Friday, December 18, 2009

What a year!

As 2009 winds down I find myself reflecting on a lot. There were so many highlights – I really don’t know how I am going to top it in 2010.

I entered some open water swim races – all in the name of getting to Ironman.  Competed in some bike races and even won a silver medal at the provincial Time Trials again in the name of Ironman.  One of the best treats was applying for and getting accepted as a sponsored athlete by Nathan. If anyone had told me I would be not only successfully complete Ironman but also be a sponsored athlete I would have laughed so hard – but it just goes to show you that with hard work and eternal optimism you can achieve anything you set out to do.  I am still amazed and very curious as to how far I can push. 

So what is up for next year – plans – so many plans. I am back to leading half marathon clinics but I am also in talks with my riding coach on how to go about getting certified to teach/coach beginner triathletes. We are going to sit down and lay out a game plan to help me move into that direction. One of the things I realized while training for Ironman is that I am happiest when I am working out/training and so I want to find a way to make that a bigger part of my life. Leading half marathon clinics for the last 4 years has shown me that I have a knack for coaching – at least at the beginner stage.

From talking to people in my running clinics and just in general there are a lot of people that are interested in starting tris but really don’t know where to begin. Most of the coaches out there are for middle/long distance experienced athletes but there is not much out there for those just starting out.

For actual races the big race for next year that I really want to do is Stormy 50 Mile Ultra Trail race.

I have done this as part of a relay team but in 2010 I would like to do it as a solo race. I mean you have to up the ante after Ironman…. Whether I register or not will really depend on how the next few months go as I really focus on rehabbing my leg and to that end I have signed up for a program called BSF - Building a Strong Foundation.  I am hoping it will really help with my hip and pelvis.

Other races ·
  •  Victoria Half Ironman as a solo race - I believe the riding girls have laid this as a challenge race and oh how I love a challenge and a wee bit of competition. 
  • Pacebunny – Vancouver Half marathon
  • Osoyoos as a relay team - Relay team's goal is to beat my hubby Joe.
  • New York Marathon - just because I have heard it is amazing and I have to run at least one marathon a year. 
  • Bike Time Trials – Barb will advise me which ones I am doing but I plan on defending my silver medal
  • Cypress Mountain Hill Climb - only one place to go but up on this one. 
  • Canada Day 3 km Swim Race
These are a few of the races I plan on for next year - I am sure there will be others.

Finally thanks again to Team NATHAN, Sugoi, GU, Canadian Running Magazine, and END  for the amazing opportunity and support it was an honor and a priveledge to wear the uniform and included with such and esteemed group. 

Remember you define your own humanly possible.

See you in trails and on the road.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

When did you become a runner?

As we proceed through another running clinic and I meet lots of new runners I am constantly asked when did you become a runner.  It is a tough question for me to answer because honestly I became a runner at the age of 9 and then took a LOA before I came back full time at the age of 32.

I have always loved sports and particularly running.  When I was 9 I happened to transfer to a great school in Manitoba and joined the Cross Country team - it was love at first run.  The coach was amazing and inspired - I wish I could remember his name.  We would run 2x a week after school and then in the winter we would train in the mornings doing laps around the gym which would bring us to the spring and track and field.  I just felt free. 

In Grade 6 our coach decided that we were such a great group of runners that our goal would be to run in the Manitoba Marathon - we would train all year and on race day we would run 4 miles.  Back then the Manitoba marathon had buses every 2 miles starting at the 4 mile marker to take people to the finish if they wanted to stop.  We were 10 and 11 years old and had no idea how far everyone else would be running but were so excited to be in a grown up race.  I remember my mom saying wow - you ran 4 miles in 20 minutes!  (wish I could do that now...) and the t-shirt was a pale yellow shirt with a scoop neck.  I loved that shirt and wore it with such pride. 

The next year we moved and I was in high school.  Again I was lucky to get into a school with an AMAZING running program.  It was a dream year for me - cross country in the fall, indoor track in the winter and track and field in the spring.  I was running minimum 3 times a week all year long and I signed up on my own to do 6 miles in the Manitoba Marathon - which I did. 

The next summer  we moved to BC and I was so excited to join a new Cross country team and meet new runners.  The first practice 2 people showed up and the coach was barely interested.  Needless to say there was not a lot of support - I quickly became discouraged and moved on to another sport where there was more support  - Field hockey was the sport of choice and that was when I took a LOA frum running.

I did not stop running - I would say I dabbled in it - there was no consistency but when life became really tough running was my fall back position - a way to release and just escape.  I stayed active  - I played softball and was a gym monkey but something was always missing.

At 32 Joe insisted I quit smoking - I quasi quit but the weight started piling on.  I started to think about things to do to lose it - lifting weights and doing circuit training was not really working and well Joe was not going to let me go back to smoking  and then this crazy idea about a 1/2 marathon entered my brain and I went for it and have not looked back.    From the first run I felt that old freedom and it was amazing, I was hooked again.  The bike is becoming like that but running is always the first love - mostly because I just have to put on shoes and go - I don't have to check tire pressure, make sure I have tubes, CO2, and such.  I just go out the door and run.  It is truly liberating and why I love running so much. 

When did I become a runner - September, 1978, Athlone Elementary school, WPG Manitoba - 9 years old was when I became a runner.  When did you?

Peace out Shaun

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Splish Splash

Living in Vancouver has lots of advantages especially at this time of year.  The big thing is little to no snow but it is called the "wet" coast  for a reason.  The rain is here and is not going anywhere for the next 3 months. 

I am up to riding 3 times a week again at a minimum  - Wednesday rides with the club, Saturday mornings and I have been riding to work at least once a week.  It has been very wet  and I find myself chanting to myself Coach Larry's words - Do when others don't and you will be able to when others won't!  It came in very handy last Wednesday doing hill repeats on  one of our local mountains in the ice cold rain and wind.  After the 2nd hill repeat Coach told us to go home!  I don't think he actually expected that we would be there (only 4 of us showed up) and came out on his Vespa just to make sure no-one was out there.  SURPRISE - we are hard core!  This week thankfully Coach Barb has told us to ride on the flats. 

I also was able to get 4 runs in last week - again in the rain and the tempo runs were averaging between 5:45 to 6:10 per km which pleases me as it means I am recovering from my Dublin adventure.  And my plan to take it a little easier on the intensity seems to be helping my leg/hip.  I had an MRI on my hip last week and the good news is there is no tear but it also means that there is still no conclusive reason as to why I am not recovering.  Next up Prolotherapy just waiting for approval from ICBC to go forward.

Last but not least I actually got into the pool last night - first time since Ironman.  Shoulder held up quite nicely.  Coach Brad was pleased with my overall workout in that he said, "Good news is that all the gains in your form we made are still there!  But your strength has definately decreased but that will come back quickly."  I guess swimming only once since Ironman will do that to you.  I plan on going again on Friday and making this a twice a week thing going forward.
The only thing I want to look into and would like to add to my repertoire (spelling?) is some kind of weights/core program at least once a week. I am making some inquiries into programs for runners/triathletes.  I think it may be the missing piece of the puzzle and well quite frankly I need to do a course or work with someone because I am too lazy to do it on my own.  So if anyone out there has any suggestions of personal coaches or programs in the Vancouver area please let me know.



Monday, November 16, 2009

Getting back into it

I know, I know I have been remiss in posting.  First off Ireland & Northern Ireland were amazing - even with the emergency room visit and being sick for 4 days after.  We have to go back because I did not get to see even half of what I wanted to.

fort on Aran islands built in 200 bcKylemore Abbey  built in late 1600's

Giant's Causeway  - one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. STUNNING

The day after the marathon we caught the bus to Belfast to spend a few days with Joe's family and do some sightseeing in Belfast.  The first night we got there his parents had arranged for a family gathering/party as his brother Jim and his family were over from London, it was Jim's 40th a week prior, and to celebrate Joe and the rest of us being there.  It was a typical Smyth gathering with many, many, many people there - June and Pam fit right in, it was going well and then all of the sudden I did not feel so good and starting get sick - this went on all night and I kept it pretty much to myself so as not to wreck the party.  The next morning I woke up not feeling any better and just wanting to stay in bed but the girls and Joe were looking at me and I felt bad so I thought it was a probably a wee bit of food poisoning and I would be fine.  This was not the case and by the end of the bus tour it was decided the girls would go to the pub(s) and I was going to emergency (BOOOO).  The end result was I had an intestinal virus and could not eat for 4 days. 

Finally in Sligo I got so hungry I was like I have to eat and had some Thai Hot & Sour soup with Lemon Grass - BIG MISTAKE - they almost made me go to emergency again but I refused.  The good thing is I think the Lemon grass must have acted like a cleanse because the next morning I woke and felt hungry, was able to eat, keep it down and not have any cramping.  That night we hit the pub HARD (LOL) - I was back.
Guiness brewery in Dublin

Famine graveyard in Donegal

If you have not been to Ireland you have to go - it is stunning and the history is incredible - the people are beautiful and well - as you can tell - I am totally in love with it - despite the fact of my Irish heritage.  The only disapointment to the trip was that I only got to spend 5 minutes - literally - in Armagh - where my grandmother is from.  It was very emotional for me to be there and upsetting that I could not spend more time - the next time we go I plan on spending a couple days there investigating and going to my family's grave site - I don't think Joe or the others realized how important it was to me.  In their defense I did not push it - next time I will. 
Church in Armagh city

We got back home a week ago and I am still trying to sort myself out.  I have just started leading another half marathon clinic - goal race Fort Langley Historic Half in February, I have gotten a couple of rides on the bike in but have not been able to get organized enough to get to the pool.  Feeling a little guilty about it - need to rectify that.  Got all my hair cut off and donated it to the Cancer Agency so they can make a wig with it.  Oh and I am finally going for the MRI on my hip/leg - my lawyer was able to get me an appointment at a private clinic so hopefully this will shed more light on to what I can do to continue to rehab.

 hope you enjoyed some of the pictures. Joe and I took close to 900.  I should go and finish my curriculum for the clinic.  

cheers S

Monday, November 2, 2009

The one I should have walked....

Well the last race for the year is done - Dublin marathon.  Mixed emotions to say the least.

This is the race I should have walked - I said I was going to walk it, I should have walked, I did not walk it.

Overall though I am satisfied - not my best showing by far but I got the bling and the shirt and # 5 under my belt. 

The weather was absolutely amazing - actually regretted wearing a long sleeve shirt under my Nathan Jersey it was almost too warm.  As predicted Pam was the healthiest of the 3 of us.  June bug was totally siezed and was struggling with walking let alone running.  The plan was we would all start out together and just enjoy the day - no pressure, nothing to prove just get the bling and shirt.

Absolutely amazing to see over 10,000 people at the start line and spirits were high.  We had on our Irish for a day pins and shamrock tattoos.  We finally met our other girlfriend Hazel just before the start and we were off.  It took us about 8 minutes of walking to get to the starting line.  We all started out together and June was actually running but she quickly fell off within the first 1km or so and that brought us down to 3.    At this time I should have been rational and stopped running and went back to June but for anyone that knows me - well suffice it to say that did not happen.

So Pam, Hazel and myself were running a nice pace - this was Pam´s second marathon and she just wanted to be faster than her previous - 5:40 so the pace was quite leisurely at around 7:10/15 a km.  We maintained this off and on for the first 10km - during this whole time my right leg/hip/IT band was a little achy but same old - same old for me and of course I did not heed the warnings.  I was thoroughly enjoying the run with girls, the crowds and counting how many different colored front doors we could see.   Of note there is absolutely no crowd control after the start in this race so people, strollers, dogs, bikes, and cars!  randomly cross the course in front of runners when they feel the need to.  It is a little frustrating to have to dodge stuff at random continuously through a race.

The crowds were amazing and there were so many little kids - people literally line the course from start to finish and hand out stuff. I high fived lots of little kids but did not take anything from anyone since I have never tried any of what they were handing out.

We continued our nice pace to the halfway mark and things were going well and that is when it happened - I pulled a Shaun and instead of being reasonable and rational and following the plan I had decided on for weeks I did it I picked up my pace and left Pam and Hazel.  I was feeling good the leg had settled into a dull ache - nothing new here so against all reasonable and better judgment I went for it - the next 15 km went great - I was strong on the hills, I was running 6:15 - 6:45 km quite comfortably.  Every once in a while I would think - this is not a good idea but then I would shake it off and continue on my merry path to self destruction. (LOL)

It was like a bad car accident - you know - you do not want to look but you just can't stop staring.  And then it happened KABOOM - mile 22 - OW - leg not too happy but not to worry still ahead of Pam and only 4 miles to go - easy peasy - just suck it up princess.  22.5 miles Pam and Hazel have caught up to me - right - should have just stayed with them - aw well just run it in with them - mile 23 - leg has now totally siezed up - send Pam and Hazel on their way.    Mile 23 - Mile 25 the limp/shuffle of shame as my leg is now totally refusing to cooperate and do anything I am asking it to do.

Mile 26 - I am now officially well over the 5 hour mark and chagrined over my foolishness however because I have  admitted to myself that I am dumb-ass my leg decides to rejoin my body and allow me to run/hobble the last mile to the finish in complete agony.  It is the one finish line photo where I am not smiling and I always smile - this one hurt.  Final time 5 hours and 30 minutes.    I did not even see all my family waiting along the finish chute!  Joe , as always, was at the finish line and just shook his head at me. He was like what happened to walking?  I said - ME - that is what happened. 

We waited for June who walked the race and finished in 5:59 - only 29 minutes behind me - again should have just walked it with her and I would have been much happier and in far less pain.  Pam did get her PB of 5:22 so that was awesome!

Overall I am okay with the time just miffed at my poor decisions - I knew I was not ready or prepared for this race - 7 weeks post Ironman - I was unable to train for 4 weeks due to a major sinus infection and then the longest run after that I got in was 2.5 hours - I had no business trying to run this.

I would do this race again in a heart beat it was well organized, crowds were amazing and the course is stunning the only thing that really bothered me was the absolute waste.  At water stations they hand out small individual water bottles and energy drinks in bottles - what people do is take a bottle - take one sip and then toss the whole bottle to the side - it was astounding to see and more than a little disappointing - there were thousands of water bottles and energy drinks with one or 2 sips taken and tossed to the side, especially when there are concerns about water shortage around the world - not to mention the hazard it caused to runners - I saw more than a few runners being taken from the course with sprained ankles which I am sure were due to stepping on a stray bottle.

I will post pictures when we get back to Canada - we are for 2 weeks of touring the Irish country side now.



Sunday, October 18, 2009

Next stop Dublin Marathon

I can't believe in only 4 sleeps I will be on a plane with June Bug, Pebbles and Joe to Ireland to run in the Dublin Marathon. 

The last 7 weeks since Ironman have been a little frustrating in that I was very sick for about 3 weeks and did not really get any runs in because I did not want to get pneumonia or bronchitis.  Fortunately I was able to get  some good rides in but still I had to be cautious.  Just when I thought I was clear to train I got a good solid week in and bang I started to get a cold again so the last week I have dialed it right  back in an effort to be at the very least healthy for the race if nothing else. 

I was not planning on PB'ing but had hoped I would  be more prepared than I feel I am.  So with that being said I will just play it by ear - really I did my race for the year and this is just the swan song.  June-bug is also hurting she did the Victoria Half last week and wrenched something in her back so that she can barely walk let alone run. We are really hoping that her back eases up and she is good to go on race day - the course is supposed to be fast and flat so we had hopes she would BQ here.    The good news is that Pebbles (Pam) for once has seemed to stay healthy so at least she and Hazel will have a good race. 

On other news I saw coach Barb yesterday and she seems to be in good spirits despite everything.  She is coaching from the couch.  Which means she has more time to go over our numbers...  Today was the last Sunday ride for me for a while.  When I get back from Ireland I will be leading the next half marathon clinic so Sundays will be back to running however it is not all lost as I will be riding with the group on Wednesday nights throughout the winter and do my own rides on Saturdays.

I think that covers life over the last few weeks.

Keep on training


Monday, October 5, 2009

Never take a ride for granted

Yesterday was the 1-year anniversary of my bike accident. To celebrate I got out Isis and went and met the gang for a great ride out to Steveston and back. The weather was absolutely amazing and the ride was great - I love riding with the group and the feeling of freedom. I love to see people turn as we go by in our jerseys - 10 - 20 of us side by side in perfect formation as we all take our turns at the front and then peeling off smoothly.

When we got out to Steveston we broke into groups and rode pace line again it just felt good. My bike recovery has been great - I feel very strong. The running legs are taking a little longer to come back but that is to be expected.

When we all first met up one of the guys in our group came up a smidge late and said he had been hit by a car on the ride over. He was on the road and there was just he and the car -a two-lane road I might add - and the car bumped him. He is a very experienced rider and said he wobbled but was able to keep the bike up. He pulled up beside the car at the next light, knocked on the guy's window and said you just hit me. The guy said to him you should only be riding at 4am not in the middle of the day - it was early Sunday morning!

A few more things were said and he rode off. We all sympathised with him about what a jerk the guy was and such at coffee - and just how important it was to appreciate all our bike rides and to be aware.

Last night I got an email from Larry my coach's husband - well Larry is also my coach but Barb is my main coach - Barb had been in an accident and had a broken femur - he trusted we understood that we would have to handle our training on our own for a while. OH MY WORD! Of course that was all I had - so I have been beside myself with worry - how could this happen to Barb she is an amazing rider - super experienced.

I just found out - they were crossing the last bridge on their way home and there was a pedestrian - he moved to the side but there was a bit of a wind and it caught his coat just as Barb was passing him. His coat got caught in her front break.... She did not go over the rail of the bridge but her bike spun so fast that her foot could not clip out and she suffered a spiral fracture of her femur. 4 hours of surgery to put a plate in it last night - doctor/surgeon says 6 months until she can ride again. Barb says a couple.... She is going to be the exact same type of patient I was - poor Larry is going to have his hands full.

I am still in shock - what a fluke accident on such a beautiful day. It just goes to show you that not only do cars and bikes need to be separated but so do pedestrians and bikes. One small thing... That is why I support the Burrard Street bridge intiative and why I am such a hard-ass with my clinics when we run across bridges - sorry gang but be prepared for me to "ride" you even harder about the single file issue - one small thing....

God speed to you Barb - here is to a speedy recovery.

Peace out Shaun

Monday, September 28, 2009

Carpe Diem

Finally, after being sick for the past 3 weeks I was able to go and get my Tattoo for Ironman. This design and tattoo mean a lot to me because it was such a journey and continues to be. I did not want the same old, same old. I did want the M-dot surrounded by a Maple leaf but I wanted it on the horizon of a road signifying the journey. I knew I wanted the words Carpe Diem because it is about siezing the day/moment and I think, at least for me, is an essential part of why I do these races and the 3 figures to represent each sport.

It is hard to tell where it is by the photo but it is on my right leg just above the knee on the IT band - a little bit of irony because my right IT band/hip have given me so much grief over the last 10 months but also practicality in that when I run, ride or swim the tattoo will be visible but it is covered during work hours. Also I did not want it on my back, calf or ankle for a host of reasons but mostly because I want to show it when I want to show it.

So without further adieu here are the pics.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ironman Aftermath

I would like to say I was back at it right away but not so. The mind and legs were good to go but the stiff neck the week prior turned out to be a very, very, very bad sinus infection that hit me full force on the Labor Day weekend. Not such a loss since it was pouring rain all weekend but frustrating as I need to get ready for the Dublin Marathon at the end of October.

This weekend I felt sufficiently recovered that Special K and I headed out for a "SHORT" 10ish er 16 ok closer to 19 km"ish" run. Really great since it was the morning after the Ironman Celebration party so we were both feeling a little rough...
The run went okay but by the end I was feeling it - we kept the tempo nice and easy and did it in just under 2 hours.

Sunday I decided that my lungs were feeling a little rough so best to go out on the bike. Met the "Zimich" gang and Barb quickly told me that I was to take it easy. Of course - who me - easy is my middle name! We headed off to Whytecliff and I stuck with the main group for probably 2/rd's of the ride out until we hit the main portion of hills and then I got dropped as my lungs were a little unhappy. Rather than risk bronchitis or worse pneumonia I pulled it right back. When I got to the park Barb informed me that I was going to ride back the same way and was not going up Cypress. She really is a good coach and she congratulated me for staying with the main group for as long as I did - it meant my overall recovery was coming along.
So I waited for Camille - new rider and Judith - who was riding with Camille to make sure she did not get lost and the three of us rode back. It was a beautiful day - I wish I had a camera.

Overall I feel good but the one thing that is hard is to decide what direction to take right now - I really, really, really love riding and do not want to give up any of the gains I have made. As I have said to Barb in the year or so I have been riding with them the gains I have made have been huge even during active recovery so I would like to see how far I can take it but I love and miss running with the crew so my dilema is what to do since both groups do their main training on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Right now I am leaning towards tempo runs on Wednesdays with the gang and riding on Sundays until the end of October when I will start leading the 1/2 clinic again. Then I will do runs on Sundays and ride Wednesdays. At least until the Spring. Then I will have to think. Barb and Larry both say it is important to keep riding as next season's medals are won during training right now and I like winning medals.

June bug called it I think - she said she is a rider now - we may have to start running on Saturdays so we can run with her. Thankfully Special K plays soccer on Sundays so I have convinced her to run with me and the best part is she is game for anything.

6 weeks until Dublin!

Peace out Shaun

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Can you do Ironman?

Can you do it? Of course you can just believe. Believe – always believe.

Just over 8 years ago I walked into the local Running room store and signed up for my very first half marathon clinic. I was a smoker and overweight. 4 days ago I became an official Ironman finisher at Subaru Ironman Canada.

I am not going to say that I did not believe I could not do it because WHEN I registered it never occurred to me I could not do it. I am also not going to say that I did not have doubts – after the accident I was concerned but I was blessed to have surrounded myself with positive people who told me that the dream was not over – I could still do it – so I continued to believe – I just changed my expectations.

To do Ironman you MUST surround yourself with positive people and believers. You must be willing to work and you must respect the distance – it is serious business and it is a commitment. A commitment to yourself, to your training partners and your coaches. You need to decide to be selfish, do not apologize for this, this is your dream not theirs if they care and love you they may not like it but they will accept it and be there at the finish line.

Hire the best coaches – don’t be so cocky to think you can do it on your own – possibly you can but why not do the absolute best that you can instead of just half way? Do your research, ask questions, talk to them, and ask about their coaching styles – you are paying them. For myself I like the personal touch I wanted coaches that would workout with me and were still competing in their sports – it meant that they still had heart and I found the best – Zimich Coaching – /- Barb and Larry Zimich are the best riding coaches in the lower mainland and they don’t just talk it they walk it – they compete with and against you and win. They push you but they also listen and that was essential. So next listen to your coaches – you hired them for a reason, talk to them if you don’t share with them how you are feeling they can’t work with you to reach your full potential. It was essential especially since I was injured and training through active rehab – Barb listened and monitored all my numbers and adjusted accordingly. Oh and work with great coaches in each field – pick one to lead the charge – that was Barb but Brad Ried with Hyack Swim Club and Peter Scott with Sea Hiker were essential in getting me ready for the swim. Next time I will hire a running coach as well but Barb will still be the main coach.

Train with people who have been there – they will share the tips with you – Judith and Cindy were amazing and guided me so much through the process and thoughts and reassured me time and again that I was more than prepared. They took me under their wing and I don’t think either of them realizes how much I truly appreciated it.

Do the training – rain, snow, wind, heat, early morning, late night it will pay off. Fit the training in, do not make excuses – don’t miss workouts. But if you do then so be it – life happens but make it the exception not the rule. Yes you will miss parties but so what you will have the biggest party ever after the race. Train hard – be uncomfortable in your workouts – do the hard work it will pay off on race day.

It is the most amazing experience and I am so happy I went through it – what is up next – Dublin Marathon in Ireland in October and toying with the idea of meeting fellow Nathan team members for the Rock’n’roll in Vegas in December. It would be the perfect end to a perfect year.

I will do another Ironman but I want Joe to experience it so he will do it in 2011 and I will register for 2012 the goal will be sub 15 hours. In the interim for next year I am considering Stormy 50 mile Ultra Trail as an individual race – I have done the Relay– it would be my first Ultra. Joe and I have decided to do New York Marathon next year, I am going to do the Victoria Half Ironman, June bug and Special K have agreed to do Oliver as a relay – with me. I would like to do more time trials on the bike, maybe a century ride and the infamous 3-mountain ride – Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress in less than 5 hours. That should take care of 2010.

People keep saying I am amazing – No I am not I am just someone who dared to dream, surrounded herself with people to help her and went for it. Don’t accept mediocrity, embrace hard work and find a way. Team Nathan’s slogan is redefine your Humanly Possible – that is all I did. You can do it – BELIEVE.

Now off for my Tatty.

Peace out Shaun

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Adventure of a Lifetime!

Coles notes version - just call me Ms IRONMAN!!! 16:21 and some change.

For those ready for a long and hopefully good read - grab a wobbly pop (I know I have) a comfy cushion and settle in - story time is about to begin boys and girls.

There is sooo much to talk about but I will just cover day of the rest will be in another post with some pics.

The alarm went off at 4:30 am and I was up like a shot - another great sleep - thankfully I am pretty much naracaleptic (?spelling?). Kettle on, bagel buttered, OJ poured and yogurt opened. Tylenol 8 hour taken breakfast eaten. Bottles out of fridge in appropriate bags and clothes on - 5:20 out the door. I felt ridicuously calm - on the drive in as we made the last turn Joe cranked IRONMAN by Ozzy Osbourne on the car stereo - it made me smile. I hopped out of the car gave him a kiss grabbed my bags and headed off to the special needs trucks. The energy was amazing - wow I was at Ironman. After I dropped my special needs bags I headed to body marking, added some final things to my bike to run bag and went to stand in the potty line. Then the nerves finally started to kick in - Joe called at this time to say he was by the Peach on the beach and would be watching. I sipped my Gleukos bottle and held my banana realizing I was not going to eat the banana. My turn came for the facilities, I used them and went to drop my dry bag and then realized I needed to do another bathroom run - my nerves were screaming it dawned on me - dear god - I am going to do an Ironman - holy crap....

I suddenly became absolutely terrified and started to tear up - I took a deep breath and walked towards the arch to the beach and realized I still had my thongs on - a volunteer - they were so great - took them for me and I walked under the archway onto the beach amongst volunteers and officials clapping yelling have a great race. I walked on to the beach and looked at the crowd it was a sea of people along the entire stretch of Lakeshore there were thousands of people and then I turned and close to 2650 people were on the beach with me - I was really starting to panic now - I thought look for Joe find him but I could not see him and then I truly started to panic - this lovely lady on the beach could see my distress and said they are looking for you just as much as you are looking for them - you will be fine. I kept trying not to cry and then I did one final scan of the crowd as the national anthem started and I saw him and ran across the beach to the fence - I had to talk to him one last time. He could see my distress and was starting to tear up - he grabbed my hands and said it's okay you are going to be okay you can do this. I looked at him and said I love you, wiped my tears and ran back - okay I can do this. Breathe.

The gun went off and I started out at the back walking till it was about at my waist and then I started to swim and it was okay - I felt calm and I just focused on the swim - the very LOONNNG swim all 3.89 km. It was fun to see the divers below and I did wave and I did not get clobbered or anything - mind you I did swim the first 500 metres off course but once I sorted out the right buoys to follow it was great. Swim time :1:52 and change. Swim - checkmark now for a lovely bike ride through the country....

Transition went quickly - so quickly that everyone missed me coming out - I had decided to swim in my shorts and sports bra - I had trained that way with no issues. So all I had to do was have my volunteer - talk about feeling catered to - help me put on my jersey , wipe my feet, pull on socks, shoes and helmet and such. I hugged my volunteer and headed out of the change tent. I would have been faster but I needed to use the bathroom again.

Bike - I was hoping to get off the bike in 7-7.5 hours. Coach Barb and I had chatted and both felt this was a reasonable expectation. I had set a plan to get to the special needs around 4 - 4.5 hours top end 5 hours - 120 km marker. The ride out to Osoyoos was nice but not a cloud in the sky so I knew it was going to be a warm one - ah it is the Okanagan - big shock (final temp 36). Barb had said to keep my heart rate around 73 - 78 to Macleans - the first major hill - and then spin up and take it to Steady State - 78-83 for the majority of the rest of ride. I got to Macleans and spun up the hill easily after I settled into the arrow bars for the ride to the base of Richter's - I was looking forward to it. It was pretty uneventful and I got to the base of Richters about 3 hours into the ride - right on schedule. Richter's/Cypress one in the same to me - and up up we go - easy peasy - one guy I passed was like don't you know you are riding Richter's - I was like Cypress once a week for the last 6 months. The next guy (yes I was passing boys like they were standing still) said someone who knows how to gear - the whole time I was watching my heartrate - careful - careful. Next up the rollers - WEEEEEEE! The best part of any uphill is downhill and again thanks to Coach Barb for showing me how to tuck and fly. Legs were feeling great and then the out and back from hell - literally - this was a bleak moment for me - I cursed under my breath and questioned the accuracy of measurements - I still question it - 20 km my ass - and then I was at special needs. Thanks to the amazing volunteers - they were so sweet and helpul. I grabbed my cold bottles of Electrolytes, fresh gels, my chips and a V8 juice. Drank my juice ate a handful of chips and we were off - time at Special needs 5 hours - darn it. Still lots of time - next up Yellow Lake.

So I came out of the out and back from hell and back on to the highway by the Bear at Kereomeos and saw the Shaunettes - boo ya! Just in the nick of time - what a pick me up! At this time the chips and V8 were trying to make a come back - oh no no no. Some deep breathing and plain water seemed to settle everyone down. The crew was doing rotating drive bys and it was awesome intermixed with the other crowd support- spectators are amazing. And then I was at Yellow Lake - right it is just a smaller version of Cypress - bring it - and away we go - I was at the top in no time - Joe was like you were looking super strong - he actually had a guy who had dropped out in the car that he was taking to the next aid station to meet an ambulance and even that fellow said that he had not seen anyone look that strong going up Yellow Lake and this was his 8th Ironman. Again Coach Barb's magic at work. Plus at the top it was all downhill home - WEEEEE! But surprise - at the top when I was SUPPOSED to have a fast easy ride back to town - finally I hit headwinds - and not a little headwind - I actually had to work - grrrrr - no fair - but this is Ironman and nothing is a given. So my easy coast into town was now a hot headwind battle to transition. Thankfully there were so many supportive spectators in cars. They were like look at her great smile - I had a smile/grimace for 16 hours+ - the entire time.

A quick check of my watch told me I would get in before cut off but the 7.5 hour was unlikely - shoot. As I got to the main drag I had had enough - my neck had been siezing for the last 30 km, my toes felt like they were on fire literally and I would have seriouly considered selling the bike for a case of beer and pitcher of margarita's plus there were these 2 guys who would pass me and then just sit there - it had been going on for the last 5 km or and was annoying me - so I thought screw this I am so over the bike ride and just yelled at them on your left, sucked up the pain got into the arrow bars and flew by then and down to transition. TOtal bike time 7:48:54 - not 7.5 but not 8 hours and in before cutoff - I'll take it.

Transition 2 was a treat because June Bug - one of the Shaunettes - was working and as I came in all I heard was this scream and June running to me for the biggest best hug ever. I will not lie at that moment I grabbed her and looked in the face and with my toes on fire and my neck throbbing said to her quite seriously - June this has to be the stupidest thing I have done - don't ever do this - promise me - she was like no worries - but you are so awesome. So a quick change of shorts, socks, shoes, running cap and fuel belt another hug and off for a wee run.

So I set out at a brisk walk because I was hurting but determined - after I made the first 2 turns I started to run - okay not so bad - I can handle this - as I am running down Lakeshore I suddenly can hear the Karen and my Guardian Angel - Judith yelling form their hotel balcony - just a short run now Shaun - you got it in the bag. You're right - I have got this. Then I got to the first aid station and thought Pepsi - I NEED PEPSI and grabbed a glass and started to walk uh oh calves started to sieze - okay walk for a bit. Then I see the Shaunettes - Yes - awesome - pick me up but not enough and all of the sudden Cindy - my other riding pal/guardian angel is beside me. She is officiating the race and says give me a hug you are doing great! We chat for a bit and she says don't worry your legs will ease up - just the words I need to hear - as she rides off I decide time to implement my 10 and 1's. So I do this and it is going great - at around 7 miles I come across Lana - one of Judith's friends and we walk/jog together until about 9 miles and then I hit another bleak moment where my legs are just too tight so Lana continues and I change to a brisk walk. I continue this until about 11 miles where I look at my watch and quickly realize that for the first time ever I will be taking over 5 hours to run a marathon - yeesh I am getting my money's worth for this race - that is for sure.

The crowds had thinned out now and we were handed our glow sticks. Then I come to the downhill to the turnaround at mile 13 and special needs - I thought it is now or never, time to dig - so I just started running - there was potato chips at the turnaround - if that can't make a girl run I don't what can. I passed Lana and a few other folks and just motored right to special needs. I got to my chips and the Tylenol - popped the tylenol and opened my chips and went to my happy place - ketchup chips YUM. I ate about half the bag and tossed the rest - right lets get this thing done.

By now it was dark and then as I came around the corner cowbells and the Ironman song greeted me - the SHAUNETTES were in the house! "Ironman, Ironman Shaun is going to be an Ironman - she will swim, she will ride, she run day and night LOOK OUT Shaun's going to Ironman (sung to the Spiderman song)." It was awesome - so I started running, new strategy I would run from mile marker to next aid station and then walk aid staion to next mile marker which was about 100 - 200 meters after the aid station. The Shaunettes would drive past yelling, cowbells and cheering for everyone and then park up the road and crank the tunes- they were loved by all - plus I totally appreciated the updates on phone calls they were receiving from family and virtual shaunettes.

It was not easy the calves were seizing something fierce but I just kept saying in my head - Pain is Temporary - Pride is forever over and over. Joe was like you kept getting faster and it was pretty much uphill most of the way back - they don't call me the hill nazi for nothing. I just wanted to finish this thing and I thought shoot for under 16 hours. The plan was working until around 23 miles - then my legs really started to get upset with me - Pain is Temporary - Pride is Forever. Mile 24 came up and my left leg did a nifty little mini buckle thingy. WHOAA - right okay speed walk it is - I can not go down now. So then I started power walking as fast as I could - 2 miles - only 2 miles. And then I went wait in 2 miles my adventure will be over - the thing that has defined me for the last year will be over - but wait that means I can go on a new adventure - MOVE IT! I came around the corner to Lakeshore and went run - this is your moment - time to suck it up princess - (legs please hold up) - and I saw the Shaunettes - boo ya - ok lets rock it.

Around the corner and oh it is my Guardian Angel Judith - yeah! and down to the end and there are Karen and Cindy - awesome! and what is that in the background YMCA - one of FAVORITE SONGS - WEEEEEEEE! So I picked up the pace - only 1/2 a km now and then there was Judith and it was poetically the best time to see her because she has been my guardian angel from the moment I met her on my first bike ride with Coach Barb and total believer that I could do this. I could not think of a better person to run the last 300 metres to the bright lights with than her. And then it was my time - Shaunettes were there, the lights were bright and stands were full and cheering - OMG - Amazing!!! I crossed the finish line arms raised and had one last surprise JOE was there to hand me my medal and hug - the perfect ending to my amazing adventure. 16:21:33 I am an Ironman. I will do another post with the rest of my thoughts - but suffice it to say - it was everything I hoped for and was promised and now that the pain has subsided it was not the "stupidest" thing I have done and YES I will be doing another - because really "HOW BAD CAN IT BE!" I need to do sub-15 hours.

Peace out


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

not much left to say

this will be my last post before the race and in the end there is not much left to say.

I have been a little paniced because yesterday I woke up and my neck was siezed and I could not turn it at all. It it is still pretty sore but I went to the doctor and had some xrays done and he says it is just a stiff neck so I am on some anti-inflammatories and no exercise for the next few days. In the end it is probably god's way of ensuring I am rested up.

Today I was walking the dog and we were in the trails by my house and there was a bench and a really beautiful song on my IPOD and I decided to stop and sit down and just think about next Sunday and it was surreal I just felt this inner peace and calm and I just knew I am going to be okay - that I was being watched over and to not worry I would be okay.

Coach Barb also called and we talked and she said it is stress and I need to remember that this is just really another day - that it is nothing new for me that I have been doing this for the last 6 months and she is right. It is what I tell my runners - listen it is just another Sunday run with a whole bunch more people - so just treat it that way. What a great coach - no wonder I like and trust her so much.

So next time I post I WILL BE an Ironman finisher and don't worry I will make sure to tell you every detail of the adventure.

Thanks for all your encouragement, thoughts and prayers they mean the world to me.

Peace out


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

114 Miles of hope 26 miles of truth.

Marathon runners have a saying – 20 miles of hope – 6 miles of truth. The 6 miles (32 km mark) where you find out what you are made of. Where physically – if you have trained properly and hard – your body can do it – your mind will try to tell your body it can’t and thus 6 miles of truth. You find out who you are and what you are capable of.

If I extrapolate that to the Ironman I guess it will be 114 miles of hope with 26 miles of truth – aka the marathon. Am I ready – I believe so – and that is the most important part – I believe I am – Actually I know I am.

The only thing left that I can do is continue to work on my mental game – the last piece of the puzzle and likely the most important. So to that end – at the end of each day starting last week and continuing up to race day – I have been taking time to sit or lie in a quiet place and envision myself on race day from waking up and getting dressed to starting the swim. I visualize each part of the course (or imagine what it will be like for the sections I have not been on) and think about how I want to feel and what I want to do. Yep I even imagine the pain and the bleak moments that are sure to come and how I will work through them. Right up to the finish and my crossing with my arms held high! Always finish with that and I even see the clock in the background but I can’t share that with you because I always envision my whisper time. I will say this my goal is to finish upright and smiling in under 17 hours – realistically I believe 15 - 15.5 hours is likely but I will push for Whisper time because that is who I am.

I find myself getting a little emotional – 3 years ago when I off the cuff said I could do Ironman it was just a thought and not really something I meant but someone said – It would be really hard – they did not say I could not do it but that is what they meant – which again for those that know me – is the surest way to get my goat and ensure that I will do it. I hate being told I can’t do or have something – just ask my Mom. Even then I was only toying with the idea but the more I thought about it the more I thought why not – How Bad Can It Be? And more and more it became a goal and dream. I am always asked why? – I don’t really know why – I do know that since Granddad and Papa (my dad) passed away on the same day 4 years ago I have consistently reached outside my comfort zone and done stuff I never would have done before. I guess losing Grandpa in the morning – he was 94 and it was expected and then suddenly losing my dad that evening unexpectedly made me realize that life was too short so what was I waiting for?

Last October 4 – I really thought the dream had ended when I was rear-ended on my brand new bike. I remember lying in emergency waiting for a CT to see if I had broken my back and starting to cry – from the pain a bit, but mostly because I was afraid the dream was over. However I am pretty stubborn and have surrounded myself with some of the best health care professionals and coaches in BC who agreed to help me rehab and train to get to race day.

I also am super lucky to have met and made some truly great friends over the years from the Shaunettes and my family mumsy you rock it out) – who I adore and have supported and believed in me unfailingly over the last 3 years to the lovely green goddesses - my riding buddies - who have selflessly taken me under their wings this past year and shared all the ins and outs of Ironman with me. And of course the love-of-my-life Joe who has supported me and been patient through all the workouts, medical appointments, early morning races, canceled social appointments and such. Who I am sure has felt like he pretty much lives alone for the past 10 months while I have pursued my goal. To my sponsors and teammates – Nathan Team Canada – all very inspiring athletes – it still amazes me that I am a member of such a select group. Every single one of these people have helped me get to the start line.

Only 11 more sleeps till the gun goes off – Am I ready – without a doubt! Bring it! Because really HOW BAD CAN IT BE!
Peace out

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lucky number....

Bib number #2482 - wow it is really going to happen! Gulp

Only 12 more sleeps....


Thursday, August 13, 2009

This better be allergies…

The past few days I have not been feeling fantabulous – a little achy, small headache and scratchy throat. I however, as I get older, have developed more and more allergies so it can be hard to tell if it is due to those or not. Plus I do take public transit a lot - always a crapshoot since there are some folks out there that never learned to cover their nose/mouth and insist on gaacking over everyone!

I have decided it is allergies but just to be safe I am dosing up on Cold FX and drinking water with lemon. Only 17 days to go – I do not have time for a cold.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Time Trials- I really like them – Squirrels not so much

For the third time this year Coach has had me register for a Time Trial race. It is a little intimidating to show up to these races where the riders are obviously hard core roadies. From their fancy tires to their army ant space helmets. There are very few women that are there and the ones that are there you can tell they were born mounted to a bike.

For those that have never ridden a time trial it is basically an individual race – you against the clock on a set course. You ride in time trial bars or for us Triathletes our tri bars which automatically outs you as a newbie and a dreaded triathlete. Fortunately our coach(s) are 2 of the most respected road racers in BC and so we are tolerated.

This race was 40km out in Squamish and it was the first time I have started on a ramp inside a trailer. I was more than a little anxious and freaked. To start in a time trial – someone holds your back tire/seat and you clip in. They count you down and release on 0 and you pedal or fall over. My first time trial I would not let them do it. My second one coach practiced with me and I did it on a flat road and it did help. Third time in the trailer I almost bit it coming out but fortunately recovered at the last second.

Coach says the trick to time trialing is to not go out too hard too soon. There were a bunch of other tips she had on gearing, staying in the bars, and such. Me being me cut to the chase gal -said so cole’s notes version – ride hard try to catch Cindy – teammate starting in front of me and stay in front of Karen and Judith – teammates starting after me! She rolled her eyes and said that is what you got from all that?!?!

I rode hard kept allowing my heart rate to incrementally climb through out the race, cadence high, stayed in the big ring and actually stayed in my Tri bars the whole time – my main goal was to see if I could catch Cindy and to stay ahead of Karen for as long as possible.

Karen is an incredibly gifted triathlete who pretty much ALWAYS wins her age group and well rides the rest of us into the ground - she is also in her 20’s but I guess after Lance’s performance can’t pull the age card anymore. But I digress so I just kept riding and every time someone zipped by me I kept expecting it to be Karen but nope just roadies in their army ant helmets. I got to the turnaround and Cindy was still quite a bit ahead of me – she had actually started about 7 minutes ahead so to catch her I was going to have to work hard and she was going to have to have a bad day – so far it did not look like I was going to catch her but hey Karen had still not caught me. Then I saw Karen and crap she was only about 300 metres behind me. Ah well I decided if she was going to catch me she was going to have to work for it! I dug in and started working harder and again everytime someone passed me I fully expected it to be Karen – but no – just army ants and then with about 5 km or so Karen was there – I said to her about time and she said I KNOW. Here is where it got weird I fully expected her to be off but I was keeping up. She maybe got 500 metres in front at most and I would start to reel her back in and then she would pull ahead – I am not even sure she was aware of this happening and then with about a km or so to go I decided to go for it and reached down for the last bit – and passed her and thought to myself YES – and then I really dug in – I could see the shock on her face when I passed her again! And I won’t lie – I had a teensy tiny moment of gloating but then remembered I was in a race so I just kept hammering because no way in heck was she crossing before me or catching me again. She might beat me time wise but I was going to finish first and I did! No I did not catch Cindy either but it felt great when Karen rode up beside me and said nice catch – honestly what a compliment! So final time 1:08:04 for 40km. Cindy finished 1:07:04 - shoot only a minute ahead. And yes Karen did beat me time wise by 4 minutes but I did not give it to her – I made her earn it!

I am honestly hooked by the Time Trial bug and really would like to look into doing more next year. I did place 2nd in my age group – hold on though – there was only 2 of us in it – and the other lady was ex-pro! Still better than a kick in the pants!

No I have not forgotten the squirrel comment – I don’t actually dislike squirrels but I am beginning to wonder if in a past life I was unkind to squirrels because seriously it feels like they are out to get me! I have rolled ankles more than a couple of times trying to avoid a bloody squirrel – usually just before races. Yesterday I was riding back from my volunteer stint at the Seymour Mountain challenge and coming back over the 2nd Narrows Bridge as I am coming off the bridge on the steep NARROW slope with Highway 1 on my Left and steep slope on my right there is a cute little black squirrel on the path up ahead. I am going a good clip and I have another rider right behind me. The squirrel is not moving – and I am getting antsy so I yell at the squirrel and the bloody thing starts to get out of the way and then stops - OMG – at the last second he darts to the left - I just about had a total coronary. The adrenaline rush was massive - at the bottom of the hill I stopped just to get my heart rate back down and stop shaking. The rider behind me was like holy crap – good thing for skinny tires because he jumped back at your rear tire – WHAT!!! Thankfully I was oblivious to THAT. He was like I thought you were going down for sure and I was looking for a way to not crash on top of you. Seriously – whatever I did to you in the past I am very sorry! Please just stop trying to maim me. Either way I figure it can’t hurt to bribe the ones in my yard with some nuts – maybe word will get out that I am okay and they will take me off the hit list.
20 days….

Monday, August 3, 2009

Taper time....

27 days and counting - the panic attacks are starting to come and i am sure they will increase in number and intensity s ground zero approaches. Mostly I am just doing what I have been doing for the past 8 months - taking it one day - one workout at a time. It seems to have worked so far so why change it. I have officially moved into the bubble - will explain more later...

Mostly I am focusing on the positive thoughts and visualization. I honestly believe that I have done everything I can in preparation. Am I ready? I believe so. My longest ride was this past Sunday - just shy of 6 hours. I headed out from home early so I could go out to Iona and ride the headwinds before meeting coach and the group for our speed/interval workout. The interval workout was great - my legs were burning and coach pushed me harder than ever - we did 30 sec, 30 sec, 1 min, 1min, 2/2, 3/3, 4,4 and back down same intervals. Brutal but necessary. As coach said to ride fast you need to ride fast - same thing I tell my clinic members - to run fast you have to practice running fast - aka SPEED WORK. We then stopped for coffee/snack and they went home and I set off for the final 2.5 hours of my workout. I decided I would ride UBC down to the base of West 4th and back along Spanish banks back up UBC hill and back to Marine and Cypress and then back home to Burnaby. The ride was hard, I tweaked my hip on Friday night and so it has been throbbing but then I thought about a talk I had heard and the speaker had said there will be dark times the trick to remember is that they will pass - it worked and then I was riding up UBC hill - I decided to visualize Yellow Lake in my mind and then about half way I realized - wow high cadence, heart rate under control, breathing good and feeling pretty good YES! Plus I passed people and I had been out just under 4 hours at this time so I was very happy.

The rest of the ride went well got home and went out for a 15 minute run. I am not going to lie I did an internal battle for the last 15 min of the ride about whether to run or not but in the end it came down to this it is IRONMAN and if you can't do 15 min how do you expect to do 5 hours!?!?! Run went well but hip was some angry with me thank god for physio.

Next weekend should be the last race before the big show - one last time trial - this one 40 km. Coach likes time trials because she says it is all about form and there is no BS it is just you and the bike nothing to hide behind kind of like Ironman. She says that it is all you and how you use your bike - don't go out too fast, accelerate throughout the ride, think about the course, remember form, form, form just like Ironman - poor form and you will hurt more than you need to - go out to fast and you will not have what you need for the end or the run and you can't hide - it is just you - no drafting, no group riding just you and form, form, form. I will shoot for an hour - 15 minutes - but that will be dependent on the weather and the course overall.

So the bubble you ask - I have some would call a history - through no fault of my own - I MIGHT ADD - of having incidents happen to me just before races - usually I still get to race day but it would just be easier to not have to go through it. There was the Squirrel/pinecone incident- where I sprained my ankle seven days out from the Kelowna half, the Intestinal virus again one week out - liquid diet up to race day, the derailer blow out incident, the faulty quick release incident, with the most serious being the bike versus car incident last fall one week before the Kelowna full. The basic rules of the bubble if you think it is a bad idea then stop and don't do it that means no crazy trail runs, white water rafting, zip treking, yada , yada. PRetty much work, workout, eat and sleep - not much different from the previous 9 months....

Oh and before I forget here is a shout-out for Special K - who not only broke 2:15 but busted through my prediction that she would do a sub-2:10 half marathon - she did 2:02 - that's right - girlfriend owned it just like I knew she would - super proud!

Peace out Shaun

Monday, July 27, 2009

Yes I am still alive.

Wow it has been a while since I have posted ! Too busy training and such.
Since the last time I posted I have been carefully playing with my nutrition/electrolyte needs to get it right for race day. Mixed results but I think I have got it figured out, more on that later.

Did 2 races during the last 2 weeks : the 3km Kits Swim Challenge and Escape Velocity’s WarpSpeed Time Trial. So it has been busy.

The Swim went well – at least from my perspective – I was calm , I finished and it was in about the time I thought I would do – I would prefer a little faster but it is what it is and I feel confident that I will finish the Ironman swim. I am hoping for 1 hour 40 min but in the end the goal is to finish it and get to the bike before cut-off which I now know I will do. I did the swim in 1 hour 31 min for 3 km in very choppy water! I felt like I was in a washing machine but when I came out I was not exhausted and more importantly I did not panic or freak out at the start or whenever anyone came up to me – I was “Bamboo”.

– Funny aside - I just finished my OWS course on Thursday and at our wrap up dinner a couple of other ladies in the course were talking and I said they should register for the 750m race and use it as a training swim. The amazing Diane hemmed and hawed and I cajoled her into registering with the famous “Really, HOW BAD CAN IT BE?” line. So fast forward to Saturday morning and I am standing with there with Special K who has come to cheer and Diane wanders up and says I can’t believe I am doing this – look what happens over a beer? Shaun talked me into this! Special K was like – this is nothing – do you know the crazy things this woman has talked me into over a beer or breakfast? Stormy, Marathons, H2H! It is a slippery slope sister! I started laughing – Who ME???? – I guess you had to be there and know the history – it is kinda true. Anyone want to for a beer...

Next up was the Escape Velocity Time Trial – coach wanted us to do a 20km Time Trial in Abbotsford and then I was to bike home from Abbotsford to Burnaby to get another 4 hours in. We got there early and signed in I chose the 10:17am start time because I wanted to get done and on the road back home – it was going to be a long day as it was. I did my 30+ min warm-up and rode up to the start line 5 min prior but some error they did not have me down on the list – when I tried to talk to them they would not listen – the list showed the time and it was fairly obvious that they forgot to put my name in. Anyways after some negotiating they re-slotted me in at 10:33 – warm-up now wasted but better than their suggested 11:00 time that I refused. Apparently anger fuels me because my time was 36:30 (my watch still waiting for their results) which I am very pleased with as I wanted under 40 min. I then grabbed all my stuff from the back of my friends car and put it back on my bike – fluids, food, and such (forgot my tool kit thankfully I did not flat on the ride!). Went to the bathroom, grabbed a banana and headed off on my Fraser Valley adventure! Snap Crackle Pop it was a HOT day – but my legs felt fine and I did not get a headache or anything from the heat – one problem was my neck and shoulders were cramping up something fierce – need to get my handle bars looked at.

For fuel I had 5 bottles of Electrolytes, 2 gels, a banana and a peanut butter sandwich – I felt good just HOT - no leg cramping. I think I might be better to eat a few more gels and I could have eaten my apple I brought but my metabolism is ridiculously slow so I believe for me it is more important to make sure I get in the electrolytes/liquids since I sweat a ridiculous amount. I did try to add some Natural liquid minerals in my bottles during the past week but I don’t like the taste and that means I won’t drink them which defeats the purpose.

I will continue to fine tune/tweak this since I know it is essential I stay hydrated. The one bonus with the heat wave is that I am getting used to riding/running in the heat. Only 35 more days to go – gosh it is coming up fast!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Headwind – Oh how I love you!

Yes you read the title right but more on that later.

This weekend I went up for a whirlwind trip to the interior – drove up Friday night, fell into bed at mom’s house and was out the door by 6:30am Saturday.

Got to Penticton and was in the water by 7:30”ish”. While donning my wetsuit I was talking to some other ladies that were heading out on their bikes and asked distance and they said just under 2000 metres to the boat and back. The water was gorgeous, felt like a warm bath. Mind you compared to the last 2 weeks of swimming in the Pacific anything feels warm! I did the loop twice practicing all the things Peter and Trevor my OW coaches have been working on with me. I was thoroughly calm, felt relaxed. I loved my “bouy” while sighting and really enjoyed watching the fish swim below me. I thought that was neat. Total distance I am going to say 3200/3300 metres and time was and hour and 21 minutes so I am tickled by that. Will do a few more long swims but it felt good to know I can swim over 3km comfortably.

Next up the bike – main goal was to take a look at Yellow Lake how I was going to get there was the question. Coach wanted me out for 5 hours. Originally I thought I would park at the bear in Keremeos and ride the into town to the finish and then back out to Keremeos but Judith mentioned that I might not “be pleased” with the ride back. So coach then suggested riding up toward Apex along Green Mountain which would throw me out at the base of Yellow Lake and I could ride up and cut in at Twin Lakes and head back to Penticton via OK falls. After talking with my new friends and them learning I was by myself they indicated that Green Mountain road may not be the best route for a few reasons – roaming dogs, no cell coverage, etc, etc. I was not convinced but while trying to find Channel Parkway and getting turned around I made my decision – I know how to ride the front part of the course and shoot if I am getting lost when I kind of know where I am not the best idea to ride somewhere I have never been before with no cell coverage. See I can make smart decisions!
So once I found the Channel Parkway I headed out along the east side of Skaha to Maclean road, Maclean road into OK falls where I stopped and confirmed how to get to White Lake road. So I headed out to White Lake along HWY 97 which by the way is a nice long climb to the turn off, but what are you going to do. I then made the turn on to White Lake Road – hmmmm more climb, and more climb and more climb well it is all good. It was starting to warm up nicely now and by warm – I could feel sweat dripping from my underarms on to my legs which let me know that I had chaffed my underarms during the swim. EXCELLENT! I was through most of the Aerobar bottle and moved to - my first frozen bottle hoping that it had melted a bit by now. No need to worry – it was barely cold! For the next hour or so I rode through the back area of White Lake and Twin Lakes in dead air and increasing heat on a pretty much continuous climb with far too short mini dips but the country is beautiful. I was never so happy to see the junction to HWY 3 as I knew I would get a downhill which would create a breeze while I rode down to the base of Yellow Lake. At rest stop at Yellow Lake I had been out for about 3 hours so I stopped and ate my PB sandwich and finished off my warm liquids. I then zipped down to the base to the intersection Coach originally had me coming out on and turned around to head back up. Again not to be too tongue in cheek but Yellow Lake is not so bad in no time I was at the top and pulling into the store to refill all the bottles with COLD beverages. Then it was back on the road into town. The heat was relentless – I believe they said it was 32 – it felt hotter. Anyways this is when ran into the Headwind and it was instant love. It was the most amazing breeze I have ever felt . If for nothing else then it moved the air around. The trip back into town was good except by now my legs were beginning to cramp up and my hip was some angry with me for this adventure! I was back at the car in no time where I tossed the bike in the car, pulled of the shoes and literally ran into the lake and sat down! AHHHHHHH much better.

So I have to look into where one buys Salt tabs because obviously 4 bottles of electrolytes does not have enough salt in it for this little sweat hound! Total time on the bike just under 4 hours 45 min. A little slower than I would have liked but overall not too bad. Some things to consider I had not slept well at all for the last 3 days. My leg/hip have been bothering me quite a bit for the last 2 weeks. Finally was able to get into Massage TX who said geez your muscles are like wood! It was the most painful 90 minutes but today it feels much better.
So I have pretty much rode the course now to just put it all together on race day. Only 48 more sleeps!!!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Eternal hope and god speed for your journey.

This is probably going to be a bit of a rambler as I have been pondering this for a few days and I guess my initial shock has dulled.

A beutiful and talented lady that I had the distinct pleasure of coaching through her first 2 half marathons and someone I consider a friend if only in the Sunday run/facebook sense of the word has been diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. She is 29 years old.

I had the pleasure of watching her mature and evolve as a runner. It was wonderful to watch her complete her first full marathon this spring under the careful guidance of my close friends June and Cory who coach the Full Marathon clinic. I was so proud of her.

She recently got married but her facebook updates over the last couple of weeks gave me pause and while she never directly said it I had a sinking feeling that she was about to begin a new journey. I sent her a note this week and she confirmed my suspicions of breast cancer.

In my past career I worked with Cancer patients at a clinic that did PET scans so I am well versed in the language of cancer. It was a job that I was very passionate about and was devastated the day we closed the clinic so much so that I have taken a LOA until they open the clinic again.

The thing I learned in that job was eternal hope and strength. I met some of the most beautiful and amazing people. The inspired me and made me thankful and grateful for all the gifts I have and to not take for granted a single second - live every moment.

I told my friend that she was about to begin a journey and that while it was not clear now it would be eventually be made clear why she was chosen. I explained that there were so many advances and survival rates were very high and was pleased to learn that she had, in my mind, the best oncologist in the province on her side.

Finally I told her to try and stay optimistic, to call or email me if she needed anything or just a shoulder to lean on, and lastly to plan her comeback use it to keep her focused and motivated because I had every intention of running the Vancouver International Marathon with her next year if she would slow down enough so I could keep up!

God speed to you "K", thank you for sharing with me and know that you are in my prayers.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Zen in the water

Tuesday night I had my first open water session of my 4 week course with Peter Scott - AKA Seahiker.

He comes highly recommended by Judith and Cindy and well I need to get a handle on the panic attacks I have in open-water.

I will be honest I was a little skeptical during the first session - they had us lie back and float to prove we could not sink. Then they had us lie face first - again can't sink then they had us dive down to the bottom - see you pop back up. Okay get it.

He also showed us relaxation techniques - let your neck completely rest in the water so you are not using energy for that and drag your hands so you get a feel for the water. Got it.

Yesterday I did the Sasmat Canada Day swim - I was in the 2km swim. It was a success in that I felt completely calm at the start and throughout the race - I thought about all the things he said - relaxing the neck, dragging the fingers, feeling the water. Check, check and check! Time not so good 54 minutes - my slowest time yet so a little bummed but as coach said you were not last, you did not panic and you came out of the water not exhausted. Still 54 minutes - I am hoping to do the Ironman in 1 hour 40 minutes - so I need to get faster to.

Next week we work on stroke technique and rate - I am crossing fingers that I will get back my 4 minutes but in the end Ironman is 3 events and not 1 so as long as I get out of the water before cut-off which I do not see as being a concern it is all good. Coach says the swim is a warm-up for the bike and thus should be treated that way.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Bringing up the rear

Yesterday was the annual Cypress Mountain Hill Climb race.

The whole club was supposed to ride it but the green goddesses had to cancel due to work and other life commitments so that left the Amazing Miss M and me to represent the recreational womens "tri" section of the group. Miss M is faster than I am - she is actually where I was last year before the accident so I had a pretty good feeling I would be bringing up the rear.

Coach and me talked briefly and she said just go hard and treat it like a training ride so that is what I did. They started the Cat 3 and 4 women with the Masters I was able to hang on to the group for about 300 metres (LOL) and then they dropped me like a bad habit. I was able to see Melinda until we reached the first look out about 5.5 km up and then I lost sight of her as well.

My total time up was an hour and 4 minutes to get up 10 minutes or so to get down. You would think I would feel pretty bummed about this but honestly I don't. Over the past 9 years or so I have learned to just go with it - now if I could apply that to the rest of my life, but I digress. I always think back to where I started and where I am and where I can go and I try to focus on the where I am going. The point is I finished and I did not quit. The total climb is 12km - Richters pass is 7 km, this was my 3rd time ever doing that climb. I had run 2 hours 15 min the day before and then ran around an amusement park for 8 hours so overall I am okay with the result.

I remember the first 1/2 marathon I ever ran I was so far at the back of the pack that I did the majority of the training completely on my own because I would get dropped so quickly - I finished my first half in 2:36 and some change. Prior to the accident I could comfortably run a 2 hour half marathon. When I went to train for my second full again I was dropped very quickly by the group and did all the runs on my own - 4 hours on the trails by yourself you solve a lot of the world's problems, it ended up I did not get to run that full because of a late injury 4 weeks out but it showed me that I could do the runs on my own and allowed me to have the confidence to actually be a pace leader for the next group and do a 4:33 marathon - taking 20+ minutes of my previous. So riding up a mountain against some of the best women riders in the province and even the country/world I am okay with my performance because it means I have lots of room for improvement and I can learn. Plus it was awesome to see Club Zimich rock it and pretty much podium if not win each division.

This week I start an 4 week clinic with a new swim coach that specializes in open water and triathlons - everyone I spoke to speaks highly of him so I am excited to learn how to be calm and efficient in open water. Oh and Wednesday is the 2km Canada Swim race at Sasamat lake. Should be good - hopefully I will get enough tips at Tuesday's class to help me on Wednesday but again in the end it is a training session and I need to remember that.

Peace out Shaun

Friday, June 26, 2009

What do I want to be when I grow up?

I work in administration but I am a trained nuclear med tech who has not actually done that for over 16 years. I enjoyed the Nuclear medicine but being a casual on-call did not pay the bills or put food on the table so I went into office administration.

However over the past 2 years I have come to realize I don't want to do that anymore- well that is not completely true - I like some parts of it but other parts I don't.

Currently where I work is OK - I made a major change 7 months ago mostly for $$ reasons and am regretting that decision more and more. There were other reasons but the main reason was $$ and I knew they could not pay me more where I was. I loved the people and the actual work gave me purpose this position not so much. Plus I work with someone who is a lot like me and it has been a little eye-opening and unsettling. This person is great at their job, efficient, accurate, focused but they are also abrupt, intense and impatient - it is like walking on egg shells around them - it makes for a very uncomfortable work environment most days. I now realize how hard it must have been at times to work with me when I was in the "zone". I never meant to be abrupt or impatient but I now see that it comes across that way and I apologize to all my former co-workers - thank you for not stapling my hand to the desk - I now see the light and will change my ways.

But back to what do I want to be when I grow up???? I don't know - I try to think about what I love and what makes me feel happy and it is when I am training or leading or coaching - I love that and have fun at it. So I guess what I need to do is win the Lotto so I can retire and I can take some courses to be a tri-coach (for beginners) and go from there.

This weekend is the Cypress Hill Climb - Coach has all registered in it - should be good. The climb is just under 13km from start to finish - the Green Goddesses and I are meeting at Park Royal to ride up to the Start line as a warm-up - it is steeper than the actual climb. Hoping for nothing but sun and warm temps.

Will report on Monday how it went.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Juggling all the balls

Well I got through the weekend none the worse for it and only missed one workout so feeling pretty good about that.

Friday I had to be up and at the hotel to set up for an all day section by 6:45am so I did not get commute to and from workout on the bike in. I was able to get my endurance swim in before I headed off to the stadium to help set up the Kids Zone tent for the next morning at the 24 Hour Relay of the Kids. Pretty sure I must have counted laps wrong because I did 2500 m (or so I thought) and when I hit my timer at the end it read just under 51 minutes?!?! does not seem right but hey maybe a miracle did happen and suddenly became faster. One can certainly hope so!

Saturday I had to get a 2 hour run in so I got up at 6 had a bite to eat loaded shower stuff and clothes for the day in the car for Joe to take to the stadium and ran down to the Stadium from the house. The run felt good and leg only started to ache around 1.5 hours and then I started to struggle with the pace a bit.

The relay was fun - it was a different experience for me as in previous years I have been very involved in preparation from January onwards and weekend of I have moved into the stadium Saturday morning 6:30am and left the Sunday at around 11am. The Society decided some changes were needed and part of that was to have me help with kids Zone instead of running the Volunteer operation as in previous years. I have to admit I have struggled with this decision and have found it hard at times to not take it personally as I had poored my heart and soul into this and other events for the past 8 years on planning committee and previously as a team member and captain. This year I basically arrived to help set up the zone Friday eve and then helped in the Kids Zone from 10am - 7pm, we tore it down and then I got to hang out for a while. I got to have a tour of the campsites - first time in 9 years and meet some of the teams and got to participate in the half time show - (did that once before but left immediately after song was over to get back to my duties at the Volunteer tent). So really enjoyed that aspect of it - face painting was a lot of fun and helping with crafts but it was very weird to leave Saturday night and sleep in my own bed for the first time in 13 years and then not to be there for the closing ceremony or final total Sunday morning - I still don't know what the total raised was - it just feels odd. However times and priorities change - everything happens for a reason and really I have not had the time this year with all the training so intellectually I know it is for the best but I can't help but feel a little sad.

However I was able to get a great ride in on Sunday morning out to Lions Bay and back. I was a little concerned because I was on my feet most of Saturday and well I had a few wobbly pops at the relay after our shift ended so I knew I was not doing myself any favours for the ride and was relieved that overall I held my own but I am back on the wagon till after Ironman now.

Coach told us all yesterday after the ride that she wants us to register for the Cypress Hill Climb Race this Sunday! Should be interesting.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009


While I am now a sponsored athlete - YEAH TEAM NATHAN - I am not able to retire from my full-time day job just yet...

When I signed up for Ironman I went in with my eyes wide open about the time commitment that would be required and that I would have to learn to compromise - not one of my strongest suits at the best of times.

I am a by-the-book kind of gal - if coach says ride for 3 hours and gives me zones I will do that workout as precise to time and zones as possible and I hate having to adjust or change anything but I am learning because more importantly I need to get the workouts in.

The next 2 weeks are going to test me to my limits as we have family coming from overseas tomorrow and I have a long standing charity event that I have volunteered at for over 10 years this weekend. My brain almost friztes out when I try to figure out how I am going to do the workouts, play hostess, go to work and do the charity event. Something is going to implode - I am just not sure what.

In my first act of compromise instead of doing the weekly ride up the mountain (which I have not done for the past 2 weeks...) I said I would move my bike ride to today so that I could go to the airport and meet them - see compromise. I forgot my shoes today so now I must compromise again and will now go home get my shoes and ride the "hill" mountain by my house - argggghhhhh. That is 3 of no Cypress - panic starts to build.

Hubby was saying something about Thursday evening and family but I have a brick on Thursday to do.... I suppose I could get up at 4:30am to do the workout and then go to work. Again compromise. Friday I have to attend a BBQ function which I am seriously considering bailing on so I don't miss my swim workout.... I suppose I could get up early again but I may have to be at work for 6:30am - don't know yet.

For the weekend I will run down to the 24 Hour Relay event site on Saturday to get my run in and I have scaled back my participation for the weekend. In previous years I arrived at 6:30am Saturday and stayed right through until Sunday at 10:30am with NO SLEEP. This year I feel a bit guilty in that I have done none of my usual pre-event stuff and will basically be showing up the morning of and leaving Saturday evening around 8pm to sleep in my bed. I also have no plans to be at the stadium on Sunday at all - it will be weird I am always there for the closing ceremones but I will be doing my long ride with the group.

I have taken a stand in some ways - I have told hubby I will not go camping or out of town unless he buys a bike rack for the car. I will not miss my long rides and we can not fit gear, 4 adults and a dog as well as my bike in the car.

My eye is starting to twitch when I think about all the hoop jumping I am going to have to do for the next 2 weeks. But I am determined to not miss a single workout - somehow someway I will get them in. And well if push comes to shove the hostess duties will suffer - sorry peeps it is Ironman and everyone knew I had registered for it in September.... I guess I still need to work on the compromise thing...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Staring my nemesis in the face

After the weekend and a volley of email exchanges between coach and myself we have agreed that I need to become more comfortable in open water race situations. So to that end I have registered for 2 open water races and 2km, July 1st and a 3km on July 25th.

Just thinking about them causes my anxiety level to rise which is silly because I know how to swim and am perfectly fine in a pool so I am frustrated that I get so nervous in open water tri races. If I am just swimming in the lake or ocean I seem fine just seems race situations I get freaked. I don't know if it is not being able to see the bottom, or the thrashing of the group around me or what.

I swam in lakes and rivers all my childhood - you could not get us out of the lake as soon as we were given the all clear by my grandparents, me and my sister were down and jumping off the dock and playing in the lake until we were called for lunch. Once we got the all clear after lunch we were back in the water and sometimes if it was a special day and we had been exceptionally well behaved we were even allowed to have a short evening swim. Those days were the best. So it seems ridiculous that I get so anxious in a tri setting.

The one thing I take away is that once I calm down and the crowd thins I seem to find my rhythm and am good to go but it would sure be great if I did not have to waste 5 minutes going through the panic attack. Hopefully doing these races will allow me to create a feeling of calm and confidence.

Keep your fingers crossed.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Holy Head winds Bat Man!

I wish I could say I crushed the Boy and PB'd Oliver this weekend but it was just not to be. Last year 6:46:31, this year 7:05 on the nose. Now for the post race analysis – Coles notes version – HOLY HEADWINDS BATMAN!!!

Swim - last year 51:13 this year 54:13 which now when I look at it I feel better - I had a panic attack. I thought I had started at the back like last year but after 10 or 15 women swam over me it became apparent I had not. This caused me to panic a bit nothing like having your entire body and head shoved under water again and again - I have never been through it - heard stories - and I can confirm I do not like that! So I flipped on my back for a couple of minutes to calm myself down. Once my breathing slowed to normal again I flipped over and made it my mission to spot a yellow cap and pass it. I take from this that if I had not had my moment I would have actually been faster – so something to work on for Ironman.

T1- I wanted to improve on this because last year was 7:45 but did not know if I could since this year we had a 700m run from the lake to the bikes. Last year I had to go maybe 50metres. I did improve though T1 – 5:58 overall I was on the bike this year in 60:10 last year 59:01 so the panic attack did not set me back to far.

Bike – the first lap was great it was warm but not too bad and there was a small breeze to keep you cool. I was relieved because the day before the wind was insane. I kept my cadence high and my heart rate in the Steady State as coach and I discussed– I passed a lot of people and did the first loop in about an hour and 28min – great on target. Then I made the turn for the second loop and holy headwinds batman. What the …. It was brutal but I was like what are you going to do? – suck it up princess and ride. I thought I was doing okay I kept passing people and I felt good my average kph dropped a bit but to be expected. I maintained heart rate and kept doing system checks everything seemed in order. On portions where there wind was at my back – few and far between – I would take advantage of it. With about 20 km my leg started to ache but I just kept muttering not today, not today. I tell you I was very relieved to get off the bike just to take the pressure of my leg for bit. Last Year – 3:13:56, 28.8 kph average speed. This year 3:24:34, 27.3 kph average speed. So I lost 10 minutes here. I did not know this at the time.

T2 – Again wanted to improve on last year’s 5:08 which I did with 2:34.

Run – this is where I let my head mess with me a bit. My legs actually felt pretty good especially after the ride it was great to take the pressure off my right hip/leg. But I looked down as I headed out and saw 4:28 or something like that on my watch – quick math meant to do 6:30 I would need to do a 2 hour half…. It was hot but the headwind helped a bit – I was feeling okay and then nature called – insistently so I did a pit stop – got out and had a bit of trouble finding my rhythm again but got back into the swing of it and kept surveying the crowd for Joe’s red shirt – he said he yelled at me but I did not see or hear him. On the second loop my body demanded another nature break and again it took me a bit to get back into the swing of it. Then I did see Joe and realized that I was not going to catch him – I am not going to lie it took some of the wind out of my sails. I tried to refocus but then I started to listen to folks around me – how tired they were, and so on and I started to let that drag me down. My bad – so I regrouped mentally and thought just get this done already - quit it - let’s go! Left right, left right at about 16/17km my hip and leg started to protest but it was not as bad as last year with the ankle lock-up and I refused to stop – LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT RIGHT. Half time – last year 2:28:28, this year 2:37:14. 8 minutes slower . So we know where I lost time.

Now when I look at the comparables and take into consideration that I am in active recovery from the accident I guess it is not so bad but shoot I really wanted a PB…. Everyone keeps telling me I am stronger than last year and I guess in some ways I am but it is a little disheartening to not see the same numbers or better than last year. I know, I know I was hit by a car, I am in active recovery, blah, blah, blah - I let my head beat me yesterday on the swim and run – I need to keep my head in the race at all times- I need to stay in the race until the end.

Oh and to answer your question Joe's time 6:21 - grrr sometimes I dislike that boy - I train and train and train and he quasi trains and not only beats me soundly but improves on his time. He says that I gave him a lot of tips that helped him on the bike and run - should have kept my big mouth shut.

12 weeks to Ironman – still time to work on it.