Sunday, November 1, 2009

My New Home for the Winter

Thanks to my wonderful husband/coach, I have officially started Ironman training. Although the race isn't until August 2010, there are a lot of things I need to improve on - so I might as well get started. This year was the first year I did any type of legitimate training since I officially retired from swimming in 2004. Since then I have managed to stay in shape by training for local road races and a couple of marathons. When I retired from swimming, I was ready to move on and try all the sports I had to give up in order to focus on the pool. It wasn't until Mark and I moved West to Vancouver that I had the opportunity to try my hand at being a triathlete.

Our first summer in Vancouver I got back on my road bike and started to get back in the pool teaching Mark how to swim. We also started running together and found that between the two of us, we had 2/3 of a great triathlon! I competed in a couple of local sprint triathlons and found that I was itching to try something a little longer. This summer Mark and I put together a solid, but brief training plan to get me ready for both the Victoria and Vancouver Half Ironman races. The training plans worked out great and I had some really solid races with the limited amount of training I put in.

Since I definitely do not think I can "wing" an Ironman, Mark has started to put together a training plan that will work with my unusual work schedule as well as the local swim, bike and run sessions that are offered by our club.

However, the main focus for me throughout the winter is this (my new home):

I will be sending a LOT of time on the trainer, set up on our balcony as I try to develop my cycling legs. I will also try and get out on the road when the weather permits, but with the shortened daytime hours, most of my training will be in the comfort of our condo.

My goal will be to get on the bike 2-3 times a week and work through a series of drills and phases to improve my cadence as well as increase my power/speed. With Mark's experience I have no doubt that I will be well prepared to tackle the 180km ride next August!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

NS Half Marathon Race Report

This Thanksgiving weekend was the third annual North Shore Half Marathon and the first half marathon race for me in 6 years. The last half marathon I ran was the 2003 Hogeye Half Marathon in Fayetteville, Arkansas!

I didn't really have a goal in mind when the race started but I knew that a PB was possible. I have been doing some great training with Steph and Shannon and have pushed myself much harder than normal with weekly tempo runs, hills and speed work. Thanks girls!

The race started off downhill, so I tried to take it easy and get into a good tempo. Although I was a little chilly starting off, I quickly warmed up when I hit the hilly section of the course along Dollarton Highway. I wore my Garmin and was a little concerned when I was averaging under 7min/mile pace, but I felt good and went with it. Around mile 8 I started to feel as though I went out a little too quickly and tried to settled into a more reasonable pace (7:20/mile) that I could maintain for the final 5 miles. As we neared the finish line I was quite surprised to look down at my watch and see that I would be finishing under 1:40. In fact, I finished in 1:30:31 which was good enough for 3rd in my age group, 6th female overall and a 20 minute PB. Not a bad start for Ironman training, eh?!

I am not sure what is up next as Mark and I are off to Jamaica Nov 9th for our "better late, than never" honeymoon. Depending on how things go, I may do the Seattle Half Marathon at the end of November. For right now I will keep training with the girls and start getting into a more structured Ironman training plan when we get back from our honeymoon!

Steph and I at the start line

Around mile 5

A new PB... but looking a little tired!

Women's 25-29 top 3!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I'm a sucker...

Let's just say.... I'm a sucker.

This summer I have met, become great friends, and trained with a fabulous group of people. Training has honestly never been this much fun. As much as I try to avoid getting up at 5am every morning, the lure of a killer run or tough swim with my training buddies, far outweighs the sleep. Morning after morning, I get "talked" into doing something.

Sunday was no exception. I got talked into doing a 26km trail race!

The Rubble Creek 26km trail race is by far one of the most beautiful races I have ever done, as well as one of the toughest. Although it is in its 25th year, the race is still relatively small and boasts no race numbers, aid stations or chip timing. The race organizer stood on a rock, said "ready, set, go"and we were off. The race started with a pretty tough uphill, taking us up 2600 feet, leveled out for a few km's before descending 4000 feet to the finish.

Here is the course profile thanks to Adam's GPS!

The reason why I am a sucker is because I hadn't really trained for this race... and got talked into racing it. Sure, I had started running a little more towards the end of the summer, but the longest run I had done was at the tail end of the 2 halfirons I raced! I was a little worried about finishing the race, but Steph assured me she would run with me and that it would be just fine. We started the race at a conservative pace, while Adam, Graeme and Shannon took off with the main pack. Once we reached the top of the climb, we stopped to take a couple of photos of the breathtaking view... we just couldn't resist!

Me - taking in the view of Black Tusk

Once we reached the descent, I was sooo happy/relieved. My legs were pretty tired and the thought of running up another hill was not very appealing. Steph and I took turns leading the way down the winding slope (she looked quite graceful, while I tried to not kill myself with my clumsy feet). After a good hour of running downhill, we were both very excited to see the parking lot and the end of the run. We were met by Shannon (who came 2nd!!), Adam and Graeme and the race organizer with a stopwatch calling out times.

Needless to say, I didn't exactly race the run. My goal was to get out and get a solid 3 hour run in with some great friends in the beautiful West Coast trails.

Post race: Graeme, Shannon, me, Steph and Adam

Next up, the North Shore Half Marathon!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cultus Lake Triathlon

It started off as a little bet and a chance for Mark to do his first triathlon. It ended up being a great weekend with some solid races from the NSTC crew.

This was a role reversal weekend for Mark and I. Normally I am the one racing, while Mark holds all my gear, and cheers me on from the sidelines. This weekend, however, Mark was going to try his hand at a triathlon.

On Saturday morning, we all drove to Cultus Lake to get checked in. As there weren't too many places to eat around the campsite, we ended up going to the Cultus Lake Pub with the whole crew. The night started with dinner and a few pitchers of beer and ended up with the boys on the dance floor and much more beer.... not your regular race ritual!
On Sunday morning, we all got to transition nice and early. My task was to find coffee while the boys got all set up. Luckily it turned out to be a really warm day and Mark didn't freeze to death without a wetsuit for the swim.

Mark had seeded himself pretty far forward for the start of the swim. When we first moved to Vancouver two years ago, Mark could barely swim and if we were in the pool together, I would kick along side him as he swam. Needless to say, he has made some HUGE improvements. As the swim came to an end, Mark was about 20th coming out of the water and looking pretty good.

I personnaly thought that as long as Mark had a good swim, he would be set to take down lots of people on the bike. For those of you that don't know, Mark is a former pro cyclist. That being said, Mark has only rode his ride about 10 times all summer and is still riding his steel framed bike that he last raced with in 2004!

As the bike course was an out and back, I did see much of what was going on until they got back to transition. Mark made up quite a lot of ground on the bike and came off in 5th place. At this point I wasn't quite sure what would happen. Mark claims he really isn't much of a runner, and like the rest of this summer, he hasn't trained much at all.

As I stood at the finish line watching the leaders come through, the next thing I saw was Mark coming in for a solid 4th place! Not bad for his first race, eh?!

In fact, all of the North Shore Tri Club that competed that day had a great race and it was so much fun to watch. We finished off the weekend with a swim in the lake, lunch, and mini golf before heading back home. Hopefully we'll see Mark back in action next summer!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

One Busy Month!

Mark and I have had a really busy few weeks to finish up the summer. It seems like every weekend there is something going on. Here's a quick recap on how we finished up a fabulous summer!
  • The first week in August Mark was busy organizing the World Police and Fire Games. He was in charge of directing all 5 road cycling events which were great to watch. We were also invited to the opening ceremonies - 10,000 police and firemen all in the same arena - so much fun!
  • Next up was Allison and Ramsey's wedding. Mark and I had the pleasure of being the MC's for the evening and we got to meet and hang out with all their friends and family for the week. The weekend kicked off with a pre-wedding run and finished up with a post-wedding Grouse Grind! Congrats Allison and Ramsey!
  • The next weekend we did a great canoe/hike with some old cycling friends of Mark's. It was a relaxing day with lunch at the waterfalls, a little cliff jumping into the freezing cold water and dinner at Shera and Basse's.
  • We ended up the summer with fun filled weekend at Ironman Canada. Corey came up from Texas and we met up with Mandy and Fraser from Calgary for a weekend of camping and cheering. We arrived on Saturday and met up with everyone at the campground before going for a swim in the Lake and checking out all the pre-race festivities. Later that evening we met up with a few others from the NSTC and went for dinner. Sunday morning we woke up nice and early, stopped for coffee at Tim's before finding a great spot on the beach to cheer everyone on. The rest of the day was spent cheering/eating our way around the Ironman course. Everyone was having such a great race and it was so much fun to watch. A big congrats to everyone from the North Shore Tri Club - especially training buddies Steph, Shannon and Karen - you girls rock!
I have also officially registered for Ironman Canada 2010! Needless to say the next 365 days will be filled with lots of training as I work on getting stronger on the bike and run.... 180km of biking followed by a marathon is quite daunting! Better get to work...

Friday, July 31, 2009

Happy Anniversary to US!

It is really hard to believe that on August 2nd, Mark and I will have been married for ONE year. The year has really flown by and it feels like just yesterday all our friends and family were gathered in Jordan, ON for the big day.

It all started with a "Canadian Night Out" in Buckhannon, WV
Next... it was a first date of skydiving in Erie, PA

Followed by a long distance relationship from Ohio to West Virginia

A surprise proposal on a helicopter ride over Niagara Falls, ON

Moving across North America from Ohio to Vancouver

A perfect wedding day in Niagara's Wine Country!
To many more years of new adventures!

Friday, July 24, 2009

One CRAZY Day - The Bay Challenge!

It started off as a running joke.... "you sign us up, and I will show up!" The 10km Bay Challenge ocean swim from West Vancouver to Kits Beach was coming up soon - and Steph signed us up!

The Bay Challenge was one of the craziest swims I have ever done - and throughout all my years of swimming, I have done a LOT of crazy swims. First of all - the swim has rules
  • The swim can be done either solo or as a relay
  • Relay teams can have as many people as you want
  • Each swimmer or team must provide their own support boat, as the swim crosses the shipping channel (think big giant freighters!)
  • The time limit is 4 hours!
My teammate and co-conspirator Steph planned an awesome day. We rented a 17 foot speed boat to get us "safely" across the Bay and we rounded up the best support crew ever - Meyrick and Nick! We plotted out our course, filled the boat with lots of homemade goodies to keep our support crew happy and decided to swim in 20 min intervals.

TEAM Awesome - at the pre-race meeting

I started the swim off and tried to stay as close to the front as I could. During the first 20 mins, I had to go around the first BIG freighter and fight through some pretty big waves. After about 30min, the waves settled down and we got going into a pretty good rhythm, each taking 20 min turns. That was... until the tide changed! Before this point, we were average about 1:30/100m thanks to Meyrick's trusty GPS, but after we got caught in the current, we slowed up quite a bit. We battled on and finished the swim together in 3hours and 5min - placing 3rd and finishing behind two relays that each had 4-5 swimmers.

Me at the halfway mark - with the Lion's Gate Bridge in the background

Steph swimming by one of the big freighters in the Bay

Now.... if you thought our swim was tough... read on!

My crazy but wonderful husband caught wind of our Bay Challenge plans and didn't want to be left out. A week out from the race, I got a text message at work from Mark that says "I hope you don't mind, but I registered for the Bay Challenge too - solo!"

My first reaction was - is this some sort of joke?!?!? Mark doesn't exactly come from a swimming background (cycling is his expertise). Sure, he swims masters swim workouts with me a couple of times a week, but nothing more than about 4000m. However, he was gonna give the 10km ocean swim a go!

Mark on the way to the start line!

First Mark recruited a great support team of Captain Lauren and support crew Adam. They decked out Lauren's 12 foot Red Aluminum boat and were ready to go!

As I was swimming along, I tried to keep track of Mark. Luckily Adam sent me text messages from time to time so that I knew Mark was well on his way to make the crossing.

Mark swimming by one of the freighters along the way!

After Steph and I finished, Meyrick and I headed back across the Bay to return our rental boat and stopped to see Mark along the way. Not only was he getting close to the finish line, but he looked great. Mark stopped briefly to say hi but was quick to start back swimming. I was soooo impressed!

Meyrick and I cheering on Mark

Unfortunately I didn't get to see Mark finish(as we were paying for the rental boat by the hour), but he finished in fine form after 4 hour and 45min! I am so incredibly proud of him!

And our day didn't stop there - after a quick little snooze, we made our way out to White Rock to watch the Tour de White Rock Crit to cheer on all our friends.... what a weekend!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Vancouver Half Iron Race Recap

After a great experience in Victoria, I was eager to try out another half ironman before the summer was up. It was a toss up between two races and in the end I signed up for the Vancouver Half Iron the week before the race.

The Vancouver Half was a completely different experience than Victoria. Both were great races with wonderful support, but they were very hard to compare.

The race started with a two loop ocean swim off Jericho Beach. This is the first time I have had to start a race with a run into the ocean and my biggest fear was falling flat on my face! Once I made it into the water, the first 200m or so were rough, but eventually I found some open and few men/pros to pace off of. The second swim loop was a lot smoother and I even managed to be the 3rd woman out of the water after Bree Wee and Magali Tisseyre!

The bike was four loops of a challenging course with one big climb each loop. As usual, a TON of people blew past me on the bike, but I managed to get myself into a relatively good rhythm. Because of the design of the course, it was great to be able to see and cheer for people along the way. Each loop, I looked forward to hearing the cheers from Steph and giving her a big wave. My bike split ended up being a big improvement from Victoria. I finished in a faster time and the course was 4km longer... but I still have a long way to go to keep up with the fast girls!

The run was by far the most challenging part of the course. By this time, the sun was in full force and I was hot! I tried to get myself into a good rhythm and follow some of the relay runners that looked a little fresher. Because of the figure 8 design of the course, I was able to watch the pros and wave to Steph a couple of times each loop. As I approach the finish line, I was shocked. Because I don't race with a watch on (nor a computer on my bike), I had no idea what pace I was holding throughout the day. However, when I crossed the finish line, I had almost the same time as Victoria....5hrs, 5min... not bad considering the swim was in the ocean and the bike course for 4km longer!

At the end of the day, Steph and I finished 2nd and 3rd in our age group and ended the day with an ice bath in the ocean and lunch with Doug, our great photographer and race crew!

Up next... the 10km Bay Challenge Ocean swim!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

West Coast Summer Weekend

Summer on the West Coast has to be my favorite time of year. As a big sports fan, every weekend is jammed packed full of events to either participate in or watch. However, this weekend is by far the busiest weekend yet.....

Within a short drive from Vancouver, you can do any one of the following events (and I am probably missing a few!)

  • Tour de Delta - awesome pro cycling stage race that Mark organizes!
  • Knee Knacker - crazy trail race from one end of the North Shore to the other!
  • Osoyoos Half Ironman - head to the Interior and test out Richter Pass... twice!
  • Vancouver Half Ironman - ocean swim, 4x up UBC hill and a run along the ocean!
  • Seattle to Portland Bike Race - name says it all!

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day and 4th of July to everyone out there! I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday as much as I did!

On Canada Day, Mark and I both raced in the Sasamat Lake open water swim race. Mark was only signed up to do the 2km race, but decided the day before he wanted to try the 4km... without a wetsuit! So, on race morning we met up with Steph, Allison and Ramsey and had a great sunny swim. I had a solid race - 55min for the 4km and ended up 2nd overall. It was really hard to figure out where I was in the race because the men started 5 min ahead of the women. Once I started passing the men, it was really hard to tell who was with each race. In the end, I was only about 2osec off of first place. More impressively, Mark had a GREAT race. Considering he had never swum 4km before and the fact that he didn't have a wetsuit, he did awesome! He had a solid finish and was pretty pumped to complete his first swimming race.

After the swim, we all went downtown to watch the Yaletown Grand Prix Crit. It was a great afternoon and I love watching how fast the cyclist are able to maneuver the tight corners. It just goes to show me how much more work I have to do to be more competitive on the bike. We finished the great day off with a few beers with the Trek Red Truck Cycling Team that Mark worked with last season.

Steph, Allison and I pre race!
(Picture courtesy of Steph)

Next up this weekend:
Tour de Delta for Mark!
Vancouver Half Ironman for me!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Victoria Half Ironman Photos

Unfortunately Mark and I have two broken cameras. Luckily for us, the NSTC crew came to the rescue and captured some great pictures from the day. Here are just a few - courtesy of Ramsey, Steph and Mark.

Finishing the swim

Trying to get my new wetsuit off!

Finding my way to my bike

Loop one of the run course - and trying to smile for all the cameras and cheering squad!

Mark and I after the race - I couldn't have asked for a better husband, coach and support crew!

The whole NSTC crew after the race - sporting our new hoodies since it was so cold out!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Victoria Race Recap

Well, I survived... better yet, I had a great first half ironman. I definitely still have a lot to work on, but it was great to get one race under my belt.

The weekend started off with a fun ferry ride with the NSTC crew. There were about 12 of us that either competed or cheered and we all had a fun time together. Once we arrived in Victoria we headed straight to the race course to get in a little ride and run. After testing out parts of the course, we stuck around for the pre race meeting to get all our last minute instructions. We had a GREAT dinner at Re Bar in downtown Victoria and then settled in for the night to try and get some sleep.

On Sunday morning I actually woke up feeling rested (which I was surprised about because of the crazy work week I had). We got to the race start nice and early and got body marked and chipped and I even made it to the bathroom before the line ups got to long!

The race start was a little hectic. We all started in waist deep water, but with 600 people all starting together, it was hard to tell where all the fast swimmers were. So, I just started out in the middle of the pack and hoped that I would find someone my speed to swim with. Turns out, I didn't. Out of 600 people, I didn't find a single person to swim with and swam the whole thing by myself. I still managed to have a pretty good swim and came out of the water in 25:02, the fastest woman! I had a solid transition and was off on the bike. I had a great first lap on the bike and even managed to stay in my aerobars for the majority of the ride. Unfortunately, my lack of training with the actual aerobars started to hit me on lap 2 when my legs completed tightened up and started cramping (not to mention it started raining and I got a little wimpy going around tight corners). I had to back off the pace quite a bit and finished the bike course in 2:54. When I came into T2 my feet were frozen. I racked my bike, put on my running shoes and headed out for the run. It took a good 3-4 km before my feet warmed up and I felt like I was running normally. I settled into a good solid run pace and managed to find a few people running my speed. Going into the race I was most worried about the run because I hadn't done anything longer than an hour run in months... stupid shin splints. Going into the 2nd run lap, I still felt surprisingly strong and picked up the pace a little and finished in a strong (for me!) 1:42. and 5:04:40 for the day!

Mark was there at the finish line to cheer me on along with the rest of the NSTC, including Nick who blew by my on the bike to finish 30 minutes before me. Allison also had a great first half and finish just behind me in 5:13. In fact, Allison and I even managed to make it to the podium with a 2nd and 3rd place in our age group!

All in all it was a fun race in a beautiful location. Mark was great coach and managed to get me much faster on the bike (although I still have a long way to go!). Even better, Mark is fabulous husband for putting up with all my training and supporting me all along the way. Now I have to decide what comes next!

Pictures of the race to come....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

T-10 Days!

So... ten days until the Victoria Half Ironman. Yikes! Originally my plan was to do the Vancouver Half Ironman in July, but I was persuaded by Allison to move up the race by one month! My training has been going really well (as far as I know). I have enjoyed getting back into swimming, even the 5am swims with Karen, Steph and Shannon. Mark has been working with me on the bike and has set me up with a training program that seems to be working. He also bought me a pair of aero bars for my birthday, so I am desperately trying to get used to them so I feel confident enough to use them next weekend... we'll see. My running has slowly, but surely gotten better. After the Sun Run, I took a few weeks off of running to try and heal my shin splints. Since then, I have taken it easy and I am just running enough to get by. I did a 5km race on Sunday which gave me some confidence as I managed to finish in 21:30, which is just off my PB.

As for a race strategy for next weekend... swim hard, bike hard and try and survive the run. I have nothing to lose and this will surely be a good learning experience. More than anything I am out there to have fun. We have a big group of people racing from the North Shore Tri Club, so it will be fun and encouraging to see lots of familiar faces.

Oh yeah... I also bought a wetsuit on the weekend. I haven't actually tried it out yet, but I hope to do some open water swimming this weekend.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fun Weekend Recap

So, all in all it was a great weekend. Not only did I have to whole weekend off work, but the weather was great and I managed to get a lot accomplished. On Saturday morning we had a great ride with the North Shore Tri Club. We had a big group show up and ended up splitting up into two smaller groups. I have managed to improve enough so that I can keep up with the faster group this year which I am quite happy about. We rode really well as a group and held a pretty good pace for the entire ride. Unfortunately, three hours into the ride I had my first crash. I got too close to the person in front of me and ended up going down, with two people ending up on top of me. I now have a nice collections of scrapes and bruises as well as some damage to my bike. Mark and I were able to ride home nice and easy and still managed to ride about 100km altogether that day. On Sunday, I woke up a little stiff but was already registered to do the 10km Sun Run. We met up with a few friends at the Seabus and made our way to the start line with the 56,000 other people that were competing. We probably should have gotten there a little earlier as I started way back in the crowd. It was amazing to see how many people took part in the event. I knew Vancouver was an active city, however this was over the top. I ran a pretty consistent pace the whole way and negative split by almost 3 minutes. There were far too many people to go for a great time, but I still managed to come in around 46 mins. Now I am off to watch the Canucks games at the pub with some friends to cap off an amazing weekend!

The start of the Sun Run 10km - all 56,000 people

Me - with a few cuts and bruises after the Saturday ride.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Welcome to Our Blog

Well, I finally jumped on the bandwagon and started a blog. Although I promised myself I would never start blogging, I find myself continually interested in reading the blogs of my friends and family to see how everyone is doing and stay up to date.

The past year has been pretty crazy for Mark and I. Although I try hard to keep in touch with everyone, I don't seemed to have enough hours left in the day (not to mention the difficulties of a 3 hour time difference to all my friends and family on the East Coast.)

To sum things up, this is what you may or may not have missed in the last year and a half!

  • Mark and I bought our first home together after moving to Vancouver - in the fabulous Lower Lonsdale area - 3 blocks from the Pacific Ocean and 10 mins to the local mountains - it doesn't get any better than this!

  • We both got settled in the West Coast - Mark started his own business which is doing great and I started working for Starbucks in their Retail Management Training program.

  • We took up a bunch of new sports: cycling for me, swimming for Mark, skate skiing for me, running for Mark, and lots of hiking and exploring the West Coast for both of us.

  • We got MARRIED!!! By far the most wonderful day of my entire life - to have all our friends and family together in one place!

We both have a busy summer up ahead with my brothers wedding in early May, lots of new work projects for Mark and my first Half Ironman in June!

Enjoy reading......