent about 40 minutes in the gym doing core work and rolling out my well-rested muscles. Phew!

We’ve already talked about my audacious (isn’t that a fabulous word?) goal to train for my first marathon in 10 weeks and qualify for the Boston Marathon. We’ve already agreed that I’m crazy, so let’s move on to how I plan to make it happen!

Here’s the qualifier – I’m not a new runner. In addition to my other triathlon training, I’ve been running between 35 and 45km/week for most of the summer, and I’ve done at least four long runs 20km or longer in the past two months. Obviously this training plan isn’t for someone just starting out, and I’m not a coach or a doctor so please use discretion if you choose to follow along.

My Audacious 10-week Hamilton Marathon Road2Hope Training Plan:

Week 1: August 26 – September 1 (43km)
Monday – off
Tuesday – 5km easy
Wednesday – 10km intervals
Thursday – spin class
Friday – off
Saturday – 8km distance, spin class
Sunday – 20km long

Week 2: September 2 – September 8 (55km)
Monday – off
Tuesday – 10km distance
Wednesday – 10km intervals
Thursday – spin class
Friday – off
Saturday – Esprit de Montréal, Olympic Duathlon
Sunday – 20km long

Week 3: September 9 – September 15 (47km)
Monday – off
Tuesday – 7km recovery
Wednesday – 10km easy tempo
Thursday – spin class
Friday – 5km recovery
Saturday – spin class
Sunday – 25km long

Week 4: September 16 – September 22 (62km)
Monday – off
Tuesday – 10km distance
Wednesday – 10km intervals
Thursday – spin class
Friday – 5km easy
Saturday – 12km easy with some hills, spin class
Sunday – 25km long/tempo

Week 5: September 23 – September 29 (69km)
Monday – off
Tuesday – 12km distance
Wednesday – 10km intervals
Thursday – spin class
Friday – 5km easy
Saturday – 12km easy, spin class
Sunday – 30km long

Week 6: September 30 – October 6 (55km)
Monday – off
Tuesday – 7km recovery
Wednesday – 10km tempo
Thursday – spin class
Friday – 5km recovery
Saturday – spin class
Sunday – 33km long

Week 7: October 7 – October 13 (67km)
Monday – off
Tuesday – 12km distance
Wednesday – 10km intervals
Thursday – spin class
Friday – 5km easy
Saturday – 15km easy with some hills, spin class
Sunday – 25km long/tempo

Week 8: October 14 – October 20 (62km)
Monday – off
Tuesday – 14km distance
Wednesday – 10km intervals
Thursday – spin class
Friday – 5km easy
Saturday – 12km distance, spin class
Sunday – Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon, 21.1km at goal race pace

Week 9: October 21 – October 27 (40km)
Monday – off
Tuesday – 10km easy
Wednesday – 10km intervals
Thursday – spin class
Friday – 5km easy
Saturday – spin class
Sunday – 15km easy

Week 10: October 28 – November 3 (63km)
Monday – off
Tuesday – 8km easy with strides
Wednesday – 8km tempo
Thursday – spin class
Friday – 5km easy
Saturday – off
Sunday – Hamilton Marathon Road2Hope, 42.2km

New to this training program is the addition of core work, strength training and roller sessions; every weekday I add about 30 minutes of cross training with core and roller on Monday/Wednesday/Friday, and strength training on Tuesday/Thursday.

Run types:
The key to building strength and speed is to vary the training intensity, which forces your body to adapt to different stimulus and increases your running efficiency. Also, if you want to run fast in racing, you have to run fast in training!

Recovery: it’s impossible to run too slowly during a recovery run; they should be very, very easy.

Long: around 5:45 pace, sustainable effort.

Long/tempo: maintain long run pace for the majority of the run; in the middle 10km, run every second kilometer faster than 5:00 pace (marathon race pace), maintaining long run pace between fast kilometers.

Distance: relatively easy run, pace around 5:30 depending on the day and terrain; some of my distance runs include hill work since my goal race has a significant downhill portion.

Easy: pace around 5:20, medium effort over shorter distances.

Tempo: slightly slower than 10km race pace, around 4:40 based on my 10k PB.

Intervals: these change from week to week, but involve running faster than 10km race pace (4:00 to 4:30) over shorter distances (1600m and shorter). If you’re looking for ideas, check out my running workouts page.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s go run!

Goal Setting: Looking Back, Looking Forward

As athletes, we like to analyze; power output, heart rate, cadence, elevation, pace…with modern technology there is no shortage of statistics available to us. Every race involves a post-race analysis of what worked and what didn’t, how we could have gone faster, what we could have done differently, why we didn’t meet our goals or how we could have exceeded them.

This ongoing analysis makes me really appreciate the time between training cycles, when I forget the details and focus on the big picture: what do I want to accomplish? What will get me there? How do I structure the details so they support my long-term goals?

With the 2013 season not quite over (I still have my first marathon in the works), I’m spending this time focusing primarily on the next 12 weeks of training, with an eye on competing at the Duathlon age-group World Championships in June next year. As I’ve been training more or less constantly since February, I’ve given myself a two-week break from training to recover; it’s not only physical recovery but also a mental break from a structured training schedule, and an important part of making sure my marathon training doesn’t cause burnout.

My upcoming fall races include:
September 7 – Esprit Triathlon de Montréal (Olympic Duathlon, World Championships qualifier)
October 20 – Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon (Run to End Poverty and tune-up race)
November 3 – Hamilton Road2Hope Marathon (Boston Qualifier)

Looking Back

Whenever I see someone making a positive change in their life, like starting an exercise program or cooking their own meals, I tell them to remember this point and look back on it to see how far they’ve come. Think about the first time you went for a run – it probably wasn’t far or fast, but simply starting was a bigger step than any you’ve taken since then. Think about what you can do now, and imagine how impressed your past self would be; or maybe you’re like me and you couldn’t have possibly imagined what you would achieve.

This has been a transformative year for me. A renewed focus on my training has given me incredible results in a variety of distances and sports: this year alone I have beat my personal best times in 3 running distances, duathlon and triathlon. Every race is a new PB and I feel stronger every time, which I’m hoping will carry me through some incredible fall training.

Looking Forward

Training for my first full marathon will be my primary focus for the next training cycle. The Hamilton Road2Hope marathon is only a terrifying 12 weeks away and I’ll be relying on my base running fitness as I condense training into only ten weeks.

My ridiculous, big and scary goal is to finish the full marathon in 3:30 and qualify for the 2015 Boston Marathon. I know it’s crazy; the best dreams are. When I’m 3/4 of the way through my training and just want to give up, I’m relying on my friends and family to remind me that big and scary goals take a lot of work, but they’re worth it.

I know one very important thing from watching my friends train for marathons, ironmans and ultras: nobody does this alone. It takes the support of training partners and loved ones to make big scary dreams come true, and everyone around me deserves a big thank you for getting me to where I am now and supporting me as I chase my own big scary dream.

Bring it on!

Bring it on!

Duathlon World Championships

A little over a year ago, I signed up for a standard-distance duathlon in Cobourg on a whim. The timing fit with my racing schedule and I had never raced a duathlon before, so I figured why not try it out? It turned out to be the wonderful beginning to a journey that culminated in racing for Team Canada in the Duathlon World Championships.

I had no illusions that this would be an easy race, either from a competitive or personal perspective. As I’ve gotten faster, I’ve realized that racing short(ish) distances becomes more and more difficult – the endurance comes not from the muscles, but rather from mental fortitude saying I can do this – because I finished blazing interval sessions, tempo rides with a headwind and neverending long runs. Just keep going. Faster. Faster.

I have never raced in Ottawa before, but after this experience I would highly recommend it. The bike and run courses followed a winding parkway along the river, with gliding turns and shallow grades but no major hills to speak of. The first run was two laps of a 5km course, the bike was two laps of 20km and the final run returned to the 5k course for one lap.

Goals

This is the most important race I’ve ever done, and of course I had time goals – both realistic and “secret” ones – and process goals. Some of these were based on my experiences in other races, some based on my training leading up to the race. Besides finishing and having fun (which are goals for every race), I wanted to:

  1. Maintain an even pace throughout. This meant evaluating my pace to make sure I was pushing hard enough but leaving some energy for the finish – particularly since I have a habit of going out too hard in the beginning, slacking in the middle and finishing hard to make up for it.
  2. Push hard on the bike. I admit, I’m a wimp on the bike – I once had someone tell me I don’t know how to suffer, and I see this when I finish a race knowing I could have gone faster. No mercy in this race.
  3. Run the first 10k in 46 to 47 minutes (average pace 4:36 to 4:42). I wanted to have a solid first run without going out too fast, and aimed for 0:30 to 1:30 off my 10k running personal best. But if we’re being honest? I really wanted to see if I could run a sub-45 10k.
  4. Average above 30km/hr on the bike, which means finishing 40km in under 1:20. I’ve never broken the 30km/hr barrier, and averaging exactly 29.3k/hr in two previous races was frustratingly close!
  5. Run the second 5k in under 25 minutes (average pace under 5:00). Beating a 5:00 pace off the bike would be a first for me, especially after a hard ride, but my secret unrealistic goal was 22:30. Don’t tell anyone.
  6. Finish under 2:30 overall. Somewhere between unrealistic and achievable, if everything came together perfectly.
  7. Not last place. Please.
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Waving the flag at the Parade of Nations! (Photo courtesy of Lesley Furnell)

Race Morning

I had already picked up my race kit, attended the race briefing and dropped off my bike in transition the night before so race morning was pretty straightforward, but I never really relax until I’ve gotten my transition area set up. My 7:25 wave start meant I was up at 5am, out the door with a blueberry bagel in my tummy by 5:45, and on the race site with my coffee shortly after 6am. I went through my ritual of setting up my transition (realizing that I forgot the purple transition towel I’ve used in every race for the past 5 years), pumping my tires up to 118psi, dropping off my extras at bag check and doing a little jog and some strides to wake up my legs. I wasn’t nervous at all (which was pretty weird), and feeling strong and ready.

The First Run – 10km

All 171 women started in the second wave, with a brisk cool headwind as we headed west along the parkway. I focused on maintaining a consistent pace as I watched the majority of the field pull away from me – although it was disappointing to see everyone pulling ahead, this is my race and I knew if I raced others now then I would burn out. Save the kick to the end – more people ahead means more passing opportunities later!

My kilometer splits were all between 4:32 and 4:45, with the exception of the last climb up a slight grade towards transition. My chip time was 47:59; however my Garmin recorded a distance of 10.26km and time of 47:53, putting my pace at 4:39 and (in my opinion) achieving my time goal for the first run!

The Bike – 40km

I had a blazing fast T1 (in true Kim fashion), and in 45 seconds I was hopping on my bike and slipping my feet into the shoes waiting on my pedals. I looked down to check my speed and – damn! – realized that my bike computer decided this was the perfect time to stop working. Speed and cadence were transmitting but registering as zero, so something was up with the sensors. I started my Garmin belatedly since I wasn’t planning on using it on the bike, and started doing the math (yay!) to convert km pace splits into km/hr (in case you’re wondering, 2:00 pace is 30km/hr).

The majority of the course was fairly straight and flat with a slight headwind on the way out, but honestly I didn’t even notice a difference with the wind. After about 3km we turned off the parkway to my favourite part: an extra loop with 9 turns within about a kilometer, meaning I could fly fearlessly around corners and overtake people without even trying!

photo

Chasing Donaldson after the 20k turnaround. (Photo courtesy of Lesley Furnell)

I finished the 40km bike in 1:18:11, beating my goal time by almost two minutes and averaging 30.7km/hr! I was very happy with my effort, and I knew that I couldn’t have gone any faster – my heart rate averaged 165bpm which is a pretty solid sustained effort for me. One last tri-berry GU through T2 (0:58) and I was ready to run!

The Second Run – 5km

So apparently when you actually work hard on the bike, it makes the transition to running more difficult. Who would have guessed, right? Well my legs felt awful heading out into the run, and the best I could manage was a jog. Yup, 5k to go in the world championships and I’m freaking jogging.

Past experience has taught me that the first kilometer always sucks, so the best strategy is to suck it up and run fast anyways so I did my best, most efficient post-bike jog and managed a 5:04 split on my first kilometer (apparently I’m pretty good at jogging). My legs evened up after about 3km, so I turned up the dial and passed a few people, one of whom was a fellow Canadian in my age group, Mesiti. Nearing the finish, I glanced behind me again and saw Mesiti gaining on me from about 100m back – this girl was determined. No problem, but I figured I’d turn it up a little anyways and at least look like I wasn’t tired (and yes, I did pass the guy in front of me). Good call, Kim.

run finish close

Sprinting for the finish! (Photo courtesy of Lesley Furnell)

Anyways, don’t you just hate when people in your age group sprint past you 50m before the finish line? Me too, so it’s handy to have a little finishing kick so you can pass them back and win by 2 seconds. I don’t think Mesiti was very happy about how things turned out, but I managed to snag a 2:33:17.9 finish and 20/25 placing! My run was 25:25, and again my Garmin read 5.26km, making my actual pace closer to 4:50.

Full results are available on Sportstats and the ITU website.

Recap and Lessons Learned

I consider all my race goals acheived, with the exception of a sub-2:30 finish – but honestly, I’m not too concerned about that because I broke my personal records in all three individual events and beat my previous personal best by over 13 minutes! Everything came together and I was absolutely ecstatic about my race performance.

That being said, there are a few things I learned for future races:

  • Despite all my training, I have lots of room for improvement in both running and biking (the best description came from a fellow competitor the day before the race: “it’s a humbling experience”). The fastest women in my age group finished the 10k in under 40 minutes and the bike portion in under 1:12!
  • I need more practice running off the bike. When comparing my time in the run portions I realized that many women running 47-48 minute 10ks (similar to mine) were running 23 minute 5ks off the bike, more than 2 minutes ahead of me.
  • My pre-race and race nutrition wasn’t optimal – I didn’t have any specific issues with nutrition, either before or during the race, but I felt that it could have been better. I took one gel about 5 minutes before the fun started and four more during the race, along with about 400mL of gatorade and 300mL of water on the bike (plus some water from aid stations). My future training will involve some experimentation to figure out what and how much to eat and drink to improve my performance.

So what’s next?

I’ve already registered for the olympic duathlon National Championships at the Esprit Triathlon de Montreal on September 7th, where a top-10 finish means I qualify for the 2014 World Championships in Pontevedra, Spain!