Winter training: Leaving the comfort of the gym to get my trail shoes dirty

2011 Gunner Shaw XC Trail race – Photo by Jordan Mitchell

So I quit the gym.

I thought when I went in to cancel my membership (which I’ve had for seven years) it might go down like that episode of Friends when Ross and Chandler try to quit the gym… but it wasn’t that bad. They didn’t try to sell me on anything to get me to stay, but they did ask why. Despite the fact I rarely go (maybe once during the summer, and once a week in the winter), I would have totally kept my membership if I could have afforded it. But I can’t. It was either keep my membership or get the internet at my new place… and let’s face it, I can’t live without the internet! (more…)

Training update and race recap: 2011 Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon

Running the 2011 Goodlife Fitness Victoria marathon.

Really dropped the ball on posting a race recap after the marathon.

But no matter, there wasn’t a whole lot to report anyway. No crazy mishaps or injuries this time — I actually ended up having a really great race.

I stuck to my training plan, which was to go out slow until I found my legs, and expect a 1-2 minute positive split. I actually maintained a decent pace throughout the whole race, and only really struggled in the last 3 km.

Besides a sweet playlist to distract me, I also had my best friend join me on the course for a brief jog (she lasted one minute — granted she was carrying a coffee mug and wasn’t in running gear, but I was super excited she came out to watch and run with me), my coach Noa wait near kilometre 15 and 30 to check in on me, and an old coworker who filmed me running this same race for work last year find me on his bike and escort me for a couple of kms. (more…)

Training update: Sprint tri, epic trail runs, blister blunders and a second-place squash

Only in Metchosin would you get a second-place squash

So I meant be more consistent with my blog posts throughout August and September, but it was hard to find time to blog in between road trips to the Okanagan, camping, barbeques, and other more social activities that kept me outside and away from the computer.

Now that the typical west coast weather has returned to the island (sad face), I’ll probably get back to blogging weekly.

Since my first triathlon at the end of July, I’ve completed a few more races and blog-worthy runs and events, including another triathlon (a sprint distance at the Sooke International Triathlon during the first week of August), a local 5km race (where I came second in my age group and won a squash), and two epic trail runs with Hagen (one that I ran without proper trail shoes, also hungover from a wedding the night before; and one where I learned gels made of 100% agave do not agree with me), and a BC Cancer fundraiser initiative called “Van Isle Runners for Cancer”, which consisted of a calendar photoshoot (where I confirmed the fact that I take bad action shots; every race photo of me is horrible. I wouldn’t be surprised if they decide not to use my photos — Runner’s World cover model I am not). (more…)

Gear review: Brooks PureProject Flow

shoes

This isn’t even all of the pairs I own

I have a running shoe addiction.

There, I said it.

I don’t think an addiction to shoes is unusual, though; most girls I know have a closet full of pumps, strappy sandals, wedges, boots and kitten heels. I just happen to have a closet full of running shoes.

I probably own more pairs at a time than most amateur runners, though. I think right now I have about five in rotation: tri shoes for triathlons; light weight runners for short, fast runs; two pairs of trail runners for summer and winter; and big, clunky stability shoes for long distance running. I’ve read that it’s good to have a few pairs to rotate through so your shoes last longer (rule of thumb is to replace them after about 600 km, or every 6 months — whichever comes first).

Even though I just bought a new pair of running shoes not that long ago, I’ve been in the market for a new pair;  something lighter and less clunky for distance running. The problem is, every time I go into a store to buy a new pair, the person helping me takes one look at my stride and flat feet and hand me the biggest, heaviest stability shoes they have in stock. (more…)

Race Report: The Sri Chimoy Self Transcendence Triathlon (my first tri!)

Finishing up the 10 km run

“Looking good! Less than a kilometre to the finish line!” shouted a runner passing by me going the opposite way.

A year ago today, that other runner was me, cheering on the last of the Self Transcendence triathlon participants finishing up the run portion around Elk Lake.

I was out for a long run at Elk Lake, my 2010 summer Sunday ritual as I geared up for my first full marathon that fall, when I decided I would do this very same race next year. I was inspired by those triathletes, and thought the event looked like fun. So what if I couldn’t swim? I have a year to train. I can do this.

One year later, there I was, finishing up the last few kilometres of the 10 km run portion of an Olympic triathlon, with other runners cheering me on.

And it was a blast. (more…)

Triathlon countdown: 2011 HtO MS Thetis Lake swim

Finished! Thanks Kim for sending me these pictures!

One week from today I’ll no longer be ‘Bri, triathlete-in-training.’

I will have actually completed a triathlon and can call myself a triathlete! 

Well… maybe.

A few days ago I found out that Hamsterly Beach, where the swim portion of the Self Transcendence Triathlon will take place, was unsafe due to a high coliform count. Ugh.

I haven’t heard anything yet about what will happen… whether the organizers will move the swim portion to a different beach at Elk Lake, or? If anybody knows, please comment!

At least there are a few other triathlons I can do before the season ends. I think I’ll sign up for the sprint distance at the Subaru Sooke International Triathlon on August 7th, regardless. After all this training, I feel like I should do at least two this summer before marathon training starts! (more…)

Swim/bike/run: The transition

Tranistion area: Helmet, bike shoes, running shoes, sunglasses, gel, Garmin, towel.

I did my first transition today!

Six of them, actually.

My tri group had our first race simulation of the season this morning out at Thetis Lake, where we got to practice our swim-to-bike and bike-to-run transitions, as well as doing all three sports back-to-back.

The day before, however, I decided to see what my legs felt like on the run after a 35 km ride (the Olympic triathlon bike distance is 40 km).

I had a great ride out to Sooke, despite getting a bee in my helmet. (more…)

How to cure a hangover and get into a triathlon wetsuit

Main Beach at Thetis. Photo credit: AndrewS

Discovered a new hangover cure this morning: open water swimming.

After a late night at a friend’s wedding (too much wine and dancing in heels… ouch my calves this morning), I surprised myself by making it to my tri group’s first open water swim session on time.

The last thing I wanted to do was stuff myself into a wetsuit and jump in a lake.

Getting the wetsuit on was a bit easier this time, though. Noa gave me a few pointers, such as to use BodyGlide around the parts your suit gets stuck, like your wrists, ankles, behind the knees, etc., and to cut off any extra suit length near your feet and hands if it’s too long.

While the majority of the group did laps around the small islands in the middle of Thetis Lake, I stuck near the shore with a few others and practiced swimming out and counting strokes, and running in and out of the water.

By the end of the swim I wasn’t feeling the effects of last night at all — in fact, I felt great! I felt I could have kept going, but we still had a run to do.

My Achilles was bugging me during the slow but hilly hour-long trail run around Thetis with the group — I’ve never had pain or tightness there before, but I have a feeling it may have been caused by me trying to do the LMFAO shuffle dance last night on the dancefloor at the wedding in heels… not from running 🙂

Oh! I also got my tri team cycling kit (cycling kit = a bike bib and jersey with my tri group logo on it) AND bought some new kicks!

Officially one of those spandexed riders I used to make fun of on the Goose. Woo hoo!

I’ve been running in Mizuno Wave Inspires for about 6 months, and they’ve been great. I tried on the same shoe in the newer version and wasn’t really in love with them. Not sure what they changed… but they definitely weren’t as comfy. I think they are a bit higher around the ankle than last year’s model.

It was a toss-up between Saucony ProGrid Guide 4 (which had a bit of a higher heel to make you run more on your forefoot) and the Saucony ProGrid Hurricane. The Hurricane felt most like my current shoe, so I decided to play it safe and get them instead of the Guides.

Saucony ProGrid Hurricanes. Will now run at a hurricane-force pace!

(I actually don’t need new shoes right now, but I got a gift card as a grad present… it was burning a hole in my purse.)

Oh, and I also bought some swimming goodies.

BodyGlide, new goggles, a new swim cap in white and chocolate & espresso gels for fuel.

I’m still on the hunt for a new swim suit and a tri suit… and hopefully that will be it for triathlon gear spending for this season.

(How many times have a said that in one of these posts? Still hoping…)

It’s open water season! Taking the wetsuit out for a spin

 

Like a stuffed sausage

I am finally in possession of the last expensive piece of triathlon gear I need: the wetsuit.

(Huge thanks to Dave at Pen Run in downtown Victoria for hooking me up with a sweet deal on a brand new wetsuit, just in time for my first open water swimming session!)

Since most of my tri training group were racing today at the Subaru Victoria Triathlon (congrats to Adam and Leif by the way — first and second place overall! Amazing!) and I couldn’t get a ride out to Elk Lake to watch, I walked down to Langford Lake to test out the new wetsuit and go for a swim.

I struggled to get into the suit for about half an hour. You have to be careful not to puncture the rubber with your nails; even with gloves on AND cut nails I think I still managed to put holes in it. I managed to get it a bit further on than I did with the help of Dave in the store, so I’m hoping next time I’ll be able to have it fitting properly. Getting your legs in is definitely the trickiest part — after it’s pulled up to a certain point you just pull your arms in, put your shoulder blades together and have someone zip you up, then you can kind of wiggle yourself in more by putting your arms over your head and bending at the hips, and doing high steps and squats.

Once I got in the water it was awesome. I was nice and warm, and the wetsuit makes you super buoyant. The hardest part for me once I started swimming was trying to blow bubbles in cold water (the cold temperature makes it harder to breathe at first) and being freaked out by seeing a dark, murky abyss instead of the bottom of a pool. I had to stop and pop my head up often to make sure I wasn’t swimming off into the weeds and that I could still see the shore. I think next time when I’m with a group and not alone in the water I’ll feel more comfortable.

But yay! My first open water swim! All that’s left of unchartered tri territory now is the transition.

Fort Rodd Hill Half Marathon: Harder than I remember…

We made it!

About 5 km into the 2011 Fort Rodd Hill Historic Half Marathon, I was seriously questioning my decision to run that day.

I started to come down with a cold the day before, and hadn’t run over 14 km since the BMO Half Marathon on May 1st. There was also that 90 km bike ride I participated in just seven days prior, so my legs weren’t feeling super fresh.

But the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day for a run.

Despite the fact my head was stuffed up, my throat felt raw and I couldn’t hear out of one ear, I headed down to the starting line on the beach near the Fisgard Lighthouse at Fort Rodd Hill.

Warming up for the race

I ran this event last year (see my race recap here) and remembered enjoying the run, even though the race was delayed and had to be rerouted due to an early morning fire that destroyed a nearby business.

I did not enjoy the run this year.

The race itself was well-organized, fun and friendly, but the route was tough. You’re pretty much running uphill for the first 7 km until you come to an extreme downhill that takes its toll on your joints… then you do it all again (the half marathon route is two loops of the same 11 km course).

My legs wanted to move at a half marathon pace, but my upper half was suffering: I could barely breathe, my head was pounding, I was coughing and sniffling and spitting (gross), and my stomach cramped up more with every step.

When I reached the downhill at Esquimalt Lagoon, I seriously considered dropping out.

Then I thought of Jess, a running friend who so badly wanted to complete the BMO Marathon this year that she ran injured and in pain for 21 miles before deciding to stop (read her marathon story here). I was only 10 km into a half and just felt uncomfortable, not injured… I needed to suck it up.

When I reached kilometre 17 at Esquimalt Lagoon on the second loop, my friend Mere caught up with me and we decided to pull each other along to the finish line. Mere and I run at about the same race pace on a good day, so I was glad I wasn’t the only one suffering on the course that day!

Getting our hard-earned participant medals!

We finished together in about 1:52:59, which is still a decent time, all things considered.

We were trying to pose for the finish line photo... didn't quite get my arms up in time

So what did I learn from this race?

Just because you probably could just get up and run a half marathon without much thought or preparation doesn’t mean you should.

Oh, and don’t tweet about your horrible race experience when your coach follows you on Twitter and didn’t put it on your triathlon training plan… sorry Noa! 😉

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