Monday, May 30, 2011

TRI TALK: The Epic Conclusion

Well, it's over and done. And you know what? It was awesome.
We had early start times of 7:20am (Tom) and 7:25am (me – he gets a head start, no fair!). We had to be present and registered an hour before our start times (!) so we were up bright and early. We biked to the pool because a) we had to bring the bikes anyway, b) it's only 2.5km from our house, and c) there was very limited parking on site. When we left the house on our bikes, it was MAYBE 5 degrees Celsius. I was less than impressed and dreading the transition where I had to run out of the pool in only my bathing suit in 5 degree weather. That part wasn't so enjoyable.
Overall, though, it was great. The weather did warm up to be a very nice day by the time we were running, and I brought sufficient layers of clothing so that I didn't freeze completely on the bike section.
The Breakdown!
Swim time: 27:21
Bike time: 1:11:44
Run time: 54:32
Total time: 2:33:36.1
Which means…
·         I finished #217th overall (don't have a total number of participants yet though)
·         I finished #18th in my age/gender group (women 19-29)
I set an A, B, and C goal for this race.
A Goal – Beat Tom :P (definitely not going to happen)
·         I totally beat Tom in the swim (sure, he had a cracked collarbone from rugby the day before and I only beat him by 24 seconds, but I'm counting it as a win)
·         I was also only a minute slower than he was on the run, and if I had known that at the time, I think I could have pushed harder to beat him
B Goal – Finish in less than three hours
·         I finished in 2 hours 33 minutes. WIN!
C Goal – Finish
·         I sure did!
I took 2 minutes off my PB for the swim (yay!), and about five minutes off my PB for the bike. The run was kinda craptacular. I ran the first half (down the hill), but walked a lot coming back up. However, my time was pretty reasonable at only 4 minutes over my indoor PB. The race was very well organized, and it was really fun to see my name show up with a ranking (something that doesn't happen with charity races!).
Most importantly, I survived!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Now I HAVE To Do This

It has been horribly cold and rainy and overcast all week. This is our typical May long weekend weather, albeit a few days late. I am sensibly concerned about the weather for this triathlon because I hate running about the city while soaking wet. Perhaps this is unreasonable. However, since I live in a province where it snows every damn month of the year (the first year I was here, the only month it didn't snow was August. True story.), I think of it as good survival instincts.
Here is the current forecast for Sunday (a large improvement over the one from a few days ago which said NO SUN FOR YOU and also here's a 12 degree high):

I had one of the worst runs every last night, which included me stopping at 4.5km to have a cry, then back to finish at 5.5km, despite planning to do 10km, or 8km if I beat my PB time (ahahahahaha). My knee was grumping at me, and it just set off a chain of "why can't I control anything in my life, and nothing goes according to plan, and some things are so up in the air and WHY CAN'T THE CAT AND DOG GET MARRIED AHHHHH". When Tom got home, I was lying on the couch with ice on my knee, and what must have been an impressive scary face because he took one look and said "um, should I go get some chocolate?" - hands off, he's mine.
There are two easy ways to tell my stress level: what am I eating, and how am I running. Considering the M&M cookies I just inhaled as well as last night's breakdown, we can safely put me in the Stress Code Red category. The triathlon is causing me stress, but mostly it's Big Life Decisions ™ that are all hanging in the balance right now until further moves are made. Last night I was seriously considering pulling out of the race, but I told one of the managers at work about entering it (d'oh) and he told the entire team in a meeting today (double d'oh).
Also, because apparently my amnesia has sufficiently kicked in, I may be doing the MS Ride in June (160km in two days). That's a lot shorter than the RTCC (220km in two days), so it'll be a piece of cake, right? RIGHT?!
I need more cookies.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's Not You, I'm Just Hiding From My Triathlon

It's Wednesday. My triathlon is on Sunday.
I'm pretty sure someone is mucking about with the speed at which I perceive time (I blame Tom, he is an astrophysicist after all).
As someone who has never run a proper race of any kind, I'm a tad smidgey-bit intimidated. I've done charity "races" which are not races at all; this is a bit different obviously, but I kind of feel like I'm defaulting to approaching this one the same way: "go out, don't die, finish, have milkshake".
My training is all over the place this week and last. Soccer just started, so I'm training with my team as well as subbing on a few others, but I'm mostly hiding from my triathlon-specific workouts (good plan, self). I suspect Future Erin will be very angry at Past Erin for this decision. At the same time, all I can think is, will run more distance run really make a difference at this point? Will practicing biking soaking wet make it any less uncomfortable during the race (an emphatic NO on this one).
Tom was in Vegas this weekend, will play rugby on Saturday, and then do the tri with me on Sunday. None of his training has been tri-specific (he trains a lot – just for rugby, not triathlons). I suspect he will still kick my ass time-wise, which makes me put on my annoyed pants.
Here's a time breakdown:

Erin – Best Times
Tom – Best Estimated
1km Swim
26km Bike
8km Run

Holy crap, I am the slowest turtle at turtle school. Following Emilie's suggestion of A, B, and C goals, here's what I hope to do:
A Goal – Beat Tom :P (definitely not going to happen)
B Goal – Finish in less than three hours
C Goal – Finish
I should be fine to hit the swim time. I've been consistently coming in just under 30 minutes (and frustratingly unable to get any faster). The bike is a bit of a crapshoot; Tom is a much better cyclist than I am, riding a much nicer and faster racing bike (while I will be tugboating along on my hybrid mountain bike). I haven't been training on the race route for this section because it's fracking annoying to bike it if the road isn't closed (which it will be for the race). Also it's an exceptionally boring route to train on; it's four loops up and down a main road.
The run I expect will be slower than my best time, partly because I set that time inside and severely up my turtle quotient when I run outside, and partly because it will be done after a 1km swim and 26km bike.
Seriously, whose idea was this? Mine, you say? Oh right. Can I blame my concussions?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Not Enough

Emilie over at I Came to Run posted about anger today. I'm not just linking because I heart her and I won her recent giveaway because I am totally her favourite Canuck. She listed a bunch of things that are making her mad these days, and a few stood out for me (because I'm convinced she secretly lives in my head).
I’m angry because I can’t just look in the mirror and accept what I see;
I’m angry because I work so hard on so many things, and at the end of the day I still feel like I’m not good enough;
Every morning starts with the same thought process for me. Groggily dragging myself to the other side of the room to shut off my alarm clock, glaring at Tom as he semi-consciously rolls over into the warm snuggly pit of body heat I just vacated, and assessing what happened yesterday. I don't know that I did this as often before my concussion, but I imagine lots of people (even those without traumatic brain injuries) do this.
My morning assessments include two major questions: did I work out yesterday and what did I eat. And these questions are always centered on a delicate subject: deserving. Did I do enough to deserve a day off/lighter workout? Did I eat well enough to deserve to weigh less today? Did I eat well enough to deserve sugar in my coffee/a muffin/any other food "reward"?
I've been trying lately to focus on the positive changes I can see in my body – my legs feel stronger, for one – rather than the continued avalanche of negative things about my body (my weight is sneaking back up, this gut WILL NOT LEAVE, I swear I used to fit smaller clothes). It's tough; most days, it really sucks. There are few things more frustrating than working hard at something only to not see the results you really want.
Some days, it's harder than others to take a deep breath and push through.
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pregnancy Isn't Contagious, Right?

I'm in my mid-twenties now (almost), so I guess it shouldn't be surprising that all around me people are getting married and having babies. I have no problem with this; weddings mean wearing a pretty dress and getting drunk and eating cake celebrating with friends. The first of my childhood friends is getting married this summer and I'm incredibly happy for her. But goddamn it's going to be weird to watch her walk down the aisle. Another, more recently made friend is also getting married this summer, and it's also going to be a bit strange, but far less so to watch her exchange vows (also, insanely happy for them).
Each year my soccer team loses players as their eggos turn to preggo. And it's wonderful; the babies that result are adorable, and I genuinely enjoy being around them. We had dinner with friends of ours and met their three-month old daughter for the first time (OMG CUTE). When we go home this summer, we'll see my pretend nephew (as in, he's Tom's nephew, not that he doesn't exist), who will be nearly two years old – we haven't seen him since he was about five months old. When we go back in December, I'll hopefully get to meet my very first cousinlet/cousinlette (my cousin's first baby).
On Mother's Day, Tom and I went for our standing brunch date and the restaurant was handing out carnations to the moms. While I was paying, the manager asked if I was a mom yet – a legitimate question since she needed to know if I should get a flower or not. After saying no, she leaned in and asked "Do you plan to be a mother someday?".
Um, sheesh lady, I'm trying to do math and work out a tip, isn't it a bit early to be asking me lifestyle questions like that?! While we do see you once a week for bacon and eggs, I'm not sure my own MOTHER has asked me that!
This isn't to say that I'm feeling like everyone is getting married and procreating but me; rather, it's more like I hope we still have common ground and that our friendships don't change (too much) with these major life events. Let me put it this way. When someone tells me they are pregnant (and that person is around my age), my reaction is still "Oh! Is that a good thing?" Yes, my mouth does hurt from shoving my foot in there.

I wonder a bit if my personal timeline is that far off from what's expected of a woman my age (not that the expectations are going to influence my decisions, but really, is it so unheard of to not be taking those steps at 24?).
Guess I'll just have to brush up on my Aunt skills.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Run, Run, Pant, Pant

Yesterday I ran (most of) the route I'll be running for the triathlon. I didn't run all of it because of construction and time constraints. It was a pretty decent run, about 8km in total (7km actually running) and it took me about an hour (50 minutes for the run part - so Jimmy-Bob slow). I'm still getting used to running outside, so I don't mind my pace lagging a bit.
Running outside is still not my favourite for one simple reason: I know those hoots and hollers from passing cars aren't because I look so sexy running (I don't). I like to pretend they are only yelling encouraging things, but let's face it, if my imagination was that good I would have thought of Harry Potter. Maybe they are just enjoying my junk in the trunk; it has been known to bring various suitors to my "yard".
Now that you are sufficiently horrified by that image, it's time for TRI TALK!
Here's the breakdown:
1km swim (in a pool)
26km bike (not in a pool)
8km run (also not in a pool)
Here are the concerns I'm having:
1. The pool will be so filled with people that I will be constantly running into other people's feet, or having other people run into my feet .I don't feel very good about either foot situation.
2. The transition from pool to bike. The actual "getting out of the pool and onto a bike" seems simple enough. Except that I'll be wearing a bathing suit. And be wet. Neither of which are ideal conditions for biking (let alone running).
3. The bike ride isn't a big 26km loop; it's four loops up and down a goddamn hill. I haven't even done it yet – that's how mentally exhausting I find that route.
4. I'm going to have to bike and run while wet, cold, and WEARING A SWIM SUIT.
This was a terrible idea.

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Adult Acne Story

"When did I become one of those girls with dozens of beauty products, none of which are expendable? It used to be a touch of mascara, dab of Coppertone, zip, bam, boom, out the door." – Rory Gilmore
I had that exact thought yesterday after I got home from Shoppers Drug Mart. A lovely young woman helped me colour-match a new foundation because I'm actually too tan to wear the one I normally do. SHOCKING, I know. She also set me up with some sweet bronzer for my collar bone area because it was either that or, in her words "get more sun". Thanks?
She quickly redeemed any lost points by loading me up with free makeup swag. When I got home, I realized my makeup now explodes out of two kits – and that doesn't include what I have stashed under the sink. This is probably a normal state for many women; I, however, never wore makeup until basically my first year of university, because of my acne.
I've had severe bacterial/cystic acne for most of my life. Think of the worst zit you've ever had: bright red, giant and painful. That's what I had all the time. From the time I was ten until I graduated university, I never had a single clear skin day. Not one. I've gone through every type of treatment – birth control pills, any and every brand sold over the counter, prescription face washes and creams, wacky home remedies, antibiotics, Proactive, and finally, after putting it off for more than a year, a round of Accutane (Isotretinoin).
You know those low-quality commercials on during day time TV that advertise law firms looking for patients who have taken X drug and experienced Y side effects? Accutane is now featured in one. The scary list of potential side effects include kidney and liver damage (for which you're monitored with blood tests every two weeks while on the drug), increased risk of suicide and severe fetal defects – serious enough that by law, a woman must be on birth control pills to be prescribed this medication. I know what you're thinking – why didn't I take this sooner?
The side effects I did experience were severe drying of the skin, lips and eyes. I'm not talking about oh, my skin's a bit dry today. I mean I had a day moisturizer and a heavy duty night one, and if I missed applying either, my skin would start to slough off in hours. I had eye drops and lip balm with me at all times. I also couldn't spend much time outside, because you are at risk for severe sunburns. Isotretinoin basically changes your skin's make up, so I ended up a lot paler than when I started, and I don't tan as easily as I once did.
Rather than really clear up my acne, Accutane changed it - specifically, what parts of my face were the worst. Overall, it did get better, but it did not cure my skin condition. I am lucky enough that now, at 24, I seem to have found a combination that works for me (BECAUSE I KNOW YOU'RE INTERESTED):
·         Keracnyl by Ducray facewash
·         Active Moist moisturizer by Dermalogica
·         CoverFX water-based foundation (NaturalFX)
·         Skin prep scrub (about three times a week) by Dermalogica
Diet reduced in refined carbs/gluten/lactose
Everyone is different, and what works for me may not work for you. For some, a course of Accutane may be entirely worth it – and I can't really say for sure it wasn't for me. After all, who knows if my skin prior to Accutane would have reacted the same way as my post-Accutane skin to this regimen?
What I wish I had known back then is this:
·         Your diet matters
·         You need to use products faithfully for at least four weeks before seeing true results
·         Consistency matters – don't skip washing or moisturizing ever, if you can help it
·         The right make up can not only give the appearance of nicer skin, it can actually help maintain and create nicer skin.
·         Bad skin needs moisturizer too.
·         Stop wearing that stupid hat. You don't look as cool as you think you do.
But since I can't go back in time, I'll settle for being here, playing with my free, pretty make up.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The One About Coffee

I loves me some coffee. Home brew, cappuccino, latte, Americano, Coffee Crisp, these are all good things. Don't even get me started on chocolate covered coffee beans or dark chocolate Toblerone which isn't technically coffee but I'm pretty sure has 18 times the caffeine (there's 24 hours wide awake I won't get back – worth it).
My options in the morning are 1) brew some tasty Vanilla Hazelnut coffee at home 2) hit up Timmies 3) Second Cup 4) Starbucks 5) Gas station coffee and as a terrible, terrible last resort, 6) the coffee at my office.
The coffee at my office is bad. I've tried brewing it different, filling it with creamer, filling it with creamer and sugar, filling it with creamer and sugar and International Delight French Vanilla and nothing helps. While I am a big fan of coffee, my willingness to hit up the Java Stop in the closest Shell station proves that I'm not a coffee snob. My favourite coffee shop is one back in Kensington Market. It's actually a breakfast-type restaurant where I used to get a proper-sized (read: big ass) to-go cup with a proper-sized (think of a baby's head) made-on-the-premises muffin and head off to work. The owner was awesome and despite never knowing my name, always had my order ready to go before I even stepped in the shop.
I haven't found anything like that here yet, although there are some great coffee shops out Jasper way. Bit rough to hit those on the way to work though.
This morning I left without brewing at home because I forgot (what? It was early) and I opted not to go to Tims despite what the voices in my head were telling me. When people talk about Tim Hortons the conversation usually goes like this:
"Tim Hortons coffee is terrible."
"Don't you go there everyday?"
"Yes. And if I miss a day I will cut you."
'Nuff said. So now I am stranded at work, coffee-less. I made myself a cup here and took one sip. Then it sat beside me, cream curdling and floating to the top. I just can't do it. This coffee makes me think there is no such thing as a loving God and if there is, he definitely drinks tea. *Lightbulb* I'm off to the tea cupboard (doesn't every office have a tea cupboard?). It's no coffee, but I'll take what I can get at this point. And that's where I find this.
I don't know what Bengal tastes like, but I know I'm not going to find out.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Be Vewry Vewry Qwuiet

You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned my knee lately.
SHHHH!!! It'll hear you! It can sense weakness.
It's actually been holding up pretty well (*knocks on every available surface*) which my awesome RMT thinks is because my hamstrings are getting stronger, thus keeping my knee in line. So it turns out I was right – running is both the cause of, and answer to, my knee problem.
In other training news, I've found that my distance runs (or runs I do as the second half of a brick workout) come with what I can best describe as joint pain in my knees. Now I feel old. Thanks a lot, training. Yesterday I did 19km on a stationary bike followed by a 5km run. I felt really good (except for the joint pain) and I'm hoping the weather will hold/I can trick my bike back into rideable shape so I can try out the bike tri course this afternoon.
On a completely unrelated note, I need a cup of coffee. I learned today that making bad coffee stronger does not make it better. Who knew?
P.S. Since I've sort of been phoning in these posts, here's a link to something awesome.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wow, I Published This Without A Title - It Really Is Rambly

It's May.
(For me and Tom, not the world at large.)
I started with my first pretend brick workout yesterday. Brick workouts are where you combine two (or all three, I guess) of the events into one workout. So, for example, yesterday I rode my Tom's bike to the pool, swam my 1km, and then biked home. I intended to bike half of the cycle route, but the bikes and I, we weren't getting along. I dug mine out of my car and realized a crucial part (the little knob that HOLDS ON MY FRONT TIRE) had gone missing, so I took Tom's bike, which I realized later had no air in the tires. Oops. (I ruv roo?)
So my bike is out of commission until I can take it in. And yes, I intend to do this race with my giant not-a-road-bike because I am stupid too cheap to buy a new bike BAD ASS.
All in all, I like the idea of doing brick workouts for the same reason I like the idea of doing a tri in the first place – I get bored with one exercise. However, I somehow just realized that I will have to do the bike and run in my wet bathing suit and I'm none too pleased about that. Our first outdoor soccer practice is tonight as well, so I'm going to have to rework my workout schedule. Yay schedules!
Or not. Just got a text cancelling practice due to cold, crappy weather. Bah.