Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Two Girls in Sneakers...

I can't believe we are approaching the end of a decade. I can't believe I'm now 29. I can't believe how quickly Christmas and my birthday flew by this year!

What I can believe is that 2010 is going to be a good year. A great year in fact. I think my favourite birthday card this year came from Kirsten. The message inside it read "there's nothing that two girls in sneakers can't do" and you know, I believe that too.

[I also have to give a little shout out to my 2nd favourite birthday card, which came from Shane (pictured below).

The inside of the card reads "No animals were harmed in the making of this birthday card. One dog, however, was made to feel like a complete idiot."]

Looking forward to 2010, I've been thinking a lot about resolutions (both new and old). I don't typically do the whole resolution thing as I tend to set goals (athletically) throughout the year and am otherwise pretty happy with how I live my life and how I deal with my vices (ahem, lattes, ahem). As such, I'm not sure I feel the need to change anything, or make new resolutions, at this time. That said, looking forward to 2010 has also had me reflecting on resolutions past...

A few years ago, I sat down with Shane and our friend Ash on Jan 1st (2007) and we all wrote down a few things we wanted to accomplish that year. Writing them down really does hold you accountable and I was able to stick with most of the resolutions I made for that year (aside from one which was to "paint more." I'm still not painting nearly enough). Anyway, I think the best resolution I made in 2007 was to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. After a busy 2006 that included welcoming Rusty to the family, finishing building our home and moving in, as well as getting married, I had really let myself get out of shape. I was able to stick with my exercise resolution pretty well, mainly by running, and then in March of that year I saw that Juan de Fuca was offering a triathlon clinic. I thought joining the tri clinic was a great idea and would give me a goal to help me keep fit... those who know me well, know that that clinic pretty much changed my life and that triathlon has become a passion (an addiction some might even say). So, I suppose, resolutions really can be a good thing...

As for the here and now, the past week I had planned to put in some heavy training before we go away on vacation. Unfortunately, the cold that I had been fighting (and thought I shook) caught up with me in a bad way on the morning of Christmas Eve. I've definitely had some colourful phlegm, thankfully only green and not both of the holiday colours (green and red that is). I took Christmas Eve and Christmas day off from training and then tried to get back into it, thinking I could exercise the phlegm right out of me... which, unfortunately I could not. I finally conceded defeat and have spent the day doing nothing (aside from visiting the clinic). I also plan to spend the next few days doing nothing before we head to Hawaii as I want to be healthy enough to enjoy my time with Shane... and besides, how am I supposed to get in some good runs along the beach in Hawaii if I'm still a gooey mess!

Well, with this I will sign off and bid 2009 farewell. I wish everyone a healthy and prosperous 2010.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Motivation, Inspiration, Vacation... Random-nation?

Don't ask me what the title of this post really means, as I'm not totally sure myself. They are just a few words that popped into my head. I haven't posted in a while as I've been having trouble focusing my thoughts to one particular subject. As such, I think the following is just going to be a bit of a mixed bag. Potpourri Round 2 I suppose.

So, let's see, where to begin... how about the run.

I was thinking recently about how last year I did most of my runs first thing in the morning, on the roads around my house in Shawnigan. It's not really the most ideal place to be running, as there is very minimal shoulder and no street lights, but I never really worried about it as I have managed to put together a pretty reflective run kit for those dark mornings. That said, this year something has changed and I just can't seem to get comfortable running in the dark up there alongside traffic. I've had more fear of getting run down, more fear of spraining an ankle on the uneven dirt that is the shoulder, more fear (and albeit irrational, it's still fear) of getting attacked by some strange animal lurking in the dark. As such, I've taken to doing most of my shorter/easy runs on my lunch break at work. It's been nice because it allows me to run some routes I wouldn't usually tackle and also, recently, I've been joined by two of my co-workers. It's great motivation to have some friends alongside you to chat with on a run and also to have a chance to get to know each other better as well. While I enjoy the solitary pursuit of running and will still relish the odd long run on my own, it's pretty amazing how quickly a 30 minute outing can go when you've got someone by your side.... and so the 'POV Run Club' is born. Remember guys... you LOVE running. Other notables about the run is that all the stretching and massage I've been doing/getting lately seems to be helping and my calf is starting to feel a little better on each outing. Fingers crossed the improvement continues.

Other than running, I've had some good spins on the bike recently (mainly trainer rides though - I really need to get out on the road!) and some decent swims. Actually come to think of it, about a week and a half ago I think I experienced the hardest swim workout of my life! It wasn't necessarily hard from a physical standpoint, but it was very technical with a lot of 'no board' kicking to help me work on my body rotation (among other things). I didn't actually make it through the whole thing, partly due to running out of time (I'm a slooow kicker) and partly due to getting a tad flustered, but I will say things are coming together with my stroke and while I'm still not as fast as I would like to be, I'm definitely finding things are starting to click again. And you know, that 'click' feeling is kinda nice.

What else.... ahh yes, the best part! I'm now on vacation from work for the Christmas holidays (as well as for Shane and my trip to Hawaii in January). When all is said and done, I will be away from work for nearly a month... and boy, does it feel good. It's really nice to not have to think about work and only really have training on the schedule. [Random aside: anyone feel like sponsoring a middle of the pack age-grouper who may never win a race but will always enjoy the moment and show great love for a great product... if so, I'm your girl :) haha]. I've been battling a bit of a cold but have still managed to get in some solid training sessions (between wrapping gifts and last minute shopping that is). This next week or so will probably continue to be a bit on the heavier side for training before some downtime and active recovery in Waikiki. I can’t wait!

Well, I thought I had more in my head but I guess not... and it looks like it's time to hit the trainer.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Posterior Compartment Syndrome

Ever heard of it? Yeah, me neither… until this past Monday that is.

I’ve still been struggling with pain in my calf every time I run lately, and so, not wanting to let something minor turn into something major - and on the persistent urging of my Mom [see comments on one of my last posts for example, haha] - I decided it was time to pay a visit to a physio and get things checked out.

So on Monday, I met with JR from Parkway Physiotherapy in Langford. So far, he’s been great (I know it’s only been one session, but still, I feel confident he’s going to help get me sorted out). I think he was a little scared of me at first. I only say this because he said he’s never treated an athlete who is on Warfarin before, but as I’ve learned many times this year, my situation and clotting episode is, well, sort of unexpected and unusual. Anyway, after going over all my history - including every twinge and cramp and ache and pain since my clot - as well as testing my leg strength and looking at my body mechanics, JR set me up on the calf press machine with a crazy amount of weight and had me do calf raises. I’m realizing now he never actually said what we were doing, but I’m pretty sure he was trying to see how long it took to trigger my calf pain… the answer – not long, not long at all! (only about 25 raises to be exact). So, as our hour session was coming to an end he felt pretty confident making the initial diagnosis of “Posterior Compartment Syndrome”. He gave me a strict stretching regime to adhere to, as well as some strengthening exercises for my anterior (calf?) muscles and assured me he was going to do some more research before our next meeting, since continuing with my ‘medical freak’ year, I am only about the 6th or 8th person he has seen in his 15 year career with this issue. We’re going to meet again next Monday so he can have a better look at my stride and my running shoes, etc. and from there treatment will probably move onto massage.

Other than that, the past week of training has been pretty good – some slight struggles on the run due to my calf, but I’ve been feeling better in the pool and am really focusing hard on working a proper stroke. Watch out Michael Phelps ;)

Other than that, I got some very exciting news from Shane last night. I had been planning to surprise him with a trip in January for his 30th birthday, and (great minds think alike) he had also been planning a surprise trip for me. Of course when my parent’s found out about both of these ‘surprise’ trips, they suggested we need to talk to each other, so now we are going to plan the perfect getaway together.... We’ll be heading to Hawaii in early January! I can’t wait!! It will be nice to have some time off together not spent in a hospital and maybe even get some hot weather training in as well (but shhh, don’t tell Shane that my running shoes are going to make the trip as well).

I wonder if they have Pineapple Fanta in Hawaii?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Just Cause...

... this song always takes me to a happy place.

I could totally go for an ice cold Pineapple Fanta (in a glass bottle of course) while sitting on a dock, in the middle of the Caribbean, in 40 degree heat right now. Mmmmm Pineapple Fanta.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Overcoming the grey days?

Last week was a bit of a tough one. I really don’t know why and in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that bad, I just struggled a little more than I would like – and not just in training. This week I seemed to struggle a little on all fronts: training, work and well, just the day to day grind in general.

As for training, I had a rest day on Monday which was nice. I didn’t necessarily feel too worn out and in need of a day off, but I gladly took it anyway. Onto Tuesday… I experienced some really bad cramping and pain in my calf when I set out for an easy run at lunch. This unfortunately came after an already lack luster swim that morning and it just kind of discouraged me and set the tone. I struggled to find a rhythm in anything I did and couldn’t just help but feeling a bit down. Maybe it’s the grey skyline or the total lack of inspiration / challenge / motivation at work, but either way, I just couldn’t seem to shake it. Thankfully I had a solid bike trainer session on Wednesday night (which was the high point of training during the work week), but sadly followed it by another ho-hum swim on Thursday morning. Feeling completely flustered, I decided to skip my run later that day (Thursday) – and you know, I didn’t even feel that guilty about skipping the workout, which is very very rare for me. By Friday I was just tired. Distracted even. Uneasy and on edge and just having one of those days where I was ready to cry over absolutely nothing and everything at the same time. The day was just one big *sigh*

All that said, after a good sleep on Friday night, I woke up Saturday morning feeling quite a bit better and more like myself (hmm, oddly it wasn’t a work day – go figure). I got up early and met Kirsten at my parent’s for an easy 90’ bike in the rain. We stuck mainly to the Goose as I haven’t been on my bike much other than on the trainer and didn’t want to ride alongside traffic in such a crazy downpour. We probably chatted more than actually pushed ourselves, but it was great to be out riding and enjoying the day. I don’t think either of us were really bothered by the pounding rain until the last 20 minutes or so.

Sunday was equally as fun. Shane and I met one of his friends (Seth) for a birthday fun run around Elk Lake. It was my first time ever running at the lakes (pretty shocking I know) and although I ended up getting separated/lost from the guys after I stopped for a bathroom break, it was a good morning. I can see why so many people run and walk the trails there! From there we had a great little breakfast/brunch with Seth’s family and friends and then I was off to my actual training session for the day…. This was a technical swim and run session coached by Kelly and Nick. I got some really great pointers from the guys for my swim stroke (which couldn’t have come at a better time as I have really been feelings sloppy in the water lately and just said the other day that I felt like I needed to throw my swim stroke out and start fresh). I need to work more on pulling with my lats and I’m now actually really looking forward to my next swim so I can focus on this. I know it is going to make a big difference (cause it already did in yesterday’s swim) but hopefully sooner than later it will become second nature. The run session was just as good, (focusing on some drills and strides) although my calf pain came back, so I was quite happy when it was over.

Other than that, after a “down in the dumps” week, the weekend was a nice pick me up. I’m hoping this week will carry on that same trend and that I've finally shaken whatever was getting me down.

Well, until next time… thanks for reading.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Long Live the Weekend!

I love the weekend. Everything about it, but especially the parts where you don't have to work :)

Anyway, this past Saturday I ran the Bear Mountain 10k. I hadn’t really intended on taking part in this race before the Sunday prior. My thoughts about doing the race went something like this: “well, I’ll wait and see if Kelly puts it on my calendar and if so, I’ll run. If not, no biggie.” [Read: ‘no biggie’ as ‘yippee, what crazy person would really want to do this race!’]

Kirsten had registered but wasn’t able to run due to her ongoing battle with plantar fasciitis, so using her registration was another push to get out there…. Oh, and yes, after a brief discussion on the Sunday night prior Kelly had included the race in my training schedule (with the qualifier that it was supposed to be an easy base run, really just an excuse to get out and enjoy the social aspect of running and racing). As such, I had no expectations or goal times to meet.

So, let's see - the 'race'. I went slow. Very slow actually... Mentally, I think it’s kind of hard to go out to a ‘race’ and not intend to push yourself fully, but I did just that. Trust me, I still worked my butt off – it is “Canada’s Hardest 10k” after all – but in the end, I enjoyed myself. The first part of the run included a lot of negative thoughts (mainly “why did I agree to do this” over and over in my head), but as I approached the half way point and saw Kirsten and my folks standing there cheering me on (as corny as it sounds) I reminded myself I should be thankful that I was able to be out there, running, being active, taking part in a great event. Six months ago, I don’t know if this would have been considered ‘moderate’. Anyway, it’s amazing what a bit of positive thinking can do because the last half of the run went pretty well.

As for the physical side of the run, I found I didn't warm up quite enough and had some really bad calf/achilles pain on the first climb, which led me to walk a bit up one of the hills. I did find a nice pace in the mid portion before having another small walk break up the second major climb that is known as "Mama Bear". I know I probably could have run it, but the climbs were hurting my calf more than I would have liked, so I figured it wasn't worth pushing it or risking an injury.

So, all in all, it was fun. I know I didn't push myself as hard as I could since I felt pretty great at the end and after the race, but that’s what it was supposed to be. And heck, now I know I should be able to get a PB next year at this race.

As for the rest of the weekend, it was full of catch-ups and get togethers with some great friends that I hadn't seen in a while. A couple of them were over for visits from Vancouver and another pair who actually live here in Victoria that I just hadn't seen in a while. It's amazing how life can just get going sometimes and before you know it, it's been a month or two since you've connected. Anyway, it's always nice to reconnect.

Now it's back to the grind for the week. I'm looking forward to some down time with Shane now that the opera is over, as well as some solid training days and the first (of what I'm sure will be many) group rides and technical run sessions with the LiveFit crew.

And last but not least, I came across the paragraph(s) below this morning, and it has kinda stuck with me, so thought I would share.

Almost nothing worth doing can be done alone. You will need help. You will need people to challenge you. You will need people to support you.

Remember this quote: you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If you don’t like that average, you’re going to have to start introducing some positive people into your social circle.

Get help, get mentors, team up with friends, do whatever you can. Better yet, do all of the above. Then you can become the positive social support for those around you.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lessons Learned

I headed out for an easy 40’ (last 16’ as :30RP/:90EZ) run today on my lunch break. As the pineapple express beats down on the island I couldn’t help but be reminded of a few wet weather lessons….

Running in the rain is actually not so bad.
Running is the rain with a tail wind is really quite nice.
However, running in the rain with a head wind is not my favourite thing.
On that topic, running on Dallas Rd during a storm is probably not the best idea.
And running on Dallas Rd during a storm into a headwind is an even worse idea.
But running downhill with a tailwind at race pace is awesome.

My Garmin is not waterproof (which I already was well aware of, and yet, it still bothers me. It’s like I expect it to become waterproof between each rainy workout).
A ‘dry fit’ tech shirt does not keep you dry (not that I really expected it to).
Covering my Garmin with the sleeve of said ‘dry fit’ tech shirt does not keep my little gadget any drier than just leaving it uncovered.
Running commando when you’ve only got the one pair of knickers that you wore to work for the day is a very good idea.
New socks are the best! (thanks Kelly & Nick)
Running in the pouring rain makes my sponge bath in the office bathroom post-run much easier…. Ahhh, nature’s shower.

Last but not least, no matter what the weather, getting out for a run on your lunch break is way better than sitting at your desk staring at the computer all day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Splish Splash

Well I’m glad to have put a nice big check mark beside each workout on last week’s training calendar. It was nice to be back into a routine and also nice to start building into things at a reasonable pace.

I will admit I had a few moments of beating up on myself (emotionally) early in the week as I felt a large amount of frustration in the pool. My first pool workout included a timed 400, something that in the past has come easy to me (and so it should), yet this time around it felt extremely labored. I was completely out of rhythm and anything but smooth in the water. My shoulders were tight and I couldn’t help but feel like everything I had last May had somehow gone completely out the window... and *gasp* Kirsten kicked my butt! I know this was my first real swim workout in a while, but still, you have certain expectations for yourself and when you fail to meet those expectations it kind of takes the wind out of your sails.

Thankfully, I had some good easy runs and was able to spin away some frustrations on the bike. Also, my second swim workout of the week went a little better than the first. It was kind of a funny one, in that, when I first looked at the workout I thought “hmm, this should be easy” as it had lots of short fast efforts (nothing more than 100m, each with a 20 second rest in between). But, wow, I was wrong - easy it was not! As I hit the wall on the last effort of my second (and last) set, the words “thank god that is over” came shooting out of my mouth… and yet it still felt better than the other day. I focused on not over thinking things (something I do too much of), on really lengthening out my stroke and just staying relaxed. Shane once said to me "swimming seems a lot like golf, when you try and kill it, the ball goes nowhere, you do so much better if you just swing easy".

Last night I took another crack at the workout with the timed 400. I approached it with the 'swing easy' mentality and you know, it was better... good almost. I'm still not quite as quick as I would like to be, but my stroke didn't feel like some crazy wind-up toy on the verge of a breakdown and I think I may have actually looked somewhat smooth moving down the lane. On top of that, I cut 10 seconds of my time from last week which is definitely encouraging.

Oh, and I finally got a new set of goggles... heaven!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Uh-oh... the Red Cups are back!

One of my biggest vices is spending far too much money and consuming far too many empty calories on lattes. I love lattes. With a good shot of espresso I love them just as they are – espresso and milk. But I also love them wrapped in sugary goodness and filled with all sorts of gooey artificially flavoured syrups. I try to support my local coffee shops (Habit, Street Level Espresso and Discovery Coffee are my top picks by far – great coffee and great baristas at each of these shops), but there is just something wonderful about the “holiday” flavours that come packaged in a lovely red cup from Starbucks that I just can’t resist. Oh the corporate machine has got me and it’s got me good. It’s just so hard to decide, eggnog or gingerbread, caramel brûlée or peppermint mocha. It’s like Christmas in a cup!

Now, what has this got to do with triathlon training you ask? Well, it seems it was perfect timing this year. On November 1st I “officially” started on my Ironman training schedule (it feels so good to be back into a routine). It also seems that on November 1st the red cups came back and therefore my latte calorie consumption is about to go up!

So, I’m thinking, maybe the training will help balance out this holiday indulgence?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lazy Days

It’s been a while since I last wrote… I suppose it’s because I haven’t really been doing any training and therefore haven’t had much to write about. Actually, come to think of it, maybe it has something to do with the fact that I haven’t been going on any long runs or rides where my mind starts to drift and I start penning the latest entry in my head. Regardless here I am. I'm finding I have missed writing on the blog as much as I have missed training... well, almost.

The week after the half marathon was a pretty typical recovery week I think. It consisted of some easy spin sessions on the trainer as well as some equally easy swims. I hadn't been in the water since the Sooke tri on September 13th so it felt both great and weird to be back in the pool. Actually, it really felt like it had been forever! My swim times were incredibly slow… and while I know I was supposed to be taking it easy , it still kinda made me gasp when I’d hit the lap counter after 500m and be 40 to 50 seconds slower than I knew I could be. Hopefully I was just having an off week… yes, that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself.

After that nice recovery week, training got derailed (although, this was a planned derailment) once again as I had to have a minor surgery to remove a lovely little foreign object floating around in my abdomen (long story). The surgery did come pretty much at the perfect time though (one week after the half and thankfully not before it), as it has allowed for a bit of a rest, relaxation and recovery before we really get going with training, you know, for that little race next August.

Last week, immediately following my ‘procedure’ I found myself laid up, sitting on the couch – incredibly antsy at one moment, but not wanting to do anything at the same time. The rest was welcomed with open arms.

But that was last week… this week I’m ready to get back at it. The 'guilt' of not exercising every day is starting to hit me. I find myself thinking about setting up my bike in the living room and watching a movie while I pedal to my heart’s content as the rain pounds down outside… thinking about that lovely lingering chlorinated smell on my skin after a morning swim session (am I the only one that loves that?). Heck, I’m even ready to break out Rusty’s new reflective run vest (it is sooo cool – and functional!) for an early morning jaunt around the neighbourhood. I suppose I should enjoy this down time though as I’m probably going to be longing for my nice warm bed as I slog through the early morning rain in the not so distant future.

Kirsten has also been taking some time off these past couple weeks. Her 'rest' wasn't quite as scheduled however, as she is forced to deal with what I believe is her first experience with Plantar Fasciitis. I’m sure she’s tired of hearing how it’s better to rest now and get healed than push through and make things worse. I will say though, that it’s a crazy (and really really hard) thing to go from working out every day, planning your life around your next training session to being told you can’t (whether by a doctor, a physio, your coach or even your own body – shouting at you to just STOP!). So Kirsten, I feel for you.

All that said, I think I had a much easier go of it during this down period than Kirsten did, as this isn’t the first time I’ve been told to take a break and well, this time mine wasn’t so unexpected. I had been aware of my impending surgery for about a month and new the game plan would be a few weeks off post RVM to take care of things before the initial build that will be November and December…

I guess, sometimes it’s nice to sit down, eat some Halloween candy and not worry about your missed interval session… and well, sometimes it’s nice to get back at it! I can’t wait for this ‘lazy’ period to be over!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I wish...

... I was more like Chrissie Wellington.

For the obvious reasons of course [if you don't know who she is, Google her], but also for the fact that she seems to have a smile - a genuine smile - on her face through every race.

I need to smile more while I'm racing. I do enjoy it, so why not show it?

Anyway, heading into a bit of a rest and recovery period over the next two weeks before we really start training for Ironman. After chatting with Kelly last night it made me even more excited for the year to come. I can't wait :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Race Report – RVM Half Marathon

I'm incredibly happy to report that I met my goals for this race!

Some of the smaller goals were:
- Making it to the start line – check!
- Making it to the finish line – check!
- Staying positive throughout – check!
- Getting a decent race photo – yet to be confirmed ;)

But my biggest goal for this race was to finish under 2hrs and I’m so happy to put a big CHECK! beside that one. My official clocking was 1:54:23!

I think if I looked back at my emails sent to Kelly [my coach for those who are reading this and asking, “whose Kelly?”] last year after the half, that I had said to him my new goal was to go sub 2hr, even if it was 1:59:59. So to come in more than 5 minutes below that 2hr mark, and more than 12 minutes faster than my previous PB, it felt pretty good.

Of course, it’s not all about the time is it?

I don’t think you could ask for a better morning, it was sunny and warm, but not overly so. I got up about 5am to have breakfast and a small cup of coffee and to just relax a bit before having to get in the car and drive. We met at my parent’s about 6:15 and headed into town. It was nice to have enough time to get to the starting area and wait in the porta-potty line without feeling rushed (last year was a much different story). I waited as long as possible to take off my warm clothes and finally around 7:20 I did so and headed into the masses on Menzies. I had a nice chat with a girl beside me about triathlon and before I knew it, we were off.

Around the legislature and onto Wharf felt a bit slow, just navigating through the crowds, but soon enough I found a spot and settled into a nice pace. I went out a bit quicker than I expected, although not so quick that I felt like I should slow down. I had a couple moments where I thought to myself "can I really sustain this pace the whole race?" but every time I thought that I just told myself to sustain it as long as possible and if I got to the point where I couldn't, I would deal with it at the time.

I had written down my pace times for the 5, 10 & 15k markers on my hand, but hardly looked at my watch after the first few km's when I realized I was a bit ahead of my goal pace and so I just ran. I had read an interesting article from the Vancouver Sun the day before the race about the power of positive thinking and the use of repetitive thought and so decided to give it a try. My mantra throughout the race (which I repeated to myself who knows how many times) was, "short quick, short quick..." on every uphill and "enjoy the down" on every downhill. Luckily I was repeating this is my head or everyone around me would have probably thought I was crazy.

I had a few moments of self-doubt and negative thoughts around the 15k marker when I experienced a bit of pain, but managed to pull myself out of it fairly quickly and carry on. I think I did slow down a bit in the final 3-4k as my legs got a bit heavy on the last little uphill right by Ogden Point, but I knew I was going to make it under 2hrs unless something went terribly wrong, so that pulled me through all those final turns and into the finish line.

After making my way through the food tent I was congratulated by Shane, my friend Laura who was visiting from Vancouver, Tyler and my parent’s. We chatted a bit before Mom, Dad and Tyler headed to the car to drive out to Oak Bay Marina and locate Kirsten on the marathon course. Shane, Laura and I met up with another friend, Robyn, and the four of us spent the next couple hours cheering on all the racers from the day (Laura and Robyn, thanks for coming out, it was so great to see you guys). Kirsten came in around 4:20 on the marathon. I know she would have liked to have been faster, but I think she did an absolutely amazing job (especially since she was battling some major hip and foot pains).

All in all, it was a great day.

A big thank you to all the volunteers and to everyone who came out to cheer!

Friday, October 9, 2009

In honour of Alex Trebek ~ "Potpourri"

If you don't watch Jeopardy, you probably have no idea what the title of this post refers to, even if you do, you still might not get it because maybe it's just one of those things that I found funny in my head and really makes no sense at all…. Anyway, to sum up this little bit of rambling (and explain the title), this post is just like the "Potpourri" category on Jeopardy, it is simply a mish-mash of all the things running through my brain as race day approaches. So here goes...

Thought 1: Survival of the brightest?

Yesterday morning I headed out for my last easy run before the race on Sunday (aside from race prep on Saturday that is) and it sure felt like it took everything I had to survive it… but I’m not talking about survival from a running standpoint. There are definitely those days when your legs just feel heavy or you can’t seem to find your breath, yesterday wasn’t one of those days. I felt okay, a bit tired and heavy footed out of the gates, but okay.

The survival I’m talking about was different. Yesterday morning it seemed like every person in Shawnigan decided to head to work about the time I went out for my run. Every car was in a rush, flying down the road with high beams on (thank goodness I was brightly illuminated and highly reflective), hugging the shoulder like they don’t normally do (the guys in the pick-up trucks are the worst!). Top all that off with a dog who not only decided he needed to pee on EVERYTHING this morning, but suddenly had a new fascination with trying to turn (into traffic) to look at each and every car as they whizzed by. What the heck Rusty? An interesting outing to say the least, but *knock on wood* I did survive and am now ready to race on Sunday. Which leads me to....

Thought 2: Nerves and Excitement

I'm really looking forward to this race. It's an odd mix of feeling nervous and excited. I know I can do the distance - there is no doubt in my mind - I can do it. But, I have moments where I think the goal I have set for myself is realistic and moments where I'm not so sure, which makes me nervous.

Thought 3 – List It

I'm a bit OCD when it comes to lists. I probably make more lists than I need to (packing lists, to-do lists, grocery lists). So, it seems fitting that I have my pre-race checklist (in no particular order).

- Clip toenails
- Get some good rest (I had a fabulous sleep last night - hoping for the same tonight)
- Eat some “carb-y” things without unintentionally "fat-loading" instead
- Pick up race package and check out the race expo (Yay! I love this part of race weekend... hopefully there is some good free 'swag')
- Enjoy a nice epsom salts bath
- Think positive and visualize myself finishing the race in my goal time
- Hydrate, hydrate and then hydrate some more
- Plan out the timeline for race morning so I don't feel rushed or stressed heading to the start line

Thought 4 – Thanks

Last but not least, I just wanted to thank everyone who has been reading this and has commented (whether directly to me or in the comments). It’s really great to know I have so many people supporting me and it’s also really special to have someone tell you that your words have made them laugh, or cry, or even helped inspire them in some small way. So thank you.

And I think that is all for now. Good luck to everyone who is racing this weekend! (especially Kirsten, you're gonna kill it in the full).

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ode to the Carbo-Load

As 'marathon week' is now upon us and the RVM-half is less than 6 full days away, I find myself thinking about the good old carbo-load. As such, an ode... (be sure to sing it in the tune of "These are a few of my Favourite Things" please)

Perfect spiced potatoes and roast veg risotto
Raviolis in rose sauce with bottom less bread
Peanut butter on bagels and a baker’s creation
These are a few of my carbo-load things

Rice cakes for snacking and sushi a plenty
Perogies in garlic with fresh pesto pasta
Cool berry smoothies and choco-chip Clif bars
These are a few of my carbo-load things

Cheerios and chai tea and cinnamon oatmeal
Apples in caramel with yogurt and banana
Baked spinach rotini and herbed focaccia bread
These are a few of my carbo-load things....

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Run

Over the past few weeks, my training schedule has been almost exclusively running as I gear up for the Royal Victoria Half Marathon on October 11. This running “intensive” has been great, but it has lead me to yet another realisation as to why I like triathlon so much – you don’t necessarily run every day – you get to break it up with some swimming and, you guessed it, biking. I find having the variety of 3 different sports to work on really does help keep things interesting for me.

That said, this post is about the run....

I always think of the run as my weakest sport, and while this may not necessarily be true, I think I feel this way because it has never been able to top the swim or the bike as my favourite. I sometimes wonder how many people out there are like me... at one point in time you would have heard me muttering under my breath ‘I hate running’ as I laboured through a 30 minute run. Now, a few short years down the road, I find myself craving a nice long outing, feeling antsy when I haven’t run in a few days, excited to read the latest slew of running magazines to hit the shelves, truly understanding the addictive qualities of ‘the run’.

This weekend Kirsten and I suited up for our last ‘long’ run before marathon weekend. We headed out on the race course on a beautiful sunny day and tackled the middle 16k of the route... and, you know, it felt good - really good. I'm ready for October 11th and excited to try and beat my PB. There was a time however that if you told me to run for 40 minutes, (let alone an hour and 40), I would have thought it impossible. In fact, one of my favourite quotes (I think I read it in a New Balance ad?) was “I love that my short runs used to be my long runs” – a statement that couldn’t be more true. Actually, come to think of it, New Balance has pretty much summed up my thoughts on running brilliantly with their love/hate campaign.

So, while I have moments of strong dislike (I won’t use the ‘H’ word anymore) toward the run, I’ve actually really enjoyed this period of running, running and more running. It has given me the time to focus on and hopefully better myself in a sport I’ve often viewed as my weak spot. Slowly but surely I am becoming more aware of pacing and cadence – counting strike rates on a daily basis. I think about my A’s, my B’s and even my C’s. I lunge, I stride and I even sprint up hills... and from time to time, I even turn off my brain and well, just run.

Oh the run, the glorious run.

Oh, and last but not least, another great thing about all this running is the extra time I get to spend with my favourite little run buddy – Rusty. His motivation never falters, as soon as he sees my running gear or a pair of ankle socks pulled out of the drawer, he’s fired up and ready to go... sometimes I wish I could harness his energy and excitement.

Monday, September 21, 2009

And so it begins… (Officially, unofficially and everything in between?)

I suppose August 30th 2009 was the “official” start of my bid for Ironman…

Kirsten and I set out early on what would be a bit of a whirlwind trip to Penticton. We boarded a quiet 7am ferry (the same time competitors in IMC 2009 were hitting the water) and before we knew it were on the mainland and starting our drive. To me, the drive actually felt like it went pretty quick (aside from one small detour through New Westminster when I missed the turn off to Hope – how I managed that, I do not know).

Soon enough we were turning off the Keremeos by-pass road and driving alongside the cyclists competing in IMC 2009. It was actually quite fun as we were stop and go the rest of our drive and got to see the competitors conquer the climb to Yellow Lake and the subsequent decent back into town. Some people looked great; some… well, not so much. Next year, even if I don’t look great, I hope to at least have a hint of a smile on my face as I ascend the last “mountain” on the bike.

The rest of the day included a lot of clapping and cheering and admiration for all the brave souls out on the course.

I didn’t sleep much that night and we were up early (4am) on the 31st to head down to Okanagan Park to register. Penticton is one quiet (and warm – 18 Celsius) town in the middle of the night. We were the first of the “non-tenters” to get in line – so probably somewhere between 30th and 50th overall I would guess (thank you to Doug and Di for the very comfy lawn chairs). We chatted with a somewhat abrasive woman from Olympia who had competed in 9 previous Ironman races (she actually turned out to be quite nice, just a little jarring first thing in the morning), watched the line grow and patiently waited (something we would end up doing a lot on this day). The line started moving at 6:30am (much earlier than anticipated as registration wasn’t supposed to open until 9am). We made it into the registration tent thinking it was almost our turn, but volunteers get to register first, so we then waited (now inside the registration tent) for another 2 hrs or so….

And then… and then finally it was my turn!

Kirsten was very gracious and let me go first. I was quite excited as I sat down with Helen from Ironman to complete the process. Of course (as this year has gone), there had to be a minor hiccup and the computer froze during my registration. Kirsten was now done her registration, so we both – you guessed it – waited some more for Helen to figure out what to do. Since she didn’t want to do the registration again and accidentally charge me twice, I was assured that everything was fine and sent on my way. I knew it would be okay and that they wouldn’t deny my registration, but seeing everyone else walk out the door with a confirmation number and me with an email address of someone I didn’t know, I was a little unnerved and emotional. (Poor Kirsten… I’m sorry to you how panicked I was about it that morning).

I’m not sure if it’s because I was so tired, or just everything it took to even get to this point, but I felt pretty emotional the whole day.

I suppose that takes me to what was probably the ‘unofficial’ start of this journey.

May 16th 2009. A day I don’t think I will ever forget (nor do I want to) and a day I think has changed me forever. Those who know me will know that in the wee hours of May 16th I was diagnosed with an unprovoked (and still unexplained) pulmonary embolism – a blood clot in my lung.

As this is a blog about my bid for Ironman, I don’t want to make it too much about my illness/injury (I’m never quite sure what to call it) but I don’t think it can go unmentioned, as it has shaped my life greatly over the last 4/5 months. That said, while this will be a long post about my PE, I’m hoping it will also be the last.

I kept a bit of a diary over the past few months that I wasn’t sure I would ever share, but think I am now ready. Below is an excerpt I began writing in June.

Life is so unexpected. We take it for granted. I take it for granted. If you asked me on the morning of May 15th what I thought I would be doing now, it would have been a simple answer, training for the next triathlon and going about the usual work week. I was hurting a little that morning, my chest ached a bit and my breathing was slightly laboured, but I thought it was nothing more than a little over-training or anxiety of the race ahead. Nothing an early morning swim couldn’t cure... when my butt muscle started aching in the pool I worried a little more, but more for the fact that the race was so near and I thought I was psyching myself out (you know, maybe deep in my mind I was inventing physical excuses for if I did bad on race day). I love being able to call myself a triathlete, and while I may never be world class or even tops in my age group, I take my training seriously and really love each and every workout - even if some days I didn’t feel like doing them at the beginning. I was so nervous for the race and yet so excited at the same time. 6 months of training, 6 months of dedication to one goal, to pushing my body to its limits, to proving to myself and everyone that I could do it.

To jolt awake in the middle of the night, with a pain so torturous and indescribable. To have this feeling of helplessness wash over you, to know that something is truly wrong. I wanted to go back to sleep, to ignore it, but I couldn’t. “Shane, I think I need to go to the hospital.” Words that I’m sure Shane never wants to hear from me again. Those moments that felt like I could never forget them are starting to blur a little now. The decision – call 911 or drive. Drive. Down the stairs. Walking half bent. The pain. A concerned Rusty following us. The pain. I can’t be sure but I believe he gave my face a little lick. The walk to the car. The panic. The pain. The drive. By the time we got to the hospital I felt a little more relaxed. We had made it there and now I knew I was going to get help. To hopefully get answers. Chest pains – the magic words in an ER. There wasn’t much waiting around. It was about 2am. Within about 20 minutes I was having my ECG. My heart was good. So... what next? Well, now that they knew my heart was fine, there was a little more waiting. Waiting for a chest x-ray, some blood tests. In my mind I thought I had a collapsed lung. Of course I thought, “well, if I’ve been training like this, I’ll still be able to race even if my lung isn’t 100%.” Unfortunately it wasn’t that. The x-ray was fine, but my blood tests came back that I could potentially have a blood clot in my lung. “This test produces a lot of false positives” the doctor told us. To be safe, I needed a CT scan of my chest and my very first shot of heparin, a blood thinner I would come to know very well over the next few weeks. I was scared, I know it now, but at the time I don’t think I really realized it was true or how serious it was. Okay I thought, so I might have a clot, maybe I’ll get a day or two off work. We headed home about 5am to get a few hours sleep before we would have to head back to the hospital for my CT scan. I brushed my teeth and coughed up a big chunk of blood... the fear hit me. Something really was wrong. I packed an overnight bag for the hospital just in case, that blood made me realize it might be more serious than I thought.

1pm, CT Scan... back to the ER to check in for the results. A Saturday afternoon on the long weekend is much busier than the middle of the night – so we waited and waited... and waited. Finally I got to meet Dr. Eyes Closed. His bedside manner was spectacular – or, well, nonexistent. My CT scan didn’t work and I would need another... so more scanning and more waiting. Finally the results were in. I did have a pulmonary embolism. A small clot in my lower left lung. As we sat in the “quiet room” and he gave us the news, I realized I wouldn’t be racing next weekend. Silly where your mind goes. Really I was lucky to be alive and all I could think was that nobody would ever understand all the hard work I put in for that moment. That moment when you cross the finish line and 6 months of training feels so worth it. It was crushing. It made my chest hurt even more.

I was lucky in a sense, I was in such good health (other than my PE) I would be treated as an outpatient and didn’t need to stay at the hospital. Coming home from the hospital that night the pain intensified. I don’t know if being at the ER and waiting had numbed everything a little with adrenaline or maybe fear. We stopped at the Market to get some food for dinner. Walking around the store was excruciating and by the time we got home, just sitting on the couch hurt every inch of my body. Every breath I took felt like my insides were shattering. I sat in the computer chair which offered little relief and Shane began his new role of caregiver, making us dinner and I’m sure worrying about me more than he would ever let on. We went to bed that night and I barely slept... it’s all a little blurry now, but I remember it hurt and I remember I swore at the pain throughout the night.

The next morning we packed up and headed to the Jubilee for my first of many blood tests and my first day at the DVT clinic. There they would check my INR and administer a shot of heparin as well as a dose of Coumadin (warfarin). The doctors and nurses were all great. My favourite nurse being Dorinka. Her husband had had an unprovoked PE as well, so it seemed like she understood and was able to sympathize a little more. She made me feel safe. We also met Dr. Waters that day. In all honesty I can barely remember anything, aside from how much it hurt to lie back while he examined me. I was sent for a leg scan (ultrasound) to check for more clots in my legs or to see if they could tell where my lung clot came from. Sitting in the waiting area for the scan my emotions ran high.

[Fast forward....]

I spent nearly two weeks attending the DVT clinic. I reacted quickly to the Coumadin but then took a while to get regulated – just see-sawing up and down. Blood too thin, blood too thick.

During this time of course came the first ‘big’ race Kirsten and I had been training for –The Shawnigan Half Iron on May 24th, 2009. On Saturday (the 23rd) I went with Kirsten to pick up her race packet, attend the pre-race meeting and drop her bike off. Being there, on the grass at Shawnigan I felt like I was in a bit of a dream. Kirsten made me pick up my race pack (cause I kept saying how much I liked the race shirt). I didn’t open it until we got home. Pulling my race number out of the bag made me feel slightly ill. The emotions came on without much warning in this huge wave of disbelief – there it was... my number, 87. I was supposed to be wearing that tomorrow. The nerves in my tummy were supposed to be pre-race jitters and not the fear of some unknown reason as to why I had gotten a blood clot. I pushed the emotion down. I didn’t want to make Kirsten feel bad, she had worked just as hard as I had over the past 6 months and I wanted to be there to support her through her race.

Sunday morning we got up early. I will admit I was really excited for Kirsten and yet somewhat jealous too. It was a gorgeous day and it was nice to be there soaking in the atmosphere. I think I’ve realized I’m a tri geek... I truly love watching the people get ready, checking out all the bikes, even waiting in line for the porta-potty with Kirsten (even though I didn’t need to go). When the cannon went off I had a few tears. The emotions are hard to describe. Thank goodness for sunglasses. We were able to watch Kirsten emerge from the water after her swim – disoriented and with a slight look of “what the hell have I gotten myself into” on her face before Shane and I had to head back to the hospital for my daily shot. Luckily we were in and out of the DVT clinic quickly and were able to get back up to Shawnigan in good time. Kirsten was so speedy on the bike we didn’t get to see any of that leg of the race, but we did manage to find a nice little place on the trail to see her go by on the run before heading back to the finish line to wait for her to cross….

[Fast forward again….]

It is now July 18th, 2009. Pretty much two months since this all began. Some days are good and some are bad. The pain is still with me, although not in the same way. It’s a discomfort that it always just there, an ache with each deep breath, an awareness that my body is not quite right. Each and every day I feel this. I am lucky though, I’m lucky I’m alive and lucky to have such an amazing husband and supportive and caring family. I’ve been back to work for a few weeks now – long enough to feel ready for a vacation. I’m also back “training”. Not in the same way as I was before, but with new goals in mind. I have my sights set on the half marathon in October....

As clichéd as it sounds, one thing I’ve learned over the last 4/5 months is that what doesn’t kill you definitely makes you stronger (even if some days it drags you down and beats the crap out of you first). I'm happy to report that the goal I set for myself in July of running in the RVM-half will soon be a reality.

Well, thanks to everyone who made it through and read this whole super long post. Now, I must go run.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Why do I do triathlon? Why Ironman?? Why this blog???

All questions I’ve either been asked, figure I will be asked, or have asked myself.

So, why triathlon?

Quite simply, it makes me happy.

I like being in shape.
I like being able to indulge in sickly sweet lattes, pastries, pizza, chocolate (and more) and not feel uber-guilty about it.
I like being able to call myself a triathlete. I think it has a nice ring to it.
I like beating my sister in a race… and even though it’s not as much fun, I kinda don’t mind losing to her either (kinda). I guess what I really like is that she pushes me to be better.
I like that Kirsten and I have become great friends and can share this passion.
I like the atmosphere on race day.
I like the people you meet who share similar interests and goals.
I like training. I really like training - even the super early mornings.
I like when my pants start to fit a little looser.
I like a good post-run poo (but I don’t like when I almost don’t make it to the can).
I like all the fun gadgets and high tech gear (I love my Garmin).
I like getting new runners… or bike shorts… or new socks... or, well, anything new really.
I like doing something that sets me apart a little – something that not everyone does.
I like being a part of a sport that is really three sports in one.
I like pushing my body to what I think are my limits and then crushing those limits.
I like being alive and able.
I like getting to the start line as much as the finish line.
I like swimming… and biking… and even running too.

And quite simply, it makes me really happy.

Why Ironman?

This one is a little harder to put into words.I suppose to me, it’s the ultimate - the ultimate test of my own endurance, both in a physical sense as well as a mental one.

When I got sick, I was told I could probably return to ‘moderate’ activity. I now hate the word moderate. Moderate made me think Ironman would never be a reality. It made me feel like I had to put that dream in a box and forget about it – and it crushed me. I can pin point a moment where the emotional pain of feeling like I would never be able to achieve this goal was worse than the physical pain and, well, it sucked.

So fast forward to August when Shane first suggested I go for it ('it' being Ironman) if I truly wanted to… and then the doctors said it would be okay... and then I realized it was doable. It was on! I didn’t want to wait.

I’m alive and I’m able – so why not?

Why blog?

I want to remember this experience. It’s more than one day, more than one race.
I have a terrible memory, so I think it might be fun to have an archive to look back on.
I’m terrible at talking about my feelings and thought this could be a good way to get some of my thoughts (and possibly emotions) out.
And finally, since not everyone is going to be able to (or want to) come for early morning swims, marathon bike rides and grueling runs, I want to be able to share the experience in a different way.

I’m sure there are many more answers to all of my questions above – some of which I’m probably not even aware of yet myself.

So… stayed tuned as the adventure begins!