Surprise! I Took Jason to Kona!

I've been keeping a secret for the past few weeks, and on Thursday picked Jason up from work, bag packed... and took him to Kona!  You see, he's raced there seven times but has never been a spectator, and has always wanted to "see" Ironman Hawaii.  So now he can check that off the list. We had an incredible weekend and packed a tonne into 57 hours.

Jason just learned we're headed to
Kona for the weekend!

We arrived in Kona Friday at noon (after a literal ferry, train, and airplane extravaganza - the price of living on an island and traveling to another island) and headed straight to the expo.  Jason got to fill up with all the latest and greatest gear and take in all the sights and sounds.  Of course I stopped by the Betty Designs booth and got some cool stuff from Kristin.  All of a sudden we were wondering how our two small carry-ons would work for the trip home!

The view from our host's, Steve, place -
sorry we couldn't stay longer and use the pool!

Later that afternoon we met up with Karlyn Pipes and group to swim the Ironman course.  We entered from the beach in front of the King Kamehameha hotel and swam around the pier to the where the course starts, and realized it would be a fun swim with some pretty serious swells and chop (I actually felt at one point that I might feed the fish...)!  The group took off, and soon I realized I was swimming with "real" swimmers... I'm not a bad swimmer and it's not often I'm fighting to hang on to the back of the group!  No surprise as Karlyn is an amazing swimmer, so of course her swimmer friends would be as well.  We ended up swimming through a bunch of jellies and got some stings; for Jason and I it wasn't so bad, but one guy had some pretty big welts when we saw him back at the beach.

Our swim group - thanks Karlyn for the invite!

Then it was off to dinner at one of our fave Kona haunts: Lava Java!  First we watched the sunset at Laverne's (which we call Lulu's as that's what it used to be called, and we can't seem to switch). After dinner it was up the hill to the suite we were staying in.

Saturday morning the alarm clock went off early - 5:30 am - but we were already awake as that's 8:30 am home time.  We headed down the hill into town and set up for the swim start in a beach park down the road from the seawall.  The excitement builds as soon as you hear the helicopters buzzing overhead, and Jason could barely contain himself for his experience as a first-time spectator. Once the swimmers were all past us, we headed up Kuakini Hwy to watch the first part of the bike. Then walked all over town to catch cyclists coming in, runners going out, runners coming in... spectating is hard work!

Waiting for the swim to start.

Jason pumped to be spectating.

Waiting for the first runners.

Finish line.
Lucky shot with my phone of the
men's winner running down the finish chute.

We actually headed back to Steve's for a nap as we knew we needed a rest before the midnight finishers.  The last couple of hours are the best, so once refreshed we headed back to the finish line and stayed right until the end.

Best part of the race - the finish line at night.

Sunday we had the entire day there as our flight didn't leave until after 9pm.  We headed to the pier in the morning to swim the course, went for a run in Keahou, did some more sightseeing in town and in Waikoloa, went to the Kona pool for another (!) swim, then closed out our time on the island at Huggo's on the Rocks.

The "big pool".

The "little pool".
A great end to a great weekend.

Best weekend ever.

Thanks to all my co-conspirators for your help in pulling off the surprise!

Tough Love

What does a three hour trainer workout look like?  Not pretty... Today I did Tough Love, which is part of the Troy Jakobsen "Spinervals" series.  I have a love-hate relationship with this workout; it's incredibly difficult but super rewarding.

What do you need to get through three hours on the trainer? (For the record, the longest trainer session I've ever done was 5.5 hours... but that was training for Ironman and the weather was horrid.  I certainly don't have the mental fortitude to do that right now).  You need lots of fluids, snacks, a towel, a fan - especially on a hot day like today.  This time I wasn't doing this workout to avoid riding outside in bad weather, I was doing it because I needed to.  I have one more event this year, a century at the end of the month in Nevada.  I needed a workout to kick my ass, and this one does just that.

Essential supplies

So here is what three hours on the trainer look like:

Hour Zero.  Smiling.  Not sure why,
I know what's coming!

Hour One.  Still smiling.  Must be delirious.

Hour Two.  I usually crack about about 2.5
hours and think I won't finish.  I always do though.
Hour Three.  Done.

I need to do this workout one more time in the next couple of weeks.  Hooray!

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I did the Cultus Lake Triathlon last weekend; I had never been to Cultus Lake (actually wasn't totally sure where it was - turns out it's in the mountains just south of Chilliwack), but it sounded like a fun way to end out the tri season here. And... with the RV it makes traveling to out-of-town races so easy. I decided to do a solo trip since Jason was just back from Mt. Tremblant and could use a restful weekend. So I loaded it up, headed for the ferry, got onto the mainland and drove for a about 1.5 hours inland.

I was staying at a huge campground right on the shore of Cultus Lake, and it was only about a 20 minute walk to pick up my race package the day before. I ran back to the campground on the run route - turned out the run turn-around was the beach right where I was staying - and got my race stuff all together. Sunday morning I unhooked the RV and drove over to transition, about a 5-minute drive. I love being right near a race venue!

Pre race. I got to sleep in since I was staying right next door!

I was running a disc rear wheel... and I don't know if you've ever tried to pump one up using a floor pump yourself without someone holding the disc adapter on to the wheel... but it's really hard. I really need to get one of the adapters that screw right on to the valve without having to hold it. I went over to the mechanic's tent and asked if he had a disc adapter and could inflate my tire. I wasn't that confident when he stared at me blankly, then looked through his tool box. He found one, I kind of had to talk him through it but basically all I needed was a pair of hands. Tire inflated. Morning drama over, as I set everything up in transition and waited around for the start.

Standing on the beach before the start, everyone was freaking out saying the turn-around buoy looked way farther out than normal. I hadn't been there before so really couldn't say, but it doesn't really matter, does it? We all do the same distance, regardless of what it is. I was doing the sprint race (they also had an Olympic), and they started us 10 minutes after the men. For some reason, they made us all stand in the water for those 10 minutes and listen to a pre-race briefing, so we couldn't do a warm-up swim. I was freezing from those 10 minutes and I was in a wetsuit. Many weren't wearing one and I'm sure they were absolutely frozen.

The swim was pretty uneventful other than I was in the lead pack for most of the way! After the last turn buoy, that pack split up and I was in the back of the split, but still came out of the water in a really good position. For some reason they had the timing mats way up the beach (probably 150m) at the entrance to the bikes, so I don't know what my actual swim time was because I don't wear a watch while swimming. But I do agree with everyone who thought it was long, as my time including the beach run was 17:19 - so yeah long for 750m - but first in my age group (F40-44) by over a minute.

I had a quick transition and I was out onto the bike course. It was mainly rolling with a shortish climb out of transition (which my legs just absolutely felt like crap on), and a few kilometres of flat at the turn-around. I was cruising along pretty quickly, and was almost to the turn-around when I realized I hadn't seen any women. So I started looking, and only 3 had headed back towards me by the time I hit the turn, so I was in 4th place overall! On the way back, I passed one woman and one passed me, so I came into T2 as 4th woman - pretty cool!

Another quick transition and I was out on to run. I later learned that I had a 4-minute lead on my age group after T2 - which is totally huge after only 750m of swimming and 20km of cycling - and I should have stopped there and rested on my laurels. I had an absolutely dreadful run. Worst in years.  Didn't help that I've been neglecting my running lately in favour of puppy training. Didn't help that about 1.5 km of the run course was on the beach (I super-suck at running in sand). Didn't help that because of a chronic knee injury I really haven't focused on running much. Didn't help that the 5km run course actually turned out to be almost 500m long and I got passed by 3rd place in my AG in that "bonus" 500m. I ended up finishing 4th in my AG by less than a minute. Yep, I blew a 4-minute lead and 4th overall to not even finish on the podium in my age group. Worst. Run. Ever.

But... I am still pretty pumped at how solid my swim and bike were. Especially considering I never felt over my limit on either of those during the race.

Another cool thing about having an RV at a race; while I was waiting for the results to be posted, I went back to the RV and had a shower. Oh yeah. Which meant I was nice & clean for the drive and ferry trip home!

My cute little RV bathroom.  Bonus - the shower
is great storage for post-race wetsuit and sweaty tri kit!

Driving the big rig (ok, the RV is actually a little 22'
motorhome) so I should wear a trucker hat, right?

Next up: 100-mile cycling event in Las Vegas at the end of October.  Which doesn't really motivate me to run much, and obviously that's what I should be working on.  Winter project I guess.

Pictures Say 1000's of Words

This past month, it feels like I've been going back and forth between not enough to blog about, and too busy to blog anyway.  So here is a collection of random photos from August so far.

Jason's been racing up a storm:
Taking the overall victory at the Victoria
Self-Transcendence Triathlon -
not bad for 45 years old!

Running to the age group victory at Lake Stevens 70.3

Some random pics from rides:

We bought an RV and are redoing the interior:

Soon will be the ultimate bike-travel-mobile!

Keeping busy:

Coordinating the 100km start line at the Tour de Victoria


Napping with the pup.

Vineman Aquabike

I've just returned home from Windsor, CA, one of my favourite places.  Of the limited places I've been, there are a few spots I love on this planet and could live: home (Vancouver Island), Whistler BC, Sonoma County CA, Hawaii, and coastal Australia.  That's not a complete list, but those are the top.   Actually I couldn't live in Whistler really as all winter there's snow, but it's close to home so we can go there anytime we want.

Anyway, I digress.  I was in Windsor for the Vineman Aquabike, which I've never done before but have done the Vineman 70.3 multiple times, so I had the gist of it.  I was really looking forward to an aqua bike, because as my friend Candace said: "You're still in a good mood after the bike!".  Hey - those IM marathons are tough!  But yeah, I was stoked to toe the line on Saturday.  I had some goals, sub-34 swim (1.9 km), sub-4 transition, and sub 3:04 ride (90 km).  Not necessarily all PRs, but where I felt I was if I had a good day in my current level of fitness and on that course.

I was a bit bummed that it was a wetsuit swim.  My first Vineman 70.3 (it was actually called Half Vineman back then, in 2001) I did with a fun group of girls (Corinne, Catherine and Kirsty) had really warm water and was a non-wetsuit swim.  So the Russian River had kind of cemented in my head as no wetsuits, which I love.  I was also in the second-last swim wave, and it seemed like right from the gun I was catching swimmers from earlier waves.  It was actually tough swimming through so many people, as I'd come up on them so fast and then have to go around.  I'm sure I swam quite a bit extra having to weave through people, but I figured that was better (for them) than swimming right over them.

The water was REALLY shallow (shallower than normal) nearing the turnaround - perhaps you've heard something about the California drought? - and the vast majority of athletes just started walking.  For a few hundred meters.  There was no way I was walking, so I kept swimming.  I had to change my stroke as my hands were dragging along the river bottom, and again weave through basically walls of people walking together (maybe there should be a separate lane for walkers?), but after a while on the way back the water got deep enough to swim normally again.  I just kept going and soon enough was at the finish.  I heard Candace yell my swim time to me as I ran up the beach, and yay - it was under my goal time.  (33:38, and turns out 2nd fastest in my AG).  

I was kind of surprised by the wetsuit strippers - I missed that memo - and kept running right past them.  My wetsuit was almost off by that point, so I kept running the looooong transition area to my rack, and I'd placed my bike at the end of the row, right by the run out.  I hopped out of the legs of my wetsuit, brushed off my feet (lots of mud from T1 on them), put my bike shoes, sunglasses and helmet on, and I was out of there.  T1: 2:55.  I had my bike in an easy gear for the steep hill out of transition (there they had a separate lane for the walkers), and I found my rhythm pretty quickly on the bike.

Out on the course - Alexander Valley I think.
I love the Vineman bike course.  Lots of corners, lots of rolling hills, lots of vineyards. lots of flat stretches, some hills... it has everything.  Jason had challenged me to stay aero on the rollers - where I would normally sit up and spin, he wanted me to stay in my aero bars and only pop up to power over the top.  I did, and I passed heaps of people on the uphills.  Something that never happens... why did it take me almost 20 years of racing to learn that trick?  

The bike course was going by quickly, and Candace was out cheering (i.e. yelling as loud as she can, which is really loud) in several different spots.  Another girl and I kept going back and forth for probably 60 kilometres, and finally she said: "Where do you live?  We should ride together!"  She was local though, too bad as yeah we were pretty evenly matched!

The temperature was climbing (according to my Garmin) but I wasn't noticing the heat.  One thing I've learned about myself is when I don't feel the heat racing, that means I'm prepared for that race.  My Garmin by the end of the ride was saying it was 37 degrees C (over 98 F), but the only time I was remotely aware of it being hot was on Chalk Hill.  In fact, I lost quite a bit of time on that section of the course.  I was riding easily under 3-hour pace until that climb, and quite frankly there was still a lot of elevation gain afterwards, that I didn't remember, before the finish.  But the good news is, I know what I need to work on for the future - my long rides need a big climb towards the end.  I worked a lot on short climbs this year, not so much on long ones.  Add that to the list for over this winter!

Once I was headed into the airport area of Windsor, I knew I had to kick it up a notch to make my time goal, so I absolutely hammered the last 10 km.  Lucky I wasn't running after!  I came across the finish line with a bike split of 3:03:06 (5th fastest in my AG).  My total time was 3:39, so I stuck around until results were posted as I knew last year that time would get me on the podium.  And the Vineman podium = wine!  But I was fourth (12th overall)... which is awesome of course... but one out of the wine.  No worries, as I bought myself some that I preferred anyway! :)

Coming into the finish.

As a reward for making my goals, I bought myself a new Betty Designs kit.  (As Jason said when I got home: "yeah, you really needed another kit" - picture that being said in the most sarcastic way possible!  Hey, when you're a Betty, you have lots of cool gear!  But this one is particularly cool, as it was a custom kit done for HERevolution bike shop in Solana Beach, and my friend Heidi is a member of their tri team.  I got to meet the owner of the shop, Darcy, and she and I had a good time chatting and laughing all while trying to stay in the shade.

New kit!

Take a look at the Half Vineman Aquabike results... of the top 15, 11 of them are over 40.  I'd say us older chicks are coming into our own!  I had a great time at the aqua bike, and would really like to return next year.  Candace and I spent the next day on a wine tour, and then hit up the Oregon sand dunes for some fun on our way home.  See you next year, Windsor!

Where Am I?

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Tim was in the Okanagan and sent me some pictures. I had to identify where the pictures were taken and if correct, I'd earn a bottle of wine. I got all 7 pictures correct, but I'm not sure if the game was for one bottle, or one for each picture. I guess we'll see if he shows up with a case next time I see him.

That inspired this post: where am I? I am not offering any wine for correct answers unless you want to come drink it with me, but I'm hoping you'll play along and try to figure out where I am.




Road Trip Tom Foolery

Put four girls, four bikes, and lots of snacks in a mini van, drive through three states, and what happens?  Lots of good times!

We wanted to find a swimming hole on the way to Boise,
so googled a few places and thought we'd found a good one in
Ellensburg WA.  We arrived at a fast-flowing,
freezing cold river.  Oops.
Sign where we first stopped.  BTW - we eventually
did find the swimming spot, just down the road.
It was idyllic!

Corinne and I on a warm evening in Richland, WA.

Post century ride dinner in Boise.

Evening crit - Boise's twilight criterium.

Back on the coast - Catherine photo bomb.

Michelle practicing selfies.
On the way home.

The national puzzle champion hard at work on the ferry home.

Quick ferry pit stop in Friday Harbor (San Juan Island)
before arriving on our island.