End of Season Debrief

A year ago, I began my first full season of coached duathlon training with Ignition Fitness. Now that I’m well into my first off-season, it’s time to look back and take stock.

Last December, I set out on this journey with three primary goals in mind. I’ve checked myself against them over the course of the year and now, at the end of the season, it’s time to assess my progress one last time.
  •  Stay injury-free. Despite a few nerve-wracking days when that familiar ache sounded in my shins, I have stayed healthy throughout the season. This was my number one goal, after early stage stress fractures sidelined me for much of the 2013 season.
  • Podium finish at a MultiSport Canada race where the “big guys” are out. I placed 3rd at Binbrook. 4th at Toronto Island. 5th at Lakeside (Apparently, 4th and 5th count – I like the size of these podiums.)
  • Qualify for 2015 Worlds. By placing 2nd in my age group at the Toronto Triathlon Festival and 1st in my age group (five year increments) at Lakeside, I technically qualified twice. Fist pump! (Whether I go to the 2015 Worlds in Adelaide is another question, given the significant cost of airfare to Australia.)
Check, check, check. I’m thrilled and perhaps even surprised to have achieved all three of them. What a season.

Looking back at my program and my blogs, I’m reminded of some of the milestones over the winter base training period.

In December, gasping at the sight of my shiny new training program, complete with six days of training each week – more cardio per week than I had ever completed.

In January, vacationing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and running through a non-stop torrential downpour to get in my mileage.  Later that month, oining the Canada Running Series digital champions team, and beginning to share in the online conversation with fellow runners, all with the goal of pumping up excitement for the Toronto Yonge Street 10k (#TYS10K).

In February, attempting a 5km time trial through the snowy and icy streets of the Annex (slightly cursing coach Roger for making me do it), then realizing that despite the weather, I had almost matched my PB set four years prior.   

For my birthday in March, joining the Ignition Fitness big training day and the feeling of elation for successfully finishing a two hour indoor bike ride – my first of that length.  (Big training days are back for the 2014/15 winter season.  Check out Ignition Fitness for details.)

With April came the beginning of racing season and with it, excitement, yet also a little anxiety, wondering about the outcome of training all these months. 

- Had my best cycling year ever: my splits improved in each of my races.  This achievement is especially important to me because cycling is my weaker discipline.
- Grew very comfortable using my aerobars.
- Learned how to do a (semi) flying bike mount and dismount, following trial and several errors!
- Began to understand more of the mechanics of my bike, such as changing a wheel, as well as how cassette ratios work (thanks to Roger for the tutorials and to Jesse for continually making suggestions and answering questions).

- Carved out new personal bests in 5 km (18:31 @ Toronto Challenge) and 10 km (39:32 @ TTF) distances.
-  Ran 5 km in under 20 minutes in brick training for the first time.
-  Ran the best second run split at provincial championships.

Somewhere in there, I finally figured out the art of the taper -- and also what not to do.

In the process, I met and befriended a community of runners in this city (and around the province) as well as a bunch of good guys in the duathlon circuit.  My confidence in myself grew month over month throughout the season and I eventually figured out some mental tricks for training and racing that help me stay calm and strong

Looking to next year, I want to be a sponge and learn as much as possible about my training, from the macro level of the structure of the season to the micro level of the workouts themselves.  

My plan is to find a cycling club, to mix in some group rides for the camaraderie and to help up my mileage. Hopefully, that will help me improve my bike handling and comfort on technical courses.

I will improve my nutrition next year, setting goals for my caloric intake.  I want to make sure I’m getting the calories I need to power through and recover from my workouts.  

Giving Back.  I’ve long been inspired by the quotation, “If not us, then who?  If not now, then when?”  A driving force in my life is the desire to give back to my community.  This year, I did a little of that when Running Room clinic leaders extraordinaire Mayling and Deborah asked me to speak to their group about goal setting.  I also count my digital champion role as giving back.

Next year, I hope I can do more, perhaps as a pace bunny for a half marathon or by volunteering at a MultiSport Canada event. 

So that’s it. All in all, I’m proud to have reached my goals along this journey. I trained hard, raced fast and most importantly, had fun.  My thanks to Ignition Fitness and coach Roger for your encouragement and for designing the roadmap for the year.  Many thanks to my friends (online and in-person) and family, for taking part in the journey.