Tuesday, July 15, 2014

IMMT Training Weeks 24 and 25: In damage control

Two interesting weeks to say the least. New limits found, which brought me to higher grounds both mentally and physically. Then making hard decisions and putting on the brakes where there was need to. No regrets, but ended dealing with withdrawal and guilt. This sounds like a therapy session already, so better get it started before someone falls asleep.


Coming off my biggest week of training yet, I attacked the last stretch of this building cycle like a devout athlete to its Training Peaks bible. There is only forward and this is my mission!

We celebrated Canada Day with a few workouts (why do I keep thinking fireworks?), but of course. These included a quarry swim of 2.5 loops, out of which the first one was a mission to accompany a 13yr old girl who did not want to adventure around the quarry by herself. I told her that I was a slow swimmer, and she said ok, but then ended waiting for me at each buoy. She was a fish or a mermaid, not quite sure, and man was she speedy! I managed to swim sub-19min per km, which officially made it my fastest training swim. Lesson number one: little girls kick my ass, and they don't even care to wear wetsuits.

The other 4 swims that I did were all at Professor's Lake. Twice I swam 2 loops (1.5km), once 4 loops (3km) and then a mega 5 loop (3.8km) swim, another Iron distance in the books. The day I swam the 5 loops the lake was really choppy and conditions were not ideal, but I managed to finish it all in 1h20, which makes it more and more a reality that I may swim at Mt. Tremblant in about this time or less.
Rebecca and I. She's fast!! Can't you tell?
I am proud of my sighting technique
Working on my form
I also drafted for the first time ever as I found in one of my friends from the FMCT tri club a perfect pace match. I stayed on his feet for an entire loop which made for yet another very speedy swim with very little effort, other than looking forward for bubbles and trying to spot fish at the bottom of the lake. Lesson number two: find a good pair of feet and stick to them, it may help in the (long) swim.
Tight skin
Last but not least, I upgraded my wetsuit to a Maverick Elite from ROKA Sports and it made a big difference. I swam each of the 4 loops about 1 minute faster per loop and I even negative split the entire swim. In general, while swimming with my older wetsuit, I would swim each loop slower by one minute as the time goes on, but this one seems to keep the fatigue at bay. #Win! However, getting into the wetsuit is another workout in itself. It usually takes me about 3 minutes tops to put on my Xterra, but this one is more like 15 minutes. I admit that I NEVER thought that I'd fit in it when I took it out of the package. It has a waist smaller by 2-3 inches on each side (!!) that makes it look like it was made for a Barbie. The first time I put it on (at midnight nonetheless) I had to remind myself to breathe a few times...I even did a celebratory dance. Thankfully I did not feel constricted in open water and it became more of a second skin. I am looking forward to racing in it and hopefully seeing a swim PR sometime soon.

Let's do the Midnight Boogie!

The first week I did 2 outdoor rides and one on the trainer. Someone's gotta watch So You Think You Can Dance! First outdoor ride was once more on Canada Day with Zin, my coach and 2 other friends. We rode to Belfountain for coffee and back. No ice cream this time, as I found that I'm allergic to dairy and it triggers my asthma (#FML). It was challenging and exhilarating at once as we pushed hard on the climbs and kept on bombing the downhills (recovery ride my ass!). Who said that us Canadians don't celebrate in style?

On Saturday I had on my schedule my first ever 180km ride (about 7h). I decided to do 2 loops of 90km to prepare myself mentally for seeing the same scenery twice. My coach also suggested that I do the ride solo. But since dying by myself in a ditch is not something I look forward to, I suggested another friend from the tri club, who is also doing Ironman Mt. Trmblant, to accompany me. She's about 10yr younger and super fit, so my main goal for the day, aside from remaining upright, was to keep up with her. I was so glad that our schedules matched and she said yes. It was probably a good plan not to share the route with her in advance because she would have asked that I take a psychiatric evaluation for sure. But I wanted to make this ride as truthful to the IMMT course as possible, which meant including a few steep climbs. About 8 more than at IMMT, but I hoped that she would stop counting once she was too far out to ride back by herself. I'm so mean. To help counter the feeling of wanting to murder your riding partner, I also threw in some super fast descents (what goes up must come down) which would inject enough adrenaline in our brains for a high to last a week.
10 x Cat 4 climbs on this ride. Because we can!
My friend looking good in Coeur
About to click 73.4kph on Horseshoe Hill
Time for a selfie!
The second week I did 2 trainer rides, easy so I can catch up on 24 this time. The second ride was at the track where I was supposed to do a "brick of hell" along with other peeps from the tri club, but I chose to stay on my trainer, take pictures and skip the run part because my ITBs were giving ME hell.
His and hers. I used my beloved hybrid bike.
Coach giving out instructions to the group. Boy that sounds hard!
I'm the one who doesn't sweat
I was ready to run, but stayed perched instead.
As to the last outdoor ride, since I did not start the Toronto Triathlon Festival race (will write a separate post on that), I went out in my countryside to make it count. With a strong head wind and no energy whatsoever in the legs, I rode 40km in silence with Zin drafting behind me, giving an occasional finger to drivers passing too close by me. I was in a pretty foul mood to say the least.


This is where things got complicated. I had a few big weeks, all with weekend runs 22km+, but then my knees started hurting on the outside of my legs, sign that my ITBs were mad at me. I went for massage therapy, iced, Advil-ed, elevated, foam rolled... but every time I would run the pain would return after 2km. I have no pain when I walk or rest, so it's hard for me to know if I can run until I actually try. So the theme of these past 2 weeks has been "will I or will I not finish my runs"?

The first week I ran 7.5km on Thursday after the swim and it wasn't too bad. On Saturday I was still feeling like a million bucks, with a run off the bike that I could have turned into a marathon if I had listened to my adrenaline-filled brain.  But then on Sunday, the day of my long run, it all turned into a huge #fail. I put on my magic Coeur kit, my bouncy On shoes, my HTFU cap, I even took my favorite water bottle with me, and despite waking up at 5am to get this day started with a #win, I turned around after 2km, cursing my body for giving up on me.
Made the decision not to run until Thursday, hence my track workout-brick turned into a spin, but then the same thing happened, pain came back after 2km during my short loop around the lake. WTF! More rest ensued, with the decision of pulling out of the race on Sunday made in the last seconds before I fell asleep on Saturday. For now I have been ordered to stay off my feet and run in the water for the rest of the week. I won a race entry for Saturday at the Belwood Tri, which must have been a sign that I should skip TTF. I will run there (7.5km) and see how my legs feel.

In a nutshell

Went from 15h of workouts in the first week to 5h in the next. It was supposed to be a rest week anyway, but the fact that my knees/ITBs started bothering me was definitely NOT in the plan. I have to adjust my workouts in the next two weeks and reassess the damage as I go, but this should not be deal breaker me thinks. Just need to take it easy and let me body bounce back. With the last 180km long ride, and the open water swims that I managed to complete in very decent times, I feel a thousand times more confident about IMMT. I made a smart decision not to race and listened to my body and intuition. My coach should be proud because he always says that my enthusiasm gets in the way of my reasoning. I hope to be back with better news in the next recap. Onward and upward!


  1. Good for you for listening to your body!!! Fingers crossed you sort out your knee issues!

  2. Great week of training even with the reduced running...good to listen to your body for sure! In the long run, it will serve you better than running hurt would have... Hope the ITB and starts to co-operate.

  3. Sometimes you just have to take a rest week! Do what feels right to you!