Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Back In The Saddle Again...

Be Yourself. Be Beautiful. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

As Aerosmith used to sing 'I'm BAAAAACK! I'm back in the saddle again...' Okay, I may not have the lips or voice like Steven Tyler, but I can do a wicked dramatic impersonation of him.

Normally it's a year between Ironman races...this year I went for the gusto and have two planned. One down, one to go...and the next (Ironman Cozumel) is just a little over two months away. Gulp. When I decided to sign up for two almost back to back, I did wonder how the old bod would take it.

Well, so far so good! (That doesn't mean we shouldn't keep our toes and fingers crossed that it stays that way.)

After two weeks off, for the most part, I started back into the groove of training slowly last week. I had an amazing hike/walk near Lake Minnewanka in Banff with my buddy Trudie on Thursday. We were going to follow the path along the lake, but decided to veer left and follow the river/creek that poured into the lake.

I asked about one path that went up to Aylmer Pass and Trudie, who's trained as a guide, let me know that that would take me right up into Grizzly area. Yup, that's where they hide out and collect berries for the winter. Hmm, I think I'll pass on going up there. Interestingly enough there were no signs on the Alymer Pass sign that said 'You should probably not go this route right now...'

The path we chose was perfect, which meant it was along the river and in the trees. Just what the doctor ordered. I love being in the trees. I walk by and smile at them, caress them and even hug them. The trees had been calling me for a long while now so I was ecstatic to be back in them!

The best part of the day, aside from the trees and wonderful company, was that I walked for two hours and my hip didn't hurt!! This is a miracle. Lately I haven't been able to walk five minutes without it hurting. All the pain and suffering from the massage treatments is working and my hip is staying in the socket like it's supposed too. This put a little pep in my step that day!

Later on we celebrated my walking ability in this uber cool cafe in Banff. They make all sorts of yummy stuff that I can eat! In other words they cater to the gluten intolerant vegetarian granola cruncher. YUM!

On Saturday I headed out early for a 3 hour bike ride. It was another gorgeous day and being out in the morning was glorious. There wasn't much traffic and the temperature was perfect. I loved being out there. I even rode up Cochrane hill to start things off!

Actually, I decided to ride to the house where I am looking after a kitty cat. It took me about 1:05 hours to get there and when I did the cat was wondering what the heck I was. I guess the helmut kind of through her off her game. I sat on the floor so should could sniff me out and decided if I was cool or not. I guess she didn't like the smell because later on, after getting all her food ready, I went near her again and sat down, and when I reached for one of her toys she smacked me three times very quickly with her wee paw.

Uhm, excuse me little furry feline, but for the next two weeks I am the one who feeds you, so I'm thinking that you don't want to be smacking me too much. Hmpff. Oh, and I will admit my ego was a little crushed. I mean, I'm Dr. Doolittle for crack and ice. Animals LOVE me and I LOVE them. I swerve on my bike to miss grasshoppers and little beetles not to mention the little gophers that like to play chicken with me. How could she not like me??? Sigh.

After that little break and kick to the ego, I went back up the road I came and noticed another road that lead off into, well I wasn't sure where. Hmmm, I had gotten to the house 25 minutes early than I had planned, so I figured why not go on a wee adventure and see where the road went.

Turns out it goes into Bearspaw Village. Very nice homes tucked away on nice parcels of land. Some of these houses have amazing views as the road I was riding along overlooked the Bow River and the mountains. It was great riding through there because there was no traffic, except for the Porche, BMW and Mercedes that passed by, and it was super quiet. In fact a little too quiet. Why is no one outside?? They have these big wonderful yards and I see no one. Oh, and if you want to purchase a lovely parcel of land that is 8 acres, it's only $1.3 million CAD. Yipes.

The roads were a lot of fun to ride on because they went in loops and were rolling so I could get some good speed work happening. At one point I finally did see someone, a fellow running, as I swoooshed down this little hill.

After riding through that area for about a half hour I headed back to Hwy 1A and went back west. I had totally lucked out in that there was no head wind at that point. Later in the day the skies turned dark and the winds kicked up to an insane velocity, so I was really happy I went out early.

Again, no hip pain after the ride. Yeah!

On Monday I started back into a regular program. I biked on Monday, swam yesterday, then went for another bike ride today. The body is feeling really good so far, but I'm paying close attention to it. I've been having a bit of troubles sleeping lately and have been waking up feeling a little stuffed up. I'm sure I'm recovered enough to work out, but want to make sure that I don't get sick or something if I push too hard right off the bat. So far the workouts seem perfect and I've really enjoyed getting back into the routine. This is a good thing because although I am listening to my body, I don't want to slack off, I want to be ready for this race.

It's easy to love biking in September when you can still get outside because you are having freaky global warming weather that puts you at 33 C (91 F) degrees on September 23! I don't know what that's all about but I will take it! Hmm, I wonder how long heat training lasts and if this will help with Cozumel...

I still am not allowed to run right now until we are sure my hip will stay in place, so instead I'm going to do more biking or do some hikes. I can't complain about hiking in the woods again - I love it. Speaking of the woods - I'll leave you with some photos from my trip last Thursday. Enjoy!

Peace out my beautiful friends!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


Peace in yourself. Peace in the world. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Since 1996 I have had issues with my hip, but never knew why or how it started. Now, I might actually have the reasons behind the why or how!

Just before IMC I went to see an Orthopaedic Massage Therapist. I swear he is a holy being. He didn't ask a ton of information, rather he asked me to march in one spot. So I did. Then he said 'Stop, and don't move.' He then began to assess my body positioning from the feet all the way up.

As he was doing this I was doing an internal check. Hmm, my glutes and hams are engaged and I'm just standing here. Yup, I am leaning forward a bit.

No disc problem?! Oh thank you Universe above. YEOW!!! The yeow happened when he poked exactly where he thought the pain was coming from. How did he do that?! Needless to say, the look on my face told him he was correct, if not the vocal outburst.

From his assessment, it looks like I have an SI joint issue, which has my muscles on my left heaving up my hip, thereby getting my right side muscles to do all the work. This would include my erector spinae, glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, and quads. Not to mention all the teeny weeny little muscles and tendons hidden in there. Phew, that's a lot of work!

No wonder my right side was always in pain. Well, actually not always. The fun actually started in 1996 when I took up running, the first time. I was training for a 10k. Things were going well till one day my hip felt like it dislocated. All together now 'OW!' At the time I was in college so went to see the physio there who uttered the words 'You may never run again.' At the time, I was none to fussed.

Flashfoward almost 10 years. I take up running again. This time though I'm also weight lifting. Every thing is hunky dory! Or is it. Turns out the moment I stop doing strength work my hip does the wobbly, pain, glute spazzing thing.

This has been cyclic for the past 4 years. So now that I know my body is not working very well on the left side and the right side is taking the brunt, I am trying to get the right side to let go, via massage therapy, so the left can start pulling it's share.

I've seen a lot of people about this, but atlhough there seemed to be valid theories, no one every fixed me. This time though, she whispers so as not to jinx it, it seems like things are working. The process is a mighty painful one and a little scary as I have this second Ironman race deadline in a couple of months.

So now I have a gal, J, who is working on me big time to get things to shift. The doc comes in when I get there, assess things, then tells her what to work on. It's at this point she apologizes for the pain she is about to inflict, bless her heart.

And pain she does inflict. I almost dropped an F-bomb the other day but turned it into 'FFFFUUUDDDGGEELLLLAAA' or something similar as I tried to breathe through the agony.

The good part is that even though there is excrutiating pain at times, and I do not embellish here, it feels like my hip is trying to go back to where it should be. This, in turn, should get my glutes to stop being in continual spazz mode and hopefully I will be normal again. Well, not normal perhaps, that would be boring, but my bod might be.

Oh, I have to tell this story, one time J had a patient who used to make farm animals when they were getting worked on. Seriously. Like mooing noises and clucking and what not. This totally cracked me up, till she hit the next 'spot'. I waited for a while then as she was really cranking up the pain factor I exhaled then said 'CLUCK!' Poor girl nearly fell over. You know, for a tiny thing she really is very strong.

This last session was particularly eye opening. We were trading stories and I was saying how long it's been that I've noticed this problem. I even remember in 2000 noticing that my right erector spinae (long muscle along spine) on the right side sticks up when I do straight leg deadlifts, but the left was flat.

Well, we start to talking more and I tell her of a story when I was rollerblading. To try and keep this psuedo short, it was in Stanley Park, I couldn't figure out the brakes on my blades (first time blader) and I was going downhill into an area that was fenced off. Oh ohhhhh...

So I did what any sane person would, I decided I'd do like in skiing and just fall to stop myself. Problem one with this theory, there was only concrete around and I had gathered some speed. Problem two, I went off the curb into the parking lot like a ski jumper, rather than lowering my centre of gravity.

I managed not to kill any tourists that happened to be milling about in a group. I think my very loud 'AIYEEEEEEE' got them to part like the red sea in order to have little ol' me fly into their group then land very loudly on me arse. OOOMPFFFF. Then I laid there as they all hovered over me speaking some sort of language that I didn't know. I laughed in order to make sure I didn't cry in front of them.

Oh the pain. Had I not been wearing wrist guards, my wrists would have both broken. They were the second thing to hit the pavement after my arse. Which, I figure, I managed to crack the tailbone. At the time I was an aerobics instructor and for months I couldn't do crunches or anything where I was resting on my tailbone.

I finished my little 'tale' and J said, when was this? I thought for a moment and said, oh likely 93, 94. That's when she said, I bet that's what started this all. Apparantly if you crack your tailbone it can heal crooked and twist things in that area and can knock you right out of whack eventually, especially over 16 years. Really??!!!

So it appears the mystery as to how this all started may be solved. Which is good and bad. Good because I knew something has been up for a long time, but didn't know why. Bad because it means once I get things in alignment I will have to keep vigalent to ensure things don't shift back. Ah well.

So kids, the moral of this story is always wear a pillow on your bundakadunk if you are going to go roller blading. Better yet, get rollerskates. They are much easier to stop in!

Peace out my lovely friends!

Saturday, 12 September 2009


Oh look at that...I have a blog. One that I like to write in and yet have somehow managed not to write in for far too long. Now...where to start to play catch up??

Let's see...after the race I guess. I promise, I'll keep this as short as Susi'ly possible.

Right after the race I had debated racing Ironman Cozumel as planned. I'd done poorly in the heat in Penticton, so was wondering the sanity of racing in Mexico! Thankfully, I am a smart girl. Crazy, yes, but smart. I decided not to think about Cozumel the day after I've finished an Ironman! Instead, I'd give it some time to wash around in this noggin of mind then decide what to do.

After the rae I took a week to go and visit my family and friends who live away from me. A wee road trip you might say. First up was visiting my family in Princeton. My uncle had promised me MONTHS ago to cook me some delectible BC salmon after I finished Ironman. Poor guy didn't remember this, but I sure did! He makes the BEST bbq salmon ever.

I did actually give my aunt and uncle a shout a few weeks before to, er, remind them. Now here's the really funny part about this... It was nice and sunny when the Parental Unit and I arrived at Uncle Lornes and Auntie Joan's. They and my cousin, whom I affectionately call Lola Jane, were sitting in back.

The sun was beaming. It was hot. Almost too hot to sit in. Lo and behold there were some dark clouds up yonder. When the time came to cook up the two salmons my uncle had prepared the clouds had opened up and we had, what could most likely be called a monsoon, burst onto us.

Well, 'us', is a bit of an exaggeration. It opened up on my uncle who was crouched in the pouring rain checking the bbq that was under a shelter that did nothing to stop rain going sideways from soaking my uncle. He made sure to remind me at dinner that I should never question how much he loves me seeing as he almost drowned making me a bbq salmon that he had forgotten about.

I gotta say, it was the best dang salmon ever and I was most thankful for it and for the company of my family.

From there I headed out to my friends Jeff and Doreens who live in small town Southern BC. They retired there a few years ago and now have a couple of wee donkeys and a gorgeous little Labradoodle. I had a blast telling the tale of my race day and kicking back. We partook in a little bit of wine that I brought them from the interior of BC, where I had raced.

It was wonderful seeing them again and catching up on the latest news. To this point I hadn't done anything but drive and sit. My butt was starting to feel it too. In the sense that my hip/glute was acting up again.

I left them and headed off to Julie's, who'd also raced in Ironman Canada. It was time for serious down time...

First things first we had to hug then chat non stop about our races. Then it was time for some food, and wine for me, the more chit chat. Julie hit the hay and left me with the first episode of True Blood to watch. As I don't have cable I hadn't seen an episode, but heard about it.

I was hooked.

The next morning we ate, talked more, then set of for a little walk/hike to try and get our bodies to move. There was a cute path to follow in the Pass that takes you to a little waterfall. This was no serious hike folks, we were both wearing our flip flops.

As we walked along we chatted more. (Seriously, Julie and I could talk non stop for hours and never get bored. Same goes for Jenna.) At one point Julie said we were walking to fast. This girl raced IMC HARD and took an hour and a half off her time, so I was happy to slow down. Later on I'd learn even though I felt I could walk that pace, I shouldn't have been.

We saw the waterfall, then in our flipflops preceeded to go up this hill. The fun was in getting down the hill where there was nothing for the flops to grab onto! As we walked back along the path we started to meet up with people heading to the falls. All were clothed as if they were going to hike Lady MacDonald in Banff or something.

One little ol' dear had a walking stick with bear bell. She was adorable! She stopped and said 'Oh I'll let you girls go by - it gives me a chance to rest. How much farther to the falls?' It was a good thing Julie and I couldn't see each others faces. We are talking a 20 minute walk here...

I gave thanks at that moment that I have my health and a 20 minute walk felt easy to me. I also gave thanks that my folks would have found the walk easy too!

The last five minutes of the walk I felt my hips. Ow. Ow. Ow. Oh how I couldn't wait to go see the ortho massage gal on Tuesday! I realized Julie was right in slowing us down. Funny how it sneaks up on you.

My legs were shaking by the time we got to the cafe for a tea and treat! SHAKING. I was hanging on to the treats display glass in a rather long line thinking if I don't sit down soon I'm going to fall down. How sad is that?

The rest of my visit was spent sharing some yummy recipes I learned, convincing Julie that it wasn't just pale skinny people with hairy armpits that eat food from the health food store, and devouring episodes of True Blood. We ended up watching the ENTIRE first season in an evening and morning. I swear the best line ever in that show (considering our health store foray) was 'I am an organic vegan who has a minimal carbon footprint' from the girl who was all about draining this vampire of his 'v-juice'.

Since getting home I've been taking it easy. I had my appointment with my orthodpaedic massage therapist to get things worked out with my SI joint. The tales from the table will be shared another day in an effort to not make this a epic tale. Although I suspect it likely already is. Meh, that's my style!

I have been walking a bit to stay active, did some yoga and today went out for a bike ride for the first time. I kept it short and just did an hour and a half, but if felt good, other than some back pain. I was out with my 'nesan' Esther and we had a good giggle about how she kept tucking in behind me to draft. Um, I think I'm the one that deserves to draft here a wee bit sister!!

All in all I'm trying to heal my body from the race and from a long standing injury so I can be ready for (drum roll please...) Ironman Cozumel. Yup, I decided after some thought that I really do want to do this race and I will figure out the heat thing. I've already talked to some people about what might have gone wrong on the IMC course so that I can be better prepared for IMCoz.

My training for that race will commence next week as the race is November 29. Hopefully, with the help of the ortho RMT, I can get things back in alignment in time for the 'hard' training. Fingers and toes are now crossed!

Peace out my lovely friends!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Ironman Canada 2009 Race Report...

"Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Dear Tigger,

Well, I did it. I managed to complete another Ironman Canada. This year it was all about you my friend. I wanted to be able to honour your memory somehow and I thought this would be a great way as we finished it together in 2007. Then I found your race report from 2007 and saw that you were thinking it'd be great to race again this year. That sealed the deal.

We made it exciting in 2007, and let me tell ya, this year was just as exciting. The big difference was I handled things very differently. Let me start at the beginning though...

I had felt great leading up to race day, and that feeling continued with me as I got ready to go. It's funny how 4am doesn't seem super early on race day? Any other day I'd find many excuses not to get up!

After the usual morning ritual, the Parental Unit and I made our way to the start. Gave them both a big hug then, dropped my bag off at the special needs bin (I was very pleased with myself that I dropped it in the right bin) and went to body marking.

I asked the fellow if he could write '4 Tigger' on my calve. It was hard for me to ask as I could feel the emotions rising into my throat. He was hesitant but when I told him why I wanted it he wrote it right away. I was very thankful for that. Then I made my way to transition.

I was there pretty early so had a lot of time to make sure I had everything in place where it needed to be. I saw Richelle and went up to wish her a great day as it was her first Ironman. I'm not sure what started it - I think one of us said your name and that was it. I lost it. Great big sobs. I felt awful as this was Richelles first Ironman and she really didn't need this. I had seen others this morning, but didn't burst into tears. I think it was because we both knew you and both are still grieving the loss. Richelle was someone who could understand. We hugged each other for a bit then I sucked it up as I knew I had to. We wished each other a great race and went to do what we needed to do.

For the next half hour I sat looking out at the water and meditated for a while. I wanted to be still before I had to keep moving for who knows how long. I ran into some of the Team TriLife girls and was happy to share some easy banter before the race. I was bummed that I couldn't find my buddy Chuck, but with over 2600 people starting it was pretty full in transition!

Finally it was go time. I had my swim gear on, everything else was where it should be and was making my way through the swim start arch. So far it was a gorgeous day out there! This time I was going to do something different too. I was going to stand on the right side of the swim start! Bold for me, I know. Remember the last time how we stood WAY back on the left??

A couple ladies asked me if this was a good spot to stand, I told them it was a great spot! Not that I'd ever started a swim from there, but I decided it was going to be whatever I made it to be.

Know what? It WAS a great spot! Well, except for the very shallow bit and the rocks. That made the actual start a bit tricky, but I somehow got through it. Partially by going into the water and literally pulling myself forward by grabbing the rock bottom. I can imagine what a sight that might have been.

Finally I was swimming. Oh what a swim I had! It was BRILLIANT. I have never been so confident and strong in any swim as I was that day. I got right into the thick of it. I got kicked in the ribs, and some fellow (I will assume it was a dude) tried to swim up me backside, until I gave him a gentle kick (filled with love of course) to get off me.

I tried to get on someones feet to draft, and if they were too slow I'd zoom past. There were a few times when I was getting sandwiched in so I would power stroke to get through them. Me! Power stroking in a race and not dying!! It was such an amazing feeling. I kept thinking how proud Leslie would be of me.

I kept to my plan and sighted often, kept up the strong stroke, and kept moving forward. I didn't worry when there were lots of people around me, I didn't worry when I got hit, I just kept going. The only time I had a bit of difficulty was after going around the first sailboat. For one thing I was thrown off because it was a sailboat and not the usual houseboat out there! So when I turned the corner I couldn't see another houseboat and ended up aiming for another sailboat.

Halfway through this portion I caught a glimpse of the houseboat. Rats! I figured something was wrong because I didn't have as many people around me as before. So I adjusted my course and went for the houseboat.

For the first time ever I really enjoyed my swim in a race. It was a joy to hear the announcer as we got closer to shore. At long last I was on terra firma.

Into the transition tent I went. I got on my shirt that had the wee Tigger doll in the back pocket, then all the rest of the stuff, grabbed my bike and was off. I love that first bit riding up Main Street. You feel like a rock star having everyone cheer you on. I felt fantastic.

The biggest thing I noticed on the start of the ride was that I was with a lot of people. Normally I'm closer to the back, so this was a new experience. It was really hard to space out and pass people as there were just so many. Apparantly the race officials realized that too as there was drafting, but only because there were so many of us, if we all spread out we'd be a kilometer or more long.

People did do there best to leave some space though. I felt really strong going up Maclean Creek Road - normally I'm out of breath but this time I wasn't, which was a great thing. Going into OK Falls I didn't use my brakes on that huge downhill. Now that was a rush!

As I was riding I had several people go by and comment on the Tigger in my back pocket. I heard 'Go Tigger Go!', which made me smile. I kept thinking they are cheering on your spirit as you take this journey with me!

I figured I must have had a great swim because I'm sure a good thousand people passed me. It didn't bother me though because I was also doing some passing and I was still with a lot of people.

I felt really strong and kept a good pace going right up to Osooyos. Then it was time to climb Richter. I was starting to feel the heat then. I kept on top of my nutrition like I said I would and started the climb.

You'd never guess what was at the bottom of Richter. Some dude dressed up as Tigger!! I swear girl, I do not know what connection you have with that section of road, but everytime I go there your spirit appears in the form of Tigger. During the May camp it was a little Tigger doll in some guys fanny pack, and this time it was a full sized Tigger! That guy sure must have been hot later on in the day. I had a good laugh and as I rode by said 'You should look at my back pocket.' When they saw it was Tigger I got a huge cheer and "GO TIGGER!". Very cool.

I felt good climbing Richter. I made sure I cheered those people going by me and I smiled a lot as there was some really kind people cheering and encouraging all of us. I saw Wade from Great White North Tri at the top. He was announcing everyones names and numbers and cheering everyone on.

I started taking salt tablets at this point. It was hard to feel the heat as there was a headwind, but I figured I better get going with them. The rollers felt really slow to me, but it could have been the wind. I did my best climbing them, and then really pushed it on the decent and flats. This is what I do best I think. I found that people would pass me on the climb, then I'd pass them on the decent. Sometimes they'd catch me, sometimes they wouldn't.

Just my luck along the way to Keremeos I had more headwind. The wind itself didn't but me, I'm used to it. But I think it slowed me down. I remembered what coach said about staying in aeros at this point and I did my best to do that.

My neck and upper back were starting to hurt a lot so I decided I would stop at the special needs out and back to stretch a bit. There was something else going on with the bod too. I had had a gassy stomach most of the bike. This is really normal for me as both my Infinit and the bananas I take at the aid stations make me burp. I wasn't worried about it at all, just kept burping along the way.

Somewhere along the out and back though the slight discomfort in my belly, which was normal, started to get a little more intense. When I got off my bike at the out and back I actually felt a bit queasy. I had stayed on top of my nutrition to that point and was going to keep at it no matter what.

I felt much better after having a stretch. I even went to the loo. I didn't feel like I had to go, which was unusual for me, but figured as I would there I would see if I had to. I got back on the bike and had a better ride on the way towards Yellow Lake. People were starting to drop at this point I should add. I saw a guy lying on the grass under a fruit tree in one of the orchards. His bike was propped up on the tree.

I was almost at the bottom of Yellow Lake when I saw an elderly gentleman sitting on the roadside with his bike. He didn't look good and I was worried so I stopped and asked if there was anything I could do to help. He came up to me looking like the life was being sucked out of him and asked if I had any salt tabs. I gave him the last one I had. He said he had no energy and couldn't go on. I encouraged him to keep going, but then left even though I was scared for him. I saw a couple specators go towards him so I hope he got help.

The heat was getting oppressive as I climbed Yellow Lake. When the winds changed again and it was a headwind, but I wasn't upset. I needed something to cool me down. My stomach was also getting worse. I saw the Cochrane gang on the hill and stopped to break down a bit. Esther gave me a hug and then ordered me back on my bike. Or perhaps that was Linda. Not sure. I laugh about that now and am thankful for it but at the time I was thinking 'I'm okay guys, I just need to have a little cry as I really hurt right now'. Of course I couldn't spit that out.

I got more water and tried to take in a banana at the top of Yellow Lake. By now I was having troubles taking in nutriton. When I did a wave of nausea would come over me. I stuck to my plan though and no matter what kept taking in drink and food. I was also trying to drink more water thinking that maybe I had too much salt or something? At this point I didn't really know what I should do, but I didn't give up staying in touch with what I was feeling and trying to address it.

I got a bit further and had to stop. When I went into aero I wanted to vomit, when I sat up I had severe stomach pain. Hmm, this was going to be a bit of a challenge. I stopped at a porta potty near Twin Lakes. It was hear that Squeaky Boy stopped too. Honestly Tigger, this guys bike was driving me nuts. Something on it was squeaking and he'd been near me since the end of the out and back.

He'd pass, then slow down, then I'd pass and lose him for a while, then I stopped for that man, so he passed again but was close enough for me to hear his bike. Squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak. This is so not what one wants to hear when they are trying to figure out what's going on with their body and going in between the need to hurl and the sharp pains.

Of course, it was Squeaky Boy though that stopped and as he watched me fold over my bike ask if I was ok and then moved his bike from the shady bit and told me to go in the shade on the other side of the porta potty. In my head I apologized immediately for all the bad names I was calling his bike. I was thankful for his compassion.

So I'm going to admit something was about this point I questioned continuing the race. I know. I slipped. The ENTIRE time I had been out there I stayed in the present. I was really hurting though and wondered if continuing on would be a wise thing or if I was doing some damage to myself. As soon as I thought this though, I thought of you. And I remembered my biggest process goal - to stay in the present throughout the race no matter what was going on.

So I did. I kept pushing on and alternated between the aeros and sitting up and just pedaled the best I could. I knew at this point I wasn't going to have the race I wanted, but I was very accepting of the race I was having. It helped too that people kept commenting on the Tigger in my back pocket. It kept me focussed on what this race was all about.

Finally I made it back in town. I saw my folks and knew they'd be wondering where I was. Dad had the computer and spreadsheet thing going and was tracking everyone by their pace. My pace was great for most of the ride, then dwindled so I figured they'd be worried. I rode by and said I was having some troubles with my belly and I was sorry if I worried them. I learned later that they didn't hear the 'if I worried them part' and though I was going to call it quits.

My transition took some time, something which my Pops mentioned I should work on because everyone else had short transitions. Too funny. As I left the transition tent I took a deep breath and said to myself 'Okay Suse. Here's the game plan. We'll walk a bit and see if we can't get this belly to settle down so we can run and we are going to keep up on the nutrition no matter what'.

I had just turned the corner onto Main Street when I saw Keith and Linda. I think they could tell something wasn't quite right. Perhaps it was the fact that I was walking?! I told them my legs wanted to run, because oh how they did, but my stomach had said no.

There was a lady standing beside Keith and Linda who overheard our brief conversation. Then she saw the Tigger in my back pocket. As I started walking away she called out to me 'What would Tigger do?' What would Tigger do indeed...of course I knew that answer. You would never quit. You would stay positive and keep going and that's what I was going to do! There was no question in my mind.

So, with head held high and quite the defiant little strut, I started walking through the crowds of downtown. I may be walking, but I'm still moving forward! I saw some friends and asked one of them, John for some advice. I was still hoping to figure out what to do about the guts.

I took in some water and a power gel at the first aid station. It didn't go down well, but it didn't come back up so that was a good thing. By the time I saw the third aid station in the distance I'd made the decision I was going to try and run. My stomach still wasn't great, but this was just way to far a distance to walk!

I got into chi running postion and off I went. Hmmm, I think I can do this running thing! I saw the Parental Unit at the motel. They were shocked to see me out there and running. I told them not to worry about me, but it was possible I would be a bit slow as I wasn't sure how much I could run. Just up the road I saw David and Esther. I apologized to Esther because she'd been worried about me. They were really happy to see me running as much as I was happy to be running!

I ran for a bit with a fellow from Calgary, but lost touch with him at one of the aid stations further down. I was still burping up a storm but also there was the back end getting into the action. Needless to say all I could think about was Jen's fear of 'chocolate rain'. Yeesh. I did make a couple of porta potty stops just to make sure this might not happen.

As I ran along the lake I noticed I couldn't see the mountains. I'm not sure if I noticed the smoke before that. I know I could smell it on the bike, but figured it might be from a camp or something. Now I could see if was from nearby forest fires. It was a like a light fog covering the mountains.

I did well with the run and made it almost to the halfway point when my stomach starting giving me the sharp pains again. Rats!

I smiled as I got to the turnaround point and thought about you and I and how I felt the last time we got here. Then I was so low on fuel I couldn't see straight!! At least this time, aside from the belly I was in high spirits and totally coherent. Always a good thing eh?!

I had been power walking up the hills and was going to keep doing that for the hill out of the turnaround. I tried running on the flats a bit but was really struggling. Finally I decided I would just power walk for a while. The sun was going down and the sunset was incredible!

I wish you could have seen it. The sun was a fiery orange and the smoke was in layers and glowing slightly orange over the lake. It was a beautiful scene. At the time I didn't put two and two together...I was having troubles with my breathing. I would take a deep breath and my lungs would hurt. I didn't have my inhaler with me as I took a hit off of it in transition. Afterwards I realized it was likely the smoke getting to me too.

Along the way I finally saw JoZ. You would have been proud of her Tigger. She was finally doing her first Ironman. She told me that she was having major stomach issues and would be able to finish. My heart broke for her, but I was so proud that she wanted to go as far as she could and she was positive about everything.

I was still running and walking and playing leap frog with this gal who was walking. Finally I ended up walking with her for a while. Here name was April from TO. She was a total sweetpea. She's an engineer as well and we got to talking engineering. She's involved with cranial fascial reconstruction for little kids. The equipment they use is totally fascinating and I was picking her brain about it. I swear anyone hearing this conversation would be thinking 'what the heck are you guys talking about??'

I was biding my time at this point. I wanted to run, but I also wanted the pain in my belly to ease up a bit. I started in on the cola at some point and didn't stop. By the time I got up the last hilly bit it was time for me to run. I had been walking a bit with my friend Hope at this point and bid her adieu.

I have no idea what got into me at this point. Perhaps it was your spirit?? But I ran and I ran hard. I was at or faster than a half marathon pace at this point - I'm sure of it. I was gritting my teeth at times because it hurt so bad, but I kept thinking only 8 km to go. PUSH!! I was passing people left right and centre. Spectators were shocked at my pace, not as much as I was shocked at my pace I'm sure! I tried not to think how nice it would have been to run the entire race this strong.

I stopped quickly at the hotel and grabbed my big Tigger doll from Mom. Tigger was going to run this last bit in with me just like we did in '07. I was charging down the last few kilometers. I stopped a couple times for more cola but that was it I wasn't stopping for anything.

Finally, the last stretch. I remembered what it was like to run this stretch with you. I was thinking, 'Well Tigger, here we go again! Savour it my friend, this is all for you!!' I charged forward and held the Tigger doll up high as I made my way across the finish line. I was so happy to see Keith pop out of the crowd to catch me. Then I crumbled. It had been one heck of a day.

After helping me to gather my stuff I went out and met up with the Parental Unit. I'm sure they were glad there was no repeat of a medical tent visit like there was in 2007! I left them to go use the loo, and just as I sat down I thought 'Oh oh, what if I can't get up??' Thankfully I did. We then chatted with friends and then it was time to go back to the hotel. I was a wee hurtin' unit.

I told you I would get us in quicker than the last time, and I managed that. Not by a whole heck of a lot of time, but it was still good. The day wasn't what I had hoped to give you, but really, it was a great day. I accomplished what I set out to do, which was to stay positive and stay in the present NO MATTER WHAT.

I was challenged with the pain that was going on, but I didn't let it get me down. I continued to stay on my nutrition and to try different things to help the situation. I smiled a lot. I thought of you tons! In the rough spots I thought of my friends and family and how blessed I am with this incredible life.

Some would be disappointed with that type of race, I'm sure. Me, well, I think of it a different way. I look at it as this is what being an Ironman is all about. Not only taking on the challenge of a 3.8 km swim, 180 km bike, and 42.2 km run, but also taking on all the challenges that go with the day and staying positive no matter what is handed to you.

Thank you Tigger for having been in my life and showing me how to smile throughout the tough bits. Thank you for giving me the courage and the strength to face the day. And thank you for being my guardian angel - I just know you had a hand in giving me the energy to finish the race strong.

Your spirit will always be in my heart.

Love always,