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First Xterra (almost) Done and Dusted

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Yes, before you ask, I decided to do an Xterra Triathlon 7 weeks out from Ironman Texas.  It may seem a little crazy to some, but to be very honest, anyone who knows me would not have been surprised I decided to throw this little gem into my training mix.  You see I love to race and well technically I actually didn’t even sign myself up for this race.  Someone who shall remain unnamed (Travis Beam) signed me up!  Who needs enemies when you have friends who sign you up for an Xterra when you’ve only been on a mountain bike once in 9(ish) years.  He knew I wasn’t lying either when I pulled out my mountain biking shoes and they looked like something that could go in a cycling museum.

Ready for the cycling museum??

Ready for the cycling museum??

So maybe luckily for me 2 days out from the race start the weather had not played in our favour and the ride was changed to a mountain bike on the road.  This took away a little of the worry over mountain biking in a race format, but I was still going to have to work hard on the road on a mountain bike.

Race morning started with a light drizzle, but luckily slightly warmer temps.  The water though was still pretty chilly and to be honest I wasn’t looking forward to it.  However I knew it was only for about 10mins so just got over myself and got in for a little warm up.  After a short race briefing it was 1,2,3 GO! and we were off.  I felt ok for the first 50 meters then got stuck between two guys who were trying to turn me into a wetsuit sandwich.  I had to navigate around the side of them and by that time I started to feel a bit rough…Like freaking out, I don’t wanna do this, rough.  I just kept telling myself, it’s only 800m just do it.  After going a little further to the right on my second lap than I expected I saw that red muddy bottom on was on my way into T1.

So this is when the frezzingness (I know it’s not a word!)  hit me.  My feet were totally numb, my hands weren’t much better, and this made for one of my worst exits from a wetsuit ever. I just couldn’t get the thing off, it was like it was literally stuck to me.  Finally after some wiggling and pulling and grunting I got it off, grabbed the bike and was on my way.  The bike leg was relatively uneventful other than a marker on who was in front of me and who was behind me.  There was one group of about 5 men who were lucky enough to get in a draft, but the rest of us just hammered it out solo. I was in 2nd at this stage and I made a decision that I was not going to be 3rd. I put my head down and went for it, just like I would in a road tri.  It paid off and I had the fastest bike split of the women.  Not quite enough for me to catch 1st place, but enough for me to get a lead on 3rd going into the run.

Back into T2, fastest transition this time and up the hill for about a 1 mile run to the start of the trail. I knew I had to take advantage of the road as I would be slower on the trails so pushed pretty hard on this section. The trail was nice, very loopy, not too many long straight sections, and a pretty slippery muddy section at the back side. It was 2 loops and that made it great to be able to see some other athletes on the run.  Best part was other athletes coming across me as they were exiting the trail and giving me a heads-up on how close 3rd place female was to me.  This was the motivation I needed to dig a bit deeper to make sure I didn’t get overtaken.

Newtons got a bit muddy

It definitely wasn’t a race for the faint hearted, I’m so glad I did it though and already looking forward to the next one.

Pretty good race swag!

Final Results:

Swim 800m: 10.55

Ride 26.5km: 5835

Run 8Km: 46.40

TOTAL: 1.56.10

2nd Place overall Female!

So – now I need to get back to training for Ironman Texas…less than 7 weeks away..

 

They can’t all be easy – Challenge Dubai held up to it’s namesake!

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Mentally I had prepared myself for the possibility of a hot race at the inaugural Challenge Dubai. What I had not prepared for or expected was the extremely windy conditions which I woke up to Friday morning.  As I walked to the transition area the wind was unbelievable, flags and signs where blowing in all directions and I felt a sense foreboding – dreading to imagine what the sea would be like.

 

You want me to swim in that..for real??

You want me to swim in that..for real??

There was a lot of tension and anxiety at transition, high winds can send you a bit mad as everything was blowing every where and I could hardly hear myself think.  A short walk to the beach confirmed my suspicions that the seas would be rough. The swim course had already been changed to account for the rough seas and was now a 2 loop course.  There wasn’t the normal excitement on the beach, this had been replacement for most people by shear terror at getting into the salt water washing machine that awaited.  As usual before I knew it I was somehow in my wetsuit and standing on the beach looking out to the first buoy that all of a sudden seemed so far away – contemplating my race.

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Bang –  next minute I was diving into, under and over waves.  I imagined that this would only be like this for a few 100 meters and then calm down. I was wrong. The swell and waves continued to beat against my head and left side for the 350 meters till the first buoy. At times I would sight and couldn’t even see the buoy due to the swell.  I just tried to keep swimming, and to keep the saltwater out of my mouth.  I’m not going to lie, I had a few moments where I was starting to get a bit freaked out – mostly as I started to feel a slightly sea sick. This passed though and before I knew it I had reached the first turn and the waves were not quite as bad heading horizontal to the shoreline and on the way back in, for the most part they were not quite as rough. I did have to do it all again though – it was actually quite hard to come out of the ocean and then get back in to conditions like that. The second loop was no different to the first, and I was more than relieved when I started to head back in to shore.  Happy to have finished the swim in 37 mins considering the conditions, but already wondering what the bike leg was going to be like.

Transition was quick and I was on my bike in no time.  I felt pretty good and settled in to the bike straight away.  I could immediately feel the tail wind, and decided to go as hard as I could while it was behind me – I knew it wouldn’t last.  The first 50km’s (31mi) were reasonably nice and I was averaging between 36/38kmph (22/23mph).  There were a few turns that took us into the head wind which got me a bit worried about the 40kms (25mi) back into transition.  I reached the turn around and was feeling very solid, and happy with the time I had made up on the bike.  Then BOOM – the headwind hit me like a freight train.  I wasn’t expecting it to be quite that strong. My average pace dropped significantly – I felt like I was pushing up hill and struggled to find the right gear to not be grinding but still be moving.  The gusts of wind were hitting the bike so hard I had to come up out of aero at times just to stay upright. I heard later that the winds were combing through at up to 50kmph (31mph).  It was like this with no break for about 40kms (25mi).  At this stage I didn’t know it but I was in 3rd and had been following 2nd place for quite some time. She seemed to have a lot more power and endurance for the headwind section and pulled away out of sight. I managed to pass a few other people and not get passed again – with about 20kms (12.5mi) to go I started to mentally come undone.  I was getting frustrated with the constant wind, and sand in my face. I felt awful and grumpy and just wanted to get off the bike. It took a lot of strength to keep pushing those last km’s and I really wondered what I had left in me for the run leg.

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Another quick transition thanks to some great local girls in the changing tent to got my shoes on for me, cap on my head, drink and off I went.  Legs felt pretty good and I decided to try and hold a just above a 5min/km pace (8min/mi).  I was determined to break the 1hour50min mark for my run time, and I felt like given the time I lost on the other 2 legs today I was gonna just go for it. I had nothing to loose. I settled into about a 5.05min/km pace and just held it there.  5km down, pace still on, 10km down, pace still on, 15km down pace still on, time to pick it up a bit. I dug a bit deeper and tried my hardest to get a sub 5min/km pace going. I had a guy on my tail who I could hear running about the same pace as me and as he passed me with 2km to go I decided to go with him – it worked and I was able to hold on, sprint out the finish and get a flat 1hour45min run.  I had unfortunately dropped from 3rd to 5th place on the run when 2 women in my age group flew past me – I couldn’t have been happier with my run time and truly couldn’t have given it any more. The swim and bike were another story and I wonder if I had not lost the mental edge on the bike maybe I would have had a bigger lead on these girls and held my spot – who knows.  That’s racing right?

not a bad spot for a PB half marathon...

not a bad spot for a PB half marathon…

The next best part after crossing the finish line is then getting to be there when my friends and teammates come through the finish line.  It’s always a celebration and a special moment to share, especially with the first timers!  Great to be there with some amazing FitChicks who amaze and inspire me with their dedication and hard work!

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Will I be back for Challenge Dubai 2016 – heck yeah, it was a great race in an awesome city.. and I want to do this race without the wind!

I want to thank my coach who has taken me from “an ok ” triathlete to someone who now believes anything is possible. Liam Bromilow  www.t3coaching.com.au you rock and I couldn’t do this without you! Amanda Borlotti – seriously I can see us as old ladies and still doing this together, the races mean so much more when you’re there!  Luis Quiñones – thanks for creating team OnEndurance – seriously meeting you guys changed my life!

Now on to Ironman Texas – 9 weeks to go!

 

 

It’s All in the Hips

Yes – I found this out the hard way. Luckily I also found Precision Fitness so I am sure they will sort me out in no time.

Precision Fitness

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This weeks Endurance athlete post is an all too common subject for those that train at Precision Fitness “It’s All in the Hips.” An article in Runners Times recently came out talking about the importance of strength and stability in the hips/glute and how it can have an effect down the kinetic chain. David McHenry, physical therapist and strength coach for Alberto Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project. “The foot is really just the end of a big kinetic whip–the leg Core and hips are where every runner should be starting if they are really concerned with optimizing their form, maximizing their speed and minimizing injury potential.”

The exercises in the article are in no way a complete hip/ glute strengthening program, but nonetheless work to some extent.

http://www.runnersworld.com/injury-prevention-recovery/its-all-in-the-hips  

Mark Seibert

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So I’m a little broken….but that’s ok!

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I thought that things where going too good to be true.  After 8 weeks of pretty full-on training in Australia – I came back to Abu Dhabi feeling strong and fit ready to take on the Yas Olympic Distance Tri and the Short Distance (kind of a 70.3) at Abu Dhabi International.  After 2 great races – I was still feeling amazing.  After arriving in my new home in North Carolina (which was bloody freezing by the way) I took a full week off from training then started on my next training phase preparing for Eagleman Ironman 70.3 in Cambridge Maryland on the 8th of June.

2 weeks in to my new training in the US I headed out for what was supposed to be a pretty light 30mins run.  Around 20 mins in to the run I felt a popping sensation come out of no where in my left calf.  I hoped it was a cramp, but I knew it wasn’t because I have never cramped before and it just felt different – something wasn’t right. I managed to hobble home – and by that night my calf was quite painful and I was having trouble walking.  I hoped that by the next day it would be gone, and just decided to ice and rest myself and see how it went. After a week I attempted another light run on the treadmill, but again about 15mins in to the run my calf started to tighten and felt like it was about to pop again – bummer.

It was time for a bit more serious help – and I called up a place I had seen on the internet here call Precision Fitness (if you live in the Charlotte, North Carolina Area I highly recommend them). Luckily I was able to get in to see Donna the Bodywork Therapist (how cool does that sound) there who worked pretty hard on my calf, pushing out the adhesions and giving me some pretty intense icing sessions.  With rest, ice and massage after 3 weeks my calf seems to be back at about 95% – next week will be the test when I add some runs back in to my training plan.  I was feeling pretty good about my calf’s fairly fast recovery, and really ready to get back in to training when all of sudden I started to get pain through my left shoulder, which radiated down in to the palm of my hand causing a tingling sensation –  really, I am seriously starting to fall apart.  Luckily I was already scheduled to see Bill  who is the Founder and a Corrective Exercise and Human Performance Specialist (again – how cool!) at Precision Fitness,  who was going to work on my apparently non-functioning glute muscles (the possible reason why my calf muscle gave out) and he was able to do some magic on my shoulder and send me off strapped up with K-tape like a CrossFitter.

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I was starting to feel a bit sorry for myself, with just a little bit of the “why me’s” sneaking in, and then I thought – you know what  – all of this stuff can be fixed.  After a year of pretty intense training in triathlon, some things are taking their toll, but it’s all fixable.  What these little injuries have done have allowed me to re-connect with my body, to start to focus more on maintaining a good core, and the importance of strength training and alignment in order to perform well in swim, bike run.  So in a way,  although breaking a little bit is annoying, I think it is going to make me stronger in the long run. What it also has done is given me a greater appreciation of what my body is capable of, and appreciating how lucky I am to have this opportunity right now to focus on something I absolutely love – Triathlon.

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With only 6 weeks to go till Eagleman  I now know that it  will be a learning race – with the few little injuries combined with so much change happening recently in my life I am listening more to my body and my head to ensure that I simply make it to race day and enjoy the experience with my fellow Fit Chick Amanda.  I have plenty more time and races to see just how good and how far I can go with Tri, and of course there is the “big one” (full Ironman) still hanging in the (not so) distant future.

So yeah – right now I am a little bit broken, but it all can be fixed – it’s all part of the journey.

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The Rules

This is a great read. Made me giggle – especially the glossary definition of a recovery ride (I am so guilty of that :)….

Work out of the week (a bit late)

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Ok,  so here is this weeks work out of the week (for last week – Mummy duties got in the way).

Moderate Swim Session;

I loved this one provided by Coach Liam Bromilow from T3 Coaching based in Brisbane Australia. It took away the boredom of just going up and down the pool and the 10 x 100’s – well what can I say…:)

3000m Pool Swim Session

200 Freestyle

400 pull

600 pull + paddles

400 pull

200 Freestyle

10 x 100m (leaving on 1:50 – or wherever will give you a short break between your finishing – no less then around 10sec or your just not going to be able to keep form for that many 100’s (in my humble opinion anyway).

200m pull

10 x 50m on :55. Again take note of the above suggestion.

200m choice.

I know it sounds pretty awful – but I absolutely enjoyed this swim session and felt great at the end of it.  I hope you do to.

Enjoy

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Work out of the week!

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So I’ve decided to share one of my favourite workouts with you each week while I am training for Eagleman 70.3 which is on the 8th of June.  This week’s workout is courtesy of Liam Bromilow, Head Coach and Owner of T3 Coaching who I am currently lucky enough to have coaching me for my next race and hopefully beyond.  Check T3 Coaching out  here http://www.t3coaching.com.au for personalised coaching  to get you to your goal.

Workout of the Week 

TYPE: Strength Bike Session   – (on a wind trainer)

DURATION:  1 hour

Warm up with:

5.00mins @ 90rpm

5.00mins @ 100rpm

5.000mins @ 110rpm

Main Set:

4.30 mins big gear slow cadence (60rpm)

3.00 mins mid range gear fast cadence (90+rpm)

2.30 rest (soft gear)

REPEAT 4 times (you will feel it on the last one trust me)

5.00 mins cool down

ENJOY – I know I did!

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Abu Dhabi International Triathlon 2014 – When a dream becomes reality!

Saturday marked the 5th anniversary of the “glamourous” Abu Dhabi International Triathlon.  I was lucky enough to be one of the 2400 competitors this year, and took on the Short Course distance which consists of a 1.5km swim, 100km bike ride and 10km run.

One year ago this was my second triathlon and I did the sprint distance (750/50/5).  I remember seeing the competitors lined up for the short distance race and thinking to myself – I am going to do that next year.  That will be me.  As 2013 rolled on, my ambition grew stronger and my goal was not only to be there, but to attempt to finish in the top 10 women.  It seems that Triathlon brings out my ambitious side – and after only finishing 2 sprint distance races I signed up for the the Phuket Challenge half ironman distance and already had my eyes sharply set on ADIT short course for 2014.

On Saturday my dream become a reality as I finished 8th in the 30-39 womens age group and finished 3mins faster than my goal  – at 4 hours and 27 minutes.  Trust me though – this didn’t just happen by luck…it has been the amalgamation of fully dedicating myself to my training, completly changing my mindset, and keeping my nutrition as clean as possible.

So how did my race go.  Perfectly. Here is how it went:

1.  Swim – that’s what I did, with my everything

ADIT Swim

2.  Ride – yep – I did that to and I pushed those little legs to their maximum (there is still more room for improvement there though)

ADIT bike

3.  Run – yep I sure did….Although I have run faster 10km’s – under the hot conditions and after a 100km ride I was happy with my 5k/min pace.

ADIT Run leg

That’s it- shortest race report ever.

What really inspired me on Saturday was the amazing women that were their giving it their all. We are still so small in numbers compared to the male entrants – this was obvious on race morning when the men were sneaking in to the ladies bathrooms due the huge line up for the mens – we also had a transition tent that was about 1/4 of the size of theirs.  But..the ladies who were out there racing were pushing out some awesome times, showing guts, grit and mental strength that gives the boys a run for their money.

Keep pushing ladies –  because Fit Chicks Tri!

This race also marked the end of my time in Abu Dhabi and my final farewell to amazing group of people who have enriched my life considerably over the past year.  I hope to take everything you all have taught me, and bring to my new life in North Carolina. Any new group I join is going to have a lot to live up to – I know that much.

Move-Eat-Tri-Love

The FitChick  x

TRI Yas Abu Dhabi 2014 – Race Report

Race:  TriYAs

Date:  28th February 2014

Distance:  Olympic (1500/39km/10km)

Fit Chicks at Tri Yas

Fit Chicks at Tri Yas

ONEndurance Team pre race

ONEndurance Team pre race

As I expected it was an awesome day of racing and the atmosphere was fantastic. I had a great race with no major issues, but did make one error on the bike that could have, but luckily didn’t, cost me too much!

The Swim

1.5km in the Yas Marina with a double loop.  The swim was fine and with a wetsuit on I felt pretty strong.  As I haven’t been training with a wetsuit for almost a year I did get a bit claustrophobic at the start and for about the first 500meters.  I managed to get away from the large group and had my own space from about 750m and this helped me relax and focus on my technique and breathing.  I felt pretty good coming out of the water. My goal was between  25-30 minutes and when I looked down on the swim exit I was right on 25 minutes which was great.

The Bike

Smooth transition on to the bike.  TRI Yas Olympic is 8 loops of the F1 Circuit and the course was supposed to be 39kms.  I put my head down and was maintaining a pretty good speed, taking advantage of the corkscrew and back straight.  I was keeping count of laps as I wanted to make sure I took some nutrition in on my 4th lap.  For some reason though, after the 4th lap I stopped counting.  I was then only able to rely on my Garmin GPS for how far I had gone.  I looked down on what was my 7th lap and saw 36kms very close to the bike exit.  I thought to myself “that can’t be right” the course is 39kms – I must have to do another lap.  So off I went on another loop. When I got to the top of the hill I saw one of the ladies from my age group already running – mmm, that doesn’t seem right – was I really that slow on the bike?  Either way I pushed out the last lap and flew in to T2 and didn’t think about it again.

I'm flying right?

I’m flying right?

The Run

I was off  the bike smoothly and my legs felt pretty good.  I took it fairly easy for the first 1km then changed up gears.  My pace was good and I felt really strong so I decided to push as far as I could without jeopardising my technique.  This allowed me to overtake about 4 women (and a few men as well).  I held pace and form for the whole run and crossed line feeling like I had really given my all. I heard the announcer say I was the 8th women across the line and I was pretty happy with that!

It was then great to watch the rest of the ONEndurance team cross the line and to celebrate their racing.  It wasn’t until we started discussing times that I realised everyone else had much faster bike splits than me – and the course was only 37km on the Garmin – not 39km.  My distance was 41km and I realised that I had done a 9th lap. I was so angry at myself – I tried not to get too upset about it, but it was really disappointing  and worst of all I was sure that it had cost me a place.  I snuck off to the bathrooms to get changed and have some alone time – I didn’t want my bad/sulky mood to ruin anyones celebrations. I had a quick chat with myself – i.e. – I told myself to get over it – and went back out to the finish line.

We decided to stay and watch the award ceremony, where another member of our team won his age group.  You can not believe my surprise then when I heard my name called out for 2nd place in the Women’s 31-40 Category.  I don’t think anyone else was expecting that either (given my little error)  – so it was a surprise for me and the whole team!  I was so happy to have placed, as part of my disappointment was that I let people down – especially those that have supported my journey over the last year!  I am so glad I was able to make them proud! Then just when I thought the evening couldn’t get any better Omar Nour came to greet me as I left the stage – my goodness life is great right now!

Tri Yas Award ceremony 2nd place 31-40 age group me and Omar Nour tri Yas onendurance winnings

Final results:

Finish Time:  2.32.19 (without the 2nd loop 2.24ish)

Swim:  25.14

Bike:     1.14.45

Run:       46.56

Back to where it all began

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Right now I am one day out from TRI Yas held on and around the iconic Abu Dhabi Formula 1 track.

Exactly one year ago TRI YAS was my first “proper” Sprint Triathlon (bar one I competed in when I was 23 and living in Perth, Australia, which was so short it’s not really worth mentioning).  It was a very last-minute decision to enter, at the time I didn’t even have a bike and bought one 2 weeks before the race and only rode it 3 times before the event.  Looking back I am not really sure what made me decide to enter.  Maybe it was the challenge of it? Maybe the idea of pushing myself to do something a bit more extreme and into unknown territory.  All I know is that no matter what  it was that made me sign up, it was a life changing decision.

There was then a second moment that further concreted my conversion to a life of Triathlon.  His name is Omar Nour.  Last year at the race briefing and pasta party for TRIYAS, a very lean, fit and exotic man (he has the most amazing hair) took the stage to give a pre-race talk.  I remember standing transfixed while he spoke with passion about his transformation from overweight and stressed corporate man, to a mega fit Olympic seeking athlete.  I was overcome with emotion (I almost got teary) to hear his enthusiasm for Triathlon and how it completely and utterly changed his life.  I was inspired by his dream to compete for his home country Egypt at the Olympic games, and his advise for beginners on how to fit triathlon (and sport in general) into your life.  I was sold, line, hook, sinker, bait…all of it.

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That was how this whole journey started and for a year I have lived a dream of racing, training and meeting the most amazing people.  I have found my hobby, that has become my lifestyle and my identity.  It was like finding the fuel for my engine that makes everything else in my life work.

I can’t wait to be there again on Friday afternoon to race the  Olympic distance this time round.  It will be chance to reflect on how far I have come over the past year (sometimes I forget that I am really only so new to this sport).  It will also be a chance to listen to Omar Nour again – and enjoy his passion and love for Triathlon.

If you are racing on Friday, good luck, remember to enjoy every moment of it.  Oh and make sure you make it on Thursday night to hear Omar Nour’s pre-race talk – you never know, it just might change your life.

Where it all began

Where it all began

You can follow Omar Nour here:  https://www.facebook.com/omarnourtriathlon