The Long Way Home

Alternate Title: How a 1.5 hour airplane ride turned into almost 24 hours.

The plan was pretty simple to come home from Canmore Sunday evening.  Heidi and I shared a rental car and got to the airport about 3 hours before my flight, as she was leaving before me.  No problem, as I had to repack my bag (I only had a carry-on and stuffed everything in pretty quickly as we were leaving the condo), and wanted to spend some time reading my book.

I strolled through security and over to my departure gate, where I found a comfy chair to hole up in for a while.  The time passed as I read my book, and then my flight was announced as delayed due to a late flight attendant.  About 45 minutes late, we started boarding.

The flight from Calgary to Victoria was pretty uneventful.  The direct flight was short, only scheduled to be around 90 minutes.  When we started the approach to the airport, the Captain came on the PA, saying that they were going to circle overhead for a while to see if the fog would lift.  This went on for about 20 minutes, then the call was made to return to Calgary as Victoria (and Vancouver and the other nearby coastal airports) was too foggy to land at.

This provoked quite a ruckus in the cabin.  The woman behind me started crying, and screamed "who's going to tell my family I'm not coming!?", and the man in front of me started shouting that it was some sort of conspiracy.  Clearly I was seated in the weirdo section.  The flight attendants did their best to calm the people down that were freaking out.  But really, what can you do about weather?  You may as well recline your seat again and keep reading.  

It was close to midnight when we got back to Calgary, and as soon as we were on the runway I called Jason to let him know (which he'd already figured out of course), and sent a text to my boss.  Luckily I was one of the first in line to get my new flight info (thank you, carry-on only and not checking a bag!), which was for the afternoon.  Here's where things get good - Westjet is one of the few airlines that actually comp a hotel for weather delays, and they gave me a couple of meal vouchers as well. Sweet!

Monday I was back at the airport by noon for my 1 p.m. flight to Victoria.  It wasn't a direct flight this time, but I had a quick layover in Kelowna.  My first flight left a little late, but when I arrived in Kelowna my connection to Victoria was delayed for over 2 hours.  I knew there was a risk of fog again as the sun went down, so I started wondering if I'd make it home that evening or if this was deja vu!  The Kelowna airport is tiny, I'd finished my book and a couple of magazines I'd picked up earlier, so thank you digital devices for keeping me entertained.  It seemed like forever, but then I was onto the airplane and almost an hour later landed in Victoria.  Almost 24 hours late, but I was back home to the warm, moist coastal air.  Who knew getting home would be such an adventure!

Canmore Weekend

As a west coast transplant, it's been a long time (since 1992) that I've experienced winter. I actually try really hard to avoid anything resembling a Canadian winter, but when my good friend Kirsty, who had just moved to Canmore, invited me to her birthday party, I just had to go!

I flew into Calgary Friday night, where my friend Heidi (who had just flown in from San Diego) was waiting, and we loading our carry-ones full of warm clothing into a rental car and headed into the mountains. A late night of reunions and meeting new people, then we woke up to a spectacular day, sunny and not too cold. Three of us decided to head out for a run, then do some sightseeing in Canmore before prepping for the party.

The view I woke up to from our condo in Canmore.

Ready for a run in the snow!

Corinne lent me these cool spiky things to put on the bottom of my shoes for traction on the ice. They worked perfectly!

Sightseeing in Canmore.

Despite a really late night Saturday, we still wanted to squeeze in some sightseeing around Banff before Heidi and I flew home Sunday evening. I had spent a lot of time in Banff when I was a kid and teenager, and it was fun to see some old haunts again.

Sightseeing in Banff - still sunny but pretty cold!

Heidi and I dropped Kirsty off at her new home, and it made me think of how important friends are and how valuable it was to share this weekend with old and new friends alike.

The adventure's not quite over... My next post will be about my trip home... Spoiler alert: so far it looks like my 1.5 hour flight last night will be at least a 24-hour adventure!

Not Enough Sense To Come In From The Rain

Saturday I had plans to ride with friends.  Of course we woke up to a torrential downpour, and there was a flurry of texts sent back and forth about if we should ride or not.  We figured how bad can it be... (uh, we do live in the PNW, so yeah, bad) and decided we'd go for it.

The drive on the way in.  A tad damp, you could say.

As I was driving into Victoria to meet up with the girls, I had to stop myself from laughing.  It was ridiculous.  Good thing I packed just about every piece of riding gear I owned!

We decided we were probably the stupidest people on the planet, but laughed and pedalled away. Catherine brought her commuting bike with a pannier so we could throw extra clothes in, just in case.  We only saw a handful of other riders out there, and keep in mind this is Victoria, where usually on a Saturday morning you wonder if there's anyone else doing anything besides cycling.

It wasn't too long into the ride and we were soaked right through our clothes.  But at that point we thought we may as well keep riding, as we couldn't get any wetter.  We wound around town, along roads, trails, paths; along the waterfront; through downtown.  I was relegating to the back as I still hadn't put fenders back on after the cross race I did back in November.  Oops.

Fenderless.  Yikes.

After our ride, we pretty much had to undress on the street to prevent our car seats from getting soaked. I wondered why I was headed to the pool for a swim, as that ride should have counted as double-duty.  But the end, who can complain about a ride with friends on a Saturday morning in January, even if my car was fogged up so much from all the wet gear I could barely see on the way home.  West coast best coast!

Looking Back at 2013

Yep, this post is kind of late.  But better late never.  2013 was a different sort of year for me.  I've always said each year of my life has been better than the past.  Some really great stuff happened in 2013, but some really sucky stuff too.  So now I'm not sure if I can use that saying anymore. However, I still recognize how fortunate I really am (I don't say lucky because Jason and I work really hard for our life, what we have and what we do) and overall, yeah 2013 was another year that smashed it out of the park, with a couple of exceptions.  So here's looking back at last year:

The year started off inauspiciously enough, kind of some same-old-same-old.  I ended up volunteering with the senior boys basketball team at work, and at the time I didn't realize it would turn into a few months and about a million hours... but I did get to know a fantastic group of guys that I'm honoured to have shared that time with.  

Despite my earlier proclamation that I'd be self-coached, I started with a new coach in February (Noa at PT Performance Training).  I learned soooo much from Noa over this past year, as she does things differently than I had in the past.  I really looked forward to waking up to my daily Training Peaks email outlining my training for the day. 

Jason and I put on a beginner's tri clinic at the local aquatic center.  We just ran into one of the participants the other day, and he'd finished his first half-iron distance event in Thailand - Challenge Phuket!  Well done!

Things started going off the rails a bit at the end of the month, with our greatest-dog-ever Humu getting sick, and it took about a week of tests to get it sorted out and diagnosed.

March was a sucky haze.  This was the lowest Jason and I had ever been, as it turned out Humu had an incurable tumour on her heart.  We were able to make her comfortable for a bit, then it was time to put her down.  A lot of tears that lasted for a long time.

We went to Maui for spring break, and while we had the excellent time that can only be had in the "Islands of Aloha", we were still really sad, and there were still lots of tears.

One highlight in March - we swam our first 100x100m!  I also ran a half-marathon and was on my way to a PR until the mile of sand hit.  Yikes.  Jason won his age group, and was 2nd overall.

Both Jason and I did the Westshore sprint tri, a new experience for me racing an outdoor tri in March. It was really warm that day, so not quite what it could have been.  Jason won his age group (you will see that this is a theme for 2013), and I was 2nd in mine.

Training ramped up in preparation for Boise 70.3  I ran the TC 10km.  

I went with some colleagues to a conference in San Diego, and got to visit some friends while there.  Which meant I got a workout in an outdoor pool, good enough to hold me over until the outdoor pool at UVic opens in May.

I swam a lot.  I did the Shawnigan sprint tri.  I was 4th in my age group, Jason won his.  Jason got me tickets to a Victoria broadcast of Q - my favourite radio show with my most favourite radio host ever.

Things got weird and stressful at work, as there was some major restructuring that closed a lot of schools and reorganized several others.  Mid-May to mid-June was the most stressful month of my career.  I ended relatively unscathed in the end but a good many colleagues didn't.

Knee injury really started bugging me.

Boise 70.3 - where I ended up with a bike course PR (despite brutal winds) and Jason won his age group.

Summer holidays couldn't have come soon enough.  July was going to be a crazy month of cycling given the events I chose to do.  So we figured we start the summer off with a vacation to California, get some long rides, and get some literal distance between us and the stress of the year so far.

We had some great rides with friends.  A day at Disneyland.  Then to Seattle to meet Corinne for the Seattle to Portland - 325 km in a single day of riding.  That definitely goes down as my longest day in the saddle.

Jason drove over to Lake Stevens for the 70.3, where once again he won his age group.

The end of the month I headed to Fernie for the Trans Rockies TR3 - and was way over my head in terms of how technical the course was that year.  But I finished each day (not bad, as only 3 of us in our group of 6 that went did), laughed a lot and only cried a bit.

I started a new (sort of) job.  Same school, but as the Vice Principal, temporarily filling in for the current VP who went on maternity leave for this school year.  Still doing lots of training as my next big event, the Leadman 125, was coming up.  We went to Whistler to watch, and volunteer at, the inaugural Ironman Canada there.  Felt like an IM in our home town (we do love to go to Whistler)!

Jason went to Vegas for the 70.3 worlds.  Didn't have his best day dealing with the crazy weather conditions and two flats on the bike.  Still finished 13th in his age group... not bad for a WC!

We completed the Leadman 125 on a cold day in the Cascade mountains.  Jason won his age group (and was 2nd overall).  Bend is a great little town, and I know we'll be back.

Finished my tri season, and therefore finished being coached by Noa.  Kind of sad about that, as I miss the swim workouts! (And other reasons of course.)  I just finished writing them ALL out by hand in a waterproof book so I can use them again.

Quiet month around here for me.  I took a bit of time off training, and tried some new things like Bikram Yoga.

Jason went to Austin for the 70.3 and you guessed it - won his age group.  He also qualified for the 70.3 worlds in Mt. Tremblant 2014.

Did a cyclocross race for the first time in a few years.  Sorted out what the problem is with my knee and a treatment plan.  Started thinking about what events I may want to do in 2014.

We found out that Jason finished at the top of the men's 40-44 WTC rankings for the 70.3 distance.  How cool is that?!

Went to Portland for a work trip, and Jason tagged along.

We promised ourselves after Humu died that we'd go on a holiday trip this year.  While we do travel frequently, we didn't usually go away over xmas as we liked to spend that time with her.  So we booked a flight to southern California, leaving xmas day.

We spent a few days (in unseasonably warm temperatures - it actually hit 31 degrees C [88F]) at Disneyland.  It actually wasn't as busy as we thought it would be on xmas day (we had an early flight, so were in the Magic Kingdom by the afternoon, that's how we roll) or Boxing day.  But the 27th was off the charts in terms of crowds, so we split and did some relaxing by the hotel pool.

We then went to visit my parents in the desert for a couple of days.  Jason and I hiked in Joshua Tree National Park, found an amazing pool in Palm Desert, and had a fun drive through Borrego Springs.

2013 ended off for us with a few days on the coast. We spent some time visiting friends, swimming outdoors, running along the ocean, and spent the very first day of 2014 relaxing in the sun on the beach.  All day.  For reals.  Great start to the new year!

The 12 Days of Xmas Swim

Jason and I have a tradition of doing a big swim workout over the holidays.  For the last couple of years we've done the "12 Days of Xmas Swim"; I originally got the idea from a Triathlete Mag article.  I've modified the workout to make it more our own, and mix in more of the stuff we do, and take out the stuff we don't (breast stroke - yuck!).  

This year we were away from home, and visiting my parents in the CA desert.  We stumbled across the most unbelievable pool (those who know me know how much I love outdoor pools) in Palm Desert.  The first thing that struck us was the parking lot - each spot had it's own palm tree for shade.  

Nicest parking lot ever!

The pool itself was gorgeous, surrounded by palms, mountains, and lots of different pools in the complex.  There was a 50m training pool, which we couldn't use as there were a couple of university training camps there (one of them was UBC - go T-Birds - my alma mater!), so we got to use another 25 yard pool - which was actually perfect as we were swimming 78x75, so need 25's of something.  And yards made it kind of nice as I'm not in super shape right now, so 5850 yards is only 5350 meters!

The 50m pool.

"Our" 25 yd pool.

Here's the workout (they are all 75's):

12. Free
11. Fly/back/free (25 of each - I put the fly here so we only had to do it twice)
10. Full gear (paddles, pull buoy and band)
9.  Breathe every 5/7/5 (25 of each)
8.  Free
7.  Back/free/back
6.  Kick
5.  Breathe every 3/5/3
4.  Full gear
3.  Free/drill/free
2.  Pull
1.  Free

You start with 12 and go all the way through to 1.  Then you go back to 11 and go all the way through to 1.  Then go back to 10 through 1.... you get the idea.  Last year we did it ascending, but it was mentally easier to start at 12 and go down, instead of starting at 1 and go up.  By the time you were starting at 6 through 1, the rest of the sets went by super quickly!  You need two sets of paddles, pull buoy, band, and kickboard as your gear is often on the other end.  Because you're always starting at a different end of the pool, you can't plan the workout to end off where your gear is. 

The whole thing took us exactly 2 hours; Jason was doing them on my interval but he didn't have that long to wait each time as he doesn't get that far ahead in only 75 yards.  Except kicking - I suck at kicking!  It was a nice way to celebrate the holidays and finish off our time in the desert.  We'll do it next year, so I'll post next year's version for anyone to try as well!

This Over Indulging Must End

I made a couple of mistakes this year.  First: my off season was waaaaayyy too long.  My last race was late September, so I've just been goofing around ever since.  Now, I love me some goofing around, but one month of it is better than three months of it for me.  I need to make sure I'm racing in October and November in the future.  Second: it seemed like there was waaaaayyy more over-indulging during the holidays this year.  Maybe more parties, maybe more people gave me chocolate, maybe because we went away... but the end result of those things is that I have several pairs of pants that are pretty tight.  Blech.

As I was contemplating a way out of this over-eating, over-junking rut, I got an email from Jordan (theblondevegan - an awesome site with some great plant-based recipes).  She mentioned a cleanse she put together and wanted to know if I'd do it with her.  Now, to be completely honest, I wasn't even going to read it as I hear the word "cleanse" and roll my eyes so far back I practically sprain them.  Typical with fad diets, there is no empirical evidence that "cleanses" actually work or that your digestive organs function any differently when following a "cleanse", there are no known toxins that have been shown to be eliminated any differently during a "cleanse" than normal (after all, the domain of your liver and kidneys is metabolize and excrete any toxins in your bloodstream on a daily basis, and they do that all the time unless you have a liver or kidney disease), and weight lost from "cleansing" is pretty quickly regained.  Your digestive system doesn't need a rest, as many commercial cleansing and fasting products claim - the rest our bodies need comes at night, when we are sleeping.  That is the point of sleep!  Deprivation diets that cut out important nutrients found in proteins and fats are dangerous - your body doesn't get any new materials to build new tissue (ie. you!) out of.  I could go one, but I won't.  The bottom line is that healthy eating, exercise, and sleep are what our bodies function best with, not gimmicks and fads.

However, because Jordan's blog is so great, I did read the full email and was pretty impressed with the program she has put together.  In my opinion, it's not a gimmicky cleanse, it's a 5-day vegan meal plan. While Jason and I are not vegan, we don't eat birds, mammals, etc, and eat a mainly plant-based diet with a few dairy products (e.g. greek yogurt) thrown in.  I figured that by following her plan, it would get me out of this habit of eating crap, and back on track with healthy food choices.  Sometimes, following instructions just makes things easier as it eliminates the chance of choosing unhealthy foods.  So Jason and I decided that we'll give her program a try next week.

Jordan has really put a lot of work into the document outlining all the meals - it's really well-written and has some beautiful pictures.  Now, I may be the world's pickiest eater so normally I don't do well with pre-written meal plans.  Because this one is all fruits and vegetables, I should be ok... but I'll let you know as it goes.  There are also recipes for a couple of juices each day.  We don't have a juicer and I don't really drink juice that often, so I'm not planning to rush out and buy one.  Generally, juicing removes a lot of the antioxidants and fiber from the skins of fruits and veggies, so I'm not a huge fan of too much juice.  But a couple glasses a day are ok - just don't try to live on juices!  I'll go to the juice bar in town after work each day to get the next day's juices.  I love smoothies for breakfast, but always do the same one so am looking forward to some new ideas.  I already eat salads almost every day for lunch, but there are some new things she's throwing into hers that I'm excited to try.  There are a couple of cold soups I'm not sure about (I really don't like cold soups...).  But one thing I really appreciate is her balanced approach and that it's not about deprivation (which is why I don't think this is a gimmicky "cleanse" where part of it is mentally seeing if you can take the caloric deprivation, which is ridiculous and unhealthy) - if you're hungry in between meals you can snack on fruits, veggies, and nuts of your choice.  

Some pictures of her recipes.

If you're looking to try vegan eating, or like us just looking for some structure after all the holiday eating, take a look at her plan and give it a try.  I'll keep you posted on how things are going; we're planning to start on Monday.  Cheers, and happy new year!