Taking a break

Instead of leaving this space silent, I thought I’d write a little post to say I’m taking a blogging break.

I’m not sure for how long, but I know I’m not making the time for it right now. I want to enjoy summer, weekend getaways, and warm evenings instead of worrying about blogging.

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Plus, my favourite things to write about are running and racing, and I’m not doing either of those. (Fingers crossed I’ll be running soon!)

I’ll still be reading blogs but probably not leaving many comments. Hope you’ll stick around for when I’m back!

In the meantime, have a fantastic start to summer and good luck to those who are racing- I’ll be virtually cheering for you!

When’s your next big race?

So you wanna do a triathlon? Choosing your first race

We live in a world where we always want more. Some people want bigger houses, better vehicles, and a quicker climb up the corporate ladder.

What does that mean for an athlete? We want to be faster, we want to go further, and we want to push harder.

You hear about people who start running and their first race is a marathon. Professional women in Kona (Ironman World Championships) are getting closer in time to men than ever before.

For me in triathlon? My husband and I signed up for a half Ironman and then full Ironman a few months later. No try a tri, sprint or Olympic distance for us. Did it work out? Yes; however we’d been endurance runners for years.

My advice? Sign up for a race you think you will be successful in. If you really want to embrace and love multisport, set yourself up for a positive experience.

  • Get your family on board. Their support is crucial if you want to make it work.

    My then nine-month-old niece aptly watching Kelly and I in Arizona for our first Ironman!

    My then nine-month-old niece focussed while watching Kelly and me in Arizona for our first Ironman!

  • Consider training time mixed with family/work/life commitments. Don’t sign up for an iron distance if you have a summer full of weddings, or a crazy schedule. Race a shorter distance and go longer when you have more time.
  • Think about your history: race distance, training, injury, etc. If you’ve predominately raced 5 or 10km races, it’s probably best to start in sprint or Olympic distance race.
  • Talk to a coach or friends who tri. They’ve experienced multisport training and can offer advice to ensure your success.
  • Determine your strengths and figure out what you’d be best suited towards. If you are scared stiff of swimming, perhaps you could start with a duathlon and take swimming lessons to get more comfortable.

Road triathlon
There are a few set triathlon distances and then various other races have their own swim/bike/run distances (like Escape from Alcatraz).

Sprint: swim 750m / bike 20km / run 5km
Olympic: swim 1500m / bike 40km / run 10km
Half iron/long course: swim 1.2 miles (1.9km) / bike 56 miles (90 km) / run 13.1 miles (21.1km)
Iron distance: swim 2.4 miles (3.8km) / bike 112 miles (180km) / run 26.2 miles (42.2km)

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Other options
There are plenty of multisport options to choose from in addition to road triathlons:

  • If you prefer trails to road, choose an XTERRA off-road triathlon.
  • If you don’t want to swim, sign up for a duathlon that consists of run bike run.
  • Don’t want to run or injured? Race an aquabike, which is a swim then bike race.
  • An aquathlon is typically run swim run, so you don’t have to bike if that’s a hurdle.

Go watch a triathlon and I’m sure you’ll be amazed and inspired by some of the people you see crossing that finish line.

What was your first race distance (running or tri)?

Read part 1 (five things I wish I knew before I started triathlon) and part 2 (getting started) of the tri series, and let me know if you have any other questions! I’m no expert, but I love helping people reach new finish lines!

Weekend camping in Radium

We spent the past two weekends camping, hiking, and just enjoying the mountains. It certainly is hard to come home when you’re surrounded by this beauty!

SinclairCreek

We’ve been going to Radium Hot Springs, a small village on the edge of Kootenay National Park in the Rocky Mountains in BC. The weather is typically a lot warmer there than our beloved Jasper, so it has been nice to hike in shorts!

Two other things stand out: the varied flora and fauna, and all the bighorn sheep! I think they’re Radium’s unofficial mascot, and they can be seen nearly everywhere from the trails to walking the streets.

sheep_Radium

On the first weekend, we went on two very different hikes. One was a typical mountain hike that started at Sinclair Creek and went up and up! We ended at the hot springs but had Harold with us so didn’t go for a dip…this time!

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The second day we did a short hike around the hoodoos near Fairmont. I was terrified of going close to the edge, but Kelly had no fear!

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This past weekend we went on two more gorgeous hikes. On Saturday we went to Mount Swansea, which is a downhill biker’s dream! They also have hiking trails. We ended up taking the long way up, but I’m glad we did as it was longer (got my sweat going) and had various lookouts!

SwanseaHike

We saw a bunch of hang/paragliders, and at the top we saw the launch pad. My stomach felt weak watching them floating in the air!

SwanseaView

The next day Kelly went for a trail run in the morning; yup, my heart was broken! Then we went on a walk close to town along the creek. Harold was pretty tired, so it was nice to walk mostly flat ground. And my quads were trashed from coming back down the mountain!

SinclairFamily

The bears are out in full force. On our drive on Friday we saw a bear rubbing his scent on a tree, and one crossed the road right in front of us! They had a lot of hikes temporarily closed while the bears are predominately in the valley bottoms.

I can’t wait to get back out to the mountains and explore more of the area! I know Harold’s excited, too!

HaroldWildflowers

Are you afraid of heights?

So you wanna do a triathlon? Part 2 – Getting started

A few weeks ago I wrote about five things I wish I knew before I started triathlon. Here’s a second post on triathlon – getting started.

The first thing I wished I knew was how expensive triathlon can be (tip 1). However, you don’t need all the top gear.

It’s more important to get started biking (regardless whether it’s on a mountain bike, a borrowed road bike, or a svelte tri bike) and swimming than wishing for higher end equipment.

You could run your first tri with only five key items: swimsuit and goggles, a bike and helmet, and running shoes.

Here are three tips to help you get started…

Build a base
Kelly and I bought introductory road bikes the summer before our races before we really knew we were headed towards triathlon. The first couple rides were scary, even with cage pedals, because I just wasn’t comfortable on a road bike and riding on the highway. Over time I got more comfortable and we started going longer.TdA22013

I was a lifeguard and swimming instructor in high school and university so knew how to swim, but that doesn’t mean I enjoyed it or even practiced unless my recertification was coming due. And although Kelly knew how to swim, he couldn’t go for longer than 50m without stopping. Within six months he could do an iron-distance swim (3.8km or 2.4 miles).

It was important for both of us to build a base in the other activities and get comfortable doing them to see if it’s something we actually would like to do enough to practice on a regular basis (and whether it would be worth investing more money into).97704-594-026f

Start training for all three sports
Once you’ve built a base, start training for the swim, bike and run. A lot of great feedback in the last post mentioned practicing your least favourite or weakest sport. It’s easy to do the one you love the most, but you don’t really need to work on that activity!

Training for all three sports is great to start getting comfortable (tip 2). When I made the transition to clipless pedals and cycling shoes, I felt like a beginner all over again. I fell into the ditch of the highway once, clipped in, which didn’t help (and hurt both my back and my ego)! But the more I did it, the more comfortable I became.

Training for all three also helps you to figure out balance between the sports with strength training and life (tip 4).

This might be the point where you’d consider joining a masters swim team, checking out a local cycling club, or hiring a coach. You can also find tons of information online! Kelly and I winged it all, but I always say I’ll hire a coach for the next triathlon I run.

Continue to learn about it
There’s a lot to learn in triathlon from new terminology to logistics. Here is a random list of things to consider:

  • Bike set up – if you have the right bike size and fit, it should help prevent biking injuries down the road.
  • Rest – important in all sports, but when you are balancing three, rest becomes even more important. Be sure to listen to your body and skip a workout or scale it back if necessary.
  • Nutrition – ensure you are adequately fueling both in training and at other times to provide your body the energy it requires.
  • Brick – a triathlon training term when you stack two or more disciplines during the same workout with no or very little rest between. (i.e. bike then run). They help to prepare your body for the next demand. Start small and increase with comfort.
A run/swim/run brick

A run/swim/run brick

  • Transitions (T1 and T2) – Transition areas are where you go after one sport to prepare for the next, swim to bike (T1) and bike to run (T2). They can be intimidating the first time you participate since they’re kind of foreign. They can also vary from having wetsuit strippers, to long runs between the swim and bike, to having everything for T1 and T2 at the same station or in a completely different location.

These are just a few more things to consider in the larger triathlon cog. If you want to try, go for it and learn as you go: build a base, train for three sports and ask questions, read about it, and get professional help (coach, clubs, etc) if you choose.

Next up…how to choose your first race!

Non-triathletes: Which sport is easiest and which one is the toughest?

Triathletes: what else would you add? How long did you train in three disciplines before signing up for a race?

Long weekend & more mountain biking

It was Victoria Day long weekend, which meant no work yesterday!

We hoped to go camping in Jasper (it’s been way too long) but the forecast for the mountains wasn’t very nice. We opted to stay home instead, and it was a beautiful weekend in the city!

I spent almost every minute of Saturday outside including a strength workout in the back yard, a visit with my niece, and reading (Anatomy for Runners by Jay Dicharry again) by the fire while Kelly worked on bikes. (He’s an awesome bike mechanic!)

Kellybikefire

On Sunday Kelly and I went for another long mountain bike ride. I was so tired by the end it felt like I was back in Ironman training!

We rode for almost four hours again and I think I did a lot better on the trails. We took wider and easier ones, but on the singletrack I felt more confident!

Here are four things I worked on improving from last week but still have a ways to go.

  • Look ahead – look down the trail for obstacles, roots, ruts, turns, etc. so I can react to them before I reach them.
  • Don’t hesitate – if I pause, I stop and then it’s even harder to make myself go down a steep hill or keep pedaling up. I was at the top of a steep downhill on Saturday, hesitated, and stopped. A lady and her husband were walking up it and gave me the encouragement I needed to ride down!
  • Learn to shift my weight – this point kind of goes with the hesitation. I need to work on shifting my weight back (butt behind seat) downhill and pushing my hips forward when I climb. (oh, and to shifts gears before I reach a hill!)
  • Stand when going over bumpy terrain or logs – I learned this the hard way after hurting my nether region from staying sitting!

I’ve really enjoyed mountain biking with Kelly the last couple weekends. The trails are such a peaceful place to be without traffic or much wind.

On Monday I took Harold to the river valley to enjoy the trails again. I wanted to run a little, but we ended up walking almost the whole time. I thought I was out of shape, but Harold definitely needs spring training before he can go on long hikes in the mountains this summer!!

How was your weekend? Do you prefer to walk, run, or bike on trails?

So you wanna do a triathlon? Five things I wish I knew when I started

Triathlon season is now in full force with lots of races and training ramping up for those racing.

It’s pretty common for runners to get the tri itch. It’s a new challenge, and one that suits our bodies that love to move and minds that love a challenge!

Although I’m not participating in any triathlons this season, I dove into them head first back in 2010 with my husband (Calgary 70.3 and Ironman Arizona).

CalgaryHugs

At the finish of our first triathlon

Here are some things I wish I knew beforehand.

  1. Triathlon is expensive. In running you need shoes and some sweat-wicking gear. In triathlon, you need equipment for two additional sports. For biking- think bike, helmet, and shoes. Add in some cycling clothing, gloves, and mechanical gear (spare tubes, pump, underseat bag). For swimming, all you really need is a swimsuit, goggles and cap. But unless you have somewhere to swim you need a membership to a pool or to pay drop in fees. Racing in open water? Maybe you’ll need to rent or buy a wetsuit.
    And this is the bare minimum. Yes, you can do it on a budget, but gear for three sports and entry fees add up.
  2. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Maybe you’ve been a runner for a while, love cycling, or swam in high school, but triathlon will definitely take you out of your comfort zone.
    Between practicing three sports, riding your bike on the side of the highway with semi trucks zipping by, and swimming in open water, you have to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Before our first open water swim!

Before our first open water swim!

  1. Ask questions. Starting something new can be intimidating. Don’t be afraid to ask questions whether it’s from friends who participate in multi-sport, a coach or club you want to try out, or fellow bloggers. I know I learned a lot from reading triathlon magazines and blogs. I wish I had reached out to people I knew who raced for advice or tips.
  2. It doesn’t have to be your whole world. It’s easy to get wrapped up in triathlon, after all you have three sports, strength training, and sleep to monopolize your time.
    Unless you have huge dreams like qualifying for Kona or representing your country in shorter distance races, you can do it all and still enjoy life outside of sport.
    The first year we did triathlon, we were pretty strict with training. By the second Ironman we really loosened up, taking a week-long holiday during peak week and only running short and mountain biking once. I ended up besting my previous time on a tougher course.
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Ironman Canada (Penticton) 2012

  1. You will fall in love with it. No matter what sport was your favourite, you’ll most likely fall in love with at least one of the others.
    Running is my first love, but now I dream of road biking the open highways and my trainer gets more use than my treadmill.

Although I’m happy to not have signed up for a tri this year, I will miss it! I still have a lot to learn about multisport. I still have a lot of room to grow, too.

I took this year off and quite honestly don’t know when my next triathlon season will be. However, I know when it comes, I’ll be hungry to train smarter and better my times.

I think I have a couple other ideas for ‘So you wanna do a triathlon’. If you are interested in getting your feet wet, let me know if you have any questions.

Triathletes- what do you wish you knew before you started?
Non-triathletes- do you ever get the itch to try it out?