Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rear View

There seems to be a lot of “year in review” posts and articles floating around the ol’ worldwide web at this time of year. That, combined with two very slow days at work, gave me the grand idea to read back through all of my 2011 blog posts.

2011. It’s been an interesting ride.

Anyway, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and so here is my 2011 recap – in short form and links!

I PB’d the 8k distance for the first time in 2011 by outsprinting an unsuspecting competitor, (who in fact actually beat me in the race if you base it on chip time) and followed it up with a winning day of training.

I did some time trials, learned that a 14’ workout can be sheer agony, gave some thought to my bucket list, celebrated my 5 year wedding anniversary, spent some time in the Whistler ER with my bestie Laura and wiped the eff out on a curb attempting another 5k time trial.

Shane’s anniversary present finally arrived in the mail.

Bobble Head Shane

Also, I PB’d the 5k distance, but was still kind of disappointed in the race. In fact, I still am, I know I can run 5k faster than that.

I began a “Battle of the Sweets” at work, and mostly won (until this December hit – YIKES!). I set some quarter year resolutions and even played the alphabet game.

D is for Dog. H is for Hope.

May was a big month. Kirsten qualified for Boston! Let me just say that again – KIRSTEN QUALIFIED FOR BOSTON! I PB’d the 8k distance for the 2nd time in 2011. My parents kicked butt over 21.1kms on one of the soggiest days in the month of May.

Wet Happy Finishers

I tasted the ‘age group’ podium for the first time in my life as a triathlete (even with a horrific effort on the run)… and well, May 16th came and went - and I must say, I’m still very thankful to be alive and able.

Training was great. I definitely embraced the swim, work, run, eat, sleep, bike, work, run, eat, sleep, swim, work routine and loved it. I was super excited to race the Victoria Sprint at Elk Lake (and get the new hoody) and then was kinda disappointed in my race. [Side Note: Reading back all these posts, I’m sensing a theme here – I don’t ever seem to race to what I feel my full potential is. Must work on that in 2012].

I was originally planning to race in Vancouver, but life happened and a trip to the mainland wasn’t in the cards, so instead, Kirsten, Tyler and I had a little mini “Simulation Race” of sorts. It was probably my best performance of the year to that point, haha. I watched a lot (A LOT) of the Tour de France and then Shane and I jetted off to Orlando (for work and PLAY) where I won my very first (albeit not super competitive) 5k race! Woot!

Also, Lego Dog lives in Orlando!

I raced more. I wrote more. I made it onto the ‘age group’ podium for a 2nd time in 2011 and then had a race that just kind of happened. I questioned my ongoing anticoagulation and most importantly and excitingly I had the best end to August that any tri-geek could ask for! I qualified for the Age Group World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand next October and signed up for Ironman Canada 2012!

Registration Complete!

September brought along some indecision, the start to my yoga teacher training and plenty of things to be thankful for.

I tried to keep my mind off the fact that I decided not to run the Victoria Marathon. When the big day rolled around, I gave my cowbell a workout and played the role of [jealous] cheerleader. The next day it was all about CYCLOCROSS! Oh, and I dressed Rusty up as a dog-chicken for Halloween :)

Dog Chicken

Vegas Baby! Oh, and a DNF. But I still love cyclocross. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. SO.MUCH.FUN!

My Vegas Running Buddy

It’s been both a great month and a challenging month. I’ve struggled a little to find my rhythm with training, but I’ve also had some great workouts, some great yoga moments and a wonderful Christmas season with plenty to be thankful for. I turned 31 (and had trouble blowing out all the candles?!) and got spoiled rotten.

And now, here we are - the end of the year. While 2011 hasn’t had the epic-ness of an Ironman, it’s still been a pretty great year. I’ve learned lots and challenged myself in new ways. My main triathlon goal was to get faster, and I can say I have accomplished this.

On the training front, I’m currently enjoying a bit of downtime with a couple weeks of active recovery. It is just what I needed, and I'd say I'm definitely starting to feel a little bit more recharged. I'll admit, it has taken me longer to get to that state than I expected (and I don't know that I'm fully there yet), but I am definitely starting to feel a bit lazy and definitely kind of antsy, so I think that is a really good sign.

As the New Year dawns, the BUILD begins. I’m actually really looking forward to it (and am only a little bit nervous).

And with that, I bid 2011 adieu. I have a sneaking suspicion that 2012 is going to be one hell of a year!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Time is Here

Well, after last week’s whiny “poor me” post about how training has been a bit of a struggle lately, I figured a happy post was in order… and what is happier than the Peanuts signing Christmas songs?

Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you're the Charlie Browniest.

Anyway, now that that song is completely stuck in your head and you have a happy holiday smile on your face, let’s recap shall we?

So, thankfully, I feel like I am slowly pulling my way out of my irrational “oh-my-gawd-I’m-burnt-out-already-and-it’s-only-December” mindset. I won’t say my motivation is as high as it has ever been, but I have actually enjoyed going to the pool this week and my run this morning wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t a hard effort by any stretch of the imagination, but it was solid, so that was nice.

Last weekend was pretty okay too. After that much needed day off on Friday, Kirsten, Shane and I swam at Panorama on Saturday morning (a decent 3k effort for me) and then headed to the Lakes for a 90’ run. The run felt really difficult to me and I think our pace was pretty slow, but as we talked, it turned out Kiki and Shane were feeling the same too! So (this may sound terrible) it kind of made me feel better about myself to know I wasn’t struggling on my own.

From there, Kirsten and I capped off the training part of the weekend with a 105’ bike on Sunday along West Saanich and the Lochside Trail. While it was chilly, it was a beautiful day and the ride seemed to almost get easier as we went along. I think just getting out and spinning the legs was the perfect thing for both my mind and body.

So, I guess, I’m trying not to let one bad week eat at me and am instead enjoying over-indulging in Christmas treats and realizing that I’m in a good place physically with lots of time before IMC (35 weeks this Sunday!) - and, well, I have lots to be thankful for.

Christmas time is here, and it is my favourite time of year!

Merry Christmas loyal readers! (aka. Mom, Dad and Mandy) :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Can you tell me how to get, how to get off Struggle-me Street…

I remembered reading a post from Adam Campbell earlier this year about being on “Struggle Street”. I remember sort of relating to the post at the time and since then, the term has just kinda stuck with me. Unfortunately, this week, I thought about that post a lot.

Can you guess what is coming next?
Yeah, you got it – training this week has been a real bitch, I mean struggle. ;)

I’d say overall it has definitely been more of a mental struggle than a physical one, but after a hard trainer session on Wednesday night that lead into some very unimpressive workouts and a very negative attitude on Thursday, I kind of had a mini meltdown.

I actually had a moment in the pool when I stopped my watch after a 400 ‘steady’ effort where I wanted to cry. My time was so slow and I felt like I was working soo hard. Silly right?

Even sillier – I then had to choke back tears for a second time in one day, when about 20’ into my 55’ run things weren’t going as I wanted them to. At that point I finally packed it in (yes, I quit my run), jogged back to where I started, got cleaned up and treated myself to a coffee instead of finishing my fartlek.

I think the struggle and my general lack of mental fortitude this week just kind of freaked me out. Deep down, I know it's really early in the year and for most people it is still the off season, but I think I just had this slight panic that if I'm feeling burnt out like this so early in the season, what the heck is going to happen come May or June?

I know we are all entitled to bad days and/or weeks, but I’m really hoping this one passes sooner than later and that I can side-step Struggle Street for the rest of the season [wishful thinking? maybe].

Anyway, after a good “vent” via email (sorry Kelly), a good night’s sleep, and a day off today, I’m feeling a little more positive about what’s to come and less like a totally whiny, over-the-top drama-queen.

Fingers crossed that feeling lasts.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Just run until the sun comes up...

As I rolled over and cracked my eyes open to look at the alarm clock, a bright red 5:33 shone back at me. Not bad I thought, 5 more minutes until the alarm goes off. I might as well get up now. In actuality, the 5:33 on my clock is about 5:15 or so in real time. I always set my clock ahead by 15-20mins. I don’t know why, it just makes me feel better to think I’m getting up later than I really am. So I rolled out of bed, stretched a little, let out a sigh and made my way across the dark bedroom to the washroom to brush my teeth and throw on my swim gear.

My usual pool (JdF) is closed for maintenance for the next two weeks, so my plan was to head into Crystal Pool for 6am. I figured I had enough time to get a solid 3k swim in and then bang off a 45’ tempo workout on the treadmill before work. Usually, when I have two workouts in a day I split them up, but I knew today was going to be jam packed as I need to go to the blood lab at lunch and then have a long overdue movie date with one of my favourite peeps (and her ever growing fetus) tonight.

I chipped the ice off the car, slammed back some water and o.j. and began the drive into the city. About 40min later I pulled into the vacant parking lot at the Crystal Pool. It looked like a ghost town. I guess I should have checked the schedule – Crystal is also closed for maintenance for the next 4 weeks! Le sigh.

So, even though in my last post, I talked about how I enjoy a rigid schedule, today called for flexibility and adaptation – and I actually didn’t mind. (That said, thank goodness I had my run gear or I would have been pissed!)

I had about 2.5 hours before I needed to be to work, so I drove down to my office, popped inside just quick enough to use the washroom and change out of my swim suit and into my run gear and off I went. I figured I would just head out and run as long as I felt like going or until I ran out of time.

The city was dark and still very much asleep. It was peaceful and quiet, cold, but not icy. My mind wandered a few times and my imagination got the best of me when I saw a couple of Victoria’s homeless population shuffling along. They looked eerily like ‘walkers’ from “The Walking Dead.” Considering my sleep the other night was filled with zombie nightmares, I have obviously been watching too much of that show.

I need to keep reminding myself: Zombies are not real. Zombies are not real. (yet)

Shaking the zombie thoughts from my mind I carried on. I started to see a few other runners out and about and some walkers (of the human variety) with their dogs. I made my way along Cook Street and out to the waterfront on Dallas Road before winding through the big houses near Ross Bay Cemetery and into the Fairfield area. Slowly, the city was coming to life... About 45-50’ in I was still feeling great, so decided I would head back to the waterfront and just run in the general direction of work until the sun came up.

I didn’t run at a hard pace, just comfortably aerobic, but it was nice. After about 85’ and just over 15k I decided that was good enough for the day - a spontaneous and unexpected “long run” in the books.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Yoga for Swimmers

Time seems to be flying right now. Between being back to a more rigid training schedule [I should add, this rigidity is by choice – I figure if I’m paying for coaching, I might as well stick to the plan laid out by the coach, and I find I train smarter and more productively when it is structured] and doing my certification to become a yoga teacher, I feel like every time I blink right now another weekend has passed, the laundry is overflowing and the house needs vacuumed again. I’m hoping a little time off from work and Yoga Teacher Training over Christmas will help things slow down a little.

All that said, even though time is flying, I’m enjoying it. Doing this yoga certification has definitely been a great experience and I’m quite happy to have Kelly back in my life writing up my training calendar as well. It’s nice not to have to think too hard about anything other than the end goal(s).

Now, back to the title of this post… Yoga for Swimmers.

This past weekend I presented/taught my “certification class” to my fellow yoga teacher trainees. If you hadn't already guessed, the class I designed was a ‘Yoga for Swimmers’ class.

It was important to me to teach a class with a theme that interested me, and I knew it would be easier to instruct a class based on something I truly enjoy doing and am knowledgeable about. I figured if I had picked a theme about chakras or mudras (while totally wonderful themes), it may not have been quite as personal and may have been a bit more forced, as the more spiritual side of yoga is still somewhat new to me.

So while maybe a little more physical than spiritual, I think my ‘Yoga for Swimmers’ class went really well.

I began my class with an explanation as to why I chose the type of class I did. In short, for me, it was natural – yoga and swimming use a lot of the same skillful breathing techniques and have many similar meditative qualities. I could go into more depth about pranayama and pratyhara, but well, I’ll save that for another time.

I had practiced my class (to myself, my family, my co-workers) many times before I was set to teach my fellow teacher trainees. I felt confident and ready.

When it was finally time, I stood up in front of the class and the nerves rolled in! My stomach was jumping up and down, my voice felt like it was trembling at times and the sweat began to pour off of me.

Valuable lesson learned. Wear tank top to teach yoga.
T-Shirt + Nerves = Pit Stains.

I think it was something about being ‘graded’ and also something about teaching to a group of girls who are all learning the same thing as I am. I think it was knowing that they would likely be more aware if I screwed up or botched a cue. Really, I know this is silly, as it is a great group of girls who are all super supportive and I did notice lots of friendly smiles from the group as I taught my class. But, well, you know?

My nerves settled a bit as I got further and further into the class and before I knew it, it was time for Savasana and our final relaxation. I was soo happy to be done. Euphoric almost.

I received some really kind words from all of my classmates and my instructor Laura, followed up with a great “report card” – in the end (nerves and all), I passed my certification class with flying colours! (Yay me!) Now all that is left is completing my 200 hours of class time and passing my anatomy exam - two things I’m pretty confident I can handle.

So, look for me in early February – perhaps teaching at your local yoga studio or incorporating something new into your masters swim club :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Those 3 little letters really suck, and unfortunately, I experienced them for the first time this past weekend.

Thankfully, my first DNF was at a race that I was doing purely for fun. The plan was just to get down and dirty in the mud and have a little play time on my bike. Don’t get me wrong, it still totally sucked and bummed me out completely, but it wasn’t something I had spent a year training for or paid a $500 non-refundable entry fee to or anything like that. So you know, perspective I suppose.

Anyway, this DNF that I speak of happened on Saturday at the final Cross on the Rock event - the Ricky Bobby Cameron Cross - at Western Speedway.

It was quite the ordeal to even get to the event on Saturday morning, due to the fact that I only have road shoes and pedals and have been borrowing Kirsten’s mountain bike shoes and Shane’s mountain bike pedals for all my previous attempts at CX. Unfortunately, we discovered late Friday night that one of Shane’s pedals had seized onto his bike (nothing like leaving it to the last minute) and after many attempts to free it from his bike, many swear words uttered, one pedal wrench thrown, and even some bruised and cut knuckles, that thing wasn’t budging. So we went to bed.

When I got up Saturday morning, we made one last futile attempt to free Shane’s pedal from his bike. It did not work. My new plan was either to try to ride in my road shoes or borrow some flat pedals from my parents. Then Kirsten came through and said she could meet me at the speedway with her mountain bike pedals. The only problem now was a lack of time. I had pretty much already missed the ‘beginner pre-ride clinic’ but still had a shot at making the actual beginner race.

With about 15 minutes to spare, we made it to Western Speedway, got Kiki’s pedals on my bike, paid my registration fee, attached my number and headed down to the track to see if I could get a bit of a pre-ride in. I made it about 1/3 of the course before the announcer called for the beginners to meet at the start line.

I realized at that point how excited I was to race and give a good effort out on the frosty, muddy course.

The first stretch of the course was on the race track and through the grassy parts of the pit area before taking to the motocross track behind the oval. MUD PIT! It was sooo much fun! Some of the hills were a little scarier to descend than I expected (they look a lot bigger when you are cresting the top of them then they do from the stands) and I nearly crashed once or twice, but I was loving it. Even with the taste of dirt on my teeth, all was good.

As we came off the motocross track and back into the grassy parts of the oval, I made a bit of a mistake by not attempting to bunny hop a curb. I thought it was rather rounded and I could just ride over it, but unfortunately, I was wrong (or so I think, not 100% sure if that was the cause of what came next, but I have my suspicions). About 5-10 seconds later, my tire was flatter than flat. I had a fleeting thought that I should just keep going on my rim, but didn’t want to risk ruining it, and so with that I walked the rest of the course, back to the finish area to let the timers know I was out.

I should have attempted to change my tube, but realized in my panic to even get to the track that morning that I didn’t bring one that was the right size and just thought it would be a waste of time and a perfectly good tube. So, yep, after all it took to get there that morning, I got to ride almost one lap, and was done. DNF. Lame.

The day was not over though!

Next on the docket was the Gunner Shaw Memorial 10K Cross Country Classic at Thetis Lake. While I like this race and the giant puddles, and the lake finish (the lake finish is my favourite in fact), admittedly, I wasn’t super amped to be running it. I think I just wanted to keep riding my bike.

So, with this less than motivated attitude, I decided I wasn’t going to attempt to ‘race’ this event, but was just going to go out and try to run steady, have fun and enjoy myself.

After a short warm up (that consisted of running to and from the bathroom at the dog beach with Kirsten), it was time to go. It was cold, but it wasn’t snowy like last year, so that was nice.

My lungs burned with the cold air and I pushed myself – but not too hard. The puddles were awesome and muddy and somewhat smelly and overall, it was fun. But yep, I definitely didn't have much killer instinct to want to go out and run hard. So with that, I accomplished my last minute ‘goals’ - I found a steady pace and just cruised along and enjoyed myself (for the most part). Of course there were a few moments where I was cursing my decision to do the race (on the really big uphills probably) but overall, I had fun. [Fun seems to be my “word of the day” for this blog post, doesn’t it?]

Admittedly, I dogged it a bit on the last three hills and probably could have been slightly faster, but it was what it was and I wasn't too upset about not going out and trying to kill it. Oh, and I eeked out a PB over last year too, so that was a nice surprise.

Otherwise, training continues to tick along. Ironman and NZ are looming in my mind at all times….

Monday, November 14, 2011

Vegas, Yoga and Iron-Nightmares ~ Oh My!

Well, as is usual in my blog cycle, there has been a bit of a lull since my last post.

That said, I feel like it was with good reason this time around ~ a Vegas vacation!

It was planned way back in July, Shane and I would jet off to Vegas with our good friends, Sean and Kelly (not coach Kelly, but ‘Sweet-Kel’ Kelly), for our first taste of Sin City, in between my yoga training weekends. After we booked our flights, I kind of put the adventure out of my mind and didn’t really even start thinking about it again until a few weeks before our departure date, when Sean contacted me about booking a hotel. It was like, “Oh yeah, Vegas. Right.”

I usually research and read and plan for trips, but with Vegas, every time I started doing any sort of reading I just got completely overwhelmed, and so, I headed to “The Entertainment Capital of the World” with very little knowledge or expectation. I knew I wanted to see a Cirque show and I knew I wanted to go for a run along the Strip, and that was about it.

Arrival in Sin City. Matching sweaters, matching hats.

What a crazy land of EXCESS. It was fun, but it was exhausting. We walked, we shopped, Shane gambled, (I played roulette once, won $50 and cut my losses), we ate, oh and did I mention we walked? We saw a Cirque show (two, in fact) and I got in not one, but two “early” morning runs along the strip.

Frrrrozen Hot Chocolate - Sooo Goood!

Walking + Taking Photos = This Masterpiece

I imagine that only in Vegas can you be running along, and in the short span of an hour:

1) High five two drunk guys with guitar shaped drinking glasses who have obviously not been to bed yet (and feel like you totally made their day with a simple high five).

2) In the next block, have Elmo cheer you on and fake run beside you.

3) Shortly after, have a 300-pound(ish) drag queen with sparkly boob tassels (and a very big tummy) actually run with you for a block. (It may have just about killed him).

4) Capped off with a lovely serenade from Elvis.

Not my Running Drag Queen friend, but he may have been this sparkly.

I may have done some running, but this is about as close as I came to swimming.

All in all, it was a pretty fun experience. Crazy, but fun.

Upon our return, it was back to work for two days before getting nailed with a cold just in time for the Remembrance Day long weekend and the Thetis Lake relay.

Friday morning I woke up feeling like death. Like DEATH I tell you! But, I figured the run at Thetis might help loosen things up and make me feel better – and it was a relay, so I couldn’t really not do it, and let down team tskk-tskk (Tyler, Shane, Kirsten, Karyn – creative, non?).

In the moment, the run, it did not help. It was possibly the worst run around Thetis I’ve ever had. I walked – and not just on the big hills at the end – and felt like every part of my body that is not supposed to cramp, cramped. It hurt, and not in a “hurts-soo-good” way.

Thankfully, my teammates (ahhh, family) realized it was all just for fun and they didn’t hold my slow time against me… and we still managed a 3rd place finish in the ‘Family’ division. Mind you, if I had run like I know I can, we would have got 2nd. Next time I suppose, next time.

Following the relay it was time for Yoga Teacher Training. I didn’t know how I was going to make it through a full weekend of YTT feeling like I did, but thankfully we did a tonne of gentle restorative style classes and I awoke Saturday morning feeling quite a bit better. There is something to this yoga thing afterall ;) Oh, and I even nailed my “mid-term stances” exam on Sunday! Yay me!

Of other note, I’ve returned to the world of being a coached athlete and will be back training under Kelly’s (not Vegas Kelly) guidance from now through NZ.

I feel an odd sense of relief not having to worry about coming up with my own training schedule and knowing there will be someone there to hold me accountable to skipped workouts, etc. (Not that I really ever skip workouts, but if I did, well, you know).

Although, happy in my decision to be coached again, oddly enough, I had my first ever Ironman nightmare last night. WTF?

I didn’t have an Ironman nightmare in my entire lead up to IMC 2010 and yet, last night, I tossed and turned as I dreamt about not packing my transition bags and special needs bags correctly and not getting to the start line on time because I was dealing with these effing bags. Feck. IMC 2012 is still 285 days, 14 hours and change away and I’m already having nightmares? So much for it “not feeling quite so scary” this time around.

Also, I saw this photo today. I love it.

My new mantra perhaps?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November 1

Two years ago today when I opened my training calendar, I saw the first “official” workouts posted for Ironman Canada 2010. It would be another 10 months and approximately 357 completed workouts posted on that training calendar before I got to August 29, 2010.

So yeah, November 1, 2009 was the ‘official’ start date on my Ironman training calendar. At that time, Sunday August 29, 2010 seemed so far away and yet loomed so huge on my mind. Pain from my PE still lingered and I’d just come off of two weeks with barely any exercise following surgery.

[I can’t believe it has been two years since I started training for my first Ironman!]

Anyway, this year, things have been different and I imagine will remain that way… but probably only slightly.

August 26, 2012 still seems so far away (298 days, 16 hours, 1 minute and 24 seconds at the time I started writing this to be exact) and I still expect it will be an epic adventure, yet, somehow it just doesn’t feel quite so scary. Maybe it is because it all doesn’t feel quite so ‘unknown’. Maybe it is because I also have NZ to look forward to as well, so IMC won’t be my sole focus. Maybe, maybe, maybe, but who really knows?

I do know what has been different though.

I haven’t had to take any time off. I’ve been healthy and feeling fit and, sure, I’ve taken some time to just do what I feel like (and maybe gained a pound or two), but I haven’t been forced to take 2 weeks off to sit on my butt and recover.

Also, my approach to training over the last little while has been a little different. After taking much longer just “doing what I feel like” than I had originally planned, I started writing out more concrete training weeks for myself and Shane and have been plugging away at a more structured workout regime since early October.

It is strange writing my own calendar and I am quickly realizing how much I depend on Kelly and enjoy having someone else writing my schedule for me. I tend to second guess myself a lot and worry that I am missing some crucial step in the training process.

That said, I’m getting reacquainted with the bike trainer and two-a-day workouts. My gloves and long sleeved running shirts have been dug out from the bottom of my dresser drawers and in my mind, my Ironman year has begun – and I’m really looking forward to it!

Next on the calendar is the Thetis Lake Relay with Kirsten, Shane and Tyler and then either the Gunner Shaw Memorial 10k or the Cross on the Rock finale ~ or (if I can swing it) both!

So, here’s to another exciting year of training!

[I’m realizing I count November to August as a year. Do other people look at their calendar based on Ironman Year vs. Non-Ironman Year? Or better yet Tri-Season vs. oh, I dunno, Weight-Gain Season?]

Monday, October 31, 2011


Wishes you a very Spooktacular Halloween.
[He is not amused]

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

“I just wish I could teleport across the water.”

I often wish I could teleport (I mean, who doesn’t?). Of course, this dream of teleportation usually comes when I’m stuck in traffic or don’t feel like driving home after work or a night in town or something of the sort (yep, it’s mainly when I’m driving. I hate driving. Why don’t I ride my bike more?). That said, I don’t think I’ve ever wished I could teleport when I’ve been outside, especially when it is a beautifully crisp, sunny autumn day.

But it happened. “I just wish I could teleport across the water” was my thought yesterday as I peered across the harbour to the general area where my work – and the end of my run – was located. Usually, my lunch runs are great, but for some reason, yesterday was just awful.

It started positive enough, the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and while my legs felt a little heavy, I figured once I got moving they would be fine.

My intention was a little fartlek workout that would take me for a few loops through the general Selkirk area, across the trestle and along the Gorge waterfront, before crossing back over the blue bridge and heading back to my desk for a few hours.

On my first “effort” I knew it was going to be a tough one. My legs were barely turning over and everything felt tense from my shoulders right down to my toes.

I pushed through the first ¾ of the fartlek work I had planned out, but as I crossed the trestle and turned to go up a little hill, my legs just gave up. (Ok, well, maybe it wasn’t my legs so much as it was my head). I then did something I rarely ever do. I stopped. Looked at my watch, walked to the top of the hill and knew there wouldn’t be any more “efforts” happening on this day. I felt absolutely cooked. My thought of “I just wish I could teleport across the water” hit me.

Star = Site of Teleportation Dreams

Of course, I didn’t want to end on such a bad note, so I decided just to find a comfortable pace and finish off the run as positively as I could. As I neared the blue bridge and knew my run was coming to an end, my dreams of teleportation slowly faded. I now just wanted to stay outside and play in the sunshine all afternoon. Fickle or what?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Happy Place

Recently I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic about our impromptu trip to Maui last November, and in a strange way I actually think it might have something to do with all the yoga and meditation I’ve been doing lately.

[Of course, it could be partially due to the fact that not only is it the 2011 XTERRA World Championships this weekend, but Kelly is also there to race (I think), two co-workers are planning trips to ‘the Valley Isle’ in the new year, and I have another friend who just returned!]

Anyway, back to my original thought on the meditation, etc…

In my Yoga Teacher Training class we usually do a few different guided meditations throughout the weekend. Recently two different meditations stood out for me – one was a “pebble” meditation and the other was a “tropical island” meditation (of course, sitting here in this moment, I can’t actually remember what they were called). Anyway, getting to my point (or trying to), realistically, these two meditations were fairly different, yet, in my attempt to quiet my mind, I went to the same ‘happy’ place during each of these meditations.

And where did I ‘go’ you ask?

Well, the Kihei Aquatic Center of course.

(not what you were expecting eh?)

Thinking of that wonderful outdoor pool makes me feel all warm inside, and well, just plain happy too. I seem to have no problem visualizing myself floating in the crystal clear (and chlorinated) water. I can easily picture the sun sparkling through the water as it breaks the surface…. I suppose I just find there to be something so magical about an outdoor competition pool and since the Kihei pool is my only first had experience with a large outdoor pool, well, it becomes my happy place.

Anyway, my workout at the lovely Kihei pool in Maui last year was one of my absolute favourite moments of the trip and one of my all-time favourite workouts. I absolutely loved swimming laps – full laps – without a roof over my head. It was so great to feel the sun’s warmth on my face as I caught glimpses of palm trees in my peripheral - and I didn't even have to worry about sharks!

So, umm, is it weird that a swimming pool is my happy place?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

RVM Spectator Report and Condo Cross ‘Race’ Report

Gosh, so, the Thanksgiving weekend came and went… FAST!
(I really can’t believe it is already Thursday, in mid-October. Yikes).

Anyway, I held strong and did not end up entering the Victoria Marathon at the last minute (however, I did enjoy the expo – but alas, no free hair elastics this year). On race day, course conditions were pretty perfect, and well, I probably should have raced (and kind of wish I had), but I didn’t, so it’s time to move on.

That said, I did fill my role as clothing sherpa pretty well I think. I spectated, I cheered (and cowbelled) and hopefully even put a smile or two on a few people’s faces.

I opted not to bring my bike down, realizing it would be more of a hassle then it was worth. I also, unfortunately, forgot my carefully prepared 'spectator race plan' spreadsheet at home with the course map. Luckily I’ve run this event a few times, so I still knew what spots to hit (and when to hit them).

We (me, Shane, the rest of the fam) got into town with about 30’ to go before race start and began the 10min-ish walk from my parking spot, along the waterfront, to the race-day madness and the start line.

Kirsten of course had to pee. So we all waited while she stood in the porta-potty line. We saw a few other runners we knew, chatted… and waited.

About 5’ before the start, Shane seemed to be getting a bit anxious, so the two of us walked over to the start line. I ran into my friend Erin (haven’t seen her since her return from Paris). Gave hugs and wished Shane good luck, before running back to find the rest of my family and get the remainder of their warm clothes to put in the bag.

And just like that, they were off… (and so was I).

Since “Spectator Reports” are probably kind of boring, the quick and dirty is this…

I dashed from the 1k mark to 6k. Since there is a nice loop through the park, I also got to see 8k and then made my way up to 17k. Here I saw Kirsten and Shane. They were both moving much quicker than I had anticipated, so I then busted my ass to run (read: sprint!) back to the finish line (approximately 2km away), where about 60 seconds after arriving (and breaking into a massive amount of sweat), I heard Kirsten’s name over the loud speaker!

A quick congrats to her as she made her way through the finish chute to the food tent and then before I knew it, Shane was crossing the line too! For his first half marathon, he did AMAZING! So awesome. Like, I’m kind of pissed at him he did so well (just joking of course).

Next came Dad, then Mom (and a few others we knew in between) and before I knew it, the race was done and my duties as pack-mule were complete.

And yeah, my family totally and completely rocked it.

It was a great morning, that saw new PBs set (Kirsten, Shane, Dad - and I’m sure plenty of others) and course records broken, followed by a great evening of delicious food and many reasons to be thankful.

Monday was race day for me and my first actual Cyclocross race – the Condo Cross at Topaz Park.

What to say.

Well, first, CX is SO.MUCH.FUN! And hard. Like, really hard.

As for the race, well, in short, I accomplished my goals of not finishing last and not getting lapped by the leader – woo hooo!

Now, the long version…

I got to the park fairly early to do a beginner’s clinic. Really, that meant I got to ride the course once with a bit of instruction from one of the guys who has been doing this whole CX thing much longer than me (which doesn’t take much considering this was only my second cross ride ever). I think I picked up a few good little pointers and by the time the beginner women’s race rolled around, I was 2 parts nervous and 1 part raring-to-go.

The beginner women’s race started one minute after the beginner men’s race and was 3 laps. Each lap was about 2.5-3k. I started out really tentative, and just kind of let half of the field get away from me (there were only 11 of us beginner ladies). I don’t love having other people right around me and didn’t want to crash into anyone, so, admittedly, I was just being a big old wuss.

As the first lap progressed, I started to get a bit more confident. I started to push a little harder and my lungs started to burn.

Then came a nice technical section, and my first wipeout. It happened so fast, I’m not entirely sure what actually happened, but what I think, went something like this…

I was excited to be gaining on other people (I think I had actually just passed one?), which also made me really nervous. It my excitement/panic, I did not take the corner properly and totally forgot that the uphill and corner combo I was now coming into pretty much doubled-back on itself (hard to explain).

[I think] my tire turned sideways and I went over the handlebars. I landed flat out in a belly flop on the side of the hill. My shoes came unclipped in the crash so I was able to pop back up in about 0.001 of a second (this had nothing to do with my total embarrassment for my massive bail), run to the top of the hill and try to get back on my bike to keep going. My parents, who were watching, may have a different version of events.

After that first crash, I wasn’t really afraid of wiping out anymore. My bike was still working, and I didn’t hurt anything (although I do have some pretty glorious bruises now). So, the next two laps, I totally pushed harder, definitely gaining confidence on each one.

I had a few more minor spills (nothing as spectacular as the first one) mainly due to pushing too hard into corners and not really thinking about the degree of corner that was coming up.

I managed to catch and pass two women (well, one woman, one young girl) in front of me (and one guy – although, he was like 12 years old, so let’s maybe not talk about that) and just really had a blast.

By the time I finished, my legs were screaming and my lungs were burning, but it felt oh-so-good.

I had a really great time, and honestly think that if I wasn’t such a big chicken at the start, and rode all 3 laps like I did the final one, I would have been closer to the front… Something to strive for next time I suppose.

My only disappointment with the day is that I didn’t discover cross racing earlier. The season is almost done and I’ve only just begun! (and apparently I'm a poet).

And well, I think that is that... Until next time.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Things you do when every person you know is racing, but you are not…

1) Reformat the blog, over and over and over and over....
I think I finally like this look. I think. Ahhh, who am I kindding, I am not totally sure. It is a work in progress at this point. I welcome feedback.

2) Devise a “Spectating Race Plan” in Excel and email to race participants for feedback.
[Yes, I really did this, see picture below. Oddly, I have not received any feedback from said race participants. What up with that?]

3) Carbo-load… because, well, why not? It is race week afterall.

4) Make a first attempt at Cyclocross.
[SO MUCH FUN! I was super slow (but not dead last, maybe second or third to last) but never crashed and really just had trouble wiping the smile off my face. Second attempt at CX is this coming Monday, and then third attempt on Wednesday night. Maybe I can move up to fourth or fifth from last, haha. If you don’t know what Cyclocross is, check out the video below.]

5) Have an awesome tempo run on Tuesday night.
[I headed out on an ‘out and back’ route after work on Tuesday night that I haven’t run in a while. In the past, this route would take me about 45’. On Tuesday I felt super relaxed and strong and my legs were just ticking. I made it back to the finish in about 37’ feeling awesome – and with that, I found my proof. I really did get faster this season.]

6) Carbo-load.

7) Read other blogs from people racing this weekend and get exceedingly more jealous.

8) Go to the race Expo to pick up your husband’s race package (because it would just feel wrong not to pick up a race package this weekend), renew Canadian Running subscription at the Expo (it’s tradition) and hopefully get some free Goody Stayputs (also tradition, plus, I desperately need some new elastics, but hate buying them).

9) Try to remember there is a reason you have decided not to race this weekend and stay strong in that decision.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Who’s tapering?

As mentioned in my last update, I have finally made a decision about October 9th and the Victoria Half Marathon. At the time, I mentioned my decision involves cowbell, and that I was not yet regretting the decision.

Some things have stayed the same. Some things have changed.

What has not changed is the cowbell. I have decided to sit the race out this year and I am sticking to that decision (no matter how incredibly hard it may be to stand on the sidelines this Sunday). My role will be that of "clothing sherpa" for all of my family members who are running, and also “number one cheerleader” (this is a self-appointed title of course).

What has changed is the regret. I am definitely starting to feel a little envious of everyone as they head into their taper week and gear up for the big day.

I’m really going to miss going to pick up my race packet and wander through the expo (although, I will still go to the expo, it just won’t be the same). No doubt, I will miss the nervous excitement as race day approaches and the pre-race carbo-load. Heck, I’ll even miss the achy legs on Sunday evening post-race.

That said, I do believe I have made the right decision.

Something that helped me with this decision was a pretty good chat I had with Kelly about a month ago. With his help, I was able to weigh the pros and cons of doing the race this year. It was close, but in the end, the fact that my desire to race wasn’t there and my heart wasn’t truly in it, won out. I don’t have to do something just because I’ve always done it, right?

Now, all that said, during this conversation, one thing that came up was the fact that I feel pretty confident that I could go out and run a PB at this race (which is definitely one of the reasons the decision to NOT race is so soo hard). Deep in my gut, I know I could go faster than last year.

So why don’t I run? Why don’t I prove it?

I've been asking myself this question a lot, but I suppose it comes down to the fact that I don’t feel like I need to prove it to myself... and why should it matter to anyone else? My goal for this past season was to get faster. I accomplished that and with this accomplishment came renewed confidence in my ability. I think that is a pretty good thing.

Also, I feel like by sitting this race out and watching, by allowing the envy and excitement to fill my body, my desire to get back into a regular training routine will be sparked.

Make sense? I dunno, I guess I’m just rambling now.

So, long story short, if you are running any event (8k, Half, Full) at the Victoria Marathon this weekend, look for me on the sidelines! I’ve recruited a small gaggle of girls (and possibly Ash) to join me. There will be cowbell, lots of WOO-WOOs and even perhaps some pom-poms and foam fingers. Yeah, that’s right – foam fingers!

Soooo, in closing... GOOD LUCK to all the lucky folks who are racing this weekend!!!!

p.s. As a major aside, the recent decision by the IAAF to only recognize women's marathon world records when set in all-women competitions is absolutely crazy to me (you can view a couple article’s about this here and here). I think it is awful that they can suddenly decide Paula Radcliffe’s world record is no longer that.

Maybe I don’t truly understand the rules around pacers, but my initial reaction is that this completely belittles her accomplishments, and in doing so, also sends a bad message to women in sport.

It simply just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

That said, I'm a good listener, so if anyone has a good argument for why this is a great new rule, please feel free to shed some light on it for me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My favourite new accessory…

Looking at my blog, I [once again] realized it’s been a while since my last update… so I started jotting down all the ideas and things that have been happening over the last couple weeks.

Then the phone rang, and it slowly turned into “one of those days.” What felt like bad news, after bad news, after bad news, just kept coming.

My poor little pooch is sick and I don’t want to face the fact that he is getting old. I honestly don’t know how parents cope when their children are sick [see Mom, this is why I’m not ready to give you grand babies].

Bad picture, but he looks cute anyway.

Better picture :)

Anyway, I kind of just wanted to sit down and have a little cry until my tears washed the sad feelings and bad news away.

Instead (since I think my co-workers might be a bit concerned if I just started randomly bawling in the middle of the office) I decided it was time to just think about all the good and focus on some of the stuff that I should be thankful for today…

And then!
Shane sent me a great text that went a little something like this “Yeah and we can run tonight. And no problems follow u when your running.” He has bad texting grammar, but I love him anyway. Also, his statement is very true - most problems vanish for the duration of your run. Part of me does wonder if some wise man who likes to run has hi-jacked Shane’s phone though ;) [I joke, I joke].

So, enough rambling.
Without much further ado, some thankful thoughts…

I’m thankful I’m eating a Hernandez Burrito Clasico right now – it is flippin’ delicious!

I’m thankful I just read one of my favourite new blogs: Ali on the Run. Ali just ran a marathon for the first time, and well, I kind of want to be her friend.
Oh, also, admittedly, I may have stolen this “Thankful Things” list idea from her. Oh, oh, and just because… this is another of my favourite new blogs: Sweat Once a Day.

I’m thankful (and excited) that I’m going to try out Cyclocross really soon. Because of this, my lovely little “Blue Steel” is going to get a cross makeover tonight.

I’m thankful I started Yoga Teacher Training. The first weekend (which was last weekend) left me a little overwhelmed, but I think it is going to be really fun and all of the girls in the program seem really nice.

I’m thankful Kirsten’s qualifying time held strong and she has been accepted to run in Boston!!!!! I’m really really excited for her and can’t wait to go to Boston to cheer her on.
[Note to self: I really really need to start saving some money].

Now, that brings me to the title of this post and my favourite new accessory ~ the cowbell. It’s awesome. I love cheering at events that I’m not racing at and the cowbell makes it that much more fun. Also, I just saw the classic “More Cowbell” SNL skit the other day and it made me happy. If you haven’t seen it, Google it.

So yep, the cowbell, I’m thankful for the cowbell.

I’m thankful I had a good swim this morning and pretty much had the whole lane to myself the entire time. I’m also thankful that when I did have to share the lane for a brief period, it was with a super-fast guy and I was able to draft off him. Awesome.

I’m thankful for blue-sky and sunshine this afternoon.

I’m thankful I finally made a decision about the Victoria Half Marathon and that I’m not regretting that decision (as of yet). My decision involves cowbell. I will elaborate more in another post.

I’m thankful for prune plums. I ate two this morning with my yogurt. They were delicious.

Umm, and well, I’m sure there is more but I should probably get back to work. I don’t feel like crying anymore, so I think this list may have helped after all.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Does this bike make my butt look fast?"

My brain has been feeling a bit tired the last couple days, and then today as I was trolling the internet, I came across a bunch of fun triathlon quotes, slogans and one-liners. So, rather than coming up with my own words, I figured I'd share a few of the quotes that made me snicker or smile....

"If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse."

"Obsessed is a word the unmotivated use to describe the dedicated."

"If your relationship is working you’re not training hard enough."

"Inside every car is a cyclist."

"I'm not slow; I'm just enjoying the race longer."

"Anyone can work hard when they want to; champions do it when they don't."

"Athletes are ordinary people with extraordinary determination."

"If you think you can or think you can't, you’re probably right."

"There are really just two kinds of people. Those who say I can't. And those who say I can."

"If it doesn't hurt, you're not going fast enough."

"Swim, Bike, Run, Rinse, Repeat."

"The only easy day was yesterday."

"You do marathons? How cute!"

"Some people consider the marathon the ultimate endurance event. We consider it a cool down."
[truth be told, I think people who run marathons are crazy MoFos and I have the utmost respect - but I still thought the last two quotes were kind of funny]

"PR or ER"

"Your workout is my warm up."

"How do you spot the triathlete in a room? You don't have to; he'll tell you all about it."

"Speed Hurts. How fast do you want to go?"

"Success isn't the result of spontaneous combustion. You must learn to set yourself on fire."

"Triathlon: this much pain is expensive."

"Triathlon is Latin for HTFU."

"It's not about finding your limits. It's about finding out what lies just beyond them."

"Please help me learn how to pee in my shorts."

"Pain is temporary, quitting is forever."

"Don't drown ~ Don't crash ~ Don't walk"

"There are no atheists the last eight miles of an Ironman."

"It doesn’t get any easier; you just get faster."

"Pain is weakness leaving the body."

Now it's your turn... Tell me your favourite quotes?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Marry the Man...

I have this amazing friend that is in love with Paris. She’s inspired some of my previous blog posts (like this one for example).

Recently, she unwittingly inspired another with a simple Facebook status update (which I really hope she doesn’t mind me sharing, as she is now on her way to PARIS, so I can’t actually ask her).

Anyway, it went a little something like this:
“Marry the man who lets you spend all day at the barn and never asks where dinner is; marry the man who never asks, "How much did that bag cost?"; and marry the man that has been secretly learning French for a dreamed about life together in Paris….”

My first thought when I read her post was:
“Marry the man that signs up to do Ironman with you when he’s never even done a triathlon before!”

Not quite as eloquent as my friends update, but you get the point.

Anyway, the question/comment I’ve been getting the most lately goes a little something like this: "Congrats on NZ, so Ironman again eh? [yadda yadda] Oh, AND SHANE SIGNED UP TOO???!!!”

So, let me answer that question. Yes. Shane signed up for Ironman Canada!

He will be an Ironman.

Shane has been putting up with my triathlon addiction for a few years now and I like to think that he’s finally been bitten by the bug.

He’s supported me and my endless desire to train (which is not easy, as I have this horrible compulsion that I must follow what is on my training calendar to a ‘T’ and if something gets thrown out of whack or I miss a workout, I can be a little hard to deal with… neurotic? maybe; obsessive? perhaps.)

He’s gotten up early countless times to come stand near the lakes edge, or on the side of a road to cheer me on, even if the course is not a multi-loop and he only gets to see me once during the whole long morning (and trust me, I’m not that fast, so there have been some looooong days).

He’s helped me drop off my bike and pick up my race packet on countless occasions; attended pre-race meetings and watched me ‘walk’ transition numerous times until I’ve got it down pat. (Neurotic and obsessive, remember?). He probably knows the inner workings of a transition area better than some triathletes.

He obliges when there is actually a race on TV and even lets me watch it without too much complaint. Shane’s words: “What’s more boring than watching triathlon in person? Watching it on TV.” (I did say “without too much complaint”). Oh, and for the record, I wholeheartedly disagree – neither is boring.

He even raced with me once in a relay (he did the bike leg) when I was coming back from my pulmonary embolism and wasn’t quite up to conquering the whole thing on my own… and let me tell you, that was a very very hilly and challenging 50ish km bike course. Especially when you consider the fact that he didn’t really train and decided to attend Beerfest the day before the race! Note to Shane: Pizza and beer is probably not the most ideal pre-race meal.

Anyway, as I say, I think he’s finally been bitten by the “crazy bug” that has sunk it's fangs into most triathletes.

I’m super excited for the next year of training, as not only do I have Kirsten as a training partner for the next leg of my triathlon journey, but I have Shane sharing the ride as well! I’m a lucky girl.

Oh, one thing though. Kirsten and Shane, let’s make sure this doesn’t turn out like that road trip we took down the Oregon Coast back in 2004 – mmm’kay? Thanks.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Queen of Indecision

Post-Kelowna I decided to take a short break from coaching – not training, but coaching.

I’m starting a 200hr Yoga Teacher Training program in 10 days, and figured that a small break from structured training might be a good thing (the ever-decreasing weight of my wallet also had a large say in this decision).

Deep down, I know that this “break” is a good thing for my mental state. Next year will be a longer season for me (what with IMC in August and then NZ in October) and I don’t want to burn out before the big day(s).

That said, roughly two-weeks into my coaching hiatus I find myself missing the structure, thinking of questions for Kelly that I really shouldn’t be bothering him with while he’s not on payroll.

So yes, I'll admit to feeling a little lost without having something written in my calendar for me every day, but – get ready for the indecisiveness here – I have also been enjoying just getting up and doing what I feel like. I've decided to give myself to the end of this week to carry on with this "do what I feel like" routine and then I am going to map out a few weeks for myself on the calendar so I have a bit of direction.

Another thing that is helping to secure my royal title as the Queen of Indecision… the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Half Marathon. This race has been a staple for me over the last 3-4 years and I do really enjoy it, but for some reason, I can’t get myself excited enough about it this year to actually bite the bullet and register.

I seem to change my mind every day from "race the half – go for a new PB" to "break out my cowbell and my cross bike and be the best cheerleader possible" to "maybe I should just run the 8k" back to "cheerleader" back to "half" back to…. Well, you get the point. Lather, rinse, repeat and all that good shizz.

Before I register - IF I even register - I feel like I should actually want to race, you know?
But, will I be disappointed if I don’t race?


So, that massive ramble aside, I guess I still have no idea what I will be doing Oct. 9.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kelowna Apple Race Report, Ironman Canada... AND MORE!

Gosh, this post is long overdue.

I’ll start with the short version…

The past few weeks have been great! I tri-geeked out big time and have had a simply amazing end to August.

Now, grab a coffee and get comfy, because here comes the long version…

Following Sooke I had a great last block of training heading into Kelowna (Pushor Mitchell Kelowna Apple Triathlon). The week before the race I felt ready. My nerves were definitely starting to peak, but all of my workouts were feeling really good and I was feeling more and more excited about the race. I was relaxed on every run I did and my legs were feeling fresh. So, I was nervous, yes, but also really excited. Overall, I’d say I was in a state of “good and anxious” I suppose.

Now, some details about ‘The Apple’. It is a qualifier for the Age Group World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2012 – the top 10 from each age group qualify. Deep down, I knew if I had a good race, I could probably qualify, and while I never really said it out loud to anyone, it was my goal to finish in the top 10. This was my ‘big race’ for the season and I wanted everything to come together and I wanted to have a good result.

A week or so before the race I began having some very crazy and emotional dreams. Whether this was the result of some other stressors in my life, or it was my anxieties about the race, I will never know for sure, but since Kelowna has come and gone, the dreams have definitely lessened. I’m realizing now, having a good race in Kelowna meant more to me than I was willing to admit – even to myself.

But, as Kelly told me – the nerves were a good sign. They were a sign that the race actually meant something to me.

Now, time for a quick (haha) race report I suppose…

Shane and I arrived in Penticton on Friday night. We had a fairly mellow Saturday morning as I did my race prep and got my bike and gear ready for the next day. We headed up to Kelowna in the early afternoon to drop off my bike and pick up my race pack. We checked out the race site (swim start, transition area, etc.) and drove the bike course, before meeting up with Kelly for a little 'pep-talk' on Saturday afternoon just before the official race meeting. After the race meeting, we headed back to Penticton for the night and I was in bed fairly early and, thankfully, had a great sleep.

On Sunday, Shane and I were up early for the drive back to Kelowna. We got to the race site with plenty of time to spare, so I wasn't rushed at all (which was really nice). I got my transition set up and was able to get in a good warm up before getting into my wetsuit. Of course, once in my wetsuit waiting to get into the marshaling area for the swim, I was totally and completely nervous. Funny how that always happens eh?

Finally, it was time!

This race was a beach start, and from the moment the gun went off (I was in the second wave), it was a battle.

From swim start to swim finish – utter chaos – girls were banging and clawing like we were at a Louis Vuitton sample sale or something. I did manage to find feet a few times and get a bit of a draft, but it was never super consistent. That said, I still felt like I swam pretty well. Of course, if I had been in the water alone, without all the jostling and banging, I could have pulled out a quicker time, but I suppose that is not racing. Overall, by the time I hit the beach and was running to transition, I felt like I had given it my best.

Now, T1 - something I usually feel great and super happy about – well, quite frankly, it sucked!

I could not get my feet out of my wetsuit and then went to un-rack my bike before I put my helmet on!! I have never, ever done that before - ugh. What was I thinking? (Actually, the problem was that I don't think I really was thinking). It probably only ate up a few extra seconds to realize I was being an idiot, re-rack and put my helmet on, but it left me slightly frazzled. I then got a bit caught up behind someone slowly running out of the transition area (sooo frustrating when you know you can be moving faster), but I managed to have a good mount (better than some of the elite women if I do say so myself) and felt like I got my feet into my shoes and was up to speed fairly quickly.

The bike course for the sprint at ‘The Apple’ is 2 loops. There is one big climb not far into the loop and then you get a nice good descent, some flat straight stretches and a number of 90 degree turns heading back toward the end. To me, it was a fast, yet somewhat technical, course – and a really fun one at that!

Once I was actually on the bike and moving, I saw Kelly on the side of the road and got a nice big cheer from him (which always helps). I’ll admit, my botched T1 bothered me for the first few minutes of the bike, but by the time I hit Knox Mountain (the first big climb of the race), I had convinced myself to forget about it and just focus on what lay ahead. I felt like I climbed Knox pretty well and actually passed quite a few people on this stretch. I had a good rhythm going and was in a good gear, so didn't feel like I was killing my legs. The descents were awesome and I was able to overtake a few people – both on the downs and especially going into the corners. I was feeling really confident in my cornering and it seemed like a lot of other racers weren’t, so when they slammed on the brakes I was able to take advantage of them slowing way down and made some good passes. The second loop was much the same and pretty good as well. There were more people on the course with the later waves joining in which was motivating. Again I felt confident climbing up Knox and went by a number of people. I unfortunately never saw anyone in my age group, but I definitely had fun trying to catch and pick off the older ladies and men in front of me and just felt really steady and strong.

I heard both Shane and Kelly cheer me on as I was finishing up my second loop and sliding out of my shoes in preparation for my dismount.

T2 was better than T1, but still a bit slow for me (both transitions were a bit weak for me on this day). I again got caught up behind someone slowly trotting to the rack in front of me (I don’t know how you can avoid this? Is it unsportsmanlike to yell at people to move? haha) but overall, it was okay. I didn't forget any crucial parts like helmets or race belts this time around, so I guess that was a win.

Coming out on the run I was happy to see two girls in my age group right in front of me. It was good motivation to try and keep pushing. I passed the two girls maybe 600-700m into the run. One girl fell off the pace fairly quickly, but I remained pretty much shoulder to shoulder with the other one until about 2.5-3k when she just steadily picked up the pace. I tried to stay with her, but she just slowly kept pulling away. I had a bit of a mental battle at this point. Watching her pull away and not being able to respond, made me just want to stop, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to live with myself after the race if I did, so I kept trying to push. Those last two km's actually turned out to be my fastest of the run, but unfortunately they were not quite fast enough to catch the girl in front of me. That said, she was definitely good motivation to keep pushing.

As the finish line approached, I could hear someone bearing down on me. I was afraid it was the girl from the start of the run, so picked it up as much as I could and managed to stay in front of those ominous footsteps. When I crossed the line and peered over my shoulders, I saw it was actually two men who had obviously been battling it out.

I think the first thing I said to Shane was "I'm happy. Before I look at any of the results or stats or my placing - I'm happy with it and feel like it was a good race” and, you know, even after looking at the stats and whatnot, I am still happy with my race – and the results.

Of course, there is always that part of me that wishes I had gone faster, but I think I pushed as hard as I could on that day and I actually wasn't afraid to hurt during this race - which is something that had been plaguing me earlier in the season. I hurt in Kelowna and it was a really nice feeling.

At the end of the day, I finished 8th in my age group. My goal of finishing top 10 was met and I qualified for NZ!!!

Shane and I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon watching the remaining people in the age group competitions complete their races. We also hung around for the elite women’s race (but unfortunately not the men’s) before heading back to Penticton.

The week in Penticton was lots of fun. I spent some time running and biking, but also did a lot of relaxing, just soaking in the heat and the building excitement as Ironman Canada approached. Penticton is a great host for Ironman and the buzz of the race just grew and grew as the week progressed.

Friday afternoon while Shane volunteered setting up the transition area and bike lot, I checked out the race expo, did a little people watching and even got out for a quick swim in Okanagan Lake. Bliss.

Kirsten and Tyler arrived Friday night, and then Kirsten and I volunteered at bike check-in for the athletes on Saturday afternoon. It was crazy hot, and I think I probably walked about 10-15k around the transition area in the 5 hours I was there, but that was nothing compared with what the athletes would be experiencing the next day. It was just so much fun, talking with all the athletes, seeing how different people react and deal with the nerves and stress, hearing the stories of Ironman veterans, and sharing my own stories with the newbies as well. Overall, it was a really great experience, and I’m so happy that I was able to spend the day helping out.

Then finally, it was IRONMAN SUNDAY!

I had a case of Ironman Fever – and there was only one cure – more cowbell! (I don’t think Tyler ever wants to hear that damn cowbell again, haha).

Our day of cheering began nice and early as Kirsten and I headed to Okanagan Lake to watch the largest mass start in the world! (Seriously, no lie, I heard that this year’s IMC really was the largest mass start ever – and you know, it looked it).

We watched the swimmers for a bit, before moving over to the transition exit to get a good view of the pros and age groupers heading out on the bike.

After watching countless athletes zip past and begin their journey on the bike, we decided we would head back to the lake to cheer in the remaining swimmers as the swim cut off approached. The excitement as the last two people made it into transition before the cut off was absolutely incredible. Unfortunately, it was a roller coaster of emotions, as seeing those who just missed the cut off was rather heartbreaking. So, with tears in our eyes, we decided it was time to head home and pick up the boys for our trek out to Yellow Lake to watch some of the bike action.

We arrived at Yellow Lake not long after the first 20 or so racers had gone by and picked out a spot not too far up the hill to begin cheering. The heat waves were radiating off the pavement and the energy of the spectators was incredible! Soon enough, bikers started rolling by. Some people looked so happy and energized by the crowds and others had a more focused grimace on their faces. We rang the cowbell, clapped till our hands hurt and cheered as loud as we could. It was great fun! (I will admit to having a couple moments where I thought “I don’t know if I want to do this again” – as the base of Yellow Lake was definitely one of my ‘down’ moments last year while racing IMC). I’m not sure how long we were out there, but think it was around 4 hours or so. I think we probably saw the majority of the bikes go by before we decided to head back into town for some food and water (we did not plan our cheerleading nutrition very well I’m afraid, haha).

After a quick food and water break, and a dip in the pool, we headed down to Lakeshore Drive to cheer in the finishers. As the sun set behind the hills, more cowbell, clapping and yelling ensued. Our growling tummies forced us away from the finish area before midnight but we did manage to find a seat in a pub with a large video screen of the finish line and watched the smiling faces cross the line until just after 11:00.

It was a great day, and the finish line got me re-inspired and excited to take on the challenge again.

Sooo, on Monday morning, Shane, Kirsten and I all signed up for IMC 2012!

Here we go again!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

To Anticoagulate or Not To Anticoagulate?

Recently I’ve been trying to be a bit more proactive about my own health and decided it was time to review my ongoing anticoagulation. The idea of being on Warfarin for the rest of my life kind of scares me (even though I’m repeatedly told by the doctors that there are no side effects). It just seems unlikely to me that being on any sort of medication for years and years (I plan to live to a nice ripe old age) wouldn’t produce any side effects. That said, I don’t want to clot again and I’ve got some factors working against me in that department, so it really is a crap shoot.

A few weeks ago, I met with Dr. Smith at the DVT clinic to review my case and talk about my risk factors. It was very interesting and he gave me some studies to read and we discussed different statistics about who is more likely to clot, etc. etc.

Another interesting thing was, for the first time in two years, he examined my legs, and just by looking at them, pointed to my left calf (the one that is always giving me grief) and said “you’ve had a DVT in that leg. No question.” and then he pointed out all the reasons he could tell this just by looking at it. It was kind of creepy and yet, just confirmed something I’ve known in my heart for a long time.

Anyway, I think in the back of my mind I just want someone to say “yes, you 100% need to be on anticoagulants or you will die!” – or – “no, you don’t need them anymore – you will never clot again, I guarantee it!” Of course, neither of these things is going to happen. Either way, anticoagulated or not, there are risks – and it is on me to weigh these risks and decide which ones I’m more willing to take.

My risk of a spontaneous bleed if I stay on the anticoagulants is relatively low, so long as I keep my INR in the appropriate range. My risk of a major bleed if I say, crash my bike, is a little higher than that of the average person, but this is a risk I’ve been taking for the past two years. I suppose it just means I'll never be racing any crits and my chances of making le Tour are a little less, haha ;)

If I come off the meds, my risk of another clot is definitely there. I’ve tested positive for the genetic clotting disorder Factor V Leiden. However, many people live with Factor V mutations, never knowing it, and never having any clotting issues. I’ve stopped taking oral contraceptives, so have decreased my risk of clotting in that regard.

In all honesty, as much as I would hate to have another pulmonary embolism or DVT, I am not as scared of that as I am of a clot going to my brain. I did experience a minor stroke in February 2009 (one that was never properly diagnosed, but much the same as with my leg, I know it was a stroke) and the fear of something like that messing with my brain again is paralyzing. To lose control of your vision, your ability to process your own thoughts, to not know if the words that are coming out of your mouth are making sense – it’s (excuse my language) fucking terrifying.

And so, for now, I continue with my anticoagulants. No closer now than I was before my meeting with Dr. Smith to making a decision.

To Anticoagulate or Not To Anticoagulate?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sooke Sprint – Race Report

So Sooke happened.
I think from this point forward, I will call it “the race that just kinda was.”

By that last sentence, you may guess that I'm feeling a little indifferent about the race. I would definitely not say it was a great race, but it wasn't really bad either. It just kind of happened. To the point where last night, having dinner, I didn't even feel like I had raced earlier in the day. It is a bit of a blur at this point.

So a quick recap before the details fade farther from my mind....

I actually felt like I got in a pretty good warm up (something that, admittedly, I don’t always do). It was still probably not quite long enough, but I actually felt "warmed up" which was nice.

As I met my parents on the edge of the lake to give them my backpack and get into my wetsuit I got really nervous and anxious (perhaps too much of a "hurry up and wait" feeling?) and couldn't seem to shake it.

The swim was a deep water start in two waves – men first, woman and relays second. You had to jump off a pontoon into the lake and tread water until the air horn blast. I was a bit nervous about the deep water start just because it was something new, but it really was rather uneventful. The whole swim was rather uneventful in fact. Also, while the deep water start was different, I actually found it was a lot less rough then some of the previous races I've been in, so that was nice.

Throughout the swim, I felt like I had a decent rhythm and definitely thought I was on track for a good time, however I forgot to start my watch, so really had no idea where I was at – time wise – the whole race (when I did finally look at my times after the race, my swim was actually a bit slow).

Transition was good. Calm, relaxed, but fairly speedy. This race had two transition areas, so you had to put your wetsuit and swim gear into a gear bag so it could be transported back to the finish line at the end of the day. It was a little weird, but nothing that really made any huge difference to my transition overall. As usual, I felt like transitions were one of the strongest parts of my day.

I had a good mount onto the bike and felt like I settled into a good cadence right off the bat. I was maintaining my pace fairly well and was tackling the hills (both up and down) well enough. This is an extremely hilly and tough bike course, so I didn’t want to kill myself on the first hill when I knew there would be plenty more to come. I was spinning well (or so I thought) when around 5-6k into the bike a group of about 4 or 5 girls just blew past me. I felt like I was standing still. That said, a couple of them looked like they were really struggling with the climbs, and since I felt like I was spinning them pretty well, I thought I would probably be able to reel them back in. Unfortunately, they were just too quick on the descents and I lost them. The climbs after the turn around were even uglier and harder than on the way out, but I didn't feel like I was moving too slowly. Overall, the bike wasn't great, but it wasn't horrible either. In the theme of the day, it just was.

T2 was good. I had a solid dismount, was in my runners quick enough and heading out on the run for the 5k out and back course. Most of the first half of the run was downhill, so I thought that would be good for me and that it might help to sort of get my legs moving and the blood flowing. Unfortunately that didn't really happen. I just kind of chugged along for the whole run, got a major side stitch about 2k in, but it was gone by about 3k... It was weird though, I just didn't feel motivated at all. I knew I could be going faster, but I had absolutely no desire to push.

There were two girls close to me - they had both entered T2 before me, and I had gone out before them - one quickly passed me, and then the other overtook me about the 2.5k mark and I just kind of let her go. After that, there were no other women around, and so I think by knowing that no one was really chasing me, I just kind of maintained my position. I had absolutely no fire. (I think I need to have Kirsten chasing me down on the run – she definitely lights a fire under my ass).

When I crossed the finish line I still had no idea how fast/slow I was, as the clock was showing the Half Iron time and, as I said earlier, I forgot to start my watch. I knew I had run slow, but had no idea it was sooo slow (story of my life really). In all seriousness, it may have been the slowest 5k I have run in about 3 years - yikes!

Anyway, my conclusions about Sooke... I was slightly disappointed in myself for not pushing to my limits, but at the same time, I still felt like it was an okay race, just not a "leave it all out there" race. My age group was tough (I finished 9/21 in my age group, but still managed to be 14th female overall).

So yeah, in short: good warm up, decent swim, good transitions, hard but okay bike, capped off with a hard (in terrain, but not effort), lacklustre run.

Kelowna is up next. I’m actually pretty excited for it and also hoping that I get a bit of my spark back before then.

Oh, and after reading my race report, this is the video Kelly sent me for inspiration :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Words by Others

I came across this post today on Slowtwitch (actual posting can be found here).

It gave me chills.

So, to everyone I know heading to Penticton to tackle IMC on August 28th, this is worth a read. Enjoy the day! I can't wait to cheer you all on.

Original Post by:

"Hurricane Bob"
Aug 25, 2010 8:03

For Those of you Heading to Penticton
Fellow HTFU'ers of Slowtwitch United...

Once again, IMC has snuck up on me. Funny how that happens when you're not actively training for a late-season IM. Regardless, I hope it's not too late to dust this off and send those racing to the Okanagan ready to roll.

Brief History: This was originally written for a friend on the TRI-DRS list in 2002, when she began her mid-taper meltdown (hey, we've all been there). Since then, it's taken on a life of its own. I posted it four years ago on ST, and received a wonderful set of responses (as well as a podcast!), so I figured it couldn't hurt to bring it back.

Without further adieu, to those of you heading to Ironman Canada this week - to the IM-Virgins, the veterans, and everyone in-between...


Right now you've all entered the taper. Perhaps you've been at this a few months, perhaps you've been at this a few years. For some of you this is your first IM, for others, a long-overdue welcome back to a race that few can match.

You've been following your schedule to the letter. You've been piling on the mileage, piling up the laundry, and getting a set of tan lines that will take until November to erase. Long rides were followed by long runs, which both were preceeded by long swims, all of which were followed by recovery naps that were longer than you slept for any given night during college.

You ran in the snow.
You rode in the rain.
You ran in the heat.
You ran in the cold.

You went out when others stayed home.
You rode the trainer when others pulled the covers over their heads.

You have survived the Darwinian progression that is an Ironman summer, and now the hardest days are behind you. Like a climber in the Tour de France coming over the summit of the penultimate climb on an alpine stage, you've already covered so much ground...there's just one more climb to go. You shift up, you take a drink, you zip up the jersey; the descent lays before you...and it will be a fast one.

Time that used to be filled with never-ending work will now be filling with silent muscles, taking their final, well-earned rest. While this taper is something your body desperately needs, Your mind, cast off to the background for so very long, will start to speak to you.

It won't be pretty.

It will bring up thoughts of doubt, pain, hunger, thirst, failure, and loss. It will give you reasons why you aren't ready. It will try and make one last stand to stop you, because your brain doesn't know what the body already does. Your body knows the truth:

You are ready.

Your brain won't believe it. It will use the taper to convince you that this is foolish - that there is too much that can go wrong.

You are ready.

Finishing an Ironman is never an accident. It's the result of dedication, focus, hard work, and belief that all the long runs in
January, long rides in April, and long swims every damn weekend will be worth it. It comes from getting on the bike, day in, day out. It comes from long, solo runs. From that first long run where you wondered, "How will I ever be ready?" to the last long run where you smiled to yourself with one mile to go...knowing that you'd found the answer.

It is worth it. Now that you're at the taper, you know it will be worth it. The workload becomes less. The body winds up and prepares, and you just need to quiet your worried mind. Not easy, but you can do it.

You are ready.

You will walk into the lagoon on August 26th with 2000 other wide-open sets of eyes. You will look upon the sea of humanity, and know that you belong. You'll feel the chill of the water crawl into your wetsuit, and shiver like everyone else, but smile because the day you have waited for for so VERY long is finally here.

The bagpipers will walk across the beach. Steve King will ask you to sing along. You will.

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

You will tear up in your goggles. Everyone does.

The helicopters will roar overhead.
Maranatha will roar. The splashing will surround you.

You'll stop thinking about Ironman, because you're now racing one.

The swim will be long - it's long for everyone, but you'll make it. You'll watch as the Penticton Lakeside Hotel grows and grows, and soon you'll hear the end. You'll come up the beach and head for the wetsuit strippers. Three people will get that sucker off before you know what's happening, then you'll head for the bike.

In the shadows on Main Street you'll spin out of town - the voices, the cowbells, and the curb-to-curb chalk giving you a hero's sendoff. You won't wipe the smile off your face for miles as you whisk along the lakeside, past fully stocked, silent aid stations for the run to come.

You'll spin up McLean Creak Road. You'll roll down towards Osoyoos, past the vineyards glowing in the morning sun. You'll settle down to your race. The crowds will spread out on the road. You'll soon be on your bike, eating your food on your schedule, controlling your Ironman.

Richter Pass will come. Everyone talks about it, but it's really nothing. You'll know this halfway up, as you're breathing easy and climbing smoothly. Look to your right. Look how high you're climbing. Look at all the bikes below, still making their way there. You're ahead of them. All of them.

You'll climb over Richter, and descend to the valley below. You'll ride the rollers, one at a time. You'll start to feel that morning sun turn to afternoon sun. It's warmer now. Maybe it's hot. Maybe you're not feeling so good now. You'll keep riding. You'll keep drinking. You'll keep moving. After all, this is just a long training day with valet parking and catering, right?

You'll put the rollers behind you. You'll head into the Cawston out and back. You'll put on your game face, fighting the urge to feel down as you ride the wrong way for what seems like hours. 10 miles in, you reach special needs, fuel up, and head out.

By now it'll be hot. You'll be tired. Doubts will fight for your focus. Everyone struggles here. You've been on that bike for a few hours, and stopping would be nice, but you won't - not here. Not today. You'll ride on leaving Cawston behind you and head for the final showdown at Yellow Lake.

You'll grind the false flats to the climb. You'll know you're almost there. You'll fight for every inch of road. You'll make the turn towards the summit as the valley walls close in for the kill, and put your head down. The crowd will come back to you here - the cars are always waiting to cross the summit, and you'll soon be surrounded in the glorious noise that is the final climb of Ironman Canada. Let their energy push you. Let them see your eyes. Smile when they cheer for you - your body will get just that little bit lighter.


Just like that, you'll be descending. 12 miles to go, and no climbing left. You'll plunge down the road, swooping from corner to corner, chaining together the turns, tucking on the straights, letting your legs recover for the run to come - soon! You'll roll back into town - you'll see people running out. You'll think to yourself, "Wasn't I just here?" The noise will grow. The chalk dust will hang in the air - you're back in Penticton, with only 26.2 miles to go. You'll relax a little bit, knowing that even if you get a flat tire or something breaks here, you can run the damn bike into T2.

You'll roll into transition. 100 volunteers will fight for your bike. You'll give it up and not look back. You'll have your bag handed to you, and into the tent you'll go. You'll change. You'll load up your pockets, and open the door to the last long run of your Ironman summer - the one that counts.

You'll take that first step of a thousand...and you'll smile. You'll know that the bike won't let you down now - the race is down to your own two feet. The same crowd that cheered for you in the shadows of the morning will cheer for you in the brilliant sunshine of a Penticton summer Sunday. High-five people on the way out. Smile. Enjoy it. This is what you've worked for all year long.

That first mile will feel great. So will the second.
By mile 3, you probably won't feel so good.

That's okay. You knew it couldn't all be that easy. You'll settle down just like you did on the bike, and get down to your pace. You'll see the leaders coming back the other way. Some will look great - some won't. You might feel great, you might not. No matter how you feel, don't panic - this is the part of the day where whatever you're feeling, you can be sure it won't last.

You'll keep moving. You'll keep drinking. You'll keep eating. Maybe you'll be right on plan - maybe you won't. If you're ahead of schedule, don't worry - believe. If you're behind, don't panic - roll with it. Everyone comes up with a brilliant race plan for Ironman, and then everyone has to deal with the reality that planning for something like Ironman is like trying to land a man on the moon. By remote control. Blindfolded.

How you react to the changes in your plan will dictate your day. Don't waste energy worrying about things - just do what you have to when you have to, and keep moving. Keep eating. Keep drinking. Just don't sit down - don't EVER sit down.

You'll make it to halfway at OK Falls. You'll load up on special needs. Some of what you packed will look good, some won't. Eat what looks good, toss the rest. Keep moving. Start looking for people you know. Cheer for people you don't. You're headed in - they're not. They want to be where you are, just like you wanted to be when you saw all those fast people headed into town. Share some energy - you'll get it right back.

Run if you can.
Walk if you have to.
Just keep moving.

The miles will drag on. The brilliant Penticton sunshine will yawn, and head for the mountains behind the bike course...behind that last downhill you flew down all those hours ago. You'll be coming up to those aid stations you passed when you started the bike...fully alive with people, music, and chicken soup. TAKE THE SOUP. Keep moving.

You'll soon only have a few miles to go. You'll start to believe that you're going to make it. You'll start to imagine how good it's going to feel when you get there. Let those feelings drive you on. When your legs just don't want to move anymore, think about what it's going to be like when someone catches you...puts a medal over your head...

...all you have to do is get there.

You'll start to hear town. People you can't see in the twilight will cheer for you. They'll call out your name. Smile and thank them. They were there when you left on the bike, and when you came back, when you left on the run, and now when you've come back.

You'll enter town. You'll start to realize that the day is almost over. You'll be exhausted, wiped out, barely able to run a 10-minute mile (if you're lucky), but you'll ask yourself, "Where did the whole day go?" You'll be standing on the edge of two feelings - the desire to finally stop, and the desire to take these last moments and make them last as long as possible.

You'll hit mile 25. You'll turn onto Lakeside Drive. Your Ironman Canada will have 1.2 miles - just 2KM left in it.

You'll run. You'll find your legs. You'll fly. You won't know how, but you will run. You'll make the turn in front of the Sicamous in the dark, and head for home. The lights will grow brighter, brighter, and brighter. Soon you'll be able to hear the music again. This time, it'll be for keeps.

You'll listen for Steve King, or Mike Reilly, or Whit Raymond. Soon they'll see you. Soon, everyone will see you. You'll run towards the lights, between the fences, and into the nightsun made just for you.

They'll say your name.
You'll keep running.
Nothing will hurt.

The moment will be yours - for one moment, the entire world will be looking at you and only you.

You'll break the tape. The flash will go off.

You'll stop. You'll finally stop. Your legs will wobble their last, and capable of nothing more.

Someone will catch you.
You'll lean into them.

It will suddenly hit you.
You will be an Ironman.

You are ready.

Hurricane Bob
* You are ready. *