Monday, July 27, 2015

July Update

We are back now in New Zealand. It is the middle of winter, but I think we have been pretty lucky with our timing, it has been quite lovely. I can never really believe that this is winter in the North Island, having lived in Christchurch my whole life, winters were a lot tougher. It has definitely meant adjusting from coming home from a Germany in a heat wave has not been such a shock! I had a pretty relaxed couple of weeks (training wise, still plenty of house renovations being done) and then this week I have started with a new coach, Kristian from TriSpecific Kristian has been quite a mentor these last couple of months, getting my gut health back on track, which I will be eternally grateful for as I can only but say it has been life changing for me. And I promise I will be writing a series of a few blogs soon outlining the changes we have made. I say we as my husband and son as well have made changes to the way they are eating, and I have been taking notes on changes to all three of us.

Quite a few weeks back I got asked to help write an article about why self coaching was a great choice, and I declined, as although I didn't know at that time I was going to ask Kristian to coach me, I said I don't actually believe self coaching is the best way. I fully believe that if you find the right coach for you, with an open line of communication and trust that is going to lead to so much more success than coaching yourself (for several reasons), but on the contrary, if you find a coach that is wrong for you, you are much better off coaching yourself. Over the last few months I started listening to the Fat Black Podcasts that Krisitan and Pete were giving. I think I started at episode 93 and now I am down to episode 19. I was pretty amazed with how much I was learning, mostly on the nutrition side of things but then also on all of their coaching philosophies. I was also impressed with their infectious positivity, and how much they genuinely care not just about their own coached athletes, but the general sporting population, so much so they are imparting an amazing amount of knowledge for free on their weekly podcasts. So to cut a long story short. I was lucky enough that Kristian agreed to take me on. Kristian's been really easy to communicate with, which is absolutely crucial and we seem to be very much on the same page on what and how I need to work to make gains going forwards. I've always been a bit alternative, and a bit different in my way of thinking, and it is nice to find someone so knowledgeable, but also with a real open mind in all things health and triathlon.

Over the next few weeks I will write here a bit about what I have been learning. Anyone that knows me, knows that I pretty much never talk of anything else at the moment, it's just been such a positive journey so far. I want to talk about the changes I have made nutritionally, which have not only helped me deal with the gut issues, but the positive side effects of these dietary changes that have rid me of anxiety and brain fog, and hopefully led me down a track to a much better long term health prognosis! I also believe it will enable me to make improvements in my own race results, but until I really meet my goals in this area I will not talk of the athletic advantages but instead of the advantages it is having to my general health and wellbeing.

So right now we are fully involved in preparing for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii in just under 11 weeks now. I will race the Ironman Bintan 70.3 towards the end of August. It will be lovely to get back to this amazing race destination, where I have competed the last two years straight and only have good memories!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Challenge Roth

Yesterday I raced Challenge Roth. It is an incredible race with an incredible atmosphere and I really wanted to experience that again for perhaps the last time. Unfortunately I didn't really get to enjoy the race. I did enjoy parts. Riding up the Solar Berg on the first lap was just incredible, goose bumps all over, but the run was very difficult for me. As I stated in my last blog I have been having a lot of difficulties with my stomach, a lot of sickness, a lot of GI distress and I have completely changed my diet and it has helped so much. I feel like I have made a huge step forwards in the last 6 weeks or so. I would suggest if you are trying to fix a bad gut not to race 2 iron distance races in a month! These were events I committed to a long time ago, and ill health or not I was going to honor those commitments. Racing an iron distance is definitely not the healthiest thing you can do for your body, but luckily I have some time now where I can go home and really try to come to the bottom of things (a little pun there!).

 So here is how my day unfolded. The swim. I didn't really know what to expect as the last few months I have put a lot of time into my bike and run in expense of my swim, especially since it's not the greatest place to do swim training in Germany with usually no lane ropes involved. But I had a decent swim. I felt quite uncomfortable as it was a very warm swim. Perhaps too warm for neoprene. A few days before the temperature had been 24.5 of the water, but they were mixing the water to try and bring that down, and the day before they said it was 22.7 so wetsuits allowed. But to me it felt very hot, hotter than Cairns, and not too pleasant to swim in. I swallowed some of the canal water. Not a big deal usually when my gut was completely healthy, but at the time I wondered if this could have an impact later in the day. In the end I had a solid swim. 50 mins or so which is great for me. I was about 2.5 minutes back from Laura Bennett (super swimmer) and 1.5 minutes or so behind Anja Beranek which was more of a worry as she is a super biker.

Onto my Ceepo and I was biking really well and feeling great. The first part of the course was a bit of climbing, I had no speedo but at 40k there was a road marker and my time was 1 hr 4 minutes which is great for me as I always seem to feel better and better as the day begins. So I was very happy how I was riding, independently and strong. Unfortunately at about 45k a huge pack came past me. Before the race I had found out that we were to have 30 minutes gap to the AG athletes which was great news, and I felt we would all have a clean race with no interference. This group was all pro men and 2 pro women. They were much closer than 10 m together, and what was disappointing was a draft buster was there and did nothing. I get frustrated as Challenge made some great rules. 5 minute penalty on bike, 1k extra to run at 28 k in marathon, and they said 84 draft busters on course who are very experienced. Unfortunately in my opinion these draft busters need to get some balls. I saw no one in penalty tents. So for me, I got passed and had to keep dropping back the 10 m gap as usual, but I am a great climber and this pace on the climbs was too slow for me and frustrating as I want to give my all, at what I do best. I'm not as good on the flats or descents so I want to make the most of my climbing ability. I did a stupid thing in that I decided to try and pass the entire group back. 25 seconds to pass each person, I was sprinting for quite some time. It was not a good idea, but just my personality I cannot be content to "just sit in" for the remaining 75% of the race and save my legs for the run. So I decided I didn't want to be frustrated. I wanted to be proud of myself and do a fair race and by myself. And I did. I can be very proud of myself. Is it smart? Maybe not, but I didn't bend the rules like some did. I was frustrated though because I couldn't for the life of me understand why so many pro men were behind me. I'm not that great a swimmer they should all be up the road infront of me right from the beginning. Challenge made some great starts to try and make the women's race fair, but definitely now I think it shows that the women need a big gap from the pro men as well to get no interference, and for the draft marshals to do what they are there to do.

So once I was alone again I was enjoying myself, feeling strong and as I said the SolarBerg climb with all the spectators was amazing. I didn't feel so happy on the second loop as the course was quite congested and I was passing the whole way but people kept going to pass and not checking from behind and I had a few very close calls where I nearly hit age groupers and it was a bit scary knowing that last year Anja Beranek was taken out of the race when she was in the lead for this very reason. My goal was to bike under 4 hour 50 and I biked about 4 hour 58 I think, so I was frustrated I didn't meet my goal when I really did feel great riding all day. But it was a very windy and hot day by German standards and I know that if I compare my time with girls that do this course regularly it seems that the bike was about 10 minutes slower than previous years, so then I could have perhaps met my goal if the conditions had allowed. I will never know of course.

Onto the run and I immediately knew something was not right with my gut. I was feeling very sluggish as well so after 4k I stopped in the portloo and I thought it would be a one time thing. I felt great afterwards but then 3k later again. I think most normal people would decide it was going to be a very long day with a lot of portaloo stops but not me, I decided I would not stop and would have to go in my pants. Daniella Saemmler was just in front and I finally caught her at around the halfway mark and moved into 4th. I ran as hard as I could the whole way and so it is disappointing to run 3 hour 12 minutes or so when I have run 3 hours there before. Apart from the horrible stomach issues I was having I didn't feel bad. I felt strong and I felt I was running well. I started feeling quite weak at the end and just couldn't wait to finish. I really wanted to enjoy all the sections where we go through town with so much crowd support but I was just feeling so bad I couldn't.

So for me it is back to New Zealand, and further work to get my gut health on track. As I said I had made huge progress. I was running my 2 hour long runs with no toilet stops which is absolutely unheard of for me. So it gave me a bit of confidence and I didn't restrict my vegetable and salad intake nearly so much as I used to do in the days leading up to the race. I find that the worst part of embarking on an iron distance race is that in the days leading up you have to cut out on this healthy food. So since I was doing so well in training I felt it was unneeded. So I am unsure whether this was the reason I had race difficulties or the fact I swallowed dirty canal water, maybe a bit of both. But it is clear, I've still got work to do.