Happy Halloween

Our usual carving contest was suspended this year so Jason did the pumpkin carving honours instead. He decided to go with a Star Wars theme...

Morning Wildlife

I was up at the crack of dawn for a ride this morning. I don't do that too often as I'm not really a morning person (luckily we're well into fall so the "crack of dawn" is getting later...). I'm not much of a night owl either; I consider myself a solid midday-er.

I only had a short 2-hour spin on the schedule, and Jason was running a half-marathon in Shawnigan Lake about an hour's ride away, so I thought it was the perfect excuse to get on my bike early. There was not much light and still very much a chill in the air so my teeth were chattering as I started out (one of the drawbacks of living at the top of a hill is that you're guaranteed to be cold when starting a ride and cruising downhill). But I turned towards the river to take the scenic route, and was rewarded for my decision to get going early.

First prize was a massive California sea lion fishing under a bridge. He surfaced with a large salmon in his jaws just as I rode by. Second was a belted kingfisher squawking away, competing for decibels with a nearby Steller's jay. Next came a great blue heron, standing motionless on guard next to a creek. Finally, darting through the brush, scurried a mink.

Jason, on his way to placing second overall in his race, said the only wildlife he saw was the remnants of a Halloween party still going from the night before. The stillness and the subtleties are things you don't notice when you're hammering away. But they make a perfect backdrop to an easy recovery spin on a crisp fall morning.

All Alone

Triathlon season is over here on the island. I know this because I seem to be the lone triathlete on the roads these days. There's always lots of roadies, and now that it's cyclocross season, there's 'crossers riding around. But no one on a TT bike.

Every time I would ride in the spring, summer, and early fall, there were always lots of trigeeks around. I felt a kinship with those pounding it out on the aerobars, but I haven't seen anyone for a while. Ironman Canada, the popular race in these parts, was done almost two months ago now. Kona played out last week. There's really only a couple of big races left on the tri calendar for 2010 - Florida and Arizona. Any Islanders doing either of those? Where are you riding?

All alone on the TT bike...

How I Spent My Weekend

It's Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. Am I thankful for this weekend? Not right now, but I will be come race day. Over 15 hours of training this weekend, albeit extended with Monday off for the holiday. So how did I spend my weekend?

Friday - Birthday Swim, The Sequel

My friend Tim decided that I should swim 40x100m on 2 minutes for my fortieth birthday, which we did back in May. Then my coach, Kirsty, decided that would be a good workout to repeat. She obviously didn't read the post where I said I didn't want to do that again. Luckily Tim is always up for a hard pool session, and he recruited his friend Joel to join us.

Friday evening (yeah, I'm so cool this is how I spend my Friday nights) the three of us met at the Nanaimo Aquatic Center (I thought I'd come to them, since they were agreeing to do this torture of their own free will) and headed out. This time, we were allowed the luxury of an extra minute rest after each 10. The first ten went by fairly smoothly, with me hitting all of the 100's well under 1:40. Tim and Joel were both cruising, and Joel didn't even seem to be working as he hit the wall in 1:20 each time.

The second ten went by with me holding sub-1:40, much to my surprise. After our extra rest, we started on our third ten, and at number 24 my body added another 5 seconds... I felt I was giving the same effort, but out of nowhere I was now sub-1:45 consistently. Tim and Joel said the same was happening to them, but how could I be sure when they were at the wall so much before me, and looking cool and relaxed by the time I pulled in. Our last minute rest, then the last set of 10 - still the extra five seconds but I was able to whittle that off for the last few. Then Tim suggested the last 100 should be done as IM - I'm pretty sure it was sheer will that got me through the fly!

After the swim, Tim and I went for dinner and pigged out - even shared a slice of key lime pie for dessert. Mmmm - key lime pie... all fueled up for tomorrow.

Saturday - I've clearly angered Mother Nature

Saturday dawned a grey day, and I was up early for a master's swim workout. My arms weren't too happy about that, but at least Amanda (our swim coach) had a workout of mainly 25's and 50's, so I survived. Then home, breakfast, and out onto the bike for a planned seven hours.

Yes, I said seven hours. I had been dreading that workout all week. I hadn't ridden seven since 2006, when Catherine and I did a two-person team for the 24 Hours of Adrenalin in Idyllwild, California. It wasn't raining, so I couldn't complain as two weeks ago my long ride was in brutal conditions of heavy wind and rain. The sky didn't look great, but I thought "hey, it's dry now so get out the door"... famous last words (part 1) of course.

The first four hours were uneventful. Through Cowichan Bay, around Shawnigan, to the Mill Bay ferry, then back through Cowichan Bay. At three hours it had started to rain lightly, but nothing to be worried about. Jason met me at the four hour mark with a sandwich and new bottles, and my cyclocross bike in case the weather took a turn for the worse. But it was only a light sprinkle (famous last words part 2), so I stayed on the Transition and headed north for the last three hours of the ride.

About a half hour later, the light sprinkle turned into a deluge. I kept going, figuring I was wet at this point so no use turning around and riding the trainer. I kept going some more, and the skies grew darker and the rain even harder. I gave myself a goal - I had to get to a certain point and then I could turn around - and this made it easier as I focused on the road. Puddles were growing huge and deep, and my tires were making me nervous as they didn't have much tread on them. I got to my turn-around point and carefully started making my way back. Around puddles, through puddles, through torrents of water pouring down from side roads... it was getting insane.

I was soaked right through my jacket, my glasses were useless, and water kept streaming off my helmet onto my nose. A truck blew by me right through a puddle and completely doused me. This was my breaking point; I actually started crying and decided to call for back-up. I pulled into a building with an overhang and called Jason's cell. No answer. Called the home phone. No answer. Cell again, no answer. Back on my bike, I told myself to stop crying and ride home.

I headed for home along my usual route, gulping back tears even though I wouldn't have felt them on my sopping wet face anyway. And just at the top of a climb, I saw Jason's car driving towards me and pull over. At first I thought I may as well finish the ride since I was at six and half hours, but he convinced me to get in the car. He had covered the seat with towels for me, took my bike, and I climbed in. It took a while to warm up once we got home, and I spent the evening wondering if my long rides could find even worse weather. I better be careful with that thought - we may end up with a freak snowstorm at this point!

Sunday - Victoria Half Marathon

Jason was running the half marathon, and Tim and I decided we'd ride into Victoria and then follow the race around on our bikes. But it's pretty dark this time of year at 5 am, so we drove in with Jason to the outskirts of town and rode from there. It was still pitch black when he dropped us off before 6:30, but being the adventurous souls we are, we decided to take the Galloping Goose trail anyway. We couldn't see anything for the first half hour of our ride, but I know the trail and it's flat, wide, and smooth. So we trusted that knowledge and it worked out fine. As we pedaled it got light, and soon a beautiful day dawned, if a bit chilly, and we arrived in Victoria's inner harbour in time to see the start.

After cheering friends on at the 2km mark, we headed out on the course for some more encouraging cheers and applause. Jason was running well, and we had to book it to the finish to see him cross the line in 1:15:30 - 3rd in master's 40+ and 2nd in 40-44 males. Nice job, Jason! We watched the start of the marathon and cheered on friends in that race, then back on the bikes and again out on the race course. Tim and I rode for hours, cheering on friends and random people. Again we had to book it back to the finish to see Tim's friend Catrin win the women's race in 2:52 - wow!

Tim & I cheering runners on at the 32k mark

Monday - Tired and Cranky

Monday, a holiday, so finally I got to sleep in. But it was not a rest day, and once up I was once again out on the bike. A three hour ride which I had little motivation and tired legs for. Jason rode with me to spin out his legs from his hard effort from the day before. A couple of times on the ride I wanted to turn around and go home, but stuck it out as I knew I'd have low points during Ironman, and needed to know I could overcome them and keep going. I snapped at Jason a couple of times, and knew it was just fatigue setting in. I couldn't do anything about it though, and felt bad every time I bit his head off.

I made it through the ride, quickly changed and headed out for a quick run. Like the earlier ride, I didn't have a lot of motivation and wasn't excited to be heading out. However, I was just starting to get into the run when I hit the time, Jason picked me up and we headed to get some food. Amazing how food can do wonders for grumpiness.

The rest of the weekend was spent on the couch, but I was working as I marked my student's tests. But at least my legs were up and not moving anymore. Total workout time this weekend: 15 hours and 35 minutes. Some holiday. Happy thanksgiving - I'll be thankful for this weekend in six weeks!

My Butt is Happy

Let me tell you about my saddle. A review, if you will, of the ISM Adamo. First, however, a disclaimer. I am not one of those famous bloggers who get sent free stuff in exchange for telling you all about how awesome that free stuff is, and how of course no one could live without it. I'm pretty sure at least two people read my blog, but above that, I'm not sure. So I don't think I've hit celebrity-blog-worthy-of-swag. Dang.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, my happy butt. I have never been a fan of riding aerobars; I've always found the aero position quite uncomfortable on long rides. On rides of over the 4 hour mark, the discomfort had always been brutal in the "downstairs" area (if you know what I mean - scientifically known as the front of the perineum). Apologies if this falls into the too-much-information category. When I was training for Ironman a decade ago, there was this one day where I called Jason from the middle of my ride to meet me with a knife. We made a roadside alteration to my saddle, cutting out part of the shell (yeah, now saddles with cutouts are common, I'll take credit for starting it all...).

I've ridden many a saddle, some I've loved and some I've hated. Years ago I was excited when I first saw Terry's brand-new seat with the cutout right through the whole thing, the first to do this, and snapped one up. Hated it. I got through Ironman Canada 2000 on a Serfas Dual Density, which was all right but I spent a lot of time sitting up to relieve the pressure.

My saddle doesn't bother me on my road bike (I ride a Fizik Vitesse) or on my mountain bike and cyclocross bikes (both sport a WTB Rocket V Race). I've done a 2-person 24 Hours of Adrenalin on the Rocket V, and even riding 12 hours on that saddle was no problem. The problem only appears when I ride aerobars for extended periods. I assumed it would always be this way, my own personal albatross around my neck. Rather, around my groin.

Then I saw this weird thing. Jason was racing Ironman Canada last year, and I saw a lot of pro women with a totally bizarre looking saddle on their bikes. An ISM Adamo. Very strange looking indeed. I have this thing that bikes should be beautiful, so I immediately wrote that saddle off. Didn't really matter anyway, as I hadn't done a long-distance tri in years and wasn't really planning to anytime soon.

You know how things go though, you find yourself watching a race and instantly thinking "I should sign up". Almost as soon as Jason finished, I was thinking about doing an Ironman again. Which meant I would be riding long on a TT bike once more. Then when I landed on Arizona as the race, I knew that being comfortable in the aero position was going to be very important.

I wanted to try the ISM Adamo, but having been burned by saddles that seemed like a great idea I was a little gun-shy to fork out the dough. The local rep assured me that I'd love it, and if I didn't, I could return it for a full refund. Good enough for me. When it arrived I puked a little in my mouth with how ugly it was, but hopped on. OH. MY. GOD. No pressure whatsoever. This saddle is a keeper.

My ISM Adamo Road saddle, set up on the Specialized Transition.

I love riding in the aero position now. Love it. I find it more comfortable than sitting up. I'm a total convert, and cannot imagine riding anything else on a TT bike. I can now ride the trainer in the aerobars for a couple of hours, which beat the 10 minutes I used to last on a traditional saddle. Yeah, it's still ugly, but I guess when I'm sitting on it no one can actually see that.

Big cheers to the people over at ISM for messing with a design that hadn't been messed with for a really long time. Thank you for making my butt happy!

I'm Hearing Ominous Music In The Background...

I haven't posted in a bit. Turns out I don't have a super-interesting life, with new blogging topics occurring to me daily. Good thing our house isn't the setting for "The Real World: Vancouver Island" (did I just out myself on how lame I am - is The Real World even on anymore?)...

The last two weeks have gone like this:
- Kirsty came up for a visit, bringing her faithful companion Tana the Gentle Dog with her
- Jason and Kirsty did an adventure race in Cumberland, where she got to experience some good old Pacific NW mud
- I went for a 6-hour ride in the pouring rain and hellish winds (and thank you, road tubeless, for not flatting when that staple stuck in my tire!)
- Kirsty and I closed down the MOMAR party with lots of dancing, laughing, and good times
- Jason and Kirsty did the Cumberland cyclocross race, while I road solo again - this time less than 3 hours and in beautiful sunshine
- Tana and Humu became BFFs except when food is around (or Julius, Humu's stuffed monkey)
- an easy training week - ridiculously easy training week (insert ominous music here, as you know that means something frightening is coming)
- Kirsty and Tana headed back to California
- fun walk in the woods with a friend where we saw a huge - and I mean huge - bear
- Jason repainted the garage, while I "supervised" (I'm taking this rest week thing seriously)
- got my new training schedule and... gulp! (again with the ominous music)

Here's some highlights from my training schedule for the next two weeks.
- Friday I get to repeat the 40X100 swim on 2 minutes I did back in May for my birthday. I remember at the time I said I never wanted to do that again... I guess Kirsty didn't catch that comment. But this time, I get an extra minute rest after each 10. How luxurious!
- Saturday I have to ride 7 hours. Yikes. Double yikes. And too bad Jason's running the Victoria half marathon the next day, so he won't be riding any of that with me. Anyone out there up for a long ride?
- A couple of run/walks of up to 2.75 hours - come on knees, don't let me down!
- Thanksgiving (Cdn) weekend with 13 hours of riding in 3 days
- The infamous "what are you made of" day: Ride 4 hours, run 90 min, ride 2 hours, run 45 min. Please let me survive that one!

So, if I live through all that, I'll post again.