What “Training” Looks like Right Now

What the first few months have looked like after I completely burnt out and formally had to take a complete break from training (click here for what’s been going on).

Now I’m not sick or sleeping 12-16hr/day any more but how do I go from here to racing again? That is a very good question! I wish there was playbook with step-by-step instructions on how this whole recovery thing would go. But there’s not and from everything I’ve read it seems to be somewhat different for each person so here what seems to be working for me:

  • Remain true to what my body intuitively tell me
  • Seek out experts to help me in areas I need it
  • Focus my attention to other areas of my life

My body is smart, I just have to listen

I have never been an athlete who pushes through injury, I knows that pushing through an injury just causes more problems in the long run! Guess it’s the same when you push through too much fatigue for too long with not enough breaks!

At first this was hard because all my body wanted was rest, rest and more rest which of course made me feel like a lazy bum! After those first few brutal weeks, I was amazed at how I actually started to crave movement again. Key word: movement, not exercise, and definitely not training! The challenge was figuring out what I could do that felt good and left me feeling more energized afterward and not needing a nap. It took a few days of running 3 miles or spinning on the roller for 45 min and trying to do a half hour of really light strength training in the same day to realize that was too much at this point. I still great really frustrated trying to explain this to other athletes who haven’t experienced overtraining or hormone imbalances, it’s not like I couldn’t physically do the activity in the moment, it was the fact I was an unproductive zombie for the rest of the day or days afterward. Eventually I resigned myself to walking.

Walking

Ya I’m a “walker” now… haha get it… my last name’s walker… my father-in-law would totally approve that pun! For the month of March I actually count walking as “training”… this has been a humbling experience let me tell you! I figured out I could walk for about 20 min and finish feeling like I had more energy then when I started, so that became my baseline. Ha pretty pathetic but on the positive it was a long time since I felt that good and had energy at the end of a “workout”. How workouts should feel for the most part…and yes I’m aware I just called a 20min walk my workout but that’s where I was at if I was truly being honest.

I think being forced to walk has been a blessing, I’ll probably write another post on all the benefits I’ve found from walking but the main thing was that I was going slow enough I started to be aware of more subtle cues my body would give me of when I started to be at a point where I felt the deep fatigue start to set in. I call that the payback effect, if I do too much, either movement or just in general life busy-ness I’m regress a bit and end up with that debilitating fatigue again for a few days. Ever since I’ve been able to know the feeling of when to stop, the recovery process seems to have been going quicker (not quick!) because I don’t have to spend a few days recovering from over doing it. So I walk, listen to podcasts or just look around at all the things I’ve never noticed when I’m running!

Movement vs training

April/May I’ve been using up to an hour of “movement” a day as a guideline and am feeling really good doing it. That is always the goal; to finish and have more energy then I started. I also realized what I could do was going to vary greatly day to day for a while. March was mostly just walking, now I’ve been throwing in a 20-30min swim once a week and a couple 30-45min bike rides either on my road bike or on my hybrid just toodling around the neighborhood. I like using my HR monitor and try to keep my HR around 120-140bpm, in other words, really, really, reeeeeeeeeallly easy… It’s amazing what you actually see when you aren’t staring at your power meter!

On walking days, I’ve been spending that last 15-20min doing different movement prep and running drills (think dynamic warm-up type movements) with lots of walking and resting between. When else do you have time to take off your shoes and let your feet/body develop more mobility and functional movement patterns? Often I walk with my husband after dinner and still some days I feel tired so I opt to read a book instead that day and don’t sweat it!

Pilates to the rescue…again!

One of the positives, yes I have started to find a few more of these, has been that I’ve been able to take a few more Pilates classes from my fellow colleagues at Pilates Manitoba! It was been great to have other instructors look at my body and to take time to correct all the little imbalances that sometimes get pushed to the side when I’m in the full swing of training. I love the whole mind-body-connection, the breathe work, the way I feel taller and stand with better posture after I leave (mmmhm maybe a post here is need at some point too). I’ve also been able to explore some of the other modalities the studio has to offer like the MELT Method. It’s fun to go back to basics, enjoy the easier exercises, just follow along for a change instead of everything having a specific purpose.

Just in the past two weeks, I have been adding in a half hour-ish of strength training twice per week again keeping everything really light with lots of rest. My rule at the moment is that I need to feel better at the end then when I started, if I start getting tired I stop, laugh at myself for how lame that is for a moment and then move on with my day! I found that although I knew I needed all the rest, my body was getting more little aches and pains from not moving so I’m so thankful I’m back to a place that I can just enjoy moving my body and not being exhausted from it.

Bring on the experts!

In addition to working with a great doctor, which I spoke about in my last post, I’ve been seeing a traditional Chinese Acupuncturist. I’ve seen the same practitioner in the past and always had good results with her. She has helped in the past both with menstrual disturbances and chronic shin splits. I don’t understand exactly how traditional Chinese medicine looks at the body but it has been around for a long, long time so obviously there’s something to it, it certainly works for me! Even thought I’m often more tired immediately after the treatment I steadily, slowly noticed an increase in energy between treatments and it also has been helping to regulate my cycle, although a few more months will tell the whole tale. An added bonus is that, she’s also been about to address some chronic upper back stiffness. I might also benefit from the fact that when I go see her I get to have an hour and a half nap and not feel a single bit guilty about it!

Focus on other areas in Life

This one has a been a bit challenging because I knew my body still needed so much sleep and rest so I didn’t just want to fill the hours and hours normally spent training with something else that would take lots of energy and not let me recovery. So to start I ordered a whack of books I’ve been wanting to read off Amazon! So instead of getting up and going to the pool, I got up and read… instead of coming home from work and hoping on my bike, I came home and read… read about triathlon training, about female physiology, about nutrition, about cooking, about meditation…

By far the most influential book I’ve read in the past few months was ROAR by Stacey Sims which I’d highly recommend for any high-level female athlete. I love how based in science it is and really helped me understand some of the places I may have gone wrong that lead me down this path, ie. not enough overall recovery time and definitely not enough food! I’m sure I will talk about this book more because it has been a fabulous resource.

It’s also been a good excuse to spend lots of time cooking and baking! Something that usually becomes a chore when you’re training lots but right now with some extra time on my hands, I sure enjoy it! Throw in planning a bridal shower for my future sister-in-law, baking a whack of cakes for different occassions and OF COURSE, it’s been great to spend time with Jeremy doing other things then just riding or running together. Breaking news we’ve actually had time to use some gift cards we’ve had for ages and go out for some nice dinners! It’s nice to be able to go out with friends and not be super picky about getting to bed by 9 o’clock. I’m looking forward to some very different weekends at the cabin where I might just sleep in past 6:00AM!!

Life is good, just different… but lets be serious, life is totally better on a bike!

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How’d I get here?

To follow my previous post “Sometimes You Walk”, I went back and asked myself the question “how’d I get here?” because the ol’ hindsight is 20/20. When did I first start feeling like things were going backwards… last year at the Police ½ marathon… yup that’s right I managed to convince myself so whole heartedly that I truly believe I was fine for 10 months after that! You could see this as either incredible tough & committed or incredible stupid (my vote is for the later). Overtraining syndrome presents differently for different people this is how it showed up in me.

Red Flag #1 – Under performance despite increase in training load

At the WPS half-marathon last year, I didn’t feel good running it considering how good of a build I had. I did my normal benchmark tempo 10 days out and used the conversion chart Jeremy’s has to predict an approximate time I’ll run. I have always used this in the past to calculate what pace to start out at feeling good but I sure didn’t feel good from even from the start. At the time I just figured, meh, still a good time, a bit of a windy day, I’ll take the win and the PR but I kept trying to shake the feeling that the performance didn’t add up to some of the workouts I had done. Never before when I felt fit did I race at a slower pace then I did workouts at unless there was an explanation (ie. I was sick or there were detrimental weather conditions). Probably at this point I was only overreaching and had I been smart I would have taken a break then and salvaged a good second half of the season. Instead, I pushed on for my two main summer races.

After coming off of my spring swim block, I never seemed to be able to find a good rhythm in my bike training and over all just felt flat. By IM 70.3 Racine, I felt like I was running with bricks on despite a normal taper and in IM 70.3 Calgary could only push recovery Watts on the bike. Although there were many valuable learning experiences from all of my races this year, I raced worse this year than I had the year before despite the increase in training load with the exception on my improvement in my swim. But don’t worry, I was very good at finding individual reasons for why each race didn’t go as planned, and you better believe the reasons I found wasn’t that I was doing too much!

Red Flag #2 – Planning my days around naps

Like I said, I was very good at “explaining” why these things were happening or necessary. After my first few races as a pro early last spring and really seeing how weak my swim was, I started a large swim block with the Marlins club. I explained to myself needing a nap every day was my way of coping with the different training schedule (which were mostly evening practices) than I was used to. In previous IM builds, I would often nap after big days or particularly hard workouts but at this point my life started to revolve around making sure I was home at some point in the afternoon to nap for at least 1 hour, often 90min.

Even after a good 6 week off season which turn more into 2-2.5 months (Middle of August to end of October) I was literally dragging my butt out of bed even on days I didn’t start training till 8AM and 5AM pool mornings, which I once in routine I never had a problem getting up for, took all of my mental strength which bring me to the next red flag…

Red Flag #3 – Loss of Motivation to train & race

Last summer, I still wanted to train, I would still get excited about the thought of a hard swim workout coming up or a long challenging group ride but then I would start and just wish it was over. That is totally not me! Since my gymnastics days some of the greatest pleasure I get from sport is from when I can work really hard and surpass where I was yesterday. Every coach I’ve ever had will tell you I thrived off hard work and now here I was just wishing workouts would be over. Even easy workouts just felt flat and hard.

By the fall, I found myself taking a much longer off-season then usual and then procrastinating starting my workouts many days. Even after the off-season I felt crappy, other then easy spins with buddies I didn’t do much till I started swimming in November (of course telling myself, if I just get into a routine and have a bit more structures I would feel better and get back into the groove of things).

Red Flag #4 – Overwhelming Fatigue

After Christmas was when things seemed to tumble down more quickly, I noticed I was able to go to bed by 9 and sleep till 8 or 9 the next morning without stirring if I didn’t set an alarm. I was sleeping 10+ hour per day, at least 8-9 hours undisturbed at night and then often a “forced” nap during the day. I say forced because some days I would just have this exhaustion come over me where I would literally crawl to the couch and have a very fit full nap, which usually left me feeling groggy and weak.

Contrary to many athletes who experience disturbed sleep with overtraining, I slept great!… I just slept a ton and never felt rested when I woke up. It’s important to point out by this point my training was already dwindling and it wasn’t like I was handling huge IM-build volume, which might require more sleep then my normal 8.5-9. I also found a day of work exhausting which was abnormal for me because typically I leave work with more energy than I started with.

Even though I didn’t stop training, this is probably the sign I paid the most attention to. I did allow myself to nap and didn’t plan early morning sessions whenever possible so I could sleep more. Although my weight had been stable all year, I also took a look at my diet, made sure I was getting adequate calories and increased my protein intake especially following hard workouts.

Red Flag #5 – My physiology was off

Where to start?! I was cold ALL of the time and could never get warm, I started wearing Merino wool base layers under my regular day clothes and wore hats and scarves even inside. Even when my husband and I went down to Tuscan to train in February, I was always dressed a layer or two heavier then what I normal would wear for a given temperature.

My hormones were out of whack, in particular my cortisol levels (related to your adrenal glands). I had issues regulating my blood sugar levels and had many faint/dizzy spells (including one the day before IM 70.3 Calgary…but I blamed this one on the “altitude”). My cycle was irregular all through the spring and by the time I stopped two month ago I hadn’t got it in multiple months. One thing that freaked me right out was when I pulled out a clumps of hair in the shower. Eeekk.

As my track record shows, I either ignored these symptoms or explained them away. My hair is probably just falling out from being in the chlorine so much…

Red Flag #6 – Anxiety/Moody

Like keeping it real here, I was MOOOOO-DDDYY! I’m usually pretty happy and positive, not to say I don’t have sad days but I definitely am not an angry person. If anything I would typically fall into the over-excited, bouncing-crazily-off-the-walls category, not the Negative Nellie category my poor husband and coach started to see lots of over the winter. I was easily irritated and frustrated at first just with training but it crept into day-to-day life as well. I would find myself super anxious, unproportionate to the situation at hand to the point I damn near had a panic attack. I think I was just so tired I wasn’t able to cope with any challenge or task no matter how small.

And Now…

I’m happy to say that all of these symptoms have dramatically improved in the past two months. It’s too much for one post but my next entry I’ll will share what I’ve done to help me start recovering.

Sometimes You Walk

Yep I’ve been M.I.A, both on social media and in real life for the past few months! It’s hard to post when training isn’t going well (or going at all), I’m sure my friends would get pretty sick of “here I am walking for the 4th week in a row”. I am battling some not-so-wonderful and very real overtraining symptoms. I’ve had different doctors address it in different terms… adrenal dysfunction… chronic fatigue… but the reality is my body was/is too stressed and just started to shut down. I’ve seen other athletes go down this path, it’s easy to see from the outside when someone is doing too much, too fast but it’s much harder to see it on myself. Yep, if I would have read another athlete share these last few sentences last year my thoughts would have been something along the lines of “why didn’t they stop before they got so burnt out” and “that won’t happen to me, I’m better than that”. Well, I guess I have to swallow my pride and admit that yep, this is real and yep, a lot of the reason I ended up here is on me. Anyways, I’ve finally got my head and heart around where I’m at. Here’s my story, hopefully by sharing you don’t let yourself end up here!

About two months ago, we met with exercise physiologist, Darryl Hurrie, the meeting was suppose to be about transitioning from such a swim focused block to get ready for the upcoming season. Instead I left the meeting with the plan of only four training session per week for the next two weeks. Ya not four workouts in a day… four workouts in the whole week! Whhhhh—aatttt? What changed? Well nothing changed per say, just Darryl was able to look at the big picture and point out what honestly deep down I probably already knew. I was carrying way more fatigue then I let myself believe and definitely had some pretty good overtraining symptoms I had been subconsciously ignoring, I was crazy moody (sorry hubby) and over-the-top anxious over minor things, amenorrhea, after a full nights of sleep I still never felt rested and most glaring, a decrease in performance despite increased training load. Oddly I left this meeting more relieved than upset as finally someone had given me “permission” to rest. From here I felt like I crashed.

So I followed the 4 WO/wk plan for the first week – two Marlin swims, one 45min spin and one 60min run in place of the normal long run. I remember Coach Pat asking if I was going stir crazy yet, I wasn’t at all, I remember being just so tired and thankful I didn’t need to do any workout when I’d get home from work. Me, not motivated to train? There’s a tell-tale sign that something’s off with me! Taking away the normal training stimuli seemed to trigger my body to crash. Anyways, the week totally dragged and after doing only 60min of the normal long run I do with the gang, I could barely make it home before passing out for about 2 hour fitful nap.

I decided I needed that following Monday off completely. I felt awful when I woke up, like I had just raced an Ironman the day before and I think it was this day that my body had succumb to the fact that I didn’t really have a choice, I was going to need to take a REAL break if I wanted to come back healthy. Kind of like when you get a cold after exam week, you finally take away the stress so to say and all of a sudden your body lets it’s guard down. By the following Friday I was so tired & sick I slept for 16 hour a day all weekend. I did absolutely nothing that week either and felt like I just got more tired. I probably picked up a virus when my body finally let its guard down, that or I was just finally letting my body feel how tired it really was. I slept 10-12 hours at night and had a least one nap in the day sometimes two. I had no choice but to cancel pretty much everything non-essential in my life. I’d rally to get through a few shortened workdays in here but pretty much ate and slept and tried to eat more.

I had blood work done and got my hormone levels tested. My hormones, in particular my cortisol, were all over and I’m now working with a naturopathic doctor to help correct these. But moral of the story is I needed plenty of rest and good healthy nutrition (lots of it!) and two months later I am starting to feel more “normal” in a day-to-day sense.

I’m aware that the world isn’t going to end, I don’t have a life threatening disease, I have an awesome job and I have lots of love in my life. I’m soooo incredibly thankful that we had that meeting with Darryl, I cannot imagine where I would have ended up if I didn’t stop when I did. Regardless of what I wanted to be doing this season, at this point I’ve taken a step back, I think it’s important to look back and learn from my mistakes before moving forward.

No endurance athlete should end up here and now that I’m here, I’ve spent a good amount of time reading on other athlete’s, both recreational and elite, that end up here I realize it’s far too common! Although I read my fair share of research articles, I found the few athletes who shared the less-clinical side of their personal journeys back to sport both comforting and inspiring. I wish I had known what path I was going down before I ended up in said hole! If you’re interested here is my story of the past year. I sure can see all the red flags when I look back now!

Next week I will share a post on what I’ve done to get from the week I totally crashed to the point where I’m feeling back to a normal human being again. Update: Click here for how I’ve started to recover.

Happy HEALTHY training!

Nicole

Bike Gear this Year!

Sponsors: Woodcock Cycle, Felt Bicycles, Rudy Project, Biknd

IMG_4375

When I started to write my blog post about gear, I quickly realized that the bike needed it’s own entry! Here is the inside on what bikes & gear I raced with this past season (click here for my post on swim/run gear):

Coming from aerial skiing where all you needed was skis & boots; diving into triathlon, I realized how much more gear there is and how many endless little decisions there are to make… What pedals do I need? What are the aerobars made of? Which hydration system will integrate well? SO FREAKIN’ OVERWHELMING! How do you balance cost with performance… trying to sift through endless reviews… each training buddy swears by the set-up that works for them. What do I really need? What is just hype?

This is where I need to endlessly thank Woodcock Cycle, right here in little ol’ Winnipeg, for always helping me out. Like I’ve said before, I just like to put my head down and do the work; Woodcock has been a great sponsor not only to educate me & make sure I’m set-up on the right gear to give me that extra edge but to then answer my million questions on how to do everything from use a CO2 cartridge to plug-in my di2 charger (and not even making me feel stupid for asking such silly questions)! Another reason to #shoplocal! Don’t expect anything too technical as I’d rather be out using the equipment then understanding how exactly it works but here’s what I liked/disliked with my gear this year.

Race Set-up

 


Bike: Felt IA10 – XS frame/Di2

I had wanted a FELT bike since I saw Mirinda Carfrae ride one in KONA and now to watch Daniela Ryf win on a FELT again this year, you know their bikes are top of the line! I started racing on this bike mid-season last year but after doing my whole build on it this winter, it really feels like my own now. This bike is fast! All of my training route personal records have been done on this bike as well as my PB 70.3 bike split. I’m kinda an outlier here but I have good hamstring flexibility and compared to my old bike this frame allows me to get lower, still be comfy and maintain my power numbers even in the aerobars. The only thing I feel this bike has working against it is that it’s pretty heavy but hey, for time trialling the aero dynamics more than make up for it! However, when chasing my husband up hill at the lake, it has me cursing the odd time! I’m planning on racing on this bike again next year, I like how it handles and I like knowing exactly where my bottle and nutrition are without looking so it would be hard to convince me to change. Just gotta spend the time on the trainer this winter and develop MORE POWER!

Wheels: HED Jet race wheels (6 front & 9 rear)

This is my 3rd season racing with these guys. I like ’em, especially when I first put them on after having training wheels on for a while, you feel so fast! I’m still building my confidence with the front one in particular in a crosswind but I have yet to opt NOT to race with them even in Galveston this year with the gusty winds off the Gulf.

Pedals: Garmin Vector2 power pedals

I’ve actually had quite a few people ask me about my power meter choice lately. I originally went with pedals based power because I wanted to be able to change them between my Felt TT and my road bike. The original Vector’s were a complete nightmare and I often had problems getting them to sync especially after travelling to a race. Eventually Garmin upgraded me to the Vector2 model and they have been great! The new pods are a much better design and through all my travels this year I didn’t have any problems with them syncing or calibrating. I do find they read about 10Watts higher than my Tacx Neo but it’s consistent so as long as I’m comparing relative workouts it’s no big deal. Maybe even a little confidence booster? 😛

Helmet: Rudy Project Wing57 with Optical Shield Smoke Lens

 

The Rudy Project Wing57 was my biggest gear upgrade this season. I have a small head (haha laugh now) and I really like how snug this one fits. In addition to being far more aerodynamic, I was surprised how much I liked my ears being covered… you know… if you don’t hear the wind, it’s not there right? I also raced once this year in really cold temperature and I liked that there is a piece that pops in to cover the front air vents, it definitely made a difference in keeping the heat in. That said I was worried in hot races it might be too hot to be so enclosed but I didn’t find it hot at all. I raced without the front vent cover in +30C weather and it was cool enough for me! Plus the visor makes you look bad ass and therefore feel bad ass which obviously will make you race like a bad ass 😉

Saddle: Specialized Power

Oh picking a saddle, still a love hate here… The power is much better than the saddle I had before but early in the season I had been getting a twinge in my left hip after long rides especially when I was spending majority of the ride in my aeros. I realized I was sitting crooked on my seat and when I consciously corrected that the hip pain was gone immediately. I also found it was chaffing a bit on the inside my leg when I spent a long time in the aeros. I didn’t want to change anything so close to the race season since it was still the most comfortable seat I’ve had thus far I just left it. Recently, Woodcock remeasured me with the saddle pressure mapping “thing-a-ma-jig” (see I told you, I just like to ride the damn bike, I don’t pretend to be an expert in bike fitting) and we discovered that I need a wider seat so that I would be better supported. I have been riding with it now for 3 weeks so far and it seems much better but my rides have been fairly short so time will tell as I get back into full volume.

Shoes: Giro Women’s Facet Tri

How I picked these:

1. They were the right size
2. They were pink

Easiest decision ever! When I had my bike fit, we added insoles that were more rigid and they are supposed to transfer the power better from my foot to the pedals but all I know if they feel comfortable so I’ll take their word on the rest!

Hydration: Xlab Torpedo System 50+, Xlab Turbo Wing with Gorilla Cages

Holy! Gorilla cages are expensive! Can you believe I spent roughly $75.00 on a bottle cage? But seriously after having to turn around after every set of train tracks because I double ejected my bottles, I was desperate and they have lived up to their great reviews. I opted for the most compact version of a horizontal front bottle set-up, it stays in place way better than the profile design vertical bottle I used to use. All their stuff is certainly a pretty penny but I got my set-up dialled and not having to fight with my bottles is certainly one less thing to frustrate ya when in the middle of a race!

Data: Garmin910

I don’t use my 910 anywhere but on my bike now, I really would like a Garmin Edge but this one works so unless Santa surprises me I will use it again next year!

Travel bag: Biknd Helium

 

Okay this was probably the single thing this year that reduced my anxiety of travelling. After my seatstay was cracked in customs on the way to Kona last year, I reached out to Woodcock to see what bag they would recommend. Ohh MMM GEE! The Biknd Helium is like the Rolls-Royce of bike bags. Having four wheels, instead of just two on the back… ahhh so much easier to navigate airports!

On top of it being much easier to manuever, it’s much lighter than the Thule hard cover box I had; yet in comparison to some of the soft shell bags on the market, it is still super durable. The fork attaches right in to the base of the box. I just loosen my handle bars and fold them sideways (perk of having a small bike). All my extra bike related gear (shoes, hydration, helmet, etc) all fit around the frame. It even comes with a cover for the chain and crank set. Once everything is zipped up then you just inflate the bag with this nifty little pump it comes with. You end up with a fairly rigid bag but I could still keep light enough to make the 50lb weight limit! Even with 2 sets of wheels! FTW! Ya you read that right, it has room for TWO sets of wheels, so I can take my HED race wheels, as well as, my shallower training wheels incase it ends up being a super strong cross wind, etc… or just to breathe easy knowing I have a back up 😉

 

Swim & Run Gear this Year!

With off season being a time to reflect not just on training but also on gear for next year, I figured it was a good time to share my set-up for the 2017 season and what changes I’m planning on making next year. My motto has always been that if I have to choose between investing in training to make me faster (ex. coaching, pool space) or gear to make me faster (ex. more aerodynamic wheels), I always choose training. Luckily I’ve been able to partner with some awesome companies so I can continue to focus on training hard AND have the advantage of top performing gear and for this I’m extremely grateful! Here’s what gear I choose for the swim & run portions of triathlon, I will post my bike gear separately in the near future. Enjoy!

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Run Gear
Sponsors: Skechers Performance, Rudy Project

Race Shoes:  Skechers GoRun5
I started running in Skechers even before I joined the Skechers Performance team. Why? Because they are light AND cushy! I also like how flexible the back/heel is on them, in fact this is why I tried them in the first place. I don’t want something rigid pressing agains my achilles tendon, I prefer to rely on the stability & strength of my own foot/ankle. The quick pull tab is a nice perk for fast transitions as well.

Training Shoes: Skechers GoRun Strada & GoRun Ride 6
I had originally been doing all my long runs and easy runs in the GoRun Strada because I found I needed a bit more support, especially when I’m tired, in comparison to during workouts/races. Recently, however, I’ve been really liking the GoRun Ride 6. I’m finding they more similar to the GoRun5 but just slightly more cushioned & supportive for the longer training runs. So at the moment I have a pair of each in rotation!

Sunglasses: Rudy Project StratoflySX

After a crazy eye infection last year, my right eye is super sensitive to glare off the water and direct sunlight so I love the photocromic lenses because they grade the amount of light let through depending on the brightness. I don’t always run with sunnies but when it’s super bright these are a must! I also like how narrow the frame is. I won’t be changing from these anytime soon!

Nutrition: SPIBelt, Gu Gels & SaltSticks
My SpiBelt is getting pretty worn but I just love it. During training runs I stick my iPod in it and during races I load it with gels and salt tabs. As far as actual nutrition products go however, I’m not a super big fan of Gu’s, they are highly processed and although the caffeinated ones work well during races, I often feel the “gut rot” effect afterwards. This is something I plan on looking into more during the off season and either see if I can make something or find a product that is more natural. Woodcock Cycle recently brought in Huma gels and the one I tried tasted good and is much more natural so I might play around with those a bit more. SaltSticks seems to work well, I take one every 3-4 miles  during races and use as needed during hot training sessions. I still haven’t found a liquid nutrition formula that agrees with my stomach, this too is another off season project!

Watch: Garmin Forerunner 410 (UPGRADE: Garmin 735XT)
Ya I know! This guy is ancient! But why buy something new when what you have serves it’s purpose just fine… till it konked out on me in the middle of IM 70.3 Racine. So I just used my basic Timex in IM 70.3 Calgary and was forced to upgrade. I decided on a Garmin 735XT. I’m in love! It sync’s so easily to TrainingPeaks, love the optic HR monitor and it doesn’t look nearly as clunky on my wrist. I plan on racing with it next year so finally I will know my swim time getting out of the water instead of having to look at results later! Love, love, love and won’t be changing until it dies on me but will definitely ask for a pink strap for Christmas!

Swim Gear

Swim Skin – Huub SKN-1
This is my favourite swim skin thus far in my triathlon career. I like how it fits snug in the lower back therefore not carrying any extra water and I like the X-O skeleton compression feel. It’s locking zipper is nice too! I’ll definitely be racing in this one again next year, again if it ain’t broken don’t fix it, am I right?

Wetsuit – Huub Atana
This suit has been good to me but not great. I liked the idea of the 3:3 neoprene, being a kick dominate swimmer this should put me in better alignment in the water. It definitely lived up to everything the reviews said, it’s super comfy to put on and very flexible but after spending two years in it I’m not sure I liked that! I think I actually preferred something a little be more snug through the legs and body (obviously I still want lots of movement in the shoulder). Maybe because it’s thinner, I also always found it colder then other suits I’ve had; and ask coach Pat, the easiest way to see grumpy Nicole is to let me get cold! I’ve just ordered a new suit, the propel by 2XU to try out next year.

Goggles – MP XCEED Smoke lens or Clear lens (depending on sun)
No rocket science here, basically they fit my face, stay on and do a decent job of not getting too foggy. I’ve jumped around with a few different brand/types of goggles but at the moment I swim with these in the pool all year round too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dirty Double – IM 70.3 Racine & Calgary

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Ironman 70.3 Calgary Photo Credit Austin Grisham

I know I know, almost 6 weeks after finishing my last race I’m finally getting around to this. I was finding it incredibly hard to write a post when I was so unsatisfied with my performances. Don’t get me wrong there was some good in both Racine and Calgary but as far as delivering a performance to the fitness level I was showing in training, they were both far from stellar. I also feel the need to follow this up by saying, the unsatisfied feeling has nothing to do with where I placed and everything to do with knowing I hadn’t raced to my potential.

To continue this year of firsts, this was the first time I raced only one week apart, Ironman 70.3 Racine followed by Calgary. Some of the other girls informed me this was referred to as the “Dirty Double”. It’s a great way to use the same build and taper and get two races out of it.

Ironman 70.3 Racine – 8th – 4:01 *no swim

Another pro race… more experience… best placing to date… all-in-all much worth the 13 hour drive down to Racine, WI.

My hubby and I arrived in Racine on Friday mid-day and it was sure nice not having to worry about rebuilding my bike, let me tell ya! We then went down to check out the water… it was freakin’ cold… The lifeguard said the temp readings had been between 49-52F that day. I put my wetsuit on, waded in to about waist height and dove in… I’m surprised my heart didn’t stop! I had brain freeze almost immediately! I took 3 strokes back towards shore and called it a day. I think that is the record for world’s shortest swim workout! All I could think was “I don’t know how I’m going to swim in this, but it ain’t gonna be today!”

When we went to check-in at the expo, I asked the staff how much the water temp could change in the next 48hrs and apparently Lake Michigan can flux a good 10 degrees. Which would still be bloody cold but anything over 53F we would have a swim (shortened to 750m if the temp was between 53-56F) so Jeremy & I went searching for a neoprene swim cap. Life saver! I tested it out the next day and that made a world of a difference.

Race morning I was pretty excited… and nervous… mostly because I had to line-up in the pro section… that still makes me super nervous. As soon as I stepped out of the car, I could tell the wind had picked up and was from the North so I was pretty confident the swim would be shortened. As Jeremy unloaded my bike, I went to look down at the water and I didn’t see any buoys… that’s not a good sign 2 hours before the race. Sure enough as we got close enough to transition I could hear the announcer stating the swim was cancelled and it would be a time trial bike start.

Between not being seeded and having a last name that starts with a “W” I was the last girl to start, each of us being spaced out by 30sec. I passed one girl almost immediately and then didn’t see a single rider out on the road till about mile 30 where I passed a couple girls. I still cannot believe how lonely out there it is compared to racing with the amateurs.

Nicole Walker Felt Bicycles

Waiting for the time trial start

We had the best ever homestay family! They drove Jeremy around and I got to see them cheering many times which was so motivating. I was super pumped coming off my bike because I had a new highest NP of 184W AND I felt like I had kept some in the tank.

… but then I started to run. Oh boy did I feel flat. I just had nothing, I didn’t really feel particularly tired but it was like my body just said “no you can’t run faster then 7:30pace today”. I tried to settle in and stay focused but about half way through my legs started cramping which has never happened to me before and the second half of the race was another death march. I managed to hang on to 8th place which was my best finish to date so can’t complain about that.

Ironman 70.3 Calgary – 7th place – 4:24:00

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Finish chute Photo: Austin Grisham

Between driving home from Wisconsin and driving out to Calgary, other then one good swim workout mid-week and a few pick-ups on the bike and run, the focus was rest, rest, rest.

The lead up to the race was fairly uneventful. I was surprised the day before with how good my legs felt during my light spin considering and I was please also to see the slight elevation change didn’t seem to effect me too badly while out running either. Coach Pat was with me and we both were doing an incredibly good job of trying to convince me that I wasn’t as tired as I truly knew I was.

Race morning came with beautiful weather, yet honestly I can’t say I was looking forward to racing (tell tail sign of the hole I was in cuz I loooovvvveee racing!). I remember just feeling like I wanted to puke at the start line, almost in fear of knowing the pain that was to follow the gun going off. I got out really strong on the swim but with it being such a small pro field I didn’t have many options of girls to work with. I was dropped from the main group about 400m in and from then on I just kept focused on good rotation and a strong pull. The swim course was short by 100m so the time doesn’t mean much but I swam 1:33/100m which is the best pace I’ve ever swam. I have mixed feeling about my swim, on one hand I’m so pleased that all the swim training I put in has given me some gains but on the other hand, I realistically need to be swimming closer to 1:25/100m on a course like that which is still a ways to go.

For as much as I felt like a rockstar on my bike last week, this week I felt totally flat. Clearly I left my bike legs in Wisconsin! My NP was 155W… ya almost 30W less than last week. I just couldn’t push any more power and I was frustrated, this is the first time I ever thought to myself that after the bike I might not even run, just cut my loses…

I came in to T2 and was still in a terrible mindset. I knew Coach Pat was out somewhere on the run course so I decided to start running and I thought when I saw him I was just going to stop right then and there… but this time when I started running, I felt surprisingly good. I settled into a good rhythm and pick off a few girls. I ran very well and even handled the 1/2 mi hill that topped out at 14% grade in the last third of the race well for the 5th fastest run split of the day.

Looking back…

Now that I’ve had a chance to look back at the training the last month leading into these races, all the fatigue signs were there, whether or not I had wanted to admit it. My perceived effort was through the roof on run workouts that used to seem manageable. It took a ton of will power to get through some of my key brick workouts and I was lacking my usual endless motivation to train. My morning heart rate was sitting 4-5bpm higher then usual and I had a pretty epic bonk on one training ride which was the longest 40k home of my life! I did my best to hang on through these last two races but a good break was most definitely needed in August! I did lots of social rides, enjoyed time with family and friends at the cabin and took quite of fews days off of training all together.

So to draw conclusion to the season, I got way more experience and met tons of amazing triathletes from around the globe. Initially Coach Pat and I had toyed with racing a few more times this fall but we’ve decided it would be best to wait till spring. I plan to write a post about this decision and my fall plans but the short of it is, this season has made me realize that I need to make another significant jump in fitness to really be satisfied with my performance next year. By taking a break now, I will A) be able to be completely rejuvenated and B) not have to break the training cycle to taper, travel and race which will hopefully set me up for a strong spring!

Cheers to cooler running weather!!

Swimming with the Manitoba Marlins

So it’s been a bit longer than usual since my last post but hey I’m going to blame it on the amount of training I’ve been doing! Other than completing two local Olympic distance training races, ever since the WPS half my training has been very swim focused. I had some big improvements swimming with Coach Pat the last two years but if I really want to be able to “play with the big girls”, I know I need to commit some real time to it. Coach Pat & I reached out to the Manitoba Marlins swim club and in May I started swimming under head coach, Dave Guthrie. What better way to learn how to swim properly then immerse myself in an elite swim program! I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to swim alongside their National group and so began a schedule of 6 sessions over 5 days per week. Yes, you read that right, Monday thru Friday with a double on Wednesday bringing me to a total of 10-11 hours of swimming per week… and I wasn’t even swimming their full schedule!!

The first few weeks were rough with an incredibly steep learning curve, especially since they are an IM based program (all four strokes) and I’ve only ever figured out freestyle. These swimmers are amazing, many of them are leaving on swim scholarships next year so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I couldn’t even make their warm-up pace times, never mind the main sets! It was quite humbling and quite motivating. Many nights after evening practice I’d come home, plop down on the couch and be too tired to even eat and sometimes too tired to even make it to bed before falling asleep.

It was just such different training than I was used to, some weeks were volume based or aerobic development where I was hitting over 30,000m a week. By swim standards, I was informed this was nothing, but it was triple my average weekly swim volume in the past two years! Probably the hardest weeks for me were the ones with the lactate sets, that’s certainly a different type of hurt then I’m unaccustomed to! Other practices were pace based with a constant repeat time with either Coach Dave or a teammate timing each lap. It’s impossible for a competitive-natured person like myself not push when you’re being timed! Oh the power of the stop watch… Although, it was sometimes hard to drag my butt to the pool after a 2-3hr brick earlier in the day, I always found the practices fun (yes, clearly triathlon is the sport for me when I consider busting my ass and often in desperate need of more oxygen fun).

Many times, Coach Dave would have to stop me for what he called a “rookie break” to explain the basics of a stroke and I’m sure had to hold back many laughs when I’d ask for clarification on “what do you mean by the top of the stroke?” type questions.  The team was awesome to me and thankfully my lane-mates were always willing to explain what all the jargon written on the workout board meant. I found there was always so much to think about when swimming in comparison to biking or running… keep my head neutral, reach my right arm further and don’t let it cross over, breathe to both sides… oh and kick… from my hips… without bending my knees. If that wasn’t enough to keep track of, there was listening for what your time was when you got to the wall and calculating when you were suppose to leave the wall again. Often I’d leave the wall at the wrong time and sometimes even doing the wrong stroke, I’m sure I looked like a complete idiot, especially to these teens who had grown up swimming and this was all second nature.

By the beginning of June, I had dug myself a pretty good hole. After all, I was still biking 4 days per week, running 40-45 miles and trying to still sneak in the bare minimum strength and Pilates work to not get injured while my body was still adapting to increased volume in the pool. At the pool, we started to repeat some of the workouts we’d done in the first weeks I’d been there and I felt like I was getting slower. Somedays I would actually be 5 sec per 100m slower which was incredibly frustrating. It made me really start to understand that swim progression was not nearly as linear as biking and running.

After racing the local Triple Threat Triathlon on stuffed legs, I had a few recovery days and then things started to really come around. I finally started to feel smoother in the water and actually could feel I was making some changes based on the corrections I had been getting. I was even able to make some of the warm-up times without fins or only using little zoomers. I started to get a bit more speed and my 100m time came down from 1:22.3 to 1:17.5 over the two months. That’s almost 5 whole seconds… by no means fast but I’ll take it! I also starting being able to actually focus on doing the workouts well and didn’t feel so scattered between sets. I was definitely outside of my comfort zone at least once a practice in some way or another but I can’t believe how much overall comfort and ability to stay relaxed in the water has improved. It’s also totally worth noting that I can now dive start without losing my goggles and can successfully flip turn with without my snorkel filling with water 😛 Does that qualify me as a swimmer?!?

In preparation for Ironman 70.3 Racine next weekend, the past few weeks I’ve done almost all my swims in open water and have been focused on applying the corrections I was working on in the pool, where wearing a wetsuit, sighting, and water conditions are all additional elements. Has the effort in the pool paid off? Some days I think so… other days I’m not sure… I know that I have more speed but I’m not sure I’ve spent enough time yet in open water to see the speed transfer over a longer distance. Coach Dave says I’d need to commit to 24 weeks straight to really see some gains and I’m planning on doing just that after this triathlon season wraps up!

Thanks to the whole Marlins gang for making me feel part of the team!! Maybe one day you’ll make a real swimmer out of me!!!

Manitoba Marlins Nicole Walker

My Marlin teammates out watching the local St. Malo Olympic Distance Triathlon. Thanks gang!

 

Race Recap: WPS Half-marathon – 1:21

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Just settling in at mile one

New PB – 1:21:54 – 1st Overall Female

The decision to throw in a half-marathon was to serve a few different purposes. First of all, I haven’t be running well off the bike this year, yet I’ve been laying down some of my best TM workouts of my life so I wanted to chance to really see where my run fitness was as. Second of all, since I won’t be doing any more half-Ironman’s till July I thought it would be good to practice to get into the racing mindset and remember how to dig!

Other than the Manitoba Marathon, this is the biggest spring race in the province. I DSC01574always find it fun to be part of the race morning buzz regardless of the event. After dragging a bike, bike gear and swim gear around for the last many races I’ve been to, it was quite different to show up only a hour before the race with only a small backpack! I got in a short warm-up with my hubby, Jeremy & his brother who were also running. I had convinced Jeremy to run with me as a “easy tempo” run for him so he had a bib this morning too!

I love local races! It’s nice to sleep in your own bed, you know the course because you run most of it on Sunday long runs and see so many familiar faces along the side of the road including both of our parents. I also like lining up at the start line and everyone knows everyone; it’s fun!! I lined up just behind my brother-in law (who won the men’s side) and we got moving.

So many people take-off so hard cuz they are so excited at the beginning of a race, even still I find it hard not to get carried away, Jeremy told me to cool it and I knew by a mile in I would pass most of them back anyways. My plan was to get after it earlier in the race since sometimes I hold back too much at the beginning. It was into a decent headwind for the first 3-4 miles and I think this took more out of me then I anticipated because I had to slow the pace 5-10sec/mi to keep it comfortable even when we had the wind at our back.

Once the starting-gun frenzy had settled, it was a pretty sparse front end of the race (I was 5th overall including the men) but I had fun running with Jeremy even though I couldn’t say a word to him because I was working so hard. He on the other hand, I think had the most fun he’s ever had during a race, my pace is such a comfortable pace for him that he was able to look around and even to run across the road to give a little kid a hi-five! The last 3 miles really hurt and didn’t help that they were into the wind with a small uphill just before the finishing shoot. I knew my pace had faltered from were I started but I also knew I was still on pace for a personally best so I tried to push it right to the line to make sure I got under 1:22 (because we all know how much it sucks to be a few second over any given minute). I average 6:15/mi and you can never complain about a personal best!

Jeremy and I crossed the line together (but no, definitely not holding hands, I was working far to hard for that). The funniest moment of the day to me was as I’m bent over gasping, to catch my breath, while a volunteer was simultaneously trying to give me my finisher medal, Jeremy give me a quick pat on the back, instructs me to collect his medal for him and takes off to extend his “tempo” run an additional 4 miles. Ah what a guy!

This year was an extra special year for the WPS half-marathon as all the funds raised were donated to Cancer Care in memory of Joanne Schiewe, who was a member of both the running and triathlon community here in Manitoba. Her partner, Jared, is a good training buddy of mine and it was great to see all the community support out there today for Jo!

Shout outs: to Jared for running an awesome time of 1:35, to my cousin Paige who broke 1:40 (yay girl) and to all my many clients/friends I saw along the course, that was mighty kind of you all to come out to cheer!

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Race Recap: Ironman 70.3 Texas

14th in 4:38:11

Pre-race
Very little to report here which means a smooth travel day, bike went together easy again, and got in good rides & runs the two days leading in to the race. I was in a better headspace then I was in Campeche probably because I wasn’t sick and also because I now had the first race out of the way. My only complaint was you weren’t allowed to swim on the swim course at all prior to the race which was taking place in the waterway between Galveston Island and the mainland so your only choice was to swim on the gulf side in the days leading up to the race. It was incredibly windy all week so I was only able to get in the water once before the race because the surf was up.

Race Morning
The overall goal for this race was to race the swim and bike harder then usual to try to be more “in” the race. Weather was predicting thundershowers but luckily the weatherman was wrong! It was however, super windy and humid even at 5:00AM when I got to transition…which by the way was wayyyyy too early! Since I didn’t have to rack my bike the day before (this is a perk I could get used to), I had done most of my pre-bike checks and nutrition set-up the night before.

The Swim – 33:30
So the water temperature was 74 degrees so I kept hearing announcements that it would be a wetsuit legal swim, however, at the pro meeting the day before they had said it would be a non-wetsuit swim. The reason I was confused was that the pros have a different wetsuit cut-off (72F vs 76F) that I didn’t realize. Anyways… now I know…cough rookie…

To start you walked about 400m and then out onto the dock. They let us in the water about 5 minutes before the men went off but I waited a few more minutes because I was worried I would be cold. I was happy that it was a deep water start as I was more familiar with this. The goal for this race was to swim hard to first 5-6min to try to find some faster feet if I could. I did much better being more aggressive starting and settled in to a group with about 4-5 other girls. By half way through I could feel the pace slow so I went to the front of the group to try to limit the damage the best I could. I felt like I swam smooth and strong but man, swimming is frustrating, for all the work I put in since the fall, I’m still not where I want to be!

The Bike – 2:28:41
When I got to my bike in T1, the wind had blown my visor off my helmet. I took a quick look around on the ground but it was nowhere to be seen so I took off without it…
Mount went smooth phew… I’m always nervous about that at the beginning of the outdoor season. I saw my mom cheering on the side and yelled that I didn’t have a visor… she thought I said they didn’t have water. She was very confused because I had two bottles on my bike… we had good laugh later.

Anyways, the bike course was pancake flat and pretty much a straight out and back along the seawall. I got through the first few turns and then two girls came blowing by me. I tried to go with them but I was more than 30 watts over race effort and had to let them go. The crosswind was super strong and relentless which meant constantly controlling your bike. I literally spent probably 2:20 of the 2:28 minutes in my aero bars and the next day my inner thighs and upper back were talking to me from that and the wind for sure! I was so happy to see at the half way point I was less then 6mi behind the lead, this was a huge improvement from Campeche… I was able to pass a few girls around the half way point and my average power was 8 watts higher then any half I’d done last year so I was pleased with my bike split.

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The Run – 1:33:05
I got off the bike and right away knew my legs were pretty fried. Guess I went a bit too hard on the bike. I kept thinking okay my legs will come around here any minute but nope, I was going to suffer through the run. By this point in the day with the humidex it was 37 degrees Celsius but at least it was overcast. There also were a bu-gillion turns on this course including a total of 9 U-turns, coming from lots of indoor running, this further shot my legs. I was able to clip off a few more girls and one girl went flying by me. In the end, I was pleased but not totally satisfied to cross the line in 4:38.

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Age-grouper to pro – Lessons learned
Just a little note on some of the changes I’ve noticed as I’ve made the jump this year. Last year I would often look at the pros and compare my times and thinking okay I would fit in ___ place. I think I was quite naive about the difference there is between racing pro vs amateur. First of all, I didn’t realized how much you are really on your own out there. On the swim I didn’t realize what a help it was to be in these huge swim packs or starting a few waves back where the water is already moving in the direction you’re going! Also, I think I would get a fair bit of unintentional draft on the bike as you work your way through previous waves and/or are being constantly passed by male age groupers from later waves. Especially in the Ironman brand races where there are often 2000+ athlete out on the course it was often hard to leave the required 6 bike lengths; whereas now you are really out there on your own. When you have low points in the race you can’t feed off the energy of passing previous waves or being passed by other age-groupers, you really just have to put your head down and work.

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Enjoying a”recovery” ride with Mom & checking out Galveston

Going forward
I’ve had this whole week as recovery after two back-to-back races plus being sick in there. I’m looking forward to meeting up with coach Pat next week, taking a step back and evaluating what direction we want to go next. It’s been great getting some experience under my belt but it’s definitely shone light on where I need to improve. As my typically reaction goes I have many ideas of how to improve so good thing I hire a coach or else I would bite off more than I can chew right away!!!

 

 

Race Recap: Ironman 70.3 Campeche

IMG_6640I’m writing this on the long bus and plane ride home. All and all it was a good experience in Campeche, Mexico. Despite my stomach causing havoc and not having a great race, I’m surprised how much I’ve enjoyed the whole experience of travelling outside of my comfort zone to a foreign race.

Pre-race 
I travelled down here with a training buddy of mine, Taren. It took a total of 17hrs to get here with a flight to Cancun and then a 7hr bus ride to Campeche. Unfortunately from about 20min in I spent the entire flight willing myself not to vomit. I was so nauseous that even two gravols didn’t knock me out. I tried to convince myself it was motion sickness (even through I’ve never had that on a plane before). As you can imagine the bus ride was rough feeling like that and only eating small amounts. When we got to Campeche around midnight we then had to figure out how to get our bikes in a cab which were all the size of smartcars with drivers who only spoke Spanish… that was another adventure… Two cab rides later and luckily running into some triathletes who were able to translate we made it to our AirBnb. Of course this whole day was documented for Taren’s vlog, here’s the travel day if anyone is interested: Triathlon Taren Travel Day Vlog

Not able to sleep in, I got up and built my bike with no issues for the first time ever. The new Biknd Helium bag certainly made this whole process easier (except for spending about a hour looking for my skewers which were attaching my bike to my bag doh!!!!). At this point, I told myself, it’s okay I still have two full days to recover from whatever stomach thing was going on (which I was still working incredible hard to convince myself was motion sickness).

We checked in and went swimming in this gorgeous 50m outdoor pool that was free to the public! I’m mean seriously how cool is that!  We checked out the run course on our bikes and called it a night.

Saturday, I was so nauseous that I was still hardly eating, this time I told myself it was nerves for the pro meeting. Looking back I can’t believe I actually thought that I felt that bad because of nerves! Never in any of my sports have “nerves” made my stomach upset. Talking to Jeremy later he confessed he had this same stomach bug all week (he was out of town for work) and hadn’t told me because he didn’t want to worry me.

I still did my pre-race swim & run and then we biked to transition to check our bike gear which was about 15k away. I was able to eat a good dinner and was feeling quite a bit better in the afternoon. So I continued to stay optimistic that I would be able to salvage a good race.

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Taren & I racking our bikes in T1

Race morning
Got up at 3:45 and we walked over to T2 where we were loaded up and were bused over to the start. Again I spent the entire ride telling Taren to talk about anything that would distract me from the flip flops in my stomach (which yes I still was convincing myself was nerves).

Pumped my tires, loaded my bike with nutrition and tried a second attempt at eating some sort of breakfast which at this point I settled for a handful of pretzels. I met a few of the other girls. They were all super nice and encouraging. I did a short swim warm-up and then stood are in the corral shivering as the men went off.

The swim
Rough conditions, probably the biggest chop I’d ever swam in. Oh and the start was sooo fast! I was dropped from the group before the first buoy (200m).  All in all I was very pleased with how I swam despite the slow time. I stayed relaxed in the waves & stayed with one other girl pretty much the whole swim. Clearly I still need a ton of work on my swim so I’m not DFL out of the water but based on where I’m at, I executed well. 

The Bike
After climbing this steep little kicker of a hill out of transition, I settled into my aero bars and was feeling pretty good. I was holding just slightly over my goal Watts and stayed pretty positive as I was worked my way towards the first turn around. By the 2nd turn around I could tell I was losing time to the girls a few spots ahead of me, this was a bit discouraging but I was still super happy with my power so I kept pushing on.

The first 50k of the bike I hardly ate, it’s not that I didn’t try it’s just that even the thought of eating anything made me feel sick to my stomach. Knowing my body needed fuel I forced myself to eat a pack of CliffBlocks which all just came back up about 10k later. I spent 10-20min biking really easy after that trying to let my stomach settle and get some water in me. Considering that whole escapade, I actually didn’t feel too bad and got back into my race pace and into transition.

The Run
It would have been so easy to just throw in the towel here. Knowing I was wayyy back from any other girl and feeling light headed (probably lack of calories) but told myself to start out on the run and see how I felt. Well, my legs felt fine but anytime I tried to pick up the pace to resembling any sort of race-like effort my stomach would start churning. So by mile 2 I figured I will just keep it controlled and at least finish. I ran about the pace I’ve been doing my long runs all winter and it was very weird to be coming into the last few miles without my legs screaming at me.

Post Race
To sum it all up I’m very pleased that despite having a stomach bug (which I finally accepted) that I still finished. It would have been very easy to have stopped after the bike and said today isn’t my day but I hate quitting! So this time the challenge was in managing my body to get it across the finish line. I’m not upset with my result or placing as I know this year will be a learning curve. I am frustrated however that I wasn’t able to execute a personally strong race. I just literally felt awful, like awfully sick to my stomach and I’m upset I didn’t get to perform up to my fitness level wherever that would have placed me. So more salty pretzels, water and ginger chews for me and hopefully I’ll sleep the whole plane ride home.

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What happens when you go from Winnipeg to Mexico…