Tuesday, 24 November 2009

And Off I Go....

"You can't ever get everything you want. It is impossible and you will never fully succeed. Lucily, there is another option; you can learn to control your mind, to stop outside of this endless cycle of desire and aversion. you can learn not to want what you want, to recognize desires but not be controlled by them." ~ The Buddha

Okay, so as stated in my last post, here's my race plan:

"The only thing I need to do is show up on the morning of the race with the attitude that I'm going to enjoy this race for whatever it will be."

Yes, it's pretty much as simple as that. Okay, I may have a more detailed race plan that covers the likes of nutrition and such, but really, other than that I will stick to the above. Because no matter what I plan, I can't forsee the future and so I'm just going to have to go with whatever occurs.

That said, I'd like to think that I have prepared the best I can and I will do the best I can out there!

Speaking of preparing, I wasn't able to get really prepared for my trip until yesterday. I was busy on a Search and Rescue (SAR) training weekend and that took up most of my thought last week as it was going to be an overnight trip in the mountains. I will add here that I had a fantastic time and that I was very happy that the glowing eyes that I met with my flashlight in the dark of night were owned by a deer and not a cougar. Phew! That gave the old ticker a bit of a start. Good thing there were three other people in my search group.

For the past week I've just been piling stuff up in my room that I didn't want to forget for the trip. Today I actually put everything in organized piles, checked my race checklist to make sure I had everything, then left it while I went out to fake & bake, go to MEC, meet up with Al and Keith and then come home again.

I did the fake & bake thing (that would be indoor tanning for those that don't know) so that I would go up in a puff of smoke when I got to Mexico. I have enough to think about on race day and don't want to think about 3rd degree burns on me because I'm fair skinned. I think I have a pretty good base now so should be good to go. You know, I think being tanned actually makes one look slimmer...hmmm.

Anyhoo, after that session I zipped over to my trusted massage therapist for my last torture session before the race. Torture as in having the bone of her arm being scraped down my IT band several times repeated. OUCH! Hopefully that keeps those suckers in line for the next week though. My knees have been grumbly so the intense IT session was necessary.

As she discreetly manoeuvered the sheets to expose one of my buttocks, so she could inflict some pain along my piriformis, I felt the need to explain my rosy little cheeks. "Uh, I just did a tanning session today....I think my tush might have gone a little red." She laughed, at which point I added, "I'm not sure why I don't just wear bathing suit bottoms. I mean, it's not like anyones going to see my butt so who cares if it's pasty white??" We laughed some more and she said, "Well, I see your butt!". Huh. Indeed she does. Not that that really helps. I really need to get a life if the only person seeing budunkadunk is my RMT! Not that I plan on going around flashing or nothing. Okay, I'm just going to stop there before I really put my foot in it.

Once done there and smelling every so much like Tiger Balm I dashed off to MEC for a couple of last minute items. I saw my Buddha Brother, Al, there and had a quick chat. He's so calming and I will remember everything he's taught me! Then I met up with Keith who brought me some of his wife Linda's amazing cookies.

I was joking with him yesterday that I was concerned about my post race recovery. You see, Linda makes me special gluten free cookies that I discovered during the Chinook Half cure me from the need to vomit, pass out, and generally feel like death is looming over. The secret is the ginger and high quality chocolate chips she puts in there.

I must say, I did not expect such a treat. But Keith told Linda that I was going to miss her cookies (she baked them for me for Ironman Canada too) and so she whipped up a batch last night. I'm pretty sure I could never in words express how grateful I am!!! I did promise that if Keith ever divorced Linda (not that he ever would) that I would marry her (even though I don't play for that team) and failing that I would leave her money in my will. I'd name the first born after her, but I'm not doing the kid thing so I kinda had to think of something else. This is how much I love these cookies and how much I love Linda for baking them and Keith for delivering them.

After my awesome MEC trip, I came home to pack up the gear that has gone from being piled sky high in my room to being carefully placed in organized piles on my bed. Looking at the amount of stuff laying there I started to get nervous. Okay, I could get rid of half my Infinit then put that in the bike box. Oh, and my shoes can go in the bike box. Geez, how heavy can a bike box be before I get charged mucho dinero?

I decided to remove a couple of items then packed my pack. Then the doorbell rang. It was my best bud Les. She looked on in awe of the bike box. (Neither of us has ever used one before.) Then I showed her my pack. She ever so subtley rolled her eyes.

"I know, I know!! I have TOO MUCH stuff. But I'm sure I'm going to need it all." She didn't buy it. This is the woman who spent most of the last 30 years travelling this beautiful earth. Six of it spent in Mexico and South America. She knows how to travel light.

So I started pulling stuff out. She then helped me trim down everything and told me the trick of putting your clothes in the shower with you and letting the soap wash through it so as to clean it. Ergo I wouldn't have to take 13 tops for a 10 day trip. Not a bad idea! I decided to leave my beloved camoflage shorts behind...because the material is a bit thick and it's Mexico and there's no need to wear military stuff in Mexico. Also I left behind was my awesome purple tie-dye dress that I got in Australia. It's rather long and takes up space. Sigh.... As Les pointed out, I could wear it for the next three months when I got back if I wanted to!

Seriously, if it weren't for all the dang triathlon stuff I'd barely be brining anything. And yet my pack is still super full. Ah well. That's what airport carts are for right? Then I will just dump everything in the hotel.

So now it would seem I am ready to go. I have to get up tomorrow at 3am and be at the airport at 5am. I'm not super excited about the trip yet, but I know as soon as I'm at the airport the excitement level will increase.

I'm super stoked that my parental unit will be coming out for the race and there will be friends racing and supporting as well. Very cool! Oh, and it's the inaugural Ironman Cozumel so that right there is pretty exciting.

I received the athlete guide and it would appear the swim has changed a bit. Yes, it's still 3.8 km, but they have us go out from the pier, then left and we swim aouth parallel to the shore, then back up north parallel to the shore. There is no swim warmup, which is a bit of a bummer, but I will deal with it. Some have mentioned jellyfish - as the water is about 27C there are no wetsuits for protection. My saving grace will be that I am not going to be anywhere near the front so I'll let the fast ones deal with them!

So I guess that's it. I'm ready for the race and all the wonderful moments it will bring. Thank you to my friends and family for the ongoing love and support. Race or no race, I am always grateful that you are in my life and give thanks every night before I go to sleep.

I promise to do my best with what I have, and to smile while doing it.

Peace out my friends! Voy a escribir de nuevo pronto.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


"The future is completely open, and we are writing it moment to moment." -Pema Chodron

On Monday night I went to my Sangha, as per usual. I made it in time for soup, which was great as it also gives me a chance to chat with my friends there. When I saw my Buddha Brother, Al, he smiled, looked at me and said, 'So, are you feeling ready for the race?'. I replied, 'Uhm.....' The hesitation was long enough that he said 'So, have you started placing expectations on yourself yet?'.

We then both burst out laughing. Seriously, am I THAT much of an open book?! I replied that yes, I had started down that slippery slope, but then caught myself. Kind of.

It can be so hard before a race not to place expectations on oneself or how the race should go. The life lessons I go by, though, teach me that expectations lead to suffering. I seem to have a good amount of experience in this area, so really, you'd think I should know better. Alas, we are creatures of habit and I did find myself starting to set some expectations.

The biggest one is probably around time. I know, I know, I say that I don't have time goals. And really, I guess I kind of don't in that I'm not setting out to achieve a particular time. Like I'm not gunning for a placing overall or in my age group. And I'm certainly not trying to qualify for Kona. However, that said, I would SO love it if I were between 14 and 15 hours. The main reason for that is being out there longer than that is just really friggin hard.

The secondary reason is that this will be my fourth IM in three years. I'm realtively new to this sport so perhaps I shouldn't have many expectations (there's that word again) regarding speed, but still I seem to. Two of my races were really challenging, in the sense of things going wrong, and my times were 16:05 (IMC 2007) and 15:47 (IMC 2009). I had a super race and had a time of 15:05 (IMCDA 2008) as well. So in my mind, having the expectation of getting in under 15 hours doesn't really seem like an expectation...right? Yes, I'm totally justifying my thoughts here.

Of course I know setting a time goal even one as loose as that may lead to major disappointment. I don't think I've trained hard enough to get faster. It's not that I didn't want to, well, sometimes I didn't want to, it was more there was other stuff happening that made it so I couldn't. Or wouldn't. So if you don't train harder, then how can one expect to get faster, right?

So what if I don't come in under 15 hours? Is that such a bad thing? Likely no one is going to care anyways except maybe me.

Okay, so I'm letting go of my time expecations. Or at least I am telling myself I am every time I think about it and hopefully by November 29, the expectation will actually be gone!

The other expectations I have revolve around my process goals. I expect that if I follow through with my process goals all will be well. In theory, this would likely be true. Of course, reality is a different beast and who knows if I will be able to achieve all the process goals. So maybe I'll just think to myself I HOPE to achieve my process goals.

Hope. Now there is a word I struggle with. If I say 'I hope' to accomplish something does that mean I'm not really trying, or don't really want something? And if that's the case, will that mean I'm predestined NOT to achieve something. Should I be saying 'I will' accomplish 'fill in the blank'? Hmmm...

You know, the more that I think about what I'm thinking and the more that I write about what I'm thinking, I think that I am thinking WAY too much.

Okay, so bottom line then is this...

No expectations. The day is going to be whatever the day is going to be. I don't need to worry about times or this or that. The only thing I need to do is show up on the morning of the race with the attitude that I'm going to enjoy this race for whatever it will be. Afterall, I will be one of 1500 particpating in the very first Ironman Cozumel!!

Now I just need to repeat that as a mantra for the next 10 days...just to make sure it's firmly embedded in my brain.

Peace out my lovely friends!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Swimming and Smiling...

"Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful." -Thich Nhat Hanh

I've always loved being in or near the water. This is likely for two reasons. One, I was born on an island and spent a lot of time near the ocean. Two, I'm a pisces. Oh boy am I a pisces sometimes....but that's a story for another time.

When I first took up swimming for triathlon I questioned whether I had ever been in the water before. There was a lot of thrashing and gasping and very little forward movement. Flashforward four years later and I think I can say I'm a swimmer and I know I can say I love it!

I've slowly been getting better at swimming, but the new program I started in July has really given me a boost. It has invovled a TON of paddle work. At first I was afraid of the mean green paddles. Afraid I'd hurt my shoulders or not be able to use them. Turns out my body loves anything that takes strength. Hmm, not that mumbly mumbly years of being a gym rat prior to being a tri geek didn't tell me that!

I didn't have much time before Ironman Canada to really get into the groove of swimming with the new lesson plan, but I really think it helped me as I took 2 whole minutes off my swim. Very cool.

I've been hitting the pool religiously since September and today was proof of all the hard work. At least I think so. I'm not sure what Cozumel will be like, but I'm not troubled by that because the only thing that matters is today.

Before I divulge the big YAHOO from today, I must say that there has been much joy and happiness brought my way in the pool since September. The biggest joy was from the people.

During the summer I started going to the pool on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. On Tuesday and Thursday I'd get there at 6am. Needless to say, there weren't many people there. In September though, the schedule changed so the munchkin swim club could get their practice in. (A big HOOYAH to the kids that get up in the wee hours of the morning to train - you rock!)

So I started going at 7:30 am, which was the new lane swim time. This was one of the best decisions I have ever made that I didn't really make. Why? Because of the people I was now surrounded by.

First off there are my two fellow mermaids. For some reason, I have no idea what there names are! Too funny. I will find out soon! Anyways, they are almost always there with their kickboards, chatting away while doing their laps. I love them because they are so cheerful and always have a warm smile and 'good morning!' for me. When they learned what I was doing they were also very encouraging. So sweet! They always make me smile and keep me going when I'm tired.

Then there is Garney - one of my fellow tri-geeks. I swear, he's my 'peace brother by another mother'! Again, another person always ready with a smile and a witty comment here or there. Not to mention it doesn't matter what kind of day, or morning, you are having - he always knows the right thing to say to make you feel good. Then there are our mini philosophical chats. I love the fact that we can pack in a deep conversation into a short rest at the pool edge between sets. In those mini moments have really given me some 'AHA' moments! He is a blessing.

Another member of the tri-geek gang is Jaimie. I gotta tell ya, swimming with Jaimie is like getting to swim with a pro. He has been to the World Championships, both Kona and Clearwater and number of times. In fact, last year he raced in BOTH Kona and Clearwater. Basically back to back. One word - WICKEDAWSOMEATHLETE! Oh, and the best part? He's super modest. His whole family is like that - it's really wonderful.

He's been in the pool a fair amount as he was getting ready for Clearwater, which he's racing in this weekend. As the lane rope has been busted the last while, it's been Garney, Jaimie and I sharing what is essentially two lanes. Jaimie gets there later than we do, so he ends up in the middle. We each take our spot and stay there.

Last Thursday he was there swimming a steady pace. I was busy doing sets of 300. Every once in a while if we both pushed off from the wall at the same time I would try to keep pace with him. Not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. I swear his 'warm up' pace is my 'all out' pace. This time though I tried to mimic his techinque and ended up being able to hold pace with him. It was the coolest feeling!

Well, I'd hold pace for a length, then he'd lose me on the flip turn. I kept doing this throughout my 300s and it really helped me to keep focussed, as well as work pretty hard! At one point I actually kept up for 3 lengths! I was feeling like a champ at that point.

With two sets of 300 left, both Jaimie and I ended up at the pool edge after finishing a set. He was about to get out and I said 'NO! You can't leave me! I've been trying to keep up to you during my sets and now what am I going to do to keep me amused?!' He started laughing and asked how much more I had to do. I told him then mentioned I was just teasing and he was 'allowed' to go.

I then pushed off the wall and started my set. I soon noticed that Jaimie was swimming with me. Actually, he swam just a bit ahead of me. I again started to mimic his techinque and to focus on staying strong. We got to the end, he flip turned, but he didn't push off super hard so that he was still just in front of me. He was going to swim the set with me!! So I did what I did for the last lap, and continued to do so for the entire 300 m.

The one thing about swimming beside Jaimie is he can create a bit of a tsunami. In trying to keep pace I managed to swallow four huge mouthfuls of polluted pool water. Needless to say it made for a rather unhappy gurgly belly for the rest of the day. It was totally worth it though!

Who knew one could swim and have a huge smile on their face at the same time?! I sure did that day. It was so kind of Jaimie to swim that set with me. I gained so much from that set and that day. It was not an easy set, but I didn't die doing it, which was a wonderful surprise!

I was so thankful to him for giving me that gift. He is such an amazing athlete and to be able to have that experience truly was one of the highlights of my triathlon career. It was like getting to swim with a pro! Only better because he's a friend too.

So all this wonderful learning and energy was channeled for today's challenge. I was to swim 4800 m. Wow. I've never swum more than 4000 m before. I totally got myself in the headspace before I went to the pool though. I was pumped. So much so that I was actually shaking before I got into the pool!

Thankfully, Garney and the mermaids were there. They shared their enthusiasm and energy with me and I had a fantastic swim. That energy stayed even after they finished their workouts and I went on to swim the entire 4800 m feeling strong. In fact, I felt so strong that after I'd finished the 4800 m, I decided that another 8 lengths wouldn't be much more to add on....

So my final total distance for my swim today was 5000 m! I was on cloud 9 walking out of the pool. I've never done that before and I felt fantastic doing it.

Thank you to all my tri friends and pool buddies who constantly inspire me, give me energy and always make me smile. I am so grateful to have you in my life!

Peace out my glorious friends!

Monday, 2 November 2009

You Are Here...

'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

In the past I was really good at living in the future and continually planning, or mulling over the past and dealing with regrets. In the past two years I've learned a lot and have been actively practicing living in the present. I admire those who can do this without thinking about it. I, unfortunately, am still in the category of those who have to be on alert for when the mind slips into the future or past.

I realized that in the past few weeks I've been slipping back into old, bad habits and have been spending a little too much time in the future in both my personal life and in my triathlon training life.

The good news is that I am aware of it and so am being quite vigilant with my thoughts and actions to try and stay wonderfully grounded in the present.

I meditate on a fairly regular basis. It's one way I stay in the present. While I meditate I focus on my breath and either recite a Buddhist discourse in my mind, or I just count the out breath. I always feel quite relaxed when I do this, so sometimes when I find my mind racing about anything and everything other than the training activity I should be focussed on, I stop what I'm doing and focus on my breath. Or I continue what I'm doing and focus on my breath!

I did this with my swim workouts last week and it was the most amazing feeling! While my head was underwater I focused on my technique, then as I turned my head for the breath I just focused on what it sounded like and how peaceful I felt. It really did help especially for the 4000 m swim!

I've really been struggling with my bike trainer workouts lately. I seem to be able to hold the strength and power up to the two hour mark. After that my mind takes over and there is a struggle to keep going and to stay strong. My mind is quite well versed in coming up with excuses as to why one should not stay seated on a stationary bike after the two hour mark!

This Satruday I hooked up with the SweatLab gang for a swim then a trainer session. I had a great swim and as I got ready for the trainer session I started the old pep talk routine. You know, things like 'You can totally handle a four hour ride!'. To which my mind replied, 'Yes, but do I want to do a four hour ride?'

Eventually I was on my bike in the garage with the gang. They have a great set up and play movies so I got to watch Star Wars again. I hadn't watched it since when it was originally in the theatres! Yes, I realize I have just dated myself, but hey, I got carded when buying wine the other week so that's got to say something!

Finally it hit. The two hour mark. Somewhere around this point I decided to focus on my breath. That's when a phrase popped into my head 'You are here'. Yes, yes I was here and the only thing I needed to focus on was staying strong for the current 10 minute interval. Then I would pedal easy for 5 minutes. Then I'd get into the next 10 minute interval and when my mind wanted to wander I repeated the phrase 'You are here'.

Guess what? It worked. I had the best four hour trainer bike ride I've ever had. I stayed strong throughout even when my thighs were starting to burn. It was great. I know my little saying helped me through, but also a big part of it was the energy from the gang in the garage. Colette was beside me and had a strong ride so I did my best to keep my cadence matching hers. It was fantastic. Many thanks to the SweatLab crew!

The next day I was in Canmore. I had gone out the night before with my buddy Trudy to see a movie at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival and stayed at her place so I could run there on Sunday and perhaps take in another show.

I had a 1.5 hour run to do so asked Trudy where would be a good path to take. Canmore has several brilliant paths not to mention mountains and trails and the river...

She suggested the pathway that took me to the Three Sisters development. It had snowed a bit the night before so there was a bit of snow on the ground, and a fair bit of ice. The sun was out though so I figured it would melt eventually, which it did.

The route took me through parks, along the river and trails through the trees. It was a gorgeous sunny day with blue skies and fluffy white clouds. As I ran I stayed focus on where my feet were going, so as not to bail on some ice, but I'd also take a peek at my surroundings.

I could see where I had hiked up Lady MacDonald Mountain. I smiled and thought, 'I was there, but now I'm here!' I felt a lightness of being while I was running through the trees and along the river. I really do feel at home in nature.

There were a couple of times when I wasn't sure what path to take, so I veered off onto a trail. A couple of times it just took me to some sort of pumping station, which were stinky, so then I'd run through the tall grass back onto the actual path. I kind of laughed to myself and though, 'Yup, this is just like your life. Looking for some adventure so going off the path. Sometimes it's a good thing, and sometimes it's stinky and you learn from it'.

Once again I was aware of my mind going here and there. So again I kept saying 'You are here' in order to reign in the thoughts. Happily it worked again! I had an amazing run and was so thankful to be where I was.

It's amazing what you can learn during your training that you can take into your personal life. One of the biggest lessons I've learned is staying present. Afterall, the present moment is the only moment that counts. So take a deep breath, smile and repeat 'You are here'.

Peace out my brilliant friends.