Wednesday, 26 November 2008

No Pain...No Gain...

I wasn't going to do it...I was going to pass. No pushup workout for this gal - we'd just move it to another night. Then I read a comment someone posted suggesting perhaps that I was a baby because I collapsed in my first day of pushups. Or a baby for some reason - I'm not quite sure. However, it was all I needed to get me to drop on the floor and giver.

It mattered not that running down the stairs jiggled my funbags which made my now sensitive pecs hurt, it mattered not that I went to yoga and had to drop like a sack of dung when we were to lower ourselves slowly to the floor because my triceps hurt so much, and it mattered not that just a brushing of my ribcage made me whimper. I was going to do my darn sets of pushups because I am SO not a wuss.

Perhaps I should re-read my buddhist books on letting go of ones ego...

I looked at the nights workout. Five sets of the following reps of pushups - 14, 19, 14, 14, and at least 19. I cringed. Then I assumed the position and fueled with more than a little Dutch/Scottish determination I attacked the first set.

No problem. Bring me more! But first let's let the old ticker slow down a bit....

I took longer than sixty seconds between the sets, but I didn't care. I was actually able to do all the sets without collapsing during them. Nice. Day two and we already seem to building some endurance here.

I actually think that doing the workout got rid of some of the stiffness I'd been feeling. Of course, if someone were to ever so gently touch my ribs or triceps I'd still drop to the floor and beg for mercy, but at least I can move a bit better!

So all I can say to that is 'security blankie my ass!'

Peace out my wonderful supportive friends!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Jello Arms...

As soon as I tried to raise myself out of bed this morning I realized something was wrong. The result of my little pushup adventure the night before left me without the use of my arms.

Okay, it wasn't THAT bad, but there was definitely a restricted amount of movement today. What I didn't realize was that it would get worse.

When I got to work I sent to my friend Dale, who was also taking this wonderful pushup challenge, a note that said 'I can't lift my arms.' His response? 'It hurt me to brush my teeth this morning. I couldn't brush my hair either because my head is higher than my mouth.' I was close to spitting out my oatmeal I laughed so hard over that one. I should mention he does pushups with his hands together so his thumbs and forefingers touch to make a diamond shape. Silly man. He's going to have triceps like wings by the end of this challenge!

I went about my workday as usual, with the limited mobility. At least I could rest my arms on my desk while I typed. My abs were starting to let me know that they worked out last night too.

At lunch time I headed over to the yoga studio. For a split second I debated taking the earlier, and easier class. There are times to wimp out though, and times not to wimp out. I decided this was a time not to wimp out.

There was a substitute yogini today. This made me a little nervous as now I really didn't know what to expect. I prayed I wouldn't have to hold a plank or anything for too long.

We did the usual sun salutations etc. Things were going very very well. I could hold downward dog, I just didn't take my time in between the movements when I was in plank. Of course, nothing ever stays that easy.

At one point she had us go into the plank position...I was getting very leary of what was to come next. As I heard the words 'lower yourself slowly to a count of four, then hover at least one inch above the floor for two counts, then slowly raise yourself' I started praying for strength. Please don't let me collapse into a heap. Please. I know we are supposed to leave our ego's at the door, but there are cute boys in this class. I don't want to fall in a quivering jello like heap in front of the cute boys. Or anyone for that matter!

I made it through this exercise - granted I was gritting my teeth, which really isn't very yoga like. I was focussing on my breathing though. It helped me to diffuse some of the pain. I'm surprised I didn't make a crying sound when she had us hold the plank then do core work. While in plank, we lifted one leg, brought our knee towards our chin, lifted it sideways, brought it back, then out, then down. With both legs. Without taking a break.

I know not how I managed to complete this set, but I did. Thankfully the rest of the class involved balancing. On our legs. When it was time for shivasna, I collapsed in a heap and just laid there.

The aftermath of all the pushups and my yoga is this....I can no longer raise my arms. I can no longer reach behind my back to scratch the itch I have. I will likely have to forgo brushing my teeth and doing my hair tomorrow morning. Oh, and my core? Let's put it this way. If I were to sneeze without bracing myself I would end up on the floor in fetal position sucking my thumb and begging for mercy.

Tomorrow's session of pushups is going to be very, very interesting. I still haven't read what I have to do. It's too scary. Granted, I could easily put it off for another night while I let my feeble muscles heal...but why on earth would I do that when I can continue the self torture of my body!

I better have Desiree Ficker arms after all this!!

Peace out my friends!

Monday, 24 November 2008

The Challenge...

I think it's pretty safe to say that the personality of a someone who participates in endurance triathlons would be one who will jump at mental and physical challenges...without actually reading the fine print of said challenge.

I can say with the utmost confidence that I am one of those types of people. It's how I ended up doing my first half Ironman. Granted there was also some Jack Daniels involved in that challenge acceptance. That's a story in and of itself.

This time there was no Jack Daniels, there was just this longing...a longing for a physical challenge. As always, the Universe provided!

My friend Jenna recently started the 100 pushup challenge. The details of which can be found at I had barely read what the challenge was all about when I'd already decided I was in. Apparantly Jenna figured this would be the case as she mentioned that she already accepted my participation...

Perhaps I should have read the fine print first?? My arms, chest, and core are begging that I had prior to starting out.

So what is this challenge? Well, one takes an initial pushup test, then for the next six weeks does five varying sets of pushups, three times a week, in order to build enough strength to be able to do 100 consecutive pushups.

My mind said, 'You can so do this! Didn't you used to do a million pushups in martial arts?! Go for it!' So I did. On Saturday I got up and did my intial test - I managed to squeeze out 23 pushups. I should add here that these aren't the sissy type of pushups either. No bending the knees, or going only partway down. Uh huh. These are military pushups. You start from a straight arm plank then lower yourself completely to the ground, then go back up again. It doesn't take long to feel these babys!

Satisfied with my test I went on the website and looked at what was next. Alrighty then - week one. I started to read the fineprint... Hmm, what's this? "More than 20 push ups? I would suggest starting the program on Week 3. Choose either Column 2 or 3 based on the number of push ups you managed in your initial test." Uh oh, I'm getting a bad feeling about this...

Week 3, column 2... Oh shiiiiite.... My first day would go like this, 12, 17, 13, 13, and maximum pushups (no less than 17). Oh dear. What have I gotten myself into. No one said anything about this!! Then again, how else would one get to 100 pushups I guess.

Deep breath. Okay. You can so do this. It's not like you just got off the couch or anything. Well, okay, you sort of got off the couch with this thing, but you've had greater challenges before. Just roll up the sleeves, get down on the floor and giver!

The first set was very doable. It gave me a false sense of confidence. The second set was a bit slower towards the end, but I squeaked them out. The third set was really slowing down. I had a little mental chatter of encouragement going on. Then I hit the fourth set...

I started questioning what the heck I was doing. Did I really need to be able to do 100 pushups? What, would I use this as a party trick to try and impress the boys?? Are boys even impressed by this kind of stuff, or does it scare them off?! Okay, must focus... I got the 13 done, but it wasn't pretty. I was actually in the plank position a little longer than I should of between a few of the pushups because I figured if I went down, I may never get back up. My arms were shaking badly.

I watched my timer as it slowly ticked off sixty seconds, the allotted time in between sets. One more set to go. I couldn't quit - it was only the first day after all. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...go!

Everything started out fine, until I hit number 7. My arms gave out and I collapsed into a mass onto the carpet. I started to wonder exactly what was in my carpet that I was enhaling. My hair was becoming very static like too. Okay, come on, get up and get going!

8 - 9 - 10 Boom! I collapsed again. This time I was a quivering heap. Please. No more. My heart was pounding in my chest and ears. I little trickle of sweat slipped down the side of my face. Almost there - you can do it!

11 - 12 - 13 - 14 Ungh! My cat had now started circling me. Meowing and taunting. I prayed he didn't get on my back while I was down. I couldn't lift his measly 5 lbs along with mine. Thankfully after his short session of meows he left the room. Here we go now, only three more to go! Why must I be so stubborn to have to finish these?

15 - 16 - sssssss OOOMPFF! Rats! AARRRGGGHH! 17!!!! Foomp! I was once again on the floor, but I did it. Oh the pride one feels when doing something so silly and for no really good reason.

Admittedly, I can now no longer lift my arms. They are still quivering. Kind of like in a horror movie when the arms get cut off or something...

I have no idea how they are going to be tomorrow - but I can imagine and it ain't a pretty sight. At the very least I hope I can reach my mouth to brush my teeth. I have no idea what I 'm going to have to do on Wednesday, I'm too scared to look.

Mental note - ALWAYS read the fine print before accepting a challenge!

Ya right, like I'll remember that for the next time.

Peace out my friends!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008


First and foremost - thank you everyone for your concern and amazing support. I am blessed to have so many people in my life that care and I'm truly grateful for it. I'm sending each and everyone of you the biggest cyber hug you've ever had!

My spirits have been slowly lifting back up to normal Susi level, which is usually a very high level! I must have had a little residual from the weekend because this morning they lagged a little bit - it was then that I made it my resolve to do something for my soul! I was going to Michael's yoga class.

Ah yes. Michael. The British yoga guru of all poses balanced, binding and completely insane! His class is a treat as much as it is a mental and physical challenge.

The class was pretty full when I entered and so I ended up at the front, situated beside the Amazing Plastic Yogi himself. Greaaat.

Before we started, I set my intention to let all my thoughts drift off and to focus on my body and my breathing. Then I dedicated my practice to my friend Tigger in the hopes that the healing energy will help her battle.

I knew with the first few breaths and poses that this was going to be a healing class - I could feel it deeply in my soul...

I had forgotten a hair band so was in there with blond mane flowing. This turned out to be a blessing as it helped me focus. With every forward bend my hair covered my face and I felt as if I were in my own little world. I was bending, stretching, folding, and reaching on my own terms and in rhythm to my own breath. I couldn't see anyone else so my practice wasn't based on what others were doing. My work, the accident, the car and my troubles no longer existed.

As usual the first part of the class was various versions of the sun salutations. I knew that Michael would slip in something tricky at some point and sure enough he did. I was in a deep front lunge, my hands were on either side of my front (right) foot, my chest resting on my thigh and my hair hanging damply over my face. Then he said it...

"Now put both arms on one side of your leg and slip your right arm through your forward leg so that the back of your knee is above the elbow..." It was then I thought immediatley of the game Twister! I LOVE the game Twister!! It's oh, so much fun. Especially when you were young and you had a crush on someone and they were playing too and you got to twist around them....sigh....oh, but I digress.

Okay, so there I am with my arm behind my knee, wedged between my calve and hamstring muscles...then he tells us to lift our toes off the ground. At first I thought he said foot and was laughing because I was totally immobile. Then I figured it out and got the wee tootsies to lift off. Victory!

We untangle ourselves from that pose, only to lead into another treat. I was deceived into thinking this would be an easier pose. At first we just had to sit on our butts with our legs straight out in front. I could totally do that! Then we bent one knee and picked our foot up. We then gently cradled our bent leg and foot, just like one would lovingly do with a baby. Aaaaahhh. This feels nice - a good stretch for that old tight IT band.

Unfortunately the pose didn't stop there. What the Bendy Yogi did next was insane. Err, I mean amazing. He actually wedged his shoulder under his knee so his foot and lower leg were hanging over his shoulder!

I admit, I did try to wedge my shoulder under my knee. I didn't get that far, just got it to my bicep. That's where my pose stopped. It was a really good stretch of the upper back though - something I really needed since the accident.

I couldn't do the rest of what he did, of course. In addition to dangling his leg over his shoulder he then levitated! Well, not quite levitated, but he might as well have! He picked his body up off the ground! There he was all twisted and holding himself up off the ground with his two arms.

Too bad I was in the front of the class, I would have loved to see if anyone else tried this trick. Michael does make the class fun when he does those poses, so you never feel like it's a bad thing if you can't do them. At least we all give it a try and we can get to a certain point!

It was an incredible class. I felt amazing afterwards and the cares that I were dashing around my brain when I entered the studio had subsided to a very manageable hum rather than a roar.

I find yoga very similar to sitting meditation. Sometimes you get in the 'zone' and sometimes you don't. When you find that zone though - it's Nirvana. Today I found that zone and I walked out of the studio with an intense energy coursing through my body. It's so hard to describe the feeling - but take the best moment ever in your life and multiply it by 10. That's how I felt.

Aum Baby Aum.

Peace out my friends.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Tear Therapy...

The latter part of the week has been a bit of a rough go for me. I don't think I realized just how rough until yesterday morning though.

It all started on Thursday morning as I drove to work. It was about 5:50 am and I was driving along the highway out of Cochrane in the pitch dark. I had the local country station on, as I sometimes secretly do. The song that was playing was one about love and how you make your mark of love on the world. In these trying times I was thinking what a beautiful statement that was.

As I was thinking about love, a deer ran across the highway. Unfortunately, it was so dark out I didn't see it until it was too late. I didn't even have time to hit the brakes - in hindsight this may have been one of the many factors that saved me from bodily harm.

I can't tell you what happened next because I don't know. I saw the deer, there was a loud bang, there was, what I realized later, air bag dust surrounding me, and then everything was dark and in slow motion. In a split second everything changed.

When I finally figured out what must have happened, I tried to see out the front window, steered my car to the road edge and stopped. At one moment I thought the deer was on the roof of my car, but it turned out that it was my hood that had become detached.

I then sat in my car shaking and crying. I knew that I had killed the deer. Thankfully, there was someone - it turned out he was my neighbor - driving behind me who stopped to see if I was okay. I had so much adrenaline flowing through me from the fear and shock that I really couldn't say.

I remember most parts of the story after that. I sat in my neighbors truck until the RCMP came, then I sat in the Constable's car until the tow truck came and gave what information I could. Then the RCMP took me home. I sobbed off and on that day as I went about the motions of calling the insurance company, calling my work, calling the car rental, picking up all my belongings from my car at the tow lot and calling my Mom and Dad to tell them what happened. My blessings go out to Esther, who stayed with me and helped me get around town to see my car and get the rental.

The next day I went to work. The drive in was a white knuckle ride. I was so scared it was going to happen to me again. I focused on the road, on my breathing and staying calm. I've never been a timid driver - this was very new territory for me. The entire day at work I had a sense of dread. I wanted to cry, but tried not to. I was at work after all.

People who had heard about the accident asked how I was. All I could say was that physically I was fine, but my spirit wasn't quite right.

I went to bed early that night - the weight of all that had happened was wearing on me.

On Saturday I didn't want to get out of bed. I just wanted to hide under the covers. It took me two attempts to get out of bed and stay out of bed. I thought that maybe what I needed was some exercise. I'd go for a run and all this emotion that was weighing me down would vanish! What better way to lift the spirit that to be out in nature??

I felt pretty good for about 20 minutes of my run, but then the emotions came back. As I was running I was fighting the tears. 'This is ridiculous', I thought. GET A GRIP!

When I finally did get home I managed to make it up the stairs to my room. That's as far as I got though. The weight of everything that had happened came crashing down. So there I laid, in the middle of my hallway floor, crying. I just let it all go.

I cried for the deer whose life I took, I cried for Mother Nature's forgiviness for not being able to miss hitting the deer, I cried for the guilt of killing an animal, I cried for the fear and sense of dread that had plagued me since, and I cried because I walked away from the accident when I know things could have been much, much worse. I'm not sure how long I was there. Long enough that my cat who'd followed me upstairs had circled me a few times, offering comfort, finally just sat down and waited it out.

I decided not to go to the mountains that evening as planned. Instead, I stayed home and let myself work through the emotions.

I realize now that I had to honour myself, honour the deer, and let the emotions of the events wash over me. If I didn't, I'd end up carrying them with me for much longer than necessary. I still feel sad about the events, but it's a sadness that I can now deal with. I know I will be my usual jovial person soon. Hopefully, driving will be less and less scary each time I do it. After all, how else will I get to my beloved mountains to go skiing, now that we have snow, if I don't drive??

Peace out my friends.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Hello Stranger...

Ah yes, the yoga studio. How I have missed thee…

I called the studio early to make sure they were open today, as it was Remembrance Day and was grateful they were. However, there would only be one class, rather than the usual two. Gulp. This was Jeremy’s class…he really put you to work!

I wasn’t quite sure how this was going to go over. I have been neglecting my yoga and I knew it would catch up to me.

As I walked into the studio I was greeted with that wonderful smell of incense and aromatherapy. It was a welcoming smell that I have truly missed as its so comforting.

When I got into the studio it was jam packed! I had to squeeze myself in between two people and silently wondered to myself how I was going to stretch out my arms. Mental note, be aware of where your limbs are so you don’t smack your fellow classmates in the noggin!
The gal on one side of me was kind enough to move over and forward a wee bit so I could in turn do the same and give the gentleman on my left some more room. In hindsight this was truly a needed thing…

Things started off gently enough. We just focused breathing while lying down…Aaaaah. Yup, I could handle this. Kind of like being back in kindergarten and getting that wonderful afternoon nap on the mats. Why do they make you stop that practice?! Bu I digress, back to the yoga. Breathing and lying down is a nice way to get back into the groove. In no time at all though, we were up on our feet practicing our sun salutations. I love this series of movements because I stretch out as long as I can, like a cat after it’s just woken up. Perhaps I have some past life feline in me or something.

Things were a bit cramped, but so far I hadn’t smacked anyone with any body parts. All was well, until Jeremy had us position ourselves sideways on our mats with our legs spread out, like a high splits position. Crap. I knew what was coming next….bending at the waist so our butts were sticking out and our heads and arms drop to the ground.

In a class that was at normal capacity, this wouldn’t be a big deal. However, today we were in like sardines and I wasn’t quite sure just how close that gent was behind me. As I folded at the waist and dropped my head between my legs I took a peek. Holy hannah he’s right there!
Of course he too was folded over so it wasn’t like his head was at my butt area or anything, but still. It was certainly close enough! It took everything in me to stifle my giggle and not say ‘How you doin’?!’ in my best Joey Tribiani impersonation.

Wouldn’t you know it too, it was just then that my body decided it need to, um, er, how shall we say…pass wind? My urge to giggle was replaced with the mantra ‘DO NOT FART, DO NOT FART!!’ This I might add was rather ironic because a friend of mine had posted a complaint about someone farting in his yoga class the night before and I was laughing about it…it was fart karma coming to get me - I’m sure of it.!

Thankfully we didn’t have to hold that pose too long, not to mention I was able to hold in any air that my body wanted to expel from my lower region.

The next move I actually had to invoke some of my ninja princess abilities. We had turned to the back of our mats and were balancing on one leg, while the other leg stuck out behind our bodies. Some had hands straight out or in prayer. I was balancing quite nicely when ‘WHOA!’ I had to shift my head rapidly to the left in order to miss the foot that came jutting at me from the girl in front of me. I guess she didn’t realize how close we were – an easy mistake. I was glad that I saw it coming, not to mention that I managed to stay balanced on one leg while doing this dodging of foot.

At one point in the class, when we were in a deep warriors pose, I could feel my butt cheeks a quivering…the Jello song popped into my head at that point. ‘Watch it jiggle, see it wiggle…’ Sing along if you know the rest!

The remainder of the class was less eventful. Although I did get my turn to have my head in too close proximity of my neighbors derriere when we had to do the other side. I didn’t look to see if he was giggling about me being there!

I could really feel how tight all my muscles were during the class and I’m sure I’ll feel it tomorrow. It was a good reminder though that I have to stay on top of my yoga practice, especially next year during training. I know it will help me with my running and cycling, plus I love how meditative it is.

You know, just thinking about it makes me very relaxed…

Peace out my glorious friends.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Kitty Pilates...

Due to a full work day and two classes I was attending, I had little time to fit in a work out. However, in my quest to get a daily work out in I actually managed some form of activity. The activity being a draw between pilates and TaeBo. Pilates won out due to time constraints.

I popped in my DVD, laid a blanket on the floor and prepared to endure a half an hour of grueling core exercises. As it would turn out, my cat, Mr. Cringely, also wanted to get a work out in...

As soon as I lay down on the floor he was right there with me. Purring and rubbing his wee body against my legs, arms, face and head. I must say, it's rather challenging to be sitting in a 'V Sit' position with arms extended and 'batting' at the floor while your cat is trying to position his head under those flapping arms. Apparantly he thought this was a new way to get pet??

I had even more fun with him as I heaved my legs over my head, then finding him sitting directly beneath my tush. This definitely helped me work on lowering myself slowly and not just dropping my legs dramatically to the ground. As it was, I kind of had to squish him out from underneath me. I should add that Mr. Cringely is 92 in human years so somewhat delicate.

Some may have gotten frustrated with his presence; however I found it pretty funny. You could say that he added a new dimension to my pilates work out. In addition, he challenged my abdominal area even more because as I was holding all these moves I was also laughing at his antics. Until you've tried it, you have no idea how hard it is to hold your legs off the ground while laughing!!

After 'helping' me with my workout for about 10 minutes, he finally decided to just lie down in an area of the blanket and watch me do all the work. One would think the least he could have done at that point was give a few meow's of encouragement!

Peace out my friends!

Sunday, 9 November 2008


Last week was a total write off for any working out. You'll note that I say 'working out' rather than 'training'. This is because until January hits, I'm not training for anything...

Hmm, perhaps this is why I'm not being very efficient in trying to get a move on!

What can I say though - I put life on hold for six months to train for an Ironman and now I'm playing catch up with school, work and friends. It's not all bad though! I've been having a blast on weekends getting into the great outdoors and doing some activities that don't have anything to do with triathlon.

Yesterday I went out for a run with my friend Esther. The run itself was just a run; however the conversation we had was exactly what I needed. I was struggling with some ideas and Esther was the perfect person to go out with as she encouraged those ideas and said just the right thing. I'm always grateful that I am blessed with so many incredible and supportive friends!

Today I decided I'd get on the trainer for a bike workout. I was channeling my other supportive friend Julie and was going to do a repeat of the workout we did in the Pass a couple of weeks ago. I got everything set up - meaning I got changed and grabbed a water bottle - and headed down to the dungeon where Eleanor, my amazing bike, is parked for the winter.

I was looking forward to this workout and being able to just zone in on my muscles and what my body was doing. It was a way that I could forget about the week's struggles and challenges and just be. Unfortunately, it wasn't going to be.

I had on some new cycling shorts and I don't know if it was them, or that I haven't been on the bike a ton lately, but I could not for the life of me get comfy in the saddle. I was sliding forward, sliding back, shifting left, shifting right, going into the areobars, and sitting up. I was a five year old child who has been told to sit in one spot and not move! I haven't adjusted my bike at all so I shouldn't have been bouncing much; however, there was a point where I felt some discomfort in the 'undercarriage region' and thought to myself, 'If I keep cycling I'm going to have chafing in a rather ackward area...this would SO not be good.' Enough said.

I decided I would give up the battle after a half hour of squirming on the bike. What to do, what to do?? I didn't want to not work out. In fact, for my sanity, I NEEDED to work out. So I got changed, put on my running sneakers and headed outside. Talk about bliss!!

I'm so glad I got out of the dungeon and went outside. It was absolutely brilliant out there! This is November?! I think not. This was a gorgeous spring day. The sun was out in full force all bright and welcoming and the sky was a comforting baby blue blanket.

I felt like I was running on air. My bounce was light and, well, bouncy! I loved the feel of the warm sun rays on my face. Aaaaah....

I ran for about 45 minutes around my neighborhood. It was glorious. I was in such a great mood that I decided at the end of my run to tackle the stairs that join neighborhoods. I was actually running with my MP3 player today so I decided to switch it into a 'high velocity' tune in order to give me a boost for the stairs. Time for a little speed metal with Anthrax's 'Got the Time'. Ya baby!

As the bass guitar and bass drums simultaneously kept beat in double time, I hotfooted it up every stair. When I got to the top I decided that wasn't enough, so I ran back down them and did it again. This time I counted steps as I was wondering how many there were. Turns out there were 45 steps. I was huffing and puffing after the second set, so left it at that.

I still didn't want to go inside though so ran for a little bit longer. All in all today I managed to get in 10 minutes of core, half an hour on the bike, and 45 minutes of running. Not Ironman training, but not horrible either.

Persistence. That was the word of the day. I had to be persistent in getting a workout done today. Things weren't working, so I had to adjust. Adjusting - excellent training for a triathlete. We all have to be open to adjusting the game plan at the drop of a hat.

So now I need to be more persistent in getting workouts done during the week, no matter how busy I am. I decided to look at my calendar and pick activities that I could squeeze into the chaos that is my life at the moment. Then I wrote it down so I was accountable. Fingers crossed it works!

Peace out my loving friends!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Climb Every Mountain...

Guess what I did today?! I CLIMBED A MOUNTAIN!!!

This time I got really, really close to the top too! If you'll have some patience and read through, I'll tell you why I haven't made it to the top of a mountain yet.

Today's challenge was one 'Lady MacDonald'. We were going to climb up to the 'teahouse', which was supposed to built but never was, and then possibly summit the ridge.

It was a very short walk along a neighborhood path and then onto a rocky path which followed the creek in Canmore. It wasn't long before we were at the Lady MacDonald trailhead. Trudy was in the lead (always a good thing as I got us lost the one time I attempted to lead) and as we started the trek mentioned 'That's about the last of the flat part as we now have 2 hours of steady climb.' My response to this was 'Cool! We can just take our time and set a good pace. No worries.'

I probably walked about 100 paces when what Trudy said actually penetrated my rather thick cranium. Wait a second. Did she just say TWO HOURS of steady climb?! And did I just say 'Cool'?! Whoa! What the heck am I thinking?! Then again...I did see where we were going to be hiking from the parking lot....and it was pretty far up. Some days I swear the cheese is sliding off the cracker and my brain just does not register reality! What adventure have you gotten yourself into this time Missy?!

So that's what we did. We walked up. Up through the trees.

Up more through open spaces...

And up even more through the rocks...

You'll note just how steep this wee trail was. At times my heart was pounding through my chest. However, the heart pounding wasn't only from the exertion of climbing up a mountain, but also some of the areas we had to climb through...
I love being in the mountains, and I love hiking through the mountains. I love just being outside. I most especially love hiking through trees. I even touch the trees as I walk by and thank them for their presence. Trees are wonderful things because not only do they smell good, but they also stop me from plummeting to my untimely demise down the side of the mountain!
I have a bit of a weakness...I'm terrified of heights. I'm one of those people that get to the second rung on a ladder and my body starts to waver due to the vertigo that sets in. That written, one may wonder what the heck I was doing climbing a mountain?! Well. I hate the fact that I'm afraid of heights so I constantly am trying to overcome that fear. It is this insanity that also leads me to think that competing in an Ironman is 'fun'.
Trudy is well aware of the fact of my height issue so, unbeknownst to me, was keeping a watchful eye on how I was doing in some of the sections. Most especially the sections that were very open with the narrow rocky path.
I must say when I set out on our hike I set the intention that this would be a bit of a meditation walk for me. Trudy and I both agree that being outdoors like this can be meditative so for the most part there was very little chit chat on the way up. (In my case, this was also due in part to the fact that I was a bit winded at the onset of the climb.) Instead, I was focussed on each footfall, my breathing, the glorious smell of pine, and the trickle of sweat that was a constant stream down the side of my face.
In the open sections it was most easy to be meditative. For one, I knew if I looked down that my head would spin, my heart would race and I would likely have such a hard body shake that I would end up tumbling down the steep slope. The very thing that I didn't want to do. Instead, in my head I sang 'climb every mountain' from the movie 'The Sound of Music', I watched every single footfall, and I tried desperately not to panic.
Trudy had stopped to check up on me and I wondered if she could sense my fear. Or see my body shaking for that fact. Not that I wanted to tell her this, but in some of the steeper, more slippery sections I was truly wondering how the heck I was going to get down from this mountain. How would it look if I just slide down on my butt? Perhaps I could convince her to send for a helicopter to pick me up at the top?! I was sure I could handle the embarassment if it meant I would get to a lower altitude safely.
I quickly realized that I really shouldn't be thinking of the down. I still had a lot of up to go. Gulp. How easy it is to forget about staying in the present moment when things get hairy scary!
During one particular slick section I had a good rhythm going. Stab the hill with my hiking pole, one foot, two foot. Stab the hill with my hiking pole, one foot, two foot. I did this at a snails pace, but it was working for me so I really didn't care if it was slow. It was then that I noticed out of the corner of my eye a woman coming up behind me. I swear she was walking as if she was taking a midday stroll down Robson Street. Oh how I envied her confidence! Back to the task at hand for me though. Stab the hill, one foot, two foot.
Oh, I did have a wee distraction from all the climbing and heights at one point. If you recall, I mentioned I was sweating rather perfusely during the climb. Not only from my head, but apparantly my low back and arse were rather sweaty too. I must say, I don't recall ever sweating THAT much around the buttocks area, but I must have been today because my pants were quite wet. Perhaps this was a hiking sweat?? At about the point that I could feel a trickle of sweat slip down between my bodacious butt cheeks I thought to myself, 'I can't be sweating THAT much, can I?!'. I reached around and felt the backside of my pants and they were soaked through. So much so, that there were droplets of water on my fingers. What the.... MY WATER BOTTLE!!!
Nuts! My water bottle had tipped in my bag and I had about 500 mL of water slowly drip down my backside. At the time I stopped to actually notice what was going on the water had now begun to slide down the back of my legs! If I didn't have my fleece cap, shirt, jacket and hat in the bag I'm sure this process wouldn't have happened in such a slow manner. I still would have ended up with a wet backside though so it was a bit of a moot point when I caught it.
Good thing I'm a triathlete who's used to racing for long periods in wet clothing. I put my bottle right side up and continued on. All the while chuckling to myself because it never ceases to amaze me that something funny generally happens to me on all my adventures! I'm actually quite thankful for that. Better than, oh I don't know, having the adventure of sliding down a mountainside!
The sun was shining on my backside so lucky for me, my pants dried within the next 1/2 hour of climbing.
I'm not sure how long we'd been climbing for. Likely almost the two hour mark when finally I spotted it. The teahouse. Or rather, the platform the teahouse was going to be on, as shown in the picture below.

It only took us a few minutes from this point to reach it. I was in desperate need for a snack at this point so once we got up there we sat and enjoyed the breathtaking view. According to some information I looked up afterwards, we were approximately 940 meters up.

I'd made it. It wasn't the top of Lady MacDonald, but it was damn near close. Trudy, in her ever kind way, suggested that because there was a weather system coming in we likely shouldn't attempt to get to the top. The top being about 274 meters higher. Below is a picture of some of the clouds coming in. From the west it looked rather dark too.

I took one look at where we had to go and admitted to Trudy that I just couldn't do it today anyways. It was loose rock and completely open. (It's hard to see in the picture below, but along the left side of the ridge is the trail.) It had taken all of my courage to get me through the few open sections we had already passed and I knew I just wasn't ready for the last of the climb.

Trudy admitted that she didn't think it would be a good day to attempt this either as she'd noticed my fear in a few sections coming up. However, she also added that she was quite impressed with my dedication to get past those 'scary' spots and she thought that with a few more climbs like this that I'd be ready to tackle this climb to the top or even 'Chinaman's Peak'. I felt pretty good about that!

We sat up there for a while until it got too cold. There were no trees to shelter us and the wind was pretty cold. It was time to head back down, but not before we got our picture taken, by another couple who came up behind us, at the top. That's the town of Canmore down below.

Oh, you know how I was wondering how the heck I was going to get down off this mountain?! You know, cause now I'd actually have to look DOWN at where I could fall?? (No wonder 'up' is so may be slippery but you don't actually see how steep it is where you are!) Well, as it turned out, I got down just fine thank you very much. Even the sections where I was shaking on the way up! I felt really comfortable going down and just took my time down the more slippery sections. I definitely felt more confident and in control. My plan of sliding down on me arse did not have to be put into action. Good thing too as the rocks were sharp and would have torn my pants...

I think Trudy is right...with a few more climbs like that I'll get more comfortable with the open sections and actually be able to climb to the top! Very cool.

I think it took us about 1.5 hours to climb down. I was really feeling it in my knees and quads by the time we got to the bottom. This was a great workout. I was on a rush when I got to the bottom - I couldn't believe that we climbed that far! I'm really thankful that I've met such an amazing friend as Trudy. She's a really great guide - very thoughtful about the person she's hiking with and how they are doing. Not only that, but she has provided me with a couple fantastic adventures now. I can't wait till we get out cross country skiing - which if the clouds today were any indication - might be sooner rather than later.

I shall leave you with this last picture. This was the view from the parking lot pathway. In approximately 3.5 hours we climbed above that treeline and back down again. How cool is that - I CLIMBED A MOUNTAIN TODAY!!

Now it's time to kick back and sip on a yummy glass of red wine.

Peace out my adventure loving friends!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Winterstart 2008...

Woohoo! It's Winterstart time! The annual 5 miler run, in the dark, in Banff. Wait...something is very different this year... Why is it so light out?! And how come it's so darned warm?!

I finally figured out the light thing. It was still so light out because our Prime Minister likes to imitate the President of the United States. (Insert major heavy sigh here.) So when the States decided to move out the date of Daylight Savings, we had to follow. Therefore the sun was still out - a bit.

As for the warm thing - no idea. Hello global warming?!

I met up with Trudy in Canmore and we had enough time for a hot cuppa and a chat before we were off to Banff.

There was quite the group outside of the Caribou Inn, all eagerly awaiting the countdown before they could run their hearts out. Many people had on fun costumes - perhaps they hadn't been home from the Halloween festivities the night before?! Of course there were the usual glow sticks and glow jewellry. I was wondering if they'd be needed, but finally it was getting dark out.

With the imaginary gun start we were off! As is normal, it was quite congested at the start of the race. Trudy and I had a pretty good pace going as we meandered our way through the crowd. When we got out of the view of the street lights I turned on my handy dandy LED ball cap. (Thanks Moeder!) Every piece of reflective clothing in front of me sprang to life with brightness! It was actually pretty neat looking.

In what felt like no time at all we turned right and started our way up the mountain. There were still a fair number of people in this section, but we were also now starting to pass people. I especially wanted to pass the little girl in front of me. She was 3'9" of spitfire with braids and it was imperative to me that I pass her! Fine, I'll admit it, I do have ego. Only sometimes though! At least I didn't stick out my tongue as I went by - not that she could have seen it.

It was very very dark now and if it weren't for the glowsticks of the speedy people coming down the hill there would have been no way to see them.

We had a pretty quick pace going up the hill. It was then that I gave thanks for the fact that I live at the top of a hill and had to climb it at the end of all my training runs!

Again, it seemed like it took no time at all and we were at the turnaround. I was feeling really good at this point so decided to just giver back down the hill. True, easy to do on a downhill! We made it back down to the bottom and turned left back onto Banff Ave.

Trudy and I were checking with each other about the pace. It was pretty cool to run with someone that held the same pace as I did. Actually, on the way back we both kept each other going. I started it off by saying that I thought I could use a challenge and wanted to keep this pace. When I started to slow a bit Trudy kept us going, and we kept trading off like that. We were so in synch at one point that even our breathing patterns matched! It was awesome.

At last we were at the finish! They didn't have a clock up this year, but we were given time chips so I figured I could look later if I felt like it. Tell me, is racing in the dark that competitve that one needs a timing chip?! I know not. Of course because it was there I did decide to look up our times just because I could. We ran a 49 minute 5 miler. Works for me!

Peace out my friends!