Thursday, December 30, 2010

Training, Procrastination and Nuun Slushies

I had two decent workouts today.

This morning's introduced a new swim toy - the sponge.  Imagine giving a 6 year old long strips of sponge and telling them to make an octopus.  The result (less the poster paint, googly eyes and glitter) is then tied to one end of a long piece of string, the other end of the string goes around your waist and you swim with it tagging along behind you.

While it provides some drag the point of our workout was to use it to smooth out our stroke.  It gives tactile feedback, if the string around your waist jerks and pulls unevenly then you aren't keeping a consistent speed.  I discovered my kick is fine but on my stroke I slow down when I breath. I corrected it but it's a lot more work when you don't get a mini break every third breath!

I was dreading my run, the main set of which was two times 5km at my half marathon pace.  I dreaded it enough that I employed as many procrastination techniques as I could manage:

- check my email (I wouldn't want to be late in replying to anyone!)
- wait until the last minute to figure out what my pace should be
- post on Facebook 
- put away clean laundry
- search for my spare key
- check the weather online (cold)

I finally ran out of ways to put off the inevitable and headed to the track.

I haven't done as much track work this year as in the past and it really shows.  I used to be a metronome, I could keep my 400m pace to the second. Now I'm all over the map. 

I was completely off pace for my first 5km, the first km was a disaster and the following four were better but not by much.  I managed to keep closer to pace for the second set, and was fairly consistent, but I was still slower than I wanted to be.  I don't know how much the cold weather affected my speed or if I was having an off day, but the pace I was trying for was the pace I ran at the Fall Classic so it is achievable. Frustrating regardless of the reason but I do know now what my focus needs to be through my taper - nail my marathon pace.

As to the cold, it was definitely not warm this evening.  After my second 5km I tried to take a swig from my water bottle only to find it had frozen. I've never had that happen at a workout before. It turns out, however, that cola flavoured Nuun makes a tasty slushy.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Be Prepared!

After a week of "too much overindulging" over Christmas I'm trying to get myself back into some semblance of a workout routine that I can carry over into the New Year. 

In mid-December I decided to sign up for a swim clinic in the week between Christmas and New Years.  I figured that as I'd avoided the pool for two months I'd need a bit of a jump start for my 2011 swimming.

I opted for the Infinity Clinic, put on by the coach of my masters swim (can I call it "my" swim when I bailed on almost the entire fall session?).  Until about 8:45 last night I thought this clinic was at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre.  Turns out it's at the UBC pool, rather a significant difference as that's an additional 25-30 minutes biking.  Annoying, and a bit embarassing, but at least I figured it out before I left for the pool this morning.

Also turns out the swim starts at 5:20, I'm not sure what was in the flyer (that came out, like, two weeks ago, why should I remember?) but that seems a bit early.  Even just ten minutes later would be lovely!  The coach sent an email stating that the pool wouldn't open until 5:15 and apologized to those folks who'd want to get in earlier.   That made me laugh.  My plan was to come screaming into the pool at the last possible second.

Signing up for the clinic gave me the impetus to finally  get the rack put on my new bike and to finally use it to bike to swimming.  As I put my paniers on last night, however, I realized that they don't quite fit the new rack, the s-hook is about 2mm too small to hook securely onto the bottom of the rack.  Probably would have been useful to figure this out prior to biking the breadth of the city at 4:30am with fully laden paniers.  It was a bit of a slow ride as I was anxious to avoid potholes or bumps that might send my gear flying off the bike but I made it to UBC with everything intact. 

I was also slow as I'm getting used to the new bike and to mountain bike clips, as well as to riding with paniers for the first time in seven years.  I vididly recall when I had paniers on for the first time and tried to take a corner at speed when they were full of heavy groceries.  For your future reference, your ability to turn declines sharply when you have a lot of weight on your back wheel.

Much as I hate getting up at that hour, and despite my various trials and tribulations with the bike, I love having the road to myself.  It's a super fast ride (even when you're being uber cautious to avoid flinging your belongings onto the street) when you don't have to stop for traffic.

And the clinic was well worth it.  There aren't a lot of people in this session so I'm sharing a lane with just one other person.  The small numbers also mean we get a lot of feedback from the coaches.  Plus I got to try swimming on a tether and, just for added weirdness/geek factor, swim over a mirror while tethered so I could see what I'm doing when I swim.  I move my head to much, on pretty much every axis, and my elbow is way to high in the water making for too shallow of a pull (the coach pointed this out, I'm not skilled enough to figure out for myself).

When the swim was done I had my proof I haven't swum in ages - I forgot to bring a towel.  Happily the woman I share a lane with lent me a towel as she brings two.  Yay for prepared people who're willing to lend things to strangers!!! 

I expect to be somewhat more prepared tomorrow, although I just realized that I will have to bring two towels (mine plus the borrowed one) so my precarious paniers will be even more heavily laden!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Long Run

I was thinking back on my training this fall and realized that since the Fall Classic my long runs have been the following:

- a (mildly) hung over half marathon.
- an attempt to run with a cranked up back where I bailed after an hour.
- a poorly planned run route that resulted in me becoming dehydrated enough to be seriously loopy.
- a horrendous run after four days of GI distress where I had eaten very little.  Had I not had company, and great company at that, for the first two hours I likely would have bailed.
- a nasty hangover induced from extending an LMDI (Last Minute Dinner Invite) that unexpectedly involved a significant amount of wine and turned into a late night.

Good thing I'm not going to the Bahamas hoping to set a world record!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Plan Your Race - Race Your Plan

Or Fantasy vs. Reality

My training for the Bahamas marathon is getting close to taper time, one more wickedly long run then I get to back off the volume. I've put in the training and I think I have a good feel for my fitness level so now I need to work on the race plan.

I'm trying to separate what I want to do, to go 4 hours or less, from what I can do.

At my recent half marathon I ran 1:51 in less than ideal conditions so 4 hours may be an achieveable goal however the Fall Classic was my 7th or 8th stand-alone half marathon and the Bahamas will be my first full marathon.

In my half marathons, along with the runs from the 6 half iron triathlons, I've learned how to pace myself over 21.1 km. 42.1km is a whole different beast!

I had a very successful run at Ironman but the run is so far removed from a stand alone marathon I don't think it can compare. I didn't have to deal with a mass start, I came onto a course that was already quite spread out and I was generally amongst people the same speed as me. I didn't have to deal with a crowded run start (never my strong point) or being passed by speedsters taking off at full tilt (again, hard to hold back and be passed).

I also trained in weather close to race day conditions in 2007. I've been running through the fall/winter in Vancouver so I'm acclimatized to cold and wet weather. Apparently this time of year isn't generally super hot in the Bahamas but it will certainly be warmer than Vancouver. If, through some strange circumstance, it is 7 degrees and raining on race day I will so be rocking the course!!!

So, despite the fact that I want to run 4 hours, I'll be super conservative. I'll aim for a 2:05 first half and see how I feel. If I'm doing well I'll pick up the pace a touch. Just a touch, no sprinting or world record 5km pace! 10km later, about where most folks hit the wall, I'll reassess and see if I'm okay to pick it up a bit more.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Random Training Thoughts and Facts

My back seemed to be okay with a long run. Yay!

Hangovers suck. Especially on long training runs.

Public water fountains are turned off in cold weather. This would only be mildly interesting except that my long run hydration plan depended on filling up at these water fountains.

Being dehydrated (while hung over and doing a long run) sucks. It also makes walking straight a bit of a challenge and gets me a little loopy. Oh, and it makes a pre-existing hangover worse.

Chocolate milk rocks.

The worst parts of an ice bath are the anticipation and the first 20 seconds in. After that it's just ten minutes during which I can't use my iPad.

Putting on compression socks when you can't feel your feet is awkward.

The warming up process from an ice bath has weird stage where my skin is warmer than the rest of me and it's chilled not from the air temperature but from blood flow.

Post run naps are awesome.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, December 02, 2010

How not to install an App

I've been reading ebooks on my iPad, specifically slogging my way through 'The Idiot' by Dostoyevsky. I downloaded a bunch of free books from Project Gutenberg, which offers books whose copyright's have expired for free.

I'm still warming up to the idea of using an ereader so I'm not keen to start dishing out money for ebooks. 'The Idiot' hasn't exactly kept me up nights reading, but I was pretty sure that had more to do with the material rather than the technology.

The Vancouver Public Library has links to various free ebooks and articles, including BC' Library Online ( Seemed like a great way to access ebooks for free, all I had to do was download a compatible ereader App to my iPad and I was set!

Or maybe not.

My steps:

1) Download the Bluefire Reader App to my iPad
2) Go to to sign out a book on my iPad - yay digital library!!!
3) Download won't work. Go to App help page to figure out why.
3.1) Realize I need to download books to my PC and need Adobe Digital Editions to do so.
3.2) Get a little annoyed.
4) Download Adobe digital editions to my PC/desktop (after booting up the computer, which of course takes forever).
5) Go to the BC Library website and sign out a book and (try to) download it.
5.1) Reread the obscure instructions then realize I apparently have to use Firefox, not Explorer (not because they actually tell you, but because it's in one of the illustrations).
5.2) Download Firefox.
5.3) Get serious about being annoyed.
6) Go back to BC Library online and download the book file to my computer.
7) Open iTunes. Which prompts me to upgrade. Why not? How long could it take?
7.1) Find out how long it can take.
7.2) Grrrr.
8) Connect my iPad to my computer and be prompted to update to the latest OS. Why not, I've been at this for long enough, might as well make it truly epic.
8.1) Discover that it takes a long time. A really long time.
8.2) Get an error message that the device has gone into recovery mode.
8.3) Swear loudly.
9) Learn a great deal about recovery mode.
9.1) Learn how long it takes to for an iPad to recover.
9.2) Swear. Not quite so loudly though, I'm a bit tired and really just want to go to bed.
10) Once everything has rebooted, recovered, rehabilitated and what have you I go back online to transfer the book to iTunes then to my iPad.
10.1) Yay! That was a lot of work but worth it. I feel the satisfaction of having figured it all out.
11) The books don't show up on my iPad. Anywhere.
11.1) Swear halfheartedly.
11.2) Give up and go to bed.
12) One day later realize I'd downloaded audio books, not text.
12.1) Feel like an idiot.
12.2) Download a text version book.

Granted I messed up a few things (audio books - doh!) but the process was still a major hassle. There are some good books available at BC Library but the selection is fairly limited. Presumably this will change as the library gets more use.

I found the BC Library website unwieldy and poorly organized. Again, something I hope will improve as the site gets more use.

That said, I'm really enjoying 'Breakfast of Champions', Vonnegut is way more readable than Dostoyevsky.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Curse of the Blog?

As I fight what hopefully is not the start of the cold I'm beginning to wonder if getting back to blogging about training was such a great idea!

I'm hydrating like crazy, just ate a meal heavy on garlic (maybe avoid me if you see me tomorrow!) and am planning on going to bed super early.

Who's dumb idea was it to run a marathon in January??

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Sometimes life gets in the way of training. I wasn't expecting to get in a run this weekend but thought I'd take my runners to Calgary with me just in case. Then I managed to tweak my back bending over to put something (not my runners) into my suitcase. One solution to the "to run or not to run" question.

After a bit of panic, I managed to find someone able to see me on Friday on short notice and I had a quick physio session that made it possible for me to sit for the flight to Calgary. Straight from physio to airport.

The reason for the trip was to attend the memorial service for my Uncle Andy, who passed away the week before last. There was no question of staying home to nurse my back. The ceremony was very casual, as is fitting for a celebration in Andy's honour, with some great stories.

It was definitely a sad reason to visit but was really, really nice to have the Thompsons and Russells all together. We need to meet up more often (perhaps Maui could be the new Shuswap?). We do need to get together at the very least to get into the legendary scotch bottle.

I have a very cool family. We're a small crew and don't really do drama, which is fine by me. I think I'm doing another road trip next summer to see them all.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Long Lost Calgary 70.3 Race Report

I found this in my drafts on my blog. It's a bit rough around the edges but it'll do.

I had a great swim - took over two mintues off last year's time. I started way further to the front than last year and had no issues with the washing machine for the first third. Kept ending up behind swimmers who couldn't sight and ran into them when they stopped to look for the bouys, annoying but fun to pass people. It was a bad decision to wear my blue goggles, have had trouble sighting the red bouys all summer with them but in the gloom at 6:30am it was impossible to see them - I looked where the swimmers in front of me were and aimed for the middle of the pack, assuming the swim support would herd the outside stragglers.

After a great swim had a stupid T1 and set out on the bike about the same time as last year - I was a bit spiny after the swim and not moving straight plus it was super muddy and slick after a night of hard rain so hard to move quickly without going down.

Wet roads and a slight headwind made for a slower bike. I raced the first 60 or so km as usual - found a pace group and leap-frogged with a few people. On the second big hill it started to fall apart, I couldn't keep up and suddenly everyone was passing me. The last 10 km was a slog and all I wanted was to get off the bike.

Decent T2 then a horrible run. I had nothing in my legs and my lungs weren't cooperating, I just wanted to quit and finally decided I'd do 10 and 1 and ignore splits as by 4km I was already off my target pace by 5 minutes. I couldn't push the pace as my breathing would get out of control, and halfway in I had nothing in my legs. The upside was that I didn't "catastrophize" and managed to keep positive and adjust my game plan to suit the reality of the day.

Lot of little things I did wrong - didn't adjust sleep patterns in advance (late-ish nights and slept in), not the greatest diet, more alcohol than usual - but I think it was the throat infection that killed me as I've been knocking out long rides for months and while I can see a bad run from the above I don't see why I'd die on the ride. I think my big mistake was not opting for a slower bike pace to account for being sick. I could be deluding myself.

My feedback on the race - the pre-race logistics are a serious pain in the butt. Made for a long Saturday, I was pretty tired and cranky by the time I got to the hotel on Saturday afternoon even though I'd drank lots of water and eaten well. Also the post-race food was nasty - a can of pop, small bag of chips and a subway sandwich. That's it. For $230.00 I expect a bit more. Think this is my last time at this race.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fall Classic Race Report

Even before the mercury and snow both started falling I had low expectations for the Fall Classic half marathon. I hadn't done any timed runs since the Calgary 70.3, I'd taken a two month break from running and my most recent track workout was a gong show.

On top of this I spent the day before the race on my feet walking around the Circle Craft fair then a good four hours that evening towering over guests at Valencia's wine party in a pair of five inch heels. I only had a little wine though. A little of this wine, a little of that wine, a little of ...

Needless to say I didn't arrive at UBC on Sunday morning expecting to break any world records. The thick ice on the ground around the SRC didn't do anything to inspire me to greatness.

The race start was delayed because the organizers wanted the salt they'd put down to have some effect. They were very clear to let people know the course was slippery and to put caution above speed.

I did a warm up run with Clayton and Chris and got to the start just in time. We were told that today was not the day for a PR but to have good race and to be careful. The guy with the starting gun obviously had had his wheaties - he was wildly hyper then shot the gun at least four times just for fun. It was nice to start the race with a smile.

I took it out super easy, partly because I was worried slipping on ice but mostly because I didn't have a good feel for my pace and didn't want to start too fast then blow up.

There were lots of icy patches but the volunteers were awesome and made sure everyone knew to be careful. I didn't see anyone go down, although I'm sure people must have.

As we neared the turn around on Marine we saw the leaders coming back. Rachel and Amy we're running shoulder to shoulder, it was great to see and to cheer to them both.

I was at about 55 minutes at 10km but missed the hallway mark so I didn't get proper splits.

I finished the first loop just as the 10km race was starting so I got caught up in the chaos of the start. That was annoying but after about a km I got back into my rhythm.

As we saw the leaders of the half coming back at us I saw Rachel and Amy again, this time Rachel had about a 15 metre lead. I yelled like crazy at both of them, which seemed to annoy the runners around me. As we started seeing the 10km runners coming back at us I yelled just as loud for the people I recognized, figuring the runners around me were all 10km'ers and as I was running twice as far as them I had the right to be annoying. Not quite sure on how the logic in that works but it made sense at the time.

I was feeling good with five km to go so picked up the pace a bit and again at four. My hamstring had been tight for a good chunk of the race so I didn't want to push too hard and didn't speed up after that. I was feeing comfortable and was chatty with the other runners, which is a sign I'm in a good head space.

Coach Drew and Clayton, looking quite fresh despite having having just finished the half, were cheering at about 500m from the finish, a good push to pick it up just a bit.

I finished in1:51 according to the official results. My watch has gone on strike after an evening run in the cold, but I timed myself at 1:53. Not sure if my watch was incorrect or if the results are. Either way, I was hoping I could pull off a sub-two so I'm very happy with how I did.

I think this bodes well for the Bahamas marathon.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

All Right Already!

Apparently people do read my blog and a few of them even like it. I always thought it would be great to have adoring fans but it turns out they can also be demanding. So fans, here's a post for you - now leave me alone!

What's happened since my last post?

I did finish the Calgary 70.3 - blew up on the bike (I'd been sick, remember), had a slow run and a long day and came away generally unimpressed with the race. The raison d'etre for the whole trip to Calgary turned into the least fun part, happily the rest of the trip was a blast. Next year I'll do a race first then head out across the rockies.

I then decided to take a break from running to give my foot a rest and I focussed on biking and swimming.

Swimming with Fast Lane at Kits pool was phenomenal and I felt that I made huge gains in the water. I've built on those gains in the fall by signing up for Dolphins and, um, mostly sleeping in. Something about getting up at 4:30am in the off season is just plain wrong. Various people have tried to point out the error of my ways, none have come up with a suitably compelling reason.

I had fun doing long rides with the IMAZ crew, building up distance for the Gran Fondo. I got sick with a horrendous cold the week before the ride and wasn't 100% (not even 75%) on the day of but still did the ride. It was tough grind at the very end, everyone seemed to have issues at about the 100km mark, but fun. I'm not sure it was $250.00 worth of fun, however, so I'm passing on doing it next year.

Apparently riding 120km mostly uphill while suffering from a cold is not a good way to kick said cold. The cold took another week to go away then a cough settled in that lasted for almost two months. The upside was that I discovered you can get cough syrup with codiene without a presciption and that the stuff gets me seriously high!

In late September, after not having run for two months, not having exercised in almost a month and with my plantar faciitis issues unchanged, I decided it would be a good idea to sign up for a marathon. There was a ridiculous travel industry deal for the Bahamas Marathon, I figured even if I crawled the marathon it would be worth the trip.

I went back to phsyio and figured what my issues are. Basically I'm an idiot - a weak core and unstable supporting muscles were causing the problems. This was bad in that the plantar faciitis was caused by neglect but good in that there's a workable solution. A week of doing the plank and various exercises from Janet and I was doing great. I'm not 100% but getting there.

I got back on the bike, riding with Barb Zimich's group. She's a fantastic coach and I'm really enjoying riding with her. Her surgery and the cold weather has put an end to that for now but I'm really looking forward to riding with her in 2011.

So that's where I'm at. I will publish my Fall Classic race report soon. I promise. Really.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Calgary Pre-Race Report

Last year the pre-race logistics were a pain. Staying out of town, and with one car between my Mum and I made it even messier this year. I needed to register and pick up my race package at the Westin downtown then truck all the way out to Ghost Lake (about 90 km out of Calgary) to drop off my bike and my T2 bag, then head all the way back to the hotel.

I was quite cranky about the T2 bag, a change from last year, although on reflection all I needed to put in it was a hat, running shoes and a gel so it wasn't that big a deal. Unfortunately I hadn't planned ahead - I only had one hat with me and was suffering from terrible, terrible hat hair. I had to buy a hat at the expo so I didn't spend the remainder of the day terrifying small children and old ladies.

At Ghost Lake Mum left me to drop off my bike and headed out to take pictures. Things took a bit longer than planned as when I went to let the air out of my tires (the sound of exploding bike tires made the volunteers' suggestion to deflate mine much more convincing) the valve on my back tire broke. Changing the tire wasn't an issue but put me in a bit of a panic as I had decided, from some unknown reason, that I only needed to bring one spare tube for the race. A stupid decision, in retrospect, but easily solved.

Once my bike was set up, deflated and ready to go I left it with the minor panic I always feel when I have to drop off my bike a day in advance.

I wanted to do a quick swim and reacquaint myself with the lake. Putting on a wetsuit is a pain and I wasn't sure if it would dry out in time for the race the next day so I went in in just a bathing suit. This confirmed for me that the water was perfect for a wetsuit. It was very cold but I was only in for about 15 minutes and all the comments from racers struggling to get into their wetsuits made it worth it. I'll take my ego boosts wherever I can get 'em, thank you very much!

After that we made a quick detour into Cochrane to pick up spare tubes (I bought 3, taking my pre-race flat as an ominous sign) then back to Calgary.

Mum dropped me at the hotel, where I had to deal with nervous energy entirely on my own and in a foreign environment.

I figured I'd do take out from the hotel restaurant, the Keg, and had the following conversation:

Me: Can I order takeout?
Keg Phone Person: Absolutely!
Me: What kind of pasta dishes do you have?
KPP: We have no pasta.
Me: No pasta?
KPP: There is no pasta on the premises. [Obviously I wasn't the first person to ask.]
Me: You have a hotel full of triathletes and no pasta?
KPP: That's correct.

To be clear, this was the restaurant in the host hotel for the half iron. Hence my surprise.

Turns out there was an Old Spaghetti Factory behind the hotel to save the day. I got my pasta dinner, and paid a lot less than I would have at the Keg.

I was in a foul mood when I got back to my room, which went away as soon as I started to eat. I had tried to stay hydrated and fed throughout the day but obviously hadn't managed very well. Not a particularly good sign for the coming race but not surprising considering the logistics involved in the day.

Sated from dinner, I starting doing some math. My wave started at 6:30 and I wanted to get to transition by 5:30 which meant I'd have to catch the shuttle at 4:15 so I'd have to check out by 4:00 and I'd have to get up by (yikes!) 3:30. I laid out all my gear for the following day and made it a night at 7:30. Ooh the excitement of the triathlon lifestyle!

Race Day ... To be continued!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Quick Update

All right, all right a race report is coming. Just not quite yet.

I'm digging myself out from under laundry and various things left undone at home plus absolute chaos at work is leaving me a bit tired at the end of the day. Our server got tempermental while I was away and the day I got back it died entirely. Nothing like trying to deal with two weeks' worth of work plus a technology crisis (I'm to go-to person for tech stuff, however anything that requires more than a reboot is beyond my abilities to cure).

A quick summary of my trip:
Stayed in:
- Chilliwack
- Penticton
- Rossland
- Turner Valley
- Calgary
- Sorrento

Got lost leaving Phoenix, saw the house I lived in from 3 months to 3 years old, drove through the Crowsnest Pass for the first time in at least 30 years, discovered how truly beautiful Southern BC is, lost count of the number of passes and summits we drove through (are all passes summits and vice-versa??), was shocked by the extent of the forest fire smoke, and almost never ran out of things to talk about with my Mum.

I discovered the depths of rage my mother harbours towards slow moving motorhomes that don't move to the right when there's a passing lane. I'm not saying this isn't justified, but it was a bit surprising.

I visited with 14 relatives, 6 of whom 11 or younger. Swam with 4 of the six youngsters. Remarkably few of my 300+ photos, however, are of any of the relatives.

Stayed in a hotel, motel and B&B plus various spare rooms.

Got a throat infection, which sucked for many reasons - bad timing before my race, I didn't want to infect everyone we visited, and I didn't want to miss out on any of the visiting. Had respritory issues from the smoke once we passed Kamloops and I'm still not breathing normally (there's smoke in Vancouver too).

Somewhere along the way I also did a race. Despite the fact that the whole point of this trip was to get me to the race it ended up being the least interesting or fun part of the whole trip. Despite that, yes, you'll still get your race report. Just not today.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

One week out

One week away from my A race for the season and I have a vicious
throat infection that's gone to my nose and ears.

After four days of antibiotics I still feel like death warmed over,
hopefully they kick in soon. Terribly frustrating not to be able to
train - I tried a 30 minute swim this morning and it knocked me flat.

My race plan might go from a PR attempt to just finishing. Thoughts of
DNS have been going through my head - hopefully it doesn't come to

Monday, July 19, 2010

A billion dollars of bridges

Quick recap - the plan for the weekend was to do the Peach in Penticton as my last race before tapering for Calgary. Without going into the whole gong show, that didn't happen and instead I had the brilliant idea to spend the weekend with a bunch of folks training for Ironman.

For Saturday's ride Teresa's friend invited us to ride with him then come back to his place for beer. I was so enamoured with the idea of beer that the part about 120km route (later changed to 140km) or 5 hour predicted ride time didn't really sink in!

It was a fair bit longer than would have been in my plan, if my plan didn't have me in Penticton readying for the Peach, but sometimes you have do stuff that's fun rather than smart. Hmm, that didn't sound as meaningful as I'd intended.

Most of us, being diehard West Side or Richmond folk, were pretty much lost as soon as Clement took us past Port Moody. "Where are we?" was the most common sentence uttered. I'm not entirely sure of the route, but we did ride over the new overpass leading up to the new Pitt River bridge and then the new Golden Ears Bridge - over $1B of bridges in about an hour!

Places I do know we got to:

  • Fort Langley - the countryside out there is lovely and the coffee shop we stopped at was excellent.
  • Entrance to Allouette Lake Park - not a good place to be on a bike on a sunny weekend afternoon. Valencia called it a "Goat show" - I'm a city girl so not quite sure what that means but the traffice was nuts.
  • Pitt Meadows - flat, pretty, llamas and horses.
  • Top of a ridiculously (as in "are you kidding me" ridiculous) steep hill that George's Garmin pegged at a 13% grade. This was about 90km into the ride.
  • Presumably lots of other places - 143km is a long way.
Other random ride notes:
  • We all got very good at counting to 9 - everytime we regrouped we counted heads. Had someone else inadvertently joined us we would have likely left one of the group behind.
  • I really don't know much of the Lower Mainland East of Burnaby.
  • Peanut butter on a bagel is about the best food ever on a long ride.
  • My Sugoi bib shorts are great for about 100km. Which I figured out on the 145km Mt. Baker ride then for some dumb reason I wore them again on this weekend's ride.
  • I need to clean the lens for my cell phone camera before taking pictures.
  • Heavy traffic when I'm tired stresses me out.
  • I train with a really good group of folks.

A couple of fuzzy pictures taken at the top of "Ridiculous Hill":

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Baker Baby!

See below for photos.

A day after telling someone I didn't think I'd make it up Mt. Baker this summer I got invited to ride it with some friends. To be truthful, I invited myself ("please, please, puh-lease can I come?"), and the crew my friends were going with were kind enough to take me along.

I would like to go off topic for a moment and say I don't think I'll win the lottery this summer. (Can't hurt to try!)

We parked by the Sumas border crossing and biked across. I had it in my head that the ride to Glacier was a gentle uphill and had somehow managed to wipe from my memory the nasty hill out of Sumas. Nothing like feeling like your legs are fried when you're only 15km into a 140km ride!

The hill split up the group and I was riding with Clayton and two guys from Dean Stanton's group until I got dropped. Eventually another rider from Dean's group caught me and we either chatted or pacelined into Glacier.

We regrouped in Glacier - had coffee (surprisingly mediocre for Washington State), snacked, refilled water bottles, and had pit stops. The stop seemed to take a long time so we decided the "slower" riders would take off first ("slower" = impatient to get going).

Teresa, Bronwyn, Clayton and I rode together through the first few hills then it was just Clayton and I. The first 20km or so from Glacier are tough but with flat or downhill sections to break it up. When you see the warning sign that there are switchbacks for the next 10 miles that's when the real work starts. It's very hard - relentless uphill with no flat or even easy spinning sections until you reach the top. If you've ridden Seymour it's like all the hard bits but with more corners. At one point I rode around the edge of a viewpoint pullout in the hopes I could get my cadence up. No luck.

Clayton stuck with on the ride up, I'm sure he could have been far, far ahead, but he's a nice guy. Or he didn't know the way. Nah, I'm going with the former.

Paul Cross, who we'd seen at the store in Glacier, caught up with us at the round about at the top and Clayton put in a sprint to try to beat him to the top.

For us the top was the building with the pop machine - the only food source open in the summer. That cold bottle of Mountain Mist was about the tastiest drink I've ever had!

A bit of a delay before heading down as one rider who'd started in North Van, and had done about 150km more than us, was not feeling so well. He recovered after about 15 minutes then proceeded to smoke us all on the downhill. We regrouped at the bottom and pacelined to Glacier.

The people I drove out with both had functions they were in danger of being late for so this second stop in Glacier was briefer - we said our goodbyes to the rest of the crew and carried on.

What I was hoping would be an easy ride back turned into a hard core paceline. I was good up to about the last 45 minutes then ran out of steam. I'd pull at the front then get dropped by the group. I was fine with that but then they'd all wait for me to catch up, ride at a sensible pace for a bout two riders then speed up and I'd be off the back again. At the time I just wanted them to let me ride my own pace and go away, now I realize that considering how tired I was it was smart, and very kind, for my friends to keep an eye on me. Big time bonk on my part!

Aside from running out of steam at the end, it was a great ride. Hopefully we can go up again in August.

Clayton shooting Cliff.

Clayton forgetting that he's not the one who's supposed to be posing.

Teresa ready for the ride down.

Bronwyn and Clayton.

Me at the top.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Fast Lane Summer Masters – Pros & Cons

The Dolphin swims ended last week so I'm signed up for the first time with Fast Lane for their morning sessions at Kits Pool.

When my alarm goes off staying in bed always seems like a much better option than swimming so I've decided to come up with a list of the Pros and Cons of getting up for the Fast Lane swims.


  • Getting up at 4:30am.
  • Extremely hungry at 7:30am.
  • Stunning sunrises can make it difficult to see when swimming East.
  • Scenic North Shore mountains and ocean vistas distract you from paying attention to the coaches.
  • Post swim sneezes at work.


  • No traffic at 5am – best biking ever!
  • Kits Pool!!! 137.5m of Awesomeness.
  • Swimming in Kits before all the crazy people show up.
  • Tons of cool people to chat with before the swim, between sets, mid-length …
  • Great coaches.
  • Second breakfast.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Longest Day 10km

One last catch-up post then I'm off to bed.

Longest Day 10km - 48:26 - Mega PR

My goal was to beat my 10km time from 2006 (50:10) and to break 50 minutes.

Natash also wanted to break 50 so we decided to run together. She usually beats me right at the end at track workouts so I knew she might be abe to out-kick me.

The run started on a false flat on East Blvd then quickly turned to a fast downhill on 16th Ave. I let gravity do the work and just tried to turn my legs fast enough to keep upwith my controlled fall downhill. I surpressed the urge to yell "Wheeee!" the entire way down.

We regained the elevation in a small but painful spurts and there was a dead zone just past the Main Library turn around where it was really hard to keep going.

Natasha was pretty much glued to my side for the whole first loop. At the start of the second loop I told her "This is where it starts to hurt" then did my falling-downhill-disguised-as-running trick on 16th again and gained a few meters on her. I was worried that this meant I was going too fast but I felt I wasn't redlining so kept up the higher speed. At some oint I passed Chris Manore, which again worried me as he's generally significantly faster than me (he's training for Ironman so focussing on a totally different pace than me).

The "dead spot" past Main Library hit me again but I really didn't want to give up on a sub 50 run so I kept going.

I got within 10 meters of Joyce but never managed to catch her. After the race she talked about the heavy breather behind her at the end of the race and I had to tell her it was me!

I was super psyched at end, even more so as Natasha broke 50 and hit a PR and Valencia and Kathy smashed their previous best times.

There was a major feast and a beer garden at the end of the race, never a bad way to finish!

My race reports are now up to date, I'm going to bed!

Canada Day Swim 2010

While I'm posting race results I should add in the Canada Day Swim.

2km open water swim - 37:34

My goal was a PR - I'm going to make you read to the end to find out if I did it!

I wasn't sure I'd get to do the swim this year as I missed the online sign-up and had to show up stupidly early to sign-up on race day. Valencia, my chauffeur, is a hero for being willing to get me there on time. I was the second person to sign up!

No issues at the start, the crazy drills I'd done with the club (beating up Dominic, Natasha and Clayton two weekends prior) helped as the crowding didn't faze me at all. I surprised myself by getting on Bronwyn's toes and holding on to the first turn. I lost her there, found another set of toes, lost those toes at the next turn then suddenly found myself with no one anywhere near me. Not sure how that happened!

I finally started catching up with someone at the first of the two turns by the camp, by the second bouy either she slowed down or I found my turbo gear and I blasted past her. On the last leg to the beach I kept thinking that the Dolphins swims of 3,000 - 4,000 m meant I had no excuse and had to power through to the finish.

I was okay with my time, I figured I was close to previous times so didn't get too excited. I just looked up my previous times tonight:

2008 time - 40:02
2009 time - 40:06

Holy smokes! 2.5 minutes off my previous best, not too shabby. I guess there is a pay off to getting up at 4:30 for the Dolphins swims.

Vancouver Sprint Triathlon

Overall time: 1:32:06
Swim (500m): 10:12
T1: 4:11 (Yikes!)
Bike (26km): 51:27
T2: 1:25
Run (5km): 24:53

The swim was nuts, but everyone was in the same boat (that boat most likely the Titanic). It was a beach start, we lined up about 10m from the water and when the gun went off we ran to the water. It was the craziest swim start I've ever been in, a total washing machine to the first bouy then it got worse!

The current was extremely strong. We watched the half iron swim start and saw how much even the strong swimmers at the front were pushed to the West, most of them undershot the bouy and had to backtrack to get around it. We planned our swim accordingly, start to the right of the beach and aim far to the East of the first turn. Despite aiming wide I got to the first bouy slightly to the left, which wouldn't have been a problem except that most people had missed it by a far greater margin and there was a mass of people almost at a stop trying to get around it. I was boxed in and couldn't swim around or over anyone, it took me about a minute to get past. Apparently one of the men from the earlier wave was clinging to the bouy, which was causing some of the problems.

The second leg of the swim wasn't much better. The swim bouys were small and hard to see and just for fun one of the lifeguard boats was in the line between the bouys and made it impossible to see the bouys anyway.

I made it out of the swim close to my predicted time of 10 minutes and then had to get out of my westuit. I'm happy my A race has wetsuit strippers!

My instructions were to go all out in this race. It was hard to do so in the chaos of the swim so the bike was where I could start doing this. Teresa got out of T1 just ahead of me so I chased her to the hill and caught her there. Then she passed me back, and the trend for the bike was set - she and I leapfrogging the whole way (she won the race to T2). It was fun having her push me on the bike, the idea was to all out the whole time and she kept me honest.

The run was hard to get started and my breathing got a bit out of control but I didn't panic so I'm considering that a victory! I also ran through a stitch (passed two people while doing so) so I think I was reasonably tough!

I figured 25 minutes or less would be good so I certainly hit my goal.

There were a ton of LETC'ers racing (lots of AG podiums; the women took first, second and, as we consider Stephanie's sister an honourary club member, third overall; and RJ came 2nd overall). Actually I knew a lot of the people taking the podium, one of the fun parts of being in the tri community for five years.

There was also a ton of LETC folks volunteering - great to see the club well represented and all of them cheered us on as they went by so that was a big boost.

Final note - chocolate milk as post-race food was the BEST IDEA EVER!!!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Shawnigan Lake Race Report

Yesterday wasn't my greatest showing at 3:07, but it was supposed to be a training race so I'm being philosophical about it. Or trying to be.

Exec Summary: So-so swim in cold water, excruciatingly slow and cold ride on dead legs, decent run with a big negative split.

Take aways: 1) Cold really saps my energy. 2) Not sure if doing the Vancouver Half is a good idea, wondering a fast oly be better than a slow Half IM? I want to do another tri prior to to Calgary, just trying to think what would be best.

Long version:
Ended up without enough time pre-race to do a real warm up for anything other than the swim. Would have liked to have run but that wasn't in the cards.

The water was very cold. I had a neoprene swim cap (purchased last Tuesday - yay!), which likely made a big difference, I definitely didn't suffer as much as most people. I got into the water about 15-20 minutes before race start as 1) my watch was fast, 2) I didn't run so my whole warm up would be in the water (in retrospect I might have had time for a short run but everything after that would have been a panic) and 3) it was very cold so I wanted enough time to acclimatize to the temp. After about five minutes I was comfortable in the water and quite warm, however I totally froze during the 2-3 minute wait at the shore for the race to start.

The swim was unspectacular. I had difficulty drafting as either the people I was drafting off couldn't swim a straight line or I couldn't. I kept losing the toes in front of me so gave up and swam my own line and took the draft when it presented itself. About 30 min for the swim, not great.

T1 was a gong show. I lost the use of my thumbs and the rest of my digits didn't work too well as my hands were numb so getting out of my wetsuit was interesting. I also opted to wear a jacket and gloves, which slowed down T1 but definitely helped on the bike (an Elite racer was taken off the bike course in an ambulance due to hypothermia - it was cold). My legs were totally dead - mostly due to my long rides earlier in the week but also my thighs were frozen from the swim and didn't warm up until halfway in.

I tried to keep a high cadence, especially nearer the end of the ride, to get blood circlating to my feet but that didn't work. I got passed a lot on the bike, didn't like that but managed (mostly) not to get agro and try to re-pass everyone. The course was hilly, wet and full of potholes/uneven pavement so not easy to stay in aerobars.

T2 was faster - less need for opposable thumbs.

The start of the run was tough - uphill on tired legs and numb feet. I got feeling back in my feet at about 2km in, then immediately wished I hadn't as the pins and needles were terrible. I finally felt comfortable at about 3 km.

I was well over my target pace of 5min/km so I stopped taking splits and concentrated on form. I'm still working on headspace for the run portion, keeping positive is currently more helpful to me than killing myself to stay on pace.

At the turn around I felt strong and picked up the pace, repeating my mantra of "Easy", and started to reel people in. I didn't take my split at the half but as I was at 16:50 at 3km and I finished the run in 52 & change I can extrapolate a negative split.

My overall and AG ranking are lower than usual for me. Not thrilled about that but it's a training race.

Happily others in the club had great races: Marie came second in her AG in the Oly, as did Dominic in the Sprint. Not sure how Chris or Jeff did in the half, however Jeff's time was 5:05 and I believe Chris' was under 5:30, so they both had a good chance at the podium.

I have plantar faciitis, it didn't bug me in the race or last night, but my heel hurts a today so I definitely did some damage. I'm off to physio after work to get Janet's assessment.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

May Day Ride

These are posted a bit late as I had some issues with downloading the pictures from my phone (I hate the phone with a passion, but that's a post for a different day).

I rode with the club on May 1st out to Deep Cove but left them at the Second Narrows and came home on my own. As it was a lovely day and I was on my own, I stopped along the way to take some pictures.

The view from the top of the bridge. To me the picture captures the "big sky" feel the day had. I also love the roiling water. I probably should have cropped out either the sky or the water to make this more balanced, but I like them both too much to remove - artistry be damned!

One of the grain elevators,looking freshly painted.

I'm not sure if this is a grain elevator but it's picturesque. The section of Wall St. along the bike path is one of my favorite parts of the city.

Finally, a view back towards the bridge from Wall St.

Monday, May 10, 2010


After an unhappy gastrointestinal day (you do not want more details) on Thursday last week I decided I'd de-germ my waterbottles.

I didn't quite get around to it, however, until I saw the gunk on Teresa's Fuel Belt bottle on our run yesterday. I looked at the same spot on my FB water bottle and it too was gunky. A useful training trip, when you are 40 minutes into a 2 hour run on a warm day it is a bad idea to become revolted with your water supply.

At home I filled the sink with hot water & bleach (not at all eco friendly but kills bacteria real good) then disassembled my water bottles and threw them in. I know that gunk likes to hide in the lid so I removed the nipple (yes, I said nipple - grow up!) so everything could soak and be scrubbed. On the water bottle I used on Thursday I found some seriously nasty grime - it was black, slimy and hard to scrub off. In fact I couldn't get some of it off at all. It irks me to toss an otherwise perfectly good water bottle but I think it's off to the recycling bin for this sucker.

Hopefully I've fixed the source of my GI issues from last week. If nothing else I have a whole lot of squeaky clean waterbottles

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Quick Update

Since my last post we had time trial week.

Swim: 1500m - 28:17
I've never done a 1500m time trial in the pool so no idea where this puts me in terms of training. I'm usually about 30 minutes in a tri but that's open water so I'm not kicking off the wall every 25m.

We'll just hold onto this number for reference!

16km TT - 31:28
Not a good time for me compared to the last year's time I can find - 28:50 from August and 29:41 from April. Something to work on, I guess.

5km - 24:15 (pace - 4:51/km)
3km - 14:24 (pace - 4:48/km)
This workout was nasty. We showed up expecting a 5km TT, but arrived to find out that would be followed by a 10 minute recovery and a 3km TT. I thought I was going as hard as I could for the 5km but somehow I managed a faster pace for the 3km rather than the 5km.

Alan said we weren't pacing properly. I think I just take a long time to warm up!

This week things are feeling solid. I'm finally feeling in the groove, I'm feeling strong and focussed and fit! It might have something to do with just coming off a recovery week, but I also think I've adjusted to my training schedule. Regardless of the why, I'm happy to be happy!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Down From the Trees

I spent a good chunk of the spring "in the trees," as Amy put it, but seem to be back on solid ground now. Although if Team Pink builds a tree house I want to be in the club!

Having a definite schedule really helps (I am so not a spontaneous person - I need a plan!). I'm feeling more on track and in control now.

I've signed up for the Dolphins masters/tri swim classes so I have a good group to swim with. They're great but holy hot tamale it's early. My alarm went off at 4:14 am yesterday and all I could think was "seriously!?" I glared at my alarm clock for a good minute before turning it off.

The first class I went to was quite the comedy of errors:

  • I got up earlier than I ever do, and managed to make enough noise getting up and out that I woke up my landlady. She was, understandably, unimpressed (but quite nice in expressing her unimpressed-ness).
  • I biked to the swim (haven't commuted by bike in years).
  • I swam for longer than I ever do both in terms of time and distance.
  • I somehow (i.e. was totally impatient and took off first) lead the lane for the first 30 minutes and killed myself to keep my place, then whimpered my way through the next hour.
  • I forgot to bring water. 2+ hours of exercise and no water. Brilliant!
Yesterday was my second swim and I managed to get out of the house quietly, place my self appropriately in the lane and stay hydrated. Sadly someone walked off with my fins so it wasn't a perfect morning, hopefully they'll return the fins tomorrow when they realize their mistake.

Tomorrow. Ooh, that'll be a fun one. The only way I can get to swimming is by bike so I'll ride in. However, to get to the club run I either have to 1) ride home, change and rush to the bus, then bus or scam a ride home or, 2) ride directly to the run and ride home after. Option 2 has the disadvantage of making for a long and tiring end to the day but I waste less time in transit and rely a bit less on the kindness of my East Side clubmates for rides.

I may be cranky on Friday, probably best not to talk to me until I've had my coffee!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pool Stories 2 - The Big Show!

Monday saw our intrepid explorer (me!) travelling into another dimension - one of early morning hours and and inexplicably happy swimmers.

Wednesday involved different dimensions, decidedly larger ones.

Yes, that day would see me heading to the big show, the serious pool for serious swimmers, 50 metres of poker-face intensity, swim hard or go home - the Vancouver Aquatic Centre. This is where the serious swimmers go, I was a little nervous as I'd heard people could get impatient with slow pokes and I'm not the fastest swimmer out there (except at Percy Norman
Pool from 6:17-6:22 am).

The day started poorly and my original plans had to be put aside due to technical difficulties (i.e. hitting the snooze button too many times). The morning swim got shuffled to an afternoon swim, with grand plans to spin after.

When I arrived at 4:30 it was lap swimmers nirvana. There were four 50m lanes: slow, medium, medium (although presumably a faster medium) and fast. FOUR LANES! I'm sure I heard angels singing when I saw this.

I jumped in and it was glorious. Five or six folks in my lane, all a little slower than me but I timed my intervals to avoid them and it worked well.

Then lane four was closed and those folks pushed into my lane. No worries! They should all be ahead of me so no problems. A little tight for space but all good.

About 400m later I finished my length to the site of a "Lane Closed" sign. Now we had to shuffle into lane two, about 20 people doing 20 different paces. Suddenly it got annoying. Especially as I was doing a pyramid (100, 200, 300, 400, 300, 200, 100 - my fallback mainset when I have no real plan for a swim) and was about to do the longest sets.

I survived, and realized that after being afraid of cranky faster swimmers that that turned out to be me (I'm sure there's some new age-y conclusion I could reach about becoming what you fear). Instead of being annoyed, I mostly managed to treat is as training for crowded tri's and that I was adding mini-sprints every time I passed someone. At the end of the workout I was in a good mood and had not attempted to use any pool toys as a weapon, generally the sign of a good swim.

Various observations from my swim:

  • At masters I am a slower swimmer, in tri's I'm mediocre but in rec centre lap swims I am apparently a speedster. There is no glory to being the fast swimmer in a crowded lane, just a fair amount of frustration.
  • VAC is not home exclusively to elite, super-fast swimmers. Or at least they don't do the Wednesday afternoon lap swim.
  • The wall is my friend - compared to a 25m pool, when swimming 50 meters my stroke count was embarrassingly high while my 100m times slowed by 5-10 seconds.
  • Getting lost in a change room is really distressing. And sort of embarassing to admit to.

If I manage to conquer the snooze button tomorrow morning should be the sequel - "Big Show 2 - Swimming at Sunrise!"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I'm taking a break from the photo challenge. It became work and stress and something I couldn't deal with so I'm on hiatus for March.

Spring pretty much always brings me down. I can't remember a year when I approached my birthday (April 1 - please mark your calendars) in a good mood. It's not that I mind birthdays or getting older, half the time I can't remember my age anyway, it's just the time of year. Maybe allergies are to blame - lack of sleep and oxygen can definitely get in the way of joie de vivre. Perhaps my version of Spring renewal is more like a really painful case of pins and needles in your arm as sensation returns after you fall asleep on the couch in an odd position. Or maybe I just don't like March? It certainly doesn't seem to like me.

Regardless of the cause, the effect is that I'm easily overwhelmed and pretty low in terms of energy and attitude. In order to keep both my sanity and my friends (been a wee bit cranky lately) I'm simplifying - no photo challenge, doing workouts at home when I can rather than trecking out to join the group or skipping workouts entirely in order to cook a decent dinner.

We hope to return to regular programming in April.

Pool Stories 1 - The Twilight Zone

My pool (YWCA downtown) is closed for three months so I’m experimenting with finding another pool that’s convenient. A little frustrating to deal with mid-season, but I’ve decided I’m taking a tour of the Vancouver Rec Centres.

First Stop – The Twilight Zone
On Monday, my first YWCA-less day. That morning it seemed I was traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, Percy Norman Pool!

The pool opened at 6:15 and, as usual, I messed up my bus timing and got there ridiculously early. Walking in I was dismayed to see a crowd already waiting. Even more dismaying, none of them looked like speedy swimmers. I seemd to have hit the seniors swim and was upset that I’d likely spend my entire time stuck behind geriatric breast strokers.

As I was thinking these thoughts, I noticed something weird. Seriously weird. These people were happy. Cheerful. Smiling. Chatty. They seemed to know each other well and all said good morning (in one of at least three languages). When the staff member showed up they asked about her vacation and teased her about her tan.

In the change room there was no glowering over bench space, people moved aside to let me in and smiled. Smiled! Did I mention it was 6:15? In the morning?

On deck it got even stranger. While I was looking for somewhere to drop my towel the lifeguard approached and asked if I was new to the pool. She gave me the goods on everything (dive tank, slow to fast lanes, no flags so be careful with backstroke) and told me to come to her if I had any issues or questions. Proactive lifeguards - what universe is this?

The lanes weren’t as slow as I expected but I was still continuously passing all but one person in the fast lane. However, there was plenty of space to pass and the slow swimmers would stop at the wall and let me by, even the men (at the YWCA, a woman passing a male swimmer is generally viewed as an attack on his virility).

I couldn't get in as long as swim as I would have liked as I had to get to work (couldn't they just pay me for not showing up??), less than an hour of swim time but about an hour of commuting doesn't quite add up to a good morning workout location. Hopefully when the new pool opens someone will start a masters class that begins earlier in the day.

My conclusion: a pool full of happy, chatty, cheerful swimmers and staff early in the morning – quite possibly the strangest swimming experience I’ve ever had. Not sure if I'll back before the new pool opens, however, as the location unfortunately doesn't quite work.

Next up - Vancouver Aquatic Centre.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The week in review

"Week in review" sounds much better than "I'm totally behind on posting."

I blame drugs and alcohol!

Robaxicet on Wednesday, and no photo that day. I put my back out changing my bike brakes the previous Sunday and that threw me off from workouts and life in general for the week. The back is mostly better but I'm still babying it a bit.

I did get in a good ride out to Iona with the crew on Saturday and the back didn't protest until right near the end. I did my first post-bike run of the year regardless of the back.

Vast amounts of Malbec on Saturday night made for a fun evening but I forgot about getting in even a last minute shot. The Malbec also made for a painful start to my Sunday a.m. swim. The upside was that the workout would have been hell regardless (all out sprints interspersed with core work) so I got all the pain out of the way at the same time. By the time we ran I was feeling vaguely human and knocked out 1:20 reasonably easily.

And then the allergies kicked in Sunday afternoon:

Defunct playground equipment by Lord Byng Pool. sort of how I felt during the swim!
Rainbow seen in the a.m.
Cherry trees on the banks of the Fraser. I forgot my camera but the light was so fabulous I took the shot with my phone. It didn't turn out half bad.

Monday, March 01, 2010


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Sunday, February 28, 2010

O Canada

Final day of the games. And what a finish! 68 incredibly stressful minutes of hockey, I don't think I've ever been that tense watching sports before.

A whole lot of flag waving this afternoon. It was an incredibly fun ride home from Joanne and Torbins' - I was high-fived, honked at, yelled at, cheered at. All in good spirits and good fun as the city, or rather cities (I road through Richmond & Vancouver), were ecstatic over the win.

Now we have to adjust to going back to normality, say goodbye to all the visitors, and get used to the mundane.

This is going to be a rough week!
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Dim Sum

Hiroki at Dim Sum. He was amazingly skilled with the chop sticks, he hit someone square on every time he threw one.
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Cat's Meow

My neighbourhood is overrun by birds, mostly starlings ripping up everyone's lawns, but also a good dozen robins, lots of itty-bitty songbirds and, of course, the inevitable crows.

I assume that's why my neighbour's cat is 1) licking his lips and 2) so fat.
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rainy Days on the Bike Route

The Central Valley Greenway has already featured in my photos but here are a few more shots:

The mosaic stairs (Tuesday). I'll have to try to get these on a sunny morning when they're covered in dew. Stay tuned for more shots!

Hole in the wall (today).

Monday's Photo

And after all the Olympic picture taking, this is my favourite shot:

I laughed when I saw Amy's picture for the 19th as the building reflected here is the one doing the reflection in her shot. Great minds think (almost) alike.

Day at the Olympics - Highlight Real

Executive summary of my day with Mum:

  • Early start at the cauldron (lots of pics from the fence)
  • Checked out lots of long lines (Cdn Mint, zip line) for things we opted to miss
  • Checked out Robson Square sans crowds
  • Picked up curling tix
  • Lined up to view the cauldron from the viewing area. Took about 20 pics, none as good as the ones I took from the fence!
  • Found more long lines (200 ppl at Russia House two hours before it opened, no thanks) and discovered, at 10am, that most of the houses open at noon.
  • Right to Play House was open and full of kids - fun.
  • Introduced Mum to babka buns at Solleys. I couldn't get her to commit to whether she liked them more than their cinnamon buns.
  • Went to curling and watched the Canada women beat Sweden 6-2.
  • Checked out Robson Square with crowds.
  • Watched "Mascots on Ice" solely to get a picture of Sumi for Oscar. One-year old crying for Miga, sort of cute but mostly creepy ("Meeeeeeeega")
  • Saw the line for Irish House. Didn't go in.
  • Visited Live City, saw more lines for houses we didn't go into. Watched a bit of Canada vs. Finland womens' hockey on the big screen.
  • Took the ferry to Granville Island - saw the ridiculously long line for Atlantic House. Got lots of second hand smoke in the process, good thing we don't have to go through doping control!
  • Dinner at Noodle Box

Photos (more to come when Mum sends me hers):

My best cauldron shot. Not taken from the viewing platform!
Apocalypse Now moment (very happy not to hear Ride of the Valkeries).

Maison du Quebec - didn't open for another two hours.

The Sochi Teletubbie.


Sumi & Fans

Langley Half Marathon

It was a stunningly beautiful morning on Sunday. It was also very cold - Shannon thought I was nuts because I wanted to take pictures when clearly the intelligent thing to do was to go inside the visitor centre and stay warm. I think the pictures below were worth a little bit of chill.

The run wasn't my best half marathon, but I knew going in that I wasn't in peak shape. The course is also the hardest half marathon course I've ever done, one very steep hill and one that was less steep but kept going up without let up for three km.

I was confident I could break two hours and hoped I could get close to 1:50 (my PR).

I felt comfortable in the first 10km, enough so that I had visions of a PR dancing in my head. Some logical part of my brain realized that this meant I was actually going out too fast, but of course I didn't slow down. About halfway the two hour pace bunny passed me. I knew I was on pace to break two hours with time to spare but it bugged me to be behind the bunny! Especially as I was slogging up the long hill and not feeling overly spectacular.

After about 11km I started to tire and at 13km, the start of the long hill, my legs felt like they were made of cement. I got a bit upset and my breathing was slightly out of whack but I talked myself out of a bad head space and just kept going.

I desperately wanted to beat the race bunny (not sure which definition of "beat" applied at this point) but sadly I wasn't even close. I did, however, finish in 1:55:12. Not bad.

Unfortunately the course was one of those hard ones, like the Peach (where I still feel I have something to prove), that's probably going to draw me back next year.

My pre-race shots:

Golden Ears out of the mist. My picture of the day.

Yes, I'm an arboriphile.

I totally copied a shot my Dad took earlier this month. Not on purpose though, it just looked pretty!

The Fraser with Golden Ears lost in the mist.

Four Days Behind

Oh geez, I have some catching up to do It's been a busy four days (half marathon, Olympics, tiredness) and I have over a hundred phtots to sort through.

Updates coming soon.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


The weather is annoyingly nice right now - there's no good excuse to stay inside and watch TV all when it's spectacularly warm and sunny. I want to watch the Olympics darn it!

Today's workout was a short ride. As Louis is in need of new brakes, rather than do bike repair I rode Ruby and did errands. I may have ridden for more than an hour but it was nice to be outside.

The short ride is because of tomorrow's endeavour - the Langley Historic Half Marathon. I'm not feeling overly prepared, I haven't put in the distance in my long runs and running has felt difficult in the past few weeks, but this isn't supposed to be a world record pace for me. I'm hoping for 1:50, less would be nice but unrealistic, especially as the course is quite hilly. 5min/km pace is the goal.

I just figured out this evening that one of the race charities is Mountain View Farms, run by my employer from my last job. Hopefully I'll get a chance to say hi to Gordon.

I now have to try to get myself away from the TV so I can get to bed!
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Good Day (just not where training is concerned)

Yesterday I woke up tired and cranky so skipped my swim. I'm never sure if I'm being smart by listening to my body or wimping out by not doing the workout in these situations!

The evening was great. Met up with friends at Granville Island to eat at Swiss House. I had perfect timing and arrived just before the crew that had been waiting two hours got in to be seated. The cheese fondu "for two" was more than the five of us could eat but very good. The strudel, which people were waxing poetic about, was nice but didn't hold a candle to the strudel I had when travelling through Texas with Helen and Jane (and the name of the town was ...?).

We went downtown after, into the total craziness that is Granville Street on a Friday during the Olympics immediately after Canada had won a gold medal. We'd missed seeing the medal and had to rely on ebulient, hive-fiving drunks for details. According to them the medal was for "doubles" skeleton. I think this is how new sports are born - alcohol and misunderstandings. After watching all the macho guys being so excited about the skeleton gold I now really want Virtue & Moir to win, love to see them hi-fiving each other and singing O Canada because we won a gold in ice dance!

We got half a block away from Robson Square before the crush of people made it impossible to move. Again my timing was perfect as the fire and light show started just as we got there.

When it ended we tried to head West on Robson but it was impossible to get through the crowd so we head down to see the flame. Tons of people and lots of couples - apparent it is the official "canoodling couples" area for the Olympics.

I wimped out and headed home after that while the rest of crew headed back to Robson.
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Track Workout

Thursday's run was at the track at UBC. I arrived on campus as the very happy US womens' hockey fans, and subdued Finish ones, were making their way home. I didn't need to ask the result!

I also didn't have to who was playing the next game - the flags (Canadian & Chinese) told the story. In front of the arena, many excited Chinese fans were taking their pictures holding their flags up high. I was neat to see, especially as China and hockey isn't exactly a combination most of us are used to thinking about.

The workout was a tough one for me. I was still tired from Tuesday, my brain wasn't functioning and my body wasn't doing too well either. The workout was 5 x 200m at slightly faster than 1/2 marathon pace (for those of us doing Langley), 5 x 1km at marathon pace and 5 x 200m at slightly faster. Through the warm up and up until the 3rd 1km piece I was dying and miserable. Somehow everything clicked and I got into form and had a good finish to the practice. No idea if it was mental or if I just need 30 minutes longer than everyone else to warm up.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A good day

Short of time/ideas today so this is it. I like how the hologram on the ticket turned out.

New Friends

Through work (and an invitation from a very generous supplier) I got to join the "A List" and take the Alberta Train to Whistler yesterday. It's a leisurely way to get there at three hours one way but very pretty at least it is once the sun actually rises and you can see the view. The rest of my photos are here.

Whistler was crazy busy but with a very different energy to Vancouver. Getting to Whistler is so restricted and so difficult that almost the only people there are involved with the games: watching, competing, volunteering, media. And the cranked up prices for everything felt par for the course for the village.

Trip highlights:
- Train to Whistler.
- Breakfast with pro bull rider and pro chuck wagon driver (promoting the Stampede). The bull rider lives in Turner Valley so I'm sure my Aunt knows who he is. I'm used to being able to impress people by talking about my hobby. Not so much yesterday.
- Free tickets to biathlon ($25.00 standing area tickets so not quite A list anymore, but more fun!)
- Watching biathlon with all the crazy Europeans. I need a significantly weirder hat to be a true fan.
- Cheering for the Canadian in the mens' 12.5km pursuit.
- Hanging out with Clayton, who is up there volunteering but had the day off .
- Being in the village when Canada scored its second gold (of course we were watching a different sport at the time, but we were there!).
- Getting interviewed. Amazing how I normally just blather on about nothing in particular but put a camera in my face and Voila! I blather on about nothing in particular. I haven't checked yahoo sports to see if they actually used the clip.
- Trainride back (would have been awkward if this didn't happen)

It was a long day, up at 4am and back home at 10:30pm, and I was pretty wrecked at work today as I'm a totally wimp when I don't have enough sleep but it was an amazing day.
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Crepuscular (thanks Amy)

I live under one of the great crow commuting paths in the Lower Mainland. This is my best attempt so far at catching the crepuscual rush hour, sadly it's not that great.

My fallback shot is my new mittens. My mother very kindly picked up a pair for me and shipped them out (seems almost coals to Newcastle, but I won't criticize as I like them very much). I will proudly, and warmly, wear them for the rest of the games.

On the topic of evenings, they're getting lighter later, enough so that I could fit in a ride outside after work today.
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