Saturday, 29 December 2012

Boxing Day 10-Miler Race Report

This was the 92nd running of the Boxing Day 10-Miler in Hamilton, Ontario. They used to start this race at 11:00 a.m. A few years back, they pushed it further back to 12:00. I don't know whether it's to allow people to fight off their food and drink Christmas hangovers or to allow the shop-a-holics to get their Boxing Day sales fix, but either way, I'm grateful for the extra hour.

My husband and I woke up to howling winds.  Not a comforting way to wake up when you're racing.  What can you do, but get out there and get it done anyway.  The weather was calling for 15 cm of snow.  That didn't happen overnight -- woohoo -- so I'll take my small mercies where I can get them.

After my husband and I got ourselves ready, we went to pick up a couple of friends and made our way to the race.  It was only 15 minutes away and we had no problem finding parking in front of the YMCA.   We weren't too thrilled with the $12 parking fee, but once we found out a friend got a $72 ticket for not paying it, we stopped complaining.

Registration was painless and we got a toque with our registration.  I got a little noggin' so the hat was just freakin' huge  a touch too big for me.  Everybody met up by the bleachers in the gym and we all headed over to the race start.  Hamilton got a bit of snow overnight and the roads looked slick.  I thought I might need to revise my race plan.  Found out after the fact that the race director had salters go through the whole route to avoid any problems for the runners.  Sweet!

We got to the race start and I finally met Sam from Daily Mile.  It was great to finally meet her after many months of chatting on DM.

The start of the race was a bit slow as it usually is till the crowds thin out and everybody finds their paces.  I knew I wanted to finish around 1:25, but anything better than 1:29:50 was a PB for me.  I ran with my girlfriend Janine who has qualified for Boston too many times for me to count.  A 1:25 for either of us would have been a record time. 

The wind was a factor a couple of times, especially before you hit the pier and run through the Pier 4 Park.  Once we made the turn into the marina we were good.   The path all along the waterfront was clear.  The water looked cold but the waves were very cool.  It was through here that the wind side-swiped us a few times.  Nothing like getting knocked over by runners. 

We hit the half-way point right on target, but we hadn't hit the hills yet.   The first hill isn't so bad, but it's the Chedoke hill which is the kicker.  AND that's where the wind was, full-on in the face.  The hill is incredibly steep but the wind made it feel like we were getting pushed back by a wall.  My lungs were ready to explode by the time I got to the top.  I took a short walk break to wait for my friend, but she told me to keep going.  I knew she'd catch me once we got to the down hill section. 

The next few kilometres after the hill has a trail and then you're back onto a residential area.  I love this part of the race....until you hit Aberdeen.  It's like this realllly looooong climb up the escarpment that never seems to end.  Once you finally hit the turn, you get this nice down until you hit another hill.  It was on this down section that Janine caught back up to me.  But just for good measure there's another little hill within the last kilometre of the race....ugh!!  And it's all in the wind...again!

But there's just a couple more turns and you're into the finish chute.  So we pushed through it and gave it our best shot to try and make our goal time.  We missed it by 1:15.  Official time was 1:26:38.  Chip time was 1:26:15.  Janine won her age group and I managed a 7th place finish.  I literally jumped for joy when another friend told me how I'd done.

We headed back to the YMCA gym to warm up and meet up with everybody.  They put on a good post-race spread. There was hot soup, fruit, water, bagels and cupcakes.  We got changed and stuck around for the awards to watch Janine get her gold snowman belt buckle -- did they make it with yellow snow?

Then it was on to Slainte's Pub to get our beer -- free with your race bib.  That alone is worth the entry fee! 

Even with the 40+ kph winds, our group had lots of PB's. What a team!

This race has become a tradition and it's a great way to hook up with friends that you don't get to see in the days leading up to Christmas.   Here's a sampling of some of the gang that came out:

Happy New Year!!  Here's to a year filled with good health, happiness, good friends, wonderful family, new adventures and new beginnings.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Happy Holidays!!!!

Merry Christmas, everybody!  Hope you get to spend it with the people who are near and dear to you.   I also wish you no drama, lots of laughter and lots of running.

Next up:  Boxing Day 10 Miler.  I'm really hoping the 45K winds and 15 cm of snow don't materialise. 

Until then, I will be spending the next few days with friends and family.  Can't wait! 

Friday, 14 December 2012

2012 Races and Results

Last year, I resolved to start pushing myself  in my races.  I used to save my target races for the ones where I would aim to do my best, which meant one or two races a year.   I decided that I wanted to see how well I could do at shorter distances and started coming up with some pretty good PBs -- for me anyway.   My first two races this year I wasn't aiming for anything other than a finish.   Even though my Ironman Lake Placid wasn't, technically, a PB, it was better than my goal finish time by 13 minutes and it was better than my Arizona finish three years ago.  In my opinion Lake Placid is a much harder course.   So yay me!

Here are my details:

Chilly Half Marathon -- March 4, 2012 --- 2:16

NYC Half Marathon -- March 18, 2012 --- 2:30

Around the Bay 30K -- March 25, 2012 --- 2:54  -- PB by 13 minutes (last PB was in 2005)

JDRF 5K -- April 28, 2012 --- 24:05 -- PB

Angus Glen 5 Miler -- June 28, 2012 --- 59:17

Ironman Lake Placid -- July 22, 2012 -- 15:17

Oakville Half Marathon -- September 23, 2012 -- 1:55 --  PB (and the course measured 316m too long)

Detroit Half Marathon -- October 21, 2012 -- 1:51 -- PB

Boxing Day 10-Miler -- December 26, 2012 -- Unknown  -- still to come :-)  (Hoping for a PB, but weather is always a huge factor with this race)  Time to beat:  1:29

I only have one race confirmed for next year, but I'm waiting to hear whether I got into the NYC Half again.  December 20th is the announcement date -- can't wait!  I've been very fortunate thus far to have been randomly selected through their lottery two years in a row.   Here's to hoping for a third year in a row.

I'm still on the fence about the Chilly Half.  I'm definitely in for the Around the Bay and am leaning towards the Toronto Good Life in May.  I've done Mississauga twice and I hear the Toronto medals are huge.  I like medals, all medals, but especially big, obnoxious ones.  They are my kind of bling.

Tonight I'm excited to finally see the Nutcracker Ballet...for the first time ever! 

Am I the only person who has never seen it before?

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

2012 Year in Review .... For Now. More To Come.

A blogger I follow reviewed her 2012 and encouraged others to do the same.  I've answered the same questions that she posted, but will have a more fulsome review later in the year.  So here's my preliminary 2012 year in review. 

1.  Best Race Experience:    Without question, it was Ironman Lake Placid.   I worked my butt off (literally and figuratively) for this race.

2.  Best Run:  Running the NYC Half Marathon in March with some amazing friends.  This one was for fun because my target run-only race was the very next week and I wanted to save the PR for that one.

3.  Best New Piece of Gear:  My Garmin 910 XT.  I love how it tracks my swim workouts. It tracks my distance so that I don't have to count laps in the pool-- I'm a spazz when it comes to that -- and also gives me my distance in my open water swims.  This baby gives me all the minutiae of detail that I want for my swims, my bike rides and my runs.

4.  Best Piece of Running Advice:   Someone telling me I needed to start training for myself.

5.  Most Inspirational Runner(s):   I loved Grete Waitz.  Such a class act.  But now I am inspired by the runners that I train with.

6.  Sum up Your Year:   I am stronger than I think, but I need to be stronger and less afraid to do things.

Feel free to tell me what your year was like, or do as I did and post on your own blog.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Motivations and Inspirations

I have a great life and feel very fortunate to have the things I do.  A lot of times, I need to remind myself of this because I get sucky when things don't go as planned.  So I look to my friends and family, near and far, real and virtual, for some added inspiration and motivation.

Biggest Motivation for 2013:  I am on a quest to qualify for Boston in May. 

To that end, I've embarked on a new training plan and trying to qualify is a huge motivator for me to stay on track through the winter.  I haven't raced a marathon (other than in Ironman -- and there's no racing going on there) in over two years.  This will be my first attempt at taking on a BQ and I'm overwhelmed at the support I'm getting from my fellow runners.  Their offers of pacing me on some of my training runs is much appreciated.  

I'm even making my husband pull out the treadmill from the corner of the basement and set it up because there will be no excuses this winter that it's too icy and snowy to run.  Just an FYI, I hate winter and I hate treadmills.

But I love to run and I love to run with people and on my own.  I'm inspired by new runners, especially when they have that first moment of  "Yes, that felt awesome!"  I want that feeling to stay with me as I continue to age.  I've started doing some solo runs on Saturday mornings on a path near my home, and the first time I went, I ran into three running friends I hadn't seen in years.  They are my inspiration to keep on keepin' on.  The "youngest" is in her 60s and the oldest is in her 70s.   I want that in my life when I hit their age and I hope to still be running with the people I run with now.

I'm also inspired by my friends who have had spectacular success in racing this year.   I want to see them continue on that path to greater accomplishments because they deserve it after all the hard work they've been putting into their training.

The past few months that I've been logging my workouts on Daily Mile, I've "met" a great group of people that also inspire me everyday.   A lot of them have children (I don't) and they manage to fit in many workouts nonetheless.   So I'm grateful to them for kicking me in the pants even though they don't know that they do.

I am constantly reminded that in this crazy world there are many people who have amazing souls.  We are fortunate to have our health and to use that for the good of others.  I am proud to be surrounded by philanthropic people who use their passion for fitness to raise funds and awareness for causes like The Ride to Conquer Cancer, The Healing Cycle (which raises funds for palliative care in Ontario), Craig's Cause Maritime Bike Tour (which raises funds for the severely underfunded area of pancreatic cancer), to name a few.   They inspire me to be a part of this incredible community.  I have participated in all of the above and will continue to do so in the years to come.   And if there's something else that has an event that strikes a chord with me and raises awareness and requires funding, I'll probably do that, too, because we can all use a little help sometimes.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Long Overdue, I Know...

...but here it is anyway.  My race report for Ironman Lake Placid.

Cole's Notes Version:  It was the hardest race I've ever done, but it was the most fun, most fulfilling and best experience I've ever had.

If you plan to read on for the full report, you may want to grab a coffee/tea/wine/beer -- whatever.  It's a long one.

The first and most important thing for me to say about this race is that I had the BEST support crew -- both at the race and at home.  Other than my husband, four friends came down to cheer me on and support me.   It's trite to say that I couldn't have done it without them.   Starting with my husband who did not complain, even once, at the endless hours away from home life that my training took me.  Weekends?  For any triathlete training for an Ironman, you know that the weekends leading up to a race are consumed with hours on the bike one day and hours on the run the next.  The weekend is shot. Exhaustion is just assumed and expected. 

Secondly, my friends.  Well, they are just incredible.   They rode and ran countless hours on the bike and run with me (so did my husband.  He was training for his first sprint tri -- a funny race story in itself).  There were some friends that wanted to travel to Lake Placid, but for many various reasons they couldn't make it.  It ain't easy to fly into Lake Placid for the weekend.  The fact that they even made efforts to get there is just so awesome to me!  So, instead, they sent me numerous emails and Facebook messages to encourage me and keep me motivated.   My two girlfriends that came down (I'm the shorty on the left):

The week before my race, my husband and I travelled to Geneva, NY with a couple of friends.  My girlfriend was doing her first Half Ironman at Musselman (above, on the right) and my husband was doing his first sprint tri.   All I will say about my husband's race at this point is that he acknowledged that he needs to do more swim training.  Thank you, Steve, the 80-something-year-old kayaker for saving my husband's ass.

The only thing missing from my girlfriend's race (held the next day) was the swarm of locusts, that's how bad the conditions were for her on race day.  The skies literally opened up just after she got on the bike and it poured -- with thunder and lightning for good measure.  Don't know how she did it, but she did.  To say that I was proud of her is an understatement.

On to Lake Placid after Geneva's races were done.   We rented a beautiful cottage just on the outskirts of Lake Placid in Wilmington.  I had no desire to be near the mayhem and anxiety-riddled Ironman racers by staying in town.  Besides, I was having my own meltdown after seeing the hills while driving into town.  Thankfully, I found out that I would be riding down those particular hills, not up.    I LOVE riding downhill.  Wheeeeeeeee!!!!!!  (Wussy boys, move out of my way!)

After settling in for a few days and sightseeing around town -- and researching the "Three Bears" of hills -- it was finally time for athlete check in.  The volunteers are amazing and check in was a breeze.  There were still lots of insurance forms and liability waivers to sign -- I thought I did that when I registered??

Until race day, I did a little bit of training and relaxing and did a whole lot of nothing really the day before the race, other than taking my bike and gear bags to the race site.  There was a photographer at the entrance to the bike check-in asking all the athletes if we had Ironman tattoos.  I did and he asked if he could take a picture.  I said sure.  Who knows?  Maybe it will end up in the 2012 Ironman race memory book that's coming out at the end of the year.  My husband bought me one!!

My two previous Ironman races, I was a nervous wreck race morning.   Not wanting to have breakfast and gagging through every bite and feeling nauseated right up until I got into the water.

I don't know why, but this year I was amazingly calm.  I kept waiting for the nerves to kick in, but they never did.  Even as we were waiting to get in the water -- my worst discipline -- I never freaked out. 

I stayed at the back of the group so that I wouldn't get kicked in the face or body.  The swim is definitely a contact sport!  If you've ever opened the lid of a washing machine while you have a load in, that's what we look like when the gun goes off.

I had a pretty good swim, but not the goal finish I wanted.  I was hoping for a 1:35 but ended up with 1:38.   I'll take it.  Certainly better than the 1:50 at Arizona three years ago.  Worst swim ever and couldn't feel my limbs for another 45 minutes after that debacle.  Sorry, I'll leave Arizona behind and carry on with Lake Placid.

The bike is a bit of a sufferfest.  180K, it's a double loop and the last 16K of each loop is ALL uphill.  It is by far the most beautiful bike route I've ever done and I didn't get delusional enough not to notice how spectacular Lake Placid and the Adirondack mountains are.  I'm sure I gave them a few choice words on the second loop, but forgave them after the race.  I did better than I initially thought I would do on this bike course, but I was secretly hoping for much better.   Had some nutrition/hydration issues on the second loop and needed to stop at a couple of aid stations to make sure I fuelled up.  Rookie mistake.  It was also a very hot day. 

Goal:   8:00. 
Actual:   7:54.

Thank god it's run time.  Generally, this is my best discipline.  I love to run and I've been doing it longer than the other two.  Not that I'm a great runner, but it's my favourite part.  The run was a double loop, too.  I am so freakin' grateful I did endless hilly long runs and did hill repeats on the Around the Bay Valley Inn hill.  This run course had one mother of a hill right in town where everybody cheers for you.  That part is great, but not so much when you're hurting like a mofo and all you want to do is walk up that hill.  Nope.  Those spectators will have none of that.  I am definitely the type of person that gets motivated by people cheering for me.   I would have walked that whole damn hill but for those people that were still out there at 9:00 cheering and yelling and ringing cowbells.  I didn't quite make it the whole way, but 3/4 of the way up was good enough for me at that point in the game.  I was hurting and hurting bad.   I can fake it for a picture, though.

It's amazing how I don't "feel" pain when I'm running down that finish chute to that big banner that says Ironman.  All I'm feeling at that point is the goose bumps all through my body knowing that every single step, every single pedal stroke, every single swim stroke culminated in this finale and that announcement of, "Mari XXXX, you ARE an IRONMAN!"  I've heard it before, but it doesn't get stale. EVER! 

Goal Time:  15:30
Actual:  15:17:10

This race meant more to me than any other.  I was the most emotional after this one and so incredibly grateful for my training partners, my friends, my family and most importantly, my husband.  I could barely walk after I crossed the finish line and it took me at least 30-45 minutes to find everyone.  I practically fell into my husband's arms when I found him. 

Pizza and beer followed.  My hubby and buddies know how to take care of me :-)

Monday, 28 May 2012

Eight Weeks to Ironman

I have been very negligent in writing this blog, and I could say that I've been busy, which I have, but no busier than anyone else in my life.  Training has been keeping me very busy.  I expected that to happen.   How else am I going to get Ironman done?

In my last blog I wrote about the demise of my old bike and posted a photo of the bike I was looking at.  Thanks to some awesome people at Wheels of Oakville and the great policies that American Express has, I was able to get my full money back for the dud of the other bike and purchased my new Cervelo S2.   All I can say is we were made for each other.  I absolutely love that bike and I feel so much stronger and powerful on it.  It's a good thing because I'm only eight weeks away from Lake Placid and that bike course isn't getting any easier.

I've been riding lots and lots of hills and I really felt it this past weekend when I did a hilly bike ride on the Saturday and then I did a hilly run the next day.  I'm still feeling it today, but that's why I get a recovery day.   What doesn't kill you makes you stronger and all that.  I totally believe that and remind myself of it every time I waver.

I've been enlisting people to assist me in my training and make them do long distance rides that they don't need to do.  For that, I am truly grateful.

I'm getting those required swims in.  I don't like them much, but they are a required element of Ironman so I do them.  I won't know until the race whether I've improved because I'm not doing any other racing before the big one.  Not the best move, but because of the timing of Lake Placid, there really isn't anything that fits into my training schedule living in the great White North.  As long as I come out of it alive, I'll be happy.  If my training is any indication, I expect to have at least a slightly better time than my Vineman race -- or similar -- but a much better time than Arizona.  That was just all kinds of cold and very, very miserable.

Running is my comfort zone.  I never mind training this discipline because I feel the most alive when I run.  Most of the time I feel at peace, especially on the long runs going through the beautiful area of the North Shore hills.

I just got back from an amazing vacation in Arizona with my husband and awesome friends.  While  my friend and I did some bike riding there -- and climbed South Mountain -- my husband and other friend got some golfing in.  I think we both won.   South Mountain was a challenge, but I found the descent most difficult.  It was a pretty windy day and I'm afraid of heights.  Not a good combination on a windy, kinda steep downhill.  I stand behind my statement that I came down slower than going up. 

It wasn't all training, though.  Although I worked out almost everyday, we did indulge -- lots -- in wonderful cuisine and delicious margaritas.  Margaritas in Arizona just taste better.  Maybe because they have such a vast selection of tequilas.   Of course, my friend is a bit of a tequila connoisseur so we didn't have any run-of-the-mill tequilas.  I think the most expensive margarita we had was $25 a pop, but so worth it!  I want to go back!!

You have to have a little bit of fun mixed in with all the craziness of training or else it becomes a drain on your life and your marriage.  Thank goodness I have the support of everyone in my life, even my parents who don't understand any of what I do.  They just worry that I'm going to get hurt.  If they really saw all that I did, they'd faint.

Next up will be my "I'm Grateful For" posting.  Thanks for reading the ramblings of someone who doesn't really know what they're doing in this blogging adventure.

"The body achieves what the mind believes."

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Sometimes, it's just hard

I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend.  The weather was good for us here in our neck of the woods and I managed to get out to enjoy it.  Sunday's long run was absolutely glorious -- despite snacking on the gnats.   I did a much longer run than necessary but it was just too nice out to cut it short.

This past week was not a good week for my training.  I only missed my long bike workout due to bike difficulties which I will explain later, but every...single...workout felt like a struggle.  My body seemed to be rebelling against me.  I tried to do my zone (interval) workouts, but I had nothing in the tank.  I was fuelling properly and I couldn't figure out why this was so difficult, so I had a couple of mental breakdowns this week.   Add to that the fact that my bike mechanic discovered a six-inch crack in my carbon fibre bike frame that is beyond repair and I'm ready to snap.   This means the purchase of a new bike, which, in itself, is not a terrible thing.  I just didn't want it to happen this way and certainly not three-and-a-half months before my Ironman race. 

I know I shouldn't be panicking, but this bike course in Lake Placid is new territory for me and I'm a tad obsessed about being prepared for it so missing a four-hour bike ride is a big deal for me right now.   I'm trying to stay positive and I keep reminding myself that there's plenty of time to train, but every once in a while the doubt creeps in. 

My husband and friends help me keep things in perspective -- at least they keep trying to remind me.  Thanks, you guys.  You're the best!

I'm taking donations to the Get Me a New Bike Fund ;-)

It sure is pretty, isn't it?

Monday, 26 March 2012

Around the Bay Race Report: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

This was my seventh Around the Bay 30K.  Here are some of my thoughts on yesterday's race:

The Good:
  • Awesome weather.  Running in a tank and running skirt in March:  priceless!
  • Free parking and change area at a local news station, thanks to some running friends
  • Tons of family/friends doing the race, too
  • Friends and spectators along the route.  Nothing gives you a boost better than that!
  • No black toe nails.
  • Hearing about people's PB's after the race
  • Dinner and drinks after with the same amazing friends and family
  • My own 12-minute PB -- still grinning ear to ear
The Bad:
  • Running alone for 30K.  It was my choice.  I was running slower than some friends and faster than others so I decided to go it alone
  • Fighting the gerbil in my head when it was getting tough
  • Hmm....thinking too hard if there was other bad stuff, so I guess there isn't any more
The Ugly:
  • One woman running behind me 10 feet from the finish line yelling:  "Get out of the way.  Get out of the way.  Get the f^#k out of the way."   Completely uncalled for.  This isn't a BQ race, for Pete's sake.
Clearly, the good outweighed all the bad and the ugly and I'm proudly walking gingerly, like many of my friends.  I'm looking forward to scaling back on my run distances now that my total training focus will be Lake Placid. 

Here's a photo of some of the gang that ran yesterday.  So proud of them!

Friday, 23 March 2012

NYC Race Report

I love NYC!  I think I've said that before, but it's so much fun when you go with a bunch of gal pals and shop till you drop and then throw in a half marathon just for fun.   I don't know how New Yorkers do it, but this past weekend saddled them with a double whammy:  St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday and then the Half Marathon on Sunday.  Lots of road closures and lots of congestion.  Lots of fun for us, though.  Lots of drunken fools at 9:30 a.m. the day of the parade and it hadn't even started yet!  Everyone's Irish for a day on the 17th.

So...race report.  Sunday morning started off a touch cooler than predicted.  According to the weather report before leaving home Friday, it was supposed to be 17-19C and sunny.  Actual race day weather, at 7:30 in the morning, was more like 5-7C and cloudy.    Not bad, but I'm glad I brought a fleece throw-away.  I took it off at 7:30, but since we still hadn't moved for 15 minutes, I put it back on. 

Last year it only took us about 10 minutes before we got to the start line.  This year, the elites passed us before we hit the start pad!  That meant they were done 10K before we even started.  Just an FYI that the guy who won the race finished in 59:49 -- holy Speedy Gonzales!

The course was slightly different this year.  They reversed the direction in Central Park and we only did one full loop instead of one and a bit.  They cut out the loop up along the Hudson River to add the extra distance, but we went further down along the River and passed the partly built Freedom Tower where the Twin Towers used to be.  Very cool!

We finished in Tribeca in Fulton Market.  It's pretty crowded at the finish line, but that's what happens when you have 18,000 runners.

This race is so well supported and there's tons of entertainment along the way.  The ladies have decided that this is going to become an annual event -- providing we get into the lottery again.  We're keeping our fingers crossed.  If we don't get in, we'll just go down and shop anyway.  Speaking of shopping, here's one of my purchases that I just love:

No, I didn't wear them after the race.  I don't think my feet would fit in them.
This weekend is the Around the Bay Race.  This is my target running race this spring.  I hope to PB here which would mean sub 3:07, but I'm secretly hoping to be sub 3:00.   Yikes!  I've put it out there so now the pressure's on to follow through.

Hope everyone who is doing the Bay has a fabulous race!

"Strength does not come from physical capacity; it comes from an indomitable will."  Gandhi

Thursday, 15 March 2012

New York City Half Marathon, Here I Come!

I'm leaving for New York City tomorrow morning with two of my girlfriends.  We're heading back to do the Half Marathon.  I LOVE NYC!
NYC Half Header

Last year the weather was cool, clear and absolutely perfect for running.  So far, the weather reports are calling for 19C and sunny for race day.  Shorts and tank top is definitely called for.  I know I shouldn't like global warming, but if this is one of the benefits, then I'm ashamed to say that I'll take it. 

This is going to be a fun run for me again this year.  I'm not looking to book it for a PR because I'm saving that for next week's race at the Around the Bay. 

I love this race and I am definitely looking to beat my best time here.  

NYC will necessarily involve shopping, too.  One of the ladies coming with me should be a professional shopper.   She can spend money like nobody's business.   It didn't surprise me when she sent me an email with the subject line, "Our Biggest Sale of the Season..."  Lord and Taylor, watch out!  The ladies from Ontario are doing some damage. 

LRM, are you sure you can't come?  I'll be sure to take pictures of pretty shoes and text them to you ;-)

Ironman training continues and I'm looking forward to reducing my run distances after the Bay race.  I've been doing a lot more distance than necessary at this point in my training so I'll be cutting back after next week.  I can't say the same about the swimming and biking, though.  Those continue to increase, especially the cycling.   If this weather keeps up, I may be riding outside sooner than I thought.  All is still going well there and I'm feeling stronger and stronger every week.

Next post:  NYC recap and update on the Bay.  Enjoy the gorgeous weekend.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Vacation Training

Oh, how lovely it is to go on vacation.  My family thinks I'm always on vacation, but 95% of the vacations I take focus around a race my husband and I are doing or a close friend is doing.  I'm not complaining, because it is time away from the responsibilities of the office and of things around the home.  And they are ALWAYS fun and amazing trips.

This time, though, we went to Cancun, Mexico, and really had a relaxing vacation.  I don't think my husband thinks that training on vacation is really relaxing, but when you're training for something as big as an Ironman, you need to get the training done.   It wasn't as intense as the training I'd been doing up to now in terms of distances, but I still managed to get in three runs, three swims and some weight training in the gym.

The gym.  There's a whole different breed of people that train in a gym.  I should preface this by saying that I don't do a lot of working out in a traditional gym and there's a reason why I don't.  I don't like it.  Plain and simple.  I like working out with people and I find that gyms are a bit too solitary for my liking.  

The gym at our resort wasn't very big, but it was certainly a lot bigger than some gyms I've seen at hotels/resorts.   There were five treadmills that were occupied all......the.....time!  My husband and I learned our lesson when we showed up the first time at a not-so-early time because, after all, we were on vacation and I didn't want to get up at six in the morning.   While we didn't go at six in the morning after that, we did show up at seven and had some better success at getting a treadmill without as much delay.  

The most amusing part for me is watching the men that do weights.  Two men were actually walking around with their coffee mugs and newspapers and would read/sip in between their sets.  Not being a gym rat, I found this quite entertaining.  Do people actually walk around with their coffee in the mornings at the gym?  I might reconsider training in a gym if I can do that.

The piece de resistance for me was the infinity pool at our resort and the fact that it was HUGE!   Based on my time for two laps, it had to be a 50m pool.   I don't think people were expecting somebody to be doing laps upon laps upon laps in the pool, but I tried to do my swims in the morning when there weren't many people in there.  One day I did it in the afternoon because I ran in the morning.  I think I added extra distance going around all the people.   No matter, it's all training.

So while I did do my training, and relaxing was definitely on the agenda, my husband is, shall we say, bordering on ADHD.  I think he would have snapped if we sat around the pool/beach for the whole time we were away, so we went on an excursion and did some ziplining, swimming and rafting in some caves that were covered in stalactites and drove an "amphibious" vehicle.  Ziplining was definitely a rush, but I made my husband go first.  Shameful of me, but he's heavier so I figured if the cord could hold him, it would definitely hold me.  I should have mentioned that I am deathly afraid of heights so being able to scratch this off my bucket list was exciting for me.   In the photo below is the end of one of the ziplines.  You land right in the water after going through that waterfall.  So much fun!

So now it's back to reality and I'm glad I didn't come home to snow!  Thank you, Mother Nature.  Now, if I can only get through my 30K run tomorrow.

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but the conquest of it."

Monday, 13 February 2012

Back on Track!

Well, I'm happy to say that my training is back on track.  After that disappointing week, I got my mojo back and didn't miss a single workout.  I had some pretty strong workouts and was feeling great, and then I tried out my brand new, pretty running shoes and things got a bit ugly with my right foot. 

I have some nerve issues around the ball of my foot and some cortisone shots seemed to help out.  Then Nike decided to change the cushioning of their new Lunar Glides and my foot did NOT like it.  I decided to do the smart thing and took the week off of running and went back to my old Vomeros just to see if that made a difference.  It most definitely did so I went and bought a new pair of the Vomeros and things felt better....until yesterday's snowy run.  Clearly, my foot does not like uneven terrain, even with the new shoes.   The last 13K of my 26K run were not pleasant at all.  In fact, I even walked the last 3K.  I guess we've been a lot spoiled this winter and my body has forgotten what it's like to run in the snow.   Mother Nature, continue being nice to us and give me back my dry winter...please!  Major thanks to my running buddies for getting me through it.  Singing Black Eyed Peas along the Northshore hills made it fun.

But my exciting news is that I finally got my Garmin 910XT!!  They finally came in, and I was the first one to get it from the store.  Woohoo!  I spent part of the weekend playing with it, but I haven't used it yet.   The hubby and I are going on vacation and, although I'll be training while I'm away, I don't think I want to chance losing my new toy. 

My goals while I'm on vacation:  Rest, Train, Drink, Train, Sun, Train, Explore, Train.  And then train some more.

Saturday, 21 January 2012


Sooo, how's my training been going?  Well, it started off with a bang and the first three weeks were fabulous.  I've been swimming two to three times per week, running three times per week, but lagging a bit on the bike rides.  I need to start being consistent with the bike as that will probably be my nemesis at Lake Placid.   Teaching a spin class alone will not get me to the top of Whiteface Mountain!

This week was a bit of a bust with my training.  I only got one swim in, one bike and one run.  I'm not happy about it, but it definitely makes me angry enough at myself to re-focus and get my a$$ in gear for this coming week. 

This has been a challenging year for me already, but I am determined to stay focused and to work through whatever obstacles the universe decides to throw at me.  I have an amazing husband, great friends and family and a renewed hope for what lies ahead.   Quoting from a horoscope one of my best buds sent to me:  "A big change is happening in your life...  this change is building momentum and will bring great happiness, opportunities, and rewards for the karma you have earned."   There's a lot more good stuff it said, but let's just say that, if it's right, I'm going to be one freaking happy camper this year!

...And I was born in the Year of the Dragon so this, apparently, is my year to shine!  Bring it on, I'm ready!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Reflections on 2011

2011 was a year of many exciting adventures and a couple of accomplishments I'm a little proud of.   One thing I'm very proud of is participating in two charity bike rides.  The first one was the Ride to Conquer Cancer, riding 220K from Toronto to Niagara Falls over the course of two days.  It was a weekend of tears, laughter, hope and camaraderie.

The second ride I participated in was The Maritime Bike Tour to support a charity called Craig's Cause in its efforts to raise funds and awareness for pancreatic cancer.   This bike tour required us to ride 100K a day for five days through the Maritime provinces.  Whoever said the Maritimes are flat lied.  We knew one particular day would be very challenging and that was the day we rode up French Mountain on Cape Breton Island.  12K of straight up.  Very happy to say that we did it.   Here's a photo:

The Maritimers lived up to their reputation of great hospitality and being great hosts.  We met the most amazing people on this trip and they will remain life-long friends.  If you're interested in supporting this cause, send me a line and I'll send you the link, or just google it.

The NYC Half Marathon was a personal favourite this year.  We went down with a great group of friends and had a blast running through Central Park and Times Square. When else are you going to get to close down Times Square for 20,000 runners?  Best part?  I get to do it again in 2012!!  So stoked!

I had the pleasure of travelling to Spain and witnessing a good friend fulfill a goal of racing in the World Duathlon Championships.  The trip was spectacular and so was his performance.   I love Spain. I love the people, the food, the wine, the shopping....not necessarily in that order.  And we also made up a new word:  Culo Sombrero.   Try translating that one.  I think we made up the English version of that word, too.

One thing I truly enjoyed this year was going for monthly dinners with a very special friend.  We made a commitment that we would take the time out of our very busy schedules to slow down the pace and enjoy a great meal at a wonderful restaurant.  The fact that they had half price bottles of wine didn't factor into the equation at all.....really.....uhmm, maybe just a little.

Forging stronger relationships with my husband, friends and family wasn't something that I set out to do consciously, and maybe that sounds naive, but as a result of certain circumstances this year, I came to appreciate them even more and realized how much I rely on them for their love and support and for that I am truly grateful.

As for resolutions, I haven't really made any other than to cherish the people in my life that matter most.