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Time Trialling

Hey guys!

I am making this a quick check in because I am currently on vacation with the family in New York. Taking a couple days to ride some roller coasters, get in some quality training sessions and spend some down time before heading to Michigan this weekend for my first adventure race.

The adventure race is 60-80 miles (we find everything out only the morning of the race) and is canoeing, mountain biking and trekking. I am looking forward to doing some bush whacking and learning some solid orienteering skills from my team mate who is a master orienteerer who has been adventure racing for 10 years. And of course, reconnecting with one of my favourite endurance athletes from Michigan.

Kim - my partner in crime and team mate for Transrockies 120 Miler next year!

Kim – my partner in crime and team mate for Transrockies 120 Miler next year!

I will be giving a full race report but for now, I wanted to do a quick recap on my first time trial with my Health and Performance team. It was a fabulous event with some fabulous sponsors including RunWaterloo and New Balance.

I often race longer events and I was a bit nervous about this one, especially because THE DAY I published this post, I woke up with a bit of pain in my Achilles. I freaked out, of course, and I instantly booked an appointment with my coach.

I posted this to my facebook page this week:

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I love having a coach because of the incredible gains I have made in my performance and to have someone who can assess injuries and tell me how I am doing or not doing. He examined my Achilles, did some active release and told me to race the time trial.
Heading to start of the time trial, I was nervous because my legs were sore from my weekend of long runs and track events and the elite girls team was stacked.
I did some warm ups and spent some time hanging out with the girls in my wave.
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I am good friends with each of these girls, either having raced varsity with them or met them through training on the team. They are all fast and impossibly fit and it is a pleasure to race with them.
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The first two waves went and I wasn’t able to watch as closely as I hoped because I was busy warming up and trying to get the hurt to go from my legs. I knew it was only 2.2 km but I knew it would be full of hurt.
Before I was ready, it was time for the elite wave to go and I lined up, feeling strong but ready to just get it over with.
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I honestly don’t remember much of the race, especially because it was such a short one. I have never done a race this distance before and it was fun to push full speed and be pushed by runners around me.
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Not the best race picture, but I was pushing hard.

We did two loops of the park and I finished 2.2 KM in 7:37. You can see my Strava report here.

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It was such a blast to race with my team at my first time trial. Here are the official results of the event. So many huge records set and I look forward to coming back next year and challenging my time!

Do you train with a team? If so, what is a unique event that you do?

Adventure racers: Leave advice for me this weekend. I need all the help I can get!

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Track Drills and Beet Juice

Welcome to the first week of August, friends! It was an awesome weekend for me that was a perfect balance of relaxation and hard work! Friday night was kicked off with a nice hard long run, fuelled by beet juice.

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I saw my naturopath last weekend and she suggested that in between my hard cycle and long run, I try a glass of beet juice to load up on nitrate, which helps the blood use oxygen more efficiently. This should work for athletes who have digestive issues as well as making the endurance work seem more effortless. I am going to continue playing with it and keep you posted.

Another thing I switched up this time was instead of chocolate pudding (Ugh), I used Clif shot blocks and instead of chewing them, began letting them dissolve in my mouth after an hour and continued this for the rest of my long run. I am going to experiment with gels next week, but I am thinking this may be the way I chose to go.

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Although this was the tail end of my highest milage week before my marathon, I was able to pull a negative split. Around 15 KM, my legs felt better and I was able to open up and push a bit harder. I always work tempo portions into my long runs and this weekend, I did a 5 KM and a 6 KM at sub marathon goal pace.

I had an awesome sleep in and made a big purchase on Saturday morning (more later), but then I headed to Toronto for Track & Roll. 

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I met up with some of my good runner friends from Toronto, including the Night Terrors run crew. My team was racing as a part of their crew and it was a fabulous day.

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Unfortunately, our fourth team member was delayed and wasn’t able to make it, so I ran two laps of the relay. It was a fun experience and I can’t wait to try it next year!

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We may have crashed a beer mile in the city afterwards. I chose to be the photographer because I have gut issues with running with pizza and pudding – I can’t imagine beer. My team mates were champs though and it was amazing to do so many events that were just about FUN and running.

As a distance runner, I still keep track a regular part of my training and considering I did so many track events this weekend, I’ll leave you with some of my favourite track warm ups for a competition.

High Knees: Stand in place with your feet hip-width apart. Drive your right knee toward your chest and quickly place it back on the ground. Follow immediately by driving your left knee toward your chest. Continue to alternate knees as quickly as you can.

A-Skips: This drill is great for sprint mechanics and to prime your system to be explosive. As one leg skips, the other leg will bring the knee up to a 90-degree angle with the foot dorsiflexed. You will bring that bent leg down quickly and drive with the ball of your foot to the ground. Your upper body is straight and your arms move in a running motion.

Strides: In your best running form, run across the field at at a moderate to high effort.

For additional drills, check out this article. 

What did you do this weekend?

What are your favourite warm up drills?

 

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Triathlons: Tips from the Nuun Team

Sometimes I find it easy to get stuck in a rut of sorts. I know how to run inside out so there is something so safe and cuddly about filling my weeks with intervals and long slow distance runs that I forget what it’s like to be scared and out of my element.

Enter my summer challenge to try a new sport every month, which is quickly turning into 2 or three! In June alone, I took up golfing, beach volleyball and the triathlon.

I wanted to share a bit about my first triathlon as an absolute newbie to the sport and what I learned.

The race: I did Guelph Lake Triathlon in the Sprint Distance. I signed up with Ange, who did the duathlon.

Photo cred to Ange

Photo cred to Ange

I was scared for this race, I am not going to lie. I did not have sufficient training time for the swim and as I lined up at the shore of Guelph Lake with all of the jacked triathletes and looked out at the open water, I thought “What did I get myself into?!”

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Trying to put my triathlon laces into my shoes in the transition area. NEWBIE!

The Swim: I was in the second wave and it was less scary than I thought. What I was not expecting was to panic a bit after getting kicked in the head about 250 m into the swim, especially as I normally remain quite calm in racing situations. As a result, I swam with my head above the water for most of the time and ended up with a nice, sore neck the following day.

T1: The transition went fairly smoothly. I had raced the day before so my legs didn’t feel fresh as I ran back to the area to slip on my cycling shoes and clip on my helmet for the ride portion. I found my hands were too wet to put on my cycling gloves so I just left them.
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The Ride: Honestly, this was one of the most fun portions of the course for me. I had put in a ton of training time on the bike and even though my legs were hurting from my trail race, I was able to pass quite a few people and had a decent speed, considering I certainly do not have a tri bike! This was probably the most fun, memorable portion for me.

T2: This was my fastest transition. I kicked off my cycling shoes, pulled on my running shoes, grabbed a swig of my nuun water and headed out on the 5 KM run.

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The Run: I found my legs were fine. They did not have that familiar dead feeling that occurs after a long ride, but it could have been that the bike was only 20 KM and helped flush out some of the fatigue from my race on Saturday. I kept a decent pace and kept watching for Angela because I was expecting her to join me at any moment. All of a sudden, I heard her beside me saying something like “We’ve got this”.
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Ok, guys. I am not a sentimental person, but this was probably one of the most meaningful moments for me in race history. We had signed up together, trained together and even though she was doing a completely different race, we got to finish the race together. I won’t post a picture, because that is stealing, but you can see my race photos here.

One thing I did before I took on the triathlon was ask for help from my Nuun team. I am so fortunate to belong to a community of such accomplished athletes and there sure are a lot of triathletes in the mix.

Here is a list of some of their top advice for first time triathletes:

Race Prep:

If you don’t use socks, put lots of baby powder in your run shoes to help avoid blisters. – Holly
 The Run:

Since it’s your first one, it’ll be a PR no matter how you finish. Take the time to enjoy it! And don’t go out too fast on the run or you’ll be sorry in about 1/2 mile. – Lani

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Leave something for the run, don’t use all your energy up on the bike. – Kevin
 The Swim:

Open water swims can be scary on the first one. Just relax and focus on your breathing when your face is in the water. Clear your mind and if you start to panic, get to the side and flip over on your back and take a couple deep breaths and remind yourself over and over “just another pool swim!”  – Amanda

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I think the hardest part is getting my head in the water to swim with the adrenaline of the start so just focus on getting your face in the water even if you have to breathe every stroke. Oh and if you have a chance warm up in the water before the start you will get used to the temp and be more calm when the gun goes off. – Charlene
If you are afraid of getting kicked in the face, swim using a catch up – one hand always out guarding your face. Don’t be afraid to doggy paddle if you panic or get caught in a crowd. – Kevin
 The Transitions:

My biggest tip is to know your plan when you get to transition. What will you do 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. Follow that plan or else you’ll lose time really quick. – Megan

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When you set up transition, either count the racks or find a landmark, so you know where your spot is when you come in. Make sure you know which way you will come in and out of transition for both T1 and T2. – Kevin
 The Bike:

Put your sunglasses and bib number belt in your helmet then hang helmet from bike handlebars (helps them not get knocked around/stepped on and you don’t forget to put them on in transition- I find it faster/easier to just wear bib number belt on bike even though not always required). Remember helmet on before unracking the bike! – Holly

I found the advice absolutely invaluable, especially for the swim and transitions as those were both new to me. If you are a triathlete and have additional advice for me for my future races, leave them in the comments!

What I ate:

Dinner (Nike Run Event): Hotdog, baked potato, corn, cookie. (Can you say carb loading?)

Breakfast: Sprouted toast with peanut butter and nutella. Banana. Coffee. Nuun lemonade.

What I wore:

Saucony tri suit
New Balance 1400s
Cycling Shoes

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My next race is Creemore Vertical Challenge! What is yours?

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Learning to Ski at Blue Mountain

Well hello there!

I hope everyone has had a fabulous week! I spent the week foam rolling and icing my IT Band (while keeping an eye on the Olympics) in hopes that it is up to snuff for my first race of 2014 this weekend!

Screen shot 2014-02-20 at 2.42.25 PMI may have to drop down to 8 KM from the 8 Miler depending on how my leg is feeling by Sunday but I have my fingers crossed. Side note: I am so so proud of our Canadian girls for their huge win yesterday. Going down in Canadian history, I’m sure.

Regardless, let’s talk about something I do significantly better than keeping myself injury-free…trying new things!

At my recent stay at Blue Mountain, I was given the opportunity to learn how to ski and I jumped at the chance!

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I have been a snowboarder since high school and I recently was gifted a shiny pair of skis that have been collecting dust in my basement. I decided it was time to bite the bullet so I spring for a pair of boots and booked myself a ski lesson.

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The lesson itself was about as un-intimidating as they come. I met my private instructor at the Ski Lesson shelter and he did a quick check on my ski experience and decided to throw me on the hill right away considering I had cross country ski experience.

Blue Mountain has a five step learning system to teach you how to ski. Starting at level one and two, you learn techniques on the ground before heading up the hill. I began on level three which puts you on a moving belt up the hill (which is actually more like a slight incline).

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It is the perfect slope for someone who is headed down the hill for the first time and I spent a few runs there mastering my technique with my instructor before he sent me to the next hill over, which is the steeper level 4.

I spent a few more runs on the hill working on leaning on my leading leg and perfecting my form. The hour had flown by at this point and it was so helpful to have someone analyzing my form and technique from the get go. I feel like I have a solid base to build on and I didn’t fall once during my lesson! My instructor was super patient and knowledgable and ended up being a triathlete from Collingwood so we had lots to chat about on the way up and down the slopes!

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After the lesson, I headed to the level 5 hill to spend some more time getting more comfortable in skis on a steeper hill. I have been up to the resort a couple times since and it has been good to see progression every time I go.

It was a lot of fun tackling a new sport, especially one that it feels like everyone else is doing! I like to be as versatile an athlete as possible so it is a lot of fun to have the option to ski or snowboard now.

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I highly recommend a lesson to anyone who is learning to ski or snowboard. If you think it takes a long time to learn with a professional, just wait until you try to do it on your own! :)

And now for the big giveaway announcement from Sears Canada for three $50 gift cards:

1. Tammy from @mommaoftwoboyz
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2. Rebby from @RebTheCatSitter

Screen shot 2014-02-20 at 3.38.52 PM3. Ann from @justamuggle2

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Congratulations ladies! Please send me your contact information and I will connect you to Sears Canada for your prizes.

Have you ever had a ski or snowboard lesson?
Do you ski, snowboard or both?