Trail running stole my heart. But first, there was the shirt.

I first started running on a country road because of a cute boy who lived down the road. My love of running stayed long after my crush disappeared. Running has been a regular part of my life ever since.

 

Living in the country, running on dirt roads happens quite often, but I had never entered a trail race as an adult. While I was a cross country runner in high school and absolutely loved it, I really wasn’t interested in trail racing.  The races that I wanted to run were all road races. Besides, most trail races that I had heard of were ultras.  What I am finding out now is what I was thinking isn’t reality.   Really, are all  road races like the Boston marathon, the NY marathon or the Toronto marathon.  Of course these are the ones that we all hear about.  But as a road runner, there are many, many, many races out there, from the local 5K to Full marathons and everything in between.

 

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My trail journey started in the September of 2017, long before the April 28th 2018 race morning.  While on a the Multisport Barrelman 70.3 Girls Relay weekend with 3 other amazing women,  in the thick of my un diagnosed depression (that’s a story for another blog post) is where the story really began.

Most, if not all of my getaways involve a race of some kind.  This particular weekend was no different.  The 4 of us carpooled, shared an Air BnB and decided to head up a night earlier, for a fun girls weekend.  There was a lot of talking, sharing and laughing.  What do athletes tend to talk about when they get together?  Racing, training, food and finding balance. Pick your Poison is one race that came up a few times.  Two of the runners were looking forward to running that race again. I was intrigued.

One of the athletes brought some clothes to share, as she was minimizing her closet.  Yoga pants, race shirts, bandanas etc.  There was an assortment of things and something for everyone.  I managed to score an awesome pair of light grey yoga capris, a red lulu headband and now my favorite shirt.  A pick your poison shirt.  A black fitted T shift with purple logo at the front.  It fit perfectly and it soon made my T shirt rotation to wear.  Now that I was wearing the shirt, I had to register for the next race.

Rebecca signed us up when registration opened and as they say, the rest is history.  I have found a love of trail running and now have a new Pick your Poison shirt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On this Girls relay weekend, one of the athletes brought some of her exercise clothes and race shifts that she really wasn’t wearing.  She had been clearing out her closet and thoughtfully wanted to share.  I scored a great Pick your Poison t-shirt.  It soon became one of my favorites to wear.  While I don’t usually wear shirts for races I haven’t done.  But this was different.  This was given to me by a friend who had done it.

That’s when I decided I was going to race Pick your Poison in 2018.  A few weeks later, I signed up with 2 of the girls from that weekend.

 

While it was a crazy month to begin with, mother nature just didn’t cooperate.  The race organizers were on the trail chipping away at the ice to make the trails safe for us.

Race morning anxiety set in and I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into. I decided I was going to embrace the new.  I also knew that I would be slower than road running and I was prepared for that as well.  My coach encouraged me to run the nice sections but also wanted be to safe out there and when in doubt, slow down.  This, after all, was a training race.

Mud, snow, Ice, slush, hills, oh th

 

e mighty hills, especially the last hill up was very slushy, and going down, you had to run fast enough not to slip.  It was crazy.  Trying to take it slower, I just couldn’t do it. Watching the pros finish the second loop as I was finishing my first, running like a gazelle, effortlessly, their legs briefly touching the top of he snow. When I sped up a little, It got easier.  I love trail running.  I am hooked.

Can’t Run for 3 weeks. Can’t swim for 2, what will I do?

Three days ago, my Doctor and coach instructed me not to run for 3 weeks and not to swim for two.  Didn’t they know I had a full marathon planned three days after surgery? Did it matter? What if I drop down to the half marathon. That should work, right? NOPE!  I had strict orders NOT to run for 3 week and not to swim for 2. URGH!  Not fun. NOT at all.

You see, I had abdominal surgery 3 days before my scheduled race. I registered for the race in October, long before the surgery was planned.  When the surgeon schedules your surgery, you make it fit your schedule, not the other way around.

 

Talking to other women who had similar surgeries, I got recovery stories all across the board.  One friend played ball hockey the same night, while another was in bed for 10 days unable to do anything. Since  I’m a  wonder woman triathlete, I should be good to run a half marathon 3 days after right?  Yeah!  NO!

 

 

At the Saturday expo, I dropped down from the half to the 5k and dropped all expectation on time.  I figured I had 2 and a half hours to walk a 5K while I waited for Rebecca to finish her half marathon. I didn’t care if I  DNF’d or DNS.  I would see how I felt on Sunday morning.

 

Sunday morning I felt ok.  Not great, but ok. I think that Saturday’s outing tired me a little.

 

 

Rebecca, my racing partner, took the shuttle bus to the half marathon start line and I had a little over an hour to decide if I was going to run or not.  After resting for 30 minutes, I walked to the start line and met some amazing people.

 

 

 

 

I met a woman from Chicago, a young woman running her first 5K and a young accountant named Arby run/walking his second 5K after losing 70 lbs.  There were 2 other couples along the route that became part of my race memories.  I walked the beautiful Toronto Marathon 5K route, along the waterfront in 48 minutes.  Definitely not a PB, but a great experience overall.

 

 

 

 

While I was disappointed that I couldn’t run the full or the half marathon with Rebecca as planned, I am very grateful to have had to opportunity to have met some amazing people at the back of the pack

I also really enjoyed watching the half marathoners and the full marathoners run walk and crawl to the finish line.  This race season I may just add a few races to my list and stay at the back of the pack where I get a chance to really engage with  amazing athletes.

 

Triathletes are the best

Triathletes are the best. Belonging to a community of triathletes makes you feel like you are part of a family. This isn’t exclusive to triathlon, jeep owners have something similar. When you say you are are a triathlete to another triathlete, there is this understanding that you are both part of this incredibly crazy tribe. You instantly understand the passion, dedication and commitment it takes to not only train for one sport but three sports with transitions.
Find your tribe, find your people.

Happy training

Find your Zone 2

Sunday’s long run was time based. I was to run 1 hour and 45 minutes. The first hour and 15 minutes, I was supposed to stay in zone 2 to low zone followed by 30 minutes in high zone 4.

Now, if you are new to the zones, you are in for a treat. I love training with zones rather than just pace times. My favorite chart is from the Saskatoon YMCA.  

I have to admit, it was very hard to get into zone 2 while running.  I mostly stayed in mid zone 3 and after I crested a few hills, I needed to walk to get my HR down back to mid zone 3.  Honestly, in that zone, I knew I could keep going for hours on end.  Now, the zone 4 for 30 minutes, I really could not wait till it ended.  It was hard.

The mistake that I see most new runners make is going out too fast.  They feel they cannot sustain that speed, and they are right, and they give up. by finding your zone 2 you know how fast you should be going, based on how your body feels today. It’s a plan for long term success.  By running slower, you will learn how to run faster.  Sounds ridiculous, but it worked for me and many other triathletes I know.

Have you tried zone training?  How was it?  Share your zone training story with us.

Every Breath You Take

Swimming is my best of the 3 triathlon sports. While I didn’t like swimming as a young child, I grew to love swimming by spending the majority of my youth in the pool. I remember getting a crab badge for not being able to pass the first level in the Red Cross swim system.
As a coach, I’ve always believed it was important for the kids to learn bilateral breathing. Learning to breath on both sides to create  equality in their strokes.  I also know that the harder you swim, the more oxygen you need

I always breath bilaterally in my swim sessions, usually every 3 strokes, but sometimes I breathe every 5. The other day, in a speed session, I learned something new. I learned to breathe for speed. I learned that I can use a combination of bilateral and single side breathing. I needed to breath a little more to maintain my pace for the whole 300 meters. So I took 3 breaths on the left, then 3 breaths on the left.

Now, that really changed my arm entry.  Strange, I know.  But it did.  I noticed that when I took 3 breaths on the left side, that my hand entry fell short and when I took 3 breaths on the right, my left hand/shoulder dropped.  I wasn’t as streamline.  If I only took 2 breaths before changing sides, it wasn’t as noticeable.  If I took 5 breaths on one side, then I was able to correct it.

It was quite an insight for me.  I will be exploring this a little further and hopefully be able to swim with a friend who will be able to watch my stroke and give me visual feedback.

Have you changed your breathing style?  How did it go for you?  I would love to hear from you.

 

 

Showing up in March.

A few years ago, I decided to have a yearly theme. A theme that would define the upcoming year. A theme to live by. I got the idea reading Gretchen Rubins’ book the Happiness Project a few years ago. In 2018, I decided I would take it a step further. I have added monthly themes as well that fit in to the bigger yearly theme.

Two Thousand and Eighteen is the year of NEW. January was about feeling, February was about closure and now March is all about showing up.

Showing up to my new department at work, showing up with my family and showing up with my training. All I have to do is show up. That’s it. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? It’s a little harder then it seems…and we are only 3 days in.

Friday was a tough day. It was a work from home day and it was also my long bike day. Two and a half hour ride with 4 x 9 min steep hills. yikes.  Just the thought of sitting on that saddle for 2:30 was just too much.  Nine minute hills felt like it was impossible. But I showed up.

It was a funny day. Everything just seemed to take more time than usual and my mind was scattered. Squirrel. In a blink of an eye, it was already noon. I needed to head out soon so I would be back home on time to get the kids off the bus.

Well, I finally got to the gym and my bottom stayed on the bike seat for 2:30 hours. Got it all done. It was a struggle very minute of that ride. I was playing mind games with myself the whole time. It was hard, but I had to remind myself that I needed to show up. Show up everyday.

 

I managed to get it done by breaking it down. First getting the warm up done. Then completing the first hill, then the second. I had to at least attempt the third. Then, since I completed 3 might as well try go get the last one done.

By that time, I was almost at the 2 hours. I might as well get the last 30 minutes done. I have to say, at 2 hours and 15 minutes mark, I really wanted to quit. I just wanted off the bike, but the silliest thing kept me on the saddle. Can you believe that I stayed on the last 15 minutes to beat someone on the Strava Leaderboard? Yeah, you read that right. The Strava Leaderboard.

It all comes down to how badly you want it, This year of NEW, This year I want it. I want a great race season. I want to be strong for my races, every single one of them. One race a month from March to November. After all, success happens for those who show up. Those who show up on good days and bad days. Days they feel like being there and especially the days that they don’t want to be there…and on friday, I did just that. I showed up

Till next time, have a great active week.

Bye.

The year of NEW

This is the year of new.  I sit here in my new office on a beautiful snowy afternoon, drinking tea from the new mug given to me by my colleagues.  Tomorrow I start my new job, the first major change in 17 years. While I am excited, I am also a little nervous.

I didn’t initially seek out this change, the change found me.  This story began July 2016 when my father broke his neck.  An unstable fracture of his cervical spine that left him in bed and paralyzed.  Luckily, I was there and was able to provide some intermittent support during the first few months. A great surgeon, many miracles later, along with hard work and determination, my father was able to regain the use of his legs again.

 

While I continued to run, bike and swim, many workouts were missed in favor of spending time with my father in the hospital, making the 4 hour commute each way at least once a week and trying to carry on with some of my other responsibilities. My life was full.  Actually, my life was stuffed.  Still, I managed to get a lot of stuff done.  I was juggling many balls and it was only a matter of time it would all come crashing down.  Self care and friendships were the first things that were easy to dismiss.  Consistent training, my podcast and blog were next. Luckily I have a great coach who knows when I am being a slacker and when I have reached my capacity.  He pushed me when I needed it and provided some gentle guidance when I needed it as well.

I didn’t make it to many races that year.  Two races did manage to stay on my calendar….The MultiSport Barrelman 70.3 and the Niagara Falls International Half Marathon.  While I didn’t crush any personal records that year, the friendship, community and environment of these  two races is just what my soul needed.

As you can imagine, 2016 left me completely exhausted.  I wasn’t going to race at all in 2017, except for Ragnar Niagara Relay.  It didn’t consider it a race , it was more of a running adventure.  A weekend getaway/roadtrip with 5 other van mates with some running mixed in. Ragnar became 3 training runs where I would test how well I ran with a lack of sleep and a lack of food.  Pace didn’t matter.  I was running Ragnar Niagara for the experience.  It was the first time Ragnar Relay series was  back in Canada and I wanted to be part of the first race.  The rest of the year , I would train for the sake of training and trying to improve my cycling and really fall in love with my bike.    I was also going to concentrate on getting my house in order, spend more time with my husband and my kids who really missed having their momma present.

Peer pressure set in and of course I decided to join  2 friends, Rebecca and Tracy, for the Niagara Falls International Marathon in October 2017. It was going to be Tracy’s first marathon.  While she has completed may half marathons as well as a few 70.3 distance triathlons, there is something to say about tackling your first Full marathon.  We started training together. One speed work session during the week and a long run on the weekend.  Life was great.  It felt amazing training with the 2 women.

In the spring of 2017, the cancer diagnosis came for my father.  Once again, re-arranging my schedule and making the 4 hour trip each way to be there for key appointment and making it a point to spend more time with my parents, my life began to burst at the seams once again.  I was exhausted.  My body ached.  I longed to run my long runs with my group.  We pushed each other, we encouraged each other and we vented to each other.  Running became therapy.

In August, while at my parents, I get a text from Rebecca telling me I had won the “Ultimate Getaway” for Niagara Falls International Marathon. I couldn’t believe it.   Naturally, I chose Rebecca to share the experience with me.

Late summer, we got the call that the cancer was shrinking, and while he would never be cancer free, this would buy us some time.  That was great news.  The long runs with Rebecca started again.

A friend of ours had just lost her father a month before I received the invitation.  Her father, a cyclist had always accompanied her to her races.  She wanted to honor him by racing he Barrelman 70.3 as a relay.  Rebecca, Jax and I became Jim’s angels.  While I wasn’t planning on racing more than the full marathon that year, I just couldn’t pass up

this opportunity.  It was an honor to race in Jim’s memory. Once again, that weekend getaway was just what my soul needed.

The Barrelman 70.3 Relay provided me once again the hunger to race   Even if I hadn’t trained as much as I would have liked, I still managed to exit the water in a decent time.  While Jax was on her bike, Rebecca and I made our way to T2, managing our way around closed streets.  I decided to run the 21.1 km with Rebecca that day, since I had a 26 km run that day on my training plan . What better way to get my training run in then to run with Rebecca.

In late fall,  I was diagnosed with depression from a medication I was prescribed. I had been showing signs of depression since Labor day weekend and they were getting progressively worse.  While all I did was  cry, work, train and go to bed, nothing else really mattered to me at the time. The only time that I felt good was while I was training and racing.  The rest of my life was a mess. The 2 race weekends were my first eye opener that something was wrong.  Luckily, I had an appointment with a covering Dr who really took the time to listen. He realized what the issue was right away and made the necessary changes. Life was looking up.

This was also the time when we got the call that a new cancer has emerged with full force. Esophageal cancer this time.  Once again, re-arranged my schedule to make the trip for some key appointments.  I was ready to fight this thing, as long as my father wanted to fight. 

 

Mid December, I moved in with my parents to help with his care and to support my Mom during this time.  He fought hard, until he decided he had had enough.  He passed on Dec 31, 2017 with his family by his side.

 

I am learning many lessons over the last few years. I will be going through many firsts this year as well.  First Family day without him, first birthday etc. While I know it won’t be easy, I will try to experience them fully.   It’s time for a fresh start.  A new outlook on life.  A new mantra. While I may not have all the answers right now, as I start moving down this path, I will be looking for the signs along the way. The new job and a new racing plan and a lot more time for family and friends this year is just what my soul is wanting and needing.

Till next time, have a great active day.

bye.

 

 

Rev 3 Barrelman Relay Race report

On Sunday Sept 17th 2017, I was part of a relay team at the Rev3 Barrelman 70.3. It was the best decision I think I could make.  Last month, I was debating if I should race the 70.3 or just concentrate all of my efforts on the full marathon.  Being part of the relay team allowed me to be part of one of my favorite races without sacrificing my marathon training. Win-win in my option.

http://www.zoomphoto.ca/viewphoto

I swam, Jax biked and Rebecca Ran. We were Jim’s Angels, named in memory of Jax’s dad who passed a way a few weeks before the race.  I was honored to be part of the team.

It was an unusually warm Sunday morning, the water was beautiful, as it always is in the Welland International Flat Water Center.  Just before the first wave went off, the officials announced there would be 2 wet suits to win.  The swimmers who comes in closest to 30 minutes and 45 minutes would get them.  Naturally, the race was on.  Since I hadn’t been swimming as much as I should have, I knew that the 30 minutes was impossible, so I paced myself to come in at the 45 minutes mark.  The official swim time 44.33.  Just not quite close enough to win the wetsuit.  Ah well, I am sure someone had a great surprise when they were told they won.

Long strokes, long strokes, looooonnnnng strokes  (gees I’m hungry) , long strokes, oh, I am so hungry were the only 2 things I could think of.  I WAS STARVING!!!! Race morning nutrition wasn’t on par that morning.  Race girls weekend sharing a place with 3 other women I’ve never stayed with before, staying in my first Air BnB, well, I didn’t eat as well as I normally do on race day. I failed to plan the night before.  Lesson learned.

Leaving the Flat water Center, Rebecca and I had to meet our cyclist at T2.  The thing with a “fun” relay team, is that well, you just never know when your cyclist will come in.  She told u approx 4 hours.  With stopping at the gas station and trying to get to T2 with all the road closures for the race, parking, then walking the 3km to transition area, we just made it in time to see a few cyclist come in, including our friend Michelle then Jax came in.  “OH BOY! quick Rebecca ran into transition and then the real fun began.

As I mentioned earlier, it was an unusually hot day and our run began at 1 pm.  YIKES! We didn’t eat well either.  We thought we had an extra hour.  Our cyclist was just too fast. She came in at 3:01:58.  Our plan was to stay in low zone 3, running for 10 minutes and walking for 1 min.  That was great for the first 5km, then the heat just seemed to hit.  We had a hard time staying in Zone 3. We were running quite slow, 8:30 min per km in mid zone 4.  It was hot, the stations had ice , oh, cold wonderful ice, but since we were on the road for so long, some stations ran out of ice. Let’s just say, we did finish with a smile on our face.

Overall, it was a great race weekend.  We took a lot of pictures and created some amazing memories. I encourage everyone to join a relay team if they feel they cannot  or don’t want to race the full distance themselves.

Till next time, have a great active week.

Bye!

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Tri or not to Tri. That is the question.

To Tri or not to Tri?  Corny title, I know. It’s a play on words from the opening lines of Hamlet. But in all seriousness, I am thinking about whether or not I should be racing in the Rev3 Niagara Falls Barrelman 70.3 distance triathlon in 5 weeks. Training fairly consistently this summer, I am still missing some of my weekly workouts, but some days sleep is what I need more than a workout.

Six weeks before race day is when I start race specific training. The intensity and the volume increase, or at least that I how I usually feel. Fall is a time where many of my “hobbies”  compete with for my time. For the last few years, I was a committee volunteer for a race that happens 2 weeks after the Barrelman. If you’ve ever been a part of a race committee, then you know, the last month before the race, there are an increase in meetings and and more work. Fun work, but time consuming work. I was also the volunteer hockey trainer for my youngest son’s hockey team and if that was not enough, a loved one (close family member) was in a hospital 4 hours away. We would try to make out to see him every 10 days or so. To add to all of that, I also commute to work, with an average drive of 1.5 hours each way to a job that I absolutely love.  Are you exhausted yet? I am just thinking of all I was trying to get done. I am also a mom of 3 boys, a wife and a friend.

This year, in order to focus more on the 70.3, I’ve resigned from my volunteer position on the race committee for the race that is 2 weeks after Rev 3. I’ve also come to the conclusion that I am okay not being my child’s hockey trainer this year, but as always, if they need me, I will certainly volunteer once again. Thankfully my family member is back home and healthy once again, so now we can resume our visits on a monthly basis.

Alright, things are looking great aren’t they? So what is the issue? Well, there are 2 of them. The first one is the bike and the second one is the marathon.

Let’s start with the bike. Of the 3 sports, cycling is the one that I have the most room to improve. I have made great strides in the last few years. Discovering the spin bike at the gym and getting there for 4:30 am has been a blessing. I’ve been able to get most of my weekly training done that way. My real issue is realizing that the 2 bikes that I own and love dearly are just not right for me. Dexter, my yellow Opus is a little too big with the aero bars slightly off position and we are unable to make it fit so I do not get neck pain. My second bike, the newest member of the family, named Alice the Camel by my fellow Baydog, is a little too small. While she is not too fancy, she does come with a set of racing wheels that I was really looking forward to using this year and lots of water bottle holders.
While other athletes may be able to make the minor issues with the bike fitting work,  I had back surgery a few years ago so my fittings have to be quite precise to protect the hardware in my lumbar spine.
I am looking for a new bike. I’ve narrowed the make of bike that I feel will be right for me and narrowed 2 dealers who sell that brand of bike. Either dealer are convenient locations.  Will I have a chance to get a fitting and ride enough to get comfortable in the next 5 weeks? After the initial fitting, I find that there are always a few minor tweeks that have to take place a few weeks after I start getting comfortable.   Am I just making excuses at this point?  Im not sure.

The second reason I am struggling to make this decision is that I won the Niagara Falls Ultimate race weekend Getaway. Yeah!  (Im so happy) That means, I am running a full marathon just 1 month after the Rev3 Barrelman. Yikes. That’s a lot of volume. Since I won the race entree fee, I feel like I should try harder to do well. Thankfully, I am racing with 3 other women in my area that I train with.
Of course, I just wouldn’t be me, the go go go girl as my fav cousin calls me, if I didn’t plan a half marathon just 2 weeks after the marathon. My rational for this?   That race is a just for fun race with my husband. We will be going at his pace, not mine, so I see it as a training run with some walking in between.

Do I concentrate on the marathon and ease up on some of the rides and swims and really focus on injury prevention, strength and nutrition? Do I do it all, because I love racing or do I try to slow down and make sure I have time to breathe and be in the present moment? (That never happens in the thick of training and tight schedules). But, this year I will have more time since I am not on a fall race committee but a spring race committee. I’ve managed to free up time in my schedule significantly.

Well, my deadline to make this decision is Monday morning. I will be talking to my coach, get some feedback from my friends and family , write down the pros and the cons and a lot of reflections on why I want to do this. While it’s not an easy decision to make, I will make it by Monday morning and I will own that decision. No regrets.

Till next time, have a great active week.

Products I love

As I go through the training week, there are a few things that I really love to use.  Products that make my training easier and more enjoyable.After all, when you get to the longer distances, fueling becomes critical.

First things I drink in the morning is some kind of electrolyte or hydrating drink.  The two that have come into my rotation are the Vega and Isagenix.

 

Essential oils are also part of my life.  I use them as needed always mindful they are very concentrated and to be used as I would medicine. I have a lot of different essential oils.  Of course, I do have my favorites and my go-to oils.

The first one is cederwood.  I love that one before I go to bed at night. It just seems to quite down my mind and allow me to fall asleep in no time.

Lemongrass is my second favorite oil.  After a hard workout, I love to rub my legs and hips.  

My latest supplement that has had amazing effects on my training is Protandim from Lifevantage.  That little yellow pill has helped me  recover from my workouts so I can train harder more often.  My Dad also started taking it an after only 2 weeks he is sleeping much better an his legs feel stronger.  If you would like more information feel free to visit my website or email me at Trichatlg@gmail.com.