Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Friskie Pudding...

“What you are is what you have been. What you’ll be is what you do now." -Buddha

I've been 'home' on the West Coast for the past couple of weeks now. I've been doing wee workouts here and there...trying to get back into a routine as well as working off any flab that may be accumulating due to all the chocolate consumption. By the end of the holiday season I may just be sick of chocolate. Uh, yeah. Right.

Anyways, I have been on a couple long walks, one with my friend Doris along the English Bay seawall, and one with the parental unit on Christmas Day. Aside from that I brought my P90X DVDs along so I could get in some strength training.

The first DVD I threw in was the Back and Legs. I managed only 30 minutes of it before I started to feel every muscle in my glutes, hammies and quads start to rip. Hmm, this could mean two things. One I'm not yet recovered from the race or two I am sadly and completely out of shape already.

I think I'll just blindly believe the first, although it's more likely the second is more accurate.

I did manage to do the hour long Arms and Shoulders workout, much to my ego's liking. I then attempted the Legs and Back workout once again. A week had passed so I figured I might be able to handle a few minutes longer.

I was pleasently surprised to find I could do the entire hour workout this time. Even though I couldn't go as low in the squats in the last half hour - as my Mother kindly and jokingly pointed out to me from the sidelines.

That evening I realized that perhaps I shouldn't have challenged myself so much because I was having some difficulty standing, sitting, walking. You know, the usual stuff. Even more daunting was the fact that I was going to go skate skiing the next day with my friends Lance and Don. Hmmm.

I woke up the next day excited about my upcoming skate ski adventure. I had tried it once, for about 15 minutes, with my friends skis, but I'd never gone out with them. The plan was that I'd meet the boys on Cypress Mountain, ski with them for a bit, then take some lessons.

First things first though, I had to convince my legs that they a) wanted to move and 2) could support my weight as I stood or walked. I won't even bother with the gory details of how difficult it was to get into a sitting position when I had to use the loo. Sigh. Now I understand why those bars in the washrooms can be so handy!

I made it to the hill, got my ticket, signed up for an 1.5 hour lesson, got my skis then proceeded to have a yummy hot cocoa as I waited for the boys. They arrived, we got our gear on and started to head out.

Don knows how to skate ski so he was off like a shot. Lance hadn't skate skied before, but because he's annoyingly, I mean admiringly, adept at all things athletic he picked up what to do and was off like a slower shot. Then there was me.

Okay now, this should be like skating right? Which I don't know how to do, but have watched a lot of so I should be able to fake it... AAGGGHHH. Dang these skis are slippery. No problem, I have poles and very strong upper body so I will just put all my force into the poles to heave myself up this tiny incline...

The guys decided to go left at the 'interesection' and head straight up the mountain. I am not kidding when I say up the mountain. This trail was ridiculously straight up. 'Uh, guys....' I hollered as they were quite a bit ahead of me. 'I'm going to go this way - you know following the green EASY path and I'll meet you at 1pm after my lessons.'

As they are very sweet friends, they stopped where they were headed back to me and said they'd come with me on the easy trail. I welcomed the company, but did feel badly that they weren't heading out on a more challenging ski that would be better suited to their ability. Ah well. They didn't complain.

So we made our way up a lesser incline, with Don circling back now and then to see how I was getting along. I refrained from stating I wanted my cross country skis and kept going. I knew my arms were going to hate me the next day, about as much as my legs did from my P90X adventure the day before.

I managed to get going a little bit, with some 'Ah! Whoa! Eeek!' moments thrown in for good measure. I made sure they knew which 'AAAH!' scream meant I had fallen and which meant I had teeter tottered on my skis, but managed to stay upright. Thankfully my ninja princess skills came in handy and I managed to stay upright the entire day!

Here's one reason why I love cross country, and now skate skiing, so much. The people. As I floundered my way along I had mini chats with some very kind and encouraging people. It made the experience a lot of fun. Not to mention the boys were also very helpful to me and kept close by and offered pointers.

I had a ton of fun going down the hills after all the climbing...at least I had that skill. Heck, I even stopped to help a trio of girls figure out how to ski down a hill, even though I was flailing my way up it! They trusted my advice and made their way down the hills, which was very cool.

Although I have fairly good downhill cross country skills I didn't trust my skate skis when it came to the massive downhill section we ended up at. Ironically it was the same big hill that I said I wasn't going to go up at the beginning of our day. I think I was tricked! I started to go down, but then couldn't get an edge and got nervous so I did what any egomaniac wouldn't do, I took off my skis and walked down to a section that wasn't as vertical. Then I skied the rest of the way down. Meh, sometimes you gotta be a wimp!

At 11:30 I bid the boys adieu so they could get going on a more challenging adventure and I met up with my ski instructor. Unfortunately for me he was a rather serious young man. So not much for me cracking jokes. Luckily the other woman in my 'class' did have a sense of humour so we joked while he wasn't within earshot.

It was the usual joking that people do in order to get over the fact they truly suck at whatever thing they are attempting. At least at that moment...cause you know you will likely figure it out sooner or later.

As it turns out the 1.5 hours of skiing I had prior to my lesson did help me out and with a few pointers and trials I was able to ski better. I will not be trying out for the next Olympic skate ski team, but I think I might just have a chance at a good ski the next time I go out. At least I managed to go up the hills more efficiently - for which my arms thank me.

By the end of the class I was in desperate need for food, hot cocoa and to take off my skis. My legs were definitely done. The boys were done for the day as well, so we brought back our rentals and headed for some grub. If you are at Cypress for skiing, or for the Olympics as some events will be there, I highly recommend the Lodge. The food was great and fairly reasonable considering the location.

Oh, I have also decided that my professional skate ski name will be Friskie Pudding. The name came about because my rental skis had a rental number written on them, along with the name 'Friskie'. Lance's skis had 'Bootylicious' on them. Personally, I am thinking that is a more fitting name, but hey, as the Stones said, 'You can't always get what you want'. Oh, the Pudding part came from our ski passes. The word Pudding was on them...no idea why.

Some photos from our fun day (for all those in freezing, icky locations right now you will notice it was all blue sky and sunshine....oh and 5C....I love it here!).

Figure A: There was very low cloud coverage that day, so up on the mountain you couldn't see much of Vancouver. This was just before the boys descended down the hill. (Actually they went down a bit, then I called them back because I'm mean and so I could take a photo as it looked like they were about to ski on the clouds.

Figure B: Me and the boys, that's Don on the left and Lance on the right. Actually, Lance's real name is Andrew, but we call him Lance. Long story, but a good one! They'd already put their gear away as they waited for me to be done my lesson. Note that we are squinting because it was so SUNNY! (and warm!)

Figure C: Lance, striking a pose.

Figure D: Yours truly and Don, also striking a pose!

Figure E: Just call me Friskie Pudding...the next skate ski world champion...I have the look down, now I just need to be able to ski.

Figure F: This is what happens when you leave your camera with your friends, while you ski. Oh, and Don, this is what happens when you leave your photo on the camera of your friend who writes a blog. Tee hee. Who loves ya buddy?!

Peace out my lovely friends!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Back In The Drink...

"Believe nothing, no matter were you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." ~ The Buddha

I was back at the pool this morning for the first time since getting home. Come to think of it, I was back to actually doing something since I got home! This week hasn't been a great one, from dealing with a nasty stomach virus that necessitated staying in close proximity to the ceramic throne, to recieving sad news (honestly, I can take no more sad news) to it being bitterly cold outside compared to what I had been experiencing the last couple of weeks. So venturing out to the pool this morning was a welcome adventure!

It is widely known now that I have decided to move on from IM training, therefore there was some question about my presence at the pool. All in good fun of course. My response, 'I like swimming, why would I stop swimming??' That is a true statement; however more to the point is that I love the local mermaids and mermen that are there. They give me a very wonderful way to start the day.

I had no plans for my swim - a nice change. I brought my padels and pull buoy out to the pool deck, but ended up just doing some laps. Not before chit chatting with Sue until her hubby/coach said, 'You guys can talk at coffee after - get swimming!' Yes Sir! So we swam.

I did a nice easy 1100 m that took me a half an hour. Too funny. In my defense I threw in 100m of kicking, which usually has me going backwards. How it is this happens, I know not.

By the end of it I was chatting with Jaimie, which is when John walked in and said 'Are you going to swim or chat all day?' Sheesh, can a girl not spend a little time playing catch up?? I got out of the pool pretty soon after and headed for coffee with some of the gang. Well, hot cocoa, cause I've never acquired a taste for coffee. Love the smell of it though.

I must admit, it feels a bit weird not to have a game plan for the future. I have no races scheduled, no training plan, nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Huh...

I think I can get used to this...

Peace out my lovely friends.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Ironman Cozumel 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

This is a little late in coming, but I didn't have internet access while in Mexico, so couldn't report. After reading the first paragraph though, you may think that a good thing...

Since the race I've thought long and hard about what to write in my race report. I decided that I don't want to write one because I really do not want to relive that race. I'm sorry to report that it was the worst race, mentally and physically, that I've ever done. I was totally disappointed with my performance. I am now dealing with the disappointment and trying hard to let it go because there is no sense in living in the past - the present moment is what counts. Likely not what anyone wants to read, ergo I will not go into the details, which would be negative and that's just not fun.

Instead I will write why I think someone interested in doing the Ironman Cozumel race should do it - because despite my day, I believe it's a wonderful race and one people should try it! Also, I'll include some notes that one may be interested in when contemplating the race.

The Swim
  • It's in salt water. Not a big deal for some, a big deal for others. I loved it.
  • The water is crystal clear. Seriously! As I swam I saw starfish, bright blue fish, a fish with yellow and black stripes, and the best part of all - I swam over a friggin STINGRAY! It was an incredible experience. This is also good for being able to see the other competitors, no chance of accidently running up someones backside.
  • Depending on the day, the current may be rough - we were very lucky as two days before the race the water was so rough they had to cancel the practice swim. During my practice swim I had troubles sighting the buoys as the waves were over my head. I was glad to be out there with my friend Donna! You really do get used to the current and the waves and just roll more etc. It's just a bit daunting when you first start out if you aren't used to it. On race day the water was fantastic - couldn't have asked for a better swim, which is evident by the times. (I PR'd by 12 minutes.)
  • It's a water start, but the water is warm and wonderful, so it's nice to be in there floating about before the gun goes off. Oh, no swim warm up either. Not wetsuits due to the warm water either.
  • Jellyfish - yes there are jellyfish there. In the practice swim I got stung five times, and during the race I got stung a few times - I lost count. That said, most of the stings were small and quick so more a bit of a shock when it first happens, but then you get used to it. Some are a bit more of a shock. Kinda like when you walk around in slippers then touch the light switch and get a ZAP! In other words a minor inconvenience and nothing to waste time worrying about.
  • I never felt like it was overly crowded in the swim and I started on the inside near the front. Perhaps it's because I was swimming in a huge ocean?!
  • I would say to do this race just for the swim. It really was an incredible experience - one that I won't soon forget.
The Bike
  • The bike course was three loops. This can be a good thing or a bad thing for some.
  • There is a 12 mile stretch (they say 9 in the guide) that is open to the beach and the Carribean Ocean. This is good because it's beautiful. This is bad because the crosswinds were INSANE. I come from a very windy place and really, these winds were some of the toughest I've experienced. Oh, and before you get to that part of the race course, you feel them as headwinds for a short stretch. Also note that it's a 12 mile stretch - that you do three times. The winds were getting worse as the day progressed....so it got harder with each lap.
  • The race course is flat. Pancake flat. But not easy as one would assume - see above point.
  • You can break up the bike loop into thirds. One portion is on the main road and you have tropical trees and bushes on either side - that's all you see and the butt of the athletes ahead of you. One portion is along the ocean - again as noted above. Then there is a section that goes through town. This section is THE BEST. Why? Because all the locals are there lining the roads as you ride by. They are clapping, cheering "Animo" (which is a form of encouragement) and "Bravo"! You know how you feel crossing the finish line? Well take that and stretch it out for a few kilometers during the middle of the race. They even take your picture! I had a grin from ear to ear. They were fantastic and I seriously needed their cheering by the third lap. I was so thankful they were there. Even the local biker club was out. I could go on and on about this. I love the people of Cozumel!! Oh, and if you are a woman racing - the local women go nuts for you. They are yelling IRONMUJERE!!! and they cheer even louder as you go by. Even Granny's were on their lawn chairs hooting and hollering. Seriously fantastic.
  • The aid stations are a little short and they don't have bananas - although they say they are going to put them out there. So you have to be on the ball while yelling for what you need. They understand the word water, but always good to yell 'agua'. Almost all of the aid stations were manned by teenagers who were super helpful. I had to stop as they didn't understand my yelling water and I was at the end of the line. I told one boy what I needed and he RACED back to the other table to get me my water. All with a big smile. They really worked hard that day and did a great job.
  • The water bottles are filled with purified ice water - so it's very refreshing and safe. It gets very humid out there so you need to use the water to cool down as well as for drinking. I was thankful the water was so cold. We lucked out and it was overcast for a good portion of the day - the next day it was a like a furnace and everyone was saying how thankful they were it wasn't like that on race day. It was humid and hot enough as is.
  • The road isn't too bad, but there are sections along the water and in town that are tricky. Wave at everyone but be very mindful for potholes. Oh! And there are speedbumps through town but they flattened them out for the race. So don't worry about that when you arrive and think, uh, there is a massive speed bump here! How am I going to get over that??
The Run
  • Like the bike course, the run is three laps. Again, this could be good or bad depending.
  • The aid stations are well stocked of cold water, thankfully. Again, it's purified and in wee bottles so you know it's safe. No fear of Montazuma's revenge - well not from the water at least...
  • They ran out of cola, but got some stocked up fast.
  • There is no toilet paper in the porta potties. Not even a hanger thingy for toilet paper. A lot of them were very very nasty. Kind of par for the course in an Ironman race though. (Exactly how does one poo on the BACK of the seat?? Seriously? Did they press their bum to the very back of the booth or what?! Do not under any circumstances sit on a porta potty seat in the dark during IM....anywhere.) Another note about how incredibly wonderful the volunteers are....I came up to an aid station and a female volunteer said 'Agua?' to me. I replied, "No - bano" and pointed to the porta potty. I walked towards it and she came running after me 'Seniorita!' So I turned and she stood there holding out a little wad of toilet paper for me. I was at such a low point in my race at that point and her kindness was truly overwhelming. I will never forget her and am very grateful. I am all veklmept just writing it. If I hadn't been so disgustingly sweaty and gross I would have hugged her. Instead I thanked her with many many 'Gracias!'.
  • Bug spray - take a very small container with you, you will need it. I had a small (fits in the palm of my hand) container that I kept with me in my jersey pocket. They have spray at the aid stations and use it, which can be hard for those breathing all that in, but it's a necessity. This can not be understated actually. As soon as the sun goes down around 5:30pm it's a feeding frenzy of mosquitos. If you have bug spray you are okay though. Oh, and you have to keep reapplying it because it's so humid you sweat it off rather quickly.
  • They don't have as much food I've seen at the Canada and Coeur d'Alene races, but they do have full Powerbars and gels and lots of them.
  • The race takes you through town 3 times, so lots of cheering. You do have to make like you are about to go to the finish line twice, so that's a bit of a tease. Oh, and running through town is a bit tricky actually. The road is decorative brick so not flat and it feels a bit slippery when wet, which is the situation at every aid station.
  • Again, the spectators through here are fantastic. They are pretty much along the entire run route, but concentrated near downtown, which is to be expected.
  • The banging of pots and pans and the blowing of whistles gets to be a bit much by the third lap - although the enthusiasm is of course welcome.
  • The ambulancia was working overtime grabbing people and taking them to the med tent. Not sure if it was more or less than normal in an IM? Seemed like I kept seeing it go by. Make sure you hydrate, it may be night but it's still pretty warm and very humid.
The Finish
  • The finish line needs work. Not the actual finish line - that's very cool as you are at city hall and the little park is very nice there.
  • The catchers don't really understand the concept of being catchers. They give you your medal and also a pretty necklace made of shells, which I love, but then they just let you go. Not good for those in need of medical attention. Although you could walk straight into the med tent, which is run by the red cross, as it's a few feet from the finish arch!
  • The shirts were kind of hidden so not everyone got them, including me. I did get it the next day - I figured I went through enough pain I deserved that darn shirt! Hopefully the organizers will hand them out with the medals and such like the other races.
  • Everything else is the same with the food and massage though.
So for the inaugural event of Ironman Cozumel, I would give it 4.5 stars out of 5. Yes, there were a few gliches, but I truly don't think those glitches would have hampered even the most competitive athlete. I thought it was well organized and the volunteers were fantastic. I can not gush enough about the locals and their enthusiasm either. Seriously, I've never seen anything like it - not even in Penticton and that's saying a lot. It didn't matter that they didn't know you - they cheered and clapped as loud as my own parental unit did!

Speaking of the parental unit, I am as always, eternally grateful for their presence at the race. It can't be easy watching your only kid slowly crumble and not be able to do anything about it. They were so encouraging when they saw me getting down. Dad walking with me asking how I was doing and Mom walking with me for a while to keep my spirits up. Dad asked me if I wanted to quit and said it would be ok. I said I did, but I wouldn't. I couldn't.

They gathered my gear at the race finish, then carried my bike and stuff into the hotel and cleaned up the bit of hurl that ended up on the car seat. (I really would have cleaned that myself had I known.) Apparantly I didn't hang far enough out the door when we had to make an 'emergency' stop on the way back to the hotel. My dad even slept on the couch, which was my bed in the condo, so I could sleep in the bed with my mom just in case I needed help during the night.

For the record I vote them the best dang parental unit anyone could ever have. I also promise them that I won't put them through anymore races like this. This is my last Ironman for a very long time, if not forever. Time to move on to other adventures that perhaps don't suck the life out of me. After my swim there I thought it might be fun to try some open water long distance races.... And there is always adventure racing!

Thanks to everyone who was cheering. I wish I could have written a glowing race report for you.

Peace out my wonderful friends.