Happy Monday

Here are some things that make me laugh.  Doesn't matter how many times I see that Clif Bar commercial, I laugh out loud every time!

Whistler Day Trip

I owed my friend Dane a trip to Whistler.  Well, sort of.  He had never been there, and somehow that turned into me taking him there when he graduated high school, which was a few years back.  Somehow, because I do remember him bringing that up but don't remember me agreeing to it... Anyway, after a few summers of getting pestered about it, I thought it was time for me to fulfill this "obligation".  And hey, we all know I love Whistler and will take any excuse to go there, so why I hadn't taken Dane yet, I couldn't quite answer.

Up at 4:30 am (you know I must really want to do something if I agree to a dark-thirty wake up call) and caught the first ferry off the island.  Absolutely beautiful day, hottest one of the year so far, so perfect excuse to spend the day there.  Dane was off to rip in the bike park, and I decided on the Peak 2 Peak since I hadn't done that yet and it opened in 2008.  Normally I love to ride the trails, but my legs were still smashed from Sunday's race so I was happy with a mellow day.

The Peak 2 Peak is a gondola that connects the summits of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, so skiers don't have to ski down one and up the other to access the terrain.  It's also got the longest span between towers of any gondola in the world (over 3 km), total length is 4.4 km, and is over 1,400 feet above the ground.  

I took the regular ole' gondola up Whistler mountain, the Peak 2 Peak across, and then a couple of chairlifts down Blackcomb.  Saw one black bear on the way down.  I can't say there are many trips I've had to Whistler where I didn't see at least one black bear.  I didn't get a picture of this one though, as I was on the chairlift and my camera was in my pocket at the time... by the time I fished it out we'd moved past the bear.

33 degrees Celcius at the bottom, but snow at the top of Whistler Mountain!

On the Peak 2 Peak, looking across to Blackcomb Mountain. 
Riding the chairlift down Blackcomb, back to the village.

It was killer hot out, so we decided a swim was in order.  Dane requested the coldest and clearest water around, so I took him to the River of Golden Dreams.  It's snow and glacier meltwater, and usually by summer the water levels are pretty low, but this year it was still flowing high and fast.   We got in (Dane jumped in and I entered gingerly... I'm not sure when I turned into an 80-year-old grandma) and both screamed in pain as it was completely frigid. Seriously, probably 1/1000th of a degree above freezing; it actually physically hurt!  We challenged each other to actually sit down in the water but that was it, and we jumped out.  Our skin was bright pink and toes stinging.  It was definitely the coldest and clearest water around!

After shredding the bike park.
Despite our hyperboreal swim, we were nicely warmed up again by the time we got back to the car.  Back on the Sea to Sky highway, a quick stop at Whole Foods in West Van to pick up food for dinner, and to the ferry.  We both slept the whole trip home, which makes the 90 minute trip go quickly!  An 18-hour extravaganza from door to door, but so much fun and totally worth it!  Happy (very) belated graduation, Dane!

Lake Stevens "race" report

I know I professed that I wasn't doing Lake Stevens 70.3 as a race... but I have to say I am pretty dang pleased with how the day went!    Kiki was right, I was ready and I did surprise myself.  I learned a lot on that long, hard training day, and accomplished my goals I set out here.

The day before we drove the bike course as it had changed from when Jason did it last year.  Once we were back at the lake, I had to scrape my jaw off the floor of the car as there was way more climbing than I was anticipating.  The course was up, twisty, turning, down, more turning, more up up up... not long gradual climbs, but short, punchy ones that sap strength and energy.  Well, the course is what it is and it's not like I could ride last year's, so at least I was glad to have seen it and know what I was in for.  But I tend to over think things, and I was pretty much psyching myself out thinking about the bike course.  My strengths tend to be diesel-engine-ish... get up to speed and stay there.  That course was all accelerate-deccelerate, and while I liked the bike handling aspect of all the turns, I knew I was in for a long day with the climbing.

Fast forward to the actual race: Kiki and I were in the same swim wave, and we lined up at the start.  The water in Lake Stevens is warm (73F on race day), pretty clear (with the exception of the warm-up duck cove area), and calm.  Made for some fast swim conditions - and I ended up getting on some great feet and PR'ing the swim with a 32:41, good enough for 9th in my age group.  I have never swam under 34 minutes for a half so I was happy!   I saw Kiki partway through the swim and waved, which was fun.  The bummer of the wave starts is it doesn't take long to catch the slow swimmers in waves ahead, and from the turnaround buoy into shore was a bit of a gong show navigating through the hoards.  I just let the feet I was on take care of the route and I hung on.  I did accomplish my goal of not going out too hard at the start, but just right.  Which is probably why I found some good feet; I didn't have to back off after sprinting from the gun - I started strong and took advantage of that.

Getting my transition area ready pre-race.
Onto the bike course, and it had started raining which made the roads a bit treacherous.  At many corners I saw people who had crashed; this was a bike handler's day and I backed off a bit on the descents to stay safe.  I didn't back off so much though that I wasn't passing people on the downhills though!  It was a bit chilly because of the rain and we were all thoroughly soaked.  I decided that rather than let the conditions get to me, I'd pretend it was February and surprisingly warm.  Amazing what you can overcome with the right mindset!

Yep, the course went up and down, around and around, with more up than down I am sure.  I don't know how that was possible as we started and finished in the same place, but I am sure we broke the laws of physics there.  It also seemed like every downhill ended with a hard turn and then an uphill, forcing me to scrub all my speed before the climb...  I just tried to settle in, work hard, stay on track with nutrition and enjoy the day.  The climb at mile 38 (which I was dreading) wasn't as bad as I thought, but the one at mile 45 (which I hadn't given any thought to) was interminable.  I am sure there are still some out there riding it - it took that long.  And the descent after that one was ruined by an asshole in a truck who seemed to delight in driving slooooooowly on the course and blocking about 3 of us from gaining any speed there.  I'm sure it cost me a few minutes overall, but it doesn't really matter in the end.

Elevation profile from my Garmin...
it's official - there was a lot of climbing!

Also from my Garmin.  The IM Lake Stevens website
said 2,159 feet of climbing - can you say typo on their
part?  I've read some other race reports that agree
with my figure as well.
I was pretty happy to make the turn back to Lake Stevens, but naturally the course didn't relent as we had another few uphills before back to transition.  My arms definitely got a workout on the bike course as I used a lot of upper body on the ride with climbing and cornering.  I was pretty sure I'd be over 3:30 on the bike once I saw the course, so I was happy with a bike split of 3:20 and top third in my AG.

Onto the run, fairly uneventful.  A gradual climb out then a little decline back, and then an out-and-back along the lake, up a hill, down and back over.  Then repeat.  The first lap went by, and I have to admit I would have been happy to stop there.  But another lap was required, so out again I went.  I stuck exactly to my plan of 8 run/2 walk for the first 2 hours, then 4/1 after that.  Stuck to my nutrition plan, kept positive, kept going.  And then turn right into the finish and done, top half of my AG so can't complain, and faster than I thought I'd be originally when I was complaining about "racing".  My run is definitely a work in progress, but I'm working and it's progressing so that is a good thing.  To think of where I have come since my accident a few years ago...  

On the run and smiling.
The volunteers were fabulous, cheerful and helpful.  Had a pretty grass-roots feel for a WTC event, but maybe that's because we're pretty laid-back here in the PNW.  Jason took 2nd place in M40-44 and got a Vegas spot.  Kiki had a solid day despite being sick - she stuck it out when many wouldn't have started.  We high-tailed it out to catch a ferry and get home by early evening.  Overall, a fun weekend for all and back home before my next adventure - the Alcatraz Sharkfest swim in a couple of weeks.

Made it just in time for our ferry home.
Long live Zoot compression tights!

To Race But Not To Race

We're ferrying over to the mainland this weekend for the Lake Stevens 70.3.  Jason and I have both signed up, he to race and me not to race.  Allow me to explain.

I am going to participate, but in my head it's not a race.  It is a long training day.  I don't feel like I'm ready to race a half iron, but figured I'd sign up as I'd be there anyway and it gives me a chance to try out some stuff for Arizona: aero helmet, race kit, nutrition plan, etc etc.  So I'm racing, but not to race.  To train.

The tough part are those numbers in your head.  The numbers that come up when you think of how long the swim will take, the bike, the run... I am trying to still my mind so those numbers don't appear.  I have no time goals - I'm not racing.  I will push myself, but not against the clock, simply against how I'm feeling on the day.  Those numbers are for another day.

Therefore, I am stating my goals here for the record, and please notice they don't involve numbers.  My goals are to answer the following questions:
- Did I go out strong at the start, but not a crazy all-out sprint like I usually seem to do?
- Was I organized and efficient in transition?
- Is my helmet comfortable?
- How does the tri kit feel - any chafing in spots or things I don't like, in particular that may bug me over twice the distance?
- How were my energy levels... and how do they relate to my nutrition/caloric intake?
- Did I stick to my nutrition plan?
- Can I be in a good mood for the whole time?
- Can I push harder over the second half of the run?
- Is there anything I'd change for double the distance?

If I focus on those questions instead of numbers, then the day should go well.   I'm racing, but not to race now, but to race later.

And So It Begins

Not only did summer start for me this week, I feel like it was the beginning of training for IM Arizona as well.  Just a small 18-hour week... two years ago that would have been a big week for me.  I am stronger now, and Coach Kiki knows it and I have a feeling that this week is just a small snapshot of what's to come.  I know she'll pile more and more on, which is welcome!

She ordered a hilly ride on Saturday, so I strung together a bunch of climbs I normally try to avoid.  It was only a 3-hour ride, but I was pretty shattered by the end as I worked really hard.  I followed it up with a 30-minute "run" - but I'm not sure you could call what I was doing running at that point.

Hopefully this counts as hilly!

Me and a little friend.

That's an emu in the trees.

I really wanted to jump in the river on my ride,
but it was quite a scramble down the bank.

I capped off the week by volunteering at a local triathlon this morning.  I was out at the turnaround buoy on my paddleboard.  Great day for racing, although it was a scorcher by 8 a.m.  Jason was 2nd overall, a good tune-up for Lake Stevens 70.3 in a week.  I wouldn't mind if it was a bit cooler for that race though, everyone was melting out there today.  But I'm not complaining - I'm enjoying the sunshine and heat!  Ah, summer!

Can you imagine swim conditions any more perfect? 
Looking across to the swim start.

Our friend Stefan leading the swim.

One-oh-one (finale)

For some reason I forgot to finish this.  Hopefully I am not repeating anything, but if I am then it must mean I REALLY like it!

Part one
Part two
Part three

75. Pizza
76. Getting a text message from someone I haven't heard from in a while.
77. Paddling on my SUP (stand-up paddleboard).
78. Laughing so hard I cry.
79. Smiling so much my face hurts.
80. Making a really great connection with someone.
81. Zombie movies.  Even super-cheesy ones.  Especially super-cheesy ones.
82. The way Humu arranges her head on Julius (her stuffed monkey) to nap.
83. Bats swooping around above the deck.
84. Finishing a workout I am really struggling with, even if I want to quit.
85. Reading a really great book, even though I stay up way too late because I can't put it down.
86. Looking through old photo albums.  I hope the digital age doesn't make this experience extinct.
87. A friend dropping by unexpectedly.
88. Spontaneous plans.
89. When it gets so hot we have to turn the heat off on the hot tub, turning it into a cool tub.
90. Living in a place surrounded by nature.
91. How lucky I am to have the life I live.
92. The way the carpet looks after it's been vacuumed.
93. Making people laugh.  With me, not at me.  
94. How every year I get to know some fantastic young people.
95. Pussy willows.
96. Lying on stones warmed up by the sun.
97. Fresh, in-season fruit - preferably from an Okanagan fruit stand. So yummy!
98. How festive mini-lights can make an otherwise ordinary evening feel.
99. That cupcakes are making a comeback.
100. Crawling into sheets straight out of the dryer.
101. My peeps.