Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Quads are Huge!

Deciding to train for and compete in TransRockies has definitely taken me out of my comfort zone at times and has brought forth a lot of new challenges and learning experiences.

I know the experience isn't over yet, and that I will likely learn a lot more during my actual time in Colorado, but thought it might be fun to put down a few of the things I've learned over the past few months of training.

So, without further ado…

1) Changing up your stimulus (whether it be the places you run or the people you run with – or something completely different, like ditching the ol’ Garmin) can really help pull you out of a slump and keep things exciting.

I spent last week in San Francisco. Running in a new city, with new surroundings, was pretty great. I forgot my Garmin so didn’t think about pace or distance – I just thought about exploring. I spent the Sunday morning before my conference running around the entire city. I made my way through Haight-Ashbury, along the quiet roads of Golden Gate Park, up and down some of the coastal trails that line the area and finally through the throngs of people along the tourist stroll, and while it may not have been fast and may have included a few photo stops along the way, it was probably the best 3.5-4hrs I spent in the City by the Bay.

That little break from the everyday also helped to make some of my usual routes feel a little fresher upon my return to the island. Lacing up Sunday morning to hit the trails with some new faces helped keep the motivation rolling along nicely as well.

Sunday morning gang at Tod Inlet (aka. Partridge Hills).

2) Victoria and the lower island have A LOT of very cool trails that are very accessible. I mean, I guess I already knew this, but when you are only hitting the trails for an easy hike every now and again, you tend to stick with the ones you know. Maybe they are close to home, or offer just enough of a challenge. Maybe the end scenery is better than the hike itself or the convenience of the trail outweighs the setting. Whatever the case, it is easy to stick with the tried and true...

But, by training for TRR I have definitely started to explore more trails in our area. It feels like you could find a different network of trails every weekend if you wanted to. Each offering something pretty unique and challenging.

Which brings me to….

3) I'm learning not to be as afraid as I once was. Fear is limiting. I don’t want to be ruled by my nerves.

Sure, I'm still probably overly cautious a lot of the time, and still stop dead in my tracks when I hear a rustle in the bushes, but I'm learning to step outside my comfort zone and am beginning to realize that lurking behind every tree isn't a bear, or a cougar, or a serial killer.

Although, sometimes the amount of bear poo on the trail says otherwise.
Of course, I’m still pretty cautious and definitely prefer hitting the trails with a group or a buddy (so don't worry too much Mom) but I'm listening to my gut more and trying to be brave. I'm also realizing, sometimes a solo exploration on the trails can be pretty fun.

4) Not really something I’ve learned necessarily, but something I’ve noticed is that my thighs have gotten bigger. My weight through the year is pretty predictable – during triathlon season I’m usually between 5-8lbs lighter than during the winter “off season”. I’ve come to expect this change each summer.

This year, my weight really hasn’t changed much from my post-NZ holiday weight, but the shape of my legs has certainly changed, as all the hilly trails I've been hitting have definitely made them a heck of a lot stronger. Sometimes I feel like this…

Okay, maybe I'm not quite this bad, but I could totally relate when I saw this...
(If you are a runner and haven't read this comic by The Oatmeal yet - you must!)
But you know, it sure is nice to have a little definition in the ol' quads and hammys.

Well, I'm sure there is a lot more that I've learned, but I think this is long enough for now.
Happy Trails!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Two Things

Two pretty big things have happened this week.

1) I had an awesome run on Sunday. Just shy of 3hrs 20minutes of running trails, happily. Feeling strong, feeling steady and feeling like I could just keep going all day. It could not have come at a better time and yeah, I don’t know what to say, other than it was great.

Okay, so maybe I do have more to say, so the long version is this....
Kirsten and I met up, once again, with the Sunday trail running group that we had run with a couple weeks back (previously it was for a Thetis/Stewart Mountain run). This time we met at the Caleb Pike entrance to Gowlland Tod and ran the whole trail to Mount Work and back.

The group had a lot more people this time compared to the last time we ran with them and the weather was quite beautiful – hot, but not too bad when you were under tree cover in the shaded forest.

The big group all started together and eventually fanned out depending on how long you were planning to run, or based on your pace. Kirsten and I stuck pretty solidly with a group of about 5 or 6 guys (mostly the same ones from our last run), with each person sort of naturally taking a turn at the front or back of the pack as we rolled along.

The day was a good confidence boost. My legs felt pretty decent after a tough run at Mt. Finlayson the day before and the different stimulus (new people, new trail) really helped with my struggling mind.

The only small problem with having such a great run though ~ not wanting to run again for fear that the next one isn’t going to be nearly as good, haha.

2) Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2014.

Shane and I bit the bullet and signed up to race IMCdA next June. I’ve had Coeur d’Alene on my radar for a while. The proximity to where we live and the early season race date being two of the reasons why it appealed to me (among others), but I didn’t actually believe there would be any sort of long distance racing happening for me next year. I expected it to be a year of racing sprints and running trails, and I really don’t know what else.

So, when Shane and Dale (IMC alum and tri-friend ~ *waves* Hi Dale!) got talking about CdA and Shane actually seemed pretty gung-ho about it all, well, who am I to say no?

It feels right and I’m pretty darn excited. I’ve got some unfinished business to take care of with this whole Ironman thing.

Now, in fairness to the absolutely huge adventure of TRR that is just around the corner, I don’t plan to give too much thought to IMCdA for the time being. I plan to take a little down time after TRR and probably won’t seriously start training for IMCdA until the fall, but regardless, it’s nice to have the date on the calendar.

Onward to TransRockies!!

p.s. I've mentioned it before, but want to mention it again... in our journey to TRR this summer, Kirsten and I have decided to support Martin Parnell in his TransRockiesQuest 888 – a fundraising effort for Right to Play. We originally set a goal of $1000 and are now half way there. On top of that, every donation we receive will be matched by Right To Play partners 3 times!

For more information or if you'd like to donate, please check out our fundraising page here.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Friday Happy, Happy Friday

Training is rolling along. Unfortunately, last week’s desire to get up and run hill repeats didn’t last and my funk continues. I still find myself fighting the draw of a warm bed in the early morning hours and battling the demons in my head on each effort I try to push through.

So, since there really haven’t been any changes in that regard, and it is sunny and it is Friday and even though I’m not running with as much motivation as I would like, I am still running ~ so for that I am thankful. And you know, life in general is still pretty darn good…

So, how about a random Friday spattering of happy things?

1) I spent part of last weekend up in Tofino with some of my favourite peeps, just camping on the beach and chilling out. It was a delight. I absolutely love Tuff City. I skipped/modified both of my long runs in order to hang out, wander through the local Saturday market and lounge on the beach, and while I felt guilty about it at the time, I realize now, obviously not guilty enough to make me actually get my butt off the lawn chair and run. It was a great little escape and I’m thankful Shane and I decided to head up.

My Surfer Boy.
Cycling: Tofino-style.
2) Holiday Monday [happy belated Canada Day by the way], Kirsten and I finally got our acts together and took my Mom for her annual birthday pedicure. Only about 2 months late! Ooops. It was a nice way to relax and chill out before heading to my cousin’s wedding in the late afternoon. Also, my feet were in desperate need of some love and are looking much better these days.

Because who doesn't love a good toe shot... (take 2) 
We clean up alright I think.
3) Every summer I get to go to a fun US destination as part of a work conference. This year it is San Francisco, and the go-date is quickly approaching. I’m really looking forward to spending my first day exploring the city with my co-workers, and then the next morning, before the conference gets underway, exploring the urban parks and trails in long run mode. I imagine I will be able to get a lot of hill work in.

4) It’s tour time! Not much to say about that, other than I still j’adore le Tour de France, just as much as always. I am kinda missing the fact that Cav doesn’t get to do his awkward podium kisses at the Tour like he did at the Giro, but I’ll survive. Also, even though he’s riding with a cracked rib, I’m still cheering on Canada’s main man ~ Go Ryder Go!

Oh, and Rusty made the tour convoy.

Yes, this is a photo of our TV...
Sadly, we are not at the actual Tour de France. It is hard to tell, I know.   
5) I bought three tank tops last night for $2.00 each. That is cheaper than what I would have paid for my ridiculously decadent and calorie rich coffee this morning. Thankfully, the coffee was a freebie.

And on that note, I think I’m out.

Gonna climb some mountains this weekend. Gonna roll with some new trail peeps on Sunday and just hopefully, gonna find that motivation, wherever it might be lurking.

Happy Friday ~ Happy Weekend ~ Happy Trails!