Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Time is flying by....

Just 31 days till we fly out to Canada now. I am not sure where the time has gone. It all seems rather scary now. But the great thing is my training seems to be on track. I did a triathlon race simulation on Sunday (1000m swim/30km bike/8km run) and I was really pleased with the swim and run. However, I am not happy with where my cycling is at. But it really is a lot to ask really... to have all three disciplines going well at once isn't it. That is the juggling act of triathlon. We just hope and pray that all three come together on the day and that the myriad of other things that could go wrong don't.

Anyway, in 7 days time I also leave for rarotonga for a race. I was fortunate enough to be given a trip there from my boss at work that he won. Otherwise the trip would definitely not have been able to happen. As it is I am taking leave without pay from work which in itself puts a fair bit of pressure on the budget.

Training wise I have been doing lots of really specific bike intervals based on a power meter and certain wattages. This is all based round a 16km power test I regularly do on my bike. I am finding this training really valuable and hopefully it will pay off come June. I am not entirely convinced that my new bike setup is right. I have not been comfortable in the aero position recently and this concerns me slightly. I feel like I am experiencing a loss in power in that position. It leaves me in a tough place right now though... do I change it this close to Worlds??

Jason is still enjoying not training and has no real sports plans for the next wee while. I am sure after we get back from Canada it will be time for him to set some new goals. I must say it is a bit easier with just one of us training. That way it gives more time to keep the house ticking along... when we were both training we really struggled to keep up with cooking, cleaning and gardening...

Now that the trip seems to be just round the corner it is probably time to give you all an overview of what we are doing. We leave NZ on Friday 30 May, and fly direct to Vancouver from Auckland. Thank goodness for direct flights.

We are staying at the English Bay Hotel from 30 May to 9 June (my worlds race in on 7 June). This hotel is literally within 100m of my race start/finish line which is really cool. During the days before the race we will of course be training (and checking out the 137m swimming pool.... wow that's long!!!), checking out the race course, getting used to open water swimming again and recovering well. We will also have the pasta party, opening ceremony, registration, race expo, the Sprint Worlds, and the under 19 and 23 world champs races to attend/watch. We also want to do a bit of sightseeing around Vancouver during those days as well. The day after my race is the elite world champs and our prizegiving.

Monday 9th July Jason and I start our tour on the Rocky Mountaineer. We head from Vancouver on the Rocky Mountaineer train to Kamloops. Kamloops is in the heart of British Columbia’s interior. On this journey we will see dramatic changes in scenery, from the lush green fields of the Fraser River valley, through forests and winding river canyons surrounded by the peaks of the Coast and Cascade mountains, to the desert-like environment of the interior. Highlights include the rushing waters of Hell’s Gate in the Fraser Canyon and the steep slopes and rock sheds along the Thompson River. We stay overnight in Kamloops and go to the "Great Canadian Lumberjack Show"... Jason is really looking forward to this one :-)

The next day we head from Kamloops to Banff: Today’s highlights include Craigellachie, where the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway was driven, the climb over Rogers Pass, the Kicking Horse Canyon, the Spiral Tunnels and, of course, the glaciers and snow-capped peaks of the Canadian Rockies. Overnight in Banff.

Following that we ehad from Banff to Lake Louise: The highlight of this day is a 25-minute helicopter flight above the six glaciers of Mount Resolute, Mount Cline and the Whitegoat Peaks. We will also view a 270-metre (900-foot) waterfall, see some spectacular aqua-green high-alpine lakes and cross over a 2,700-metre (9,000-foot) mountain pass. A visit to a local ranch will provide ample time to discover the walking trails on-site and enjoy lunch . We overnight at The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

We transfer from Lake Louise to Banff and join a morning sightseeing tour that shows the highlights of Banff. Visit the Banff Gondola, Bow Falls, Surprise Corner and the Hoodoos before an afternoon transfer to Calgary. Overnight in Calgary.

We get to explore Calgary for a day adn then fly back to vancouver.

Our last night in Vancouver includes tickets to the Cirque du Soliel and a stay ina real posh hotel :-)

We arrive back in New Zealand on Wednesday 18 June but don't go back to work until the following Monday.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What is normal?

Last tuesday I was sitting at my desk after 5pm (not normal for me as I'm usually out the door as soon as I can be for training) and circumstances led me to ponder some philisophical/tough questions. Firstly I had to work late as some deadlines were bought forward as I was going to be out of the office on Thursday/Friday for a work course in Auckland.

So there I was working away and all I can hear is the excited laughter of most my female colleagues as they all prepared to head off to 10 pin bowling. I had no idea that this was happening and last time I checked I was still a girl... so my conclusion was that I had declined so many social invites for sport that I now no longer warrant invites... this was an immediately sobering thought and raised the question- to what lengths do you go to to represent your country as an amatuer? and what is the impact going to be when I finally rack my bike and hang up my shoes for good. Will there still be friends there? Will I even know how to "have a good time" in the partying sense? Will I even want to? Other questions were: am I going to regret doing all this training now and not getting out there and doing what others consider normal.

It is so easy to get caught up in your own world when training for three sports. SO easy to crawl into bed at 8.30 - 8.45 every night so you can get up when the alarm goes off at 5am. SO easy for weeks to go by before realising that you haven't talked to anyone outside of work and triathlon training buddies... and sometimes your husband when you are not snapping at him :-)

Anyway back to last Tuesday night...I finished work at about 6pm and headed off into the dark for my first true night time training ride of the season (a 2.5hr hills session)... it takes a while to get used to riding in the dark again after a summer of training. But it takes you back to basics- you are out there by yourself, hardly anyone else silly enough to be out there, just you, the bike, the fresh air and good training to be done. Hmmm back slightly to reality... I forgot to mention the poor drivers (not in the financial sense either). You have to be SOOOOOO aware of what is going on out there and I always work on the assumption that the drivers have not seen me. This way I am riding as defensively as I can.

Anyway, it was on this ride that so many of the above questions were answered. I would hate to go out partying every weekend... I LOVE training, I love the endorphins you get, the sense of achievement when completing hard sessions. I love that crazy tired, I can't move feeling you sometimes get and then amazingly waking up the next day and doing it all over again. I know my true friends accept my eccentric training ways and forgive my lack of correspondence. I know that I wouldn't be me right now without swimming, cycling and running!!!

So in answer to the question above.... for me- this is normal...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Multiple rescues...

So just 9 weeks till the World Championships and 5 weeks until the Rarotongan triathlon... eeekkkk it just doesn't seem like long enough at times. Especailly after the last few days. I really felt like the gods have been against me recently with lots of little things disturbing training.

Thursday last week: sustained a grade 1 minor tear in my calf so had to miss my key run from last week (the good news is by missing that run my calf healed within a few days and now I can continue as per normal)

Friday last week: went for a lunchtime ride (1 hr 45), took one spare tube and got 2 flats! 25km from work and no one to rescue me. I tried to call Jason 5 times but he was in a meeting and then his workmates thought it was funny to hide his phone in the fridge. Hmmmmmmm. Anyway, after walking along the motorway in bare feet for over an hour a kind fellow cyclist took pity on me and gave me a lift into town... just as I was starting to cry! It makes you realise how vulnerable you are sometimes. I missed one and a half of my intervals...

Saturday last week: another flat tyre saga... so when it all happened again (almost in the same spot as Friday) I threw my bike onto the side of the road in frustration... just as a fellow triathlete drove past... he stopped and lent me his WHOLE BACK WHEEL!! So two rescues down! But at least I could finish this ride. Anyway I finally got home.... and must have had a slow leak in Scott's wheel as that went flat in the last 5 minutes of my ride. Is someone telling me not to ride???

Monday this week: So I had no more spares and I didn't have time to make it to the shop so I (stupidly) decided to risk my 1 hr 45 min ride with no spares!!!! What a dork... and what do you know at Haywards (again for the THIRD time) I got another flat. So this time Jason was home and had to come and pick me up. SO I missed my intervals again.

Well anyway I have learnt my lesson and I have 3 spare tubes, my hand pump, tyre levers and CO2 cannisters for tonight's ride. I do not need anymore interruptions!!!!!!!!!!!!

Poor Jason had the floods of tears last night.... my key comments was "I only have 60 days to go and I can't even finish a single session"...

So i am hoping that 3 rescues is all I need and now back to solid training!!!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wellington Triathlon Championships...

The Wellington Triathlon Championships were held on Sunday 30th March. A VERY wet and windy day. It was a train through race for me so i wasn't expecting great times at all. My instructions were to get the lead on the bike and then peg it back. I did just that.

Here I am coming into the bike transition:

  • Swim, approx 23.30 ish (I think)… I was pleased with swim today… I came into transition and Deb Trendle and Emily Buskirk were both still there (I usually have to catch them on the bike).
  • Bike, SLOW ride today. In hindsight disappointed in time of around 1.14. Just didn’t know where that came from at all. The wind was slightly stronger than I anticipated but I wasn’t that tired from the week and expected to ride about 1.12 today. I didn’t smash it though as I had lead on the other female racers.
  • Run- 45.07 for the 10.6km. I am actually pretty pleased with how the run went, about the same split time as nationals and 600m longer. I felt really good in the second lap and felt that my running form was good.
  • Overall place: 1st female.

Easter weekend and retaining walls...

Jason and his Dad were VERY busy on Easter weekend building a new retaining wall at our house.

This is them digging the first of the post holes.... very hot work (and tiring).

The post holes on the last stretch of path:

More digging:

The first section of wall to go up (n.b. the posts still need trimming). Its starting to look GREAT:

The finished product (apart form the posts that STILL need trimming):

The wall on the corner... there was way too much rock to dig through so we kept some of it. I think it looks great:

Finished path retainign wall from other angle, now we just need to sort out the garden:

Jason had a budget of $2000 and this is how he spent it:

Lights: 256.65
Hirepool (post hole digger and smasher): 90.11
Wood, hammer, nails and concrete: 1114.95
Compost etc: 76.67
Drill: 56.83
Extra Food (takeaways, groceries and beer): 126.25
TOTAL $1721.46

13 weeks to go....

There is just 13 weeks to go until the World Champs in Vancouver Canada. This is not a long time at all but I think it will suit me as I think I often peak before my main races looking back on my training diaries!

My training plan is:
  • 1 week recovery from Nationals
  • 6 week build phase: Objective - build aerobic endurance, & strength. Goal - increase power to weight ratio on bike (by a combnination of increasing the power that I can push on my bike and losing a few stubborn kgs that have crept back on).
  • 5 week specific/speed phase: Objective - build speed at anaerobic threshold and race specific bricks (including the Rarotonga Tri)
  • 1 week taper

Triathlon Nationals

After 9 not so ideal weeks (sickness, injury, motivational issues and the highly stressful swim) I was really worried about nationals this year. Gone was the goal of winning. This was replaced with the goals of:
  1. Completing the race.
  2. Enjoying the race; and
  3. Qualifying for the World Champs.

In the few days leading up to the race you could say that I was pretty emotional. I really did not want to race. Anyone that knows me, knows that I do not like to do things underprepared and this is exactly what I had to do. Race nationals on about 70 - 75% fitness. After a good chat to Vicki Jones ( 2 * World Ironman Age Group Champion) I pulled myself together. Relaxed with half a bottle of wine two nights out and accepted that I wasn't going to have the race of all races.

Race day dawned and what a surprise... the wind was blowing an absolute gale!!!! I wasn't to worried about this as we train in this all the time and I know that these sorts of conditions suit me.

The race organisers decided to change the swim course so we started at Queens Wharf instead of in from of Chaffers Marina. I started well, but too far to the right so I ended up being blown well off course. Given that I still had a good swim and came off in an ok position. I estimate losing at least 30 seconds with my bad navigation and decision to start where I did on the course.

Here I am leaving the water on the way to the bikes:

I came out of the swim in about 12th position and had made it up to 7th position overall with a speedy transition. On the bike I passed a few girls but STINK I got passed by the eventual winner. I do NOT like to be passed on the bike by boys... let alone girls!!!! Grrr..... not happy with that at all!!!

Anyway I had an ok bike given my preparation and I had cycled my way into third position off the bike. This meant that I had the TV cameras on me during my transition, but even so I had a great transition and was on the run course before I knew it....

Hmmm the run.... I was not particularly happy with my run at all. I was passed by one girl and I never got a good rhythm... so instead of trying to really push it I decided to really enjoy it for what it was... so I played it up to the crowd more than I usually would, and I tell you it really helped. I actually finished the race with a big smile on may face despite only finishing 4th overall and 3rd in my age group.

So all in all I achieved my goals... I finished, enjoyed the race and qualified for the Worlds. Wnjoying this race was really important to me as I don't know whether I would have been able to continue training for Worlds if I didn't enjoy the race. Another episode in the ups and downs of being a triathlete.

Jason's big swim...

Thursday 21 February.... after MONTHS of training we headed to Taupo to attempt the big swim. Suddenly it all seemed too close! The weather forecast was not fantastic so we didn't really know when it would actually happen. The earliest was going to be 4am Saturday morning.

Friday was the day to test the boat out, get the rest of our food stores together and for jason to RELAX! I headed out early to get my training done while the others went through the pre-swim preparations. We met with Anna's support crew at about 2pm for a weather check and decided then that the swim was not going to go ahead on Saturday due to adverse weather conditions... so the rest of the day was spent relaxing.

On Saturday the weather forecast for Sunday wasn't much better at all and Anna decided that this weekend was not to be her weekend. She was lucky enough to have the flexibility to come up at short notice when the weather was right for the attempt. Jason was not so lucky. His mum is a shift worker (ED nurse at Wellington Hospital) and I had races in the following weekends so it was really this weekend or not till late March/Early April.

At another weather check late on Saturday it looked as though there may be enough of a break in the weather pattern to give the swim a go... so it was on. Allbeit a bit different to the original plan. Jason was going to swim by himself and do a North to South crossing rather than a SOuth to North. We decided to start at 8am as well rather than 4am (yay so no 2.30 am alarm for us).

So early on Sunday 24 February we set out for Taupo Yacht Club. Anna, Ange and Johnno broke several speeding laws in order to get there to wish Jason good luck before he started his swim. His work mate Thurl spread copious amounts of vaseline on him and his support kayaker Mark was on the neach with him as well. The rest of the support crew was on the boat about 100m from shore... I found this really hard as all I wanted to do was give Jason a really big hug!!!

This is Jason and Mark before the swim start.... don't get fooled by the totally calm looking water... it was like this for about 200m. Then the Northerly kicked in and at times Jason faced a 1.5m swell!!!

Jason is a quietly reflective moment... preparing himself for the swim ahead. Who knows what was going on in his head.

The next 12 hours proved to be a massive roller coaster of emotion for all involved. Jason was a true star... never did I see him falter at all.. there was no comments about pulling out, no talk of giving up at all. He just got in and did what he had to do in less than perfect conditions.

Here is my report from the swim website:

Wow what a day… what can I say. It was a roller coaster of emotions and pain on all fronts.
First things first Jason succesfully completed the cross lake swim (Taupo to Turangi) in 12 hours and 38 minutes. The weather conditions weren’t totally great at all. But he had a tail wind the whole way. This also meant a fair few waves, sometimes up to a metre and a half. The weather was really weird though because at times the lake seemed almost flat!!!

Jason (on the outside) seemed pretty together for most of the day actually and never once did I not believe that he was going to make it. He said that he was in a world of pain though and that the pain travelled round his body. He said that at times his shoulders hurt, then his elbows, next were the knees, then his neck.

6 hours into Jason's swim, I got in to help him along a bit. It was great to be able to do something to help. This is me getting ready to jump in for my first swim with Jason.

This is me trying to get across jason to swim on his left side (I am not swimming totally crooked)...

About 7 - 8 hours into the swim Jason managed to take his Point Zero Three suit off in the middle of the lake and do the “number two” toilet stop that had been building since hour two. Lets just say it was an extreme bio hazard out in the middle of the lake, but Jason said that it was pretty much the most satisfying poo of his life to date. Hmm enough of the toilet stories (but hey, I’m a triathlete so I pretty much tell a toilet story after every session).

At about the same time, John Stobba, decided to paddle in to meet us from the Turangi end. When he did meet us he was a welcome sight and everyone’s spirits were raised immensly.
I swam about four hours with Jason from hour 6 onwards and all I can say is Jason is so amazing!! My body was in pain and I only did a quarter of what he did.

It was so amazing to come into the final stretch and see/hear all the supporters. It was shallow enough for Jason and I to walk the final 100m and everyone on the beach was just cheering him home. It was totally amazing.

Thanks have to go out to:

  • Mark- the best support kayaker in the world. Calm, composed, in control and a totally talented paddler.
  • John - the second best support kayakerin the world, with an uncanny ability to lift everyone’s spirits at just the right moment.
  • Ali- the coach (or sadist hehehe) who though up this idea and the person who totally believed that Jason could do it.
  • Anna- for helping Jason through the many tedious hours of training and for being on the start and finish line- we will try our hardest to get there for your crossing attempt in a few weeks time
  • Ken and Rona- for raising such a great person, keeping calm in the face of adversity and sorting all matters medical amongst so many other things
  • Leza and Melissa- for being fantastic sisters and support crewThurl- for rising to the massive challenges that I set him through the day (including sourcing a replacement boat and motor)
  • Josie and Cassien- for providing me with the much needed ear when I just needed to let it all out when the going got tough for me
  • The Marshall family and Ange for awesome support leading up to and on the day
  • Blossom, Lorrie and Nicci Tom, Megan, Kevin Nicholson, Winnie, Kevin L-S, Rob, Deano, Natalie, Kendal, the Morgans, Hamish McEwen, Janine, Steve and all the many others who text messaged support throughout the day (I apologise if I have left anyone off the list I am a bit jaded right not)…But most of all…
  • THANKS to Jason for gutsing it out. You are a star and you made so many people proud today.

Jason at the end.... a long, harrowing, mentally draining and totally amazing day.

Here is a brief list of what we had in the food box for Jason's swim... and I can assure you that we nearly used all of it!!!!:
  • 44 gels (mix of caffeine and not)
  • 2 tins of balance elite fuel supply drink mix
  • 1 tin of raspberry flavour replace
  • 5 tins of creamed rice
  • 3 packets of natural confectionary company jelly lollies
  • 4 power bars
  • 3 bumper bars (apricot and chocolate)
  • Tea bags, sugar and UHT milk
  • Tomato cup-a-soup
  • Mini choc chip and 100s and 1000s biscuits
  • 1 tin of sustagen
  • No doze tablets
  • Cramp stop spray
  • Salt
  • 8l of cold water
  • 2 one square meal bars
  • Bottle of coke (it will be flat on the day)

Sorry for the lack of posts

So after a long hiatus with the blogging I am back... there will be a few posted here over the next few days so bear with me...