Thursday, August 25, 2011

Road Trippin and the Not-Race

Man.. Kelowna is over! Noooooooo. Heading to this race I couldn't believe that it was Kelowna-time already and that after this most of the group would be on vacation. Kelowna is supposed to be the 'save the best for last' part of summer, but it doesn't feel like it has been racing season long enough for summer to be ending already. The blackberries are all coming out here in Vic though, and my to-do list includes school stuff, so I guess that makes it official. Luckily Manon, Ellen, and Marc are all in town so our group doesn't seem too small after all.
I was so excited for Kelowna. For the ferry and the drive (which are still novelties to me), and to see my family and friends and to just be in the most chill place on the planet, but unfortunately I was not so excited to race. I had zero confidence in my ability to actually finish the race which is a very bad pre-race mentality, but I knew I had to get it out of my system before Beijing. I would say that I was the most scared going into this race than I have ever been, but that would be a lie as I was a major psycho kids-of-steel. That said, the swim/bike went pretty well, and my work with a naturopath seems to have helped because I had my first Olympic distance run without legs cramping.

Swim started off funny.. I was waiting for a 'you're now in the hands of the starter' which never came, and the 'take your marks' was too quiet to hear, so by the time I clued in that the horn had gone off, everyone was already running into the water. I gradually made my way up front, and shared Paula's feet along with a US girl. When I saw that four girls were starting to pull away, I tried to surge to bridge the gap, but the US girl followed me and swam on top of me preventing me from catching up. Not getting anywhere, I settled back in, regrouped and tried again. This time I made sure to pull out really wide before sprinting up, but again she left the feet she was on and swam on top of me making us both lose the draft and not go anywhere! I think she must have had no concept of drafting because I really cannot understand her motives for drowning me like that. She continued to follow/block right up until the last 50 meters or so when I finally broke free. Somehow she didn't make our pack so that was awesome! haha! I almost ate it sprinting to transition when I hyperextended my knee though, but luckily I caught myself. Face planting on the brick walkway would be an embarrassing way to miss pack. By the time we got to the top of the hill we had reeled in the girls out front. The rest of the ride was pretty smooth. My corners felt awesome which is a HUGE improvement from the beginning of the year!

Starting the run was the tough part for me though. I just wanted to build it, but watching the front girls run away so quickly was hard on the ego. I was trying to push myself while still monitoring myself for signs of low blood pressure which meant not really pushing myself at all. I think it got to the point where I just made myself feel shitty because I was focusing on it so much. I ended up DNFing twice because it felt like I was beginning the death march- but then un-DNFed twice as well. After sitting down off the course for the second time, I told myself- " well blood pressure seems to be fine after all, there are plenty of girls out there who will be happy to finish. Walk if you have to, but finish!" So I did. And by the last lap I actually felt like I was moving and was able to pass back all the girls who had passed me during my breaks.

I can't really say I'm proud of doing that.. but I am really happy to have finished, and now I think I am so much more prepared to actually dig deep in Beijing. Even though I didn't deserve it, I was very happy to still make the U23 & Canadian podium after all that. Very happy to get the not-race out of my system.
Missing Kelowna already.

(Pics courtesy of Mark Bates & Alexis Lepage)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What happened to July?

Barcelona to Frankfurt flight complete and we’re on our way back to Canada. I'm not sure how I feel about people clapping after a clunky plane landing. I’m sure it’s just a way to say thank you to the pilot.. but it makes me feel like everyone was expecting to crash, and are thanking the pilot for saving their lives. If it is the world’s worst flight and the engines fail and a wing falls off but the pilot miraculously lands then sure I’ll clap too, but otherwise applauding a particularly jarring landing makes me scared of flying.
Matt, Alex and I spent yesterday evening getting a mini tour of Barcelona from Jon Bird! We ended up there last minute when our team realized that it was logistically impossible to get us all down from France the morning of our departure. So John Sasso, and Marilyn were so kind as to drop us, and their 8 extra pieces of luggage, off in Barcelona last night. It didn’t really dawn on any one of us until we arrived- that this could be fun! Still in the middle of race season here, so it wasn’t exactly a night on the town, but we had a little swim in the Mediterranean, got to walk along the La Rambla, and sat out in a plaza for a Sangria. Turns out the little fruits on the bottom are potent. Like little shocks straight to your brain. We were just so happy to be out in the evening and for it to still be warm out. Crazy to think that only a couple hours before we were in the Pyrenees. It’s rare that we get much tourist time on trips, so to get some free time was sooooo awesome!

Euro-trip round two 2011 was a bit of a mixed up camp for me. I left Victoria feeling pretty frustrated and stressed about all the fruitless medical tests, so I was looking forward to getting away from it all and just training again. Predictably, getting back to training ended up being more challenging than I had hoped. In short, I began the camp having low blood pressure issues all over the place, becoming too dizzy and crappy feeling to get through workouts. After the first time, the dizziness didn’t go away for two days, so I learnt to shut it down earlier after that. As my bp issues began to get better, my fatigue levels increased until I wasn't even a functional human being anymore. On the plus side, I have never been able to sleep or nap so well in my entire life! The downside was that sleeping didn’t seem to help. I had to withdraw from the Banyoles race. Finally I got to the point where I barely made the walk a block over to the grocery-store (granted it was a tired day for all of us), had an epic meltdown, and tried go home so I could rest and heal and see more people. I wasn’t able to go home though, so (with dr.Austin’s medical advice ha) Alex and I came up with a backup-plan, and I tried my best to follow a pseudo- Gaps diet to see if it would help. The Gaps diet is used to heal medical issues stemming from GI problems (everything from crohn's to autism). I couldn’t exactly just eat beef/chicken broths like you’re supposed to at the beginning, so I skipped that stage, but I cut out all remaining potentially harmful things from my diet/life, and made lots of soup even though I don’t like soup, and the difference was unreal. Within the span of 2 days, I went from feeling the worst I have ever felt, to better than I have felt in a long time. I went from sleeping all day, to feeling too hyper to sleep. The energy change was so huge that at first I felt wired alll the time. My resting hr went down by over 15 beats, and I went from being unable to imagine going for a jog to having one of those runs were you could just run forever. Annnddd finally the rainy/cloudy/cold weather we had been having let up and summer came back. I had enough energy to think again. And the ability to talk came back.. So in the end, camp was good. Thanks Alex and Matt for always making everyone happy, and John and Kim for looking out for me. Jenny & Mike, as always, were the best hosts ever. Seeing an improvement has been a huge boost mentally. I had been concerned that this was going to be the end of my season, so I’m really happy to give it another couple shots this summer.

The non-Barcelona crew are all off to London now, so wishing everyone the best! We miss you, and wish we could be there, but at the same time are ever so happy to be heading home.