Posted by: Tina | January 22, 2015

Target races for 2015

I want to get in shape again this year, and feel like jumping in at full force. Is this tentative wishlist schedule too ambitious?

May 3: BMO Marathon, 8k or relay
June 14: Seek the Peak
July 12: Granfondo Axel Merckx (Mediofondo, 92 km), July 12
July 19: Penticton Peach Classic triathlon (sprint)
August 18: Kelowna Apple triathlon (sprint)
October 3: Levi’s GranFondo Fort Ross (Santa Rosa California)

Either I’ll be in totally amazing shape, or I’ll be injured.
Posted by: Tina | August 29, 2012

All about the Ironman

Sunday marked my 10-year anniversary of volunteering for Ironman Canada (sadly, this was the last year of Penticton hosting the event). I body marked and wetsuit peeled as usual. I never tire of volunteering, but as the years pass and I watch the athletes endure, I personally feel less and less inclined to actually compete.

In honour of the occasion, let’s revisit my decade-old post all about my first experience volunteering at Penticton Ironman Canada.

27 August 2002

[On Sunday, I volunteered at the Penticton Ironman. These are some of my reflections and thoughts from my day at the event. This piece is fairly long and probably many of you will find it excessively boring. If you’re interested in triathlons and/or Ironman, however, read on.]

I volunteered for the Ironman triathlon because it combines two of my semi-obsessions: triathlons and extreme athleticism. I’m fascinated by the physical and mental requirements of competing in events such as these, as well as the mental rigor and discipline that goes into hard-core training for any sport. Volunteering got me in close to the athletes and allowed me to witness what goes on during such an event.

For those who don’t know, an Ironman competition consists of the following:
Swim: 3.8 km (2.4 miles)
Bike: 180.3 km/112 miles (the Penticton Ironman includes two major climbs)
Run: 42.2 km/26.2 miles (yes, that’s a full marathon)

The average length of time for completing the course is about twelve hours. The male winner this year did it in 8:30:57 and the female winner, for whom this was her fifth title, completed the race in 9:15:52. Although there are cut-off times for each event, the course opens at 7am and remains open for seventeen hours. There are always a few stragglers who hobble over the finish line just before midnight, often limping, weeping, and in intense pain.

For my first volunteer shift, I had to arrive at the transition area at 4am. The night before was so hot that I slept on the beach but was woken at about 3am by fat drops of rain. I crawled inside for about fifteen minutes before getting dressed and heading into Penticton for my first shift.

Pre-swim lust and energy
My first job was to number the athletes’ bodies as they checked in prior to the swim start. I was given a permanent marker to write their numbers from shoulder to elbow, and then down the front of the shin. The woman with whom I was partnered took the right side of each athlete, while I worked on the left. I also wrote the age of each competitor on the back of the calf. This was first-contact with the athletes, when we could see firsthand how each competitor was dealing with the prospect of the upcoming race. Some were hyper, some nervously cracking jokes and making stupid comments, while others were deadly serious and focused on the day ahead. Others seemed cool and collected but, when asked questions, were unable to focus properly on what we were asking. There was a humming energy in the air and all of us were feeding off it despite the early hour.

In the group of men to which we were assigned, the average age was 35 and the bodies of the athletes were hard rippling architecture, honed by months of adhering to a strict and rigorous training regimen. Almost all of the men were incredibly fit, toned, and athletic. One of the other volunteers remarked that an athlete had jokingly asked her if she had paid for the privilege of writing numbers on such bodies. As we were waiting to hear the positions to which we had been assigned, I heard another female volunteer muttering to her husband, “I want calves.” Personally, as a woman with a penchant for long, leanly-muscled athleticism, I reveled in ordering the athletes to remove their clothing and drop their pants to grant access to their limbs. If pressed, I might even admit to allowing my hands to sometimes linger on taut calf muscle and sculpted shoulder.

Cost of Competition
After numbering just over a hundred of the athletes, I wandered past the lot where the bikes had been stored overnight, and briefly looked over what I calculated was over 2 million dollars worth of bikes. In reality, most of these weren’t really bikes. I ride a bike. These were streamlined racing machines, on pencil-thin tires and weighing less than my right arm. One of my brother’s friends is an avid road racer and, when he later saw some of the bikes emerge from the swim/bike transition, mentioned that many of them were worth at least $5000 apiece. This is just one example of the real monetary costs of being a racer (not to mention the physical costs of training for and participating in an Ironman).

One of the other volunteers had traveled to Penticton from Oregon to watch her husband compete in the race. He competed last year as well and the same evening that he finished the race, he camped out overnight so that he could secure a place for this year’s Ironman. His wife explained to me the costs and sacrifices involved in Ironman. Although pros get sponsorship and most of the equipment for free, an amateur like him (although he completes the Ironman in just over ten hours) goes through thousands of dollars of shoes each year and maintains a three thousand dollar bike. One of the men in the so-called Clydesdale division (men over 220lbs) went through six thousand dollars in shoes last year, to support his daily 20km warm-up run. In addition, this woman’s husband pays hundreds of dollars in entry fees every time he enters a major triathlon – these athletes rarely train for just one event a year – plus travel and accommodation costs. He has a full-time job, yet his training schedule requires him to use all of his spare hours, including evenings and weekends, to train. Although I didn’t voice the thought to the woman, this seemed to me to be a somewhat selfish dedication in a man with a wife and 9-year old daughter.

Swim Start
As a volunteer, my t-shirt and wristband allowed me into the transition area with the athletes. They were milling about assessing the competition, waiting outside the long rows of port-o-potties to take a last-minute pee, organizing their gear bags, and zipping themselves into their wetsuits. The tanlines of months of outdoor training were on full display. Eventually, I ended up in a prime location for viewing the swim start. I stood on the opposite side of the fence from the beach where the athletes awaited the cannon signaling the start of the race.

This year, the Penticton Ironman had the largest mass start of any triathlon in the world, with 2040 athletes racing into the water at the same time. The swim start is nothing short of awesome. Green and purple swim caps bob towards the water and as the front lines hit the water, wetsuit-clad athletes line by line turn Okanagan Lake into a churning mass of flailing arms and legs. This occurred amidst a flotilla of boats, safety crew on kayaks, and scuba divers, while two helicopters hovered overhead.

Eventually all the athletes were out swimming along the row of buoys marking their route. The top athletes typically finish their swim in just under an hour so I decided not to wait. Instead, I stood at the beginning of the bike course and waited with the crowd for the first pro athletes to emerge after the swim. I then drove home, ate breakfast, and slept for an hour while the front-runners in the race climbed towards the Richter Pass.

Sunscreen in the afternoon
I returned to the transition area at noon for my second shift of the day, this one at the sunscreen station for the bike/run transition. I was given a pair of latex gloves which, once on my hands, I repeatedly doused with sunscreen that had been poured into two aluminum trays. In the run out of the transition area, the athletes ran down a long corridor of people handing out water, Pepsi, Gatorade, energy gel-paks, ice, and fruit. We stood there as well, yelling out “Sunscreen!” in case any athlete decided he or she needed such protection. When a racer stopped in front of us, two volunteers would usually work on one athlete, dividing him up into either top and bottom or right and left. Whoever finished their “section” first would do his face and ears.

Due to the typically hot and sunny conditions of the Penticton Ironman, sunscreen is usually a necessity. Some summers, such as the one of 1998, temperatures approach forty degrees and sunburn, heatstroke, and dehydration can be major considerations on the course. A large number of athletes end up with medical emergencies that force them to drop out of the race. A volunteer who competed in the Ironman last year related to me how he hadn’t noticed the sunscreen station when he made his way out of the transition area. In the baking hot sun of the Okanagan summer, he ended up with the worst sunburn of his life. He ran a three and a half hour marathon while the skin on his back started cracking and peeling.

This year, however, the conditions were cool and overcast – ideal for the athletes and less hectic for those of us stationed under the sunscreen tent. Many of the athletes actually complained of the cold and wet conditions in the upper elevations of the bike course (in 2000, some racers were forced to drop out due to hypothermia). The professionals, who pretty much never stop racing, even to the point where they will pee off their bikes, proceeded rapidly through the transition area. After that, we saw a steady stream of athletes, some of whom actually stopped for sunscreen. Some were truly wary of the sun penetrating the overcast sky, but most stopped as part of their usual triathlon routine, for the break it afforded, or for the rubdown we inadvertently provided. It probably felt good to have cool sunscreen rubbed into muscles overheated by an almost four kilometer swim and a 180 km bike ride.

If you thought that putting numbers on the triathletes’ bodies sounded interesting, then you can imagine just how much our small group of volunteers enjoyed the task of slathering sunscreen onto those same bodies. Sunscreen is actually one of the coveted volunteer positions because of how much fun it is. One racer, wearing one of the many jerseys oddly labeled Cops for Cancer, stopped at our station. As four women rubbed sunscreen onto his exposed skin, he said laughingly, “This is one of my fantasies!”

It also put me in a unique position to assess the condition of the athletes and have a brief chat to see how things were going. I was surprised by how much energy many of them had left. Some pounded by, tackling the marathon at a pace exceeding what I can run at my best 5km time, and this was after a huge swim and ride. Others hobbled out of the transition area and we just shook our heads, wondering how they planned on running 42 kilometres. There were also a few racers who were pretty spacey, either high on adrenaline or light-headed from lack of proper fuel for their bodies. The amateurs who came in during the mid-afternoon were by far the most fun, many of them relaxed and seemingly having a good time.

After 3:30pm, the lead competitors started to burst over the finish line a few metres out of the transition area. For the athletes who were only just arriving from the bike ride, it must have taken tremendous mental strength to face their marathon run when others had already finished the entire course. Although the bike course is shut down at 5:30, we closed the sunscreen station just after 4pm because a combination of the lateness of the day and the overcast skies meant that fewer competitors were stopping. I watched competitors cross the finish line for awhile, wandered through the transition area to take a look at the hot tubs and massage tent, and then headed for home.

Fitness (the Ironman meat market)
Apart from explicitly explaining the actual race, it’s hard to describe the tone and energy that surround the event. It is a lot of fun, with thousands of people coming out to support their family and friends, as well as ogle the superior human musculature on display. The Ironman is like a huge athletic meat market. Everywhere I turned, there were expanses of tanned and toned flesh. There are women who only volunteer – and I know this because I worked with some of them – to get up close and personal with what is arguably human athletic perfection. One woman practically ran down a muscle-bound athlete in an attempt to stop him for a sunscreen application. Not only are the athletes in wicked shape, but their entourages often consist of very fit and good-looking individuals. Although I am a fit person, I felt like a slow-moving, soft cow among these honed athletes. I don’t think I am the only person who came away with the perception that everyone there was assessing everyone else, not just as competition but for their potential. Our heads were turned more than few times by athletes heading away from us on their run.

At the same time, I was surprised by the variety of athletes who competed. As I mentioned earlier, there were the Clydesdales, men who weighed more than 220 lbs, not an easy weight to carry through an Ironman, especially on the run. There was one man in the 75-80 category, two in the 70-75 category, and I put numbers on the legs and arms of a fragile-looking 61-year old man. Although many of the women had what looked to be 0% body fat, there were also soft, chunky women who could definitely kick my ass in any test of fitness. There were people on bikes that looked like my hybrid but who could keep up with many of the athletes on their expensive triathlon bikes. It made me realize that the Ironman is not just for the professional triathletes – this is an actual registered occupation – but for almost anybody with the commitment and desire to compete.

I talked to an athlete sporting a full arm cast after being clipped on his bike in the first corner out of Penticton. He was so high-strung and disappointed that he just wanted to talk to anyone who was willing to listen. I know of a competitor who was hit by a car on the day before the race, broke his collarbone, and was unable to participate on race day. The leading male, who had a ten minute lead after the bike to run transition, dropped from dehydration twenty minutes into his run. He was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. There were eight swimmers who didn’t finish their swim in the maximum allotted time of two hours and twenty minutes. Just for a second, imagine swimming for a straight two hours and twenty minutes. I saw athletes running out of the transition area with a full limp and grimaces of pain on their faces. I saw a female finisher bending over by a fence and heaving up the contents of her stomach. I saw one of the many Japanese triathletes sitting on a bench after the race with a vacant and exhausted look on his face. I watched as one of the top finishers sat on a chair by the sunscreen tent and, without a particularly triumphant look on his face, scarfed half a pizza.

I considered heading back into town for the last two hours of regulation time to cheer on the final competitors as they struggled towards the finish line. In previous years, my aunt has watched this part of the race and tells me she always ends up in tears. At the last minute, I decided against going back. Part of my decision could be attributed to the simple selfish fatigue I felt from my 3am wake-up that morning. However, my primary reason was the question of why I felt they deserved to be cheered on. After fifteen or sixteen hours of racing, those competitors still on the course needed motivation and moral support. The question I asked myself was whether or not it was deserved.

What I admire in Ironman participants is the discipline and strength of will that brought them to that point. For the competitors who make it and can still stand at the end, I am happy. But for those who are possibly permanently physically damaging themselves, could I in good conscience cheer? I want them to finish, but should I encourage them to do so? I suppose my feelings towards the Ironman competitors represent a bit of a paradox. I admire the determination and the mental discipline necessary to adhere to a strict regimen of training and to push the body beyond its limits by sheer force of will. At the same time, the racers are often labeled “inspiring” and “heroic” for pushing the limits of human endurance in a way that is completely unhealthy in the long term. I may be fascinated but these competitors are not heroes and neither should I feel particularly inspired by them. I love the pain and ache of a hard workout but, at some point in the race, what the Ironman competitors do to themselves seems to be simply masochistic and fundamentally futile (although I wouldn’t say this applies universally to the athletes). Of course, each athlete can make his own decision about what he wants to put his own body through. In fact, they have all already spent thousands of hours and dollars putting themselves in such a position. I just don’t think I want to be there cheering them on.

I didn’t go to watch the last few hours. I don’t really need that kind of “inspiration”. I’m still fascinated with the sport and admire what the athletes can achieve. I am also even more interested in the why of the racers. And I’ll probably volunteer again next year. I want some more calves.

This original post is long gone from the internet but, thanks to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, it lives on in perpetuity.

What I haven’t mentioned anywhere on this blog is that, with my triathlon schedule completely upended by injury, my main event for the 2012 season became the Axel Merckx Penticton Granfondo (medio distance), which took place on Sunday, July 8.

My verdict: incredible!

I wasn’t excited leading up to the ride because I’ve been pretty bummed over the last few months about the fact that I am not able to swim or run. I also wasn’t excited because I didn’t know anybody who I could ride with (most people I knew who were doing the ride were entered in the full 160 km granfondo distance). I’ve been solo training so much that I’ve been finding it hard to get excited about going on long rides at all, including this event. It’s not often that I’m charged up about going for a 3+ hour bike ride by myself.

Because I wasn’t excited, I also wasn’t nervous. So I didn’t have the usual restlessness and sleeplessness that I get before most of my triathlon events. I was up by 5:15 a.m., muscled down most of a bagel with peanut butter and banana and headed into Penticton. I did a few warm-up laps, asked a volunteer to affix my number to my shirt, and grabbed a shot of espresso from a coffee shop. While killing time in the area just ahead of the 25 km/hr corral, I chatted with a guy who had driven 23 hours from northern Alberta to do the race on his own. It made me feel better being by myself, knowing I wasn’t the only one.

As it started, it took a couple of minutes to walk/coast to the start, but as soon as we were over the line, the crowd opened up pretty quickly. The first section was a short steep climb up Vancouver Hill, probably chosen by design to spread out the riders. The road looked amazing, curving up into the benchland filled completely with people on bikes. The descent, ripping down through the orchards and back into town, was so fun. It felt like a real race, and that’s when I realized I was about to enjoy myself immensely.

As we headed out on the flat highway out to Summerland, I started hopping on the wheels of other riders. This is where I was glad I was on my own because I could just jump on and off as I pleased. I was also pushing myself to keep up with fast groups, which undoubtedly helped me ride faster.

The last third of the 92 km was the toughest, partly because I was getting tired, having gone out fairly hard in all the racing excitement. I knew it would be a slog to climb out of Okanagan Falls so I was prepared for it, but I thought Highway 97 would be all downhill after the Highway 3 turnoff. It is not. This was mentally challenging because I was convinced it would be an easy cruise into town. There are descents but it flattens out often, which is when I could feel the north wind slowing me down more. And the final grind through Penticton! Something I wasn’t prepared for is the teeny tiny uphill grade along Main Street almost to the finish.

I cramped up as I arrived into Penticton, and the two guys I had been trading places with for most of the stretch from Okanagan Falls passed me. I cycled easy for a few minutes until the spasms passed and found myself able to push ahead again. I passed the two guys on the grind back into town, and ended up pulling them into the finish.

My final time for the 92km was 3:06:53, with an average speed of 29.1 km/hr. This is slightly faster than the finish time my coach had set for me, which I had thought was an outlandish prediction. I’ve mostly been riding on my own, so I had forgotten what riding in a group can do for speed. My time was definitely helped by the fact that I was drafting, plus the excitement of riding in a big group on a beautiful day.

I am sold on the concept of the granfondo. It was so fun and friendly, and made me feel like I was part of a peloton. I like the quiet of climbing hills as a group, with just the sounds of breathing, the clicking of gears, and the whirring of bike wheels, followed by the exhilaration of careening down the hills in unison. The course was great, with just the right amount of climbing followed by super fun descents, and then flat sections where I could fly with a group.

I predict more fondos in my future! Not this year though – now I rest, heal, and enjoy life.

Posted by: Tina | July 15, 2012

Hiking the Lions

I am having trouble walking today. And taking the stairs is excruciating.

The kids are away this week, so the husband and I decided to do something we don’t get to do very often anymore – go off for a hike! We tried the trail to the Lions since neither one of us have done it before. We made it to the base of the Lions, and stopped. We weren’t equipped for all the snow still remaining so decided not to attempt the top ridge.

Round trip was about six hours, including a break for a leisurely lunch overlooking Howe Sound. It was a beautiful view and a lovely – and sweaty – hike. It also reinforced the fact that you are only as fit as the sport you train for. My husband and I are both fit people, but we certainly haven’t done much hiking lately. My heart powered me up the climb, but my legs are paying for it today (the descent was punishing).

Still, it was great. I used to be do a lot of hiking – I basically traveled Australia going from one multi-day hike to another – and I do miss it. It’s kind of nice for my “A” race to be over so early in the summer so I can do things like this and not worry about missing a targeted workout.

Posted by: Tina | June 18, 2012

Like a fish

Last week someone at work told me he could never do triathlon because he hates being in the water. I can’t imagine what that feels like. I went for my first swim in two months tonight (at UBC Pool with the tri club) and loved being back in the water. After a few lengths, I just wanted to dolphin dive and splash around. Swimming is the sport I’m most afraid of losing permanently as a result of these injuries.

Posted by: Tina | May 13, 2012

Workout #96: Cypress first lookout

Spring has arrived, and I can smell summer coming. Yesterday, I headed over to the North Shore to ride up Cypress Mountain to the first lookout twice and then home again. The cyclists were out in full force – road and mountain – grinding up the hill. I haven’t gone up Cypress since 2008 (between child #1 and child #2) and the first lookout was a bit further than I remembered, so the first repeat was tough because I didn’t pace myself properly. But it was worth it – this is what the view was from the lookout.

With weather like this, it’s getting ever easier to head out on the bike. Which is a good thing since I’m not running or swimming anymore. Triathlon looks like it’s off the table for the rest of this year as the shoulder and knee pain persists.

Posted by: Tina | April 29, 2012

Delta Triathlon 2012 – Race Report

I am shocked. I did really well at the Delta Triathlon last weekend, and my surprise comes not from how well I did compared to others in the race, but how well I did in comparison with myself. Looking at my times for my most recent sprint distance triathlon in July 2011 – Point Grey Triathlon – with the exact same distances, you can see how this race stacked up.

Total Swim Bike Run
Delta 1:16:43 12:53 41:02 22:58
Point Grey 1:24:03 14:23 46:33 23:08


This is a huge improvement, though there are some factors that explain some of the difference, namely The Accident that had me out of training for six weeks early last year, and the mild hills that are part of the Point Grey Triathlon course. But seven minutes on a sprint distance is a huge amount of time to shave off. I expected to improve, but not by that much.

The Day Before
This is the first race where I felt little, if any, nervousness. The night before my first Olympic distance triathlon, I was a zoned-out basket case the entire day before. This race, I hardly thought about what lay ahead. I had no trouble falling asleep and then slept solidly until the alarm went off at 7am. I ate a regular breakfast, goofed around with the kids, checked my gear once, pumped up my bike tires, then we loaded into the car and were off. Part of it is that the Delta Triathlon was my eighth triathlon so I knew what to expect. I also didn’t have high expectations for this particular race due to the injuries that threw me off training for the preceding few weeks.

Set up
We arrived at the Ladner Leisure Centre on a gorgeous sunny morning, an hour and a half before my scheduled race time of 10:20am. I was taking my sweet time picking up my race numbers and getting body marked when someone informed me that things were proceeding “well ahead” of schedule. Apparently my heat was set to start in less than half an hour and I still had to get my transition area set up and change into my bathing suit. I motored down to transition and put everything where I thought it should go. As I left, another athlete remarked, “that was the fastest transition set up I’ve ever seen.” It’s funny to realize that I’ve now raced enough to be quick and confident about setting up – I used to spend so much time fussing around in transition getting everything just right.

The Swim
After all the rushing, I ended up in the swim holding area for what felt like an hour, idly chatting with others and getting hungry. (Thanks to the awesome volunteer who gave me half a banana from the volunteer food!) What nobody tells you before you start these types of events, is that there is a whole lot of “hurry up and wait”. You’re always rushing to get there early, but then you often have to wait around for ages to actually start.

The swim portion is typically the most dreaded part of the triathlon; I love swimming, but even I’m happy when the swim is done. For this reason, novice triathletes sometimes prefer pool swims over open water swims. Pools offer a controlled environment, and no chance of lurking sea creatures. But I wouldn’t recommend the Delta Triathlon to anyone who isn’t confident in the water. In an open water swim, you always have the option of starting slow and way out to the sides of the field to avoid other racers. But, at Delta, they throw nine people at a time into a lane 25 metres long. As each person finishes, a new person is added. Though people started at the same time as others with the same estimated swim time, you could expect to be passed if slow or have to pass if fast. I found the swim to be quite aggressive, and not for the faint of heart (this might also be because I was in with fairly fast – and confident – swimmers). 25m is not a long length for passing, but I did a fair amount of it and was passed a couple times.

The race volunteers were supposed to inform me when I had just one lap left, but there must have been a bottleneck at the end of the lane right when they would have shown the card for me, because I suddenly got to the end of the lane and felt someone grabbing my head yelling, “You’re done! You’re done!” It was a pleasant surprise to be done, and I’m glad someone was counting because I lost track in the melee in the pool.

This is where my training with the swim club showed. I shaved 1:30 off my time from my last sprint triathlon. It might at least partially be because of the drafting going on in that tight little lane, and all the wall push offs, but I’ll take it.

The Bike
I raced down the long run out from the pool to transition, threw on my bike gear and headed out. The bike portion was a double loop on a mostly flat course, with only one tiny hill up and over an overpass just before the turnaround. The bike leg went fast. I got out to the turnaround and was like, “This is it? I got here already?!” I felt exactly the same when I got back into the race staging area before heading out for the second loop. I tried to push myself on the bike – not thinking about how my legs might feel on the run – and passed a few people, but I couldn’t sustain the big ring for long at any time during the race. On the second loop, just before the turnaround, a woman absolutely blew past me as I climbed up the overpass. She had 39 marked on the back of her leg, so I’m relatively certain she is the one who ended up winning our age category. My final time, including both transitions was 41:02.

The Run
My transition to the run felt slow – my hands felt cold and shaky and it took me awhile to tie up my shoelaces. I haven’t been doing brick workouts since February, so when I started to run, my legs were leaden and I felt like I was moving like a snail. Thankfully my legs loosened up after the first kilometre and it was easy to get into a good rhythm on the pancake-flat course through one of Ladner’s suburban neighbourhoods. On a 5km race, the way I set my pace is to take it a bit easy at the start and then build to a pace that is steady and hard the whole time. I had a few moments where I really felt like I needed to slow down, but convinced myself to keep up, especially as I started catching people. I predicted 23-24 minutes based on my level of training, but I finished in 22:48 (a 4:34/km pace), which had me stoked.

The Finish
The whole family was at the finish cheering me on and ringing cattle bells. I pushed to the finish and it was over. I checked my time while driving home and just about lost it I was so excited. I got a third place finish in my age group, which I hadn’t expected so unfortunately I skipped the awards where I would have received a medal.

In the weeks leading up to the race, I had been thinking about throwing in the towel this year on triathlon. It just didn’t seem worth it – the early mornings, trying to fit in workouts while work was getting crazy busy, modifying training to work around injuries, and those same injuries not getting better. But this race reminded me of why I love triathlon and the training that goes with it. A beautiful day, a beautiful flat course, the energy of competition, my family cheering for me and – finally – my training paying off so hugely.

Final Results
3/29 in my age category
12/169 women
60/311 overall

Posted by: Tina | April 20, 2012

Delta Triathlon Eve

First race of the season happens tomorrow morning, with a scheduled 10:25am swim start at the sprint distance Delta Triathlon. My knee pain suddenly flared up this evening, but I just want to get through the race before I really let myself listen to my body. I know that’s not what I’m supposed to do, but I’ve been thinking about throwing in the towel for the rest of the season, so I want to get at least one race under my belt. I want to see how it feels tomorrow, physically and mentally.

My goal is to have fun (as usual), and to push it on the bike. I hope I’ve made some improvements in my cycling so that’s where I need to focus. I think on the run I could maybe achieve a 23-24 minute 5km, unless my knee totally blows up.

Wish me luck… race report to follow.

Posted by: Tina | April 14, 2012

Weeks 14 and 15: Bleargh

Let’s just say I’m now up to workout #78, and all the workouts these weeks involved some running, biking, and swimming. Not including the three days of skiing on Easter weekend. My knee is better, but still fragile. My shoulder is aching, but not as acutely. I confirmed my hatred of water running. I cried when I went to see my doctor for a referral to a sports doctor. And work has become busier than I have ever experienced in my whole entire life, so much so that I’ve had trouble fitting in workouts.

But it is spring, my early morning run layered with the scent of wet mown grass. Light long into the evening. My season has arrived.

Posted by: Tina | March 31, 2012

Week 13: Injury and tears

It was a rough week. Injury continues and tears were shed. I took off three full days to recalibrate, but I am going to have to take serious action if I want to continue with triathlon or any kind of speed or endurance competition.

Monday, March 26 (#66): I tried to take it easy in the pool because I was very tired. I felt like I was going to fall asleep while driving to the pool. I tried to stay at the back of the lane, but ended up second in line by the fourth critical swim speed set. I am not the fastest swimmer over a short period of time, but I’m often faster over a longer period or multiple sets; thus, the creep up on the others in my lane. As an aside, it does amaze me how much some swimmers – usually the guys – seem to struggle for speed in the pool. It reinforces that swimming is mostly technique and efficiency, not strength and effort expended.

Tuesday, March 27 (#67): I spent just over an hour on the spin bike at the gym, alternating 8-minute Z3 intervals with 5-minute Z1. A lot of sweat dripped on to the floor.

Saturday, March 31 (#68): One hour on the bike trainer in Z1. It was all I could muster.

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