Welcome to the Dark Side

I did it, and I'm now a member of the dark side... I finally bought an aero helmet.  Admittedly, I've made fun of the goofy-looking lids many a time.  I never wanted one because I thought they looked stupid.  Then I realized how stupid it was to take care of everything except one little vain detail.  I train properly, work hard, rest hard, have a super-hot bike (which incidentally is officially mine since Jason ordered a new Shiv), race wheels, etc. etc...  So kind of stupid that I don't want an aero helmet based on how they look.  For Ironman Arizona no less, a course where I'll be in the aero position for pretty much 99% of the course.  Umm... so I got over myself and realized I should get one.

I tried a bunch on and chose one that was really light and didn't squish my ears like most of them did.  Plus it helped a lot that I found one with flowers - say no more.  I still feel like a character out of the movie Spaceballs when I look at it head on.  Luckily I don't look at myself head-on when I'm racing, so I imagine I'll promptly forget about it once I slap that lid on my head and jump on my bike.  Plus, did I mention it has flowers?

Shelter Island Revisited

Last week I was in San Diego for a conference, and stayed in a hotel on Shelter Island.  I hadn't been to Shelter Island for over 20 years; even though we travel to the San Diego area a lot, we normally stay with some BFFs in Encinitas.  While on Shelter Island, everywhere I turned I was reminded of great times from what seems like a lifetime ago.

In 1991 I sailed (with a group) from Victoria to Miami (via the Panama Canal, not around Cape Horn - we weren't quite so adventurous.)  We spent a couple of weeks in a marina on Shelter Island, waiting out hurricane season and getting to know each other as it was early on in our voyage.  Last week I went for an early morning run around the island, and while a lot had changed from my memories of a couple decades prior, some landmarks still brought a smile to my face - I love when stuff like that happens.

Me on Shelter Island, September 1991.

I was only 21 at the time, and I recall many of the area's parking lots shrouded in secrecy (with plywood) as America's Cup boats were being built for the 1992 running in San Diego.  There were teams from all over the world there, and as young kids from Canada we were star-struck by the languages being spoken and the cosmopolitan feel.  We'd try to peer through gaps in the plywood to get a glimpse of the super-star boats under construction.  I also remember spending almost every evening on the beach, sitting by a huge fire we'd build out of pallets dumped nearby.  I didn't build a beach fire this time, but saw the beach fire pits and the old parking lots on Shelter Island drive that once housed some speedy yachts.

Shelter Island today, looking towards the same beach
I hung out at over 20 years ago.

It's always fun for me when a memory is sparked unexpectedly.  Not only do I enjoying reflecting on the past and the journey to present day, I think about the memories I'm currently creating for my future self.  In two decades from now, I wonder what will prompt memories of today?

Jumping on the Bandwagon

Yes, I am a little late to this party.  Lately I have been incorporating some band work into my swimming.  For those of you not on the "band"wagon, it's putting a band around your ankles to completely remove your kick.  Some people combine it with a pull buoy, but I skip the pull buoy to really isolate my arms and core into doing all the work.  It's been pretty fun, and shed some light on two weaknesses.  Starting to fix them is already making a difference.

Homemade swim band - a piece of old inner tube.
One: I tend to catch with my right arm a little in too much, almost right in the centerline.  When I have the band on and do this, it swivels my hips and legs out and I swim like an eel.  So I am working on making sure my right arm is staying over to right of center.

Two: when I get tired I don't activate my abs, and my overall body position suffers a bit.  The band is a great reminder to use those abs as if I don't, my legs really drag uselessly behind me!

Using a band is also a great way to turn a swim session into strength training.  Slip the band around your ankles, put on some paddles, and you have a bicep/tricep/lat/core strength workout!  Great for when you have tired legs but still want to get a good swim in.

Perfect Day for a Ride

I have been going crazy lately due to being (admittedly self imposed) stuck indoors on the trainer.  I tend to be a bit of a wimp when it comes to riding in the rain; I'll do it when I have to, but it's soooo much easier sometimes to simply jump on the trainer.  But after a couple of months of trainer riding, I was losing my mind (and some fitness), so I sent an email out to my usual ride suspects.  I asked for company riding outside... rain or shine... and Tim & Catherine stepped up and agreed.

Ready to ride! 

I love living in the Cowichan Valley -
you never know what you're going to
see on any given ride.

Mother Nature rewarded us with a spectacular day, and we indulged in the sunshine and warmth with a ride along the Trans Canada Trail to the newly-restored Kinsol Trestle.  Good friends, good weather, good riding - what else do you need for a perfect Saturday?  We could hear multitudes of red-winged black birds calling away; that's my signal that spring is just around the corner!

Our destination.

Afterwards, Tim joined Jason & I for dinner - the three of us have a traditional fare of halibut tacos (them) and black bean tacos (me), wine, and dessert (this time: raw vegan blueberry pie).  Ideal ending to a 3.5 hour training day for Tim & I, and 7 hours for Jason.  Guess which one of us is 13 weeks away from an Ironman?

All that was left of dinner - some mango salsa.

We finished off the evening by watching
skiing and mountain biking.