Sunday, July 8, 2012

Subaru Vancouver 1/2 Ironman Race Report

No photos yet!  But, good day.  GOOD DAY!

although, there were definitely moments of wondering if I was going to die.  I said to the boy that I like, post-race, it's kinda hard to determine which race is the hardest that you have ever done.  But, this one was up there.  It was hard.  I can't quite put my finger on as to why, but, the course wasn't easy, and it was hot as balls out there (well... for Vancouver).  HA!  I just looked at what the temperature was during the race:  a "blazing" 19/20 degrees C/68F...  but, i swear... it felt hotter.  

It was pretty fun to race in my hometown.  sleep in my own bed, know where to park, enjoy time with friends on the day before the race.  I also got to volunteer for the race set-up on friday.  It was a lot of fun to not only be a racer, but also give back to the community as a volunteer.  Still didn't get a super great sleep... I think part of it was that I was nervous, because I knew that I had the chance to do a PB.

 i've been feeling like I have been getting some good training in recently... not as much running as I think is reasonable (because, for some reason, just getting out and running has been a bit of a struggle recently), but I have been getting great rides, good hours, and FANTASTIC swims (both open water, and pool).  The funny thing, is that I am a) not being coached, b) have a somewhat sporadic schedule, and c) have NOT been tightly watching what I am eating/drinking (um, hello vancouver area craft beers, and yummy pastries).

other than that, I got to the race site, and discovered that I had forgotten my nutrition (energy drink) in the fridge at home.  If you remember, this is not the first time this has happened... but, that time, I had a PB.

The swim: 
 The swim was a two loop mass start of all men and women in the 1/2 ironman, into the ocean.  Off of a different beach from the one I have been training at, but the water was as calm as a pond, the sun was not yet blinding, and a blue-bird day, allowing for easy sighting.  The thing that I did the different, was place my Garmin around my pony-tail, under my cap, to get an accurate trace.  Other than being paranoid about loosing it, it works great!

I started off to the L of the pack (despite it being a counter-clockwise swim), because I thought it would give me a better line.  And, it did!  I got out of the pack fairly quickly.  The first turn was a little messy, I got a bit of water in my mouth, but was able to regain a good rhythm.  I felt like I wanted to push it at the start, and at the end, and just go steady with good sighting for the swim.  And... BANG... my fastest swim ever!  An accurate 1.9km at 29:20, for a split of 1:33/100m (2nd AG, 8th female, including elite).  The last2/3 of the swim, I had one other girl who was pacing with me.  we were beside each other consistently, and that was lot of fun!!!   

Having my garmin in my cap caused a bit of a confusion when trying to figure out what order I should strip down in...  but, it eventually worked.  It was a long swim out of the triathlon, and not the cleanest transistion for me ever... but, whatever.  I got on my bike.  2:32 (3rd AG, 12th F)

The Bike:
Being in the hometown, this is a course that I know well.  I also knew that it was going to be challenging.  a 4-loop course, with 660m worth of climbing (2,165 ft), mostly over a single hill that you do 4x.  The rest is rolling, with some long steady climbs/downhills.  You don't want to grind it, but you can definitely put the pedal to the metal on the downhills.  My Garmin did NOT accurately pick up my HR, so it was all on feel.  I wanted to do a PB on the bike section, but, I also knew that I had to keep it reasonable to avoid the fly-and-die.  I keep on reading race-reports of athletes that I admire, who talk about raising the bar on the bike, and still being able to do a good run... I'm trying to find where that it for me.  It was definitely hard to try to keep my effort at a level that kept my heart rate in check, and legs feeling good.

The bike, as always, was a blast.  I had some of the elite women pass me asap off the bike, but hey.  their elite.  They are allowed to do that.  Otherwise, I think I only had one or two women pass me...  That being said, it was hard to tell...  When the olympic distance athletes got onto the course, it was a GONG SHOW!  there were cyclists everywhere, and most of them were not what i would call "fast."  lots and lots of calling out ON YOUR LEFT, and one point of encouraging the gaggle of guys surrounding me to "comon' guys, keep it moving." was able to throw out some smiles, some encouragements, and some good bits of talking with my competitors.  I always like that.  not too much wind, good attitudes, and solid personal best on the bike. 2:48.33, 32km/hr split (1st!!! AG, 11th F with elite)

sadly, i do think I could've taking in more liquid... with the gatorade being offered on course, I was afraid that i was going to have stomach problems with the sugar.  I probably could've drank more... since I didn't even have to pee on the bike. By the end of the ride, i was feeling ready to get onto the run, as my glutes were starting to feel pretty tight. 

nothing special here, either.  other than running out of the zone without starting my run split.  oh.  and my hat.  i couldn't put my hat on, and I was wishing I had a visor.  it was annoying. (1:07, 2nd AG, 8th F)

Now, the run is short for a 1/2 iron (20km, rather than 21...), which made a big difference.  The run consisted of a 2x10km loop.  The first 5 km is a loop through Jericho Beach park & forest, the 2nd 5k is an out and back along spanish banks beaches.  Pretty much of it is along running trails.  Beautiful course along the ocean and through the trees. 

I started off... well, like I always do.  too fast.  So, I slowed down to a level that just felt good... not really worrying what my splits were, but something that felt like it could be maintained.  By 3km in, I knew it was going to be a tough run. I knew my nutrition had not been great, as I was feeling sluggish, and had a bit of a headache! I didn't even pee until about 14km in... and when I did, there was not much that came out.  Not a good sign.  

Despite the fact that the bit through the park was tougher in terms of terrain (lots of ups and downs, around lots of corners, and leaping past mud pits), I found the out and back on the beach harder.  it was hot, it was flat, and it just seemed to go on forever.  Not to mention all the people recreating.  I can't blame them (its was a beautiful day & its the beach!), but... I would've rather not had to bowl a few people over, or weave in and out of them.  This is probably the biggest thing I would change about the race planning... I wish the trail could be closed to non-racers.

The second loop was a bit hellish... lots of negative thoughts went through my head, like "I can never do Ironman if i run like this!  I feel like I am going to die.  My splits are slowing WAY down! Its hot!  I want to stop..."  But, there were also positive thoughts: "you are going to get a PB, even if your splits aren't great.  Look at how many people you are beating! you have friends here cheering you on!  just keep moving forward, and you will be more pleased than if you start."

the one mistake I made was that at about 2km to go, I could hear a woman behind me.  She was struggling, but, moving on me.  I thought one of two things: a) I could try to stay ahead of her, listening to her grunting and sighing, and push her (and myself) that way, or b) I could slow a bit, get her up to me, and we can finish strong together.  I went for #2... and we started running harder.  and... well... I couldn't keep up with her.  

I was not happy how my splits dropped from 5:15-5:30/km to 5:45-6ish mins between the beginning and the end. I can see after 10km how I hit a bit of a wall... that is where the splits significantly took a turn for the worse.  I only took one gel during the run, which might have been a mistake, and wasn't very good about having reasonable cups of gatorade.  I don't know if it was that, or the heat (i definitely felt it), or the pushing the bike, or what.  I just know it was HARD!  and, I was happy to be done.  (1:49:40, 5:29/km split; 4th AG, 24th F with elites)

Total: 5:11.10 (9 min PB!  despite it being 1km short on the run, I still would've had at least a 3-4min PB) putting me in 2/9 age group, and 11/65 F (with Elite), 7/59F (without elite).

Im feeling good now, after alot of lying around this afternoon, eating some ice cream, beer, and other goodies. Im a bit stiff, but that is obvious.  I also have hurt my 5th metatarsal... which is causing me to limp.  Not happy about that (it hurts pretty bad), but, I figure with a bit of time off & some icing, it will be OK!  I really enjoyed today:  there is something to be said about racing locally... i feel like I am going to get to know the triathlon community better, and I am already excited about racing the same race next year, and seeing how I can improve... (Sub-5hrs, anyone?!).

and of course the thanks:  to the boy i like (Sean) for liking me back & supporting me in these crazy endeavours, Celine and Kevin for watching and cheering, to the West Coast Subaru Triathlon organizers & race volunteers, Cervelo for making fast bikes, and Nineteen Wetsuits for making fast, comfortable wetsuits!  

Monday, July 2, 2012

Nursing: Graduation and Jobs!

It is pretty amazing to think about the last few years of my life... in many ways.  I remember the day that I wrote the MCAT in the Fall of 2008, and knew on that day that my life would not be aimed towards becoming a physician.  I was a bit lost, because that is what I had thought I wanted to do for many many years.  I knew that, but, I also knew what I was passionate about:  the physical body and health care, helping people, community, and (well... africa).  The thing that I thought about being doctor, was the extreme amount of "influence" that they can have on people.... Life changing.  But, I also forgot about all the other professions that can be equally influential.

through a journey that I don't necessarily need to outline again, I found nursing. And, boy, am I ever glad that I did.  Nursing has changed by life, my perspective, and makes me exceptionally excited about the career that I have ahead of me.  The last three years at McGill, in the direct-entry program, has been the most challenging and humbling, yet the most rewarding educational experience of my life.  I think that the perspective that the general public has of nurses is so diverse... and, when I say I am a Master's trained nurse, there is the inevitable question:  why not medicine?  well... because I want to be a nurse.  I never knew it before, but, I know it now.  I am a nurse!  I am not "just" a nurse.

 I have realized more and more that I am not interested in the diagnosing...  probably the reason why I wouldn't pursue my Nurse Practitioner.  I am interested in policy, and education, and working to figure out the complex ways of overcoming barriers to care, and working side by side with patients and families.

The direct entry program is so unique.  And, one of the really unique things is that you have a small class.  We started with about 17 people.  After the first "qualifying' year, we lost Beth, Annie, Will, Carmen.  All my close friends.  It kinda sucked.  but, the friendships that  you gain with the people in your class continue to grow and grow.  First year (i'm not going to lie), I wasn't all that impressed with my initial impressions.  by graduation... WOW.  I love these girls.  They are amazing, and I will miss them terribly!  Especially the girls in Global Health Stream, of which there is a special degree of torture, stress, anxiety, and reward to which we mutually experience.  The girls that I have met over the past 3 years are smart, beautiful, funny, and oh so talented nurses.

The professors that I have had are so inspirational as well.  Not only do they "scare" me into being a good academic, they are caring, professional nurses.  They take the time to talk to you (at least they try!), and tell you when you are going off track.  They are not easy.  but, in order to be a good nurse, you need to be educated with high standards.
we gotta do something about recruiting more tall women into the profession...

When I was in Montreal in late-may/Early june with my mum for graduation, it was a perfect end.  to enjoy a city that has been my off-and-on city.  To see my friends that I will not see for a long time.  To run in the eastern townships, and engage in relaxing spa experience with my mum.  To have a party or two with the girls.  And then... to walk across the stage with them, and remember our accomplishments.

Finally, immediately after my return from Montreal, I had a job interview the next morning.  I had a little freak out, because I didn't feel prepared for it... I didn't know *how* to prepare for it.  But, all I knew was that it was my dream job.  A position at Vancouver Coastal Health, on their clinical outreach housing team.  It is located in the Downtown East Side, and you work autonomously in the shelters and hotels in the community.   As a nurse, you go out to meet people who would not otherwise access healthcare, offering primary care.  It involves a lot of mental illness, addiction, and harm reduction.  I don't know much about the details of the position.  But, I went into the interview, and knew that I would love it.  The first indication was that my interviewers had sleeve tattoos, and facial piercing.  The second indication was that there were dogs present in the office.  These are things I love.

I felt good with the interview, and was happy that they gave me the questions, 10-minutes prior to going into the interview.  Of course, following the interview, I felt like I could've had "better" answers, but, I felt like I gave a good presentation of myself, my knowledge, and my beliefs.

It took them forever.... Like 3 weeks... to get back to me (despite them sending me emails every once and a while saying... "we'll let you know soon!").  and, it was killing me.  I was pulling out my "how am I going to find a job?  who can I network with?"  ideas.  And then, finally.  When I was riding last monday with my Uncle Don  (who is riding his bike across canada for YMCA Strongkids Campaign) and Cousin Rob to Harrison Hot Springs, I got the call.  Since I was on my bike, I was unable to talk at that point.  But, later in the afternoon, I was told "If you still want it (um, of course!), the job is yours!"

So, as soon as some paperwork bureaucracy is over and done... I can start!  I was supposed to start tomorrow (um, best birthday ever?!?!), but, it will probably be Tuesday.

so that's it for now, folks!

this week: new job, birthday, and 1/2 ironman on Sunday!  BIG WEEK!