Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Adventures in Track and Field

My son Liam runs track and field with the Airdrie Aces.  I really enjoyed watching him race in 2014 and often wished I had entered some of the masters events at the meets he went to.  So this winter....I went for it!  I returned to the track after almost 20 years.  My plan was to attend 3 meets, Golden Bear Open in Jan, Alberta Indoor Games in Feb, and Athletics Alberta Provincials in March and do the 3000m at each one.

I had some downtime in Nov/ Dec due to injury and illness so didn't have a ton of prep for the first meet.  I set a goal of 11:15 and felt comfortable I could achieve that.  They had the masters women run with the youth girls (grades 10 and 11).  When I toed the line the young gal next me asked me what my time was ( I remember asking other racers the same thing back when I was that age ).   I had a little laugh and told her I didn't know, I hadn't ran track in 20 years.   She kindly told me that anything under 12 was really good (again, I remember thinking the same thing at that age :)).  I went out with the leaders and quickly settled in second place behind a speedy gal from MAC Track.   I wasn't able to stay with her but ended up running 11:00.56 which I was really happy with.  Did I mention I those 11 minutes were some of the hardest racing I have done in awhile??   It was a much faster pace than I was used to!

After the first meet was done I got a little ambitious.  I looked up the masters records and saw for my age group the record was 10:47.  I figured that was a great goal to shoot for by March.   So my plan for the meet in Feb was to pace for 10:46 and try and hold on, knowing I had another shot in March.  Before this race I did an 800m speed work session just trying to hold 10:46 race pace and it was so hard!  In this race they put the masters women in with the Senior women (ages 19-34).  I got to race against the speedy triathlete and U of C dino Sarah McArthur.   I let her go and ran my own race, sitting in second the whole time.  With 3 laps to go I was right on pace so dug in and went for it and ended up finishing in 10:44.15 and getting the record.  Again, for me, so fast and sooooo hard!!!

1500m sprinting :)
After achieving my goal in Feb I got all crazy and decided to try a 1500m.....what was I thinking!   I never train at speeds that fast, literally!  If you had asked me to sprint 100m that's my 1500m race pace!  Again for this meet we were paired with the youth girls and after looking at the entry list I figured I needed to go out in 3rd spot.   I was a bit nervous of the start, it was a full heat and I hadn't ran anything as fast as a 1500m in a very long time.  I was right to be nervous because I got boxed out right away and found my self running the first 300m out in lanes 2 and 3.  I was finally able to get in behind the first two gals and settle on their heels.  It was at this point I realized I was literally sprinting!  Holy smokes!  I did my best to hold onto these girlies and stayed fairly close to them crossing the line in 4:56.22, 4 seconds faster than my goal of 5 minutes flat.  Did I mention how hard this was?  Definitely taking me to new levels in the pain cave.
The next day was the 3000m and after how hard the 10:44 was, and running the 1500m the day before, I definitely didn't have plans of setting a new PB.  I was in with the youth women again and was once again up with the speedy gal from MAC track.  I figured I would go out with her based on her previous seed time of 10:40.  Well she had other plans and went out way faster than a 10:40 pace....oooops.  As my son said she burned me.   I eventually let her go and held on for dear life and finished with a a new PB and record in 10:40.66.  I was thrilled to set a new PB!

My lessons learned from track and field as a 38 year old?  I am faster and fitter than I was when I ran track from 15-21.   I have defined new levels what it means to work hard in a race.   I know exactly how my son feels when I'm telling him to "pick it up in the middle".  It's not so great.   But, I loved it, it was a lot of fun and look forward to squeezing in some races in the outdoor season.

Monday, April 13, 2015

2014 Year in Review!

In 2015 my goal is to update my blog more....   we shall see!

Ok 2014....here we go!

Rock and Roll Arizona Marathon - January

Me barely upright post race, they had to get the car for me!
I was fit and ready to go for this race!  I'd put in some grueling long runs in a nasty winter, and some wicked interval sessions.  Most of them with the help of my training partner Willie.  This race went as perfectly as possible.  I was able to stay at my coach Angie's home, cook my pre-race supper and have a good night's sleep.  I got dropped off quite close to the race start and was warmed up, familiarized with the start area, etc and ready to roll.  The weather was perfect.  Low teens to start, high teens to finish.  My goal was 3:15 for this race but I also had a goal of rrunning as close to an equal split as possible.   So when I rolled through the half way mark in 1:36 I decided that I needed to aim higher than 3:15.  The muscle pain that hits you in the last quarter of a marathon started a bit earlier in this one than the last one, so I was worried that I had gone out too fast, but just focused on my technique and pacing.  The last few kms were quiet but I focused on the people that helped me along the way, held pace for the most part and passed quiet a few that were hitting the wall!  I crossed the line in 3:12:57, 2 minutes ahead of my goal and completely thrilled (and unable to walk, lol!)

Glencoe Icebreaker 10km April 2014

After the marathon I took some time off so this was my first post marathon test of fitness.  I felt fitter than previous years this time of year so knew I could likely set a course PR here.  Conditions were great and I finished in 40:20, a great time for me for April!

Calgary Police Half April 2014

Enjoying Florence, Italy with my girl Ayden
This race is a great prep for the upcoming half ironman race season so decided to do it again, despite the fact that I would be only 3 days home from a trip to Italy.  After eating a lot of cheese, chocolate, bread and salami/prosciutto I knew this race wouldn't be perfect....   The tough course didn't disappoint and the last 5km were so hard!  I finished in 1:31:13 just a few seconds slower than the year before so considering the travels and bad eating habits I was pretty happy with it!
Sweet award!

Sylvan Lake Sprint May 2014

This is one of my favorite tri's!  So well run and organized and awesome volunteers.   I didn't taper for this race and felt like it was an equal performance to the year before ( I was a minute faster than 2013, but didn't have race wheels in 2013 so call it even!).    A good indication that the season was off to a good start.  The swim and bike were strong and the run almost felt effortless!   My time was 1:16:21 ( a sprint with a 26km bike course).

Calgary Marathon 10km June 2014

This race was late add on.  I was planning on attending the race to support my athletes doing the half and full marathons so decided to throw in the 10km as I would be there anyways.  I went out pretty quick but discovered that it was feeling pretty great so decided to go for it.  Around the 5km mark I realized I was on my way to a new PB and quite possibly a sub 39 min 10km, which is a standard I never thought I would hit.  I dug in as hard as I could in the last 3 km and crossed the line in 38:58!  A new surprise PB!

Wasa Lake Triathlon June 2014

Hardest part of the race!  Winner's speech!
My run in Calgary gave me some great confidence going into the Wasa race.  I really wanted to do well here.  I was 3rd last year, and 5th the year before.  I was focused on swimming a strong swim leg, swimming hard from start to finish with no mental lapses.  Check!   On the bike my goal was to maintain the same effort start to finish.  I had a couple gals ahead of me and knew I had a couple fast gals behind me.  To my surprise I passed the ladies ahead of me and held off the ones behind me and went out onto the run in first.   I ran scared and hard.  I passed one of my teammates on the out and back course, around the 5km mark and he yelled at me that I was having the race of my life and to go for it.  It was at the point that I decided it was indeed possible for me to hold off the gals behind me and win this race.  The last 3kms were so hard but I was able to hold my pace and hold onto first and win at Wasa!  It was such a thrill to win such a competetive race and finish ahead of gals I have been chasing in past races!

Great White North Half July 2014

On the bike, thanks Ken Anderson for the pic!
The problem with exceeding your own expectations is that you start to put higher ones on yourself.  I was crazy nervous at the start of this race.  A flat tire in transition threw me for a loop but thankfully the ever supportive Marty was there to keep me calm and help me change it.
Hurting on the run!
I had set some pretty big goals for this race for myself.   My swim was great!  I found feet right away and was able to stay on feet almost the whole race.  I came out right around the time I wanted to and went out and had a great ride.  I was back and forth a couple times with Kelly-Lynne Marcott in the second half of the bike but was able to pass her in the last 8km and hold her off heading into T2 in fourth place.  I ran a hard half marathon in 1:33 (oh man did that hurt!) but wasn't able to move onto the podium.  Nonetheless I was thrilled with my final finish and time, a new PR is 4:32:44.  I was fourth overall female, but first amateur female.

Lake Chapparral Olympic Distance Aug 2014

Swim start!  That's speedy Kristina Schulz with no wetsuit. 
After GWN I took a full week off to recharge and
refocus on the upcoming age group world champs.
Part of this build was to do another OD race before Sept.    This was right in between the two races so was the perfect option.  All went well, I had a strong swim, stayed right on the feet of strong triathlete and swimmer Kristina Schulz.   I passed her early on in the bike and stayed in first for the rest of the race.  Went out on to the run feeling good but around 7km I started getting pain in my hamstring so pulled up and slowed down as I have history of pulling hamstrings :).    I was still able to hold onto first and good time as well.  2:12:52.

Grizzly 1500m open water swim, Aug 2014

The TTL gang post swim.
This was a late add on but was so glad I did it!  Such a great race /great atmosphere.  It was so much fun to do "just" the swim.  Not nearly as many nerves as for a tri!   It was 3 laps of a 500m loop.  By the time I hit the first buoy I had found myself swimming with another gal.   We seemed to trade lead off and on for the rest of the race (as we did the "beach run" and went around bouys) and as we rounded the final buoy we came out side by side and it was a race to the finish.  We both seemed to want to get the other and swam hard and straight to the finishing chute side by side for 200m.   As we hit the beach I was able to get a better line and out sprint her to the finish line.   So much fun to do a swim race like this!  I surprised myself by placing in the top 3 women overall and winning my age group.

ITU Age Group World Champs Sept 2014

Opening ceremonies
All the great races this year and all the great training had come down to this.  I knew if I raced well I had a good shot at the podium.  I'm not going to lie, I would have been disappointed with anything else.   I had several days in Edmonton to do some workouts and review the course.  The experience as a whole was so much fun.   From the opening ceremonies, to the team activities, to watching the elites and para-triathletes race, it was an experience like none other!   Race day came and the temps were cool!  I sought out a spot in the pavilion by the lake to stay warm.  There were alot of triathletes in there doing the same but I had headphones and tried to relax.   I put my wetsuit on in the building, went and checked my bag and joined my age group in the athlete area.   We were walked down to the lake by bagpipes, definitely sent chills and excitement through me.  We lined up in the corrals by the lake waiting our turn to go in.  I finally was able to see my family on the other side of the fence and I just started tearing up.  I was so happy to have my hubby and kids there to cheer me on!
We lined up and I chose a spot I had practiced on a couple days earlier.  I had a good start and was off quickly.  I swam most of the race on my own, in 4th or 5th place.   I came out of the water 5th, and passed one gal after the exit so I could cross to the other side of the chute to high 5 Leoni and Hillie who were hard to miss in their TTL gear.   I ended up passing another gal in transition but didn't know it.
First lap of the run course
 I had a very strong bike and thought I was in 5th for most of the ride, passing one gal and moving up to fourth.  In reality I had rode most of the ride in 3rd and the pass had put me in 2nd.  It was a crowded race course with other age group waves out there so very hard to know what place I was in.  I hit T2 in second, but thought I was 4th.   I passed the gal ahead of me just before we exited T2, now thinking I was 3rd (side note, everyone tracking me on the live results knew I was in first but me!).   I wanted a podium spot so badly so I ran so hard.   I had a good first lap and found another gear in me for the
The fam with swag :)
second lap and was able to run faster.   I crossed the finish line having left everything out on the course and happy that I snagged a world championship medal.  After I crossed the line there were no other ladies from my age group waiting and I wasn't sure what was going on.  The gal who won silver came across and told me that I won, and then the gal who won bronze came across and told me the same thing.  I didn't believe them until a race official pulled up the live results on his phone and showed me. This is right around the same time my family saw me on the other side of the fence and I broke into tears.   They waved me to to the exit and we just had the biggest group hug ever.
 I had done it!   I think I cried a few more times that day, running into other people who had supported me or chatting on the phone with people...  and the text messages and facebook posts.....  it was so overwhelming. Snagging the gold medal later that night at the closing ceremonies and holding up the Canadian flag is a memory I will never forget!

Claiming the gold for Canada!

Melissa's 10km Sept 2014

I took a week off after Worlds and then it back to a couple weeks of training to do Melissa's.  I had been having some hip pain so wasn't sure how that would go, but knew I was fit and set a goal of running this race in 39:00.   With the big hill I knew I would have my work cut out for me but wanted to give it a try.  I did have some pain in my hip for most of the race but nothing that I couldn't manage.  I had a quick first couple kms and then settled in to "effort" for the climb up the hill.  Once I crested I worked on making up a bit of time on the downhills and then running strong the final 5kms in town.  This run hurt (do I say this about all my races???)!  I managed a 39:07 which I was thrilled with!  It was a 2:05 course PR!  Good enough for 4th overall and 3rd in my age group.

After Melissa's I ramped up the training for Last Chance Half.  My hip was slowly getting better and the workouts were going really well!  I was excited at the chance (weather permitting) to have a PB day.  However, my body had other plans and I pulled my hamstring 4 days out from the race.  I celebrated the end of a good season with some chips and dip and a bottle of wine (together, I know....gross!).

On to 2015.....