Friday, July 20, 2012

Perpetually Moving Target

Where did Riri run to? Well, somewhere in the archives of the intertubes I suppose... it was time to retire this Riri ever since Rihanna took over the nickname and everything that pops out of the archives when it comes to running is her running away from BF Chris Brown, the days when she's not back with him for more anyway.

See, when I decided to return to blogging, the first thing Blogger asked me you to do was to choose a blog name. I was in the middle of a major brain fart and technically I wanted to keep the same blog address I had before so I moved a few things around and simply renamed my old blog "Riri's Brain Dump" into "Run Riri Run". Not very original, I know, but fact is, "Run Lola Run" is one of my most favorite movies ever and after all, this blog was going to be about my running, so what the fart!

But now, since I'm in full triathlon mode and it's no longer just about my or Rihanna's running around, I figured that I needed to upgrade. I thought about making it "Swim Bike Run Riri Swim Bike Run", but that seemed a bit over the top, so I went looking for an answer in my geeky brain instead. My neurons lit up at the idea of "Perpetuum Mobile" thanks to my new life motto - "keep moving", but since Wikipedia puts more emphasis on the musical term than the physical concept, I was left with the disambiguated "Perpetual Motion" translation to work with.
A perpetual motion machine (PMM) is a device based on mechanical, chemical, electrical or other physical processes which, when started, will remain in operation forever and provide additional work as well. Only the natural wear of the components will eventually stop its operation.
A machine made of Iron, maybe?

Most of the days, I feel that I am running after a life goal in the hope that it will make me a better person. Something that as soon as I get to touch, becomes something else. A moving target, a game of tag, you're it! And I, too, become a moving target in the process. A perpetually moving target, that is.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Return to Horseshoe Hill

I figured that such a trip needed its own blog post, so here we go. Been doing a lot of riding lately and trying to figure out my bike, still. As much as I love Neo, I am in some sort of love/hate relationship with it, especially when I go on hills or try to do high rpms (>90rpm). I only have about 2 speeds that are appropriate for each of the situations above, the rest giving me either too slow rpms or a too high heart rate or just too much burn in my legs, which I'm supposed to avoid at all costs. So, I ordered myself a different cassette (12-27) that should help keeping those rpms high when going uphill. Right now I have a 11-23 cassette with 2 chain rings (39 and 53) and for those who can do the math in their head, it's not the most appropriate for going vertical. Anyway, after bitching to my coach this last week about the lack of power in my legs and laziness in switching gears, I thought I would go back to Horseshoe Hill for a "baseline" climbing and high rpm workout. I gave my legs a full day of rest and Saturday evening I took my water bottles, my gummies and my victim, aka hubbs, up Horseshoe Hill and back with the goal of accumulating data until I make my GPS vomit.
Mushroom head
The first 15km are always boring and usually uneventful, unless you get an encounter with drive-by screamers that make your heart go through the roof in the middle of your Z2 ZZzzzzzZZZZ. But I will tell you more about this in a separate post. Next, Horseshoe Hill starts with a few rollers then ends with the dreaded SOB climb. It is 5.25km long in total and it takes us usually 18min to go up, 10min to go down. Below is the data view from Runkeeper
and from Garmin

For some of you it's probably just a pimple on the landscape, but for us noobs, the elevation is quite significant, as hinted by my heart rate in the graph below:

The highest peak in my heart rate is 183bpms, which according to my lactate threshold test, it's almost a near-death experience. But thankfully it only lasted about 2 minutes, time to go over the last hump. And speaking of the last hump, I also had the privilege of being vampirised by a deer fly this whole time. It clang onto my calf, just below the knee and while I was hanging on the handlebars for my dear life, it constantly reminded me through pain that I was still alive. So I managed to HTFU and finish the climb while letting the bloodsucker feed on me, then smacked it on its head and proceeded to calm my shaking self down with a few pictures of the landscape.
Glad I'm not allergic to deer/horse flies
View from the top
Notice the 60km limit sign. Ahem. I think I went faster than that downhill, my Garmin reported 66.4km/h max. I'm glad that we had a quite a head wind, otherwise I would have gotten a ticket. They don't give tickets for 6km over, right?

Aside from the flies, this is a beautiful area though, and I know there are bigger and nastier hills around this one, like Mountpleasant Rd, which we did during the group riding clinic. But those will have to wait until after my taper and olympic triathlon, next Sunday!!! (ohmygosh, it's almost here!). I think I am ready. If I can climb Horseshoe Hill while giving sweat and blood at once, I can certainly climb the DVP, which compared to this, is just a bumpity-bump.

I will most likely go back on Horseshoe Hill for more data porn once I have my new cog installed, as a comparison to this. But next time, there will be DEET. Mwahahahah.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A week in pictures

Going backwards, here's how it looked:

Monday - REST day, but for whatever reason, I thought that a 1h walk would do me good. I obviously don't know how to rest, but at least I was wearing my compression socks. And tri tan. And True Blood tshirt. Yep, that's me in a nutshell. I may look like a ____ (insert descriptive word here) , but I stopped having any kind of shame since I realized that I have to train myself for peeing on the bike and other stuff like that.

Sunday - Long Z2 run, 1h40 of pavement pounding under the sun. We woke up at 6:30am with a big WTF on our face and managed to get going before we changed our mind. Here I stopped to pee on a real toilet and was sweating cute little droplets.

Saturday - Bike 2h/Run 40min Brick. Woke up early as well, weather was a bit on the scary side. We ended up chasing a storm, riding on its borders with the wind picking up more and more. A few times I imagined being stricken by lighting as I was hearing thunder in the distance and was riding past trees that obviously hadn't been very lucky in that department. We caught up with it and got drenched in a minute, this definitely added to the excitement of the brick as I got to bike in a wet outfit, just like after the swim. The real deal, yo!

This is how I looked just before going into "transition".

Friday - Long bike ride Z2/3. As usual, I am very cranky on Fridays. All the stress from work is piling up and puts me into a murderous mood. Unfortunately for him, hubbs ends up being the victim of greatest convenience, so we eventually stop all conversation and the ride becomes silent, with me staring at the road ahead, and him at my butt. This one was no exception and it went from bad to worse as we decided, in our infinite wisdom, to attack a new area called Horseshoe Hill. And off we went, up and up and up - I had to make a pee stop in the ditch, then up and up and up again. I decided that we'd come back the same way so I can get redemption from those hills. At the top however, we got attacked by flies from all sides - no idea what type, but bloodthirsty for sure. I got bitten a few times and then fell under my bike because my legs were not properly connected to my brain. It hurt. It made my leg bleed. It made me even crankier going downhill.

Above is the view from the top, I could see as far as Buffalo. It was pretty and I would have enjoyed the view a lot more if I wasn't fighting with those bloodsucking horse/deer/black/shit flies. Thinking that I would stay there for a while, I had even stopped my Garmin and guess what? Of course I forgot to restart it - crankiness multiplied by 100, I hit the jackpot!

I even got a temporary tattoo:

And fell two more times before getting back home.

Thursday - Tired. Calves were not happy, so I went to the open water swim, then skipped the run. The swim was amazing, as usual, did 3 glorious loops in Professor's Lake, much straighter lines this time, and I think I managed to find out what was chaffing my neck. I was letting the lanyard from the zipper hang in the back by passing it behind and over the velcro flap. So it was constantly rubbing against the base of my skull - it took me 2 loops to realize this fact, so I still got chaffed. Better luck next time?

Here's how I ended up after the swim, icing my calves:

Wednesday and Tuesday were a blur - I had to do another 2h brick and swim speed intervals and another long bike in Z2, all this after a 2h hillfest on Monday with the local tri club.No pictures, but worth mentioning because this week was the first time ever where I didn't have any rest for 8 days in a row, not my coach's fault, but because I really wanted to attend the group cycling clinic on Monday, which made the whole schedule out of whack. I survived to tell the tale though, even after 14 hours of training for a total of 158 miles of swim/bike/run. Whooo!

Friday, July 6, 2012

The costs of triathlon training (and counting)

(Hubbs, you should not read this post. Why don't you go look at the nice picture below. Or you can look at these titties, no problem with me).

You know, I have these discussions at home all the time at home: why would I sign up for this and that race when I could just go ahead and run a marathon in my backyard or do a triathlon around my hometown, just by myself. Because it's much easier said than done. Competing against yourself is much harder than one could imagine and not only because it's all mental, but because it's boring and... there is no medal? Jokes aside, races are a lot of fun. And yes, you're supposed to do this for yourself and have fun even when you are alone with Eminem in your earbuds, but... but it's true that race fees are definitely high on the list of costs to consider when you look at the numbers piling up when you decide to embark into triathlon training.

I am going to be honest here, we didn't really have a triathlon budget and when I think about everything I've spent so far for this "hobby", it kinda makes my hair raise on my head and gives me cold sweats. But thankfully, the investment I've made is going to be long lasting and rewarding enough to make it all worthwhile. In the meantime, why don't we go through my expenses, all triathlon related so far, to give an idea of what to expect to those who are thinking about taking on this challenge?
  • Bike $1000 (used)
  • Bike shoes, pedals, fitting $300 
  • Bike helmet $25 
  • Bike accessories (pump,  tyres, tubes, CO2 cartridges, seat bag, bottles, hydration system) $200 
  • Wetsuit $210 
  • Swimsuit $75 
  • Goggles $25 
  • Bike shorts, tank top $85 
  • Running shoes $75 
  • Nutrition $200 
  • Pool membership (year) $100 
  • *Finis Tempo Trainer Pro $50 (swim metronome) 
  • *Tri club membership (year) $25 
  • *OAT (Triathlon Ontario) membership (year) $40 
  • *Coaching (year) $600 
  • *Race fees $110 (I only signed up for one race so far, olympic distance)
  • *12-27 cassette + bike tools to help me climb hills $100 
  • *GPS watch and accessories $600
TOTAL $2295 (without optional items, $3770 max)
TOTAL/month $191.25 ($314)
Now, these are just to get you started, but thankfully some of them fees are not carried over past the initial investment, such as bike and accessories, wetsuit etc., but you need to know that eventually these costs are going to come back as race fees (Half-Ironman $150-250, Ironman $350-650) plus transportation, accomodation, memorabilia and stuff that you probably don't need but feel that you must have anyway because it makes you feel good, such as an M-Dot tattoo or some crazy celebratory hairdo.

I am known for being quite thrifty, so I try to find used equipment as much as possible and I suggest you do so as well, at least until you are convinced that you want to stick with triathlon training. I have been running for a while so I know that the next step for me it's got to be a triathlon, then a half Ironman, then the Ironman because I need to find that toughness in me to feel complete, at least until the mid-life crisis is over. But not everyone is like me, neither should be. As I mentioned before, it should be all about having fun and not killing yourself with worries that you cannot pay for your bike or your Gu Chomps.

It certainly helps that living a healthy lifestyle imposed by triathlon training comes with the benefit of weight loss and increased confidence, self-esteem and overall superior wellbeing, but you have to find in yourself what really takes you out of your bed at wee hours to do that swim or makes you sweat buckets while completing a 2h brick workout on the hottest day of the year. You need to find the reason to stop counting dollars and rather enjoy being the best you can be, today more than yesterday.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Putting my fish on: success!

You remember how I said a few weeks ago that I was terrified of open water swimming? It surely still stands true when I imagine myself at a triathlon start and getting thrown inside the "washing machine", but this week has been certainly memorable because I got my first taste of lake swimming and got pretty drunk on it. Lemme explain.

On Monday, I talked my youngest son into going to an open water swimming clinic for kids as a local coach member of my tri club is trying to put together a triathlon club for kids. The swim was at Kelso Lake, about 30min drive from our house and we were told that 4-5 other kids all between 10-13 yr old were going to attend. The day was a bit on the chilly side with temperatures in the low 20s Celsius, but it was beautiful outside and a shame not to go for fear of a cold swim. Although I had not planned on swimming, I threw my wetsuit in the trunk, just in case, and off we went.

When we arrived there, I noticed a lot more adults than kids carrying backpacks and didn't quite know what was going on until we arrived on the beach and they all started stripping and putting on their wetsuits. My son got ready to swim with the other kids and jumped in the lake whereas me, I was standing there puzzled, not sure what to do. I realized that the male coach, Dave, was about to give a private lesson to all the adult folks, while Lorene, the female coach, was going to teach the kids. So I asked for permission to put on my wetsuit too. I was in a hurry to join them since they were already in the water going over the basics and the dolphin dives... and pulled too hard on my wetsuit and put a nick in it. Oh well. Shit happens, it wasn't all the way through to the fabric and it was only one inch long. I tried not to freak about it and went in the lake to join the lesson.

Kelso Lake
It was supposed to be my rest day, but the coach had a plan for this clinic so to hell with my rest day. From then on, we did a lot of back and forths (one length was about 120m) across the lake learning the following:
- 2 lengths sighting
- 2 lengths turning around buoys
- 2 lengths drafting off another person's feet
- 4 lengths with water exit after the first loop, run on the beach and back in the water for the second loop
- 2 lengths with water exit and quick removal of wetsuit

Total 1500m of most valuable experience in a group where I got the right amount of kicking and pulling and being swum over and drinking water and untangling algae from my arms. It was a pretty awesome day and I am extremely glad that I had the intuition of bringing my wetsuit with me, even though I messed it up a bit. It's the life of the neoprene, what can you do. I did, however, learn a great tip for putting it on, which made all the difference on Thursday for the second open water swim of the week, but I'm getting there, hold on.

Before we move on, I guess it's worth mentioning my "wardrobe malfunction" when I removed my wetsuit at the end of the clinic. See, my regular swimsuit exploded the last time I went to the pool, growing 4 sizes bigger by the time I came out of the water. The fabric disintegrated even further when I removed it in the dressing room and I had to throw it directly in the garbage as there was no way to salvage it. When I went to the lake on Monday, I had with me an older swimsuit from the times I was 8 sizes bigger. It was ok while under the wetsuit, but when I peeled the wetsuit off, the swimsuit top (it was one of those tanktops with a separate bottom from a Plus size shop) went down as well as the fabric on the straps gave up under the wetsuit's suction force. Nice!! The guys were having a good chuckle while I was being assisted with the "situation". Anyhow, long story short, after Monday, I had no more swimsuits left, so I had to go shopping.

I had two missions before my Thursday official open water swim: to find neoprene glue and a new swimsuit. The first mission got delayed as I had a lot of work in the office and it just seemed impossible to find any in a physical store around me. Eventually I found someone who suggested to try a scuba shop and BINGO, found one last container of Trident neoprene cement (with more warning labels than rat poison). I was now just hours from the swim, so I drove there at lunch and back to the office and took care of the boo-boo on the spot, hoping that 4h of drying time would be enough.

I also went to a swim shop and found an "aqua suit" (as opposed to a regular swim suit, go figure). It's made by Speedo and it looks just like the one on this skinny woman on the right (that is not me, I don't think her thighs touch like mine).

So... where was I? Missions, right. Two out of two complete!! Thursday night could not come fast enough, so I drove straight to Professor's Lake, our neighbourhood "beach" with all amenities and lots of fun for the entire family.

Again, I felt lost for a few minutes, but decided to go in and ask for the open water swim group. They quickly directed me to the marina where many of the group members had already stored their stuff and were already swimming. Once more, put on my wetsuit, while being very careful not to make another boo-boo, pulling from the inside as I was taught by the tri coach. It worked like a charm and after a quick talk with the swim organizer who showed me the buoys and the direction of the swim, off I went.  A loop was 750m, he said most of the people were doing 2 loops. Put my head down and tried to relax, a bit overwhelmed by the experience - that lake looked bigger than ever! - but finished the first loop in 18 minutes and I was no longer scared at all. I could hardly contain my excitement for being there, having the whole lake for myself  in one of the most beautiful evenings of this summer.

My coach Dave (are all coaches named Dave? not to be confused with the coach from the beginning of this post) had given me 1h of swim practice for that night, so I managed to fit in 3 loops for a total of 2.35km in just 56 minutes, the fastest and farthest I had ever swum. The whole experience was so surreal, I didn't want to leave the place, so I took this picture right as I was leaving.

Professor's Lake at sunset with lonely buoy and lifeguard
Here is the Runkeeper workout, with GPS map and all, thanks to my new Garmin 910 XT watch, w00t w00t!

Needless to say, I came back home ready to eat my young. I settled on a bit of cow instead and one hour later, I went out for a 50min run as well. I never felt so lethargic as during that run, it was still extremely hot and I wished I'd gone aquajogging instead. My arms were also cranky for the rest of the week, reminding me that I had asked them to do over 1500 strokes each to drag me all across Professor's Lake. Last but not least, I also got my first chaffing ordeal because of my Xterra Vortex 4 wetsuit. Not sure how I could fix it, it's at the base of my neck, due to the overlapping pieces of neoprene making up the zipper protecting flap. I will try some PAM next time, maybe that will do it.

Neck chaffing, 2 days after
Any other ideas to stay away from chaffing on that particular spot? Thanks, Internets.