Friday, December 18, 2009

Wheezer 1, Geezer 0

For the past two weeks, the Pincher Creek pool has been as warm as bathwater. Seriously. It turns out the aqua aerobic ladies have been complaining so much about the water being too cold, that the staff decided to placate the whiners and crank the heat up.

The only thing is, an increase of temperature creates an increased chance for bacterial growth. Thus, they needed to up the chlorine as well.

Enter moi.

I've been struggling along as best I could -- taking my inhaler before I swam; but have still had minor episodes of whooping/wheezing. Well today was NUTS!!!

Right away I was whooping and wheezing. I was so loud, I drowned out the music they had playing over the speakers. LOL!!!!

The lifeguards were pretty concerned -- kept asking me if I was "all right." Hahahahahah!! I said -- " this pool is way too warm -- is it true the only reason it is this hot is because the aqua aerobic ladies?"

Right away, the lifeguards turned on the cold water and advised me to swim next to the wall where the cool water was flowing in. (I think they were so alarmed at the noises I was making they wanted me close to the edge if they had to haul me out!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!) I kept reassuring them -- I've been like this for a long time - I'll just catch my breath and then give 'er again. The whooping doesn't bother me (well, I can't really breathe LOL!) it just makes the session more difficult to actually do properly.

For example, part of the warm up called for 300m as 25 hard, 25 easy. I found it so difficult to breathe that I had to swim a lap then wait to catch my breath, then swim another lap, then wait again. Didn't matter if it was hard or easy -- I was whooping like a Mother Tucker.

When the cool water started coming in, my whooping immediately tapered off and then stopped altogether.

BLISS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They are having a meeting with the aqua aerobic ladies today...Should be interesting to see what the temp of the pool is tomorrow. At least I know I'll always have a lane to myself with all the racket I make. LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Adventures Driving Home From Pool

Hold your horses everyone....

I made a new friend today at the pool.

She lives in the Crowsnest Pass too.

She is starting to get into triathlons.

ANOTHER TRIATHLETE IN THE CROWSNEST PASS!!!! Will wonders never cease? Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!

With the increased workouts, I've started chafing like an albino allergic to peanuts. Holy Doodly -- I NEED to apply Body Glide every time I swim and run and now. I get chafe marks like there's no tomorrow. After Friday's swim, I even had three chafe marks on my neck -- they looked like hickeys!!!

Thank God for Polysporin.

So, today after swimming, I got to talking (IMAGINE THAT!! LOL!) with a girl I'd never seen at the pool before. She did the Wasa Olympic last year and is thinking of doing the Calgary 70.3 next year. You can imagine my complete astonishment when she said she lives in the Pass as well. :) :)

After chatting, I had to make a quick deke into Wally World for more avocados and then headed home, tucking into my recovery food as I drove...

I had eaten a banana, some walnuts, and was just starting in on my mini loaf of banana bread when I could feel a truly magnificent sneeze coming. It was the kind of sneeze that you have a few seconds to prepare for. Not the kind that sneaks up and whacks you out of the blue.

I hurriedly smooshed the mouthful of banana bread to one side of my mouth to try and restrict the amount of stuff that would inevitably blast out.

AHHHHHHCHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

Not too much banana bread flew out of my mouth, but my nose was another story. Immediately
an old memory popped into my head. Years ago when I was a little tyke in kindergarten, this little boy had an explosive sneeze. It rocked his whole body and his hands flew up to keep himself steady.

I'll never forget this image: There he stood with his hands stretched out by his face as he looked at the long, sticky booger that stretched from his nose to the floor.

It was like he was frozen in time. Our whole class was. I'm sure it was only a few seconds, but it seemed to last forever...We all waited to see if the booger-rope would break.

ANYWAYS, you get the idea of what I'm trying to say right?

Unfortunately for me, I had no kleenex in the car. OH MY GOD!!! I looked down at my banana loaf wrapped in saran wrap and had to make do. It was an altogether unpleasant experience. (By the way, I did remove my banana bread from the saran wrap before I did the deed.)

I then scrabbled around the car with one arm trying in vain to find SOMETHING to blow my nose with. It was then I realized the one good thing McDonald's is good for ---- extra napkins in the glove compartment!! HOORAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Those napkins have sat there for years, but thank God for Mickey D's (or as my Dad refers to it: Choke and Puke. LOL!!!)

Note to self: Throw a roll of TP in the car tomorrow...

:) :) :) :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

No more excuses.

Enough with the excuses...

I love this article -- found a link to it from slowtwitch.

http://www.xtri.com/features_display.aspx?riIDReport=6128&CAT=23&xref=xx

I've been guilty of complaining about drafting -- What compounds my frustration is my lack of self-control and caving into the whining and excuse-making aspect of myself. This article is a great reminder to HTFU and stop whining.

How many times I have heard:

1. I could have swam/biked/ran/faster IF ONLY....

2. My nutrition wasn't right...

3. It was too hot/too cold/too whatever....

4. My watch/heart rate monitor/power meter stopped working...

5. I was recovering from an injury/had an injury....

6. I only learned how to swim as an adult....

7. I was too tired to train properly...

To be sure, the reason why excuses like the above annoy me so much is because I've been guilty of making them myself. And, there are no lessons more poignant then the ones in which your character weaknesses are reflected back at you. Mirrors don't lie -- whether that mirror is held by a stranger or by yourself. An excuse is an excuse and no amount of yapping is going to help my performance.

However, training will help my performance -- and so will training my mind to toughen up and stop looking for the easy way out with excuses. If I want to swim faster, I need to put the time in the pool, not waste my time blowing out hot air.

Time to buckle down and truly HTFU.

My race is MY race. My results are MY results. Like Chuckie V said in one of his excellent posts, "Your head is ultimately what runs the show and until you get it screwed on right you'll always be required to dish-out those same lame excuses post race."

No more excuses from me -- time to stop talking and start training. :) :) :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bunler

Like any couple that has been together for more than a few years, Mike and I have developed our own lexicon. Anyone who spends more than 2 days with me inevitably starts hearing some of these terms....and the truly lucky will hear me perform my piece de resistance song about Peanut (Lips of a Nutcho song.) For animal lovers it's not so bad, but my good friend and fellow teamie, Tessa was subjected to the entire song after the swim/run camp. Hahahahahaha!!

Just goes to show what a good friend Tessa is that she sat through it. LMAO!! Mind you, when I arrived in Calgary for the swim/run camp, I had to pick up a set of her house keys from a coffee shop. She was cryptic about what I might have to do to *pass the test* to get them.

The girls in the coffee shop said I had to dance the Macarena. I couldn't remember for the life of me how the heck to do it -- I sort of danced like an awkward teenage boy (from one foot to the other) saying, "da-da-da-da-da Macarena" and then clapped my hands. OH MY GOD I felt like such an idiot!! LOL!!!

So, one of the coffee girls walked me through the sequence of moves and did the dance with me. My face was beat red by this time, but the girls were intent on me getting the dance right. FRIG -- learning how to catch the water is easier than the Macarena.

Finally, they decided I was humiliated enough and told me Tessa had a reward for me: A specialty coffee and 3 ginger cookies. I laughed and said, "Tessa is so awesome!" The girl that taught me the dance responded with, "If one of my friends made me do that, I wouldn't call her awesome." LOL!!!!

But you see, I had plans to serenade Tessa my song later on.... Hahahahahaha!

Ok, back to the dictionary of Mike and Julie:

Bunler: Mike's nickname. I have no idea where this came from but I call him "my bunler" and "The Bun."

Ball: This word gets attached to the end of any other word for any reason. Derived from the medication I had to give Mandalay a couple of years ago for her ear --- I'd call it her "ear-ball." Now, I'll ask Mike, "Do you want more chicken?" He'll reply, "No, I'm full-ball." You can use it like the word *smurf* -- remember them?

Here's another example: "Had a good swim?" "Yeah, but my arms are tired-ball."

LMAO!!!!

I had a couple of awkward moments when I was at the Ghetto Camp in Penticton this summer...I caught myself saying "ball" and tried to cover it up by saying something else. Hahahahahahaha!!!!! My secret is out!

Chibble: Having a chill. Enough of one that you need to take a bath. ie. "You cold?" "Yeah I've got a chibble." Also can be used like this: "Brrrr!! I'm chilly-chibbler! I need a tub!"

Fidge: This doesn't have the same ubiquitous quality as "ball" but can be applied to a lot of people/animals. If someone is slightly mischievous, or cute, or just being fidge-like, they are a fidge. "You little fidge!" You can also turn it into a verb if you want.

Here's Bunler occupied with two l'il fidges.





This was my big plan yesterday: making Bunler's Breakfast Burritos. Scrambled eggs (in a bit of bacon fat), bacon, and cheddar cheese all rolled up into a tortilla, then wax paper and foil, then put in the freezer. Bunler takes one out when he's hungry.


Monday, December 7, 2009

.....

Swimming every day.

Training lots and lots and lots.

Love it. :)

Nap time. :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Caution: Male Cleaning Change Room

That was the sign posted on the door of the women's change room this morning. Someone had forgotten to take the sign down from last night...

I didn't think much of it until after my swim when I was showering. An aqua-fit lady was a little late getting to the pool and came rushing into the change room -- when she saw me soaped up and in the buff she had the strangest expression on her face. A mixture of alarm/shock/surprise/concern was in her eyes.

The acoustics in the communal shower are terrible -- someone can be standing right in front of you and you can't hear a word they are saying. She was frantically trying to ask me something and there I was unconcerned and and taking my time.

I finally pieced together that the "Male in Change Room" sign was still on the door. Hahahahahahahahaha!! We had a good laugh about that. No wonder she was giving me the oddest look. Hahahahahahaha!

In other news --- BIG news today....

I CAN BREATHE!!!!!

Today was my first go at my inhaler-thingie and Holy Doodly it was like I was reborn! I could actually SWIM the entire time and BREATHE hard without whooping and wheezing. What a feeling! I was giddy! I still am. I am so excited to go for a run....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Catch me if you can!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009.

I said the date to myself this morning as I sat on the pool edge, legs dangling in the water. I was the first one there (I always am -- Hahaha!) and as I sat there looking at the calm, still water I said to myself, "Remember this date Julie, because this is the first day of the rest of your swimming life." :) :) :)

I was looking at the water and the water, barely moving, looked back at me. "Catch me if you can!" it said. Part playfully but part command-ish too. I slid into the water and began the first day of my new swimming life...

I'm fresh from a swim/run camp that was held by my coach this weekend. I was videoed underwater from various angles and then given constructive criticism (AND DRILLS!!) to correct my lack of catch (complete absence of catch is a better description). I was so FRIGGING excited to get in the pool today and start becoming a real swimmer.

I've been given free rein to incorporate swimming drills into my schedules. MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! The beast will be unleashed, my friends. LMAO!!!

With a solid sense of purpose and an even bigger dose of determination, I immediately got to work on *catching* drills. One arm for 50m, the other arm for 50m, then both arms for 50m. When an hour passed, I took off any buoys, paddles, or other implements (LOL!!) and would actually swim 50m. Then I went back to doing the drills again. When 8:00am rolled around, I celebrated the hour with another 50m implement free swim.

I was starting to get cold in the pool, and managed to do another 5 minutes of drills before I decided to get out.

I am LOVING this new challenge. The drills are slowly working and I am starting to get (and keep) my damn elbows up. My neural pathways (as stubborn as ever) are going to be rewired to handle these new patterns. If I had the mojo (and the muscular strength), I'd be back in the pool at noon...Hahahahah!! But, I'm using my muscles in different ways now, so I know there will be an acclimatization period.

Look out water -- I'm gonna CATCH you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

:) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I failed my V02 run test!

It turns out the whole "run like I have asthma" thing wasn't such a joke after all...

Now how you might wonder, does one fail a V02 test?? Apart from just stopping because you don't feel like doing it anymore, how does one try their hardest and actually fail?

Last night during testing, I was chugging along the treadmill. When I reached 8.5 mph, I ran for 1:30 and then they started the incline...

I lasted 16 seconds!!!!

I couldn't even make one incline. I indicated that I was at my maximum effort and had to stop -- I was wheezing and breathing hard (as usual). The woman conducting the test told me I need to get checked for exercise-induced asthma. After analyzing my numbers she told me that my body is capable of a lot more but that it is simply not getting enough oxygen...

I never actually reached my V02 max on the treadmill -- I had to stop before I even reached it.

Therefore, my V02 results ended up being identical to my bike results -- which isn't supposed to happen. The run V02 is supposed to be higher than the bike.

I was still processing this info when I asked her if my results were common -- she said "No, only among people with respiratory problems." HOLY CRAP!!!!!

On the way home I mulled this information over...And things started to make sense. I basically tell myself everyday that I am not pushing hard enough or am not fit enough, etc. There have been so many times where I talk about how out of breath I am during swimming or running and all I get back are blank stares. Other people aren't experiencing what I thought was normal...

It explains why I always feel out of breath in the pool -- that I am literally out of breath before I start my main set, and how when that set is 12x100 I am wheezing and making god-awful noises at only the 4th set...

That every time I do a flip turn I need to take extra breaths before and after the turn...

It explains why running is so DAMN HARD for me. That the noises I'm making actually are based on something, and not me being a pu$$y. That all the times I told myself to HTFU, I WAS HTFU already!!

I *thought* that not being able to catch my breath meant I was working hard. I thought that breathing hard = hardly breathing. BIG SURPRISE -- What I'm experiencing is NOT normal. LOL!!!!

I was talking it over with my Mom last night and we remembered that in high school, my sister had to use an inhaler when she was on the track team....When she eventually quit track, she never needed her inhaler again. Go figure.

So, now I am SUPER excited to go to my doctor and investigate this. FRIG!!! I am so excited to see what it will feel like to actually SWIM and be able to breathe properly and RUN HARD and actually BREATHE hard. WOW!! Hahahahahahahahaha!!

Was it really any big surprise to find out I'm (gulp) not NORMAL? Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Shell-shocked

I looked up the definition of "shell-shocked" and here's what I found: Battle fatigue.

Those two words describe exactly how I've felt this past week. A week ago tonight, I got a call from my Mom telling me that "Something is wrong with Dad." I didn't even recognize her voice it was so choked with grief. Mike and I immediately jumped in the car and tore off down the highway. We are lucky that we live about 3 km from my Mom and Dad...

When we arrived, my Dad was lying on a stretcher with two EMTs reviving him. He looked terrible, my Mom was a wreck. What followed was an epic night of pain and struggle.

My Dad was taken to our local hospital. After 2.5L of IV fluid, his heart rate and blood pressure were still low -- this led the attending physician to think "there was a bleed somewhere." My Dad lay there shivering uncontrollably. He was so cold and couldn't warm up. He could barely open his eyes he was so weak, but when he did, I was startled by their piercing blue clarity.

Phone calls to Lethbridge and Calgary were made, and the EMTs prepared to take my Dad to Lethbridge for a catscan...Things were happening so fast yet so slow at the same time. Mike, me and Mom hovered around the bed. I told my Dad I loved him, and as they moved him to another stretcher for transport, I panicked, realizing that this could be it. I called out to him as they wheeled him away, "I love you Dad! You are a strong man and a good father!"

I was thinking to myself that I wanted him to know these things -- of all the things I need to tell him before the end. The level of severity still hadn't sunk in.

I assumed the role of manager -- it is what I know how to do. I called my sister, drove my Mom home, called the hospital in Lethbridge, then Calgary, drove to my Mom's house at 4:45am to let her know what I found out. I had a couple of moments when I thought I was going to fall apart -- I've watched enough TV shows to know that when you phone the hospital and are put on hold...that the news is often the worst.

But it wasn't. My Dad remained conscious all through his ordeal, but barely. He remembers that the STARS helicopter guys didn't think he was going to make it. That they couldn't find a pulse.

When we learned that my Dad survived and was recovering, my Mom left for Calgary. She was so discobobulated -- I wrote a detailed list of things she would have to bring with her...A list of my Dad's stuff and her stuff. I knew that I had to be strong and keep my head on straight. I showed her how to use my Dad's cell phone (yes I DO know how to use one!) and kept my sister updated on everything. I also wrote a letter to my Dad. Going over in detail all the things I've always wanted to say, but never did. My Mom read it to him when she visited him. I am so lucky to have more time to tell him even more things now. :)

Fast forward to today. Things happened so fast, and I felt so removed. I felt numb, drunk. This past week was a weird haze of complete exhaustion. I had a difficult time speaking -- it sounded like I was drunk. The exhaustion I felt was unlike anything I've ever experienced. Sleep wouldn't touch it.

I'm the type of person who laughs all the time. Especially if I've never met you. I'll say something and then laugh right after. I'm just like that. This week I was not myself. I reached out to total strangers -- a girl I swim with for example. When she said good morning, how are you, I told her about my Dad. She was so gracious and kind offering words of encouragment. I lapped it up like nectar. I needed it.

You know when you are running during Ironman and someone shouts out your name -- a total stranger, but they are offering you support? It was like that -- I fed on it.

I am very lucky and blessed to have very good friends...Friends who offered to drop everything and come and cook, whatever. Friends who shared with me their experiences and what they did to cope. As ridiculous as this might sound, these shared experiences prepared me for the exhaustion and grief. Almost like a manual.

Sara (my coach) gave me carte blanche over my workouts. I chose to stick with everything. I needed the familiarity of routine. This past week of workouts were an odd experience. There was one 90 minute steady run where I turned my mind off completely and just had my body breathing hard and moving forward. Like an animal. Nothing in my head that I was aware of.

But my head was full to the brim and I was too paralyzed by fear, shock, grief to realize it. My cosmic twin Charmaine called at the perfect time and told me in plain language what I was going to experience. That I wasn't even coping yet, that all this stuff was in my subconscious and would trickle down into my consciousness soon, that I would feel selfish for doing my workouts, that when my Dad returned home it would hit me.

She gave me two wonderful pieces of advice: That whatever I do/say/think -- to accept it and move on. And this is what she sent in an email yesterday: "Take strength in your determination and use this hiccup to push yourself even further. Look, if your Dad can do what he just did, you had better step up another level here girl." Can you see why Charmaine means so much to me?

This has changed everything for my family. Already we are closer than before. External crap has been stripped away to leave honesty, understanding, and total love. When I saw my Dad yesterday at home, I hugged him, kissed him, kept touching his face and arms, and cried and cried. I told him again how much I loved him.

During a bike session this week, I was listening to one song over and over again by Christina Aguilera: Fighter. While the lyrics refer to an entirely different situation, I heard them through my own experience. Through the eyes of a father's daughter....This was for you, Dad:

'Cause it makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little but harder
It makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making a fighter

Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter

My Dad IS a FIGHTER. :) :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What a Day

How many feelings can coexist in one person at a given time? When I was younger, I would describe my life experience as being on a roller coaster. Now -- it's more like being filled up. Different emotions in different places of myself.

Yesterday evening my Dad collapsed and was rushed to hospital. After 2.5 L of IV his heart rate and his blood pressure were still really low, which led the attending physician to believe there was a bleed somewhere...

My Dad was shaking with cold, but still coherent. When he was first aroused by the EMTS, they asked him all kinds of questions, like what day of the week it was, etc. When they asked him how to spell his last name he said loudly, "O...N." Hahahahaha!! Me, my Mom and Mike all laughed loudly at that. (For those of you who don't know, our last name is Anderson, and it is always asked if it is spelled "e...n" or "o...n"

The doctor sent my Dad to Lethbridge where they took a catscan of his belly. It was early this morning that I found out, he had been flown to Calgary and had surgery for a ruptured aorta. The surgeon told my Mom that people usually die before even making it to the hospital. He also said that there was no reason why he shouldn't make a full recovery.

I haven't been able to sleep, and am waiting to find out more in the next few hours....

All this was coupled with the good news that I got my towel back...(How truly bizarre is that whole scenario anyway?) There was a plastic shopping bag hanging on one of the towel hooks at the pool yesterday. I saw it there before I went swimming, and it was still there after I finished. I thought to take a peek inside and there was my towel -- freshly laundered and rolled up. I guess all my bally-hooing to the lifeguards and every swimmer at the pool paid off. :)

Next, my Dad :) had dropped off the mail. A while ago, I won a contest on Team TBB's website. (My winning entry is on the first page of this link -- scroll down, mine is the third last one on the bottom of the page.) The prize was a signed jersey from all the Team TBB athletes who qualified for Kona. Well, I just received the jersey yesterday -- and IT IS PINK!!!



Unfortunatey it is XS. I did manage to squeeze into it, but Mike said I looked like that guy that decides to do his own laundery when the dry cleaner tells him she doesn't offer airmiles...

Still, the amount of training that Sara has me doing has been whittling me into shape slowly but surely....I can now fit onto my SMALL Lululemon shirt, but XS is still *aways away.* :)
BUT IT IS PINK!! I HAVE to get into it!!!!!!!!! LOL!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Digging the hole...

My Saturday hilly runs are turning into my deep thought days... :) :)

The subjects of discourse (with myself) this Saturday covered:

1. What my coach means when I am "training to train" right now, and
2. How useful or beneficial the mind truly is in relation to the body.

I like to play devil's advocate in my head on these runs -- with myself and the world at large. I find it mentally refreshing to argue against something that everyone takes for granted...


For example -- this whole business of staying present and repeating mantras to help one focus on the present. It just doesn't do it for me. Now before anyone gets their hackles up (or their panties in a knot, LOL!) please refer to the latter --- It doesn't do it FOR ME.

I have much greater success at staying in the moment so-to-speak when I turn my mind completely off. No thoughts, no emotions, nothing. Just the sounds of my body working, breathing. No static, no struggling with my mind, just silence.

Which naturally led me to question the often assumed *fact* that our minds control our bodies. What if the opposite is true? What if it is the body that has all the answers and the mind just gets in the way and rationalizes and then takes credit?

I've never had any success with the whole "The Secret" thing -- to me it was too, ummmm contrived. Something felt missing. As I was flipping channels on the boob tube one night I came across a PBS special with Dr. Wayne Dyer. He said that he has a different take on "The Secret." That you don't attract what you want, you attract what you are. BEAUTIFUL! Now that is something that rang true within me.

Back to my rambling -- Every time I have had a deep intuitive sense about something and it has been right (instincts are always right -- unless they are clouded by the mind) , it has been my BODY telling my MIND that danger was near/something was going to happen/etc.

I have always thought that animals are superior in intellgence to humans. Yeah, yeah, yeah so a dog can't work at a manufacturing plant and type a blog on the computer or drill for oil. The intelligence I am referring to is the kind that we humans like to easily dismiss because we don't understand it. The sort of intelligence that allows teeny little birds to *know* when and where to migrate and dogs to sniff out an individual cancer cell...

We humans like to lump examples like these under the umbrella term of "instinct." As if somehow that was a rudimentary form of intelligence -- something base, primordial, inferior.

While I'm at it, why is it assumed that we are the only creatures aware of oursleves. How does anyone REALLY know? It's like no one really knows what happens when we die...

OK -- so that was one of the discussions I had with myself. LOL!

The second topic dealt with my coach's explanation of my training plan... This was exciting stuff! Sara explained that now I am at the first step -- that I am literally training to train. Training my body to be able to handle REAL training.

In my mind I visualize myself digging a deep, deep hole. For a well. I see myself every day digging a little deeper, making the hole round and true. The next step will be lining the well with rocks -- every day I will be able to nestle another smooth rock into the walls of my well.

In time, my well will be complete and I will finally have access to the sweet water lying at the bottom of my well. There will be times when I can throw a bucket down there and haul up the water I need. But, most importantly, there will be times when I will have the ability to go down into the depths of my well and climb back out of it.

I am learning that no matter how hard I *thought* Ironman was, no matter how hard I *thought* I pushed myself; I see that there is a whole other realm of pushing myself. Of depths waiting to be discovered and tested. (This realization came one afternoon as I lay drooling on the couch, yet I wasn't even sleeping. I am not joking.)

I don't talk about how "hard" or "easy" a workout is now. Because (again, for ME) the words "hard" and "easy" automatically have emotional meaning attached to them. Besides which, my subjective interpretation of a workout is just that --- subjective. And apt to change. I don't want to limit my growth by assigning limits in the forms of words (and emotional connections).

I am also learning that the fitter I get the deeper I can push myself and the harder a workout becomes. It's hard to explain. I really did feel like I was giving it all I had before I met Sara, but the fact is, I wasn't. You know that commercial where a Mom is telling her baby she's going to eat a french fry and the baby hits her in the forehead - that V8 commercial? I feel like I get bopped in the head all the time! LOL!!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Invasion of the Towel Snatchers....

A strange thing happened at the pool today....

It started off the same as usual -- the same people showed up to swim like they always do:

1. Guy that usually likes to sit in hot tub and then swims with little black paddles for about 15 minutes, and then leaves.

2. Husband and wife who swim for about 40 minutes.

3. Older dude who does water walking/swimming/ lifts himself out of pool by hanging on the diving board. He's nice -- I think I alarmed him once when I went underwater and grabbed his legs when he was doing his diving board pull-ups. I popped up and laughed, but I think he thought I was a pervert. LOL!!!

There were a few other people who joined us regulars -- they are the sort of irregular regulars if you know what I mean:

1. Larger lady with kickboard/flippers -- she puts all her stuff (clothes, towels, etc) in one of two cubicles in the women's changeroom.

2. Older guy that came in with lady today -- hadn't seen him before.

3. Girl that teaches aqua aerobics.

So, there was only ONE person who I had never seen before. Everybody else I knew....

The question of the day is...

WHO stole my towel????

I hung it on the peg by the showers before I went swimming, and when I finished swimming, my towel was gone! And it was a good one too -- a microfiber one from MEC. You know the kind that absorbs a lot of water and folds up into your palm. It was an AWESOME towel and somebody took it!!!

Now Pincher Creek is a small town -- even smaller than the Crowsnest Pass. There isn't exactly a thrum of foot traffic at the pool at 6:00am.

The only woman who swam and left before me was the lady that swims with her husband -- she's out because I know her. The larger lady and the aqua aerobic girl were still swimming when I left...And I truly can't see either of them taking my towel and hiding it in their stuff and then going swimming. Hahahaha!!

There is a gym that faces the pool, but there were only three people in there this morning -- it is possible that someone from the gym came all the way down the hallway and into the women's changeroom to steal my towel.... BUT WHY?

The only other person that has access to the changerooms is the lifeguard. But WHY would only my towel be taken and nothing else? My backpack, my shampoo, my clothes, were right underneath my towel. I always leave everything lying right out in plain sight -- so why would someone just take a towel?

HMMMMM???

Fortunately, the aqua aerobic ladies came rolling in just as I emerged from the showers and exclaimed, "Where's my towel?" The LODs (little ole dears) were quite excited that my towel had gone missing and I am sure this has fuelled conversation for the rest of the morning at least! Hahahahaha!

One of the LODs volunteered to go get an extra towel from the lifeguards. I felt stupid standing there naked waiting for a towel. If I was still showering, or DOING something it wouldn't have felt so awkward -- so I went over to the paper towel dispenser and pumped out a few sheets of recycled brown paper and started toweling off old school. Hahahahahaha!!

Anyone have any guesses as to where my towel went?

Ms. Scarlet with the towel in the gym. LOL!!

Colonel Mustard with the towel in the men's changeroom.

The plot thickens, and the mystery continues...Will I ever get my blue MEC towel back? Was it needed in the face of a desperate spill of some kind in the woman's change room? Will it turn up in the lost and found?

LOL!!!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Is that a banana in your pocket...


Or are you just happy to see me?

LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Loaded up and ready to go swimming with a banana in one pocket and an apple in another.

Here's a super easy homemade power bar recipe:

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup honey
1 cup protein powder
3 cups oats

Melt peanut butter and honey in pot. Don't need to bring it to boil -- just warm it up to get things mixed well. Stir in protein powder until well mixed. Remove from heat and then add oats. Mix well and then press mixture into a cookie sheet or loaf pan or whatever you want. Once cool, cut into bars or squares. I like to put mine in the freezer and take out a little square out when I need one. These suckers are awesome and CHEAP and totally bomb-proof to make! :) :)

Enjoy!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Things I'm Learning...


1. When I would watch swim club kids swim in the lanes next to me, I was always amazed how their little arms would windmill through the water so quickly...I've just started to get that feeling!!! YAY!!! :) :) :)

2. Whilst biking, my legs feel like they are working independently of my body -- I didn't think I swayed my body all over the place before, but my back and bum are locked down on the bike seat and it feels like it's just my legs that are moving now -- I know this description will contradict what I just said, but it feels like I am biking from my back now...


3. Pedaling feels like my legs are going down a water slide or a ski jump...


4. Running faster feels GOOD (even when I'
m breathing hard and my muscles are burning.) :) :) :) :)

5. When it's that time of the month, my ankles and knees are weaker for a few days - I have to be a little cautious for that time.

6. Fatigue can be a largely mental thing. Listening to your body is often confused with listening to your mind. The body can go through a heck of a lot more than we think it can. The mind reacts how we teach it to react --- If I was truly in control of the electrical impulses that carried ideas around my head, I would never have to battle thoughts like, "My muscles are burning, I should just slow down a little," or "Man, I'm bagged! Maybe I won't push myself as much." I would send constant positive thoughts to myself -- this is a work in progress! :)


I'm learning to ignore these thoughts as REAL
thoughts. They are chemical reactions in my brain in response to external stimuli -- Take away the emotional attachments I have to the words "hard" and "easy" and the workout becomes a blank canvas.... :) :) :) :)

7. Forcibly analyzing and changing (for the better) my instinctual reactions to people, situations, workouts, etc. is an extremely liberating thing - both physically and mentally.
:) :) :) :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

If Pain is a Train.....

Then my body is the station!!!!!

I blew out my trainer tire yesterday....

That's right, folks, I WORE out my trainer tire and got a flat!

I am such a stud. LMAO!

:) :) :) :) :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Turns - Freestyle Flip Turn Step #1

These are the videos I used to teach myself how to do a flip turn -- it took me four days before my first bonafide flip turn! Stick with it -- these noodle drills WORK!! :) :)

Turns - Freestyle Flip Turn Step #2

Freestyle Flip Turn Step #3

Turns - Freestyle Flip Turn Step #4

Turns - Freestyle Flip Turn Step #5

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mental revelations

I had a GREAT training day yesterday -- primarily because of the many things my brain finally "got."

Swimming yesterday was going along as usual, until I reached a section of 100s on "solid effort." Now last year, I had to force myself to swim more than one speed -- I never knew that you could! In my ignorant naivety, I really believed that you were wither a fast swimmer or not. (Same went with being a fast runner and a fast cyclist. It was only after I met my coach that I learned I could be fast too if I trained my butt off...)

Lat year, in order for me to go to "hard" in a swimming session, I had to basically thrash my arms as fast as they could go. (Which wasn't very fast at all, but hey, you have to start somewhere right?) And kick like a mofo.

Yesterday, I realized that "hard" and "solid effort" mean different things to me now! I have more control over my form when I am going hard or *solidly.* I can even control my speed a bit! I felt like a streamlined tadpole (best way I can think of to describe my fast wriggling sensations! LOL!) doing my few sets of 100. I really felt my hips working with my stroke and it was so flipping exciting. :) :)

I was bagged after my swim and had a nap before I did weights -- then I was REALLY bagged and had another nap -- a drooling nap -- before I went for a run. Now the run was going to be a challenge...

The main set was 6 sets of 2 minutes HARD and 1 minute easy. Even more so than swimming, running has always been one speed for me...But over the last year with Sara, I have been making progress and yesterday was AWESOME!!!!

I felt so tired and all my muscles were sore, but I knew from Sara's Ghetto Camp in June that I can still do a a great workout even when my body feels like utter crap. I was hesitant about the 2 minutes hard bit -- how would I do this? I've had trouble going 1 minute hard, now 2 whole minutes? Would 1 minute be enough to recover? Would I be able to actually run easy and not walk for that minute?

The run was AWESOME!!! I felt similar to when I ran the Calgary half-mary earlier this year -- I looked down at my legs in disbelief and thought, "What do you know? I'm RUNNING HARD!!" I was wheezing and gasping for sure, but the terror of pushing myself hard whilst running was gone. :) :)

I actually wasn't thinking about running too much when I did the hard segments....The only thing I focused on was pushing off and using my butt and hammys, and keeping a high cadence for the hard parts. Then, I thought of swimming 100s. I do a lot of swimming 100s on 2:00 -- so I would imagine I was swimming 100s and would have 2 ENTIRE minutes to swim them. It made the running so much......easier. Does that make sense?

This year at the GWN I used this trick a friend told me about right before the race -- he told me -- when running gets tough keep saying to yourself, "I'm not running, I'm not running." Think of lying on the beach, swimming, whatever. Well, I have a new mental trick now!!

I'm going to think of swimming when I am running hard now -- It works for me! :) :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Peanut and Vitamin E and Training...

Has anyone ever heard of a cat LOVING vitamin E pills??? Peanut hears me shaking out my vitamins in the morning and comes running...

She stands on the bathroom sink and stretches up to knock off my vitamin E pill so she can gum-suck it. (FYI -- Peanut is on my back gum-sucking my head as I type this...) Man, is that cat ever heavy!! She is always jumping on my back -- I call myself the Peanut Express. She jumps on my back and then I walk over to her food (on the counter) where she dismounts.

Sometimes she doesn't want to disembark and I have to throw some shoulder into it... LOL!!!!

Back to the Vitamin E thing....

To try and save time in the mornings, I would take out my vitamins the night before and lay them on the bathroom shelf -- well, Peanut quickly discovered this and my Vitamin E pill would be gone by the morning. I even tried hiding the pills on a shelf in the medicine cabinet, but Mike thought it was funny to leave the cabinet door open just a little bit so he could watch Peanut pry it open and steal my pill...

A few mornings ago, I took my pills and set them by the computer where I was going to eat my oats and peruse my email... I had settled into the chair when Peanut came out of nowhere LIKE A BOLT OF LIGHTENING!!!!

In a series of perfectly-executed movements, she jumped on a stool, then the computer desk, grabbed the vitamin E pill in her mouth and jumped down and ran away! I gave pursuit --- but it was like she was on catnip! She was bucking like a bronco and gum-sucking that pill and scratching the carpet -- I just stared at her....

What else could I do??

Have you ever watched a gum-sucking, bronco-bucking cat? It is an alarming sight.

I've resolved the issue by taking my Vitamin E AS SOON AS I OPEN IT. Hahahahahahaha!!

Training:

Had a grrrrrreat trainer ride yesterday. I am so in love with my Computrainer -- I fall in love with it every fall. Sigh. :) :) :)

The weights I've been doing, I feel, have been helping me out immensely. I honestly feel like they have been my *missing link* among other things -- hahahahahaha!! The strength I've gained in my back and legs and arms and chest -- wow - I've noticed a big improvement in the watts I can push out on the ole CT now. YAHOOOOO!!! Let the sweat pour!! Hahahahahahahaah!!

One other note about The Nut...

After every workout I have a 7 minute stretching routine I do on the yoga mat. Peanut loves the yoga mat even more than Vitain E -- she rolls on it, meowing and errrking and rubbing her orange body all over my sweaty face and legs as I try to stretch. Orange fur sticks to sweat.....

NICE.

LMAO!!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

GP Wedding and Crab Apples

My best buds from the UK (NOW OFFICIALLY HERE!!! YAY!!) stopped by for a visit. As you can see, my crab apple situation was in a heightened state of emergency, thus I equipped my good friends with special footwear to save their shoes and their pants!!!


Yup! I sho' do things in style, here in the Crowsnest Pass!! LMAO!!!!!

As they were leaving, Cath turned back and said, "Julie! This is definitely a first in my life!" Hahahahahahahahaha!!






Want to come vist me in the fall? Remember your plastic shopping bags! LOL!!



Here's a pic of Mikey and me at a wedding in Grande Prarie two weeks ago...




This is one of the few times you'll see me with war paint and hair *done.* LOL!!!


The Grande Prairie trip was actually pretty good -- apart from the 22 hours of driving there and back...Keith called Mike's cell every hour or so with updates on the Ironman World Championships; and on the morning of the wedding, Amber picked me up and I joined her and her group for a great run.


AWESOME fun!!! Amber gave me one of her "Women of Strength" toques -- I need to take a pic of this -- it is sooooo awesome. We ran back and forth among her gals and chatted the whole way. Amber pushed me -- she is a great training partner and person in general. :) :) She is one of those people like I feel I have known my whole life. I've never talked so much on a run in my life -- but I was pushing myself the entire time too. :) :)


As for training -- had an hour and a half hilly run to do on Sunday and did the Frank hill 4 times and a little bit!!!! I totally beat my record from earlier this year -- Sara is turning me into a runner -- believe it or not! Hahahahahahahaha!!!



Friday, October 16, 2009

Run, run, away

I had to laugh to myself when I spoke with my coach about *easing* back into training. You see her definition of "easy" and mine are nowhere near the same -- although I am learning! :) :) :)

For the last three weeks, I haven't felt like there was anything EASY about my EASING back into training -- my God it is full on!! Hahahaha -- I love it though!! :) :)

Swimming is going great guns -- my arms and shoulders are pretty much sore all the time. Hee-hee -- and my bum and legs are sore from running.

Not too much else to write (so far) except that during my hard interval run on Wednesday, I was almost taken out by two vehicles and for the first time ever......

A guy pulled over on the opposite shoulder and asked me if I wanted a ride!!! LMAO!!!!!!!! Can you imagine? Hahahahahahahahaha!!!!

So far, my defintion of easy is still evolving, my defintion of "hills" are as well, and when I am supposed to run HARD, I am no longer afraid of sounding like a dying asthmatic.

GIVE 'ER HELL!! LOL!!!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

11th Annual Dog-Tossing Contest!!

There's something about the winter -- it's a time of ending, of letting go, of saying goodbye. Diva passed away earlier this year, but I couldn't bring myself to change my blog pic. Everytime I went onto my blog, I would look at her in the pic and feel a mixture of sorrow and joy.
However, time marches on and my heart (and Mike's) has slowly healed. Our other dog, Toby has filled up our hearts with even more doggie love -- and although we all miss Diva, life goes on. :) :)

So....

What is there to do in October when the snow has DUMPED and the roads are terrible?
DOG TOSSING!!

Without further ado, allow me to share with you photos of Toby's 11th annual dog toss. (Happens every winter...Hey, you have to get creative at amusing yourself when you live in the Crowsnest Pass!! LOL!!!)

Toby gets a running start -- she jumps in my arms and gets prepared to be *thrown* ....



Getting ready for the jump!!!



We have lift off!!!



GOTCHA!!



Getting ready for the TOSS...HEAVE....




HO!!!!!!




Feeling bored this winter? Go toss a dog. :) :) :) :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Winter's here all right.

We have this old minivan that has over 280 000km on it. This is what I use to barrel around town with and go back and forth to the pool in the winter. You see, our minivan has STUDDED tires on it -- these suckers ROCK!!!

In the last few days, when I have headed out at 5:15am, there has been virtually no traffic on the highway on account of the icy conditions. But our good ole minivan is out there, holding its own against the elements. The traction on those studded tires is amazing -- no kidding I can take corners like it's summer time. Not that I do, of course...We only did it a couple of times when we first got the tires. In a parking lot. :) :)

Not much news to report...Swimming is so blissful in the Pincher Creek pool. I'm usually the only one there in the morning. Occasionally a couple of other people show up, swim for 20 min and then leave. IT IS SO AWESOME!! :) :) :)

The sun was shining yesterday, so I was feeling optimistic as I headed out for my run with Toby. The optimism dulled when a FREAKING snowstorm blew in half way through my run. There I am on the side of the highway running in clothes that totally blend into the dreary snow flurries and clouds. Very smart, Julie.

Toby was covered in mud and dirt. All the running kicked up vast quantities of crap into the fur of her undercarriage -- and, when we got home and the stuff started to melt, there was an unholy mess to clean up!! Big splats of mud dripped all over the floors from Toby's belly. It was so bad, Mike got off the computer and gave Toby a bath!! LOL!!

Good thing I had cleaned the bathroom only the day before...

She was so filthy, Mike at one point stood up and said, "That's it. I have to take drastic action." He went outside into the snow and fed the garden hose through the bathroom window to help blast off the belly dirt! Hahahahahaha!!

40 minutes later, Toby was shaking, rattling, and rolling all over the house -- she was frisking out like she's never done before. It's funny, when she's in the tub, she HATES it. She stands really still and licks her lips over and over again. But as soon as she's out, it's like she's on catnip. Hahahahahah!! She was rubbing her back along the towels we placed on the couches, and then she would jump around barking and attacking Peanut and Mandalay.

It was hilarious!! But, I'm not taking her out again until spring. LOL!!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Biking with my people

Big surprise -- there were wind warnings in the Crowsnest Pass yesterday...Gusts up to 100km/hour.

I was in a sour mood because of the wind and ended up coming up with a plan to fight the wind!!

I couldn't bear the thought of biking in the back hall, and then having to strip down, dry off, change, and then run. Plus, I was feeling kinda lonely...

So, I unplugged my Computrainer, folded up my old school trainer and brought the whole works to my local weightlifting club. I set up right beside the rowing machine -- had 4 facecloths and a big towel spread out underneath me to catch all the sweat.

Cranked my iPod and I was off. It was great working out with other people! Just to be around other people was a nice change. The BEST was hopping off my bike, and jumping on the treadmill. No toweling off, no change of clothes and layering up, just a pure run. What a treat!! :) :) This is what a brick is supposed to feel like! Hahahahahaha!!

One thing that was made apparent during the workout was that I sweat more than ever on the bike. I remember when it was a novelty for me last year when I was able to squeeze a few drops of sweat out of my sports bra after a bike workout. HOLY MOLY, the novelty has long since worn off -- I sweat like a pig!!!!

I can easily wring out my sports bra AND shorts after a 1hour 20 min. workout. It is GROSS how much sweat there is -- and that doesn't count the puddles that collect underneath my bike. (I not only need facecloths to mop my face when I bike, I also need a big, honking towel underneath me.) The sweat literally pours off my face, belly, and back -- dripping everywhere. I even hike up my bike shorts to my chest to try and staunch the flow...

No kidding, when I get off my bike, it looks like I've taken a shower with my clothes on. Dripping everywhere and leaving sweaty footprints all over the floor. I'm POSITIVE I grossed out a couple of people yesterday. Hahahahaha!!

Anyways, there was no faffing around (stole this word from my coach -- I steal words, phrases from everyone -- even accents, LOL!!) to get my bike and trainer set up at the gym. It was just such a nice change to be working out with people!

I'm going to have to do it again sometime -- look out Pass, the Hermit is emerging from the cave. :) :) :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

In Denial


I don't ski -- I should have been born in Hawaii. I don't watch hockey. I don't like snow!!!

Looking out my back deck and this is what I see?? COME ON, Mother Nature!! WAHHHHH!!!!

It's only the beginning of October and I had to layer up with my merino wool thermals, balaclava, toque, and mitts to go for my run. WAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

I don't mind the trainer -- I actually really like my Computrainer, but I am already pining for summer...

Got to get Daddy-o to put my winter tires on. WAHHHHHHH!!!!!!

I had to run through the snow and mud and my dog got FILTHY. WAHHHHHH!!!

The stupid crab apples are now in the mush state and there are still TONS hanging in the tree. WAHHHHHHH!!!!!

I had to scrape the windshield off this morning. WAHHHHHH!!!!

OK, no more whining. Keith told me I was only allowed one whine for 2009, and since I already whined to him (a private whine doesn't count), I thought I'd make a solid public whine and get it right out of my system... :) :) :)

WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Another one of those pass it around thingies...

Leana gave me this award....


In order to accept the award, I have to answer all these questions with one word answers...

DISCLAIMER: This seemingly simple task will illustrate that I CANNOT answer a question with only one word, hence cannot actually accept the award. This however does not prevent me from trying to answer the questions anyways!! Hahahahahahahah!!!!

Besides, when you see some of my answers, see if YOU could make my answer in only one word...

1. Where is your cell phone? I don't own one! HAHAHAH!!
(See right from the get go, I have to break the rules...)
2. Your hair? Blonde
3. Your mother? Hardcore
4. Your father? Nuts
5. Your favourite food? Yams
6. Your dream last night? None
7. Your favourite drink? Water (Room temp, no ice thank you v. much)
8. Your dream/goal? Sub 10:00 baby
9. What room are you in? Kitchen
10. Your hobby? Blogging
11. Your fear? Intestinal Worms
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Podium
13. Where were you last night? Fernie
14. Something you aren't? Greedy
15. Muffins? Yes
16. Wish list item? CERVELO
17. Where did you grow up? Ontario, Germany, Alberta
18. Last thing you did? See #15...
19. What are you wearing? Perverted question
20. Your TV? Big
21. Your pets? Shedding
22. Your friends? AWESOME
23. Your life? AWESOME
24. Your mood? Content
25. Missing someone? No
26. Vehicle? Normal (HAHAHAHA! Right, Tessa?? LOL!)
27. Something you're not wearing? Bra (forgot to bring it to the pool after swimming) Another perverted question.
28. Your favourite store? Ebay
29. Your favourite color? Pink
30. When was the last time you laughed? See #27...
31. Last time you cried? IMC
32. Your best friend? Many
33. One place that I go over and over? Pool
34. One person who emails me regularly? Keith
35. Favourite place to eat? Kitchen

OK folks, you know what's coming next... I get to pick a lucky 6 of you to join in.... LOL!!!

Keith -- You nailed me once with one of these things, and now it's payback time, my friend. Hahahaha!! Keith is training for Ironman Canada next year -- his first IM!! YAY!!

Jenna -- A teammate of mine, also training for IMC next year -- it'll be her second one. Jenna is my sistah from another mistah, I swear!! :)

Susi -- Beautiful, wonderful, zen-like Susi Q! Hardcore chickie that did IMC this year and is tackling Ironman Cozumel in November. SOOKIE!!!! LMAO!!

Darryl -- Last time one of these things went around, I recall you were inadvertently snubbed -- not this time, my friend!! Hahahaha!! They don't call him the running man for just any reason!

Chuck -- Totally rocked out on the IMC course this year and is no longer an IM virgin. He liked it so much he's going back for seconds next year! :) :)

Shannon -- Dude is super fast and going to Clearwater on a mission. Felt like I've known him my whole life, but WE STILL HAVE NOT MET!! Hahahaha!!

Enjoy, people!!!!! Muah-hah-hah-hah-hah!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Failure is NOT an Option


Saturday I had 2 hours of hilly mountain biking to do, and I was excited to tackle *my* hill again. Only this time, I was gunning to get past my fear of falling down (and while I was at it, not actually fall). Hahaha!

I remembered what I had thought about the last time I had biked up that hill -- if there had been a couple of bears behind me that day, I KNOW I could have pedaled up no problemo. I wouldn't have had my head clogged with mental static; I wouldn't have had my head filled with fear, worry, anxiety.

I wouldn't have fallen off my bike.

I would have climbed the hill.

These thoughts were floating around my brain Saturday afternoon as I started the climb. I also thought about the dynamics of motivation -- sometimes it is not enough to simply *want* something bad enough to realize it. Sometimes, you have to grit your teeth, squeeze your eyes, and muscle your way to it...

The steep part of the hill was approaching. The same part that caused my heart to pound and me to tip over last week. Already, I was looking ahead to the same rut that I couldn't get over, and all these negative, fearful thoughts took over my mind:

"Unclip now, so when you go to fall, you won't hurt yourself."

"There's that rut, Oh my God, I'm not gonna make it, same as last week!"

Suddenly, a stern voice sounded in my head, and an image of a crew cut army dude popped in my head: "FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION!"

Quick as a wink, my entire perspective changed. Instead of focusing on the rut where I fell, I searched out another route -- there WAS another route up! It was to the far left of the road -- a skinny little path that had a drop off on one side -- but it was a path.

With this inner boot camp voice resounding in my head, I concentrated on pedaling steady and continually. Gone were the fears of falling. Gone were the feelings of frustration and giving up. Instead, my mind was filled with one thought, one purpose -- climbing that hill. In that instant, the unconquerable became the conquerable. :) :)

As I chugged up the hill, I marveled at how powerful the mind is. How a simple thing like changing the way you look at a situation can alter the outcome. WOOHOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I had so much fun, I went all the back to the bottom and ended up doing 2.5 repeats of the hill. :) :) :) :) :)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rediscovering Wonder, Rediscovering Joy

Is it the time of year? The way the golden sunlight reflects off the brown, dry prairie and makes it look beautiful? Whatever it is, I was blissing out yesterday...

I was listening to an interview on CBC with Jane Goodall and I swear -- I could feel her marvel and joy at the world come through the radio and into my heart. :) :)

She talked about how each individual's small actions can have a profound effect. She related story after story of average, ordinary, run-of-the-mill people who decided to do something to protect an endangered species. It could be something small -- there was a black-footed ferret that was thought to be extinct until a rancher's dog killed one. The rancher tossed it aside; the rancher's wife, after hearing that the dog had killed something, went to investigate the little body...And so the ball got rolling.

What was so delightful was the intense positivity Jane Goodall emanated from her interview -- full of optimism, hope, and looking at the bright side of things. When she spoke about how all of our own small, individual actions cumulatively causes great change, I believed it -- I felt it. Nothing new here, I mean I've spouted off this kind of "Live in the moment, etc, diatribe before too," but something was different yesterday. There is a difference in talking the talk and walking the walk, I guess I'm trying to say.

She told of this type of beetle who lays eggs on their choice bit of carrion after they've buried it. Mom and Dad beetle dig an adjacent chamber and hunker down and wait for their babies to hatch. Once the babies hatch, both Mom and Dad chew up bits of carrion and feed it to their babies.

The REALLY neat thing was how Mom and Dad Beetle are covered in these little orange mites. Jane Goodall said how at first glance, one would almost feel sorry for these beetles being infested like a dog with fleas. But, appearances can be deceiving...

When Mom and Dad Beetle hunker down in the chamber and wait for their babies, the mites hop off the parents and eat all the fly larvae that is on the carrion -- cleaning the carrion for the beetle family's sole enjoyment. When all is said and done, the mites hop back on the parent's and move to the next stop.

What am I getting at here? Looking at the interconnectedness of things. Of how things are here, there, all around us -- lessons are right in front of us if we just care to look. Instead of questioning the obvious, searching the internet, and essentially looking to replace my own mind-set, this radio interview served as a reminder to savour my OWN experiences -- because by looking within, the *without* can fall into place around it.

The best advice I've received has echoed this inter-connectivity --

"Don't over-think it."

"KISS: Keep it Simple, Stupid."

A good one I learned at the Penticton Ghetto Camp this year from Clint Lien: "Make your decision once and don't look back."

There is a deceptive simplicity in these statements -- a subtlety that hints at the gigantic realm of possibility that awaits those with an open heart... A moving forward with purpose: not muddling it up with doubt, second-guessing, or excuses.

It's like that commercial for cereal-- I forget what brand. It shows a guy surfing an impossibly humongous wave, and the text on the screen says, "Step 567, 983." Then it goes back to the guy eating a bowl of cereal and says, "Step 1."

I like this commercial. :) :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Do You Want Me to Wash Your Back?

You can picture my astonishment when I heard this as I stood lathering myself up under the communal showers at the pool...

Hahahahahahaha!

It was an LOD (Little Ole Dear -- Susi's expression I'm borrowing!) that asked me. I blinked, laughed and then said, "No thanks, I work on my flexibility this way!" She was so cute -- she said, "I have trouble turning, and 'insert other LOD's name here' has hip trouble so we wash each other's back."

Sure enough, the other LOD carefully picked her way across the slippery floor to the showers with her soap, etc, and then they took turns washing each other's back. What a great world we live in, eh? Hee-hee! People helping people. :) :) :)

I'm only 4 days into my schedule and EVERY SINGLE MUSCLE in my body is in pain. The type of knee-buckling pain that makes it hard to climb stairs, bend over, basically function as a human being. Even my toe muscles are sore from doing these calf raises. Hahahahaha!!

Good times and more to come! :):)

Monday, September 21, 2009

How to Catch a Mouse....


  1. DO NOT rely on your two cats and one dog to do the dirty work for you.

  2. KNOW that you will discover said mouse when you are alone in the house.

  3. BE PREPARED to walk away (run) from mouse and go outside to pick crab apples off the ground for 45 minutes.

  4. REALIZE there are many urgent matters that you need to attend to outside the house.
  5. TALK on the phone with your sister for 4.5 hours at your mother's house.
  6. TIME your return home with Mike's 11:00pm arrival. (Back from Ontario.)

Seriously, there is nothing that shoots my heart rate up faster than the sight of a scurrying mouse in my house -- it is disgusting. As usual, the first indicator was Peanut staring INTENTLY in the corner of the living room. Straight away, I knew there was a mouse -- she had that *mouse look* on her face. I peered behind the chair and SAW IT WRIGGLING underneath my purse!!



AAAARRRGGGHH!! I could see its long tail wiggling, and I just about heaved. Then I got mad at Peanut and Mandalay -- "You guys are terrible cats! Get that mouse! Kill it!" Then, I vacated the house for the next 6 hours. Hahahaha!! I like to deal with things head on, eh? LOL!!



It wasn't until the next afternoon, Mike and I *got* the mouse. Mike pulled out the stove and I was ready with Peanut, and some gloves on to get the mouse. The glove thing was a total joke -- like I would grab the mouse!! There is no way I would touch it! LOL!! Really though -- the times we have had to deal with a mouse, we have no plan -- our plan sort of evolves organically. (Hahahahah!! I HATE when artists say that, "Oh yes, the song just evolved organically.)



Usually, a mouse comes shooting out of nowhere and Mike jumps, I jump and flutter my hands like I'm waving them dry and say, "Oooh! Oooh!" And then both of us say, "Peanut get the mouse!" One of us picks up The Nut and will throw her in the direction of the mouse. Hahahaha!!



The last mouse incident ended when the mouse hopped into the cold air return thing -- one of those things that was left behind when our renovations ceased -- same as the light switch cover in the kitchen that I finally put duct tape around to seal off the cold air blowing in, but I digress -- I picked up Peanut and set her down in front of the hole in the carpet/wall, and watched as she leapt into it. Since Day 1, Peanut has enjoyed herself entering these tin tunnels and roaming the innards of the house.



It was odd the first time I saw Peanut actually go down into the vent...To hear your cat somewhere in the bowels of your house plodding -- every once in a while a "pong" would sound from her step on the metal. It was very odd the first time I saw her enter the vent in our bedroom and exit the vent in the dining room...What can I say?


(And no, there is no remote chance of her falling into the furnace -- the way the pipes are rigged, it is impossible, so don't get all riled up. Heh-heh-heh.)



Anyways, as is the case when we pull out the stove, the only thing we could find were all the missing play mice and dust balls (and a wayward tupperware lid -- That's where it went!). It was later in the day when I spied the mouse scurrying in the back hall by the dog food bowl.




That was it - Mike sprang into action!


He was on all fours and using anything on hand to try and get the mouse. He was shouting all kinds of instructions to me -- "Get me a piece of cardboard! I need something bigger!! JULIE!!!" All I could do was hop from one foot to the other and shake my hands and kept repeating, "I don't know! I don't know!!" Hahahahahahaha!


We are sophisticated human beings however, and Mike (the uber intuitive one) grabbed the swinging garbage can lid and *caught* the mouse. Now the trick was to somehow slide the lid with the mouse under it out the door...An impossible feat since the floor is not flat -- the back French doors have this lip thing. We quickly decided on a plan...


One of us would slowly lift the lid and get the mouse to run into the garbage can (big white plastic thing). At first, I fought for this job -- but quickly realized it required more skill (and courage) than I had. You see, the trick is to wedge something (solid) underneath the lid while simultaneously lifting a corner of the lid to urge the mouse in one direction. I watched as Mike did a test run...


We both exclaimed, "Oh!" when we saw one little paw sneak out. The lid came quickly back down. OK -- Game on!




I sat hunkered down holding the garbage can on its side. Mike started to work his magic on the lid. Man, this guy is GOOD!! He managed to somehow get the mouse and lid into the garbage can. He shouted, "Go, go, go!!!! It's in there!!! It's in there!!!!" I tilted the garbnage can upright and SPRINTED out the back door and threw the mouse out onto the grass.


There was a split second in all of this, when time momentarily stood still...For whatever reason, this image will be forever with me: It was like it was happening in slow motion -- as I tilted the garbage can to throw the mouse onto the grass, the sunlight lit up the plastic can and I could see the silhouette of the mouse flailing -- it's little legs circling through the air as it began to tumble.



The mouse softly landed in the grass (softly, because I have only mowed 3 times this year), took a few moments to regroup, and then slowly scampered away.


Ahhhhhh. :) :)

Onto training news...first day back was AWESOME!!! Swimming was great -- I wasn't too fatigued by the end; mind you my defintion of "fatigue" was severely challenged this year, so if I can walk (not crawl) to the showers at the end of a workout, this means I am not that fatigued. Hahahahaha!

Also had my first weight session of the year at my local club -- I call this workout the Workout for Weenies. Namely, I'm the weenie. 30 minutes later and I felt worse than when I crossed the finish line at Ironman. Nothing like trying something new to show you just how out of shape you really are! Hahahahahahahahaha!!!

ONWARD HO!!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bears and wasps and me trying to mountain bike



I enjoy taking my mountain bike out this time of year. It is completely different from the tri bike, and so, it challenges my brain to fire neurons along new paths. I think this is a good thing. :) :)

There is a great hill one minute and 30 seconds away from my house -- it starts on pavement and then changes into dirt/loose rock/loose dirt. The grade is steady and significant, and the road is not technical by any means -- but technical enough for me.



To those who TRULY mountain bike, I must look like a total tool. I have a really nice mountain bike -- a really, really nice mountain bike that I do very little mountain biking on. I go up logging or fire roads and still end up falling off much of the time. I've accepted it.

I suppose my mountain biking skills are the equivalent of a noob triathlete decked out with carbon goggles, disc wheel, and $8000 bike and coming in dead last at the races. Yup, I'm pretty bad. Hahahahaha!

And I am completely unashamed of it too -- When I have to ride my mountain bike between two rocks or I go over a big boulder and my wheel spins and I am momentarily stopped in my tracks, my heart pounds and I pedal like a maniac to keep going. I feel exhilarated!! I feel like a REAL mountain biker!!



You should see me when I go downhill -- again only on fire roads. I stand, put my bum over my rear wheel and feel like such a stud. I am way too chicken to really let 'er loose on the downhills -- I save that fun for triathlon. No, for me, mountain biking is all about getting out in the bush and getting off my tri bike.



Also, I am a big wimp. I HATE falling off my mountain bike. I HATE getting bloody elbows and ugly bruises -- which is why I like to stick to the widest roads possible.
Even with all these precautions: big roads, easy routes; I manage to tip over every now and then. Tuesday was such a day.

I was happily pedaling up "my" hill -- I had already had a couple of close calls... The gravel was deep in places and the rocks big. Sheer terror kept my legs spinning uphill so I didn't fall over though. Plus, I'm always worried that a truck or ATV'er is going to come by and I won't be able to move out of their way on an uphill part because the gravel is too deep for me to ride on.

Can you imagine? Driving behind this chick on a dirt road --- who is riding up the middle (flattest, safest) part of the road and won't pull over to let you by? The thing is, the hills are steep enough, where I can only go UP not across. If I veer sideways for even a moment, down I go. So, these are the thoughts running through my head as I pedal like a mad fool to get to the top.



On Tuesday, I was approaching the ultimate *top* of the hill, and was getting excited. It would have been my first time to the top this year...

That said, the road was in rough shape -- it had deteriorated quite a bit from last year. There were big ruts all over the place, lots of thicker dirt and rocks. Many times I was pedaling like crazy and my wheels would just spin. My heart rate was going like a mofo -- my animal instincts took over. Reality dimmed, and a tunnel vision set in: I so desperately didn't want to fall, I pedaled, pedaled, pedaled. My whole mind, sense of being, very existence was rooted to this one effort -- of moving forward and not falling down!

I started to panic the closer I got to the big rutted bit. Left, right, straight ahead? There was no easier or safer place for me to go! NOOOOO!! My eyes darted back and forth trying to pick a path. Time was running out...

I was inching close and closer. Suddenly, I had no choice, I valiantly tried to go down one rut and up the other side, when I fell over. $HIT!!!!! I HATE FALLING OVER!! I always fall over going uphill, so when I fall over it happens in slow motion. Which is the worst. Because you get to savour how much of a knob you are as you tip over to the side. LOL!!!!!

I lay there in the dirt and looked to see if I was still clipped in. No. Yet I couldn't unlcip when I was going over -- what the heck good does that do me??? I want to unclip BEFORE I fall over!! LOL!!!

Just a bit of bloody elbow and bruised legs -- that's another thing -- I probably don't fall properly either. Any sin you can commit on the mountain bike, I have most likely done it! Hahahahahaha!



I was shaking from adrenaline (pathetic isn't it, when the adrenaline kicks in because of a super slow motion tip over? I felt like a sleeping cow who has been tipped over by some drunken redneck!), and decided to head back downhill.



I talked to myself a lot here: "Take a deep breath, Julie. Just get back on your bike and ride. Just breathe. You're fine, get your head together and keep your wits about you."



I employed my usual mountain-bike-descent posture which never fails to leave me feeling like a mountain bike hero. I used the brakes a lot, but I was getting into my stud groove when up ahead I saw Mama and baby black bear emerging from the forest.



I just about pooped my pants, I kid you not. They didn't see me at first -- I was coming downhill at a good clip and was simultaneously thinking, "Do I yell to get their attention? Do I slow down? Do I speed up? WTF?????"

Suddenly, Mama heard/saw me and they both bolted across the road right in front of me. There were far enough ahead of me, that I slowed down a bit to see if there was another baby that was going to cross. I DID NOT want to be in between the bear family for even a moment. No baby, so I bolted.

Funny thing -- the very next thought that occurred to me was this: "I bet I could have pedaled up that rut if those bears were behind me." Hahahahahahahaha!!

See why I like mountain biking so much? There are many lessons to be learned about oneself....

Yesterday, I went for an easy 20 minute jog, up the highway and back. Right after I turned around, from across the river my two bear friends said hi. I couldn't believe it -- this is a sketchy spot for bears -- there is a bald spot on the mountain that is vertical scree and after that, the mountain is vertical. Nowhere else for the bears to go. They can only go up so far, before they have to backtrack.

Last year Mike and I watched as a conservation officer shot flares to scare a little back bear from crossing the river and possibly the highway. The little bear would scramble up the scree, have nowhere else to go, and then come back down, only to be scared by the flare gun again. And again, and again. Talk about an exercise in futility.

As for the wasp - I was minding my own business driving my car with the windows rolled down, when I felt a stabbing pain on the left of my back. You know that place that itches and you try to scratch it but it is just out of your reach? Right there.

I had no idea what was happening -- I pulled over and threw my 4-way flashers on. It was then I saw this wasp crawling around on my emergency brake. I got out of my car and using a map, flicked it out. HOLY CRAP did that sting ever hurt.



I've been stung by wasps before while cycling, and while they sting, they never really hurt. I think it might have something to do with getting stung while working out -- your blood is coursing through your veins, you don't feel it, I don't know. All I know is that this sucker stung me HARD and I was a big baby all afternoon because of it. LOL!!!

Wonder where I'll go biking today?

:) :) :) :)