What’s been up in 2013!

Obviously I have to improve on my blogging frequency :-)) It’s been since January with no posting!! So my goal here is to give a summary of what’s been going on with me in 2013.

As far as training and racing is concerned, the year started out with a very painful foot!  In fact, my foot had been painful for almost the whole year of 2012 as you may have seen in my previous posts, but at least it was manageable.  However, after Ironman Arizona last year it was flared up and I wasn’t able to run when I tried to start back training.  I started seeing my Chiropractor and after having a negative x-ray and negative bone scan, we decided I better see a foot and ankle specialist (The pain was just under my big toe, over the sesamoid bones, and along the flexor hallicus and adductor hallicus tendons).  The foot and ankle specialist suggested I may have arthritis between the sesamoid and metatarsal, which was pretty rare but he had seen it before, and requested an MRI.  When I got the MRI results back, low and behold, it said I had “severe osteoarthritis at the articulation of the sesamoid and 1st metatarsal (under the big toe) with complete loss of cartilage and subchondral cysts”.  In “English” this means severe arthritis under my big toe joint with all cartilage gone from the joint and cysts in the bone that is involved in the joint.  Yikes!!  So I take the report to my Chiropractor, he looks at it, and says “I’ve never seen anything like this before.  I don’t know what to do with this”.  And then with further discussion we decide to continue doing what we are doing because things seem to be improving little by little!  In all seriousness, I thought running was OVER for me, and I worked on wrapping my head around the fact that I was going to be a cyclists who cross trains with swimming.  Or a regular gym-goer who passes the time at the Y.  Needless to say, I did my best to stay positive, and I think did fairly well!  And the best part – after several months of working on my foot/toe/shin, I was running again!! SLOW but running, and with a renewed appreciation for it!

I got myself re-focussed on triathlon and made my goal to do a couple of half Ironman races and head towards Ironman Louisville.  Things went fairly well, although I saw, and still see, my Chiropractor every week or 2 to keep things under control!!  At least now I know what the pain is from, how to manage it, and that I don’t have to be “afraid” of it.

My first significant race this year was the Welland Half Ironman.  A semi-local event, but a half iron distance – it was time to see if I could still do it!  I had my best swim I’ve ever had at Welland this year, coming out of the water as second female.  The bike ride was windy… and was “okay” – not fabulous, but not bad.  The run, well, that was tough!! I hadn’t been able to do much run volume before Welland so it was somewhat to be expected, but we athletes always expect more from ourselves that our bodies can sometimes realistically give!  So I ended up running one my slowest half marathon’s, approximately 1:46, but I actually finished HAPPY because I was able to do it!  As I said, a new appreciation for the sport, since I had thought I wouldn’t be able to take part in Triathlon or running events anymore.

After Welland I raced a number of SPRINT distance races and an OLYMPIC distance race – something I haven’t done for years!  This was really fun – it’s great to be able to give a hard effort and be done in 1-2 hours!!  And be able to recover quickly and get right back at training for the next one.  Doing local races was also very helpful for my confidence.

I raced Steelhead 70.3 as my second major race of the season.  The swim was crazy with all the waves!  I had my SLOWEST half ironman swim every BUT perhaps my best one in relation to the other pro women, so I was happy about that!  I had a great strong bike ride and finished it up with one of my best half ironman run splits!  1:33.  This was great for my confidence after starting out the year the way I did.

Ironman Louisville was a couple weeks after that.  I’ve been to Louisville a number of times, it has always been a great race for me.  I was excited to race there, but I felt more tired than usual in the taper weeks leading up to the race.  Partly physical and partly mental exhaustion I think!  In any case, I raced and had my best Ironman swim of approximately 0:59 which I was very happy about!  Then onto the bike.. I actually thought I was biking fairly well, power seemed to be in the range it was supposed to be, but my bike split was SLOW compared to previous years despite feeling stronger.. I’m still not sure what happened here, yet to be figured out.  Then to the run – I was aiming to run a 3:20, which I’ve never done in an Ironman but thought I was capable of based on my training.  The first half was about 1:38.. then it fell apart.  For some reason my body said “NO!” to putting any gels in my body.  I started drinking coke as much as I could, but couldn’t get in enough sugar and slowly died off.  I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the end!  At one point I stopped and decided to walk, but as soon as I stopped I started cramping and wanted to fall over so I quickly started jogging again.  Got to the end, 3:32, and was happy that at least a bad run was just over 3:30.

One of the best things about Louisville was that I had 2 athletes who I coach racing.. and I got to hang around and watch them come through the finish line!! It was a pretty big deal for both of them, fairly emotional and very exciting.  So happy for them.

After Louisville I made the decision to go to Wisconsin to race Ironman 2 weeks later.. kinda crazy, but I thought “why not?”  It was a place I had never been before, Madison sounded like a pretty city to visit, so I got in the car and drove to Madison and did another Ironman!  My body wasn’t fully recovered, it wasn’t my best race at all, but it was FUN.  I really enjoyed it because I had placed no pressure on myself.  I stayed with a great lady in Madison, I always love homestays because of the people I meet!  Thanks Barb!

After Wisconsin I thought.. what’s next?  And signed up for Ironman Florida.  Perhaps I thought “now that I can run, I should do as many races as possible before I can’t anymore”!  Lol.  I had never been to Panama City Beach so I thought, let’s go!  My friend Matthew offered to come with me and it was great to have someone there for support!  Matthew is doing an Ironman next year in Mt. Tremblant – his first one! – and I was excited for him to see and Ironman in action as well.  I did a three week taper for Florida instead of a 2 week taper, and actually did it quite differently than in the past.  This time the taper had one really low volume week, one significant volume week, and then very low volume the final week.  I also did more intensity this time in that second last week than I have done in the past.  I found my legs/body felt MUCH BETTER this time around, and I really felt ready to go!  I also experienced different emotions before Florida than before Louisville and Wisconsin.. I was really nervous! I think perhaps this was because I was feeling good, I felt that I was more fit than I have in the past, and I had done things a little differently this time with the taper and with my race nutrition plan.  As I was waiting in transition in the morning before race start I felt like I wanted to cry.. not sure why, just nerves!!  Oh – and I was also very nervous of the OCEAN!! It had been incredibly wavy in the ocean (like 4-6 foot swells) in the days before the Ironman, and although it was slightly calmer on race day, it was still very windy and wavy!  So, 6:30 comes, I head to the ocean for a warm up, give myself a pep talk and get in that ocean, trying not to think of sharks, jellyfish, or being dragged out to sea.  It was fine once I got going, my nerves calmed down and I was ready.  We lined up, the gun went off, and away we went!!  Away I went and got stuck in the break – so much for trying to hang on to a few girls!  Anyways, I laughed at myself, got myself going, and swim fine.  Just around 31 minutes for the first lap.  Second lap was a little slower, despite having some age group guys around by then.  The water was rougher, and I was probably getting tired too!  Near the end of the second lap a giant wave went over me and made me do a complete back flip!  Wow, what a surprise!  I stood up (it was shallow by then), saw two other pro women around me do the same, we were in shock!  Turns out it had flipped all of us over.  I got myself going again, out of the water, quick through T1 and outta there on the bike!  I felt sluggish the first 15 mins on the bike so kept my watts lower and tried to get my body ready.  It worked!  After that 15 min warm up I was able to keep watts steady, ride strong, from start to finish.  I rode near a couple other pro women for much of the ride which was great – it really helps to have people within eye-shot when you are trying to keep the effort up!  Passed many people on the bike, felt strong almost the whole way.  Quick through T2.. got my heart rate monitor on, and headed out at 150bpm, where I was supposed to start the run.  After a couple miles, I felt this was where I should stay!  So instead of looking at pace at all, I ran around that 150-152bpm range for the whole thing.. and felt great!  If I would have run by pace, I would have been afraid of the paces in the 4:20’s and low 4:30’s/km, but I know I could run at 150bpm so kept my eyes on that and went for it!  I ended up having my strongest run ever, on pace for a 3:15 marathon for almost the whole way, until I started feeling calf cramps threated and slowed down significantly for  a couple miles.  Even with that though, I was so happy to run a HUGE ironman marathon PB, and even a PB compared to my stand along marathon, and come in at 3:19.  Yippeee!!  I was so happy because this is something I’ve been trying to do (run 3:20) for the past couple years but could never come close on race day!  A GREAT way to end the season.  Ironman Florida is a great, FAST course, and Panama City Beach is an inexpensive destination to go for beautiful beaches!

After Ironman Florida I was lucky enough to be able to spend a few extra days RELAXING.  And combining that with the start of the offseason made for a very LAZY couple of days!!  I spent 3 days doing not much but sitting on a lawn chair by the ocean or on our balcony reading a book.  I can’t remember the last time I have done that.. or if I ever have!  Again, a great way to finish the season.  Since the race I have done NO running, biking or swimming, and NO training at ALL unless you count walks with Parker (my dog).  A real “rest” period is something very new to me, but I have confidence that it will only help when training starts up again in a few weeks!  I am very excited to get started again, and excited about what next year may bring!   Details to come on what is going to happen next year for me and racing!

Thank you to everyone who supported me this year in my training and racing goals!  Thank you to Absolute Endurance Training and Therapy (www.absoluteendurance.com) and my partner Alan Chud for supporting me day to day and helping to organize work and training.  Thanks to Mizuno Canada for providing me amazing running shoes and gear; to PowerBar for an endless supply of gels, bars and perform; to Rick Choy and Reel Kool Products for setting me up with a Quintana Roo CD 0.1 Triathlon Bike – the most comfortable bike I have ever ridden – and taking care of it all year long as well as an Aquaman Wetsuit to help along the way to those swim PB’s this year.  Thank you to the amazing Dr. O’Conner and RMT Sheila Sotto for keeping my foot and shin in order and allowing me to continue competing in this sport that I love!  And, thanks to Rich and Tara for the training advice!

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