4 Reasons why I’m Falling for Climbing.

I was a tad unsure about this one to start with.  It looked like fun, but my fear of the unknown made it seem like a way bigger deal than it turned out to be.  Now, just a little over a month since my first attempt, I can confidently say I’ve found a new life-long hobby.

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Lighthouse Park

Long distances races are fun, but I wouldn’t recommend them to everyone.  You really have to love being alone and tortured for that. Rock climbing, however, is something I think EVERYONE and their brother should try.

Here are my top 4 reasons I think you should get out there already:

 

1. The mental benefits of getting in touch with nature and living in the moment.

People talk about unplugging, getting outside, and living in the moment a lot these days. Plus there are proven benefits to spending time in nature that are hard to ignore.

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My first climb!

The idea of just going to sit in a park or at the beach is nice, but how many of us actually take time out of the  day to go sit and enjoy our surroundings?  Going for a hike is an option, but even then you can zone out and think about work as you’re trekking along.

Climbing gives you both time in nature, and a chance to be mindful.  You get to go to some of the most beautiful, places on earth and focus with your whole mind.

When you are climbing, you are forced to be in the moment.  It’s truly amazing. Trust me you aren’t going to be climbing up something and thinking about anything other than where to put your hand or foot.  It’s the easiest way to start a meditation practice I’ve ever encountered.

2. The rush is just enough.

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Just a tiny bit of fear.

Adrenaline is fun.

Rock climbing is just enough of an adrenaline rush to be thrilling, but not so terrifying that you need weeks to get up the courage.  The trick is to start with someone that knows what they are doing. I thought I’d be way more scared, but my climbing buddy is really good about keeping the line tight and repeating “I’ve got you”.  Feeling the line tight makes the whole thing far less scary when you get up high.

 3. You have to admit defeat.

A lesson in humility. If you get tired half way up and start to struggle and can’t get past a point, you have to vocally give up.  I love this for so many reasons. It’s a clear and simple way to track progress and improvement.  It makes it frustrating and rewarding, calming and meditative all at once. Amazing right?  It’s essentially yoga on rocks.

Forcing yourself to say out loud “I fail” is liberating.  There is no justifying or excuses. All you can do is make a plan to get stronger, more flexible, and smarter.

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Juniper Point

4. The Fitness!!!

Obviously!! I love fitness.  Climbing is strength, flexibility, stamina, and mental fitness all in one.   You will use every muscle group, including a few you didn’t realize you had.  You’ll move your body in ways you didn’t know you could.  You’ll hold on way past when your muscles fail. You’ll push farther than you ever would in a gym (because let’s face it, even with a harness.. falling is scary).

I could go on and explain how strength is improved and you learn more about your body than you thought possible in 1 single hour, but I’ll save you the screen time. Just go out and try it!

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Life saving rope holding stuff. I took a mediation break to take this picture cause he was stuck there.

 

 

Ironman70.3 Canada

July 24 2016

Another Ironman70.3 in the books!IMG_0781

This one was hard.  I did my first 70.3 last year and my goal was to finish, learn something from the race, and get a decent time.  I came 19th in my age group and finished the race feeling like I would recover quickly and move on to the full distance Ironman a month away as prepared as I could possibly be.

This year, I wanted to be fast.  I wouldn’t say I was less prepared, but my training was a bit more of a clusterf*ck.   I improved my cycling and running on their own, but in my new found freedom from having a coach I think I really blew the recovery.  That, in combination with trying to race a 70.3 hard, nearly killed me.  As it turns out, half ironman is A LONG WAY.  oops.

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My dad and I before the swim start.

After my swim performance in the 5051 two weeks before, my old coach called me and told me to get in the pool every single day between races, so I did.  It made a huge difference. I came out of the water in 34 mins, which includes the run in and out.  My plan was to go hard on the bike and make some gains.

My plan failed. I went hard on the bike but there were no gains. The climb back up to Whistler was a grind.  I came off the bike at 3:04:48 and started the hardest triathlon run I’ve experienced to date.

The run starts in the village and then loops around in a figure 8, so you go through the village twice before the finish line.  My legs were immediately toast.  Mentally I had to break down the run into portions and just try and grind it out. I knew I’d loop through and see my friends and family at around the 5km mark, so my first goal was just to get

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My 2nd power up!

that far. You get some sort of power up when you see them. I figured after that I just had to go for a 10km jog, zone out a bit, and I’d see them again around 17 or 18km. After that you just ride the high of the finish to the end and then you’re done.  So, at km 2 I was struggling, but in my head I was essentially finished.  It’s funny how during these moments it’s entirely mental.  Convincing myself the race was over, my pace picked up and I passed a few women and handfuls of men.  My age cat was the fastest in the race with the top 5, also placing top 4 in the gender.

I had a blast the last 10km. I really do love these races and Whistler is the most beautiful setting.  I got to that 2nd power up and pushed to the finish line, coming in 11th in my cat.  It was a tough day, but given the talent in my group, I was really happy to improve by 8 spots.

The only regret I have is not being fully recovered at the start of this race and I’m sure that’s what killed my legs.  The 5051 Olympic distance race was 2 weeks before. That’s a tough race to give it your all in and then fully recover for a half iron 2 weeks later and I think that hurt me a little.  I also got a little carried away in those two weeks and crushed my legs with some heavy lifting. That was really dumb, but I’ve just loved lifting lately and, as per usual, when I love something active I get a little carried away.  The Thursday before I lifted hard enough to not be able to walk that night, and that one got me.

Looking back over the spring and early summer, I’ve had a fairly gruelling race schedule. My half marathon, 13km trail, 10km, full marathon, ultra, Olympic tri, and Ironman70.3 were all just a little too close together. And while all this has taught me that I can tough it through just about anything, I’ve also learned that pacing yourself applies to much more than individual races.

Until next time, Ironman!

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My parents come to everything they can.  I’m 30 now but I still love having them there!

 

 

Triathlete Training

Podcast – July 9, 2016

AftTTP.jpger my big race last year I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Eric of the Triathlete Training Podcast.  I learned SO much from listening to his podcast I felt honoured to be invited on to the show.

I was just recently brought on as a guest for my 3rd appearance to explore my recent experiments in training and nutrition.  I’ve made some crazy running and biking gains with all high intensity interval training and lifting over the winter.  I’m excited to continue playing with my training and see what happens!

Listen Here:

Triathlete Training Podcast

Here are Eric’s show notes:

Hilary Spires makes her third appearance on the show to talk about her experiments with her training and diet and the much faster run times she has achieved.

Her 5k time dropped from 24 minutes to 20:19 and her 10k time dropped from 47 minutes to 42:30.  She has resumed her triathlon training in prep for a half ironman.

Last fall she started training for Muay Thai.  She also switched to a ketogenic diet (high fat/low carbohydrate).  When she returned to running she had huge drops in her time despite very little run training and some very high intensity workouts.

Hilary was on episode 55 talking about her first year of racing as she prepared for Ironman Canada, and she returned on episode 64 after she completed Ironman Canada.

Links/Show Mentions

Torbjorn Sindballe on low fat diets – Triathlete Training Podcast episode 14

Netflix documentary on Barkley Marathons

Hilary’s High Intensity Workout
Incline 10
Per Hillary, level 7 is an 8:30 mile, level 9 is a 6:40 mile, level 10 is 6:00 mile, and level 11 is a 5:30 mile

90 seconds level 7
90s rest (stand on rails)
4 sets

60 seconds level 9
60 seconds rest
4 sets

30 seconds level 10
30 seconds rest
2 sets

30 seconds level 11
30 seconds rest
2 sets

Hilary ran a 20:19 5k after this.  This is a very high intensity and difficult workout. Slower runners should reduce the speed and/or incline for this workout.