Sunday, November 07, 2010


After a few months of very minimal running, it looks like I am finally back at it! This summer has been brutal for me: every run was difficult and disapointing. Each time I went out, I felt like I was going to die. Seriously, it was so tough! Neither the body nor the mental wanted to run, so I decided to focus on swimming and biking instead. Now that biking season is over, I find myself wanting to do more exercise than just the two swims a week that I am currently doing.

And so I got the running shoes out of the closet and went for a run at lunch the other day. What a gorgeous day it was for a run! Sunny, no wind, 7 degrees. Perfect. And the best part? My run wasn't even that difficult. I felt light and happy and it was a nice change from feeling like I was on the verge of passing out.

I didn't want to get too excited too soon, so I cautiously went for another run yesterday. Aaaah! Endorphins, how I have missed you. I ran/walked happily, without having to talk myself into continuing or not going home. I just ran and enjoyed it! If all my runs are now that enjoyable, it should be easy to get me into a running routine again.

I've been unwell since the summer and I think this would explain why running was so difficult. My digestive issues now seem to be under control and I'm recovering nicely because I'm following a strict diet as best I can. I hope I'm back at it for good, now! :-)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Swimming with the Triathlon Club

I signed up for the Ottawa Triathlon Club's swim program. It means that I swim with the club every Sunday night, from 8-9pm. I have done two session with the club so far and I am enjoying it. I like how they are deconstructing the stroke so that we practice one aspect every week. I also like how you go at your own pace - we do drills for a set amount of time rather than for a certain distance, so the more advanced swimmers are not slowed down by the slowest ones.

I am enjoying getting some structure into my swim workouts. It's good to know that all I have to do is show up, and do what I am being told. I also like how it is not boring to swim with the group, compared to swimming laps on Tuesdays. I find that when I only swim laps, I get bored after 750m, so I tend to stop there. Whereas with the triathlon club, I swam 1,200m the other day and I was not bored at all!

I'm trying to swim twice a week right now. I much prefer swimming to running and sometimes I think I should just swim 3 times a week and only run once or twice, but my skin is not liking being in the pool "so much", so I have to take it easy.

I think I'm going to become a much stronger swimmer this year. :-) I wish I hadn't lost my running mojo as I am now thinking that even though my swimming will improve, there will still be something holding me back in triathlons: the running. Meh.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Défi aérien du Camp Fortune

Le 17 septembre, j'ai complété le Défi aérien du Camp Fortune. Ouf! Que d'émotions. Le parcours consiste en une série de défis et de tyroliennes, à relever à plusieurs mètres du sol, attachés par un harnais. Je n'étais pas des plus enthousiastes à relever ce défi, mais étant de nature participative, je me suis dis que j'essaierais.

Je croyais avoir peur des hauteurs, mais en réalité, je n'ai pas vraiment eu de difficulté avec l'aspect "hauteurs" de la chose. C'est plutôt les montées dans les échelles qui me rendaient vraiment anxieuses, mais je ne comprends pas trop pourquoi. Certains obstacles étaient plutôt faciles et demandaient seulement un peu de concentration alors que d'autres obstacles étaient vraiment difficiles et demandaient un très bon sens de l'équilibre et beaucoup de courage.

J'ai été surprise par mon habileté à faire confiance à mon équipement. Quand on faisait les tyroliennes, on devait se lancer dans le vide et croire que notre équipement nous protégerait des chutes. Ça demandait un laisser-aller assez fort, mais le jeu en valait la chandelle parce que c'était vraiment amusant!

Après l'aventure, qui a duré environ 2 heures, j'ai été prise d'une sorte d'état de choc parce que j'avais vraiment repoussé mes limites mentales pendant l'activité. J'en ai eu pour plus de 24 heures à avoir des nausées, une grande fatigue et une agitation qui ne m'est pas habituelle. C'est probablement l'adrénaline qui quittait tranquillement mon corps...

Je referais le défi, mais j'aimerais mieux attendre l'année prochaine, quand j'aurai oublié à quel point j'ai eu peur!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

JF's First Marathon

On September 5th, JF participated in the Montreal Marathon. This first marathon has been years in the making because JF got injured a few weeks before each of his two previous attempts. The saying says third time's a charm and after hours of training, JF got to the start line of his first marathon. It was an almost perfect day to run a marathon: the temperature was about 18 degrees, with a mix of sun and clouds. However, the wind was cold and strong, and it made the race challenging on a few occasions.

JF was running with his friend Éric and I was cheering with Éric's wife, Karine, and their 4 year-old son. The race started at 8:40 in the morning. Karine and I planned to cheer them on at the 5K point, on Saint-Hélène Island. When they passed by us, they looked strong and happy.

We then took the subway back to Old Montreal, where we waited a long time for them around the 18K mark. Once again, they ran by us with bright smiles and they looked strong.

We then walked to the corner of Ste-Catherine and Berri (25K mark) and cheered the Full and Half marathoners on, while we waited for JF and Éric. Sonia saw us and we cheered for her: she looked good! I got very emotional at some point, seeing all those people suffering in front of us. Some looked better than others and you could not help but feel a little bit of their pain.

When Éric and JF finally made it to where we were, they didn't look so good. Éric looked like he was suffering a bit, but JF looked like hell. He ran towards me and told me 'this is so tough', but I didn't know if he needed a word of encouragement, or a hug, or just to tell me how he was feeling so I just stood there, feeling powerless at helping him. I got very worried and I wondered if he would be OK. All sorts of things were going through my head as we took the subway from Berri-UQAM to Rosemont. I was so worried!

We saw Sonia again at Rosemont and she seemed to be having a good time with her Significant Other. She was all smiles!

When JF and Éric passed us at the 31K mark, they both seemed to be in better spirits. They seemed to be in pain physically, but I knew the dark clouds hovering over their head was gone and that they were going to finish. What a relief! I was so scared of not seeing them at Rosemont, that JF would call it a day and take the subway back home with me, or that he would have been taken to a hospital. Having no idea what happened between 17K and 25K, every worst-case scenario going through my head seemed likely.

I was also starting to feel achy and tired from all this running around and cheering. By 31K, my ankles were on fire and my throat was really sore. I could have lied down to rest for a little while, but there was no time to be lost and as soon as we saw Éric and JF at 31K, we ran like mad women to the subway. We were hoping to make it to Pie-IX at the 37K mark before them, but we had to take 2 different subway lines and time was tight. We were lucky that we catched the 2nd subway as soon as we got to the station. We ran up the Pie IX hill, me pushing the stroller with the kid in it and my friend trying to call her in-laws and find our friends who had come to join us at this point. We made it to the corner of Pie IX and Rachel a few minutes before Éric and JF. When we saw them, JF was definitely looking better but you could tell Éric was digging deep to finish.

We started walking towards our final cheering point at the Olympic Stadium. We stopped on the side of the course at the Marathon Door, where all the runners were coming into the Stadium for their final kick. It was a very emotional place: some runners looked ecstatic, others were in tears, in shock, in pain. I cheered my loudest at this point and saw Sonia's fiancé run by. I was a bit worried about Sonia but thought she must have made it in faster than L.-A. (turned out I was wrong, she crossed the finish line 10 minutes after L.-A.). When I finally saw JF, he was running in front of Éric and he looked like he was very, very angry. When he saw me, he ran towards me, pumped his fist in the air and said "I %?%$?)_* got it done!" This is where I started crying. All this work, all these years, the difficult race he seemed to have had - and there he was, a few meters from the finish line. I was so proud of him for being so tough. I was so happy he got his happy ending. Éric crossed the finish line 1 second ahead of JF and then we all celebrated.

A few weeks after the race, I'm still in awe at JF's accomplishment. It took a lot of mental strenght, determination and courage to get through the training and then the race. What an achievement! Now that I have seen all it takes to finish a marathon, I honestly don't think I have it. I'm OK with that and I'm glad I could live this experience vicariously through JF.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I've been thinking...

Lately, I haven't felt the love for running. In fact, I haven't run more than once and sometimes twice a week since July. I'm having a hard time with all the heat, the sun and the humidity we've had this Summer. I have also not been feeling very good lately, and I think I found the culprit this morning: my seasonal allergies. They are not as bad as usual this year, which is why it took me so long to figure it out, but the symptoms drain my energy nonetheless. I went to the doctor this morning to get some nasal spray and it should help me get back to normal.

Anyway, I've been wondering if I had fallen out of love with running and if I should just give up. I was talking to a friend this week, trying to put all my thoughts together to make her understand how I felt. She told me she knew a lot of people who didn't run, or ran a lot less, in the Summer. These people were the same as me: people who have a hard time with the heat, humidity and allergies. Interesting.

So, I started to devise a seasonal training plan, where I would run from September to May and where I would allow myself to run only when I want from June to August. This would give me the flexibility to not run during heat waves or during insane allergy peaks, and it would remove a lot of the pressure I put on myself all the time. My plan also includes riding my bike outside from April to November and taking a break from it the rest of the time. Again, it wouldn't mean I wouldn't ride at all the rest of the year, but it would mean I wouldn't put pressure on myself to ride on the dreaded trainer in the winter. I would replace some of the biking with yoga: i'll do yoga on the weekends in winter instead of going for a long bike ride. For swimming, I thought i'd swim all year. I usually swim once a week, but because I'm joining the swim group with the triathlon club this fall, I think i'll aim for twice a week, except when it's -40 outside and I feel like taking a mini-break.

I also started thinking about long-term goals, such as:
- being able to ride and swim the Half-Ironman distance in 2012 (1.9K swim and 90K bike);
- doing my first Sprint Triathlon in 2011;
- being able to run 10K sometime in 2011;
- doing my first Olympic Triathlon in 2012;
- doing my first Half-Marathon in 2013 or 2014;
- doing my first Half-Ironman in 2015.

I'm not sure those are all possible, but I like the idea of working towards a goal and having a dream (Half-Ironman).

Now, I only have to make it through this week's heat wave and I'll be able to start to run again.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Best Open Water Swim So Far!

Ever since I first thought about doing triathlons, I have had to face a number of fears, which i blogged about here. The next fear on my list was to swim at Meech Lake. I knew that I would have to face that fear sooner or later because every triathlete I know has swam at Meech at some point. I was intimidated by Meech because it's a lake, there are fishes in it, it's deep, it's dark and you have to swim away from the safety of the shore.

Sometime this Summer, I made a mental list of the things that I still hadn't done and that scared me the most. Interestingly, I was most scared of swimming at Meech than I was scared at swimming in the Ottawa River; I was also less scared of swimming at Meech than I was at riding with clipless pedals or on aerobars; and, I was intimidated by the idea of buying and putting on a wetsuit. I decided to face one of those fears this year, and so I chose open water swimming as my fear to tackle in the Summer of 2010.

Cynthia and I went to Brittania a few times and it was tough. I couldn't swim many strokes before I got uneasy in the water and had to stop to get control of my breathing again. Cynthia helped me tremendously by giving me tips and pushing me to do just a little bit more than I thought I was capable of. She challenged me to swim for 10 breaths, then 15, then 20 (I made it to 17). She calmed me down when I freaked out because of the weeds/plants in the river. She really didn't get much of a training when she came swimming with me, and I felt bad for her. When I told her that, she said she was investing time in me so that she'd get a stronger swim buddy next year.

Anyway, last week, she suggested we try Meech Lake, because it was easier to access. I said yes, but man, was I scared. When we got there, it was 20 degrees outside and there was some light rain. I was kinda hoping there would be a storm and we couldn't go, but the skies cleared up by the time we were finished putting our wetsuits (I'm not intimidated by it anymore! yay!). The water was so warm, it was very pleasant.

A loop at Meech Lake is about 650m: you swim to a small island in the middle of the lake, then around it and back. We didn't have any objective for this swim, the goal was just to get me used to swimming there. Off we went. Holy crap, the aquatic plants are huge at Meech. So. Scary. Ewwwwww. I'm not sure what it is about aquatic plants that scare me like that, but they really do. Fortunately, you swim a few strokes and you don't see them anymore. I must have swam a good 30-35m before I freaked because of the plants and I was happily surprised.

I then faced my fear of swimming in the dark and was surprised to notice that swimming in the dark is not that scary! It was kind of comforting, which was really weird. I hadn't expected to be so afraid of aquatic plants, and I was not afraid of swimming in the dark. I mean, I was not super comfortable either, I had to take breaks every now and then to catch my breath, but I almost made it to the island. I think the reason why I was nerveous was that I was on the lookout for fishes. Fishes scare the hell out of me. Fortunately, I didn't see any. I made it to the point near the island where you see the stupid scary plants and then I swam the distance horizontally to be able to say that I swam to the island.

The swim back was eventful, with me losing one of my goggle lenses about 100m from the shore. I had to swim to the shore with my head out of the water, which had the upside of not allowing me to see the scary plants.

I swam at least 500m that day and I was soooooooo proud. :-) It made me want to go back to Meech, but Fall is coming and it's not as easy to go open water swimming after work anymore. Plus, I think I prefer to end my open water swimming season with an excellent experience! It's back to the pool now. When open water swimming season opens again next year, I'll be a much stronger swimmer. I'll take on those aquatic plants!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Mental Game

After I wrote my last race report, I noticed that most of my struggles this year have been related to my weak "Mental". What I call "My Mental" is the series of thoughts, feelings and sensations on my mind at any given moment. This year has been really tough mentally, and not just from an athletic point of view. It started off with my crazy stomach infection in Mexico, continued on with the high anxiety I felt following this infection, then with the insane stress levels I've experienced at work. This led me to a mini burnout in March. I then took 7 weeks off to take care of my mind and body and get back to a balanced life. All was good, until I went back to work and had to start balancing my personal life with my professional life. Again, I didn't do too bad with that until June rolled around and the stress at work became worse again, at the same time we started getting hot and humid weather.

I suffered from a heat exhaustion episode in early July, because I didn't pay attention to the amount of fluids I was taking in while biking and swimming. I felt pretty sick from the heat and I beat myself up for not paying attention to how my body was feeling until it was too late. Following this, I became hyper-aware of my body and everything went down the drain. It's either too hot, too sunny, too humid, too windy to go for a run. I don't run unless the conditions are perfect, because I don't know how to differienciate between feeling hot and suffering from heat exhaustion. I have terrible anxiety running in the sun and I often feel like I'm going to pass out when I do. Of course, I don't pass out, but I'm scared of passing out so I avoid running. This was all made worse a few weeks ago when I went running first thing in the morning and came back home with a bad migraine that kept me in bed all day.

All this to say that I have been through difficult times this year and I don't know how to take control of My Mental again. I can't ignore it completely when it tells me to be careful or take it easy, but I can't keep on listening to everything it says either. I'm feeling a bit lost in this mess and I'm not sure how to approach it. Do I need a break? Or do I need to just push through the discomfort?

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Day My Mental Challenged Me: National Capital Triathlon

The stats:

200m swim: 5:48 (Improvement of 1:40 over my best time!)
20km bike + T1: 57:34 for an average of 20.8 kph (I can do much better)
5K run + T2: 43:46 (again, I can do much better)
Total time: 1:47:06 (my best time on this course by about 2 minutes)

My plan was to do my first Sprint Triathlon at the National Capital Triathlon this year. However, after buying my wetsuit and realizing it's a lot tougher (mostly mentally, but also physically) to swim in open water, I started having doubts. I wondered if I was scared or if I really wasn't ready. You can never know for sure, I guess, but a week before the event, I decided to do the Super Sprint Triathlon instead of the Sprint Triathlon and this was one of the best decisions I've made this year!

The difference between the Super Sprint and the Sprint is the swim distance: the Super Sprint is 200m in shallow water whereas the Sprint is 500m in "regular" water. The Super Sprint swim follows the shoreline and the Sprint goes right to the middle of the river. Having had my share of panic moments in open water swim training, i knew it would be risky for me to do the Sprint. I was worried that I would have a panic attack once everyone was gone and I was all alone in the middle of the river. Knowing there would be kayakists nearby was not really reassuring me. After a lot of debate, I did a risk analysis and concluded that the likelihood of me having a panic attack was quite high and that the consequence of such a panic attack would be very high too.

The minute I made my decision, I started to look forward to the race rather than being scared and worried. That's when I knew I made the right decision. :-)

The race didn't go really well. I could list a few excuses, namely that my allergies have just gotten intense and that I slept 2 or 3 hours the night before my triathlon. These certainly contributed to the outcome of the day, but the real challenge during this race was to ignore "the mental" that wouldn't shut up. Seriously, the whole 1 hour and 47 minutes it took me to complete the race, the mental kept telling me how much I sucked and how I was an imposter. It told me it was a good thing I hadn't been stupid enough to sign up for the Sprint Tri. It asked me why I bothered spending money on race entry fees when I sucked so much: why not just train to stay fit and forget about races? It asked me who I thought I was, participating in triathlon races as if I was an athlete. It said I should DNF and I considered it. It whined. It told me to notice how poor my performance on the bike was, when it was usually my strongest sport of the three. It told me the run would be awful, because I haven't run much lately. It even told me I was so frickin' fat. Seriously, the mental was vicious yesterday.

My mind kept fighting the mental. It kept telling it to shut up and tell me to just keep going. It told me not to give up, that I trained for this and that I could do it, even if it was hard and even if I didn't reach my objectives. It told me to swim/bike/run my own race and not to worry about everyone around me. It told me that there was something to be learned from a difficult race, that I just had to keep trucking and that when I reached the finish line, I would understand what I had to learn that day. It told me to run with joy. It told me to appreciate the moment, because the weather was perfect, just like I had prayed for. It told me that it thought I had a good swim and that I may have done a better time than my other swims in Mooney's Bay. It made me notice the sign that said "Pain is just weakness leaving your body" and I visualized my "wimpiness" leave me. When it got really tough on the run, it told me it was OK to walk because it was such a difficult day. When my breathing was back under control, it told me to run just a little bit, one more step and one more.

Everytime someone cheered for me, it gave me more resolve to keep going and fight the mental. I knew I was doing the right thing and I wanted to defeat the mental, even if I hurt a lot while doing it. As I approached the finish line, I got angry at the mental and pushed as hard as I could (which wasn't much!) up the little hill before the last 50m to the finish line. It was then that Cynthia reached me. She made those last 50m much more enjoyable and much less focused on the mental. We say misery loves company, but I swear that company pushes the misery away.

Mind: 1 Mental: 0

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Day I Played the Crabby One - Graham Beasley Triathlon Olympic Relay

The Stats

Graham Beasley Triathlon
Carleton Place, ON
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Olympic Triathlon Relay
Two Frogs and a Crabby Broad
Bike leg - 40km
Completed in 1:53:39, including transitions
Average speed on the bike: 22.3 kph
Maximum speed on the bike: 41.9 kph (fastest I ever rode at)
Number of litres of fluids drank before, during and right after the race: 3.0
Rank: 5/5 for Olympic Relay Teams

The tweets

6:00... Cr@p, I’m only getting out of bed and my lower back is already hurting.
6:30... Wow, everybody who’s out at this hour on a Sunday morning seems to be going to the same place. This is neat!
7:15... Here’s Jo-Jo! She seems to be in a really good mood which is quite unusual. I wonder why that is.
8:30... I will never have enough water to last the whole morning. We must go get some.
9.00... I really like hanging out with Jo-Jo. She's such a great person!
9:15... Time to go! I can’t believe we almost missed Cynthia. It's a good thing I know what she looks like when she runs with her wetsuit – I’m glad we didn’t lose too much time in transition.
9:25... Wo, it’s pretty lonely here. I usually follow other cyclists, but there’s no one around this morning. I hope I don’t get lost. I wonder if the road is closed.
9:30... Here come the Sprint people! Here they are gone. Geez, I’m slow.
9:35... I'm so glad I went to get water with Jo-Jo. It loosened up my lower back. I hope I ride far before it starts hurting.
9:40... Rolling hills, huh? I’m not sure I will like that, but if it stays that way, I'll be fine.
9:45... Woah! This stretch of road is rough. I really hope it’s not like that the whole time or I’ll never make it!
9:50... Turn-around point for the Sprint Tri. What a stupid idea it was to do the Olympic. Frick, I’m only 25% done and I’m already suffering from the heat. On the positive side, it’s awesome that I now consider a 20K ride short. It used to be a challenge for me. I’ve come a long way this year!
9:55... What a stupid idea to do a race in July. Seriously, it’s always + stupid in July. The odds are that it will be freaking hot.
10:00... FFS – stupid hill. I hate it.
10:01... OK, don’t look up. Look down and take this hill one stroke at a time.
10:02... Holy geez, I really have to train on hillier terrain. I'm not out of breath and my quads are not on fire, but I'm not used to that kind of rythmn.
10:08... NO WAY. Another freaking hill, even bigger than the one before. The race organizers must have had a good time when they decided to put the turnaround point on top of that stupid hill. I bet they thought it would be funny. Stupid hills. Stupid sun. I want some shade, I’m so hot.
10:10... I hope I don’t pass out. Stupid, stupid hill.
10:12... Turnaround! Woohoo, it’s all downhill from here. Thank God for the cheerful volunteers, they are making me a bit less crabby.
10:20... OK, I hadn’t noticed that I got some downhill on the way out. I must climb those stupid hills again on the way back. Sigh.
10:25... Seriously, this is the last race I do in July. It’s way too hot in July. I’m overheating!
10:30... Aaaaaaaaah, the freshness of water poured over one’s head. I don't care if I looked stupid getting the reservoir out of the camelback so that I could pour some water over myself. I don't care anymore. This being said, I need to consider a new hydration method. This is not convenient.
10:40... OK, I have about half an hour to go. I can do this. I hope I'm not making the math wrong.
11:00... Oooh, a downhill. Let’s see if I can beat my fastest speed ever.
11:01... Oh Oh. What’s that crazy noise coming from my bike?
11:05... I really have to get that rear wheel and brakes checked. I think there is a problem remaining from my bike accident - it's like the wheel is crooked. Yikes.
11:06... Bike accident… shudder.
11:07... Speaking of bike accident, I’m hurting everywhere. Who knew you could hurt so much just from exercising? My wrists are hurting, my shoulder and neck are hurting, my lower back is hurting, my hip is hurting, my quads are hurting and even my feet are hurting!
11:10... Is it ever lonely here? Where is everyone? Am I that slow that they’re all done by now? Stupid race, I’m never doing this again.
11:11... 2K left. I hope the course is not long or I’ll be very angry. You know, like when you train with a personal trainer and they tell you to do 10 reps and when you're done, they ask for 2 more? I hate, hate, hate those tactics.
11:20... Back to T-zone. It’s heaven - the faster I run my bike to the rack, the faster I can jump into the river. Wait, the girls aren’t there. Cr@p! Oh, there they are.. hey I’m here, come on, look at me, I’m coming your way and I’m done. A little enthusiasm, please?
11:21... F?%&%& man, that was so hard. Toughest bike ride ever.
11:30... Aaaaah, life is good again. That river is very refreshing. I could stay in here all day.
11:35... The awesome thing about today is that I properly hydrated. Woohoo! Not every race has to end in dehydration. That was a good learning experience today. Still, I really have a problem with exercising in the sun.
12:00... Aaaaah, sitting in the shade after being in the sun for so long. I hope Jo-Jo takes her time to finish. I’m rather comfortable here
12:20... Here she comes! Woohoo, well done Jo-Jo! Oh my God, she’s still smiling. In typical Jo-Jo fashion, she made a friend out on this lonely course.
12:21... Oh my God, she says she had a good time today. I guess this means I was the crabby one today. Too funny! Ah, how I love those girls! What a great team we make.
12:50... Next year? I wonder if I could ride for 90K?

Foot note

Following the redaction of this race report, I had a discussion with a friend about the negativity in what I had written. She told me I would have had a much better experience if I had thought positive thoughts. I told her that I really did not feel like thinking positive thoughts and that if I had done so, it would have made me even crabbier, because I would have known I was in total denial.

Today, I can think about the race and laugh about how negative I felt when I was out on the course. I think the important thing is not to think positive thoughts no matter what, but to accept those negative thoughts when the going gets tough and let them go as soon as things return to normal. This is one of the lessons I learned from this race: it’s OK to think negative thoughts, just don’t hold on to them for too long.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Canada Day Bushtukah 5K Race

I participated in the 5K event at the Canada Day Bushtukah Running Race this morning. It was a really well organized race on a flat course and it was not crowded - those were the perfect conditions for me to establish my post-injuries 5K baseline. Having been surprised to pull a sub-40 at NCM a few weeks ago, I was wondering what I could do when I was not stuck following a big crowd.

Things didn't start up too well. I got a major IBS flare-up last night following the BBQ we had at work. I may have eaten something or simply eaten too much, and this did not go well with the stress of the race. I could not eat a regular breakfast this morning, which I knew was not a good idea. I only had a granola bar and some water and hoped for the best.

I sent JF off on his 10K race and waited for my race to start, 45 minutes later. It was pretty lonely out there - it seems like I was the only person who was hanging out on her own. I'm really not used to that, because there are usually a bunch of Running Maniacs to hang out with at races. Today, it seemed they were all running the 10K! Eventually, my friend Nancy found me. It was awesome to see her there, because I was really nervous. Nancy is the one who ran with me when I achieved my 5K PB so it was good to see her before the race. :-)

When the race started, everyone was passing me even though I was closer to the back of the pack and I told myself that these people were going out way too fast and that I would catch up to them later. I mean, I was running 6:33/K, it's not as if I was going super slow! It turned out I was wrong - I never caught up to most of these people.

My plan was to run 3:1s, considering I'm up to 4:1s in training. I followed my plan for most of the race and I only took a longer walk break close to 4K when I got a very bad side stitch. I was trotting along, doing my thing and at some point, I turned a corner and the finish line was in sight! My Garmin said I was 36 minutes into the race, so I dug deep and kept running towards the finish line. I saw JF 100m before I crossed the finish line and he was encouraging me to do a final push, but I honestly had nothing left in me for that push, so I just kept going. I crossed the finish line in 37:38, which is my third best official 5K time ever.

I usually have emotional races, where I try to run with joy or to think positive thoughts. At some point, though, I usually crash mentally because I can't keep up with the positive thinking. Today, I ran a "rational" race where I was working towards a quantitative goal (get as close to my PB as possible). Although I didn't feel the joy I usually feel during my races, I didn't crash mentally and I concentrated on getting 'er done. As a result, I enjoyed the present moment more than I have ever done in any race. I wouldn't run, or even race, that way all the time, because I really enjoy the emotional experience I get from running, but it was good to experience a different way of racing today.

I now have a baseline, and a new goal: smash that PB!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

On a Roll!

Things have been going really well for me in the past month, and even more in the last week. I'm making big progress in the pool and on my bike. I'm becoming more confident about my Sprint Triathlon objective and I'm having a lot more fun training. I think my mental has gotten a lot stronger and this is having an impact on my training as well as on my life in general. :-)

A few days ago, I took the plunge and started shopping for a wetsuit. I'm excited about my first "real" open water swim, where I'll swim in non-shallow waters. This used to scare me, but now it sounds exciting. I ordered my wetsuit online and should receive it sometimes in the next 10 days. I hope it fits well!

Yesterday, I went for a run and it went OK. I was relieved because my last runs have been very tough and it killed my motivation to go running. I was planning on running the 10K at the Montreal Marathon on Labor Day weekend, but I'm not so sure anymore. I'm not sure I want to train for a 10K in the heat of the summer. At the same time, if things go well, then I wouldn't mind increasing my distance. Since the event doesn't sell out, I have a lot of time to make a decision, I guess.

Today, I rode my longest distance ever! I was planning on going out for 35K, but ended up doing 40.8K because I felt fine and I needed the mental boost doing the distance would give me. I'm still super excited about my achievement! I'm tired and I'm hurting a bit, but it was great. I am really enjoying riding my bike. I think it's the only time in my daily life when I am truly in the present. When I'm on my bike, I listen to my thoughts and follow them, but I usually don't worry about the past or the future, which is a nice break. I also started singing to myself while on my bike. When there's no one around, I sing some happy songs in a low voice and it cheers me up instantly! I love how happy I am on my bike these days. :-)

During my ride this morning, I recognized the site where I had my accident almost 2 years ago. I was happy to see that I could notice the site without feeling fear or anxiety about it. I didn't have any flashbacks and didn't really feel uncomfortable on my bike after we passed the site. I guess this means I'm fully healed, even if my ribs sometime tell me differently when the weather changes.

Life is good. :-)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Joy-full at Riverkeeper!

Today, I participated in the Riverkeeper Triathlon, as part of the Sprint Tri Relay. I was the cyclist of the team and it meant I was to ride about 23K today.

When I woke up, it was raining. This made me nerveous, because I'm not used to riding my road bike in the rain. Usually, when it rains, I postpone my rides... The only times I ride in the rain is when it rains on my commute back home! I usually enjoy doing stuff in the rain, and this morning was no different.

The rain started coming down hard when the race started. My friend Cynthia was our swimmer, so i went back to T-Zone to get ready as soon as she started on her swim. By the time she finished her swim, I was already quite wet from standing under the rain. I ran the whole time between the T-zone and the mounting line, which is a first for me. There is usually a time when running with my bike that I need to stop and walk. Not this time!

Cynthia was continuing with the Sprint Tri on her own after her swim (she swam with two chips!), and I didn't want her to pass me too early into the race so I made sure I started off hard from the start. She only passed me a few kilometers from the end of the bike leg, so I am very happy with that. The bike ride went great, despite the rain and my shoes that got full of water 1-2 kilometers into the race: I felt strong, I was not out of breath, I was feeling in control on my bike. At times, I even had bursts of joy when I was thinking how hardcore it was to do a race like that in the rain. ;-)

There was only one time during my race when I didn't feel as good, and it's when I thought about a difficult situation at work. When this thought occured, it was as if I had suddenly gotten very tired, weak and unmotivated. It was really strange: I felt the energy coming out of me! Fortunately, I realized what was happening and put a lot of effort to bring my mental back to happy thoughts of riding in the rain and feeling strong on the bike. I also started singing to myself, happy happy happy songs from Glee. It worked and I was soon back to cruising speed!

I finished strong and my bike computer tells me my average speed was 23.6 kph. This is awesome, considering this includes my run in and out of the bike, at 6-7kph for a few minutes! I'm also glad to have seen the results of all the bike training I've been doing since March (I almost have 500K under the belt already!) - I am becoming a much stronger cyclist. :-)

Next up: a 5K run on Canada Day and the 40K bike leg of the Olympic Tri Relay at the Carleton Place Triathlon in July.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Joy-less at NCM 5K

I ran the 5K at the National Capital Marathon Race Weekend. Coming into the race, I was really nerveous about my hip. Lately, it's been bugging me a lot and I was worried the psoas would tear again, so I haven't been pushing much. The time spent not running was not good for my mental health and I felt aggressive on Saturday all day. I worked very hard on Saturday to get my mental in a much positive state, only to have my hard work smashed by some negative energy dumped on me 2 hours before the race.

I usually get emotional at the Start Line, but this year, I was annoyed. Annoyed at the people with strollers - strollers should not be allowed in such a big race. Annoyed at the man who already stunk as if he'd just run a marathon. Annoyed at the obvious walkers who were standing near me (there was a woman with a peasant skirt and a stray hat standing next to me). Things got worse when the race started - it took me more than 6 minutes to get across the start line, which is to be expected in such a big crowd. However, you usually start running once you approach the start line, but this year, I wasn't able to run until I was at least 100m passed the start line. I could have dealt with that if I hadn't had to run around all those walkers who had put themselves in front of me at the start line. Totally annoying. If you're going to walk, you should be at the back of the group, not in the middle of it.

I was happily surprised to be able to run for 5 minutes staight at the start of the race, and happier when I was able to run for another 5 minutes afterwards. But then, things got ugly. The sun was unbelievable hot, the humidity was high, my mood was very negative and I started to suffer. I made it to Pretoria Bridge because I knew my friends would be there to cheer me on and it was so great to see them. However, after that, I physically and mentally crashed and I had to walk for at least 5 minutes before I was able to cool down.

I eventually made it to the water station, at the 4K mark. By the time I got there, I was overheating and had felt like puking for at least 2 kilometers. I poured some water on my neck/back and drank a glass of water and this gave me some energy. At this point, I was at 31 minutes and I knew sub-40 was totally possible if I could just find some shade to run into. The about-to-puke feeling didn't leave me until long after the race. Had I known, I would have brought water with me.

I made it across the finish line in 39:27, which is my 4th best time ever in the 5K. I was pleased with the result. I was even more pleased that I hadn't torn my psoas. What a relief!

I usually feel joy at some point in my running races, but this year, I didn't feel any. This sucked. I wish I wouldn't get so affected by other people's anger and negativity, but I just do. I wouldn't say those people ruined my race, because I'm responsible for how I respond to other people's actions, but I'm writing this here to recognize that this is something I need to work on so that other future races don't get ruined by whiners.

Now is the time for triathlon season! On the program: a Sprint Tri Relay in 2 weeks, an Olympic Tri Relay in mid-July and my first Sprint Tri in August. This should be a fun summer!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cycling for Balance?

Someone told me something interesting today. She said she once heard someone explain how cycling was a sport of balance and how it helped people achieve balance in their life. She thought this made a lot of sense and she shared it with me when I told her about my recent thoughts about the place running should have in my life priorities.

I believe this is a great image. When I ride my bike, I think about the difficult things in my life, whether they are problems or negative emotions. Because I need to pay attention to what I'm doing while riding my bike, I never give full attention to my thoughts and I usually achieve a state of mind where I observe my thoughts without judging them - the same thing we're supposed to do while meditating. Sometimes, I feel like the answers to my problems just pop into my head without me working really hard to make them happen. Other times, I feel like I'm leaving the negative emotions behind by making sense of them while I ride.

The interesting part is that I think my life got so out of balance last fall after I stopped riding my bike. I thought the bad stuff just happened, but I now think that maybe riding my bike was helping me process some feelings that I simply could not process after I stopped riding. I then got overwhelmed by my negative feelings and simply could not manage anymore!

I always thought running kept me sane by helping me evacuate the bad stuff before it made me sick (stress, anger, guilt, frustration, etc.) and that swimming kept me running. I don't think I've ever found a purpose for cycling, except going from point A to point B, but I'm now starting to wonder if cycling is the more important sport of the three?

Friday, April 09, 2010


I am starting to get into running again. I feel so good after a run and not just because of the crazy endorphins boost I get. I feel better about where I am in life, more content about the positive things that surround me. I also feel so much better in my skin when I am active!

About a year ago, two sedentary people told me that running and triathlon training in general were too big a priority for me and that I should probably seek a better balance between training and doing other things. I heard what these women were saying and I started thinking that maybe running, swimming and biking so much was not such a good thing for me. I decided to do other things as well, and as a result, I ran and swam a lot less. Sure, I enjoyed cooking great meals, seeing my non-running friends and doing scrapbooking, but all those things didn't really make me feel a lot better about myself and more comfortable in my own skin.

I now realize that I don't live the typical life of a 32 year-old and therefore, I shouldn't let the people who live that life (married, full-time job and kids) define what would be a balanced lifestyle for me, in my current situation.

I really lost track of what felt good for me in the past 2 years and I'm only now realizing how important it is for my physical and mental health as well as my overall well-being that I remain active. I can't be a good friend if I don't feel good about myself. I can't be a supportive partner if I hate myself. I can't be a happy employee if I'm always over-stressed because I'm not allowing myself to dig head-on into exercise when I'm under a lot of pressure at work.

For my own sake, running has to come back to the front burner from now on, no matter what others think.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Those d@mn Mexican bugs!

Yesterday, I started round 2 of antibiotics to try and get rid of that tough Mexican bacteria in my stomach. It seems to be working as I am feeling slightly better this morning than I was feeling yesterday.

Last weekend, I attempted to try being active again, considering that 2 weeks off was enough. I ran on Saturday. I was pleased that I was able to do 4 x 4:2s on the treadmill, but I was totally done after I finished. I wasn't sure if I would puke or pass out and I knew I pushed too hard. On Sunday morning, I got on the trainer for about 20 minutes. I didn't push - I just pedalled at a very leisurely pace. Well, even that was tough. Those 2 workouts energized me and I was feeling good on Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday night, I went swimming and it went OK, but I got sick just before I went to bed. I got sicker as the week progressed, up until yesterday when I decided that enough was enough and I went to see a doctor. Hence the 2nd round of antibiotics.

I'm frustrated that I'm still not recovered. I was doing better mentally after those workouts, because I had finally found some motivation. I'm now down 10 lbs since I left for Mexico and it's great, but I'm worried I will gain it back if I'm not careful. Which is why I want to get back to being active as soon as possible. Oh well, I'm not really hungry right now and I'm really not eating as much as I could, so it's not as if I was in any danger of gaining the weight back right now. I'll just rest and concentrate on getting better. This is hard! I just want to do stuff, not just sports, but activities and fun stuff. I'm sick of lying around and taking it easy. Sigh.

I think SAD v.2010 has started to affect my mood, but so far, I'm not too depressed. I hope I can become active again before it hits full on. *knocks on wood*

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mexico 2010!

JF and I went back to the Mayan Riviera (Mexico) this year. This time, we stayed at the Iberostar Paraiso Beach resort, which is located between Cancùn and Playa del Carmen. It is a beautiful resort, with a lot of vegetation and animals. Our room was in the building shown on the picture and it was nicely located near the beach, the pools and within a nice walking distance from the Lobby where the main buffet was.

At this hotel, everything is outside. The only place where you can be inside is in your room or at the Hotel boutiques and à-la-carte restaurants near the Lobby. Of course, many areas have a roof, so you're not stuck outside in the rain if it happens to rain, but you get to enjoy eating outside and just being outside in general.

The place had many non-human residents. Among them were what I called wild turkeys. They were hilarious: they were always walking around as a group and they made this crazy noise as they went. We had fun trying to guess what they were saying to each other. One night, we were hearing them from up in a tree and when we approached the tree, we saw a cat that was near the tree, looking at the birds. We thought the cat chased them into the tree, but it probably wasn't the case because they were up in the tree every night.

There were a number of cats, three parrots, many peacocks who liked to chill on people's balconies in the morning as well as a kind of raccoon, which I think is called a coatis. Those were too cute!

The pools were beautiful. We didn't use them much because we prefer to swim in the ocean, but they were very refreshing after a day at the beach. One thing we liked about the pools was that they varied in depth. There were areas that were more kid-friendly and areas that were for adults only. In the adult-only area, I had water up to my chin when I was standing on my toes!

One morning, JF went to the beach to look at the sun rise. He took many pictures of the quiet beach at this time of the day. He captured the beginning of one of the many warm and sunny days we had during our stay. It rained for a few hours on the Tuesday afternoon, but the rest of the week was beautiful: mostly sunny with a few clouds here and there. The beach was big enough for the number of guests at the hotel and there were enough palapas for everyone. The water was turquoise and although there were areas that had rocks, there were also a lot of areas that were sandy. You could play safely in the water without hurting yourself stepping on a rock. The whole week, the red flag was up, which meant we had to be careful because the waves were strong. I didn't feel like I was in danger, though. The waves were very "friendly" in that it didn't feel like they were trying to push you to the floor of the ocean. They just "played nicely" with us.

On Wednesday, we went to Xel-Ha - a park where you mostly go to snorkel. Xel-Ha used to be a wild area, but the park was created years ago to welcome more tourists and generate revenue, but also to protect the area. The park is beautiful and very well designed. As you walk around, you find many places where you can go into the water.

In the water, you get to see beautiful fishes: they're yellow, blue, white, grey and they don't come too close to humans, so it's perfect for someone who is scared of fishes like I am. We had bought disposable waterproof cameras and we didn't regret the expense. It was great to be able to take some pictures in the water and it turns out that those are our best pictures from our vacation! We had a wonderful time chasing the fishes all day in Xel-Ha. There were other activities, but we spent most of our time snorkeling. JF went deeper in the water and closer to the fishes, whereas I stayed at a safe distance from them. One time, I got bold and went very close to a blue fish I wanted to photograph, but when it looked at me and started coming in my direction, I panicked and turned around.

I started feeling nauseated in the afternoon, and I attributed the feeling to spending so much time in the water, going from an horizontal to a vertical position all the time. The waves were also quite strong in one area of the park, so I thought it was just my usual ear/balance problems when I spend too much time in the water. That night, I didn't eat much and went to bed early, hoping to be a whole new person in the morning! It turned out I was wrong: I woke up with an intense nausea at 5am the next morning and I spent the morning puking.

JF went to the beach, but he came back often to check on me. Sometime after 11am, he was in the room with me when I passed out. We knew something was wrong and we called the hotel doctor, who advised we go to the hospital. We took the taxi-ambulance and went to the Cancùn Hospiten, a very nice hospital where probably only tourists get treated. I was admitted and they put me on an IV while they did some tests to find out what was making me so sick. Turned out I had a bacterial infection in my stomach, that I probably got from swallowing water or drinking water at Xel-Ha. We spent the night in the hospital and they released me the next day before lunch.

Back at the hotel, we had a little over 24 hours left to our trip and I wanted to enjoy that time. We spent the afternoon at the beach and enjoyed a very light dinner instead of the à-la-carte we were supposed to have that night. The next morning, we went to the beach but I had to go back to my room at about 10:30 because the sun and the light were making me feel sick. I went back to my room, only to come out at 2:30, when the sun would not be as strong. Walking to the beach, I heard my name and was totally surprised to see JF's brother and his wife! We knew they were coming to Mexico for their belated honeymoon, but we didn't know they would stay at the same hotel as us! So, we spent a few hours with them before going back to our room to pack our stuff and go home.

Crazy week! I'm not ready to go back yet, but I think this wasn't the last time I visited Mexico. I just love this country.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

2010 is here! Where's my mojo?

A new year has started. 2010 is starting on the right foot for me from an athletic point of view: I'm not injured. My body's holding up. I shouldn't be surprised though. I haven't exercised that much in the past couple of months. I could list a number of good excuses and I could even add that even though I didn't exercise much, I haven't been sedentary either. I walked a lot and kept busy this Fall - I didn't just sit on my @ss.

I can't find my motivation! Every Sunday night, I intend on running 3 times in the coming week, and I can't seem to make myself run during the week. Work is crazy busy as I am replacing my manager and I always find a good reason not to run at lunch: I have important work to do, it's too cold, it's raining, etc. Then, I'm too tired to run on the treadmill when I get home, or I'm too hungry. Saturday morning comes, and I go out and do my weekly run. This is my life right now.

I can't make myself get on the dreaded trainer. I find it so boring! Even when watching TV shows or movies while pedaling I get bored. I can't wait for the nice weather to be back so that I can ride outside again!

Swimming... Sigh. Swimming requires me to go out at night or to wait for the bus in the cold when my hair is not completely dry. I know it's a lame excuse, because I like swimming once I get in the pool, but it's the logistics around it that annoy me. I signed up for a PowerSwim course that starts on February 22nd, so that should help with the motivation!

I have to lose some weight. Experience taught me that I can't lose weight by watching what I eat alone. I must exercise and do some strenght training. That's the only way I'll succeed.

I think that maybe I need a vacation, which I'm going to get next week. Then maybe I'll get my mojo back when I'm rested. Let's hope so!