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!