Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Energy Bar of Choice: Steve's Ebars

As a competitive triathlete, I rely on proper nutrition to adequately prepare me for a workout, keep my energy levels up during a workout and for muscle recovery. Nutrition could be called the fourth sport in triathlon. Whether or not you fuel yourself correctly can make or break your performance, even if you are properly trained. However, because adequate digestion relies on increased blood flow to your stomach and digestive organs and exercise relies on blood flow to your working muscles, eating and activity are in constant opposition. The sports nutrition industry has capitalized on this and now there are a ton of products available that are easily digestible and can be used just before and during exercise. Sports nutrition products contain energy-boosting ingredients and a lot of vitamins and minerals, so they can even be used by the non-athlete who leads a busy lifestyle and needs a quick meal on the go. The energy bar that I rely is Steve’s Ebar. 

Steve’s Ebar is an an all natural energy bar that contains no added flavour or preservatives and includes ingredients that are nutrient dense (high vitamin & mineral content per calorie), high in antioxidants and are easy to digest. The high nutrient density is optimal for providing enough fuel for your muscles and the high antioxidant content is great for sustained energy. When you exercise you produce free-radicals which damage the muscle cells and cause you to tire during a workout. Antioxidants “soak-up” the free radicals and allow you to exercise longer and harder. The fact that all these great benefits come in a easy to digest form means that you can get all the benefits from a full meal, without depriving your muscles of blood flow that would otherwise be needed for digestion.

Compared to other bars I have tried, Steve’s Ebar is not only nutritious, but delicious too! The Chocolate Peanut Butter flavour has been described by many as tasting like a chocolate peanut butter cup. Other bars I have tried have horrible aftertastes, but Steve’s Ebar doesn’t just taste great, but there is no chemical aftertaste that you find with some of the other bars. I would say that overall it tastes like a cross between a granola bar and a whole-grain muffin and, if you are just eating one as an energy boosting snack on a busy day, tastes great with coffee.

Another great feature of Steve’s Ebar is that can be easily consumed during exercise. There is nothing worse than being on a long ride, trying to eat some of those other bars and finding that you are chewing for about 10 minutes before you can actually swallow. The Ebar is fresh and very easy to chew, making it ideal to eat anytime, even when you are on the bike or during a long run. 

For these reasons, Steve’s Ebar is my energy bar of choice. Steve Forst makes these bars in small batches in Toronto. For more information or to order a batch for yourself, contact Steve at

~ Miranda Tomenson-Bhardwaj, MSc

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Miami 70.3

Going to Miami I only really had one goal...which I really didn’t tell anyone but myself. I wanted to rank among the professional female triathletes. I had already made the decision to turn Pro next year, but I wanted to prove that I really deserved to call myself a Professional. I am happy to say that I did accomplish my goal. There were 13 professional female triathletes. I placed 11th female over all and had the 7th fastest swim time and the 5th fastest run time. Now I can say that I AM as good as the Pros! Read on if you want to hear the whole story of my Miami Adventure.

I flew down to Miami with my parents on Friday and we arrived at the hotel at around 4pm. I immediately unpacked my bike and set it up so that I could get in a 45 minute ride to loosen up my legs. Unfortunately, my ride happened to be right in the middle of rush hour and I spent the entire ride focusing all my attention on staying on the road and not getting hit by a car. I did notice that my balance was a bit off and I was even more shaky than usual on my bike. I have never been a confident rider, but this was worse than usual. It was quite possibly due to the fact that it had been 3 weeks since I actually rode outside. Half-way through the ride I did find a parking lot and practiced some figure 8s and my transitions to help me with my balance. This actually seemed to help a little bit and I was a bit more confident on the bike ride back to the hotel. Once back, I quickly unpacked the rest of my gear and I headed out with my parents to find a nice Italian restaurant so I could begin my carb loading. I was determined to eat A LOT of carbs before my race this time so as to prevent a repeat of Vegas where I completely just ran out of energy 70K into the bike. I chose Lasagna for dinner, took advantage of the never ending bread rolls that Ludo (the owner/waiter) brought to the table and polished off about 2 bottles (or 1.5 litres) of water. My parents enjoyed the equivalent amount of fluid, only their beverage of choice was red wine :) After dinner I headed to bed.

I was up at 7:30am the next morning to blue sky!!! Considering the predicted forecast was heavy rain from Saturday – Monday I was quite excited about this. I decided to take advantage of the time day and the weather and go for a 30 minute bike ride traffic-free, followed by a 15 minute run. The bike felt better than yesterday, but I was still a little shaky. My cadence was around 90rpm and holding 180W for 5 minutes felt pretty easy. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to hold that for 2-3hrs though. The run felt pretty good and during my 5 minutes at “race pace” I looked down at my Garmin and saw a 3:55/km pace and was in shock. It didn’t feel like I was working that hard. This made me happy. However, I did notice that the air was wet and breathing was a bit harder then I was used too. Not to mention the fact that by the time I got back to the hotel it looked more like I had gone for a swim than a bike-run. I knew I was not good in the heat and this worried me. After a big breakfast of cereal, yogurt, strawberries, coffee, 3 muffins, a piece of coffee cake and a few slices of turkey cold cuts and a few glasses of water, we headed to the race expo to pick up my race kit, attend the pre-race meeting and check in my bike. During the pre-race meeting I started to panic. Water temperature was hovering between 76-77 I wear a wetsuit? Fears about dehydration set in. What was the plan for nutrition and fluids, again? There was no swim warm-up allowed, so what do I do for warm-up? Luckily, I have a great coach who had all the answers and the pre-race panic was gone. After I checked my bike I went back to the hotel, did a 20-minute swim in the pool (I am not sure that the other hotel guests in the pool appreciated my flip-turns) and had lunch. Lunch was a yummy Panini with grilled veggies, olive oil and mozzarella cheese and more water. After lunch my parents needed to walk off some of the wine they had drunk so we walked the 1.6 miles to Publix and back to stock up on plain bagels, peanut butter, bananas for my pre-race breakfast and a bottle of Santa Margherita for after the race! Then it was dinner time and I had a big bowl of spaghetti, more water and then went to bed nice and early.

I woke up on race morning at 4:30am after 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I made coffee and had my breakfast of a plain bagel with peanut butter and banana and a coffee. On the drive over to the race site it started to rain. This was not good. It was pretty light rain while I set up my transition area and did my warm-up (a 15-minute run, some running drills and 4x10” sprints) and then by the time I headed over to the swim start it was pouring rain and windy. People were sitting under truck-beds, lying under cars and standing under trees to try to stay dry. The start of the race was delayed by about 15 minutes while we waited for the sun to rise. Even with the sun up it was still pretty dark. The water temperature was 77 degrees and non-wetsuit so I didn’t even have a wet-suit to keep me warm. Despite my best efforts to keep warm (arm swings, leg swings, dryland simulated swimming) my teeth were chattering uncontrollably by the time my wave was on deck. For the first time ever I couldn’t wait for the race to just start! After the wave ahead of me started, our wave jumped off the dock into the water. It was warm and I felt the added buoyancy of being in salt water. I tried to position myself so that I would have a clean start, but once the horn blew I was out-sprinted by a few girls who then slowed down and formed a wall that I couldn’t get by! I was very frustrated as I watched the lead swimmer take off towards the first buoy and I was helplessly stuck behind a slow pack of swimmers. After I managed to get by them it was too late and the lead girl was out of sight. I pushed on, swam through the wave ahead of us, but I was on my own for the rest of the swim. The first half of the swim I was with the current and felt great. I kept my head down, sighting every three breaths and still keeping on course. However, after turning a buoy I felt the cross-current and I had to make sure that I was swimming 45 degrees to the current so that I would stay on course.  When I turned at the next buoy I was heading straight into the current. This was tough as the waves crashed into me and it was impossible to find any rhythm to my stroke. I made a technical error going into the swim exit since I wasn’t sure whether to swim directly towards it or whether I had to first head towards the buoy on my right and then to the swim exit. Worried about a possible DQ I took the long route around the buoy and then into the swim exit, which I later learned was wrong, but oh well. I exited the water in 29’16. The run to transition was long, but I was happy to see my parents cheering and waving me on.

I took my time in T1 and made sure I had all my nutrition with me for the bike. The rain had let up a little, which I was thankful for. The first 10km of the bike course was very technical and there were a lot of turns and the road was not smooth. As I approached a set of train tracks the volunteers were screaming, “SLOW DOWN! SLOW DOWN! YOU WILL CRASH IF YOU DON’T SLOW DOWN” so I did just that...I watched my speed slow to about 5km/hr as I crossed the tracks. Just as I did this I noticed a man passing me on the left crash AND at the same time a man trying to pass on the right crashed. I came to the following conclusion, “men on bikes can be idiots” and “oh god, I am so happy I slowed down”. This still made me quite nervous for the rest of the ride and I was happy that I reached Highway 27 safely. I would stay on this road till the turnaround. Unfortunately, I still had to battle cross-winds and rough road that nearly had me falling off my bike at some points. Highway 27 turned toward the north during the last 10km before the turnaround and so I was met with a strong head-wind. I knew this would turn into a tail-wind at the turnaround so I fought through it knowing it would soon be easier. After the turnaround was my favourite part of the race. I watched my power meter show my watts around 180-190W, my speed above 40km/hr and my cadence between 90-95rpm. I felt comfortable and strong and this made me happy. Then I passed a couple Pros and was even happier!  As I hit the 1hr 45min mark into the bike I started to feel the discomfort of riding in aero position. Even though I had made sure to get up out of the saddle every 5 miles and stand-up for a few peddle strokes my hip flexors were screaming, especially on my left side, and I could no longer stand the pressure that the saddle was placing on my crotch area. I started shifting my position so that I was to the left and then the right of the nose of my saddle and this seemed to help. My left hip flexor was getting tighter and tighter though and I was riding on the uprights more and more often to relieve it. I hit a bump about 10km out of T2 that caused my left aerobar to shift a bit to the left so that it was no longer tight and was slipping around when I was aero position. This was annoying as it meant I had to ride in the uprights for the last 10km. Also, at this point the wind had picked up so much so that if there wasn’t a head wind then there was a crosswind that was causing me to drift all over the road. I no longer cared about keeping my power up, I just wanted to make it to T2 in one piece and without suffering a strained hip flexor! The wind in the final stretch into T2 was like nothing I had ever experienced. You could hear it howling, you could see the palm trees swaying and when I stopped pedalling to slip my feet out of my shoes in preparation for my dismount, my bike almost came to a dead stop. I was so happy when I racked my bike! I didn’t care that my bike split was only a 2:38, because I had survived the most brutal ride I had ever experienced in a 70.3 event.

Heading out onto the run I was still in second in my age group. I had no idea how far back I was from the first place girl in my age group, but I felt pretty good. The hip flexor issue failed to bother me on the run and I was extremely thankful. The run course was two loops and involved running north, then east across the Causeway and then back. The wind was coming pretty strong out of the North and the headwind coming out of T2 was pretty brutal. I still posted my first few kms in 4’10 per km pace though so I was happy. Once I reached the Causeway though the combination of uphill + brutal crosswind + rain was very demoralizing. I knew that the faster I ran the faster it would be over with! That kept me going through that first loop. At the start of the second loop, when many of the athletes were starting their first loop, I used the additional number of people on the course to my advantage and tucked in behind some of the faster athletes so that they would block the wind a bit for me. Once I was at the top of the Causeway on my second loop I knew that the rest of the run would be easy in comparison. I picked up the pace and raced my way into the finish. I passed a bunch of female 25 – 29 age groupers on the way, but I had no idea if any of them were on their first or second loop. When I saw my parents faces as I entered the finishing shoot I knew I had done it and was the first female non-professional to cross the finish line (and I had beat some Pros)! I had made up 11-minutes on the first place 25 - 29 female during my run.

I was very excited to finish my last race of the season so successfully! In the process of achieving my race goal I also achieved my long term goal of running a sub-1:30 half-marathon in a half ironman distance event. I would not have been able to do this without the amazing support of my family (my parents, Rikki, my sisters and Rikki’s parents) who have always been there for me and put up with me, my RMT, Craig Dow (from Athlete’s Care King & Yonge), who was the main reason I got through the 2011 season un-injured, Bill Wells (my chiropractor from Urban Athlete), Dave Bialkowski for fixing my bike last minute for the race and for going out of his way to get me my race wheel, and especially my coach, who put up with my complaining and arguing all season, because there is no way I could have accomplished anything without his coaching. I also appreciate all the advice and support from Bill Durrant, the U of T Swim Team Coaches (Byron McDonald and Linda Keifer), Peter Oyler, Scott Judges (my bike fitter from Fitt 1st) and all my friends and fellow riders from WattsUp for their words of encouragement! Last, I want to thank my sponsors for this season: Turner-Tomenson & Associates, National Bank Financial,
Lululemon, Bialkowski Trysport and WattsUp Cycling.

I can’t wait for the adventures that next season brings!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Coaching Certification & Training Adventures in Huntsville

It has been awhile since I have blogged. It hasn’t been due to the fact that nothing is going on, but more due to the fact that so much has been going on! Quick summary: I was second female 25-29 at the World Ironman 70.3 Championships, got a Shimano sponsorship and a National Bank sponsorship and have been training super hard for the upcoming Miami Ironman 70.3 on October 30th!!!

Anyway, I finally have a chance to sit down (while Rikki drives!) after a whirlwind weekend in Huntsville. The purpose of the trip was for me to become a certified triathlon coach by attending a weekend workshop in Huntsville (and get my bike tuned up in Parry Sound, and fit in a quality 20 minute 5km run workout!).

Highlights of the trip include:

Talking about Muscle biochemistry and weightlifting with Rikki
A 5km run (within a 13km run) in 20’35 in the pitch black morning
Finding Monte Antico Red Wine in an LCBO in Huntsville (can’t even find this wine in Toronto!)
Getting my bike tuned up by Dave Bialkowski (the only bike mechanic I trust)
Talking about getting a Cervelo P5 Road Bike and Rikki not arguing (yet!)
FREE breakfast buffet at the hotel
Finding a copy of the Bhagavagita in the hotel
Getting to drive on winding Muskoka Rd 3 way too fast
BULK BARN Caramel Popcorn
Shasta Cola
Finding a $1 cork screw, breaking corkscrew, watching Rikki open wine with this broken cork screw
Realizing I either order chicken or salmon whenever I go out for dinner...and deciding that next time Rikki should order my food for me so I don’t do this again

Top 3 things I learned about triathlon training that I didn’t know before:

Don’t underestimate the importance of transitions! These should be practiced and scheduled into training like bike, run and swim workouts are
Deliberate practice is important. Don’t do things in practice that you wouldn’t do in a race.
Training is most ieffective when there is a social component (riding/training with others), a self-direction component (technique of freestyle stroke), a success related component (a timed swim) and a sensory component (scenery while riding a bike).

Hope to blog again soon! Happy training :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bracebridge Olympic


Slept over in Bracebridge the Friday night before Sara’s Race to avoid any last minute travel troubles. We woke up at 6am to about 3 different alarms going off at the same time...there was my annoying blackberry ringtone, Sara’s blackberry’s crickets and the radio blaring something from Moose FM. While Sara showered and got ready for her race I made a Tim’s run. Her choice of pre-race meal was a blueberry muffin and large coffee and I grabbed a whole grain blueberry muffin and large decaf (no caffeine the day before a race helps me sleep way better, which I discovered in Rhode Island). We had a non-rushed morning: she had breakfast and played Screw Your Neighbour on her iTouch and I had breakfast and played Sims 3 on the laptop. At around 7:00am we hoped on our bikes and biked the 3.7km to the race course. Wow, my quads felt sooo tight – I was a bit worried that if 3.7km hurt then what was I going to do tomorrow when I had to ride more than 10 times that. We got the race site and I chose the best spot for Sara’s bike, which was super close to the bike exit so she wouldn’t have to run too far with her bike. We went through the pre-race routine...check-in, transition set-up, a short dryland warm-up and then a short swim warm-up (swim would be non-wetsuit). Right before her race...*surprise*...Papa showed up. Sara and Papa hugged and cried...she was happy...and now even more psyched up to race. Sara exited the water 2nd, was 2nd after the bike and then 3rd after the run. Woohoo!! She had a massive cheering squad of me, Papa, Kevin, Ross and Tom there for support. It was awesome and very inspiring for me. After her race and all her fans left I just hung out in the hotel room, did some yoga, stretching on the roller, had a nice warm bath, and watched Helen Jenkins win the London ITU World Champs! For dinner I chose a very bland dinner of penne pasta with tomato sauce and chicken with a side of garlic bread from Boston Pizza (take-out). I actually went to Walmart to buy salt and pepper because I wouldn’t have been able to eat it otherwise. I ate at around 6pm and was in bed at 8pm.


The no-caffeine pre-race day plan worked and I slept all the way until 5am (9hrs!), when the radio and my blackberry woke me up-I actually was a bit sad not to hear Sara’s crickets. I started my day off with a round of yoga, got changed and packed up the car. I made a Tim’s stop on the way to the race course and had a plain bagel with peanut butter and jam and a medium black coffee. Ahhh...caffeine again! I got to the race site super early so I took my bike out for a 10 minute easy ride and I practiced getting on and off my bike with my shoes in the pedals. Then I went to check-in and pick a good spot in transition to set up my bike. Not as good as Sara’s, but I was limited by my bib#. Then I did a 5 minute easy run followed by some great warm-up exercises I learned from Paul Bregin. I finished setting up my transition area and then swam the course. I made sure I knew what to site for if the orange buoys were hard to see and got my feel for the water. Pre-race prep was done. Next, I went to the race directors of the Milk Tri Series to try to convince them I should be starting in the elite wave. First, I mentioned that I was a varsity swimmer and that didn’t work, then I said I would bike above 30km/hr, then I said I would probably finish the race in 2:15...ahhh, finally, that had them convinced. And now the expectations were set....

The swim was a time-trial start so I started 10 seconds back from the elite in front of me, in the third position. The swim felt great – I actually really liked the non-wetsuit. I had my trisuit on which basically feels like a bathing suit so I had no extra resistance in the water. There were no feet to draft off of, unfortunately, but I felt myself speeding up as I got into the groove of the race. I even passed two of the male Pros! It was a two-looped course and by the end of the second loop I saw, and passed, a fellow competitor, Ayesha, who started in the first position! OMG-I was now in first place (of the Pros!). I couldn’t help but be a little bit excited. My swim time (including the run to transition) was 22:08, not bad for a non-wetsuit swim! 5th fastest time of the race.

T1 was fast with no wetsuit to worry about. My bike mount was a little slow as my pedal had rotated to a different position than I wanted it in – but not bad considering it was all up hill!

The bike was on a great course and, other than a few sharp turns on some sandy patches and a couple speed bumps, the pavement was nice and smooth. The first 5km my legs were a bit stiff, but no more so than the start of the bike in any race. I guess it’s unavoidable since I tend to be a “kicker” type swimmer. After the big climb in the first 4km though they started to loosen up. I felt pretty good on the bike and was in a good rhythm up until the 17km mark, when we turned onto a side road and had a head wind and was all up and down hill. I lost my rythm a bit here but after the turnaround, with the wind at my back, I started to get in a groove again. I think it was the 30km mark when I was passed by Beth Primrose (a former top Canadian triathlete who is now 50 and still an outstanding triathlete!). For the next 8km I would be passing her and she would pass me. It was kind of fun – but having to slow my pace down when she passed to avoid drafting wasn’t. After the 38km mark I passed her for good and we came into T2 first and second. I couldn’t believe I was still in first after the bike! To quote my dad’s response to seeing me “She’s still in the lead after the bike, that’s a first!” Too bad Beth was still close behind. My bike split was 1:10.07 (34.2km/hr).

I exited T2 with Beth and we ran the first 3km together (4’06, 3’53, 3’58). My heart rate was staying around 170bpm and I didn’t feel too bad so I knew I wasn’t running too hard. Just after 3km Ayesha caught both of us and both her and Beth pulled ahead. I wanted to stay with them, but they picked up the pace too much and I didn’t think I could maintain their pace for the whole race. Stupid brain. At the 5km mark Beth had pulled ahead of Ayesha and I actually caught Ayesha (splits for 4, 5km were 4’03, 4’04). Ayesha didn’t like this and she picked up the pace again and once again my head got in the way and I let her go (6km split of 4’06). I started to feel a bit worse at around 6km (7km split of 4’15)...possibly because the two track sessions I have done led to about 5-6km of cumulative hard running...and my pace dropped a bit. I managed to hold mostly 4’08s though for the last 2km + 300m (my GPS clocked the course in at 10.3km). I finished the run in a time of 41:48 and the whole race in 2:15.36! Second place female overall and just 9 seconds ahead of Ayesha.

It was awesome to have a surprise fan, Papa, and mom and dad Bharadwaj and Rikki there to see me! They were great at cheering!

Next stop...Cornwall Olympic

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rhode Island 70.3


I woke up at 4am, 10mins of yoga to warm-up a get loose, grabbed a breakfast of plain bagel with peanut butter and a banana and headed to the race. Rikki had to drop me off and then go park somewhere off site so I was on my own. I set up my transition area and then did a short run to loosen up. I was in one of the last waves so I got to watch the Pro men and women start (and finish!) their swim. I did about a 500m swim warm-up and then waited for my wave to start.

I looked at the athletes around me and positioned myself on the beach near the athletes wearing racing goggles. Usually you can tell the fast swimmers by their goggles. I was a bit nervous that I was wearing a two piece tri-suit and most of the other athletes were in one-piece tri suits, bathing suits or a sports bra and tri shorts. I would definitely have a bit more drag than some of the other swimmers. Oh well. Before I had too much time to worry the horn sounded and we were off! It turned out that I guessed right about who the fast swimmers were and I was able to find a nice pair of feet to guide me through the swim course at a good pace. Other than a few people in the waves in front of me that tried to climb on top of me as I passed them, it was a good swim and I exited the water 3rd in my wave and 2nd in my age group. The 1.9km swim + a bit of a long run to transition put me at a 29:16 swim time. Only 7 seconds behind the lead Pro!

The transition was a bit chaotic as usual. I landmarked where my bike would be, but then confused myself when I saw the numbers on the rack were around 1100. My number was 1072, did I miss it? So I ran backwards and then realized that the numbers were ascending in that direction. Oops! So ran forwards again and found my bike exactly where I thought it would be (before I confused myself). Grabbed my race belt, sunglasses and helmet. Uh oh, where was the second helmet strap? After searching around for a bit I had to take off the helmet and realized that the strap had been stuck on top of my head. Another Oops! then put the helmet on, clipped in the straps and ran my bike to the mount line. Foot slipped into my right shoe which was already on the pedal and then I pedalled my left foot on top of my left shoe until I slipped it in at the first opportunity. At least my bike mount was relatively smooth!

Bike. This was a beautiful bike course! It was mostly shaded and on very smooth roads. There was about 810m of climbing (50m less than Mooseman) and about the same amount of climbing as there is on the Vegas 70.3 Course. The only problem was that it was sooooo crowded. Due to the fact that there were a lot of turns on the course that would only accommodate 1 cyclist at a time and I constantly found myself braking and going quite slow to avoid slamming into the person in front of me. The other issue was the 5km “no passing zone” due to a stretch of road that was riddled with the worst potholes I’de ever seen on a bike course. Luckily they were clearly marked with an orange circle around them, but my power output was literally less than 100W for that entire 5km stretch to avoid passing people and to avoid a repeat of the flat tire situation I had to deal with in my last race. I must be the most timid cyclist ever! The last 5km stretch was very technical as we made 90 degree turns every 500m or so. I was pretty happy to enter T2 with a bike time of 2:45.16, although looking back on the race I think all the times I had to slow down for a turn or to avoid another cyclist really added up and I should have been faster. My nutrition was pretty good (so I thought). I went through 1 ½ bottles of eload, 1 bottle of water, 1 gel and about a package of those strawberry-banana gel blasts. The strawberry blasts were a last minute purchase as I forgot to pack my strawberry-banana gels which are a race favourite for me.

T2. Had a smooth bike dismount and located my spot on the bike rack with no difficulty. I quickly slipped on my shoes and grabbed my hat, which was on my head before I left T2. Perfect! I was excited to start the run.

Run. Felt great during the 1st km. Then I hit “the hill” which is a 1km long hill and 50 vertical meters ! I almost had to walk about 2km into the race. This was not a good sign, especially since I would have to run up this hill again on the second loop. I moved into first place in my age group at the 4km mark. This gave me a bit of extra motivation, which was soon lost when I turned the corner and was running right into the wind. Just before the second loop there was a second hill. It was steep, but at least it was short and soon after I saw my parents, Sara and Rikki cheering me on. I found a bit of extra energy that got me to the top of the 1km long killer hill, but after that I was just exhausted. I had chills all over and my quads were starting to cramp. There were so many people on the run course at this point that it became a battle to even get any water or Gatorade at the aid stations. With 2 miles to go I honestly thought that I wouldn’t make it to the end. I was having trouble breathing and my legs felt like lead. I kept repeating to myself “mind over matter” in my head. Something my swim coach would always tell us during hard swim sets. Eventually (and honestly I don’t know how) I made it to the finish. That was the hardest half ironman I have ever done! I was trying to control my breathing while the volunteers kept asking if I was OK. They were worried I wasn’t speaking, but all I wanted to do was breath. I couldn’t waste breath trying to respond to their questions. Then they put me into a wheelchair and started wheeling me to the medical tent. Halfway there I decided I was fine and told them I could walk there. I talked the Medics out of giving me an IV and chugged two bottles of water and a bottle of Gatorade. Once my blood pressure was back to normal they let me leave. Need to figure out this hydration business for Vegas!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Muskoka Long Course

Woke up and did an easy hour’s ride with Sara. It turned out to rain and was super windy, but my legs felt OK. I thought they felt just right for the day before race day. After a quick shower Rikki and I were off to Huntsville. We arrived at the hotel, checked-in and then headed over to the race site to register. I switched to the 1st wave so that I could start the race with the fast swimmers. Hoping that I would have some feet to follow. For some reason I was quite nervous...I am not sure why...I had planned to watch the Sprint Tri that was starting at 4pm, but instead I just wanted to get away from the race site. I am still not so sure why I was so nervous about the race. Back at the hotel room I set up my gear for the next morning, cleaned my bike and did a round of yoga. Then Rikki and I headed to dinner. I had some warm bread, pasta with sautéed veggies and grilled chicken...was craving a ceaser and the double chocolate cake for dessert...but decided those could be had after the race. We went back to the hotel, watched a movie and I was asleep by 9:30pm.

Woke-up at 5:30am, got my race gear on and had a quick breakfast at the hotel. Toast with strawberry jam and a black coffee...the hotel didn’t provide peanut butter L Then I biked the 2km to the race site and got a good spot in transition to rack my bike. Set-up my transition zone, picked up my chip, got body marked and then I had plenty of time to relax before the race. I ate a banana and chatted with a few friends...before I knew it the time was 7:30am and I headed into the water to start my swim warm up. I did about an 800m warm-up and felt OK...the nervousness that I experienced the day before came back though and then I started to get really cold. Weird. I positioned myself towards the outside of the main pack of swimmers and then the race started. I was with a group of 2 others who seemed to be the same speed as me but I dropped them at the first buoy and then I was all by myself. Then my goggles fogged up and I couldn’t see a I reached a bouy I had to stop, take-off my goggles and sight towards the next buoy...this continued all race...eventually I thought I saw the swim exit and picked up the pace towards it...well, I was quite surprised when I realized that I had mistaken someone’s dock for the swim exit! Grrrr! Swim time of 30:59 (that’s about 1min30sec slower than last year...) I was pretty upset when I saw that on my stopwatch. Thank goodness I saw Mamma, Papa, Sara and Rikki there cheering me on. That helped me forget about the swim and start thinking about the bike. I had a pretty good transition and got my feet in my pedals no problem after the bike mount line. The bike started out OK...I was watching my powertap and trying to keep my power above 190W. Legs felt pretty good the whole way and the hills weren’t as hard as I remembered from my ride on Tuesday. The road conditions were horrible though, especially because of all the rain. I took in 1 gel and about a bottle of eLoad during the ride. At around the 48km mark I thought “phew” I’m almost there! Then another pothole surprised me and then I heard that “shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” as all the air escaped from my back tired. Grrr! I then asked myself the question: “do I change the flat?” or “do I ride on?”...I choose the latter. The 2nd female passed me shortly after but I rode on....almost took a tumble turning into transition but I made it! Hoped the wheel was OK. Fumbled a bit in T2, still a bit shaky from almost falling off the bike on the last turn, but soon I was off on the run!. I felt great the first 8km...didn’t even notice the hills. Then the last 5km I REALLY noticed the hills! Splits were 1km-4:01 (hr 163), 2km-4’14 (167), 3km- 4’03 (167), 4km-4’10 (171), 5km-4’14 (170), 6km-4’43 (170), 7km-4’20 (168), 8km-4’57? (170), 9km-3’21? (170), 10km-4’21 (169). 11km-4’45 (170), 12km-4’58? (170), 13km-3’25? (170)...the last 200m some guy stopped right in front of me as I was running and I ran right into his elbow! OUCH! So happy that race is over. Ended up 3rd female overall and first in my age group. Looking forward to a little bit of rest the next few days.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Guelph Lake I Sprint

Guelph being an afternoon race meant I got to sleep in! So I woke up at around 7am, made some hard-boiled  eggs for breakfast. Did a 20 minute yoga session, because my legs and shoulders still felt stiff and a bit fatigued. This REALLY helped to loosen me up and get my muscles ready for the race. Any triathlete that does not get in at least one yoga session per week definitely should. I met Sara at around 9am, we loaded up the bikes onto the car and headed to the race! Made a mandatory Tim Hortons stop where I grabbed a black coffee and whole grain blueberry muffin. Yes, I realize that is probably not the best choice of pre-triathlon meal. However, I forgot to pack my usual PB with banana on a bagel so I opted for something that I eat every day. We arrived in Guelph a bit early so Sara and I drove the bike course. The route was pretty hilly, but the road seemed pretty decent (from what we could tell, anyway). This was about when Sara realized she forgot her race bag at home! This caused momentary panic, but there was still about 2 ½ hours till race time so lots of time for Mamma, Kevin and Rikki to bring the race bag. Once at the race site, Sara and I signed in and picked up our race kits. She would be in the first wave and I would be in the third. Then we headed to transition zone, located the bike and run exits and set up our bikes...luckily, Mamma arrived with Sara’s bag about 35 minutes to race time. Perfect timing! Then we headed down to the water to warm-up. At 1 o’clock Sara started her swim close to the outside to avoid the goggle grabbing crazies who start near the center. I watched her head out to the first buoy near the front of the pack! Ya, Sara, she was out front! Definitely got me excited for my race. 6 minutes later I started from the same spot as Sara. I had a good start and was the leader of my wave. A good and bad thing...for the second race in a row I had no feet to draft off of. I ended up swimming a bit off course on the swim in and some guy from the second wave almost tried to drown me by pulling on my feet as I passed. Other than that everything felt pretty good. The swim + a long run uphill to transition had me at a time of 11:52...12th best swim of the day, 2nd best of all the women!
After finishing the swim I headed to my bike only to find someone had racked their bike almost on top of mine so that the two were stuck together. Grrr. Un-stuck the two bikes and then headed to a crowded bike mount area, fiddled around trying to get my feet in to my shoes and eventually I was off! 4 speed bumps later I was finally able to get into aero position and focus on sprinting the bike course. I passed Sara and made sure she was OK. She was still smiling! Awesome. On the hills I noticed that I would get passed near the start of the hills, but the hills were long enough so that I passed back whoever passed me by the end of the climb. Not sure what that means – maybe I am in the wrong gear to start the climbs. On the descents my new 11/28 rear cassette definitely got me moving!  It was amazing. It’s too bad the road was one step better than a gravel road for the whole made for a very bumpy ride! Nonetheless I finished the course (it was probably closer to 19km than 20km) in 32:34...sweet! Fastest female bike split of the day.
The run felt good. My first 1km split was 3:48 (avg HR 181bpm)...OK, on pace! I passed 2 girls. Next km was 3:55 (avg HR 182bpm) and I was still feeling good. At the turn-around I started to feel like I was getting in a groove, the 3rd km was 3:57 (avg HR 183), the 4th km was 4:00 (avg HR 183), almost there! And there was Sara!! I cheered super loud for her, so exciting! I couldn’t believe how fast she was off the bike! OK, up this hill which is brutal...good thing I had Adam and his boys there to cheer me on! Finished the last km in 4:03 (avg HR 183). Run time of 19:43! A PB, top female time and the 12th fastest time in the day! Yay.
Another race done for me (which ended up being tied for second as for the fastest female time ever recorded in the race’s 14 year history!) and Sara’s first. She was 7th after the swim-bike and then finished 11th in her age group out of 23. AMAZING!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

St. Patrick's Day 5K

Woke up feeling pretty well rested and ready to race. I had about 4 days of recovery since my big training camp in Delray, Florida (460km of cycling, 80km of running and over 15km of swimming in 7 days). Unfortunately we lost an hour of sleep last night AND I forgot to pick up my race kit on Saturday so that meant getting to the race site about 1 1/2 hours before race start. However, we stayed warm inside the Steam Whistle brewery on this frigid March morning. About 45 minutes before my race I went and did an easy run of the race course (only 5km so perfect for warm-up), followed by 4 x 20 second sprints and then 2 x 1 minute sprints to get my heart rate going and the blood flowing. I felt pretty light on my feet so I knew that I was going to have an OK race.
I lined up at the start line as close to the front as possible, I easily picked out some of girls who looked liked they would be the fastest runners. I decided I should get behind them since the first 800m would be into the wind and I could use someone fast blocking it for me.

The horn blew and 3 seconds later I crossed the start line. We were off. Ah-and there was Papa cheering me on! At first I was stuck behind some slower runners as I watched several of the faster girls take off. No worries, I knew I would not slow down, so I could still catch them. At the end of 1K I was running with about 5 other girls and still feeling good. I started to push the pace and by 2km the other girls had fallen back. At 2.5km I ran past the second place female. The rest of the run my confidence was high as I had people shouting out “first place woman! go go!” ...apparently they either missed the actual first place Kenyan female because she was running too fast...or....well....not sure ;)
500m away from the finish line I could tell that the third place woman was close behind me. I was feeling quite hungry at this point and the emptiness of my stomach was actually causing me to cramp a bit. I though to myself “mind over matter” - a phrase my swim coach would say constantly during hard sets in the pool - and pushed myself to the finish line only 3 seconds in front of the third place girl. Ran right into the arms of my biggest fans, my parents, and waited for my husband to cross the finish line.

My first race of 2011 was a success - my first race as a Bharadwaj, my best 5K time ever of 19:24 and the best part, I got to do it with Rikki :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Winter Training

Today ended my first week training full-time! Yes, I have started working only part-time at Sick Kids so that I can focus more on training for this summer and getting ready to go back to school in the fall. It has been an exhausting week, but totally worth it. I spent almost every day on the computrainer and already I feel stronger on the bike! 250 Watts wasn’t as bad as it was last week! I also hit a new MAX power of 525 Watts.

This past week I have also realized that I can spend more time recovering from workouts. This has proved to be amazingly beneficial and I cannot stress how important it is to actively recover from workouts. Just lazing on the coach isn’t the way to do it - this can actually cause the muscles to stiffen up even worse. A few things that I have done to aide my recovery are stretching, using the foam roller (which can be a supplement to massage and way cheaper!), taking baths, hot/cold therapy, All these activities help to stimulate blood flow to the areas that need it, flushing out the toxins and providing the muscles the nutrients they need to repair themselves.

Schedule for next week involves a 20km run on the coldest day of the week! A lot of cycling and packing for Florida!!! woohoo...counting down :)