Sunday, 16 September 2012

My first sprint triathlon!

This is my race report of my first sprint triathlon which I did last Saturday.

The weather: I was very nervous about the weather predictions; it was supposed to be rainy with some lightning...I was wondering if it would be dangerous, what they would do if there was lightning and if I should get a rain coat (really!!!). It turns out the weather was pretty nice. Not too hot, not rainy at all, pretty sunny, and somewhat windy. Yes windy, although I can’t really complain because the wind was much stronger for the athletes who started later than me. So the weather was great!
The people: My mom accompanied me to the race and my sister and niece came to see me at the finish, which was nice. I saw a few people from the tri club which was nice as well. Mostly, what was really nice was seeing a former co-worker of mine. I left my former job a year and a half ago and we had begun to talk about triathlon back then, but none of us had done one. And now here we were, doing this triathlon together, and starting in the same wave. I was happy to have her there.
The t-shirt: I was very proud to be doing this triathlon wearing a t-shirt that my coach had made. Many people wore that t-shirt as support because she was doing her first ironman the day after my triathlon. So I wore the t-shirt to support her. But mostly I wore it because I was so proud to wear a t-shirt that represented her ( This woman has had a huge impact on my life in the last couple of years. She guided me through my first running steps, baby steps at first. She suggested that I start swimming again after I hadn’t swum in many years. She was there to teach me stuff about bikes after I hadn’t biked (other than on a BIXI) for more than 20 years. She also was very helpful in figuring out a few things that I was doing wrong in terms of nutrition. She welcomed me into her home a few times so that I could spend a few weekends training with her (she is in another country!). She was there every step of the way while I lost 60+ pounds. She is a very important part of my support system. So I was happy to wear that t-shirt for her.
The swim: I like swimming. I’m a good swimmer. Technically, I think that swimming is the easiest sport in triathlon for me. But I usually swim in a pool. This race was not done in a pool; it was done in open water (well sort of!). This was the third time I swam in open water. It was the second time I swam with a wetsuit (the first time I really didn’t swim very far). And it was the first time I swam with so many people swimming around me. Was I nervous? Oh yeah! I’ve heard stories of people panicking in their wetsuits, so there was a bit of stress here. I started out next to my former colleague. I intentionally started a little in the back so that I wouldn’t be with the crazy crowd. However, I did start on the right side of the crowd which in retrospect was probably not my best idea since this was the shortest route (we were turning to the right at the buoy). There were quite a few people around me, but I took my time swimming. A few times I started going faster and wanted to pass some people, but they were everywhere and as my heartbeat was going faster I felt a bit panicky so I slowed down. A couple times, I stopped swimming and I looked at the buoy and felt it was so far away I didn’t know how I could finish the whole thing (the waves were coming towards us then so it may have seemed longer than the same distance would have been in the pool). And then I thought of my former colleague who had told me at the start: ”whatever happens, just think that we’re doing this together” and it helped to calm me down. About halfway to the first buoy, I felt a huge pain in my neck. I figured it was the wetsuit, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. I’ll know to put some glide on my neck before the race next time! I had a huge red spot/scratch that stayed a few days after the race because of that. Finally, I got to the first buoy and I felt like I was getting somewhere. Getting to the next buoy was ok. The last part of the swim was much easier with the waves pushing me to the shore and not as many people around me, that last part felt very comfortable. Time for the 750m swim: 19:27
The bike: For the bike portion of the race, I had to do 4 laps of the course. The first half of each lap was really hard because we had the wind against us. It felt sort of like going uphill for the first half of each lap and I really haven’t practiced hills that much, so it was hard. People kept passing me. The second part of each lap on the other hand was SO MUCH FUN! As soon as I turned around I switched gears and pushed as hard as I could and I passed quite a few people. I think I was going faster than I ever have while practicing and IT WAS FUN!!! I loved the feeling. At one time, I decided to get some water on that half of the lap and my bike wobbled a little bit so I figured maybe this was not the right time to do this and I waited to the other half to get some water. So, that’s the bike! Time for the 20k of bike : 50:53

The run: Again, the first part of the run was hardest because we had the wind against us. I felt I was doing pretty good though and I just kept running. At one point, I noticed some people running on another path and I wondered if I had taken the wrong path at the transition. There were actually 2 paths. People who were doing duathlons had to take another path and I felt like I might have taken the wrong one. This really worried me because if I was on the wrong path, I was on a 10k path rather than a 5k path and I just didn’t want to do a 10k right then and there. I was SO relieved when I saw a couple of runners on my path with a white bib, like me, meaning they were doing the sprint as well. Thank you! I think I realised after the 3rd kilometre of running that I was going to be able to finish the race under 2 hours. It gave me wings...that and the fact that I now had the wind going in the same direction as me. For the last kilometre, I felt like I was flying. I smiled that whole last kilometre. It felt great!!! Time for the 5k run : 41:00

The transitions: The transitions went smoothly. I didn’t rush. I felt strong. The swim to bike transition was good except for the fact that we had to climb up and down some stairs to get to the transition area and I’ve heard a few stories of people wobbling after the swimming so I was holding the sides of the stairs quite a bit to make sure I didn’t fall. In the bike-to-run transition, I was accompanied by an emergency car coming behind me. It felt like it was behind me and I panicked a bit because I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. Should I stop? Do I get a penalty if I don’t stop? It got me a little bit disoriented and I think I slowed down because I wasn’t sure what to do. It turns out it was coming beside me rather than behind.

This is the second time I do a triathlon Both times, the transitions times were not recorded. They are included somewhere with the other disciplines. I knew where they were included for the first triathlon, but this time I have no idea. This is starting to piss me off because I was looking forward to see my exact time for the different disciplines and my times for the transitions. Hopefully, the next triathlon I pick will be one where the transition times are clearly separated from the three sports.

Inspirations: I hope that this report inspires you like other people inspire me constantly. Here are three of them:
  • my friend Amelia who really is the reason that I ever thought I could run in the first place. Thank you!
  • my coach and friend Kelly, who has guided me through all of this triathlon training. Thank you!
  • and finally, Karine, another member of the tri club, who has done ironman two times after losing a lot of weight and who inspires me to want to tackle even longer distances. Thank you!
All in all, this was a great race for me (Total time : 1:51:18; 37/43 in age group). I enjoyed it very much and it has made me want to keep going. I’m not sure what I will do next year yet, maybe other sprints, maybe an Olympic distance...You will just have to wait and see!

Monday, 2 July 2012

The right choices

So, in June, I was supposed to cut the crap! That plan didn't work very well. But I need to keep trying to figure out what I need in the present so that I can eat right. Some people say that you just need to decide to eat right and do it, but I garantee you it's not always that easy. I will keep on trying because I believe that I can, because I have done it in the past and because I am strong. Here's a little something I'm trying this week. I'm writing it here because it might be useful to some other people trying to eat right. This week (and more), every time I sit down to eat, I plan to read the following :

Making the right choices with regards to what I eat is not supposed to be easy. Just like running 5k's, 10k's and a half-marathon wasn't supposed to be easy. But I did all of the above before and I believe I can do it again because I'm strong. I want a strong mind AND body so I need to ask myself this question : Will the choice I'm making right now propel me in an inspiring future or will it keep me in the past?

That's it for now!
P.S: First triathlon EVER is coming up in two weeks!!!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Cut the crap!

Losing weight takes effort. Research shows that maintaining the weight loss is even harder. I didn't want to believe this. I felt like I had found what worked for me and I just needed to keep doing what I had been doing. The problem is : life changes, your workplace changes and doesn't have quick healthy cafeteria meals, you move and the supermarket is a little farther, you have to switch gyms, you have to go out of town for work more often and it gets harder to keep eating right, etc. And when these changes happen, it's easy to relapse and fall into old habits. And you have to find ways to adapt and figure out what will work for you all over again.

I relapsed and I know it's normal when you're trying to change a behavior, but I find it really hard because I worry about gaining the weight back. I gained back 20 lbs since last summer and I've tried many things to get back on track, but I haven't been very successful so far. The biggest problem is that I started eating crap again and I need to figure out a way to just not to that.

A few years ago, I decided to give myself a birthday gift by stepping into a gym and hiring a private coach. Tomorrow is my birthday and I've decided to give myself another gift. Tonight, I'm  making the decision to not eat crap for the next month. Until the end of June, I will not let mysef eat French fries or soft drinks , I will increase my intake of fish and veggies, and I will stay away from juices or sweet beverages. I will allow cake and chocolate for my birthday and on a couple of social events happening in May and June. But that's it! I'm deciding to cut the crap this month and I'm writing about it here to hold myself accountable. This is serious! That scale needs to go back down, if it means carrying tuna cans around, that's what I'll do. Wish me luck!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Half marathon race report

Today was the day I ran a half-marathon. I also said I would write my first official race report about it, so here we go.

Yesterday, I ate as I should have and I had a good night sleep. This morning I woke up ready to run and took a very light breakfast. I sort of forgot what I was supposed to eat. For some reason, yesterday I threw away the banana I was planning to eat this morning (although coach did say no fruits, so I figured it wasn’t such a bad thing, except for the fact that I wasn’t sure what to eat anymore). I ended up having some yogurt with maple syrup and a clif bar a little closer to the race (oh, and a gel cause I was worried I would get hungry!). I just really didn’t want to eat too much because I have the habit of stopping 2 or 3 times to go to the bathroom when I do my long runs. So, moving on...I got dressed and took the bus and got to the race location.

Last race I did was a 10k, I was way overdressed and it got very uncomfortable towards the end so I didn’t want to do the same mistake. I ended up wearing short pants and I was really cold until the race started, I saw a few people shiver even. But then it started and again, I had to take one of my tops off so I was happy with my decision. Taking off my top was a little complicated...kinda funny, I took the sweater off and then proceeded to tie around my waist, but the t-shirt got stuck somewhere in the fuel belt and it took my at least 2minutes to figure out how to make things comfortable. Eventually,I just had to give up! There were spots in the race when the wind was really cold though and I figured maybe I should the sweater back on, but concluded that it might get too complicated so I just decided to be cold. I was glad I at least had my gloves.

Like I said, I tend to go to the bathrooms a lot on my long runs, so I didn’t want to take any chances and I went a couple times on location before the race began. About half an hour before it began, I went out to the start line and what do you know, 5minutes before it starts, I need to pee real bad. No time to go now, so I just wait for the start. There is a toilet 1,5 kms after the start, but there’s no way I’m going there this early or I’ll have to go 2 other times. So I wait until we come back to this spot at 5,5 kms. And then I go! I was very surprised that I didn’t need to go even once after that J

It was a really nice race. Throughout it, there were people cheering and this is very helpful. If you ever volunteer at a race like this, make sure you don’t forget the people who finish later. They need the support!!! I even came across the tri club coach between kilometres 6 and 7. I didn’t expect this and it was really nice! I especially liked the cars honking and people in them cheering after kilometer 20, when the roads were reopened to cars. The nice thing is the sun was there and the view was great so close to the water! I really appreciated the fact that between kilometres 7 and14, you could see the people in front of you and the people behind you (yes, there were some!).

Three ladies were especially helpful for me in this race. I will call them the blue, the yellow and the grey ladies. I came upon the blue lady around kilometre 4 or 5. She was in front of me and I eventually passed her, but then I went to the toilet and had to work a little to pass her again. We passed each other a few times as I was trying to keep up with her (without running too hard) and then I lost her behind somewhere.

The yellow lady was quite interesting. She kept stopping running to walk and whenever I got passed her, she would run passed me, got a little in front, and then started to walk again. Around kilometre 11, I ran past her and told her we were almost on the other side where the wind would be on our backs. She grunted and started running to pass me. I told myself then: ”I’ll pass you lady”. We did the little dance for a while and then around kilometre 13, I could hear her footsteps behind me and decided then that she would not pass me again so I increased the speed a bit. This is pretty much when coach had told me to increase my speed anyways J. I lost her behind and never saw her again! My legs started to hurt at that point.

The grey lady came next. As I was getting away from the yellow lady and closer to the grey lady, the latter kept looking back to see if anyone was close to her, she walked, and whenever I got closer to her, she would run a bit, pass me, and start walking again. My thought was, girl if you stopped looking behind you and kept running instead of walking you would be way ahead of me. Little did she know that my game plan was to increase my speed again towards the end of the race. I lost her behind me around km 18. Then I passed a few other people, some who were walking, and nobody passed me again, because I still had energy, I still had juice!

The last kilometer was long. I passed a volunteer, smiled at her and told her it was windy. She said yeah, I’ve been freezing here for the last three hours! Really, lady? What do you think I’ve been doing for the last 3 hours? Towards the end, I was greeted by my mom, my two sisters and my nine year old nephew. I ran the last few meters with him which was really nice. He told me that he could run faster than me J. He gave me a nice little gold medal that he and his mom had made for me. I finished within my goal of 3hours. My watch said 2h56. Their clock said 2h59. Whatever, I’m still under 3 hoursJ

Post-race : my legs hurt, I have a hard time sitting down and walking down the stairs. I told my mom and my sisters that I’m not going for the marathon or even another half-marathon quite yet. I had myself a huge poutine and I’m happy! Nextgoal : triathlon!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

From 300 lbs to 21k

A few years ago, back in 2005 or so, I stepped on a scale one night and it showed me that I weighed 300 lbs. I had been avoiding the scale for a while deciding after a few yoyo attempts at weight loss that I would start trying to lose weight again only if I was really serious at making the efforts it required. That night, I decided it was time. The next day was my birthday and I decided to give myself a gift. I went to the gym and got myself a private coach. It was a program that was meant to last only a few weeks and I managed to lose 15 lbs that I never gained back. Since then, I have tried many things to figure out what would work for me in terms of exercise and eating right. And I have slowly lost some weight without gaining it back.

Then back in December 2010, I started working with my current coach. A month later I was running and swimming and eventually biking. In 2011, I ran five 5ks and one 10k and lost 70 lbs. One of my goals this year was to run a half-marathon (21k). This is happening TOMORROW!!! I have trained for it and I’m ready, but I have had a hard time this week getting myself in the right mind for it. Work has been busy, I’m also back in school to finish a class that was put on hold because of the student strike. I have been exhausted all week and the fact that I will be running it alone, that I will probably finish last and that I gained some weight back is making hard to see it as a success, BUT IT IS!!! I know that I can run it and that I can finish it. I know that there will be people waiting for me at the end. Also, the fact that this is something I wasn’t even dreaming of 2 years ago and that not that many people do makes it a success. So I will do this with my head high tomorrow and be proud of myself no matter what. Stay tuned for my first official race  report...

Sunday, 26 February 2012

A little game of tag

So I got tagged and I have to answer a few questions and make up some more. I thought it would be fun.  So here are the rules and the answers.

1. Post these rules
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself
3. Answer the questions set for you in their post
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer
5. Go to their blog and tell them you’ve tagged them (I'm actually doing this on facebook since I'm not writing that many blogs on a regular basis).
6. No stuff in the tagging section about you are tagged if you are reading this. You legitimately have to tag 11 people

11 random things about me
1. I witnessed the birth of my oldest nephew 21 years ago.
2. I feel more comfortable with older kids than with babies.
3. I get bored if I have to do the same thing over and over again.
4. According to fortune tellers, I have been a nun, a rich philanthropist living in Africa, and working in an orphanage in past lives.
5. I like watching movies with a sad ending.
6. If you tell me I can’t do something, I will probably try to prove you wrong.
7. I go to bed very early and I have a very hard time staying awake when I have something planned after 9 PM.
8. I like doing genealogy.
9. One of the things that attracted me to nursing was that it was a skill that I could use to do humanitarian work. Now that I’m not going to be a nurse, I’m being challenged to figure out how and where I will help while working with my strengths in the most useful way.
10. I learned my English watching soap operas and then going to an English college.
11. Countries I would like to go to : Ireland, Italy and Australia.

Kelly’s questions
1. What is the thing in your life you are most proud of? A year ago I would have said getting my master’s degree in criminology. Now I say losing 70 lbs in less than a year for a grand total of 110 lbs away from the heaviest I’ve been (I did gain a few back, but not too much).
2. What is your biggest regret? I try not to live with regrets. If I find that I regret something, I try to do something about it in the present.
3. If you had to eat just one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Chicken, because I don’t think I could survive on poutine and chocolate.
4. Do you give up things for Lent? If so, what are you giving up this year and why? No.
5. What is your perfect evening? Being outside by a campfire with friends, including a guitar player.
6. Do you have siblings? If so, do you buy into the whole birth order thing?I have 2 older sisters. Do I buy into the birth order thing? Yes and no.
7. What is your favorite thing to cook? Spaghetti sauce, for the time to relax, the smells and the couple bowls I get to eat while it cooks.
8. In what kind of social situation do you feel most comfortable? When there’s just 2 or 3 people or when we play games.
9. In what kind of social situation do you feel most awkward.? When there’s a lot of people and the goal is to get drunk.
10. If you could go back to college, would you? I wanna say no because I prefer trying to live in the present. But I wanna say yes if I could go back and take more risks.
11. What quality do you possess that makes you a good friend? I’m a good listener.

 My 11 questions for others to answer
1. What do you like to do for fun?
2. Someone you admire? And why?
3. Favorite sport / hobby?
4. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
5. Favorite food?
6. Best present you ever got?
7. Worse present you ever got?
8. Best quality?
9. Your best tip to save time?
10. If you could go on a trip, free of charge for a month, where would you go?
11. If you knew you had just one week left to live, what would you do?

Sunday, 22 January 2012

A weekend filled with sports and a certain pair of old skates!

You wanna know what I'm doing these days? Try sports! This weekend was mostly about that, sports. I'm exhausted! But in a good way :)

I started off Friday night with a new zumba class. A friend and I got a good deal, 10 classes for 25$ so we're trying it out. I'm a REALLY bad dancer, but it was fun and it made me laugh.

Second sport of the weekend was ice skating with another friend. It was my first time this winter. Those who know me know that I was an ice skater from 5 years old to about 18 years old. I wasn't the best skater, but I did sit spins, camel spins, back spins, axels, double jumps and a whole bunch of other stuff on those skates. But I pretty much stopped ice skating after 18 except on a few occasions here and there. There was also a point where my old skates didn't fit anymore because my feet had gotten too swollen. I had gotten a new pair, but I didn't use it very often and it hurt every time I used them. I kept the old skates though because I always believed that I would wear then again and I did Saturday. THIS was such a huge success for me! I had a lot of fun with my friend Andrea who was very gracious in letting me brag about all the stuff that I could do and which I haven't been able to do when I was obese (things that seem ridiculous when you know what I was able to do before), things like crossovers, arabesques, back spins, sit spins. Although I do admit the spins and jumps weren't the best and I did get a bit dizzy with the spins. I guess I need some practice!

Third sport of the weekend, maybe I should say "sports", were swimming and running. Yes my friends, I have registered in a triathlon club! This was the second week and this morning started off with an hour of swimming and an hour an a half of running. I am completely exhausted, but feeling good! I might need to do a little less next weekend if I want to start looking for a new bike. I mean, it is kinda weird to be in a triathlon club and not have a bike! I can't really use bixis for triathlon, I'm already slow enough as it is :) Good thing recovery week is coming up!