Monday, February 27, 2012


A constant challenge I face is not comparing myself to others. I'll admit though, some days are harder than others. And today is one of those days. I feel like I work hard, but today all I can think about is:
  • When will I swim 100's on the 2:00?
  • When will I stay with the pack on a long ride?
  • When will I run a sub-25min 5km?

Time will tell. But right now, all I can do is keep going. Consistency is the key. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day. I just needed reminding.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!

Today was one of those days. A long ride off the back of a 16km run (and my first in over a year), was never going to be easy.. and the heat plus the headwind back from Frankston made sure of that! But that's what training it all about. You can't pick the conditions on race day and long predominately solo rides are perfect mental toughness training. I was happy with my nutrition plan, but more on that later, and I actually enjoyed myself out there today. Don't get me wrong, it was tough, but at the same time, very rewarding.  For future reference, I did feel a little uncomfortable at the 75km mark, but it was my first long ride on my new bike, so it's only upwards from here.

With lots of races of late, it's been nice to have a full weekend of training. 16km run, 30km ride and 1.2km open water event yesterday, 90km on the bike today. Happy to bank all of that!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My big news!

If you know me, you'll know I've been happy taking my time in short course, getting fitter, faster & stronger before making the progression to long course. Suddenly, however, I've realised that in a little over 18 months, I'll be 30. Don't get me wrong, I love birthdays and I'm more than fine with getting a little older, but I thought it was the perfect time to refocus and set some goals for the future. And I'm sure you all know how organised we need to be with our race schedule, with entries often opening and selling out 12 months prior to the event.  

So, the time has come. I, Stephanie Jane Lowe, will be crossing to the dark side. 70.3 here I come! It's not until August 2013, but I like I said, I'm still happy in short course and I'm hoping that the 18 months I have on my side will give me enough time to for a sub-6 HIM. Game one!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gatorade Race 5 - Elwood

The lead up
I had a fantastic race week which finished with the perfect pre-race session and I was like a kid at Christmas time waiting for the first hit out on my new bike. I knew Race 3 at Brighton would be pretty tough to top, but I was excited to see what would unfold.

Race Day
A home-ground advantage and perfect conditions - I could not have asked for a better morning. I was redlining the whole way, but I came out of the water in 11mins, felt super quick and comfortable on the bike and even managed to beat my Brighton run time (by 10s - it still counts!). 5.05min/km - so unbelievably close!

Official time - 1:18:00 = another PB!
Splits - 12:23  1:32  37:05  1:32  25:27

What I learned
- Redlining feels so good, at the finish line!
- There's no greater satisfaction than passing men on their 5K bikes during the bike leg :)
- I'm more competitive than I realised! The best thing about this part of the season is that you know the girls who finish near you and therefore who to mow down the bike & not let catch you on the run! 
- It is possible to get identical transition times :) I lost my place briefly coming off the bike leg, (I was thinking category 6, not row 9), so next time hopefully I can crack 1:18 with a sharper T2.

Happy to be nearly done!
I have 2 more chances this year with Portarlington and St Kilda to cap off the series. I may have to wait until next season, but I will run 5min/km pace this year!! 

On a side note, I never thought I'd be one of "those people" who finish a race & go out for more. But I am. I took the new bike out for a spin after brekky and I couldn't be happier!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Race Week - Saturday!

Perfect swim conditions!
What a morning! A good course recon is perfect to settle any race nerves and even though Elwood is "home-ground" for us,  I couldn't resist as Tri Alliance pre-race sessions are always so much fun!

I had an awesome short & sharp hit out on the new bike, some (much needed!) transition practice into a 2km run, followed by a short swim.

The legs are feeling great! My new bike is just so smooth & fast I know that it will help not only my bike time, but also the way the legs feel coming off into the run. I ran <5.10min/km pace today and easy. Fingers crossed I can hold it for 5km! Now all that's left is a little carb-loading with the TA boys and an early night. Game on :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Race Week - Friday!

My new love!

A yoga class to start my day & I was straight to LSDsports to pick up my new bike! I decided on a Trek Lexa SLX, which is a women's specific bike. Basically it has a shorter head stem and a good frame fit. As I haven't ridden a TT bike or used aerobars before, I obviously don't want to start too aggressive and the H3 frame is perfect for that. The components are 105s, which is significantly better than what I have been riding, so I'm sure I'll feel the benefits straight away.  Not to mention that my Avanti weighed about 10 kilos, so I should be flying up the "hills" on Beach Road now.

A big thank you to Cam from LSD for the Retul and TLC. I'm looking forward to a decent test-ride in the morning and most importantly, a PB on Sunday!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Race Week - Thursday!

Yesterday I also added in a 6km run and the legs were a little tight in different places and quite heavy after my massage the day before. I'm happy that I got in early and know I'll come good for race day.  It did make my decision on today's training easy though - a perfect chance to rest the legs. A sleep in, a little Pilates and foam roller release this morning and a nice yoga class to finish the day and I'm feeling good. Time for another early night. I get my new bike tomorrow so it's a great week all round!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Race Week - Wednesday!

8.5 hours sleep and I think I've finally caught up on the sleep debt I've been carting around the last few weeks. I love waking up to no alarm at 6am & feeling ready to take on the day!

Wednesdays are always solo swim days for me and lately I've been struggling with them. 2km has felt like eternity and I almost considering making Wednesday my rest day. Today, however, was a different story. I've found my love for the black line again! And not a moment too soon.

WU: 500m build (in 12 flat - not bad considering my best TT is 11.10)
MS1: 10x50m sprints, 30s rec
MS2: Pyramid
200 buoy, 100 paddle, 200 buoy + paddle, 100 paddle, 200 buoy
WD: 3x(50m FS, 50m BS)

It's going to be a good day!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Race Week - Tuesday!

Warming up with my T&MS mag
I love my flexible work hours but sometimes it makes it hard to get up early the next day, when I'm not getting home and winding down until after 9pm the night before. Yesterday was a long day, and as I'm all about training based on how I feel, I made the call last night that a sleep-in was in order. I woke at 7am feeling a little sluggish, but loving the fact that I didn't have to rush and could contemplate my morning session over a nice strong coffee.

I usually ride on Tuesday mornings and so the hardest thing about the late start became the thought of coming back in peak hour on Beach Road and worrying about losing my life. Solution? Wind trainer! + a short run off the bike for good measure :)

WU: 10min easy spin; 5x1min @100rpm, 1min rec

MS: Pyramid
1min sprint @ 100rpm, 1min rec
2min hill climb, 1min rec
3min race pace, 1min rec
4min (2min hill climb, 2x30s out of the saddle, 30s rec), 1min rec
5min tempo, 1min rec
4min (2min hill climb, 2x30s out of the saddle, 30s rec), 1min rec
3min race pace, 1min rec
2min hill climb, 1min rec
1min sprint @ 100rpm, 1min rec
1min easy spin - runners on & out the door

+ 3x1km intervals, 1min rec

WD: 1km easy jog + stretch

What an awesome session. The legs felt great on the WT and my 1km run intervals were quick! My last interval was so close to 5min/km and even though it was assisted by a small downhill segment, I just love the feeling when I can keep the pace and still control the heart rate (max of 152bpm in the last 1km interval). Everything is coming together nicely and perfectly timed for Sunday... AND I have a massage this afternoon to look forward to - Happy Valentines Day to me!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Race Week - Monday!

8km PB! What a perfect way to start the week. I must admit, I never thought I'd be "one of those people" who like Mondays, but I do. After my schedule-free weekend, the legs feel fresh and I am excited to race Elwood SD on Sunday. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

First Oly - recovery continued..

In my previous post, I documented my nutrition and recovery post-race. I was feeling great and happy with (most of) my first Olympic Distance Triathlon. On Wednesday, however, I ran into a little road block and was feeling quite tired and less than my usual motivated self. I must admit, I do still get caught up in comparing myself to others and upon reflection, I now see that this plays more of a role than I first realised in how I feel some days.

I still swam twice on Wednesday (1 pool & 1 open water) and rode 50km and ran 7km on Thursday, so in hindsight, I was probably being a little hard on myself. It's nice to reflect though, and appreciate what I do day-in and day-out. I'm certainly not the fastest, but I am consistent. Training is in my DNA, but I also like to recognise when I need to change the schedule slightly and listen to the way I'm feeling. I took Friday off triathlon and started my day with my favourite hot yoga class. Divine.

With a lot of the Tri Alliance squad away racing or spectating Geelong or Falls, this weekend has also been the perfect chance to catch up on some sleep and train on my own clock. I've really enjoyed the break in the schedule and today, I feel fresh again after a great run session including hill repeats. I'll swim this afternoon and have an early night so I start the week fresh and prepare well for my next race, which is a sprint distance at Elwood in a week's time. My goal now is to stay focused on me, improving against myself and worrying less about others or when I'll get faster or more efficient. Patience is a virtue, as they say... (a big thank you to those in my life who keep reminding me - you know who you are xx)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

First Oly - nutrition and recovery

I wanted to document my nutrition and recovery from my first OD triathlon, so I can look back and see what worked and learn from the race that was.

Race nutrition
My nutrition plan was based on the fact that I knew I was going to be out there for over 3 hours and wanted to take on approximately 30g of carbs or 120cals per hour. This may not work for you, so please make sure you try any nutrition plan in training first - which is exactly what I've been doing over the last few months.

For training sessions longer than 90 minutes, I always eat within the first 60 and again at approximately 30 minutes intervals from there.  During races, however, my heart rate is a lot higher so I have to slightly modify my plan of attack.  On Sunday, I combined my intakes into a frequent feeding plan, which meant I consumed ~60g carbs over the bike leg. This took me up to the 2+hour mark, so it was perfect timing wise. As my heart rate is always higher in race situation, I use small bite size pieces of my homemade energy bars and dried dates, which were ready to go in my bento box. I came off the bike ready to run and the legs were surprisingly ok. My final intake just had to be a gel as there's no way I can consume solids while running, even in training. My average heart rate for the 10km was 161bpm, so needless to say, breathing and getting to each water station was my priority! I took the gel (20g carbs; 80 calories) at the 6km mark, which was enough to get me home in 58 minutes - 2 minutes under my goal 10km time. I know a lot of people, including myself, are against gels, but the practicality of them is just second to none. I personally only use them as an emergency, or in races when I have no other option. I have some fantastic natural gels which I highly recommend, so if you are interested in finding out more, please feel free to contact me.

Post-race, I was high as a kite. The endorphins were flying and my hunger was nowhere to be found. It may have been something to do with the upset stomach I had pre-race, but I'm not going to go into details. For future reference though, it was either the food I carbloaded with at the wedding, race nerves, or both. There's a first time for everything - I just hope it doesn't happen too often, as the one thing SuperSprint have to do is sort out their bathroom situation on race day!

Importantly though, post-race, I kept eating small frequent meals and staying hydrated all afternoon. I made the decision to rest the legs instead of heading out to celebrate and took Monday off training all together.

Two days post-race
The good news is that I'm feeling fresh as a daisy! I was a little tired and emotional on Sunday night and yesterday morning, but I think that was more to do with having my Mum and twin sister here all weekend, a wedding the night before I raced and nowhere near my required minimum of 7 hours sleep. So whilst it wasn't the ideal race prep, I am happy with how I have pulled up. I rode this morning (just a cruisy 35km) and the legs feel great. I'm pretty ravenous today, but the key for me is just to go with it. Lots of natural nutrition, water and sleep is the best recovery in my books.

So overall, my nutrition and recovery has been a success. On that note, it's time for lunch!

Monday, February 6, 2012


"The greatest battle is not the physical but the psychological. The demons telling us to give up when we push ourselves to the limit can never be silenced for good. They must always be answered by the quiet, the steady, dignity that simply refuses to give in.

Courage. We all suffer. Keep going."

~ Graeme Fife

Gatorade Race 4 - Sandringham

The lead up 

The lead up to my first OD has been interesting to say the least. Two weeks ago, my confidence was soaring after Race 3, but some late nights (and maybe one too many glasses of wine), had led to one or two pretty average (& tough!) long runs.... and I was starting to worry. Looking back, it seems silly to have even given it a second thought, but for some reason I couldn't shake how much the 10km was going to hurt. Hindsight. To go from worrying about the 1.5km swim (when I first signed up to OD), to feeling this way about the run was completely new to me, but lucky I have some amazing people around me to constantly remind me how I've much work I've really done. Running always hurts anyway, so I know I just have to work on my relationship with the dread "h" word :)

On a more positive note, it's so nice to have my open water mojo and be looking forward to the swim. Last season I barely got through the swim, so what a difference 12 months makes!

Race Day
After seeing 55km/hr winds forecast, I had decided against setting a goal time for the bike and instead, focused on the swim/run. I wanted to swim a 35min 1.5km and run a sub-60 10km. And I did! My main aim though, was just to finish and set a benchmark for many more OD's to come. 

Official time - 3:16:21.2
Splits - 38:53  3:14  1:33:55  2:12  58:05

What I learned
- Sandringham is a race of it's own! I raced the sprint distance there last year, but it's funny how you forget. I came out of the water at 35mins, but the hill run up to transition adds another 3-4mins it seems! I felt good though and had my heart rate under control, which is distinctly different to what I do remember from last year. I really enjoyed the swim. Yep, you heard it here first - I enjoy open water swimming!
- I have a lot of work to do: on the bike and with my relationship with pain. I knew it was going to be tough in the wind, but when my lower back flared up pretty much as soon as I faced the headwind, I was in the hurt locker. I thought I had resolved my back pain following training camp earlier in the year, but when it comes down to it, I absolutely have to get a new bike before I race again. I don't want to sound like I'm laying blame, but I know the bike really contributed to how much I struggled yesterday. I was uncomfortable, the gears are almost shot, the chain fell off - it was just a debacle really. And my time says it all. 1:33 for a 40km?! I know it was windy, but I've ridden in the wind before, and I can ride faster than that!
- Two out three ain't bad! 
- I may need to adjust my new race suit rules (from Race 3). I saw photos of me post-race and they are not pretty. So practical but possibly the most unflattering photos I've ever seen!
- What I love most about triathlons is inspiring others. We were all in the hurt locker out there, and to run past someone and offer words of encouragement, is really what it's all about. To Pete Battrick, the gentlemen in the 65+ age group who finished last, with the course being packed down around him - you inspire me! I hope I'm still doing the same when I'm his age!

First OD: check! Time to focus on speed before #2 (which I'm yet to enter) and then a big winter to get sub-3 for Noosa later in the year. But first, I have Race 5 in 2 weeks and then the BRW to wrap up February - it's going to be a big month!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Keep moving forward!

It's the night before my first OD, a goal I've been working towards all season. I've done the work and now all I need to do is put it all together and keep moving forward (thanks Chrissy!). I've decided against setting a goal time, as the conditions may be far from ideal (55km/hr winds - hurt locker anyone?) and instead, aim to finish with a smile on my face, knowing I have given it my best shot. Good luck to all those racing tomorrow - I hope you get what you are looking for x

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

'Twas the week before Sandy..

I actually can't believe I'm racing my first Olympic Distance triathlon this Sunday. It seems like a lifetime ago when I first signed up for the series and began my transition from Sprint Distance.

I'm excited, I'm nervous, I'm a little afraid of the unknown.. but importantly, I know I've done the work. I'm feeling solid in the open water, strong on the bike & I know my run will come together on race day.  The last few long runs I've done haven't been fantastic, but I had a good race specific run today and my confidence is back. All that's left now is rest, a light combo session or two and a yoga class for good measure. Bring on Sunday!