Monthly Archives: May 2013

My First Century

Hi everyone,

Lake Placid is fast approaching with just over 2 months left on the training calender. As I’ll need to start tapering my training about 3 weeks out from the race that leaves me with six weeks of solid training.

I think preparations so far have been going well considering I have to balance training with work and a seven month old. My swimming has improved out of sight in the last few months and my running has come to a new level. However, while my cycling is improving it is the one area of my training that has been somewhat neglected, mostly because it just takes too much time to get good at it. Given the bike leg at Lake Placid is 112 miles I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit worried.

So it is with my remaining weeks of training that I am focused on improving my cycling endurance by getting some long rides in on the weekends. Last weekend I was planning on going out to Shenandoah National Park to take in some long hills, but with the weather forecast looking so negative I decided to stay closer to home and focus on my first century – 100 miles on the bike.

I decided to ride out to Mount Vernon – the estate of the first US President George Washington – and back again, which would get me close to my target mileage. Then I would tack on a few extra miles at the end.

Usually the eastern section W&OD trail that I took is worth avoiding on the weekends, but because of the lousy weather it wasn’t too crowded. That took me into Alexandria, where I then found myself on the Mt Vernon trail. As I got closer the Mount Vernon the trail got hillier and slipperier, so I eased off the pace a bit and found myself at the entrance to Mount Vernon in one piece.

On the way back I was not as fortunate. About a mile or two on the return I turned my bike through a steep downhill corner only for the back wheel to lose traction and take my iron horse (or is it wire donkey?) sideways. The bike slid out in front of me and I skidded along the trail for what seemed like an eternity. Fortunately I was wearing two pairs of tights because of the weather so I was able to minimize the damage, but I still wound up with a very nasty road rash on my hip about 3 inches long and 1.5 inches wide as well as a few other cuts and bruises. Still, it’s the first time I’ve come off my bike in over a year and the damage could have been a lot worse, so I can’t complain.

Aside from my intimate encounter with the asphalt the ride was a success and gave me some confidence in my endurance. However, I was incredibly hungry by the end of it despite consuming energy snacks like a gluttonous king throughout the ride. It highlighted once again the importance of nutrition in an ironman event.

Because of my road rash I had to change my training plan for the week and take some time off swimming. I made up for it with some extra bike miles on the Expresso bike at the gym. However, I hit the pool again yesterday so as to not lose my feel for the water as I have a two mile open water swimming race this weekend. Then it’s just a few weeks until Philadelphia – my last triathlon before Placid.

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May 15: HG Awareness Day

As you may be aware, today is Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day. It is only the second year that HG has had an official awareness day and not surprisingly awareness of the disease is still not great. HG continues to be one of the most misdiagnosed pregnancy complications affecting the health of both mothers and babies.

hg-world-day-2013-2

The purpose of HG Awareness Day is to encourage people to find out more about HG and help educate others on the disease. Almost 20% of HG pregnancies are lost to therapeutic abortions. These are wanted pregnancies that mother’s are forced to terminate because of a lack of adequate care.

As a way to help increase awareness, I’ve put together a quiz titled “How HG Aware are you?“. Each question is True or False and you’ll find the answers posted in the comments of this post below.

  1. Women who suffer HG in one pregnancy are 70% likely to suffer it in additional pregnancies.
  2. Women in the 35-44 year age group are the most likely to be affected by HG in their pregnancies.
  3. Babies born of mothers with HG are more likely to be born underweight
  4. HG is highly contagious
  5. HG is typically accompanied by significant weight loss (usually more than 10%)
  6. US law protects women suffering from HG from losing their jobs
  7. Intravenous hydration is commonly used in treating HG
  8. HG symtoms rarely continue past the first trimester of pregnancy
  9. One symptom of HG can be an acutely increased sense of smell
  10. HG is curable with a healthy diet and proper rest
  11. Women with HG are 60% more likely to give birth to a girl than women without HG
  12. HG is a strong indication that the mother is pregnant with twins or other multiples

Of course research is continuing into HG and hopefully we will have more answers to what causes HG and how to best treat it. I’d encourage you to contribute to the HER Foundation (it’s tax deductible and the management of the charity are not paid a salary). If you do please post a comment on my donate page (it can be anonymous) so I can keep track of the fundraising campaign. Currently we’re just shy of $1000 and a few small donations will get us over the milestone. Your help is greatly appreciated!

HER 5k

Hi everyone,

Mother’s Day ended up being a very memorable experience for our family and not only because Benjamin decided to start crawling (covering about 4 feet so he could attack his alphabet caterpillar with his ferocious gums). The day began with the HER 5k, a race very close to Brynn’s and my heart given our experience with HG last year.

The day could only be better than last year’s Mother’s Day, given Brynn was in hospital fighting off an infection caused by the PICC line she had been given for intravenous feeding. That particular visit lasted five days. It was a huge contrast to see Brynn happy and full of energy this year, back to her usual self.

This Mom IS one tough chick

This Mom IS one tough chick!

The race was full of other mothers who had survived HG and it was a great opportunity for them to share their stories with each other. Given how little known HG still is I think it must be huge for these women to be able to speak to so many other people that truly understand what they have been through. While I saw Brynn suffer for the longest nine months of our lives I can only start to imagine the physical pain she went through, so it was fantastic that she was able to connect with so many strong mothers who had survived similar ordeals.

Of course, in addition to the social opportunity there was a race to be run and I was intent on having a good go at it. Once the gun went off I was all business and surged out at a steady pace. Coming around the first corner I was in the lead and settled into a firm but comfortable tempo I felt I could hold for the next 5k. The course was predominantly flat, but presented a little bit of a challenge in that a quarter of it was on crushed sea shells – not a surface I would typically run on! At the half way turn around I had about a minute’s lead on the competition. I held my pace and surged towards the finish line only to realise I actually had to run past the finish about 300 metres and then turn around before crossing the line. Fortunately I still had enough left in the reserve tank to complete the final section and finish the race in 17 minutes 49 seconds – a full minute better than the last 5k I ran over a year ago and enough to secure a win.

Passing the fan club en route to the finish

Passing the fan club en route to the finish

Once I was done I gave myself a quick breather before jogging off to find Brynn, who was walking the course with Benjamin and her parents. I found them and was able to complete the course a second time… this time at a much more leisurely pace thankfully. Benjamin seemed to be quite excited at the start of the race, but by the time I caught up to him he was fast asleep.

Benjamin gave the medal the old fashioned bite test - it wasn't 24 carat gold

Benjamin gave the medal the old fashioned bite test – it wasn’t 24 carat gold

All in all the HER 5k was a huge success and looks set to continue for many more years to come. I think we have a new annual tradition for Mother’s Day.

Half the Distance

Hi everyone,

This past weekend was my first real test of endurance on the scale of Lake Placid. And by scale I mean 1:2, as it was exactly half the distance (and theoretically half as painful). Anyway, I’m please to say it was a huge success and while it did highlight a few things I’ll need to work on for Lake Placid, it also showed that I’m on track to achieving my goal.

The race took place at Lake Monticello, just outside of Charlottesville and was aptly named “Monticelloman”. It began with a 1.2 mi lake swim followed by a hilly 56 mi bike ride and a 13.1 mi run  (1.9km/90km/21.1km).

I have to admit that the waters of the lake were a bit brisk at 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 Celcius), but it gave me all the more reason to go out hard and put the many hours I’ve spent working on my swim technique to practice. I was wearing a new pair of swim goggles I just bought that were designed for open water and they made a huge difference. I was able to see really clearly in the water which helped me to draft off the other swimmers. The result – over 4 minutes of my previous best and my first time under 30 minutes for the distance.

Coming out of the lake into transition

Coming out of the lake into transition

It was a weird feeling to get on the bike among the leaders and as such I was bracing myself for the onslaught of strong cyclists. Slowly but surely they came and over the next couple of hours I was past by several, while only passing two myself. On the second lap of the course I was passed by someone in my own age group who was flying. I was also passed by the leading female, so I made a mental note to look out for them on the half marathon course and try to run them down.

Coming into the run my quads were aching from the hills, so I started a little slower than usual and increased my speed over time. After a few miles I was able to see the leading female so I let my speed out on some of the downhill sections to make up ground. At the half way turnaround I made my move and cruised past her and could see guy from age group ahead. All was going to plan.

But that’s when the plans changed. A few minutes later I realised the girl I had passed was still only a few steps behind me. I pushed the speed up every now and then, but I just couldn’t shake her. For the next 3 miles we were neck and neck, which was great as it kept me pushing the pace, but we still didn’t seem to be making a lot of ground on the guy from my age group. However, as we entered the final 3 miles he seemed to slow down slightly as our pace continued to increase. With about a half mile to go we were still neck and neck and now only about 40 metres behind my target.  At that point he turned his head and spotted us coming and took off like a scalded cat.

I figured he wouldn’t maintain that pace, but didn’t like my chances of closing the gap now. Nevertheless I kept composed and just held the pace. Then moments later something happened that was about 1 part strategy and 10,000 parts pure luck – the guy cramped up and had to stop for a moment. I felt like Stephen Bradbury as I cruised past him. At that point it occurred to me that the women had started five minutes after the men, so when the leading girl cranked up the pace again I let her go – I was in pain and she technically had a five minute lead on me so she could go for the glory run. I just kept my legs moving over the last couple of hills and sprinted the final downhill. I ended up winning the age group by 12 seconds – a very narrow margin after racing for close to five hours.

Benjamin was extra excited to see me when he realised I had a medal around my neck

Benjamin was extra excited to see me when he realised I had a medal around my neck

Looking back at the race I don’t see many areas where I could have done much better – I really did just have a fantastic race that pushed me to my current limits. However, on crossing the line I felt spent and the thought that I’d only be half way done if I was at Lake Placid was more than a little scary. So learning from the race I know that I need to be more conservative on the bike in Lake Placid, especially on the hills and I need to take in both more water and more calories. While I relied solely on sports drink and energy gels for this race I think I’ll need to eat something a little more substantial when I get to Placid.

Benjamin enjoyed sharing the limelight on the podium

Benjamin enjoyed sharing the limelight on the podium

Now I’m going to take the best part of a week off training, which will be a welcome change of pace after all the hard sessions I’ve put in over the past few months. However, I’ll have to be back on my game for next weekend as the HER 5k will be taking place at the National Harbor in Maryland. If anyone is looking for an excellent race next weekend entries are still open!