Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Training? That means 3 or 4 workouts a week right?

In the Beginning - Part 2

After taking the whole "off season" completely off during the fall of 2008, I was ready to start "training" (at least what I believed was training...).

R&B Brewery 10th Anniversary

In 2009 I joined the Pacific Spirit Triathlon Club and started swimming with the club in January. This was really good for me and I quickly moved up from the slow lane to one of the faster lanes in the first month or two. They also did long rides on Saturday mornings but I found it hard to make it since Friday night was my night out at the R&B Brewery (having a brewery as your neighbour is a magical thing!). I should also mention that I was a little intimidated by all the experienced triathletes in the club, many of which had completed Ironman! I did, however, sign up for Michelle Martin's spin classes at the Bentall Center once a week during the winter/spring season. That class worked wonders for my cycling skills and technique. She had us spin at 100 rpm all the time unless we were doing a specific workout that required a different cadence. Before that I had trouble spinning at 90 so this was really important for my development. My only other ride each week was on Saturday.

Since I wanted to race the Half Iron distance that year, I was also slowly building up my running. By the end of February, I had built up to a distance of 16km and my legs were feeling pretty good. For my birthday my parents bought me a Garmin 305 GPS training watch. It was a complete surprise. I'd heard about GPS training computers but had never really looked into it. The first time I used the computer I had planned to do an 18km run. I didn't know much about paces at the time so when I looked at my average speed after the first few minutes and saw 4:09 per km I thought that that didn't seem too bad so I decided to hold that pace for the whole run (my previous long runs had definitely not been that fast). It gradually became harder but I was enjoying the challenge and I managed to hold the pace pretty well. When I got to 18km I figured I might as well do the whole 21.1km and see how fast I could run a half marathon. I ended up completing the run in just over 1h 28min and held an average pace of 4:12 per km. When I asked Laura if that was an okay time for a half marathon she couldn't believe it. Here I was, out of shape, totally inexperienced and I had just ran a 1:28 half marathon! It would be a long time before I could do it again though... This run, combined with a few other quick runs in the following weeks (which got slower each time) set off a couple of injuries which would take me over a year to recover from. All or nothing led to nothing but trouble. This is where I really learned that you need to ease into your training.

I did my first ride with Pacific Spirit in April and rode 100km with a group led by Vancouver legend, Carol Peters. The most I had ever ridden before that was 70km and it was a hard ride but that 100km ride was awesome. Riding with a group made it way easier. Especially since it kept me under control instead of trying to race my training rides. And Carol  is one of the most inspiring and positive people I've ever met! Most of my rides before that had only been around 40 or 50 km.

Shawnigan Lake Triathlon 2009
I had purchased a season's pass for the Subaru West Coast Triathlon Series and was planning to race the Subaru Shawnigan Lake Half Iron. Unfortunately I was still having problems with running injuries so I decided to do the Olympic distance race instead. I hadn't actually ran for around 4 or 5 weeks in April and May and the race was on the last weekend of May. That was one of the most brutal races ever. My training regimen was pretty bad and I wasn't ready for it. My friend, Paul Walker, taught me how to do a proper transition the day before the race. I learned how to keep my shoes attached to the bike for the mount and the dismount and didn't have any problems with it during the race. I was learning how to race! Although Paul had warned me not to try it without practicing first, I did the run sockless with regular running shoes and my feet bled so badly that I had scars for 6 months. After the race he told me about Zoot Shoes. A pair of shoes that were designed specifically for triathlon which were made to be worn without socks, had holes in the bottom to help drain all the sweat and the water we splash all over ourselves, and had special "handles" to help get them on really quick in transition. Within a few weeks, I found a dealer and made the purchase. Thanks to Paul, and my since acquired Zoot Shoes, I'm now one of the top ranked athletes in T1 and T2 at every race and my feet don't look like they've been tenderized when I'm done.

Paul Walker at the Shawnigan Lake Triathlon 2009

I should mention that joining the club was the best decision that I ever made in regards to triathlon. Since becoming a member I have met so many amazing people and wonderful athletes and they've taught me so much about the sport. I was completely clueless at the beginning. Triathlon can be a little intimidating when you're first starting out but when you meet other athletes you realize that most of us all do it for the same reason, to have fun and share a few cold beers when it's done.

Vancouver Half Iron 2009

In July 2009, I did my first Half Iron distance race at the Subaru Vancouver Triathlon and finished with a time of 5h 21min. My goal was to get under 5h 30min so I was pretty happy with the result. I managed to do the 1.9km swim in under 37 minutes and the 91km bike in 2h 55min but struggled a little on the second half of the 20 km run which I did in 1h 46min. I was struggling with GI problems on the run at most of my races and really had no clue about proper race nutrition. At Olympic distance races I didn't even eat during the whole race.

A month later I purchased some aerobar extensions for my road bike. I was told that it took a little while to get used to them so I probably didn't want to buy them right before a race. The first day I installed them, I was racing down Cypress Mountain at 75kph! It was awesome. What a difference. I raced at the Kelowna Olympic distance race (which also happens to be the Canadian National Championship) and finished with a time of 2h 22min. I swam just under 25 minutes (2 minutes faster than my previous PR) and averaged almost 35kph on the bike (around 3kph faster than my previous bike PR) as well as doing the run in 43min 40s (which was also a PR by around 3 minutes). I was 18th out of 46 in my category and I really hadn't trained all that much. I was starting to feel like I might really have some potential.

The following week I signed up for Ironman Canada! I was still unsure about running 42.2km but I figured I had a year to build up to it and I didn't want to have to wait two more years to do it. Ironman was the reason I started all this. I was going all in. Two weeks after signing up for Ironman, I raced at the Subaru Sooke Half Iron...

I learned a hard lesson at Sooke that year. A quarter of a peanut butter sandwich (which I ate towards the end of the 86km bike leg) is definitely not enough to get you through a Half Iron (I probably didn't drink enough water either). I figured that if I was having so many GI problems at races, then maybe I should just avoid the whole eating thing altogether. A very painful mistake. I was already bonking pretty bad by the end of the of the bike leg and I still had to run a really hilly 21km. As soon as I started running, my knees were already hurting and my legs were in so much pain that I wasn't sure if I would make it. But I'm not a quitter. I pushed through and held the best pace I could manage until the end and finished in 5h 31min (1h 58min run).

Proper recovery was unfamiliar territory for me at the time so the next week I got back on my bike and rode the triple crown with a couple of my friends. The triple crown consists of climbing three of the local Vancouver mountains in one ride. It was approximately 140km (87 miles) including two climbs from sea to sky with around 1000m of elevation each (3281 ft.). The third climb is shorter and only reaches approximately 300m of elevation but it ends with a fairly steep section that's probably around 15% grade. It was a tough day but I managed to climb pretty fast and it was a good confidence booster to end the outdoor cycling season (at least that's when it ended for me back then).

Three weeks after the triple crown, I raced at my second running race, the Royal Victoria Half Marathon. My plan was to turn my unofficial 1h 28min 21.1km time from earlier that year into an official race time. No such luck... my pacing was terrible and after starting out way too fast (sub 4 min first km) I quickly faded and ended up finishing in 1h 33min. It was a tough morning.

After that race, I bought an indoor bike trainer. If I was going to improve my results in 2010, I needed to work harder on the bike. My goal was to get under 5 hours at a Half Iron and under 12 hours at Ironman. No more sitting around during the off season...

Next post: 2010 - The road to Ironman

1 comment:

  1. Good memories of that Shawnigan Lake trip/triathlon. But still to this day the hardest Olympic triathlon I've ever done. Glad you're still killing it in transitions!