"The Sky Is Broken"

Sunday I woke up early, as the forecasted high temperatures were 38 degrees Celcius (100 F), and I wanted to get my long run done before it got too hot.  All the windows were open but the curtains closed, and I wandered around the house trying to figure out what smelled so weird.  It wasn't until I let the dog out and saw the orange, hazy sky that I figured it out.  We were being blanketed with smoke from forest fires all around the province.  The windowsills were covered in ash (guess I have some dusting to do) and the air was so still, it seemed weird (usually here on the island we have a nice breeze).

Satellite image of Vancouver Island, southern BC, and Washington.
I live right under that big cloud of smoke!

My throat burned through my whole run, and I stopped for water a few times along the way (it never got too hot though as the smoke was blocking the sun, later in the afternoon I think it topped out at 32 C).  Then Jason and I went to Fuller Lake for a swim; there was a layer of ash on the water, and when I took my suit off I was covered in ash where my suit was.

At work the next day, my colleague said their son woke up Sunday morning and said: "The clouds are orange and the sun is red; the sky is broken!" - cute!  But kind of sad when you think there are over 180 fires in BC right now, and some of them are huge.  We don't often get big fires here on the island as we're a rainforest, but it's been a really dry year so far, and we have a couple of big ones with some communities evacuated.  Definitely makes me grateful that all we're dealing with right here is some smoke and ash.

A picture of Vancouver (from the National Post)
showing the "broken" sky.

Today is day three of training through a smoky haze; the wind is supposed to pick up here on the coast in another day or two, so we'll be back to normal soon.  Thanks to all the hard work of forest fire fighters, not only here in BC but all over the PNW and western North America - you have your work cut out for you this year.

Racing at "Home"

Last weekend was the Victoria 70.3 and sprint race.  In many ways it was like racing at home (ok, kind of literal as I live 45 minutes from the race site), but "home" as in how much the course and event feels like that home you grew up in but haven't lived there in years, and has grown a lot since you left.

In what almost seems another lifetime ago, my good friend Norm, myself, and a bunch of our friends put on the NewBalance Half Iron - a grass-roots race we poured blood, sweat & tears (all those things!) into for 12 years.  Then Norm handed it over to Lifesport, and a few years later it became a WTC event.

I have a lot of nostalgia for those old days (although I can't go back - there's no way I could do that much work again!), but I have to admit WTC did a tremendous job with the event.  I'm looking forward to having that event in our backyard for years to come - without personally having to carry hundreds of bike racks in & out of trailers...

As for the race itself: one of the highlights was having so many Betty teammates there!  Amy & Melanie from Calgary, Roxie from Bellingham, and Kathy from Phoenix.  It was a fluorescent Betty party, and believe me, we did not go unnoticed!  Perfect weather, camping at the park in the RV, the debut of my new bike, yet another age group win for Jason... fantastic weekend!

Team Betty! (unfortunately we were missing Roxie)

You know there's a lot of hills when my
power file looks like that!

I had a lead in my AG off the bike in the sprint race! First place
woman blew by but somehow I held off third.
I saw her at the turnaround and figured she'd catch me -
have to celebrate small victories!

Jason on his way to an age group win in the 70.3.

Second place W45-49 podium in the sprint race.

Meet The Newest Member of our Family

 A new bike wasn't really in the plans for me this year.  Then Jason started talking about getting rid of his Shiv and getting a Felt, so I started thinking about taking over his Shiv.  Then I saw a frame for sale that I absolutely fell in love with, and bought it pretty much on a whim.  Last night, Jason swapped all my parts over to my new bike, and I rode it for the first time today.  Love.


To Sleep, Perchance To Dream...

Now that we're into June, things get crazy busy at work.  Normally I have a 5 a.m. wake-up call once a week (and two 5:30's), but this week it was 5 a.m. every day as I had to get early workouts in because of evening work commitments.  Evening work stuff means I'm not going to bed early, which makes the morning alarm that much harder to take.  Plus, having a hectic work schedule, and trying to fit training, and dog, around everything leads to being a bit stressed, which for me seems to equal crappy sleep.

So. I am tired.

Jason's in San Francisco, and tomorrow he races Escape from Alcatraz with many of his Every Man Jack teammates.  I was looking forward to sleeping in (all I have on my schedule is a long run and some quality time with the dog) and then watching his race online.  The swim start is 7:30, so at least I get a nice, easy morning.  Hooray!  It's 7:30 p.m. Saturday right now, is it too early to go to bed?

If only I could crash as hard as Tiki can.
Lucky dog.

Highlights from the Shawnigan Sprint Tri

This isn't really a race report since it's taken me a week to get to it - basically just some highlights and random thoughts from the race.

The water was really warm - 20.5 degrees C.  Pretty unusual for May around here.  We didn't get as much rain as normal over the winter, and no snow in the mountains so I guess that's why.  I imagine a lot of the local races won't be wetsuit legal this summer if this keeps up!

Seems like the field gets smaller here every year.  Too bad as it's a great little race; hopefully now that WTC owns it, they'll find a way to build up the numbers.

This year felt easier than last year.  Good sign.

The new Betty Designs team kit is super comfortable.  And gets lots of attention and compliments!

I decided I'd ride hard, but not crazy uncomfortably hard (if that makes sense).  I ended up with the fastest bike split in my AG by 2 minutes.  Yes!

My friend Candace came out to watch, and she's a super race cheerleader so it's always great when she comes.  If it looks to her like I'm not working hard enough, she yells at me and makes me dig deep.

I wore these really cute runners that matched my kit perfectly (Brooks pure cadence 3), even though I knew they had a rub spot.  Yep - got a pretty nasty blister.  I'm torn with what to do with them... everything else is great except that one spot.

Nice way to start the tri season - 1st place M45-49 for Jason in the olympic event, 2nd place W45-49 for me in the sprint.  My first ever race in the 45-49 category!

Next up... Victoria sprint on June 14.  Before that though, Jason's off to Escape from Alcatraz this week!

Sprint Race Gear List

I'm getting ready for my first triathlon of the season tomorrow, the Shawnigan Lake sprint tri.  One of the nice things about a sprint (besides being done before breakfast), is that - relative to longer triathlons - you don't need a lot of gear.  Here's everything I'm using tomorrow.

My snazzy new Betty Designs team kit!

- wetsuit (still too early for the lakes here to be warm enough to not be wetsuit legal)
- swim cap
- tinted goggles
- race kit
- timing chip

Good sign that my swim cap matches my kit!

- bike with race wheels (6" deep front and 9" deep rear)
- tri shoes (different than my road shoes as they have one big velcro strap for quick on-and-off)
- helmet (I've switched to "aero road" this year to have a single helmet that does it all)
- sunglasses
- Garmin Edge 500
- one bottle with Vega Pre-Workout Energizer

Paired down bike... only one bottle cage (between the aero bars)
and no bento box, etc - completely unnecessary for such a short race!

- running shoes
- socks
- visor
- number belt
- one Gu Roctane

That's it!  While that may still seem like a lot of gear, it's so little compared to a race like Ironman.

Team EMJ CAF ride in LA

Jason and I were in North County (San Diego) for the May long weekend, and decided to take an impromptu trip up to LA for the Saturday.  Jason's on the Every Man Jack triathlon team, and some of their local athletes were hosting a charity ride to benefit Challenged Athletes Foundation.  We thought it was a great cause, a nice chance to ride some new roads, and an opportunity for Jason to hang out with some of his teammates.

It meant an early wake-up call from Oceanside where we were staying, as check-in for the ride was 7am in Santa Monica.  Luckily early morning freeway traffic is light, so we arrived with lots of time. Turned out the group was a pretty small one, but eager nonetheless (most doing the 100-mile option, Jason & I chose the 70-mile route).  A few of us rolled out together, with CJ & Brad from Team EMJ leading the way.

Ready to roll!

We headed out via Brentwood to the coast, along the PCH through Malibu, and then up into the Santa Monica mountains.  Of course, like every ride I seem to agree to do, it has a gnarly climb in there somewhere!  Shockingly though, I wasn't the last up of our group! Small victories.

600m climb in about 15km - yay.

Climbing Encinal Canyon.

At the top of Mulholland, the 100-milers peeled off from the 70-milers, and we headed back down to the PCH.  Riding through Malibu, I looked over to the water and noticed a group of about 5 dolphins swimming along the shore!  Nice to be accompanied by beautiful animals through a beautiful part of the world!

The traffic had definitely picked up, especially as we got closer to the city.  We arrived back at Bike Improve (and I'd spied a Whole Foods in Brentwood to head back to for lunch...), and not long after, most of the 100-mile group arrived back by SAG - they ran into some vicious headwinds and called it a day.  We mingled, ate pizza, watched the Tour of California on the shop TV, and waited for the two brave souls that stuck out the full 100 miles to return.  Then it was time to head back to our condo in Oceanside to plan the next day's adventures!  Once again, SoCal did not disappoint!