Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pregnancy training, months 1 and 2

Pregnancy: Months 1-2

Disclaimer: This blog only shares my personal experience-I am by no means a health expert. The level of training that I entertained during pregnancy was cleared and approved by my doctors. Please consult your doctor before you attempt any strenuous physical activity during pregnancy.

When you are an endurance athlete, “getting pregnant” is also part of the challenge. In order to start baking my little man, I had to reduce the intensity and the volume of my training. Training full time for Ironman, working full time and trying to get pregnant did not translate as the perfect recipe. Once it was agreed with my coach to adjust the schedule for the new goal of planting a seed and growing a human, the “magic” happened within 4 months. I had originally cleared my schedule from any racing attempts to achieve this goal thinking it would be instantaneous: it was not and I got bored. So I took up trail running. No stress, no time comparison with road PBs. It was a win-win-win situation. I raced the Ironknee in May and finished 2nd female OA. Little did I know, I was (finally) pregnant (2 weeks) at the time.
In June, I took a pregnancy test and tested positive… I contacted my coach and we agreed that I would train on my own. I would log everything in Training Peaks so I could have a record of my activity level.
So now that the whole background is out there, here is a quick glimpse of what I did in the first two months of pregnancy, training-wise.

Month 1 (weeks 1-4)
I kept the intensity level unchanged as I did not know I was pregnant. I suspected it but I could not “feel” anything different, I just sensed it. In the second month (1 tested pregnant week 5), I adjusted the intensity to avoid “cooking” my little growing muffin.

Training log:

Weeks 1-4:
Regular training schedule (about 10-14 hours with about 3 hours of high intensity)
Race on week 2 a trail half marathon and ran to 2nd female OA.

Week 5:
I found out I was pregnant; I started training on my own since I did not know how the pregnancy would unfold; I reduced the intensity level and volume as I felt exhausted.

Weeks 6-7:
I only managed 7-10 hours of training as I felt very tired.

Weeks 8-9:
I finally started to regain some energy.
Week 8: 13:15 hours of exercise with 69k of running
Week 9: 14.5 hours of exercise with 69k of running.

The first couple of months were an adjustment as to how tired I felt. Once I had met with my doctor, I got cleared to keep training. In fact, my doctor encouraged me to go ahead as physically and mentally, it would be harder for my body to stop…so I kept running ;)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Quickest 2015 recap!

This post will be short and sweet and I will post some entries regarding my activity level during pregnancy and postpartum. 2015 was a very eventful year. 

The biggest challenge this year was giving birth to Xavier! On February 16th, we welcomed our wonderful son, after 31 hours of active labor. Fun times. The whole birth will get its own post so you may choose to read it...or not!!! I will only say that despite the long labor (it’s called labor for a reason), I was lucky enough to have a very easy and uncomplicated pregnancy. And yes, we are “those” parents who have an easy baby. I’ll leave it at that.

Race wise, 2015 was very successful. I ran PBs over PBs, I did not get injured and most importantly, I managed to keep Xavier healthy with a solid enough training schedule.

Here’s the short recap of the racing season:

Jan1: Resolution run 5k (22:20)-33 weeks pregnant, 2nd female OA
March 22: Modo 8k (33:26)-5 weeks postpartum, 3rd in AG
May 3: BMO half marathon: 1:31:46, 7th in AG
June 19: Longest Day 5k, 19:30 (PB), 7th in AG 16-39
June 28: Scotiabank Half marathon, 1:31:09, 3rd in AG
August 15, Seawheeze Half Marathon, 1:28:30 (almost PB-6 seconds off), 10th female
September 6th, Conquer the wall 30K, 2:09:13, 3rd female OA
September 27, Berlin Marathon, 3:07:56 (PB by 8 minutes, 129th female)

Now, it’s not all fun and games. I did not start at a few races. Life is not as simple as it used to be. There are definitely some adjustments to be made being a new mom and some struggles to be overcome when trying to race somewhat competitively. I am grateful for each race I get to start, finishing brings in satisfaction. Running PBs, well, it's icing on the cake and let’s just say I ate a lot of iced cake this year!!!

DNS race list:
May 24: Shaughnessy 8k (mastitis)
June 7: Sandcastle 10K (getting over a cold post mastitis)
October 24: Hallow's Eve trail half marathon (exhausted)
November 14: Phantom 25k trail race (body is tired and is now in off season)
December 12 50K: was an ambitious goal which will have to be postponed-underprepared and rest required.

If you are interested in checking out how I kept active during pregnancy and postpartum, I will be publish the relevant posts by the end of the month (somewhat of a tall order).

Finally, I want to thank Eric for being my number 1 supporter, Xavier for being the best tiny human, my family, Bjoern, Steph and all of Team Ossenbrink, Lara Penno and the crew at the Right Shoe, lane 7 at CDSC… and I want to thank my body to be stronger than ever!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Half year post. The power of mind, work in progress!

There was a hot race (Cabos) and there was a cold one (France). Both were grueling, but fun.
Yes. pain is fun.

Here is the long and super overdue Cabos report.

The power of mind: Ironman Los Toughos!

As most of you know, 2012 was a challenging year for me. Thankfully, we are well into 2013.  Last year, I learnt a lot. This year, I was finally ready to test the lessons learned over the last 18 months. Over the winter months, I trained for my first ever early season race. In short it meant 5-hour rides on the trainers.

I was fortunate to have Eric, the best husband and Sherpa, along for the ride.

We landed in San Jose del Cabo on March 8, 9 days before the race. I wanted to get used to the climate, test the course and get a baseline kind of tan before the race to avoid roasting-kind of hard with UV index of 11…

It was the first year the race was on so let sum it up: lots of expected surprises: last minute adjustments to the run course, beach start for the swim, body marking the day before-hence I body marked my bed on race night… and other kinks that should be work out for the years to come.

Let's move forward to race morning. I had slept pretty well-considering- and ate breakfast as usual. Eric and I hopped on the race shuttle and we were in transition at 5am. I did my usual, fuel, tires, Garmin set-up stuff and then off to sit next to the change tent to wait for warm-up.

Swim: 58:13 3rd Female AG OA

One loop, 500m-1500m-300m-1500m. Surprise beach start.

I was next to Matteo, an Italian friend we met during race week and we wished each other a good day-we would see each other at the finish line.

The “dos minutos” lasted forever until the horn went off and I sprinted to the water. My first beach start was a success as I missed the huge swell and was in THE pack, drafting. The pack was good, calm and there were two other girls in it. It was a little wavy but the water was warm, I’ll take that anytime.

T1: 3:20

200 m of running in soft sand with a 12-step staircase at a steep angle.

Despite being on the harder end of the spectrum, T1 went smooth. The volunteers were awesome and really helpful. I was out of there quickly and left my T1 bag where my bike was parked, and ran to the mount line.

Bike: 5:51:32: I was 18th female after this leg, a feat for me!

2 laps, windy, with 2 main out and backs: San Jose-Cabo San Luca and San Jose-Airport on the toll road

The bike starting with a 5-6% 1.5k climb out of T1 to reach the highway towards Cabo. There was a head wind heading out. Needless to say the headwind was stronger on the second lap. So was the tail wind though! I had ridden the San Jose-Cabo route a few times and I am glad I did. There were noticeable potholes as well as those little tennis ball halves scattered across the road to slow down traffic. When going over those, as they were not covered, you had to pick your line and hope for the best. Quite a few people flatted. I was feeling good on the bike. I was holding off for the first hour coach Björn has said to build into my pace. I was fuelling on schedule and taking salt pills every 30 minutos.

When I finally hit the climb onto the toll road, guess what: it was much tougher than it appeared. We had driven that part twice as it was prohibited to ride prior to race day. Mexican jail did not appeal to me-I did not sneak onto the road. Some did, good for them: no one has seen them since!

Back to the climb though, it was a UBC-hill style, but it never ended. Like Yellowlake, but even more deceiving. When you finally crested, you could finally fly a little downhill into the crosswinds (very manageable) and climb some more until the turn around. Coming back towards town was headwind. Ha. And my power meter decided to show I was pushing 17 to 60 watts. Right. I let it go for a while, resetted the thing and it started to work again when I hit the second lap towards Cabo.

Side bar: there was NO signage on the course. I knew where I was with mental calculation. A 60k was spray painted on the road, but nothing else. Having said that, every viaduct had a crowd nested under, cheering like mad, even in the middle of nowhere. That was awesome.

I flew by special needs as I was self sufficient and my bag was not waiting for me.

I started picking up guys on the second lap. Some let me pass, some did not. Some got red carded, I smiled.

I saw Eric in San Jose before heading towards the toll road for the last 30-ish-k. He was stoked-little did I know my chip was not working so he knew I was still in the race. 

I hit the toll road climb again. The temperature was getting up there-making my eyes burn with sweat. Once at the turn around, the head wind/cross wind now, was even stronger. I focussed being as aero as possible and made it to T2.

I was stoked to get to the run. I was ready to nail it. Hope is always good.

T2: 1:31

In and out-once again, the volunteers rocked.

Run: 4:10:13 ouch.

3 laps, mostly flat, hot.

 How I wish I felt...

I hit the road and my legs felt like lead. No worries I thought, it will take 5k and it will be over. Yep, it was over after 5 k. I officially had no legs left. I was in agony. I started walking early on in the race as I hoped it would help me find my legs. Stomach was good, I gelled and took salt pills on schedule; however, I had nothing left in the tank. I must have drunk 100 baggies of water, splashed 100 more on my head and back, filled my top with ice, but I was moving forward, slowly.

How I actually felt...

Side bar: the turn around for each lap was half way down the finishing shoot. Yep.

I felt slightly better on the second lap but girls were passing. I was trying to hang on until I passed 1 girl in my age group. It gave me hope. Everyone was suffering, some more than others, including myself. Until today, I still don’t know how my legs managed to complete the marathon. I was enjoying myself but man- I was suffering. On the last lap, I saw Eric and he screamed: “ Björn said to run the last 10k flat out”. I smiled. It was the plan, I would give the flat out of the day, which was slow, but faster than lap 2. With the multiple out and backs, you could see your competition-with 3k to go, I swore to myself, that’s it, NO MORE WALKING, which I managed. I was living the ironman shuffling experience VIP. At the last corner before the finish, I saw Eric screaming “Lâche pas la patate!” When I could see the clock, I knew I was clocking my slowest race ever, but I did not care. I was thrilled to finish. I raised my arms in the air and smiled. Biggest victory of my life. I had just PBied in pain and mental toughness. I got my finisher medal and my finisher poncho: small is not small unless it’s female small.

Two volunteers caught me and as soon as they got me, my legs went. I was sent off for an hour massage (the best thing ever). I was in pain, but all I could think about was France. I had finally found the joy of racing again.

Race Time: 11:04:49. 3rd in AG

The race was tough. 1399 toed the line, 891 finished. That’s a 33% DNF. Higher than normal I would think.

Four months have passed and I am still on a high. My 3rd place earned me a spot to Kona 2013-and a big-a** Mdot trophy. My tan is fading but I can’t wait to race again.


Thank you to Eric the almost-ever right best hubby and friend.

Björn, the best coach who keeps supporting my roller-coaster rides

To my teammates and friends, who I wanted to make proud on race day

And to my family, who has been supporting me for 35 years.

Finally, thank you to the race director, his team and the volunteers. For a new event, it was quite a success.

If you think you can’t go on-stop thinking.

Monday, January 21, 2013

It takes a village!

Triathlon may be an individual sport, but without the help, support and companionship of others, I would be just plain lonely.
Who doesn’t appreciate his/her lanemates at 5:30 in the pool?
Who doesn’t enjoy having running partners that can push you when your mind wanders?
Who doesn’t smile when a co-worker calls you crazy?
Who doesn’t gain comfort knowing that regardless of schedule differences, you are virtually together?
Who isn’t thankful for good coach?

I sure do value all of the above...and despite the fog that may have clouded my mind, I got 8 weeks to go (55 days) to IM Los Cabos, so it’s time to give a little shout out to my triathlon family. And work harder!

Thank you! I can’t believe it but race season is on!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


It has been a long time since I last posted. Well. It may take a little longer until I post again, but keep checking!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March: Madness Central

I am less than 90 days away from my "A" yes, it is hard to accept that rest is the basic ingredient for success at this time. Everyone else seems to be so much faster, stronger and fitter. I feel like I am far from being where I should be; it could almost say I feel like the weaker version of myself.

March has been madness for me, mostly due to a very busy professional schedule (the day time profession). It was busy, highly stressful; add allergic reactions to the formula, you got an explosive recipe for disaster.

Thankfully, I am surrounded by a group of people that support me continuously and allow me to see the light at the end of the tunnel, even when it feels like there is a power outage. I want to thank all of you for being there at all times, I greatly appreciate it.

Having said that, rest days will soon come to an end and it will be time to have some fun training hard over the week-end with friends.

Happy training-and don't forget to take a nap if you can!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Breaking the ice: Steveston 8k icebreaker

What can I say. First race of the season. I had not race since October and for some strange reason, it felt like I was new to racing all over again. Well. Next time I should focus and make sure I am in the right head space as I did race like a newbie.

I made 3 mistakes this morning:

Too short of a warm-up-the shorter the race the longer the warm-up. I knew that but yet went too short.

As the gun went off, I realized my left shoe felt loose...well I had to stop and tie it up 1.5k into the race. Yes, I double knotted them. Did I double checked them just before start time-no.

Finally, even though I was lucky enough to have Bjoern and Stephanie on course, I did not push hard enough. An 8k should be heavy breathing the WHOLE race, not parts of it.

For those who have not raced the Steveston Icebreaker,  it's an out and back. We had a somewhat strong headwind going out, and a tail/cross wind coming back.  Which was awesome.

I am glad (within reason) that I made those mistakes this morning. I can now move on and improve upon it. I am also pleased with the last 3k of the race. When I saw my slow 21:00 at 5K, I knew I was far from a PB but I did managed to nail the last bit. I crossed the line at 32:52, 28 sec off my PB, but wanting more.  Usually, after such a race, I would be grumpy, somewhat frustrated and then get grumpier. Sure, I did not have a stellar race this morning, but I know where I can shave seconds and I can't wait to bring it on. For real this time!