Photos from Kona

It's been a few weeks since we've been home from Kona, and literally I think it's rained every day since we've been home.  Sigh.  In order to bring back that sunshiny-warm feeling, here are my favourite pictures from Kona.  I don't know why I don't have any of Jason's race... race, what race?  We all kept ourselves really busy with lots of goings-on during the week leading up to the big show.

The first thing we do in Kona is go
swimming at the pier.

Water wonderland

Riding on the Queen K

I got to know many so many of my Betty Designs
teammates that I'd only met online so far,
plus reunions with others I'd already met!

Betty happy hour.  We clean up nicely!
I was truly fortunate to have been chosen to work with Women For Tri
to help promote triathlon and opportunities to grow the sport.
I spent time handing out cards & stickers in the mornings at the pier
and met some great people! #womenfortri #whywetri

Handing out swim caps in support of TriEqual

Underpants Run was a real highlight!

Betty Designs represents in
Triathlete Mag coverage

Thanks to WITSUP for organizing a Friday morning ride;
I feel lucky to have kept pace with the pros and legends in this pic!
For more WITSUP ride photos, check out:

And thanks to Stef Hanson for the surprise selfie on my phone!
Proof (sort of) that we were actually there for a race.
Go #emjtriteam

Getting to know Bob Babbitt this year scored me an invite to the
Thank God I'm Not Racing Party.

Nicole, Ken & I with our TGINR party finisher medals.

Our last morning in Kona.  I want to go back...

The obligatory sunset shot

Cowichan Valley Wine Run

A couple of weekends ago, Corinne and I participated in the first annual Cowichan Valley Wine Run.  Modelled after Le Marathon du Medoc in France, it's a non-timed, 13.5 km run where the aid stations are vineyards.  The on-course nutrition was cheese, crackers, and apples, and the hydration was wine tasting.  Needless to say, it sold out of the 200 spots very quickly!

Participants were sent off in waves, and we were in the first wave and eager to get going.  We wanted to have a lot of fun, take pictures along the way, and sample some wine.  The organizers had arranged bottle drops at each of the vineyards for your purchases, and they delivered them to the final vineyard for you to pick up after dinner.  Oh yeah that was another thing, an amazing buffet dinner was included!

  We started with a wine tasting, followed by a glass
enjoyed on a patio in the sun.  Because don't you always
have a glass of wine before a run?

First winery, Cherry Point.  Not necessarily my favourite
valley wines, but they do have a gorgeous property.

Second winery, Rocky Creek.  They have a really
nice sparkling!

Third winery, Venturi Schulze.  They are a really small, family-
owned winery that makes some absolutely amazing wines.

Two guys running in suits, because drinking wine
is classy of course!

The run finished at Blue Grouse, with a final tasting
and dinner!

Relaxing in the vineyard.

One of the banquet tables, right next to the vines.

Overlooking the valley.

Souvenir bag they put your purchased bottles in.

We had so much fun, and already can't wait for next year!  This is a must-do event!

Challenge Penticton

Last weekend Jason and I headed to the interior to race Challenge Penticton.  It was the Canadian long-course championships, and if you placed top-ten among Canadians in your division, you would qualify for the ITU Long Distance World Championships in 2017 (also in Penticton).  When it was announced that there was an aquabike division, I was in.

The 3km swim was two loops in Okanagan Lake, and then the bike course was 120km consisting of a flat out-and-back to Summerland and then two hilly loops around Skaha Lake.  For those doing the tri, the 30km run was two loops on the trail next to the canal (definitely the least scenic part of the race, so I wasn't missing anything good!).  Lots of reminiscing of the "old" Ironman Canada course in parts, and of course classics like Steve King there doing the announcing.  Penticton is always a nice town to race in, and while this event was much smaller than in IMC days, it was still a fun event.

Met up with some other Betty Designs teammates
in town for different race-week events.

Everyone talks about how much better Challenge events
are compared to Ironman.  I didn't notice much difference
(other than way less swag here unfortunately),
but one thing that stood out were the gear bags:
really nice, reusable, and not plastic! I imagine the
Challenge events in Europe are incredible,
but I think they can improve in Penticton.

Racked and ready (my traditional pre-race photo).

Race morning is always so early!
Exiting the swim - fastest swim in my AG.

Jason was out for his long training run when
I went racing by on the bike!

See you next year at Long-Course Worlds, Penticton!

Solana Beach Tri Weekend

Last weekend I headed down solo to the San Diego area for a little SoCal weekend, some time with my teammates, a sprint race, and to say hi to friends.  It was a 4-day whirlwind and I wished I'd stayed longer... I've already told Jason that next year we'll be going for a longer holiday.

I packed really light... if taking a bike qualifies
as packing light!

I actually got the Scicon bag into the trunk of my rental car.
Took me a bit of wrestling at the airport, but once I had it
figured out, it was no problem.  I was being cheap and didn't
want to rent an SUV, and turns out I didn't need to.  Now if Jason
had come and we'd had 2 bikes....

Friday night happy hour at Kristin Mayer's (creative genius behind
Betty Designs - far left) house.  Hope Jenni, Misty & I didn't overstay
our welcome, it was later than I realized when I left!

Sunday was the Solana Beach sprint tri, which several Betty teammates signed up for, but only 3 of us ended up racing, and superstar Julianne was there to cheer us on.  It was a short, but really fun, race - ocean swim with a surf entry & exit , 2-lap bike along the coast, and 2-lap run.  I knew so many people there, and met several others that morning, that it really did feel like I was racing at home with friends.  I'm so glad for connections I've made through Betty Designs, and through my local friend Heidi as I felt a part of the Groove Tri family that weekend too!

I was 2nd out of the water in my age group.  The swim ended with a heinous,
long run up a ramp and down a block into transition.  Kristin said we
had to run the whole thing, so I did... and I can't believe no one passed
me there.  I actually had one of the fastest T1 times in my AG,
I did not see that coming with the amount of running in there!
(Thanks Julianne for the encouragement and pics!)

Friends Heidi & Matt biked to the race to watch,
and Heidi got some good photos & this video of me riding by.

When I put my bike together when I arrived in San Diego, my rear shifter wasn't working properly - it wouldn't shift into all the gears.  I took it to a bike shop, they didn't have the same shifter in stock to replace it with, and couldn't fix it, so we "fixed" it by setting it to shift smoothly into only a few gears.  The race was flat along the PCH so I figured that would be ok, and hoped it would hold for the race.  It wasn't that big of a deal, I missed having a couple of the gears but it wouldn't have made a difference overall.  Had it been a longer race, I definitely would have taken the time to chase down a new shifter.

Running past Heidi & Matt

Seriously, I had A LOT of fun at this race! I came
off the bike in 3rd, and finished up in 8th.
Not bad, as there are a lot of fast women in that area!
Julianne was such fun and was all over the course - we'd just
met that morning and became fast friends.

Heidi and I rode along the coast the next day.
Always one of my favourite routes.

My last night there, I went traditional touristy and went to
Mission Beach to watch the sunset, capped off by wandering around
Belmont amusement park.

I'm already looking forward to my time there next year!

Team Every Man Jack in Whistler

We headed up to Whistler a couple of weeks ago; Jason decided to race the 70.3 and of course we both wanted to cheer for friends racing Ironman.  Jason had several of his EMJ teammates racing as well, and they pretty much dominated both the half and the full.

Watching Team Every Man Jack, it seemed like they were putting on a clinic on how to race triathlon.  Each guy executed their race perfectly, and the best part there was no hint of arrogance or attitude from any one of them.  I've watched a lot of elite triathletes over the past couple of decades, and these guys are first class all the way.  Hard working, talented, and awesome human beings.

Some of the 70.3 guys before the start.

John from Team EMJ was first out of the water...
and then the rest came rapid-fire following him.

Jason on the run around Lost Lake.

Ryan flying.

Jason won his age group.  A bit of redemption
from Vineman 70.3 two weeks prior.

The best part - they're all so supportive of each other
and other athletes on the course.  Chapeau.

For some reason this was the only
photo that came out of the EMJ after-party!

Vineman 70.3 Race Report

SPOILER ALERT: I beat Jason!  Want the details?  

I love Vineman; it was my 5th time racing on that course.  The first time was back in 2001 with the girls (Corinne, Catherine & Kirsty) and that trip started my love affair with Vineman.  It's a beautiful area, made even better by some of the best wines I can imagine.  Sometimes I think that race is just an excuse to visit wine country.  But anyway...

Race morning started really early as we were meeting some of Jason's Every Man Jack teammates at 4:45am for a ride to the swim start in Guerneville (we stay near the finish line in Windsor, about a half-hour's drive away).   Six of us crammed into Adam's car - including Betty teammate Rachel Norfleet (it was a weekend of meeting Bettys) who was spectating - and we beat the traffic to end up with pretty much valet service to the beach - thanks Adam for ignoring those "do not enter" barricades! We set up our transition spots, and said hi to Bettys Polly Gill and Christine Gould.  I did my usual pre-race routine of waiting around, making small-talk with other athletes, trying to eat, standing in port-pottie line ups, putting on wetsuits... basically everything that makes triathlon seem super-glamorous!  I did forget to put on Body Glide, so by the end of the day had some chafe marks on my neck (from my wetsuit) and feet (from my bike shoes).  Oops.  

Vineman is a wave-start race, and Jason started 6 minutes ahead of me.  As I was waiting for my wave to start, I spied Betty teammate Heather Scott on the beach so went to say hi, and then spent the rest of the wait chatting with fellow Betty Jordan Blanco who was in the same wave as me.  She and I lined up right at the front once we were in the water, and oddly enough no one else seemed to want the pole position.  The horn sounded to start our wave, and we had really clear water with absolutely no contact - nice!  One girl swam past us pretty quickly, I pulled ahead of Jordan by a few strokes, and basically just swam tempo for the 1.9km.  I came out of the water in 2nd in our wave (ended up being 3rd in my AG as there was another wave of 45-49 as well).  I really wanted to swim under 33, and was stoked when I saw my swim time of 31:51 - first time ever under 32 minutes!  Jordan flew by me in transition as I struggled to pull my sleeved top on; I decided to wear it as there's not much shade on the run course, so I wanted to start that with at least not being fried by the bike.  The only other time I'd raced in it was Ironman Louisville, where a volunteer helped me put it on... way easier to have help when you're wet.  Oh well.

I started the bike comfortably but strong, as I really wanted to hold 80-85% FTP as Sean asked me to try.  I love the bike course, it starts out flat so you can really get into a rhythm, then rolls, climbs, flat, rolls, climbs, flat... I basically alternate between watching the road in front of me to watching my power screen on my Garmin.  

Racing past 100's of vineyards.

At around 25km, Betty teammate Polly was about 50 metres up the road from me and crashed hard on a pothole.  She was ok, but it was a good reminder for me to not stare at my Garmin too much and watch the road.  Then I passed Jason on the side of the road who said he was waiting for mechanical. I figured I couldn't help so rode away, and figured he pass me soon enough.  I hit the climb at halfway, then the flat and fast section, then back into the rollers before the last climb - Chalk Hill - which is enough to get your attention, and still Jason hadn't passed me.

I figured he must have dropped out because of a problem with his bike, and I rolled into T2 with 2:56 on the clock for my 90km bike split, not a PR but I wanted to ride under 3 so I was happy.  I was in 10th place at that point, and anytime I can be in the top 10 in an ultra-competitive WTC race is a win!  I didn't see Jason - thinking he had DNF'd - but thought maybe he was getting his stuff or something.  I put socks, running shoes, and my hat on, and cruised out of transition after a quick stop with some volunteers for sunscreen. 

Because of a chronic knee injury, I just simply don't do enough run training to run well.  Plus, I'm a shitty runner in the first place, so combined means I pretty much suck.  But overall I really love long-distance triathlon,  so I am content to suffer through the run.  Slowly.  I knew I needed to take in fluids at every aid station, and just simply enjoy being out there in a gorgeous place, doing what I love.

About 7km had passed, and Jason caught up to me!  He ended up spending an hour on the side of the road dealing with a total of 3 flat tires - needing mechanical support as you pretty much only carry one spare tube.  He also went into the race with a hamstring injury that meant he couldn't run fast, and a bronchial infection... so decided to stick with me for the rest of the run.  It was fun to have him along, although he was definitely chattier than I could be during 21km of running.  It was also not that hot (for Vineman - I think it topped out at 25 degrees C and what shade there was felt pretty cool).  Just before halfway, we saw Jordan coming back - she won our age group! - then Polly who had shaken off her crash and ran her way to a podium finish.  Jason did a great job of cheering for everyone, including all his EMJ teammates who were steamrolling by on their way to top performances.  

The run is a loop (used to be a pure out-and-back) but had enough overlapping sections that I could cheer for other teammates like Jen Temperley who was killing it as usual and would podium.   I got to wave to Jonya and Yvonne out there on the course running by as well. On the last section on the way in, I got a great slap on the ass - great way to "meet" a teammate - by Audra Adair on her way to another Betty on the podium!  With all the Betty and EMJ athletes out on the course, it felt like a home town race!

Finishing together.
The only sucky thing about wave starts is
that your finish time is never correct.  Boo.

Jason and I came down the finish chute together for the first time since 1995 when we started racing together.  And since he started 6 minutes ahead of me, my finish time is actually faster than his - ha ha!  One for the history books, for sure.

Of course, no trip to Vineman is complete without some wine tasting, so once the race was over we got on the wine drinking part.  See you again, Sonoma wine country!

It's a long drive down I-5 to get there.

One bonus of wine country: lots of outdoor swimming!

Our favourite winery: Mercury.  It's a must-visit each time.

Fun pre-race ride with Jordan & Jen.

More wine tasting! This is our new 2nd-favourite winery:
Christopher Creek.

Sonoma County

Played tacky tourist and drove the 101 coming home.