Friday, December 17, 2010

So you think you have it bad....

This little animal is called the Naked Mole Rat and is from North Africa...


So if you are having a bad day and feeling sorry for yourself, remember: It could be worse, you could look like an old penis with buck teeth.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Stay Thirsty, My Friends...




If he were a triathlete.....

* He does not need to sight during the swim, as the fish guide him.

* He did his first Iron-distance race on a mountain bike...and won.

* On trail runs, small woodland animals come out to watch him.

* Lifeguards clear a lane for his sole use every morning.

* In the off season, he climbs Mt. Everest.

* The carrots in his refrigerator peel themselves.


He is....

The Most Interesting Triathlete in the World....

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Be My Swim Coach for the Day!





....and you too can be bribed with coffee and baked goodies!! :) :) :)

Keith has been the first to take the challenge: at the spur of the moment yesterday, he drove the 2+ hours from Calgary and met me at the Pincher Creek pool for a private one on one lesson! Hee-hee!

He even brought his iPhone and took the above footage after all our work...(Santa also came early and brought me an underwater camera! Can't wait to start using that!!)

My swimming needs all the help it can get -- I cobbled together a stroke as an adult -- never took any learn-to-swim lessons, etc. (In hindsight, maybe I should have.) Thus, my "stroke" (using that term very loosely), is a combination of watching youtube videos, of absorbing advice from swim coaches, from lifeguards, from anyone who is faster than me.

The "catch" in swimming is something that I have been trying so hard to understand/feel. Like I was telling Keith yesterday, I HATE it when swimmers (aka people who were in swim club as kids) tell me to "feel" the water, that it "will feel so effortless" -- blah, blah, blah. That kind of talk is like someone going on about religion -- just TRUST in things, have FAITH, etc. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know all that stuff, but what in the hell is it supposed to FEEL like?!?!?!?!

Everything feels awkward to a new adult swimmer -- yes, even one that has been trying to swim for the past 6 years!

Thus, 2011 is the year of the swim stroke. Enough faffing around for me -- I am going to FEEL it baby. :)

Wanna be my coach for the day? I make good on my bribes!!!! LOL!!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

US Road Trip 2010: From West to East and Back Again

My camera is slowly dying, hence the pink shades. LOL.


This whole road trip thing was my idea...


Originally, I had planned to do the Silverman iron-distance triathlon in Vegas, but as time passed, the Beach 2 Battleship race in North Carolina caught my imagination. And as my friends and family can attest, when an idea takes root in my mind, nothing can prevent it from growing. And growing and growing.

Last November, my Dad almost died from a ruptured aorta. He collapsed whilst eating a bowl of chili one evening. Doctors told us later on, he shouldn't have survived the ambulance ride to the hospital.

But he did.

And he survived the hour and a half of poking and prodding at our local hospital. He even survived the renegade H1N1 patient who came stumbling into emergency coughing and hacking and putting her hands all over the desk, chairs, etc, before being escorted out. (It is in these rare moments, that I know I have it in me to kill.)

Then, he survived the hour and a half ambulance ride to the closest city, where upon arrival, the attending physician nearly pooped his pants and ordered a helicopter for my Dad to Calgary. My Dad remembers hearing the people in the helicopter talk about how he was not going to make it...

After all was said and done, the final doctor in Calgary said that my Dad's survival was a miracle. That even after landing in Calgary, most patients do not survive the surgery.

Thus, these were the thoughts that fertilized my mind and the idea of me and my Dad driving across the USA and me doing a race at a battleship. (My Dad is ex-military: air force to be precise, but he watches those war documentaries with as much gusto as the next!)

As usual with me, I didn't realize the enormity of what I was getting into. I mean how hard is it to drive 5000km one way? (We could have made it a shorter route according to google maps, but theory and reality are sometimes two very different things...)

As it turned out, I drove the entire way to Wilmington, North Carolina. My Dad drove the way back. We didn't plan it that way, that's just the way it happened.

There are things that I would never have seen nor done had we not gone on this trip. Geography (for me) is a sketchy subject at best, but actually being in a place, makes me remember it. Makes me realize how big the US is -- what state is beside the next -- in fact, even learning where in the world Wilmington was to begin with!

We only saw and experienced partial glimpses of certain states. Virtually all our driving was done on Interstates, so keep this in mind as you read my observations. Out of all our adventures, I am certain of two things:

1. I will NEVER drive that much again. (Hahahahaha!)

2. The 3 weeks I spent with my Dad was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

So....drum roll please! In no specific order, here is a collection of memories, observations of our 10 000km+ road trip. (Holy crap! We really drove that much?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!)

  • Montana is a big ass state. BIG ASS state. We drove south and then east in one day, and still never managed to get out of it!
  • Interstates ROCK! About every 20km (except in Montana because it is so big!) or so, you are guaranteed to find an off ramp with gas stations, fast food joints, etc. And further spaced along, are Interstate rest stops. These places are SWEET. Each state has a big, awesome, nice one when you first cross the state line. Decorated with sculptures, have big comfy couches, free wifi, coffee! Then, they have the *regular* ones spaced out an intervals -- think LARGE, heated, flush-able toilets. With maps, free wifi (!!), televised road conditions, etc. They put our piddly, miserable outhouses in Canada to shame.
  • 75 mph on the interstates....in Utah, they had test sections of around 20km that were 80 mph! SWEET!!!
  • Kentucky drivers do not fool around. These people drive fast. FAST. I was cruising 80 mph in the right lane, and everyone was passing me.
  • Custer's last stand is very, very close to where I live. So is Yellowstone. Closer than driving to Penticton for IMC. This is a trip I will do next year!
  • I am related to Custer! (I knew this before, but had to throw it in for additional shock value and colour -- LOL!) Not by blood, but my cousin married his great-great-great (however many greats) grandson. No kidding.
  • When we crossed into Kentucky, it was in the middle of this bridge, and there was a big sign for THE Kentucky Fried Chicken convention centre. LOL. I bet most of you don't know this piece of Crowsnest Pass trivia --- In fact most people don't believe me when I tell them this: The gravy recipe for KFC was invented by a Crowsnest Pass woman -- Kay Kerr. See what you guys are missing by not visiting me in the Pass? We have a little bit of everything down here! Hahahahahahaha!
  • My antennae blew off in South Dakota.
  • Utah drivers are INSANE. My Dad and I kept joking about "those crazy Mormons." You thought Calgary drivers were crazy? Weaving in and out of traffic without signaling on the Deerfoot? NOTHING! Baby drivers! Picture this: 6 lanes of traffic all going 75 mph bumper to bumper. Bumper to bumper. And people darting in and out while texting. This is their NORMAL. I'm still recovering from this.
  • All along the interstates at intervals, are gas stations, fast food joints, and adult superstores. Big, big signs that tower over the gas station signs: ADULT SUPERSTORE. What?!?!?! Are truckers really horny or something? Favourite billboard I saw as we left Vegas: "Adult Superstore! Your last chance to get off!"
  • And about truckers....We saw THOUSANDS of trucks all along the interstates. I'm sure there is a show on the Discovery Channel about how products move from one place to another. I never fully grasped just how many trucks are on the roads. Unreal.
  • Us Canadians pay way too much for running shoes. I bought two brand new pairs (one Asics, the other Saucony) -- total was $120. And way too much for gels, cliff shot blocks, etc. I paid half of what I pay here. Granted our loonie is essentially at par, but still...
  • El Reno -- forget where this was...But the birds here LOVE these telephone poles/cables at the one section of town. I mean they really, really love it. They all sit there and chirp and sing and have phone pole quiver tail!!!!
  • Got a flat tire in Amarillo.
  • Arizona has my heart. I will buy property here. We drove through areas that looked like flat plains that were 5000 feet elevation. (That's higher than the Pass!) Drove through another part that was 7335 feet! This place has it all: mountains, desert, Grand Canyon, nice weather -- I LOVE ARIZONA! Visited a meteor crater - very odd experience. It feels as though all sound is sucked into this dense black hole. Even talking to someone right beside you -- it is very noticeable. So strange. Missed the Painted Desert -- we left before the park opened. Will return for this.
  • I DELIGHTED in investigating all the gas stations we stopped at: Food Porn! I felt such an evil thrill, hobbling up and down the aisles looking at the grossest, most sugary, fatty concoctions of junk food ever created. It was so gross, I was intrigued....could not look away. With guilty pleasure I would recite every new package and corresponding fat content I'd find to my Dad, once we got back in the car. Hahahaha! My favourite was: "Cracklins! WITH attached pig skin!" Awesome -- LMAO!!! Seriously, I think this junk food isn't legal in Canada, which is why you don't see it here. Hahahahahaha!
And here is my favourite road trip story:
  • Ogden, Utah. What can I say about this place....I can be very naive and blind sometimes. Yes, even now, though I am 35 years old, this girl was schooled in Ogden. The red flags I missed (in chronological order) when I rented our cheapest motel room yet:
1. The fact that the "Vac" was burnt out of the Vacancy sign. I joked, "let's go to "ancy" motel. It was right across from the Mariott (which wanted $99/night -- NO WAY!! I can get a better deal!) How bad could it be?

2. The finger-print smeared window the manager had to slide open to talk to me...

3. When I told the manager I wanted a room, he got out of his chair and came out of the office and stood very close (definitely invading my personal space) and asked "What do you want?" "Umm, I want a room?"

4. When he asked if we wanted 1 or 2 beds....(My Dad said very loudly, "TWO!")

5. When he said the credit card machine was broken and he could only take cash...

6. When he said they were just waiting for a room to open -- it was a late checkout and could we come back in 30-45 minutes and then the room would be ready? It was 6:00pm.

7. The kicker (but I STILL didn't get it!): I looked down at the table beside the front desk and saw a pile of newspapers and a plastic container that said the word FREE on it. A container filled with condoms...I was bedazzled by the word FREE! I was thinking FREE!! Yes! I should take one as a souvenir! One for my sister, one for my Mom, FREE!!! (I didn't take any.)

My Dad tried to prepare me: As we sat in Denny's waiting for 45 minutes, things slowly started to dawn on me.

We went back to the Ancy motel "just to see." As we pulled in, we watched through the lighted window as a woman sprayed aerosol throughout the room...Never seen that before. We waited until she had left, and then went in. Oh. My. God. There were stains on the carpet that you didn't need a black light to see.

The sink was 3/4 full of a light blue cleaning product and water - wouldn't drain. The smell of the aerosol fragrance. The ash tray beside the bed. The bedding.

My Dad walked over to the sink and said, "I wouldn't be able to shave in the morning." I stood beside him, both of us looking into the filled sink.

A fly landed on the mirror above the sink. My Dad instinctively took a towel, twisted it a little and flicked at the fly. "Let's see how you do in that chemical bath," he said. The fly landed on it's back in the blue water. We watched it twitch.

We left.

I didn't ask for my money back.

The resident prostitute/room cleaner was pretty high as we made our stealthy escape.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.



At the Grand Canyon. Before we did the Sky Walk. You have got to do this!
A plexi-glass horse-shoe shaped bridge that juts out over the canyon.
You see right underneath your feet -- so cool!!
(It took me a LONG time to hobble to each spot. Wish I had the
air cast here!!!)


Outdoor dining at the Grand Canyon. See that gravy? :)


Welcome to the off season! Hahahahahahaha!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mercury Rising Triathlon Camps

Mercury Rising is pleased to announce the following camps;

Camp 1 : January Jump Start, Calgary AB


Friday January 14 th - Sunday January 16 th 2011


This is an intensive swim technique camp including lots of swimming, talks and video analysis. We have booked an entire pool, so come prepared to work and learn! The swim portion will take place on Friday and Saturday and on Sunday, we will be holding our second event in The Inspiration Series which will include an epic indoor bike session and a talk on goal setting with cancer-survivor Alyson Woloshyn. $350


Camp 2 : Spring Ahead Camp, Victoria, BC


MondayMarch 7 th-Sunday March 13 th 2011


Our Victoria camp is the king of camps. It includes talks by Canada’s elite triathletes and a week of solid training on the same routes that have created world and Olympic champions. Last year we heard from Ironman Champion Jasper Blake and 3x Olympian Rick Say. This camp is full of surprises! 6-nights accommodation at the Howard Johnson Hotel is included. $1500



Camp 3: The one and only PHAT CAMP, Penticton, BC


Monday July 11 th-Monday July 18 th


Phat Camp is the ultimate Ironman and 70.3 preparation camp. Its our head down, work hard and get fit camp. This year, as well as doing some hardcore training on the Ironman Canada course, we will be racing at the Peach Classic Olympic Distance, entry is included. 7 nights beach-front accommodation. $1500


For more info and registration:

http://www.mercuryrisingtriathlon.com/camps.php

Monday, November 22, 2010

So, umm, that is why my foot hurts...

Just came back from my doc...

X-rays showed I broke my foot in two places: One big, bad-ass, nasty mofo of a break when I was in Australia (some healing has taken place there) and a stress fracture across one of those metatarsal thingies.

Bone breaks mean I will heal up good as new! So, I am in an "Air Walker" right now.

I know this sounds odd, but I was so relieved and laughing and giggly once I found out. I mean, you should see the size of the break that I did when I was in Australia, and I did two frigging Ironman races this year on it!

I can only imagine how great I'll feel after I actually let myself heal this time! LOL!!!!!

(And yes, I have learned a valuable lesson yet again -- when my coach tells me over and over again to go the doc to get my foot checked out, I WILL LISTEN. I was so stubborn in Australia -- I kept saying, "Nothing's wrong -- nothing's broken. It's just bruised -- I mean I fell on it really hard; of course it's swollen. If I broke it, I would know...." Umm, yeah. My face is red. Sorry, coach. Eeeeeeeeeep.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Beach 2 Battleship 2010 Non-Race Report

OR...

The Race that Never Was.

OR...(and my choice)

Wilmington, NC: City of Angels

LOL.

Now you might be asking yourself, why would I want to write a race report regarding a race that I didn't actually do? For that matter, what in the world would I possibly have to write about?

Well, let me tell you...in my world, all things are possible. LMAO!

After something in my foot snapped, I felt like I was doing the Walk of Shame as I had to go past ALL the other athletes changing into their wetsuits. The trolley would drop people off at the furthest end of the road, so for me to get there, I had to limp by soooo many people while trying hard not to cry (the trying didn't work too well).

I didn't make eye contact with anyone as the least amount of kindness shown to me would have set me right off into major water works. (By the way, WHY does that happen???) I dug my pre-event swim bag out of the box and signaled to the trolley driver that I was going to board.

In my despair, (now remember, I had just passed the cusp of realization that I couldn't race, that I had made the decision to withdraw and turn in my chip, etc . So in other words, my emotions were still very RAW at this point) I didn't realize the trolley was full of athletes who were about to exit.

I stood as close as I could to the side of the trolley -- my face was just about touching it, so I wouldn't look at anyone. When people walked around me, I would look down or to the left or right, all the while trying to keep from bawling.

When everyone had finally exited the trolley I got back on and quickly told the trolley guy that I wouldn't be able to race. And then the full on blubbering started. Oh brother. Bless that trolley driver (Angel #1), he was like the Yoda of trolley drivers. He squeezed my hand and said a number of things, "Now don't cry, there will be other races," "Sometimes, life throws you a curve ball." That one was my favourite. :)

As we approached T1, he said that I could stay on the trolley to keep warm (it was effing cold out -- as in 3 degrees Celsius), but there was no way I'd be able to handle riding back and forth as athletes would still be boarding/disembarking. (There was a half iron event starting after the full, so it would have meant a LOT of athlete encounters. I just wasn't emotionally strong enough to bear that!!) Then, he offered to take me, my bags, and my bike to T2 (the battleship) at 10:00am.

He was such a nice guy -- he repeated things and said them slowly -- my head was spinning with emotions, and it was just so awesome that he cared enough to recognize that!

As soon as I exited the trolley, and started hobbling, this spectator (Kate, a Mom and wife, cheering on her hubby for the 1/2 race, and Angel #2) immediately insisted on carrying my swim bag and escorting me to the tent to turn in my chip. The woman manning the booth said, "I am so sorry to hear this." Again their genuine kindness and empathy sent me bawling -- I kept saying thank you and tried to make jokes. All the while blubbering a bit.

The volunteers told me to go see the doc -- so I started hobbling in that direction. Kate offered to drive me, my stuff, AND MY BIKE back to the condo where my Dad and I were staying. (My Dad had dropped me off, and then would be there for a while before he would go to T2. ) A complete stranger!! I said, "No! You need to cheer on your husband!" She replies, "Oh we have lots of time!" Can you believe it???

Anyways, we decided that I would go to the doc, and if I got released in time, she would drive me. She showed me where her and her family was standing and we parted ways.

Then, I hobbled and hobbled and hobbled to find the doc. (The T1 area is HUGE. Holy shite.) The doc and nurses had set up in this clubhouse where the swim exit was. She was amazing. As were the fellow nurses. She gave me her personal cell phone number with instructions to call her this evening (which I will), and then offered to see me on Monday. Who does things like that?

I had ice on my foot, a cup of chicken broth in my hand, and chatted it up with everyone until the athletes started exiting the water. Talk about a war zone. In an instant, the clubhouse filled with shivering, teeth-chattering, hypothermic athletes. The nurses and the doc made sure the athletes would be given warm 2 minute showers, fed warm broth, then made to jump around and keep moving. So many people came in escorted by volunteers, cold and wrapped in foil blankets.

In the melee: the volunteers below the clubhouse ran out of the warm chicken broth they were passing to shivering athletes. All the other nurses upstairs were busy with athletes. So, I hobbled to action. I started opening cans of broth -- of course the can opener was a piece of shit that only punctured in one place and refused to actually open anything. So, I had to puncture, puncture, puncture and then dump the broth into the warmer-thingy. The volunteers were saying, "We need more chicken broth!" I was going as fast as I could!

Finally, I opened all the cans.... Then, I started picking up a number of towels lying around -- I had overheard a nurse saying "We need more towels! We need to dry off the wet ones!"

After that, it was about 8:45am, and I decided to try and get my bike and bags out of T1 so I could catch the 10:00 ride. I wanted to give my foot enough time to gather all my stuff...

Hobbled down the stairs and waited for an opening between athletes, then hurriedly hobbled around this fenced corner and got out of the way. Phew! I didn't block anyone!

Next, I had to walk on the outside of the pylons that crossed the roadway -- parallel to the athletes. I felt like such a tool. All the spectators were lined on the sidewalk watching the athletes and here I come, hobbling the long, long walk all the way down the road trying not to get in anyone's way.

Finally, I made it to the T1 entrance. There was a volunteer standing there pointing the athletes in -- again, I had to hobble and talk fast because I didn't want to obstruct any athlete's view of the volunteer, and at the same time, I had to explain quickly that I was out of the race but needed to get in to get my bike and stuff.

PHEW. Got in and didn't block anyone again. Got my T1 bag, then bike. Stood around and tried to cheer for the other athletes, but had to fight tears as random things would start me crying again. Like when a song that I had trained to came blasting over the speakers....Like when Angel #3 (a fellow iron distance athlete that had to drop out at the last minute) gave me the most encouraging pep talk. She was consoling and pepping ME up when basically the same thing had happened to her. What an amazing woman -- I want to one day be able to have that kind of strength. To truly disengage from my ego and concentrate on someone else. WOW.

She hung around for a bit and gave a pep talk to an older gentleman she knew, as he fumbled into transition. She is my hero I tell you.

10:00am came and went. As did all the half-iron athletes. And then the volunteers. I was getting thirsty by this point and a little scared. I'd asked volunteer after volunteer about this 10:00am trolley and no one had a clue. As the yellow-shirted volunteers started clearing out, I was lucky enough to snag one that said she would try and track down one of the head volunteers. She said it was going to be hard, as the head volunteers weren't wearing the bright yellow volunteer shirts.

There were less and less people around, and I was getting more and more anxious as I awkwardly wheeled my bike and bulky transition bags around and around T1 trying to find a way to get home.

Finally the awesome volunteer (Angel #4) came running back and said that if I could wait another 45 minutes , the head dude would take me and my bike to T2 and the finish line. Just as she said that, two women who were standing near me, offered to take me and all my stuff to T2 right then and there!! (Angels #5 and #6) They were spectating - one had done the swim as part of a relay.

They were so awesome and so friendly. Again, I had to fight tears because they were just so damn KIND!!!!

We finally made it to downtown Wilmington. The only way I could get my bike to T2 was to take the water taxi across. As we approached the lineup....the long, long lineup, I told the ladies I was going to try and cut in line. That if it worked, "Thanks so much for everything!" (I think this was the millionth time I had thanked them -- LOL), and that if it didn't, I would join them at the back of the line.

I wheeled my bike to the front of the line (with my bags banging against the front wheel, and my body and mind getting progressively more discombobulated) and said, "Excuse me everyone -- Could I please cut in the line?" I then went on to explain what happened to me.

Now, I lost count of the number of Angels....OH MAN. EVERYONE was so kind. I had my sunglasses on and I started crying again. I was hoping the sunglasses would hide it....I also tried to not wrinkle my forehead (you know how you do when you cry?) to give it away, but I am not sure how successful I was. I don't know how many people offered to help me on and off the boat....MAN!

Then, the first volunteer table I came across at the finish line was staffed with even more awesome people. Geez -- I think the gentleman's name was Frank who had a great sense of humour. What is it with these people that know just the right thing to say?

When I found my Dad (miracle among miracles -- honestly, people! Have you ever BEEN at an iron distance finish line?) I broke down again. Sigh.

After a tub of Haagen Dazs, and some more tears, the world righted itself again. :) (Ok, ok, ok and a Snickers bar. LMAO!!!)

Now you can see why even though I didn't race, I did have a story to tell! I remain overwhelmed by the kindness of Wilmingtonians. Even before the race, when my Dad and I would drive out into the country side and park the car so I could bike, locals kept stopping and asking if my Dad was all right. If he needed help. One lady even offered him bottled water!

Now as to the North Carolina accent.....

That is a whole OTHER post. LOL. Honestly, there have been a number of times where I have had to say, "I'm sorry, I don't understand you!" I feel like such a dork, but there are only so many times I can say, "Pardon me?" before I have to confess. LOL!!


Until next time, battleship...
;)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

DNS

Made it about 6 steps on the beach when I heard a snap and almost passed out from the pain. I couldn't even walk.

Hobbling past all the other athletes was mental agony - I couldn't help but cry knowing I couldn't even start.

More later -- all I can say is that North Carolinian's are the friendliest, most truly caring people I have ever come across. Unbelievable.

I'm still crying off and on. It will pass -- saw the event doc, things look good (as in nothing broken), she gave me her personal cell phone number and I'll be seeing her Monday before we head home.

I can't lie -- I am so disappointed. But, on the same token, the genuine concern and kindness I experienced on the 5 hour odyssey to find my Dad (two strangers took my bike and me to the water taxi, all the people in the LONG line up let me cut in front of them, the boat guys, the volunteers on the other side, oh man -- I could go on and on) has taken the edge of the mental disappointment.

I can't help but smile. I'm still crying off and on, but I can't help but smile too.

More details later.

Love you all --

Julie :) :) :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Athlete Tracking Info for Friends and Family...

Here is the link for athlete tracking on Saturday:

http://www.setupevents.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=event_detail&eventID=1373

My bib-ola number is 479.

Keep in mind, it isn't going to be in real time....they are going to update throughout the day.

Positive energy is welcome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thoughts on Driving 5000 km....

Wolfing down a sandwich at Mt. Rushmore -- just a
little deke off the interstate. :)
  • I will NEVER do a road trip of this magnitude again. Next time, I fly.
  • Kentuckians and Albertans would get along just fine...I had cruise control set at 80 MPH, and I was in the slow lane. LOVE IT!!
  • You can't cash traveler's cheques at banks in Wilmington, North Carolina...My Dad went to 4, including the RBC. He would have had to open a bank account. Very odd.
  • US Interstates ROCK!!! Everybody GETS that the right lane is for driving in, the left lane is for passing. There are virtually no knuckleheads that sit in the left lane going 10km/hr under the speed limit = BLISS!!
  • All along the Interstates, they have these awesome huge and clean restrooms. Soooo nice.
  • Caffeine and driving go together.
  • Driving 1000km a day does a real number on leg/foot swelling and pain. :(
  • It's good to go with a senior (my Dad) to take advantage of the senior's discount for motel rooms. (Plus, he's a vet, and I have a CAA card -- we have a 1 in 3 chance of getting some type of deal! LOL.
  • The wind blew so hard through South Dakota, it blew my antenna off. You should have seen the tumbleweed action: big tumbleweeds, little tumbleweeds, and the really cute tiny baby tumbleweeds.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Taper Time.....FINALLY!

I was hanging in there until the very end....

But, oh man, was it ever tough! Today was my last *real* day of training before taper....*Real* in the sense that I am fatigued, tired, and oh yeah, did I forget to say FATIGUED????

CRIKEY!!!

I knew there was no way I'd be able to get my 2 hour run in before the pool opened today.

The pool opened at noon.

I lolly-gagged around the house -- moved from one end of the couch to the other. Got up to eat. Got up to get a glass of water. Got up to eat again. Then, got up to do the dishes. I was sort of huffing and puffing and moaning a bit to myself too. You know those little noises you make, like sighing, etc to let everyone know just how tired you are? Well, that was me, except I was alone -- I had no one to appreciate how tired I was, and those noises still occurred! Hahahahahahaha!

After my swim, I was on auto pilot trying to drag myself out the door. I wanted to go to bed and lay there.....forever. Instead, I peeled open the Halloween candy and got some sugar in me to try and kick start the bod. I got little shavings off chocolate in between the keys of my lap top...

Now, sugar and I have always had an on/off relationship. When I was little, every time my and sister and I would get into the candy, we would get really, really hyper, then we would crash and start crying. Hahahahahahaha! Well, today, even the sugar had a hard time getting me going. I barely got lift off, but I did finally get out the door.

2 hours later, I was so BAGGED, I was moaning out loud as I climbed the front stairs. I moaned all the way down to the basement where I did the laundry...

Then I moaned even louder when I realized I forgot the new bottle of vinegar (because I was washing my workout clothes, remember?) at the top of the stairs and I had to climb them....

You know when you are so tired, you use your hands to help you get up the stairs? That was me. Moaning all the way.

When I unscrewed the vinegar cap, I realized that stupid metal foil seal needed a sharp object to pierce it open. I literally moaned even louder, "No!" And looked crazily around my arm's length perimeter. Oh God. Nothing!

I then jabbed my forefinger in and LO! It worked! My finger dipped into the vinegar, and without thinking, I licked my finger. MY GOD, I ALMOST WENT CROSS-EYED!!!

Right then and there, I wanted salt and vinegar potato chips so bad I nearly fainted. After a quick shower, I phoned the gas station that is literally less than a block from my house and asked them if they had any s&v chips. (I wasn't going to risk going there and wasting a trip -- I needed them NOW!)

They had two bags left! I drove over there (I gassed up whilst there, to make it not too lame -- LOL!) and got the chips.

When I tucked into them, I swear the earth moved, angels sang, and I experienced what my sister and her hubby call "quiver-tail."

You see, they have a cat (Sparky) who has a very distinct habit when she is LOVING a back rub or a treat. Her tail quivers. It starts from her body -- her back is arched and the quiver moves up through the base of her tail, until it gets right to the tip of her tail. At this point, it is really quivering.

My sister's hubby thinks it looks perverted. Hahahahahahah!! Me and my sister think it is AWESOME!

Anyways, when I crunched down on all the salty vinegary goodness, "quiver-tail" is simply the best way I can explain my delirium.

Oh yeah baby. Now THAT hit the spot!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You Big Chicken!!!!!



You know how they say a vampire won't show up on film?
Well, if you are a Big Chicken, it DOES show up on film --
this is why I didn't buy race photos this year...LOL!!!



Six years ago I had no clue how to swim. NO IDEA.

For the first 29 years of my life, I had an uneasy relationship with water. When my parents would take us on summer vacation, my sister and I loved to play in hotel pools...at the shallow end of course. Neither me nor my sister ever learned how to swim.

Fast forward to when I was 26 years old, and the summer of me and my sister's Great Mexican Vacation. Our trip consisted of tanning by the pool and then submerging ourselves in the little pool to cool off every once in a while.

One afternoon, a local scuba guide came by the pool to give free demos. Now anyone who knows the Andersons, is aware what the word FREE does to us. It is the same thing that happens when we see a glittery object...It's like our hunting instincts are instantly activated. The heart starts beating quicker, all senses are heightened. Things are seen so much more clearly -- hearing is maginified, the sense of touch, everything. We are turned into Superman!! FREE?!?!?! Where? FREEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My sister and I were the only ones who took advantage of the free demo. It didn't matter that neither of us had a clue how to swim. The poor guide.

First, he had to show us how to get our faces in the water. This took some time. Step by step, he walked us through putting the gear on and then breathing underwater. He tried to get us to take off our masks underwater and then put them on again. That was NOT happening. I panicked and flew back up to the surface as quickly as possible. I know -- if I was in real deep water, the pressure would have blown my eyeballs out of my head and stopped my heart, but remember, I had never been underwater before!

My sister, on the other hand was a total stud. She put the gear on and just sank to the bottom of the pool and stayed there. She told me afterward, it was easy -- she didn't know how to swim or anything, so she just sank. And then sat there at the bottom of the pool until the guide brought her back up. LOL!!! It reminded me of when she was a baby and she would poop her diaper and just sit there with this big grin on her face. No worries, no problems. Just sit there.

After the demo, the scuba guide asked if we wanted to go for a scuba tour. In hindsight, I realized that what he did was probably illegal, because I guarantee you could not find two greener scuba-tourists than us. I can't actually believe given our limited 20 minute demo that we went out in the ocean with scuba gear on!!

This was how it went: We each had to fall backwards off the boat, just like you see on the Discovery channel. I thought I was going to have a panic attack when I saw my world go all topsy-turvy and then bubbles everywhere. But I clung to that mouthpiece and breathed like Darth Vadar and used my breathing as something to focus on.

The scuba guide then took my hand and my sister's hand, and pulled us around the ocean floor. It was pretty cool -- he gave each of us a sea cucumber to hold and took pictures of us with our underwater camera. (The one pic of my sister holding that cumber looked especially perverted, It looked like it LIKED my sister's grip -- I kid you not!! LOL!!!)

There was one point during our underwater excursion where I could feel a current. I felt myself getting pulled along....The guide at this point had (for some reason) let go of each of our hands for just a moment. My sister got caught in some weird-ball current and no kidding, it looked like she was getting sucked out into space. Like she was on the Starship Enterprise and someone opened the hatch and you see the person getting sucked out into space, their arms and legs spread and them spinning away.

The guide caught me, and then looked to the left, to the right for my sister. She was above him!! OMG it was so hilarious (but terrifying in retrospect) when he didn't see her and then he finally looked up. The poor guy probably had a heart attack.

As we ascended, I had to fight the panic attack thing again. Oh man! When we finally got to the surface, his partner hauled each of us in the boat -- literally. Hahahaha -- the guide told me he had been worried about me freaking out. That he thought I would have been the one to watch out for. LMAO!!!

Now you know my swimming background...

Thus, today at Masters, for part of the session we were to DIVE off the blocks. I was excited (yet scared) about this. We started by standing on the blocks and then jumped as far as we could, plunging into the water feet first.

I could do this.

I did it twice.

The next step was bending over and then actually diving. I had heart palpitations and I broke out into a cold sweat. Oh My God I was terrified. The coach kept saying, "1...2.....3...GO!" And everyone kept cycling through.

Except me.

I was shaking so much, I got off the blocks and let the women in my line go ahead of me. Then I tried again, and I tasted fear -- the terror of the unknown. Coppery like blood. My God, if there was a cougar, shark, bear, any wild animal around I can guarantee you they would have come running to me. I SWEAT pure fear.

I finally got up enough courage to ask if I could try diving off the pool deck. The coach said, "Of course!" On the 1....2....3....I wavered again and was shaking, I couldn't do it! The coach then came over and showed me how to pretend like I was going to dive, but then just fall in.

Now that I could do! Although I was still terrified, I could do it. It was so hilarious, everyone was offering me encouragement and when I finally plopped into the pool, the coach said, "That was really great, Julie!" Yeah right -- I felt my belly slap the water. Hahahaha!! But positive encouragement is something I will take! :) :) :)

I was a big chicken!!!! LMAO!!!!


Who's the big chicken? I'M the big chicken! Me and my
Coke Zero. Yeah man. Cool like us chickens.

It's hard to explain to people who learned to swim as kids what it is like for chickens like me...The vast majority of my memories involving water are coupled with fear. It is only in the past 6 years that I have created fun water memories. What is even stranger is having both sets of memories (and their associated emotions) rattle around my brain at the same time. It can be a very odd experience!!!

Until next time....

Monday, October 25, 2010

What I've Been Up to.... OR

What it Feels Like to Train My Bum Off. LOL!

After completing the power tests Coach Sara had me perform on the bike and the run, she changed the way she is training me. Let's just say things are a little more errrr, intense.

Last week, there were a couple of days I thought there was no physical possibility of me completing some of the sessions -- the cumulative fatigue, the very THOUGHT of what the workouts entailed....But I pulled through.

I don't know how -- well, yes I do. A mixture of stubbornness and caffeine seems to do the trick. ;)

So, I sort of just came around 5 minutes ago....I found myself sitting in a kind of stupor in front of the computer with a Coke Zero in one hand and no idea if I had just woken up from a nap, or was going back to bed. LOL!!!

This weekend, I completed what was (for me!) some epic workouts. (Every time I say or think this, I automatically insert the clause "so far" -- because what was epic a couple of months ago, ain't so "epic" now! Hahahahaha -- That's what coach's are for right? Hee-hee!)

Anyways, I've been training hard and training consistently. Saturday saw me pedaling away on my Computrainer at the gym for 4 hours with 2 hours of race pace power sandwiched in, then a 30 minute run on the tready: 15 minutes faster than race pace, 15 minutes easy.

Then, Sunday, I woke up early to get 2 hours of hilly running in -- the session called for some "good downhills" in the last hour. Home, quick shower (actually a quick tub, my legs and body were getting pretty beat up at this point and it was all I could do to ease into a warm tub and just lay there with Peanut watching me and batting at the water. I don't do ice baths. Blasphemy, I know. I don't do massage either. Right Keith? Hahahahaha!) then it was off to the pool for an hour swim. Then, food and a 30 minute run on pavement to REALLY MAKE SURE my legs took a good pounding.

My God I felt like I ran a marathon. This has been another one of those days where I start to drool when I sit down and relax. It's like my body falls asleep before my mind does. Hahahaha! And in the morning, when I go down in the basement to clean the kitty litter, the climb back up the stairs feels like my heart rate is at 195. That's before my oatmeal however. Hahahahahaha!

Nov. 2 is the day me and my Dad leave for North Carolina. I am very, very excited to race. I was dissatisfied with my performance at IMC and am hungry to race once more this year. SO....here goes!

While in Wilmington, my Dad and I plan on taking a segway tour (oh yeah baby!), and a ghost walk!! I am super excited about the ghost walk.

Well, starting to drool again...time to sign off and stare into space for a couple of more hours and then head to bed. Hahahahahahaha!!

Like my new iPod case? Or the poor-man's version of an iPod case? Heh-heh. The ole sandwich bag trick. I either carry it in my hand, or if the clothes I am wearing have a pocket, I'll stick it in there. Hey -- whatever works right? I usually don't run with an iPod, but there were two runs this week I needed to use it to get me out the door. I created a new play list and turned up the music so loud I couldn't hear myself suffer (or think, or breathe, or anything for that matter). Like I said before --- whatever works, eh?




BRING IT, BATTLESHIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


:) :) :) :) :)

(Yes this post was written in a state of extreme fatigue/delirium/joy/giddiness/etc. As if you couldn't tell....)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

8 years of accumulated stink....

When I first got into triathlon, I went HAYWIRE buying all kinds of shorts, tops, sports bras, etc. I mean you sort of have to though, right? You can't just have one pair of bike shorts...if you have say 5 of everything (at least), that means you don't have to stress about laundery all the time.

And about the laundery....

I've always taken good care of my workout stuff. Hang it to dry so it lasts longer, etc. But over the years, I have come to realize that every wash only removes around 99% percent of stank. And you don't notice it, until one day, say about 8 years hence, all those little 1%'s add up and YOU ARE THE STINKY ONE IN THE GYM!!!!!

OMG!!!!

It was a few Saturdays ago, I was doing a treadmill test -- had on my favourite black sports bra top and was sweating away. There was a certain point when the top got sweaty enough that it suddenly released all that cumulative B.O. I was horrified at myself!

Now, to be honest, I've been noticing this gradual degradation of my clothing for some time now. I smelled stank when I would ride on my trainer -- my favourite biking jacket had stinky armpits that no matter how much I would scrub with Shout! and baking soda only took the edge off. My favourite running top suffered the same issues.

The piece de resistance however, came a few weeks ago when I walked into the bathroom and was overpowered by the aroma of BO. I immediately yelled at Mike, saying, "GEEZ! You need to have a shower or something -- it STINKS in here!!" Poor guy, instantly smells his armpits looking worried/anxious/confused. It was at that moment I realized that the stink was coming from all my facecloths/bike shorts/bra top that was hanging over the shower rod to dry after my workout!!!!!!

Cue my sister.... Like an angel, she told me to add a cup of vinegar to the wash and it would remove all stink. I was so excited to try this, I took all my workout clothes out of my closet and washed them again -- this time adding a cup of vinegar along with the detergent.

I thought I had nailed the stink problem, until that tready session. It turns out that the proportion of 1 cup vinegar to 8 years of sweat is slightly off....




Thank goodness there were only two other people there that morning I went to the gym. Now, I was doing a treadmill run test, where I was running progressively faster and faster with 1 minute rest between sets. It was during one of these breaks that I felt OBLIGATED to explain to both men the reason why I stunk and that it wasn't ME, but it was my bra top.

Oh man -- the one guy was so nice and said - "I don't care! I don't even notice!" LIAR!

The other man was friendly but you could tell he was thinking "What in the heck is WRONG with this chick?!?!" LMAO!!!!!! I can talk pretty fast in one minute!!!!!

I went to Wal-Mart later that day on a mission: Buy the biggest jug of vinegar I could find. These past few weeks, I've cycled through all my workout clothes...when I would finish a session, I'd strip down, dump LOADS of vinegar on them and fill up the sink with hot water and let them soak all day. I did this every day. THEN, I threw all the clothes into the washing machine and poured more vinegar over everything and then added detergent. And you know what?


IT WORKED!!!!!!!!!

Yes, I am now stink-free -- odor-free, not even a scent of vinegar lingers. YES! :) :)

Here is a quickie update of what I've been doing (as I have been getting over the loss of Toby):

1. One week after IMC I went for a run. A RUN. A real run and I felt incredible. I felt so incredible that I emailed Coach Sara and said, I feel like I haven't "peaked" yet. She wanted to wait 3 weeks to see if this feeling persisted...it did and I've been back at training like a pit bull with a bone -- a big meaty bone with lots of fat and tendrils and ligaments hanging from it.

2. In a last minute change of mind, I've entered the Beach 2 Battleship iron distance race in North Carolina-- Nov. 13. Me and my Dad are going to drive there and back --- EPIC ROAD TRIP!!! YAHOOOO!!! :) :)


3. I've joined a Masters swim group and I can't believe how much of a difference it is making to my swimming. Having a coach on deck toss out simple reminders and give you instant feedback is invaluable!

4. I HAVE MY FIRST ATHLETE!!!!!! '

That's it for now....

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Toby


Love and loss -- I didn't know the pain of grief would unfurl petals of love in me. I have opened -- time means nothing -- I pick Toby up and carry her up the steps once her back legs are too weak to function. I help brace her foot against me so she can lick herself clean....anything that I can do to help...to make myself feel like I am helping in some way.

There is a strength deep, deep within this much pain and sadness. It is right in the very centre of the unfurling flower....a strength coupled with a profound sense of joy. These feelings are so powerful and yet at the far reaches of rational, logical explanation that I can hardly describe them. They are truly from the realm of the heart....

Where letting go and surrendering confer an exquisite beauty on death. When your world shrinks to the celebration of watching your pet eat a tiny bit of chicken breast -- when this same small world of such deceptively simple triumphs opens up an entire other world of immense love. Unconditional love -- the kind of love that left my hands filthy with poop and infection, and I didn't care for a moment. The kind of patience that I never knew I could possess -- the kind that could confer dignity on the most terrible of illnesses. The kind of joy that co-exists with a heavy heart -- like a weight consistently pressing in the middle of my chest that leaves me exhausted...but at the same time I could pet Toby and look into her eyes and smile and feel so much love.

Control is an illusion -- the only thing we can give is ourselves. That is the only reality -- the only thing I am certain of. Loss is teaching me to be a kinder, more accepting person. Life is so short -- too short for judgments and gossip -- you never know what a person's story is. I see other people as extensions of myself -- I thought at first that what I am learning is tolerance -- but that is the wrong word. It is acceptance.

I read somewhere a long time ago (I have an inkling that it may have been in a Joseph Campbell book....) about the Wheel of Life. And that the further away from the hub you are, the more ups and downs you experience. The closer you are to the centre of the hub -- the less movement there is. At the very centre of the hub there is stillness.

Compassion is borne from the sorrow -- A deep calm. Depth.

Strength -- not selfishness. Strength is not about me - it is about what I can give. Putting myself aside; not focusing on myself, turning my ego aside and looking outward --- away. Letting go of myself -- what I think of as myself. Opening up to the outside -- staying open and not closing around a particular interpretation of reality that suits my own narrow point of view. Let go completely.

In the very centre of myself all these emotions co-exist together -- Stillness does not mean emptiness -- I think it means a release of some sorts...At least the glimpses I've had of this place makes me think so.

Am I stronger? I don't know. Am I more prepared? Maybe. I know that love is a very powerful force -- powerful enough to overcome disgust at the ravages of cancer and replace it with patience, gentleness, kindness. There is a liberation as well. A freedom -- like a long deep sigh -- leaving myself behind. Grief is changing me.

My vet came over to my house at 4:45pm this afternoon.

My Mom, Dad, Mike and I were all with Toby at the end.

It was the most terrible thing. It doesn't matter that it was the right thing to do -- I cried so hard I almost puked with the effort -- the tears have stopped for now. I know they'll come again. Mike followed through to the very end and carried her little body to our vet's vehicle. It was at this point I had to turn away. When her spirit was gone -- she was gone. There was no mistaking it. I couldn't bear to look at her little body.

It is now only a few hours later and her absence is tangible. It is a complete emptiness -- she is gone! I've been worrying about her for these past weeks -- and the worry is now gone.

I can only move forward. One small step at a time. That is all I know I can do!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Race of the Pink Eye or Ironman Canada 2010 Race Report!

I'm one of those people who use all sorts of tricks/sayings/etc to remember things. The first one I am aware of learning was the colours of the rainbow...Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain. It was Grade 3.

And while I don't need help remembering the colours of the rainbow anymore, I still use some *cheat sheets*... like when I need to know how many days are in a month, I'll recite under my breath, "30 days has September, April, June, and November, all the rest have 31, etc." You know that one?

So.....the day after the race, I kept counting on my fingers (by year) the number of Ironman races I've done. But every time I got to the end, I couldn't believe it and would count again. Where has the time gone? I've actually done SEVEN of these things?!?!?!?!?! WHOA!!



My goal was to do an Ironman triathlon by the time I was 30 -- I never thought I would do another one!!!

Okay, onto the race itself....

The couple of weeks before Ironman is a really sketchy, dangerous time for my immune system. For some reason, the decreased training (taper) that allows the body to rest also invites germs in. Wholeheartedly. With embossed invitations even.

I've been lucky insofar as the crap I get before an Ironman is relatively benign -- just a minor annoyance. Two years ago it was crotchal area problems from riding so much and washing too vigorously. Yes -- you can wash too much....

Last year, it was Swimmer's Ear. I remember I was joking to my coach that this was proof I was a "swimmer."

This was the year of the Pink Eye. It sounds so gross and it sounds so, well, INFECTIOUS. It's like if you tell someone "I have pink eye," everyone takes a few steps backward away from you. I felt like the plague.



I'd been gargling twice a day with Listerine (just like Coach Clint told us to at camp last year!) to ward off any colds, but the ole stink-eye-pink-eye crept up on me anyways.

For the days leading up to the race, I walked around with one contact in -- trying not to go cross-eyed. I realized that I can actually ride a bike with one contact in -- not too bad, eh? LOL!!

OK - enough blather about the eyeball.

The down and dirty was that I took one minute and 17 seconds off last year's time. I crossed the line at 12:01:00 exactly. I was sort of hoping to blast WAY UNDER 12:00:00 but a PB is a PB. My swim was faster, my run was way faster, my bike was slower. BUGGAH. Like my good friend Cath pointed out, at least it was a minute and 17 seconds in the right direction! Good point!! :)

But, you gotta deal with the cards you are dealt on race day. I was delighted (whilst at the same time mortified) that my decision to take off my race wheels and use my training wheels proved to be the best decision. The winds were BRUTAL. For the last few weeks, I had trained on my race wheels in the winds of the Pass. I am not a competent enough rider (yet) to handle them when the cross winds blow me around. So, right before I left for Penticton, I made the call.


Let's see -- for the first time, my stomach felt REALLY full when I started the marathon. Too full. Like I was running on a bellyful of spaghetti. It took me until mile 15 until I let out a mighty FART at which point I felt like a new woman. Note to self -- I am taking Gas-X with me next year. Do you know how far 15 miles is with a tummy full of gas? It is TOO DAMN FAR!!!!!

It occurred to me that the most interesting part of an Ironman race isn't the swim, bike, or run. It isn't what you ate that morning, or how fast or slow you moved through transition. The REAL GOOD STUFF happens AFTER the race. Allow me to elaborate....

1. The Finisher Shirt. Ironman Canada has sunk to an ALL - TIME LOW in finisher shirt ugliness. OH MY GOD. Everything I have ever said about ugly race shirts must be retracted because this year's shirt truly takes the cake. It is a light yellow-beige colour. A colour that makes everyone look like death warmed over. EVERYONE. A colour that is so ugly and rejected it was like there was a huge cargo load of them brought over from China and the receiver said, "OH MY GOD these are so ugly I refuse this shipment!"


Oh yes -- This a BOAT LOAD of light-yellowy T-Shirts coming
to an Ironman near YOU!! LMAO!!

So then, someone at Ironman Canada got a smokin' deal on these rejected T-Shirts and used them to put the logo on and made off with a profit. That's what popped into my mind as soon as I saw that shirt. It fell down out of the UGLY tree and got beaten by every ugly stick on the way down. And I have my very own in size medium thank you very much. LMAO!!!!

2. The Pee Bag. This is one of the transition bags that I put my race kit in (after the race) -- my running shoes, cycling shoes, socks, everything. Because I have no problem peeing on the bike or the run, everything is covered in pee. This still horrifies Mike. The Pee Bag stinks. Bad. One year, I had the pee bag (closed up tight) in the back seat and the smell that came out of it was so strong I had to pull over and put it in the trunk.

This year, my Mom took The Pee Bag to the laundromat and washed everything for me. (Yes, I throw in running shoes and cycling shoes -- EVERYTHING. It works!) I was passed out on the motel bed with compression tights on, watching my feet swell like watermelons.

3. The Ultimate Transition Bag. This is extrememly important and I hope even one reader saves himself/herself the $199.99 expense of a triathlon transition bag. DON'T BUY ONE! DON'T DRINK THE KOOL AID!!! I did, and I will regret it for the rest of my life. Here is why:

Race morning, (and after the race for that matter) you have to carry your Swim-to-Bike bag, your Bike-to-Run bag, and your Morning Clothes bag AND your bike. Watch people as they try to do this. They have the bags looped over the handlebars, the bags are falling off their shoulders, banging into their bike. In short -- it is a big pain in the @$$!

Nobody uses a fancy schmancy tri bag because then you would have to take out all the stuff out of the bags, to fit in the fancy bag, THEN put all the different items back into your race bags once you get to the race site.

Here is what you use and they only cost $0.99 at your local hardware store:


The simple canvas bag. Fellow triathletes take note!!

Yes. A large canvas shopping bag holds ALL race day bags with plenty of room to spare for ugly finisher shirt, medal, finisher hat, water, etc. Wish I had figured this out last year before I spent that $200. Sigh.

4. Body, Heal Thyself. This is a very neat, yet odd experience. Symptoms (errr, side effects or consequences maybe -- LOL!) of doing an Ironman start to show up in various parts of the body. This happens over a succession of days too -- every day there is a new surprise. For example. after Ironman Coeur D'Alene this year, (two days afterward, to be precise) I sprouted all these zits on my chin.

So far, this year after IMC, I've had one SUPER swollen foot -- the other one not so bad. So swollen it made my friend, Tessa, laugh at me! The skin around my nose is all dry and peeling off now too. Nice.

In all seriousness, I need to thank Coach Sara profusely for empowering me with the fitness and mental strength to do this race. I went in thinking positively -- dedicating the race to my little dog, and keeping the negative, sad, and painful emotions at bay. I had two moments where I almost broke down....

One was on the bike when a guy passed me and I saw his name was Toby.

The other, was during the run, when I saw my teammate, John. He had sent me a wonderful email the night before the race -- a coping strategy I could use during the race. In the moment I saw John, he looked at me, and I looked at him, and he gave a little wave/point and it was like time stood still. I choked up and just about lost it - then got myself together again.

When I crossed the finish line however, I let it all out. I've been pretty much the same since then too. Life, eh?

Well, I am excited about next year -- yes I am doing IMC 2011 -- I know I said I would never do it again, but after talking with Coach Sara I changed my mind. I can be stubborn, but when Sara tells me to do something, I always do it. I trust her completely! And, I am excited about the plan for next year too.....

:)


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ironman Canada Here I Come!

Ready to kick my own butt BIG TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The last two weeks have been emotionally taxing, that's for sure, but with the love and support of my awesome family and friends, I am ready to race. :)

For my family.....

On Sunday, go to www.ironman.com. There will be a pink box in the middle of the screen with the race Ironman Canada link in it. Click on athlete tracker -- my numero is 2387 -- let the games begin. YEEHAW!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Check out the size of the steaks I bought for Toby this afternoon....



The picture doesn't show it that well, but each
steak is the size of EIGHT of my fists!!!!!


Toby is doing well -- she has good days and bad days. We are cherishing every single day with her, and giving her the best food we can. :) I popped those steaks on the Foreman Grill, and Toby ate a whole one!! Hahahahaha!! I was so pleased -- the pills she are on need to be taken with a full meal, and a big, honking steak "makes the medicine go down." :) :) :)

My Mom gave me this list that has now earned a spot on my refrigerator...It's called:


18 Things We Can Learn From a Dog

1. Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride.

2. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

3. When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

4. When it's in your best interest, practice obedience.

5. Let others know when they've invaded your territory.

6. Take naps, and stretch before rising.

7. Run, romp, and play daily.

8. Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.

9. Be loyal.

10. Never pretend to be something you're not.

11. If what you want is buried, dig until you find it.

12. When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle him or her gently.

13. Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

14. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

15. On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

16. When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

17. Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

18. No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout...run right back and make friends.

Pretty awesome eh? And the two that are highlighted are my faves.....you can touch me, I will like it. LMAO!!!

Good luck racing everyone!

:)



Thursday, August 19, 2010

Grief, numbness, autopilot

On our way to Toby's swimming hole...

Can't believe it's only been a week and a half since Toby's diagnosis. She is deteriorating so fast, it scares me. Mike and I opted not to go the chemo route. She is 12 years old and the thought of driving back and forth to Calgary (2.5 hours each way) makes no sense when all we want to do is make her as comfortable as possible.

I've done a bit of research on the internet and joined a canine cancer internet forum. Here is what I've learned: Carbs feed cancer, high protein diet is great. My vet has told me to feed my Toby girl whatever she wants. Her new diet obviuosly agrees with her -- from wasting away and refusing to eat her dog food, she is in all her glory now. She gained 0.7 kg last week. :)


Toby's new gourmet diet

I've been avoiding phone calls, contact with anyone as I just can't keep it together emotionally. As soon as someone is kind to me and asks about Toby, I break down.

As a family, we've been really busy having some good times with Toby this past week. Taking her to her favourite swimming hole, lots of walks....we even threw her a birthday party. She LOVES snapping and jumping at a burning sparkler. And howling with us as we all sang happy birthday to her. :)

But interspersed in these moments of happiness are hidden daggers of pain that pierce my heart....

Like the last day I took Toby running with me -- it was only for 10 minutes after my bike ride, but she couldn't keep up at all. Not even when I was going REALLY slow. I kept running on the spot, then running back to her. My heart broke that afternoon, and as I was running/jogging up the highway home I was crying the whole way.

At her birthday party, she had to stop jumping at the sparkler as she fatigued so quickly.

This morning, when eating a meaty treat, her paws kept slipping on the hardwood floor and she couldn't support herself...I moved her treat out to the living carpet so she could gain purchase,

How can anyone keep it together?

I love you, little dog.

So, every day is a real struggle for Mike and I.

Add this to my last hard week of training and then taper time, and I have been an emotional wreck. But, whether it be functioning on auto pilot or relying heavily on Mike or my Mom and Dad, I've managed to get through. The weird thing about all this, is that I'll be laughing and playing with Toby one second, and the very next second I'll be in tears. I've been sleeping even more than usual (which will alarm those who know me) to take the edge off the exhaustion from crying all the time. WHEW BOY. Heavy, heavy stuff.

Mike, Toby, and me :)

I do have a funny triathlon related story for you all, however...

At the Penticton camp, Sara appeared horrified when I told her, "I don't ride over cattle guards. I walk my bike over them." "WHAT?!?!?!?!" was the response I think. Hahahahahahaha! You see, around these parts, there is only one cattle guard I cross and it is WAY out in the booners. I maintain that if I were to ride across it and something happened, I would be poop out of luck and waiting for a ride from some fisherman. (And for my other buddies that would LOVE to point out how this is yet another reason to buy a cell phone, there ain't no service up in those parts, y'all. LOL!!)

If you look really close, these signs also say, "If your name is
Julie, time to get off your bike."

So, last Saturday, I was 1:12 into my 6 hour ride when I reached the cattle guard. Now this cattle guard is a screwball sort of one too (of COURSE it is, I mean everything is odd about where I live! Hahaha!).

It has a bunch of long skinny metal pieces where a car's tires could go -- but these pieces are very, very skinny, like the width of my tire. Not like some of the other cattle guard or Texas Gates where they have wider pieces where if I grew some balls, I might one day try and ride across...

(Which leads me to another tangential thought...What is the difference between a Texas Gate and a cattle guard? I've seen signs for both of them. Texas Gate almost sounds like a pejorative term....LOL! I feel almost guilty and sheepish writing about it in case a fellow reader says, "They call cattle guards Texas Gates in Alberta!! How racist! Or discriminatory or whatever!! LOL!)

To cross this particular cattle guard, I walk sort of sideways on the long skinny pieces whilst carrying my bike. I often imagine myself walking over a ladder on the Khumbu Icefall on my way up Everest......Yes, the thoughts that go through my brain are always very interesting!

I was taking my last step when my cleat got caught between the skinny pieces and part of it snapped off. Oh shit. I looked down and the first thought that popped into my head was, "So much for my excuse to Coach Sara about not riding over cattle guards!"

The next thought was, "I am only 1:12 into this 6 hour ride."

But lo and behold, I could still clip in. I was a lucky l'il bugger!

I went up to Calgary yesterday and got new cleats on both my shoes -- I don't want to take any chances at IMC.

I leave you with this.....

Here's a quick video of how Peanut is ALWAYS jumping on my back. When I come back from a bike ride, she'll even jump on despite the fact I still have my helmet on....What a cat.



video

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sad News

My baby dog, Toby just turned 12. I found out this afternoon she has lymphoma and about two months to live.

We are putting her on some steroids and taking each day as a gift.

Mike and his son brought home a big meaty bone from Wal-Mart for her.

I took her out on a super long walk and swim in the creek. She's really skinny but doing great. Tail is wagging, and she is sprinting all around.

Man, what am I going to do without her?

I'm going off the grid for a little while...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Calgary 70.3 - A great training day!!

I get a real kick out of using races as training days....my own personal aid stations -- cheering spectators, and friends racing/training alongside you. :) :)

Last year the Calgary 70.3 was a tough training day -- I had missed three weeks of training due to The Cold From Hell, and Coach Sara used the race as a great fitness booster.

This year, the race was serving a similar purpose -- only this time I have not been ill but have an Ironman under my belt and a sold training camp too!

As in any race, I am racing against myself, and a training day or not, I always harbour the secret goal of earning a new PB. I knew I was going to have a really, really good chance at it, since last year I literally did nothing for the three weeks prior to the race except cough, sleep, and spit up mucous.

This year, I also decided to use the race as an Ironman tune-up race prep. Nutrition was bang on. YAY! Electrolytes, bang on. Another yay! Another goal I had for myself for this race was to not let drafting packs suck me in and annoy me. For the first time (ever!) when a pack wold go by and then slow down or get congested, I would slow down and keep my distance. I would either soft pedal or if I was in aero, I would sit up and let the wind resistance slow me down.

And it worked!!! I didn't get stressed at all about drafters this race. Another yay! When I would feel the familiar tickle of annoyance, I would sit up and pee or drink or eat or whatever, and then say the words "Fluffy Bunnies." Immediately, I would relax. :) :)

When I owned the dollar store, I used to sell these Easter gift bags that had the cutest picture of fluffy baby bunnies on them. Thinking of how cute they are just relaxes me instantly. I also think of the time I went to the Calgary pet fair and held a little bunny. :) :) :)

So, all in all, I took off 21 minutes from last year's time -- more importantly, Coach Sara was pleased with where my fitness is at - that she wasn't expecting me to finish that soon! YAY!!

The race has kick started my final big block of training for Ironman Canada. :) :) :) I'm right back into training today and have a solid week ahead of me and I feel stronger and stronger! I am soooo excited for IMC this year!!!! :) :) :)

Wednesday is a hilly ride....Highwood Pass anyone? ;)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Would you like a tomato with your bike tune up?


YES PLEASE! LOL!!

Yesterday, a plate of fresh home-grown tomatoes (sliced and peppered) awaited me at The Tuck Shop. I had emailed Gord telling him I would be coming over to see him immediately after swimming. I had wolfed down a nut/seed/raisin bar but was still hungry....

When I saw that plate of fresh tomatoes and two toothpicks -- I was in heaven! LOL!! We did a *cheers* with our toothpicks and dug in. Gord must have seen the look of hunger still on my face, because he disappeared into the house and brought out a heated Greek-seasoned chicken breast. YUM!!! That hit the spot!!

All that AND I got my race wheels, brake pads, and bike tuned up! A girl can't go wrong with that eh? :) :)

I returned from the Penticton camp on Sunday -- as usual, the coaches pushed me to my limits and beyond -- and I learned so much about myself.

I had a hard time emotionally at the camp though --- Friday we found out Kerry had committed suicide. Saturday I left for Penticton. Sigh. When I arrived in Penticton, everywhere I looked I saw Kerry.

I was the first to arrive at the beach for an easy swim. Usually, Kerry was ALWAYS the first one to arrive anywhere. I had to do a double take when I saw a big red truck with Alberta plates drive into the parking lot.

I dove into the camp sessions with gusto, but there were a number of examples where it was obvious Kerry's death was really impacting me...

For example: I showed up for our bike ride without my bike shoes. Everyone was forced to wait for me as I had to drive back to my condo and back to the meeting spot. Of course the condo was on the other side of town so they were all waiting 30 minutes for me!!!! I felt TERRIBLE!!!

Then, when I finally returned, I couldn't find a parking space...I finally found one and then ran over to the group....Only to realize I had left my helmet in the trunk. Sigh.

There are only so many times one can apologize and everyone was so good and I felt like such a total shit!!!

Ahhhh well. Thank goodness our camp was filled with kind, caring, awesome people. Thank you everyone for putting up with me!

Now, enough of feeling sorry for myself! As a good blogger friend emailed me....I might be down for a while, but soon enough, I'll pop up again like a cork. Thanks for that image, Ken. :) :)

Therefore, without further ado, may I present to you "Julie's highlights of Penticton Phat Camp 2010"

1. Volunteering at the
local Olympic/Sprint triathlon as a kick off to our camp....I was paired with local team mate and good friend Tessa. We were in charge of blocking/directing traffic in and out of the Tim Horton's. As the race dragged on and there were fewer and fewer racers, we started taking pictures of each other *posing* with out neon vests and our traffic flags. LMAO!!!!

2. Biking for 3.5 hour (hilly!) with extremely sore legs....and realizing I could do it! You know how when your legs are sore from a previous day's workout and you can barely walk down the stairs? Well, my legs were that sore. I reached the section where coach Sara would tell me to do the longer or the shorter route. She told me, "I don't care if your legs are sore. Are you feeling woozy at all?" Even in the 35 degree heat, I was woozy free, so I trucked on the longer route. Couldn't believe I did it!!

3. Swimming so slow near the end of the camp, that my coach was worried about me out in the lake! LOL!!! When I get fatigued, swimming is the first thing that goes, and for me, it's like I am barely moving. LMAO!!!!

4. Complete and utter disappointment at the Pasta Factory in Penticton. I was totally craving a real proper spaghetti with meat sauce with melted cheese on top and what I got was the blandest most disgusting gut bomb ever. I went there again the next night and ordered a different dish -- still bland and gross. Ahhhh, Tomato Street, how I miss thee.........

5. The bike bottle rodeo. Coach Sara saw just how much work I need on my bike handling skills. LOL!! Good news, is that since I've been home, I set up my own bike bottle rodeo in the high school parking lot and PICKED UP MY VERY FIRST BOTTLE OFF THE GROUND as I rode by!!! YAHOOOOO!!!!! I can't wait to start picking up the little bottles next!!!

6. I couldn't believe I could push myself so much after doing Ironman Coeur D'Alene. I know I am fitter, but I had no idea that I would be able to do a proper camp 3 weeks after an Ironman. Man! This was a big eye-opener for me.

Well, that's it for now. I've got to repair some holes in my wetsuit, pack up, and then race the Calgary 70.3 on Sunday. :)

By the way, Coach Sara gave me the go ahead for the Silverman iron distance tri in November!!!!! YES!!!!!! :) :) :) :)