Monday, 29 June 2009

Will Ride For Chocolate...

What a glorious day for a ride! Last week Heather asked if I'd like to ride from Johnstone Canyon (Alberta) to Radium Hot Springs (British Columbia). What a great ride I thought....except that I'd need to get some water along the way and there wasn't really anywhere to stop... 'No problem!', she said, 'my friend Amanda is going to drive and be vehicle support!'

First thing I thought - GET OUT! That is so cool! I've driven this road many a time and it is gorgeous in there. To be able to ride it would be a gift. So we did.

Here is the story of our day in pictures...

As mentioned above, we started out in Johnstone Canyon. Here is our driver Amanda. Hi Amanda! Thank you for driving our water and making sure we don't get eaten by bears (which Heather appears to attract I might add AND who I've seen along this route too...)

Of course the first thing we had to do was get all our fluids etc onto our bikes. Heather was testing out Hammer Perpetuem. Hmmm, do you think by the look on her face she likes the taste? Or perhaps it was the dry heaving she did after taking a few sips that made me think she didn't like it?? Pretty sure the last time I saw something that funny was when I saw the video of Jen's son Alex testing out gels.

So we headed out of the parking lot and went West on Hwy 1A till we got to Hwy 93, which we proceeded due south. The first bit of the ride is relaxing, then you get to a climb up to the Storm Mountain Lodge and beyond. It's not a bad little climb, not steep, just long. Here is a picture of Storm Mountain and it's brother across the valley, who's name I know not.

Once over it's a nice long ride down hill. Nothing wrong with that except that there were cracks in the road which someone decided they should fill in with sand, grit and pebbles. This would not have been an issue but they just left it in a mound from 1 to 2 inches high. The best part was that some were perpendicular to the way my tire was rolling, which gave me a wake up jolt every time I went over one. No, that's not a pylon in the middle of the road edge, it's the red arrow I drew in to try and show one of the bumps....

At one point I had some sweet speed coming down a hill, then come to a flatter portion where I went into aero. Then I hit one of those 'tire no roll' bumps and my neck snapped. It hurt. I kind of wondered how I'd feel today, but thankfully it's not too bad. I was having flashbacks to the time I had whiplash and it wasn't pretty!

For whatever reason I had to pee not less than a million times this ride. Last weekend in the race, nothing, this weekend, a million times. I kid you not. The good thing is I got to stop and see some pretty flowers...

Don't worry, I didn't pee on them. At the same spot I HAD to stop and get the following pictures. Any guess which province my heart belongs too?

At the same spot we had a rather unfortunate incident. Don't worry, it didn't involve pee. As I was taking photos of the wee flowers, Heather decided to adjust her bike seat as it was troubling her back. I was standing about four feet away and could hear the crack. The crack of a seat post pin shearing that is.

Picture if you can an electrician and a mechanical engineer pondering said snapped pin. The mechanical engineer immediately started to wonder why the pin sheared, how we could get it out of the clamp and where there would be a spare pin that we could take from the bike and still not mess with the integrity of any of the other components. The electrical engineer, well, she did what she knew best and grabbed some electrical tape.

I swear to you this world would fall apart if it weren't for electrical tape or duct tape!!! Heather's artwork and expertise is most apparant. Good thing it wasn't up to the mechanical engineer or we'd still be standing there pondering the next move!

I gotta say I was mighy impressed with Heather's attitude about it all. A lesser person would have thought, oh well, I guess I can't ride. Heather fixed it up, took it out for a test ride and rode the next 100 km like that. Several subsequent applications of tape had to be applied as it would squish down a bit, but still, very cool! High five for a brilliant attitude!!

There were many gorgeous sights as we made our way south. We were in a valley so had mountains on either side, wild flowers scattered about, rushing rivers and babbling brooks.

There was also the reminder of the fires from a few years back. I'm happy to report that there is alot of new growth amongst the burned trees. Hopefully the pine beetle won't get at it; however you can see the remains of it's wrath as well.

I'm sure you are wondering at this point if I was enjoying myself at all? Well if you could get a close up of this photo you'd see I have a grin from ear to ear...I was in my happy place!

I was having a pretty great ride too I should add! This despite killer headwinds that were there about 98% of the time. The winds have been from 40 - 60 kph in this neck of the woods, so I'll assume they were pretty good down there. Normally the signs hang straight down and in aligment with the post. Today however, there was a ever so slight angle visible indicate the strength of the winds...

As we neared Radium Hot Springs I had the pleasure of using an outhouse rather than nature's washroom. I must say, they have some very clean outhouses in BC!

The odd time the wind died down and I wondered if it would be ok to take a little dip in a lake means glacial water doesn't it?!

Eventually we got to the climb that signifies our approach to Radium. I swear this hill doesn't seem hill like when I'm driving, but on a bike. Holy hannah banana I was having visions of Anarchist all over again! I wound around left and right so you kept thinking you were at the top then you were denied! I took a wee break at what I thought was the top and discovered these rogue wild roses (the ALBERTA provincial flower) growing far into BC country...
They were trying to camoflouge themselves amongst the daisies, but I spotted them.
Oh, and I was wrong about the climb being over. After my quick stop I thought I was going downhill, but my legs didn't work. There was yet another hill to go. Gasp, sputter. This is when the wind seemed to die down of course. Not for long though, it was back up and I wondered what was worse, climbing in the heat, or climbing with a headwind. Huh.
Once over the hill we hit traffic. They were paving the roads so had both directions stopped. Here's where things got even more fun...
I, of course, scooched to the front of the line just in time for them to start waving along traffic in the direction I was going. I was pedaling along keeping up to traffic (this was downhill and they had to go slow for construction purposes) when the flat dude said 'Hey! You will be safer riding on the opposite side of the road - there's room there!' Ok! So I shoulder checked, saw no one behind me and I zipped between stopped cars (in the opposite direction) and what I found was a cyclists dream....
Fresh paved road totally cordoned off with pylons so it was all MINE! HOOOYAAAAAH! I letter rip at this point, totally tucked into my bike and let gravity fly me down the hill. I'm sure the drivers, where were sitting still in 24C heat and looking at this fine section of perfectly good road that they could be driving on, but weren't allowed to, were wondering where this insane blond chick with the big arse smile came from. So. Much. Fun.
Alas, the pylons narrowed and I had to stop and go back onto to the proper side of the road... I spotted Amanda driving by at that point and was glad she made it through the big lineup or we'd have to wait a bit in Radium. I then zipped along with traffic into town. It was a major blast!
Finally, we were there. This is a house in Radium. Yup. It's someones house. Right in the middle of the road. As you can read by the signs, his house has been on Weird Homes. Not sure why though....

All totalled we rode about 117 km. My bike computer said ride time was 4:35; however we stopped along the way and fixed seats and had pees and WAIT!!! I forgot a most important thing! Amanda, the sweetpea she is, brought along chocolate. Mmmm. So everyonce in a while we would also stop and get a piece of chocolate.
What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday!
Thank you Heather for inviting me on this most bodacious adventure and thank you Amanda for your wonderful smile, photos, driving and of course - chocolate! I had a brilliant time!
Peace out my wonderful friends!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

The Aum Factor...

Guess what I did?? I took the ENTIRE week off of training! I know. It's crazy! I'm how far away from my big race and yet, I took the week off. You know what? I feel GREAT for it!

I learned a ton from the race last weekend. One of the things was that I want to focus on internal processes rather than external goals. So this week was more about reviving myself mentally and physically and getting refocused. I spent some of my time catching up on some reading and focusing on being mindful.

One of the books I started reading was Chi Running by Danny Dreyer. My friend Leslie had read this then took the classes and said I would love it because he shares our philosophies. The biggest thing I got out of it was not just the running technique, the the re-emphasis on inner process vs external goals.

Also, I am so interested in the process of Chi Running I've signed up for some classes! Keith has also signed up for it so we'll be learning together. The classes don't start unil August so I'll be trying to get everything I can from the book and hopefully by the time I take a class it will be for tweaking my form. Leslie used this style of running in her first triathlon this year and said she was really amazed at how much better her legs felt.

I'm sure it's not for everyone, but hey, that's what makes the world so wonderful - difference! I'll let you know how it goes.

Tomorrow I get back into training mode. I'm totally ready for it after my break, which is a sign I needed to separate myself from the sport - even if it was just for a short time. I feel refreshed and ready to go.

The first thing I'll be up to is going for a bike ride with Heather. She has as a friend, Amanda, who is willing to be our vehicle support so we can ride from Banff Alberta to Radium Hot Springs British Columbia. That's right my friends, we are crossing a border in this bike ride! It's a gorgeous route and I'm really excited we can do it. It would have been impossible without some support as there is nowhere to stop once you get onto to Highway 93.

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend and I hope everyone else is enjoying the wonderful weather and getting outside!!

Peace out my friends.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Pollyanna Is Back!!!

When faced with a dilemma, problem, or conundrum, I tend not to run away from it, but rather I like to roll it around in my head a bit and see what falls out.

Some may say, 'You are a girl, of course you have to analyze things - you ALL analyze things!'. Perhaps this is true. Whatever the reason though I do this and I find it to be a positive thing, rather than a negative. Oh, and I do catch myself when I head for that slippery slope of over analysis...because sometimes you just have to accept things for what they are.

As I wrote in my race report, this race was a difficult one, both mentally and physically. The physical part is a no brainer - I pushed myself so it hurt. I gleefully hopped on board the old pain train and took it for a ride then tumbled off of it and gladly handed back my ticket and that was that.

The mental challenge stayed with me though. I wanted to get to the root of what it was that bothered me that day and why I was bombarded with all those thoughts. Was it something I should just let go of and chalk it up to part of race day, or was it something that I needed to take and learn from.

After much pondering and consideration of the events of the day, along with reading the thoughtful comments (thank you!) and discussion with my dad and massage therapist, I think I have come to some conclusions...

The first one was that it would appear whenever I set a goal of trying to push myself to be faster etc, I am disappointed and feel icky. However, when I did IMCDA last year and I had no time goals, but rather just the goal to do it and stay present and I had the best race of my life! To this day I could not tell you my splits, just the end time and that is only because it was in glowing numbers as I crossed the finish line.

The second is that whenever I have not accepted me for who I am, I am not a happy girl. All my life I've felt a little different from others. Like when I was a wee thing I didn't speak English for the most part, I spoke Japanese. This got me into some trouble with the Grade 1 teacher to the point I'm sure she messed up the rest of my scholastic career. (That's a story for another day.)

I was the kid in school who was not the popular one, but rather the one who got picked on because I was different in some way. Beats me what they way was, but kids seem to pick up on it and then picked on me.

At one point I embraced that I was different and shaved my head, dyed it fun colours and labelled myself a punker. Heck, if people were going to think I was different then I would be. It didn't make it easier though.

There were times when I'd tried to fit in and usually it ended up in disappointment and although at the time I didn't know it, I learned later that I was unhappy because I wasn't my true self. I was trying to be something that someone else wanted.

It has only been in recent years that I've shed that characteristic of trying to be something that I'm not. Or so I thought. However, it would appear that when I took up the sport of triathlon, that characteristic, which I'm not fond of seemed to rear it's ugly head every once in a while and this weekend was one of those times.

I have come to realize that it was not the fact that I was at the back of the pack that bothered me, but the fact that I CARED that I was at the back of the pack that bothered me! I thought I'd given up caring what people thought! Drat.

So I started thinking to myself, what if I embraced the back of the pack girl in me? What if this is as good as I would get in this sport? Is that such a horrible thing? My, it's not horrible. In fact, it's a bit of a relief!

The more I thought about going to IMC in August and just doing it because I can and not because I wanted to beat a time, or be mid pack felt really good! It was a like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I would do this race like I did IMCDA - no expectations other than to stay in the present and savour every single moment - even the ones that challenge you, such as having to go pee REALLY badly and not being near a portapotty and not having mastered peeing on your bike!

The other thing I noticed, or have been noticing lately is a shift in my values and philosophies. Some things just don't seem as important as they once did. Perhaps that's why I was having this battle in my mind, because in my heart I knew that comparing myself to others and being disappointed in being in the back of the pack just doesn't sit well with me anymore.

Today I went to see my RMT Pat. I love going to see Pat because he's one of the few people I can discuss all the things I have been learning lately about Buddhism and mindfulness. He also works on a bunch of triathletes so knows our 'type'. He has admitted I don't fit the mould. (Like I don't fit the mould of an engineer or any other mould etc etc.)

In the past six months I've been learning more about Buddhism and practicing meditation. It seems to fit with the philosophies of life that I've always known, and with the mindfulness that I've been practicing the last year plus.

I've been slowing down in my everyday life. I try to be mindful while I'm making food, eating, brushing my teeth, driving and so on. Pat made a comment somewhere along the lines that it is funny that everywhere else I am slowing down and in the race I was trying to speed up and that's when I had the monkey mind arguments happening. Huh. Interesting thought...

So those are my thoughts. I feel good about them. I feel good about my race too. It reinforces the notion that it's the race that you struggle the most in where you also learn the most. I love that!

Of course just because I'm now embracing the back of the pack girl in me doesn't mean that I'll be taking it easy and slacking with my training. On the contrary! I will continue to do the best I can with what I have. However, I will also savour the fact that I'm out there and racing just like everyone else is! Just because I'm a bit slower doesn't mean I'm any less of an athlete!

Pollyanna is back and she's found the silver lining of the race! Was there any doubt??

Peace out my positive friends!

Monday, 22 June 2009

Chinook Half Ironman Race Report 2009....

I'll admit it...I've been procastinating in writing this race report. I have so many feelings about this race I needed some time to process them. Had I written it the night of the race, it would have leant towards the negative direction.

Normally I am a Pollyanna - always looking for the silver lining and being positive. This race was a tough one for me and I struggled dearly to hold that train of thought. As all stories go, I'll start from the beginning...

As mentioned on an earlier post, my plan was to push some mental and physical boundaries. I was going to jump onto the pain train and take it for a ride. I assume it was because of this that I was more nervous for this race than the last two Ironman races? Who knows. By the time we got to the race and I was all suited up ready to go my nerves were calm and I was feeling ready to roll.

FIGURE 1: THE SEARS POSE (R to L: Jen, Linda, Keith, Yours truly)

I love that time before the race when you get to mindfully get all your gear ready and go over in your head your transitions to make sure you have everything all laid out properly. I also love running into tri buddies that you haven't seen since last season and doing a quick catchup on things.


I took a big chance and faced a fear by standing in the front of the swim start, thanks to some encouragement from Julie. I'm not a fast swimmer so I wondered if I'd be drowned, but this was a small group and I stayed to the left just in case.


When the start happened I leapt into the water with much enthusiasm. I swam hard the first bit and kept my head down, also thanks to Julies advice. I was gasping a bit for air, but unlike times before I kept at it rather than stopping or going onto my back. Within a while I was into my rhthym of breathing and strokes: 3 strokes, breath, 3 strokes, sight/breath, and so on. My mind always wanders when swimming, but I kept pulling my thoughts back to what I was doing. I think this is the best swim I had in regards to keeping on track and staying focussed.

It was hard to swim to the second buoy because the sun was shining directly at us. For some reason they had a small buoy and a large one, I swam to the small one (with others) and had to make a sharp left turn to go back then swim around. I think I'll write to the director about having two buoys out there...

I did, for the first time ever, almost swam over top of someone. I would never do this intentially of course. I had my head down and was doing my thing when I felt a body partially under me. A fellow had stopped for whatever reason and I didn't see him. I apologized, as did he and I went on my merry way. I always think it's sweet when something happens and both people are apologizing. Just reinforcement that we are all out there doing our best and not trying to intentionally disrupt another.

At one point I was saying a Buddhist chant that we do in our meditation group just to keep my mind from wander. My group was actually having a Mindfulness Day that day so I figured it was my way to contribute as well.

The swim felt pretty fast, but my time wasn't any better than other times. Maybe the second best time I've had in a half at 40:44 minutes.


I got out of the swim and ran to T1. It's a bit of a distance, but nothing unusal. I was sucking wind the whole time, but finally got to my bike and got going.


The ride...well, this is where things start to go a little pear shaped. Compared to the last two half Ironmans I've done this ride was the toughest. There is a lot of climbing here. I wasn't afraid or intimidated by it because this is what I ride regularly. I did, however, want to push myself as much as I could at the same time as being smart and having some leftover for the ride back and the run.

I was doing okay for the first while, although my legs were burning from the get go. I said to myself, keep the burn happening it means you are working hard, but watch the heartrate on the hills. I was having issues with the little number they give you to put on the top tube of your bike. It kept flapping at my knee. I remembered the pictures of Katies leg from the same type of thing and thought, screw this and ripped the number off and put it into my bento box. I felt much better after!

I saw Keith get off his bike and work on his derailler and was quite concerned about that, so that filled my thoughts for a while. I also saw him almost hit the road sign and was worried that his head was more focussed on his bike than going straight and he might get into an accident. I was grateful when he passed me after a while because I knew he was ok and back in the race.

Soon enough more passing started. Usually I don't mind being passed, but after a while the negative thoughts started bombarding me. I knew I was getting farther and farther back and I was starting to get a little ticked at that. I was fighting the negative demons in my mind. I would question why I was out there and why I was still racing the same as when I first started. Then I would chastise myself for the negativity and jumping to conclusions about my racing when I wasn't even at the turnaround. It was an all out war in my head.

I've practiced mindfulness and staying present for quite some time now so pulled out some tricks to keep me centred. This worked although I was still being hit with negative thoughts and having to push them away. I was fully aware of how much energy this was taking away from my ride, but it seemed there was little I could do to stop it.

I was almost at the turnaround when I spotted a truck on the road edge with it's hazard lights going. I sometimes have troubles seeing clearly when I'm racing because I have prescription glasses on and I think with my head position in aero I start going crosseyed or something. It's bizarre, I know. So as I get closer to this truck I see a placard in the back window which I have to close one eye to read. It says, 'Ride to Conquer Cancer Ahlete In Training'. Ahhh. The truck is moving very very slowly so I have to go over the rumble strips (so not good on the hoochie coochie after so many kilometers of riding) and try to pass him! I am also praying i don't get a 10 minute penalty for going over the white line that I'm not supposed to go over.

As I pass the beaten old pickup truck, I see an older dude on the front seat puffing away on a ciggie. I was not pleased to get a few lungfuls of his smoke and was coughing a bit. As I got by him I saw someone doggedly riding a bike in front. She was definitely not a cyclist (if one were to judge by her attire), but she was doing her best with head down and hair hanging in face. It was actually a kind of Fellini moment. All I needed was a clown with red balloons to pop out of the trees...

Instead I had the aid station RIGHT THERE! AAAAGH. I yell for a banana and they give me a FULL banana with a bit of the peel pulled back. What the heck? How can I eat this.... TURNAROUND!!!!

Yup, as I was contemplating the banana I noticed the turnaround was immediate from the aid station. I grabbed onto the banana and my handlebars and turned left quickly hoping I wouldn't fall over. I was so flustered and preoccupied with all that was going on I didn't even check for traffic! Not good. I took a couple bites of the banana and tossed it again hoping I wouldn't get a 10 minute penalty for littering. I didn't know where else I would put it and it was close to the aid station.

After the turnaround I noticed my watch said 2:04 hours. I was thinking "Holy crap, if this ride is going to take me four hours I'm going to be totally pissed!" It had been a headwind on the way out and honestly I thought I had a headwind on the way back. No idea. I knew I would have some nasty climbs on the way back, but that this was more of a downgrade so I decided to take full advantage.

I pedaled my arse off on the way back and seemed to have some good speed. I sort of stopped twice to check on a fellow racer who was walking (his chain broke) and to tell the aid station that he needed assistance. Other than that it was go, go, go.

My mind was more quiet for the ride back, thankfully, and I found I was singing some Prince and Meatloaf songs. What a combination eh?!

Finally, I was back in T2. My watch said 3:36 hours for the ride, but my official time is 3:42 with the two transition times put in there.

I didn't feel too bad as I headed out on the run...but things were about to change.

I ran past Linda, Shannon, Dad, Jen, and Dale and was so happy to see them! It is amazing how smiling faces can lift your spirits!

I'm not sure of my run pace, but my heart rate was up there. I can say I was pushing it, but it didn't feel unreasonable. It took me a little while to settle into a groove but eventually I did. I passed Keith a little bit in and he told me he wasn't having a good day. I reminded him to take it step by step and that I was happy he was there.

The course was nice as it was down in the park, but the climb out of the park was the worst hill I've ever encountered in a race. I didn't bother to run up it as it was so friggin steep. My power walking kept me right behind the one person I did see walking up there so I figured it was all good.


My first lap went by fast and I didn't start feeling my low back till near the end of it. It was starting to get warmer out, but really it was a gorgeous day for racing. Jen said my time was 1:07 for the first lap, which I thought was pretty fast for a race - the best I've done in a 10k race was 0:54.

Shortly after I started running the second lap the pain train started to derail. My low back and right glute (the icky one) started to complain to me. The complaining got louder. Then the fatigue hit, and my mind started to go into the negative zone again.

This time I started to recite (in my head) one of my meditaiton chants. This kept all thoughts at bay and kept me in a good pace, when I could run. I had to walk on this lap and was not pleased, but told myself I had to power walk and would only do that for a few feet before starting to run again.

There were two volunteers who came up to me when they saw me walking and started to assess what was going on and encouraging me. I said I hurt, but was ok and just needed a very short pity cry. To be honest I wanted them gone so I could do this, but I was also thankful that they were so kind. Shortly after I started thinking about Tigger and that's when the tears came and I couldn't breath. I realized this SO was not helping so started back with my chanting and focused on my technique.

I did this for the rest of the race and it got me through. Trust me, thoughts of quitting were very near the surface, but I knew that my discomfort was not a good enough excuse and I had to push myself to keep running.

Finally I was done. Time: 6:50. Give me my friggin medal and let me pass out!!!



After the race Jen and Dad made sure I was ok and kept me walking. I hurt like I never have after any Ironman race. I wasn't sure I could get any solids in me either, but needed something. At one point I was talking to a friend of mine and nearly passed out. Jen saw me folded over and Carl with his hand on my back asking if I was okay so she jumped up and came over to help me out. I sat in the shade and started eating Linda's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Ginger Cookies that she'd made for me. (Thank you a million times!!) I swear, they were miracle cookies because even though my body hurt like a son of a gun, my dizzieness and fatigue started to go.

We then waited for Keith to come in and cheered him on.

So you may be wondering after reading this why I was upset or having to figure things out. I did succeed in some areas of this race. I hopped on the pain train and stayed on till the very end. I have now gotten off the pain train with no need to ever go back on it and am handing back my ticket. Oh, I should mention that I did leave absolutely everything I had on the course!

I think my ride time was likely pretty good considering the hilliness in comparison with the other races I've done. However, I was still in the back of the pack. I'm really not happy I was in the back of the pack - but the thing that bothers me more than that, was that I cared I was in the back of the pack! Weird, I know.

Thing is, I wanted this race to be about me, and not what others were doing. I didn't want to care that I was in the back, again, but I did and I do. Those thoughts just don't fit into my values or how I normally think. So I'm quite upset by this. I want to race and I want to work hard, but I want to have fun too and not be concerned about the other competitors.

Is it possible to race and not be concerned about others? Because if I can't do this, then I choose not to race because it's no longer fun.

I'm also disappointed because I've been doing this triathlon stuff for 3 years now and yet I see no great gains in my racing - again it's the whole back of the pack thing. Okay, that's partially true. I do see large gains in my mental ability - had I not been mentally strong my day would have been done part way on the bike. I would have stopped, but rather I acknowledged the negativity, tried to beat it back and kept going forward. I also know that my biking improved, although perhaps not as much as I thought it would.

Urgh. This race was so frustrating for me. I had such a battle happening in my brain and there still is! I pushed so hard yet didn't do much better than normal. I was bombarded by negative thought which is so not how I want to be! I'm not sure where to go from here. I mean, I am doing Ironman Canada - this is something I have to do for myself and to honour Tigger. After that though, I'm not sure.

Lots to think about.

Now to get back into a more positive write up.... Thank you so much to Jen and Dad for coming so far to be cheerleaders!! I am very appreciative of that fact and it's because of you two that I wasn't a Grumpy Gus! Thanks to Linda for being here and being so thoughtful in baking me gluten free cookies - they saved me! Thank you to Dale for seeing me race and missing part of your soccer game to see me finish the first lap of the run - you are a sweetie! Thanks to Shannon for sticking around after his race and cheering us too. Congratulations on 2nd place in your AG!! You are a rockstar mister!

After the race I had a wonderful dinner with Keith, Linda, Shannon, Melinda, Dad, Jen and Dale. It was so great to be with this amazing group of people. It helped put things in perspective in that this was only a race and friends and family are way more important!

FIGURE 9: DINNERTIME! (L TO R: Linda, Jen, Moi, Dale, Keith and Shannon (orange shirt))

Thank you as well to everyone who gave me their well wishes - you helped me get through this race.

Peace out my wonderful friends!

Friday, 19 June 2009

Pre Race Ramble...

Okeydokey, so I think I am ready. This morning was spent on last minute details such as getting a new wire for my bike computer because the speed wire was chewed up, getting a new timer for the bike because no one could fix the ringer of my old one and getting a gluten free goodie for after the race because I can't eat the cookies, should they have any, that they hand out. Done, done, done!

And as an extra special treat for this Fathers Day weekend, my dad bought me a new bike helmet! Ya, I know, he shouldn't be buying me things on his weekend, but apparantly when he left BC my mother gave him explicit orders to get me a new helmet once she learned that my helmet was 13 years old... Who knew you were supposed to get a new one every 3 years or so?? I insisted he didn't have to pay, but he insisted Moeder told him he did, so there ya have it. Or rather, there I have it a shiny, spiffy new helmet for the race (see photos below). Oh, and guess what?! It has carbon fibre in it! Makes the engineer in me all giddy I tell ya. Did I mention how much my parental unit ROCK??? Thank you many times over guys!

You'll note the helmet is not purple...stores around here are in short demand of purple helmets to fit adults heads the size of kids heads. Ah well...this one is AWESOME! I am positive I will go faster in the race because of it!

After our shopping spree we came home, ate some grub, then I set about setting things up for tomorrow. Got the new bike computer hooked up (thank you Dad for holding the bike up for me - one day I will buy a bike rack!), put on the new timer, and proceeded to pump up the tires.

I like to pump the tires up the day before the race because a) it's a pain in the arse to bring a pump to transition, 2) if the temp is cold in the morning yet warms up while you are swimming you may find yourself with a blown tube and c) i find the quality of tubes and tube valves severely lacking to the point of bursting after so many pump sessions. Why is that??? It's a huge pet peeve of mine. I inflate my tire a certain number of times then blammo! the valve detaches from the rubber and you lose all the air you just put in.

Guess what? It happened this time with the back tire. I was grateful for that because it happened today and not tomorrow so I had plenty of relaxed time to practicing my tire changing skills. I am getting faster with each time I might add! After all that excitment I cleaned up the bike a bit then headed upstairs to get the rest of my gear ready.

I carefully laid everything out in neat piles, checked my list, did a mental visualization of all parts of the day including getting to the lake and I think with all that done, I have everything. At least I sure hope I do becasue I'm not going over it again!

What's left? Uhm, a sushi dinner as my carb load....mmmm sushi.... Then some meditation, then visualization and a good nights sleep. In the morning when I wake up I expect to find Jenna on my coach as she's arriving some time during the night! I can't wait to see her!!

So, you may be wondering what my expectations are for tomorrow. Well, I've been wondering that myself. I know that I will have the same wonderfully positive, present, mindful day like I had at IMCDA last year. I've trained myself to do that. So I expect that I won't be bonking on the run from GI issues and lack of nutrition like the last three half IMs I've done, due to not taking in enough nutrition, due to panic, due to letting my mind run into the future! This will be a bonus.

Considering that I expect to be in fine mental form and well fueled, my next expectation is to push some mental and physical boundaries. I've been pretty conservative in my racing in the past (any more conservative and I'd likely not make the cut off times!) This time is different though. I've completed three half IMs and two IMs. I KNOW I can do the distance. Heck, I can do the distance when I'm so under fueled that I'm running with only one eye open because I'm seeing double the bonk is so bad! If I can do that, then I'm sure I can hop on board the pain train and giver! At least, that's my expectation.

As I think about the pain train I had to giggle to myself. I have been on the pain train many times, but not the good pain train. I've been on the pain train where your race plan went to crapola because you didn't listen to your body, or you thoughts leapt into the future, and you didn't take in enough fuel etc. I've gotten through all that and finished.

I want to hop onto the OTHER pain train. The one where your muscles are screaming but you are loving it because you know they can handle it. I want to get to the finish line knowing I left everthing I had on the course. Well then, I guess that is my expectation for the day then.

The nevousness I felt yesterday is gone. It's been replaced by my usual feeling of calm and inner peace. Tomorrow will be what it will be and I know I'll love it for all the little moments.

Think I'll go take a wee nap now.

Thanks to everyone for the support - I will be thinking of you while I'm out there!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend.

Peace out my friends!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Papa Lion!!!

It's Thursday and that means my Papa Lion (aka one half of the parental unit, my Pops, me Da, Father) is flying in tonight! I'm totally stoked that he's going to be here for Dads day and to watch me race. Usually both of the parental unit come out to cheer me on, but Mama Lion is going to be in Vancouver cheering on her buddies who are participating in the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival.

I swear, my folks are the best fans anyone could have!! An example, last year at Ironman Canada my Dad had the computer set up and was checking everyones run pace. He then would enter said information into an Excel spreadsheet he created, came up with when they would reach the hotel and then where I was near the finish line. With this information in hand he would text me the ETAs (estimated time of arrival) for everyone we knew out there so I would know they were coming! He was dead on the time for everyone! So cool.

This weekend he will be hanging with Jen, Linda (Keiths Mrs.) and Melinda (Shannon's Mrs.) as they also cheer on Shannon, Keith and I.

So what have I been up to the last few days, well, I ran on Monday - just a nice easy one. Then on Tuesday I hit the bonus hill repeats. I gotta tell ya, I am sooo no longer liking the bonus hill. It's BORING to go up and down a wee hill all by your lonesome!

This time I did have the company of three dump trucks who where taking dirt from a place at the top of the bonus hill, then dumping at another location right where I would turn around to start the bonus hill.

So basically it was me and these dump trucks doing intervals. I am sure the drivers were thinking what is wrong with that girl that she keeps going up and down this friggin hill??? At least she's cute. (Okay, that was my thought thrown in there!)

I did 6 of them and I tried to do them all hard. They were. My legs hurt and I was tired.

On Wednesday I did a run in the morning with some pacing intervals. It was a goregous morning (I went out about 6:15 am) and I was just happy to be there. The intervals went really well and I told myself, this is how I'm going to run this weekend! Here's hoping!

In the afternoon I picked up my race package and went to Keiths to chill out. Eventually he got around to telling me he was bailing on the swim. Nooooooo! All was well though because Shannon was still going.

I really didn't want to swim on my own because I have this thing with seaweed and how it hides the lake monsters. Think I'm kidding??? You should see my Jesus impersonation if my eyes catch something moving in the weeds!

I didn't see Shannon when I got the lake - I got lost, which is kinda not a good thing as this is part of the bike course so I was trying to figure out where I'd be riding, but a good thing because now I know where I'm riding! I got all my gear on and chatted to a friend of mine that had just finished up. Finally I went into the water...tenatively I opened up the neck of my wetsuit and let the water rush in.

Cold. Cold. Cold. Okay, it was for the first minute, but then I went in again and was totally excited to find out it was actually a great temperature!

As I stood there farting around with dumping water in and such, I noticed a lone swimmer coming in to shore. I thought, I hope that's Shannon! I'll wait and find out, and if it isn't then it will just have to be me and Ogopogo's cousin...

Turns out it was Shannon! We set off for a lap of the lake. I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up with him, but was comforted knowing someone was there and more important knew I was there in case anything happened.

For the first bit I kept close by and at one point almost got my nose ripped off my by his foot as he did breast stroke or something - it was quite amusing to be honest. Then he was ahead of me so I just focussed on my technique.

He was kind enough to keep taking a break and checking to see if I was okay. I spotted him doing this as I practiced my sighting. I was much appreciative of this!!!

My wetsuit was bugging my neck and giving me that 'I'm strangling you' effect, which was good. At least I'll remember on Saturday to pull up the sleeves more and hopefully that won't happen again.

I was happy with my swim and even more happy about the warm water. Well not warm, but at least not icicle cold! Below are some pics of the lake. We will be starting our swim on the left side of the lake, and doing a 2 lap course from there.

I'm getting excited about the weekend, and a little nervous. Not sure why I'm nervous, I know I can do this. Ah well...more pre race thoughts to come in the next few days.

Peace out my incredible friends!

PS It turns out that the text message I sent my Dads mobile rang as he was at security in the Abbotsford Airport...(this is a small airport and they take there jobs very very seriously - everytime I go through there I set off all the alarms and am almost nekid by the time they let me through, yet when I go through other security stations this never happens, hmmm)...needless to say the ringer on his phone caused a little bit of excitement! Too funny!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Beating The Rain...

We are finally getting some really nice weather out here...but only for the day, which is okay by me! Later on we've been getting thunderstorms and some very cool lightening shows!
Thursday I did 'crits' as the cool triathlete kids say...or for those like me that had to look up what the heck that was 'criterium'. Bascially it's speed work. I found out some of the Cochrane gang were going to be doing these so I stayed in town and hooked up with them. Or rather, him. No one else showed! So it was just me and my good buddies' hubby, David.
We went to a new development that apparantly is now bankrupt. The streets and that are all in though so it's wicked because there is fresh paved road and little loops you can do the crits on without people, cars, houses or anything!

I did five short crits and five long ones. The short ones were a blast and a nice change from hills. The long ones got me hitting the retaste it zone. Why did I think that lime tortilla chips would be a good energy boost before the ride?? I know not. What I do know is I would burp some of these chips up at the exact same spot for every circuit. Thankfully David is well versed on my burping prowess so paid no mind.

It was great being out there because David is definitely fast than I, so I was motivated to try to keep up as much as possible....hence the retaste it zone. I loved doing crits though and hope I get to do more in the future.

On Friday I had a great run and just did intervals in my pace zone. I'm feeling better on the run, which is pretty exciting. Let's hope I feel that way next weekend in the race!

Today I had a full day of helping out with the Kids of Steel going on in town and fitting in a bike ride. To be honest I was supposed to do my bike ride yesterday, but was asked to go to Carifest (a Carribean Festival) in the city and decided I really wanted to do that meant doing my bike today after the KOS.
If you have never volunteered for a KOS race I highly recommend it. The older kids are great and know what they are doing...the young ones, well, lets just say they are happy to be there, but need a bit of help with things. Which is the fun part. They are so adorably sweet, especially the 4-6 year olds. You have no idea how cute it is to help out a wee one with their shoes and helmut etc then send them off on their teeny tiny bicycle with streamers and training wells. Needless to say I was smiling all morning! Oh, and I'm totally getting streamers for my tri bike....

The ride this afternoon was really good. My legs are beat to snot right now, but in a good way. I feel strong and it's a good feeling. I'm hoping this translates in a good half IM for me on the weekend, but hey, race day will be what it is.
Because the duathlon was on I just did an out and back along Hwy 1A, Grand Valley Rd, Twp 280 and a wee bit of Horse Creek Rd. Horse Creek Rd is now paved along the top part by Twp 280 and it is DIVINE! I was smiling a lot through that portion.
I had fun climbing hard up the hills, reminding myself to push, checking out the expecting cows in a west field and the mama cows with the babies in the east field. Oh, and there is now a herd of horses in another field. Not sure where they came from because they haven't been there in past years. They were totally gorgeous though.
On the way out there was a cyclist ahead of me that I tried to chase down. They lost me on the hills but it was fun having that carrot dangling in front of me for the way out. I managed to make it back before the storm clouds rolled in!

Oh, and where are the prairie dogs? I normally am dodging the little guys left right and centre, but alas, I have not seen any. What's that about? I miss them. They are adorable and they keep my on my guard when I'm riding. Very strange that they aren't about....
Lastly, I FINALLY changed my shoe clips. Please note the difference in Exhibit A and Exhibit B. (Note, it took a very small allen key to pick out the red gunk remnants and all the stones that were lodged in my old clips.) I don't know...I don't see a difference, do you see a difference?? Hmmm...


I forgot to test them out before I left and as I came to the first light I could't unclip the right one. Panic just about to set in, but then the gerbil in my brain woke up and did what he always does, comes up with plan B. This meant he was shouting "LEFT CLIP, UNDO THE LEFT CLIP!". I am thankful for my gerbil at times. Without him I would have fallen over in front of a line up of cars. Totally not cool...although I know I'd be laughing about it.

A huge shout out to all my fellow triathlon buds who are racing this weekend - Leslie D, Leslie R, Katie, Amy, Nola, JoZ, Darryl, Kelly, Kikibean, and Alexander The Great. My positive energy was equally divided up and sent out to all of you! I hope your day went as you hoped it would!! No matter, you are all rockstars in my world and always will be!

Peace out my friends!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Now Where Was I???

Life is full. A little too full to be honest, but that's ok. I'm working on creating a little more space for myself. Unfortunately, this means not as much blogging of my adventures as I would like. Hopefully that will change as I create space!

So where was I....right I need to post about my adventures from Sunday on. Okay, here it goes. I'll try not to blather on too much, but then again this is me we are talking about so I make no promises!

Last Sunday I met up with my good friend Keith for a tour of the bike course that I, actually we, will be riding Saturday June 20. Keith has done this race before so it was really cool to get a guided tour of what it will be like.

Let's just say there are a LOT of rolly polly hills. Holy hannah banana, this is going to be the hardest half ironman course I've been on. That statement is not to be taken negatively, au contraire on frere! I'm excited about it. I would like to push some mental/physical boundaries so this will be a good race to do so! I've been practicing that push in my training too.

Overall the ride was good. My legs are pretty schwacked from training lately, so my hill climbing was still a bit sluggish, but in general my legs felt strong and I was happy with the ride. I was also very thankful the wind was out of the southeast as we were riding west/east. Made for a bit of a dodgy ride in some sections where there was no shelter, but that was when I would tuck behind Keith who is over a foot taller than me!

We didn't ride the full route due to time constraints of the ride, but later on I drove the rest of the way. It kind of flattens out near the turnaround, which will be nice. I'm already starting my visualization practice of how I'm going to be the mountain goat on all the hills!

On Monday I had a fantastic swim! Keith sent me a video link of Dave Scott teaching about how to correct your swim faults and Julie had talked about high elbows in swimming. I set about applying all that I had learned as I did my swim sets. I had a warm up, 6 x 50 m build, then 15 x 100 m sets at race pace, then cool down.

If you recall, my race pace time nearly killed me last week - I was a gasping mess and it was hard to hold 1:55 minutes per 100 m. I started to question if I could really hold that pace during a race! This Monday was a different story, I applied the techniques and low and behold my time went down by 5 SECONDS to 1:50 min/100m!!!! At first I thought it was a fluke. (Behold the confidence I have in myself!) But I kept doing it, swimming at that pace.

The best part was although I was definitely working, I didn't feel nearly out of breathe as last week. Proof that swimming correctly equals swimming effeciently.

My run that afternoon was a short one, but I felt good. My legs are adjusting to the heavier workload I think. It was a recovery run so I ran around my neighborhood and enjoyed the sights and smells. The lilac tress are finally blooming here and smell wonderful. Even with the snow/hail spurts we've been getting the flowers are fighting back and blooming as well. I just enjoyed being outside for this run.

Tuesday it was back to the hills. I had my bonus hill climb to do. (Luckily it was scheduled for Tuesday because on Wednesday construction crews had half the road torn up so they could fix the lumpy bumps that I am ever so cautious about flying over.)

I set the intention to push myself through this workout, and I did for the first 6. I even took 20 seconds of my climb time...unfortunately my legs gave out on the 7th set and my quality went in the crapper. I was ok with that though. Well, I wasn't 'ok' with it, but I accepted it and after some thought and discussion with Greg, I now know that I should be resting a bit at the top. I wasn't other than a quick sip of drink.

Also, I do these back to back, and I learned that easy meant being able to talk while riding up the hill. I took easy to mean easy gear so was pushing hard for every set, just in an easier gear. No wonder my heart rate was constantly 160 bpm going up! ha.

On one of my sets there was also a group of young boys who were running like mad. I assumed they were warming up or this was part of their soccer practice as I ride by the soccer fields. I recognized the first young'in running along as the son of one of the local triathletes. I gotta say this kid was fast, fast, fast. He had the other boys beat by a mile and his little clomp, clomp, clomp pace never slowed one bit even when he started running up the bonus hill! It was so cool to see - oh and to have an ounce of his stamina and energy! He is also involved in triathlon so it will be great to see what he does at this Sundays Kids of Steel triathlon here in town.

Okay, that's Sunday, Monday and Tuesday covered. Phew! Wednesday was another swim/run day. Again I had a great swim and really watched my technique. This wasn't a timed event, but I made sure to keep the effort up.

In the afternoon I met up with my friend Esther, who's like my sister. She'd been away on vacation for a week so it was great to be able to meet up and go for a run. I was to do a hilly route so we ran around the's hilly. I had so much fun being out there chatting and running - it was brilliant. Not to mention I liked the juice and chocolate she fed me for energy before I had to run up the bonus hill!

Oh, a funny thing happened as I left my place. I was running along the sidewalk and about a half a block away I could see these three little tykes on their tricycles and mini bmx bikes. The one little girl, about 6 yrs old, yells to the other little girl, about 4, 'look out! someone is coming behind you!' Remember, I'm half a block away at this point. They, along with a little boy on a tricycle all bail like quail onto the driveway. Then they all start waving at me.

It was so adorabley cute and funny to have them waving like mad as I slowly ran towards them. As I went by they all said hello, which I replied in kind, and the little boy asked me my name. I told him but unforutnately was past him at that point so couldn't ask his. I would have stopped but was meeting Esther so didn't want to be late. Hopefully I'll see them again so I can say hello and ask names.

As I ran up the bonus hill at the end of my run I realized that perhaps the juice box wasn't a great idea. Urgh. The chocolate was giving me a bit of a boost though as I've been off that habit for a while now. The construction crew was still there as I ran by. It was a little unnerving to have about 10 guys standing there as I ran the same time I made sure I was giving it my all without sounding like I was having an asthma attack.

The flagman was standing there having a smoke and commented I'd been running for a long time! Why yes, yes I have...and the smoke from your ciggy is not helping me in my attempt to run up the hill without puking a lung. Still, you are a kind man and just doing your thing so I will let it go, smile, say yes I have, and continue running. I made sure I didn't stop until I got around the corner and no one could see me practically fold over as I gasped for air. Am I vain or what?!

So that's what's been going on in this gal's training life! All really good stuff. I continue to push myself more, learn, and enjoy being out in mother nature.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week too!

Peace out my fabulous friends!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Bedazzled Helmut???

Boy I was glad I got out and did my mini hill training during the day on Thursday because it got rather grey out later on!

I did a quick warm up ride out Hwy 22 south and back, then mentally prepared myself to tackle the bonus hill several times. The goal was to climb it 11 times.

The task was easy, moderate and hard rides up the hill. The first one felt great, which was nice. The second one wasn't too bad as I rode in the gear that I considered 'hard' last time. For the 'hard' gear I took it up another notch. Alas this was a no go. I couldn't spin my legs enough and my cadence was under 50 rpm, which is a stressor on the knees.

So I geared up and told myself I had to push it. At least I thought I was pushing it until my friend Richelle flew by me up the hill after having just ridden 80km. Shite. I'm a slug. I was glad she went by though because I said to myself, 'Suse, you my dear have GOT to learn to get past this pain barrier. It's time to use what you've got and get used to hurting a little'.

So I did.

I kept pushing hard and trying to keep my cadence up. I felt pretty good about it although I was grimacing. By the 9th set I admit I thought of quitting. I am so not a quitter though so kept going with it. My legs were screaming at this point.

Along the way this couple was walking down the hill. I was nearly blinded by her bedazzled type visor. They commented that it looked like what I was doing was hard work. Bless them for noticing I was working hard! I saw them again for the next climb I did. It was cute because she said to keep going. The last time I saw them she was chanting 'left, right, left, right' to me.

I was welcome to the short distraction - I started thinking about bedazzling a skull on my cool would that be?! Soon enough though I got my head back into the game.

I managed to complete the 11 sets, although I was getting a wee bit bored by the end. One can only go up and down a hill so many times!

On Friday I set off for my run. This time I decided to be smart and drive to a flatter section to do my 'speed' work. Again my legs felt thrashed when I started out but I did my best to focus on my technique and being light on my feet. It seemed to work because I had a great run workout!

The pace was totally doable, I wasn't gasping for air last week, and my feet were turning over. Could this be a new comfortable pace for me?? Please let it be so!

I was very glad I didn't have a workout today because I woke up to see a four letter word all over my backyard....yup, it SNOWED here last night. Again I ask you - why do I live in Alberta???

Tomorrow Keith and I are hoping to ride the bike course of our June 20 race. I will be praying for warmer temperatures and little wind. Feel free to cross your fingers and toes for us!

Peace out my bedazzling friends!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Burn Baby Burn...

"Burn baby burn, disco inferno, burn baby burn!"

Yup, that's what I've been singing the last few days because thats what my quads are doing. At least it's taking away from the pain in my hip/arse!! Always got to look for the positive side people!

Before I start my whine about my legs, let me just say I had a not too bad swim on Wednesday morning. The main gist of my set was 20 x 100 m. I don't think I've ever done that many sets of 100 but I was more than willing to give it my best shot. My aim was 1:55 minutes per set. Yes, I'm slow, but one day I will be faster!

This is supposed to be my race pace. After this workout I'm not so sure. For every set the last 50 m were rather challenging and I found I was sucking wind. One cool thing, I was really concentrating on my technique, which is likely wrong, but I actually could feel my shoulders burning! See, I must have been working hard!

Mid way through the 100s I noticed my pace had slowed. My first set was actually 1:47 and I thought, whoa nelly, maybe you should slow that down a bit till you see what it's like to do a few of these. Likely a good thing because by the tenth set my time was 1:57. I stopped for an extra 30s break and then told my self to just do it! I did. It was hard but felt good.

Later on I went out for my run. This is where the wheels fell off the cart, shall we say. My legs were like lead! It was ridiculous. I could not get them to move. I mean, they were moving but oh, it was not a pretty sight. The fact that I was to run a hilly run so chose every honkin' hill in my neighborhood, of which there are many a long steep hill, did not help my case.

I wasn't negative or discouraged by it though. I just noted this was what was happening and I would just have to push through! I kept my mind busy by trying to be lighter on my step and listening to all the wonderful noises nature has to give us. Oh, I don't mean my natural no. Not that that doesn't happen or anything, this time I was good though. Instead I listened to things like the wind in the trees, the creek rushing past the rocks and fallen trees and the chipmunk in the tree chirping at me about something.

Just before I had to run up the bonus hill I spotted my friends Andrew and Tina and their two dogs. Ask me if I ran by then and went straight up the hill? Uh no. I decided it was the perfect time to take a break, pet the dogs and say hullo! It was very nice to see Tina walking and without a cane I might add!!

Finally I decided I should go. I had to face the bonus hill. My legs were still like lead, and still burning, so I just took my time running up it. I did; however, run all the way to the top. High five to Susi for not giving up!

I really hope my legs don't hurt like this in the upcoming race. Oh, did I mention I have a race coming up? The Chinook Half Ironman in Calgary. Apparantly it is one of the harder half ironmans around because there are a lot of rolling hills on the bike and run course. Hard is all relative though so I'm not too worried about it. I just want my legs to stop burning before then though! Oh and not be so lead like...

Okay, the disco inferno song can leave my head now....

Peace out my saturday night fever friends!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Up, Up, And Away!!!

Forgive me bloggers, for I have sinned. It's been too long since my last confession. Gulp. Yesterday...I did not train!

I know, I know, the shame! I swear I did try!! I woke up in time from my dawn swim and felt like a big green scaley monster had been sitting on my head all night. It was heavy and I felt like crud, so I bailed on my swim. I was going to run in the afternoon so I didn't feel too too bad about it.

Later on I set off on my run like a good little triathlete only to find that as I started to breath a bit harder than normal that my lungs were burning. Ow, ow, ow. What the heck? I'm running DOWNhill! Why are my lungs burning? Then I remembered Saturday's asthma issues. Apparantly, when you ride over 100 km with approximately a quarter lung capacity due to asthma, your lungs take a teeny bit of a beating. Or so I would guess from yesterdays lungs on fire inicdent.

I tried to run around the neighborhood hoping that things would calm down, but alas they didn't. I knew I had a hill ride today that would have me sucking wind galore, and I wasn't going to miss that, so pulled the plug on the run and did the walk of shame home with head hanging low. Sigh.

Today however was a good lung day! Perhaps it's because I've been sucking on my Advair puffer every morning and it's finally kicking in? I know not. Whatever the case, I could breathe and suck major wind.

Being the little planner girl that I am, I had looked ahead to the weeks forecast and noticed it was calling for showers and cooler temperatures on Thursday - the day I was to ride up and down Cochrane Hill. Huh. Now I've ridden that sucker in the rain and let me tell you it is not fun! In fact as I was riding in the rain I came up with a little diddy that had the phrase 'My feet are f'in cold, my feet are f'in cold....' etc in it.

I made the executive decision to switch my Tuesday and Thursday workouts so I'll do my mini hill repeats, which are right by my house and doable in the rain, to Thursday and today I would climb mighty Cochrane hill.

As I rode to the hill for a warm up a couple trucks passed by me. Now I don't know which truck had it's window open but hoooo-eeeeee. This BC girl could smell some serious maryjane wofting about, if ya know what I mean! I could totally smell it for the longest time too! At one point I wondered if it might help with the wicked headache that I was fighting and started inhaling a little deeper. Heh. Or perhaps it would loosen me up so I'd rock the hill? Hey, if we can win Gold in the Olympics with a stoned snowboarder, anything is possible!

Uh, what were we talking about? Oh right. my bike ride.... Okay, so the wind was kind of given'er when I left the house so I figured I'd go up the hill once and if it was out of control wind that might knock me into traffic so my brain would be squished by some big arse truck doing Mach 10, that I would ride Gleneagles hill instead.

Round one. The wind wasn't too horrible! I mean there were sections when I could feel it pushing down at me, but the crosswind wasn't super scary. Perhaps it was because I was going slow? Dunno. I focused on my cadence and technique and felt really good the first time up. I can tell I'm better on this hill compared to last year because I can push it on the flatter sections and when I get to the top I can power back up to speed.

This is good. Last year I was huffing and puffing so much I couldn't get going again on the flats for a while! Yay to progress!!

As I rode back down I was a wee bit nervous about the wind. At this point I was doing about 70 km/h and that with the crosswind did make a difference. I held on to my handlebars and kept looking to where I wanted to go. Seemed to work as I am here typing my blog.

At the bottom I crossed the road and made my way past a town worker using one of those whipper snipper thingys on the side of the road. It whipper snipped a piece of something right to my leg. Ow. I ignored it and stopped a little bit ahead to grab a quick drink. As I got back in the saddle I tried to clip in my right foot. No go. What the.... I stopped at a relatively safe location, leaned my bike on the metal guard and looked down. Ewwwww. Who knows what the heck I stepped in but it is bested described as red, gloopy, viscous, sticky goop that had rocks and other bits, such as the top plastic bit of a colt cigar, embedded it in.

Nuts! I pulled out the cigar bit and tossed it. Then I tried to find something to pick out the goop with. Amazingly I did not dry heave during this process! I then picked up the cigar bit that I just threw down because it was the only thing around, tried not to think of who's lips may have been all over it, and started to pick away at the goop. Did I mention it was very tenacious as well?? What the heck is this stuff?? An extraterrestrial tomato?

I got most of it out, and proceeded once again to try and ride the hill. I got one foot clipped in and thought I had the other foot clipped in until I started on the incline and realized only one foot was in. Sigh. I stopped again. So much for timing this hill! I found a wee stick and proceeded to try and get the rest of the goopy stuff out. For the first while I just managed to get bits of stick stuck. Finally, it was mostly clear.

As I was doing this I did notice that my clips are very worn does this happen? Also, I obviously use my right foot too clip in and out more, as shown in Exhibit A and B. (Please also note the remnants of red sticky icky gooey stuff.)

Exhibit A (Right Clip with Red Sticky)

Exhibit B (Left Clip)

Although round 2 got off to a rather shaky start/stop/start/stop/start, it went quite well. The wind was nice to me and I had a good strong ride up the hill. Down the hill I again hung on for dear life.

Round 3 was fairly uneventful. I had a good pace and nice cadence going. I did slow down a bit as a truck pulled over to the almost non existent ledgey bit so I had to go around it. I moved over and almost bumped the very strong male cyclist that was blasting by me. He seemed unconcerned that there may be a large truck coming ready to squish him and merely said 'Hi!' as he rode by. I, on the other hand, was trying to apologize for not hearing him and moving over, thus putting him in the line of the possibility of squishdom.

You know, there is something about seeing a nice set of calves go by you at a good speed that reminds you to PICK UP THE PACE! So I did. At least until the incline got steeper. He stood up and was gone and I slowed down but pushed on as much as I could. I definitely get an A for effort.

With three hills completed I was finished my workout. I went down Gleneagles hill this time as there are some flat spots I could get a bit of an extra ride in. As I did this I again recalled that last year I'd usually suck wind on these spots and not go very fast. This time I thought to myself, 'hey, I'm getting stronger!' It was a nice feeling.

When I got home I noticed something. My hands. They are about three shades darker than the majority of my body and one shade darker than my lower arm. I am guessing here that any sunscreen I may apply gets wiped off as I rub my nose after snot rockets (which I do a lot I might add) and hence they are dark. I tried to take a photo of it...not sure if you can see the difference from my hand and arm, but it's there.

Great, not only do I have vascular man hands, but now they are a different colour. Gotta love the geometric triathlon tan that starts to occur around this time of year!

Peace out my talented friends!