Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 -- Bring it!!!

Happy New Year everyone!

I've been busy running 5 days a week and building. Lovin' it.

Swimming lots too! I've even managed to bribe my Mom to come to the pool with me and video me underwater. This was awesome and so helpful having her there, I could make an alteration in my stroke, then watch it, then do it all over again.

I took my Momma out for tea and cinnamon buns afterwards -- I drank a nice big black coffee.

My Mom is pretty terrified of water too, so it was a big deal for her to get into the water and do this. She is the best! :) :)

I met with Coach Sara a few weeks ago when she was in Calgary and had some more "aha!" moments in regards to swimming. I think the thing I was most excited about was seeing that how I was swimming on film was exactly what I thought I was doing.

Got that?

For those of you who have ever been filmed whilst swimming, you will appreciate this. Usually there is this HUGE disconnect between what you THINK you are doing, and what you are ACTUALLY doing.

I also asked Coach Sara to literally move my arms to show me how I should be doing my catch. We got into the hot tub where there was a double-sided handrail, and I lay on top of it while she positioned my arms. LOL!!! But I understood finally!!! YAY!! (Now, it is all about putting it into practice.)

Then, we got out of the hot tub and I jumped in the pool and she videoed me again and again. The pool was pretty chilly if you were just standing around, so we would go back to the hot tub and review the footage.

Holy crap, you can imagine after 3-4 times of getting in and out of the hot tub and into the cold pool, I was SPENT. Hahahahahaah!!

And, I am so grateful for the time Coach Sara spent with me! I am so lucky to have such an awesome coach! :) :)

Very excited about racing in 2012!!! There is an early IM race on the horizon for me....and another mini-epic road trip for me and my Dad to take to get there. (Mini-epic is anything less than

Let's see what else.....oh yeah, I bought these neato training paddles that force you to do the catch in swimming. Coach Sara didn't personally like them, but they have been working for me. I have one day a week that is my "Pool Play Time." So dubbed by moi. I don my swimming snorkel and new paddles and focus on feeling the catch, good form, etc. I look like a total dork, but everyone in Pincher Creek is used to me by now. :D

I have to say that swimming backstroke with those paddles, and swimming backstroke in general has been a key element is helping me "feel the water."

All for now! :) :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My coach is amazing!!

My coach, Sara Gross is racing 2 IM's only 7 days apart! Last week was IM Arizona, where she placed 8th overall female with the THIRD FASTEST female run split! And tomorrow, she is racing Ironman Cozumel!

GO SARA GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Feeling like a Criminal and Swim Camp!

I am the person in our household who can "just say no." I'm the one that has to be firm with the telemarketers and with the people at the door asking me to change gas companies, etc.

Left on his own, my dear Bunler turns to a quivering mass of sympathetic jelly and tries to wrangle himself out of these situations by trying to say no without saying it. You can guess how successful that tactic is right?

No matter how many times I have told him that these people PREY on politeness, he still is the consummate Canadian nice-guy. For example, the Jehovahs still think they have a chance with Mike. They've given up on me, and simply ask for Mike when they come to the door. I have great fun with this, and tell Mike that his "friends" were asking after him.

One particularly awesome situation springs to mind -- upon arriving home after our Cozumel vacation earlier this year, we saw this Jehovah guy walk up to our house AT THE EXACT SAME MOMENT we pulled in. After flying from Cozumel, driving back from the Calgary airport -- what it must have taken for the moons and planets to align so this timing could happen! One could almost say it was divine intervention!

I chuckled and walked ahead and abandoned Mike. Poor Mike -- he still couldn't say, "No thank you."

In May, I succumbed to Mike's nice-guy-ness. A young guy was promoting Just Energy -- getting us to switch over from Enmax (electricity) and Direct Energy (natural gas). I had already said NO and the guy was on his way, when Mike interrupted and with his niceness invited the guy INSIDE and signed us up....

Sure their 8.79 cents per kilowatthour whatever was good, but their gas price of $5.79 per Gigajoule-what-have-you is WAYYYYYYY higher than Direct Energy. There has been a handful of times where I paid more than $5.79 -- because I have all my bills going back to 2005 to prove it. ANYWAYS, let's just say, 6 months later and we are *almost* finally disentangled from the clutches of that company.

And I have been the one that has had to make the nasty phone calls, send the emails, and yes, I even went to our local RCMP detachment to see if I could file a complaint against them.


Am I a terrible person for throwing my dear Bunler under the bus like this? Probably.

So...all this preamble is a prelude to the most recent knock on our door. I shouted, "Come on in!" thinking it was my mother coming to drop off some stuff. When the door didn't open, my stomach dropped and I knew it was a door-to-door dude selling something. AARRRGH.

And I was in my PJs too -- at my weakest.

The guy was prepared when he saw the look in my eye. Before I could even get out, "No, I am not interested," he interrupted with a "I'm not selling anything, I'm not with the gas company or electrical company." Smart -- he'd done his homework. That initial one-two took the wind out of my sails, but I was still suspicious. And rightfully so...

Guess what he was selling? Some donation thing for (and I kid you not, these are his EXACT words) "You know those kids with the big bellies and flies in Africa?"

He had pamphlets of all these children from Third World (or whatever the political correct term is nowadays -- Have-Not perhaps?) countries, that he shoved at me. I knew I was up against a worthy opponent then. How can you say no without looking like a total jerk? These are starving kids I am refusing!!

I glanced down at the pamphlets and had the wherewithal not to take them from him (as he was trying to get me to do) but let him hold them as I fingered through them. I knew this was going to be uncomfortable.

Mike was in the background -- playing his computer game. I KNEW if he had answered the door, the cheque book would be out and we would be sponsoring 5 or more kids.

I gritted my teeth and went in for the kill. Told him, "No." The fight was on -- this guy had been prepped for every excuse, silence, or hesitation. I held firm and channeled my inner House. The match was coming to a climax -- he hit me square in the jaw with his final parting shot of "Why wouldn't you want to do something good in the world?" Still, I wouldn't budge.

With that, he turned away and started to walk down my front steps. I held my door open to make sure he didn't kick my cat (Peanut) as she had scurried out through the door whilst he was giving me his spiel.

Yes folks, today I was The A$$hole.

And you know what?

It felt good.

OK....swim camp news!!

Mercury Rising Triathlon (my tri team) is holding a swim camp Jan. 6 - 8, 2012 in Calgary. Click here for more details and how to register.

The short and sweet version is it costs $400, you get underwater video of yourself swimming from various angles AND then get personalized feedback from our head coaches. They analyze your stroke and give you specific drills and instructions on what you can do to improve your stroke. This is GOLD.

There is nothing like having 3 swim coaches giving you constant feedback over a weekend. The camp is open to EVERYONE!! Not just MRT athletes -- anyone who wants to improve their swimming.

All for now! :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Busy, busy, busy

Not much to say - my two week break off training is now over and I am easing back into swim, bike and run again!! YAY!! I had no problem lying around the house for the past 2 weeks, but the last few days, I did start to get a little squirrely.

I am loving my new vlog project too! I am improving in fits and starts with talking at the camera. Although, there is a direct correlation between how tired I am (or nervous) and how many "Um's" and "things" I mention. I can only edit out so many Um's....I thought I was doing pretty well at eliminating that dead space talk, until yesterday. LOL -- I shot a 3 part video on how to disassemble/assemble your tri bike. I think I used the words "thing" and "thingy" a bazillion times. Apparently I don't know the name of a screw....You should hear me describe what a torque wrench is too -- LMAO!!!

Ah well, my aim is to help out non-tool-savvy people like myself -- so it is to those brothers and sisters I dedicate that 3 part video. Those who speak (and understand!) my language of things and thingys. :)

I am soooooo excited to start swimming again with my Masters group -- tonight I'll be joining them again. Another YAY!!

I think I forgot to mention that the Pincher Creek pool had (has still maybe? I'll find out tonight!) those WOW balls. Ever hear of them? The inventor is from Lethbridge (I think) and he was actually on the Dragon's Den.

Well, one day this summer, I noticed photocopied advertisements on the change room doors saying "WOW Balls are back!" There were pics of kids inside these big plastic balls running on the water. OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was so excited about this -- and started immediately saying how we should do WOW Balls for a Masters workout one night. LOL.

OK, so time passed, but apparently the lifeguards knew how much I wanted to get in one of those things...

It was my last swim session before I was to fly out to Florida. I am always the first person on deck for lane swim (I am a nerd that way!) Anywhoo, as I walked out of the change room and onto the pool deck, one of the lifeguards asked me if I knew how many people might show up for lane swim. I was flattered that I appear to know all the answers of the universe, but had to respond, "Honestly, I have no idea." And I was thinking, why in the world would he even ask me that question?

Well...Let me tell you why!!

The lifeguard explained that IF no one showed up for lane swim, or maybe 1 other person did, then I could go in the WOW Ball. OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so excited about this prospect.

Of course, as soon as he said that, the pool filled up with the most lane swimmers I've ever seen. Boo. Before the onslaught of swimmers hit the pool, I did ask the lifeguard to bonk me on the head with a with a pool noodle as I continued my workout, IF people cleared out and there was still a chance at me getting in the WOW ball.

With about 8 minutes left of lane swim, I got the bonk on the head. The lifeguard asked if I was still interested...


I scrambled out of that pool so fast, I'm sure I would have set a record. I had serious WOW Ball quiver-tail happening, people!!!

I climbed in there, they inflated it with air, and then I walked off the deck and onto the surface of water!! YAY!!!! I never actually could stand, I kept slipping, but I laughed and screamed like I was 5 years old!!

I was trying to conserve oxygen by not laughing and screaming, but for those of you who personally know me, you know how quickly that plan disappeared!

I lasted about 5 minutes. Hahahahah -- The interior of the ball got pretty hot and humid in such a brief time. When I emerged from the ball, I was SPENT. I had a run to do later on, and it was supposed to be a heat-acclimation type run on the treadmill, but I was so exhausted from the WOW ball experience, I decided to log the Wow ball as my heat training for the day, and ran outside instead. LMAO!!!!

WOW BALL!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(I think I might be the first to log a WOW Ball experience into Same as the time I entered a big poop as a core workout. LMAO -- gotta keep things interesting!!!)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New Site, New Project!

Check it out people!!

I've made another blog site or should I say....VLOG site. This will strictly be vlogs -- I'm having fun with it!

I just put up a new post over there... :)

I'll continue to post race reports and any other ramblings I have here on this site.

Update your bookmarks, come check me out and become a follower on my new project!

Send me emails of any topic you would like me to talk about!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Eating Crow

Oh yes. I said I would never do it.

In fact, I took a perverse kind of pride in refusing it.

For years I denied myself of it.

What on earth am I talking about?? MASSAGE! Glorious massage and it's many benefits.

I never knew that massage actually SPED recovery. No one ever told me that. Everyone always goes on about how much they hurt and then how much a massage hurts them and I would think to myself, "Why do you do it then?"

I honestly thought that it was a big waste of time and money. That was until a month ago when I got a massage and learned about all things massage from Maryna at Maryna Massage. She explained things in a magnificently simple way -- a tight, contracted muscle is like a closed fist. Keep working that muscle in that state and you can see how your risk of injury goes up.

Massage relaxes and elongates the muscle -- so your range of mobility is back! You CAN achieve the same result with a protocol of stretching/hot tub/hydration, it's just that massage gets you there quicker.

Why on earth did no one ever explain it like that to me before? Other than a nebulous, "It feels good."

(This is the same sense of frustration I feel over Ducks Unlimited. I really have no interest in pictures of ducks in a marsh. I am not motivated to do anything about it. BUT, when I learned that wetlands act as a filter for OUR drinking water -- that they actually serve a real, tangible purpose (something I can wrap my head around), then I am totally motivated to donate! Like, come on people, don't you have marketing execs to get the message out to make people interested instead of the same old commercial of ducks flying around and me feeling sorry for them???? And I am a big animal lover too....I digress. And yes, I managed to tie in Ducks Unlimited with my first massage. Heh-heh-heh.)

I also learned that you should stretch after every activity. I was quick to say, "Yeah, but I don't have the time/energy after all my swimming, biking and running." My "yeah, but" was put to rest with Maryna's rejoinder that the stretching routine can be as short as 1.5 minutes. That's right -- a minute and a half is fine! You don't HAVE to do 3 sets of 30 secs of all these stretches -- you can do 1 set of a 10-15 sec stretch and do your whole body. Now that is something I am motivated to do.

To date, I've completed 9 full iron-distance races and this was the first year I started using massage as a recovery tool. In the past, after every full-iron race, I'd experience severe swelling in my legs, ankles (the infamous Ironman cankles), and toes (sausage toes -- it feels very odd to have all your toes swollen to the point that they are touching one another.)

Maryna suggested I get a massage about 3-4 days after my next event to speed recovery. I did and she was right. The swelling went away and I could actually walk around with relatively little pain (relative is the key word -- it is still an Ironman -- haha!)

She also advised that I get a massage at least once a month -- so, yes, this old dog learned a new trick. Woof-woof!! Massage is now a part of my routine! :) :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

2011 Great Floridian Ultra Race Report

What a crackerjack of a race!!!

Like many people, I thought Florida was flat...well it is NOT. Not in Clermont anyways. The wind and the false flats really work on a person. I found this course more difficult than IMC.

The BIG news is that I had a major swimming breakthrough at this race...I was 4th woman out of the water with a 1:05:16!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I didn't learn this until the end of the race whereupon I teared up and became very emotional. I've been working so hard on my swim, and the last two months I've started feeling really good in the water...a light-switch moment so-to-speak. I knew I was swimming faster than before, I could feel things coming together in the water, but to swim that well literally put me in tears.

I spent most of my life leery of the water -- not knowing how to swim. When I was 29, I had my first swimming lesson -- I remember my neighbour's grand-daughters told me to just swim like I thought I should (so they could see where to start). Man!! I remember taking three strokes and then having to stand up in the pool to catch my breath. Over and over again in the shallow end. Three strokes, stand up, lift my ribs out of the water (because the pressure of the water made me struggle to catch my breath). This is why I am still so emotional about this -- hard work...consistent work pays off. I still can't believe it...

The short and sassy version is this: 1st in age group, 4th woman overall -- 12:19:56
Swim: 1:05:16
Bike: 6:30:39 (One tough mother of a bike course!)
Run: 4:38:25

More deets below:

The swim was a 2 loop affair -- you get out, run across the timing mats and then run back into the water. At the start of the race, people started to line up on the beach and in the water. I kept asking people, do we have to go back to the beach? No one knew, so I decided to go out a little bit into the water between the people further out in the water and the people on the beach.

Had a good warm up swim and the usual pre-race teeth-chattering jitters. Then we were off! I ran flicking my knees out to get over the water (finally my NATURAL running form actually serves a beneficial purpose -- LMAO!!!) and then did a dolphin dive and took off.

The usual mass of people -- green cap to the left of me, pink cap to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you -- Hahahahaha!!

Found a girl to draft off -- I take pride in my drafting ability -- this is one area where I actually brag about. Hee-hee!! Seriously, I do!! Hahaha!! And, I am a pretty good sighter too. She started to swim zig-zag, so I would keep swimming straight, but it seemed we were still swimming the same speed. I would angle in and draft off her again and again, until she went somewhere weird after the first turn buoy. Then I found Mr. Wonderful...

I found the feet!!! I did it!! I found this guy who was swimming much faster than me, but that if I worked, I could draft from. When I catch a good draft, it literally feels like I am being towed along in the water, and I feel my heart rate go down. This was very similar except that I had to keep working to stay with this guy...

He would inevitably pull away, and I would surge ahead to catch him again. Then, he would pull away again, and again I would surge. I only touched his feet once. See? I am a good little draftee! Hee-hee!

The second lap was awesome as I got back on his feet again. He was a poor sighter though, but he was WAY faster even screwing up then I was swimming straight. I learned that pretty quick. So, I allowed myself to swim right behind him, screw-ups and all.

At the last turn buoy, he frigging SURGED and I just couldn't catch him. I surged and surged and made my little arms go like a windmill, and I could see him slipping away. And as he angled away, this other guy was in front of me and I didn't want him to catch my drafting train. So, I just kept on hammering away and I was so happy when I caught up to him again. I really pushed myself during this swim!

Coming out into transition is a bit of a cluster -- there are all these kids that volunteer (bless them) but some of them didn't know what they were doing and I'd have preferred it if they just got the heck out of the way. They didn't really know how to wetsuit strip (at least the one I got)-- were giggling and fooling around, but that's par for the course, eh?

Same as when I ran to get my change gear bag, I almost took out this young girl I have no idea why she was running right in front of me or what purpose she was serving.

Another thing is that women seem to be an afterthought in this race told us which side the women's change tent would be on. I opened the men's tent, got an eyeful and a volunteer told me to go around the other side. I still didn't know where to enter the tent...I finally figured it out though.

The road LOOKS flat, but it isn't. I think that it is this plus the relentless head wind that sucks the life out of you. This was the hardest bike course I have ridden so far. And it is a clean race! You are out there ALONE. At various times you may pass someone, or they pass you, but on the whole it is you out there with the sun, the wind, the sweat. Wiping your salty boogers on the back of your hand and pedaling away. AYE CARUMBA.

The police were out in full force and they controlled the intersections -- these guys were AWESOME and did not eff around. They were serious looking dudes. During the 3rd lap, I thanked as many as I could.

I did miss a turn on the first lap (it's amazing knowing my sense of direction I didn't do more - Hahaha!) , but I figured it out in 100m or so, turned around and made the turn. :)

Coming off the bike, someone was yelling to another kid in transition, "Number 10!" She was too busy talking to her friends, so when I reached her she sort of yelled to FOUR other kids, "Number 10!" Then all four boys went running. I went running to the gear racks myself because I have no patience for this -- I'm not mad, but I like to keep moving. As far as I'm concerned GET THOSE KIDS OUT OF TRANSITION and let us athletes get the gear bags. Too many cooks in the kitchen.

My nutrition was good! No GI issues, I had talked and planned things out with my coach and lo and behold it worked! :)

The run was the usual Ironman fare -- wavering between fuzzing out and giddy endorphin rushes where I make best friends with everyone on course. Hahaha! I think it was somewhere on lap two where I started making personalized comments to the other athletes. Man, I talked to some afterward, and they were like, "yeah, you said such and such at the turn around!" I was thinking to myself, "Dude, you have no idea how many people I said stuff too!! Hahahahahaha!! I didn't even recognize some of the people!"

This one man was running with his bike jersey pulled up over his nipples, and when I saw him, I said, "I wish i could run like that." LMAO. he just gave me this really weird look. Personally, I think I was hilarious!! :D :D

There were 3 other women ahead of me: Fast Girl, Friendly Girl, Bikini Girl, and then me. Bikini girl passed me at the end of the bike ride, but started to really fade on the last lap of the run. I ended up 7 minutes behind her.

When the sun set, it was DARK. I felt like Darryl and his night-running antics. A guy handed me a glow stick and I clicked it around my neck. It was sort of hard to see though - there were parts of the trail that were totally dark and the green glow in my peripheral vision as it bounced underneath my chin was weird -- add that to general iron-distance fuzziness, and you can imagine how disorienting it was.

Some of the more prepared athletes had head lamps on. Mind you, I finished relatively soon after the sun had set, but it is a good idea nonetheless!

When I'd approach a police car parked at an intersection, their ole lights would be blazing and it just about blinded me! There was an aid station that had this really bright frigging construction light or something and you couldn't see except by tilting your head down . I was happy I still had my hat to help shade the light. LOL.

The last mile was awesome as I knew I was going to be done!! Hahahahahaha!! I could hear music and they had these 4 strobe lights whirling around pointed up in the sky -- YAHOO! Plus, I was 99.9% sure I was 4th woman overall, so that had me pumped too!

Food at the finish:
More kids volunteering -- they were great, but again, this one girl was standing behind the food tables and stuffing herself with the athlete food. Sigh. I went to get a piece of watermelon and no kidding, it looked like someone had gnawed them to the whitish part and put them back on the tray. I'll let you think about that for awhile. LOL.

The verdict:
TWO THUMBS WAY UP! This course will test you -- there are no cheering crowds (not to the extent at IM events) and you are on your own with the other athletes. There is a special bond between all competitors -- because of the difficulty and the solo nature of the event. This bond grows and solidifies with each lap of the run course. :) Awesome, awesome event -- I like that the distance is called "Ultra" - it has the feel of an ultra race -- low key, very personal journey. The volunteers (and yes I mean those crazy-ass kids as well) are AMAZING. They are great -- on my last lap of the run, I was thanking all of them too..when I wasn't going through one of my negative, fuzzing out phases.

This was my first non-m-dot race and it will not be my last! Despite my whining, I actually enjoy the low-key nature of things and going with the flow.


The residual effects:
When I left T2, I realized I had tied my shoes WAY TOO TIGHT. Oh brother. I thought to myself, "Well, you're in them for 26.2 miles so get over it." LOL! When I took them off at then end of the race, I discovered I had a new toe between my middle toe and "ring" toe. And it was blood red. This blister was the biggest one I've ever had and it was awesome. LOL! It actually was between my toes and went around to the pad of my ring toe. When I popped it with safety pin this morning, it SQUIRTED like an oil well in Texas. LMAO!!

My lower back muscles are crazy sore -- they were soooo sore during the bike too. Talked to a fellow racer today and he said it was because I was pushing the hills. Ahhh! So it was! I've had discomfort before when I am in aero and push hills, but as everyone knows, things hurt A LOT more in an iron-distance race.

The Pee Bag has been laundered as I type this -- sweet action!

Now...onto next year's races.....Muahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!

BIG thank you to my Bunler and my parents who support me in every way imaginable. To my amazing coach, Sara Gross who is shaping me into a triathlete. And to my bike Guru, Gord, who takes care of of my bike and taught me how to disassemble and then reassemble my bike. :) (And change flat tires.)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Paleo for Triathletes: Part 2

Or...Paleo-style in pictures...

Every morning, I have a 3 egg omelette with veggies, sun-dried tomatoes, and olive oil.

My omelettes are FULL of veggies: broccoli, kale, green peppers, and onions.

As you can see, I have prepped all my veggies before hand -- washed the kale and tore it off into chunks and crammed it in a container.

Then, I top it with this:

Avocado -- Julie style. 95% of it is good for me. :D

Hungry throughout the day? Here are a couple of my snacks that I can just grab and eat ASAP:

Snowpeas -- these are good to eat while your significant other eats potato chips They crunch and you are not left out! :)

Baby carrots -- no dip, just the carrot.

Whenever I drive pretty much anywhere: to the pool, to the city, wherever, I always bring a cooler and throw the whole bag of carrots, snowpeas, an apple, a banana, and 1 or 2 precooked chicken breasts. That way, when hunger strikes, I am prepared. (I have the most awesome wheeled cooler too -- it looks like a small piece of carry-on luggage.)

Pre-cooked chicken breasts taken with my shitty new camera.
I only paid $40 for it off the internet and it's waterproof too...the only downside?
It's really shitty.
And I keep discovering more aspects of it's shittiness...SIGH.

Here is my solution to cold cuts: The ingredients don't scare me...I'm weaning myself off this stuff too now, but it has helped my transition.

Here is a pic of some turkey sausage...Yeah, there are a LOT of chemicals in there, but there are not a lot of choices living in the armpit of the Canadian Rockies...:) :)

Plus, I need to appease the Polish side of me. Sausage....YUM. Hahaha!

And here we have my FAVOURITE FOOD OF ALL TIME.....

THE YAM!!! (Squash is there too, but the yam is the best!!)

I love yams - oh man, they are so good. I can eat them day in and day out and never get sick of them. I used to eat the skin, but it tastes like that stopped right away. Heh-heh. I prefer baked yams to anything else, but usually I am too impatient and end up nuking my yams...

Here's the lazy girl's way of making a dinner:
  1. Peel yam, then either poke holes or jab knife in all over the yam.
  2. Nuke yam for 2:30 - 3:00 on one side, and again on the other (approx).
  3. Cut up warm yam, then put diced chicken breast pieces all over it, some oil, salt, and some avocado!
  4. Presto! Your meal looks like cat puke, but it is really, really good!
Nuking yams make them a little chewy at the ends, so if you have the time to bake them, they are so much better...When I bake them, I peel them, slice them into big chunks or even disc sized pieces and put them in the toaster oven for 1 hour at 375 degrees F. I don't even use olive oil or anything -- you just throw them in there and they are awesome. Earlier this year, I would bake a couple of yams the evening before a long bike ride.

I carry them in a ziplock baggie in my bento box and whenever I need some fuel, just root around in the baggie. The yams do sort of turn to mush (and by sort of, I mean that the hotter is outside, the quicker they mushify) and your fingernails get a bit orange, but it's like blowing your nose when you run -- the good ole hand wipe on the hip. :)

(On a side note, I came in from a run a few months ago, and wiped my nose on my sleeve. Mike was so grossed out...saying to me, "You're at home now! You can use a kleenex!" Poor guy, 10 years with me and he still doesn't GET that this is what we athletes DO. Without thinking! You can imagine my delight, when my friends Tina and Andrew spent the night and I saw Tina doing the same thing!! YES! My people!! It's the same delight I feel when I get together with my tri peeps and out of the Crowsnest Pass -- we are all drinking out of our own water bottles, we eat chicken breasts and yams, carry bananas with us, and wipe our noses and wear our boogers all over our clothing and it is no big deal!! YAY! Hahahahahaha!)

Ok..back to paleo in pictures...

I don't even know why there are oranges in this picture. I don't even like oranges.
Normally there are way more bananas and apples there -- my fruits of choice. :)

Now, I learned a trick a couple of years ago from pro triathlete, Rachel Kiers....if you use frozen bananas in your protein shake, it's like a milkshake! There's something about the banana being frozen that bulks up the shake or something....and I have been a convert ever since.

Just remember though -- PEEL your bananas before freezing them. Because there is no way in hell you will be able to get that peel off otherwise. Trust me. order to prep for and make the world's best protein shakes...
  1. Buy a LOAD of bananas when they go on 50% off.
  2. Peel said bananas. (That is so legal sounding isn't it? LOL)
  3. Break bananas into small chunks and put them in a big ziplock freezer bag.
  4. Don't cram in as many banana chunks as you can though -- leave enough space so you can flatten the ziplock bag on its side -- this makes getting the banana chunks out wayyyyy easier. (They freeze into one big massive banana chunk other wise and no amount of smashing the bag on the counter will set it free)
Here are my ingredients of choice: (What's missing is my protein powder. I use a chocolate kind, but have an egg protein one on order...I am really curious to try out the egg one. It has no other ingredient in it other then egg!)

Almond milk, MAGIC OIL (this stuff is the bomb!), and YES I finally found coconut water here....
Well, technically I found it in Fernie -- close enough!

I also buy ground chicken/beef when it is discounted and make a bunch of meatloaves:

Yes, I know it looks like cat food. :)
But, it's better than that nasty bean loaf Susi made that one time... LMAO!!
I hope she doesn't read this! Hahahahahahahaha!!

And my little baggies of little potatoes...Potatoes are NOT Paleo so don't get all in a huff and a puff and start preaching to me. I DON'T CARE. These little suckers are good -- I also buy the yellow ones too -- boil some water, throw them in, cook until your fork goes into one easily, drain them, put them in another tupperware container in the fridge.

Don't hate me just because I have saponins in me. :(

And there you have it!

I have found that changing to a Paleo-style way of eating has been a real eye-opener. My goal is to go 100% Paleo, and the way my body has been responding, it's like it is naturally heading me in that direction.

Granted, there are times when I've not been nutritionally prepared and end up sucking down a big bag of Tostitos and 4 packs of Reeces Pieces that were in the back hall and part of a care package to be sent to my dear friend in South Africa, BUT....

on the whole, when I get hungry now, I don't want or crave bread and/or pasta. You know those times? When you go to the cupboard and open it and stare inside, looking for something....even though you know exactly what is in there, you stand in front of the cupboard staring as though in a trance, hoping a genie will pop out of there are say: "Ba-da-bing! Here is a Filet Mignon dinner all cooked and ready to eat -- just for you! YAY!" :) :) :)

I still will open the cupboard door and stare inside, but I end up going for some nuts or I actually open the fridge and eat a whole cucumber instead. Hahahahaha!

One other trick I've learned...hee-hee! Mike likes his taco salads, so there is usually a big bag of salty nacho chips hanging around. I am a very salty sweater, so sometimes all I really need is salt and I want to taste it...

So what I do, is dig both hands around the bag of chips and get them covered in salt and then lick my hands clean. No double-dipping though. That would just be gross.


Hope this helps any of you out with your nutritional challenges! Feel free to email me with any questions or comments -- or share your experiences!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Paleo for Triathletes: Part 1

This is my 7th year doing very first race was a sprint distance in Strathmore, AB in 2004. I had literally learned to swim 3 months prior, and had purchased my very first tri bike at the same time. The next year, 2005, was the year I really got into triathlon and completed my first Olympic, 1/2 IM, and full IM.

For the past six years, I've become fitter and fitter, but my body shape and size never really altered at all. For someone who trains as much as I do, I expected my body composition to be a heck of a lot better than it was. You wouldn't know by looking at me that I had done multiple IM's!

I am passionate about the sport, but my ego would still get a little bruised every once in a while when I would compare myself to other athletes. Why can't I "lean down?" "I am training 16 hours a week for weeks and weeks on end, and am staying away from junk food and eating clean...What am I doing wrong?!?!" This conversation would play itself over and over in my head.

I was so frustrated -- I had tried so many changes to my diet and nothing worked. I even tried fasting and severely restricting my food intake (the good ole FALLACY of calories in, calories out belief) and you can just imagine how successful that was...

Then, a little over 6 months ago, I stumbled (completely accidentally) upon the Goddess of Paleo, Nell Stephenson's blog. At last, someone put forth a common sense approach to eating and fuelling -- a way of eating that was EASY. I didn't need to go out and buy a whole bunch of new spices to make recipes that I would only make fact, I don't even really need to cook! (My kind of cooking is not having to cook. Heh-heh-heh.)

There are no recipes I have to follow. This was the biggest discovery -- that I didn't need to go out and buy a recipe book and make my life more complicated by following all these recipes. Let's face it, the LAST thing I want to do when I come home from a swim,bike, and/or run is to have to follow some recipe and an hour later I can eat.

When I am hungry, I want to eat NOW. Not have to dink around with a recipe...

My life is more simplified now, and my nutrition is stress-free: I don't follow recipes, I do meal assembly. I cook chicken breasts (that is the extent of my cooking), nuke yams, boil water (yes, this IS my kind of cooking!), and make omelettes. :)

The best thing about my conversion to Paleo? My body has leaned down completely on its own. I haven't had to restrict what I eat, I haven't had to go to bed hungry. I eat when I am hungry and my body composition has literally changed before my eyes. I have gone down 3 swimsuit sizes since March of this year -- without even trying. It's like my body is naturally doing this on its own. I've had friends not recognize me..and I was never a big girl -- always a size 6 at 132 lbs.

Now, here comes the disclaimer...(Hahahahahaha!)

I am not 100% Paleo. I do things that would probably make Nell's hair stand on end, but I am a thousand times better off than I was six months ago, and I am still a work in progress. :)

So what does it mean to eat Paleo? And how do you go about making the transition?

For those of you who have no idea about Paleo (like me) the biggies you need to learn is to eliminate ALL grains and ALL dairy. Let that sink in and terrify you for a moment:
  • No bread, pasta, oatmeal, rice, quinoa
  • No yogourt, cottage cheese, cheese, milk
I knew if I wanted to make a successful stab at changing the way I eat, I would have to make a plan. I decided to work on eliminating dairy first. I started by eliminating yogourt -- this was actually really easy as I always felt a little bloated after I ate it, but I never stopped eating it until now, as I thought "it was good for me." Next, I eliminated cheese.

I knew the whole eliminating grains thing was going to be an all-or-nothing affair however. There was no way I could get around do that half-assed...

So, I went to the grocery store and loaded up on bananas, carrots and yams. And I mean LOADED up. My BFF Charmaine came over to my house one day and laughed at my hoarder-like stockpile of yams and bananas on the kitchen counter. Hahahahaha!

Getting my carbs from carrots and yams -- especially yams , was the secret I'd been missing before in all my previous nutrition-clean up attempts. I would always try "incorporating more vegetables" into my diet in the form of salad...instead of a hearty veg like a yam or a squash. This was a key lesson for me.

I remember the first day I eliminated grains...I baked a butternut squash, then put some olive oil on it and ate it for dinner. I was satiated. SATIATED! For the first time in my life, I didn't feel bloated and heavy and craving chocolate cake like I would after eating 3 bowls of spaghetti. I was thunderstruck. And excited, as I realized I could definitely get used to this way of fuelling!

Now, I need to insert another disclaimer here...

I know a lot of athletes do just fine eating bagels and them I say "Good for you!" But for me, my body responds well by eliminating them. I am writing this series of blog posts for those athletes who have struggled like I have in finding an effective way to fuel and train for IM races.

I have received quite a few emails about the changes I've made to my nutrition, so I thought it would be helpful to share my experiences about my Paleo journey.

I have to plug Nell's blog again, as I have learned so much from perusing her archives, as well as emailing her questions. I've asked questions via her blog as well and she responds with lightening speed. She is an amazing resource.

So...onto the nuts and bolts of a Paleo way of life...You can eat anything you want from this list:
  • Meat (preferably grass-fed, but I am not there yet. I just eat meat from the grocery store: primarily chicken breasts and lean ground beef, sometimes a pork chop. :))
  • Eggs (I eat 21 eggs a week. I am not joking. I was actually shocked when I realized this, LOL!!)
  • Veggies
  • Fruits
  • Good fats (I eat A LOT of avocado, olive oil, Udo's oil)
That is the bare bones summary of what the Paleo way of fuelling yourself entails. There are a number of points to fine-tune things, but to get started I stuck with this list. Granted, at first I ate a bunch of cold cuts (really processed, bierwurst -- LOL!) but gradually, my body sort of made adjustments on its own and I moved away NATURALLY to less processed shit meat.

There is also the concept of timing your eating of fruits - say have an apple after a session instead of while sitting around...but initially, I found it better to just eat whatever fruit I wanted/craved. It is better to eat fruit than a frigging Pop Tart or a 100 calorie Thinsation piece of chemical (and honestly, now....those things are like the mini chocolate bars you get at Halloween -- you CANNOT eat just one.)

Again, over time, I naturally started to shift away from eating so much fruit and started to eat more a handful of baby carrots. Or a bunch of snow-peas. (Now I believe that the Paleo diet calls for an elimination of peas and beans, but I am a work in progress, and eating snow-peas are wayyyy better for me than eating a big bag of dill pickle chips.)

Another BIG lesson for me was the sheer amount of good fat I started eating. In fact, I noticed that when I consumed a hearty amount of good fat in the morning, I had no craving for sugary stuff in the evening. Again, there is a fine-tuning that goes on with the fat consumption...I now eat a lot of good fat throughout the day as well. "A lot" of fat = in terms of what I ate before I made the change to a Paleo-style diet. (Pure Paleo-istas, please forgive my selective way of adopting Paleo principles! Hee-hee!)

So, in a capsule, the things that really changed for me when I first made the shift to Paleo are:
  • The amount of meat I ate increased (like A LOT -- like I would eat the whole rotisserie chicken as a snack, and I am not joking. But remember, I train A LOT.)
  • I put avocado over everything.
  • I started taking Udo's oil 2-3 times a day (I have 2 protein shakes a day, and I put a Tbsp of the oil in each shake. This stuff made my nails stop peeling! It took a few weeks, but sure enough, my fingernails are hard for the first time in my life instead of soft and peeling.)
  • I don't take a strict all-or-nothing approach, I am not hard on myself -- I still consume whey protein, I eat snowpeas, I put Lipton onion soup mix in my meatloaf -- :)
  • I am in more tune with my body -- I eat a lot LESS nuts than I did before, and for me personally, I found it better to stay away from nut butters too. Nut butters go straight to my ass. However, coconut oil, and coconut manna, my body responds to -- in a good, ass-reducing kind of way. :D
Stay tuned for Paleo for Triathletes: Part 2!!

:) :) :) :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Great Floridian Countdown

Not much going on here except training away...

For the first time in my life, my swimming is feeling great -- I look forward to it, and it doesn't exhaust me like it used to....especially post-IM. I am feeling the water people!!! I can feel it when I swim! My back muscles are sore after I swim. YAHOO!!! Instead of the wrong muscles being sore, the right ones are.

I've been swimming with my BFF Charmaine (also known as Charmers) in the lima bean pool. Some of you may recall the year I first met her. I saw her doing I don't know how many lengths of butterfly and decided that she was the perfect person to ask about swim advice.

She immediately dove into the project (yes, pun intended) and proceeded to give me all kinds of tips. She was the one who decided that for the rest of that year I was to concentrate on kicking. Kicking fast, kicking slow, kicking fast and slow. She would swim underneath me and poke me (HARD) when she felt I wasn't kicking hard enough. LMAO -- that was the year I took 10 minutes off my IM swim time.

Well, we are back together again -- wreaking havoc in the pool. The aqua-aerobic ladies ganged up on Charmers the last time we swam, in an epic splash fight. Hahahah -- the energy is so good at that pool. :)

Anyways, Operation Make Julie Swim Faster has begun again. (Under the supervision of Coach Sara of course) -- Charmers has decided I still need to kick harder, but this time, she swims beside me and grabs the side of my bum really hard and shakes it if she thinks I am not kicking with my bum enough. OMG it HURTS! LMAO!!!!

I never know when she is going to appear either -- she is stealthy and she is fast. Hahaha!

Another thing she has suggeseted I start integrating into my training is breathing every 5 and 7 strokes. This is the second time this year, this has been suggested to me -- earlier this year, I took a series of stroke improvement classes...

Anyways, after presenting Coach Sara with the proof of how awesome my BFF is at swimming, she has integrated breathing work into my sessions. Except she went one step further and added breathing every 9 strokes as well.

9 strokes.

Well, my first attempt at this went pretty well, but I cheated a little. (Just a little. Hee-hee!)

I could do 100m of breathing every 9 strokes if I:
  • didn't do any flip turns
  • took a sneaky breath before I arrived at the wall
  • took another breath at the wall
  • took another sneaky breath on the first half-stroke after I pushed off the wall
All this in a 20m pool! Hahahahahaha! So, next time, I will stop the cheating and try some flip turns in there. And I'll be back to the 25m pool next week....

My last big race of the year is one month away!!! I'm still eating Paleo-style and am needing to buy new pants. My old ones are literally falling off me.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Back to Sparwood

The Pincher Creek pool is closed for its annual shutdown until the 25th -- boohoo!!

That means I'm back to the good old lima bean pool in Sparwood. The really shallow 20m lima bean pool -- good times! HAHAHA!

During my session this morning, a man entered my lane and I told him the rules -- lol. I know I was practically shouting at the poor guy becasue I had water in my ears -- it's the same when I wear ear plugs....I feel the need to SHOUT. Hahah!

I told him that he would stay on that side of the line, and I would stay on this side. Then I said, "But I make no promises that I will actually STAY on this side." Hee-hee!

I swam off with my pull buoy and paddles, and he stayed against the wall chatting with a mutual friend. When I returned to the wall, I paused for some reason and the guy said to me, "You swim like a warrior."


I responded, "Well, I like to splash around a lot to make it look like I know what I'm doing." Hahaha! But seriously, that is the most awesome comment EVER. It is so awesome, I am making it my new swim logo: Swim like a warrior.

The next time I'm in the city, I might even get myself a tee-shirt made up with it. LOL!!

I was scrolling through Netflix yseterday and saw that Xena was now available...(heh-heh-heh!) I've not seen any of those episodes so I think I might take a peek this evening. Now that I have WARRIOR on my mind.

Yes! I am good...and I am fast! I am a warrior in the water! YES!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ironman Canada 2011 Race Report

Well, that was my eighth Ironman, and I have to tell you, when you have done this many, your perspective definitely changes. I am a hell of a lot fitter than I was when I first started on this IM journey, for example. I remember after my first Ironman, I could barely move any muscle for a week without experiencing pain.

I remember standing in line the next day (that was when you still had to do that for Ironman Canada) and watching other athletes move around like they hadn't even raced! I wondered how in the world was that possible when I was hurting everywhere?!?!

This year, the day after the race, my muscles were sore for sure, but the recovery is like lightening speed compared to my first race in 2005. By Wednesday, I was able to run up and down stairs and I was swimming yesterday. I still marvel at the difference. Hahaha!

Onto the race itself...

In short, this race was a massive disappointment for me. I had a time goal of 10:48 and at around mile 6 of the run, my stomach wanted to upchuck. Walking hurt, running REALLY hurt. I would run, but then the vomit feeling would come and I even brought up a little bit. As soon as this would happen, I would start walking. Part of me wonders if I had forced myself to keep running and actually puked, if I would have felt better...

I did meet many athletes who experienced the same thing I did on Sunday. Some puked and still felt terrible, so I'll never know.

What I do know, was that it was very hot on race day. So hot, that when I reached one aid station, a volunteer said, "Ok, I am going to put these cold sponges on your neck. You are going to feel a shock and inhale sharply." When he squeezed it on my neck I didn't feel anything. That scared me. The volunteer was so awesome, he went into superman mode and started squeezing water again and again until I cooled down.

Most of the marathon was spent standing, doubled over at aid station with my head hanging down. I am so grateful for the many volunteers and fellow athletes who offered help and words of encouragement/advice. Only in Ironman, will a fellow competitor stop running and walk beside you, hand on your back and ask if you are OK. To everyone who asked, I tried to respond without vomiting, "I'm Ok - you go have a good race. You look strong."

I wanted to quit so many effing times. The only relief I would feel was by doubling over and curling around my stomach. I wanted to curl up in the fetal position. There were actually only two things that kept me going:

  1. The athletes still heading out to the run turn-around. They were hurting and still moving forward, so it would be terrible if I just gave up.
  2. That damn finisher's medal, t-shirt and hat. I paid for them and I better get them.
At 9 miles to go, I was like, holy crap, I don't want to walk all frigging day. I would try jogging, have to stop, then walk. Repeat over and over again.

I had dropped my salt tabs at the beginning of the run, but had no issues with my usual dizzy, light-headed, tunnel vision experiences. It was stinking hot outside, and my mouth would become so dry instantly. I couldn't swallow -- couldn't feel my tongue. It was very odd. I knew I should keep drinking water, but every time I would, my cramps would start again. I contemplated drinking nothing else until the end of the race, but decided that maybe that wasn't too good an idea.

At about 7km left to go, I was able to *run* if I held my stomach with one hand. When that arm got tired, I'd hold it with the other one. I started making grunting noises and heaving noises once in a while and would bring up a little spittle/other stuff.

As I approached the final mile, my very good friend Susi popped out of nowhere and ran the rest with me (outside the run course, through the crowds.) She shouted out encouraging words -- OMG, I was feeling so terrible I couldn't even respond. Every time she would hear me about to puke, she would say, "Just breathe, Just breathe." Thank God for Susi!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I crossed the finish line in 12:57:58 -- almost an hour slower than the last two years. For those of you who have done more than one IM and start to get time goals, you will totally understand the massive disappointment I felt. Couple that with the physical and mental depletion an IM race requires and you can just imagine how truly $hitty I felt.

But.....I got over it. :) Onwards and upwards. Had many good conversations, email chats with good friends which helped me put things in perspective.

I have another iron-distance race in Florida on Oct. 22. And I am VERY excited about it!! :) :)

And next year, is the year of the non-M-dot race. :) I am really excited about checking out other iron distance races!

In the mail yesterday, I received a card from The Great Floridian Race. A personalized card saying they hope my training is going well, that they hope the next two months of training go well, and they included a bumper sticker. Now that is pretty cool! Hee-hee! A little bit different to an IM race already! :)

Here are my times from IMC:

Swim: 1:09:28 -- fastest swim yet, pleased with this!
Bike: 6:09:55 -- fastest bike yet, I regret not changing back to my 12-27 cassette and leaving my 11-25 on, but it made me stronger! :) :)

Run (Not run, but standing around/walk): 5:33:23 -- nothing more to say here.

Yes I am happy to have finished, but for me, that is no longer good enough. I make no apology for it. I have big goals and I am on my way to achieving them. :) In my mind, the race is like a big piece of furniture with all these drawers in it. I took out the feelings of disappointment, frustration, and anger, felt them, and then put them away. I'm over it.

Now for the FUN stuff!!!!!

  • The day before I left for the race, I stood up from the couch and I couldn't stand on my foot. My ankle felt like it was broken! HOLY CRAP!!! After a tearful converstation with my coach, I headed out to Penticton the next day anyways and headed to the ART tent after I checked in. They were closed, but were soooo kind enough to take a look at my ankle anyway. It was a tight ligament! They sort of rubbed it around, pulled on my foot and presto! All done. How frigging weird is that? The foot rubbing did make me drool a little. There is something about people handling my body that makes me relax. LOL.
  • Susi. The most amazing friend in the world. My kindred spirit. How do I even list all the wonderful things about Susi? I will do my best....I stayed with Susi and her boyfriend, Marco for IM week. She bought me a book. :) She gave me all her positive energy at the end of the race. SHE UNDRESSED ME AFTER THE RACE. That's right -- when I couldn't move let alone bend over, Susi took off my pee-clothes, and my pee-shoes and put everything in The Pee Bag!!!!!!!!!! She said, "Lift your arms." And took off my top and put on a fresh one. I kept apologizng and wanting to cry that she was willing to touch the pee-clothes!!! Now that my friends, is a TRUE FRIEND. Susi --- I love you. I eagerly await the day when I can sherpa for you in any race/endeavour you choose.
  • SHE HANDLED THE PEE BAG!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • My partner Mike and my parents who support me 100% in pursuing my goals -- Mike puts up with my Taper Bitch attitude and all the green stuff in the fridge (which by the way he is actually eating and REQUESTING more of!), and my parents who mow my lawn, baby-sit my cats, pick up my crab apples (oh sweet geezus it's THAT time of year again), and make Mike spaghetti since I've gone paleo. :)
  • My friends...I have met the best, kindest, most thoughtful, generous people through triathlon. You'll see the best of humanity during the marathon portion of a hot iron-distance race.
  • Check out the video clip -- LMAO!!!! I come from the left side of the screen, body check a guy in the middle and exit the right side of the screen from 1-5 seconds of the video. LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I kept watching it again and again. I didn't bump into him on purpose!! I was just scooting through! Sorry, guy!! It was not intentional!!! :) :)
  • My next race, I am using all real food -- no more gels and carbo pro for me. Yams, dates and homemade energy gels made out of chia powder, agave syrup etc. I am convinced that eating well all year and avoiding sugary shit, only to dive into piles of sugar on race day CANNOT be good for my stomach. I am very excited about trying this new way of race nutrition! During races, my teeth start to ache and hurt after a certain number of gels. And, two days after IMC, I broke out in so many zits it was disgusting. All that sugar coming out. Not for me. No more. I always thought it was weird that as triathletes, we do our best to eat well, rest, train well, be healthy, but then on race day, consume as much sucrose, dextrose, whatever-ose, and high fructose corn-syrup as we can....

My most awesome friend, Susi! Right before my stomach problems.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ironman Canada 2011 BABY!!

Alrighty folks!! It's HERE!!!!!!!

Track me live on Sunday, August 28 at My numero is 2594.

Any and all positive vibes and virtual cheering WILL be felt and appreciated!!!!


Love to everyone --

Julie :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Myths of Triathlon

All kinds of information trickles down from pro triathletes to the masses of age groupers. This info can be found in the many online and hard-copy triathlon magazines, forums, and advertisements. I've noticed that over time, a lot of this information has assumed a homogeneous blah-ness. Where the same information is repeated over and over again using the same descriptive language. And while some of this information can be beneficial, some of it gets warped/dumbed down/altogether transformed into pithy one-liners that are far removed from the truth.

Repeat something often enough and pretty soon, everyone believes it to be true. The real crime, is that eventually, these false truisms are passed on to people new to the sport of triathlon.

Well, I am here to clear up all this nonsense today!! LUCKY YOU!!! Hahahahaha! Here is a list of my four favourite myths -- ones I've subscribed to, challenged, and finally realized WERE myths.

Myth #1: The Myth of "Race Weight"

This one is a doozie. I am going to keep things simple here -- Take two athletes: Athlete A and Athlete B.

Athlete A -- pro triathlete. Played sports as a kid, swam on university/college swim team, ran track at same university/school. Years and years of fitness right there alone...Then, he/she gets into triathlon. Training load and intensity increases -- he/she already knows how important nutrition is -- he/she is very fit, lean, and an aerobic machine.

Athlete B -- average age grouper. Played sports as a kid, learned how to swim as an adult (ie learned in their late 20s, 30s, 40s, etc), may/may not have ever run a get the idea. Reads a book about race weight and thinks, "If I lose 10lbs, I will be so much faster."

You see the faulty logic here? To be fair, although certain books do not espouse this over-simplified theory, THIS IS THE MESSAGE THAT IS OUT THERE. Couple that with the North American cultural infatuation with skinny anorexic-looking models (even if you do not buy Cosmo or magazines of that ilk, you can't get away from it -- this $hit is everywhere and if you think it doesn't colour your perceptions you are lying to yourself), and you have a hot mess.

This falls in line with "if you lose x number of pounds, you will run x number of minutes faster per mile." FALSE. You will run said number of minutes faster if you TRAIN and log lots of hours (and mileage) running. Simply losing weight is not a magic pill that will deliver unto you fleet feet and perfect, efficient running form. Time invested in training, racing, and resting and recovering -- these are the things that make one faster.

It is the YEARS and YEARS of training and racing that makes a body lean and efficient at burning fat. The training creates the body...Yes, diet is extremely important, but *being good* for 2 weeks - 6 months in an attempt to get down to some kind of magical race weight is a misappropriation of resources. Starving yourself before a big workout because you read somewhere that so-and-so professional athlete doesn't eat before he/she swims, bike, or runs, is not the way to go. Through years of training, your body changes. Your diet changes. You change.

For an elite athlete -- they can 'lean down" in two months or more or less or whatever the time frame is, because they have the YEARS of training behind them. Their bodies respond differently to leaning down than the average age grouper's. Yes, losing weight can be a good thing, but in my opinion, the focus for the average age grouper should be on getting stronger by swimming, biking, and running consistently. You train consistently, you get faster. Period. The more you train; the more aware you are of the things you put into your mouth. Focusing on losing weight is the wrong thing to do -- focusing on what you SHOULD eat and the things you CAN do in training is wayyyyyy more effectual!!

Myth #2: To run faster, you must run faster.

I am not a sports scientist or a physiotherapist or whatever -- if you want hard data and evidence, go elsewhere. I will tell you this -- I talked to my coach and asked her, "if I want to run a marathon at a 6:00min/mile pace, should I start forcing myself to run that pace on the treadmill for longer and longer periods of time?"

After all, that is what Myth #2 says...

(Any errors in the paraphrasing of our conversation are mine alone -- NOT my coach's, Here is the gist of it...)

If I were to go out right now and run 6:00min/mile, I would be in Zone 5. Right off the bat. Zone 5 means I am going all frigging out and will not physically be able to hold that pace for very long. While adding speed work in doses will help me get faster, it is running at the pace where I am pushing myself but not tipping over into chaos and madness that is the sweet spot. THAT pace will push my threshold and enable me to run faster over time. It is putting the training in -- putting the miles in OVER TIME -- this is where I will make significant gains in running and then will be able to run faster paces with a lower heart rate. As opposed to training to run at a faster pace for a shorter period of time at a faster heart rate.

The biggest nuisance about these myths, is that they conveniently exclude all the "buts." For example, "In order to run faster, you must run faster," BUT...that does not mean running fast all the time for all your runs...

Myth #3: You Must Cycle at a Certain Cadence

There is no magic pill. There is no magic RPM number. Every one of us is different and that is one of the many reasons why triathlon is the greatest sport on the planet. :) We can all celebrate our differences -- some people spin higher cadences and some push harder gears at a lower RPM. Whatever floats your boat, dude. As my bike guru, Gord is always telling me, "Don't over-think it." Hahahaha!! :) :)

Myth #4: You must "suffer," "destroy," "smash," "bonk," crash," in training and racing. Then, you are tough enough and worthy.

This is a big load of bunk. When I use negative words, I feel negative. That's how I roll. from my coach, I have learned to use pain as an indicator that I am performing a session with appropriate intensity. I look at pain as a good thing -- not as a bad thing. To me, pain (this is training-pain, NOT injury-pain to be clear!) is another rung on the ladder to growing stronger and faster. Like watering a plant, I am dousing myself with training to get stronger. Not dousing myself with pain to "hurt" or "destroy" myself.

Another thing I've learned from my coach, is that words and language are very powerful forces. What we say, often manifests itself in what we do....Choose all your words wisely.

That's all of my deep thoughts for the day...


Monday, August 15, 2011

Please vote for my video!!

A couple of weeks ago, I had a recovery day and used the time to shoot this little video for a contest about southwestern Alberta....

It's only 53 seconds long, so if you have some spare time, please follow the link and vote for my video!! Hee-hee!!

You can vote once a day until August 27 -- so keep the votes coming!!!

Thanks everyone!! :) :)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

From a near DNF to first in AG...what a day.

What a lesson I learned on Saturday. Holy Doodly!

Saturday was the long course (1/2 IM distance) race in Bozeman, MT. I was attracted to this course for a number of reasons:
  • It is hilly. Very effing hilly. The bike portion and the run portion. Great training for IMC!
  • Did I mention that the run course was hilly. HILLY. As in, when I returned to the hotel room after driving the course the evening before the race, my eyes were as big as saucers and my Dad asked me, "What's wrong?"
  • It was going to HOT. As in plus 30 degrees Celsius. Again, perfect for IMC.
Here's how it all went down...

Swim: 35:14 , T1: 1:08
First woman out of the water! Can you believe it? I was in T1 and grabbing my bike about to head out when I heard the announcer say, "And here comes the first woman out of the and so." I was like, "Wait a second. What am I? Chopped liver?" LOL -- I headed out and found afterwards from my Dad that he went over and corrected the announcer. Hahaha! Gotta love parents eh?

Anyways, the swim was my fastest yet -- and it included three loops of the little lake. Getting out and running along the beach for each lap. I caught excellent drafts I think from the same two guys every single lap. Hahahahah!! Thanks gentlemen! AWESOME STUFF!

Bike: 3:17:59, T2: 1:20
Hilly beyond belief -- to give you an idea of how hilly this bike course was, my time at Stony Plain was 2:31...the guy who WON the entire race did the ride 5 minutes slower than that time. In 2:36. This course is no joke. They said it was "Montana Made" and they were not kidding.

Things were really going well -- I felt solid and strong until the last 10 miles of the bike. My belly started to hurt. Gas cramps. I had to sit up and try to burp. Nothing worked. I would pound my chest, trying to burp, but the pain kept increasing. I had a very difficult time staying in aero as the pain intensified.

Run....dum, dum, DUM, DUM!!! Must read to find out whole story!! MUAHAHAHAH!
As soon as I dismounted my bike something was horribly wrong with my insides. I couldn't run my bike into transition -- I could barely walk. The pain was brutal. Knifing. Splintering. I was grimacing and moaning involuntarily. It was terrible. It hurt so much to rack my bike and then bend over to put my running shoes on.

My Dad told me that I was the first female in -- that the other woman who had beat me in was on a relay, but looking at the results, I think there was another woman ahead of me but whoopty-do this didn't mean anything to me. In fact, I don't want to hear how many minutes someone is ahead of me or I'm ahead of -- I don't like it. It makes me take the focus of myself and race out of fear rather than love. You know what I mean? Perhaps one day, I will be a mature enough athlete to handle that kind of info, but right now I find it more beneficial to just tune it out and ignore it -- pretend the person is speaking a foreign language I cannot understand.
(Yes I could have simply said, pretend it is Greek to me, but I suffer from major cliche overuse and am trying to better myself people!! LOL!)

You may be asking yourself, if you felt that bad, why on earth did you put your running shoes on?

Well, I knew it was extremely bad gas cramps -- I've never had them this bad IN MY LIFE, but I just knew that was what it was. I thought, hey, I'll walk and maybe it will sort itself out. Because in iron distance races, things have a funny way of sorting themselves out IF you give them a chance. I gamely tried some kind of jog but from the very first up and down motion, the pain knifed me throughout my right side and literally took my breath away. I couldn't smile, I couldn't talk, I was fricking MOANING. And walking really, really slowly. Eventually, other people finished the bike portion and started running by me.

Most asked if I was OK -- I couldn't even respond at first. Talking hurt my belly. Moving hurt my belly, simply BEING hurt my belly. Some athletes tried to offer advice -- breathe through your nose, exhale through your mouth, whatever. Nothing worked. I was 1/4 of the way around the lake and tried to squat -- I was trying anything. The pain ratcheted up even higher to 9.999999 out of 10. If it got to 10 I think I would have passed out.

I continued moving forward very, very slowly. I clutched at my side, stopping every once in a while. Finally, I made it to the first aid station....I was in so much pain by this point that I said to the guy manning the aid station (with his wife or girl friend) "I'm going to call it a day -- I am in so much pain, I can't even walk."

He never said a word, but grabbed a chair and put it in the shade underneath a tree, set me down on it, and put a cold towel around my neck. He then gave me cup after cup of Heed and water. I couldn't even sit properly on the chair, I hurt so much. My belly was bloated out like I was pregnant and I had to sit on the very edge of the chair and then arch my back to get some modicum of relief.

I kept pounding my chest and burped a little bit now and again, but the pain was relentless.

The worst part was I could see my Dad looking frantically for me....he saw me come into T2 and knew I had to run around the lake and then run right by him to exit the rest of the run course. And I hadn't run by him yet. And the lake was very, very, very small....

A really nice man named Terry came by and asked me if I had done anything new nutrition-wise. I thought it was the super-concentrated solution of Nuun I had, but I had taken a lot of water with it, so I was mystified. Little did I know that ALL of my gas and bloating in ALL my other races stemmed from Nuun. (More on this later...) I always suffered through the pain because I thought it was normal. But on Saturday, the pain would not be relieved. It would not be ignored.

I told the aid station volunteers that all I needed was a good BAROOF and I would be golden. They never said anything. LOL -- I'm not sure if they didn't know what I meant, or even worse, were so alarmed at the possibility of me BAROOFING all over the place that they didn't want to be near it. LOL. Either way, as anyone who knows me will attest, when I think I've said something funny, I'll repeat at least twice to get maximum hilarity out of it. Ummm...yup. You guessed it. The crickets chirped. Every single time.

Minutes passed, and more and more and more people ran by me as I sat on the chair at the aid station. I had a brief moment where my voice clogged with emotion and I almost cried. Intuitively, I told myself, "No, Julie. You've been down that road before." Meaning last year in North Carolina....It was weird, as soon as I said that to myself, the change in my brain was instant: I became emotionally detached from the race and was able to think objectively. If my situation meant I would have to DNF, then so be it. After drinking more and more water and Heed, I was able to stand up and yell to my Dad who came over hurriedly.

I had improved sufficiently to talk and to actually stand I explained what was going on to him. My poor Dad was so worried -- he wanted me to call it a day. He said many of the same things that had rushed through my head in that brief moment when I was about to cry in self-pity: "too much time has passed in the race don't need to hurt's getting late, there is no point in pushing need to stop."

Now to be fair all of these thoughts and concerns were coming from two very different places. From me, it was springing from negativity, from fear, from self-doubt. From my Dad, it was from love and true concern. However, I KNOW my body. And as I stood there talking with my Dad, I started to burp a little more. Then I said, "I'm going to walk around this tree and see if I can move."

I could.

Then, I said, "I'm going to try jogging around this tree."

I couldn't.

The pain was still there, but the intensity had gone down a notch. Hmmmmmm. I started vocalizing this to my Dad. He was still worried about me. And I had an honest *out* for this race. If I was going to DNF, I had my Dad as proof, I had an excuse. But there was the faintest glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel...

Like I told my Dad, I was in too much pain to move, so instead of handing my chip in, I might as well sit at the aid station and see what happened. Maybe I would feel better and then go home. Maybe, just maybe I might feel better and be able to run!

More time passed. And more runners. I had tuned them out though and was focusing on myself only. I was aware of the racers, but there was no emotional response from me. Gradually I started to feel better...I did a little jog around the tree!! OH MY GAWD! There was pain, but it was.....dare I say it....dare I even think it...manageable?

I started to do little test jogs up and down the path. I told my Dad, "I'm going to jog to the porta potties and see how I feel." As I ran to the porta-potties, a race official yelled, "You're going the wrong way!" I replied, "I might be turning in my chip! I'm going to use the washroom and see how I feel."

And no. No BAROOF happened. In fact nothing of significance happened in the loo. I jogged back to my Dad and then commented -- my legs feel fresh. I think I might run! He looked doubtful but held his tongue.

I started jogging back and forth along the path again. I said to my Dad, "You know, I can use this as an awesome training day for Ironman Canada. I could just do the run as a training run and see how it goes. I'll go to the next aid station and see."

Again the doubtful look, but he relented and said, "You don't want to get stuck way out there and start suffering." I said, "I know, I know, I'll be smart."

I started jogging back and forth again. The aid station guy said, "If you decide to go on, let me know ok?" And I said, "Ok!" I looked at my watch, and it said 11:55am. So, doing the math, the race started 5 minutes late (at 7:05am) due to the dunderheads who wouldn't stop *warming up.* That makes it 11:00:41 when I got through T2. So....54:19 passed as I sat around and tried standing, then jogging back and forth. I thought to myself, "Well it is only noon! I could run for 2 hours and have a good training day and be done by 2:00pm. The course doesn't close until 5:30pm"

I jogged back down the path and as I came back towards my Dad and the aid station guy, I impulsively said, "I'm going!" and kept on trucking! I didn't give anyone a chance to say anything. LOL! The other volunteer directing us runners started cheering for me like crazy and that was so nice and motivating!

The first 2 miles felt terrible. I started cramping in my OTHER side, but it was nowhere near the level of pain it had been before. I kept on truckin'. I could see runners ahead of me. Little specks of colour in the shimmering sun and heat waves. I thought to myself, "Maybe I can catch one?"

As I had completely re-aligned my goals from racing to win the race, to running a training run, I decided to walk every single aid station and get a lot of fluids into me. After all, for a quality training session, proper hydration is important! And, I wanted to ensure that those cramps would not return.

Right after the first aid station, the hills started. The heat was relentless, but oddly enough for the first time in my life, the heat wasn't a factor for me. There was a woman running ahead of me and I started to close the gap. I was about to pass her, when I had to pee. So I suddenly went off in some bushes -- I know I startled the lady as I was right behind her and then I disappeared. LOL.

Did my business and she had pulled away. Big surprise. I started to feel negative again and came very close to quitting right then and there. But for one question I asked myself: Would you quit if this was a training day? And the answer was no. I felt crappy, but not that crappy. So, I made the decision to move forward and that was that. No more debate or questioning. Time to move forward and get in a good training day.

After that, I was on fire. I felt incredible. I still had a bit of cramping but I was feeling strong and steady. The heat was beating down hard, but it was OK -- it wasn't bothering me at all! I started to pass a couple of people -- they were walking up the hills. I was running the hills! Me! I was RUNNING hills! :) :)

There were a couple of hills that I walked portions of, but to my surprise, when I started running again, my legs were like, "FINALLY! YAY! We can run again!!" This was a brand new feeling for me.

I walked every aid station, had to go hike down another ditch to pee, and then started passing more people. And more people. This was amazing! The last few miles of the run were the miles where I finally started feeling the heat. At the next aid station, I put ice in my hat, and whoo baby did that ever feel good. In fact, I felt so great, I started thinking about why I felt so awesome...then I sort of became aware that ice was on my head. LOL -- RACE BRAIN!!! I'm all there, but not really! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!

I passed more people and reached the 2nd last aid station. Saw a guy way ahead of me and he was hurting -- you could tell he was in major pain mode. I kept ticking things over and grew closer and closer. Then I passed him too!! Next was the final turn into the recreation area and another loop around the like. I saw my Dad and smiled and I could tell he was totally frigging gob-smacked to see me running strong. LMAO!!!!

I churned my little old behind around that lake and finished in an astonishing 6:47:41. (LMAO!!!!) The girl who won first female overall was 5:47:19. Could I have won overall had I not suffered? Maybe. Muahahahahah -- it is fuel for my fire. And in this case, this comparison to another person motivates me. :D

You read this far... here was my run time (LOL) : 2:51:58

After hugging my Dad, I went back and thanked the volunteers at the aid station who put up with me...and then I found the dude Terry who had offered me advice. Thanked him too.

The biggest surprise came when I returned later that afternoon for the awards. They had a raffle draw and I had a ticket, so I thought, what the heck? I was stunned when I saw I had actually won my age group!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And just in case you did not register how truly surprised I was.......


They called me up on the podium and I needed help to get up on the white plastic thingy. Hee-hee!! I got a mug!! YAHOOOO!!!!! Hahahahahah!!

Lessons learned:

  • Half IM and IM distance races are strange creatures -- when things are bleak you can keep going on and things might turn around....NEVER, EVER, EVER GIVE UP.
  • Emotions have NO ROLE to play during a race. They cloud my judgement -- I find it best to race objectively and leave the tears and overwhelming feelings for the finish line.
  • I am very pleased that I was able to separate my emotions from my decision-making skills. This is a huge triumph for me! :) :)
One last note...After the awards, I spotted the aid station volunteer who was so kind to me, and went over and told him that I won my AG. That it was because of him....when I said I was quitting, he never said a word. He just sat me down and brought me water. That was the best thing he could have done. And I told him so. :)

And the brutal bloating and cramping? Turns out Nuun has an artificial sweetener called sorbitol in it. (Thanks to my uber-coach Sara for helping me figure this out!) I have an intolerance to soribtol. Who knew? Garbage guts actually has something that she can't eat/ingest. Bye Nuun!

Thanks for reading this far, if you did, I will make you a coffee if you ever come and visit me. Hee-hee! :)

Race hard, pull apart those demons, and shake hands with the devil in your head. ;)

Big thank you as always to my amazing coach Sara who called me repeatedly, and emailed me repeatedly all the while in preparation for her own 1/2 IM race in Calgary today. I blush that I was such a diva -- I had no IDEA she was racing, otherwise I never would have bugged her! EEP!! And in truly stunning fashion.. she came in 2nd OVERALL FEMALE in Calgary today. Missed first by 6 seconds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My God, my coach is such a stud. :) :) :) :)

THANKS TO MY AWESOME DAD!!! Thanks for putting up with me!! :) :) :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Ironman Athlete

Stuart destroying the hills!!

My best friend's husband completed his very first Ironman this year in Coeur D'Alene!!! His time?


Gutting it out on the run...his first marathon to boot!

That's right! He did amazing and I am so very proud of him!!! Here are his splits:

Swim: 1:04:04
Bike: 6:10:42
Run: 4:36:30

What makes Stuart's story even more impressive is that he had never done a triathlon before. That's right. You read correctly. Ironman Coeur D'Alene was his VERY FIRST TRIATHLON. He trained about 7-9 hours a week all the while maintaining a 50-60 hour work week. Plus on call work. Did I mention that Stuart is a doctor?

This was the first time I acted in an advisory capacity to help someone not only finish but excel at his very first iron distance race. Stuart did all the work and then some. He researched things on the internet, experimented with nutrition, and leaned down. Once in a while he would fire off an email to me and I would respond ASAP. I know what it's like going through your first IM -- all the questions, the concerns, and the excitement/stress/anxiety. This is why I am so proud of you Stuart! You not only FINISHED --- YOU FRIGGING ROCKED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations Stuart!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!