Sunday, April 26, 2009

Getting Better...

My previous half-marathon PB was 2:03, and today I managed 1:47:22.

I gave it completely my all -- at the finish line everything went black and then starry for a few minutes as I walked it off. But...I am not satisfied with my time at all and am ready to do whatever it takes to whack off another chunk of time. :) :)

One of my coach's athletes, Kerry, came out just to cheer me on. I had major misgivings and self-doubt going into this race. I was frankly terrified of running the same time or a slower time than my PB, and through countless emails and his support, I was able to face down my fear and do the best I could. It was pretty amazing -- he wasn't racing, but decided to do his long run along part of the race course. As the race began, I heard a deep loud voice behind me say, "GO JULIE -- FOCUS!" It was like the thunderous voice of God -- Hahahahahaha! But it worked -- a light switch went off in my head and I just ran and ran and ran. :) :)

My awesome friend, Jenna had also given me some sage advice, "Let 'er buck!" She told me that when I feel like I am going to die, crank it up another notch. I distinctly heard her voice in my head at the 18km point too... weird eh? LOL!!

I zoned out for the first 10km, telling myself that the race would really begin at the 11km point. My coach had given me an awesome pep talk beforehand, and I kept thinking of her telling me to "lay it on the line." :) :) I am a shite runner, and running "hard" is my big weak link. So when she told me to go at 95% for the whole race, I knew I was going to face down my fears.

I learned that I can actually run hard for 21 km! I've figured out this "hard" thing for swimming and biking, but the running thing has been difficult for me. :)

I also learned that when I breathe that hard for 21 km in the cooler weather, my throat closes up with phlegm. I had to keep clearing my throat, "Ahem, ahem, AHEM!" just so I could get some air down there. And hours afterward, while talking to my buddy Keith (btw -- CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!), he heard me go all phlegmy on the phone. My voice choked up and I couldn't even talk, I had to keep going, "AHEM!" WTF????? Hahahahahahahahaah!! Well, you learn something new every race right? :) :) :)

A couple of neat things I noticed about the race -- my legs suddenly got a second wind at the 17km point. It was so instant, that I looked down at my legs as if to ask them, "Who do you belong too?" From that point on I felt my legs get stronger as my breathing became more laboured. Now I need to work on getting my breathing to catch up with my legs. Hahahahahahahaha! I did manage to pass a few people during the last 4 km -- and I was quite delighted that I even "caught" this one gal right near the end. I got my legs just a pumpin' and got by her -- hmmmm, maybe that's why I was seeing stars at the end? Hee-hee!!

Well, my awesome coach has choked off 15.5 minutes off my best half-marathon time! Sara -- you are the frigging bomb, baby. :) :) :)

Now that this run is out of the way, I am gunning for the Lethbridge Olympic on May 10. Last year I had the second fastest female bike split, and that was on ol' BMF. I am pretty pumped to let 'er rip on May 10. Or as Jenna would say, LET 'ER BUCK! Watch out, because the turkey runner is slowly getting faster, suckahs!!!!! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Back to Winter -- UGH.

After surviving jet lag and another one of my coach's secret "tests," I've sort of settled back into my pre-Hawaii routine. (I never know when I am going through one of these infamous tests, I find out afterward... Hahahaha! But, I'm starting to clue in to a possible test indicator -- when I feel like absolute crap and that there is no way I can get out of bed to do a certain workout, it's most likely a test! Hee-hee!) New things that have come about:

1. I bought a bike box.
2. I am starting to use my Polar to check my speed when I run.
3. The Kona pool was in YARDS not meters -- those sets of 15 x 100 sure had me feeling FAST in Hawaii! :) :)
4. I've accepted the wind. (When I bike at least -- not for anything else, just the bike -- Hahaha!)

Let's see -- since I've been back, I've got in two bike rides outside. The wind has been just as crazy as usual. I think I wrote on Shannon's blog: the one day I went out, I rode 40 minutes west, and it took me 17 minutes to come back. That wasn't even the really windy day...

I was just ecstatic that I could ride outside, because as of last night, we've had over 1.5 feet of snow. Welcome home -- YUCK! I'll be putting the trainer tire back on my bike.

Not too much else to write about, except we are going to a wedding this weekend and then I'll be racing the Police Half Marathon in Calgary. I am so lucky to have such good friends who offer to put up with me (and overnight too!) every time I need to come to Calgary! :) :) :) Keith and Susi have been so awesome!!!! :) :)

I'm excited about the race, but I'm REALLY going to be excited for my first tri race this year. That's when the exclamation marks will increase exponentially on my blog!!!!!! Hahahahahahaha!!

Next time I write, I'll be writing a race report. :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

3 weeks in paradise...

Breakfast at The Coffee Shack!! YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!

I'm sitting right now on our lanai (outside porch) overlooking the ocean. I have my water bottle on one side of me and a Starbucks frappucino (from Costco) on the other. OH MAN, is it ever beautiful here. I tell you, it sure doesn't take that long to get used to nice weather. :) :) :)

The biking I've been able to do here has just been awesome. The weather has been just about perfect. Not scorching hot, but still hot! Today was a 5 hour bike ride followed by a little run, then it was playtime in the ocean. My hair is still damp from the ocean swim -- our pad is right across from the little beach, and Mike tanned, while Jake boogie-boarded, and I swam back and forth in the waves.

Mike is the SUPER SNORKELER. I don't really care for snorkeling -- I know, I know. I'm probably the only person in the world that doesn't go nuts for snorkeling. I mean, I like it, but I'm not as ENRAPTURED as Mike is. And, yes, the capital letters are necessary for that! Hahahahaha!!

Swimming in the ocean has taught me a lot about my stroke too. It's like I have to swim properly in order to move ahead. And the waves! WOW! I thought the piddly little ripples at IMC were "waves." Hahahahahaha -- was I ever wrong!!! Real waves bob you up and down and push you left and right and all around. And they are actually fun!

BIG NEWS on the running front...My coach left a comment telling me that my turkey running style is slowly disappearing. Or as she calls it, "Running like Phoebe." Hahahahaha!! Do you know how aggravating it is to KNOW that you are doing something wrong, can SEE that you are doing it wrong, and can even see when other people are doing it wrong, but you still continue to do it? AAARRRGGHH.

As for biking...

Oooh! There is something to be said for biking with people who are faster/better than you. There are just so many free lessons to be learned that way. For example, on Friday's ride (just over 4 hours), this girl passed me on my return trip. Now, it doesn't matter what my workout was, or what her workout was -- the point is that after she passed me, I found myself keying off her, and actually increasing my cadence and pushing myself a bit more. It's like she woke me up from a comfy slumber-bike ride and helped me get back on track.

And during today's ride, it was pretty windy (I'll come back to the wind here too), and I remembered how that girl had maintained a solid cadence and just went. I didn't doze off during today's ride, and when a guy passed me near the end of my ride, I watched him as well and found a teeny bit more inside to keep my legs going. What lessons! Both times I honestly thought I was pushing myself, but both times I had even more to give. But, because that girl passed me on Friday, I had a much more honest workout today! :) :) :) :)

Okay -- back to the wind. It is just as windy as the Pass. So -- all of you that are worried about the Kona winds, just bunk at my place if you want to train in the wind. The crosswinds are pretty hairy too -- we don't get too many crosswinds in the Pass, because the roads and wind go east to west or vice versa. But, there are a couple of spots where the crosswinds can nail you!

The crosswinds here don't just come out of nowhere -- you can tell when they are coming. There are rocky embankments on the side of the road, and when these end, the highway is fully exposed to wind. The terrain is rolling, with very few trees and just grass -- so the wind just blasts out from land to the water. After countless hours watching my Ironman DVDs and hearing about these famous winds, I was frigging ready. They did buffet me around a bit, but I stayed in aero. I thought to myself, "It's a good core workout this way!" Hahahahahahaha!! And once I did get blown onto the rumble strips, but like I said in an earlier post, the strips here are barely a blip -- let alone a rumble.

And they have wind turbines like in Cowley here too -- so I was right at home! Hahahaha!! I am not kidding, I just about spit up my water when I saw the familiar white turbines off the highway. Hahahahaha -- Yup! Just like home! :) :) :)

As for wildlife -- they have wild goats here, and they have these "Donkey Crossing" signs. I haven't seen a donkey yet, but I did see a dead wild pig on the side of the road today. It was black, bloated, and with that terrible fascination that PULLS you to look at the macabre, I took another glance at the corpse and saw it's tongue was sticking out. ECHH. Wonder if that'll make it to luau tonight? Hahahahah! Poor taste, I know!! LOL!!

Let's see, what else did I want to talk about -- Oh yeah, I LOVE the pool here. I really love swimming there. There is lap swimming from morning 'til night and you are pretty much always guaranteed a lane to yourself. The water is beautiful and deep -- so cool and clean. I relish the beginning of the workout when I get into the pool -- it's like as soon as I get in the pool, I slip into a happy, meditative state. Mike thinks I'm nuts (and to be fair, I am) that I feel like that about a pool and not like that about snorkeling, but to each his own!! :) :)

The change rooms have LOTS of black hair on the floors -- Hahahahahaha -- I never wear sandals, so I just make sure I step between them...Heh-heh-heh!

I found out how coconuts really look. You know when you buy them from the store and they look like a little brown bowling ball with three darkened spots like holes? Well, they are actually wrapped in a husk, sort of like corn on the cob. I asked a local yesterday why the coconuts looked different than at the store, and he illustrated the husking of a coconut with a little help from his dog, Moki. Heh-heh-heh -- the dog tore into that coconut like my dog tears into a teddy bear. :) :)

Here's a pic of us three amigos after exploring a lava tube with flashlights. As we emerged from the black depths, we could smell the sweet smell of pot ahead -- someone had deked into the darkened space and had a puff. We joked that we were going to be high when we got into the light again -- what do you think? Hahahahahaha!!

Jake and I doing what we shouldn't be doing...

Mike doing something he shouldn't be doing...(If you tell him he's not allowed, you are guaranteed him doing it -- is this a man thing? LOL!!!)

Bye for now!! :) :) :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hawaiian Petrogplyph Run...

And yes, I was wearing leg and arm warmers...I know I am a dork, but at least this dork was warm! Hahahahahahahaha!!!! It was pretty windy, but the petroglphs made it all worth the while. :) :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

One more week...

We love it so much that we are staying here for one more week! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

I spent most of the day changing our reservations,etc. But as an awesome bonus, we are able to stay at the HUGE gorgeous rental unit right next to us for the same price. Minimal moving and we get to move in there tomorrow! :) :)

We might not come back...

:) :) :) :)

I biked up Kaloko this morning and then some and didn't have to walk my bike!! YAY!! I made sure when there was a big bit coming, to stop, eat, refuel, and then attack. Before each hill, I said, "You can do this. You can do it Julie."

Hawaii is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

HOLY Hawaii!

So, I have found a few spare moments to update my blog -- For your information, Hawaii is 4 hours behind us (Calgary folk), and for some weird reason, I've been getting up at 4:30am EVERY MORNING. Hahahahah -- of course that means early bedtimes for me.

Here is a brief synopsis of my impressions of the Big Island --

* Paid the bike shop $70.00 to reassemble my bike, only to discover 3.5 MILES into my ride that the fricking left pedal came right off. I one-legged it back to our rental and screwed the damn thing back on myself -- 70 bucks! Good thing all those one-legged drills paid off. Hahahahaha!!

* Alii Drive is a mixed blessing -- EVERYONE (and their dog) runs and bikes along here, but the speed limit for motorists sits at 15 miles/hour -- SO FRIGGING SLOW when you are trying to get somewhere. And where we are situated there are no shortcuts -- you have to drive the whole length of the road.

* The locals are either SUPER friendly or complete A$$HOLES -- a lot of motorists HATE cyclists here. I've been sworn at quite extensively while riding -- one guy hung out the passenger side and even looked back calling me an "Effing B" while they drove away. All this has caused me to grow a thicker skin, and spread the Julie love even more -- I make a point of smiling and greeting just about everyone I encounter. But, boy-oh-boy, do I miss the friendly drivers in Canada...

* The Ironman bike course is really awesome -- the main highway has HUGE beautiful wide shoulders all the way up to the turn off to Hawi (pronounced HAVE-EE. I had to stop and ask a local because I sort of got turned around... Big surprise! LOL!)

* Gas stations do NOT have public restrooms. There are public restrooms at harbours and at beaches, so that's where you have to go -- or you scramble around in some crusty old lava and squat off the highway...

* The shoulder rumble strips here are nothing like the ones back home -- you can actually ride on them and not bounce your kidneys out! :) (This I discovered after I was going for a steady ride one morning and found myself in the middle of the Lavaman Triathlon. Eeep. I didn't know there was a race! I was passing all these people and felt like "that guy." You know the one who is riding their bike and interfering with the race? Double eep. I was surprised to see how nobody signalled if there was crap on the road. At the races back home, every rider points if there is a water bottle or something up ahead. Anyways, when I was going by the racers, I passed A LOT by going on said rumble strips. Hahahahaha!!)

* There are these little square reflector tings that stick up out of the pavement to mark the shoulders of the road too -- most of the time they are on the white shoulder line, but every once in a while, one appears right in the middle of the shoulder lane -- BAH BUMP!! Watch out for those!

* Every road inland goes up -- and I mean STRAIGHT UP! You'd think, living in the mountains, I'd have access to all these hilly roads, but I don't -- mountain biking yes, but not roads like this -- HOLY FRIGGING MOLY! My favourite hilly route is from our place (at the south end of Alii Drive), up Palini Drive, and then up Kaloko Drive. I've never pedalled up hills like Kaloko -- and yes, I had to get off and push my bike. But, Jenna -- I went back and did it on Thursday! AND, I'll be doing it again tomorrow! YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

* I thought I sweat a lot when I would wring out my sports bra at home after a trainer session -- that was nothing compare to the buckets of sweat that pour off me here. The humidity makes it all the more interesting. Let's just say that while climbing up Kaloko drive, I just have to tip my head forward and sweat POURS off my nose.

* The shoulders everywhere else except the main highway are at times, non-existant. Like there is a white line and then a cliff, of broken, rutted pavement. I've become pretty good at biking on 2 inches of pavement, but when I get scared, I hug the shoulder on the traffic side -- this is where some motorists get pissy. I have seen cyclists take up the whole lane of traffic, but I ain't one of them. Perhaps if these jerks didn't throw their beer bottles on what little shoulder there was, we would all be happy...

* Swimming in the ocean is AWESOME!!! Fighting the waves and currents, while being supported by the salty water just makes you a better swimmer by default! :) :) :) My favourite place to swim at is Hapuna Beach -- snorkeling isn't so great there, but the swimming is BLISS!!!!! Up and down and bobbing all around with the waves -- I LOVE IT!!!! :) :)

* Beaches are small, rocky, and you need to drive to get anywhere. But, the snorkeling is UNBELIEVABLE! Mike and Jake are going crazy with all the snorkeling -- Mike is in heaven and diving down deep and having the time of his life. We've kayaked out to the Cook Monument and snorkeled an afternoon away, and yesterday, we hiked across fields of lava to get to this other place. It was so cool -- you could here the HISS of the ocean as it would come rushing in underneath the lava you were walking on. Then, there were these big holes that would violently fill up with water when the waves would come in, and then the water level would drastically fall when the waves sucked back out -- just amazing.

* The pool here is FREE!!!! AND SO AWESOME!!! You go in to lane swim whenever you want and just start swimming. There are two 25m pools -- there are so cool and clean -- I bliss out every time I go in there. And I even have a pool buddy from my short time here! Hahahahahahahaha!!

* We want to move here. Hehehehehehe!

Well, we are off to the volcano today -- can't wait. Oh yeah, the BEST burger I have had was at Huggo's, and the BEST Mexican food has been at La Cala -- Oh man, their guacomole is the best I've ever tasted. Weather has been moderate -- overcast but still stinking hot compared to home! :)