Thursday, December 22, 2011

Anatomy on how NOT to run a major Race

It is just over 2 weeks since June bug, Pam and I went to Vegas to do the Vegas Rock'n'Roll Half marathon. I have run lots of marathons, half marathon, and triathlons and I can honestly say I will NOT run this race ever again and it will take some serious convincing for me to even consider ever doing another Rock'n'Roll event again.

I was super excited about this race as I have heard good things from friends about the Rock'n'Roll races and this would be my first one.  I expected a class act - I mean if you run dozens of races across the states and world you figure you got it down to a fine art- right? 

This is the first time they would be running the race at night but the race had been there for at least 6 years since I had friends who ran it in 2005.  Besides the change to night they had increased registration to 44,000 but I was not concerned - Dublin was 27,000 and it worked out well and New York was 57,000 so I did not see that that would be a problem.

We headed out to the startline at Mandalay bay around 2:30 since we were not sure how long it would take to get there by the Monorail since the strip was closed so no taxis.  The trip out was not bad we got there around 3:30.

PROBLEM  1 - no signage -  Arriving at the hotel should have been our first inkling - no signage about where the start line actually was, where bag check was, or where our chutes were.  We were not too concerned since we had lots of time we decided we would just chill out for a while and then figure out bag check.  When we went to check our bags a porter approached us and offered to take them - we had seen others do it and thought sure.  I thought it was wierd that he gave us baggage claim tickets but he assured us several times that they would be delivering the bags downstairs to the baggage check for us.  So we thought great and we started to follow the herd to the start chutes. 

When registering we were asked our approximate finish time and then our bib numbers were given to us based on our finish times and those were the chutes we would be in.  We were all in different chutes - June and I were only 2 apart but Pam was quite a few back from us.  In hindsight we should have all just gone to June's chute and started together.

PROBLEM #2 - no-one manning the chutes so basically people were just going into whatever chute they felt like.  To put it in perspective my number was 16306,  I was in Chute 16 as I predicted a finish time of 2:10.  I was standing beside people with numbers as high as 37000 - finish time of 3+hours.  Plain language there were a lot of runners - or lets identify them correctly - walkers in the front chutes so when actually running you could never get a rhythm because you would hit walls of walkers or much slower runners and have to manouver around them.

PROBLEM #3 - headphones/Ipods.  I would estimate about 75 - 80% of the field were wearing headphones.  First it is the Rock'n'Roll half that means, at least theoretically, that there are bands along the route - why do you need music?  Second - you can't hear anything and are now a hazard and part of the problem as you zone out to your "tunes" and can't hear others say excuse me, excuse me or curb, or on your left etc, etc.. My favorite the walkers sharing a earphones- 2 thumbs up. 

So back to the race after we finally got started running I quickly tossed out my time goal as I realized that the congestion on the course was going to make it virtually impossible for me to get to my pace let alone maintain it. I was okay with that though since it is more about the adventure and experience than the time.

PROBLEM #4 - AGAIN NO SIGNAGE on the course?!?!  Do these people hate signs?  Is there a sign by-law - help me to understand this.  Signs to identify water stations would be nice - I saw people almost run into the tables because all of the sudden the water tables were there...  Signs to identify direction on the course (half vs full course), signs to advise of porta-potties, to advise of corners coming up.  Oh wait they had these itsy bitsy signs at knee height stuck into the top of a orange cone that said half/full but I am pretty sure most people did not see them. NOTE - placing people on bikes riding in the middle of 44,000 runners yelling marathon left, half right does not help with congestion either.

PROBLEM #5 - water - This happens at lots of races but if you do not have enough water it is NOT acceptable to take a garbage can, run a hose in it and then tell people to dunk their water bottles in it to fill.  The health code violations alone....  I did not need to do that thankfully since I carry my own.

 I did like the few bands they had out and running on the strip was super cool.  The actual course is a great one, you get to see the strip, freemont street and such.  While it was frustrating trying to run the course I felt pretty good about it and was happy to finish.  The last 19km I started getting some stomach cramps but was not too concerned. 

The finish line was okay it was a little hard someone to get the medal and then they were stopping people for photos but eh what are you going to do.  So off for the food.

Post Race Food - the volunteers in an effort to keep up were just grabbing boxes and dumping stuff on to the tables where it would promptly roll off and land on the ground.  Craziness - I was able to grab a bagel and a water and kept following the herd to the hotel.  My stomach continued to act up and so I headed off to the biffy and that seemed to help.  I found June inside and settled into wait for Pam not sure how long she would be. About 15 min later Pam was there and Yep it was off to go to grab our bags and celebrate.  We headed off to bag check and quickly found out that our bags were not there and that we would have to go the front of the hotel and find a porter to give our claim ticket to.  Sigh

This is where it went from bad to worse - we started to head to the lobby/ front of the hotel to only find ourselves literaly in a people traffic jam of thousands of people not moving more than an inch at a time if that.  I am not sure how a fire marshall did not come in there and shut the hotel down - between all the runners, the cowboys there for Cowboy Christmas, the people there to see the Michael Jackson Show and just the regular guests it was insane and there was no way out.  They are so lucky there was no emergency because people would have been trampled. 

It was about this time that I went downhill - my stomach cramps turned to nausea and I started to feel faint, Pam says I went white and I started to get super cold.  This was a blessing in disguise for us because people moved for us so I could get to a bathroom where I promptly got sick.  June headed off to get our bags and I came out and sat in a corner shaking.  I was so cold and apparently very pale.  WTF  We stayed there for about 10 min until I started to feel a bit better and then tried to get out of dodge. 

We figured taxi back since all the cabs should be at the hotel since there were none on the strip.  Wrong - after waiting 30 min and not moving we asked and they told us 45min - 1 hour wait.  Shuttle bus then - Wrong - no-one could find where the shuttle buses were.  Okay Monorail it is then - Wrong again - over an hour wait for that.  So we walked - all the way back along the strip to our hotel at the other end. 

We got back to the hotel just before midnight, I had a bath and went to bed while Pam and June went to find some food as we still had not eaten since 10am.  Not quite the celebration and experience we had planned.

I have some suggestions since it annoys me when people bitch and point out the flaws but don't provide any solutions or input on possible ways to improve. So here are my suggestions: 

1.) They want to increase registration to 60,000 for next year - DON'T DO IT - figure out 40,000 first. Or better yet go back to 24,000 - you were able to handle that.  Make it a lottery system to get it, charge people to be in the lottery - they get in - $ goes to reg fee, they don't get in - ah well better luck next time.  That is what NY does.  This will make it exclusive.  Trust me go back to 24, 000.

2.) Signage - signs are your friends - they let people know things ie: mileage, water stations, bag check AND help with crowd movement. 

3.) More Volunteers - I don't know what you do for your volunteers but do more -(ie offer volunteers a guaranteed entry into the next year's race)  - they are diamonds treat them as such.  There should be volunteers at each start chute to keep the runners/walkers honest otherwise why bother with the chutes. 

4.) More water - no explanation needed.

5.) Post race nutrition - bag it.  Put one of each item in a bag and hand it to the runners as they move towards the bag check/exit/beer gardens.  New York does this and it works well.  They give you your medal and then hand you your post race bag and move you along.  towards bag check where bang you get your bag and then they spit you out finish area. 

6.) Headphones - sorry I don't know what to tell you - people will do what they want no matter what so I guess it is just something  I will have to get over.

So there are my suggestions.  Again I like the course but the organization of the actual race and post race experience was horrible and it would take a lot to get me to do this one or for that matter any Rock'n'Roll race again.

Peace out Shaun

Friday, October 28, 2011

gran disappointment

over a month ago was the Whistler Gran Fondo - this was my "A" event for the year.  

As the title of this post says it was a big disappointment to say the least. 

The expectations by all were high - I had been rocking all the training rides.  I was strong - I was back to pre-accident form if not better.  I was at the front of the hills - I was holding on strong to the super fast group.  I could hold my own and I was dropping peeps on hills again - this was going to be awesome I was going to break 5 hours and 4.5 hours was a very realistic goal.  I was pumped. 

Ride strategy had been pondered and talked about over with Jude and I had my game plan - the last ride was fantastic - I was relaxed, I was ready, I was excited.

Last ride went well I felt great, enjoyed the rest of my long weekend and then Monday night the ominous itch in my throat started. SHIT - no need to panic - gargle with salt water and off to bed.  Tuesday am - I wake up  and ghhhhh, gaaaak, hrrrrrrghhh, okay not good throat very sore.   I look at Joe  - he is like you will be okay you have 5 days.  OHHHHH OKAY.   SHHHHHIIIIITTTT

So as the day at work progresses the throat gets worse so lunch is spent buying lemons, emergenc C, and COld FX.  Double shit - my boss looks as me and is considering banning me from the office and says I don't sound so good.

I get home and crawl into bed I feel like I have been hit by a truck but is okay I have just over 4 days - BAHAHAHAHAHAH.  I begin the dosing and move into the bedroom.  I wake up the next am and it is official I am hooped and have a very bad cold.  So the plan now is to go into damage control and try to break this so I am on the bike by Saturday and ready to ride.  (Delusional - maybe- okay completley).  I get up Wednesday and feel like complete crap- this is good it means I am pushing the germs out - so I drag my sorry self to the office and bail at noon - on the way home I grab hot and sour soup - that's right the big guns.  I am not messing around germs - get the F* out of my body - non-refundable entry fee - need I say more. 

Thursday -the super sensitive achy feeling was gone but I could not talk because I sounded like I had been smoking cigarettes and drinking whisky - great the hangover without the actual drunk.  Continue to natural regimen with more sleep and another dose of hot and sour.  I went to package pick-up - YES I WENT  - non- refundalble??????!!!!!  I spoke to the ladies I had a plan if  I was still feeling like crap I could start in Squamish and just do the last 60km.  The race officials at package pick-up said I could do that.  YEAH

Friday - my voice was pretty much back  and it had not moved into my chest - was still not sure if I was would ride from Van or Squamish but I had till Saturday morning to decide.....Okay who are we kidding this is me of course I woke up Saturday and texted Jude - I will see you at the start line - I was going to ride the whole thing - it was going to be hard and not the race I trained for but it would be what it would be.

As a team we started together - well not completely true we had the super fast crew up front and then the rest of us at the back.  We all met and headed out together the plan was to ride as a group to Horseshoe bay and then go for it in small groups - race!  My plan survive.   So we did stay together to Horseshoe Bay - I felt pretty good and was obviously in complete denial.  At Horseshoe bay the boys, Jude and Lori left us like Cindy and I were standing still.  Not unexpected - good luck team.  At that point i still felt okay so I got to the 2nd aid station and pulled in - Cindy was behind me - no idea where but I went in and grabbed a banana , refilled my bottles, bathroom break and looked for Cindy.  After a few minutes I decided time to go she either passed or is behind. I still felt okay plan keep HR under 80 and not push this into my chest and get worse.  2 concerns are pushing into my chest can lead to causing  a virus infection in the heart muscle not good or the better option me just getting sicker... neither one viable.  Keep the HR low, eat, drink. 

I got to the 3rd aid station and well that hurt.  I refilled my bottles, ate another banana, nibbled an orane slice, grabbed  a banana for the road.  That is right - it was that BAD - I was not only eating bananas but I was carrying extras!!!  I looked and it was 16 km  I can do this 16km - I can do this. 

OFf to to the 4th aid station - the word is owwwwwwwwwww, and then owwwwwwwwww but I got there - and thought about going to the first aid and asking them to call a ride for me to Whistler but after using the port-a-potty, eating some more banana's, grabbing a few pretzels and such I regrouped and went it's only 16 km or to the next aid station- I can do that and then I saw Cindy.  So we went off together. My goal get to the next aid station. 

Aid station 5 - OMG - make it stop- I hurt so bad - I was so tired, I saw Cindy and she asked how are you doing NoT good - I was about to start crying - she was like  - "let's sit down for a minute", okay.  So we sat for a spell and then we got up to leave and saw some peeps we knew said hi and then finished refueling and refilling supplies. Okay only 16 or so to the finish lets do this.  I even was so delusional that I thought we might be able to break 5.5 hours....  so off we went and YEAH headwinds.  We tried to pace line but it was tough - Cin kept dropping off my wheel so I would sit up and then she would get on and we would go for a bit - it was tough slogging - I felt worse then I did during Ironman - agony is all I can think of agony.  IT was hot to and people were stopping and sitting on the side of the road.  I was like seriously it is 16 km don't stop now, but I will be honest I fell like stopping I was growing desperate.  Just finish this, so I went and I left Cindy, but whe was really only about a minute maybe 2 behind me. 

That was the toughest and roughest ride I have ever done.  It was hell final time 6 hours "ish" very disappointing.  I have had a really tough time since getting motivated to ride.  I keep finding reasons not to ride with the group.  I  have been going out on my own but I just have been struggling.  Rationally I know i should be fine with it but irrationally I am super bummed and disappointed with the whole experience. 

I will get over it but I am still struggling.  Next up is Las Vegas Half on December 4th.  I felt I needed to redeem myself and do a race for the fall - I know it is not my usual full but it has been a tough year.

Thanks for listening to my whinging

Peace out

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

IRONMAN - He may be faster but my medal is bigger!

Once again we made the trek up to Penticton for our annual Ironman vacation.

This year Joe was competing and I was there as support crew. Joe wanted to be in the heart of it so we got a room on the beach right by the final turn-around for the marathon. Perfect positioning. The green goddesses were also in the same hotel and Special K, June Bug and Pam were going to be coming up on the weekend to aid me and mumsy in our cheering as the – wait for it…..THE JOSPEPH WITNESSES – LOL.

I obviously can not tell you how Mr J felt through out the race but I can tell you that it was an emotional and stressful day for me and the Joseph Witnesses however we cheered our hearts out for not just Joe but all the athletes and had a fantastic time.

The night before the girls and I gathered our chalk and headed out to the streets to write some messages – starting from the entrance of our hotel: Home of 1333 – Iron Joe and up the street with messages for him finishing off with our best and most popular a big Arrow followed by BEER THIS WAY. It was a lot of fun doing this as the roads were still open and so we had to keep shouting “car” and moving out of the way. Once we had finished and the girls left to go back to Mom’s, I grabbed my camera and went back out to take pictures of our artwork – which was good because he did not see/notice any of them and at least I had evidence that we did do it.

4:30 am – what the – oh you are up – right so off I move to the bedroom to continue sleeping until 5:30 – after all I wasn’t racing. I had slept on the couch the night before so as not to bother him. 5:30 am – up dressed with the unveiling of the crew shirt – he smiled. I helped him gather his bags and off to transition we go – 6am. I had to run back to get my phone so that when the girls got to the hotel they could call me. The walk was a bit longer than we anticipated and my OCD started to kick in – they close transition down at 6:30 – yikes he has to get his body marked, pump his tires, put on wetsuit – yikes. We finally find the entrance to transition so he can get body marked and drop his aid bags and then I lose him. Shoot wanted a picture of his body marking – damn – SHAUN –oh there you are – okay have a good race. Click off a quick picture then back to the water to get a spot to see them start. There was absolutely no where to stand – I finally finagle the edge of a park bench and then hand my camera to a taller person yo take pictures for me.

Girls call – I am on a park bench in front of Slumber Lodge Hotel – Okay we will come down. National anthem – off comes the hat and start to sing – others follow my lead and start singing – really it is kind of disappointing the so many people do not sing, but I digress. And they are off. After I find everyone we decide to stand in the water so we can watch him come in.

Special K – what is he wearing? Me – a black wetsuit and blue cap….. Special K - hmmmmmm that narrows it down. We did not have to wait long though as all of the sudden I spot him coming out of the water. 1:20 Joe, Joe you are doing awesome !!! Oh crap take a picture – well there is his back. All right gotta move – I bolt out of the water and sprint all the way over to where they come out on the bikes – I mean sprinted positive I would get there in time – nope missed him!

Next on the list coffee – we pick up coffee and then back to the hotel for biffy breaks for all. Once everyone had sorted themselves out I loaded everyone in to the car with signs I had made – extra paper, chalk, markers and Megaphone. Off to the BEAR- Keremeos. We got to the bear and got prime positioning taking over a picnic table and getting our supplies out and ready. I took the signs I had made – and stuck them in the handy planters by the side of the road. We got out our chalk and wrote messages up and down the road and generally settled in for the wait. The bear was great with bathroom, fresh water and lots of fresh fruit, veggies and other stuff we could purchase.

After I got the megaphone working we got out the tambourine and cow bells and started working the crowds. Come on people lets cheer loud it was awesome to see the elites bolt by and then we checked on-line how Joe was doing – what that can’t be right – 2 hours to Richter’s – wow – seems a little fast…. Then my phone rings – his dad from Ireland – did you see his time – I think he has gone out too fast. Yep Dad – it seems so but I can’t do anything about it – it’s his race – he knows what he is doing – he trained for it. Hang up from dad. Okay so based on that time we should see him between 12:30 and 1 if he keeps up that pace.

We spent the next few hours actively cheering – coming up with great one-liners on the megaphone. We had people coming up saying hey can you call out to number …. Sure let me know when you see him. Best one-liner – Hey nice legs – do you work out much?

It was around 1pm and I was taking a much needed biffy break and walking back to the table - all of the sudden – OMG Joe – it is JOE – and sprinting back to the table grab the cow-bell and tambourine screaming – Crap where is my camera.. darn missed him again. So then we had to wait for Special K to come back with the car – she had gone back to get June-bug. When she pulled up I said move, move – he passed by a while ago and loaded everyone in the car and made a dash back to town in the hope to catch him coming off the bike on to the run.

At this time I did not know my boy was in trouble and distress – probably best I did not know or I would have had a melt down – I was already stressed that we did not follow him in the car up Yellow Lake and just wanted to get back into town to see him go out on the run. He later told me at the out and back he was cramping really bad and ran into a team mate who gave him some salt tablets. Then while he was going up Yellow Lake he started to cramp even worse – he says he got to the top and called out for help, officials were able to catch him and the bike he was cramping so bad. He then managed to get to the tent and had to lie down for about 10 minutes or more. He was finally able to get back on the bike and ride back but it was a tough go into town and he had been looking for me – why did I not follow in the car – I just told him long story and left it at that.

So we got back to the hotel and I jumped out of the car and started heading to transition. I texted Jude who was waiting at transition to see if she could catch Joe coming out on the run if she had seen him and she was like no. I looked at my watch and was like he is on the course – lets go see if we can find him and turned around and then all of the sudden I got another msg from Jude- He just passed me he is on the run course heading your way!!! OMG okay we are good he is just starting on the run. We stopped and cheered and then I was like there he is – there he is!!!! He looked great – go honey go!!! Crap where is my camera – darn it – another picture of his back.. Did you see him – he looks awesome.

We headed back to the room for something to eat and relax for a bit . After about 50 minutes we all got back into the car and headed off to the run course. Then it got frustrating – they would not let us on the road to OK falls – how am I supposed to support him from here! We were at the 8 km mark on the course okay well I guess we set up shop here – and cheer. So that is what we did and we cheered and we cheered and we cheered. And then I started to worry – it should not take him this long – he is a strong runner – then finally the update came over the Iphone and I was like oh no – something is not right – 3 hours to the half way point – he never takes that long to run. But I kept my thoughts to myself and decided to start walking down the road to see if I could see him – I just kept walking and looking – I called my sister and chatted to her as she calmed me down. I was so anxious – if I could just get out there and find him I know I can talk to him and help him.  I called Cindy – my friend who was an official and she told me that she rode beside him for a while – he was cramping really bad but his spirits were up and he was moving forward but just having problems with cramping. Okay so I walked back to the girls and reported what I knew and then as I turned around there he was. OMG JOE- yeah – I was so excited and relieved to see him that I once AGAIN forgot to take a picture. I ran with him for a couple of minutes and talked to him – he was still going to go for sub 14 hours. He wanted a 13 in his finish time.

Back to the car we bolted and I raced back to the hotel. We got there and I literally jumped out of the car, leaving the girls to sort themselves out and ran to the front of the hotel. I was walking up the road and there he was – screw the camera I just started to run with him – asked him how we was feeling and he said he hurt, told him he was fantastic and he said he did not want to talk he had to finish. So we just ran and he was motoring. At the fences I told him I loved him and that this was his moment. And then I just stopped and watched him head to finish line and I listened. Joe Smyth you are an IRONMAN!!! YES I turned and started to head back to the hotel whoo, he did it! – the next thing I heard was the next few competitors names and that the time was 13:59 and they had made it under the 14 hour mark. WOW – he did it he did it he beat 14 hours! The girls came up to me and I said you missed it he just finished and then I called Jude and told her.

After I got everyone settled in at the hotel I went back to find my Ironman and pick up his gear. He came out and looked exhausted but super happy. I admired his medal and technical finishers shirt –(we got t-shirts the year I did it) and sent him back while I went and picked up his gear and bike.

His final time 13:58:32 – 2 hours and 23 minutes faster than me. He rocked it! Later he was able to tell me about the issues on the bike and run with cramping as such and I know that it was best that I was not right there by his side because I would have been that much more stressed. I honestly think it is easier to race than to spectate for this race- the stress and the timing – the logistics were a lot. When you race – you just race – that is all you are thinking about- much less stressful.

Oh and his medal well when we got home a few days later I went to look at mine on the wall and then I said hmm – hey can I see your medal for a sec? Yep it is smaller than mine! You have an itsy bitsy medal – it is about ½ the size of mine. He looked at it and went you are right – it is smaller. I told him it was because I was out on the course longer and the longer you are out there the bigger your medal is. So I guess the winner gets a lapel pin. Either way he is an Ironman now and I could not be prouder! He totally wants to do it again and so we have decided that we will both do it in 2013.

Peace out

Note – the medals – about a week after the event the athletes received an email apologizing for running out of the water on the course (unforgiveable) and for the medals. It turned out the supplier had sent the wrong medals and there was not enough time prior to the event to get the proper ones so they ordered the plastic backs and attached them to the medals in an attempt to make them look bigger. Personally I say get the real medals and ship those out now or send each a finisher’s DVD.

Monday, September 19, 2011

RAWR– I am a Warrior as long as my hands can stay Clean….

It has been a busy summer and I will have to do several posts over the next few days or so to catch up on all the adventures.

After the Oliver Half Iron I took a bit of time off (okay a week) because of my knee. I actually did go to physio -- twice – HEY THAT IS A LOT FOR ME. We changed our runs to the trails and the gals and I hooked up at various trails every Sunday. It was then I noticed – running did not bug my hip or knee, however every time I rode I would be in agony by the end of the ride. Hmmmmmmm – so I took the bike into the shop to have them take a look at it. As soon as I got on to the bike on the trainer and started pedaling – Jay stopped me. He looked at my cleat and said well here is the problem your cleat is twisted and it is torqueing your knee out. Must have happened during that terrible spin-class crash. So we fixed my cleat and literally pain gone. Happy, happy.

So next race - Warrior Dash – a crazy assed 3 mile run up in Whistler, BC.

Now I was not worried about the actual running part per se as it was only 3 miles – seriously – 3 MILES?!?! - really HOW BAD CAN THAT BE.

The interesting part and the reason why we took the bait was the obstacles we would have to deal with – some of which were jumping over fire and crawling through mud under barbwire – to name a few. PLUS, wait for it…… you got a Viking Helmet when you finished! HOW cool is that – I did not have a Viking helmet so I was sold! Had to do this one and managed to talk Special K, Liz and Pam into it. June bug ended up coming as moral support – she does not like mud…..

My training was pretty intense –NOT – I figured since we had to climb over stuff and pull ourselves up and over that I should incorporate Push-ups in my repertoire, since I have embarrassingly pathetic arm-strength. Coach was like how is the training going?, and I was like well I have added push-ups to my daily routine and increased my drinking. My mom had the best response – why do push-ups just by heavier bottles to practice drinking with! Good idea – so I revised my training appropriately.

The actual race was a total hoot – we started a basic 1km+ straight up hike up the ski hill – there was no running and then it got crazy. We had to run through water cannons and you literally could not see your hand in front of your face down a friggin ski hill that has divots and pot holes and big ass rocks – not fluffy snow. Pretty much all the obstacles were good the only thing I did not like was the balance beam crossing and that was because of the idgets that were not allowing people time to get over and were basically jumping over and such and freaking people out. Otherwise I am happy to say I was able to pull myself up and over anything I had to. The fire was a little disappointing a squirrel could have stepped over it and been okay. And then the finish was great fun – dive into clay mud and crawl through with the barbwire over you. I hauled through that and got up at the other end to throw mud on the other girls as they were coming through.

It seemed like a great idea at the time and I was very happy. We all finished and got our medals and Viking caps and then hiked up to the hoses to get washed off. The lines were very long – and this is where it went sideways for me. I forgot how much I hate having dirty hands.

Seriously –I can’t stand it. The mud was more like clay and it was drying and cracking and it was all over me, legs, chest, face, hair, arms and HANDS  . We waited and waited and I became more and more upset. I was having a serious melt-down - I did not care about my face, hair, arms, legs, just GET IT OFF MY HANDS!!! After about 20 minutes of waiting and everyone seeing my distress June-Bug remembered I had a bottle of water in my bag. I was able to rinse my hands enough that I could last the other 10 minutes or so till it was my turn for the hose to which I did a quick spray on my legs and spend almost all my time on my hands till they were sparkly clean. Later when I talked to Joe and told him about my melt-down he was like of course you did you hate having dirty hands – why did you not wear your gloves you packed? – oh Yeah – I totally forgot about them.

The after party was pretty good – a few things I would recommend bring either a blanket or fold-up chair to sit on and moist wipes for your hands. As well as thongs to wear afterward and an extra bag for muddy shoes to go into if you are taking them home.


Viking Shaun

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Spectators - can make your race

Just recently I was at the Scotiabank Half marathon - I was helping at it and then when my tasks were done I went into spectator mode.

I knew a lot of peeps racing in this race as it is a popular race 1 - for the gorgeous course and 2 - because it is a fast course - PB's are easy to come by on this course.  It was a lot bigger a few years ago but with the Seattle Rock-n-Roll the same weekend a lot of locals head off to that race. Anyways I digress.

So while I was helping I stood along the road and clapped and cheered runners as they went by from the very first one to the very last one.  As I knew a lot of the runners I made sure to yell out their names if I spotted them and more than a few hugs and high fives were passed out.

After I finished I headed to my car and was off to meet friends who were racing at the finish line for breakfast.
I was driving down and realized how few spectators there was and so I decided to roll down my window, crank the tunes and start honking to where I had to meet a friend and race organizer to hand off some stuff.  When I met him he we stood and I was clapping and yelling.  At that point he said to me - wow there is not many supporters out - I did not think it was a big deal till I did the Vancouver Half and all the spectators that were on the course it helped me and they were awesome.  I smiled and said I know they help a lot.

It got me to thinking about it and it is true.  Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am super independent and not big on super emotional displays.  When I ran my first half it never occurred to me that Joe and/or my friends should be there.  Why - they weren't racing - it was not like I was going to be talking to them, I mean I was running. While I listened to others say that if their partner, parents, etc, etc did not come out they would be super upset.  HUH?  Okay seemed weird to me.

In my first marathon, Joe, my sister-in-law and nieces and nephews surprised me by being on the course and at the finish line and it was nice.  Seeing various friends along the course helped a lot and I started to begin to understand.

When I really began to get it was when my BFF Chris and other friends got-to-gether without me knowing and made T-shirts and named themselves the Shaunettes.  They totally surprised me during my epic first half-ironman and I desparately needed them without even knowing it. Because of them I was able to finish that race - their support and belief in me got me to the finish line.  It was then that I truly learned the power of the spectator.

I am a convert and an avid and loud spectator now. I love to scream and yell, music is always great, T-shirts, theme songs, and you can never have enough cow bell.  The best feeling is when you see someone who is tired and you know they are hurting and you just know that you can give them an encouraging word and a smile.   You will never understand how much that helps.

I have been on the side line and seen someone with less than 500 metres in a marathon stop and you can tell they are in a dark place and just don't care.  And with the power of the crowd and our yelling encouragement we brought them back from the brink, we gave them the energy they needed and the encouragement to finish. It was so inspiring to see the power we had.

So I encourage you to yell and cheer for everyone on the course when you are out waiting for your friend - you are appreciated.  Park your car and open the hatch - turn on the tunes.  Honk your horn if you are driving by - yell encouragement to everyone - don't be shy because you know what the runners will love you for it.  Plus I have seen it - you get a few cheering and others start to cheer and so on and so on.

Before I sign off there is one big RULE as a spectator that you must never break - it is a terrible sin.  Never, ever, EVER say You Are ALMOST there!  Unless it is less than 1km to the finish.  EVER - otherwise it is just mean.

So if you are not racing then come out and pay-it-forward by cheering.  It is good for your race karma and I promise you will be inspired by the end of it.

Peace out


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bad Blogger, Bad Blogger

Seriously, I have no excuses.  Not sure how life gets away but it does.

SO lets see last time I posted I had been in an epic battle with my bike and the trainer in which the trainer won.  Well Isis got fixed up just fine and we back out on the roads where we belong.

Work has been crazy but I love it.  My last clinic for a while ended and we had a great wrap-up-dinner.  The group all had great times and I succssfully maintained my title as the most on time pace bunny ever.  The bunny contract this year was 2hr 15 and I came in at 2 hr 14 min, 46 seconds.  So contract fulfilled.  I have stepped back from the clinics for awhile and it has been with mixed feelings.  The clinics have been my baby for a long time but with work as busy as it is and Joe's Ironman year and some peronal things I am contemplating it just seemed like the right time.  DOn't get me wrong I miss the peeps and I am still getting used to having Thursday nights to myself but not too wory I am finding my rhythm. 

I did do the Oliver Half IRonman and well the grudge match did not happen as Joe has been injured and well it was just smarter for him to defer to next year and use the weekend as a training weekend - he rode about 80% of IRonman course and will go up a few more times before race day.  Myself - well I got it done.  DUring the BMO half I ended up really hurting my right leg/knee and so running was pretty minimal for the month of May.  I took a week off and then got very sick so another week off and then just did trail runs of 9km or so each Sunday. 

The actual race - swim my time was about normal - I went out in the middle of the pack - I KNOW and then proceeded to get the crap literaly kicked out of me.  At the first buoy I actually got a bleeding nose and decided that I had enough so I pulled up and let the rugby team through and then started out again.  From now on I will just start at the back - it is safer! 

I was pretty happy with my ride - it was exceptionally hot - 40 degrees!  I had a strong ride but my leg started to really hurt on the 2nd lap  with 16km left I thought of the Barb and the girls and thought okay girl 16km is just like a time trial stay in the bars get to the cadence and RIDE - and I just focused and passed so many peeps.  I mean I had been holding my own and passing a lot of people through out the ride but this was a dig and I just flew by people.  Getting off the bike I literaly walked to my spot - I could not run my leg was miffed with a capital M.  But ride time was good at 3:16 (or there abouts).  Joe and mom were there and asked how it was going and I was like not bad - leg is sore.  JOe is like well don't run.  What? Don't run.  I was like have you met me?  Crazy talk - I guess he muttered something to my mom and mom said she is stubborn, she has been like that since she was 6 months old.  So off I went and you know what while I was not moving fast I was in a good head space and felt okay through the run.  Overall it was about 3 hours for the half my slowest by far but I am okay with that.  I got the race I trained for and deserved.  You can not expect to pull a 2:15 half out of your butt when you have not really run in a month and are injured.  The one thing I was really pleased about was my nutrition - I nailed that for this race which was important considering it was 40 degrees and it could have gone wrong very quickly.  I learned a lot from Ironman - I drank lots, and the cramping that I suffered in IRonman did not come and I am pretty sure it was because of the bananas.  Yes you read it right I actually willingly ate Bananas through out the bike ride every time I went through an aid station I grabbed a banana.  The potassium is key for cramping and Bananas have potassium so between liquids and bananas I hit it out of the park on the nutrition. 

SO now I am just focusing on some trail running as I get ready for Warrior Dash in August.  Lots of riding in prep for Gran FOndo.  Have not come up with the fall race yet since we did not get into Nike Women's so I guess I need to pick one soon.  Looking at the Disney World WIne and run half in October.

Promise to post more,  I actually do want to talk about the riots and such but will save it for a day or so.

Peace out


Monday, February 21, 2011

Revenge of the trainer

My indoor trainer - Oh how I hate riding on the trainer.

I know it is good for technique and you can get a good work out on the trainer while staying warm and dry in doors during the bad winter months.  Your bike stays clean, you can catch up on all your TV shows, watch movies and are safe from erratic drivers. 

But I still hate riding on the trainer.  Quite frankly I would rather poke myself in the eye with a pencil.  Thankfully living on the wet coast we have mild winters and generally can ride all year long with the exception of a couple of weeks usually in January. 

I honestly would rather ride outside in the cold and rain then on the trainier.  And have done so but as of late the girls have been riding in spin class at Coach B's new spin studio - I did not plan on going but a few weeks ago I took a small tumble down a flight of stairs at work and so part of the rehab was spin class (groan....). 

So I signed up for 5 classes figuring the weather would warm up pretty quick and everyone would jump outside.  THe classes are good but I still don't like them.  I tolerate them - so the last spin class I set up my bike on the trainer.  The trainer I had was a little hard to tighten but I tested it and all seemed well.

We got in to the zone and I was grudginly starting to enjoy myself.  My leg/hip was holding up pretty good and I was able to keep high cadences and maintain my heart rate zones.  There was about a 5 minutes left in the class when we were doing one last high cadence spin out.  I was in the drops legs flying when it happened.  The trainer got me - my back wheel came out and all the sudden I was going down.  It happened so quickly there was nothing I could do and to make matters worse I took out Judith!

Yes you read it right - I crashed in spin class and I took out other riders!   BAHHHAHHAHHAHHAH  Top THAT!  I mean have you ever heard anything so ridiculous?  You have to laugh - thankfully a quick visit to the chiro put my hip back in, the chain marks on leg are almost heeled.  My back wheel did not fair so well - you should have heard them at the bike shop when I explained what happened and why I need a new rear wheel .  I gave those boys something to talk about for the rest of the week.

Needless to say I hate spin class and the trainer even more now.  It is just not natural!   Once Isis gets her new back wheel which should be any day now me and her are returning to the great outdoors. 

Especially since the boys are planning on setting up a webcam in the studio.  The last thing I need is to be on You tube and go viral.  

Anyways I am pretty sure that I will be placed at the back of the class seperate from all and Coach B will check my trainer. Think I will take my helmet next time, oh and maybe some pillows - Safety First.

Peace out


Monday, February 14, 2011

Maybe I can swim

So when I was preparing for Ironman one of the things I did was take an open-water clinic to help me calm down in open water.  The course was with a gentleman named Peter - aka

My riding buddies Judith and Cindy swore by him and I knew I needed help with calming down in open water.  It was kind of ridiculous the panic attacks I would have every single time.  So I signed up.

It did work - I calmed down and was able to get through each swim without the usual 3 minute panic attack at the start.  I was still as slow as molasses but at least I was calm. 

I have been told a zillion times swimming is all about technique - blah, blah, blah and I have worked and worked on it.  I have done or at least I thought I was doing what everyone was telling me and was just frustrated.  Seriously - super frustrated - so frustrated that I started not wanting to swim because I was so tired of well sucking at it.  It seemed no matter how often I swam or how much I worked at it I just could not get faster.   I used to joke that I had one speed - I could swim forever but only at one speed.  It got to the point where last year I just stopped swimming period.  I was not registered for any triathlons and well I was tired of no changes and being passed by absolutely everyone.  It was getting old and I was fed up.  So I did the only reasonable thing I stopped swimming. 

This year I decided it was time to get back into doing a few tri's and that meant getting back into the pool. yeah...  To say I was less than thrilled would be the understatement of the year.  Once again Judith to the rescue - we started talking about it and she was like why don't you come and swim in Peter's clinic and work on technique.    I was skeptical - seriously - like I have not been down this road a zillion times before - but she was persistant and he did help me with my open water swimming so I decided what the heck.  I

He keeps it pretty basic - he focuses on relazing first and then breaks the stroke down to the very basics.    I took to heart what he said and how he explained it and then set to put it in practice.  Skeptical but optimistic.  We did a time trial 2 weeks in and well shockingly guess who was at the back again - yep me.  Peter was great though he was like just work on the technique, he broke it down even more for me, he said be patient - he was like say this in your head " not now, not now, now; not now, not now, now"  So I went and practiced it on my own.  It has been 4 weeks now and I feel better in the water and he said I was faster but I was still skeptical. 

So Yesterday I went to the pool to work on my homework and decided to time myself on 1000 metres non-stop. Just to see if I had gotten back to where I normally am which is between 28 - 30 minutes.  I mean it had been a year.  Well I did it, was not tired and time.......23min 58 seconds!!!! OMG - are you kidding me?  WAAAHHOOOOOOO  Okay so I am not going to win a gold medal or anything any time soon but this is huge!  I can't believe that after all this time - just some simple visualizations and breaking the stroke down to basics and I already improved that much. 

Now I am super excited for the next session to see what I need to do now.  I can not believe that after all this time I have finally had the breakthrough.  Now I need to keep it quiet from the BOY.  I need him to think that I as super duper slow as usual - lull him into a feeling of complacency. 

I might just have a fighting chance.

Peace out Shaun

Monday, February 7, 2011

The breezes of freedom

I always train with a ball cap - always.  People who train with me have a hard time recognizing me when I am in my civvies because I am not wearing a cap.

I love ball caps and have worn them religiously since I was 9 and started playing softball.  I have more caps then my husband and I treasure each one.  Some get worn more than others - some are just for running, some are for post running and then there are my dressy ones that I wear when walking the dog or going grocery shopping.  Yep I love ball caps - if I could figure out how to wear one at work I probably would.

One of the things I love about riding is feeling the breeze as you ride - remember when you could feel the breeze in your hair as zoomed along the street.  Breeze not some brutal stupid head wind but breeze.  To me that was freedom.  I love jumping on my bike as a kid as soon as I could and riding, feeling the breeze on my skin and through my hair.  No worries, no parents, no rotten little sister.  Just me and my bike.  It was the same way I felt when I ran as a kid - remember just running around the soccer field and feeling the wind - okay maybe not wind - I was never that fast but breeze through your hair as it flowed behind you.  Well now a days for safety you have to wear a helmet on the bike so you can't get the total sensation but if I stop wearing the ball caps I could. 

So I  took of my ball cap and left it behind and went for a run.  And you know what I love it - it reminded me of those cross-country runs in elementary school.  The mass starts where we raced a cross the school field and on to some trail or path.  It just felt so great to have my hair flowing around me and then I found myself grinning like a fool as I veered off the sidewalk by a school and ran through the middle of the school field to a trail I had spotted on the other side.  I flashed into those childhood memories and thought  - there it is - Freedom. 

Try it take your hat/viser off and go for a run - I promise you it will be a great feeling.  For me unless it is pooring rain I am going to try and do all my runs hat free.  I need that feeling of the breeze and freedom.

Peace out

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Yes that is right folks me and the boy have officially registered for the Oliver Half Ironman.  Will this by my year?  Probably not since he is actually training this year but hey a girl's gotta dream. 

This past week has been a bit of a gong show.  Flew down a flight of stairs at work on Monday -can we say OW.  Pretty banged up and then Friday night I went out to get something on the sundeck with my crocs on and of course it had been raining and well I was airborne in no time.  Good news is I landed on the opposite side from Monday's fall.  Decided not to ride on Saturday morning but did do a 2 hour walk with the dog to the grocery store and back.  Walk home involved carrying 4 litres of milk, 2 litres of OJ and a few other items in my knapsack - probably should have just done the ride.

This morning was Sunday Clinic run and with 2 clinics going at the same time  and running different distances organization is key.  I have to say my group(s) did me proud from the great group running - 2 x2 on the sidewalks and single file when needed - not easy when well over a 100 people are running.  The BMO group is going to be a great group.  They did their first run up Prospect Point and apparently my 2:30 group cheered when they made it to the top.  I am sorry I missed it.  My Fort Langley group who did their 20km run - last really big run before race day - all looked strong and were in great spirits.  I am super excited to see how they all do on race day - they have been a great and dedicated group. 

Last but not least I decided that I needed to seriously start doing some core training and weights.  Every second day I have been doing about a 30 minute workout of combined weights and core exercises as well as I have been taking a swimming/stroke clinic.  I was like I don't know if this is doing anything and then this morning I got up and went oh apparently I do have muscles in my stomach.  So I guess something is happening so I will keep up with it.  Maybe that will be the thing that gives me the edge this year?!?! 

Peace out


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Shaun 1 - Squirrels 0

Last week was the first time I was on the bike since the beginning of December.  I sent a note to Coach B and gals and was told 9am - KCC ready to ride. 

I was looking forward to the ride - timing was off and I parked with about 5 min to spare to get my  bike out and shoes on - then I had to go back to get my glasses. 

The first ride also saw the LETC tri club start to ride with us.... more about that later.  Cindy waited with me to grab my glasses and then we chased down the group - nothing like a km sprint to start out your ride.
We caught the group and slotted in.

I then had a chance to say where are we going - Whytecliff - via upper levels...ah nuts!  I thought we were going to Steveston and if I had known West Van I would have met them  in West Van.  First ride back I was not too excited about 3+ hours - but I was in it now.  The ride out to West Van was not too bad and I thought maybe this will be okay. 

We headed out as a group and then Coach announced Trestle hill.  !&@^?!   - THIS IS THE WORST !@#%! way to get up to the Upper Levels.  Well whatever so things were still okay got up and was pretty winded but we regrouped and Coach gave us our workout - splitting us in groups of 3 to do pace line.  And this is where it went to hell and a hand basket pretty quick.

Now I am a triathlete but I have been riding/training with a cycling club so I have been schooled in how to paceline, draft and group ride.  Sadly the majority of triathletes have no clue - it is all about the individual ride and hammer time.  Well I got sent out with Jude and a lady who had never pace lined/drafted/group ride and so did not understand the workout and turned it into a hammerfest.  At this point I was pissed because I was having to ride a lot harder than I was supposed to and Jude thought I had sat up and waited for Cindy so she was hammering it to stay with this woman.  I was in no-man's land and severely annoyed.  By the time I caught them on an uphill portion they veered to the right suddenly going the wrong way and I just went by - Jude looked down but I was like whatever.  Eventually they found a route and got back on course. 

We reconnected and Jude said lets pace line - 30 secs on front then pull off -- well here we go again - by the time we got to the group I was thoroughly ticked off.  After repeatedly explaining the rotation and that we worked as a group this lady just did not get it and I had decided I was not riding with her anymore.

As we headed back Coach put us all together again but had Cindy with us so it was okay for about 15 min till missy had her turn on front and bolted at that point I said forget it let her go.  So the 3 of us settled in to our rhythm and all was going well.  I started to tire around 2hours and it was obvious that my fitness was down as I was working very hard to stay with the girls. 

At one point I came off and thought ah well no biggy and then the final straw.  Riding down a hill on a narrow section with a garbage truck on my wheel and traffic in the opposite direction and this darn squirrel goes for it and is bouncing around in front of me - I was like MOVE - and thought all was well when he/she at last second darted in front of me.  Bump, bump - yep you guessed it right over top of him/her I rode.  Broke the little squirrel's back for sure.  CRAPTASTIC. 

That was it - I just thought done - I am done so I sat up rode to the coffee shop and said I am going back to the car - I have had enough for one day.  The ride back to the car was uneventful overall I was out for 3.5 hours and exhausted.  Not the best first ride.

Glad to report though this weekend went out again and this time clarified where we were riding to.  The ride was 100% better.  LETC group was with us again but there was a little more explanation to them about pace lines and group riding so things went a lot smoother and my Joe came out and rode with us.  It was great to have him out - I mean he was at the front and did his intervals with the front group which are faster but it was nice to have him there and he had my coffee and lemon loaf waiting for me at the coffee shop.

And I am happy to report that I did not hit any squirrels - actually I did not even see any - hopefully they are not planning retribution. 

Peace out


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

For the love of running

Happy new year!  wow has it really been that long since I  posted.  I guess 2010 shows you how narcissitic (?sp) I am - barely posted at all. 

Title - well after NY I had a melt down - well as best as you can when still coaching.  I have hated running for a while honestly since before NY - it was not good.  No wonder I blew up in the marathon.  I came back and was like blah...  I did my runs because I am leading a clinic but I did the bare minumum.  Sundays and Thursdays.

I got out and did spin and my weekly rides but I was resentful.  Something I loved doing - my time to hook up with the green goddesses was pissing me off and making me resentful.  All was not well in my world. 

I thought about it  - I mean I took a week off in NY - well okay 6 days, but still time off.  What was going on and then as usual my guardian angel - Judith - saw it and called me out.  I knew it in my heart I just did not want to admit it. 

I was overtrained.  I was burnt out and it was bad.  I actually showed up to lead a clinic one night and I did not get dressed to run - I sent them out without me. The first time in over 5 years.  I hated running and I hated riding and I hated working out.   I was ticked off at all my workouts and Judith saw it.  She gave me the permission I needed to not do workouts and be okay.  The trouble is now I need to start again. 

Running - I have a new passion for running that I have honestly not felt in about 2 years.  It has been great.  How did I get it by some amazing reading -

The Grace to Race - Sister Madonna's story.
It's only a mountain - The Hoyt's Story.
Born to Run - The greatest race ever. 

All three books have really helped me get back to basics and remind me how much I love running.  I am seriously looking at barefoot running - or at least in my socks until it warms up.  There was some interesting and very valid research in Born to Run - which is about Tahnemura runners in Mexico, Scott Turic, and trail running in general - really a great read.  It also has really got me thinking very seriously about vegetarian and such.  However I am going to start researching some more about CHIA - apparently the magic factor for runners.  Mostly what I liked about the book was it was going back to basics and just running for the pure joy of running - which is why I run.  No heart rate monitors, no time intervals, just running because I wanted to  - something that coach Barb would not like.  NO STATS. 

I got back in the pool for the first time in a year- I am not going to lie while I felt okay my shoulders and neck did not.  Overall I pulled out 1200 m.  400 straight - the rest in intervals. 

Cycling - not going to lie struggling - I hate the trainer.  that is what the crew is doing.  It has also has been horribly cold here and well I am a pansy.  Read a great book - Greg LeMond - Tour de France winner. Great read - but not terribly motivating.  Just have to suck it up I suppose - would be brutal if the girls beat me up the hill in the spring. 

I guess the big thing is that it is Joe's year and I know the journey he is starting and I want to be there to support him in all ways possible.  I know this means putting my goals second  and well financially we can't have 2 of us paying huge coaching fees.  So this year's blog is going to be from the perspective of a spouse of  a future Ironman.  Don't get me wrong I am still racing and training but from a different angle. So after May 1st I will not be leading clinics for a while.  This will allow me to go up to the Okanangan any weekend we want and train with Joe. 

My races - Vancouver half - May 1 - 2:15 pace bunny.  Oliver Half Ironman.  Gran Fondo Bike Race.  San Fran Women's Half Marathon (if we get in).  I am sure there will be more - probably a few time trials, UBC Tri and Osoyoss Half iron are good possibilites. 

Either way - 2011 is going to be a busy and exiting year.   Thankfully I love running again  only 2 more sports to go.

Peace Out