Finding time: 5 tips for work/life balance.

I am sure I am not the only athlete who gets asked this question in response to our training schedules: “Where do you find the time?!”

The truth is, we all have the same amount of time in our day. 24 hours. Time to eat, sleep, get pretty, work, workout, be social, keep our habitats tidy, and take care of others. Last fall I had the pleasure of giving a lunch hour presentation to the students at UNB law school about work/life balance, and how to fit it all in. I also gave them some tips on how to do this on a budget because, let’s face it, law students and junior lawyers need to be resourceful. The societal image of lawyers wearing Rolexes and driving BMWs might be accurate for our more senior colleagues, but us babes have student debt gorillas hanging off our backs and they are hungry for our pay checks.scales-of-justice-md

I thought I would share these tips on the blog for those who might find them helpful. They are simple, but often not put to practice.

My Top 5 Tips for Work/Life Balance

1. Make a plan.

Obvious, no? “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” is the oft cited passage of Benjamin Franklin. I suggest sitting down at the beginning of the year, the month, and the week, and looking ahead. This is how I came to succeed in law school, and now it’s how I train. You’ve got 52 weeks baby. Don’t waste them. What are your goals for the year? When do you want to accomplish them by? Note this up on your calendar (I use an old fashioned agenda) and work backwards. Each week, take another look at the plan you made. What commitments for that particular week may get in your way? Work around them by training before work, or at lunch time. Be mentally prepared for these obstacles so they don’t cause you to miss a workout and get in the way of your goal.

2. Pack your lunch.

This is one of the tips that also helps your wallet. Pack a healthy lunch and snacks the day before work or class to make sure you fuel yourself right. Keep healthy non-perishable snacks in your desk (nuts, crackers, a can of soup or tuna) so that you are prepared for hunger emergencies. If you go straight to the gym after work, these snacks can tide you over until you make it home for dinner rather than bailing on your workout to go home and eat. I buy matchstick carrots, tubs of baby spinach, and grape tomatoes that are always handy in my fridge. Paired with an avocado (I throw the whole thing in and cut it up at work) for satiety and healthy fats, throwing these things into a container makes for the fastest lunchtime salad ever.

3. Use geography to your advantage.

Work close to the pool? Swim at lunch. Live by the track? Run in the morning before work. Minimize the time you spend travelling to and from your workouts by planning them to fit the rest of your day so that you are not spending more time commuting than you have to. I have been CrossFitting at lunch because the gym is right behind my office. I swim in the mornings because I live 2 minutes from the pool. You will be more inclined to skip a workout if you’ve planned to drive across town at lunch in traffic, rather than if you plan with your logistics.

4. Wake up early.

There is no way around this one. If you want to fit it all in, and you work a 9-5 job or go to school, working out in the morning is one of the best ways to manage your time. Especially for triathletes who are often fitting in double workouts, this time is prime. It’s also the best time to hit the pool because it is less likely you will be decapitated by a pool toy or child-launched kick board.

5. Get enough sleep.

Waking up early means getting to bed early too. You will have more energy to accomplish all of your daily goals if you eat right and get enough sleep. Tasks can take twice as long when you are tired, and us busy people don’t have time for that. Feeling dozy makes it much easier to talk yourself out of a workout and/or to start snacking. The point is not to lose sleep by waking up early to train, but rather to get enough sleep, while still waking up early to train.

So there you have it. I may not be an expert on this topic, or a perfect pupil, but having trained for and completed (amongst other things) 3 half ironman triathlons through law school, articling, and my first year as an associate, I have some experience in having the best of both worlds.

What are your time management tips??

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“Your Best Triathlon” by Joe Friel, 2010: A Review

This review comes well overdue, but conveniently at a time when many of us are drafting our 2013 training schedules.

I picked up this book during a trip to Toronto in the fall of 2011. I had never made my own training plan before, just kind of did what my friends were doing, and what I had time for. Having signed up for my third half ironman, Mont-Tremblant 70.3, I wanted a good race, and knew I needed to teach myself how. I strolled into Chapters, and this title caught my eye. Yes, Mr. Friel, I would like to compete in my “best triathlon”.

The decision to purchase this book was a good one, and if your curious, yes, it did help me train for and race my best triathlon.

Overview

51VZb2lB0KL._SL500_Joe Friel is a household name in the triathlon world. He literally wrote the bible on training for triathlon. This book, his most recent treatise on the subject, is arguably his best yet. The book thoroughly explains the method behind the principles of triathlon training. Starting from the moment you pick your race and set your goal in Part I, Friel’s book is written from the perspective of your coach. In Parts II, III, and IV, the various training blocks (“Prep”, “Base 1″, “Base 2″, “Base 3″, “Build 1″, “Build 2″, “Peak”, and Race”) are first explained, and followed by a 4 week training plan for Sprint, Olympic, Half Iron, and Ironman distance triathlons. Each training plan follows the principles of periodization, meaning the closer in time you get to your race, the more race-like the workouts become. The book is chalk full of essential information for understanding the objectives behind each periodized training phase. All of the bases are covered; from how to troubleshoot training interruptions, to how to prepare your mind for the race, to nutrition, to strength, to transitioning between races… Friel has left no stone unturned in this book.

My approach to using this book was to read Chapters 1-3 (“Your Race”, “Your Fitness”, “Your Training”, respectively) first, and then to read Chapters 4-11 as I began each respective “block” of training.

The chapters all follow the same layout: overview of the block, objectives, coaching tips, workout descriptions, and a 4 week training plan for each distance. Generally, the training plans are as follows: MWF strength, TThSat Swim + Run, WFSun Bike. As training progresses, optional workouts in each sport are added, making the training plans flexible for athletes tight on time, such as myself.

At the end of every 4 week training block, Friel advocates threshold testing in each of the three sports, so that training for the next block can be adjusted properly. The tests are not always the same. For example, an early block may call for a 20 minute run test as hard as possible, taking a heart rate reading in the final 10 minutes. The next block may require a 20 minute aerobic time trial, or measuring pace against a given heart rate.

Every workout within the block, and within the weekly schedule (“Microcycle”), has a purpose – to improve on the basic abilities required for triathlon. These are: aerobic endurance, speed skills (cadence, etc), force, muscular endurance, anaerobic endurance, and power. The prescribes workouts are given in time and sets, and according to heart rate. Friel is big on heart rate, and advocates this (and sometimes power) as a measure of your training progress.

Pros

This book taught me more about how to train for a triathlon than anything I had ever read. It is a complete guide; a great reference.

I had this book with me everywhere I went for the months leading up to Tremblant. It is a great reference. Friel is “there for you” through every aspect of your training. In the days leading up to my race, I would leaf through the book to get advice on what I should be doing in my final pre-race workouts, and how I should be mentally preparing for the race.

Training with a purpose increased my motivation to never miss a workout. Friel helps you understand that each workout; each week; each block, are pieces to the puzzle. Understanding how they fit together to form your fortress of fitness is key to building fitness.

Cons

I personally found that while heart rate training is excellent for running, and helps the time pass quickly on the trainer, it is totally impractical for swimming. I prefer to swim by feel, and for time. Whereas one of Friel’s workouts may say to do a set of 5 x 200m at “Zone 4″; I would much rather do 5 x 200m at a moderately hard pace, on a 4:00 interval – something like that. But the great thing about the book is it’s all adaptable.

Some athletes prefer to open a book up to a table of training plans, and just do the work prescribed. This book requires you to first read to understand, then complete the workouts. If you simply tore out the training plans and did the workouts, you would be cheating yourself.

The Verdict

It worked. I had a personal best half ironman this year at Tremblant. It wasn’t a perfect race, and I have a lot to work on, but it was my best triathlon. I did buy some new training books this fall based on recommendations from friends, but I will continue to use Friel’s template and methods this year in training for Timberman 70.3 next August.

I would give this book 5 stars, and highly recommend it to compliment your arsenal of training tools. :)

I paid full cover price for my copy of this book, and these comments are my personal opinion and interpretation. I did not receive any kind of endorsement from anyone, but if you are interested in picking up a copy, Amazon has these books on for $16 CDN which is a steal.

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Merry Christmas from CrossFit: Fran

Just over a month has passed since I finished my fundamentals program with CrossFit PEI and began the “real” CrossFit workouts, 3 times a week. Although it is really the people, the coaches, and the variety that keeps me going back for more, the positive effects are hard to ignore. I am noticeably stronger which is marked not just by loading more plates onto my bar during WODs (“workout of the day” in CrossFit lingo) but also my muscular endurance on the bike, and during my hill repeats and tempo runs. Hell, I’m even swimming better, and my clothes fit better too. Where weight training used to be something I struggled to fit into my weekly schedule, I try to spread my 3 CrossFit workouts out through the week so I don’t have to go too long before the next one! It’s easy to get up at 6 a.m. when the workouts are this fun. It’s also no problem to show up early on Christmas Eve for a workout, which is what I did today.

Unknown-11I have been hungry to learn more and more about this new (to me) sport. Recently I ordered a copy of T.J. Murphy’s “Inside the Box”. A “box”, fyi, is CrossFit lingo for the gym. The book is a personal recount of Murphy’s journey from middle-aged, worn out triathlete and marathon runner, to reformed, rejuvenated athlete thanks to CrossFit. The book resonated with me as a CrossFit beginner as Murphy describes the humbling feeling of thinking he was in “pretty good shape” as a runner, to being humbled by benchmark workouts named after women. Murphy devotes an entire chapter to one workout in particular, “Fran” (Chapter 9, if you’re curious). 21-15-19. Thrusters, pull-ups, for time.The quote on page 141 sums it up; “Fran’s notariety lies in the sharp blow of metabolic discomfort that is delivers to the athlete“. Needless to say, just reading about Fran gave me the shivers.

Weighted benchmark CrossFit workouts come with a prescribed weight which is noted “Rx”, just as in the medical field, on the time sheet when the athlete completes the workout as prescribed. The “Rx” for Fran is 95 lbs. The workouts are called benchmarks because when repeated after several weeks or months of training, they give you an accurate measure of progress. Kind of like threshold testing in running, biking, or swimming. Last week, part of one of the workouts was to build up to 85% of your “Fran” weight for thrusters. I had never done Fran, but was happy to get to a 5 rep thruster max of 55 lbs. 2 weeks prior to that, during a “Fran-esque” Saturday WOD (21-15-9, thrusters, handstand pushups, for time), I used a bare 25 lb bar. I still cannot do a pull-up to save my life.

Perhaps you see where this is going. This morning I showed up for the 8 a.m. Christmas Eve workout, and after a good warmup of 5 x (5 med ball cleans (16 lbs)/3 burpees), Coach Dave called out the WOD… “Fran”. I probably should have known they would do something crazy on a holiday!

Since this was my first test run with Fran, I scaled the workout and went with 45 lbs for my barbell and did ring rows (made as hard as possible) instead of pull-ups. After the 21 thrusters and 21 rows, my arms were so wobbly I couldn’t clean the bar back up so I peeled 10 lbs off the bar and finished the next two sets with 35 lbs. The goal is to do each set of reps unbroken, but I ended up breaking the 21 thrusters into 10, 6, and 5, and then the second set into 5-5-5 and then 3-3-3. I finished in a time of 8:00 on the nose, and it was so amazing to watch some of the other people finish the workout Rx’ed in 6, 5, even 4 minutes. Definitely something to strive for! My forearms were burning afterwards and I know I have used this word a lot, but “humbled” aptly describes the feeling after this workout.

It’s really no wonder they make shirts like this one :)

fran-shirt

Happy holidays from me to you, and I wish you a kickass 2013. May all your goals and dreams come true!

Have you been able to get your workouts in this week?

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My first (PEI) trail run adventure

Yesterday I decided to treat myself to a trail run as something different from my usual routes from home. I have heard such great things about the trails here on PEI, and I am admittedly ashamed I have lived here for 24 of my 27 years without exploring these before!

I headed out to the Dromore Nature Trail for some R&R (run & relaxation). My wonderful run turned into a little adventure…

A bit of backstory: in 2008, when I was camping with a friend in Waterton, Alberta, we decided to do the beautiful Crypt Lake Hike (17km round trip) which peakes at a beautiful glacier lake. This was hike was my first hiking experience. The 17 kilometers were no where as daunting as the thought of encountering a bear. There are no bears (or deer, or snakes, or moose, or cougars, or .. etc) here on little ol’ PEI, so I grew up relatively unassuming of the wildlife that inhabits most of the rest of the world. My friend, who had lived in Alberta her entire life, and hiked this exact hike many times through her life, assured me there would be no bears. We reached the lake after 8.5kms, and it was worth every step. Descending, my fear of running into a bear had subsided. I knew there were dozens of people on the mountain that day, and most of us were on our way back to the bottom after a picnic lunch at the lake. The path was narrow, so I hiked ahead of my friend (and her husband). Rounding the turn, bears were the last thing on my mind. Instead, I was soaking in the magnificent view of the Canadian Rockies, and the bubbling brook below us. Then, I turned and saw him:

A Grizzly. Maaaybe 5 meters from me, sitting on his haunches, twig in hand, munching on some wild berries. My heart dropped and the adrenaline screamed through my veins like I have never again experienced in my life. I turned and ran back to my friends (the exact opposite of bear protocol, in case you are wondering!). I was 22 years old, and thought I had met my fate; a Grizzly mauling after a beautiful hike with my wonderful friend, far from home in Alberta, Canada.

The long and short of the story is that the bear couldn’t have cared any less about us. We formed a large group with other hikers who were coming down the mountain, and eventually Mr. Bear sauntered off to better feeding grounds. He wasn’t in the mood for human that day, thankfully!

My take on hiking has never been the same. Even in PEI, where I know our “wildlife” is mostly Woodpeckers, skunks, and bunnies, when I am alone (or in a small group) in the woods I cannot help but feel I am in someone else’s territory.

And that’s how I felt on my run yesterday. It was a last minute idea; I couldn’t think of anyone to call up at the eleventh hour and ask to tag along on this run with me. I was going solo, and after a lazy Sunday morning, half the day had slipped away. I made it to the trail head around 3 p.m. (the sun sets at 4:30 p.m. where I live). “8 kilometers will not be a problem”, I told myself. I had mapped the trail route online, grabbed a trail map from the trail head kiosk, and started in.

There was one vehicle besides mine at the trailhead. Those hikers were on their way out just as I entered the trail. Then I was on my own. It felt so great to be running free! The fallen pine needles crunching under my feet; the soft thump of each foot hitting the mossy dirt below. Wanting to stay aware of my surroundings (there could be bunnies, you know!), I kept my music off and took in the sound of silence. No phones ringing, no e-mails blinking, no alarms, no one to have to make conversation with… just pure, nature bliss.

Two kilometers into my run, my solitude was pleasantly interrupted by a couple of smiling, friendly faces. My friend and fellow triathlete, Kara Grant, and her mom (and my fellow spin coach), Marian. We stopped and had a little chat; Kara described the “Central Route” (the loop I was headed for) to me, and we went our separate ways. I met them again in the same place on my way back.

Happy to have navigated myself through the loop, I relaxed a bit more knowing the trail back to the car was ground I had already covered. According to my watch, I only had 2 kilometers left – easy peasey!

Even stopped to take some pics!

I counted down the meters back to the trail head… 950, 700, 400, 350, 200, 160, 50…

And as my watched beeped, “8.00kms”, the trailhead was nowhere to be found. “Maybe I turned my GPS on a little after I started”, I thought, and kept running… and running… until I hit 9.0kms, and knew for sure I was not where I was supposed to be. Checking the map I had picked up from the trail head, I realized I had started into another 5.7km loop. I did not have time to run 5.7kms in daylight. It was 4:10 p.m. now, and the sun was setting quickly. I had a small moment of fright, reached for my Blackberry (good old Google Maps!) and saw my mistake. I turned right when I should have went straight. I turned and back tracked a kilometer to where my error was made. It was now getting dark. My heart was thumping and I double checked the cursor on my Blackberry map application every few minutes to make sure this time I was actually heading for the car. It was a race against the sun to make it back through the woods to my car at the trailhead. 400, 350, 333m, 287m, 200m… it seemed so much longer than the way in!

But alas, I made it. 10.7km total. I have never been so happy to see my car but looking back.. the detour made the run. I’ll be heading back to the trail as soon as possible for more of this kind of adventure. :)

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Weekly Summary Nov 18-24

My workouts have been pretty sporadic lately. In a nutshell for the past 2-6 weeks* I have been…

- LOVING crossfit
- sore as hell from crossfit
- crossfit 3 x week
- running 3 x week (2 short, 1 medium)
- biking 2 x week (1 is coaching spin class and doesn’t really count; 60 minutes-ish for the other one)
- how are my abs SOOO sore from crossfit?!
- maybe swimming once every 2 weeks
- yoga once in a blue moon

In an effort to gain more structure back into my workout schedule, and to avoid sleeping in or missing workouts, I made a goal this week as follows:

Sunday: 10k run
Monday: 30 mins bike (a.m.) + CF at noon
Tuesday: 5k run
Wednesday: Swim at noon
Thursday: 7k run + CF at noon
Friday: Coach spin + 5k run (optional)
Saturday: CF + 90 min trainer ride

The optional workouts were just if I felt like it/had time/icing on the cake. It’s now Friday and happy to say I have hit all my workouts! I also had a productive week at the office, spent time with my boyfriend, attended a board meeting and a committee meeting, made supper 3 x this week, brought a lunch to work every day, baked a banana bread, coached a spin class, and have time to relax now on Friday night. I attribute this to having a boyfriend that does my laundry** laying out a plan and getting it done.

I decided not to swim with my masters group this year because the swim times are more restrictive (8:30 p.m. is late for me during the week), and the group does not have a coach this year. Instead, I compiled my own set of workouts (this site is great) and will eventually consider some coaching and/or group swimming. At the pool on Wednesday I practiced flips turns for the first time in years. Yes, three years since I have been swimming in the pool, I still do not flip turn! I gained some useful tips from this video, and while not every turn I did was good, I did hit some good ones that helped me keep momentum into the next lap! I must say, I am also really digging my Garmin 910xt which measures my lap data with speed, stroke, and distance information. Will it make me faster? Of course not, but it’s useful to see where my weaknesses lie.

My focus right now is on building up my running endurance to run a winter half marathon in February. I am still looking for a good program so if you have any suggestions, please share! I won’t be doing any more triathlons until next summer (woman on a budget! no travelling for tris this winter) but will start building my swims & runs in the new year to get ready for a season of local Olympic distance races, half marathons, and eventually Timberman 70.3 next summer.

Happy training!

*I started crossfit on November 10 and have been going 3 x week since then.
**Thanks P! :)

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My First CrossFit Experience

    Confession: my fitness mojo has been lacking since, ok I’ll be honest, the end of the summer. This is a personal blog about balancing work and health, and I will candidly say that my priority has been the former for the past couple few months. But that’s ok! I recognize that in order to be my best there are times of year (i.e. the fall) where my work life will need to take priority, and this balance thing will get tougher. I have been tried a few things to get the fire burning again. I registered for Timberman 70.3; I splurged on a newGarmin (my 2006 Forerunner 301 and 2008 Polar HRM finally bit the dust); I threw some new Spinervals into my rotation, started coaching spin again for the fall, and dabbled back into TRXjust for kicks.

    But then it occurred to me was that what I really needed, what to try something new. I have heard nothing but great things about CrossFit, and my friends that have been doing it are all super strong and fit. I think it could add value to my cycling and running (which needs a LOT of work right now!), so I decided to try it out. On Saturday, co-owner of CrossFit PEI, Mike Ives, gave me private lesson to get started.

    We talked about my athletic background, some of the principles of CrossFit, and then went through some of the basic CrossFit exercises to teach me proper technique:

    Front squat

    Deadlift

    Shoulder press

    Kettlebell Swing

    and military style Pushups

    After establishing proper form for these exercises, Mike turned on the clock and had me do 3 rounds of: 10 deadlifts, 10 kettlebell swings, and 10 push-ups. I was maybe a little cocky, thinking it didn’t seem too bad and maybe Mike was underestimating my athletic prowress. Ha! I was sweaty and out of breath after the first round, and basically had to peel myself off the ground for the last few push-ups. I did my push-ups from the knees, but was humbled to see some other CrossFitters doing handstands. Some day. I completed the workout in about 3 and a half minutes, which of course seems completely shoddy to the endurance athlete in me. Yet, 2 days later my legs, shoulders, traps, and lats are still so freaking sore from those 3.5 minutes that I know it was an effective workout.

    The verdict: CrossFit is no joke. And I am totally in love with it already.

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Trick or Treat!

Here’s a spin class profile I used for my coaching my class last week. :) 46 minutes beginning to end, stretch and warm-up included.

Warm Up

Beautiful Monster/Ne-Yo (4:12) – Seated flat. Adding tension until you feel it, working from 60rpm with goal of 90rpm by end of the song.

Dog Days Are Over/Glee Cast (4:13) – Seated flat. still warming up, pushing into moderate at 1:17, 2:15, and 3:05 for 30 seconds each.

Block 1 – Endurance

All These Things I’ve Done/The Killers (5:02) – Progressing from easy to moderate to hard at 0:00-1:00; 1:00-1:30; 3:30-5:00 respectively.

Lose Yourself (Dup-steb version)/Eminem (2:37) – Seated flat. Moderate/hard on the chorus (0:56 and 1:45)

Titanium (feat. Sia)/David Guetta (4:05) – 75 rpm. Moderate moving to hard hill. Standing and pushing hard at 1:16, 2:32, 3:30.

Boom Boom/Big Head Todd (3:37) – 75 rpm combo flat (seated and standing). Speeding up to 100rpm’s at 1:45 and 3:00 for 30 seconds.

Airplanes/B.O.B (3:00) – 75-95rpm seated flat easy mid-class recovery.

Block 2 – 3 Song Hill Build (Easy to Hard)

1,000 Ships/Rachel Platten (3:26) – 70 rpm combo hill. Moderate and standing at :44, 1:32, 3:32 for 20s

Marry the Night/Lady Gaga (4:25) – 65-75rpm seated climb. Moderate, hard on the chorus (:41, 1:49, 2:43)

Gettin Jiggy Wit It/Will Smith (3:51) – 65rpm combo hill moderate/anaerobic (hard as possible) on the chorus

Blown Away/Carry Underwood (4:00) – seated flat. 1st 2:00 moderate; 2nd 2:00 easing into c/d

Cool Down

Begin Again/Taylor Swift (4:00) – slow down the legs and start stretching

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Race Reports: Long Lost Edition (Summer 2012)

Fall is in the air, and my mojo for triathlon is back. Typical. The late July exhaustion that comes from balancing a career as a young lawyer with long distance multi-sport training hit as expected this year, right on schedule with weeks of hot, humid weather. No complaints here – I enjoyed every minute! Lake swims with favourite PEI triathletes, sunset cruises on the bike, and some late summer trail runs = perfect way to end off what has been one of the best summers I can remember. A couple months without structure was great for my social life but here we are, it’s October 1, and I am raring to go again. Except…. tri season is over! Really need to work on the timing of my yearly burnout…

For now, I thought I would satisfy my triathlon craving with a little blast from the past. Here are a few short race recaps from this summer’s races that never made it to the blog, starting with Brudenell.

Brudenell Sprint Tri – July 8, 2012

1:27:25
4/6 F2029
Swim: 16:09
Bike/T1: 42:23
Run/T2: 28:59

2 weeks after Mont-Tremblant 70.3, I did a little sprint triathlon for fun at home in PEI. Although the race at Brudenell had been held the year before, this year the race organizer (Jamie Whynacht + volunteers of course!) really went all out with Atlantic Chip timing and promoting the event across the maritimes.

The course was beautiful!

Image

I had a good swim (for me). I really nixed my fear of open water this summer. With the exception of one freakout during my first open water swim on June 2nd in Rustico Harbour, when I had a moment of anxiety (totally embarrassing, by the way, because I was swimming with the PEI Canada Games athletes and their coach Kara Grant, I had a great summer of swimming in the ocean, lakes, and rivers here in PEI. In fact, I would go as far as to say I found a love for open water swimming! The pool seems so boring and mundane now, which is partly why I splurged on one of these. Anyways, back to the race report.

The swim was 2 x 375m loops. The water was shallow near the first buoy, making this course a comfortable experience for beginner triathletes.

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The bike. Erm. Not my best. Pretty hilly, and roads were chopped up in places. But fun!Image

Then the run. 5k never felt so long! The heat kills me, and it was hot. Slow but pretty, and fun, and my family was cheering me on like I was a superstar so here we go big smile for the finish line! :)

Image

More long lost race reports to follow. :)

Photos in this post are copyright and courtesy of Natalie Dallaire and Tabatha TeRaa.

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5 Tips for Balancing Training and Relationships

Friends, family, triathletes, ex-boyfriends: please do not take offence. This post is meant to be mostly satirical. 

I was introduced to triathlon by an ex-boyfriend who was/is a serious triathlete. The abnormalities of the triathlon lifestyle went relatively unnoticed. It was normal to spend the entire weekend training, eating, relaxing, trash talking each other, sleeping, and planning other life events like Sunday’s family dinner around these “core” weekend activities. This made sense, and was not a source of tension, but rather our idea of fun!

Since becoming a single woman, the number of raised eyebrows, “you are insane” ‘s, bulging eyeballs, and dropped jaws have been on the rise when it comes to my training. I even got dumped recently because the guy did not see how he fit into my life training schedule. Ha!

I am often justifying spending 8 hours a weekend training for a race this is 2 months away. I am a “no” woman: “no, can’t go to the farmer’s market“; “sorry no late show for me“; “drinks? not in my schedule“; “gotta get home – running early!“; “sorry, fell asleep“; “i would love to go to dinner but I need to be in bed by 9“… it. goes. on.

Luckily, my friends embrace my quirks and take to teasing me about my habits. They still invite me to stuff, even if it’s just to humour them, or they simply forget. “Hey Bria, biking 5 hours tonight?!”; “Bria’s invited but she probably won’t show because she has a race in 2 months“; “Bria’s coming? Believe it when I see it.

Yeah, yeah.

So how do you maintain a training schedule without losing contact with the real world? My top 5 tips for keeping friends while training, because while I’m still working on the relationship part, my friends love me!

1. Know thy self. You must know that you are an anomaly; most people do not devote the same amount of time to fitness pursuits as you. It’s ok. If everybody did, your age group would be way more competitive. Embrace your uniqueness, but realize there is (I know this is shocking) more to life.

2. Be flexible. If your best friend is moving out of town and wants to go for lunch at the farmer’s market at 11a.m. on Saturday, let go of your first thought that, “Urgh. That is smack in the middle of my scheduled swim-run workout.“, and swap your workout for friend time. You can make up the swim-run elsewhere; wake up earlier to get it done or do half the workout before friend time, the other half later. You cannot make up time with friends, even if they are really good ones, eventually they will give up on you.

3. Schedule social time. In addition to swapping workouts occasionally for time with friends, you also need to make the effort to remain a “friend in good standing”. Offering to host or initiating the organization of a group activity will win you major friend bonus points, which in turn, will grant you some slack next time you really can’t swap a workout. If you want fans at your next event, or someone to give you a ride next time you flat in the middle of nowhere during a training ride, you must keep your friends and family happy.

4. Have the best of both worlds.Something easy on your schedule? Grab a friend for company. Run, walk, bike, swim, or weight train with your friends. Granted, likely only a select few of your friends will be willing, and in an ideal world you would only date triathletes, but you need to capitalize on these relationships if you have them. Better yet, encourage your friends and family or new beau to become triathletes. My brother and I spend quality time at the gym together. He shows me new exercises and we have a few laughs; sibling bonding! I am teaching my sister how to swim and loaning her my road bike. She already runs faster than I do, so with a little work, I may be able to build myself a training partner for all three sports! Win, win.

5. Join a triathlon or swimming club. People are much less likely to judge you if you are “heading to practice” with a group. It is when we spend hours upon hours alone in the pool, on the trainer, and on the road that our peers become suspect. Going to Masters practice sounds almost as cool as “watching the game with the boys” or having “girls night”. Almost. As a collateral benefit, you will meet other athletes like yourself who are just as crazy as you are and that 1 hour swim practice will become your salvation for talking splits, gear, nagging injuries, and next races!

Do you have a tip for balancing training and relationships? Do share!

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Mont-Tremblant 70.3 Race Report

Mont-Tremblant 70.3 Race Report

Here is my (long-winded) MT70.3 race summary. I am writing this during the 14 hour drive back from Quebec to PEI so grab a coffee or something, this is going to be long. I owe you guys a substantial post!

First off, for in inaugral event, this half ironman kicked so much ass. Being my third Ironman 70.3 (I did Hawaii 70.3 in 2010, and Rhode Island 70.3 in 2011), it has also been my favorite. The course and scenery are stunning, familiar faces were everywhere due to the central proximity of race location, the volunteers excited and abundant, and the organization well thought through. All T’s were crossed, and I’s dotted when it came to race details. Tremblant is definitely ready for the full Ironman being hosted there later this summer in August. Ironman is everywhere; from the permanent course markers, to street banners, and welcome signs at retail shops. Triathlon has clearly been embraced by the village!

Training

I did not blog a lot about my training for this race, simply because my professional life has been very busy and that takes priority over this blog. I will try to sum it up here!

For this event I followed (as closely as possible) the half ironman plan set out by Joe Friel in his new book, “Your Best Triathlon”. I promised a full review a while back, I’m working on it.

Very generally, I swam 2-3 times a week (2/week with Charlottetown Masters Club through the winter + 1 longer swim solo), biked 1-3 times a week (including coaching indoor cycling from October-April + 1 hour session mid-week + 1 longer ride on weekends), and ran 3-4 times a week (2 runs of 5-12k during the week + a weekend long run and T-runs off the bike).

The super awesome bike mechanics at MacQueen’s Bike Shop in Charlottetown (also where I coach indoor cycling in the winter months) had my Guru tuned up and running like a well oiled machine prior to the race. Thanks guys for all your help.

I finished the race with a PB swim, PB bike, and overall new half iron personal best. But the awesome day I had at Tremblant would not have been possible without the ever awesome support of the PEI triathlon community, my family, and friends. They kept me serious when I needed to be, and lifted me up when I needed lifting. I had so many people routing for me that I knew this day was going to be nothing but amazing. I feel truly blessed to be from such a supportive community and to have all of you incredible people in my life.

Course

Magali Tisseyre has done a much better job at describing the course than I ever could, here.

The swim for Mont-Tremblant 70.3 took place in Lac Tremblant which borders the village. The water temperate was warm on race day (74.5 F), and the lake calm and clear. It was a beautiful swim, with buoys approximately every 100m, making sighting easy.

The much talked about bike course was equally stunning. The first 15km’s or so were rolling, with a very fast ~50km out and back on Highway 117 before heading to “the back 30”; 15 km’s of which are gradually ascending rollers (some as steep as 12%) and 15km of which was mostly descent, with one last steeper hill before T2.


The run was 5km’s of rollers on the way to the “Old Village” of Tremblant, then 10km’s of rails-to-trails, and finishing with the same 5km’s of rollers and a slightly decline down through spectator-filled Mont-Tremblant Village to the finish.

Pre-Race

We stayed at an amazing 5 bedroom chalet own by my mother’s friend that overlooks the 18th hole of “Le Maitre” golf course. Couldn’t have asked for better accommodations.

One thing I did for this triathlon, and a reason why I feel that it was a success for me, was I made a “race day plan”, which is a recommendation from Friel’s book. About a week before the race I wrote out exactly what I was going to do from the time I woke up until I crossed the finish line (breakfast, morning transition checklist, mantras, warm-up, nutrition, pacing, etc). In the excitement of these races, sometimes I don’t think very well so having this etched in stone for race-day reference worked very well for me. I also wrote out specific, positive thoughts that I could “go to” during the race. For the swim those were things like “keep moving forward” and “enjoy”; for the bike, “kill it” and “push”; for the run, “find a rhythm” and “it will get easier after this hill”.

Day before the race I did a 500m swim, 30 minute ride, and 15 minute run, all on the course, starting at 7am, which was the race start time. This gave me a good idea of how the sun would shine on the lake on the morning of the race, landmarks to look for while sighting, how to get my shoes on and up to speed as quickly as possible on the bike, and what the first few kilometers off the bike would be like.


My goals for this race were: enjoy the swim <45 minutes (in a dream world goal: sub-40), bike my heart out (in a dream world goal: sub-3 hours), and run sub-2:10 (in a dream world goal: sub-2 hours), and overall, sub-6:19 hours, or a personal best. Achieving any of these goals would be a success, I thought. In my mind I had sub-goals, like not stopping during the swim, actually pushing hard on the bike, and not walking during the run. The purpose of all of this was to set up different measures of success to avoid the frustration I had experienced with triathlons in the past. I’m no sports psychologist, but I highly recommend this method. It certainly worked for me.

Per the race day plan I woke up at 4 a.m., had a bowl of regular instant oatmeal + banana + peanut butter, lathered up with sunscreen and body glide, gathered my transition bag and headed for transition for 5 a.m. I had way more time than I needed in transition on race morning, but always good to allow a buffer.

I did a 5 minute warm-up swim in the crystal clear Lac Tremblant before lining up with my wave for my W25-29’s age group start, which was the first wave after the pros. It was nice not to have to wait around and the race start at Tremblant was amazing; Snowbird salute and all, which was probably one of the most incredible things I have ever seen at a 70.3.

Swim – 42:39

I had a great swim for me; a personal best half iron swim by 5 minutes. Having just learned to swim 2 years ago, swimming is still the least comfortable of the 3 triathlon disciplines for me. That said, I was surprisingly not nervous at the swim start and really just excited to get the day started. The canon blew and I allowed the fast swimmers to go ahead; I was not here to race the swim. I enjoyed every minute in the lake, without any familiar panic sensations.

The lake is majestic, surrounded by mountains, and clear enough to see the bottom most of the way. Feet were easy to spot, and I drafted a bit but mostly relied on my own sighting; something I have gotten much better at since my first 70.3 two years ago! A word of advice to those doing the full in August: the final 25-50m or so of the swim are very shallow but the bottom is rocky and slippery. Some people tried to stand and run in, but it would be faster to swim until you can touch the bottom. I also saw some random things in this area like pipes, etc.

Overall I really did not exert myself on the swim; I would say a 3/10 level of exertion. I wore a wetsuit, took long strokes, and found it very relaxing. Next race I will push it a bit more in the water! I tend to forget this is a “race”.

Another great thing about this race: wetsuit strippers! Of course I took advantage.

T1 – 4:36

It was a LONG run from the swim finish to my bike in T1! I had a sweet transition spot, one rack down from the pros. My awesome “support crew” (my mom, stepfather, and stepfather’s niece + boyfriend) were cheering me out of the swim and up to T1. I would guess this was about a 500m run, since my bike was at the end of transition furthest from the “swim-in” chute. Did my usual shoes-on-the-bike thing.

Race number, sunglasses, helmet, bike, go!

Bike – 2:56

My #1 goal for this race was a sub-3 bike ride on what was dubbed a “challenging” bike course, and talked about amoungst athletes for months leading up to this event. In coaching my spin classes all winter, I threw hills in all over the place. I did lots of strength training, bracing for what I thought would be the hardest 70.3 bike course I’d done. So was it all it was cracked up to be? Unsure. I did a PB bike by 20 minutes. It was either hard and I was prepared, or it was not hard, naturually I want to believe the former. ;) Word on the street is that most athletes found it pretty fast. I think that is true for the Highway 117 section at least, which comprised about half of the course. But there was definitely a couple of small-chain-ring-worthy hills on the 117, and most of kilometers 65-80. My game plan was to get my avg speed up to 30km/h on the highway to give myself buffer for time I suspected I would lose on the back 30kms. I was at 31km/h average at 65kms, lost a bit after the 15k rollers/climb, but gained it back on the descent into T2. I am glad I trained on steep hills and was totally comfortable descending. The fasted speed I saw on my Garmin was 75km/h, though I heard of some people hitting 90km/h!

My favorite part of the bike course was the exhilerating out & back through St Jovite. The stretch is fast, and the crowds are crazy. It was incredible.

My bike nutrition was spot-on. 2 packs of Gu electrolyte brew, 2 Gu’s, 1 salt tab, and 1 pack of shot blocks. I grabbed 1 water at the 60k aid station on the bike course, and that was all. My left quad started cramping at 50k but I took more water and it resolved. My gearing was also perfect; saw a lot of people lose their chains going up the steep inclines. Been there, done that, lesson learned!

Starting in one of the first waves and having an ok swim left me with a feeling I have never had before in a 70.3: I was “in the race”. After passing a bunch of girls in my age group, I got the feeling it was just me and the guys. And it was. I was passed by 2 women in the 35-39 age category midway, but that was it for females. The volunteers shouted with excitement, “Go boys go! … and GIRL!!!” which I thought was cute. I crossed my fingers and held my breath for no flats, and it just happened to be a great day for me on the bike. Mission accomplished! I was very happy with this ride. Next year, I would push it harder on the bike. I really was just on cruise control, having a time. Again, must remember this is a “race”… right…

T2 – 2:00

The racks in T2 were kind of low and I had a hard time getting my seatpost underneath the rack, and fumbled getting my sneakers on, wasting a few seconds here but hey, I was not going for a win just enjoying the experience.

Run – 2:22

Haha! The run. What can I say? No excuses, but I definitely thought no matter what I could shuffle out a 2:00h half marathon. However, on this particular day my legs had had enough hills! It was a muscular endurance issue, not an aerobic endurance issue. My heart rate was low but my legs were like jello. To those doing the full in August: brick it, brick it, brick it! Long rides & race pace run bricks!

My favorite part of any Ironman 70.3: the run course aid stations. Little metropolises in the sun! Aid stations were approximately every 2 km’s and fully stocked with everything you could want; water, ice water, cookies, Ironman Perform, Honey Stinger gels, wafers, and gummies, and very excited volunteers. Many local spectators were kind enough to bring out their hoses and sprinklers (it was a hot, sunny day), which were welcomed refreshment. I do not usually wear socks during triathlon and I did get some blisters (unusual) from running through the sprinklers and also getting gravel in my shoes during the trail portion of the run.

Quebec athletes are very friendly and love to strike up conversation! But they do not like is walking! I could not walk with being “caught”. Whether it was another athlete, or a volunteer, somebody always seemed to be shouting (and I do mean shouting!) “Ne marche pas! Cours! Ne marche pas!” (“Do not walk! RUN! Do not walk!”).

Regardless, I walked a lot of the run but it was great to see familiar faces from the Halifax and PEI triathlon communities. This race brought everyone out. The crowds were amazing; it was a “National” (hehe) holiday weekend in Quebec so many, many people came out to watch the event. As I suffered through the final kilometer of the run, one very kind photographer snapped my picture and smiled, “A triathlete AND a model!”. He has clearly done this before. ;)

The finish is phenomenal; approximately 500m(?) of downhill spectator-lined chute down through Mont-Tremblant Village to the Ironman arch finish line. So cool! Little kids had their hands out for high five’s and the crowds were roaring. It had a “Tour de France” kind of feel to it with the cobblestone path!


And like that, it was over!

Total time: 6:08

A new half iron personal best for me by 6 minutes.

But the BEST part of this race? My friends and family that were there to share the experience :)

A l’annee prochaine, Tremblant!

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