Monday, 30 June 2008

Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot!!!

The off season is now here for me so I thought it would be fun to do something other than the usual swim, bike, run. Well, okay, I’m also still in recovery mode, so yet another reason to do something different yet fun.

On the menu tonight – hot yoga! I met my friend Katie, who will be racing in Ironman Switzerland in a couple of weeks, at the hot yoga joint. It was a bit muggy out this afternoon so when I got to the studio I was already sweating.

I’ve gone once before with Katie, but it was early in the year, so I wasn’t sure just how limber I’d be. Personally, I love yoga. I’m all over the ‘aum’ state of mind. It just seemed that throughout my training I never fit it in.

The first thing that hits you when you walk into the actual yoga studio is the heat. Holy Hannah it’s hot in here! Not to mention humid. Likely that was due in part to the humidifier that was cranked. Just walking across the room I started to glisten.

I’m kind of a ‘back of the class’ kinda gal, so I scoped out a spot in the back row. It just happened to also be beside a handsome tattooed fellow that was practicing his lotus position. Exceeellent.

So the second thing I noticed, or rather third if you count the cute dude, was the smell. Seriously, carpeted hot yoga rooms should be outlawed. My sensitive majestic Dutch nose was twitching immediately…it only got worse as the class went along and we were doing poses very close to the floor. Gack. I was trying very hard to concentrate on the pose and not dry heave.

We started off with some moves from the sun salutation. I know this one, so was feeling pretty comfortable with it. Admittedly after the first downward dog I was questioning my location in the room. As I bent over I noted the view…my backside. My spread out, bent over backside to be precise. It was being reflected back in the mirror, big as life, behind me. Oh my! Not the best view!! I was happy to note that my shorts did not become ‘see through’ as they were stretched to the limits!

It didn’t take long before the sweat was coming off me in rivulets. It was nuts. I couldn’t hold some of the poses, like the tree pose, because I was just slipping in my own sweat. I couldn’t even keep my hands clasped. You'd think I just got out of the lake or something!

The downward dog pose was beginning to be my nemesis. Aside from the ‘baby got back’ view, when I was in this position the water that had been running down my face, reversed and ran into my nose. I was suffering a brain enema from my own sweat! Not good. It was even running in my ears. Eep.

The next issue I had with the downward dog pose and the sweat was my foot position – I couldn’t get there after a while. Have you ever spooked a kitty cat on lineloleum? You know how their wee feet move rapidly as if they are running, yet they aren’t going anywhere? Almost cartoon like? Well this was what my feet were doing as I tried to hold the pose. It was really hard for me not to burst out laughing at the thought of what I looked like. This was a yoga room though and some in there were very serious…

You know how I could tell they were really serious? Their breathing. I focus on my breath in yoga – I just don’t do Darth Vader breath. Now folks, do we really need to do this? Can’t we just breathe to ourselves people? I’m trying really hard here not to giggle!! ‘Luke, I am your faaather..’

Oh and remember the rather handsome bloke I mentioned earlier? Well I think he was experiencing some sinus issues in there. Perhaps the smell was getting to him as well? Or the sweat was running up his nose?! Every once in a while I’d hear a snort…and once, I swear, I caught him blowing his nose…INTO HIS HANDS! Ewwww!!! Hmmm, would it be obvious if I moved my mat away? Oh, and he kinda wiped them on his mat…Eeeeeek!!! Shuffling sideways away from the mat now...

All in all I had a great time in there aside from the smell and booger dude. The heat started to get to me near the end, but I loved all the stretching and bending. It felt wonderful and my body needed it badly. I have a lot of work to do in the area of my hips and knees as they were super tight– so I think I’ll keep this up. I’m going to find a studio that doesn’t have carpet though. I shudder at the thought of the mass quantities of sweat that has been dropped and is now trapped in there. Yikes!

Peace out my friends – AUMMMM...

Sunday, 29 June 2008


Okay, so last year after IMC it wasn't a difficult task to recover. Why? Because I felt like shite. I didn't want to swim, bike or run.

This year is a different story however. I feel great! The muscle soreness was gone in a few days and my energy wasn't too bad. I did seem to want to nap a bit more than usual, oh and eat. A lot.

Greg had advised me to be careful and that my muscles will heal faster than it takes for the fatigue to leave them. His advice, don't run, bike easy, do all the swimming, yoga and stretching you want.

I happened to mention that I was going to go for a bike ride with Richelle, a very talented sprint/olympic distance triathlete (who, I should add, will be doing her first half Ironman this coming weekend!). He said that should be fine under two conditions - do not chase her and watch your heart rate, don't let it get too high!

(Greg, you can stop reading this post now...)

Let's just say I kinda followed the 'rules'. Sort of. A little. Okay, I swear I tried for the first few kilometers at least!! I just couldn't help myself!!!

Here's how the ride unfolded...

Richelle needed to do a recovery ride, and I just wanted a relative flat and easy route, so we decided to head out to Bragg Creek. After Richelle admired my new Ironman Coeur d'Alene tri top, which I ever so proudly wore, we took off down the hill from our neighborhood.

What can I say? It felt amazing to be back on my bike! In fact I think I shouted to her, as we bombed down the hill at 50 km/h, 'I LOVE MY BIKE!'

We turned onto Hwy 22 and hit the first climb. This is where I broke the first of Greg's golden recovery rules. My heart rate just skyrocketed! I tried to climb slow, but it just stayed high. Of course, I didn't turn around and say maybe I shouldn't ride today. Nope, I just kept going with a big grin on my face.

Richelle was a bit ahead, but as I promised Greg not to chase her, I didn't...for now.

We rode the flats for a bit and I caught up to her, almost. Then we hit the next wee climb. I was soooo close to her and my heart rate was high anyways, so I thought, 'Ah, what the hell! Let's see if we can catch her!' So I pedaled like mad and almost did catch her! Golden rule number 2 shattered.

Admittedly, whenever I looked at my heart rate monitor, which I wore even though it was a 'fun ride' because I had intended on following the 'rules' and keep my heart rate down, I felt a wee pang of guilt. The pang was not enough to stop me mind you.

I was in my element, pedaling away with the hot sun beating down and the headwind in my hair! Woohooo! I was also excited be out just doing a fun ride! No distance or time goals. Just 'hey let's go ride to Bragg, have a smoothie and head back!' I've been wanting to do this forever, but hadn't before. Richelle felt the same way as normally our rides are all about sticking to the training plan - ride x kilometers in y amount of time with no stopping other than for a loo break or a quick refueling.

All was well until we were about 11 km out of Bragg. I was keeping up with Richelle fairly well and then the fact that I had done an Ironman, exactly a week prior, factored in. I just seemed to slow down even though I felt like I was pedaling the same. Unfortunately, my heart rate didn't slow down! Whoops!

I still felt good riding, so wasn't worried. I just dropped it down a notch. In no time at all we were in Bragg. Richelle took me to this great bakery cafe that had gluten free goodies!! Normally I have to pass on all the yummy stuff, but today I could splurge. I spent some time debating having the chocolate chip cookie (which I haven't had in forever!) or the moose mountain chocolate turtle. I then decided on the turtle with some strawberry lemonade (made with fresh squeezed lemon!). One word - heaven.

We sat and chatted for a long while there, then decided to head back. I wasn't sure how my legs would feel about this as I did start to feel a bit of stiffness as we got up and went to our bikes.

We were lucky that we didn't have a headwind this time, just a crosswind from the south east. Heading north is always fun because there is a slight downhill on sections, with only two climbs inbetween. For a long while I was maintaing about 35-40 km/h, until I hit the climb over the highway. Things seemed to pretty much halt at that point. I could feel my Ironman legs big time!

I just slowly chugged along up the hill, but once over I used gravity as my buddy and flew down the other side. Along this section I noticed my bike computer said 44 km/h! Suhweet!! Of course my mind was thinking 'Okay Gregory, I know I shouldn't be doing this, but man it's fun!! Ride like you stole it!!!'

It felt like we were back in town in no time at all! As we turned the corner to go back up to where we live, Richelle and I remembered 'the bonus hill'. Oh boy. This was going to hurt. I put my bike into the Granniest of Granny gears and started the very slow chug-a-lug up the last hill. By the time I got to the top my legs and heart had said 'Right! You've had your fun. Now it's time to stop!' I should add that the legs are still complaining a wee bit, and I feel like I need a long nap.

Total ride distance was 65 km. I had an amazing time out there, but think I might give it a bit more time before I go out again for the sake of my recovery. I just don't think I can go out there and 'take it easy'. tee hee. Ah well, it's all good.

Peace out my friends!

Saturday, 28 June 2008

IMCDA Lessons...

So on Sunday I had the race of my life. Seriously! I have been in a couple of sprint triathlons, over a handful of olympic triathlons, three half Ironmans, and now two Ironmans. Out of all of those races, Sunday's race was the first time I felt really strong throughout, even when I was getting tired!

I might add it was the first time EVER that I got off the bike without feeling like I needed to keel over from GI pain.

Needless to say, the wee gerbil in my head got to spinning on his wheel. How did it come to be that this was my best race yet? What was different? What can I learn from this race? So I let the gerbil spin away and this is what he, and I, came up with...

I need to start more in the middle next time! I was off to the far, far right and that worked at IMC, but this is a two lap course, so it seemed to take me forever to get to the first turn. I had to go on too much of an angle. I promise I have yet to use the Pythagorean Theorem to determine the hypotenuse of the triangle that I swam. I still might though - I'm curious just how much I swam. I'm sure it was about 4 km! So next time it's a straight line about mid pack. I will likely get bumped around a lot more, but I have to learn to take it sometime!

The other thing about the swim is I really need to swim strong and sight regularly right from the get go. No more drunken zig zag swimming for this gal!

There is something to be said for having experienced an Ironman race before. Last year I took in about half the calories required to finish the race...and yet I finished. I felt like crap, was scared, tired, had to walk 95% of the marathon, but yet I finished. I had to go to the med tent after, and it took me months to recover, but still I finished. So I knew that no matter what I was thrown at me on this race day - I was going to finish the race!

Experience alleviates of the fear. I'll give you an example of this. When I was on the run this year I started to slow down. I thought to myself, am I tired, which is to be expected, or is something else going on that I need to know? It took me some time to zone in to what exactly was going on, but while doing that I didn't worry. I knew I'd be ok. So I was relaxed and able to listen to my body. Once I realized I wasn't getting enough nutrition in, I changed my plan and tried something new.

Last year in the marathon I felt like crud. I was too scared to try something new for fear that it would take me right out of the game. Instead I suffered badly for 42.2 kms. I sometimes look back on that and wonder if things would have been different had I tried the cola or a banana or ten.

This year I wasn't afraid and so I was willing to change things up and started devouring the bananas at each aid station. Not to mention I chowed down several of my chocolate covered peanuts. Of course I made sure I chewed them really well so I wouldn't get sick! This meant that even though I may have slowed down for a portion of the run, I was able to get my strength back and run, run, run!

As mentioned above, I didn't get near enough food in me last year. I've struggled with this in all my races and even on training rides! I was relying solely on my Infinit, which I should add is great stuff. I realized this year at the Penticton training camp that Infinit alone wasn't enough for me. I wasn't sure why, but I knew this to be the case. So I thought about what they hand out on the bike course at Ironman and decided to start taking bananas with me on my rides.

On this bike course I did a few things differently in order to get in enough fuel. One, I set my alarm to repeat every 9 minutes rather than every 10 minutes. This was because I realized on some training rides that I didn't take in one profile bottle in an hour, which I needed to do. The 9 minutes seemed to do the trick. The next thing was to take bananas in every aid station. Two if I could grab them in time!

Lastly, I took in food/Infinit no matter what. There were a few times on the bike when my stomach was a bit off. I realized it felt icky after I'd taken in a swig of Infinit or some banana then went back in the aero position. Rather than stop taking anything in, I realized that if I sat up when it got uncomfortable I'd burp and then I could go back into aero! Next thing you know I had a little routine going on - sip/eat, aero, up, burp, aero! Ah, the things we can do to amuse ourselves on an 180 km bike ride!

Even on the run, when I was getting rather tired of bananas, I still made sure I kept getting the nutrition in. The result? A consistent, strong bike and a strong finish!

The Power of Now
This was a huge factor in my race! What is the power of now? The easy answer is that it's staying in the moment. For some, this comes naturally, but for me? Well, I had to work on it. Every single day for the last four months. When I was training, when I was at work, at home, and even on the train I practiced staying in the moment.

Ways that I did that was my focusing on my breathing or focusing on the task at hand. This was the main reason I spent all that time on my trainer with no music, no training partner, and no television. I wanted to learn to stay focused.

It wasn't easy for me at first. I'd either be cranking my head back and mulling over the past. Or I was stretching my neck out to try and look ahead at the future, trying to plan what would happen. In some situations this caused me great anxiety. One of those situations was Ironman Canada last year. Even though I told myself not to think about the next event - I did. When I started to struggle on the bike, I was already worried about how I was going to get through the run.

It takes practice to stay in the present. Sometimes I'd slip up. One of those times was the day before the race when I broke down to Leslie. I'm grateful that Leslie also practices staying in the present and was able to remind me of what I was doing, which was looking ahead to the future.

During IMCDA, there were a couple of times when I tried to take a sneak peek at the future, but I caught myself in time and was better off for it. I believe that the reason I could read what my body needed was because I stayed in the present and really listened to the signals I was getting.

Even when I wasn't sure how to decipher the signals, I didn't leap to the future and worry about how I was feeling at that moment was going to effect the next few kilometers or event. Experience helped with that too, of course. The run portion of my race is a perfect example of this.

Just around the second turnaround I started to slow down a bit. I wasn't sure if it was just normal fatigue from swimming (over) 3.8 km, biking 180 km, and at that point running about 10 miles, or it something else was going on. I didn't let my mind wander on to other things, instead I started to gauge what was going on.

I kept running, smiling, taking in my gel, but all the while listening. After I had run past my parental unit and the rest of the gang my emotions became elevated. Aha! I knew what that meant, it meant that I wasn't getting in enough nutrition! Once I had that figured out, it was just a matter of getting back on track with my fuel.

Had I been focused on the next mile, 10 miles, or even the finish - I wouldn't have been able to figure out what was going on and likely I would have bonked. This would have made it yet another very long, painful race.

Another very big thing that I did to help stay in the present, was to let go of any time goals. For me, having a time goal tempts me to look at the future during a race. This tranlsates into worrying if I'm going to make that goal. I find this rather frustrating, not to mention very distracting from what is going on.

Realistically, I am too new to this sport to have time goals. I'm still trying to get my body used to doing an endurance event for Pete's sake! I'll leave the time goals to the top age groupers, elite athletes and pro's. I have faith that if I continue to train as I have the last six months, take in the nutrition I need when racing and training, and always stay in the present moment, that I will naturally get better, stronger, faster. Just like the six million dollar man!

Phew, my gerbil is exhausted now! However, I'm glad I was able to go over the race and review what made it such a great race. Not to mention what things I'd like to change.

Lucky for me, there really isn't much I would change. Perhaps some things on the swim and maybe my nutrition on the run, but other than that I'm really happy with the entire race! I wanted to enjoy this race, stay in the moment, have sustained power and that's just what I did! Yay!!

Oh, and guess what?! I'm still smiling!!! I think that just proves how excited I am with the results of this race.

Peace out my friends!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

What A Day!!! IMCDA 2008!!!

The day started out as any other day. Well, with the exception that I was in Coeur d'Alene, getting up at 4am, and about to embark on another incredible adventure!

I woke up those around me, then proceeded to grab some grub. Below is me being cheeky to Mum as I ate me brekkie.

I felt really good. I was calm, but still looking forward to the day. Mantras were firmly in place, I had everything packed up that I needed to and was good to go. Oh, and let's not forget what the weather forecast said....23 C and sunny with some clouds!!! See what a Universal effort of thought can do!!

We got to 'race central', as I shall refer to it, in good time. I think it was about 5:15 am. There was not too many at the body marking so I got in right away. I have to laugh because I stumbled on the first question they asked me, which wasn't 'What is your race number?', but rather, 'What is your age?'. I kind of stared blankly going, 'Uh, uhm, uh....OH! 38! I'm 38.' haha. Luckily I wasn't the first to forget such a simple thing.

Here's me with lucky number 2060 etched into my skin with Jiffy Marker. Now if only I could get my legs to look as toned as my arms!

After sniffing Jiffy Marker, Mum, Dad, Greg and I proceeded to special needs where I could drop off my run and bike special needs. Good thing Dad was standing beside me as I was about to drop my bike special needs in one of the was the wrong numbered box. He called it, thankfully. I seriously have no idea where my brain was that morning - typically I'm a morning person.

We then trotted off to the transition area where I could load up my bike with the two water bottles I purchased, fill up my profile bottle, drop my Fuel Belt bottles into my run bag and walk back and forth and back and forth trying to remember where it was I wanted to put my sunglasses. At this point I was hoping my brain would kick into gear before the race started!

I saw some of the other Cochrane gang that were racing, while I was in transition. It was great to be able to give and recieve some hugs and good wishes.

On the way out of transition I got to chit chatting with a rather handsome young bloke, who I learned was from the UK. He was asking me if I'd raced this before, how many races I'd done etc. Super nice fellow so I made sure to make note of his number (21). I was my usual charming, giggly self in return. Shame on me, flirting before a big race! Had he not been wearing his wet suit I may have tried to sneak a peek at his age on his calf... Turns out he was one of the pros. Who knew?!

I kept my dry clothes bag with me as it was still a bit early. We all walked to the farther end of the beach so the gang could get a good spot to watch the swim start. By then, Leslie, Teresa and Michaela had found us as well. I had my posse, so all was well.

We hung out watching the pros get ready, I even got to lend one of them my body glide so he could slather it on his neck. I refrained from lecturing him about making sure he was prepared on race day. Soon enough, the gun went off and so did the pros.

It was now time for me to wriggle and thrust my way into my neoprene encasement. I decided I would wear the booties afterall, just for the fact it would help with walking on the beach. The water wasn't as cold as earlier on in the week - 59.5 F.

One, two, three, and HEAVE over the thighs and hips!

Shame no one captured footage of my ever graceful pelvic thrusting wetsuit dance.

I went down for a quick warm up swim, which felt really good. The water was brisk, but a really nice temperature for the swim. I came back up the beach and found the posse and joked around with them for a while. Finally it was time to get in position for the swim.

As per usual, I chose to stand on the far end of the pack. This, I would later learn will have to change for future races...

Finally it was time to go! The gun went off and so did just under 2100 swimmers. The swim was two loops counterclockwise. I was on the far right of the pack so had to swim diagonally to the first turn. I didn't have to much congestion with people, just the odd person hitting my feet, which doesn't bug me too much as long as they don't keep at it.

I had one gal that kept wanting to swim to the right (note that the buoy was to the left) I was getting tired of her cutting in front, seeing me then going left again, so finally I just let her swim on by. Wonder just how far off course she got... oh well, that's what the kayakers are out there for!

It felt like forever to the first buoy - and it was. In future I shall be positioning myself differently in the swim. The water was a wee bit choppy, but thankfully there weren't waves like last year! The odd time I would get a mouthful of water when I'd take a breath, but I would just turn my head back under the water, cough it out, then go for another breath.

I have to say, I was super pumped about this. Last year was my major breakthrough with swim anxiety so I was just giddy that here I was in an Ironman swim remaining calm even though there were times when I needed air and wasn't getting any. I didn't panic or freak, I just calmly kept swimming and took a breath at the next convenient moment. YAY!

I finally made it around the first loop, came out of the water, ran across the timing mat, saw Leslie, Teresa and Michaela madly screaming at me, then saw Greg ready with the camera. The smile on my face truly reflects how I was feeling.

One more lap to go. Here is when I thought to myself, Suse, you have got to pick up the pace a bit. Come on now, long and strong! So I focused more on my stroke and got into a great groove. I realized I was zigzagging too much so got into a sighting rhythm. One, two, three strokes, breathe. One, two, three strokes, breathe, one stroke, sight. This actually helped me focus on my swim more as well.

Mental note for next race, do this from this start. I was happy with my swim, but in hindsight realized I would have to start focusing on my stroke and sighting much earlier on. I was pleased as punch that I handled the sections that were choppy and maintained my calm. It was a great start to the day.

Finally I was out of the water and running to transition. The first thing I noticed was an incredibly sharp pain slicing through my abdomen. I had taken in several gulps of water and thought perhaps this was causing some problems. Unlike past races, however, I didn't worry about it. Normally I would think, 'Oh great! I'm not even on my bike and my gust are killing me!! What about the run!'

As I was getting all my bike gear on, with the assistance of an amazing volunteer, I told myself 'You have 180 km to get your guts in shape for the run, so don't bother getting in a tiff about it.'. Focus on what you are doing right at this moment!

I grabbed my bike and ran, and ran, and ran to the mount line. It was a bit farther away then one would guess! I tried to spot the posse, but only when I was on the first street did I finally see Mum and Dad. I yelled at them, but they were still busy looking for me. Spazzes!

I was looking forward to the ride after having driven the course. The ride did not disappoint either!

First I headed out towards the East. I stayed upright in my seat for the first half hour. This is when I took some time to do a 'body check', as I like to call it, and assessed what was going on with my stomach. I decided it was likely that I took in a lot of air with the water and just needed to burp. I then thought of my friend Julie's saying 'If you aren't burping or farting during Ironman, then somethings wrong!' So I did my best to start burping - my family and close friends will tell you I'm quite the pro at this. I was starting to feel much better within the half hour.

The next challenge I came across was my alarm to tell me when to take in some drink. Somehow it had switched from 'repeat mode' to stopping after the first 9 minutes timer went off. The watch is positioned on my handle bars and rather squished in, so it took a bit of maneourving to hit the buttons to change the setting, all the while pedaling, passing, and looking out for where I was pointing my bike.

Once that was taken care of I had another little challenge - my back water bottle. I reached for it, but it didn't appear to be there. I looked around quickly and saw it was, but it had slipped out of the bottle holder a bit and the top spout was rubbing along my back tire. Nuts!

I should explain here that I bought two water bottles at the store to use for the first bit because I'd be throwing them out at the first aid station. I'm Dutch/Scottish and therefore too cheap to throw away my perfectly good water bottles! The problem with the water bottles were that they were a bit skinny so had slipped out. The cap was a flip top so when I finally wrenched it out I noticed a good amount of rubber had been rubbed off my tire! I said a quick prayer to the IronGods to please let my tire be ok...

The first aid station wasn't too far away so I turfed that bottle and grabbed one of theirs that would fit better. All this in less than 30 minutes!!! Finally I got in the aeros and settled in for the ride.

Like the swim, the bike course is two loops. I loved this bike course. The first bit, where I had most of my excitement, was along the water. Then you ride out of town and into Hayden where you are in trees and farmland. My happy place!

I kept an eye on my heart rate and cadence. I felt strong and consistent, and even managed to pass some people.

When I got to the first hill I thought of my friend Darryl and how he said to 'Be the Mountain Goat.' I was behind this gal at the first hill, but she slowed down too much so I proceeded to pass her. As I went by her on the bike, just as we were to make our ascent, I said 'It's time to Be The Mountain Goat!'. She and I laughed at this and I continued on.

I felt really good through the rollers. Some were pretty steep, but nothing I couldn't handle. I had a great time out there. I even passed a gal on the 180 hairpin turn. She was using her brakes a lot and I was more comfortable with the speed so just went by. That corner was a bit tricky as you come down a hill with some good speed, hit the 180, then hit another climb. Yeeehaaaw!

As I was riding I kept the saying that Jenna had going through my mind 'Don't eat paste.' I wanted to ride strong, but I wanted to continue to do so and not blow up on the next lap or the run.

Eventually I was back onto Government Way and headed back to town. I had thought I'd get some great speed on this section as it's a slight downgrade, but rather I was hit with a mega headwind. I felt some crosswinds when I was on the northern part of the course, but didn't equate it to a headwind on the way back.

I'm so used to wind from where I train, it really did bother me, other than the fact that I couldn't get the speed I had hoped. Such is racing though!

I swooped back into town and was met with many cheers from spectators and sections of my posse, who were happy to see that I did, indeed get out there on my bike after having missed me coming out of transition!

It was fabulous zipping thorugh town. Tons of people cheering you on, some good speed to be had, but also lots of corners. I actually didn't mind the technicality of the course. For a rookie like me it made it a lot of fun and helped me stay focused on the present moment of the ride.

My second loop of the course was much like the first. I was feeling great energy wise and was making sure I took in bananas at every aid station in addition to my Infinit. I was really happy with my energy levels because I've struggled with fueling in past races and training rides. It's embarassing to say how many times I've bonked!!

I was continuing to listen to my body as I rode and started to recognize a pattern. When I took in a few gulps of Infinit or some banana, I would go into my aero position, but feel uncomfortable, until I sat up. As soon as I'd do that I'd burp, feel better and could go into aero. Once I figured all this out I just added that little burp sequence into my fueling routine. I swear I was a friggin burping queen out there!!

Towards the end of the ride I noticed my knees were a bit sore. My mind wanted to jump to what this would mean on the run, but I refrained from doing so and just remained focussed on staying strong.

I had a great bike ride, and other than the four bathroom breaks (mental note, learn to pee on the damn bike!) I think I maintained a pretty consistent pace. At least I felt I did. I was super stoked about that as I have worked hard on my biking skills the last few months!

At long last, it was time for the run. Oh how I wanted to run! Last year I had to walk pretty much the entire marathon. This year I would keep the goal I had last year, which was run between aid stations and walk the hills (what few there were).

I got into transition, changed, had ANOTHER pee break (at least I know I was hydrated!) and then ran out the exit. Once again, there was Greg to capture the moment!

I actually stopped and hugged Greg when I got out on the run. I was so damned excited about how great I felt! I don't recall ever getting off the bike and not being in GI distress - all the burping and staying focussed on the moment was paying off!!

I ran down the path along the beach and saw the rest of the posse. I was so happy to see them. My folks looked absolutely relieved at the big smile on my face. Dad asked 'Are you ok? How is your stomach??' I was beaming as I yelled 'I'm feeling great!!!' Then I said to Les, 'Life is Good', in reference to a really cute sticker she had given me the day before. It has a little beatnik stick man in the 'Aum' pose with that caption.

I ran the first loop then got to see the gang again. I was still beaming. As I ran out of main area people were calling my name (it was on my race number) and commenting about my smile. I was really happy with that as I was on cloud nine.

By the time I got to the third aid station, having ran in between all of them, I told myself that at this point that I had exceeded my expectations. I had a strong, steady bike, and I got to the run with no GI distress and I was running. Anything after this was going to be gravy.

I continued running, then walking the aid stations. I was taking in the gel I had on my fuel belt, along with water. Yes, I was still peeing like mad. I got to the one 'big' hill on the run and power walked up it. I still felt good and was still smiling. The one thing I was having troubles with was getting the gel out of the flask. I had to suck like mad on it to get anything. For reasons I'm not sure, I didn't think to just unscrew the top and get it that way! Duh.

As I started back into town, the feeling of some fatigue was creeping in. I did an assessment of my body. Okay, was this fatigue because you just swam 3.8 km, and biked 180 km, or something else? Something was niggling the back of my brain. I continued on, but kept a close watch on the signals my body was giving me.

By the time I hit the 11 mile marker, I was slowing down - but still running! I told myself, if you can get to the 13 mile marker you will have run a half friggin marthon in an Ironman! You are allowed to walk then if you need to.

I was almost at the 13 mile mark when I saw Greg. He started running beside me and asking how I was. I likely started rambling as I was trying to figure out what the signals my body was telling me meant. Was I just tired, or did I need something more?

I got back onto the path and came up to the posse. I was smiling still and said I was still ok, but as I left them I felt like I wanted to burst into tears. This was a huge signal for me. Rationally I was feeling fine, tired, but fine. I was happy with the day and had no reason to cry. So what was my body telling me?? My mind started sifting through all my prior training and processing what was going on...finally it clicked - I wasn't getting enough fuel from the gel!!!

AHA! Okay, this is not a problem. We are coming up to another aid station - time to try some bananas. Also, I knew I just had to get around the turnaround and I'd get my special needs. I had stashed some chocolate covered peanuts in there, also known as a rapid sugar boost. I was going to be fine.

My pace had slowed considerably, but I was still running! I got past the turnaround and for a breif moment had a fellow running beside me. I asked how he was doing - he said he was ok. Then as he ran by he said to me, 'Wow, you sure don't look 38 years old!' Well now, if there is anything that can give someone a burst of energy, it's a compliment. I laughed and thanked him.

Finally I was at the special needs. As the volunteer was asking if I wanted my bag I was practically ripping it out of her hands. GIVE ME MY CHOCOLATE PEANUTS! I decided to hold off ripping into them until I passed the posse again.

As I passed them Leslie smacked my butt with her hand and said shake my bootie! I must say, this darn near dropped me to my knees. My shorts were wet from the ice I'd put in the back on my top, so her light smack turned into a very loud, hard, stinging SMACK! I stumbled, then regained my step. Trust me on this one, Les felt horrible about it. I will forever, in a friendly way, tease her for almost taking me out of my stellar race! Oh, and you should have seen the faces of those nearby that heard it!! Priceless.

As I ran out of town I started in on the chocolate peanuts. I made sure to chew them a million times so they wouldn't cause a problem as I ran. I had to walk a bit here as I gobbled them up, but as soon as I could I started running again. I also continued in on the banana's at every aid staiton, along with water. I wasn't sure if I'd ever be able to eat another banana again after this race! By the time I got back to the waterfront on the east side of the resort, things were started to pick up.

I was almost at the turnaround when I heard my name being yelled and frantic honking. It was Jonathon and Jaimie Roth. Jaimie had raced today as well, but was done and cheering on his fellow Cochranites. I was joking with them about the fact that my arse cheeks were bouncing off my heels, but I was doing fine.

I got to the turnaround and almost did the Snoopy Happy Dance there - I was on my way home. The extra nutrition had kicked in at this point and I was able to pick up my pace. It was starting to get dark out, but I wasn't worried. I was on my way home!!

I wound around the neighborhoods and high fived a bunch of spectators as they kept yelling 'you are almost done!'

Finally I rounded the second last corner. It was pretty dark by then, but my favourite fan, Michaela still spotted me. She started jumping up and down and yelling to Leslie 'It's Susi! It's Susi!!!' They both ran to me and started running beside me. Leslie joked about how she could barely keep up and that I had a good strong pace.

I rounded the last corner and was on Sherman Avenue. I couldn't see the finish line, but could see a long line of spectators on both sides of the streets and I could almost make out the stands in front of the finish. The smile on my face went from ear to ear. This was it, I was about to become an Ironman for the second time.

I finally saw Mom, Dad and Greg. Their smiles were amazing. I was so happy to be finishing strong, especially for the parental unit.

The rest is a bit of a blur. I remember going through the stands and high fiving people. It was awesome. I heard the announcer stumble over my name, as I ran under the finish line. Apparantly he also commented on my 'occupation', that of Jack Daniels QC Taste Tester. (I had a little fun filling in my registration form...)


There was a woman there who 'caught' me. She asked if I was ok, to which I replied 'I'M FEELING GREAT!!' They gave me my finishers hat and shirt, then hung my medal on me. Finally I saw Greg. I really have no idea what I said, I was just so damn happy with the whole day. I felt great. I'm not sure if the picture Greg took of me at the finish quite captures just how ecstatic I am?!?
I have to say, for me, this was the perfect race. I had fun. I learned things. I wasn't afraid to try something new. I listened the signals my body was giving me and it paid off. I RAN the friggin marathon!!! I stayed steady and strong for the entire bike course. I stayed positive. I stayed in the moment. I smiled. I enjoyed myself!

Seriously, who could ask for anything more?!

I'm thankful for the positive energy that my friends and family provided for me out there. I felt it the entire way and I kept you all in my thoughts!!

I'm still smiling...

Peace out my friends!

Sunday, 22 June 2008

I Came, I Saw, I Conquered!!!

I now need a nap!


I had many goals for this race. All of which were process goals rather than a time goal. I have to admit had I kept the time goal that I had at the beginning of the year, the goal that was making miserable during training, then perhaps I'd be disappointed with my time result. Rather I'm completely ecstatic over my performance yesterday! I'll admit it too, although it may sound conceited, I'm very proud of myself.

The entire day I was given signs from the Universe that reminded me of my family and friends. I knew everyone was right there with me for every stroke, pedal and step. It was a wonderful feeling and I'm ever so grateful for it.

I promise to write more later, but for now I hurt and I need rest. A lot. I sneezed and had I not been sitting I likely would have dropped to the floor. Apparantly you work your core a lot in these things. Oh, and my legs? They hate me. My knees don't want to bend and my hip flexors are now useless. This made getting in and out of the van, not to mention walking up stairs, quite tricky.

Oh, my 'walk of shame' as Gregory calls it, with a big arse bag of Bridge Mixture has been postponed. They don't sell it here!! Sheesh.

Thank you to everyone who sent their positive vibes and were able to keep track of where I was. I felt your energy out there and that kept the smile on my face for 140.6 miles!!!

Love and hugs to everyone!!

Peace out my friends - I am an Ironman!!!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

The Power of Now…

Today didn’t start off as well as the others. I’d been battling gastrointestinal issues (GI) since Thursday. I am not sure if it's from whatever got me earlier this week, or if it was pre-race anxiety. I am excited and, I thought, calm about the race so I really don't know what's going on. I was doing my best not to let the discomfort get to me, but this morning I finally broke down.

I had gone to bed early last night because my GI tract was really hurting, so I wasn’t there when Leslie, Teresa and Michaela arrived. When I got up this morning I was a little worse for wear. I saw Leslie, we hugged, and then I broke down in tears.

Leslie and I then went into my room for a wee chit chat.

I told her that I’d been hurting for the last two days. I was trying not to let it get to me, that I was repeating my health mantra, but now I was getting scared and I didn’t know what to do. I told her that I wanted this years race to be different from last years race and I thought I had gotten my GI issues under some control. I wasn’t worried about the race and I was excited because the course was so beautiful. I knew I was going to enjoy being out there.
That’s when she repeated back to me what I had said.

Before I go on about what she said next, I should explain something. Leslie is one of, what I would call, my spiritual guides. I’m not religious, but I do believe in the Universe, Mother Nature and the power of being in the present moment. Leslie, started me on this journey of living in the present when I first met her three and a half years ago. My other guide is Cathy, my life coach. Both have been instrumental in helping me stay focused on the present moment this year, which has helped me enormously with my triathlon training and getting me to the start line.

Leslie heard what I was saying then said to me, ‘I hear how excited you are about the course, how beautiful it is here and how you are looking forward to it. But I also heard you say you wanted this year to be totally different. Remember the Zen saying that to want or to desire is to suffer.’ At this point a big ‘aha!’ happened in my brain. She went on to point out that I had used the word ‘wanted’, so I had already decided what was going to happen tomorrow. Ugh! I totally did.

For a moment I had lost track of all that I have been learning and studying! I had sprung into the future rather than staying in the present. Rats! Not that losing track is a bad thing, after all, when learning something new there is a tendency to forget sometimes. Right away I gave thanks for Leslie arriving just when she did. Although I know it was no coincidence – there are no coincidences in life, everything just happens when it’s supposed to. I’m lucky that Leslie has been there for me right when I needed her every since we met.

I’d like to say that my GI issues went away at this moment, but they didn’t. However, my feeling of fear did. Tomorrow is tomorrow. What is going to happen, will happen and there is nothing I can do to stop it. There is something I can do though – I can do my best in the race. As for today, I can do what I need to, to prepare and spend time with my family and friends.

Shortly after our talk I went to get my race checklist so I could start bagging up my transition and special needs bags. I came across a sheet that I had printed off with a saying that Jenna had shared with me. It said, ‘When I do the best I can with what I have, then I have won my race.’

So that’s what I’ll be doing tomorrow – my absolute best with what I have.

Peace out my friends!

Friday, 20 June 2008

To Bootie or Not To Bootie?!?

Went for a dip in Lake Coeur d’Alene this morning…and yes, it was cold. However, not as cold as Arbour Lake was last week! I donned my wetsuit, two swim caps, and jumped right in. No wussing around my fellow Ironman triathletes!

It wasn’t super cold, I think they said it was 56F (I have no idea what that is in Celsius), but it was cold enough that I couldn’t catch my breath for a moment. When I opened the neck of my wetsuit to let some water in, there were a few choice words mumbled under my breath.
Once I let the water rush through my suit I started swimming.

Today’s swim didn’t go as smoothly as Arbours, which is amusing considering Arbour was Arctic cold. I had to roll on my back twice in order to try and get my breath. It took me a good eight minutes before I got into a groove with my swimming. I wasn’t too worried though, at least I know how long I need to be in there for my warmup before the race!

As I was swimming along I thought to myself, ‘damn that last buoy is a ways out! Oh, I have to do two laps of this don’t I?! Nuts, I forgot just how long this dang swim is.’ All very good thoughts to have going through your head. Heh heh.

I swam for about 12 minutes straight out, then cut over and swam back. I still wasn’t sure if I needed booties for the cold; however one thing made me decide to get them. The beach here is made up of wee pebbles, and I’d have to run a distance to get to transition. If I was hopping about cause I had bare feet, this was going to slow me down. Lots of others had them on, and the water was still cold enough they were recommending them, so I decided to jump on the bootie band wagon.

Later on Greg, who’d ridden the bike course today, took us for a drive to show me and the parental unit what I’d be doing on Sunday. One word springs to mind when I think of the bike route ‘Gorgeous!’. It is so beautiful here. Okay, there is one long bit that you ride out of town where you are passing some big box stores and such, but once you get out near Hayden – holy hannah it’s stunning. I am going to love this ride. There are huge pine trees, farmland, a really spanky golf course (not that I like golf, but it’s still a nice area) and at one point you ride amongst the trees overlooking Hayden Lake. Oh, and did I mention the trees?! Love trees. Yes, I’m a tree hugger. The other section of the bike follows Lake Coeur d’Alene, which is just stunning.

Okay, let’s think about this, lots of trees and water – I must be in my happy place!
The course itself is quite technical, as I’d been hearing. There are a few sharp corners, one 180 degree hairpin turn at the bottom of a hill, and lots of rollers in the north section. Driving in the car they didn’t seem too intimidating. In fact, they remind me a lot of the routes I ride at home. I guess I’ll find out on Sunday what they are really like.

The ride back into town is sweet – it’s just straight with a slight downgrade. A very nice way to recover for the second loop of the bike and the first bit of the run I should think.

Sunday will be a good day.

Peace out my friends!!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Wagons West!!! Oh, and South!!!

Today we embarked on our journey to Coeur d’Alene (CDA) where I would be participating in Ironman. I was a wee bit fidgety waiting for Greg to arrive with the rental van. The parental unit got a good chuckle out of my doing crunches on my fit ball to burn off energy.
The drive went quite smoothly. We saw a little black bear as well as some mountain sheep along the way; however there were no goats I’m afraid.

I would write more about the drive, but as always in planes, trains or automobiles – I fell asleep. Greg had teased me that I wouldn’t be able to stay awake till we got to Hwy 1, to which I replied in my best little girl voice ‘Can too!’. And I did! At least I did till we got about 500 m onto Hwy 1, then I fell asleep. I still win!

The times I was awake I’m sure I drove Greg nuts with my tunes. I was in an ‘Oldies’ mode because a) I like 50’s and 60’s tunes and b) I thought the parental unit would enjoy it too. We were grooving to Petula Clark, Aretha (love her!), Elvis and others. I was completely in my element singing and chair dancing madly along to James Brown’s ‘Sex Machine’ to the agony of everyone else in the van. Heh heh. Actually, I think I may have pulled a muscle from all the chicken head dancing I was doing.

Luckily, we weren’t slowed down too much by traffic. There were some moments through some small towns in Idaho, but nothing major. The towns here are quite beautiful and quaint. The towns are exactly what you would picture when someone states ‘small town America’. Complete with American flags and white picket fences.

We drove straight to the Resort area where registration was. Thankfully, we gained an hour so weren’t late for it. Greg, Mom and Dad headed off to the market place while I got all checked in. The volunteers here are great – full of energy, enthusiasm and fun. It’s not even race day yet! I filled out a bunch of ‘If I die or hurt myself really badly I promise not to sue anyone’ forms, as well as, ‘Please contact the following people if I should die or hurt myself really badly’.

Then I was weight – the scales totally lied I should point out! Then I had a gal yelling ‘Susi!!!’ at me and waving me over to get all my numbers and cap. Then she did the best thing ever….she put my Ironman competitor race band on. It’s official!! I’m doing this thing.
I headed out of the tent and found the gang. We walked around a bit, with Greg masterfully scoring all free things possible. Seriously, I need to take lessons. Then I bought a couple of souvenirs, got some pictures taken, then we headed out.

Next up was getting groceries and heading to the house that Greg, the parent unit, Andrew (who is racing), Tina, Leslie, Teresa and Michaela and I will be sharing. These are my posse. I couldn’t imagine doing a race without them! After getting settled in the rental home, which is to die for skookum I might add, we ate some food, then Greg, Andrew and I headed out for a ride of the run course.

All I can say about the run course is, HOLY HANNAH IT’S FRIGGIN GORGEOUS!!! For a good portion of the run, which will be two loops, you run along the lake. Seriously, it’s beautiful here. It seems relatively flat for the most part, with some wee inclines when you run in town.

As we were riding through one portion in town I was looking at this rather steep hill in front of me, then looking frantically for a green arrow on the ground which would indicate which direction the runners would go. I was very happy to see we turned left before the scary hill. Greg had to tease me about that of course.

Some of the houses along the run course are insane. Huge. Massive. So big one even had gargoyles on it. Gargoyles!! I love gargoyles actually, so was happy to see them.

It was starting to get dark so we headed back home. I was worried I’d catch crap from Mom because I wasn’t wearing my super reflective safety vest and we were not very visible. Then I thought of Greg’s Mom and pictured her giving me crud too. This made me pedal harder.
It felt great to get out for a bike ride. My stomach had been a wee bit nervous earlier and this was just what I needed to bring me back to reality and remind me that I’m strong and can do this.

I look forward to all that tomorrow brings!

Peace out my friends.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

The Parental Unit Have Arrived!!!

The parental unit have arrived, the bags are packed, the food is in boxes and I'm good to go!

Just one more sleep before we hit the road. Greg will be picking us up with the rental van at 6:30am, we'll pack everything up then hit the road!

I learned that the house we are staying in doesn't have internet, but I'll see if I can scoop some wireless somewhere so I can post on the blog.

Just in case I can't before race day, thanks to everyone for all their good thoughts and positive well wishes! They mean more to me than I could ever express. If things get tough, as they sometimes can in an Ironman, I will think of all the great things you wrote and get back in the groove!

Big hugs to everyone!

Peace out my friends!!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

One Must Remain Positive!!!

I was rudely awakened last night, or rather early this morning, by some uncomfortable abdominal pains. I sat up and realized I needed to get to the loo...pronto.

So there I found myself with buttocks glued to the loo having, well, uhm, arseplosion - to put it bluntly. Holy hannah, what the heck did I eat tonight?!

I had hoped that that was the last of it. Alas, it wasn't. For the next hour I hung out in my bathroom, doubled over in discomfort whilst repeating the following mantra in hopes that the hell would end, 'I am healthy, whole and complete. I am healthy, whole and complete. Urgh.'.

I had flashbacks of the two times in my life that I have battled the Norwalk virus. I thought I was in the clear at this point because there was only one end being affected by whatever was attacking my intenstines. Okay, it can't be Norwalk then. Phew!

Finally I was able to get back to bed. I felt a little better and thought perhaps that was the end of it.

At 5am my alarm went off. I got up in an attempt to get ready to work, and that's when I was stopped in my tracks by an intense pain....and the feeling that I was going to chunder. Of course the first word into my brain was 'Crap!'. I realized what a lousy choice of words that was in short order.

Again I found myself with tushy firmly planted on the porcelain throne. Admittedly I wasn't feeling very Princess like. This time I also had a bucket in front of me. Sigh. I started to sweat and I swear I soaked through my night clothes within in a minute. Eeep.

I shall spare the remainder of the gory details...what I've shared is nasty enough. Suffice it to say, it wasn't pretty!

When I finally crawled back into bed I started repeating my mantra...and then I gave thanks. Thank you, thank you, thank you Universe for doing this to me now rather than the day before or the day of the race. Yes, it's very uncomfortable. Yes, it's quite nasty. I can handle this now. I refuse to panic. I will remain positive! Some days it pays to be able to dig deep and find the 'Little Miss Sunshine' within!

I was able to get some more sleep this morning and I'm feeling better although not 100%. I think perhaps this is more a case of food poisoning, rather than the flu. I'm not sure what the heck I ate though - that does worry me a wee bit. I'm feeling more settled now, although my stomach is still a bit tweaky.

Now it's time to replace all the fluids I lost. Bring on the ginger tea!

Peace out my friends!

Thursday, 12 June 2008


Just as I was about to leave work to head to the lake it started hailing. Alrighty then. I kept saying to myself it would be sunny at the lake by the time I got there. Mother Nature backed me up tonight and made this so.

Arbour Lake has been open to all triathletes this week in preparation for the triathlon there this weekend. As it's normally a private lake, I decided to take advantage of this situation and go for a swim in preparation for the race next week. I've only had one open water swim so far, but it was a short one. My thoughts were to a) practice my swim race plan and b) get used to the cold water.

I received a notification about IMCDA this morning and it noted that the water is colder this year so wetsuits are mandatory (I'd wear mine anyways even if it wasn't...gotta love that extra buoyancy!) and neoprene booties would be allowed. Just how cold is Lake Coeur d'Alene right now?!

I wiggled, thrusted and squirmed into my wetsuit. I remembered to put a bit of body glide on the back of my neck to prevent a 'wetsuit bite'. I was thinking there was somewhere else I usually apply it, but couldn't remember. I donned two silicone swim caps to help with the cold. I forgot my booties at home, ah well. A friend had recommended I wear a long sleeve tech shirt underneath - I wasn't sure if this would help once I was wet, but tried it anyways.

Once I was all squished into my suit and ready to go I walked to the beach. I stood on the beach looking out at the water. I took a deep breathe. I thought to myself 'You are a triathlete at the World Championships. You are going to run into the water, do a couple of dolphin dives and giver.' I took two deep breathes. Okay then. Ready? Set. Go!

I was still standing on the beach. Now I was laughing all by my lonesome. Ok. You can do this. No doing a slow wussy walk into the water. Just go for it! Run right in there and take it like the five-foot-two-of-fury-ninja-princess-mighty-triathlete you are. Ready? 1 - 2 - 3 GO!

I started running into the water. Flicking my feet out to the side like I'm supposed to. flick. Flick. Flick. As soon as it got deep enough I plunged into a dolphin dive. The cold water enveloped me like an icy blanket. AIYEEEEEEEEE!!! HOLY MOTHER OF ALL THINGS FRIGID!!! I now scooped a bunch of this icy coldness into the neck of my wetsuit. I had to. It's the only way I can get my wetsuit not to stick to me like a sausage wrapper. Slowly I walked out of the water so the water could flush through my suit. C-c-c-c-c-old.

Ok. Here we go again. 1 - 2 - 3 GO! This time there was no hesitation. I ran back into the water, did a couple of dolphin dives and attempted to swim to the rope that sections off the little swim area. I was gasping for air. Okay, just do breast stroke till you get to the rope. Gasp. Gasp. Gasp.

The sign by the lake said the water temperature was 12 C. I'd like to call bullshite on that. Where exactly was the measurement taken? In the shallow part of the friggin kiddie area?! Seriously.

I met up with a couple of triathletes that had just finished a lap. I took a moment to chit chat with them as I got used to the cold. One was doing Chinook next weekend, the other was doing the swim portion of the Olympic at Arbour this weekend. I didn't talk long, I wanted to get going.

I flipped on to my belly and started swimming. Instantly, I had a slurpy headache from the cold on my face. I'm not sure I can fully describe how cold the water was on my exposed parts. Here may be a way to experience it though. Go climb a mountain above the snow line. Find a snowbank. Then stick your face in it. Every once in a while turn your head side to side to get some air. For good measure, put your hands and feet in there as well. Now keep them there for 20 minutes. Yup, that oughtta replicate what I was feeling!

I hugged the perimeter for the lake. If you do this and swim around it's approximately 800 m. I practiced my sighting. Every six strokes I would take a peak as to wear I was. This year I was NOT going to swim into a parked paddle boat! I must admit, I did get somewhat close to a couple of docks. Good thing I was sighting as often as I was!

I got into a groove and by the time I was around the first corner my face, hands and feet weren't feeling too bad. Likely because I had no feeling in them... I was happy that my double silicone cap system was keeping my head warm. Nice. I'll use that in IMCDA rather than trying to hunt down a neoprene cap - apparantly all the stores here are sold out.

I got one lap done and saw some of IronGreg's crew. I got out and chatted for a bit and answered the question on everyones mind - Is it cold?! I didn't bother sugar coating it. - I gave them the snowbank analogy. Everyone was looking really excited about swimming after that! Heh heh.

I ran back in to the water. It was much easier this time as I was somewhat used to the water. I think the gang thought I was nuts. A fairly accurate conclusion I would say.

Once again I hugged the perimeter of the lake. As I got around the first corner I was charged by a school of fish. At first I wasn't sure what was going on, but for once I didn't jump out of the water, become Jesus and start walking on the water. I stopped swimming, kept my face in the water and looked around. It was really cool. There were so many fish! For some reason they weren't bothered by little ol' me splashing around. I think they were stayin the more shallow water as it was warmer. Smart fishies!

As I swam I had to ask myself, 'Where did this triathlete girl come from??' My running in races this year has been great. My riding endurance and strength has gone up - as evident from my epic Penticton weekend. As for my swim, well lets just say tonight's swim was an eye opener. Last year just making it around the lake once was a bit of a chore, much less three times. I was never really comfortable in my wetsuit. Little floaty things and the fish in the lake would make me jump. The weedy areas scared me. Okay, they still do! I know there is a lake monster lurking deep in the depths of those damn weeds! I could never get into a rhthym and my breathing was always laboured.

Now though, I felt comfortable right away. Even with the mind numbing temperature of the water. My breathing was great from the start, my stroke was strong and consistent. I wasn't praying for the swim to end. I wasn't bored. I felt long and strong! I got through the second lap with barely an issue.

I say barely an issue because I was starting to feel some cramping happening in my calves. The cold water was getting to my muscles a bit. I decided I wanted to go for a third lap though. I wanted to make sure the first two laps of feeling good weren't a fluke. Apparantly they weren't. The only issue I had were my calves. Around the third bend my left calve cramped. Badly. I looked up to see where a dock was as I thought I might have to get out, it had tightened up that much. Stopping must have helped though because the cramp let go.

I swam a bit more, then cramped in the right calve. Again I looked for an escape, again it let go. This happened the entire swim back. I was glad it happened because it just might happen at IMCDA if the water is that cold. I needed to know that I could swim through it. In fact, it helped me pick my pace up a bit. I figured I had to get back quickly as I wasn't sure when the time would come that it would cramp and stay that way!

I got out of the water with a big smile on my face. Well, semi-smile. I couldn't actually form a normal smile as my face was frozen. As were my hands and feet. I couldn't move my fingers to the point that when I was swimming the water was flowing between my fingers and I couldn't squeeze them together so I could get a good pull!

Ah well, nothing that several cups of green tea and sushi won't help! A wee reward for my cold water swim!

Oh, and I remembered where else one should apply body their arm pits! Yeowza! Not a good place to chafe... This is likely karmic payback for my teasing someone this week about some chafing he'd received from his wetsuit! Whoops!

Peace out my friends!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008


It's official - I have my IMCDA number!


Thanks to Shannon for letting me know! (I'd been checking for a few days but they hadn't been posted.)

You know what time it is??

It's Snoopy Happy Dance Time!!!

Come on now! Shake it - you won't break it!!

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Butterfly Kisses...

The Universe has a funny way of mentally and physically playing with you before a big race. I had a couple tests thrown my way tonight before my run.

The first was my heart rate monitor. The one that was just replaced a couple of months ago because it wasn't giving me proper readings. Well this one was giving me proper readings, but unfortunately now I can't see them. The display has vanished. At first it was just one line that was gone on the digital display. I could live with that even if it meant I couldn't quite tell if I had burned 616 calories or 818 calories...

Sometime between Sunday and tonight the entire face disappeared! 'POOF!' Just like that! Perhaps it was magic? I tried saying 'Ala-kazaam!' and tapping it, but alas, the display didn't reappear. Huh. I'm how many days away from my A race and I have no heart rate monitor. They take minimum 3 weeks to be replaced. My race plan is based on my heart rate. I am breathing now. Deep breaths. I will not panic, I will not panic! I WILL figure something out... Still taking deep breaths...

For the run tonight, I put on my very sweet Ironman 25th Anniversary Timex watch that the parental unit bought for me after IMC last year and I headed out the door. I got a few steps from my house when ZING! I had a pain shoot through my low back upper arse. What the...? Do not panic, do not panic! BREATHE! Okay, now think calmly, you are fine. Just keep running. Your hip is not bugging you, it will be fine on race day. DO NOT THINK ABOUT THE MARATHON! So I didn't. Instead, I thought to myself 'Jack be nimble, Jack be nimble'.

You see, Jack is my nickname, and whenever I use that line from the nursery rhyme I'm almost always more nimble. Of course, I'm sure it helps that I'm also a ninja princess. :)

It took a while but me backside seemed to loosen up a bit. I swear, sometimes it's just phantom pre-race pains! I did feel it every now and then on the run, but it wasn't enough to make me stop, which is a good thing. Mental note, more stretching!

There were a lot of little squiggly worms out trotting back and forth over the pathway. Okay, perhaps trotting would not be an appropriate word. Uhm, slithering quickly? Well, whatever they were doing, there were a lot of them out there! I was having to side step the little suckers as I didn't want to step on them. It was rather tricky in some areas where the appeared to be congregating. I think that's because of the steady stream of water washing them down the hill....poor wee worms.

Overall the run felt pretty good. I just kept at an comfortable pace and enjoyed being outside because I was being smothered with kisses by Mother Nature that were in the form of liquid sunshine. I decided each drop was a wee kiss. Some were little butterfly kisses and others were of the wet sloppy variety. It all depended how many of them were falling from the sky.

While I was running through all this liquid sunshine a song popped into my head - The Who's 'Love Reign O'er Me'. Ooooh how I love that song, especially Pearl Jam's version. And oh how I love Eddie Vedder! It was Eddie's version that was going through my noggin' as I ran.

Only love
Can bring the rain
That makes you yearn
To the sky

Only love
Can bring the rain
That falls like tears
From all high

Reign o'er me
Rain on me
Rain on me

Heavy sigh...what a beautiful song. Anyways, that's how I decided to look at the liquid sunshine tonight, as Mother Nature showering me with love. It was either that or be grumpy about the fact that our sunshine is still in liquid form. I choose not to be grumpy!

Peace out my friends.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

I had a three hour bike to do today. I wanted to go outside, alas, it was not to be. Again. I am trying not to complain about the rain. I am trying to think sunshine. I keep thinking if we all start thinking about sunshine it will happen. SO STOP TALKING ABOUT THE RAIN PEOPLE!! Oh, and, uhm, I'll stop writing about it...

I decided to do 10 and 5's on the bike, which was firmly affixed to my trainer, which was located in my dungeon. I was going to pedal for 10 minutes in a challenging gear to reach the heart rate that I want to be at for IMCDA. For 5 minutes I'd spin fairly easy. I was pedaling along my merry way when I hit wall number one at 1:14 hours. I thought to myself, just stay on the bike for another 16 minutes and then you can stop if you really, really want to.

At 1:30 hours I thought that I was half way, so I should just suck it up, then I remembered that I shouldn't be thinking so far ahead. Instead, I should think in terms of the sets. "Just one more set", I'd think. A set would go by, then another, and another. Tick, tock, tick, tock... pedal, pedal, pedal...

At two hours the second wall hit. I thought to myself, I should get the phone and call Mum. I can chat with her while I pedal. Then reality hit. I wouldn't be cycling at the pace and exertion level I needed to if I was chit-chatting with me Mum. Plus, I'd have to get off the bike to get the phone and that would mean that ride time would stop and this would really drag things out. Therefore, my butt stayed firmly planted on the seat.

I kept pedaling. Wall number three came at 2:30 hours. This time it was our dear IronGreg that I was going to call. Then I remembered why I didn't call Mum and applied that theory to why I wasn't going to get off the bike to get the phone to call to bug Gregory. Sigh. FINE! I will sit on this *(&$##@!! uncomfortable seat for another half hour. I'm dutch/scottish, which translates into being double stubborn. Oh, and determined. I could SO do this. Grumble, grumble.

So I did it. I managed to keep my butt somewhat firmly planted on my bike on my trainer. At least most of the time I did. Sometimes I'd stand up to pedal pretending I was on a glorious hill surrounded by wonderful scenergy.

Thankfully that was my last longish ride that I'd have to do indoors. I have a few more rides left before the big day, but they are super short. Plus, I just know the next time I ride it's going to be sunny and beautiful out!!!

Peace out my friends!

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Beam Me Up Scotty...It's Soggy Down Here!!!

This morning I woke up bright and early...and could hear the rain pelting my bedroom window. Yesterday I had figured it would be a trainer day for me and the rain confirmed it. I ate a naner (banana that would be), grabbed a bottle of water and trudged down to the dungeon.

What can I say about it all? I biked for an hour and a half. In my basement. In June. Sigh...

It was a good workout, but not the same as being outside. It did give me some quiet time to pedal and focus on what I want to feel like on the ride at IMCDA, so that's a bonus.

I was excited about the rest of the day though - I was going to Vulcan to cheer on some friends in the sprint triathlon there. For one of them, Keith, this would be his first ever triathlon! I won't be able to go to his second, or now first, triathlon which is a half Ironman because I'll be racing down south. So I really wanted to be there for him today. For another, Kelsey, it would be her second triathlon. I was headed out there to be roving reporter, photographer and cheerleader. I even had pom-pom's. Yay! One guess what colour?! PURPLE!!!! Totally predictable, I know. I like to think my obsession with purple is an endearing quality I have?

I headed over to Keith and Linda's so I could carpool with them. I also wanted to talk to him about the race, quickly go over his checklist with him and just make sure he was ok.

When we left Calgary it was overcast and a wee bit rainy. As we made our way towards Okotoks, the rain seemed to have stopped. This is about when I nodded off, as I'm apt to do in planes, trains and automobiles...

I awoke after who knows how long and asked the usual question, 'Are we there yet?' Keith said yes, and that's when my eyes focused and I looked out the window to see this....

I strained through the rain covered window to see the landmark of Vulcan - the spaceship. When I moved to Alberta I was amazed to learn there was a town named Vulcan. For some reason it came as a shock that the tourist information centre is in the shape of a spaceship. Really though, what the heck else would a town named after something in Star Trek have?!

We drove up to the race, found a skookum parking spot, then hung out to see if the rain would subside. I gotta tell ya, it ain't easy sitting in a car with torrential rain pelting down all around, water gushing from the eaves of the nearest house and having to go pee. 'Don't think about water, don't think about water.'

We finally decided to brave the rain and get Keith registered. I wasn't more than a few steps when the rain seeped into my beloved Converse sneakers. Rats! Man, was it ever wet out! We just got to the registration booth as the race director, pictured at right, was announcing the race had been called due to the poor weather. Major bummer!!

I must say, Keith took the news very well. I felt bad for him as I know he was pumped about this. It was a good decision though as our hands were getting numb just standing there. We found Kelsey right after and told her the news. It turns out she'd just heard as well. Ah well, at least we could get a group shot of us out there!

We hung out for a while, then agreed there was a need for some tea and grub. We ended up at a great little tea house in Okotoks where I had a most brilliant cup of blueberry tea and cup of carrot ginger soup. Mmmm...

I think I've finally warmed up and my wee toes are no longer shriveled from being soaked in my sneakers! I was okay with the fact that I didn't have to stand in the rain to watch, especially since I was soaked from just being out there for a short time. However, there is one thing I'm totally bummed out about...

I was super stoked about being a cheerleader. I LOVE cheering on athletes - to the point that I lost my voice when I was cheering on the competitors at Ironman Canada 2006. Cheering on my friends would have been even better, especially as I had my brand new pom-pom's. I even had a little cheer for Keith and Kelsey. It kinda went like this...


This cheer, of course, would have ended with several high kicks, and hopefully no pulled hamstrings doing the kicks! I got to do my cheer for Keith and Linda when we were back in the car, but I didn't get to show him or Kelsey my final act.
So guys, just for you I tried to recreate what I had planned to do at the race. The big finale, after the cheer, and after the high kicks was to be a big 'K'! Sorry I couldn't do it in person! It would have been difficult with an umbrella and knowing my luck I would have flown away like Mary Poppins!

Peace out my friends!

Friday, 6 June 2008

Be The Mountain Goat!!!

I'm doing my best to stay in the present. I focus on my breathing. I meditate. If my mind starts to wonder into the future, I say that one powerful word, 'Focus.' However, it would now appear that I'm just over two weeks away from my 'A' race - Ironman Coeur d'Alene. If you want to be totally accurate, it's 15 sleeps away. Gulp. So I do have to think about the future a wee bit.

Therefore, as the race is getting nearer, I've begun my visualization process. This year it's a little hard to do because I'm not sure what the course looks like. I have seen glimpses of the course thanks to Runningman and IronGregs photos, but it's not the same as driving or riding it. So in it's place I've just pictured how I want to feel as I swim, bike and run.

The swim. It's all about long and strong baby! I don't give a shite how cold that damn water is going to be I'm going to swim like the Pisces I am!

The bike. Ah yes, the bike. The bike is what I wanted to work on a lot this year and it's what I feel I've most improved upon. My mantra 'I'm strong, I'm powerful' has got me up many a vertical. It's one mantra that I know I'll be using in Coeur d'Alene as I ride up and down 180 km worth of hills.

However, in recent days, Runningman has given me inspiration and another mantra. My inspiration is the ever adorable Mountain Goat, also known as Oreamnos Americanus. (Thank you for the cartoon RM!) Therefore, my second bike mantra is such, 'Be the Mountain Goat!!' Runningman even went a step further to do a little research on our friend the Mountain Goat. As it turns out, I share some qualities with the might Mountain Goat.

I was informed that Mountain Goats have two hooves on their feet that move independently. Huh. Well...there is a good size space between my big toe and second toe and I can move my toes independently! In fact the space between my toes is so big I was teased about it when I was a little girl living in Japan. Apparantly Japanese don't have a space there?! I dunno, I was little, perhaps I'm wrong. I just remember being teased. Still, my toes suit wearing flip flops, which I love. So there. It works for me. But I digress...

Mountain Goats are great at climbing steep slopes. I'm not sure if I would say I'm great at climbing steep slopes, but I sure as heck know a steep slope won't scare me off. Nope. I see, I climb, I conqeur! In fact I think it is now safe to say that I seek them out and thrive off of them!

I can sprout horns when need be - just refer to Jenna's photographs from our big hill weekend.

Apparantly female Mountain Goats are pretty feisty. Need I say more?

Look out IMCDA bike course because I AM the Mountain Goat. (Sans beard and a furry body though, tee hee.)

The run. I think I mentioned recently I plan on running - unlike last year. That about covers my run. Mountain Goats run too don't they? Well if not, they sure will be at IMCDA! I must say though, I'm certainly glad I'm not as furry, cause damn that would be hot!!

Oh, speaking of heat. I have a request. I need a universal effort to make this happen. You know how we've been having a lot of rain lately? Well, I really don't want that on race day. Problem is, everyone keeps thinking rain - so we continue to get rain. It's how the Universe works. This is not good though. So from this moment on I request that you say the following at least once a day "On June 22, 2008 it will be 23 degrees Celcius and sunny in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho." Feel free to say that several times a day...

Peace out my friends. Or as my fellow Mountain Goat, Runningman, would say.... Baaaaaaa aaaaaaaa.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Goal Pace???

I sat there staring at my schedule. Contemplating. Processing. Chin in one hand, fingers of the other hand tapping the desk...tap, tap, tap.

On my schedule for today it was written "Run 90 - 150 minutes." The first 30 minutes were to be easy, then I was to run 50-60 min at my goal pace. Goal pace eh.... I'll assume this is my Ironman goal pace considering that's my next race.

Goal pace...tap, tap, tap. Ponder. Ponder. Hmm. Haaa.

Ok folks, let's be honest about this - my goal pace is pretty much anything that is not a crawl or a walk!! I walked last year at IMC and I really, really, really, really do not want to walk this year. My goal is to run aid station to aid station and walk through the aid stations. Of course, that was my goal last year.

This year will be different though. Granted I was forced to walk last year, not because I wasn't conditioned enough for the race, but because of uncontrollable circumstances. This year I'm stronger physically than last year and I'm for sure stronger mentally. So it will be exciting to see how the day unfolds.

The issue of my goal pace resolved, I decided to run at my 'low heart rate' pace. I would be ecstatic if I could hold this pace at IMCDA. In fact, if I can hold this pace you will see me shaking my bootie all over the finish line in true 'Baby Got Back' fashion! Oh, and doing the Snoopy Happy Dance...

I was a little tired when I got home from work. This was evident in the fact that I grabbed my mini travel tube of toothpaste and nearly smeared it in me pits. I was wearing a tank top and usually smear some body slick there so I don't chafe. I would have had minty smelling pits, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but managed to catch the error in time.

I ran along the path that winds it's way through some of the neighborhoods and follows the tree lines and river. It was a beautiful evening tonight - sunny and warm. I loved being out there. I listened to the birds singing and the river rushing by. Oh, and my keys. I had them in my top back pocket and they were jing-jing-a-linging. I managed to ignore them though and just hear the sounds of nature.

I was hoping to run to the dog park so I could get my fill of snuggling little four legged furry cuties along the way. Alas my run was shorter than usual so I didn't quite get there. I did manage to pet a couple of pups that were on a dual leash. Had we not stopped for a little hello they would have tripped me as the leash spanned the entire pathway!

The run went really well for the most part. I can feel my fitness and it's great. I love when you are this close to peak fitness. It's so amazing to run and feel strong and comfortable. Of course I plan on having my fitness peak on June 22, so it's ok that I wasn't 100% tonight.

I did have a wee niggly in my hip tonight. It sometimes crops up. I'll hit the gym a little bit and that should calm it down, as that's the one thing that typically helps it.

Hopefully everyone else was able to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather too.

Peace out my friends.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Tempo, Tempo, Tempo!!!

Tonight was a tempo night. Well, actually, truth be known, last night was tempo night. However, due to a migraine and another appointment I decided to just push it to tonight.

So what exactly does tempo mean? Well, if we go by Hal Higdon's definition that would be, "A tempo run is a continuous run with a buildup in the middle to near 10-K race pace... A tempo run of 30 to 40 minutes would begin with 10-15 minutes easy running, build to peak speed during the next 10-20 minutes, then finish with 5-10 minutes easy running..."

I couldn't actually remember exactly what my schedule called for. I knew I was to run for 60 minutes and that I had some sets at tempo pace. So what did I do? I just started running until my arse cheeks were bouncing off my heels and figured, yup, that'd be about tempo pace!

I checked my heart rate at this point and it confirmed I was running close to my 10 k pace heart rate, which I assumed was tempo pace. See, I didn't read the Hal Higdon definition beforehand and although I've been running for three years now, I never seem to be able to remember all the darned definitions! So I just kind of winged it!

The run felt pretty good. I think being able to do a faster pace then normal was aided by the fact that I actually wore my MP3 player. Normally I like to run sans tunes and just listen to all that nature has to offer. This time though I needed a wee boost to get me up to speed. Nothing like Jane's Addiction, Sex Pistols and Anthrax to get your groove on!

I zipped around the neighborhoods and ended up seeing my friend Esther. I stopped and chatted for a wee bit then started running again. Funny thing - in that short break I seemed to forget how to run. I kid you not. I started up with my running and the next thing you know I couldn't get my arms and legs to work together. What the?!?! It was almost as if I was doing the 'Elaine Dance' having a leg fling out here, and arm swinging over there. It was nuts. I almost tripped even.

Thankfully the lack of coordination only lasted about five minutes. Five very loooong minutes. The rest of the run went really well. I truly think my 'I am strong, I am powerful' mantra has been working in behind the scenes. I felt really strong on my run tonight. This is a good sign. Afterall, the clock is slowly ticking down to 'the big race'. Eeep.

I kept up the pace for the majority of the run. Which, after reading my schedule and Hal Higdon's definition was likely a little bit more than I needed to. It's all good though. I will call it a 'money in the bank' run. Hopefully my legs didn't mind it either as I have another run tomorrow night!

Peace out my friends!

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Paying Dues To The Rain Gods...

I truly hope I have paid all my dues to the Rain Gods so that there will be no rain on race day!

Today Jenna and I headed out to K-Country. The plan was to park at the Village and then ride to the gates of Highwood Pass and make our way up.

I checked the weather report last night and we decided to go a bit later in the day in order for it to warm up, just in case there was going to be rain. After last weekend I'm a little gun shy of cold and rain. Warm and rain would be ok though...right?

It was actually looking pretty nice out when we started out from the village. After a few kilometers I had to shed my arm warmers and Jenna was shedding her jacket.

At first my legs were a little tired from yesterday's hills. I knew from my Penticton experience that they'd be just fine after a while and they warmed up a wee bit. I had a fairly decent pace going on only to be halted by a few creatures of the four legged furry kind.

Actually, the set of deer I saw didn't halt me, but slowed me down. More because I wanted to stare at their majestic beauty than anything else. Jenna was a wee bit behind me and I hoped that she'd get to see them and perhaps snap a couple of pictures.

Riding along Hwy 40 is brilliant. Granted there are some cars, trucks and RVs going by, but you are surrounded by the soaring, snow covered Rockies and huge pine trees. The road winds and undulates in a way that makes it a ton of fun to ride. Sometimes you'd get a peak of the Kananaskis river flowing by, other times it was a rush of water from the top of the mountain flowing down over the rocks.

I was making my way along when I came upon 3 big horn sheep. They were on my side of the road munching on who knows what. I might add that big horn sheep are rather large. Certainly larger than me and my bike. There were a ton of cars that had stopped to take pictures. At this point I was contemplating exactly what is the safe distance to be from them. Huh. Perhaps I should have read up on this before we left?! Where the heck is Jenna with the camera?!

An impatient truck driver decided to zoom by and scared the sheep. At least this allowed me to ride through. I continued on my merry way taking in all the wonderful sites Mother Nature had to offer. The clouds were moving in, but I had hoped it was just going to be overcast and not rain.

I wasn't much farther along when I saw a group of six big horn sheep. This time though they were charging towards me. Can you say 'OH SHITE!'. Some dumb arse had honked his horn or something at them so they ran. I hit the brakes and started praying to the sheep gods. Wait, is that the devil?! No matter, I don't believe in him, haha. I lucked out and they changed course and ran up a little ledge. It was a spectacular site. They have some serious vertical!

I had to wait a bit till all of them cleared. One fellow drove by and as I looked in his window with my silly grin I saw that he was laughing and smiling too. Not sure if that was at me and my predicament, or the fact that we just witnessed an amazing site. Seriously, where the heck is Jenna and her camera?!

I was wondering how much farther it was to the gates. Greg mentioned it was only 15 km from the Village to the gates. I rode this last year and was sure it was longer. I checked my bike computer and sure enough I'd already ridden 19 km. Hmmmm. Meh, I wasn't concerned, I was having a blast out there.

I passed the gas station and kept riding. I wasn't too much past it when I realized I needed to answer the call of nature as it were. Oh look, a point of interest that was somewhat sheltered. Exceeellent. I rested my bike on some barrier rocks and toodled into a treed area. A wee chipmunk gave me a bit of flack when I was walking in, but I ignored him. The call was just too great.

Two things were going through my mind while I was there, one was that I was wearing an exceptionally bright yellow jacket that likely could be seen from the road to show where I was, uhm, er, squatting. The second was, okay, now I'm glad Jenna isn't here with her camera! No bare butt shots of this missy. Once I was finished doing my business I took a gander at the scenery I was emersed in. Holy hannah was it beautiful. I just stood there looking down at the river flowing below. I took in several deep breaths, then closed my eyes and was one with life. It was magnificant!

After my short, yet refreshing break I continued on. I wasn't too sure how far I was from the gate. I still didn't see Jenna, but wasn't worried. I figured she'd take a few pics along the way. Plus, I told her, the self described directionally challenged one, just stay on this road. Do not turn left. Do not turn right. Eventually you will come to gates - I will be there.

Eventually I arrived at the gates. There were several vehicles there and I got to chatting with a few of the riders that just came down. Apparantly there was a grizzly cub spotted near Little Highwood Pass. Huh, this could be interesting. I wasn't too concerned though. What I did wonder about was the thunder I was hearing, as well as the rather looming black cloud that hovered over where we were to ride.

Jenna arrived not long after and we made the call to head up. If it started raining or got too cold we could always turn back.

To start out Jenna actually rode underneath the gates! It was hilarious. I thought we'd have to do a limbo move under them. We hadn't ridden too far when there was a light sprinkle of rain started. It wasn't too bad so we continued on. I was so excited to have Jenna there and to be sharing this with her. She is just as enthusiastic about adventures and being outdoors as I am.

We hadn't rode that much farther when the raindrops started getting bigger and more frequent. One rider, who was coming down the hill, shouted at us that we better have rain gear as the rain was coming down up ahead. We continued on for a little while more and then made the final call. We'd have to turn back. Rats.

After last weekends experience though, I did not want to get caught in the rain and end up freezing and possibly hurting myself three weeks before IMCDA, I also didn't want to subject Jenna to that.

As we started back the rain continued to get heavier and heavier. Although it was getting really soggy out, we both loved how the rain brought out the wonderful scent of the pine trees. It was yummy! Needless to say we didn't 'stop to smell the roses'. We didn't even stop for the gates - we both actually rode under them. Then we started to pedal like mad. We had 35 km to go to get back to the Village parking lot.

The rain was starting to hurt - in fact it was hail pinging off my bare legs. Ow, ow, ow. I was in the lead and kept checking back to make sure Jenna was behind me. That girl can cycle hard when there is threat of drowning on your bike. I was so impressed!! Water was flowing off my helmut and glasses. I could feel a stream of cold water being flicked up my butt and back. My shoes were saturated and getting very squishy. Oh boy!

Remember how Jenna wasn't pedaling down the hills yesterday? Well today she did. We were riding as hard as we could and when we got to the first down hill I yelled back 'Pedal down hill!!'. A little while later I yelled back that we would stop at the gas station to get some tea and hopefully warm our cores in order to make it back to the van. I have to say, considering all the hills I took Jenna through yesterday, she rode like a pro today!

We were the second and third cyclists to stop at the gas station. There was another gal in there, who we later learned was Pam. Slowly more cyclists trickled in. There was an outright downpour going on. Everyone was shivering. They had ridden from the top of the pass in this stuff. Boy was I glad we turned back when we did! We were cold, but not in as bad a shape.

One of the ladies had called someone to come pick her up and take her to her vehicle so she could get the others. She and her ride were kind enough to bring Jenna with them so she could get the van. I hung back savouring my tea and chit chatting with the others.

Turns out some of them were on the California trip with Kelsey! Small world or what. Jenna made it back and we ended up taking Pam and her bike with us to her vehicle at the information centre.

As I'd been waiting for Jenna, I had questioned whether or not we should have attempted the ride back. There had been a lull in the weather. The lull was short lived though and the torrent came blasting down again. As we drove back Jenna even had to use the super fast speed of the wipers! Okay, that would not have been fun to ride in! Soon enough we made it back to the information centre, dropped Pam off and ventured inside to use the facilities and get some dry clothes on.

I was disappointed that I didn't get to take Jenna to the top of the Pass, but I was glad I had her with me. Jenna has an incredible joie de vivre and is super fun to be with. I don't think there is any situation that would ruffle her feathers to the point that she lost her sense of humour! I look forward to many more adventures with her, one of them being IMC and cheering her on.

What a great weekend! A fabulous ride yesterday in the sun, and a gorgeous ride today in the mountains, both with amazing company!

Peace out my friends!