Kim steals Sam’s QOM and you’ll never guess what happens next…

(Nothing too dramatic. Sorry. I’ve just always wanted to write one of those headlines.)

As you might have read yesterday morning Kim kicked off the cycling season by stealing another of my QOMs!

Of all the comments on Facebook when I shared this news, as one does, I liked my partner Jeff’s response best, “it’s early days.” It’s the start of the cycling season and time to rebuild fitness  I’m not going to worry about QOMs just yet 

Later, I’ll worry. Here’s my post about end of season QOM hunting.

There are two ways to be best on a particular segment of a ride on Strava, all time best and best so far this year. I laughed yesterday because I’m currently the fastest woman riding up the hill to campus in 2017. That’s because so far this year I’m the only woman who’s ridden up the hill and who uses Strava. My time is 1:14, not even close to my own personal best of 44 seconds. That was in October 2015 

It’s not bad overall, 7th, but I plan to move up the list this summer. Kim currently holds the all time QOM at 29 seconds. I think that one is safe in her hands 

You need to get a good run at it, have the traffic light timed perfectly, and not have any students or geese walk out in front of you. I’m usually too fearful to go all out. But maybe on the weekend, or early in the morning, maybe…

Wish me luck!

Here’s how I feel end of season about Strava QOMs.

But this is more how I feel right now.

Row Row Row Your Boat Out of Your Semi Existential Funk (Guest post)

by Samantha Walsh

I would like to thank Fit is a Feminist Issue and specifically Samantha (who shares my name) for the opportunity to write a guest blog post.  Over the past two years I have been looking for, and thus experimenting with, new sports and new challenges. The impetus for finding new fitness activities was a neck injury that changed the way I have to participate in sport and activity.

 

A little bit about me

To begin a little info about myself: I am 33, I am doctoral candidate in Sociology at the University of Toronto. I have held positions in both non-for-profit as well as post secondary institutions. I identify as a feminist and have an interest in social justice work.  I also have a condition called cerebral palsy which effects my coordination and ability to walk. I use a wheelchair to get around.   Much of my research and written work focuses on the social position of disability as it relates to class position and intersections of identity.  This blog post will venture in a new direct as a personal reflection on shifting your paradigm and identity.  I hurt my neck two years ago, and had to give up many of the activities I really liked, for a time.  I have been cleared to go back to most of them but, still really struggle to get back to the level of fitness I once had. It was the pursuit of new activities that brought me to rowing; and rowing which shifted the way I think about my own situation.

Row Row Row your Boat But, Wait There’s More

I took a “Learn to Row” from the Argonauts Rowing club in Toronto last year (2015). A “learn to row “is a beginner program where you literally learn to row; I was introduced to some of the rowing lexicon. I was taught how to row with the most efficient form.   During this time I had the opportunity to row a single.  I was also taught about the different adaptations that can be made to a boat to support a disabled rower. For example: A fixed seat so the rower is using their torso and arms, if they do not have coordination of their legs.  In competitive adapted rowing it is my understanding that rowers are classified based on their ability and then their times are compared.

It was also at this time, I learned the beloved childhood song “Row row row your boat”, is delightfully inaccurate, as it should likely include the phrase “Legs, back, arms” or “Oh my hamstrings”. Rowing was a full body workout and unexpectedly profoundly challenging.  I had befriended some varsity rowers during my undergraduate studies and had always thought the sport was neat.  I had wanted to try but, really struggled to find a rowing club that would accommodate the fact I have cerebral palsy and cannot walk. I had shelved the interest until a neck injury, mentioned above, made it difficult for me to participate in my usual fitness activities.  I was looking for something: that was a full body workout; that was social; not a team sport; could be done recreationally and able to be adapted.

Finding a New Sport Not So Easy When You Have a Disability

I started googling…An ongoing challenge I find as a disabled person whom is interested in their own fitness and recreation but, not interested in competition or team sports, is that I really struggle to find opportunities that provide: a challenging and comprehensive workout with a social component.  I find it is difficult for me to simply enroll in a sport ’n social league or other recreational things because, they often assume the participant will be able-bodied. The able body is almost compulsory for joining any sort of recreational sport.  For example: I have able bodied friends who are learning how to curl.  This seems like a great winter sport. It’s a fun game with the tradition of a beer after.  I know there is Wheelchair Curling. I have seen it on TV. However, I cannot find a league near me which supports wheelchair curling, so I do not curl.

I find often when I do find mainstream activities that welcome me and are reflexive to adaptation it is through a friend, a fitness instructor or coach who is excited to have different bodies in their class. I still find that the most common refrain for finding adapted sport is to rely on a team based program such as wheelchair basketball or a rehabilitation initiative. Moreover, adaptive sports equipment is often double or triple what an “able bodied” athlete would pay. For example: Running shoes versus the cost of a Racing Wheelchair. I long to be able to join beer leagues, workplace softball teams and drop in yoga classes. I am at a point in my life where my leisure time is limited. I am not interested in the lonely pursuits of excellene or segregated sports (these of course have their place). This is why, I was impressed to see the Argonauts advertised an adapted learn to row on their website. I was able to join for a fee and with very little self disclosure of my disability.  While rowing is a sport which typically favors those of higher socio-economic status it was a pleasant surprise to find out that the club had an open-door policy in regards to ability. However, I do recognize that it is my own privilege of being employed and having a disposable income that made my adventure in rowing possible.

You Are Only New Once…Or In The case of Rowing You Are New For Almost Two Years….

As mentioned above, I took a “learn to row” in 2015 and then returned for a second year of rowing in an adaptive program in 2016. I was really focused on rowing as a way to get a full body work out. I chose to row a single with a sliding seat that was comparable to an able bodied rower.  The single had pontoons on it as almost a training wheel system while, I learned to balance.  At the end of the 2015 season, I met another rower, Bill  (who was an single leg amputee) at an end of season party.  He offered to row a double with me.  In 2016, I practiced rowing both a double and a single.  While I had really enjoyed rowing a single; I liked the coaching I was receiving and really appreciated the solitude that rowing a single occasionally brought (other times it was a lot of trying not to row into things).  Rowing a double was a bit of a game changer for me.

 The Little Voice in the Back of your head, Or  If You Row the Person Speaking To the Back of Your Head

I had been very happy rowing a single.  The coaching style of the rowing club was one of positive feedback and constant things to build on. I felt like there was an assumed mutual respect. I was not in a subordinate position but, rather someone happy to learn from another person whom was happy to teach. This coaching style was in part why I looked forward to rowing, it was a happy add on to the beautiful scenery and comprehensive workout. Rowing a single though had not yielded me very many social opportunities. I did not know very many of the other rowers and often only spoke with my only my coach on the dock.  Additionally, early on I had told the club I was not interested in racing or competitive rowing. That I would be rowing just to get back into shape. Pleasantly, everyone seemed to respect this. To be fair though a novice rower does not usually compete.

The first night I rowed a double with Bill he made a point to introduce me to everyone he knew on the dock. Each person we encountered he would have a little story for. He would always introduce me with a little quip about losing a bet and having to row with him; or some interesting fact about me. I met a lot of different people very quickly.  In the boat Bill sat behind me doing a lot of the balancing and steering. He gave me feedback on my rowing.  He told me I was fast. He said I was always improving. Bill would go out in any kind of weather. Every time, I said the weather was bad, he would say something about the perfect day never comes. Often, I went with him on whatever adventure course he was set for.  He introduced me to more people. He talked to the coordinator and coaches about my progress.  He told me I should race. An interesting nuance or at least how I understood it.  The idea of racing was not to seize elite status but, to race for myself. Race as a challenge; a way to get more involved in the club; a way to meet more people. Everyone around me was receptive to this idea. I started to work on race starts, and being able to row racing distances.

Race Day

The regatta Bill and I enter was a recreational one hosted by our club. The water was awful that day.  It was windy and choppy.  At one point a coach remarked we would likely not be in the water but, it was a regatta.  But, remember, if you wait for the perfect day you will never go rowing. We rowed. It was too choppy to do a race start. The only goal was to make it to the end and not flip the boat. Just keep rowing!  We made it to the finish line. There was apparently an issue, our time was lost. I am pretty sure we lost. I was not really focusing on other boats just my boat and moving to the finish line.  When we got off the water there was a reception with social to follow.  I rowed a race, I met some new people and I left feeling better than I had in a long time.

Changing the Tide: Rowing as a metaphor for life

As someone who studies the workings of societies and social dynamics it is hard for me to believe that an individual’s success is not the collective sum of their social position and the resources they have access too.  I understand concepts of “positive thinking” or that individuals have total control over their destiny to be deeply flawed mired with classism and an erasure of systemic oppression. While I maintain these assertions to be true; acknowledging that even the opportunity to both try, and then continue rowing is made possible through a complex network of my own privilege and resources. I am forever, grateful that the opportunity to row and to race with Bill has reminded me: not to limit myself through my own expectations. Not to wait for the perfect day to try something and despite the choppy water and the ups and downs to keep rowing best you can; even if you are scared, even if you have to stop for a time. Rowing reminded me of my own resilience and ability to change courses even when the water is rough.  I am forever grateful to the great coaching staff and my doubles partner.

Getting ready at the dock! #adaptiverowing #adaptivesport #row #rowing #summer #summer2016

A post shared by Samantha Walsh (@walshsam) on

 

 

Party Run: 2016 Mudmoiselle London (Guest Post)

By Elan Paulson

(Shown above: Team “Slick Chicks” post-race)

This is a follow up to my previous blog post on party runs, which I published in anticipation of the 2016 Mudmoiselle London fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society. In my previous post I had signaled some concerns about party runs, highlighting examples of runs that are currently available in North America. So, here’s me reporting back on where the Mudmoiselle stands in relation to these concerning issues.

The corporate issue: The event was well-organized and fully stocked with smiling volunteers; cheerful music; and a series of tends for registration, bag check, and changing. The Mudmoiselle “template,” with standardized pink/yellow/teal colours, was used for signs and medals. Registered participants received modest draw string swag bags with a shirt, trial-sized protein bars, and assorted gift certificates. About the only noticeable corporate branding was a guy at the photography booth dressed up like a Best Buy ticket.

What I think I liked most about the run was the camaraderie it inspired. There were some cooperative obstacles, but it was the occasion itself that brought out our team’s support for each other. That’s something no amount of sponsorship could buy, and perhaps it was in part because there was little corporate presence that we could focus on motivating and having fun with each other.

The “dress up” issue: Our team chose “business slick” attire: white men’s dress shirts, ties, sunglasses, and lipstick. Our costume was determined less by gender norms and more by what was comfortable but also ironic for a mud run. At our after-run lunch back at the captain’s house, our team was already talking about next year’s costume. Most seemed to like the idea of formal gowns.

The health issue: The course was not competitive, or even timed. An announcer warmed up teams at the start line. The obstacles were challenging, but not insurmountable. And some were quite amusing. Our team particularly liked the diagonal pole we had to slide down (with the aid of applied lubricant) to avoid falling into a mud pit. We encountered encouraging signs (“It’s just a hill; get over it”), water stations, and cheers from by volunteers and medical staff. So, it was a healthy activity, but afterwards we chose to have pizza and beer.

The environment: On this well-marked course we ran up and down a local ski hill on a beautiful, sunny day. We pulled jeeps in neutral, flipped large tires, and navigated through strings pulled taut across woody bike paths. Other than the water and soap to make a “slip ‘n slide” down a larger part of a hill, most obstacles seemed to use existing spaces well, and did not seem environmentally damaging.

The fundraising issue: The London Mudmoiselle met its fundraising goal—nearly $80,000—and our team met its own goal as well. I took my fundraising seriously, and through asking friends and family for donations raised almost $900. While I may have ran the Mudmoiselle run, it’s those who donated to the charity who are the real champions of the day. So, I’m listing below those who donated for me to acknowledge their generosity.

I had only one family member refuse to donate to the CCS because he thinks they aren’t transparent about how they manage their funds compared to other charities. And while the day served the purpose of fundraising, at the starting line there was no explicit mention by run organizers of the charity or its efforts (at least none that I had heard).

Overall: As an event that emphasized fun, friends, and health, but without over-the-top competitiveness or a barrage of corporate gimmicks that undermined the run’s social purpose or personal benefits, Mudmoiselle’s pros and cons netted out pretty evenly for me. It was a party run, but it was fun and it promoted an inclusive type of “partying” that many would find to be a welcome alternative to a traditional booze bender on a Saturday (complete with ties around our heads).

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Guest Post: Canadian Duathlon Nationals – Race Report (Aug.24/16)

My primary goal for the 2016 duathlon season was to qualify for the 2017 age-group world championships to be held in Penticton, BC.    I had three opportunities to qualify – Gravenhurst, ON in July (2 spots per 5 year age group), the test event in Penticton, BC in August (10 spots) or Montreal, PQ in September (5 spots).  I knew with my recent weight gain and low level of fitness this summer, I would not be able to qualify on the hilly Gravenhurst course.   I was pretty confident I could qualify on the flat Montreal course to be held on the Formula 1 course at Parc Jean-Drapeau but with it being the last opportunity of the season, I didn’t want to delay until then.   I chose to compete at Penticton, both because I felt confident I could finish top 10 in the women’s 50-54, and because it would give me a chance to test out the 2017 Worlds course.

I reviewed the course profile online before registering.  It showed that the run course had a significant 400m hill at the 1.0km mark.   I assumed this meant we would go up it twice for the 10k and once for the 5k.  The bike course showed as completely flat, going along the west shore of Lake Okanagan.  A friend warned that this route could potentially be windy, so I was apprehensive about that.  Since I was so out of shape at the beginning of the season, I carried on with adding volume, speed and hills, and did four duathlons, five club time trials and three running races.   I completed the full distance of this race 17 days prior at MSC Bracebridge, which gave me confidence that at the very least, I had enough endurance to complete the full distance.  My time there was 3:18, which is about 40 minutes slower than the last time I did this distance duathlon.  I hoped to be able to improve on that time.

After Bracebridge, I had a few more long and hard workouts but then moved into my taper.  I ended up working a lot leading up to my trip, which meant I missed a couple of my lighter workouts.  In the last couple of days, I was worried that I may have tapered too much.  As well, my plantar fasciitis was flaring up and I had a nagging hamstring twinge.  Rather than get treatment, I participated in a 5 Beer-5km race five days prior to this race with my hamstring taped up.  Hey, life is too short to miss doing Stupid Human Tricks!

We arrived in Penticton two days prior to the race.  By this time a full race preview was available.  I learned that the run course was actually a 2.5km loop, meaning we would have to run up the large hill SIX times.  It was also far longer and steeper than I had anticipated.   The bike course however, was very flat and the wind at our 7am race time, was fairly calm, so that was a relief.

Going into the race, I knew I had the endurance to finish, and I knew I could get a decent time on the flat bike course.  I knew my challenge would be the hills on the run.  I spoke to some other competitors and they pointed out that the run turnaround was at the top of the steep hill.  Running up and immediately down a steep hill like that four times and then transitioning to a hard bike ride, would also be difficult.

Race day finally came.  I did about a 10 minute warm up with lots of stretching of my calves and hamstrings.  I didn’t feel anything worrisome during my warm up, especially with my hamstring taped up.  My legs actually felt fairly fresh, which made me relieved that I had tapered well.

Run 1 (goal 6:00/km, actual 5:50/km) –  When the gun went off, I settled into my pace and covered the first flat kilometre.  As we hit the uphill the first time, I was pleased to find that the hill actually flattened out in the middle so that we had a bit of a rest.  I decided that I would count the hill in pieces, ie my first run up was 2 hills done, second time up was 4 hills done, and so on.  With such a long race, I play games like this in my mind. The nice part was that the downhill was not as painful as we had thought.  As well, the downhill grade carried on for a fair bit past the visible end of the hill so I was able to carry my downhill speed.   Then with a final turn, the first 2.5 km loop was done.

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I continued on and found that the short loop was easier psychologically than a big one loop 10km.  I got to see the same water station and cheering volunteers 4x and got to go through the start/finish area 4x.  I got a nice boost every time the announcer called out my name, especially on the second time through when he announced that this was my fourth time racing Nationals and that I was a consistently strong finisher.  Not sure where he got that information from but it sure was nice to hear.  By my third lap, I was being passed by the faster competitors, but even at their 35-40 minute 10k pace, they were good enough to cheer me on as they passed.  I tried to reciprocate before they were out of range.  Finally my four laps were over and I was thrilled to see that I had run under an hour in 58:30.

Bike (goal 27km/h, actual 28.7km/h) – The bike course travelled out of town along the south shore of Lake Okanagan, past the motel strip.  The road was quite rough here but then we turned right to travel north up the west shore of the lake on the highway, where the road surface was very smooth.  Highway 97 at this point is two lanes on either side, with traffic going at least 100km/h.  The course was set up so that we had a closed lane in each direction.  It was a bit unnerving to have traffic going at that speed so close to us, but I did not feel unsafe.   Our course was two out and back 20km loops.  I checked my speed at about the 5km mark and was surprised to see that I was already at about 28 km/h average speed.  I was in my big chain ring and a mid-gear at the back and rolling very well.   It felt like I had a slight headwind but I didn’t think this could be possible if I was going that speed.  I have been tricked by the wind before so I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

Sure enough though, when I came through the 10k turnaround, I got a tailwind and my speed went up even further, to about 30 km/h.  I started getting lapped by the faster riders, who were absolutely flying on their second bike lap.  Now I started to get excited.  If I could hold my speed, and do a decent final 5km run, I might be able to break 3 hours in total.  I got back into town for the 20km turnaround at about 41 minutes.   I headed back out and started to push my pace a bit more, now that I knew what the course felt like.

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With the highway portion of the course being so flat, and only changing gears occasionally, I found myself getting mesmerized by the unchanging scenery and the traffic passing beside me.  Whenever my mind wandered to something other than focusing on going hard, I repeated in my brain, Stay In The Box.  What this meant to me, was to stay in the feeling of discomfort, of pushing harder than my body wanted and to empty my brain of anything other than that focus.

I knew that once I got to the turnaround at 30km, I could push as hard as possible and just shuffle my final 5km.   That is what I did for the final 10km of the bike.  My quads and hamstrings were getting very tired, but I just ignored them and pushed through to the end of the bike course.

Run 2 (goal 6:30/km, actual 6:28/km) – Due to pushing so hard on the bike, I had a rough transition to running. Whenever this happens, I focus on leg turnover speed, even if it means taking short, choppy strides.  At least it gets me moving forward.  I hit the base of the big hill and opted to power-stride it.  This is a positive way of saying, I was walking!  I was able to run through the flattened portion and then strided the top portion.  On the steep downhill, I was able to run again.  Once I came through the start/finish area, I was elated, knowing I only had one more 2.5km lap to go.  I did the mental math and saw that I would be able to go sub 3 hours, if I just kept moving.  Once more up and down the Vancouver Ave. hill, and then a short 500m to the finish.  Sure enough, I came across in 2:58 with a huge smile on my face!

Results – I needed to get a top 10 in the Women’s 50-54 in order to qualify for the Worlds race next year.  During the race, I became aware that there were not many women my age and over, so I was pretty much assured that there were fewer than ten in my age group, but I didn’t know how few.  When I saw the results, I found that I was 3rd W50-54…. out of 3.  This is the third time I have gotten a bronze medal at Nationals (also 2012 and 2013) but the first time that there were only 3 of us in total.

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It is disappointing and awkward to explain this result when asked.  A standard distance duathlon is a difficult sport with the two runs and it will always be less popular than triathlon.  It is hard to interest people in participating in a race of 55km.    It even seems a bit mind-boggling to me that I can propel myself over 55km in less than 3 hours, at age 53, especially while carrying extra weight.

Where does the motivation come from, to participate in obscure competitions at middle age?   It has to come from within.  (Yes, I am paraphrasing Chariots of Fire’s Eric Liddell there!) I have regained the confidence in my body’s physical abilities.  Motivation also comes from friends who see my age, my size and my life responsibilities and tell me that they are now inspired to try activities that they once thought were impossible for them.  That is humbling and motivating for me.

Now that I am back to being a sub-3 hour duathlete, I am very excited to continue my training and see what 2017 brings!

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Finally, a shout-out of gratitude to Girls Who Bike, 20 Minute Daily Groove, Runners Choice London, London Centennial Wheelers, Multisport Canada, and of course my FamJam.

Guest Post: 5 Beer – 5k Race Report (August 19, 2016)

This is the second time I have done this race which is a long-distance version of the Beer Mile.  Instead of drink a beer, run a lap of a 400m track four times, it consists of drink a beer, run a kilometre, five times.

Yes, that’s right… drink a beer first, then run a kilometre, repeat five times.

There are very strict rules for the race.  The beer must be a regulation size can or bottle.  A certain Mexican beer is out as the bottles are too small.   The beer containers must only be opened one at a time, before starting each kilometre.  All containers must be emptied completely, and proven by turning it upside down over one’s head before starting the next running loop.  If one vomits, an extra kilometre must be run as a penalty.   If one is able to keep the vomit in by swallowing, there is no penalty.  No nudity is allowed.  Apparently something happened in 2015 that necessitated this rule.  Unfortunately I missed the 2015 race so I can’t report on the nudity occurrence.

There are several divisions including wine and spirits as well.   I choose to drink non-alcoholic beer which means I am included in the beer division but I am not eligible for a trophy if I were to win.

Here is my race report, including words of wisdom for myself if I choose to partake a third time in the future.

I hesitated to take part in the event this year as I had a twingey hamstring from doing 500m repeats several nights prior.  I was also concerned due to my upcoming goal race of the season being only 5 days later.  Would I risk jeopardizing my goal race for a silly beer run?  Yes, of course I would!

I had a busy afternoon at work and didn’t end up eating my lunch until 4pm.   3.5 hours prior to race time….. my quinoa salad should stay down fine, right?

I picked up my beer on the way home, direct from the local brewery.  I had decided to use their new 0% beer.  I had never tried it before, but it sounded good.  How different could it be from the grocery brand that I had used previously, right?  I left the chilled beer in my car to warm up to the ideal temperature, somewhere between cold and hot.

The race has gotten sillier over the years and some runners are starting to wear costumes.  I use this as an excuse to wear my running kilt, which I otherwise reserve for Highland Games running races.   I figure if you’re going to do something crazy, you may as well ramp it up.

We got to the race location with about half an hour to spare.  Lots of time to sign the waiver and figure out the running course.  This would be a 500m out and 500m back flat course.  There were about 50 runners and as many spectators as all runners are required to have a designated driver.   Much smack-talk ensued at this point….. ok, maybe it was just me mocking people who were opting to do the race as members of a relay team.  I can be a bit obnoxious when it comes to Stupid Human Tricks such as this.

At 7:30, the race began.  Drinks were opened and poured.  It instantly became apparent that we were going to have a new champion.  Our Aussie transplant quickly chugged his first beer in about 5 seconds and was off for his first kilometre.  I am not a chugger, but I was done in about 40 seconds.   With my first taste, I realized that I didn’t like my new beer choice as much as my prior one, but I thought I could tolerate it.  I headed off for my first run.

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The worst part of each kilometre is the first 200m.  If you are lucky, you will have a couple of belches and then be on your way.  My body did not disappoint and I had a good first kilometre.

Onto my second lap…. I didn’t remember the second beer being so difficult to get down last time.  IMG_2525

Finally I was done and off running again.  This time the belches didn’t come quite as easily.  At about the 400m mark, the Aussie lapped me.  I plodded back to the finish.

Beer #3 was very difficult to get down.  Another woman who was running my speed asked me if I wanted to switch to a relay midrace, with her.  I agreed but she had a change of heart so I was off to do lap #3 on my own.  At this point I was questioning my decision to participate but being the stubborn Taurus that I am, I kept going.   Now everyone was starting to lap me.  Getting my belches out was not a problem at this point.  I started to realize that the beer I was drinking had a ginger taste.  Wasn’t that supposed to settle your stomach?   Nope.   Another big burp and I tasted my quinoa salad.  This was not a good sign.

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(After this point in the race, I think my picture-taking husband was laughing too hard to take any more photos!)

I finished up that lap and cracked open beer #4.   The Aussie came in to his finish at this point, with a 17:20 overall.  I slowly swallowed about half of the bottle and started to gag.   I realized I was going to lose it.  I ran to the side of the house, not wanting to yack in front of everyone.   Up came the beer, and probably some quinoa salad, but I managed to keep it in my mouth and swallow it back down.  Triumph!  Back to the driveway and I finished the rest of that beer.  Out for my second last lap.

By the time I got back to start my 5th and final beer and lap, at least half the pack was finished and the crowd was getting louder by the minute.  People tend to finish the race sober, but become very drunk about 5 minutes later as their bodies metabolize the alcohol!  At this point I decided I was going to finish no matter what.  I slowly swallowed down the last bottle, and headed out.  Just as in my last 5B-5K, the final lap was fine.  For some reason, once you get to a critical mass of beer in your gut, running is fine.   I finally came in to the finish in 35:50, about 3 minutes slower than my previous attempt, but good enough for 6th woman in the beer division.

Some interesting things to note, if you ever want to attempt this type of race.

  • As someone with a very small bladder, I am surprised that I don’t feel the urge to pee through the entire race. It actually takes me at least an hour after finishing before I am able to pee at all.
  • To assist with this, I stop drinking anything about 3 hours before the race start.
  • I did eat about 3 hours prior to the race start. I would move this back an hour or two next time, to decrease the vomit-probability.
  • After the race I had pretty severe stomach cramping for about an hour, until I threw up a couple of times and was able to start peeing again.  I did not have this cramping with the prior beer I used.  I think that may be due to the ginger flavour.  I would go back to my prior beer for future attempts.
  • The Women’s Winning Time for 2016 was 24:58. As far as we are concerned, this is a World Record!

Would I advise that you do this type of race?  Sure, but probably try it first as the member of a relay team.  I will probably be out there next year trying to better my time….  Life is too short to forego doing silly things occasionally!

Bracebridge Duathlon Race Report (August 7, 2016)–Guest Post

This was my fourth duathlon and first international distance race (10k run – 40k bike – 5k run) of the 2016 season.   I was very active in duathlons from 2008 through 2013, including competing in three national and two world age-group championships.   In the time since then, I have been dealing with injuries (a concussion and plantar fasciitis in both feet) as well as life upheaval and menopause.  When I returned to training, I had lingering symptoms and was carrying an extra 20 lbs which is very detrimental to racing speed, especially running.

My main goal for 2016 has been qualifying for the 2017 world championships.  The qualifying race would be held on August 24th, at the international distance.    This distance has typically taken me 2hrs30 to 2hrs45, depending on the course.  I knew I would feel more confident going into my goal race, if I completed one prior.  The Bracebridge race was only 17 days before August 24th, but I decided to do it and treat it as training.   I also did a full week of training leading up to the race and did not allow myself a taper.  This was going to be a test of endurance, not of speed.   I’ve used this strategy before and it takes a good deal of humility, especially when you know your less-than-stellar results are going to be posted online for everyone to see.

This was my first time doing the Bracebridge course.   I have done the hilly Multisport Canada (MSC) Gravenhurst and Huronia (Midland) races in the past, and was told that the run course would be flatter than those, but the bike course would be harder due to longer hills.   I debated changing the gearing on my bike but in discussion with others, opted to stay with my existing gears.

I drove up to Bracebridge the night before and was able to get to the race site with plenty of time in the morning.   I stick primarily to the MSC series as their races are very consistent in their organization.   I quickly had my bike racked and transition area set up, including a second pair of running shoes.  With my plantar fasciitis still bothering me a bit, I opted to do Run 1 in my cushioned training shoes and Run 2 in my racing flats.  

For my warm-up, I did about 5 minutes of easy jogging, in contrast to the normal 20+ minutes I would have done in the past.   I knew I was going to do Run 1 at an easy pace, so I didn’t need a long warm-up.  As well, I didn’t feel that I had any endurance to spare!  My legs felt good with no hamstring or calf tightness.  My nutrition was good, my stomach was settled and all the bathroom stuff got taken care of in time.  I have had some stomach upset (runner ischemia) in the past so I have now started taking two Imodium after my final bathroom visit at races, and this is working well.

Run 1 (goal 6:00/km, actual 6:09/km) –  We started out on grass and headed up a small hill.  Within the first 10 metres, I was in last place of all 24 participants.  At first, I was very disheartened about this, but then I realized that it took all the pressure off of me as there would be no one for me to try to stay ahead of.    

I always view the first 10km of an international distance duathlon as a mental challenge.  I try not to think about the fact that I am only in the first 10km of a total of 55km that I need to cover.  I need to go hard, but not so hard that I am exhausted for the bike.   When I am fit, I usually aim for 1-2 minutes slower in total than a stand-alone 10km race.   That would put me at about a 6:00/km pace at my current level of fitness.   The run was an out and back on a Muskoka road with cottages on one side and a river on the other.  It was partially shaded, which helped as the day was already quite warm at 8:30am.   My feet were tingly within the first couple of kms, due to lingering plantar fasciitis symptoms, but I knew this would improve as I carried on.  By about the 3.5km mark, I started to see the fast men coming back towards me, followed by the women around the 4km mark.   Lots of encouraging words back and forth, as many of us in the duathlon world know each other.  There was a young woman volunteer on a mountain bike playing “sweep” who was following me as I was in last place…. That’s a first for me, but she was also encouraging.  I plodded on, keeping my pace just below 6:00/km, but I faded in the last 3km and finished up a bit over that.

Bike (goal 24km/h, actual 24.8km/h) – a fairly quick transition, then out on the bike course.  It started out fairly flat but at km4, there was a very big uphill.  I had to go into my easiest gear, and stand up, but I got up it fine.  After that, there were quite a few more ups and downs, but none as big as that one.   In retrospect, staying with my existing gearing was the right decision.  Mentally, this one-loop bike course went on forever.  I had done a number of solo 50-60km rides in training, but my total bike mileage year-to-date is very low and I had not done any 40km time trials as I had in past years.  I just kept telling myself to ignore my speed and get through it.  The second half of the course had more of a tailwind than the first half, which was motivating.  Finally it was over and I was back into transition.

Bracebridge bike

Run 2 (goal 6:30/km, actual 6:30/km) – Ideally, I try to keep my second run to within 15-20 seconds per km of my first run.  Any closer than that means I haven’t worked hard enough in my first run.   Any slower than that means I have gone way too hard on the bike portion.  I headed out of transition feeling my normal amount of quad pain after a 40km bike ride, but was pleasantly surprised to find that my legs were ok after the first km.   I got into a good running rhythm and started to feel very happy, knowing that I was going to finish the full distance in a solid manner.

 

I headed in towards the finish area and became quite emotional, realizing that I had met my goal of getting back up to the level of fitness where I could finish this race distance.  I was thinking of all the life stuff that I had dealt with since the last time I did a full duathlon, especially the sudden cancer death of my dear friend Shirley last summer.  I was very down for many months and for a while I thought that I would never compete again, let alone at this distance.  Shirley’s cancer was completely unexpected and it threatened my previous assumption of my own health.  The feeling of relief and gratitude when I crossed the finish line, was suddenly overwhelming.  

It was pretty easy to collate my results….. 2nd of 2 in my age group, 8th of 8 women, 24th of 24 overall, and 3hrs18 total time, my slowest for this distance by about 25 minutes.   Last in every way and a personal worst time, but it just didn’t matter.   What a relief to know that I had met my race goal of finishing this distance.  

Here are some random pics with my pal Shirley.  Yes, she did 50 half marathons by the time she turned 50!  She is very deeply missed.

 

 

 

Duathlon, anyone?

Kincardine 2016 pre race

Susan, Tara, Sarah, Sam, Anita, Tracy right before the Kincardine Women’s Triathlon (um, make that a duathlon).

For the second time in four years, those of us who signed up for the triathlon ended up in a duathlon instead. Kincardine is on Lake Huron, and Lake Huron is a changeable and sometimes fierce lake. In 2013 they cancelled the swim because of frigid water. On Saturday the water was warm enough that I’d contemplated forgoing my wetsuit to decrease my T1 time. But then they cancelled the swim because of rough water. And then it rained a bit. And the weather turned much cooler than you’d expect in July.

Some (most) of our crew had already signed up for the duathlon, which had been scheduled to go out in two waves.  The triathlon would go out in three. They kept the waves the same, so the people who’d originally signed up for the duathlon competed as a distinct category from those who’d originally planned for the triathlon. It made for a somewhat confusing start, but we all found our way to the starting line.

Here’s how it went.

Tara

Last year I completed the Kincardine Du in 1:05:04.  So, I set a lofty goal of completing the race in under 1 hour and I knew in setting that goal that I may be setting myself up for disappointment.  I completed the race this year in 1:03 and indeed I find myself somewhat disappointed in my results.  On one hand, my run times were some of the best I’ve ever run at 5:16/km so I’m very pleased with that.  However, my bike time was only marginally faster than last year and I had hoped that I would see a bigger difference given that I have a faster bike this year (clearly it’s not all about the bike that one rides).

I finished in the top third of the pack and for that I am very pleased!  What I know now is that when in the top third of the pack and setting goals that I need to go easier on myself because marginal improvements make a big difference in the finish positions.  I’m close to that sub 1 hour and with some specific bike training I think I can get there next year!  I still love this race, it’s short and fast.  Having some experience doing this race last year gave me the confidence this year to push myself harder in the run segments.  There’s value in experience in these types of races and I’m excited for what next year will bring at Kincardine!

Susan

I enjoyed the race this year despite making the poor choice to run the second 3 km barefoot.

Although it was a fun day, I have decided to commit to training before I sign up for another year.  It was frustrating to be unprepared – I feel like I missed an opportunity to push myself.  Lack of training is a convenient excuse.  I’m done using it.

Alison

What a hoot!  I’m in for multi-sport racing from here on in.  I’m not a confident cyclist but with the adrenaline flowing I was able to enjoy the ride in a way I’ve only experienced with running before. The lesson I took away from the day: get into the open water more often. Our swim was cancelled, thank Venus, but the fact that I was so nervous about the swim–even though I’m strong enough in a pool–tells me that I have work to do there, if only on the mental side.

I was really impressed by the camaraderie on display at this event, and by the local support for all the competitors–I’ll definitely be back!

Anita

I was a little blasé going into Kincardine 2016 but it turned me right around, right away. Tracy and I got there the night before under the threat of rain and lightning, but during a break in the storm we got to walk along the beach after doing a bike check with the volunteer bike mechanic. The whole evening was pretty peaceful. Before going to bed we had a nice visit with Susan and Tara who were staying at the same hotel.  It was great running weather the next morning, but unfortunately it was a bit too rough for swimming (poor Tracy – she had been really looking forward to the swim). So we all did the run, then the bike, and then the run. I don’t remember much except saying to myself that if I wanted to quit after the bike I could (but I didn’t). I just kept thinking “slow and steady wins the race” to keep me shuffling through that last run on very tired legs. And then it was over. I felt AWESOME. I felt like an ATHLETE again with my PB.

PS Of course a shout out to the terrific team is in order: Tara, Susan, Sam, Tracy, Sarah, Alison, Jennifer – it wouldn’t have been as fun without you all!

Sarah

I knew going into the duathlon that I hadn’t trained the run enough. The multisport veterans warned me that it would be hard to keep running once I’d been on the bike. And I know I’m slower in humid weather, even when it’s not hot. (I might be gritting my teeth not to have them chatter in the picture!) But wow, what a slog! I followed my race plan, carefully keeping my speed down on the first run, maintaining my favourite, slow, “I could do this all day” pace, trying to keep my legs as fresh as possible. I loved the bike segment, head down, cadence up, steadily passing people I’d lost sight of on the run, remembering to keep drinking. I took my time on the transition to the second run, even downing a gel and a few more mouthfuls of water before heading out. The next 3 km were a blur of leaden legs, pounding heart, and frequent short walk breaks just to keep moving safely forward. Ugh. But I still had an absolute blast, there was a wonderful camaraderie among the participants and especially our team. I’m inspired to train running for the first time in ages and I look forward to trying a duathlon again some day. Fun!

Sam

Sometimes I feel like my Kincardine race reports are a testimony to getting old and slow. Like Tara I used to have dreams of doing this event in under an hour. My fastest time was for the full  triathlon at just over 1:10. When I finished the relay version of the triathlon we finished in 52:57. No pesky transitions, no tired legs. Since I’ve been doing the duathlon though my fastest time has been 1:18 and change. This race was slower than that, 1:22:15. But I was 5th in my age group. So there’s that. And I was in the top half of the bike times. As a cyclist, I like that!

But, forgetting times and competition, I had a blast. Why? Well, super fun doing the race with friends, family, colleagues, and co-bloggers! Fun racing with Sarah for whom it was her first ever multisport event. I love the course out along the beach.  I love the age range and the inclusion of athletes with disabilities. I love the community involvement and being cheered on by so many happy people. I love that the distance is accessible to people who aren’t necessarily that athletic but at the same time it’s a super speedy challenge for the fast, fit folk.

Notably I did the running parts at a slow reasonable, non knee injuring pace. No pain during or after and that made me smile a lot. Thanks Sarah for the quick tutorial on pacing the week before. It really helped.

Hopes and dreams for 2017? Doing it again and this time being able to train without hurting my knee. You know, the usual hope and dream!

Tracy

When we arrived and I heard they’d decided to hold off on distributing the swim caps because they wanted to wait until 8:30 to “call the swim,” I wanted to shake my fists at the heavens. The night before the lake had been calm and warm. But when I peeked over the berm between the park and the beach an hour before the start time, the lake had transformed — breaking waves and gusty winds.

When I ran into Alison in the body-marking and timing chip line, she was contemplating whether to wear the wetsuit. “That’s if they don’t cancel the swim,” I said. And before she got to the front of the line they did cancel it.

Since I had high hopes for a faster swim (but it may not have been faster given the conditions) and run this year, I felt disappointed. But at least I didn’t experience the same dread as I had in 2013. That time I had very little running experience, so the idea of doing not one but two runs put the fear into me. This time, I’d been training a lot lately to push myself as hard as possible for 3K (which is the run distance for the triathlon run and for both duathlon runs). I couldn’t do it as fast as I could swim, but I could definitely do it a lot faster than I could four years ago, which was the last time I did a duathlon.

Well lo and behold! I shaved over 11 minutes off of my 2013 duathlon time. I postively impressed myself with both runs, pacing at 6:01/km for the first one and 6:14/km for the second. For me, that’s amazing and meant I did the first run in 18:03, which is the fastest 3K I’ve ever run, and the second in 18:41. I shaved a tiny bit off of last year’s bike leg, but since they roll T1+bike+T2 all together and since I didn’t swim this year so my T1 was swift, I think that means my bike leg took me a bit longer (my T1+bike+T2 time: 33:56 to last year’s 34:02). So we know where the work needs to happen and that’s no surprise to me. This is the consequence of giving in to my road phobia and not training on the bike.

I feel good about my run progress, but I need to not compare myself to others (I finished 17/26 in my age group, though if I’d entered into the duathlon from the beginning I would actually have placed). Lots of women finished in under an hour, which always impresses me and is totally out of reach for me in the duathlon (not the triathlon, where it could happen if I train on the bike enough to get my time under 30 minutes), which took me 1:10:39. And for the very first time I successfully used the multi-sport function on my Garmin. So there’s that cool thing. I had fun again this year. I think a lot about the whys and wherefores of comparing and “doing better” and being “slow,” and all that jazz.

In the end, Kincardine is an event where you can enjoy yourself no matter how you do. It’s always a blast to go with the group–look at our smiles. And the organizers do a fantastic job (though I wish they would get women to do the announcing). And I love the red New Balance tank tops they gave us this year, along with the re-designed medals.

The professors, post-race. Anita, Sam, Tracy, and Alison.

The professors, post-race. Anita, Sam, Tracy, and Alison.

 

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