Sunday, 31 August 2008

Just In Time??? Indeed!!!

Okay, so I finally did the math on how much time I have before the Royal Victoria Half Marathon (RVHM) - turns out it's six weeks. Hmmm...

I've run several half marathons before, so I'm not really worried about how much time is left to train. I did think that perhaps to have a bit of structure in my training might not be a bad idea. I was at work when this thought popped in my head so I decided to google 'Half Marathon Training Plans' and lo and behold up popped some for the RVHM! Well how convenient is that?!

They had three plans. I read the first one, it was for people who had never done a half marathon before and just wanted to finish. That's not me. The next was for people who had run half marathons before and wanted a personal best. Well, that would be me, but I'm six weeks out so I didn't feel the plan would be helpful.

I was starting to feel like Goldilocks now. The first one was too small...the next one was too big...what would the third plan be? The title of the plan caught my attention, it was the 'Just In Time' plan. Well now, that would appear to be my situation. Funny thing was that it started 15 weeks from the race. Huh. Fifteen weeks is so not 'just in time'. Now 6 weeks is another story!! I checked out the schedule and it seem reasonable. I have been running the last little while, albeit not consistently, but I should be okay to jump right in - I hope.

I decided to start the plan yesterday. It called for some speed work in a pyramid. I was to warm up, then run at my 5km race pace (anyone happen to know what that is?!) for a minute. Then run easy for a minute, run at race pace for two minutes, easy for one, hard for three, easy for one, then go down in the pyramid.

It seemed reasonable; however as I started running I knew my body wasn't up for speed work. I had nigglies and stiffness. Other than the hill training on Wednesday it'd been a bit since I worked out. Believe it or not I was recovering from Penticton. Yes, even spectators and cheer squads need recovery! It's just that our recovery is much shorter than the amazing Ironman athletes that worked their butts off last Sunday.

I decided I'd skip the speed work and just run for an hour to get my body back in the groove. That worked for me and I felt pretty good.

Today's plan called for a 15 km run at an aerobic pace. Okay, I know that pace. Actually I don't know the pace per se, but I know what I have to keep my heart rate. Easy schmeasy.

The first thing I noticed when I opened my house door to head out on my run was that it was raining. And mixed in with the rain was wet snow. I won't bother repeating the explitives that escaped my mouth. It's August 31 for crying out loud!!! Maybe I should consider moving somewhere warmer?! But I digress.

I was a bit chilled when I first started out, but warmed up fairly well just a little bit into my run. I actually dusted off the Garmin so I could tell when I hit 7.5 km and could turn back. I didn't keep track of my pace or anything as I ran though. I just kept an eye on my heart rate. I truly am not fond of wearing a ton of technology when I train. I just go by feel. It works for me.

I followed the path around town as I typically do. Some sections were pretty gushy and mucky from the rain, but it wasn't too icky. I was surprised at how many other runners there were out there! We have some hardcore people in wee Cochrane. I ran into a couple of my friends, Ken and Dr. Phil, who were out running together. Ken's comment was 'Look, another idiot just like us!' Too funny.

My run went quite well. It was a little after the halfway mark that my muscles and knees started complaining about the cold. My leggings weren't thick enough I suppose. I was able to ignore the grumbling for the most part. Hopefully as I run more there will be less creaking and groaning of muscles. As I neared home, I kept thinking to myself, how cool is it that I have the fitness to go out and run 15km like this?!

When I got home I decided to look at my Garmin just for shites and giggles. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the breakdown of information. Turns out I ran 15 km in 1:41 hours with an average pace of 6:45 min/km. This was with an average heart rate of 138 bpm! That's pretty cool for me! Especially because that distance and time included two hills, the Bonus Hill and the Beast. Oh and let's not forget the few moments I stopped to snuggle with a 2 month old puppy that I came across. It had to be done!

Who knows, maybe I'll actually break that 2 hour marker this year in Victoria. That would be quite cool. You never know what race day will bring though, I could eat bad oatmeal or something in the morning and be plagued by the necessity to use every porta potty on the course. So if I don't run it under 2 hours, it's no biggie, eventually it will happen for me. I'm just really stoked that my training information tells me that I'm slowly improving!

I need to try and warm up now. Brrrrr...

Peace out my loving friends - and stay warm!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008


Okay, fun time is over Missy! It's time to get training for the Victoria Half Marathon. Hmm, how many weeks do I have?! Someone, please assure me that I actually still have some fitness from my Ironman training and can pull this off?!

I must say, I love the Victoria half. For one, I get to go home and see my family whom I love and miss a lot. Two, the course is wonderful - it follows the waterfront. I am a true pisces, I love being near water - it gives me energy. The smell of salt water gives me goosebumps. It just smells so yummy! What can I say - I was born on the island so am completely an island girl! Needless to say, it's a given that I'm really looking forward to this race.

As for training, well, I have gotten in a couple of long runs, but I haven't quite been training for this race. I ran for two hours when I was in Penticton! That's good. Right?! My pace still isn't back to pre-IMCDA, but it's not horrible. At least I don't think it is. I don't actually wear any hardware to tell me what the heck it is, perhaps I will start to? Does it really matter? I might have to meditate on that one...

I was pondering the action of running hills tonight. Then I called up Les to see what she was up to tonight and it turns out she was running hills. (She's gearing up for the Last Chance Half in November, which I think I will be signing up for as well.) Well if that isn't a sign I don't know what is! So I told her to wait for me and I'd be over to run hills, whatever she had on her program.

I met up with her at her place and we did a nice little 15 minute warm up around the neighborhood. It was nice to get some chit chat time in, even though I still sound like a frog, as someone pointed out...

Then we headed to a wee hill near her place. It wasn't too nasty looking. Not as 'brutal' as the bonus hill up to my place. The hills in the Victoria race are mega doable, so I thought this would be a good hill to practice on. Her schedule had 3 x 2 minutes. I thought that sounded good, so would do that.

Les waited till the clock was at a whole number and off we went!

I must say, I'm glad I decided to do hills on this hill rather than the bonus hill. Holy hannah! My lungs were burning halfway up the darn thing! So much for looking easy! My running pace was a bit quick, which meant I couldn't stop at the top of this hill, but rather I had to go around the corner at the top of this hill and hit a mega nasty grade of another hill. My heart was pounding through my chest and I felt like I wasn't going anywhere!

Finally the two minutes were up. FEEL THE BURN!! No, not my legs. My legs rocked. My lungs on the other hand were on fire. Ow, ow, ow. Wheeeeeze! I hate this feeling! It always happens with the first set of hills. Urgh. This is SO not going to help my 'boy going through puberty frog' voice! Okay, someone call the paramedics so I can get me some oxygen!

I slowly jogged down praying to the running gods above that the second hill wouldn't be quite so, uhm, challenging. They listened. It wasn't easy, but the burning was a wee bit less thankfully. I didn't get as far as I did the first hill though. So you know what that means... Gotta run harder next time!

As I ran down the hill I passed this really cute house with a white picket fence. The first time I passed the house I had one wee puppy, a teeny pomeranian, chatting to me. This time there was the pomeranian and he brought his buddies the pug and the shitzu. They were all cheering me on. Or so I'd like to think.

Okay. Last hill. Gotta make this one count. Cough. Sputter. Honk. It's only two minutes. I can so do this. Time to kill the hill!

Off we went. I had a good pace. My breathing was rather raspy and rapid, but whatever. I was wishing I had my inhaler. Legs were slowing. Not good. Time to pull out the mantra!! Repeat after me, 'I am strong, I am powerful. I am strong, I am powerful'. Okay, leg cadence is picking up. Again, 'I am strong, I am powerful. I AM STRONG, I AM POWERFUL!!!'. Ya baby, this is how you friggin run hills!

By the time I reached the top my heartrate was 177 bpm and I was gasping desperately for air. Shite. When the heck was the last time my heartrate got that high?! I am SO glad we only did three hills. Yes, I'm a wimp. So sue me. At least it's a start!

My legs actually feel amazing right now. That's a gotta be a good sign. I've stopped coughing and wheezing, so I assume my lungs have stopped rebelling. Silly lungs. Do you really need THAT much oxygen?! Sheesh.

Right. So I have, what, like six weeks to get ready for this race? I can so do this. Look out Victoria - here comes Five-foot-two-of-fury-ninja-princess-she-ra-mighty-triathlete!!

Peace out my wonderful, amazing friends!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Iron Team...

Wow, what a weekend! My journey started on Thursday. I was up at 5am and out the door shortly after. My travel destination? Penticton, BC and Ironman Canada 2008. You'd think I was racing I was so excited to get there!

The days leading up to the race were busy, but a total blast. There was the Team Legend dinner on Thursday night, the Underwear Run with Jenn and the kids on Friday morning, hanging with my Parental Unit, swimming, waterslides, sushi, Tickleberry's, poster making, and much discussion about the race. It's a bit of an understatement to say I didn't get much sleep, or rest. I loved every second of it though.

Race day started very early for me. Even earlier than when I race! I was up at 3:30 am, collected my goods for the day and headed out to Main Street where I would be a body marker. Once there I met up with Chuck, who was also part of the 'Sparks Support Crew'. It wasn't too long after 5 am that the first athletes started to make their way to get marked.

It was so much fun being the first in line to see the athletes! I was very good at identifying the first timers based on their response to my question 'How are you this morning?!' It was great chatting with them and finding out where they were from.

Chuck and I had a great system going - we'd each mark one arm then he'd write their number on their shin, and I'd write their age, or a 'P' if they were a pro, on the back of their calve. Note to all male triathletes, shave your darned legs! It makes it much more pleasant for the body marker. :) Chuck and I both agreed there were some mighty fine legs out there! I apologize to all the athletes for my cold hands too, it was a bit brisk that early in the day.

At one point I heard a voice say 'There's only one person in this group that is allowed to body mark me and that's the girl in the cowboy hat!' When I looked up I saw my buddy Darryl, aka Runningman. He was looking cool as cucumber! After we got him covered in Jiffy Marker we gave each other a big hug. Well that set off a string of hugs for other competitors!

After we marked up the next guy in line he was like 'Hey, where's my hug?!' Needless to say I was happy to oblige! Chuck had a good chuckle over this. This went on for a few more athletes too.

There was one fellow that came up and told us his number. It was a low number so I had a sneaky suspicion he was a pro, so I asked him. Then I repeated that just in case - this he didn't find amusing. It was apparant I had insulted him and I guess was supposed to know who he was. In my defense it was darn early in the morning and I hadn't had my tea yet!

Just as he was about to leave, the body marker beside me said 'Hey Gordo, how are you?' Oh shite, I just asked Gordo Byrne if he was a friggin pro, not once, but twice!! DOH! Ah well, we got a good chuckle out of it. Sorry Gordo!

Finally Jenn got to us. This was my first tear up of the day - there would be more to follow. I was so excited for her! It's always a challenge to get to the start line, but Jenn had had a rough three weeks prior to the race. There was not an ounce of nerves showing though, she was so calm it was wonderful to see!

We marked some of the other Team Legend and my other buds from Team Tri Life, but I missed Greg, Kelsey, Julie and a bunch of others. It's pretty hectic in there though so not a big surprise that I didn't see them.

Once body marking was done, Chuck and I took off to go watch the swim start. We used our passes to get us onto the beach with the competitors. This was the second tear up, haha. I was SO excited for everyone! I had really wanted to see some of the gang so I could give them a good luck hug, but it wasn't to be. I did see Greg though - I was so thankful for that.

It wasn't long before the cannon went off and everyone's day started.

It was a brilliant day for all the athletes. I had so much fun hanging with the Sparks Support Team (Terri, Larry, Alex, Kiki and Chuck). We cheered and yelled and walked and had a grand old time. The kids were real troopers as it was a long day for them. We managed to spot most people at least once during the day. It was hard when they were on their bikes, but not as bad when they were running.

The parental unit were so amazing that day too. I had taught them both how to text on their mobile phones the day before...needless to say my Dad was the text king that day! They were stationed at their hotel which was midway up Main Street. They had everyone's race numbers and Dad, who had been tracking everyone online, calculated everyone's ETA's for each segment. (Yes, he's a bit of a math geek.) He then would text me so we'd have an idea when we'd see everyone. Then as he spotted people going by he'd text me again to let me know. It was AWESOME!! I love that my parental unit get so involved - even if I'm not racing!!

It was just after the 9 hour mark when Dad sent me the text that Greg had just passed them. I think I may have held my breath for a while as I waited for him to come by where I was, which was near the last turnaround before the final stretch. Finally he did! I could see in his eyes that he had given everything for this race. Words can't even describe how proud I was of him. I think this was my biggest cry of the day as I knew he was going to get in under 10 hours. Absolutely amazing!! Finishing Ironman is an amazing accomplishment, coming in under 10 hours though?! WOW!

It was after this that we decided to go to OK Falls so we could try and catch Jenn on the marathon turnaround. It was super soggy by then! I was wearing my toe shoes and my toes, by then, looked like shriveled little cocktail sausages. The parental unit and I just got to the road when Jenn ran by! Talk about perfect timing.

We all headed back to the hotel for a bit to dry off and get some warmer clothes on. I managed to see Julie run to the last turnaround before the finish. I was so happy to see her as I hadn't seen her all day and wanted to know she was ok. I ran with her for a bit and asked how she was, she said great but she couldn't talk so could I entertain her? Well of course! I gave her the scoop on everyone that I'd seen. What a great day for her as well!

I didn't get to see many others on the run, but caught my friends Angie, Darryl, and Kelsey, which was cool. For everyone else out there my thoughts were with you!

At long last my mobile phone beeped and I got the message we'd been waiting for, Jenn had passed the parental unit at the hotel. We were all so anxious to see her! It was long before we spotted the dude that juggled, yes juggled, the entire marathon. He had been in front of Jenn so we knew she wasn't far behind. Talk about screaming when we saw her!! She looked so strong and happy, it was fabulous!
I ran to the finish and with the power of my volunteer wristbands I got into the finisher's area. I was frantically looking around at all the faces - it's amazing how everyone looks alike with their space blankets and running caps on. Finally I spotted Jenn and she saw me. I gave her a huge hug and asked how she was doing. The words that I heard were music to my ears. She said 'I had the perfect race. There is nothing about today that I would change!'. YAY!!

We walked for a bit then made our way to the porta potties. I knew Jenn was in great shape when she said to me 'If I can't get off the seat, I'm going to kick the door open and then you are going to have to wipe my ass and help me stand up!' Classic! Just as she was in there her Mom called. She laughed when I told her her timing.

It was a long day, but an inspiring day. I am proud of everyone who raced - you are all incredible athletes. I truly hope that everyone's goals were fulfilled and that they enjoyed every moment, even the tough ones.

As I hit the hay later that night I couldn't help but think to myself, 'I LOVE THIS SPORT!'.

Peace out my beautiful friends!
Postscript: Apparantly I was cheering quite a bit as the next day my voice was that of a pre-pubescent boys. It alternated from a whisper to a croak. Today I sound like a 1-900 Operator. Ah well, it was worth it!

Monday, 18 August 2008

The Human Pretzel...

I had an awesome 1.5 hour run yesterday, so thought it would be a great idea to go to yoga today to stretch stuff out. Actually, I would have gone no matter what because yoga has now become quite the passion of mine.

One of the earlier moves we did was called 'the Pigeon'. Actually this move is fabulous for tight running muscles! It gives a mega stretch to the IT band, the hammies and the glutes. My muscles were fighting it, but they were happy for it afterwards.

We progressed into a few warrior poses (my favourites), then did some balancing. I actually love the balancing as well because I seem to have maintained my ninja princess balance. Go figure, I seem to love the poses I can actually do!!

The latter half of the class was a tad bit more challenging...

First off our crazy yogi had us go into a squat position, then we put our palms on the ground with our triceps pressing against our knees. (Think of the position a frog is in before it hops.) We were then to lean forward into our arms, so our feet were off the ground and balance on just our palms. My thoughts...'Really now?!' I tried. I swear I tried. I think I managed to lean forward enough so I could lift both of my feet up so my toes were at least 2 mm off the ground - for approximately a pico-second. You bet your bippy I'm proud of that!

For some reason, the yogi felt he should up the ante a bit. I'm still shaking my head in disbelief at this... So he then gets us to go into plank position and he instructs us to 'lightly' hop back into the above described position. The friggin tipping frog position!! First thought to pop into my brain - 'Are you shittin' me?! Serioulsy?!' I managed to hold in my laughter. Someone else in the class did not however. I think maybe two people attempted this. To them I bow down and say 'We're not worthy'. I opted to just try and practice lifting my toes 3 mm off the ground. This will be something I have to work on I think. Afterall, I'm not one to back down from a challenge!

Todays yogi loves binding moves too. (Now, now kidlets, mind out of the gutter!) Perhaps if I were over 6 foot and had the long limbs of a model, I too would love binding moves as well. However, I can only say that I find them, uhm, intriguing...

After the tipping frog debacle I was almost happy to get into the binding poses. Almost. For one pose we had to sit with our legs all bent and crossed over, then twist our bodies so our hands/arms wrapped around our bodies and legs. I'm still using the fact that I'm a quadzilla with pipes as an excuse as to why it is completely impossible for me to become the human pretzel! Perhaps in a year I'll manage to get my fingertips to touch?!

Oh! I almost forgot. Then we had to do this pose where we put our legs in front of us, bend our knees a wee bit, then grab our big toes. (Picture what babies do and you'll get this move.) Then we were to roll backwards so our legs were over our head and almost touching the ground. The girl that laughed earlier ended up doing an all out guffaw with this one. From the position she was in when I looked over, she had gone to roll backwards and basically landed with her back flat on the floor and her legs splayed in the air while she gripped onto her toes. No rolling over for her. So funny. I respect her for trying though! I chickened out and just hoofed my body over into the 'legs over the head' position.

The class was challenging, but boy do I feel great now! All is very well. It's moments like these that keep my day interesting and I must say I'm very grateful for them!

Peace out my friends!

Saturday, 16 August 2008


It's been about a year now since I last went out for a ride with my Ironman Canada training buddy, and supremo good friend, Leslie. She didn't race this year, instead opting to go to Africa for a month this summer to check out a new school that was being built high high high in the mountains. (We're talking a 12 hour hike to get there from a very rural start point.) So cool!

I had been hoping to get her out at some point this summer, and finally did now that she's back home. I think the fact that she's signed up for Ironman Calgary 70.3 helped. Her words to me? 'I can do the Grand Valley/Horse Creek distance, but I won't be able to go fast. So can we make this a fun, enjoying the weather ride?!' FOR SURE! I was just excited to be out there with her again!

I rode to Les's then waited as she remembered all the things she needed to bring. Then I remembered I needed to use some sunscreen as I was out. Finally we were out the door! Not before laughing about how many times we went in and out of the house. I'm pretty sure her husband was silently rolling his eyes - he's a cyclist too, but more organized.

By the time we headed out it was just after 1 pm. It was pretty hot out at that point, but we had a brilliant northwest wind that, although challenging to pedal in, felt great. See, headwinds aren't always bad!

As we rode along Hwy 1A I started letting out some serious burps. Mental note, do NOT put on, then ingest, mass quantities of Mikes Red Hot Hot Sauce on your nori wraps before going out for a bike ride!! As I let a few of my burps rip I joked with Les about how much she must have missed riding with me. She was laughing and said that's just what she was thinking as I let out a loud 'BRAAAACK!' Seriously, I could give Booger from 'Revenge of the Nerds' a run for the money. Yes, I'm proud of that fact.

Other than the burping, the ride itself felt really good. The pace was a bit slower than I've been doing, but it was so much fun being out there with Leslie and just riding and chatting. We were really just savouring the fact that we were in a beautiful area, on a gorgeous day with our friend.

As we got to the first big climb Les mentioned this was going to slow her down a bit. This particular hill is my 'Tour de France' hill. I have no idea why I think that of it, but I love killing it. I try to stay in two gears harder than granny when I go up it too. So I told Les of my plans and then booted it up the hill. My heart rate was up there but I had great strength and it was a real boost for me. I'm ready to start building on my biking again - YIPPEE!

When we got to the four way to turn east we passed a cyclist. I recognized the jersey and the rider as Dr. Phil so called out. We call him Dr. Phil because he's one of the local vetrinarians in town, - and as it happens he is mine and Leslie's vet - and his name is Phil. We chatted for a while about our season and then he turned around to head back with us.

The rest of the ride was brilliant. We had a tailwind all the way back down to Hwy 1A and all of us boogied. You have to love a good tailwind to push you along! I parted ways with Leslie when we were back at the big intersection as I live on the other side of town. Dr. Phil lives at the bottom of the bonus hill so he rode back with me.

Before Les and I parted ways I told her how much fun it was to ride with her again. She did amazing out there too. She hadn't been on her bike since last fall, but in my opinion she's still 'got it'. We both loved being outside today. It was so nice out! It was great being on the bikes too. Oh, did I mention our bikes are twins? Yup, the only thing different are the glossy vs. matte aerobars and the colour of our bottle holders.

People usually tease us about looking like sisters too as we both have blond hair and wear it in braids. I can't tell you how many times during races people have yelled 'Go Leslie!' to me and 'Go Susi!' to her. Even at Ironman Canada last year! Too funny.

What an absolutely glorious day! I think I'm still on a high from it. It was wonderful having my former training buddy out there with me - hopefully we'll get out for a few more rides together before the cold sets in.

Peace out my friends!

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Always Learning...Always Growing...

My new favourite lunchtime passion is yoga. During training season I actually never took lunches as I had to get home in time to workout and with my commute, that meant grabbing time wherever I could.

I'm having an absolute blast in my yoga classes! Not only am I becoming stronger and more flexible, ever so slowly I should add, but I am also learning and growing in other ways...

I went to class on Tuesday expecting a pretty tough workout based on who was teaching. When I arrived there was another yogini. I was soon to discover that she is new to teaching yoga.

Although the moves were the same as most classes, the flow wasn't quite there. As well, she would falter in telling us what she would like us to do. I'm embarassed to admit this, but for a little bit I could feel frustration bubble up within me. I couldn't get into the workout as the flow wasn't there and my movements were choppy. Thankfully, I came to my senses quickly. When I realized that I was getting frustrated when this poor girl was doing her best, I felt horrible!

I quickly reminded myself that everyone has to start somewhere. How many times have I taken up something new and people were patient with me! I decided right then and there I would acknowledge what I felt and then turn it around. From then on I made sure I sent her positive energy. With every move I would silently tell her she was doing great. Honestly, she really did have great moves planned and she changed things up which was refreshing. She just needs to work on the flow of the movements. I bet once she has a few more classes under her belt that she'll have the routine all polished up and it will be brilliant!

The yogini teaching class today was the total opposite. Kim became my favourite teacher from the moment I took her first class. Unfortunately, she then went on vacation for three weeks. She's back now and I'm ecstatic. I even managed to catch two of her classes this week as she filled in for another teacher.

I think what I love most about her is she really encourages bringing gratitude, peace and love into your practice. She reminds us to set our intention for the class. Then she gives us a killer workout. My entire body was shaking with some of the moves! It was awesome. I do not know how I used to believe yoga was easy?!

Whenever I'm in her class it's like nothing else matters but my breath and my movement. It's my time to feel inner peace. It's glorious! Eventually I will learn how to create that inner peace whenever and whereever.

At the end of todays class, while we were resting, she told a wonderful story. It was about a class asked to name the seven wonders of the world. A survey of the class showed that most of the students listed the 'known' seven wonders. All but one girl. She said she was having some difficulty with her list. When her teacher asked her what the seven wonders were she listed the following...

Our ability to
laugh, and

The story really struck me. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because I've been realizing lately that life really is simple. Focus on the present moment. Give unconditional love, even to those who you find rather challenging at times. Respect each other. And don't forget to laugh. A lot. It creates a lot of positive energy.

Peace out my fabulous friends!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

This Little Piggie Went To The Market...

It all started in Coeur d'Alene...

My friend, and one of my housemates, for Ironman Coeur d'Alene was Tina. Tina had brought with her to CDA her partner, Andrew who was racing, her puppy Kiya who was our Irondog, and these very fascinating pair of shoes.

I had never seen such a pair of shoes - they had TOES. Yes, that's right, just like my favourite pair of purple striped toe socks, they had toes! I had to know more about them!

It turns out they are made by Vibram, are referred to as 'barefoot' shoes and are for running, swimming, sailing, paddling, yoga, climbing and pretty much everything else you can think of. Tina had done a fair amount of research on them and when I got back from the race I started asking more questions. She sent me some articles that indicated that wearing them, or rather being barefoot, actually helps rather than hurts your feet. Unlike the wonderful sneakers and shoes we all tend to wear. Hmmm...

All I really had to know to love them was the fact that it was like walking around barefoot, which I LOVE to do, and that it kept you connected with Mother Earth. Ahhh. Oh, and it helped that I thought they looked super cool!

I borrowed a pair of Tina's, as she now has FIVE pairs of the darned things, and wandered around for a day to see how I liked it. I loved how they felt - so I bought some. I should add that was a bit of a task as I wanted the black classics, which apparantly everyone else in the world want as well. They've only been in Canada for about three months so not many stores carry them...Tina helped me track them down though.

I guess I should add some of the medical hub bub. As far as the the research indicates, how are feet are at birth is 'normal'. Then we start to wear shoes and our feet get really squished. Next thing you know toes are bent under other toes, bunions and corns happen and other good stuff. Take the following foot for instance...gack...

Okay, granted that is an extreme example, but it makes a point about what shoes can do. So what does all this squishing do? Well, contrary to popular believe, it actually weakens our feet. Even the support shoes! The theory then is that if you walk around in barefeet, or in shoes that have no support so are essentially like being barefoot, that your feet and legs get stronger.

Finally, last Friday my shoes arrived. To say I was excited is an understatement. I put them on immediately and have worn them every day since! Behold my new shoes! Aren't they awesome?!

Yes, I actually wear these with my dress pants at work, and yes I have gotten some strange looks. They are quite the conversation piece though and I've had everything from 'How cool!' to 'Oh my god having stuff between my toes would drive me nuts!'. To each their own I say.

I have loved wearing them. My toes feel like the are separating a bit already so they are much happier. Now in yoga when they say to spread your toes, I can actually spread my toes! It's awesome.

It did get me wondering though if I'd actually get my toes to be straight and apart like they were when I was a tot. I discovered this picture of my barefeet taken on a beach in Malaysia. So this is what they started out like - it will be interesting to see what they look like in a few months! It's hard to see in this picture, but my baby toes actually curl under a bit. I've had to tweak them to get them to go straight in the shoe.

Oh, and the other exciting thing is that I'm going to start 'barefoot' running in them! Of course this task will be taken on very slowly so my feet get used to it. I tried out 5 minutes on the treadmill the other night and it didn't feel too bad. Your legs and feet sure work more though as you actually do a proper foot plant so have to support that. I will build it up a little bit at a time and see how it goes. Who knows, maybe there is a barefoot Ironman race in my future?!

Peace out and hang ten my glorious friends!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Hold On A Cotton Pickin' Second...

Just as the rest of the world is watching the Olympics, so am I. I've only been able to catch wee bits here and there, but I have been amazed and inspired by all of the talented athletes. I pretty much watch whatever happens to be on and I cheer for everyone.

The fact that they've made it to such a prestigous event, in my mind, speaks volumes about how incredible they all are. Therefore, I'm not focused on who wins. As corny as it sounds, they are all winners to me.

One of the events that seems to be on most evenings is beach volleyball. I gotta say it, I have a bone to pick with this sport...

Now before you go jumping to conclusions as to what that bone may be, let me just say it has nothing to do with the women's uniforms. Wait, would we call it a uniform?! Okay, so it's bikini bottoms topped off with a jog bra. As far as I'm concerned these women should be wearing that. Afterall, they are on a 'beach' and what's wrong with showcasing their gorgeous athletic bodies?!

So what has my feathers in a ruffle?! It's not the women's outfits - IT'S THE MENS!!!

I turn on the boob tube tonight for a bit of an Olympics fix and what do I see??? Men playing beach volleyball - all covered up! Hold on a cotton pickin' second! What the heck is up with the board shorts and baggy basketball shirts?! Okay, now I'm not saying that these guys should be in Speedos. No one should be in Speedo's - not even my beloved Faris. Seriously though folks, how about board shorts and NO shirts? Huh? Huh? It's BEACH volleyball for crying out loud!

Did someone somewhere think that they needed to cover these guys up so as to not offend?! The girls are looking hot, why not the men???

I have two words for you people - 'TOP GUN'. Ya, that's right. Remember that unforgettable beach volleyball scene with Maverick, Goose, Iceman and, and, uhm, well the other hot dude. Jean shorts and nothing else baby. Just muscular, sweaty hot bods... That's what I'm talking about! Let's hope that whoever is hosting the 2012 summer Olympics will put a little more thought into this. In fact, give me an address and I'll start a letter campaign!

Okay, that's my gripe for the games. No, this post has nothing to do with triathlon or my training, but it had to be written.

We will return to our regular blog programming tomorrow, because yes I have been training and, as always, I have a tale or two to tell...

Peace out my friends and good luck to all the wonderful, amazing Olympic athletes!!

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Running With The Senses...

What a glorious day! Everything seemed to come together in my run today - it was fantastic and I enjoyed every second.

Early into my run I decided that I'd set the intention to run with my senses. I wanted to see, hear and feel every moment of the hour run I had planned.

I started out from the gym and ran along the pathway that follows the river. It was gorgeous out. The sun was shining and warm. The sky was as blue as it could be with nary a cloud to be seen. As I looked ahead along the path, I thought I saw a golf cart coming onto the path. Huh? There is a golf course nearby so I was wondering if someone was playing around and veered off course or something.

As I got closer to the 'golf cart' I noted that it was actually a little scooter with a cover over top to block out the sun, and I rain I supposed if it were raining out. Encased in this little mobile tent was a wee senior citizen. Accompanying him were four of the cutest dogs - all bichon frise, I believe. Two were sitting and looking out the front end, one enjoyed the breeze as he looked out the side, and the last one was sitting on his masters lap.

I think the gentleman driver sensed that I would love to pet all the pups because when I got near him he stopped the cart to say hello. That's when all his furry travellers hopped off and came around to greet me. They were so soft and fuzzy I had a blast petting them and getting some cuddles, while chatting to the man.

I bid them adieu and continued on my merry way. The river was stunning today. Parts of it were a light emerald green and other parts a light indigo blue. As I ran I listened to it gurgling over the rocks. It sounded so cool and refreshing I was tempted to jump in!

There are a couple of sections of path that are enclosed by trees or bushes. The are many calming sounds in this section. My feet softly hitting the path with the red shale rock crunching underneath or the light drumlike sound as I ran over the short wooden bridges, my steady and calm breath, the crickets twitching their legs in the grass, and the rustle of the leafs on the trees as a soft breeze blew through them.

My running felt steady and strong. For the first time in quite a while I felt light on my feet. My form was comfortable and my pace easy. To my great joy my heart rate stayed low for the entire run. This was a great sign. It means I can start building up on my run again. I am scheduled to run a half marathon in October and was curious as to when my body would tell me it was ready to start training for that. If today is any indication, then I should be good to go.

I ran underneath the bridge that stretches over the Bow River. I could hear the enginge brakes of the semi's as they slowed to roll over it. Directly underneath you could hear the thud-thud, thud-thud of the cars and trucks as they drove over the bridge deck.

There was a young family exploring near the edge of the river. It was wonderful to see the expression of the kids as they sought out neat things to look at. As soon as one of the kids found something, a shout of excitement and glee could be heard. It was great watching their sense of wonder and curiousity.

I followed the path to loop around close to the 30 minute mark and headed back. I was running past a little pond when I noticed him - a blue heron standing still in the water. It was the beauty of this bird that caught my attention. Perhaps the curiousity of the kids I had gone by had rubbed off on me because I stopped in my tracks and just stood there watching him. A sense of peace and calm washed over me.

A woman was walking towards me on the path and stopped to see what I was looking at. At this point the heron slowly turned around then swiftly stabbed at the water with his beak and scooped up some food. We both stood there enjoying the beauty of this great bird.

After a few moments, we wished each other a wonderful day and I was heading back in the direction I'd come from. I decided to veer off the beaten path for a moment and ran through a little trail that skirts the river. As I did I noticed a little dragon fly with golden wings. He was flying in front of me, almost as if he was guiding me. Every once in a while he'd land on the path, but as soon as I was near he would take the lead again. He did this for the entire section.

I had a wonderful surprise as I got back onto the last little bit of path towards the gym. This section doubles as an off leash park for dogs. I love running through here and watching all the dogs run to and fro in their glory of not being on a leash. Just as I got on the path I spotted her. A tiny little bulldog. I couldn't help myself, I let out a squeal of glee!

I'm sure I took the owner by surprise. I quickly explained that bulldogs are my absolute favourite dogs in the entire world and that I had yet to see one in this park. The puppy (I learned she was only five months old) could tell immediately that I had nothing but love for her. She ran around me with a big smile and a sagging tongue. Then she'd flop at my feet and I would scritch her behind her ears and rub her belly. Next thing she'd be up and off running away from me, then back towards me. She jumped up and down excited to have someone to shower her with hugs and cuddles. I was in heaven! I hated to leave her but had to make my way back.

I am pretty sure I had a smile on my face the entire run. I got back to the gym and did a short leg workout, with a little bit of chest thrown in.

I set out with the intention to run with my senses and I achieved that goal. Everything was alive around me and I loved every moment of it. I truly hope that others had a spectacular day just as I did!

Peace out my wonderours friends!

Thursday, 7 August 2008


Finally! I was able to attend a yoga class this week. Due to the holiday Monday and some very poorly scheduled 'mandatory' work meetings I wasn't able to go until today.

My body let me know that missing that many days of yoga is now a big no-no. As I slowly made my way into the downward dog position I could hear my very tight hamstrings and arse muscles scream 'NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!' I'm pretty sure I could hear a creaking sound too. So not good.

This is what I get for riding and doing weights and somehow neglecting the stretching aspect after. Who am I kidding? I didn't somehow neglect the stretch, I just didn't do it. I know, feel the shame, but this is one of the reasons I go to yoga!

After a few moves the hams and arse loosened up, so next it was onto my hip flexors. A similar cry of protest was heard, as well as the creaking noise. Oh but did it feel good when things let go! Man I love these classes.

Today was the strength one. At one point we were in plank and had to lower ourselves slowly from a count of eight. Our yogi then repeated four a few times so we would hold. As we got down to one I slumped to the floor. Actually there was a collective slump happening throughout the room. It was pretty funny. No resting though! We were up and at it again soon enough.

I like the way this yogi puts together some of the moves. Unfortunately I haven't learned all the names of them yet. I believe we started with reverse warrior and then we flow into warrior one, or maybe it's two. I find these moves together are so beautiful and graceful. They just flow into one another like a dance. During these moves I actually could feel the energy flowing through my body as we were doing it. A first!

Come to think of it there were a few firsts in class today. For one, I think my back is loosening up a bit as I was actually able to wind my arms in front of me. (Think arms straight out in front, then bend elbows ninety degrees with hands towards the ceiling, then put one arm under the other and twist.) It was awesome!

Another first was actually doing a shoulder stand. At first I was a little timid. Then ever so aum like I said to myself, 'Ah what the heck! Just do it!' So I did! It was pretty cool, but I'm sure my windpipe was bent a bit as breathing was a tad more laboured than before. Then we had to slowly lower our legs and try to touch the ground behind our heads! SO INSANE! I did my best, alas there was no toe touching there. I will have to work on this one for sure.

Later on our yogi had us rest on our bellies and put one cheek to the mat. (Face cheek people, not butt cheek...) You could feel the relief in the class as before that had been quite strenuous. The rest was not to be long lived though. We then had to reach behind us, bend our knees and grab our feet. Then rock oursleves sideways so we would end up on our side in this pose. Hmmm... I did try. Honest! But I was also trying not to giggle as I tried to roll on my side because I couldn't stay there! I don't know if it was due to my 'Ahnold' shoulders or my 'Baby Got Back' tushy, but there was just no staying on the side for this gal. So I just held the pose on me belly.

I felt truly relaxed at the end. I managed to hold onto that relaxed feeling through most of the afternoon as well as I worked on my rush project.

This evening I hit the gym again. I decided my legs could use a break and just worked on upper body. I'm getting pretty good at the ball pushups. I might just have to start adding reps there. Or not. That might hurt too much!

Peace out my wonderful friends!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

The Hissy Fit...

When I was a wee lass and would get ticked at something I would, the odd time, blow a hissy fit. As per my Father's description it went something like this...

First off, my lower lip would stick out then roll under in a very pronounced pout. Then a foot would stomp. Then the other foot would stomp. The pace of the stomping would slowly increase. If the hissy fit was directed at my ever patient father I would then yell 'ADDY!'. Yes, minus the 'D'. He would be unable to contain his laughter at this sight so then would start laughing. This would not amuse me in the least. He said my legs would then take on the characteristic of pistons firing very quickly. No wonder I had fully developed quads, hamstrings and calves as a kid!

As an adult, I admit, there are times when I have to concentrate very hard in order to restrain my foot from stomping. It's sad, yet rather amusing at the same time. My lip will even quiver as I restrain it too. If you ever see this happen you can choose to do one of two things. One, run away as it's possible you are about to see five foot two of fury. Two, stay and agitate me a bit more and see what kind of Lord of the Dance stomping show I put on. Then run away!

So why do I bring up my childhood history? Well, the other day I was ready to blow a hissy fit. I know, I know - so sad.

Here's the situation... I feel like I just got off the couch and can't ride anymore. Mentally, I know this to be false. Emotionally though? That's another story.

It's amazing the havoc that occurs post-Ironman! I've been out for a few rides now, but I just can't get into the groove yet. I wasn't troubled about that fact the first four weeks - I was in recovery mode. For some reason now though, I expect to be magically back to that place where I was. Alas, I am not.

I keep asking myself 'how the heck do people do IMCDA, then IMC??!!' Of course I know the answer, years of training to get to that level!

This weekend I rode for a total of 165 km in two days. In my mind, compared to the 429 km in three days I did in May, this weekends ride was piddly. Both days it was all hills and, therefore, a ton of climbing. I made it through Saturday's ride fairly well, although I was pretty slow towards the end. Sunday's ride was a lot tougher for me. One reason was my timer to tell me when to take in nutrition konked out, so I didn't get enough fuel in me. The other reason? Well, that I don't know. Still reovering? Back to the beginning?

Normally I slay the Lochend route. It is one of my favourite routes because it's challenging and gorgeous and this year I made some huge progress on it - so to feel like I couldn't ride it well was a bit of a downer.

Fear not though! I am a smart cookie and I realize that this can happen to an athlete. Especially one such as I, who is still pretty much a rookie to the Ironman distance. Last year it took me over six months to recover and my entire system was a mess. A rather scary mess.

This year I give thanks that I have the fitness I do. Granted, I'm not back up to snuff yet. That's ok! I will keep reminding myself about how many people out there can't even go for a nice ride along the river!! Just the fact that I can ride 165 km in one weekend is a very cool thing, especially when I'm only six weeks out of IMCDA.

I'm big enough to admit, too, that I almost had the hissy fit...but quickly realized how lucky I am to have my health and fitness. Therefore, I didn't. Had I done so though, it would have been a great leg workout!

Because I didn't do the hissy fit leg workout, I decided to hit the gym. Although my legs had some fatigue in them I decided to add some weights to the bar when I did squats. Not too much, just a 10lb plate on each side. I like these plates. They are skinny, but the diameter is quite long so they LOOK like I'm lifting a ton of weight. Hey, as long as you look good right?!

On my second set my legs were asking me to please stop as we did mucho hills on the weekend. Oh how I remember the days when I could squat 135 lbs for three sets of 15! I got through the three sets, then did three sets of step ups. I gave my legs a break though and skipped the lunges.

I did some upper body work that will hopefully strengthen my shoulders for swimming. Which reminds me, I really should get back in the pool some time soon! I'll look after that after my trip to Penticton where I can savour the feel of lake water rushing over me. I can't wait!

While at the gym, I got to show a fellow gym rat an exercise, which was kind of cool. I noticed he was doing chest and abs so showed him the old pushup/side plank move. Here's the drill. Get yourself a couple of free weights - not too heavy. Get into push up position with your hands on the weights, rather than the floor. Do a push up, then with one arm swing the weight out while turning into side plank. Your finishing pose will be a side plank with arm outstretched to the ceiling holding the free weight. It's a terrific exercise.

The fellow thanked me as he'd hurt his ribs a while back and thought this would be better for him to stretch things out. Gotta love it when you act on an instinct and end up helping someone out!

So a good leg workout, and no hissy fit. I will use this time as a way to learn patience, which the Universe is constantly trying to get me to master. I think this weekend I'll just go out for a wee ride around Grand Valley / Horse Creek. Things will be back to 'normal' soon enough!!

Peace out my friends!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Dedicated To...

After dinner last night, I got word from my friend Jenna that her dad, Gordon, had been in a car collision and it was quite serious. Have you ever had one of those moments when you feel absolutely helpless, yet your mind is running through many scenarios of what you can do to aid in some way? Mine did that for most of the evening after.

I had the honour of chatting with Gordon quite a bit last year. I had been struggling with what my next career move would be and Jenna mentioned her dad might be able to help. The next thing I knew I received an email from him introducing himself! Their family seems to be good for that.

I was so thankful to him for offering to help me, a total stranger, out as I just wasn't sure what direction to take. There were several emails back and forth and he offered many ideas as well as contacts. It was great. I was really looking foward to seeing him at IMC so I could give him a big hug to thank him for his kindness. I still plan on giving him a big hug - it's just been postponed a bit.

I knew that there wasn't much physically I could do to change things, but there was one thing I could do mentally. I could round up all the love and positive energy that I have in my body and send it to Jenna, her dad, her mom and the rest of the family.

Julie, Keith and Linda were with me when I got the news. When we got home Julie called her mom and asked her to start praying. There was going to be a power ball of love and positive energy flowing. That I could guarantee.

This morning as Julie and I headed out to ride the Lochend Loop we decided we would dedicate the ride to Gordon. We would start to collect positive energy from all the laughter and joy we had while we were out riding, and then when we were done we'd gather it up in a big ball and send it out with love.

I'm happy to report that we gathered quite a bit out there. Even though the weather felt more like it was autumn rather than August, it was a beautiful day - we even managed to escape the wind for the most part! I was happy I could share my favourite route with Julie and that she loved it as much as I do.

We saw a couple of hawks enjoying breakfast and many cows looking cute as ever just chillin out in the grass. At one point a blue heron flew overhead. It was so quiet where we were we could actually hear the swoosh of its wings! It was an incredibly beautiful and majestic sight to see and hear.

We were mistaken for cyclists in the Tour de Bowness race even! Too bad we didn't have numbers we could pin on. We didn't realize what was going on at first. We were just about to descend down the hill to the Dartique Lodge when we saw this 'thing' come riding up the hill. Julie and I both had these 'what the frig??' looks on our faces.

When our eyes finally focussed we saw it was a gal dressed up with an Elvis wig and a bright red cap riding a bike. Alrighty then! She was yelling something like 'I'm King of the Hill!'. It was hilarious. We were laughing as we passed her and zoomed down the hill.

When we got to the lodge we asked what was up and learned about the race. We were glad we were ahead of everyone!

We had a lot of laughs over Julie's 'gas' issue as well. Apparantly, although she loved the Indian food we ate last night, her gastrointestinal system wasn't sure. At one point we had stopped as I'd recieved a text from Jenna. Julie had to, uh, let one go, so moved behind me. Problem was the wind was blowing towards me so I got a full whiff of things. It did not smell like roses!! We had a great laugh over that - more positive energy generated!

Although I loved the ride, my legs were pretty tired from yesterday. The last little bit was pretty slow going - I didn't mind it though. The entire ride I had Jenna and Gordon on my mind. I had taken Jenna out on this course so she could get some hill practice in. It was fun sharing with Julie all the stories from that day. It also kept them close to our hearts.

In honour of Gordon we wanted to ride back up Cochrane Hill. This is what I made Jenna do after her long hilly ride. As we started towards Cochrane though we saw three forks of lightening and started to feel a bit of rain. In the name of safety we decided it best just to head home. We managed to escape a full rain storm though.

We had a great time out there today. Lots of laughs and joy and gratitude for being outside in such a beautiful place. I've now bundled all that positive energy up and sent it to Gordon. I know all the good thoughts everyone is sending is working as I heard from Jenna this evening and things are looking positive, although there is still much healing and recovery required.

Keep up the positive thinking!

Peace out and much love my friends.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

On The Road To Nepal...

My good buddy and fellow Ironman triathlete, Julie arrived yesterday!! YAY!! I had been down at her place in the Pass a couple of weeks ago where she shared with me one of her favourite rides and now I'm able to do the same.

Actually, today's ride was one of our friend Keith's favourite ride - the Road to Nepal. As we had a long ride planned for Sunday, this was going to be a shorter ride, but by no means less challenging, as the name might hint.

We started out from Keith and Linda's house in South Calgary and made our way to 37 Street. The only icky part of this ride is crossing Highway 22X, but that's a really short part.

The ride is absolutely brilliant and I loved it! Brand new pavement and tons of hills. Climb up, ride down, climb up and up and up, ride down. That's pretty much how it goes. The view of the mountains is spectactular on some of the higher hills. The rest of the scenery is beautiful green trees and farm lands. Did I mention it was gorgeous??

As Julie is in her peak of fitness (she's gearing up for Ironman Canada later this month) and I'm just getting over my recovery, I did not bother to attempt to keep up with her on the climbs. For some reason though, I still tried to climb all the hills in the third gear down from grannie. Part of me wants to be back training again I think, although I am enjoying my schedule free life!

This 'harder gear' thing lasted until I had to turn around and go back. The legs just couldn't do it anymore. It was kind of weird out there because on the flats I had some pretty good speed, and even on some of the slighter climbs I did ok, but on the big ones my legs started to give on me a bit. I had to pull out the old 'I am strong, I am powerful' mantra. I guess I was surprised they didn't just give on the climbs and flats.

I had Julie in sight on the way out, and for the slightest moment on the way back. Then she was gone. I wasn't too worried, until I remembered her sense of direction...

I shall recall for everyone the fact that she went the wrong way on the Ironman Canada bike route when we were out there last May. Oh, did I mention Julie has ridden that route at least three times and still managed to miss a turn?! So when I couldn't see her at the road we were to turn north on I admit that I did become a wee bit concerned.

Did she know to turn here? Or did she keep going straight?? Okay, if she's not at the 22X stop sign I'm calling Keith to go look for her because there is sure as heck no WAY I can ride those hills again. Then my mind was preoccupied with the thought that perhaps she'd stopped to relieve herself and I zipped (ya right) past her. Maybe she figured she'd catch me but missed what road I turned on and really I've left her out there?!

Okay, time to just focus on what you know - get to the stop sign and see if she is there.

Finally I got there and there was Julie with her beautiful big smile waiting for me. She was SO proud that she found her way back. I was laughing and admitted I was worried for a while there. Julie fully ad,ots that she is directionally challenged so wasn't offended by that. In fact, she was ecstatic that she found her way back! Too funny.

We then headed back to Keith and Linda's to clean up and go out for dinner with them. Thanks to both of you for lending your home and showers to us!!! Then again, I'm sure you wouldn't have wanted to go out with the stinky twins.

A big thank you to Julie too. When we were driving home, and after the ride, I was a bit bummed that my fitness/strength wasn't where it had been before IMCDA. I mean, I'm recovered right?? It has been a few weeks. She had to tell me that after recovery comes starting all over again.

My thoughts on that? 'Seriously?? Well doesn't that just suck lemons!'

I didn't realize that as I didn't go through this experience last year because I was so ill that I didn't really get back into training until January. This year I feel great so want my body to go back to some sort of peak level. Uh, no. Although I should mention that you don't go back to square one exactly - you are just above that zone - but you do go back to the beginning and have to start slowly building again. RATS!

How the heck do people do an Ironman a few months apart is what I want to know?!

I am thankful for her telling me of that, reminding me that it's ok and also to stay positive. See, even some of us 'Little Ms. Positive's' have to be reminded!

I thought more on this later on and realized that I am grateful for my health and the fact that I can ride like this. It may have only been 52 km today, but it was a challenging ride. I did it though and there are many out there who can't. So thank you Universe for giving me this gift of good health! Without it life really wouldn't be as exciting.

Peace out my friends!