Monday, December 30, 2013


The holidays have always been one of my favourite times of the year. I love Christmas. Everything about it, from the twinkly lights and the festive trees to the mistletoe hung with care. I love all of the decorations – from the beautiful and ‘sophisticated’ to the goofy and the gaudy; it all makes my heart sing.

I love all the sweet treats and the mass quantities of food (even though my waistline doesn't), but most of all, I really love the endless hours of time spent with family and friends.

Another little bonus to the holiday season is the fact that my birthday falls just two short days after Christmas. (It's pretty awesome, as it definitely helps to extend the festive feeling of the season).

This year, I had a really hard time deciding what I wanted to do for my birthday (and it felt like EVERYONE kept asking me what my plans were). Since the pool had been closed for most of December, and was reopening on my birthday, I had told Shane I wanted to swim 3300m in honour of my 33rd birthday.

When he didn't refuse the idea, and then Kirsten and my parents showed interest in joining too, the wheels starting turning in my head and suddenly my birthday plan started to grow. Soon enough, I was plotting a little 33-themed birthday ‘triathlon’ of sorts.

The plan: 3300m swim, followed by 33km on the bike, topped off with 33mins of running (and, I would hazard to guess, probably close to 33mins of transition time too, haha).

The day started at the pool with Kirsten, Shane and my Mom (my Dad will be learning to swim in the New Year, so opted just to join in on the bike/run portion of the event). I ticked off 3300m at a consistent and comfortable pace. I feel like I have been a bit sluggish in the pool lately, but this swim felt pretty good. I had a few moments of feeling oddly clunky and spastic, but mostly, I was clicking along, nicely rhythmic and fluid.

We suited up into our rain gear and warm clothes for the bike, and rolled out onto the Goose for a nice 16.5km out and back. The pace was comfortable and the company was great. We pedaled away with the wind (unknowingly) at our backs for the first half of the ride. Shane and I had new fenders on our bikes and we happily teased everyone else for the large brown streaks up their backsides, while we stayed clean and dry. The way back was a little tougher as the tailwind we enjoyed on the way out turned into a headwind (shocking, I know), but the rain stopped and the sun even started to poke through the clouds.

I rolled into the parking lot with my odo showing 33.23km. (I probably should have ridden the extra little bit to make 33.33km, but c’est la vie.)

With a quick change into our runners, it was time to hit the JdF trail for the final leg of my birthday triathlon. The first few steps surprised me a bit, and reminded me what it feels like to run off the bike (it’s been a while I guess) but soon enough, we were trotting along, up and down the little hills around the rec centre. In no time, 33 minutes had passed and my birthday triathlon was complete.

Obviously, there was no race clock and no sense of urgency to compete with one another; just a great day spent doing what I love, with the ones that I love most.   

Friday, December 20, 2013

It's Friday, I'm in love…

I don't care if Monday's blue
Tuesday's gray and Wednesday too
Thursday I don't care about you
It's Friday, I'm in love…

And so, how about a few random ramblings?

1) Last week was crazy busy… CrAzY!!

Dinners out, comedy shows, festive family outings, whirlwind trips to the mainland and one giant family gathering (aka. gong show) in Black Creek made fitting in training a little difficult. I realized either sleep or training was going to be sacrificed, and well, it was mostly training that got the axe. I think I’m growing though, as the guilt I felt over the skipped workouts was very minimal… and thankfully this week has been a little easier to maintain balance with work, training, sleep and fun stuff.

2) We've had a puppy in the office this week. Rosebud. A co-worker got a new Boston-terrier/French-bulldog cross (a Frenchton) for Christmas. I've quickly come to realize that the best days at work are the ones when you have a puppy sleeping on your lap.

3) Not to be outdone, my sweet little (and by little, I really mean big) pooch is pretty much the cutest Christmas pup around. He never fails to make me smile.

4) I have curly hair, and well, if you have curly hair, you’ll know that finding someone who knows how to properly cut the curls is not the easiest thing. I’ve gone to the same hair dresser for years. She’s great. I love her, but she is a located a little out of the way and she just had a baby, so is working limited hours.

As such, I decided this might be a good time to try out a new-to-me stylist downtown Vic, so that I could go for a cut on my lunch break. New stylist did a decent job, but I have to admit, I’m not super thrilled with the final outcome. We talked lots about giving my hair more shape (as it gets a bit 'blah' and angular the longer it gets), and well, she didn't really deliver in the layers department (even though we talked about it in great length). Now I feel like I need another haircut, even though I just had one, but I don’t want to pay. [This is what the kids on the interwebs call first world problems, right?]

That said, she did straighten the ol’ locks at the end of my appointment, which was kind of fun. I definitely never take the time to do that myself, so it was nice to see myself in a different way.

5) We got snow today. I was really hoping for enough snow that I wouldn't be able to make it into work, but alas, it did not happen.

6) JdF (where I normally swim) has been closed for maintenance, so I've been swimming at Crystal pool this week. This means I get 50m lengths instead of 25m… and I love it. I feel slow as molasses in the pool and the chlorine makes me sound like I have the worst snotty nosed cold for a few hours post-swim, but there is just something about long course laps that is really appealing. I’m thinking that even when JdF re-opens, I might need to keep Crystal in my rotation.

7) Growing up, we always drove around and did a Christmas light tour, usually on Christmas eve after dinner at Grandma’s. For the past couple years, I've been thinking it would be fun to do a similar sort of thing, but instead of driving, maybe strapping on the running shoes with some friends and taking in all the festive sights on foot. After reading Kyla’s blog the other day about her run club Christmas pub crawl, it made me think about the Christmas light run tour once again… perhaps this will be the year to make it happen.

So, who’s in?

8) Dad and I submitted our application for Amazing Race Canada last night. Cross your fingers for us.

And that my friends, is all I've got. 

Merry Christmas to all... and to all a good night!

Or should I say, a very Murray Christmas to you!

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Great Shoe Discovery of 2013

For years I have run in the Nike Pegasus. While not the lightest or fastest shoe, it always just seemed to be the most comfortable for me and it seemed to work. Every now and again, I’d go into Frontrunners and try on a whole bunch of different shoes, thinking I should switch things up, before finally settling back on the Pegs.

This past summer as I got into trail running, I switched to the Saucony Xodus. While Nike offers a Pegasus Trail, they really didn't seem that much different than the road version and I wanted/needed something with a bit more aggressive tread.

I quickly fell in love with my new Sauconys. They carried me through countless training runs and finally, 6 long days of running in Colorado.

As winter began to descend on Victoria and I once again started hitting the roads a little more than the trails, I realized I didn't actually have any road shoes anymore. I had about 3 pairs of trail shoes that were still functional (for the trails) but was finding them to be a bit stiff and slick on the wet sidewalks.

So, I headed back to Frontrunners and started the same song and dance of trying on countless different brands and types of shoes, before once again, finally settling back on the Pegasus.

In my short little run around the store they felt the best. Not 100% great, but I figured that was just because I had gotten used to a different shoe over the summer and needed to readjust. They would do (or so I thought). 

At this point, I should give a little background…
I've had an issue in the past with my ankle (I think I've mentioned it on the ol’ blog before) where my talus kinda slips out of place and locks up. It hurts. A lot. I've always just assumed it was because my ankle was loose from spraining it countless times as a teenager and I needed to work on strengthening it (and no physio or massage could ever really offer a better explanation). So I just got really good at dealing with the discomfort and popping it back into place after a run (or going to a professional to have them do the popping when I couldn't).

This summer, it seemed to get better and I rarely had any issues [Stage 5 of TRR on that damn ‘V’ shaped uneven trail on Vail mountain was the huge exception – it still hurts me to even think about that one, haha]. I couldn't explain the sudden lack of ankle lockage, and just assumed it was because of the amount of time I was spending on the trails and not on the road. In my mind I thought all the downhill pounding on the trails was giving the “popping back in” adjustment as I ran.

It never occurred to me that it could have been because I switched up my shoes.

So, with my new Pegasus in hand (or shall I say, on foot) I headed out for a couple short, easy runs. Both times I returned home in a significant amount of pain. My ankle was back to its old ways – as in, completely locked out by the end.

Finally it clicked and I started to see that maybe, just maybe, there was a connection. Maybe my shoe choice was affecting my feet?! Go figure eh.

And so, I started researching the differences between the Pegasus and the Xodus.

Aside from the obvious differences (I mean, ones a trail shoe and ones a road shoe after all), the main difference I could see was the heel to toe drop. The Pegasus has a heel height of 32mm and a forefoot at 19mm. So we’re looking at a 13mm difference. The Xodus has a heel of 26mm and forefoot at 22mm. Aka. a 4mm offset.

While I don’t know 100% if that is the reason why my ankle has decided it isn't going to play nice in the Pegasus anymore, I think it very well could be. It kind of amazes me that 9mm could cause such a huge amount of pain and discomfort. 9mm people!

So, I once again headed back to Frontrunners, armed with my new knowledge (ideas?) about heel to toe offset and a plan to try out some shoes that fell closer to that 4mm drop.

I finally settled on the Saucony Kinvara.

I've completed quite a few runs in them in the last couple weeks, and *knock on wood* ~ so far, so good!

While they aren't super cushy, and my forefoot was a bit sore/numb after my first outing in them, they have gradually gotten more and more comfortable (and they look damn good to boot). Oh, and the best part of all, my ankle has remained in the non-locked position!

Anyway, I found it interesting that something so small could have such a large impact.

Who knew that changing my shoes could be such a good reminder that as I change and grow as an athlete, sometimes my equipment and ideas of what works and what doesn't, have to change and grow as well.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Internet Read my Mind (kinda).

I wrote this to myself not long after TransRockies. It sits in a spot in my 'draft' folder that means I see it every so often, but not every day…

"I have come to the realization over the last season or two that I put very high expectations on myself and then tend to not live up to those expectations on race day. When I don’t live up to those expectations during the race, I get a bit down. Negative even. Next season I’m going to try and turn over a new leaf and choose to be happy and positive on each race, no matter how the day plays out. No matter how much it hurts."

Anyway, I’m not entirely sure why, but that little thought has been on my mind a lot lately. In fact, Shane and I chatted about it quite a bit over the weekend while we were out running and biking. We talked about the fact that as a teenager I was soooo competitive ~ with myself, with others. I straight up just wanted to win. All.the.time. Now, I like training more than I like racing and in general, I think I’m a pretty non-aggressive person.

So yeah, somewhere along the way it seems I lost a bit of that competitive edge. Sure, I still like to challenge myself, and push myself and see what I’m capable of, but I feel like sometimes I lack the killer instinct or stubbornness to meet my lofty expectations. I think this often translates to me giving into the negative thoughts on race day.

Anyway, eerily enough, I came across two different posts/articles recently that I could really relate to. At times in each article, it was like the writers were in my head, articulating my thoughts and feelings better than I could ever articulate them myself.

The first one is here.

This line “Things I would never even think to say to another human being, much less one in pain, became perfectly acceptable to say to myself. Horrible, vile things blared between my ears with every step…” was eye opening.

Many of the things the writer was saying to herself were the same things that were running through my head during the marathon of IMC 2012. I felt like such a failure that day. I felt like I was letting down all of my friends and family who had come to watch by making them wait so long. It seems laughable now, but really, I felt like such a loser. The perspective the writer gave it, noting the fact that you would never say this to a friend (or a stranger for that matter), kind of hit the point home. I am realizing more and more that when the going gets tough, I tend to talk a bit negatively to myself. Obviously, this is something I need to work on.

The second post is here.

I can’t pinpoint one line that sticks with me quite as much as the previous entry, but I can definitely relate. I love training. Hell, I’ve said it many times before – I prefer training to racing. And, much like the writer of the above post, over the years I’ve come to realize that time trials or timed sets scare me. When I notice them in the calendar, feelings of nervous dread hang over me until I finally get the sucker over with.

I used to just tell myself the feeling of fear was “because it meant something to me.”  Which I do think is partly true. Of course, I want to see the improvements and gains that all my training has led to, but I also think it is a fear of [my own perceived] failure perhaps? Fear of a plateau, fear of not improving.

So, does this all relate back to my lack of killer instinct on race day? I dunno. Maybe.

What I do know is that I think it’s good that I’m becoming more aware of this and hopefully, as I get deeper into the training season, I’ll be able to acknowledge when/if I’m being hard on myself and when I just need to suck it up and dig deep. In turn, maybe I’ll find a little bit of that killer instinct that I somehow discarded a decade ago.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

*crickets chirp*

Via UrbanDictionary: Used to point out or emphasize silence. (Well, not precisely silence, since chirping crickets make sound. But you get it.)

So yeah, it’s been a little quiet around the ol’ blog the last few weeks, hasn’t it?

The silence was mainly brought on by the fact that I spent the better part of last week paddling my way through the Sayward Forest Canoe Route with Kirsten, her co-worker Sutty, Tyler, and a plucky bunch of Grade 11 students from her Outdoor Ed. class.

The other reason being partly because as I get back into my regularly scheduled training regime, it is a lot of same-old-same-old. Good same-old-same-old mind you, but same-old-same-old all the same. (Haha, is that a record for the number of times the word ‘same’ has been used in a sentence??)

So, since training has been rolling along nicely (and somewhat uneventfully), let’s talk about Sayward.

Short version...
It was a pretty wicked trip.

Long version...
I’ll admit, there were moments on night one, while lying in the tent, listening to the wind and rain beat down on us (and even feeling the rain splash my face through the tent’s fly), that I questioned my decision to go on the trip. I quickly realized that while I love the outdoors and do spend my fair share of time outside doing fun things, I haven’t really done a lot of overnight backpack camping (or you know, any of it).

I definitely spent the first little while feeling a bit useless. My hands were numb, which made tying knots to hang the tarps difficult (although my general lack of know-how on knot-tying trumped the numb hands). So, I kinda stood around and held up the tarp while Kirsten and Sutty strung it up. After a number of school trips together, they’ve pretty much got things down to a science, so I suppose I shouldn’t feel too bad about my uselessness (cause they really didn’t need me anyway).

Anyhoo, needless to say, night one sucked, but by the time we started paddling again on day two, and the skies [mostly] dried up, it was all good.

Camp on night two was great. It was dry. We had a good fire. The maturity level of 16 year old boys is pretty much the same as the maturity level of the women in my office (whom I think are hilarious), so some laughs were definitely had, and for the most part I felt pretty comfortable and relaxed. The previous night's deluge was a distant memory.

Side Note: Night two introduced me to what I'm pretty sure is the best name ever for an intramural sports team. Alpa-Kenny-Buddy. Say that one fast. Now imagine it being said over your high school loudspeaker announcements. Classic.

For the first two and a half days I spent most of the time paddling at the front of the boat (and essentially being the muscle), but after a few partner changes, I got to try my hand at steering toward the end of the trip as well, and… I didn’t completely suck at it. Woo!

Camp on night three was an absolutely gorgeous setting, and when the rain started to fall overnight, knowing that the following day was our last one on the water, and that warm showers and cozy beds were waiting for us at home once we crossed the final lake, it didn’t even matter.

The final day of paddling wasn’t the fastest for me and my partner, but the lake was so calm and peaceful that I didn’t mind spending a little extra time out there. The clouds hung ‘just so’ over the forest lining the shore and the movement of the paddles was pretty much the only sound around us (aside from the air horn one of the kids smuggled on the trip that is, haha).

So, while night one may have had me questioning my sanity, it turned out to be a really great trip. All the kids were super fun and well behaved and Kirsten and Sutty took care of me and introduced me to a new world of paddling, portaging and camping.

p.s. I did not take my camera, as I don’t have a waterproof one, but once Kirsten posts some photos on Facebook I’ll poach a few and add them.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Beautiful Fall

Having missed fall last year, (what with traipsing around New Zealand and all), I’m feeling extra lucky to be home and soaking up this amazing autumn that we are currently experiencing in Victoria.

The colours of this season all seem so vivid and so bright!

The blue skied days have been amazing (even if today has more of a grey tinge) and I’m pretty sure the leaves are extra crisp and vibrant this year.

I love crunching the freshly fallen leaves under my feet as I run, or hearing them rustle under my tires as I pedal my bike. Rusty seems to like running through the piles of leaves on the sides of the roads too, and watching his joy never gets old.

Another favourite odd little pleasure is stepping on a freshly fallen pine cone and feeling that slow "crunch" underfoot. Scraping the ice off my car windows, and yet still needing sunglasses is pretty awesome too.

Aside from the colours and brisk, bright days, (and scarves and boots and chunky sweaters) another thing I’ve been enjoying about this fall so far has been getting back into a bit of structure and routine on the training front.

I took some time off post-TransRockies (and absolutely loved it) but when October 1st hit, it was time to get back at it. When I checked my training calendar and saw all the lovely planned workouts, I may have been, oh, just a little bit excited. [As much as I loved and needed the “do what you feel like” month post-TRR, I think I like structure more. More simply put, I like having someone tell me what to do – it gets me off my ass.]

I’ve started back training with Kelly this year, and you know, it’s great. It was nice to have a bit of a break and learn some new things and train with a different coach for a season (especially when it was such a different season for me), but there is something very comfortable and familiar about working with Kelly again and I’m really happy to be back under his guidance. I’ve got big goals for IMCdA, and I think with his help, I’ll achieve them.

Training isn’t anything crazy right now, mainly just easy workouts, redeveloping my routine, working on my strength, and getting in the habit of early mornings and the ol’ two-a-days. And you know, I am really enjoying it – especially my early mornings at the pool! (Remind me of that in June when I'm so sick of training and just want the race to be over, mm'kay?).

So yeah, there isn’t anything mind blowing or awe-inspiring happening in my life at the moment, but well, I’d say, so far, this fall has been pretty darn good.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013


I sat down to write a post about this past weekend (Thanksgiving weekend), about how it was filled with so many reasons to be thankful… and while this is so soo true (it was a great weekend), I can’t seem to get it to come out of my brain, through my fingertips, into any sort of sensical writing.

So, instead, here is a list of just a few of the things that made me feel all warm and fuzzy this weekend…
  • Sunny fall weather.
  • Evenings filled with wedding dresses and race expos.
  • A quiet pool and swim lanes all to myself.
  • Solo bike rides with the colourful leaves falling all around me.
  • Red Barn wraps and chocolate milk.
  • Marathon weekend in Victoria.
    All of it. The cheering. The smiles at the finish lines. The grimaces. The determination.
  • Awesome friends.
  • Witnessing Justin rock his first half marathon.
  • Apple fritters and americanos.
  • Seeing Kirsten grit out another marathon when her legs decided to fail her ~ and getting to run with her for the last few kms and think that maybe, I helped distract her, even just for a second, from the pain.
  • The return of The Walking Dead.
  • Sleeping in and lazing around the house.
  • De-slugging and portaging canoes.
  • Family dinners.
  • Apple crisp and tofurkey.
  • Comfy pants.
  • Gummy candies.
  • Cuddles with the pup.
  • Family.
    All of them. Shane. Rusty. Mom. Dad. Kirsten. Tyler. Grandma(s). Aunts. Uncles. Cousins.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thursday Things (5 of ‘em)

1) I had a thought in the pool this morning that maybe Kirsten and I should go to Colorado to run the TransRockies Run3 next summer as a fun last minute bachelorette party before her wedding (don’t worry Shane and Tyler, it was just a thought).

So yeah, I guess it only took me 7(ish) weeks to make it to that point where, when I’m asked “would you do it again?” that I’m not like “well, maybe, but definitely not next year.”  I suppose I have my answer now, haha.

7 weeks to get to that point is definitely a slower turnaround than Ironman, as I usually go from “not again” to “sign me up” in less than 8hrs with an Ironman, but still… progress.

2) Speaking of, as much as I enjoyed all the trail running I did this summer, it did make me realize how much I love the variety of triathlon. In the last month I’ve probably spent more time in the pool and on my bike than I did all summer long, and well, I’ve liked it, a lot. Like, a lot a lot.

The combo of swim, bike AND run are good for my soul.

3) I’m getting back into a bit more structured training regime as I start to look ahead to IMCdA.

Of course, that means getting back into the morning routine and heading to the pool before daylight breaks. This morning I swam in a near empty pool [amazing], forgot a towel and had to dry off post-shower with my sweatpants [hilarious], and followed it up with an early arrival in town and a leisurely stroll to Habit.

Not that I don’t go there often, but let me tell you, that first sip of a Habit americano after a swim workout is one of my favourite things. I’m not sure why, but something about swimming makes it taste that much sweeter (and not in the sugary sweet way, but in the amazing tasting way).

"Once it hits your lips, it’s so good!" – Frank the Tank

4) As for the bike, I mentioned before that I’ve been commuting by bike a bit more frequently over the last little while. I know that there aren’t any ‘no drafting’ rules in commuting, and that people are free to do what they like, but holy-hell do I get pissy when people sit on my wheel.

Allow me to rant about one such situation…

A couple weeks ago a guy (who was clearly very fit and probably way faster than me) sat on my wheel for a good 10k. I slowed down to let him pass, and he slowed with me. I sped up to try and drop him, and he stayed glued to my backside. Then, at one of the stoplights we hit, he stayed so far and awkwardly behind me that I couldn’t actually say anything to him (you know, like stop being a dick).

Anyway, as I said before, I’m aware people are free to do what they like while commuting, and drafting isn’t the huge no-no that it is in triathlon, but man, I still think it is flippin’ rude!

So, Mr. Drafter, at the very least, maybe take the lead from time to time and don’t make me do all the work. Let’s work together, mmmkay? Maybe we could even be friends. Maybe.

Phew. That feels better to get that off my chest.

5) And finally. This.
[The whole tumblr is actually pretty great, and while it is ultra-specific, I could relate to a whole heck-of-a-lot of it].

One more day until the long weekend ~ Happy Thanksgiving my Canada peeps!

Friday, October 4, 2013

My sister is Awesome, with a capital A!

Those of you who already know Kirsten probably agree, she's pretty awesome, right? For those of you who don't know her, well, let me give you just one little reason that will prove my point.

In follow up to my last post [click here to go back and read it, I'll wait... ♫ final Jeopardy music sweetly plays in the background ♫]

Okay, good, you're done? We're all on the same page now? Perfect.

Anyway, to follow up on that last post, Kirsten decided to make one last push in the fundraising department for Right to Play as she heads into her taper for the Victoria Marathon. (Yes, she is running the marathon after having fairly recently completed TransRockies... she's awesome. And crazy).

This last little push for Right to Play comes with one SUPER AWESOME GIGANTIC TWIST though.

You ready for this?

Any money she collects from now until the marathon (or until she reaches her newly upped goal of $1500), she will personally match, and pay it forward to Audrey Lou.

In my opinion, this is a win-win-win all over the place, as this means every dollar donated to her Quest for Kids page is actually matched 4x! 

3x by Right to Play for the children of Benin and 1x by Kirsten for Audrey.

In Kirsten's words: "It will make suffering through a marathon that much easier, because really compared to what these kids deal with, running is easy."

Told you she was awesome.

Anyway, you can check out Kirsten's newly updated Quest for Kids page here.

Once again, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to everyone for the continued support.
It sure does make my heart smile.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Audrey Lou ~ this one's for you kid!

About a month after Kirsten and I decided that we were going to support Martin Parnell’s TransRockies Quest 888 and raise money for Right to Play on our journey to the TransRockies Run, good friends of mine and Shane’s got dealt the blow of a lifetime.

Just shy of her first birthday, their baby girl (Audrey Lou) was diagnosed with kidney cancer.

Shane does not cry much, but when he got the call from Justin (Audrey’s Dad), and tears started streaming down his cheeks, I knew something wasn’t right.

Through all the ups & downs, rounds of chemo and surgeries, lil’ Audrey Lou has been a fighter and continues to battle this disease with a smile, making each and every doctor who meets her fall in love.

Tell me you don't melt, just a little, when you see that toothy grin.
Audrey's parents, Justin & Amber, are an awesome couple who I feel incredibly lucky to be able to call my friends. Throughout this whole ordeal, they've continued to remain positive and strong, even though the strain (emotionally and financially) on them is absolutely massive.

[More info about Audrey and her amazing parents can be found here].

Anyway, at the time we found out about Audrey, it didn’t feel right to pull the plug on the commitment Kirsten and I had made to raising funds for Right to Play (because I do believe it is an incredible organization and Martin is an awesome ambassador, who I was honored to meet and fundraise with), but I also struggled with asking people to support that cause when I knew what Justin & Amber were going through. As such, Kirsten ended up doing most of the fund raising for Right to Play and I just kind of piggy backed along on her efforts. Nevertheless, I am so grateful and absolutely humbled by the donations we received. Our friends and families willingness to support a cause we believe in is truly awesome.

Anyway, fast forward to a week or so after TransRockies…

Shane and I were talking about Audrey (as we so often do these days) and we both realized that we really wanted to run our next Ironman for her. When I proposed the idea to Kirsten, she was in too.

Our ideas on how exactly to do this are still a work in progress, but I can say one thing for certain ~ Audrey will be front and center in our minds as we prepare for IM CdA. This race is for her (and Justin & Amber) and will be fuelled and inspired by lil’ A-Lou’s fighting spirit.

And so, TEAM A-LOU is born!

We hope to raise some funds to help lighten the financial burden on Justin & Amber, so they can focus fully on Audrey and not have to worry about money. Should Audrey beat this disease or the financial strain on Justin & Amber lessen before we make it to the start line in Coeur d'Alene, we will shift our fund raising efforts to be in supports of BC Children’s Hospital. The work the doctors and staff do there is simply amazing.

We are currently tossing around the idea of doing a spin-a-thon type fundraiser on the bike trainers ~ ‘cause, well, if Audrey can kick cancers ass, we can sit our butts on the trainers for hours on end. We’re still hammering out details and will decide on a date soon. So, stay tuned!

Anyway, as I said, our ideas on are still a work in progress. In the meantime, you can check our Audrey Lou’s Fund on Facebook, as well as her Fundrazr Page should you wish to donate.

One of my favourite photos of Audrey Lou (and her little buddy Liam)
cheering us on last summer at IMC.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Tour de Vic, 2013 Edition

Last weekend I participated in the 100km ride that is part of Ryder Hesjedal's Tour De Victoria. This was my second year taking part in the event, and once again, it didn’t disappoint.

This year was a little different though…

Last year it was just me and my Dad riding the 100k. (Kirsten and Tyler took on the 140k, but we never crossed paths with them).

This year it was a family affair, as my Dad, Kirsten, myself and even my Mom took on the 100k ride.

Last year the weather was pretty much perfect. Sunshine-happiness and all that good shizz.

This year the weather was ugly. Rain, wind, more rain… oh, and a little teeny-tiny bit of sunshine to end out the day.

Last year Shane gave me grief for not stuffing my pockets full of Honey Stinger products at each feed zone to help fuel our Ironman training that year (and the fact that Kirsten had done this, and used the “free” Stinger products all season long only gave him more ammo for his “grief giving”).

This year, I took everything and anything I could get my hands on at the feed zones, and finished the ride with pockets so full they probably added 10lbs (or more) to my back. I’m pretty sure the kid volunteering at the Parkland feed zone will never forget me, haha.

Judge me if you will, but the event is expensive, and training for an Ironman is also expensive, so yeah…
a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.
Last year the ride was in June and I was healthy and fit and heading into a peak block of Ironman training. 100k on the bike was a pretty regular occurrence at that point in the season.

This year I came down with a slight sore throat a few days prior to the event, only to have it turn into a full blown chest cold the day before. Oh, and with all the time spent running on the trails this summer, about 55k had been my longest ride of the season.

So yeah, I felt like crap, and the idea of riding 100k in the rain with a chest cold wasn’t super appealing, but I also have major cheapskate tendencies (^see evidence above) and I wasn’t about to throw away the registration fee (or the Honey-Stinger-getting-opportunities).

On top of that, I had been looking forward to riding with my folks and Kirsten and I really do enjoy the “no pressure” aspect of this event. So I sucked it up and well… onward we rolled.

Anyway, what can I say?

Despite the rain and the wind, the day was super fun. Aside from a little bit of laboured breathing on the Munns Rd hill climb (it was the chest cold, I swear) and some minor “my hands and feet are numb” wussy moments, my body felt good at the end, and it made me excited to really get back on the bike and get into training for IM CdA in the coming weeks (if only I could kick this damn cold).

Getting to ride on roads with little-to-no traffic, having flag people control all the intersections, and just being out in our beautiful city with a bunch of other like-minded people is a pretty awesome thing.

So yeah, if you couldn’t tell, I had an absolutely great time soaking up the day (pun totally intended); rolling along at Mom’s pace, just taking in all the cheers and cowbells of the [awesome, amazing, super-fantastic] volunteers on course.

Oh, and did I mention the Honey Stingers? Yeaaahhh!!!
Photos by Art Box Victoria.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Riding Bikes

“If you worried about falling off the bike, you'd never get on.” – Lance Armstrong

Love him or hate him, I’ve always enjoyed the above quote by ol’ Lancey Boy. It sort of goes along with that saying that goes something like “it’s not if you fall off your bike, it’s when.”

I’ve been riding my bike a lot lately. Commuting to and from work on my trusty Blue Steel.

I haven’t fallen off my bike yet *knocks on wood* and have only had one minor scare with a bus (admittedly probably mostly my fault ~ don’t worry parental units, I learned my lesson), which was MORE THAN ENOUGH to smarten me up, teach me some patience and become the best, rule following cyclist that Victoria has ever seen.

Anyway, September in the Capital always sees an increase in clogged roads and a return to ‘didn’t-get-out-of-first-gear’ commutes as students return to university and parents return to work after a summer off with the kiddies. Since we’ve been so lucky and had such beautiful weather as of late, it seems silly for me to be sitting in the car when I can ride to work instead (in pretty much the same amount of time as driving).

So I have been. And well, it’s been great.

On top of that, I’ve taken a bit of an unplanned break from running (and structured training in general) and spent the month since TransRockies just doing what I feel like. Riding my bike to and from work, going for walks in the sunshine on my lunch breaks (and then with Rusty and Shane in the evening) and swimming every once in a while, is really all that I’ve felt like.

Not a bad place for a lunch time wander.
My legs still seem to have a general heaviness in them and so I’ve been enjoying this “active recovery” phase before jumping back into a strict ‘more well defined’ training regime, and you know, I think my mind has enjoyed the break as much as my body.

That said, October 1 will be when I get back into some structure and start on the road to IM CdA. Between now and then however, I’ve got some fun things planned.

I’ll be tackling the 100km route in Ryder Hesjedal's Tour de Victoria with my family in just over a week and am really looking forward to it. No pressure, just fun, relaxed riding. Last year I had a blast riding with my Dad, so I think adding my Mom and sister into the mix will make it even better.

On top of that, I’m hoping to throw myself into a few cyclocross rides/races. Shane recently got a new cycolcross bike as well, so *fingers crossed* I can drag him along with me, or we can build a little track on our property to practice on (*hint hint* and ~pretty please~ Shane).

Anyway, this is rambly and probably kind of boring to anyone but future-me, but I felt like it has been a while since I touched base with the blog-o-sphere and well, just wanted to say…

ps. I’m obviously playing with the look of the blog, so give me some opinions would ya?

pps. Even though the title (Penticton or Bust!) may seem a bit outdated, my sentimental heart won’t let it go. I’ve come to realize Penticton isn’t only a magical little town in the Okanagan and home of my first and second IMs, it is so soo much more to me. So much really, that words can’t do it justice.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

TransRockies Run 2013 - "Race" Report

**Updated with photos from Raven Eye Photography

I’m feeling less foggy about TransRockies Run and the whole experience now. My desire to do something other than sit on my butt and eat bad food is returning and thoughts of the next great adventure are starting to dance in my mind. 

Shane may have said it best when telling someone about my experience… In short, because the last 2 stages were a bit of a struggle for me, and the final night in Beaver Creek I didn’t really sleep, I came back a bit grumpy and unsure about my experience, but as the days have passed and I’ve been able to look at the experience without a clouded or tired mind, I can truly and honestly say, I had an absolutely amazing time.

I find myself pouring through the photos and video slideshows from the event. Reading articles and race reports and smiling my way through each and every one of them.

TransRockies challenged me in a huge way, but it also left me super stoked on trail running, and I must say, I’m pretty proud of what Kirsten and I accomplished. Kirsten definitely pushed me beyond my limits a few times, but that is how you grow right?

Anyway, rambling mushiness aside, let’s see if I can remember the particulars about each stage now that they’ve passed.

Stage 1 seems so long ago now. The nerves in my stomach as we made our way into the start corral were pretty huge. About two minutes from go-time, AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” came on over the loud speaker and all the runners got pumped up to head out on this amazing journey. This would be the first of many times we’d hear this, as each day we were sent off to this song. Toward the end, it almost became soothing.

Anyway, Kirsten and I took it out pretty easy on this stage and just tried to relax and have fun. We snapped lots of photos and chatted with other runners and just cruised along (we did this a lot the whole week actually). I definitely felt the altitude a bit on this stage, mainly in that I felt like I had trouble regaining my breath after any sort of effort. I remember one time in particular where Kirsten and I got a bit separated on some single track. When I was finally able to pass the people I got stuck behind, I put in a little extra effort to catch back up to Kirsten, but by the time I got to her, I was panting so hard that I needed a walk break on the next little hill. Mostly, it was pretty manageable though.

The aid stations were like a little oasis and never failed to give a nice mental boost. 

The final stretch was pretty grueling. I think it was about 4 miles on a false flat uphill dirt road. It seemed never ending. I was cramping when I ran, and Kirsten was cramping when she walked, so we were definitely a bit of an ugly pair, but somehow we managed to get each other to the finish line, and just like that, stage 1 was in the books.

Stage 2 was a little tougher. It was Hope Pass day, so the one with the highest elevation. We got to ride the “special bus” to the start line, and then spent our time waiting for the start in the porta-potty line up. Just before we checked-in for the day’s stage we met Martin Parnell for the first time and took a few photos.

In no time, “Highway to Hell” was pumping, and we were off.

The climb up Hope Pass was tough, but went pretty well for the most part. Kirsten and I tucked in behind a couple from Texas, which was awesome, as the pace was just perfect for me and kept Kirsten reigned in a bit.

The top of Hope Pass was quite the reward. It was breathtaking. Literally. (I was definitely still feeling the altitude – more so than on Stage 1 – but that was to be expected I guess).

Coming down from Hope Pass, Kirsten let loose and was flying. To put it honestly, she totally left me in her dust, and well, I got a bit frustrated. I think I tried pushing a bit too hard to catch up with her and about 2 miles from the end, I had an asthma attack.

Obviously that was a bit of an unwelcomed surprise. I used to suffer from stress/exertion triggered attacks as a teenager, but it has probably been 10+ years since my last attack, so I don't carry an inhaler or anything anymore. Luckily, I could feel it coming on, so was able to stop and get things somewhat under control after a few minutes, but it made for a very scary (and wheezy) end to the stage. Admittedly, it also left me a little less-than-excited for the prospect of day 3.

On the morning of Stage3 I found the director of the medical team and had a little chat with him – both about my asthma attack, as well as some other wonkiness that was going on with my oddly high INR level (aka. my anti-coagulated blood). With a somewhat worried look on his face he made a comment along the lines of “I’m not going to pull you from the race” but told me to take it really easy. (I think I scared him ~ oh, just a little, haha).

So, we headed out at a pretty mellow pace and just took our time getting nicely warmed up (more photos, more chatting, etc. etc.). Thankfully, as we got going and got warmed up, I felt really good. Probably the best I had yet in the week actually (I think I was finally starting to adjust to the elevation a bit).

We were rolling down a nice hill toward check point one, when I came upon a stopped Kirsten. She had been stung 3 times (along with a number of other people). This was a bit of a worry, as Kirsten has (had?) an allergy to bees/wasps that she had been treated for with allergy shots. This was one of the first times she’d been stung since her treatment, so we definitely pushed hard to the check point, just in case she had a reaction. It was a bit of a scary mile or two, but we made it to aid without further incident and she was able to put some cream on the stings and onward we rolled.

Through the second half I had some highs and lows and we each spent some time on our own, cruising along at our own paces. There was A LOT of downhill that left my legs feeling pretty sore and beat up, but in the end, I feel like we finished feeling strong and happy, and the surroundings of Camp Hale were pretty beautiful.

It was a LONG day, and the final few miles were a bit of a grind, but on the grand scheme of things, it was one of the days I was most happy with.

Stage 4 was a shorter day, with a tough, tough, tough opening climb. It was steep and I was slooooow. But, we chugged along and made it to the top and were once again rewarded with some absolutely stunning views (a common theme throughout the week).

I was a bit scared for how the downhill was going to feel after the previous day, but we had to do it. So, we crested the top and started our descent and well, it was freaking awesome!!! We both just kind of let go on the downhill and even pushed it a bit. It felt so great to really let the legs open up. It was just the two of us for a pretty good portion of this stage, and we chatted and goofed around like any old training day, and I just loved how the day felt and the miles flew by.

One other fun part of this stage was a “mandatory shoe wash” where we spent some time running down the middle of a creek. The cold water felt so good on tired feet, and while it made the ol’ tootsies a little numb as we left the creek, having swam in some pretty chilly lakes throughout my triathlon career, it was a somewhat familiar feeling. Running on stumps, haha.

I felt like we crossed the finish line with confidence this day and from a FUN perspective, I’d say this was my favourite of the week... and it was good boost going into the final two days.

Stage 5, sadly, was not my favourite (oh how quickly the tides turn eh?). I think it gathered this reaction from a lot of people, but there were some who absolutely loved it. It was one of those stages with no middle ground ~ it was certainly a “love it” or “hate it” day.

For me, it probably had the most mental ups and downs in one stage and left me the most emotional at the end. 

“Highway to Hell” sent us off from Red Cliff and we began by climbing the same hill we had come down the day before. The start was a grind, as the uphill was steep enough that it was hard to run, but at the same time, it felt like it should be easily runnable (unfortunately, for me, on that day, it was not).

Thankfully, it was one of those stages that I felt like I got stronger as we got farther into it, and about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through, I felt great. There was a large portion in the middle where I felt on top of the world and like Kirsten and I were absolutely crushing it.

The start of the downhill into the finish was feeling awesome, but eventually it just started to seem like never-ending switchbacks. The trail was sort of a 'V' shaped mountain bike trail that was really hard to get any decent footing on and I could feel my wonky ankle lock up with about 5km to go. With each step, I could feel my ankle bones jamming into each other and the pain started to consume my thoughts.

Confession time: I cried.

[Side Note: I now know that the Highway to Hell is not paved. In fact, I’m pretty sure it is a single track mountain bike trail on Vail mountain named “Fred’s Lunch”].

At one point Kirsten glanced back and said “Are you crying?” to which I replied with a sob and a simple “Yes”.

“Do you want to stop?” she asked. Sob “No” I said, like a petulant two year old.

I really didn't want to stop because I just wanted this fricken stage to be over! So, we kept pounding along. When we crossed the finish line I was totally spent and my foot was in a fair amount of pain. Not my finest moment, but I think I swore, sat down on the soggy wet grass and immediately burst into full on crying.

Mentally I was a bit cooked, and physically I was feeling the aches and pains a lot.

Thankfully though, my ankle had held up this long, and I was sure happy it locked out on the second to last stage and not the second stage. Also, a nice little reward (and surprise) for the effort was making the podium that night, as we came 3rd on the stage. Go figure.

The start of Stage 6 was bittersweet. I could tell I had maybe left a bit too much out there on Stage 5, but figured the lure of the finish line would pull me through. It did to an extent, but my body was arguing hard with my heart. My knee which had been swollen for a couple days now screamed on every uphill and my ankle was a lot more messed up than I thought causing a lot of trouble pushing on the downhills (which was where we made up a lot of our time on previous days), so that was a bit frustrating.

Other than that, I'm not really sure what to say about this day, other than it is kind of a blur. I allowed myself to ignore my nutrition for the first time all week and was definitely in a bit of a fog the whole time. By the end, I was in the beginning stages of a bonk and was kind of cranky. Still, Kirsten and I crossed the finish line, hand-in-hand and I was truly happy, even if it was hard to tell from the outside looking in.

Mostly though, I was sure happy to sit down and be done with running for a few days, haha.

Overall, TransRockies was an incredible experience. To have the Colorado Rockies be your playground for a week and to get to meet so many awesome people who share the same passions, is beyond doubt *magical*. The staff and volunteers worked so hard for all of us runners, and I can’t thank them enough for everything they did. It truly was an all-inclusive, running summer camp for adults and an experience I will never forget.

“If you never never go, you'll never never know!” – Kevin “Houda” McDonald 

A huge thank you to my amazing sister (and running partner) Kirsten for roping me into this awesome adventure. You’re the best!