Essential Sports Nutrition


IM Canada: Day 2

Now that we are officially settled into Whistler, I can honestly say that I've fallen in love with this place. Never have we raced in such a beautiful venue - and we've raced in some beautiful places! The scenery is jaw-dropping and I keep finding myself wowing at every mountain view and scenic river. It's just beautiful here.

While it's always good to adjust to the time zone as soon we arrive, it's actually easier for us to get to bed a bit earlier so that we can wake-up a bit earlier - similar to our schedule at home on the east coast. With a super early race start on Sunday (6am), I am trying to get to bed around 7:30/8pm so that I can get a restful night of sleep and still wake-up feeling rested. This morning I woke-up around 4:45am after a solid night of sleep. The temperature has been very comfortable during the day and drops slightly in the evening.

After a pre-workout snack (waffles + PB and Canadian Maple Syrup for me and oatmeal for Karel), we drove a few miles down the road to Rainbow Park to swim at Alta Lake (swim venue). Today was a packed day of training - which was good since we needed yesterday to fully recharge, unpack and settle after a long day of travel on Tuesday.

Karel and I had a specific OWS workout this morning and it was perfect to have something to focus on for the duration of our swim.

10 min warm-up
4 x 30 strokes fast/30 easy
5 min smooth
4 x 60 strokes fast/30 easy
5 min smooth
4 x 30 strokes fast/30 easy
5 min smooth

The water was fresh and clear and the views were incredible. Although a little nippy to get in, the water turned out to be the perfect temperature - not too cold and certainly not too warm. It was around 67 degrees when we swam around 7am. There were small buoys set-up in a line parallel to the shore and each buoy was labeled by 100 meters. I swam to the 1200 meter buoy and then turned around.

After the swim, we drove back to our place, had a quick bite to eat, changed and grabbed our bikes to load in the car. We drove on the bike course (Sea to Sky Hwy) and parked at Brandywine falls park. Our athletes Erick and Gin met us there and we all biked together.

We biked to the Callaghan road climb and did the entire climb to scope out this section of the course. Although a significant part of the course, there is 8000+ feet of elevation gain over 112 miles - with no flat section - so I'd consider every mile significantly important :)

The climb was absolutely beautiful. We rode easy/conversational pace for the 8 miles (1000 feet) to the top. There were a few declines to shake out the legs but overall, it was a nice steady climb - something we are use to living in Greenville (although the roads are much smoother here!).

It took us about 36 minutes to get to the top and a speedy 18 minutes to get to the bottom. The total ride was about 75 minutes with about 1660 feet of elevation gain. Again - we are use to this type of riding living in Greenville but in an Ironman, everything becomes more difficult as you get more fatigued. 

I didn't find any of the segments too difficult on the climb. There were a few windy segments on the way down but nothing technical or scary. I think this is going to be my favorite part of the bike course.

After the drive home, we got our run stuff on for a quick jog on the trails. There are so many running paths here, along with mountain biking trails. My run wasn't the best as I was struggling with some tugging in my hip/inside knee from my hip. I tried not to get discourage so I just walked it out and finished with a jog when it eased up. Although I was making some great progress with my pelvis getting back into alignment before we left, I think all of the travel caused me to get back out of whack.

I'm still trying to stay positive but if anything, I'm going to make the most of the swim and bike - in the case that I can't start or finish the run. 

As for the rest of the day, we attended the athlete briefing at the expo - which is situated right behind our condo at the Marketplace Lodge. We then checked in to get our packet. Even for my 15th Ironman, I still enjoy the entire process of getting my wrist band and all the "stuff" needed to officially be an Ironman participant. We have been seeing more Trimarnis around the venue which makes me super happy to see so many familiar faces.

After the check-in process, Karel and I walked around the village and checked out some of the local shops. The town is super cute with so much to see and to do. Did I mention how much I love it here?

I am fighting with myself as I want to go to bed right now but I'll try to make it to 7:30pm before I call it a day. Excited to experience another beautiful day in Whistler tomorrow!


IM Canada: Travel + Day 1

We finally made it to Whistler and wow, it is breathtakingly beautiful!!

But to get here, it was a long and stressful trip. 

I allowed 7.5 hours to travel to the Atlanta airport from our home so that we wouldn't be rushed for our 7:30pm flight. Our plan was to check in our bags and bikes at the airport, drive to our friends house to drop off our car and then head back to the airport. Again, I planned 7.5 hours for all of this.
After dealing with the unavoidable Atlanta traffic, we arrived to the airport around 3:15pm (3 hours and 15 minutes after we left our house). Check-in was surprisingly smooth and thanks to Delta's new bike policy, our bikes were free!! Wahoo! All we had to do was pay for an extra bag (we each had 1 suitcase and 1 bike bag) so we paid only $100 instead of $300. When we travel, we park in the hourly parking to check in several hours before our flight as it's a lot easier to take our stuff directly from the parking garage across the street vs. dealing with the shuttle (especially when traveling international). After we check-in, we aren't rushed to deal with the car/parking. 

After our bikes were inspected, we went back to the car and left with plenty of time to get to our friends house (~18 miles away) to drop off our car. However, plans quickly changed when it took us about 15 minutes to travel only a few miles - more traffic. So we decided to ditch that plan and park in economy. After driving back to the airport and finding the economy lot, it was completely full. We then had no where to park! Luckily, we found a place at the Park n' Fly and it turned out to be a few bucks cheaper than economy. Although we don't like Atlanta traffic, I weigh my options when we travel for a race and the flight I found was a direct flight (5.5 hours) from Atlanta to Vancouver and I could also use some of our miles on Delta which saved us money. I then used that extra money to upgrade our seats to comfort and to select our seats (we each had an aisle). 

Since we saved some time by parking at the airport, we weren't rushed when taking the shuttle from domestic to international. The security line moved quickly and we had ~2 hours until our plane boarded so that we could get some dinner. We both had a delicious dinner - Karel got chicken and rice and veg and I got two salads and a wrap. 

After enjoying our dinner, we made our way to our gate for our 7:30pm flight, which was to board at 6:30pm. The flight was delayed so instead of a 7:30pm take-off, it was now 8pm. Not too bad. Well, as the minutes ticked away, the departure time kept moving back...8:30, 9pm. It wasn't until it was just after 9pm that we boarded our flight. Luckily, Karel and I could get some work done on our computers which helped pass time by. And we met up with our athlete Reid who is doing his first Ironman at Whistler! 

Although we planned for a long day of travel and late night, we didn't arrive to Vancouver until just after midnight PST - which was 3am EST. Next came customs - which was Karel's first time using his American Passport since becoming a US Citizen in Sept. After that, we waited for our luggage and bikes. We were told to go to a special line with our bikes for questioning so that took a few more minutes. Finally, nearing 1am PST, we arrived at the rental car kiosk. By 1:30am PST, we were in the car, making our 2 hour/85 mile drive to Whistler. Thankfully, there was zero traffic but it was raining - which made it a little sketchy on the windy up and down roads on the Sea to Sky hwy. Karel did the driving and he was really tired but we both made it safely to our rental place at the Olympic Village.

It was just past 3:30am PST/6:30am EST when we crashed in bed but it was a little restless of a night as we were almost too exhausted to fall asleep. We managed a little over 5 hours of on and off sleep and woke up HUNGRY. 

With no shortage of places to eat, we made our way to Purebread for a delicious selection of fresh breads and bakery goods. Now that's how you start the day when you are sleep deprived! We then did a hefty grocery store shop and had a good breakfast meal at 11am PST. 

We ran into more of our athletes at the grocery store. We are excited to see more familiar faces as the days go on as this is one of our 4 team key races of the year where we will have a good showing of athletes (15 Trimarnis racing, including me and Karel).  

After taking our time in the morning, Karel put together our bikes around 1pm and in the mid afternoon, we finally got outside to spin our legs. And wow - what a beautiful place to ride!

 We moved some blood and stretched out on the bike with a nice easy spin (~50 minutes). We rode from the village (where we are staying) to Alta Lake (swim start/T1).

We spent a few minutes at the lake just soaking in all of this beautiful scenery. 

After our spin, it was time to eat! Karel made homemade vegetable noodle soup, which hit the spot. The weather is just perfect (in the mid 60's) and I can't stop smiling because of how amazingly beautiful it is around here! We are looking forward to checking in and getting our packet tomorrow, attending the athlete briefing and fitting in a swim/bike/run workout (I'm hopeful I can do a run tomorrow - crossing my fingers my hip/leg/back is continuing to improve - last update here) and to see more of this incredible race venue. 


It's Ironman Canada race week!

I can't believe it's finally race week! Today we leave for Canada and on Sunday, we get to race a bucket-list race in beautiful Whistler, Canada. 

We selected this race venue because of its challenging, yet beautiful course. The weather is predicted to be in the low 50's at the start of the day (race start 6am PST) and it will rise to the low 70's. The 2.4 mile swim is a two loop course in Alta Lake. The water temp should be around 65 degrees and wetsuit legal. The 2-loop bike course features ~8000 feet of elevation gain over 112 miles. It will be a "slow" bike course that will require a lot of strength, tactics, good riding skills, fueling and mental strength. The run course will be just as spectacular as the bike. The 26.2 mile run is a two loop course with a little over 1000 feet of elevation gain. The finish of the 140.6 mile race is in the Olympic Village of Whistler.

I'm thrilled to share the course with 13 of our athletes. We selected this race venue because it offers an Ironman and 70.3 distance on the same day. We will have two athletes racing the full (one first-timer Ironman) and eleven athletes racing the 70.3. I just love racing with our athletes as it's great to see familiar faces on and off the course and to share the entire experience with others.

This Ironman journey has been an interesting one. Our coach (Cait Snow) did an incredible job preparing us for this race. While it felt like a lot of training, every week was carefully designed with our needs in mind. There was a nice mix of frequency and volume with a touch of intensity sprinkled in. Overall, it was a solid build to Ironman Canada. I loved the training/workouts and it was a lot of fun to see what my body could do each day. We had daily communication with our coach and the closer we got to the race, the more she was careful to make sure we were still adapting to training stress.

Karel is bringing great fitness to this race. He was pushed hard by Cait in ways that he didn't know was capable by his body. I'm super excited to see what Karel can do on this race course as I feel he is getting stronger and faster every season.

I have felt stronger than ever before - specifically in swim and bike. Because of my previous running struggles (injuries) in the past, Cait was extremely careful to build me slowly with my running and to design workouts that would help build my confidence and suit my strengths (running off the bike). I was able to put together many months of consistent training, tolerating a high volume of training in swimming, biking and running.

Unfortunately, near the end of our group training camp in late June, I started to experience some left lower back pain on the bike. I contributed it to a lot of twisting to look behind me at our athletes and altering my riding style throughout the camp environment. Karel and I did not do any of our own training throughout our group training camp as it was all about our athletes and making sure they got the most out of their camp experience.

On the last day of camp (June 30th), we were getting ready to head to the lake for our last camp workout (swim and run) and as I was bending over to put on my socks and shoes, I felt a painful tug in my lower back. I had to lay down to relieve the pain. It was something that was a bit familiar to me as I have had issues with my back/hips for as long as I can remember. This reminded me of when I injured myself back in 2007 before my first Ironman World Championship. I was a little worried but the pain subsided, I taped my back/hips with KT tape and we drove to the lake. I was a little tight during the swim but the run felt fine as I ran with our campers.

To play it smart and safe, Cait had me take the next two days really easy to let things calm down. I took a day off on Monday (mental day to recover from camp) and Tues was an easy swim. I felt a little tightness in my back but no pain during the swim.

On Wednesday we did a "test" workout on the bike with some building efforts to see how I responded to different efforts. I felt a bit of tightness in my back but it actually got better as the ride went on. I ran off the bike and all was OK. I actually felt fine running. So on Thursday I was back to normal training and didn't feel concerned about my back anymore - what a relief!

I put together four solid days of training (Thurs-Sun) but come Sunday, near the end of the run, my left side started to feel off. It wasn't painful, just a bit of tugging in my left leg. After I returned home from my 90 minute run (my last long run), my inner thigh and groin started to tighten up. It was really uncomfortable. I did my afternoon swim - which helped to loosen things up - but to make a long story short, I've been dealing with hip/back/upper leg issues since July 7th. To be extra cautious, I haven't really ran since then as I was feeling a tugging and tightness around my hip/back/leg. Again, this is nothing new for me as I have dealt with hip/back issues for all of my triathlon career but have been able to manage it for the past 6 years without any hiccups. Until now....

So here I am, just a few days away from my 15th Ironman in uncertainty. Will I be able to run at all and if so, how much? I am mentally preparing myself that I will not finish this Ironman and I am ok with this.

While this injury has altered my run training over the past 2.5 weeks, Cait made sure that I was maintaining my fitness and focusing on what I CAN do. So instead of running on land, I have been doing water jogging in place of my runs. That means interval runs, brick runs and even a double run - all in deep water. I have been swimming and biking as planned as both cause me no pain or issues and I actually feel better after I swim and bike.

During the first week of this setback, I focused on calming down my leg. So this meant massage and dry needling and exercises to help get my ribs/pelvis back into a good spot. My SI joint likes to give me issues and this time was a nasty one as my pelvis got all out of whack. After things calmed down, my next goal/focus was to walk normally. I was bracing my leg (straight leg) because of the tugging I was feeling in my groin and adductors. My ITB was taking the grunt of this so I needed to relearn how to walk normally again. By the 2nd week, I was walking normally. My last goal was to hop with my left leg. Finally I am at that point. So on the positive, I am walking normally, I don't have any pain, I can hop on one leg and aside from after sitting and sleeping (when I get a little tight), I feel "normal" again. I have tried to run and while it is not painful, it's still not "right" just yet. I am being extra cautious and safe as I am not just thinking about IM Canada but Ironman Kona in a few months. I have resisted "testing" the leg as I don't want to do something silly out of ego or fear and put myself back. I am in a good place now and I don't want to jeopardize my health - especially since I want to be active for a lifetime.

The first few days were tough as I was a bit emotionally and in pain but after a few days, I made myself get into a good mindset to put everything into perspective and to use my mind to help me heal. To help with this, I have been repeating a few mantras to help me get through this setback with a positive mindset. These mantras have provided me perspective and also gratitude and I am still excited to travel to Whistler, start the race and give my best for as long as my body will safely allow me to. If I have to drop out in T2 or in the run, so be it. While I'm sure I'll be a tiny bit sad, I have so much to be happy about by watching our athletes and Karel and traveling to a new race venue.

Here are a few mantras that I have used to help me during this time: 
  • I don't need to run for a lifetime but I do need to walk.
  • I'm an athlete for life - not just one race.  
  • Focus only on today. 
  • Don't spend energy on things that are out of my control. 
  • I can't change the situation but I can change my attitude and how I deal with the situation. 
  • Focus on the small things.
  • There are so many great things in life to be happy about. 
  • I'm thankful for all that I have done with my body this season. 
  • If there's a "good" time for an injury, it's when 99% of the work is done. 
  • I can still swim and bike - my two favorite sports!
  • I am so excited to swim and bike in Canada and tackle this tough sport! 
  • If I can't run on race day, that means I get to watch my athletes and cheer. 
  • Focus on what you CAN do, not what you can't do. 
  • There are worse things in life that can happen to me. 
  • There are worse things in life that deserve my tears. 
  • Injuries heal. 
  • It's just one race. 
  • Believe that you are healing every day. 
  • Complaining and tears don't solve issues. 
  • Invest into therapy/treatment so you don't have to pay for MRI's and more intense treatment. 
  • Be patient and smart. 
  • Quick fixes don't fix issues. 
  • Don't rush the healing process just to meet a race day deadline. 
  • Thank you body. You are still awesome. 

Although race day is still a bit of an unknown, I can assure you that I will not do anything silly. Running in pain is NOT my idea of what it takes to finish an Ironman - or any race. I worked really hard to get to where I am right now with my swim/bike/run fitness and over the past two weeks, I invested a lot to be able to move without pain and I don't want to take steps back - only to delay my return to run training in route to IM Kona. I still plan to share pictures/videos/posts about our Ironman Canada experience on my blog and Facebook page over the next week.

Off to Canada!!