Hurricane Ridge

A few weeks ago, Jason, our friend Joel, and I rode Hurricane Ridge.  A classic climb in Washington state's Olympic National Park.  It involves taking the 6:20 a.m. ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles, riding up a mountain, then back down, and taking the 12:45 p.m. ferry back. 

It was a spectacular day for a ride.  Other than getting a flat about half-way up, I had a great time (and reached the summit about 15 min faster than last time).  Honestly, I didn't mind getting the flat tire as I hardly ever get them, and always relish the chance to practice fixing them when it doesn't matter (as in a race). Here are some pictures from the day.

Arriving in Port Angeles.
Elevation profile.  The ride literally starts at sea level
(considering we ride right off the ferry), and tops out
at just over 5000 feet.

Jason and Joel riding off.

Somewhere partway up.

One of the tunnels.

Just keep climbing...

Just keep climbing...

The top!

Back at sea level and onto the ferry.  Just in time for
an afternoon of wandering around downtown Victoria.

Snack Time

Sometimes I think what gets me through a hard workout is thinking about the snack at the end.  While I do have a weakness for potato chips, particularly Old Dutch ripple or salt & vinegar, I do try to have some healthy snacks available so I don't go right for the chips.  Here are my top go-to post-workout snacks:

1 - Greek yogurt (3/4 cup) with hemp protein (1 tbsp), chia seeds (1 tsp), and and handful of berries (I usually have raspberries, strawberries or blueberries, but any will do!).  Mix all together, and the great thing is that it takes hardly any time at all to whip this up.  The hemp protein is probably a bit of an acquired "earthy" taste, but I suppose any protein powder would do if you have a favourite.

2 - The ole' smoothie.  I don't know about you, but a smoothie doesn't really feel like a snack.  It is, however, a great way to refuel after a hard workout, and you can make them out of pretty much anything.   This is what I throw in a blender, along with a bit of water, and blend:  banana, protein powder, berries, and spinach.

3 - Protein balls.  These take a bit more work, so need to be done in advance.  And then try not to eat them all at once, as they are super delicious and nutricious.  Plus, the recipe is pretty flexible, so perfect for a non-chef like myself.  I get out the food processor, and dump in about 1/2 hazelnuts (or filberts for my Aussie friends...).  You can use almonds, walnuts, probably pretty much anything.  Chop them into small pieces, then add: 15 pitted dates, 1/2 cup dried cranberries (or any dried fruit, but I'm giving you my favourite combinations), 1/4-1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I tend to go a bit on the heavier side with the chocolate chips), 1/4 cup shredded coconut, 2 tbsp protein powder, 2 tsp chia seeds, 1 tbsp coconut oil.  Mix in the food processor until it all starts to stick togeher.  Sometimes I have to add a bit of water.  Then I scoop out spoonfuls, form into balls, and stick them in the fridge to gel together.  Yummy and healthy, and perfect for after a hard workout.

Check out for some other healthy snack ideas.
There are also great recipies at Fueling Endurance Performance and Cotter Crunch.  

I Survived a Pretty Big Week

I knew September would rush by in a blur; here we are on the last day of summer.  Basically, if I haven't been training, I've been at work, or I've been recovering on the couch.  Last week was the biggest week of training I've had for this ironman, possibly my biggest week ever (definitely in terms of combined volume and effort!).

To be honest, when I looked at my training plan for the week last Sunday, I was anxious.  It looked hard!  I got a pep talk from a friend, and got down to work.  Chop wood carry water - which means I did what I needed to do.  Here's what my training week looked like.

Monday: 4000m swim, with the main set consisting of 6x400m race pace.  Nothing like a good swim before breakfast!  Then after work, a 2-hour ride with some FTP intervals.

Tuesday: 1 hour easy run, and a 30-minute strength session.  I did both of those after work, as every Tuesday morning I have a 7 a.m. meeting.

Wednesday: Another early morning swim, this time 3500m with an endurance set of 3x800.  After work, back on the bike with some VO2 max hill repeats.

Thursday: Ah, I love Thursdays as it's the only day I only have one workout.  A one hour hilly trail run with the dog.

I amuse myself with fun socks.

Friday: 4200m swim before work, including a 10x300 race pace main set.  After work, when my boss wanted to head to happy hour, I had to pass and hop on my bike for a 2 hour easy spin.  Sigh - I love happy hour!  The struggle is real, people.

Saturday: This is the day that was causing me some dread.  I'm getting burned out on long rides, and while I figured this was coming, I hoped I'd luck out with something else.  Anyway.  It was a race simulation day so I started with a swim - only an easy 50 minutes.  Then immediately out on the bike for a really long, over distance day.  Instructions were to go up to 7 hours (really, my enjoyment factor decreases sharply after 5 hours, but I'd see what I had) with 5 hours at ironman pace (75% FTP).  Despite the dread, I had a great ride, hitting some good power numbers and my fastest pace in training ever; I got to the 180km IM distance at 6:14 - hopefully I can do that on race day on the hilly Louisville course!

The results from Saturday's ride.

Sunday: 2 hour long run.  My longest run in 3 years, and it actually wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  Adaptation, anyone?  Followed by a 30 minute strength session, at which point I was sure my coach was trying to kill me.

Recovery session on the couch with
SpiderTech tape and Marc Pro.

It all added up to almost 23 hours, although I don't sweat the hours because I know it's what do you with those hours, not how many hours.  And what I did with those hours was exactly what I needed to do that week.  One more hard week, then two weeks of taper - bliss!

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.