Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Imagination Run...

There is a trail run I like to do that takes me past the Ranchehouse and keeps me on the trails for part of the way. Seems they've done some 'improvements' to the trail as they've now put a layer of gravel down rather than have the dirt path that was there. Honestly, I'm not too impressed.

This area is meant to be rugged. One is meant to walk, or run, through the dirt and grass, just like they did WAAAY back when. Oh well, I didn't have to run too far before I found my way back on the dirt trail. I think they only did the gravel around the Ranchehouse area.

As I ran through the tall grass along the trail I started to pretend I was 'Princess Runs With Braids Crunching Leaves'. Yes, this actually made the run more fun. I had a bit more bounce in my step and maneouvered over roots and down the dirt steps. I was careful going down these steps because the last time I darn near went arse over tea kettle on them when my shoelace got caught on a railway tie.

It only took me about 10 minutes to get through this part so I decided to head out to the dirt road that connects with the path and takes you to 'Dr. Fosters'. I swear he has the most brilliant house around as it's nestled far away from town in a valley. Sigh.

As I neared the dirt road I thought I heard a scream. Not a human scream, but an animal scream. Needless to say I stopped dead in my tracks. I had tissue in my ears (I get earaches from the cold) so I wasn't sure exactly what I was hearing...but I wanted to figure it out before I went ahead. I saw through the tress that some Yahoo in a giant truck had his brakes on and was screeching the tires - hence the 'screaming' sound. Eejit. I didn't know what was up so I just hung back until they squealed off. Good thing I could hide out in the trees with my ultra neon yellow jacket!!

I think that incident kind of spooked me because then my imagination started to play with me. As I ran up the road to Fosters I kept wondering if the bears in the area were hibernating and when exactly was the last time someone saw a cougar up here?! (The furry variety, not the gaudy variety.)

The run to the turnaround point was uneventful, thankfully, but I did imagine having a cougar leap out at me and me having to wrestle with the thing whilst saying 'I really don't want to hurt you!'. Of course because I was Princess Runs With Braids Crunching Leaves I won the wrestling match.

I turned back after half an hour. As I was running I noticed a wet spot on the road. Hmm....dog pee or big kitty pee?? No, there was nothing else around that would make that.

Now if I were Brian Keating, I would have gotten on all fours and sniffed it. But I'm not, so I didn't. Ew. I did have heightened Spidey senses after that though. I kept checking around me and looking in the trees. 'Here kitty, kitty...'

As I neared the pathway I was to run back on, I saw two trucks stop. This is not a through road so I was wondering what they were doing. As I got closer I saw it was a bunch of kids, likely taking a lunch break from school. I didn't check out what else they could be doing.

I was much happier once I got back on the trail and was root jumping again. I was still on the lookout for felines, but at least I could hear people on the other side of the creek so if need be I could yell.

One of these days I'm going to have to read up more on the wildlife around here. It seems funny to think that we have wild animals nearby, but this town really isn't far from where they live and they have been known to stop by for a nibble or two.

I had a great run, although my mind was preoccupied with whether or not I was going to encounter a really big kitty. Perhaps next time I run out there I'll take a friend - one that's slower than me of course.

Peace out my friends.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

The Soloists...

So what happens when you put two triathletes, who normally train solo, into a room together?

Well, you get a lot of burping and farting, some heavy breathing, but not a whole heck of a lot of talking.

At least when you put Julie and I in a room that is the outcome! As part of my triathlon rehab weekend I joined in on Julie's bike workout. I knew it would be a good challenge because the most I'd done in the last three months is about 45 minutes. Just one steady pace for 45 minutes. Wait, I might have done an hour two months ago! You get the picture though.

This workout; however, was 1:35 hours and had hard bits to it! Gulp.

After some major trainer issues - I somehow managed to strip a screw on my trainer, so couldn't put in the lift so that I could adjust the trainer for use with my aero bike, which has 650 tires rather than 700 tires - major urgh...I finally borrowed Julie's old trainer. Thankfully she had one!

Julie was on her computrainer and positioned towards the computer screen. Initially I set my bike up so it was beside her, but I don't like distractions like music or tv/video so I decided after 10 minutes of spinning to turn my bike so I was looking out the french doors. Ahhh. Good ol' Mother Nature. That was to be my view.

You can imagine what it looked like now. Two of us in one small room. One facing the computer and with headphones on and tunes cranked, the other facing away and perpindicular to her counterpart, staring out a window. Yup, we are definitely used to training on our own! Needless to say we were as happy as little kids having cake and ice cream for dinner!

The workout itself was awesome! Some warm up, then intervals at a steady pace, in overgear, fast spinning, then easy spin for 5 minutes. We had three sets of these.

The first set was pretty good. I had to keep reminding myself that it had been a while since I worked this hard on the bike so as not to get discouraged.

As we went along our merry way, the only thing I heard out of Julie was the odd fart here and there. Oh, and burps. It was hilarious because at first she was apologizing for farting and I'm like, what for? Heck, we are triathletes, other than training what else do we do but fart and burp?! For those non tri geeks out there, it really isn't a very glamourous sport...but at least we aren't embarassed about bodily functions!

Julie lucked out today. Considering my arse was facing her, had it been a fart day for me she would have been in serious trouble! We kept joking 'BUT IT DOESN'T SMELL!!!' Instead I was practicing my 'Booger from Revenge of the Nerds' burps. Ah yes, a classy lass I am!

Aside from our bodily noises there was not much conversation going on. We were both really focussed on the task at hand. I was trying to tap into the signals my legs and arse were giving me. Signals such as 'no more...please'. I wasn't about to quit though. I was going to see this through the end. I needed to see this through the end.

The second set was reasonable, but the third one was killer. I kept pushing through the discomfort. It was great having intervals to follow because it gave my brain a bit of a break. I did my best to stay focussed, but the odd time my mind would wander. Likely some sort of pain defense mechanism...

When we were done I gave a hollar and we high fived. I felt GREAT! It was an awesome workout and I'm glad Julie was there. Even though we didn't chat, just having her presence in the room was encouragment and motivation!

Oh, and Julie, I apologize for the small lake that I left under the bike....did I mention I sweat a lot?!

Peace out my farty friends!!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Welcome the Inner Tri Geek...

The intent for this weekend was to get reacquainted with my old friend triathlon...so to speak.

I headed down to the Pass to hang with my good friend Julie and to do some swimming, running, biking and mass quanities of chatting.

I arrived on Friday and after three hours straight of non stop talking, we hit the hay to get a good night's rest before today's activities. As I'm not on a training program at the moment I was going to follow along with Julie and what she had going on. I knew we were going to go for a run in the morning, but what I didn't know was that Julie does 15 minutes of core beforehand.

This is where the inner tri geek in me emerged after a long hibernation...

For those of us old enough - think back to a Looney Tunes cartoon where there is a small terrier type dog who is very excited and chatty hopping back and forth over the ultra cool bulldog, Chester. I think the chatty dog is going on about getting that cat, Sylvester. Anyways, when Julie mentioned doing some core I became the little terrier and the dialogue went something like this, quite rapidly and with much enthusiasm...

'You're going to do core??? I'll do core with you!! How long are you going do to core??? I love core!!! I haven't done core in forever!! Oh this is going to be fun!! Can I do core with you??? Here's something I've done before!! What exercises are you going to do???'

Julie's core got a workout as she laughed at me. She then commented that it was too bad her hubby wasn't there to see this scene on the kitchen floor as he wouldn't believe her when she told him that there is someone else on this planet that can get as excited about working out as her! That's when I realized it - I really was a tri geek.

I'd tried to bury that side of my personality for a while because I like variety and wanted to do some other things in the 'off season'. Plus, sometimes I think people think that's all I'm about. Really though, it's never gone. Once a tri geek, always a tri geek no matter if you are training in swim/bike/run or going out for a xcountry ski or even studying Buddhism. Time to just accept this fact I think!

After our BRILLIANT core session, we headed out for a run. I'd like to take this moment to say how thankful I am to have such thoughtful friends such as Julie and Trudy. The past two weekends I've been blessed to have friends who have invited me to their mountain homes then shared places to go running or hiking because they knew how much I'd love to see it. So thank you, thank you!

Julie took me to a dirt road that meandered, ever so gradually, up into the mountains. Well, and to a Shell plant or something. However, the part we were in was gorgeous as I had incredible views of the mountains, including Crows Nest mountain, as well as being surrounded by wonderful, glorious trees. Even the wee bit of snow that was falling like bits of styrofoam weren't a concern.

I don't have much of an ego so it was easy to let go any Idid have and tell Julie to do her own thing and run ahead. She has a faster pace than I and I really didn't want to try and keep up. I was happy keeping my heart rate down and being mindful of how my legs and IT band were feeling.

As I ran up the road I was greeted by a raven flying overhead and cawing a sweet hello to me. I kept looking around where I was running and was in awe of the view. You couldn't see any buildings and it was almost as if it was back in the early 1900's when the towns below were just starting out with the mines. At one point I heard the far off sound of a train horn honking and could almost picture the old style trains that chug-a-lugged through there.

The nearby valley was lush with dark green pine tress save for one lone golden tree that popped out above all the rest. Aaaah. This was peace.

Of course in any area of peace where I happen to be, there has to be some minor issue. Mine was a stuffy, yet runny nose. I did my best to blow some snot rockets but my boogers were that sticky viscous type so really I was only managing to blow a big snot bubble and have it hang in my nostril. Ew. I did my best to wipe it off all over my jacket sleeves while also trying to inhale it back into my sinuses. Needless to say, it was a bit messy. Ah well, it's not like there are any cute dudes up here I'm trying to impress, right?? So I kept running on.

I was having a great run and was suprised to see that 35 minutes had gone by and it was time to turn around. I touched a tree at my turnaround point and thanked it for being there. (I do not kid when I say I'm a tree hugger!) I then started making my way back.

I was about to round a corner when I realized something was coming towards me - and quickly. My thoughts went quickly to, 'Shite! I can't remember if this is bear area?! Then again, I'm in the friggin trees in the Pass, of course it's bear territory!'. This train of thought only took a few milliseconds when it finally registered that it was actually a dog running towards me. Huh, where's the owner?

That's when I saw the car. Needless to say the dog came straight towards me, no doubt already having sensed from a mile away that I would be the type of sucker to stop running and give some good behind the ear scritches. Which of course I did. The owner of said dog stopped his car to say hello and comment on my energy level being out there running. I believe he was implying he didn't have the energy to run with dog, who admittedly was quite speedy. Oh, remember that comment about no cute dudes being in the area....yup, you guessed it. He was cute. It SO figures... After a very brief conversation and wishing each other a good morning I continued on my way, checking for crusty boogers as I went, of course.

The remainder of my run was sheer bliss. I felt fabulous. It felt so great to be out there, having a lot of energy and running strong. Granted there was a slight decline, but also on the little hill I tackled I still felt great. A realization of why I love the sport of triathlon came over me. I love it because of training days like this when you are so grateful for the ability to run, your health and your fitness. I was running on sunshine!

As I neared the car I realized I'd had a negative split so still had about 8 minutes to make up. I turned around and started to run back up the hill. That's when I saw Julie. She called out she had more time to run and took a sharp left along another little road. I decided to give chase, as best I could, just for a little 'fartlek' at the end of the run.

It was great running through all the puddles and dips in the road, not to mention running around old abandoned mining buildings. I wasn't able to catch up, but thankfully I was able to keep the same distance between us. When we got back out to the main road we were both all smiles and giggles. It turned into a beautiful morning and we'd both felt great.

Later on we went for a short swim at the local kidney shaped pool. At least they had lane markers! I hadn't been in the pool in forever so wasn't sure what was going to happen. Thankfully I still remember how to swim and my breathing wasn't too bad. It will take some time to build back the endurance, but that's ok.

To celebrate our brilliant day we chowed down on some amazing curry. Really, you can't get much better than today!

Peace out my friends.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Hurry!!! Aum....

When you go to yoga you should be relaxed right?! Somehow I never am, at least when I first get in there, after that I'm ok. On Thursday's I have a meeting that I have to attend until 12pm. Unfortunately we are talking about a room full of engineers... Who knew they liked to talk so much!

Oh wait, I talk a lot. Well, okay, I do talk a lot but not about engineering. I swear. Anyways, I'm always looking at the clock every minute as the hand gets closer to twelve. My yoga class starts at 12:10pm. I've even told the guys, 'Look, I am outta here at noon because I have yoga. It keeps me centred and trust me you don't want to see me off centre!'. They are pretty good at accepting this, but sometimes it takes everything to get them to stop on time.

Because I'm the one facilitating the meeting, technically I have to stay till the end. I was trying my best to get them to stop, but they kept talking. I had literally packed up my stuff and was walking out the door with them still talking. Hint, hint. This gal has somewhere to go!

With 3 minutes before class, I sprinted to the yoga studio, which was just across from my work, ran up the stairs and breathlessly gasped, 'Can I still get in the 12:10 class??' Thankfully they let me in. Bless them!

I then changed clothes so fast that Superman would be proud. They had just started as I quietly slipped in the room. Everyone was looking very peaceful lying on their mats with eyes closed and doing the Darth Vader breathing. I tip toed around all these sprawled bodies to the only spot left...dead front. Sigh. Oh well, this is Susi peace time, not Susi cares what people think of my technique time!

I hadn't been in a couple weeks so wasn't sure how things would feel. For the most part all was ok...except when we had to do a bunch of balance poses. Starting with plank, lift one leg up, (heave ho!) bend other knee (creaaak), move one hand (grunt), place other hand on hip (getting muscle wobbles now), turn body, look to the ceiling (please don't let me fall over...i'm in the front), hold and try to breathe normally. ARSE CRAMP!!! Ow, ow, ow. Okay, I seriously need to visit more.

We did quite a bit of core and balance work so I was quite releaved when she said to lay face down on the mat. Here is where I noticed something though. She told use to lay with our hands by our side and our foreheads on the mat. Hmm, something isn't quite right here. I can't get my forehead on the mat. Well for crying out loud - it's my nose!

As mentioned in previous posts, I am partially of Dutch descent. I have the nose to prove it too. It's bold and it's all cartiledge baby! Doesn't bend. At all. Really. You can come try and bend it, but it won't. Well, not unless I've had one too many Jack Daniels - but that's a story for another time. So I'm trying to get my forehead on the mat and I can't squish my nose into the floor so this can happen. I tried very hard not to giggle out loud... I then improvised and just put my head to the side until we had to lift our chest and legs off the floor.

Soon enough it was time to lay back and just be. Aahhhh.

It was a great workout and all was well in yoga world!

Peace out my bendy friends!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Trying To Find Balance...

So one of the learnings that somehow fell out of my little half marathon the past week was that I need to find some balance in my training - or rather balance when I'm not "training".

During my so-called 'on season', or rather race season, I train like a mad woman. Like most people training for an Ironman, I'd find myself training six days a week with at least three of those days doing double shifts (ie swim/bike, or bike/run). Let's not forget the loooong trainer or outdoor bike rides and runs. Needless to say it gets rather time consuming.

This is not a complaint however. It's what I choose to do because I love the lifestyle, the fitness, and the opportunity at the end of it all to challenge my mental and physical abilities in one of the greatest endurance races available.

After the race is done, then what? Some get right back on the horse and start over again training for another race. Others train for a different type of race, perhaps a marathon or something.

What I seemed to have done the past two years that I've been involved in Ironman is...well...is not a whole heck of a lot once the race is done. It's almost like I get burnt out from being constantly on a schedule for 6-8 months, so I just want to rebel and do nothing.

After IMCDA this year I did keep up the exercise and I was impressed with my recovery. I wasn't on a schedule and I enjoyed working out. Then after IMC, which I didn't do but cheered a good majority of my friends on, it seemed my training, or exercising as it should be called now, fell off the rails.

I got caught up in other aspects of my life - school, fundraising, and work. I realized after the half marathon that this really didn't sit well with me. I gained weight and when I did go out for a run it wasn't as easy as before. Granted I was still in better shape than a good percentage of the population, but it wasn't to the standard that I'm comfortable with. And that's the important part - 'the standard that I'm comfortable with'.

I decided to make some shifts in my life. I started to clear out some of the clutter - at least what I could for the month of October. Then I made sure to keep November pretty clear too, except for the necessities. Next thing I did was come up with an exercise plan that I would find enjoyable and would take me to January when I will get back into the mode of Ironman training.

Oh, that was the other thing that struck me...if I don't maintain a certain level of fitness then January's Ironman training was going to come at me like a cannonball and that just wouldn't be very fun.

I truly admire people like my friends Greg and Julie who can, for the most part, go almost all year round training for their sport. I don't think I could do it. That said, next year will be like that for me as I'll have IMC in August, then IMCozumel in November. This will be a challenge because I really do like variety in my life - that includes in my training. But that's next year and not my concern in the present moment.

So what am I doing now? Well, I'm making a few trips to the mountains to see friends and do some activities like hiking and trail running, which I love to do. This coming weekend, I'm going to follow my friend Julie and her IM program, for Saturday and Sunday, as a way to get a little more motivated. Also, I'm making plans to hit the mountains more in order to get some major cross country skiing in this year - instead of running all the time. Lastly, I've also signed up for another three months of yoga. It sounds like a lot, but really I'm just trying to get in 45 minutes to an hour a day of something!

Of course I'm also getting back into the basics - running and biking - just to make sure my body remembers what it will need to do next year. On Monday I hopped on the trainer for 45 minutes and had a pretty good workout. (Although I'm sure it's nothing like the 1.5 hours I will be doing with Julie this weekend!) I've actually been using my trainer time for quiet time. Life has been a wee bit hectic of late and I like just zoning into what my body is doing on the bike. That means no music and no dvd's or anything. It's quite peaceful.

Tonight I got out for an, almost, hour long run with one of my dearest friends, Leslie. Her life has been as 'full' as mine has so we haven't had a lot of time to touch base, which is unusual for us. On the off chance that she might be free tonight I called her as I was leaving work to see if she could fit in a run and chat. As luck would have it she could.

We had a wonderful time running along the river pathway and catching up on all that life has been offering us of late. There was a Chinook arch in the sky and the clouds looked incredible! The clouds were full of swirls and billowy and the sky beyond was the brightest budgie blue. It was gorgeous, not to mention warm!

I'm thankful that I realized that just because I'm not training for an Ironman, or some other event, that doesn't mean I can just sit on my haunches. (Actually, I don't think I ever thought it did mean sit and do nothing, I just somehow lost all motivation or something.) Instead, I have to keep up the fitness, just perhaps not at the level of race season. After all, I never was a couch potato when I wasn't triathlon training, so why start now?! Fitness has always been part of my life and always will be. Not only does it bring me good health, but also peace and serenity.

Hmmm, perhaps that's why I was starting to feel ill a while back - because I hadn't been working out, therefore I lost that place of peace and serenity. Definitely food for thought...

Peace out my friends!

Monday, 20 October 2008

I Heard The Call Of The Mountains...

I was back playing in the mountains this weekend and it was brilliant!! I met up with my friends Trudy and Spring for a wee bite then a short walk. Spring's back was hurting so she opted out of the hiking we had planned. At least we got a good walk and talk in around town and I got to learn a bit more about Canmore.

Funny thing, as I was walking I heard someone yell 'Susi??' Sure enough there was Katie going for a run! She was sneaking in a run while her students were running in the Alberta XCountry races up at the Nordic Centre. Hopefully they all had a great time and achieved the goals they set.

Aftering saying goodbye to Spring, Trudy and I headed out for a hike. I had no preference as it's a veritble playground out there so Trudy suggested we drive out to the Shark Mountain area.

In town it was rather cloudy and continued to be so as we slowly gained elevation. Just as we came out of the valley though we were met with looming mountains topped with snow and bright blue sky! I couldn't help but wonder how many people stayed inside cause it was so grey out and yet with a short drive you could find sunshine?! Likely not many in Canmore - EVERYONE goes outside and does something. It's fabulous!

Rather spontaneously, Trudy asked if I'd ever climbed to the top of a mountain before. Hmmm.... Well, I hiked up to Bow Hut before! For me that was the top, but Trudy corrected me on that one. Oh ya, there was the glacier above. Whooops!

It was decided then. We were going to climb up Chinaman's Peak. Now I know that's not the new politically correct name for the mountain, but I can't remember the new name right now so you'll have to forgive me.

Up we started to go. About 10 minutes in I realized it might have helped if I'd taken a puff of my inhaler...which I forgot to bring. Oh well. I would just take it slow. Below is just one of the stunning views I had during our climb.

You know what I learned about climbing a mountain? It's all up. Up and up and up and more up. The other thing I learned is that it smells divine in amongst the glorious trees. Between wheezes I was taking deep sniffs of the air. Oh the wonderful, delightful smell of pine, dirt and fresh air. There is no better smell I swear!

What a great workout too. I was sweating up a storm! I have no idea what my heart rate was but I'm sure it was as high as when I do MAPS on the bike! Who knew that 'walking' could kick such butt! Trudy was cool as a cucumber. I am not actually sure she broke a sweat even. This is her town and her mountains though so she is one fit woman. She mentioned that there are runners in town that go from town centre all the way up this mountain to the peak, which is where we were headed. Running??? Yes, running. HOLY HANNAH! I was in maximum heart rate zone just walking up the darned thing.
The higher we climbed the more snow we encountered. At one point I started to get a bit concerned because my shoes weren't quite grippy enough. Trudy thought the same thing too. It wasn't bad climbing up, but it was pretty steep in sections and coming down would be an issue. About halfway up the mountain we both agreed the smart thing to do would be to turn around. It was a bit dicey getting back to the area that had no snow - so I was glad we turned around when we did. The trees helped us though as they let us hang on as we stepped/slide along certain sections. Just another reason why I love trees!

It took us almost two hours to do what we did, but we were craving more. So Trudy suggested another hike we could do that was close by. This is one of her happy places and I was honoured she shared it with me.
As we drove by Chinaman's Peak Trudy pointed out that that's where we'd been hiking to. It was the top of the peak in the picture below.

I somehow hadn't pictured that was where we were going as we hiked through the trees. My first word was 'SERIOUSLY??? We were heading to that peak?? Up there?? Waaay up there??' I started to get whooozie. A little secret about me...I am terrifed of heights and get vertigo. Just looking up I was wobbly.
I promise, I've been trying to rid myself of my fear of heights. I've even gone indoor climbing. The climbing part I love! It's the letting go at the top and get lowered part that is a bit tricky. It usually takes me about 5 minutes to actually let go. This is while whoever is holding the rope is saying 'Susi, I promise it's ok, just let go of the rocks and push out from the wall'. That's when I say 'OK'....and continue to cling to it like poop to a cow's butt. This goes on for several minutes until I take a deep breath, close my eyes and let go. Yup, I'm a wuss.

Trudy figured maybe it was best that we didn't climb to the top after hearing that. She did promise to take me up some other mountains though so I could slowly prepare myself to make the trip up there one day. I will rid myself of this fear!
The next hike was much more gentle. We headed towards Grassi Lakes. It was getting later so the sun was starting to make it's descent. As it was, it filtered through the trees. It was a beautiful sight, for which my photography does not do it justice. I kept expecting to see fairies and gnomes playing!

We walked up the stairs that Mr. Grassi himself had built out of the rocks in the area. It was great! When we got up to the lakes, the magic continued. I could spend all day up there. Trudy mentioned that when the sun hits the lakes they turn a bright turquoise. There was a tiny bit that we could see, which I tried to take a photo of.

It took us about an hour to climb up and down to Grassi Lakes. So all in all we got some good hiking in. Later on in the evening we enjoyed a presentation put on by Brian Keating of the Calgary Zoo. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak I highly recommend going.

He shared tales of his and his wifes adventures in the Arctic, South America and the Himilayas. He is wonderfully funny and so entertaining that I hardly knew that 2.5 hours had gone by!

The next day we headed out for a run along the river. We had a blast in the trails, hopping over roots and dodging trees. Oh, and the odd yellow lab that came ambling by looking for his tennis ball. The run felt great. Most likely because I was running through the trees and when I looked up I could see the snow kissed mountains that surrounded us. All together now, 'Sigh'.

One word describes my weekend - Nirvana.

Peace out my brilliant friends!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Why Training Is Necessary...

Well I did it. I ran the Royal Victoria Half Marathon with barely any training. The result? PAIN! Pain in a good way though.

I had had a great run a couple days prior. Just a half hour around the parental unit's neighborhood. I thought to myself, if I can feel this good in the race I will be a very happy camper.

The morning of the race was upon me soon enough. I had dined on a feast of sushi the evening before so felt well fueled for the event. I've run this race two times prior, and both times were rather soggy. This time however, it was overcast but a great temperature. Oh and the sun did come out after a bit!

I ran for 10 minutes prior to the race in order to warm up. I don't find I do too much running before a half marathon because I try to use the first few kilometers of the run to warm up and get into a comfortable pace.

At 7:30am the gun went off! With high energy I began my saunter. Yes, saunter. There are so many people at this darned event that it takes a loooong time to get to the start line. When I finally did I was able to start running right away.

I must take time here to vent a wee bit. Well, perhaps vent is too strong a word, but I'm going to complain a bit. Here's the thing....if you are a walker in a running event - PLEASE STAY TO THE BACK OF THE PACK! Sheesh. First off, to all those that walk a half marathon I give you a hearty HOOYAH! I mean, hey, you are out there doing it too and I really admire that. Perhaps this will be your stepping stone to running it in the future? I like walkers. Honestly. I don't mind them in races at all. However, what I do mind is walkers several people wide walking in front of the runners. At the very least move to the side of the road. Pretty please!

But I digress. So I was off like a herd of turds. We wrapped around the Parliment buildings where I saw Mom and Dad and smiled for a photo op. It was the start and I am happy to report I felt great. Good pace, steady breathing, looked at my heart rate....oh. Hmm. I wonder if that's high. Well I am in a race and it's the start so I'll just go with it. My breathing seems fine...

I shall spare you all the nitty gritty details of the first 17 kms of the run. The gist of it is I was having a wonderful time. I challenged myself with my pace, I charged up the inclines, I smiled a lot, I enjoyed the view, and I stayed in the moment. All was well until....

Until I hit the 17 km mark. Or was it the 16 km mark? I am not sure, but it's a bit of a moot point. Someone thought it would be funny to put a wall up somewhere between the 16 and 17 km mark and I hit it. Hard. Ooompff. Oh. This is why we train for half marathons. Nuts!

You know that sound that a guitar string makes when it snaps? Well I'm sure I started hearing that. Left hip - ping! Right hip - ping! Right quad - piNG! Right IT band PING!!!! Oh my. I was hurting. A lot. For a very split second I thought of stopping. But what if I was near the two hour mark, I thought. I could look at my watch...no, I can't do that. I just must push on no matter what. Please Universe let me get to the finish of my own power and not of that of a medical team. That would upset the parental unit.

I knew what I had to do to get to that finish line...it was now IRONTIME! Time to pull out my killer mental strength and push on. So for 2 km I said to myself, rather forcefully, 'I am strong, I am powerful! I can do this!' With about 1.5 km left I heard two fellows talking behind me. One mentioned he'd hoped to break two hours, but it looked like it would be more like 2:10. Pooh! I wasn't going to get under 2 hours.

Did I slow down after hearing that?! Hell no! Well, not voluntarily at least. I started back into my mantra and tried to run as hard as I could. At times I wondered if I was moving at all because I felt like my pace had slowed so much in the last few kilometeres. There was really nothing I could do though. I was even gritting my teeth. Then I remembered the best thing to do to relax is smile. So I did. Kind of. I tried at least. Not sure if it looked like a smile.

Finally I could hear the Mighty Steve King's voice and I could see the finish line. Dad called out to me but it was all I could do to keep one foot going in front of the other to the finish. At last - I was there!

I must say, I wasn't super stoked about my time, 2:07:07, but I also wasn't disappointed. I was 30 seconds slower than the last two times I'd run here. I should add that I trained for those races!

After the race I did what I normally do - I reflected on the event to see what I could learn....

  • The most obvious lesson - TRAIN for races!

  • Although Victoria is not a 'hilly' route, it is undulating and that is challenging in it's own right. I don't think I've given it credit before.

  • I have to find a balance between Ironman training season where I'm all about training, and the off season. This year, I seemed to think the off season meant do very little. Granted there were some reasons for not being able to train a lot, but I really need to get at least an hour a day five days a week.

  • My lack of training has aided in my weight gain and I'm not happy about it. I am not going to worry about it though, I'm just going to get back into a normal exercise routine. (I don't consider IM training 'normal'.)

  • I like the CarbBoom chocolate gels - they are quite yummy!

  • Although I don't set time goals for triathlon, due to my 'still learning endurance' physical ability, I really would like to break that two hour mark and I think I can with some actual training.

  • I'm quite proud of myself for getting to the finish when I did. Was it my goal? No. Was I upset that I didn't reach my goal? Nope! I just sat back and thought about how I could learn from the experience. It was all good.

So to sum up, it was a great day out there. Granted I am still paying for it physically. Although I can now go up a set of stairs, going down is rather awkward, not to mention somewhat painful. I realize just how much you use core stability in a race because it's been a couple of days and I still can't cough without feeling my sides ache. Sheesh. I am so thankful I have an accupuncture appointment tomorrow. Val will make things all better!

I hope everyone had a brilliant Thanksgiving weekend. I know I did!

Peace out my ever thoughtful friends!

PS. On the way to the car, after the race, I managed to find a place to sit for a moment...

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

I Tried...I Promise...

Okay, I have NO idea what is going on with this body of mine, but I'm starting to feel like someone with narcolepsy. A person who falls asleep several times during the day, but can't get a good night sleep. Not to be confused with the other word that is similar to this one, but means something super icky. Ew.

Aside from getting the head nods super bad at work (I'm thinking I need to put a cushion in front of my keyboard so I don't hurt my head on my desk), I actually fell asleep during my teleclass call last night! HOW HORRIBLE!

When I got home last night, after work, I was already tired but I knew I wanted to hop on the trainer and get a workout in. My teleclass was at 5pm so the plan was to do that, then get on the bike. I thought to myself, if I put on my bike clothes now, then I will have more motivation to get on the bike! So I did.

Unfortunately this didn't happen. I tried. I promise. Thing is I was so groggy after the class that I could barely think straight. (I should probably point out this is a class I'm interested in, so it wasn't lack of interest that made me sleepy.) Which is another problem I've been having with this lack of energy/sleep thing - not being able to think clearly! So I decided just to sit on my couch and meditate for a while. I think that lasted all of five minutes. I'm sleepy, yet restless. Go figure. Later I had some grub, read and called in for my second class of the evening.

I really hope whatever this is passes soon. It's getting quite frustrating.

On a more positive note, I did get on the trainer last Sunday and it felt great. It's been really windy out lately (yesterday we had 70-100 km/h winds!) hence the trainer workouts rather than going outside. My goal was to do 45 minutes and just go by feel. I felt pretty strong throughout the workout and held a steady pace. I'm not officially in training and am only doing sporadic bike workouts, so I was quite pleased with the pace. I think next year is going to be another stellar year for me in improving my bike strength and endurance!

Hmmm, I wonder if maybe I need to get back on some sort of schedule for working out. Maybe that will help my energy levels a bit? I'm not sure.

Oh well...in the words of one of my favourite sayings "This too shall pass".

Peace out my vibrant friends!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

A Trip To Canmore...

I met an amazing woman named Trudy when I went to my yoga retreat in Golden a few weeks ago. She is a fellow yoga practitioner as well as runner who lives in Canmore. She mentioned that she’d be happy to show me some of the trails out there and go for a run with me if I were interested. Hmmm…Canmore, mountains, trees, river, and running? Well you don’t have to ask this gal twice!

So this Saturday I packed up my sneakers and headed out there.

As I was driving towards the mountains it struck me how gorgeous this area of the province is. The soft rolls of the foothills that are all covered in warm yellows from the hay bales, fall poplar trees and non stop farm land; the sumptuous dark green of the evergreen trees that disperse themselves amongst the yellow backdrop, and finally the slate grey of the Rocky Mountains that watch over the whole scene. I was temped to pull the car over and start running nonstop, Forrest Gump style, through the fields! It was that inviting.

When I got to Trudy’s she suggested a few different areas we could run. I was drooling. Hills? Trails? River? Uhm, uhm, I have no idea which one to pick! I wanted to do them all. We ended up heading to where the Canmore Half Ironman swim took place – I forgot the darn name of the lake – we parked there then found the trail we wanted and started to run uphill.

Before I get into the wisdom of hill running in Canmore, let me just say that where we running was definitely a happy place! I love trail running. I love the smell of the trees, hopping over roots, sidestepping berry patches, squishing through moss, and dodging branches. I really did love being on that trail, but my calves and heart were questioning the wisdom of going up and up and up.

Why? Because I was running up a friggin Rocky Mountain is why. I kept thinking there would be a flat spot at some point. I have no idea why I thought that considering I was on a mountain. Ya, my little wee rolling foothills, which include my bonus hill, have nothing on ‘hill’ training out here! It wasn’t just me wondering if this was the right route to take. Trudy, who has run 4 half marathons in the past couple months (one in Iceland!) was also feeling it. The last half she did was just the past weekend so she was still in recovery mode. She’s an amazing athlete, but at about the 20 minute mark we both admitted that this was not the run we should be doing today.

We decided we’d head back to the start and run one of the flatter trails. She let me lead, which may not have been the smartest move. I quickly managed to lose the trail and so we were pretty much bushwhacking. I have no idea how I get myself into these predicaments, I just do. It was then I mentioned to Trudy that I have a blog that was all about the wee adventures I get myself into. This was one of them. It was all good though!

We were having fun climbing down and found our way into a neighborhood somewhere. Trudy wasn’t quite sure where we were, but she’s an adventure seeker like me so was happy to find another trail that ran back into the woods and we followed that. Eventually we made our way back to a flatter section of the trail and took off from there.

We ran along the reservoir, which has a nice gravel pathway. The water in the reservoir is this insane green-blue colour. It was awesome. I asked if you could swim in it. Trudy just said, put your hand in and tell me if you would swim in that! I then noticed the waterfall that was coming off one of the mountains feeding it. Oh. Glacier water. Perhaps not.

We followed this pathway and made our way back to the parking lot. This section of run was brilliant. It was more in line with what we needed today – a little less intensity and it allowed us to chat and get to know one another a bit more. I found out that Trudy is indeed an adventurous person – she’s been to the Antarctic, climbed Kilimanjaro TWICE, among a ton of other things.

I was very grateful to her for sharing with me some of the areas she enjoys running in Canmore. We have more runs planned and agreed that we both wanted to tackle the hilly trail again, but next time we’d warm up a bit more!

One thing I noticed as I ventured around town was just how active the community is there. There were tons of people out walking, mountain biking, hiking, running, and just being out there and moving! I passed a whole family out for a mountain bike ride – kids and all! It was truly brilliant to see.

Trudy mentioned the possibility of renting out her place...my gerbil hopped on his treadmill for a bit. Man could I ever see myself living out there with all the mountains, trails, and active people!

Peace out my nature loving friends!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Guess What I Signed Up For???

Yup, that's right. Little miss five-foot-two-of-fury-ninja-princess-she-ra-mighty-triathlete has is actually going to attempt back to back Ironman races in 2009.

All together now "GULP!"

Ironman Cozumel is November 29, 2009 - just three months after Ironman Canada, which I have also signed up for. Do I have any idea how I'm going to pull this off? No. That's ok though. I've recently learned that as long as I know what I want - the Universe will take care of 'how' I get it.

Of course I realize that part of the how will include a shite load of swimming, biking and running. Oh and yoga. I'm not giving up my yoga!

Next year is going to be one heck of an adventure year - full of learning, growth, challenges and stuff I probably can't even imagine. How cool is that going to be?!

You know what this calls for?? One big HOOOYAAAAAHHH!!!!!

Peace out my wonderful friends!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

La La Land...

Holy hannah I've been tired lately! More tired that I ever am when I'm in 'serious' training mode. I swear I can barely make it through the work day without wanting to nod off...badly. I was so sleepy today that this morning I had to go for a brisk walk around the block a couple of times. I enjoyed being outside, but when I got back to my desk, my head almost hit the keyboard with the huge head nod I occurred. Sigh...

I hoped that my lunchtime yoga might give me a bit of a boost. As is typical, before the class starts, I laid flat on my mat and focussed on my breathing. My breathing was just about to get much deeper and much louder when the yogi got us to start moving. Rats!

Even in my yoga I seem to be sluggish - I just don't know what is going on with my body! I'm not very happy about it though. Thankfully, for the first few poses he just had us doing some nice gradual slow stuff.

The next thing I knew, though, we were doing speed yoga and I almost couldn't keep up! It was actually quite amusing. I forced myself to hold some of the tougher poses to really get my muscles working and the blood flowing. One day someone will have to put a mirror in front of my face so I can see just what it looks like as I try not to grimace, but smile as my thighs and buttocks scream in pain while I try to hold a squat for far too long!

I think our yogi doesn't know how to count either...as I was deep in a lunge, with hands outstretched to the ceiling he said we'd hold this for a count of 7 breaths. Okay, I can do that. 1....2....3.... Next thing I hear is him stating, okay, 6 more breaths. NOOOOOO!! My body proceeded to do what would appear to be a speed wobble...but I had no speed and wasn't on a bike.

He did this a few times during the class. It was good practice in maintaining calm and ridding yourself of feelings of wanting to tackle the yogi.

After all was said and done I felt really great, and the sleepiness had receeded a teeny bit. It surfaced again by the time I had to go home, unfortunately. I was ready to fall asleep by 5:30 pm. So sad.

That said, due to the inspiration and motivation of Shannon and Greg, I managed to haul my arse upstairs, get changed and get on my bike. You know, I realized that the toughest part about working out is getting changed into workout duds. Once you do that it's like, okay, now I have to do this! And then, it's not so bad.

I only rode for 30 minutes and covered just 10 km, but I felt really good. Maybe Greg was right, maybe my body is trying to tell me to get back into regular training. My September was a bomb for training and perhaps I'm paying for it by feeling constantly sluggish and sleepy. Only one way to find out - get back into a more regular exercise routine!

Thanks Boys for getting me back in the game!! I owe ya!

Peace out my glorious friends!