Sunday, 31 May 2009

No More Up...Please???

The past week was all about one word 'UP' and we aren't talking about the new movie that was out.

To recap: Sunday - hilly bike ride and rode hard; Tuesday - biked up the bonus hill 8 times; Wednesday - ran hills. Which leaves us with the remaining portion of the week.

On Thursday I biked - one guess here - HILLS! Well, one hill in particular. It's called Cochrane hill and out here it's rather infamous. Ask Jenna about it, she can tell you. It's the hill that everyone rides out to to climb and do hill training. It's approximately 3 km in distance to the flat bit before the Gleneagles intersection, and has a gain of approximately 225 m. All put, it's a gooder.

I did a 25 minute warm up ride then set out to tackle it. I've ridden this hill many times in during my triathlon days so don't find it intimidating, but I do find it challenging. If you don't, then you aren't working hard enough. Today I was blessed to have a tailwind. We've had some wicked wind out here these days and to try and fight a headwind on that hill is just ridiculous.

As I started up my first climb I noticed how much debris was on the road. In fact, I couldn't look anywhere other than down in front of my tire as I had to maneouver around nails, broken glass, broken mirror, broken pottery (??), cracks in the road, uneven surface, rocks and sand. It was a bit unnerving especially as there is not much of a road edge and you have cars doing about 80 - 100 km zipping past you.

I made it up the first climb fairly well. I think I used to take about 20 minutes to climb this and this time it was 18, so I was happy with that. As it was the tail end of rush hour I decided to descend through the Glen Eagles neiborhood. This is the other hill you can climb, which is about 5 km in length and has it's fair share of steep bits. Not as many peole go through here, I'm not sure why.

Everything was fine until I took my first corner and was hit with a blasting wind that had my bike shimmying. This I didn't not like. It's a fast descent and there is only so much braking you can do. I held on and prayed I wouldn't get a huge gust after each corner. Finally I made it down.

I decided at the bottom that I was only going to do two hill climbs. No because of the climb, but the wind seriously scared me and I'm pretty confident in my riding. My schedule said 2-3 hill climbs, so I didn't feel too bad, but I also knew that I would work even harder on this climb to 'make it count'. And I did. I pushed hard and kept my mantra of 'perfect little circles' going. I managed to take a minute of my previous time, so that was cool.

My total ride time ended up being 110 minutes, which was what I was supposed to do. Perhaps next week I won't take so much time to warm up??

On Friday I went out for a run where I had to do some speed work. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but trying to get speed after knackering your legs on hills is almost impossible. Or at least it feels like it.

I ran for an hour and did my best with my intervals. My Garmin was giving me all sorts of paces so I wasn't sure if I was on my 'goal' pace or not. What I do know is that my heart rate was 160 bpm and my breathing was heavy, so I worked hard. Of course my last interval came just as I got back to the bonus hill. Ya, like I was going to do that pace up there! So I deeked into a neiborhood and ran around there for a bit then 'cooled down' by running up the bonus hill. My legs were a hurting unit by then.

I ended doing my long ride on Saturday because I was going to help out with a kids triathlon camp on Sunday. Had I given this any thought I may have done something else....

I had a 3-4.5 hour ride scheduled so had a friend, Pam, come out from the city with two of her buds, Leanna and Kevin and I took them on my favourite ride - the Lochend Loop. Jenna can tell you more about this one too!

It's about 105 in length and for the most part you can say it's all UP. I love it because it takes you through countryside, which at this time of year is starting to look really pretty. There are ponds along the way where the ducks hang out and you can hear the frogs singing. There are cattle farms, horse farms, donkey farms and llama farms! You even have the chance of seeing deer and prarie dogs along the way. Oh, and if you stop at the Bottrell General store for some fueling, which I highly recommend because it's the coolest wee store (celebrating 75 years), you can hang out with the wee white kitty there and Buffy, the dog. Both are exceptionally friendly and love scritches behind the ears, which I'm more than happy to oblige. In return for the lovin, Buffy will lick your face off if you choose to let him.

There are a lot of rolling hills, but you never seem to come back down far enough and have to climb again. And again, and again. When you ride up Lochend Road you think, okay, at the top of this hill I'm done climbing, only to see a steep descent and another hill to climb.

This is why I love this route. It's challenging, and still beautiful! I loved what Pam said as we were riding back to town, 'Gee Susi, you sure did pick a hard route to be your favourite!'

Once back up to Hwy 1A it's an easy schmeasy ride to the top of Cochrane hill, then a quick descent and you are back into town. Of course if you are riding back to my place you still have the bonus hill to do.

There were a few interesting occurrances on this ride. One was the fact that I learned that I can ride head on into 30 km/h headwinds for quick some time and not get too discouraged...although I was happy I managed to luck out again and had them as tailwinds UP Lochend Road.

Two was that all the wind and riding around farms really nailed my allergies and my asthma kicked in very badly. I had my Ventolin with me but it wasn't helping. I felt like I had about a 1/4 of my lungs working for most of the ride - I'm still feeling them today. The med student, Kevin, that was riding with us later explained why I should use my steroid inhaler. (I got my prescription renewed and picked it up last night!)

Three, as I got to the top of Lochend Road I remembered a spot where Tigger had pulled over in her truck last year to say hi to me. I was bracing myself to get to that location as, obviously, I'm still pretty emotional with my memories. I remember so vividly us talking about her dragon boat racing and how she loved it. And I can still feel our hug as we bid adieu that day. I recall thinking how strong her back and shoulders were. Just as I was getting to the spot I noticed a motorcyclist, who had passed me moments before wearing a 'WWE Rock Music' t-shirt, had stopped in the same spot Tigger had been. I smiled to myself and thought, well that's definitely not Tigger! As I rode by he turned and looked at me, gave me this big arse grin and said 'Great ride!' I said thanks and smiled back, then fought off the urge to cry. Weird coincidence or what?

For some of the ride I was struggling a bit with the mental game. I was again behind everyone. Not by much, but enough that I was trying not to get discouraged. I was working super hard on the hills, and doing well on the flats, but still, it's hard to be behind all the time. I kept reminding myself that this was a good way to get stronger, to chase and keep chasing.

At about the halfway point I realized I had done 7 days straight of good workouts. Even with that I was still able to work hard and keep pushing. This made the discouragement go away. I may not be fast, but I'll be darned if I quit or stop working hard!

I think one of the hardest things in sport is too keep that positive mental attitude going. There are times when you are going to be slower, or not feel as strong, but you have to keep forging ahead. All of the time you spend doing that will make you a better athlete and get you through your races no matter what challenge you face. I strongly believe that.

So even with the challenges I faced this week I had a great time! I have a better triathlete tan, my lungs have recoverd, and my legs will eventually forgive me in December after race season is done. To end the week I had a blast helping out the kids triathlon camp! What a great group of kids - they are going to be amazing at the Footstock Kids of Steel in a couple of weeks - I'll be helping out there too.

As for next week....onwards and UPwards!

Peace out my glorious friends!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Hills and Hills...

It's a hilly week folks - biking hills and running hills. That's what it's all about. Guess that's what happens when you tell your coach that you are a slug on the hills and want to get better?? Me and my big mouth! Kidding, I DO want to get stronger, and I know this is how.

So yesterday I tackled riding the hills. I went out for a quick out and back warm up on Hwy 1A. The wind was behind me on the way out, then I fought it all the way back - of course. However, I did not let it get me. I pushed as hard as I could to try and maintain a decent speed.

Lately, the name of the game is to set new normals. I won't be afraid to push myself this year - or so I've realized the last couple of weeks.

The hill I was going to go up and down was my bonus hill. It's 0.75 km in length and has some steepness to it, although it's not Cochrane Hill. My schedule called for 70-90 minute bike ride with 8-12 hill repeats, 2-3 minutes long. Oh, and I was to alternate between easy and hard.

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but I'm pretty sure the word 'easy' and 'hill training' don't go together. Ah well... to the hill!

I checked my watch at the bottom and set off in my easiest gear. Well now, this isn't so bad - umph - oh, there's the incline. I had my mantra set - 'perfect little cirlces'. Stole that one from a fellow at camp and just love it! So that's what I said as I made my climb...

I checked my watch by the time I got to the top - 4 plus minutes. Oh. Well, I'll do this for 8 sets and see where I'm at.

I almost forgot! I also did my Sesame Street 'Count' impersonation. Whenver I got to the top of the hill I said 'ONE BONUS HILL - AH AH AAAAAAA'. My neighbors will be putting their places on the market soon after hearing me gasping and counting.

The next hill I went one gear harder. Yup, this was harder. Perfect Little Circles... push! Again, 4 plus minutes up the hill.

Thoughts that went through my head as I rode this wee hill over and over again...

  • I wonder if by the time I get to the last set my mantra turns into 'perf lit circ' due to lack of oxygen and energy?
  • Hey kid, don't be a wuss, if I can ride up this hill so can you! Sheesh, I'm like 30 years older than you and I'm doing it. Get on your bike and ride!
  • Oh I am so thankful the wind is at my back!
  • Please Mr. Car that I can hear behind me, don't hit me when you turn right...please see my bright neon yellow riding jacket and know that I'm going straight and don't try to beat me to the corner because I can't stop or I'll fall over.
  • Okay, I think I'm getting in the groove now...
  • Wait, what number was that one? Oh right, FOUR BONUS HILLS AH AH AAAAAAA
  • Water, I need water. Gasp.
  • Feeling the quads now...burn baby burn.
  • Is this really the easiest gear I can go? Why does the harder gear seem easier come to think of it?
  • Holy hannah banana. Ow.
  • Food. I need food now. What should I have for dinner?
  • Okay, focus, perfect little circles.

The result was I had a great workout and made sure to leave it all on the hill. Not figuratively of course, I didn't hurl. Remember I had no food in stomach after exerction, so couldn't hurl.

The last set was hilarious - at least it was hilarious in my twisted Ironman mind. I was climbing the last set in the 'hard' gear and about 1/4 of the way up I felt it. The wind. It had turned 180 degrees and was now slamming into me. I practically came to a standstill! Did I switch to an easier gear though? Heck no! I powered through it. I did, however, have to stand for this one or it would have pushed me back down the hill. I think it was going about 30km/h (I think that translates to 18.6 mph for my Southern friends).

I felt great at the end of the workout and I was still saying 'perfect little circles' to the end. Not the abbreviated version. Oh, and I got 8 of them done for a total of 98 minutes on the bike. Funny thing was when I got to the top I thought 'hey, for once I don't have to go up the bonus hill after my workout!' Riiiight, apparantly I was delerious from the need of food and forgot that I just rode up the darned thing a million times.

This morning I went for my swim and had a great time. I was sad that my buddy Fran (Snorkel Lady) wasn't there though - she's gone in for hip surgery. So I am sending her bright white healing light so she gets back soon.

This afternoon it was all about running hills. My hip/arse has been off and on lately and to be honest, I've about had it with it. During my run I did have it. I was supposed to do a 60-70 minute run and 3 hills during the last half. I ran around the river for about 45 minutes to warm up.

My hip wasn't happy for most of the run, but at the 40 minute mark it started to really hurt. Negative thoughts started to creep into my noggin. So I stopped running. Fear not, I was not about to stop this workout! Nope. I was ticked off. I started walking and said 'Okay wind, blow the negativity off of me because I am so not going there! You know what this is? It's fear. Fear is making my hip hurt. It's giving me an excuse to hold back and to go slow. Well I'm not going to let this go on. Mind over matter. That's what this is about. I am not going to hurt anymore! I am strong!' With that I started back into my run. I took it just a tich slower and focused on perfect form. Guess hip/arse felt better.

By the time I got to the steep hill I was ready for it. Up I went. I tried to think light step, but was still a bit heavy. I didn't worry about it though, I know the first hill climb is the worse. The second time I went up I felt great then had a sharp pain in the glute happen. In my mind I yelled 'NO!' As in no you are not going to hurt. You know what? The pain stopped immediately! I then carried about my business.

On my third climb there was a gal on a mountain bike in front of me. She looked a little unstable on the bike and was zigzagging on the road. Did I mention its a steep hill? I knew she was in trouble when I caught up to her. My third hill climb was great, I had a light step and energy. I said hello and she said that she was at the end of the ride and wasn't going to make it up the hill. I kept going as I was in my groove.

I thought maybe she'd be walking up the hill when I ran down and was going to see what gear she was in. (She didn't look experienced and I think she may not have been in Granny gear.) She wasn't there though. I was kind of sad because I felt maybe I should have stopped when I was going up so I could help her, then tell her that she could ride beside me and we'd both get up the hill together. Yes, I was going to do fourth hill to get her up there. I hate to see people not reach a goal. Ah well, next time I'll make sure to help out right away rather than waiting.

Of course the run would not have been complete without running up the bonus hill to my house! So that was hill number four. It's longer than the steep hill, but not as steep. However, my pace was certianly a lot slower at the top. The hip felt pretty good though.

I was telling a friend about my hip experience and getting ticked with it and the pain going away. She sent me the following quote from Abraham:

"Physical pain is just an extension of emotion. It's all the same thing. There are two emotions. One feels good and one feels bad. Which means, you're connected to your Energy Stream or you're not allowing your Energy Stream."

Definitely something to ponder.

Peace out my brilliant friends!

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Biker Chick...

I have two glorious bike outings since being back from Penticton - YAY! I swear, pounding your legs like we did can really be a boost!
I went out last Thursday with my buddy Andrew to Ghost Lake and back. Yes, the same Ghost Lake that will be featured in the Ironman Calgary 70.3 race. He had run 20 k the day before, and I was supposed to do an easy ride, so we figured that would be a great place to go. From here it was 40 km on relatively flat road. I should mention it's pretty hard to find a flat course in this neck of the woods!

The ride out felt good even with the headwind. I tried to keep my cadence up and didn't worry so much about speed. My legs seemed ok and I only really felt some fatigue when I had to go up an incline.

I noticed something when I was out riding though...the power you can get from the upstroke on the pedal. Hmmm... I am pretty sure I've noticed this in the past, and I am sure I've been told about it, but for some reason I hadn't put in practice. I tried it out as we were riding and boy could I ever feel a little power boost! It took a bit out of my legs though so I figured I'd just do it once in a while on this ride, then keep practicing another time. This was supposed to be an easy ride to help my legs recover...

I had never been to Ghost Lake so we stopped to take a gander at wear the swim start would be. Actually, that's a good question...where are they going to start the swim? Obviously they will have it all figured out, but the only place we could see at this point was from the boat launch or a swim start from in front of the launch. The other areas are rocky and have steep cliffs. I'll have to check out the website to see if it says anything.

It's a gorgeous area though and I think everyone will like the location. The ride back to where you turn up Grand Valley Road is pretty good too. It'll be a decent warm up section.

We had the wind behind us as we rode back to town so it only took 35 minutes, versus the 1:05 it took us to get out there. I was having a blast!

My second ride of the week was today and it was AWESOME! I am running out of my Infinit (powder nutrition) so used the fact that I had two bottles to determine how far I went. The program called for 2-4 hours, o decided I'd do a 2.5 hour ride and I should have sufficient fueling.

Because I was going to do a shorter ride, I set the intention of making this one really count and pushing my 'normal' a bit. That meant really pushing up the hills and feeling the burn of my leg muscles the entire time.

The weather was brilliant and a perfect riding day temperature. Apparantly Mother Nature, the gorgeous gal she is, heard my intention of going harder, so turned up the wind a notch. Not only that, but she made sure to switch the direction of the wind so that 80% of my ride was done in a headwind!

This time I kept reminding myself to focus on the upstroke of my pedaling as much as I could, and to power up the hills as well. I can say with confidence that my legs felt the burn!

I went from my house up Horse Creek Rd first. Normally I go up Grand Valley first, but Leslie was mentioning its a bit harder to go up Horse Creek as there are more rollers then a couple steep climbs, while the other way has just the two steep climbs. I wanted the harder workout, so I reversed my route.

When I got up to the Twp 280, I did a bit of an out and back to the east in order to get some extra time in.

I was totally stoked to have really motored up the two hills on Grand Valley too. The one I didn't even go into my small ring. I had good speed from the descent so pushed really hard to make it up before I had to gear down. Thankfully that section was shorter.

The ride back to the house and up the bonus hill was great too. I was a bit nervous by some of the wind gusts when I was riding on the highway, but I managed to stay upright, which is always a good thing when your riding!

All in all I did 60 km in about 2:24. I'm happy with that time because I know I was fighting the wind most of the way and I worked hard. My legs and arse are totally feeling it now. Must go stretch more.

Before I go though, I thought I'd share some photos from last night where I was a 'biker chick'. The kind where you'd think my purple metallic Harley Davidson was parked outside. Friends were having a Cancervive fundraiser in town last night and the theme was 70's & 80's costume party. I should mention that I LOVE costume party's so was happy to dress up. Also, I happen to have kept some key pieces of clothing from that time, so thought it would be fun to drag them out.

I thought of doing the punk rock look, as I was a we punk rocker in my day, but I figured it would take too long to grow out the mohawk, so instead I would rely on the rocker/biker chick look that I also sported in my youth. The photos below illustrate my look. All the clothes are mine and authentic 1980s gear - hmmm, wonder if I should mention that?? I even found my bus pass from 1989 in the pocket of my leather jacket! Too funny. Too bad you can't see my moccasins or the rings on each finger - my own personal brass knuckle look...

Oh, I was told to not smile in the one photo so my I would look as tough as my jacket...Fear not though, I'm still the peace, love and granola girl I always was!! Holy hannah, it took so long to get the makeup off!! I still had lotion in my eyes when I went on the ride today from the amount I had to use to get it off!

I made sure to top off the evening with a double Jack Daniels on the rocks, to pay homage to the look. Mmmmm, sweet nectar of the gods.
Peace out my lovely friends.!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

After The Camp...

I feel like I'm recovering from a race! It's hilarious. I went for a massage yesterday and Pat was, thankfully, fairly gentle working on me. There were a few times he had to remind me to breathe. Right, breathe, suuuure! Perhaps if you weren't taking a hot iron to my thigh. What, no hot iron? That's just my muscles? Ow.

I didn't do any training yesterday, but the massage was training session enough I figure. I was working away for a while when I got very I figured I'd go for a half an hour nap. Normally I do this and I naturally wake up right at the half hour alarm necessary. Yesterday? I was out like a light for 1.5 hours!!! Holy hannah. There's an hour of my life that slipped by in a flash! Good thing I work from home so could make my way back to my office and start working again. I did feel more refreshed though.

This morning I got up bright and early for a swim. What greeted my sight as I opened the garage door was not something to put a smile on my face. Not at this time of year anyways. It was snowing. Sigh. Seriously, this is getting ridiculous. It's been snowing here off and on all day - why do I live in Alberta??? At least it's not sticking and hopefully tomorrow will be better as I would like to get out for a ride.

The pool was busy, which meant each lane had two people in it. (There's only four lanes I should add.) Hey, it's 6am, not many people feel like swimming at 6am! I did though. I got in the lane with Fran, my snorkel buddy. She wears a snorkel and fins when she swims. I love that. She's an older gal and goes non stop for the full hour, so mock her snorkel not! The really funny thing was that she had a young lifeguard say to her she couldn't wear them. Fran asked why and was told it was because they couldn't tell if she was breathing. Fran then replied, 'Well, it's a safe bet if I'm moving my arms and legs I'm breathing...if not, come get me'. Hilarious! Fran is the best!! The young lifesaver didn't know what to say, so let her keep the snorkel. Good thinking.

Another fellow, whom I adore, also showed up today. He's not there all the time, but when he does I always think 'Awwww', as in he's adorable! He has to be in his 70's, is very very frail looking, tiny in stature and has a bit of a curved spine at the top of his back. He also wears these nude coloured pseudo speedos. When I first saw him walking along the deck I was slightly alarmed thinking perhaps he had no swimsuit on! Yipes.

I just love that he swims though! I think it may be hard for him because of his back but he gives it his all every lap and to me that is awesome. He'll start off with the front stroke and do that at a fairly good pace for 1/3 to a 1/2 length, then he'll do a bit of breast stroke, then back to front or perhaps he'll flip over on his back. He has to hang out at then end of the length for a bit before he swims the next length. One of these days I'm going to get his story! Today he was in Leslie's lane. Not to mention he's all business when he's there so I don't want to interrupt his groove.

My swim went well, which was good. It was a recovery swim so I did some easy laps, some with paddles and some with the pull buoy. Ever notice when you go from swimming with the paddles and pull buoy to nothing that you are kinda like Bambi on ice? At least that's how it is for me. I have four limbs all working indepently of each other for the first few 'strokes' till we realize we have no paddles or pull buoy. It's quite a sight, I assure you!

The legs seem to be recovering quite well, so I think I'm getting over the weekends antics. I managed to work through the day without napping miday too! Although I did have a hard 20 minute nap after. The kind of nap you wake up and have to wipe off the drool that's dangling off your cheek cause you were totally comatose and it's amazing you haven't let go of all bodily functions. I think the other name would be 'powernap'.

I am still thinking about the training camp and things I want to work on etc. I was happy with my perceived pace on the flats (I say perceived because my bike computer isn't working), but not too pleased with my hill performance. I think I'll be riding Cochrane hill several times in the next while to try and build that strength. 'Be the mountain goat!'

Oh, I almost forgot to add this little tidbit from the camp. Aside from being an engineer extraordinaire and mighty triathlete, I am also a personal coach. So I got to put on my coach hat and give a little chat about Mindfulness Training and Ironman on Saturday, the night before the big IMC course ride. (If you'd like to read a bit about my talk you can at my coaching blog. The talk was a little more expanded, but this is the gist of it.)

What was incredibly rewarding for me was having some of the athletes come up to me and tell me that they enjoyed my talk, applied my ideas and had a great ride! There is nothing better in this life than to know that somehow you've made a difference, even if it's a teeny one. I'm so grateful for that and for the athletes for providing the feedback!

So recovery is going well, even the chunk of flesh missing from my underside due to bike shorts is healing well, and I hope to be on the bike again tomorrow. Which reminds me, better go stretch now so my legs will be ready for it!

Peace out my gorgeous friends.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

The Camp...Day Three

Hello again from gorgeous, hot and sunny Penticton, BC!!! Today's high was about 30C in some of the southern parts. Gotta say, I was loving the heat.

The task for today was riding the Ironman Canada (IMC) course. Some of us started out around 7:30am to get a bit of a head start. It was fairly brisk then, but we knew what the temp would be later in the day so didn't dress too much for the cold.

I slathered on the sunscreen. It was the spray type though and I swear half the bottle shot out as I was glistening with it! It was even dripping down my arm. I did get a bit of a burn yesterday around my shoulder, where the spray missed, so wanted to make sure I had a ton on today as it needed to last at least 8 hours.

Rather than give a blow by blow of the entire ride, I figured I'd just recap some of my thoughts and highlights from the day...

  • Be aware, when you have tons of glistening sunscreen and you are going really fast, you tend to attract bugs. I swear, my legs worked better than those sticky hanging papers as the picture below will attest too. This is at the end of the ride too, so some of them had blown off! (The black dots are the bugs...)
  • I think I had a really good pace going down to Osooyos, which is amazing consdering my legs hate me for the past two days of riding.
  • It's hard to ride Richter Pass when you are crying. A fellow passed by me with a Tigger doll on his bike and that was it, the tears started to flow. I kept telling myself it was just a reminder that she's always with me, but still, the fact that's she's gone is still new and I had to have my cry. So I did for half of the ride up.
  • Tumbleweeds would have been faster going up Richter and the rollers than I was. I did not have speed on the hills today. My legs were trashed from yesterdays adventure, but I was ok with this.
  • There are a lot of beautiful butterflys in the Okanagan, unfortunately all of the ones I saw were dead on the road. Still, they were gorgeous colours.
  • Never pee on the side of the road in the Okanagan. I stopped to take a nibble from one of my fruit bars and could hear Mr. Snake in the long grass beside where I was standing. I made sure to keep my eye out! Not to mention there were a few squished ones on the road...ew.
  • I was definitely able to ride the flats a lot stronger than last year, which is saying a lot. Did I mention my legs were trashed? Well they were and I was super happy that even though I was slower than molasses on the hills, once I hit the downhill or flats I could carry a decent pace even though my legs didn't feel like they could.
  • There is a nice shady tree to go pee by on the out and back (thank you to Heather for keeping an eye out for vehicles and holding my bike) however, you have to be quick to stop peeing midstream and pull up your drawers and look like you are looking for something in your bike when a car goes by, then go back to your business once the car passes.
  • Not a lot of cyclists say 'hi' as they go by, why is that?
  • Sunscreen dripping into your eyes really hurts.
  • I have ridden this course four times now (once in the race) and for the very first time I had enough nutrition in me that I didn't bonk by the out and back, which is about 65 km from the finish. Therefore I felt like a rockstar when I got back to the hotel.
  • Total ride time today was about 8:30 hours, and that time includes a stop at the Husky for a pee, food and chat; peeing under the tree, and peeing at the Bear and grabbing more food. Considering my race time for IMC was around 8 hours, I'm totally happy with that time as my legs were trashed. Oh, did I mention that already???
  • The group at the camp were awesome and I was super stoked to get to know Heather, Pam, Jordan and Leslie more. I hope we get to do some riding back home!
  • Heather rocks the friggin hills. For a gal who said she isn't good at the hills, holy hannah did she slay Richter and the rollers!!! It was great to see and I'm totally proud of her.
  • There is some beautiful country to look at on the other side of Richter. I've never noticed it before because I was usually lacking in nutrition at that point and can't see straight.
  • I finally saw the gas station and golf course at the top of yellow lake that everyone talks about. As mentioned in the point above, I'm usually too bonked to notice.
  • There was a beaver like animal, sans flat tail, sitting on the median just before Penticton. It was huge and I wasn't sure if it was going to go for my jugular, but it just hopped off onto the other side. Of course Heather didn't see this so I have no witness...
  • I had to yell at a Chipmunk to get out of my way - I felt bad.
  • I swallowed many bugs today, and for that I apologize to Mother Earth. I did try to ride fast with teeth closed so I could catch and release some of them. I swear.
  • My eyes after the ride were so red I looked like I was sampling some of BC's finest ganga.
  • My knees and quads hurt a lot.
  • I love that I rode the flats like I did....normally I'd just putter because that's all I have in me. So cool.

Oh, and lastly, this is what a fantastic 180 km on a bike looks like at the end....dirty, smelly, sweaty, snot crusted, bug smeared and smiling like this is heaven on earth!

It's been a great weekend and I say thank you to all that made it that way!!! I'm sure there is more I can add to this but I need serious sleep. I am sooo not waking up early tomorrow!

Oh! I almost forgot, that's a grand total of 440 km in 3 days of riding! This includes riding the rollers twice, up both sides of Richter Pass and riding up Anarchist. No wonder my legs hurt so bad! It's a good pain though, trust me.

Peace out my glorious friends!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

The Camp...Day Two

Good evening sports fans! I'd love to write a ton here, but to be honest, I'm one pooped cookie! Also, the internet connection here is a tad slow, so hard to post.

A quick summary would be that today was a brilliant day on many levels, my legs are very tired, it was beautiful out again, and I did 120 km. So that's 259 km in two days, if you are counting.

So a little more detail! First off we drove out to Oliver, which is south from Penticton by about 40 km, and proceeded to don wetsuits, caps, and in my case, booties, and braved the lake there. I can not tell a was c-c-c-cold! But doable once things froze and I couldn't feel the cold.

I was SO proud of our friend Chad today! A little background: He took up swimming in October, has already swam 3800 m in the pool, in a steller time I might add, and today he braved his first open water swim in frigid water! Open water swimming can be intimidating when you first get in, and the cold doesn't help. He had to take a minute and go back to the shore to regroup, but then he was back in and kicking some freshwater butt. Huge high five to Chad for sticking with it! I must add here that I loved watching him and Leslie work as a team as she checked on him to make sure all was cool and then swim out together. I was so sweet and touching.

Once out of the water we got changed for the big challenge of the day - Anarchist. A little info on Anarchist, the climb is switchback and about 20 km in length with 8% grades. You have stunning views of Osooyos and the lake below and much time to look at them as you climb.

I'm actually afraid to look down because I'm afraid of heights, instead I try to catch glimpses as I zoooom down! Not too much looking though as there are a couple of tight corners and you are going a good clip so it's best to mind the road.

I'm not sure if I'm any better a cyclist than last year, but I've noticed a couple of things. One was climbing anarchist. I'm still at the back of the pack, but this year I wasn't just one speed. I was able to pick up the pace and even gear up a couple gears on some of the less steep portions. This was very big for me.

Also, although my legs were screaming in some sections, they seem to be ok on the flats and I can hold a pretty good pace. Or at least it feels pretty good - my bike computer is broken so it's hard to tell.

Also, this year I rode Anarchist then instead of just riding back to Oliver, I rode back to Penticton. Which is how I got the extra 40 km in.

The ride back was pretty good, but by the time I hit Penticton doing any type of hill was a major challenge. My legs were pretty beat. It was so funny too because as I was riding up one hill, just before entering Penticton at Skaha Lake, and I saw some of those pretty yellow daisies. I was thinking, ah, there's a nice pick me up! As I got closer though I noticed they'd all wilted in the sun and their little heads were hanging down, which so accurately described my fatigue at that moment! I had a good laugh to myself about that.

The winds totally picked up for the last bit of the ride too and got a bit chilly. Just another bit of challenge to ride the last bit in a headwind!

All was great though. I accomplished what I wanted, which was to climb Anarchist and feel good about it, and to ride home afterwards.

A stellar day with a truly great group of people. I'm sure there are more details to write, such as the fellow who fell over on his bike and knocked me over (he needed 7 stitches but I was ok!) or the fact that my shorts rubbed a chunk of skin off the underside of my butt cheeck, but I gotta get some shut eye so those stories will have to wait till another time. Tomorrow we are riding the Ironman Canada course so I need to be well rested. Shouldn't be too hard to fall asleep!

Oh, and for those in the colder regions, we are expecting 27C tomorrow.

Peace out my wonderful friends!

Friday, 15 May 2009

The Camp...Day One

Greetings from gorgeous Penticton, BC!! If you've never been to this location, let me tell you a little about it. Penticton is home to Ironman Canada and on the May long weekend the roads and highways are taken over by lycra wearing cyclists and triathletes. The collection of IM wear here is outstanding needless to say!

Penticton is nestled in the Okanagan Valley and surrounded by desert, vineyards and orchards. In the summer months the fruit stands are all open for business and you can buy some of the most succulent fruit you've ever tasted! And let's not forget the wine! If you love wine, you will love this area. The majority of vineyards are open for tasting sessions and sales. Can you say yum??? Oh how many times have I ridden these roads and thought, I really just want to pull over and do a taste test!

After leaving Vancouver at about 4:55 am this morning, I arrived here shortly before 9 am. The gang had just left but Greg had arranged for Sarah, who wasn't riding today, to drive me to where they were and start riding from there. That way I wouldn't have to ride alone.

Todays route is a counterclockwise route of the Ironman Canada course; however, we take Green Mountain Road out and skip the out and back. Green Mountain Road is my happy place. There are towering trees, yellow daisy's lining the road, horses, baby horses, cows, wee lakes, a creek, and some great road. It's a bit of a climb to Apex Ski Resort, then a decent to the bottom of Yellow Lake, which is what you climb in the race.

The best thing about this section of road is that you get to feel what it would be like to ride like a pro. After all the climbing there is the decent and some flats. The decents are fast enough that you can hold a kick butt speed on the flats. Then the roads twists and turns and you lean into and peddle like stink and it just rocks!! I was giddy. Which was good because at the start my legs were burning climbing up the hills. There is something to be said about starting your ride on a hill!

Some of the group turned to go up Yellow Lake and back to town, while the rest of us met up at Bear Market. It's closed until the summer season, but the owner happened by and opened up the loo for us, how sweet was that! Of course it was only the girls who used it.

We left there and started for the backside of Richter. I had felt fairly strong for the most part, and even slayed the first few of the rollers. I was really stoked that I could stay in my big ring for a few of them. Then I hit the last roller before Richter and things sloooowwweeed riiigght down.

I have no idea what happened, but as my pedaling slowed, my confidence dropped and negative thoughts started to creep in. I really have no idea why, but it totally sucked. I was starting to question my abilities and why I was doing this. I tried to fight the thoughts. I acknowledged that I was thinking negativly and started to focus on positive things - the clear blue sky, the warm sun, the sprinkling of yellow flowers along the hills, the fact that I had ridden as far as I had, which meant I had my health, and the smiling faces of some of the cyclists I saw riding down the hills.

The battle of good and bad went on for the ENTIRE climb. Thinking like that is truly exhausting; therefore I don't recommend doing it. Staying positive and in the present is the name of the game. What can I say, even those of us that practice that on a daily basis can fall into the old negative ego trap. At least I'm aware when it happens!

I made it down to the Husky station and met up with Kelly, Leslie, Chad and Greg. I have to say a huge thank you to all of them because their wonderful positive energy was what I needed to blast away the negatives I had! Yay!! I am sooo not meant to be a negative person, I swear!

After refilling water bottles etc, we headed out. The majority of the group had already left, so it was Chad, Leslie and I that started out together. Chad was off like a shot and Leslie and I had a bit of pace line. Both of us were commenting how much our legs were screaming on the slightest incline. We'd both only done 76-80 km prior, so this was our first big ride of the year and it was a doozy. I could literally feel each muscle that make up the quadriceps. Oh and let's not forget my IT band. I could feel that big time. My butt cheek...well, it's a given I could find that.

Leslie got a flat just out of Oliver so I stopped while she changed it. To be honest, I was good with taking a bit of a recovery break. After that we motored on through to the next stop, which was an outhouse. We then quickly zipped to Tickleberrys and met up with Chad and Rusty, who also suffered a flat.

At one point we had thought we'd go ride McLean Creek, but by the time we were near there our legs had had it so we just rode the IMC run course. It was pretty smooth sailing along there and I had a big smile on my face just being near the lake. It's so beautiful along there.

I was able to stay in the big ring for the little hills along there, so that was a bonus. When we got back to the hotel we ran for about 10 minutes then gingerly walked into the lake to cool our legs. I am not sure how many times I said 'bugger' as I walked in, but it was several. Holy hannah that water is cold! Thankfully it's not that bad during the swim of IMC.

I checked with Leslie to see how many kilometers she had so I would know how many I missed by getting a drive out. Turns out I rode 19 km less, so I'll try and make that up tomorrow. So my total mileage for today was 139.2 km. And yes, the 0.2 km count!

Speaking of tomorrow, we'll drive to Oliver, swim (water temp depending) in the lake there, then attack Anarchist. That's a 20 km climb that is Hwy 3 East out of Osooyos.

This weekend is mainly about putting in mega amounts of mileage. Last year it made quite a difference for me and I'm hoping for that again this year!

Oh, and the best thing? Other than the amazing people, and gorgeous scenery? It's supposed to be hot, hot, hot out!! Snoopy Happy Dance!

Peace out my wonderful friends.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

We Aren't Going To Get Wet Are We???

Okay, so last year I had an 'incident' per se. It was an overcast day with a bit of a sprinkle happening. I put on many many layers of clothing, figuring if I had fleece on and I got wet I'd still be ok. My theory failed, really really badly.
I was going up Horse Creek Road and by the time I thought, hmm, it's raining out quite a bit now and I'm cooling down, it was too late. The rain came down harder and the wind picked up. Halfway back to my house I lost feeling in my hands, and face and all other bits. I decided to call and ask for an emergency pick up. The problem was, my hands were so frozen I couldn't unzip the ziploc bag my cell was in. And when I finally got that open, with my teeth, I couldn't take my helmut off so I could put the phone up to my ear.
Panic started to set in, but I managed to stay calm and use my speaker phone etc to get help. I got a ride from my buddy David and once home I spent the next few hours trying to thaw out. My lips finally went from blue, to purple to pink. Phew. Ever since then I've been scared to ride in the rain for fear of a repeat experience. I just don't have the right gear.

Yesterday I had a ride planned with my buddy Lance. Just to shift topics a bit here, his name isn't really Lance. It's Andrew. But in University there were 6 Andrews so we nicknamed this one Lance Romance on account of the fact that he was romancing this gal to no end. It was so sweet - totally worked too (for any dudes out there wanting to meet a gal). Anyways, that's why we call him Lance. Although now that he's doing the Ride to Conquer Cancer and he's taken up the sport of cycling and triathlon, I have a feeling it won't be long before he earns the nickname Lance after a certain famous cyclist we all know...

Phew, that was a long explanation. Anyways, Lance and I were going to go out riding, but all day I was looking out the window and seeing rain. A lot of rain. Did I mention Vancouver is a rainforest?? This is why it's so green and pretty! By the time Lance got here, just before 4 pm, the sky started to clear. Ah yes, Mother Nature truly does love me!

Of course, I've lived here long enough to know that things can change really quickly, no matter how much I am loved by Mother Earth herself, and the rain can be back. So I made sure I had my new clear rain cycling rain slicker stuck in my back pocket, not to mention various layers of clothing. Also, we decided to do the route I did on Sunday, but stop at the major intersection and go back along the out and back. Essentially we went out, then back, then out again, then back again, in an attempt to get in 3 hours and some decent kilometers. Worst case scenario, we get caught in a monsoon, we could take one of the crossroads back to my parental units abode in no time.
After all that I was finally ready to brave the outdoors and my fear of hypothermia II. We left at 4pm on the nose. Mom made sure she had a photo of us before we headed out!
You may note in the photo that I have enough nutrition to feed a small pelaton, whereas Lance has one bottle. Yup, I've bonked more than enough times too to make sure I have enough! Lance is 8 years younger than me; therefore a pup, so I figured he'd do just fine. (And yes, I'm allowed to call him a pup cause he teases me non stop about being 'old'.)
At last we headed out into the great blue-grey yonder. It turned out to be a really great evening for a ride. There were some clouds, but we managed to stay away from them for the first part of the trip. My legs felt pretty good considering I'd done a ride the day before and, for me, rode quite hard.
On the way back from the first out/back we did get a sprinkled on a bit, but nothing major. I somehow lucked out and wore just the right amount of clothes.
The second time for the out/back was a bit different as far as how my legs felt. The littlest incline made them burn. I still wanted to make sure I rode as hard as I could though for a couple reasons a) I am trying to push my riding this year and b) there was no way in heck I was going to let young Lance drop me. Not that he would because he's nice, but hey, I wanted to make sure I was nearby. Yes, I have an ego.
As we rode I found it amusing that the roads were soaking wet. This was amusing because we really didn't see any rain. Just a very brief sprinkle. So somehow as we rode we bypassed all the rain when it actually did come down. A very cool thing. As we made our way back to the parental units we noticed how very dark and scary the sky had become ahead of us. We were pedaling towards it actually. I hoped that it would stay ahead of us and it did!
Just for the record, I sooo love Mother Nature! I look after her and she looks after me. Can't ask for more!
Today I was supposed to do an hour aerobic run. I headed out in the afternoon with the best of intentions. My hip and butt said otherwise. I felt like I was about 100 years old and a robot. This is when Styx's song 'Mr. Roboto' popped into my head, much to my chagrin. "Domo arigato Mr. Roboto, Thank you very much, Mr. Roboto". There it's in your head now too. Gotta share the pain!!
So my hour run turned into a 20 minute run. Honestly, it was disappointing. I was so slow that if you poured some molasses down beside me, it would run faster than I was! Just when you think you are in decent shape, blammo, you can't do an hour run at an easy pace. This is triathlon though. Some weeks you are a rockstar, some weeks you are not. If I were to let this get me down though I'd be a wuss of the umpth degree, and I'd prefer not to be that so instead I will chalk it up to experience and move forward with a smile! Afterall, I did cover 130 km on the bike in two days.
Thanks to Lance for coming out with me on the ride, it was awesome getting to hang with you again! You are going to do amazing on the Ride To Conquer Cancer and I'm super proud of you for taking on such a challenge. You rock dude!
Peace out my friends!

Sunday, 10 May 2009


With Mothers Day coming up I decided to drive home to BC to surprise my mom with a visit last Friday. (My dad new of the visit so I knew they'd be home etc.) For some reason the drive felt a bit longer this time - it could be because all the summer construction has started on the highways. It took me just over 10 hours to get here but it was well worth it!

Mom was stoked to see me (always a good sign) and we had a nice sushi dinner out.

I just gotta say's GORGEOUS out here! Why oh why do I live in Alberta when there is spring in BC??? On Saturday I went out for a run and it was absolute bliss. I ran to my favourite little trail (did I mention most of this area is a rain forest??) and was happy to see everything green green green. I even found a new path to run there! There was some skunk weed on that path though, so not as heavenly a smell as the cedar trees in my favourite path.
Had a great run too. Likely because I felt light as air through the trees. When in doubt, always go back to nature. I firmly believe we are part of nature and when you need a boost it's good to be surrounded by it.
Later that day I met up with friends and headed to Stanley Park. It was so awesome there! The flowers are out in full force and everyone was walking, riding, running, playing rugby, cricket or soccer there. Amazing!

Today, after attempting to make mom brekkie, she went to play in her garden and I went off on a bike ride. I haven't ridden out here before so it was a wee bit of an adventure. I had an idea of where I wanted to go from discussions with my parents and cousin. As it turned out the ride was incredible. It went through most of the blueberry fields around here and I managed to almost get to Pitt Lake. The only thing that stopped me was the road condition. Everything was all smooth and paved up to the Swan E Set Country Club, then past that was shite. It was pretty funny.
Oh, the other thing I love out here is that there are bike lanes on the roadways! How awesome is that?? People even moved over. So nice. As I was just about home I met up with a gal and we rode for a bit. It turns out she did Ironman Canada in 2006. You know, those little m-dot tattoos on the calf are handy - you can ride up to someone and ask them which race they were in! She told me of some longer routes around that I'll have to remember. Today I got in 55 km in 2 hours. My allergies flared up (I'm allergic to all things that are green and bloom), so I got some allergy stuff for later.
My buddy Lance and I are going to go for a longer ride either Monday or's supposed to rain so lets hope it's also still warm!
Here are some pictures of my adventures so you get a little snippet of what the Greater Vancouver Regional District is like!
Peace out my brilliant friends!
Here are photos from my favourite trail run near the parental units...

Photos from Stanley Park...

Photos from the bike ride...

Look! A bike lane!

The country club...

The road after the country club...not so smooth anymore...

Thursday, 7 May 2009

The Highs And The Lows...

The high happened yesterday, the low today. However, I am not going to write about them in that order because I believe in ending on a high positive note. What can I say, 99.8% of the time I'm Little Miss just happened to be the 0.2%.

It started out quite well...I didn't feel like it was going to be a low day, but as the day wore on it was decided today would be a low.

I had grand plans for riding outside today. In fact, I really really really wanted to ride outside today of all days. Why? Because today would have been Tiggers 47th birthday. I wanted so badly to ride outside so I could share the day with Tigger. Instead it was rainy, cold and miserable out so I decided I'd give the trainer a go.

Another problem with this weather - I get headaches from it. I had a doozy of one yesterday, and today it plunked itself behind my forehead and is still nestled there now.

I could feel the heaviness of the day slowly sink down upon me. I tried not to let it happen. I didn't want to be sad today. I tried to think of funny things. I even laughed a few times. It didn't seem to help though. I missed my friend and the fact that today was her birthday really got to me.

I set up my bike up on my trainer at lunch so that when I was finished work I would get changed and go downstairs to the dungeon right away. I thought that maybe that would be the motivation I needed. I did just that. I even got on my bike and pedaled....for about 15 minutes. That was all I could take.

It didn't matter that the picture of Tigger and I crossing the IMC finish line was right there staring at me - I just couldn't dig deep today. So I sat on my yoga mat and started stretching. I had my wee tv, with the rabbit ears, on because I figured maybe that might keep me on the bike. Just as I began stretching they started talking about a book about Randy Pausch - The Last Lecture. If you have never heard of him I urge you to click on the link - it's truly brilliant.

Well, that was all I needed. I broke down in tears - again. I thought this tear thing was gone for the most part, but apparantly not. It had been lurking in the background just waiting for the moment - and that moment was today. So I just let it all go. After a while I sat there and though, 'Well isn't this pathetic'. Then I got up, took a deep breath and went upstairs. I had some errands to run. I kept thinking about a couple things that Randy had spoken of.

So let's talk about the highs now, because that's what we should focus on isn't it?! Yesterday I had two highs to be honest, one occurred in my swimming, the other in my run.

We'll start with the swim, because I did that first. I had two sets of 1000 m to do. I decided I would swim the first 1000 m as a time trial to see how I am doing. I've tweaked my technique a bit and the posture correction has helped me with my strength so I was hoping for a good time.

First off I am proud to report that my meditation practice is paying off for my swimming and I was able to focus the entire 1000 m on my swim and NOT lose count of my laps. YAY! Huge step for Susi.

Second, I stayed under 20 minutes...this took me a few years to get to. My first 1000m swim was around 40 minutes in 2006. My time for this one was 19:55 minutes. It was about 20 seconds slower than last year, so admittedly I was a tad bit bummed about it, but when I reflect on my swim I realize how much stronger I felt. I wasn't bagged at 19:55, which to me means I need to set a new normal, as my friend Keith has so aptly said.

So next time I will push a bit harder and set a new normal for my swim.

My second high came when running. I was excited that I was actually running in the afternoon because during the day I was almost knocked over with a migraine. I willed it away because I really wanted to it went away.

I started out with a 40 minute run at a relatively quick pace (the new norm for running!), then I headed for 'The Hill'. I had a brief thought of dread about doing hill intervals. I caught that negative thought though and rearranged it so I was happy about doing hills because they are going to make me a better triathlete. Or so I hope.

I have run up this darned hill many a time, but never measured how long it was. I looked down at the garmin, checked my time and the starting point and began my ascent. I gotta be honest, it wasn't pretty. I pulled my mantra 'faster, stronger, better' out of my hat to get me up the hill. I remembered that it usually gets easier, although why this is I know not.

I ran for three minutes of up....that got me to the top, which turned out to be 0.5 km from the bottom. Phew! I slowly ran down the hill, turned around and did it again. Then I did it again. So that's 3 hill intervals and with each one I felt stronger. I love it when that happens!!

After the last run, I headed towards home. As some of you may know, I live at the top of a you know why this is called 'the Bonus Hill' because it doesn't matter if I've ridden 180 km, ran for 3 hours or have done hill intervals, I still have to climb the bonus hill. Just before I started the climb I looked down at my Garmin. You know, for the last four years I've run up this hill but have never known how long it was!

I slowly made my way up. This hill is a little less steep than 'The Hill', but I could feel it was longer. When I got to the top I looked at my Garmin and did the math. Well now, the bonus hill is 0.74 km in length! Dang, that IS a bonus hill! I was quite pleased with my training session. Even more when I checked out my average pace and saw it was 6:45 min/km. Not too shappy when you were doing hill intervals as well.

So that is my high and that's the note I'm going to end off on.

Actually, no, there is one more thing. Part of Randy Pausch's lecture is about doing the things that make you happy and making sure you do one happy thing a day. So when I went out to run errands today I bought a chocolate bar and ate it even though I didn't feel I'd 'worked' for it. I gotta tell ya, it was one the best damn chocolate bars I've ever eaten! See, no matter how glum things are, you can always find something to make you happy!

Peace out my lovely friends!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Holy Mother Of All Things Of Searing Pain...

First off a wee recap....hmmmm...what did I do Monday??? Right! I swam AND ran! The swim was absolutely brilliant. Coach Greg and I worked on some swim time goals (along with the running time goals) last week and so now I actually had a time to aim for whilst swimming. I gotta say, this makes a big difference.

I'm used to training on my own, but last year had a swim coach so finally learned how to use those big darned clocks with the four 'seconds' hands. So confusing when you don't know what you are doing. Unfortunately though, this year I pretty much forgot what my times were so never really used the clock. Now I am back in the game and if yesterdays swim is any indication then there is the slighest possibility that maybe...just maybe... I might actually become a faster swimmer! How cool would that be?!

I did a warm up, then jumped into 12 x 50 m, then 6 by 200 m. The 200m intervals were cool as I was swimming at varied paces - 50 easy, 100 moderate and 50 as fast as you can (or "almost puking" as I like to refer to them). I got to mix these intervals within intervals up too so it made it even more interesting.

I did well keeping the pace I was trying to achieve and was ever so happy I took a couple of puffs of the inhaler in the morning!

Later on in the afternoon I went out for an easy 45 minute run. I was quite thankful it was easy because as it turns out I was feeling my 55 km ride from the day before. Nothing painful, my legs just felt a bit more leaden than they had the past week. It was a gorgeous run - the sun was out and I actually went out with just shorts and a tech shirt. Well, and sneakers and sunglasses of course. I mean, gotta have the sneaks and I wouldn't be cool without the shades now would I??

It was a tad bit windy out (read 30km/h winds) and I was really feeling it as I ran up the bonus hill. Not just that I was running full on in the headwind, but I had my hair in the usual braided pigtails and these were getting whipped around in the back of my head like someone was there whipping me to go faster! I would have laughed, but I was sucking wind as I ran up the hill. I checked out the Garmin and it would appear that I run up the hill faster than I run the flats. I'm going to assume that was an error on the Garmin's part...either that or I'm a sucker for punishment!

Today I was scheduled to go for a bike ride. The weather report was sort of all over the place and I had a physio appointment at 8am so I figured I might still be able to go outside, but it would have to be before the 70km/h winds kicked up...

I hadn't seen Janice in a couple of weeks and as I have been running much better without little to no arse pain I mentioned I was a bit worried that my other muscles were back to compensating. She did a series of range of motion exercises with me and was quite pleased with the improvement! I can even lift my leg off the table about 3/4 of a inch now, which means the arse is definitely building muscle!! Woohoo! (Yes, I'm shaking it like I won't break it right now!)

That was the fun stuff...then she started the physio part. Seriously, she needs to get a piece of leather that I can bite down on! HOLY HANNAH it was not fun. My hip flexors are being very disagreeable and Janice said if I don't start doing hardcore stretching of them I am going to limit the degree of strength I can get for the old buttocks. So she worked on the hip flexors and IT band. It was as if someone was running a hot iron down my legs!! At one point I had to grab the leg that wasn't being worked on because I thought I might inadvertantly kick her. Honestly, Janice is a super super kind woman and an amazing physiotherapist. She's helped me out a ton already, which is why I let her torture me....because I know it's going to make a difference.

Sure enough she checked things out after the muscle burning therapy and I could actually lay flat on the table! My low back was down and my legs were too. (Before she did her thing you could fit a half basketball under the small of my back and my legs were somewhat arched. It was rather odd.)

I felt really good afterwards too. Like I could move more easily. The only bummer was that she recommended I not bike today in order to give my legs a rest as they'd been through the wringer. (Really? So my trying not to kick and sucking air rather than breathing normally kind of hinted that I was going through the wringer eh... heh)

I was bummed but not too bummed as I'm heading to a cycling camp for the long weekend and I plan on doing some serious miles there. I'll try to add on to Thursdays ride as well. I have a feeling that one will be indoors as it's supposed to rain. Bascially I'll make up for it.

I'm still feeling good, and already I've done the two stretching exercises. I'll try and get two more in before bed.

It will be intersting how this season feels as I get my hips and muscles etc doing what they are supposed to be doing. Janice figured it'd be next year when I see the full results, but so far things are looking better, so for that I'm very grateful!

Peace out my friends!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Gassy Jack...

Just so we are clear here, this title does not refer to one Gassy Jack whose statue is located in Gastown, Vancouver, BC. I'm going to have to google his significance because I forget - although I do think he's cool.

No, Gassy Jack was me last week. Why? Cause I was gassy and my nickname is Jack. Holy hannah is was a rough training week. It was supposed to be my first week back from my recovery week, but I did not get enough training in as I felt rather icky. I think the physical part of all the emotional stuff finally caught up or something. I had no energy, was gassy, as mentioned above, and was dealing with the wonderful world of assplosions. What's up with that?!

I did manage to get in three great runs (meaning actually running not 'runs' that go with assplosions....although that did come in to play too). Huh. Perhaps this is too much information? Oh well. Such is the life of triathlon. We pee in our wetsuits, on our bikes, blow snot rockets and discuss bowel movements. But I digress.

So I ran quite well three times, although I did have some butt clenching issues towards the end so the last bits were ever so tricky. It doesn't help that I have to run up a very long hill to get to my place. Oh, and exactly how is it that your arse KNOWS when you are near the toilet?? So you are running the last bit home and you are managing quite well, even though you know you absolutely have to go, but as soon as you walk in the door your arse senses you are near a loo and it is all you can do to get the knot of your shorts drawstring undone and open the lavatory door in enough time that you can slam your butt on the seat before the big kaboom! Again, I digress...

So getting back to training - I only got part of a swim done and one bike session too. Sigh. Totally sucky.

Today, however, totally made up for it. I FINALLY got OUTSIDE on my bike! I can hear the angels singing 'Halleluyah' now.

I wasn't sure what it would be like out so went full on prepared. (Having a hypothermic experience tends to have that affect on a person.) I had on leg warmers, shorts, bike jersey, bike shirt, IMCDA bike jacket and mitts - then carried arm warmers, skull cap, and toe warmers in my jacket. Oh, and I also had two bananas, a fruit stick, and enough Infinit to ride for about 4 hours. Did I mention I was only going out for a couple of hours?? Actually, I wasn't sure how long the ride would take me, but it's my favourite route so I had an idea.

I just wasn't sure how I'd feel, or if the weather would turn or what. I had a couple friends come out from the city to ride with me so we did the prerequisite chat about what everyone was wearing. Just so we could be sure we were sane with our selections.

As soon as I started pedaling I was in heaven. Ahhh. The fresh air, the trees, the creek, the young boy who just pulled out in front of me riding a motorcross bike that is puking blue smelly smoke at me....

We rode the Grand Valley-Horse Creek Loop, which will be part of the Ironman Calgary 70.3 route next year. I had feared that it would be overrun with cyclists and on the last half of the ride I had that fear confirmed. It's an amazing route because it's in the country, you are surrounded by farms, cows, llamas and space. There are very few vehicles along there too so it's very quiet and it's also why everyone loves it. The fact that it's now on a map just makes it even more popular.

We didn't see anyone for the first half and then as we went back we came across what I can only describe as a tour group. We had all ranges of adult right up to 'little ol' dear' level. They were riding road bikes, mountain bikes, and I even saw a couple of cruisers. Cruisers...serioulsy?? Did I mention how hilly this ride is??? I swear, if I was riding behind them and couldn't pass I would trade in my bike for a scooter and give my hair a blue rinse...

The were coming towards us though so I didn't have to worry about being out cruised by a senior, thankfully. I made sure to wave and say hi to everyone cause I hear sometimes about triathletes and roadies being snobs and I want to make sure I don't contribute to that negativity. Plus, I thought it was really cool they were all out there. One thought did cross my mind though - where the heck did they all come from?!

As for the fitness of todays ride, I was pretty pleased. After being on the trainer the last four months it's hard to figure out where you are at in you fitness. Not to mention I didn't ride much (read that as 'at all') the last few months of last year. As mentioned, this is a hilly route so it was a good test. I'm proud to say I kicked a little Lance ass on the hills and I believe my speed was faster than last year going up them. However, I did feel it in my legs AND I could not breathe.

Unfortunately, my inhaler expired and I didn't realize how much I would need one for the ride today. I was wheezing pretty bad up the hills. There were a few farmers out doing their thing and the pollens and stuff being kicked up were really getting to me. This trivial little fact could not take the smile off my face though. I LOVED being out there. It was just brilliant!!

Aside from the cyclists and farmers, we had two groups of deer cross the road in front of us and the first prairie dog of the year ran in front of us. I love the praire dogs on this road as they are great at testing my bike manoeurving skills - they are also darned cute. Oh, and I almost snorted a bug too. This is a sure sign it must be spring!

I was pleased as punch when we got home and I saw that I had done that ride within the same time as my fastest time last year - although this time I didn't feel as fatigued and we took it easy through some parts. I truly hope this means that my bike fitness is a wee bit better this year and will continue to get better.

We did a short 20 minute brick after and the legs didn't complain too bad, which was also a good thing. My lungs on the other hand were screaming, itchy and wheezy. After a spot of lunch and a shower I called the pharmacy to refill my inhaler. I'm happy to report I can now take a breathe without breaking out into a coughing fit. It's amazing how wonderful air feels going deep into the lungs!

Today was truly an amazingly wonderful day. I made sure I thought of Tigger a lot too as I know she would have loved it out there!

Peace out my riding friends!