Where Did August Go?

It came to my attention this morning that it is the first of September.  Huh?  What happened to August?  Last I looked, it was the August long weekend, which is at the beginning of that month.  Now we're heading full tilt into the September long weekend... and guess what - soon enough it will be the October long weekend, which is Ironman Louisville!

Here is what I've been up to for the past month.

  • Training, training, and more training.  It's easy for time to go by when you're logging 23+ hour training weeks.
  • In the hottest, driest summer on record, I find a monsoon to do a long ride in for some reason. 

Sorry for the dirt, bike!  Luckily my bright pink kit came clean.

  • Finding Tiki's new passion: swimming.


  • Jason finishing first across the line at Lake Stevens 70.3!  He actually finished second overall on the day (first in M45-49) as someone from a later wave had a faster time.  But how cool for him to have a bike escort on the run!

  • A quick traincation trip to Kona with Jason and our dear friend Corinne.  It wasn't in the plans, but then a free condo and cheap flights called our names.

Training partners for the week!

We braved a torrential downpour one evening
to walk to Huggo's On The Rocks.  Priorities!
Sunrise over the volcano heralds a long ride.

Halfway through our 180km ride.  Still smiling at Hawi!

It was sooo hot & humid.  Sweat much?
We finished our last afternoon with (another) swim on the Ironman
course, then a nap on the King Kamehameha lawn.
After cramming 19.5 hours of training in 5 days, you get tired!

Or you get tired and weird...

  • Training, training, and more training!  

If August went by in a flash, I'm not sure I'll even notice that September happened.

How to Climb a Mountain

I got to climb a mountain last week, using a method I hadn't tried before: taking a helicopter partway up and hiking the rest.  Highly recommended.  There are two ways to accomplish this: 1) have lots of money to hire a helicopter; or 2) cultivate a 20-year friendship with someone who will eventually turn out to be a helicopter pilot who then will manage a helicopter base, and go visit him when he has some rare downtime in the summer.  I stumbled onto #2.

The mountain we flew up to and climbed is called Raft Mountain, just outside of Clearwater, BC and Wells Gray Provincial Park.  There are trails you can take all the way, and according to Wikipedia it should take 2.5 hours to get to the top.  It took us about 10 minutes to fly to where we landed, around 7,000 feet elevation, and another 30 minutes to hike to the summit (just over 8,000 feet).  Again, highly recommended.

The day's mode of transportation.

We're headed to the pointy part in the middle of the picture.

Getting closer....


Landed in a meadow, and we get to hike
along the ridge to the top. There were some pretty
cool drop-offs down some sheer rock faces!

A tiny patch of snow.

Clearly others have been here before.

Almost at the top.

Stupid Lifeproof case messes with my front-facing camera.
I need a new phone case - suggestions?

Headed back down, you can see the helicopter -
it's the speck in the middle of the picture.

Penticton Training Camp

This past weekend was a holiday weekend here in BC, and Sean & Tara-Lee, my coaches, were celebrating by putting on a training camp for their athletes doing Challenge Penticton (the "old" Ironman Canada) at the end of this month.  Even though I'm not doing that race, I figured I'd invite myself along to the camp, and rolled into Penticton in our RV Friday afternoon (after finding an outdoor pool along the way to do a workout at), and headed out for a quick spin.

That evening we had a group dinner, where Tara-Lee shared lots of stories from winning Ironmans and other shenanigans, and a guest speaker talked about mental focus and motivation.  It gave me a chance to meet the group, many of whom train together on the mainland, and have some yummy food while relaxing in the shade at Skaha Beach.

Saturday morning we were in for an early start - we met at Okanagan Lake at 6am for a swim.  It started with Tara-Lee giving some open water swimming tips, then we hit the water.  I led the group, and hit the beach first after over 3km of swimming.  I got a bit cold waiting, so I swam back out to the other swimmers and swam back in with them.  Little did I know that later that day we would be in an inferno, or perhaps I would have enjoyed shivering on the beach a bit more.

As soon as our swim was done, we changed into cycling clothes and were divided into 3 groups, with the slowest heading out first onto the 180km Challenge Penticton bike course.  I was in the middle group, so had some breakfast and waited around for our roll-out.  Our group was about 5 guys and me, and we chatted for the first 60km to Osoyoos, which were flat and scenic.  We were all still having fun at that point!  Some of the early group turned around there and rode back, and one rider met us there to start his ride.  The fast group caught us there too.  Since we had a couple of sag vehicles, that was our first stop for fluids, and the temperature was climbing... it was in the mid-30's Celsius!

Rolling out of town

Osoyoos marks the end of the "easy" part of the course, and then you head straight up Richter Pass for an 11km climb.  We all rode that on our own, and the sag vehicles met us at the top with more fluids.  At this point it was crazy hot, high 30's and it was still morning so only going to get hotter from there.  Descending Richter's felt like I was riding straight into a hair dryer - windy and hot.  I lost count on how many times I refilled my bottles, and the ice that Tara-Lee would dump in them melted in 10 minutes.  From Cawston to Keremeos (where it actually hit 43 degrees C - apparently a record), I drank two bottles in 30 minutes.  Usually here on the coast I have to work at drinking a bottle an hour. 

Climbing Richter Pass

Tara-Lee and I at the summit -
does it look hot out yet? :)

The heat and wind were taking it's toll.  We stopped at a fruit stand in Keremeos for cokes, and the sag vehicles had to get more fluids as we'd already drank them all.  Some of the riders called it quit there, and the rest of us headed up the Yellow Lakes climb.  Two guys were in front of me at that point, and another guy decided to go straight back to town at the summit instead of taking the "new" race course down (and up!) Twin Lakes Road (I was really tempted to go with him!).  Everyone behind me had called it quits on that climb and got into the sag vehicles.  I kept going, and really suffered those final 40km of climbs, descents, and headwinds back to town.  Turns out the two guys in front of me got picked up in OK Falls, so I ended up being the only one to do the whole course.  I really wanted to quit a bunch of times - the heat and wind made it one of the hardest rides I'd ever done - but I'm glad I kept going.  Having that in the bank will make a difference for Ironman Louisville for sure.

What 7 hours on the bike in 40+ C temps looks like

We had another dinner that evening, where - no lie - some of the athletes fell asleep while eating!  We had another guest speaker, this time on nutrition.  I think most of us were focused on how we were going to get through the next day of training after being whacked so hard that day.

Sunday morning we didn't meet until 7 at the Peach, where we started our long runs.  I wasn't running as long as most of them - I was only doing 1.5 hours and the rest were either doing 21 or 28 km.  Which meant I had a bit of relaxing at the beach before our final swim.  I skipped the wetsuit for this one, and we swam from the Peach to the Sicamous and back, a nice swim to end the camp.

It was a really tough weekend, but I know that some training days are way harder than race day - and mentally it gives you the toughness you need to get through Ironman.  Not to mention the training benefits - coaches there in person, groups pushing you, and doing longer workouts than on your own - training camps are hugely beneficial.

Vineman Aquabike Race Report

I love this event.  It's long enough to make you have to work, but with no run to pound the sh*t out of me.  Just as last year, I finished 4th in my category (W45-49, except last year I was in W40-44).  Which kind of sucks as top 3 win wine.  But what doesn't suck is that I PR'd the swim and bike, was 12 minutes faster than last year, and would have won the 40-44 if I was still a spring chicken.  Man, these 45+ women are fast!

Betty's Pre-race: me, Nicole, and Pim
(who wasn't racing but was a great cheerleader!)

Highlights: the swim is so non-eventful there.  Women-only wave start in a narrow river, so sighting is easy (my sighting was flawless).  I swam 31:51 (almost 2 min faster than last year).  I owe it to my new wetsuit: a ROKA Maverick Pro.  This is the first wetsuit I've ever had that I don't feel any shoulder restriction.  It's awesome.

Heading out onto the bike course.
Thanks Pim for the photo!

Sean gave me a power goal: to ride 85% FTP for the race.  He knew it would be hard for me to push that hard for 90km.  I ended up riding 80%, so I know there's still room for improvement.  Some of the hills didn't feel as hard, although Chalk Hill I still know I can do better!  I rode 2:53 (10 min faster than last year).  Yeah, how could I not be stoked?!

So I didn't podium... now I have a goal for next year!

To finish off my road trip, it took me a long time to get home as I had training to do along the way.  No more racing now until Ironman, but it's time to really hit the mileage.

Pier Pool - a cute neighbourhood pool in Portland.

Solo Road Trip

I'm in Windsor, California, home of my favourite race: Vineman.  While I love the 70.3, this year I'm again doing the "Half Aquabike" - 2km swim, 90km bike, done. :)  It's such a great race, a beautiful area, and the event will be terrific prep for Ironman Louisville without getting beat up by a run.

I headed down by car, solo (as it turned out), and I love road trips, even by myself.  So far I've done some driving, singing, cycling, swimming, relaxing, reading, sleeping... a perfect summer vacation.

Step one is getting off this island - this trip
it's the Coho Ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles.
Essential road trip snacks.

Singing - also an essential road trip activity.

Bike is ready to race.  I had a bit of an issue with a clogged
valve extender (I race on latex tubes with sealant) when I arrived.
Jason had to talk me through the repair over the phone - I'm
not a fan of doing my own wrenching and usually depend on him for that.

Sometimes I feel like racing here is an elaborate plot to go to wine country...

I hit Johnson's Beach early this morning for a practice swim.
There weren't many people there yet.  The water is pretty warm, it's
not a non-wetsuit swim but if it was at home it would be (USAT has
higher temperature cutoffs than Triathlon Canada).  So I'll be
wearing my ROKA Maverick Pro for it's inaugural race!

Post-swim selfie.  My phone sucks at the front-facing camera
ever since I got a Lifeproof case.  Any one else have this issue?

One of my Betty Designs teammates, Nicole, is here doing
Barb's Race (a women's only 70.3 on the same course).  This
is her handiwork in T2.

My "T2" doesn't usually look like this - just a pair of flip flops.
Swim, bike, done!

And just to make the afternoon interesting, I got to spend some
time at a tire repair shop.

Tomorrow is the race, and I'll let you know how it went!

As Seen on My Bike

It's rides like today that reinforce how much I love riding my bike.  An easy spin for a couple of hours, just a girl and her dusty 'cross bike.  No TT bike, no %FTP intervals, no power zones... while all those things are great - sometimes it's nice to just get out and ride like I did when I was a kid.

Here are some of the things I saw from today's ride.

Happy riding!

Vancouver Day

Wednesday was my first "official" day of summer holidays (Well, I had to go into work today for a bit but was only there for about half an hour, so that doesn't count.  And emails continue to come in and I'm answering some of them, but again I'm not counting that as work either).  I had some errands to do in Vancouver, so decided to take the opportunity to swim at one of the world's best pools while I was over there.  

Step 1 - getting off the island.  Went as a foot passenger on the
ferry instead of bringing my car over, so it was a "planes trains and
automobiles" kind of day: car, ferry, bus, skytrain and walking.

Coincidence that one of my bus stops was right next to
a Whole Foods?  And just in time for lunch!

Kits Pool - 137.5 m so kind of like swimming
open water.  Also right on the beach! 

Looking across English Bay from Kitsilano Beach to downtown,
still very smoky from the fires.  Normally the north shore
mountains are visible.