Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What's Up?

Well the end of the month is nearing, almost to the end of my 'time off' structured training. I have been doing something everyday though, just to be sure that my butt doesn't start to resemble the couch :-) Biking outside last week and Saturday was awesome, the weather was outstanding and even the wind took a break. Sunday saw a return to the indoor riding though as it rained all day. Luckily D ordered a ton of new DVDs to keep us motivated on the trainers. We rode again last night and I tried to ride with Lance in the 1999 Tour. It was his 3rd stage win, and the first one in the mountains. I rode in the big gear, grinding along matching the cadence of the climbing riders. I stood when they stood, and charged when Lance attacked. I nearly threw up twice and definitely rode outside my comfort zone. It felt good though, and watching this tour is so inspiring! To see someone come back from terminal cancer and then dominate one of the toughest sporting events on the planet is just amazing!

I am thinking more about next season and some of my goals. We have registered for 2 events so far, the GWN 1/2 and the new Calgary 70.3. We are going to incorporate the trip to Calgary into our summer holidays and extend the trip to SK to visit my folks.
Our themes this year are local and speed :-) We are only racing in places that we don't need a passport for, and we are focusing on getting faster!

We are also looking at an early season marathon and so far Vancouver or Calgary are our choices. I am not keen on the Calgary marathon, but it would be nice to have a reason to visit! Vancouver would be better in terms of altitude though! I would run with the goal of breaking 3:30- I was 3:32 in Boston and I know I can do it if I race well.

My folks are coming to town this week and D has left for the week. We are all patiently awaiting the arrival of our newest family member who's due date was yesterday! I guess no one told her :-) This weekend we are off to Jasper for some fun in the mountains! We plan to rent mtn bikes and do our best not to kill ourselves or cause any external damage that will ruin our wedding pictures :-) We are also meeting our good friend Alan who will kick our butts with a good trail run. He is coming off training for a 100mile ultra so hopefully he doesn't hurt us too bad :-)

2 weeks from today we will be in Kona!! We are excited for that, as well as the big day which is coming up fast! I have everything in place (I think) and am really looking forward to it. It will also be a last chance to enjoy summer weather. We have tons of outdoor activities planned and we are going to soak up every last drop of sunshine, knowing that the long dark northern winter is ahead!

Oh, and the pool is finally open after being closed a month! I am going to see if I still know how to swim... I need to practice my paddling for the surfing lessons we want to do!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fall-ing in Love

I love fall. There is no time more brilliant, beautiful and magical. It is my favorite season to run and bike and be outdoors. Being surrounded by nature's vibrant last hurrah, it is impossible not to feel the love. I also love the off season feeling towards training- doing what I want when I want, and doing it all with no pressure or stress. The feeling of the past year's accomplishment, and the excitement of a fresh season ahead are experienced- in the moment- as absolute peace.
Fall is the perfect time to practice staying in the moment. It is a physical reminder to me, that staying in the present is the only way to fully appreciate and enjoy the beauty and magic that exists there. In the future is winter (dread), and in the past is summer (loss). But in the present there is sunshine, brilliant colors that can only be found in nature, the smell of harvest, and a feeling of freedom...And I am happy to be here :-)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fun Times

My 22month old niece Gianna is one of my most favorite people to hang out with. She is the epitome of free spirit and I am always reminded of just how fascinating the world can be when I am with her. We had a great afternoon hanging out in the parks, biking (pulling a trailer is a new kind of workout) and just exploring. She loves to run and one day she'll make a great training partner :-)

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Finally, a win this season. :-)
After the toughest Ironman of the 4 I have done, almost 2 weeks of being sick and doing nothing, we went out for the Steve Burgess Memorial 8km trail race here in GP. I said I would take it easy, since I haven't done much of anything other than cough since IM. But as soon as the first female passed me my competitive nature took hold and all I could think was....I want to win. So I pushed myself into a zone that I haven't visited in a long while and managed to finish first. It hurt, it wasn't easy, but the feeling of finishing strong and being the first woman across was worth the pain :-)

D also had a great race and managed a win. We got these awesome red ribbons that will go right next to the IM medals :-)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Putting the Life in Lifestyle...

There are a lot of things I love about sport, and what it adds to my life. Since I took the plunge into the world of physical activity and setting 'unreasonable' goals, I have gained a stronger sense of myself, expanded the context of what I can be, do and have, and been opened up to worlds of possibility, passion and the joy of self powered propulsion (by land, wheel and water!!).

I relish the training, the planning, the commitment. I love the feeling of fatigue from a hard effort, the elation of smashing a PR, and the pride in completing a goal- be it a workout, a race or a season. I have met some of my favorite people through sport, been inspired by others' journeys, and felt a camaraderie with complete strangers, bonded by something that is only really understood once experienced. I love that D and I have this shared passion and that we can be training partners and support one another in pursuing our goals, while living a healthy lifestyle and spending more time living that watching life on TV.

All of that is important to acknowledge, and remember. Because along with everything that sport, and particularly IM, adds to my life, it also requires sacrifices. Time, energy and resources that are directed to training, racing, equipment and travel are taken from other areas. It is a selfish goal, and I wonder all the time how people with kids do it. ~sidenote~ One of my real life heros is Jenna, who is a single mom of 2 kids that did her 1st IM this year after experiencing what I would consider one of the most devastating things I could imagine, short of losing someone I love. She still managed to not only complete her IM, but to have what she called a perfect day.

So, to me, the off season is just as important as the race season. The off season, or time off from the training/racing schedule, is when I can put my time, energy and resources into the rest of my life. My relationship with D, time with my family and especially the girls, building my business and supporting my clients in reaching their goals, are all of the things that put the LIFE in my Lifestyle.

As much as I love sport, at the end of the day not even the finish line of the Ironman can compete with the feeling of seeing my nieces faces light up when they see me :-)

So I am loving my time off. Even though I have been fighting a cold/flu since returning, I have gotten much accomplished- filled my Sept classes, and almost reached my goal of 10K for the month of Sept, planned the wedding, bought our wedding rings, took my dress for alterations, and purchased the important wedding/honeymoon 'wardrobe'. I have had more time to spend looking after the girls and even ventured out with both of them (by myself!!) for a fun day out. D and I have enjoyed time just being, and have really enjoyed planning our Hawaii adventures (there are soooo many cool things to do!)

I am hoping to finally shake this chest bug and get out running. It is my favorite time of the year, with the leaves changing and the beauty of fall erupting everywhere you look. Running for love of running...ahhhhh.

Life is good :-)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Home Sweeeeeet Home

Well me finally made it home after a long day of flying, a night in Edmonton and then a drive today. Holidays were great but it is so wonderful to be back in our home, cooking our food, relaxing on our couch...
Gustuv caused some storms that delayed our first flight out of LV, but the hour we spent waiting to take off, and the delayed connecting flight were made all better when we got bumped from our 'back of the bus' seats up to first class. That was sweeeet.
We made it into Edmonton about midnight and didn't get to bed until after 1am so we were beat.

Today we made the drive back, unpacked and cleaned up and had a nice dinner. We really missed our own cooking- although we had a full kitchen, we found that the food in the states just doesn't taste the same. Everything seems a bit more processed and fake tasting- even the fresh produce!

Tonight the girls came over and we had a great time playing and visiting with Jay and Sarah. It was awesome to see them, and I am looking forward to more time with them now that IM is over.

Thanks to everyone who has emailed, commented on the blog, facebooked me etc with the positive words of support and love. Just to answer a few of the most common questions:

-No, I am not doing an IM race in 2009. We have made some preliminary plans such as a couple Half IMs and are thinking of a spring marathon. We are going to focus on local races, spending more time on our house and yard, mountain biking and getting faster :-) Right now the slate is pretty blank, I am already pondering new goals and in the upcoming weeks will sketch out the next training season goals and plans.

- No, we are not planning to have a baby in 2009 :-)

- Yes I wore new shoes. And one of them is covered in blood. I didn't even notice until I was in the medical tent and they were making a big deal about it. It was a cut on my toe. No big deal..just a lot of blood.

I really had no stiffness, soreness or fatigue after the race. I feel 100%, just more hungry than usual. But a break is in order- mentally and physically. Classes start next week and I am going to be flying just to keep up with the schedule. I am also going to be doing some pre wedding training to make sure I look hot for the big day :-)

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Aftermath

Well yesterday was a tough one, and the memory is still fresh enough that this race report is going to be a bit raw. So if you are looking for an inspiring, positive and tear jerking story- you may want to skip this read :-) The truth is that Ironman is like life, and it isn't always pretty. But if the cliches are true, and what doesn't kill us makes us stronger, then we had one hell of a strength workout yesterday :-)

The swim was fine, although we are both sure it was long. I was about 8mins slower than I expected to be and heard a lot of other athletes remark that it was long as well. The temp was warm, and the water was brown, but there was minimal contact and I was fine without a wetsuit. I was a bit bummed exiting in 1hr18, but I swam strong and couldn't have done much differently.
The bike was a 2 loop, with an out and back on the first loop. 90% of the course was up and down. The first loop was pretty good, the calories were going in and I was feeling alright, holding a steady pace without red lining. Not long after starting the second lap I started to feel really nauseous, probably because the heat was beginning to get to me. I was unable to eat and barely forced in enough water to keep my mouth from drying up. I tried taking more salt, but could not shake the nausea, and could not force anything down. The second loop was a challenge- the heat was intense, the humidity and the relentless hills. And then the wind picked up for good measure. One a positive note, the scenery was beautiful. It would be a fantastic ride...at about 6am. 2pm...not so much.
I was happy to get off my bike and change out of my salty bike shorts. I felt pretty good the first mile of the run, although the first out and back is on a bridge and the heat was pretty intense. I stopped for a pee break and nearly passed out in the porto john. I had visions of passing out and dying in a plastic shitter....not nice. I also noticed that I was having a difficult time peeing. I knew I was already dehydrated and I really needed to get some fluids in.
I stopped at the aide station, filled my bottle with ice water, and drank some water and a bit of nuun. When I started running again I was ok for about 5 mins, and then I started to feel nauseous again. I tried to ignore it, but every time I tried to pick up the pace I was sure I was going to barf. I was dousing with water, sponges and ice at the aide stations but nothing was making me feel better. I began dry heaving and was unable to run any faster than a slow jog. It was a long day. I fantasized about dropping out, about walking the marathon, about throwing myself in front of a car so I could end it.... seriously. And as I saw my time goals fall away hour by hour I realized that the only thing I needed to do was finish the best I could. I knew I could walk, but unless I absolutely had to, I would not. I shuffled along at about 8km/hr, walked through the aide stations and only stopped when the dry heaves made me. I wanted to run faster, it hurt to go that slow, but as soon as my heart rate came up, the dry heaves started, and I had to back off.
It was an unbelievably long, hot and difficult day. I couldn't let myself feel any emotion out there, I just could not afford the energy. So I just locked them up in a box and stuffed them to the back of my mind. Coming down the finish chute, knowing I had made, it the box threatened to break the levy and I started to hyperventilate. I crossed the line, in a combination of hyperventilation and dry heaving. No wonder the volunteers walked me straight into medical. An hour and a couple liters of fluid later I felt much better. I still had not seen D and was beginning to worry about him. I made my way back to the hotel and found him looking as bad as I had felt. He should have visited the med tent too, as he was really hurting. We were happy to see each other and found comfort in knowing what the other had just been through.
It was not the day we trained to have, wanted to have or planned to have, but we both did the best we could and know that we did our absolute best.
I saw many many many people out there suffering. I also saw groups of guys walking, chatting and laughing. I recognized many of them from the bike course where they had blown by me. I did not want to be one of them- the people that realize their time goal is shot, so they give up and take the easy road. Walking is the easy road and I really, really really wanted to walk- it felt so good when I did walk. But I knew if I just walked it would be giving up on myself. Even if my 'run' was only a couple of km/hr faster than a walk, it was pushing as much as I could and I knew I would only be satisfied if I gave all I had until the finish.
I would be lying if I said I was not disappointed with a 13:08 Ironman time, considering my goal was to be under 12. But racing in 34 degree heat and humidity is something I was not physically trained to do. There was nothing more I could have done, and I know in my heart I did my personal best and gave 100% start to finish.

The race itself is a fantastic one. There were more volunteers than competitors and they were absolutely amazing. They took great care of us all day. The spectators were great as well. Having an IM in a large city is completely different than in a place where it is the only thing going on. Many people came out in the residential areas and cheered along the course. The finish line was awesome, running down 4th street live with people everywhere. Louisville is a city worth visiting, the area is beautiful and the people are so friendly and welcoming. Just come prepared for the heat :-) We did not expect it to be as oppressive as it is, and in hindsight we were kind of naive about how much of an impact it would have.

Most importantly, D and I had a great time here, we are both happy we did it, and have no regrets. We will live to see another day, another race and maybe some day another Ironman....but not for a long while.

We will be at Kona this year, just as spectators rather than racers. Instead of pre race prep and nerves we can enjoy our time on the beach, work on our tans and stalk our favorite pros :-) And then we get to get married :-D

Thanks for reading, and supporting, and cheering. Love and Hugs :-)