Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Beautiful BC Part Two...

Welcome to Part Deux/Dos/Two of my trip to BC...this is the photo version. As blogger is rather difficult when it comes to text and photos, I'll just let you browse through and discover some of Beautiful British Columbia for yourself.

A couple hints though...anything where the photo looks up at the trees or a path, is the Grouse Grind. Me in a wetsuit was my 'test out the ocean' swim. The photos of me looking like I'm biking - was from when I was biking. There's a stretch there eh?! The rest are from here and there when I was running or visiting with family and friends. Oh and the sushi out die for. I actually had some wrapped in cucumber rather than seaweed. It was crisp and refreshing.


Peace out my gloriferous friends!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Beautiful BC Part One...

As the Grateful Dead once sang, 'What a long strange trip it's been...'

Originally I had hoped to come home to BC to have a wee vacation, which meant time to train and see family and friends. Then I got a rush job for work. This is not a bad thing as I am a contract worker, so when the work comes in, you do it. I had already booked some activities with people, so rather than saying I will come to visit another time, I figured I'd just be superwoman and do it all!

I don't question that decision because I have been absoutely loving it out here, but at the same time I'm pretty beat from being a gerbil on a treadmill running at mach speed whilst juggling several pineapples.

So other than working a ton and catching up with family and friends I have also been training as it is getting close to Ironman Canada. I have mixed feelings about my training. Not the training itself but I am battling a neck issue so yesterday I bailed on a bike workout and today I didn't swim. Then I went for my run in 'feels like 40C' weather and had to cut it short due to the heat. (On the news tonight they took a temperature measurement of the sidewalk and it was 57 C / 135 F - no wonder I couldn't run long!) Because I had two bail on the two workouts I feel like I'm being a slug. Although I know that's not necessarily true. Ah well, part of training for an IM is also dealing with all the wonderful mental and emotional bits that come with it.

My training last week was pretty good even with the neck issues! I got to go to the gym with my Pops and hang out with his dudes, which was super awesome. I managed to get in 6700 m of swimming too!

I've been able to mix some of my training in with my mingling. On Thursday night I did the Grouse Grind for the first time ever! I went there with my buddy Shane, who was doing this every Thursday and Satruday as part of his regular workouts.

Hard to believe considering I lived in North Vancouver for many years. The grind is exactly that. It's a hike up Grouse Mountain that has an elevation gain of 853 m/2800 ft and 2,830 stairs. I swam in the morning and was considering going for my run that included stairs, then regained my senses. If I was climbing 2,830 stairs I didn't need to also run stairs!

The grind is absolutely brilliant and I recommend it for everyone. At first I was intimidated by all the very fit people stretching and setting their heart rate monitors, but then I saw a couple of little kids who were going up with their parents. They were about 4 and 6 years old - the little girl wearing a skirt and very shiny silver shoes! I did inconspicuously stretch my calves out a bit however.

The climb was super sweaty and super steep in areas. My endurance training came into play as I made my way steadily up each step. I must say the steps were not built for people with short legs! They are all different heights really as they are built into the mountain. It's amazing to think the record is 24 minutes up this thing! My times between each quarter portion were quite different, likely due to the different steepness in sections. I passed some and was passed by others. The end result was 1 hour and 2 minutes to get to the top! It was not easy by far - the little girl with the shiny shoes was carried most of the way by her uber fit dad! I would love to try it again and see if I could somehow break the hour mark - not in this heat though!

On Saturday I had a wonderful bike adventure with my friend Don. We started out at his place, which was on a hill in Port Moody. He mentioned we could start at a lower elevation but I said, no the hill climbing would be good for me. I would later question this decision...

The ride turned out to be a tour of many cities in the Lower Mainland. We started early when the temperatures were still decent and headed out to the Belcarra area. It was gorgeous biking through there as the roads are lined with tall evergreens. Oh how I love the smell of evergreens! The ride through here was very up and down. My legs were sluggish and I wasn't sure why - it would take me almost 3.5 hours to figure out that they were tired from my Grind climb!

We looped around there and headed out along Barnet Hwy. I love the bike lanes they have here because I can ride in aero even if there are cars. Zoom, zoom! At the end of this stretch we decided to go on more of an adventure and head over to Deep Cove. This was going to take us through the Capital Hill area of Burnaby. I gotta say the hills in this area are INSANE! There were some that were so vertical that as we climbed I wasn't sure I could keep turning the pedals and risked falling over! We made it over every hill though and were dang proud of it.

Once we got through the hills we found the path that would take us over the 2nd Narrows Bridge. I should note here that I'm terrified of heights. This doesn't stop me from doing things like riding over a bridge that feels like it's a million feet off the water because I hope one day I won't be afraid. I did pretty good for the first part, but as soon as we went over the hump and started descending the shakes started.

Don and I stopped so we could take photos. Well, he took the photos because I had a body shake so bad from being scared I couldn't hold the camera. We got going again and I found I was humming like the autistic boy I used to teach skiing too. He'd hum when he was stressed, and I was doing this hum...hum...hum...hum... thing to stay sane. My mind was playing tricks on me too as some of the bars on the railing didn't have paint so as I rode by it looked like there was nothing between me and falling to my death in the water. Hum...hum....hum...hum....

Don high fived me when I got over it. Phew. We then rode into Deep Cove, which was great! It's so beautiful down there. Actually, the entire area here is beautiful, but I really love anywhere that's on the water.

On the way home we tackled more hills then did a side trip to add on time. Then we had to climb back up to Don's. This was an issue for a couple of reasons. One, my neck had kicked in and the pain was so bad it was making me nauseaus. Two , the heat had peaked and as we rode up each hill we were engulfed in hot air. Then of course there were my legs - tired, tired, tired. We did it though and it was an excellent adventure!

The next day was a long run day. I convinced my Mom to take her bike out and ride beside me as I ran. It was awesome having her with me and I really appreciate that she sucked it up as her wrist was getting to her (it's still slowly healing after being broken in the spring) and she didn't have chamois shorts on!

We ran through my favourite route within the trees then along the dykes. It was super hot out again, but I managed not to melt. The one really cool thing was my legs actually worked! I really wasn't sure because of the ride the day before, but I was able to pick up the pace every 20 minutes as I was supposed to. This was a very cool thing. Hmm, I should remember that after todays mentally challenging run...

So that's the gist of my trip. Lots of training sometimes on my own, and sometimes with friends and family. Oh, and I have been taking some photos, of which I will post in 'Beautiful BC Part Two'.

I'm here for another couple of days and will be getting another swim/bike/run in then there will be the big drive home on Friday.

I hope everyone is having a brilliant week as well!

Peace out my glorious friends.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Tour de Valley...

So yesterday Lance and I - no, not THAT Lance, but my buddy Andrew who's nickname is Lance and at the time he got it, it had nothing to do with THAT Lance but now that he's riding we could easily make that mistake - went for a wee bike ride. Originally the plan was to ride from Walnut Grove - no, not THAT Walnut Grove, but the Walnut Grove in Langley - to Cultus Lake. Oh how I was looking forward to going to Cultus Lake... Unfortunately, things did not go as planned.

We still did a great tour of the Valley though in that we were in Langley, Fort Langley (such a cute place), Aldergrove and Abbotsford. The first part of the trip was awesome as we were following along some goregous little country roads. There was one big arse climb that we did where I was gasping and desperately trying to be the mountain goat and where our Lance was being the mountain goat. Good thing was that it was awsome recovery training for me because as soon as I finally made it to the top I sucked in some air and then had to motor to catch up with him.

There were some areas that had a bit too much traffic for my comfort level, but I think I'm just spoiled from all the country roads I ride in Alberta. It was great just being out there, riding with a friend, and daydreaming about jumping into the lake. Oh, did I mention it was great heat training too? We've been over 30 celsius, that'd be 86 F for my Southern friends, here since I arrived.

There was only one problem with our plan...we didn't factor in my neck/upper back starting to give me grief. Well, we did acknowledge that it might occur, but I was hoping for the best. Unfortunately by the time we got to the airport I asked Lance to stop for a bit. I could feel things get really tight and it didn't matter if I was in aero or sitting up. Being so close to the race I didn't want to bugger with my neck and back, but I really wanted to keep riding. After much thought and a few f-bombs into the wind, of which there was none, I decided it'd be best if we turned back. So our 140 km bike ride turned into a 90 km bike ride.

As soon as I made the decision and got back onto my bike I knew it was the correct one because I had some serious sharp pains going on. I wanted to cry. Then I wanted to get angry because I wanted to cry.

I mean seriously, what was the big deal. So I had to cut the ride short? I rode for two hours on Saturday. So with just those two rides I got in 150 km. Why is it the mind likes to play these games with us? There are days when I give it my best shot and decide, I can't do this and I don't think twice about it. And then there are days when I NEED to stop and I feel all guilty. What an utter waste of emotional energy.

Where does the guilt come from? My coach isn't going to be bothered. My folks will understand. My friends in triathlon have been there. My friends not in triathlon just think it's cool I would have done 90 km in the first place. So why feel bad about the whole thing I ask you?!

I have thought about that, because I think it's silly I felt bad, and have come up with one conclusion. We feel bad because we are designed to feel bad and if we didn't feel bad then maybe we'd miss more workouts for reasons not as good as a bad pain and then were would we be??

Today the neck is still not great, but I'm continuing with my workouts. There are only 41 days left till Ironman Canada so I want to keep going the best I can. If I have severe pain, I will stop the workout because to continue on wouldn't be an intelliget thing to do. I'm not out to place in this event, just to finish it with a smile and to honour my friend.

This morning I headed to Dad's gym to go for a swim and a run. On the docket was a 3500 m swim broken up into intervals of sprints and easy swims of various distances. Towards the end of the swim I was thinking 'Holy hannah make it end!', but I really loved the variety of the swim. My arms were like noodles at the end of it too, which is a good sign. Oh and let's not forget that I could turn my head now so could breath without the aid of gills of which I do not possess!

I think I was too focused on my swim to notice anything fun in the pool. This pool is usually good for that. Either it's people swimming at you because there are no lane ropes, or you have an onslaught of pool noodles that are being wielded by persons of the non swimming variety that you have to weave in and out of. Today was pretty mellow to the point that I had the entire pool to myself for a good 20 minutes.

Once out of the pool I headed to the dreadmill. I had some intervals to do so figured I'd just hop on there. My legs were fatigued from yesterday so the difference between my intervals was not a great deal. There were times when I wanted to stop, but kept reminding myself that I could do this. And I did. Mission accomplished. It's always such a proud moment when you battle the urge to stop. Perhaps thats another reason I felt bad about turning around yesterday. Who knows.

After my workout I headed to the mall to have tea with Dad and his buds from the gym. They are such a sweet lot. Only two of them were still there by the time I got there (mental note start earlier if you are doing a swim and a run), but we still had a chance to chit chat. I then headed back to the shiatsu place.

This time it was a gal working on me. I explained briefly what was going on and she started her work. The first point she hit was in my neck and I swear her finger went in the one side of my neck and was poking out the other. I then started a 'Just breath' mantra.

I don't know what exactly shiatsu does, but I swear I got half unconscious from it. Or maybe that's just a defense mechanism so I don't feel so much pain? Or maybe they use some sort of Vulcan death grip that puts you to sleep rather than kills you?! Either way there were times I felt like I was waking up.

Again my face was being smoooshed into the little head holder thingy. Underneath that they have a little basket where you can place your wallet, keys etc. They neatly cover it with a little towel so no one can see what's in there. Or at least I thought it was so no one could see in there. After today's visit I think it's so that when they do the Vulan grip and you pass out your drool doesn't get all over your stuff. That's right drool. Don't make like you don't know what I'm talking about. It's just like when you were in school and you fell asleep and woke up with drool all over your cheek.

I can't really tell if the neck/upper back thing is getting better. I still struggle to look down and am getting headaches. I was hesitating taking meds for it, but am slowly reconsidering this fact. Perhaps a hit of Robaxecet will help things 'let go'. If I do decide to take that there will be more drool. I don't do well with meds that say 'May cause drowsiness'. I will have to plan for being knocked out a good 12 hours we'll have to think on this more.

I think I'll go try ice on it now, see if that helps. On the positive side, I still have the ability to look left and right. Phew!

Peace out my gorgeous friends!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Never Trust A Ho...

It all started a few weeks ago when I rode to Radium Hot Springs. I was in the aero position with a good amount of speed going when I hit a bump. Snap! My head snapped back and I wondered what my neck was going to be like...

It had been niggling at me since then and last Wednesday I got a massage where there was a ton of crunching happening as Pat worked on it. In fact we were listing off veggies that sound like my neck. Celery, bok choy, cabbage...

Yesterday I went for a stellar bike ride and a little later on I could feel a knot get tigher and tighter just at the top of my right shoulder blade. The tightness was sneaking up along a path to my neck.

So I did what any triathlete would do, I panicked. Not. Actually, I got out the roller and started trying to squish the knot out. That didn't work. So I grabbed a small squash ball and used that to try and squish out the knot. No luck. So then Mum recommended that I try Dr. Ho.

Dr. Ho was on television at some point and offerred this wonderful little electrode pulse gadget under the guise of massage therapy. It's actually what physio's use to stimulate your muscles.

So I gave that a go to see if it might stimulate the muscles to let go.

I'm not sure what exactly was the defining factor for the incident that was to occur in the wee hours of the morning, but one thing that came to mind was 'Never trust a Ho'.

At approximately 2:33 am Sunday morning I was rudely awakening by a piercing pain that shot from the top of my right shoulder blade and nestled into base of my occipital. I must have been trying to turn onto my side when the pain woke me up. At first I thought the monster under my bed had stuck me with a pen knife. Turns out it was just muscle pain.

It was so bad I was immobile. I tried to move my head side to side. OW! No go. Then I tried to sit up. HOLY PETE! The pain was unbearable. Great, I'm stuck. I am never going to be able to get out of bed again. Sigh. I really really wanted to turn on my side in hopes I might get some sleep and maybe the pain would be gone in the morning. I reached up and pressed on the knot in my back and then took a deep breath. Slowly, I turned on my side. I found a position, not unlike how I slept when I had bursitis in my shoulder.

When the alarm went off at 6 for my run I was zonked. So tired from the night before and from the hurt. Not to mention the pain was still there and bad. I was supposed to go swimming today in the ocean. I really really wanted to go.

As I lay there I started to say, 'Think, think, think' Winnie the Pooh style. Okay. It hurts. I got that. Would it hurt so much I couldn't get my run in today? Maybe if I ran the blood would flow through and it would heal. Or maybe just warming up my body would help. First things first, I had to figure out how to get out of bed!

Very slowly I managed to roll over and slide off the bed. With great difficulty I got changed and put my hair in the trademark braids. Okay, if I could do that, surely I could run! I did a little bit of running on the spot to see how things would work. Technically my upper body shouldn't be moving so as long as it was okay to swing my arms, I could run.

Everything checked out. I could run. I would just have to remember to not look down, or to the left or right or I'd be reminded of my muscle knot. Come to think of it this might help my posture whilst running.

I headed out about 6:30 am. It was so nice out and very peaceful at that hour on a Sunday morning. It was a little slow going for my warm up. My body was tired and sluggish from lost sleep. After the 15 minute mark I was to pick up the pace. So far so good.

As I ran through the forest part of my journey I wondered if there were any animals hiding out in the bushes sensing that wounded prey was about to go by. Then I remembered how powerful adrenline could be so if anything scared me the pain in my shoulder and neck would disappear! No problemo.

I love this section of my run so much. The arch of evergreens makes my heart sing. I made it through the forest safely and headed out onto the dyke. The temperature was perfect. Even though I could feel my neck now and then I was doing fairly well. It was kind of like having a side stitch, only higher up. On the way back I had to walk a couple of times. It never ceases to amaze me how the human body reacts when it's hurt. A good porotion of my energy was going into my run but there was some that was going into protecting my shoulder. This was enough to drain me now and then.

I was to increase my pace every twenty minutes but I really wasn't able to for the middle intervals. So I just accepted that fact and focused on my technique and the beauty that surrounded me.

This must have helped because when I focused on my pace again for the last 20 minutes before cooldown I noticed I was going at a pretty good clip! It was a happy surprise.

Total run time was just short of two hours. It wasn't the best run, but considering the circumstances it was a pretty good run and I was happy with it. Unfortunatley it didn't do much to change my neck issue. I was able to slowly look right and left about 10 degrees, but that was it.

My ocean swim was totally out. Well, unless I miraculously grew gills! Major bummer, but I'll get to go before I leave here.

When Dad got home from his workout he suggested I go for a Japanese shiatsu massage. I've never been and at that point the pain was gaining strength to the point where I was getting a headache and nauseas. I figured it couldn't hurt...

So we went to this little place in the mall. It's actually totally open and located under the escalator. I wasn't sure how this was going to go but some of the dudes from dads gym go there so I figured it was legit.

Dad and I walked up to the counter and I told the fellow I needed a miracle! I don't think he spoke a ton of english but it was ok because Dad was there and he speaks Japanese. I only had to wait for a bit before the shiatsu dude returned and was ready to go. I explained my neck hurt and I couldn't turn it. He sat me down and started his magic.

With the first few pressure points I knew I'd have to focus on my breathing. He wasn't even at the side of my neck that hurt and already I was getting queasy from the pain. After a while he had me lay face down on the bed thingy and squish my face into a little hole on the head rest.

It was a little weird laying there because I could hear bits and pieces of conversations of the people walking by in the mall. 'No mommy I don't want to....Ewwww...So I told her....Oh, let's go in here...' As he started hitting some points the noise of the mall faded and all I heard was my inner voice. 'Okay, you can do this, just breath...I can only open one eye with my face squished in here...breath, breath, breath...ow! for crack and ice that hurts!...I'm sure he couldn't push my head into this thing any farther...if I wiggle my toes it will distract me from the pain...'

Then I started to focus on my face. That's when I almost giggled. My face was being squished into this teeny hole and stretched so I had a Joker like smile going on with one eye closed, the other open. My skin of my forehead was being pulled up so I had that botox happy look going. Oh if only someone could take a photo of this for the blog!

After that I think I slipped in and out of consciousness. I might have even snored. I'm amazed because he was hitting some good spots! He even hit my glutes and hammies. I was getting scared at this point that he'd find more points of pain. He did. I breathed through it. And I was really good in that I didn't kick him with the other leg. I think I deserve points for that.

After an hour of being pressed on he tapped my shoulder. I was in a fog. The paper from the head holder was stuck to my face. Huh. What. Where am I? He said in halting english that my neck and shoulders were very tight. I explained I was training for a triathlon so I did a lot of swimming, biking and walking. He said it was good to rest. Then he smiled and said to try turning my neck.

IT'S A MIRACLE!!! I could actually turn my head left and right. I still couldn't look down, but hey, I'll take the left and right. At least now I didn't have to turn with my entire upper body! I thanked him perfusely and was ready to hug him and kiss his shoes. Dad mentioned I may be back later in the week.

When I got home I took a nap and was out cold. I can still look left and right and the thudding that had been happening in my neck and shoulder has subsided. So has the headache. Hopefully it doesn't come back after my long ride tomorrow. Then again, if it does I'll just go back to Mr. Shiatsu for some squishing.

Oh, and I have to admit it. I don't necessarily blame Dr. Ho. (If you really ARE a doctor sir.) It's more likely that I had the electrodes up too high and on for too long. Lesson learned. I think I'll go put some of the Rub A-535 on that Dad also brought home. Or maybe stick the heating pad back on it.

I gotta say, it's good to be home when you have a mini situation. The parental unit have been awesome in trying to help me out and I'm so thankful for it. This is by no means a life or death situation, but it sure did hurt and having them here helping me out made a difference! If Dad weren't here I wouldn't know of Mr. Shiatsu, and if Mum weren't here I would still be in my jog bra...I couldn't get out of it without help.

Ah the journey of a triathlete...

Peace out my friends!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Home Sweet Home...

I'm back in beautiful British Columbia and loving it! I could feel my spirit rise as soon as I was in the trees. It was a bit of a long drive out - eleven hours - due to construction happening. I had a great run workout the night before, but that coupled with sitting for so long had my hip flexors complaining a wee bit. Made for an awkward walk when I got home!

As I drove I took in the scenery. One show stopping sight I saw was this beauty... It was in a parking lot in Chase. I actually held up traffic as I stopped, drooled and took the photo. They just don't make them like they used to!

It's been great being home. For one thing it's super hot and sunny! I think it was 34 C when I got here. Oh, and I managed to get a nice burn on my left arm complete with white line where my seatbelt was. Doh!

This morning I got up for a bike ride. I am doing a long ride on Monday, so today would be a quick two hours. I figured I'd ride out to Pitt Lake like I did last time as that took me about two hours.

It was divine out when I started for my ride. I'm not sure if my spirits are so high because I'm home, or because I've been feeling much better about triathlon, but whatever the reason I was ear to ear smiling as I rode along my merry way. As I made my way along the roads that zig zag around all the blueberry fields I said 'Good Morning!' to everyone I saw. Some returned the greetings, others completley ignored me. I was in such a good mood I almost through in 'Good Afternoon and if I don't see you later, Good Evening!'

I actually scared one gal by saying good morning. I was moving at quite a pace and went zipping by this gal on a leisurely ride. I said 'GOOD MORNING!' as I rode by and I think I scared her so much she almost fell off her bike. Whoops. I made sure to say sorry very quickly.

As I was crossing over Lougheed Hwy I heard a car honking it's horn like mad. I wasn't sure what was going on, so just kept going. A little bit down the road a car pulled into the bicycle lane so I had to hit the brakes hard. I was thinking 'what the heck?!' I went by slowly and the fellow waved at me. At one point I thought it was a buddy of mine who lived out here, but it wasn't.

Instead this gentleman got out of his car and told me that the pack on my bike was open and something fell out at the intersection. He said he'd honked to try and let me know something was wrong. I took a look inside but didn't see anything of importance missing. So I thanked him for taking the time to let me know and said I'd check the intersection when I went back.

I got back into the groove of my ride and made my way to Pitt Lake. I had some great speed going as I made my way. I got to the turnaround point at about 50 minutes. Hmmm, I'm pretty sure this took me an hour last time. Nice!

I wanted to add time onto my ride, so headed straight down the one road then backtrack. As I made down this road I realized I had had a great tail wind on the way out because I now had a heck of a headwind! For some reason the wind doesn't bother me anymore. Likely because we have so much of it!

I got to the bottom of this road then turned around and headed home. I have to say I love the bike paths on the roads here. Even if I'm in a busier stretch of road I can still stay in aero because I have my very own lane.

I was almost back at the highway when I noted a rider ahead of me. Hmmm, wonder if I can catch up? For the last 1/2 hour I was to ride in a big gear so I switched gears and started pushing forward. Slowly but surley I was making ground. Finally I snuck into the riders draft. A fellow who was wearing a North Shore triathlon jersey. I might add that he had a very nice set of calves on him.

I stayed behind him every so stealth like. As we neared the intersection I deeked in behind some cars just as he was about turn to shoulder check. I felt like Ferris Bueller zipping in and out as he tried to beat his folks home! The guy never knew I was there!

I got to the intersection but it was super busy so I didn't bother trying to find what fell out of my pack. I just kept going. I felt really good on this ride even though I was pushing the hard gear on the way home. I focused on my form, put my head down, pictured the Tour fellas and went for it.

I was almost home when it slowly dawned on me what may have fell out of my pack. It was my fruit bar. It was the only thing that I didn't think I saw when I looked in. Also, I remembered hearing a crispy tinfoil type sound when I went across the intersection. Lastly, it would have been big enough for the fellow to see. Mystery solved!

When I got home I took a look at my bike computer before doing a quick change up into my sneakers. Well look at average speed of 28.9 km/h! I have NEVER done that before. Granted this is a flatish ride, but still. I'll take it!

I put my sneakers on and went out for a 20 minute brick. I did 10 x (30s hard, 30s easy), then 10 minutes easy. I wasn't too sure how the hard would go but was willing to give it my best shot. I was pleasantly surprised that I could get my legs to go. Especially because I rode hard today. I was totally stoked about my ride and run. I'm definitely getting my mojo back. Hooyah!

When I got home mom gave me a bowl of freshly picked raspberries from her garden. Yum! It was an awesome post ride treat.

Today was a great start to my first day home. Tommorrow should be just as fun as I'll be going out for a ride (we'll see if I can get Mum to ride her bike beside me) then we are going to White Rock so I can do an open water swim in the ocean. I wanted to see what it's like to actually swim in the ocean, rather than frolic like I used to do. This should give me an idea of what Cozumel will be like!

Peace out my lovely friends.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009


Holy hannah banana! We had some wicked storms blowing through here yesterday - literally. I was working away quietly in my little office, with the window open, enjoying the pitter patter of the gentle rain. Ahh, so very soothing.

Soon enough a noise permeated my thinking brain. I looked outside and the rain was going sideways, up, and down. What the... The wind sounded ferocious and the sky black so I ran to the back window in fear that I would see a funnel cloud.

Hey, was that Dorothy and Toto who just flew by??

Thankfully there was no funnel cloud, but the clouds were making a very mean face and my trees were now on an angle. The majority of the day was like that, so I made an executive decision to borrow my friend Esthers dreadmill.

I know, I know, the shame of it all. A BC girl not running in the rain! Yes, it's true, I do have webbed feet, however I do not have the power of flight and with the winds that were happening I was worried it would lift me right up off the ground. Oh, and let's not forget the lightening and thunder, which I'm afraid of.

The one good thing was that Esthers dreadmill is parked in front of this MONSTER flat screen. You see, I do not have cable. And the Tour de France is on.

Honestly, I have no idea how the tour works other than there is a very large group of spandexed hotties riding from point to point and eventually they get to the Champs de Elysses. I have tried to figure out what they are doing, but so far I'm at a loss. I'm ok with that.

So I get to Esthers all geared up and ready to watch hot man tushies on bikes and what has she got on? A pilates DVD. Sigh. 'Uhm, so ahhh, how long you gonna be with that very fascinating DVD Esther??' Thinking to myself, 'Cause, it's your house and I know I'm only a guest, but I'd really like to take over your tv because the Tour is on and I am just not motivated by the lithe chicky on the boob tube.' Ya know what I'm sayin'??

Thankfully I only had a few short minutes before the cyclefest was on. I had no idea, actually, if they were even showing the tour. I don't know what times it's on or what stage they are at. I just wanted to see them ride.

There is something about watching pros do their thing. It's fantastic. All 'spandex hotties with massive powerful thighs' reference aside, these guys are absolutely amazing! I am in awe of how fast they go, how well they climb and just how 'in the zone' they seem to stay day in and day out. It's absolutley inspiring!

Turns out the tour wasn't on, but they were recapping the past legs, which was great because I got to see all the highlights! Let the Yum-fest begin!

It's definitely motivating running on the spot trying to 'chase' the guys.

I ran an easy 40 minutes as was called for, then did a 10 minute walk. It was during my walk that they were showing some of the time trials and crashes. For some reason I must have had sympathy for those falling because my foot caught the edge of the treadmill (where exactly did I think I was walking too?) and I almost fell. Almost. I didn't fall because I am a ninja princess with cat like reflexes. Or so I like to tell myself.

Funny thing though, they showed that same footage a couple minutes later and I did the same thing! Again, no actual falling, just stumbling to regain balance. I wonder if I was moving with the tv camera? Too funny.

So that was my rainy Monday. It's still rainy and icky out today. Sigh. All I want to know is who the heck washed their car and then killed a whole bunch of spiders?!

Peace out my friends!

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Seeking Joy...

I like setting intentions. I'm not sure where I got the habit from, but I think it's good to set an intention before embarking on a journey. Sometimes I'm specific about my intentions, and other times I have a loose idea in my mind and figure I'll define it more as I got about my journey.

Today was more of a loose intention. I set the intention that this ride would be joyful. In fact, I'd seek out joy. I decided to take my camera with me too. I often wish I have it with me because a) I love photography and 2) I think to myself, 'Oh, I'd love to share that photo!'

My buddy Darryl met me at my place. This boy is mega fast, but he felt he needed to say to someone 'I'll meet you at 8am' in order to get his butt in gear and get the ride done. I assured him he could ride his own ride and not worry about us.

We left my place at 8am and met up with Joz and Trish, then headed south on Hwy 22 where we'd meet up with Hope.
It was a gorgeous day for a ride! The first thing I noticed was the typcial gale force winds weren't present. I didn't say it too loud...didn't want to remind Mother Nature. We rode down to Springbank Road where we were going to meet up with Hope. We'd waited a bit when Joz called her...turns out she was stuck on the other side of a cattle run. Now folks, I'm not sure how many places in Canada this would happen, but it happened here today.

We decided to keep going, mostly because we figured Hope would catch up and also because it was getting a bit chilly standing there. So off we went to Bragg Creek - a very popular stop for cyclists as there is food, ice cream, coffee, water and the Shell station with bathrooms!

The ride to Bragg felt really quick for me. This was when I set my second intention for the day - I had seen a commercial with Lance Armstrong in it and what drew my attention was his cadence! Well, that and his phenomenal strength of course. I decided that even if I had to go in the smaller ring for a bit today I'd keep my cadence up.

I hit Bragg in 1:04 hours - my fastest time by about 10 minutes. Too cool. Darryl mentioned something about a tail wind, to which I replied, 'Dude, do not burst my bubble about being fast today!' We had a good laugh over that and he said it was more a cross wind really. Indeed!

Here's a photo of Trish and Darryl...who says Canadians aren't patriotic eh?

After a quick 'buy more water/pee break' we took off for Millarville, our turnaround desitination.
We took Hwy 762 south off Hwy 22 as it is a gorgeous ride. I felt a lot of joy as I rode through here. There isn't much of a shoulder, but there isn't a lot of traffic either. Mostly bicycles and motorbikes. I think the motorbikes love it because it's windy.
As I rode along I remembered that the last time I took this route was with Tigger and Leslie before Ironman Canada in 2007. It was Tiggers longest ride to date and it was only a few months after her last radiation treatment. She was amazing on that ride. I could help but smile as I thought about how we formed a pace line and kept Tigger right with us. Her strength wasn't 100% by then, but man did she ever ride.
Riding today I kept up the cadence intention and tried to keep a feeling of ease. I've been reading a lot lately on staying relaxed while exercising and how this also helps with the joy. If I was starting to feel my legs too much I'd just shift gears rather than grind through it as I normally would. I felt really good on the flats and my climbs were nice and relaxed.
This route has it all, climbs, descents, twists, turns, and narly flats. Along the way there is a ton of green space, many trees - which always brings me joy, lakes, and farm land. I had to snap a couple photos just to share the joy!
Okay so I had to get one Ansel Adams wannabe photo in there! The rest are in colour though to show the brilliance of the area.
Funny thing about this lake...As I looked at it I couldn't help thinking, 'Huh, wonder if you can swim in there?' Can you say triathlon geek??
Just before Hwy 549 there is a wicked descent. I love this one. I pedal like a madwoman then tuck right in. HOOOYAAAAAH!
When we got down to the intersection we waited for Hope who hadn't caught up to us, but was closing in. There was only 10 km left before Millarville, so we waited we had a nice girl chat. For a change, I wasn't worried about constantly riding and stopping very little. Today, again in the act of seeking joy, I decided it would be just fine stopping and it wasn't going to hurt my training. It was still the same ride time in the saddle!
A family rode up to us and stopped to chat for a bit. They headed off and we greeted Hope then set off as well. I could see the family up ahead and thought, hmm, maybe I could catch them. There was a good headwind hitting us now but I got some good speed. I was still focused on my cadence and feeling relaxed while I pedaled.
Slowly but surely I was making ground...if this was a movie the theme from Jaws would start playing I'm sure. Finally I caught up to them - they had good speed with their pace line! I silently snuck up and tucked neatly behind ever so stealthly.
Thanks to them I held 34 km/h as we zipped right along. They didn't notice I was there until the gal in the back shoulder checked so they could turn left. She was a little shocked I was there I think. I thanked her for an awesome draft!
Once in Millarville we stopped in for more water and pee breaks. They have a great little General Store there. I think there are like, oh I don't know, 100 people in all of Millarville?? It's your typical Wild West little town and it's super cute.

They also supply refreshments that could be very helpful for cyclists...Got Jack?

This was the turnaround point so we hopped back into the saddle and headed back west. As we did I mentally prepared myself for 'the hill'. Remember that wicked descent I mentioned, well, I had to get back up it. Not too intimidating...

Oh, and that's not the top of the hill you see over there in younder distance. Nope. That's just the first little blip. There's more after that! Definitely good Ironman training.

Once I got over that little hill I noticed a gal with her tire off her bike. I slowed down and asked if she had everything she needed. I got a not so convincing 'I think so....' Then I asked if she needed any assistance. I got an even less convincing 'Noooo'. So I asked if she was sure, another 'I think so...'. My gut feeling was that she didn't want to ask for help, but would have liked it so I mentioned that I'm really good at fixing flats and could help. Her tone perked up immediately and there was a very enthusiastic 'Okay!'

Of course it had to be the back tire. Do front tires ever flat out?? I rested my bike on a post then took over. I had it changed up in no time. Good thing too. Know what is really good motivation for fixing a flat in record time? MOSQUITOS! There were swarming us and as I fixed the tire I was swatting away the little beasts. I got a few bites, but I think I took out some of their tribe!

The really funny thing about this little situation was after we got the bike all back together I noticed she had Legend Coaching bottles. So I took a better look at her and realized it was Kelly who I met at the May training camp! Such is the triathlete easy to see a friend!

The ride back was awesome. Although I was starting to feel some nigglies in my back and legs, I felt really strong. I also wasn't cross eyed as I normally part way through the ride. I realized my prescription sunglasses weren't meant for looking out the top part and likely were making my eyes hurt. Typcially by the end of the ride I'm riding with one eye shut so I can see straight. Always good for safety! Today I wore normal sunglasses and all was well. Good thing my sight isn't that bad!

In what seemed like no time, I was back home. I noticed my computer said 139.23 km. Hmmm, okay, I'm going to have to zip around the block so I can at least roll over 140 km! I was totally stoked when I saw my average speed - 27.7 km/h. I don't think I've ever had that for an average - and this isn't an easy route.

I was wondering what it was that helped me to achieve that. This week hasn't been stellar for training - I missed a bike day due to work, then had a shorter bike day then scheduled because of the weather. The other thing I wondered about though was my plan of seeking joy. There have been a lot of articles recently that I've found stating that when you are happy and enjoying what you do, you do it better. I guess that's not a shockingly new theory, but I realized today that it's a valuable one.

I went for a 20 minute brick run through the paths.

Finally it was time for a soak in the river. This river starts on a glacier somewhere, then flows by here. So it's not super cold, but cold enough when you are trying to sit in it you mumble explitives as you ever so gently lower yourself in. I love this spot because it's so peaceful. Just you and the sounds of the river flowing by....

It truly was a great, great day for riding. I had awesome company, beautiful scenery, kept my intentions and in the end had a great time.

Yes, there is joy to be found - if you are willing to seek it out. And I am!

Peace out my glorious friends!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The Running Chant...

Before I get into the gist of my blog, a HUGE congratulations to all the athletes who competed in the Great White North triathlon this weekend! I had a blast being cheerleader, and although I didn't lose my voice as I normally do, I did find it difficult to walk the next day as I was on my feet the entire time running with athletes and checking on them, jumping up and down (while also waving my arms) and sustaining a sunburn. Oops.
I also had my toe shoes on (Vibram Fivefingers), which I love because they are like being in barefeet. Unfortunately, because I hadn't worn them in a while my feet got all soft and weak from 'regular' shoes so I felt like I did a major weight workout for my feet - they were tight and sore!

It was an exciting day and to see Tom Evans win with such an amazing time was an honour. He is an amazing competitor!!

So I guess I should start telling of my triathlon training tales eh? Well, at the beginning of this year Julie said to me, I sense that this is going to be a big year for you Susi. Lots of change. Boy was she ever correct!

The changes started in about March 2008 and they have been progressing since. My health was deteriorating, I lacked focus, and things just weren't working for me. A couple of different occurences led me on the path known as 'mindfulness'. Slowly but surely I became more aware of how much time my mind spent whirling around planning the future, reliving the past, and just going off on all tangents. Once I started doing that, my health improved and I felt more calm.

I am still in the process of learning to stay in the present moment, but I'm now more aware than ever when I slip back into old, bad habits. And when I do slip, I have to stop and ask myself, what's going on? What's wrong?

I did that after the Chinook Half Ironman a few weeks ago. Part of what I realized was scary...

As much as I love this sport and all that it's given me, I'm starting to lose my passion for it. Just to write that honestly brings tears to my eyes. The sport of triathlon has given me much more than medals. It has helped me grow and become the person that I wanted to be. The one who had found some inner peace.

This is not the realization I was looking for considering I have two Ironman races this a mere 54 days away.

I've been struggling with my workouts lately. Riding 102 km on my own Friday was, well, lonely. Normally I'm great with working out alone. In fact, I need it most times. Now though I feel as if I need someone with me to share in the joy of being outside. Perhaps I hope to gain some of their excitement. I know being at the race this weekend, although I didn't participate as a competitor, did help spark a little excitement.

Some may say if my heart isn't in the Ironman races coming up, then why do them? I've thought of that too. We all know that you have to be able to answer 'Why am I doing this?' on race day...

So why am I racing Ironman Canada? Simple. I have some unfinished business with that race course. It was my first Ironman race in 2007 and it was one of the hardest things I've ever experienced. Things did not go the way I had hoped in a very painful way. The two things that I take from that race that was positive; I finished and I finished with my beloved friend Tigger.

This year, the race is all about staying present the entire time. It will be my greatest challenge yet. There will be no time goal. No concern for what everyone else is doing or how I compare (my usual thoughts). This time it will be a Zen Ironman full of mindfulness. Knowing how these races can be that will be challenge enough.

And of course, this race is in memory and honour of Tigger. There is not a day that goes by since her passing that I don't think about her and want to race for her. The hard part about that will be not bursting into tears every time I think of her. It's so hard to race when you are crying!

As for Ironman Cozumel, well that will be a tourist Ironman! I always thought it would be cool to race internationally so that will be my chance. I wonder if they will serve marguerita's at the aid stations? Kidding, I'm not going to be in that type of tourist mode!

So, now that I have the reasons for my races in my mind and in print, I need to work on finding the passion in my training again.

Monday morning, while I was still in Stony Plain, I got up to go for a run. My feet hurt from the day before, along with my hip flexors. Hmm, perhaps my 0 seconds to sprint mode the day before as I raced ahead to take photos was a bit too much for this turtle?

Anyways, I decided I would walk for five minutes, then start off in a slow run to get the blood going. I wanted to practice my chi running as well. As I left the campground and headed onto a secondary highway I noticed that my mind was wandering all over. The gerbil in my brain had hopped onto the treadmill and was running like mad.

I had a vague sense of this going on, but did nothing. After about 12 minutes, I thought, WAIT! What are you doing?? You were just reading Thich Nhat Hanh's book on mindfulness and how to apply it to your everyday life and here you are with monkey brains. Aside from the fact that I was moving foward, I was not connected to my running in the least! Where was the mindfulness? Where was the chi?

I realized then and there I had to get my head 'in the game'. So I stopped running. I realigned myself in the 'chi' way, started running and started a chant that resembled one of the Buddhist chants I say in my head as I meditate.

It went kind of like this...

  • With each footfall I share energy with Mother Earth
  • With each footfall I gain energy
  • With each footfall I am aware of my whole body
  • With each footfall I am calm
  • With each footfall I am mindful
  • With each footfall I feel peace
  • With each footfall I let the wind blow away all negativity
  • With each footfall I feel light
  • With each footfall I enjoy the purple flowers along the road.

As I said this I felt my body relax. I was aware of my form and the fluidity of my run.

Then when I thought I was going to be mauled by a Rottweiler (one of my favourite dogs I might add) who came charging at me only to be stopped by a fence (I'm still thanking the Universe for that) I then chanted, with each footfall I forgive the scary doggy who wanted to tear my limbs apart.

Here's the wonderous part of all this...I felt amazing on my run! I DID feel light! I felt at ease and limber and so at peace! It was great. At least it's a great start to getting back some of the joy I normally feel when I'm training.

It's obvious there is a lot of change going on for me right now, but I am sure that as long as I stay aware of when my mind jumps off the mindfulness path, then I think I will be able to ride this wave of change like the best surfer in Hawaii!

Peace out my beautiful friends.

Thursday, 2 July 2009


So I'm wondering...if I eat chia seeds will I sprout green stuff on the top of my head or on my body??? Things that make you go hmmm...
My friend Tina had mentioned chia seeds to me a few of weeks ago. Or rather she'd asked if I'd heard about them. The seeds? No. Chia pets??? Undoubtedly! I spent the next few hours singing the 'ch-ch-chia!' theme.
Then last week she lent me her book 'Born to Run' by Christopher McDougall. I'm not finished it yet, but so far it is an absolutely brilliant book and I encourage anyone that has anything to do with running to read it.
The gist of it is that the author had killed his feet running. He also noticed the majority of people who took up this wonderful sport also suffered from a variety of injuries...hmmm, can any of us relate right now?! So enter stage left the Tarahumara tribe from the Mexican Copper Canyons. These guys run like the friggin wind and they do so for days. Yes, that's right, DAYS. Even the 90 plus year olds!
Well I'm not going to spoil the rest of the book for you - just go get it. One of the tidbits in this book though are that the Tarahumara drink this stuff called iskiate for energy. It's made up by soaking chia seeds in water, then adding a little honey and a squirt of lime.
Let me get this right...they run for days and get energy from something as simple as a pre-chia pet? Well now I gotta try some of this stuff! I did a bit of research on the web, just for fun, and learned some interesting facts. Apparantly chia seeds have super high concentrations of Omega 3, fibre, protein and a whole host of other goodies. They are nutrient dense but easily digestible and contain no gluten.
If it can work for these guys, it has to work for me!
Turns out my friends Esther and Tina were all over this information. They'd bought some and were testing it out. So I got to as well!
Yesterday Esther and I went for a run, but before we left she gave me a couple of tablespoons of the gel, which forms when you add water to the seeds, and we combined that with a little agave nectar and lemon. It doesn't look like much, well, actually it's kind of snot like with little black bits. The taste was good though - tasted like the lemon we'd squeezed in.
Armed with our chia gel (aka iskiate) we headed out for a 90 minute run. Seeing as we wanted to keep it a chi kind of day, with our chi-a gel and all, we also decided to practice our chi running!
Esther had taken a class in it before, with the same instructor that I will be learning from, so she was able to give me some tips.
What was hilarious was we were like two synchronized chi runners... We'd stop, align our shoulders/hips/feet, align our heads, pull our shoulders back, tuck our arms into 90 degree angles, lean forward and go! Both at the exact same time. I can just imagine what we looked like.
I do think there may be something to this running - the jury is still out yet though. I don't necessarily feel as though there is less impact, however, by having my legs under and behind me, rather than picking up my knee, I do feel it's a bit easier to run. And when I remembered to relax my limbs - as you are supposed to - it felt a little less jarring.
What I did notice was how straight up and down I am when I run my 'normal' way. I did this a couple times to see if I could feel a difference, and I did. My legs could feel the run more too as I then had to pick up my knees.
The run itself was wonderful! We ran along the pathways and followed it to a trail towards the Ranchehouse. As we had a bit more time, when we came to Doctor Fosters road, we decided to cut across and follow this other trail we'd spotted. I think it was on the Fransican Monks property, but I'm not sure.
It was gorgeous in there! We were surrounded by trees and a little stream that went by. All you could hear was the trickle of water and birds singing. It was heaven. On the way back we saw two deer who'd run across the path and stopped to munch on some leaves.
When we'd got back on the trail a teeny snake crossed our paths. Although it was only about 1/2" in diameter and a few feet long, it scared the beejeebers out of Esther and I. I'm not totally afraid of snakes, but take issue when they move super fast. Which it did when we started jumping up and down, running in mid air and squealing. Poor little guy. We probably scared it more than it did us!
We laughed for a long time after that one!
Finally we were back home. I had taken in the iskiate the whole way and enjoyed the taste of it. I did feel hungry when I got to Esthers though so maybe I didn't have enough?? (Although I'm pretty sure there is a story in the book about some explorer dude who had two tablespoons and was able to climb his way out of Copper Canyon in no time after being near death before....) So I don't know. It's worth experimenting more with it. Even if it's not an energy booster for racing, it's still packed with awesome nutrients so still worth gulping down.
Tomorrow I'm heading out for my Lochend Loop ride. This time it will be a solo ride as most folks I know are heading up to Stoney Plain for the Great White North Half Ironman. I will be joining them up there on Saturday and cheering my heart out on Sunday. I expect not to have a voice on Monday...
To all those racing up there have a brilliant day!!
Peace out my chia friends!