Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ixtapa Report

I can’t remember going into a race just wanting to finish before. But when I crossed that line I was SO happy that I had finished. I don’t know how some girls and guys were actually racing in that. Half the field DNFed from the heat, but on the other hand there were some people out there actually running! Like JP- he was running! I learnt a lot from this race. I learnt what it takes for me to Finish a race in the heat. Now I just have to figure out what to do to Race it.

While traveling here I thought my race would be at 7:30 am. After a couple days we heard start time had been changed back to 10:30 am. So I had to wrap my head around a very hot race. I don’t have the best track record when it comes to racing in the heat. Pretty sure the score is: Sun :3, Kyla: 0, with me coming-to in the Med tent each time. I’ve never tried to race for 2 hours in the heat before, so I was a little bit nervous (*understatement). The first few days we had great, calm ocean swims. The hardest part was avoiding the occasional jelly fish, and stingy sparkly blue things. Then as the week went by the waves began to get bigger and bigger until the day before the race they were breaking right where the swim buoys were placed. Getting in and out of surf was just like Mazatlan all over again. I think the only thing that kept me from completely freaking out was the fact that somehow I survived them in Mazatlan.

Ocean early in the week

Going into this race I knew that I would have to prepare myself for a number of worst-case scenarios. So I made my number one goal to finish (still conscious), and then after that came the real goals.

Race morning I woke up pretty early (not nearly as early as the juniors), and did a little jog and some strides. I contemplated closing the blinds so I wouldn’t have to keep watching the Tsunamis outside my window. Maybe then the butterflies would move aside enough to get breakfast in. Unfortunately, Blinds don’t block out their thundering crashes.
Even early in the day it was scorching- I think I drank almost three bottles of nuun throughout the morning.

Ocean day before the race

7:45 am, Aaron came knocking on my door- Race had been switched to a Duathlon. 3km run, 40k bike, 10k run. I’ve never done a duathlon before. An almost Olympic distance, Continental Cup Duathlon. For two hours. In 36 degrees + humididty.
Weather network says that 31 degrees in that humidity is supposed to feel like 44- so 36 degrees was HOT!

Showed up for warmup and saw a mass of bloodied and bandaged Canadian boys. Since their duathlon run hadn't broken up the field almost half the field was taken out by bike crashes. Only 4 of our 11 (?) Canadian Jr. boys made it through the bike. Hope you all heal quickly boys :(.
We couldn’t do much of a warmup for fear of getting our core temperature too high, but me and the girls did a little spin and attempted to figure out how the new transitions worked. The coaches and support crew (specifically the Stewart family) were super helpful, supplying a constant turnover of frozen towels, and sponges leading up to the start. I think it helped a lot. None of the other countries seemed to have any support like that.

The boys headed out three minutes before us, and then we were off too. Turns out it was 1.5k up this massive hill, and then 1.5km back. So much for keeping the body temp down. I tried to keep my effort controlled because there was still a looot of racing left to do. A group of about 5 girls pulled ahead, and I came into T1 about ten seconds back. I made up a lot of time by doing my (¾ of a) high-ho silver (South American girls don’t seem very good at this). And within a km or two we had caught up, and formed a big pack of probably 15. I didn’t feel so good those first couple K’s on the bike. Heat was already catching up to me. Then I remembered to force myself to drink! So I drank, took gel numero uno, and felt way better. For the most part, the bike was pretty relaxed. There were a couple really intelligent girls who repeatedly attacked off the front, but the rest of us took turns bridging the gaps. I made sure I was in the top 4 around all the corners, and just spun up each hill. Every time I found myself in the front, the girls wouldn’t pull through, so we’d play the game where they would follow me in a snake from one side of the road to the other. After a few times of that, I started to pull less.
It was definitely the heat that was putting the hurt on.
By 30K I had drank almost both my bottles, taken both gels, and both salt tablets just to remain functional. I forced myself to ration my remaining e-load. With about 5km to go on the bike my quads started cramping, but I had no electrolytes left to take. The last couple Km’s were a big sprint around the corners and into T2. I forced myself to stay right up front.

And then proceeded to have the slowest T2 ever.

I just couldn’t seem to concentrate on what I was doing. I hadn’t had anything to drink for a while.

The run is one big hazy blurr. I shuffled my way out of T2 and just focused on making it to the first water station. There were cups of water, and I think I grabbed about three. One cup had a big chunk of ice that I stuck down my suit, and now have a painful frostbite bruise on my chest from it although I didn’t even feel it there at the time. The water helped the quad cramping almost immediately. After lap one of four, all I could think was ‘you have got to be kidding me’, and prayed that I’d be able to actually start running soon as opposed to shuffling. From then on, all I would think about was making it from one aid station to the next. We would hit three water stations per lap (I think.. memories aren't all there), and each time I would put up two fingers to indicate 'dos por favor', and then would double fist either bottles of water or cups depending on what was being handed out. Each time I prayed for bottles- The cups of water were usually warm. I was struggling so much, but once I had hit enough water stations, I felt brave enough to attempt another gel, and two more salt tablets. After that I had my best lap of the day. Soon enough that had worn off, and lap three was my most awful lap. My stomach and quads simultaneously began to cramp up again. Water wasn't doing the trick anymore. For some reason the volunteers just happened to start handing out Gatorade on that lap- and I honestly think that is the only reason I was able to finish. The salts allowed my quads to release enough to run a little bit faster again. Around me girls were dropping like flies. Lap four is my most blurry lap- I think I went a bit swervy.

But like Craig said, the important thing was that I knew where I was the whole time.
And I had a pretty big smile crossing that line even though I had only been able to focus on my survival goal.

In retrospect though, only accomplishing survival goal really sucks.

I still don’t understand how I could drink that much water on a run- and still be so unbelievably dehydrated. And take (what I thought) was a lot of salts- and still be so unbelievably crampy. It was hours and hours until I regained the ability to sweat. I felt cold the hours afterwards instead of hot. I don't think that's a good thing in 36 degrees C. But maybe for the next one I can work with Wendy in the heat chamber a little more prior- and do some testing. There has got to be a way to actually race in the heat!

Not that I’m ever racing in the heat ever again. Right coach?

Thanks Trish and Carolyn and teammates for hanging out in the medical tent with me.
Other than the 2hour sufferfest and 3or so hours of death after that- I’m going to miss you Mexico and sun. It was fun.

ps. Congrats Joanna, Christine and Ian on the podium finishes, and Jeff on his fourth place finish. You guys rock.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bienvenido al Ixtapa

I don't know if that was spanish or not.. but looks about right to me. I didn't bring my camera cord, so the picture of our beautiful hotel room view is from my phone, but thats the gist of it. I'm pretty happy to be here! Its hot though mang. I should have just lived in the Steam Room all day long prior to coming here. So humid. So hot. Beautiful! But hot.

Race Time has been changed back to 10:30, so I will let you know after the race if I survive it.

AC is bad for the acclimatization, so we're currently cooking in our rooms. I usually sleep with my head under a pillow, but that would have meant a sure death last night, so instead I starfished on top of the 7 blankets on my bed. (I guess they expect most people to crank the airconditioning.) We did a little swim this morning. The water temp was perfect! No Mazatlan waves by any means, but they weren't small either! I got plowned every time. Definitely going to have to practice this body surfing thing some more. There was a sign on the beach saying watch out for Crocodiles. Well I couldn't actually read it, but that's what I assume it was saying. So crocodiles+ sharks in ocean= fast Kyla swimming. Hope so at least.

We're heading out to check out the bike course soon, so time to go scrounge for something to eat. At least the gatorade here is way better!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

So many Links!

A big shout out to Aquaman for their help in setting Alex and I up with new Cell Gold suits so quickly! Wetsuit season is coming. Lake swim on Friday.?. My new wetsuit excitement almost negates my cold water phobia. Almost. Good thing it's the best wetsuit ever!
I'd also like to thank Kiwami again. For the first time in my life, I now have too many race suits to choose from! Much different from last year at Patco when I had to wear the patched up, survivor of two good crashes, suit.
Thanks Asics and Pen Runners for the sweet gear, and support, and for always being so friendly and helpful.

While I'm on the topic of thank yous:

Thanks Carolyn for the super healthy tea!
Thanks Pro-City for setting up my power meter even though my bike was ridiculously dirty. Although I think I might still need to get some bugs worked out.. I don't know how to work this thing! Thanks Bill- the bike setup still feels great!
Thanks Austin for letting me use Norma. I am loggin in my 45' while typing this. And for setting up the supercomputer so I can waste time watching Glee on the big screen. ;)
Thanks Norma.
Thanks Sun for the beautiful summer weather and blue skies.
Thanks Trish for selling all of our bracelets all the time. We can't keep up. And for the beautiful lilacs- reminds me of Calgary in the springtime.
Thanks Alex for the cool NTC shirts. I hear RTC guys were in the process of making shirts too? Sorry but ours already win.
Thanks for the strawberry, mango and pineapple's being in season. Breakfast was superawesome.

..whew the orchestra is going to start playing any second now..

Thanks self for starting to work again. My body shut down over the last week after I trained through being sick. I've read too many articles lately about adrenal burnout syndrome, and was beginning to think that I must have that. Hypochondriac much?
But then today rolled around and despite my lungs having one tenth their normal tidal volume- I did just fine. Finally!

I'll be able to start a bit of heat training today. Vancouver Sunday. Leaving Monday. Until then, maintenance chiro, healing acupuncture, Dr. guan, maybe a last minute massage. Oh ya and Ali says I HAVE GOT to get a haircut. I'll be training through Ixtapa more than I initially intended. After the last couple weeks, any hopeful expectations I might have had for myself have effectively been squashed. But I feel like I've also taken a lot of pressure off myself, so maybe it was all for the best.
Yup Yup
Take it easy-

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Elephant

If Kirsten is a souped up Vdub Bug then I am.. well I don't really know what I am...I don't know anything about cars to be honest. But If I were a car, I'd be something that has to use the ridiculously expensive Premium Plus, or Gold Level Gas not the regular Bronze. And I'd probably have stupid bad gas mileage. Either way, I have learnt over the years that I always have to be on my toes when it comes to hydration and nutrition. My mom was the one who always had to pack the extra granola bars and juice boxes- no matter how short the trip.

My main goal for this year is not to Bonk.

Patrick has witnessed his fair share of Coates' bonks. I have many memories from my first year, cross biking back home along the Goose in the winter, with Patrick handing Alex and I bite sized pieces of cliff bar. Last week we had an NTC crit. It was pretty epic, and afterwards I was so proud of my lack of bonking! Unfortunately I still have some work to do.

An article I read a while ago said, " We're not talking about the everyday slowing caused by lactic acid build up, or the mere cramping of a calf, or the deep muscle pain sometimes cause by downhill running. It's actually a bodily form of sedition. In some form or another, it becomes a collapse of the entire system: body and form, brain and soul."

They say that there are three types of bonks:
Paul Scott writes, "There's blood-glucose bonk, where the legs work fine but the brain up and quits." (I think this then leads to a:) "muscle-glycogen bonk, where the brain works fine, but the legs up and quit." (This will cause you to face plant with 400m to go.) " And lets not forget about the everything bonk, a sorry stewpot of dehydration, training errors, gastric problems and nutrition gaffes." ( the one's where you have no memory of the last 2km, and have to suffer through your body coming back to life again afterwards in the medic tent.)

Marathoner Dick Beardsley said, " It felt like an elephant jumped out of a tree onto my shoulders and was making me carry it the rest of the way in."

Yesterday I experienced an everything bonk. Not to the point of a 'get-this-idiot- to -the-medic-tent' bonk like in races by any means, but a bonk nonetheless. I can't say what the exact cause was, but something along the lines of a not fully recovered from a cold+ worn out+ nutrition bonk. I'd like to say thanks to Phil for getting me through it, and to Alison for having to witness it.

Warm-up started and I felt ok.. 15 minutes into it though my legs started to feel more and more heavy, and by the last ten minutes I knew this was going to be a toughness test afterall. I was feeling a bit hypoglycemic at the startline, so I looked around for my powerbar, but seemed to have lost it- so I convinced myself I would probably regret eating a bar 30 seconds before a workout anyways. Sipped some gatorade instead.

We were doing 800's on the Mile loop at Beacon Hill. I started the first 800 at an appropriate pace- under control since it was the first interval, but around where I wanted to be. Little did I know that there was a Wall waiting for me 1200 meters away. Not just any wall, but a Wall with a malicious Elephant on top. Four hundred meters in, the Elephant-on-the-wall started to hurl acid laden bricks at me. As I came closer and closer, more and more bricks began to find their mark. My legs began to scream from the onslaught. The overflow of lactic acid flooded into my arms, until there wasn't a part of me pain free. My lungs were too small. The 800 meters stretcheeeed out until the cone marking the end of the interval seemed to fade off into the distance.
Somehow I finished.

Interval number two began. This time the elephant never missed. There was a constant onslaught of bricks, each one adding to the lactic acid building in my muscles. My arms were so lactic I could barely bring my elbows back. My ankles were lactic, my fingers were lactic. And then I ran into the wall. Right smack into it. Alison nimbly dodged around me, giving me a questioning look. She couldn't see my wall. The finish line was still 400m away, and somehow I had to make it there. I pushed through the wall, but the Elephant jumped on my back for the ride. Every excruciating step bore the weight of his 10000 lbs. And when I finally made it to the end, and tried to regain my breath, Phil was waiting.

What happened he asked?
I wanted to explain the Wall and the Bricks and the Elephant to him, but could only manage a: "well I had this cold.."

And we begin again, the Elephant quite comfortably sitting on my shoulders. I pretend that I don't have a watch. That I am actually going faster than jogging pace. That my training partner isn't running off into the distance. That the headwind is holding me up- not making this (impossibly) even more painful. That my legs don't actually exist. Phil tells me just to think about my stride, to have good technique. So I do. And I remember a similar feeling a few months ago in Australia when I didn't manage to eat enough race morning, and neglected to take a gel on the bike, so my buddy the Elephant met me with 1.25km to go. Phil was telling me to keep my turnover high then.

Some people just have to learn everything the hard way. I should hope that I've learnt by now.
My goal for this year: No bonking!

Resting and Regenerating time.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Life Update

3 cold fx. 2 drops of oil of oregano under the tongue. 20 drops of astragalus back of the throat. 2 echinacea. 1 Vit D. 1 Zinc. 2 Flinstone gummies. 3 spirulina. 3 times a day with orange juice!

You know how moms are always right? You refuse to believe them until you learn for yourself the hard way and have to admit defeat. Coaches are often times right as well. My first year here with the NTC, Patrick would say, "you have to sleep a minimum of 8 hours a night." ..But that would mean being in bed by ten! That seemed almost impossible with all the schoolwork I had to do. I tried to sleep more, but more often than not was up later than that. I was sick all the time.
And then I learnt.
While swine flu, and student's flu, and partier's flu were raging around campus, I managed to not get sick once this whole year by doing as Patrick said. That's pretty much unheard of from a Coates (the not getting sick part- not the not listening part).
Unfortunately I went through a bit of an insomnia period last week. It wasn't because of studying for exams, or stressing about anything in particular, I just couldn't seem to fall asleep. I went through about 8 days of sleeping less than 5.5 hours a night. For all the students out there, that might be very normal. But it is really hard on the body (and mind) in the middle of hard training. I had two incredible crashes where I ended up having 2 hour naps in between workouts. By day 6 I lost the ability to swim. But it wasn't until day 8 that the lack of sleep really caught up to me and I ended up catching a little baby headcold. It's not a very bad one, but still is a drag. It's one of those ones that you can train through, but at the same time you don't want to prolong the illness by training too much through it. At least I am sleeping again now. Aaaaaaannnnd healing myself through:

3 cold fx. 2 drops of oil of oregano under the tongue. 20 drops of astragalus back of the throat. 2 echinecea. 1 Vit D. 1 Zinc. 2 Flinstone gummies. 3 spirulina. 3 times a day with orange juice!

I will let you know of any adverse effects that arise from this regime.

Patrick always says that consistency is key. Hence the importance of not getting sick, or injured. That one is also very true. I always believed it, but it took me a year or so to fully understand just how true this is. After my initial adaptation back into training around exam period last semester (andrew describes the feeling perfectly here), this second semester has been going pretty well for me trainingwise. I have finally begun to run again almost consistently. After a challenging fall/winter I think I now really appreciate simply having the ability to run, and compete. For the first time I think my excitement to race may out weigh my nerves. Paula has joined our team which has been really great. Every time I do a run workout with her, I think: a) how does she do that!?, and b) what makes her go so fast?! I'm hoping that in time, as my running improves towards normal Kyla speed and then beyond, I will be able to stick with her for more than ten seconds.

Ixtapa is coming up soon! First race of the year. First Olympic distance race. First Continental Cup. Excited!