Monday, December 13, 2010

Santa Speedo Run 2010

On Saturday, December 11, 2010, about 50 or so of my friends and I... disrobed for charity and ran through the streets of upscale Yorkville, to raise money for The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.  It was the 6th annual running of the event. 

We donned our red Speedo bathing suits and favourite decorations (personally I'm a HUGE fan of bells on my running shoes - 5 bells on each shoe this year!), Santa hats, mittens, etc... (yours truly had not been feeling well since Thursday, so this year I wore a big, furry Santa hat and a scarf to try and beat the cold).

Somehow, the camera buff forgot to load her memory card!!!  AAAARGH!  That's because I've been too busy baking, no doubt... I have flour up my nose, clogging my brain cells... sigh...   I got a couple of shots on my iPhone but as you can imagine, they are not stellar... oh well...

There were possibly hundreds of people around town who were honking car horns, filming us and photographing us as we ran by, waving, smiling and singing 'Jingle Bells'... even the homeless gentleman cheered for us as we went by...

This is the most kind-spirited group of athletes you could hope to meet!  If you are in the Toronto area, come and join us next year - it will be an experience you will never forget!

A good time was had by all involved and we raised over $34,000 for the Toys and Games Fund at the hospital!! 

Way to go, everyone!!!!   See you all next year!!!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Yes, Time for Another Reality Check

I haven't been at this sport for very long and certainly don't consider myself to have been an athlete (quote, unquote) for very long at all... I have been asking around amongst my other athletic friends as to how they view themselves this time of year (ie. off-season...) in terms of their fitness levels because quite frankly, I've been really in a bad funk...

...I feel lazy, fat and cat-like in my desire for slothful pursuits... running seems interminably hard at the moment, I'm not swimming because of a shoulder injury and the only thing where I'm seeing any improvement is my cycling. 

The scale is not all that friendly these days although not quite downright scary... which is a plus... I guess...

So, I'm curious... does EVERYONE feel this way after their big 'A' race and a successful race like they've potentially gone to seed? It's a horrifying thought, isn't it?  What if my beautiful Sugoi spandex outfits don't fit properly next year??  What if I'm mistaken for SANTA when I put on my red speedo on Saturday and run through Toronto, to raise money for the childrens' hospital??  (Ok... so that's an exaggeration... I'm not going to be mistaken for Santa... but maybe a plump-ish Elf...)

Naturally, I've been laughed at by Eric because apparently this is 'normal' but geez, how is a girl supposed to know what's 'normal' when she's never been through it before?  AAARGH... it's like race day all over again ... 'It will all come together on race day'... sigh...

My other friends that I canvassed all pretty much echoed my thoughts - they feel 'less fit' and aren't doing very much in terms of training compared to the warmer months leading up to and including race season.

I guess I should be 'enjoying' this lull before my workouts ramp up again in - what - March/April...?  I have no clue when they begin to ramp up, quite honestly... I just check Training Peaks and go from there... the rest of the time I'm blissfully ignorant about the process although I admit I am getting far more interested in really understanding how this works!  Maybe then I won't over-analyze everything...
So, as I was cleaning up my blog pages today, I came across a post from February 2010 (because, clearly, at that point in time, I was having a case of the blah's and needed a reality check).  It seemed quite fitting for how I've been feeling lately, so I thought I'd revisit some of those points and then bash my head on the wall a few times till it sinks in that progress is being made but it's not always linear...

Then and Now:

Then:  In October 2009, I was running 2:1 intervals
Now:   I am doing steady runs nearly all of the time

Then:  Christmas 2009, I was running 9:1 intervals
Now:   See above point

Then:  February 2010:  First ever steady 30 mins run 
Now:   Just surprised myself with a 50 mins. steady run 

'Patience is a virtue, my girl'... yes, that's what my mother always used to tell me when I was little.  Ugh... sometimes it's hard to be patient.


Upcoming Events for 2011

July 3, 2011 -- Welland Half-Iron Distance Tri

Sept 11, 2011 -- Rev3 Cedar Point Half-Iron Distance Tri

Monday, December 6, 2010

GUESS WHAT???? I FINALLY received my Timberman Medal!!!!!

Sorry for shouting but if you've been following along... my race was on August 22, 2010... that's about 3.5 months ago... I've gotten progressively more bitter about it as time dragged on...

So... needless to say, after receiving many back and forth reponses from Ironman, including: ' it will ship in 2-4 weeks', 'it will ship in 3-5 weeks', 'we received a shipment but there still weren't enough', 'we are still waiting for additional shipment', 'it has been shipped', 'it's been shipped 3 times we are not sure why it is not reaching you... what is your address again?'...

I then find out that the mailing company they use 'can't ship internationally' - Wow!  How inconvenient for me, eh? 

After firing off several increasingly irate emails to the organization (I mean, really, 3.5 months after the event I still didn't have a medal???)  guess what arrived in my mailbox??

No, really... GUESS...

I didn't get a medal....

I GOT THREE MEDALS - each mailed separately, 2 of the 3 had a mislabelled address... they all arrived within a day or two of each other...

(In other news, earlier this year, my husband received an award for SOMEBODY ELSE who had placed in her Ironman race...her FIRST NAME was similar to his LAST NAME... so we can see why that was confusing to the people mailing stuff out...ahem...)  Come on, guys... all that money that you collect in race fees, and you are wasting it on preventable inefficiences like this?  Shaking head...

Anyway... so now I have 3 Timberman medals and unless Ironman is trying to send me the message that I finished the race 3x slower than the 'average bear'... I now have one at the office for inspiration every time I think I can't do something... one on my bedpost... and one in my bag - to show every single person who will stand still long enough!!  YEAH!!!  

Glub, Glub, Glub...

I attended a swim clinic hosted by NRG yesterday in Toronto.  (No, I haven't swapped coaches - JJ is now part of their coaching team...)  What fun!  I got to see myself on underwater video and while by no means do I resemble Dara Torres (sadly...) I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't look like a drowning guppy!

We had 5 coaches on deck for around 18-20 people so we had tons of personalized attention and it was really well-organized from start to finish.

It was my first swim in about 6 weeks since my physio said 'no swimming till we fix your shoulder' but I got the go-ahead as long as I promised to work on technique and not mileage. 

The best parts for me:

- I got to see myself on video and will be able to download it later for my (and others' viewing pleasure... my husband might like to see it, although he too will likely be sad that I don't look like Dara Torres... I mean... have you seen that woman??  Wow!)

- I learned which part of my stroke is the culprit for my shoulder impingement and it's not the part I thought!  (I thought it was my 'pull' but in fact it's because my right elbow is too high during recovery and I'm pinching things that way...) - that alone was well worth the 4 hours! 

- I got to work on bilateral breathing which is far easier for me than I remember... and should help with my shoulder... plus I was able to find and practice (believe me it will take a lot more practice) a not-so-high elbow recovery that did not cause me to squeal in pain under the water.

How cool is that??

I met some really great people who were also attending the clinic - some had just come back from Ironman KONA... and some had done some really cool races, like Ironman Cozumel and Escape from Alcatraz!  Wow!  Yes, I am very impressed :) 

It's so much fun to live vicariously through others' race experiences and adventures... especially when I know that I'll never be fast enough to qualify for Kona (I guess there's always a coffee tour...), I'll likely never acclimatize to heat sufficient enough to race in Cozumel (there's always snorkeling...) and Alcatraz, while it sounds like a blast - 51 degree water temp is a definite 'No &%# way!!' - I'd dunk my face and come up with icicles on my nose!!  Then my lungs would surely implode and I'd have to hope that the sea lions took pity on me and dragged my sorry and unconscious a$$ to shore!  LOL! 

But, I digress...

This was all to say that if you live in the Toronto area, I'd highly recommend checking out NRG for when they host these training clinics - they are well worth the money and time!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

'Tis the Season...

.. to be jolly... or FEEL chubby and jolly... I guess... ugh...  somehow it's always easier to see yourself in the buff when you are tanned from being outside than when you are as pasty white as the snow...   ever notice that??


Luckily, there is an abundance of beautiful technical warm winter running gear on the market (and I seem to own quite a selection - ahem) so that there is (sometimes, let's face it:  sadly...) no excuse to get out there and tromp around in the snow, sluch or ice...

Is it just me or does everyone feel the desire to stay inside and cozy during the months of November and December?  I think the lack of sunlight has a lot to do with my state of mind which is more bear-like than human... ie. it's dark - therefore, I should be sleeping!

I'm training for speed on the run... I know that my coach knows exactly what he's doing but to me, (and bless him for not strangling me as I vent my frustrations with this part of the training process) this feels like the 'tablecloth trick' that was my first 70.3 race -- how can these little, short and painful runs possibly translate to anything good over the long-term?  I just don't get it.  I've been running for a couple of years now.  I have a run pace that I like to call: 'run' - vs. the pace I call: 'walk'... the notion of having several different run paces for differing race distances just baffles me... honestly! 

I sort of 'get' how it works but my body and brain have not yet caught up with each other, so most of my tempo runs feel disjointed, awkward, and I feel like the out of shape kid that can't keep up... ya know what I mean??!! 

I'd better get used to it... I've signed up for the Robbie Burns 8k run to commemorate not only his contributions to society but my own (ie. my 45th birthday - EEK!!!!  45!!!????  Good Lord!!!!!)  and hopefully, I will pleasantly surprise myself and pull off another 'tablecloth trick' at that event ;)

Hey -- it could happen...

On Dasher... On Dancer... On Suzi... oh wait - she's down... she slipped on that patch of ice over there... ouch - that looks painful...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Getting REVved up for 2011!

I just officially signed up for one of my races for 2011:  the Half-Rev at Rev3 Cedar Point, September 11, 2011.  That's a half-iron distance in case you didn't know... it's at Cedar Point amusement park - which is pretty neat if you have a family (our cats don't enjoy roller coasters...) but if you HAVE kids... I think it's a great venue!!

Just on a whim, I signed Eric up today as well - it's his Christmas present!  Imagine his surprise when he got the confirmation in his INBOX... LOL!

It should be a good time.  I know a couple of people who raced it this year and aside from the WaVy conditions of the water, it sounds like it's going to be a nice venue.  Race day apparently there were 2' swells but the day before they were closer to 5'???  EEEK!

Of course, newbie swimmer that I am, I'm a little daunted by less than perfect water conditions (read:  not too cold, not too wavy, not too murky...) but I'm determined and more than a little stubborn when I want to do something so... I vow to NAIL that swim - come Hell or high water!  (how fitting, eh??)  Just kidding... actually it might be more than just a 'bit' daunting but I do love a challenge... next summer I guess I'll have to practice swimming when it's windy, possibly cold and not-so-perfect...  Kelso isn't going to cut it... I guess I'll have to hit Lake Ontario (ugh... it's sooooooooooosssssssoooo... Cccccooolllddd...) but hey - if I can get used to it... just think how much stronger I'll be (as a person)... or something...

Once again I shall proudly write 'Quack' on my hand and keep on reciting my race mantra:  "I'm a rubber duck - you can't break me!"

It's 293 days and counting... or, if you prefer, it's actually 41.857142 weeks...

...tick...tick... tick...

- Sue

Friday, November 12, 2010

Santa is Coming... Santa is Coming...!!

'Tis the season to be... cold and shivering while we wait for Santa... LOL!!

Yes, folks - is that it's time once again for the 6th Annual SANTA SPEEDO RUN!!  Yes, that's me (above) with my husband after we ran through Yorkville dressed in a RED SPEEDO... with about 50 of our new order to raise money for the Toys and Games Fund for Sick Childrens' Hospital in Toronto.

It's a worthy cause and I love that 100% of the proceeds go to the fund - no administration costs :) 

If you are local, why not sign up as a runner, come out to cheer... ?  If you are not in the area, stay tuned - I will post photos after this year's event as well :)

This year, the event is on Saturday, December 11, 2010 1:30pm leaving from Hemingway's.  Check it out!!

If you would like to sponsor me, you can click here...


Monday, October 18, 2010

Re-Shaktified and Back in the Game

I just spent the last 5 days in the beautiful Berkshires region of Massachusetts.  Ahhh... the mountain air and crisp chill of the mornings and evenings... it was heaven!

I was at Kripalu Center, studying with my teacher, Shiva Rea.  The training module was Chakra Vinyasa and it was eye-opening on many levels. 

I hadn't realized how much I was missing that sense of community that I rarely encounter in my day to day life.  Time at Kripalu always renews that sense of completeness within me. 

I started out the week in a state of exhaustion - physical, mental and spiritual.  I wasn't sure that I was actually going at all until a couple of weeks ago when I decided I needed to attend the training and not put it off for a year.  For a few weeks, I'd been dragging myself back and forth to work, training and teaching... experiencing little to no joy in my everyday existence.  Luckily, I decided to go with my gut instinct, which was to attend Kripalu.

Once again, I met 'strangers' on Monday, who, by Friday, were friends, kindred spirits, brothers and sisters on the path... I am profoundly grateful.

We started our group sharing with me opening up to the fact that I felt completely spent - with nothing left for myself or for others.  I was feeling completely flat. I didn't have my voice... but was content to just smile at others most of the time without wanting - or being able to offer - deeper engagement.

Days began at 6am with chant and meditation, followed by 3 hours of physical practice, lunch, then more tuition in the afternoons before and after dinner.  The days were long and my sleep was not as long or as restful as I would have preferred. 

We worked with marma points to attain deeper release in asana.  I can't wait to share it with my students and friends tonight! 

I learned to abandon my inhibitions and chant like no one is watching (not easy for a girl who is always off-key when she sings...) and experience the powerful vibrations that only mantra provides... this will be incorporated into my daily practice from now on.  This is exciting :)

As the week went on, I had the privilege of being in the presence of one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard:  Benjy Wertheimer.  He and his partner, Heather, together with John de Kadt and friends, were at Kripalu for a concert on Wednesday night.  Shiva talked Benjy into helping us (her students) access the shakti within.  It was magical.  When Benjy sang/chanted the Sri Raga, I was spellbound.  I cannot remember ever being so moved by live music.  My heart opened up... My spirit began to sing...

By Thursday morning when we had our Fire practice (that's a type of practice designed to ignite your inner fire... it doesn't involve Smokey the Bear...) I was a new woman:  we experienced sahaja yoga in the morning and danced with abandon a la spontaneous trance dance... I never wanted it to end.

Friday came and following a vigorous 3 hour practice, I was back in my car, headed for home in a driving rainstorm.  Sweet, renewing rain - how I love you!!  So many people seem to shrink from rainy days but for me, I come alive -- like a little daisy that's wilted until the rains come and once again I can spring forth, renewed and refreshed!

Now, I'm back home and after a day of regrouping... I've discovered that I'm now truly back in the game.  Although I didn't wake up in time for my 6:30am swim session, I had a fabulous 2 hour spinning session with the triathlon club and emerged sweating, tired and... rejuvenated!  I think I'm ready to begin anew...

Bring on winter training... !!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

If A Tree Falls In The Forest...

... I shall bound over it, like a graceful gazelle... or mostly likely... trip and try to make a quick save ;)

I've begun a new love affair.  It consumes me.  I dream about it.  It exhilarates me like nothing ever has before.  It's like a drug.  It must be the real thing. I've discovered trail running.

I have a friend... let's call her Tina... well, we may as well, since that's her name... Tina the Trail Queen is what I call her, although affectionately I call her Pigpen.  She is an ultra runner.  She enjoys training runs of 30-40k+ (that's an easy day for her...) so that she can race 80k trail races.  She just completed the Haliburton Forest race and did very well... this was her second 80k race this summer.  She aspires to do a 100-mile race in 2011.  I cannot fathom how she does what she does and does it so well... but I'm beginning to understand how that love affair got started for her...

Tina took me out for a trail run (my very first) a couple of weeks ago.  It was a day when, after 5 days of extreme emotional stress (we had a very sudden and unexpected death in our family), I just needed to get out and spend some time with a friend.  Some might have taken me out for coffee... Tina introduced me to the trail.

This was a week after her 80k race and so she said she needed a 'recovery' run.  OK... I'm slow but figured that my pace might suit her needs... so we hit the trail at Hilton Falls in Milton, ON.  We talked and ran (slowly) for about 1:25 but deducting the bathroom stops, it actually was about 1:15 in total.  Until then, all of my 'long' runs had been based on 10 and 1's... this was something very new... (especially since I was only supposed to run 30 minutes that day... oops!)

I will never be the same.

Is it just me, or is there about 100% more available oxygen on a trail?  I felt like I could have just gone on and on... pure magic!

Imagine my delight to see that now JJ is adding 'trail run' to my training schedule!  I hit that same trail again this past weekend and did the loop in 1 hour (no bathroom stops this time).  It was the first time I had ever been scheduled a 'steady run' for an entire hour.  I actually did it!! By the end of the trail, I felt like I could fly... my stride opened up... I had a huge grin on my face for most of the time... like a happy labrador retriever loping along in the leaves...

I haven't yet attempted anything 'technical' (I'm pretty clumsy, anyway...) but I think that I'm going to be enjoying this love affair for a very long time to come...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Timberman 70.3...The Rear View

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to 'close' a race course...?  Welcome to The Rear View...

Race Day - August 22, 2010:

I got up at 3am. This wasn't in the training plan !

The swim was actually my best open swim ever!  No panic!  Did maybe 5 mins - if that...of breaststroke.. the rest was all freestyle.  Very good swim for me ;). Some poor woman from my wave was afraid of drowning and doing sidestroke!?. I offered her my feet she was too scared... Kept my eye on her.  She made it :)

Transition 1. Lol!!  All laid out. Perfect. Came in. It was raining...  I was prepared and my clothes were in a garbage bag to stay dry. Put shoes on grabbed bike ran out.  Shit!  Where are my glasses???  Volunteer held bike I ran back in.  Found oakley's where I had dropped them. Yay. Ran out...  Glanced down --Aaargh!!!  Forgot to pull bike shorts on over my run compression shorts!!! They were in the garbage bag so I didn't see them... Back I went again...  By now I had my own cheering section...  I was laughing my head off...

Bike out...  Omg why weren't my legs working!???  Big hill at 10mi. I had to get quads firing and get warmed up...  Slogged on...  At 10k, First sharp left turn I slowed right down... And wiped out. Aaargh!!! Ow!!!   Nice police officer helped me up...  Shit  shit!!!

Walked 10' to avoid everyone else that flew around the same corner easily and nearly took me out ...  Got back on... Front wheel messed up--bang!!!  Again!  This time in the path of oncoming traffic!!!  Could not disengage feet.  Lying in middle of road  one leg in the air...Same nice police officer... 'what happened this time?!'.  I don't know!!!!  I'm a spaz!!!! Almost burst into tears...   Didn't.  Why bother?  Lol!

Got back on. Carefully and afraid.  Seriously questioned whether I should just call it off.  Kept going.

Saw Chrissie (Wellington) on her way back in.. She didn't wave or notice I had blood running down my leg and gravel in my arm... She was in a hurry ;)

Marsh Hill. 9% grade. 1.2km. No #*&^@&*^  way!. Not even on a bet!!!  Walked up. That was hard enough!! Sigh...

Kept going very discouraged ... And so it continued.. For 5 slow and hard hours...  Gears were acting weird.  Shifting large to small ring - 9/10 times chain dropped...  Aaaaargh!!!!  On and Off the bike to fix the chain... and so it went... on... painfully... ;)

Got passed by many... Ok... Most... fine - nearly ALL... But saw some good people busting their butts for charity and who weren't giving up :)  I didn't give up either. 

When I walked the other huge hill on the way back I paused to scream and encourage the people who were riding up it while I had a gel. There were NO spectators on that stretch and they needed the encouragement :)

I seriously was scared of a DNF on the bike - I made it within 30 mins...rode small ring more than large. I was so tired!  My right knee felt like it was seriously injured...I honestly thought I'd be off training for a while after my race day but I kept my cadence up and metered out my effort... Followed all of JJ's instructions  Even splits!

Came in to T2 just thankful to be on feet I couldn't fall off ... I have no clue why that transition was nearly 8 minutes!!???  It felt quick!!  I think I blinked and lost a chunk of my life...

Off I went. First 5 km was spent trying to convince legs to RUN. They were just too tired. Not sore. Just not firing... Second 5k a bit better. Started cookies and cola at aid stn. It helped.

Third 5km was HELL. Felt like 10km. Ugh. Pissing rain. Free shower. Yay. The nice lady with '70' on her calf was 10k ahead of me. Bless her. She smiled encouragingly. I slogged on...

I knew the last 6km would be my best. My hips unlocked and finally I was running. A bit ;). Lol.  So close but time running out pardon the pun. 45 mins for 5k that had extra walk breaks... I trundled on...

I decided with 3 mi to go that I didn't care about the medal. I was going to finish it with or without a medal :) and that was just fine!!

Eric came to meet me on the course. He was worried... Lol. I did warn him I'd 'be a long time'...

Finally - there it was. The chute!  Sprinted laughing my head off like a child and it was over!! Lol!!!

9:17 -- OMG... I never want to be that long on a course again!  Unless it's a full Ironman!!  Lol!!

But. Not broken!  I didn't quit. Wanted to... it felt futile at times...  Anyway finish line photographer had left within 20 minutes of the course closure (thanks for that...)  and ... Drum roll... They ran out of official 70.3 medals?!!. I got a sprint medal from the race the day before... Oh well!!!  Lol!!!

How do you run out of medals at an IRONMAN race, when you know who is registered!??  Lol!!!

The Good:

  • The race venue is INCREDIBLY beautiful.
  • The race volunteers were better than GREAT - they were FANTASTIC!  Still smiling and encouraging and standing out in the rain while us slower athletes raced at our own pace :)
  • There was FOOD at the end of the race - yes, I kid you not...!  I actually had plenty of food waiting for me... that's a FIRST.

The Bad:

  • The finish line photographer abandoned his post before the course was closed (very disappointing)
  • The race organizers did not have sufficient 70.3 medals for those who were racing the event

The Ugly:

  • My finish time was 9:17... -- ROFL!!! 

End result:  I am a superstar ;)  Never in my dreams would I have imagined that I could do what I did - whether in 6 hours, 9 hours or 12... I have pushed my internal boundaries and conquered!!

What's next...?  NO - not Ironman!!  I'm getting excited looking at all of the other 70.3/half-iron distance triathlon courses for 2011...

Life is good. 

Huge waves of gratitude go out to the following:

JJ Neely, my coach -- You rock!!  You trained me and prepared me for this HUGE event in my life and I DID IT!! 

Steven Hill, my physiotherapist -- You rock, too!!  It's been a long road of trying to get me 'balanced' but I finished the event (albeit slower than the average bear) UNbroken!!!

Tara Postnikoff, my nutritionist -- for arming me with all of the knowledge I needed to fuel properly and stay healthy and fit throughout my training and racing this summer!

Eric D'Arcy, my husband, partner in crime and father of my furkids -- Honey, next time you have to wait for me to finish on a course, in the pouring rain, or scorching sunshine... hungry, thirsty, trying to take 'decent' photographs... just remember one thing:  THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!!  LOL!  If it weren't for you, I would not have taken up this insane sport in the first place! 

All of my friends from FMCT who were there with me in New Hampshire and made me feel as though I had won a GOLD MEDAL when I returned to the rented house we stayed in, with loud cheering, applause, hugs and champagne!! 

All of my friends from childhood, from the Mississauga Triathlon Club, the staff from the vet clinic and from my workplace - WSIB -- you all encouraged me to go for it and live my dream...

THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU for making my life so much richer!!

 - Shanti

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Timberman - Bib Numbers and Swim Wave Start Times Posted

It's official:  I have a bib number for Timberman -- it's 690.

My swim wave goes off at 7:20am -- Wave 6 out of 18 in total...
My biggest concern right now is how many of the people in the 12 waves that start after me, will attempt to swim over or through me on their way...?  I feel kinda sick... I imagine this will pass as soon as I chew on some Tums or something... or better yet, perhaps I shall meditate on this... like a good yogini. 

I was actually feeling pretty 'level' today until I read the blog post of another athlete competing in the same race who had noted that bib numbers and swim waves were posted (it hadn't even occurred to me to check the site...).  Once I saw my name in print my stomach dropped to the floor. 

This is real.

Oh. My. God.

Well... I guess now at least I can plan my swim strategy (stay the HELL out of everyone's way...) and at least now I can approximate the clock times of the cutoffs for the various events.  I'm sure once I'm actually racing I will not be lucid enough to actually do the math in my head so I'll likely be wearing 2 wrist units - one watch with race timer plus one Garmin HR monitor wrist unit... at least the tan lines will be even...

Does everyone feel this alternating sense of dread/excitement before their 'A' race of the season or is it more of a 'first-timer' thing...?  I wonder...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Training in Lake Placid - July 2010

Training in Lake Placid... during Ironweek... I was excited and more than a little nervous...

This time last year, I was unable to do any training myself, as I was plagued by injuries... this year was a whole different experience. I got my own little taste of what it would be like to train and race on that course.

I was scheduled to swim 1 loop of the swim course, ride 1 loop of the bike course and run part of the run course.  I had my nutrition plan in place and was all set for the adventures to come.

We arrived Thursday afternoon with back spasms from the drive from Toronto... oh goody...   That was the day I was scheduled to swim.  We checked into our rooms at the dorm and then went over to Mirror Lake - Eric had a short bike ride and I had my swim to do.  It was about 5pm by the time we reached the beach.

One thing I learned while at the lake... just talk out loud and drop the name of your next race and someone, somewhere... has done it already or is signed up as well - and conversation begins :)  I met some great people who did Timberman 70.3 last year and got lots of feedback on the course.  I was so happy to meet people who've done it before!  That's the problem with having to drive for 10 hours to get to your 'big race' of the season... you really don't know what to expect... I've been scouring blog reports for months, trying to glean some details.  This was valuable information!

I got into the lake, briefly remembering that last year, I swam about 200m filled with panic and dread that I was, indeed, going to drown before I hauled my a$$ out of Mirror Lake.

From a distance (ie the beach) it did look like kind of a long way to swim... once I got into the water, it seemed like much farther!  The submerged cable did wonders for my self-confidence... I had a road map for where I was supposed to go - oh joy!  I learned that once again, if I can see where I am going, I'm fine... but force me to sight frequently to stay on course or fog up my goggles so that I can't see and it's a whole new ball game...

Mirror Lake is the nicest lake I have ever swum in.  The water temperature was perfect - a little cool so that you don't overheat, but fresh, and tasted good in the mouth.  It was a great swim!  Took me about 56 minutes which isn't fast by any means but I didn't panic.  I took a couple of breaks and composed myself a bit here and there but for the most part - it was a lovely swim!

With that done, I was feeling better, more limber, and ready to tackle my single loop of the bike course the following morning, bright and early.

How can I put this simply for the folks who've never been to Lake Placid...?  ALL ROADS APPEAR TO GO UPHILL.  Seriously, I'm not kidding.  I started my ride, in cool weather, overcast and drizzling and stopped and got off my bike twice in 15 minutes because I was certain that my front - and then my back - wheel, must have been rubbing... there could be no other reason for me going so slow... or so I thought!  Even when you are on your bike and the road ahead looks flat... IT IS NOT.  It is a cruel, optical illusion of Mother Nature. 

I bumbled along in my own way, dreading and muttering out loud the entire time I rode the 9km descent into Keene in the rain.  It was cold and my hands went completely numb so that I couldn't even feel the brake levers I was trying to 'feather'... whenever I thought I had finished the nerve-wracking descent and it was over, I'd see another one of those signs that shows the truck taking a nosedive down a big steep hill... ugh...

After that, I started to enjoy myself - the scenery was fabulous!  I rode along the highway with the river at my right side and just found myself filled with gratitude that I was able to experience all of this under my own pedal power.  It was a very powerful experience. 

The short version was that I ate and drank nearly everything in sight and talked to myself a LOt... but was not able to finish the entire loop due to muscle fatigue.  Sadly, I called it at about 75km... my back spasms were back with a vengeance and I was really reluctant to push it too far and suffer a setback for my training.  I called Eric to come and get me... and when he picked me up, he drove along beside me as I did my run off the bike...

I ran the following day... again - all roads seemingly go UPHILL... but at least it's pretty :)

What did I learn from this experience?  First and foremost, I have a huge amount of respect for those that race that IM course - it is TOUGH!  It also reminded me that patience is a virtue and I cannot and will not rush my own journey to a full iron-distance race.  I had dabbled with the idea of training for a full iron-distance for 2012... after that reality check, however, I'm thinking maybe 2013-2014...maybe...

Secondly, I am stronger than I thought!  I wonder how far I can ride on that course in a year from now when we return again in 2011 to cheer on our friends...?   

;)  Life is GOOD

Lake Placid Ironman July 2010 - A Spectator's View

For the second consecutive year, I was treated to the sight of athletes participating in the Lake Placid Ironman.  This year, I knew about 6 people racing, including my husband, Eric.  Race day was so exciting to witness!  I stood about 3 feet behind the wetsuit strippers so I had fabulous shots of the athletes readying for the swim start, the frenzy of them storming the beach afterwards, and flopping down to get stripped.  Those 'strippers' really put a lot of gusto into their jobs!!  Everytime I saw a wetsuit and resulting spray coming my way, I had to drop the camera lens down and turn my face away - LOL!   I managed to get photos of everyone I knew except for Eric... I think he exited the water during a particularly large crowd of swimmers and I missed him...

The bike leg is always great to watch - many fabulous photo ops and I saw Eric go by twice so that was great and I got some terrific shots of him!

The run course... I saw Eric going out for the run... gave him a kiss for good luck and then I hung around to see Tara Norton (fabulous pro athlete from Toronto) come into the finisher's oval prior to taking my seat at the Finish Line.

Last year I didn't get much opportunity to see the fastest finishers, as I was volunteering on the run course until quite late.  This year, I decided I wanted to witness those people who finished in under 11 hours... it was so great to see them coming down the chute!  I witnessed smiles, elation, tears of joy and one racer in particular who was so taken by the moment as she came down the chute, she literally stopped for a moment, taking it all in before she crossed - it gave me goosbumps!

Eric crossed the Finish Line looking perky and relatively fresh!  I was so happy to see him looking so great and strong!!!  When he came running through the chute, I could hardly believe it was him - the poor guy's been plagued with injuries for months - but he looked amazing!  So proud of him!!   By then, I was wearing a plastic bag (aka 'poncho') just to keep warm - it was freezing!! I was the yellow plastic-clad maniac jumping up and down in the bleachers, screaming, 'Go, Eric!!!!'.... he didn't see me... he forgot where I was going to be... I admit, when he didn't see me, my heart sank... I was so disappointed that we didn't even make eye contact... 

He crossed the line and the vanished from sight.  I figured if he didn't remember to look up where I said I'd be, he might not remember to come back and meet me there either... so I tried going looking for him... that took a good half hour and a lot of frustration - other people had seen him but I couldn't find him!  Finally - there he was!!  I felt so proud of him - what a fabulous accomplishment!

Congratulations to all of the finishers at Lake Placid Ironman - you all ROCK!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Timberman 70.3 - 13 days and Counting...

It seems really hard to believe that in 13 days, I will be in New Hampshire, and getting ready to race at Timberman 70.3.  I still can't get my head wrapped around this... I keep flashing back to a year ago, when I was barely swimming 25m without a rest break, or running 1 and 1's for 10 sets... and trying to remind myself that I'm different now.  My brain hasn't quite caught up yet...

Yesterday, I went out for (what I think was) my last long ride before the race.  I say 'think' because, clearly, I have no real clue what is really going on... and at the moment I'm kind of too tired to really care... I just follow directions.  LOL! 

I would have thought that by now, after 10 months of training, that I would 'get it' and figure out what is going on... but obviously not... it still feels like a magic trick when I pull off a good training day!  Yesterday's nearly 4-hour bike ride on what turned out to be a very blustery day was a complete surprise:  I felt good!  I didn't know I could do that!!  LOL!  I know, you'd think that with all of the training and consistency I've been maintaining for 10 months, it would be a no-brainer but once again - MAGIC!  ;) 

This has been an amazing journey of self-discovery unlike anything I've embarked upon before.  I still find it completely fascinating that my body adapts to the training demands and keeps getting stronger (next year, I will hope for 'faster'...) and carrying me forwards when my brain seems to think that it's game over. 

I'm still not sure if I'll be fast enough to make all of the various cutoffs at the race.  I 'should' be able to make them... barring any unforeseen circumstances (that's life, right?) but I have to keep reminding myself that I CAN DO THIS.  Whether or not I can do this within an allotted time, I'm still not sure... all I can do is TRI... ;) 

So now I guess the tapering begins - or soon, anyway... I'm a little nervous.  The mood-swings alone are enough to make me question my sanity.  Last week, in a period of 24 hours I experienced nervousness, panic, apathy and extreme excitement - oh great... now I'm turning into a bipolar pixie... wonderful!

At least this week, I have the task of baking and decorating about 100 cupcakes for various functions.  That should keep the brain occupied...

Happy Training, Everyone!  Summer is not yet over!!!

- Sue

Monday, July 19, 2010

Who Are YOU and What Have You Done With My Husband?

Well, as of yesterday, Misery Boots moved out... Village Idiot made a brief appearance (which I dutifully ignored) but now, in place of both of these, it seems that THE HAPPY PIXIE has moved into my house.  It's an improvement, believe me!! 

  • ... it dances
  • ... it sings
  • ... it tra la la's countdowns to Ironman race day... Sunday July 25th ( in days and hours)
  • ... it makes me wonder about the wonders of pharmaceutical sedation...
  • ... it stays up late, watching YouTube videos of (what else?)  IM races...
  • ... it sends me email links to videos above... saying 'Wow - look how    motivating!!!!' 

I'm not sure which part is the most motivational for me:  the guy puking on the bike as he rides; the people collapsed and seemingly unconscious in the middle of the course; the guy carrying his bike on the bike leg; the people being taken out on stretchers... the girl hooked up to an IV... the list goes on... yes, mighty motivating!!  LOL!!  At least no one filmed swimmers getting attacked by sharks or anything...

Strangely, The Happy Pixie doesn't wear elf boots or jingle with bells ... it looks like my husband and yet... it is not... it can't be... ?  The Pixie behaves like a 4 year old waiting impatiently for Santa Claus to arrive...

As exhausting as it is having a pixie living in my house... I'll take it!!  ;)

Countdown to IM Lake Placid: 

5 days and several hours... (I'm not mathematically inclined...)  

GO ERIC GO!!!!!!!!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

We're On the Road to Lake Placid...

Eric is doing his first Ironman this year - Lake Placid - July 25th.  You can probably imagine how much fun this journey has been for both of us... or perhaps you can't...

Apparently, all of the angst and fallout (for me - the spouse) is 'normal' so I guess I now know what I'm in for in the years to come... ;)

These Things I've learned:

There are apparently 2 alter egos at play here:  Misery Boots or Village Idiot.  There does not seem to be an in-between (ie. 'husband')... Seriously, I do joke about these things but it's true... it's impossible to get my usually helpful and kind partner motivated to do anything unless it involves IM.  Highly frustrating!  Most of the time he's just busy training, busy working or busy sleeping... the rest of the time he's complaining about training, working or lack of sleep... wow - what fun!!

We keep in touch via email.  Why?  Well, because whenever I do get a phone call, most often it's from Village Idiot... ie. completely unintelligible!!  This familiar sounding, yet nearly impossible to comprehend, voice on the other end invites me to dinner, or suggests an activity and then in the next breath or so, tells me why it's not possible... usually these phone calls occur while I'm busy at work or at home - trying to get in a nap or get my own training done...

The preferred responses I've developed consist of: 
'I'm busy'
'I'm going to bed'
'I'm going out now - see you later'

It might sound harsh but it's a heck of a lot better than letting loose my frustrations and then BOTH of us being miserable... Village Idiot is to 'out of it' to notice that I'm frustrated... Misery Boots - well, he just wants a fight!  LOL!!

My coach filled me in on a little secret:  There's IM Eric and then there's Eric... not the same thing... (no kidding...)

Luckily, I'm an only child and quite content to go about my own business and activities - for the most part.  I've learned that IM Eric won't help me clean the house, stock the fridge with groceries or help me store the furniture that I cannot put in the storage locker by myself... he will not allow me to quietly nap when he's home unless it falls within his daily routine... I will be SO glad when IM is over!!

Now, of course, the budding IM is on a taper pre-race and so he has a wee bit more energy and is excited about all of the 'spare' time he will have to spend with - ME!  Sounds nice except that... I'M TRAINING FOR MY HALF-IRON ON AUG. 22ND... Coach JJ tells me that I have to 'FOCUS' and put everything into this to prepare for my BIG RACE - so from now on, it's ME that will be living and breathing my H-IM training... I hope he enjoys himself keeping the house running smoothly while I have my own personal pre-race meltdown...

Payback's a bitch... ;)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Heatwave !! (You're singing it, aren't you??)

Whew!!  It's been SO hot the past week or so and I see on The Weather Network that this week will hit nearly 40 again... yuk!  I don't understand people who thrive in heat and humidity at all... I feel like a little wilted daisy, dying for water and shade and too exhausted to help myself...

My training last week was pretty dismal.  I skulked around from air-conditioned car/house to shady spot... my runs looked like zig-zags from tree to tree... crossing the street as required.  I even considered running on the spot under the shade of one particularly large tree in order to satisfy my coach's 30 minute ROTB requirement a week ago Sunday!  LOL!

My weekday workouts were terrible.  Lack of breath (asthma) playing a large role in my desire to do nothing but sleep in a cool room.  I barely ate enough to fuel myself because I just feel too tired to eat.  Goody! 

On Thursday night, I swam at Professors' Lake in Brampton and realized that I do not like feeling overheated while swimming any more than I like feeling overheated on the run... I couldn't wait to get out of my wetsuit and cap - my body and head felt like they were broiling... ugh!  I also realized that it's hugely important to me that my goggles don't fog up - I NEED to be able to see where I'm going!  It messes with my brain when I can't see!  Guess I'd better pick up a spare pair of Sable Water Optics goggles before race day!

One good thing came out of it, though... I figured out that if I'm swimming a 'loop' in a lake, I will just keep swimming for 'home'... no matter how long it takes... whereas, if I'm swimming out and backs in the lake, I'm far more likely to cop out and get out early (in other words, it's all MENTAL). 

I also realized that I really WANT to become a good enough swimmer so that on hot and humid days like that, I have the ability to swim without a wetsuit!

Finally, the weekend came and I was psyched for some 'real' training with the break in the humidity that was promised. 

On Saturday I swam my first 'loop' at Kelso.  I was so excited!  My sighting really sucks and the more I sight, the more disjointed and horrible my swim stroke becomes... I realize this is a learned skill.  Instead of worrying if I was going the right way, I just swam... and it felt great!  The water was just perfect:  cool but refreshing - it felt wonderful! 

Apparently, I have a choice:  I sight more often and go the right way but waste precious time regaining my stroke... or I sight less, enjoy the swim and glide along and waste precious time going off-course... hmm...decisions, decisions... right now I'm favouring the 'pleasure' factor.

I'm starting to dream of being able to swim TWO loops at Kelso before they close it down on Labour Day... I wonder if I can... ?

Bike training was good this weekend.  On Saturday I rode from Kelso and found some flats and rollers along the way.  Very enjoyable!  It felt like I had a headwind for the first 45 minutes and my speedometer reflected it... wow - I felt so slow compared to last week!  I'm starting to not feel intimidated by the rollers that I encounter along the way... progress :)

On Sunday (yesterday) I decided I'd do my bike and run training in Inglewood.  Lovely little spot... plenty of parking, nice little General Store, the rail trail (flat and shady run/bike trail for my LSD run ) and a lovely bike shop to walk around in as a reward after training...  somehow, I forgot that it's all HILLS in Inglewood... duh... having a shorter bike session, I figured it would be a fairly easy ride, until I remembered that where I parked is surrounded by hills and it's the only way out - LOL! 

I was pleasantly surprised that I managed to get up and down all of those hills I found without needing to stand (my knee won't take it...) and without injuring anything or more importantly - without blowing up.  A month ago this would not have been possible...

Every time I see a hill now, I wonder if it will be like that at Timberman.  Then I figure it may well be so I'd best figure out how to get my butt up and down it safely ;)  I can't get over the difference my new rear cassette has made!  I can actually keep my feet pedalling up some of the more steep and short climbs... I also realized that sometimes a hill looks way more scary than it actually is... some of them looked downright menacing until I was zooming up them without super-human effort... (note:  your definition of 'zoom' may differ). 

The run on the FLAT (ie. EASY) trail could not have felt harder!  Holy cow... I know I have to teach my body to run while tired... but ... seriously???  That was UGLY.  My pace felt like a shuffle and I was so hot that I ran out of fluids and had to stop to replenish near the end.  I wondered when it would be over.  UGH.  I fear that Timberman will be something like that... although the run is not flat... at least there will be Aid Stations on the course... one cup of water for me, one cup of water for my head... that should help... right??

Ah well... it is what it is... My race is now about 6 weeks away... OMG - MY RACE IS ONLY ABOUT 6 WEEKS AWAY???!!?!?!?! 



Monday, June 28, 2010

Welland Sprint Triathlon - June 26, 2010

We had a busy weekend - Eric and I were in Welland for both of our respective races.  What fun!

I raced the sprint on Saturday and Eric raced the half-iron distance on Sunday.

I've been thinking back on my race experience in point-form, so here we go, pithy remarks included:


- got up 4:45am and had breakfast and started my hydration routine per Tara's instructions...

- we left home at 6:20am and drove to Welland to the race site
- I entered 'Race Mode' during the drive... ie. iPod on, ignored distractions and didn't do anything other than close my eyes visualize a strong race
- upon arrival, I set up my transition area and got marked, etc... visited the potty... and moved like a girl in a trance, mostly... 'shell-shocked' comes to mind...
- saw my friend Cathy but I was kind of 'in the zone' and had to tell her that because she looked worried that I might start to freak out or something ... ;)
- all of a sudden (it seemed) I had to go down to the water for the swim start
it was a time-trial start so we had to line up according to bib number - I was 160
- had a couple of 'aren't we happy and dry and we haven't hit the water yet' shots taken with Cathy and then it was time...


- got to the dock where we were to enter and !  Saw my friend, Paul - who just happened to be photographing the race!  Woo hoo!!!  BIG smile :)
- got in the water (no time for a warmup swim and my usual 'relaxation' routine in the water... ) and then waited for them to call my number
- we were going at  :05 intervals... either people weren't listening, or don't know how to count... but I got bumped and shoved as I was readying to start my race (isn't the point to NOT have that happen??)  anyhow... off we went...
- 50m in, I realized I'd forgotten to start my watch... fixed that and kept going...
- nice water in Welland - kind of clear... green... doesn't taste bad... I was noticing all of this as I watched the other swimmers pass me... oh well, keep on chugging... wow - the scenery in Welland is pretty...
- one lady was on her back doing the backstroke already... hope she did OK...
- got to the first buoy and another lady was waiting for the kayak as I asked her if she was okay... (asthma attack) - I would have waited with her but the kayak showed up so I swam on...
- first buoy was to my right and by now I was trying to figure out why I couldn't breathe...??  Literally... 3-5 strokes and I was back to breaststroke (Aargh!  Maddening!  I can SWIM now... I should not have needed to do that... grrrrrr!)
- it was weird... I wasn't afraid of the water... I wasn't afraid of the other swimmers (let's face it - most of them were already out of the water... LOL... ) so perhaps it was the heat and my asthma was acting up or else it really was mental anxiety... I am still trying to figure that one out... welcome to OCD, folks ;)
- kept going in my disjointed way and finally got out (I had figured on 20:00 - and it took me 21:00 - for 750m... I know... SLOW... oh well... when I got out, I was smiling and for once, able to immediately get upright and run a bit instead of spit out seaweed and water and look and feel like the swamp thing on the way to transition... PROGRESS :)


- being clumsy, I was praying I wouldn't get tripped up with my cleats and injure myself again... grabbed Lily (AKA The Green Goddess) and we were off... 30k of 'flat and fast roads'... welcome to Welland :)
- waved to the photographer and gave him a big smile and anyone I passed on the bike got words of cheerful encouragement
- tried smiling and waving at the people already on their way back (they weren't smiling or waving back...too focused) and shouted out whoops of delight to the obviously fast cyclists as they whizzed by me - almost finished as I was just starting... I'm sure they (like many) thought I was a lunatic
- I couldn't believe my eyes when I glanced at the speedometer and was hitting 28.5 kph and even higher at some points... who was doing that?  ME??  Wow!!  Haven't seen speeds like that - EVER!  Cool!  Physio is really helping!!!
- had a fabulous ride... my average was 25.8 kph and for me, that was ultra-fast
- even better... NO PAIN ... just a smooth ride and felt strong - YES!
- I figured 1:30 for the bike... in fact, it took me 1:09 what a nice surprise!


- here is where it all fell apart (yeah, the one part I was NOT worried about...)
- first time ever, I had major GI issues on the run - oh my lord...
- Firstly, I would like to say that the amount of volunteers on the course was wonderful - they were smiling and cheerful
- I would also like to say that it would be helpful if when you asked one of them something of great importance, like, "where is the nearest bathroom?" someone actually had an answer!! 
- so, there I was, almost doubled over in agony, trying to run but more like a shuffle, desperately muttering to myself that it was over - I had to get to a bathroom NOW - no -- 5 MINUTES AGO!!  I was so afraid that I would have to wait the entire 7.5km to find a bathroom and I was just about ready to cry 

Entered Door #1:  outhouse with bucket (no, I'm not kidding!)
- no paper
- lots of flies and insects
- no light
- I nearly wept... honestly...

Entered Door #2: 
- I continued my shuffling... another km or so... saw a (up there on the hill... could it be???) Porta John - oh joy!!!

So... following the wasted time during the 'misery shuffle', the entrance and somewhat hasty exit from Door #1 and then followed up by Door #2, I tried desperately to figure out how long I'd been out there... my Garmin was in 'Race Mode' - great... except it wouldn't show me how long I'd been on the run course... aargh! 

Gertrude was nattering away about Timberman and how it's all but an impossibility that I will finish it... I got so sick of the noise I (yes, I really did...) said 'Shut up, Gertrude' - out LOUD... there was no on around to hear but me... and somehow it worked... HA!

It was the longest 7.5km run of my life. My pace was averaged at 7:33/km - so I was out there almost an hour... good lord!

Wrap Up:

This was my first sprint tri - not only of the season - it was my first sprint distance tri EVER.  Previously, I've raced try-a-tri's and one very memorable olympic duathlon (from Hell).  So, I really didn't know what to expect when I put all 3 sports together for this distance plus, I took all last year off racing because I was in physio...

So...What Did I learn?

- to carry tissues in my pockets - I might need them!
- to put a bag or something over my shoes in transition so that if it rains (and it did) my running shoes will not be sopping wet when I put them on for the run

The biggest thing I learned:  

I can be on a course for 2:36 (yes, it really did take me that long to do a 'sprint' - we can't all be fast...) and at the finish line, I can still be smiling and perky and NOT BROKEN!  Woo hoo!!!!  Consistency in training, a great coach, hard work, good physio and proper nutrition - YAY!!  Oh - and a supportive husband... he was my support crew on Saturday :)

In fact, when I pulled my pictures from the race, I noticed that I was smiling when I exited the swim, smiling on the bike and smiling at the finish line... I think that sums it up.  I had FUN.  I didn't quit.  I did something I'd never done before...


I'm ready for more...

Bring it ON!

** Pictures to follow **

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Game ON!

Wow... time flies... my first triathlon is in less than 2 weeks' time... EEK!!!

I've just spent the past week on the 'Rehab' list... my left knee is giving me problems.  NO - not NOW!!  I've got too much bike training to do!!!

Isn't that always the way..?

By last Friday evening, I had resigned myself to the fact that, in fact, I may not make it to Timberman 70.3.  The best laid plans and all that crap... It was a sad realization but truthfully, I just don't know when it will be down to the nitty-gritty of whether or not I have to pull the plug if I'm injured and cannot complete my necessary training to get me up and down those darn hills....

I'm such a dweeb... I was so focused on the 'clear blue waters of Lake Winnipesauke' that I forgot to note that it's a HILLY course!!  I no longer fear drowning.  I am not afraid of a long run - even in the heat of summertime.  However, I do fear for my knees as I try to stomp my pedals to get up hills amidst mutterings, groanings and prayers for not blowing out my knee during the ordeal... damn, damn damn...

Lunatic Ravings:
  • What if a new rear 12-27 cassette is not enough to get me up the hills?  What if I'm just not strong enough yet? 
  • What if this is as good as it gets?????
  • what if I climb up but am scared to zoom down the other side?
  • what if I fall?
  • what if I have to WALK my bike up a hill if my knees are screaming at me?
  • What if I set my race goals too high?? 
  • What if I can't complete my training... will I have let my coach (JJ) down? 
  • Will Eric be disappointed in me? 
  • What was I thinking, signing up for this stupid race, anyhow????
  • What if...?

Finally, I got GERTRUDE to shut the hell up (yes, I have JUST named that raving loony-tunes LUNATIC in my head:  Gertrude... I don't know why... it just suits her.... perhaps I like the sound of 'Shut UP, Gertrude' said out loud... I don't know...) If Gertrude is your name or the name of someone you love, I apologize - it's nothing personal ;)


After much reflection, I decided that no matter what happens at Timberman or whether or not I actually get to start that race as planned, I'm in the best shape of my life at this time.  I've gained strength and endurance and more than anything else - I'M HAVING FUN!!  I can swim now!  I can honestly say that I love to run now!!  I'm still afraid of getting stuck in my clipless pedals but... aside from that... I enjoy riding my bike through the country!!!  It's all good.  LIFE IS GOOD.

I've had 3 visits to my favourite physiotherapist and spent plenty of time in his clinic watching FIFA games while doing my exercises and therapy ;)  It's official:  I enjoy watching soccer far more than any other team sport on television... not only does it move quickly enough to hold my attention but I can easily spot the ball on the field -- a definite plus!   Maybe I'll start photographing soccer games.... but, I digress...

I was talking about my bike training... or Gertrude... or rehab... or something...

Last weekend a bunch of us went up to Muskoka for a training weekend.  It was tons of fun!  Everyone had their bikes and were out and about, running and cycling the hills of Muskoka.

I took my trainer and rode inside to avoid any further issues with my knee.  It wasn't that bad, actually... there were no mosquitoes inside the cottage...

It rained most of the time on Friday and Saturday... Sunday morning was hot and brilliantly sunny.  Naturally, I got a horrific sunburn... LOL! 

The water is Muskoka (Lake Mary, to be exact...) was lovely - and COLD!  Brrrr!!!  Holy cow... I figured I'd be okay in my wetsuit and swimcap but within 15 minutes of swimming I had a horrible brain freeze (ice cream headache...) and that was enough fun for me... spent the rest of the time frying myself on the dock...

I hope that it will be warmer than that in New Hampshire! 

I got some great shots of Eric (hubby) and friends and will post some of those a bit later...

A good time was had by all!

Now, this coming weekend, I am hoping for sunshine and a pain-free knee so that I can get some much-needed endurance training in!  Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Little Engine That Could...

Well, for me... it's ALL about the bike...

My swimming skills are coming along - I can swim in the lake without panicking... My running is pretty good, too and I have no complaints.

My biking, shall we say, is lacking... I lack endurance, strength and possibly more than anything else:  time in the saddle.  I know... that's what training is for... thanks for the heads up... however I am finding myself sorely lacking in self-confidence when it comes to my bike skills.

Obviously this has to change.  NOW.  Yesterday, in fact...

This coming weekend we are going up to Muskoka to ride the hills - I don't know if they will be alive with the sound of music... but likely they will be alive with the sounds of one small triathlete screaming "Wheeeeeeeeee!" on the downhills and grunting and muttering aloud to herself on the uphill climbs... I foresee a large amount of prayers for personal safety and for mental calmness... Should be a nice weekend... let's hope for NO KAMIKAZEE SQUIRRELS OR CHIPMUNKS...

Last year when the tri club went to Muskoka, it SNOWED.  Yes, you read that correctly... SNOW.  How weird is that?!?  I have photographs of snow falling on the wetsuits hung out to dry...

I have my orders - I mean, my training schedule all set up for me - complete with maps and everything.  It's my biggest scheduled week of training to date.  I hope I can complete it all!

I have swapped my rear cassette for a 12-27 so I have a couple of extra climbing gears.  Will it be enough to allow me to pedal my way to new heights?  We shall see, I guess... only one way to find out...

I have my mantra for the bike training:

I think I can...I think I can...I think I can...

Friday, June 4, 2010

How to Become a More Confident Open Water Swimmer

Hope you're not expecting some fabulous training plan... no... just more of my blithering thoughts.. ;)

This really works though... I was the test subject, so I can say that in all honesty.

JJ (coach) knows I'm nervous about open water swimming.  I recognize now that I can go the distance (in the pool) but it still feels different in the big, open space of the lake and I've been working on mental calming techniques so I don't panic.

Last night I showed up to Kelso and was told 'I have someone I want you to swim with - she's new and has never been in the lake before'.... um, okay, I thought to myself... wow... this should be good...I'm pretty pathetic and he wants me to help someone new..?

I met my new swim buddy (Lorraine) and we waded into the lake together.  I showed her how I go in slowly, get my face wet (and proceeded to splash her and go under and blow some bubbles for a little bit to get acclimatized.  I assured her that although you can't see anything in the water because it's cloudy, it tastes far better than a swimming pool and in a wetsuit, it's a no-brainer to float around if you feel tired.

We swam a little bit of breaststroke and chatted.  She is just about to do her first try-a-tri on Sunday at Milton.  She has only been swimming for a year and is self-taught.  It was her first time in a wetsuit and the first time being in a lake.

I wore my "Nemo" swimcap and so I was easy for her to spot as she swam along... we took our time and a few little breaks along the way while we practiced sighting and staying on course...


The 'newbie' swam 1000m!  Imagine my delight on her behalf!  What a trooper! 

She thanked me for swimming with her and helping her feel so comfortable for her first open water swim and was so excited that she had found her first 'coach' (Who?  Me???).  It was I who thanked HER... together, we swam without fear of the open water.  We built our confidence and enjoyed the experience together. 

Hard to say who benefited the most from that teaming up of like-minded souls:  Lorraine or me...

JJ, smart coach that he is, knew that with someone else to think about, my own fears would take a back seat... way to go, JJ!

I can't wait to see Lorraine again and hear about her first triathlon - I'm betting she ROCKS the swim leg!!  Woo hoo -- you GO, girl!!!

Hypoallergenic Diet - Week 1

I've been feeling decidedly sluggish the past few weeks plus I had gone through a 1-2 week bout of horrible GI issues that left me feeling... well... pretty awful...

When I discussed this with Tara from HEAL Nutrition, as always, she had plenty of helpful suggestions and time to listen to me obsess about the fact that 'my weight is up' and 'I know it's just a number but..'. blah blah blah... how she manages to do this without a trace of exasperation is something to be admired :)

I queried whether a cleanse might be a good idea at this point and we discussed this for a while and came up with an action plan that I can follow and not impede my triathlon training. 

I usually do a cleanse about 2-3 times per year.  In the past, this has involved the purchasing of a herbal cleanse kit from my health food store and swallowing umpteen herbal capsules per day for several weeks and hoping to have enough energy to continue with my regular activities while I 'detox' and get massive headaches, skin breakouts... etc... on a couple of occasions, I wasn't even able to keep up with my regular yoga practice because I felt so yukky.

This time, however, I'm following a dietary cleanse approach.  It's a hypoallergenic diet:  no gluten, no dairy, no sugar, no caffeine... and I'm expecting to follow this for at least 3 weeks.

Note:  I am allowed GU Chomps and E-Load for my long training sessions in the heat... but other than that, I'm sugar-free, baby!

I asked if Eric (still training hard for IMLP) was planning to join me on this food adventure... his response (after reading about all of the dietary exclusions): 'What?  Are you trying to kill me??'.  Hmm... guess's to be a solo journey.

I made lunch plans with a friend earlier this week and told him about the dietary exclusions; he asked if perhaps he should just eat ahead of time and meet me for a glass of water...? 

Have we really become so enamored with gluten/dairy/sugar-containing foods that we are 'lost' without them..?

Actually, I'm feeling wonderful!  I started on Sunday and have not felt sick at all.  No headaches, either!  That was my biggest concern (I suffer from migraines).  I feel good, completely satiated by my allowable food choices and have had plenty of energy to spare for my training sessions.  In fact, this week's training sessions have been of really good quality and I'm happy to be going into the weekend endurance bike sessions from this place :)

My sleep is better and I awaken actually feeling rested for a change.  It's been quite a while since I could say that... plus I have no GI disturbances, which, as all athletes and non-athletes alike will attest... it can sideline us really quickly...

It's been a great first week (I'm in Day 6 of my cleanse) and I'm looking forward to the upcoming weeks.  BONUS: weight loss of 3.5 lbs :)

I made a promise to myself that I would make a note to remember that when I cut gluten out of my diet I feel better in general.  Not knowing enough about it (yet- although having OCD, I'm sure I will research it to death until I learn all kinds of things... ) I am not sure whether the general feeling of better health comes from the exclusion of gluten or sugar themselves, or the other additives and ingredients that go into gluten or sugar-rich foods and products...

Hmmm... food for thought... ;)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Summer is Here!!


'Everyone into the pew-ellll....' or lake, as the case may be!  I swam in the lake at Kelso (for the first time this year) yesterday morning and could not have asked for a better reintroduction to open water!  Usually, I get in, make a face, start freezing to death, get nervous, get water on my face, get even more nervous and promptly have an asthma attack as I start to swim in the icy depths... yesterday none of that happened!

It was an incredibly beautiful weekend and the water at Kelso (on the side of the boat launch - not the public beach) was just lovely!  True, you can't see anything in that body of water but it is pool-water warm and tastes great in the mouth (unlike pool chlorine and bromine).

I splashed about for a short while, to the rock wall and back, as I watched, mesmerized, as the other athletes swam around the lake... I asked one of the lifeguards how far it was and he guessed it was about 1.5-2 km.... OMG - that's what I have to swim at Timberman!!  Funny how things change... in the pool 2000m doesn't seem that bad anymore but outside... it looks HUGE!! Luckily, as I look ahead in my training schedule, JJ has me scheduled to gradually increase my time spent swimming in the lake...

Oh - and the raving lunatic inside my head?  She was QUIET the whole time!  :)

It's going to be a great summer of swimming outside - I can just feel it!


You know, some people just shouldn't be allowed to ride expensive, beautiful bikes... I am one of them... clumsy and awkward on a bike... ugh... I try and try not to feel nervous and create tension in my body but... I'm a KLUTZ! 

I went out for my first outdoor ride on the long weekend and this weekend, continued to build some time in the saddle.   I missed my riding group by 5 minutes so it was a solo ride - which I don't mind because klutz that I am, I'm terrified of taking out another cyclist at a stop sign...

The weather was hot at 9am and off I went.  Great thing I have the Garmin Edge 705... it slices, it dices... it calculates altitude, descent, speed, cadence, heart rate, calories, power wattage - to name a few... oh - and of course - it has a GPS and map feature... which I apparently don't know how to use properly... so I have this expensive 'speedometer' on my bike... I'd like to say I'll take some time this week to read the instruction manual but it's kind of large...

I followed a route that I hoped I could follow back to my car because I did not have 3 hours to be lost on a bike... other appointments...   It turned out to be a great route!  I found my first 'fast' descent of the season and didn't freak out.  Whew.  Then, of course, that same lovely descent became my first 'hard' climb of the season on the way back.  I stayed in my saddle, hung on hoping to hell I would not tip the bike over on the way up and after what seemed like a long time (I'm sure it was not - it was a little hill!!) arrived at the top, heart pounding and looking forward to an easy spinout for my legs...

At this point, I considered consulting my GPS, map-equipped bike toy to plot an alternate route back to the car... I looked down to see a nice yellow background on a map, with a small red line that said 'Credit River' ... that was IT.  Wow!  So helpful!!!!  LOL!  Needless to say, I retraced my steps (or pedal strokes...) instead of venturing off.

I was feeling pretty darn good when I hit the turnaround point and thought to myself "I will just unclip my right foot and turn the bike around and off I go..." - you know what happened next:  BANG!  My left foot stayed clipped in the whole time.  I had to take my shoe off... "Quick release" my a$$....   bike was okay... I was sore... oh well... almost time to quit anyway... rode back, freshly mown grass blowing into my face (I am allergic to everything in nature...) and finished up my workout.

Yesterday's ride was even hotter... my legs didn't seem to have much spring in them compared with the day before... hitting 90-95 rpm was difficult...  all still seemed to be going fairly well, aside from the wheezing in the heat... came to a stop sign - unclipped in plenty of time... and BANG!  Down I went (again?!) - man, that one hurt -- left foot still safely clipped in... bike overhead and handlebars jammed into my chest... nice... the nice people in the pickup truck stopped and asked if I was okay...

Dusted myself off and kept going... decided that 'any idiot on a bike can do a turnaround into the other lane to turn around and keep going... stop being a wuss and practice!!'  You would think by now I would know how to do this but each time I try, I fail... miserably.  I'm just too nervous I guess... I summoned courage, pulled out a teensy bit to give myself a wider turning radius - and saw a HUGE truck bearing down on me... BANG!!!  So much for cat-like reflexes... this time BOTH feet were stuck and I couldn't go anywhere but down.  This time the truck stopped as well as another passerby to make sure I was okay... 'yes, thank you'...

So... it's really great that I have this terrific, beautiful, built-just-for-me custom Guru but honestly I'm too much of a twit to ride this bike... I'm terrified of breaking her... or my arm... as I land on it - or my hip - for the hundredth time... the lunatic is positive that I will crash and burn at Timberman on the bike course... I can't climb... I can't go fast... my bike handling skills suck... I can't even control my own feet!  Please, Lord, I need the courage to continue this quest for athleticism and muzzle her or at least prove her wrong!!


It's hot out there and it's allergy season (with a vengeance).  Other than that - running is going well!  (I know... what, no 20 minute tirade on the run training..??) LOL!!

Get out there, gang!  It's gonna be a beautiful summer!!!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mississauga Half Marathon - A Huge Success!

What a perfect day for a long run it was yesterday!  Sunny, warm, a bit of a breeze and just a gorgeous day all-around!

I was somewhat surprised at the amount of clothing that many of the runners had on in the morning... it was about 11 degrees celsius at race start... hope no one overheated!  I dressed appropriately in far less than I would usually wear (imagine my surprise that I got it right!? - LOL)

The first 3-4 km was rife with negative self-talk that I couldn't make stop... highly annoying, since it was drowning out my playlist!!  Damn that pessimistic woman in my brain!!

I saw some friends near the start, some of whom were ready to run their first FULL marathon - I was so excited for Sandra, in particular... remembering December 2007 when we almost tied for last place at a local 10.8km race!  Look at her now!  Go, Sandra, go!! 

I just settled in and trundled along... looking for dogs... debating in my head whether I needed or 'should' stop for a potty break each time I saw an opportunity...and mentally 'racing' the race walker I kept running into... I finally introduced myself to her (Janet) and was able to pace myself off her for most of the race... I cannot imagine walking as fast as my run pace... pretty cool!

The kilometer markers seemed to fly by yesterday... last time I ran Mississauga, I remember seeing 7km and thinking:  oh my god... how much longer will this take?? 

My mental outlook improved hugely when I hit the 10km mark at a record-breaking (my records may not be hard for most people to break.. by the way...but it's all about personal bests...) 1:10!!  Wow!  I had shaved a good 5-8 minutes off my typical 10km time!  That was encouraging!!!  At that point, I promised myself that no matter what my finish time was, I'd just run my fastest 10km ever and would celebrate that, regardless.

There weren't as many dogs along the course but I made friends with a lovely chocolate lab puppy named Madison, whom I stopped to hug and pet twice :) Her 'mummy' was very encouraging too! :)

It was wonderful to see spectators, outside, waving and cheering... and for once, each time I saw a race photographer, I didn't have to worry about 'putting on a happy face' because I actually felt strong and happy throughout!  Here's hoping at least one of those shots is a 'keeper'... I have a scrapbook to maintain... :)

The course was changed this year and needless to say, I'd been completely oblivious to that fact till I realized I had NO IDEA where the FINISH line was...  my Garmin died ('memory full') about 1km from the finish line so that was no help at all... "Who moved the finish line?" was foremost in my mind!!

Finally... the finish line popped out of nowhere and before I knew it, I was sprinting through the the chute... woo hoo!  I ran a 2:29 (that's about 20-25 minutes faster than my best prior half marathon) and I didn't feel the least bit broken afterwards!

Post-race, I was met by two of the most wonderful women I know:  Betty-Lou and Janette (who not only are fabulous longtime runners and friends but recently joined my Yoga for Athletes and I'm so glad I've had an opportunity to get to know them!) who passed me water as we sat on the grass before waiting for the shuttle back to the start line.  A large lunch followed and then a bubble bath and a 3.5 hour nap for me... It was a PERFECT DAY!

Lessons Learned:
  1. I can muzzle that stupid voice that lives inside my brain - I am not a loser... I can do a lot more than I give myself credit for
  2. Learning to drink Gatorade in training was a big help and it was a very welcome sight on the course when I got overheated and knew sodium deficit was the most likely culprit
  3. Consistency in training pays off in HUGE dividends!  I know that most of you already know this... but I have to keep reminding myself!
The most surprising part of the day for me (apparently Eric already believed I would do this yesterday...) was that my 'Dream Goal' of running a 2:30 half-marathon was achieved! 'Already??!' is what that lunatic inside keeps asking...yes, apparently, already... now what??

'Now what?' indeed... in 6 weeks I will do my first triathlon of the season at Welland.

But first... I have to don my new 2XU wetsuit and plunge myself into (what I anticipate being) freezing cold Lake Kelso on Saturday morning and fight off the mental panic and asthma attack that usually paralyze me at the start of an open water swim in early season...   Maybe I'll wear my goldfish swim cap for good luck...

Congratulations to all of the runners & walkers at the Mississauga Marathon 2010 -- each of us stepped up to the challenge and did something great!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Race #2: Mississauga Half Marathon - May 16th

Well, race season appears to be getting into full swing now!  Too bad Mother Nature doesn't seem to have received the message that SPRING should have SPRUNG and hung around for a little while longer than, say... 4 days??  

Last week I saw temperatures hit 26 celsius... this week we have frost warnings.... there is something rotten in the state of Denmark...

Anyway, now that I no longer have ready access to warm winter running clothes but I can quite easily grab a pair of breezy shorts and a singlet as I fumble around in the dark... that can only mean one thing:  It will be a brisk run on Sunday!

Having only run 3 half-marathons (and only 1 was run well), I'm really looking forward to Sunday's event as a measure of how far along I am in my fitness journey.  Actually, I was questioning my coach why I didn't get more of a taper this week, since I had a half-marathon to run on Sunday... at which point he reminded me that I'm training to be a 70.3 triathlete ... and need to learn to run while tired...(kind of like at Timberman...?) and then it kind of hit me:  OH MY GOD - I'M GOING TO BE A 70.3 TRIATHLETE!??!!!

Somehow, I still haven't gotten my head around this... I just fumble along in my training sessions, never really looking all that far ahead (because it's only going to scare me...) and really have no concept how this will play out on Race Day (ie. 'A' Race... Timberman).

It should be interesting...

Happy Training and Racing, Y'all!

- Sue

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Never Underestimate the Power of Determination

So, if you've been following this blog, you know that I'm a fairly newbie swimmer - having just learned to swim 4 years ago...and still battling my fears and memories of near-drownings...

My last posting recounted my efforts to swim 2300m as programmed by JJ (my ever patient coach).  I did not quite succeed.  I swam 2100m.  My greatest distance to date.

Last week, during my endurance swim workout (they are every Tuesday night...if you frequent the Milton Leisure Centre, you will see me in the 'medium pace' lane, splashing about...striking up conversation with anyone who will speak to me... most of them aren't interested in chatting during their :10 rest breaks... ) I again tried to hit the elusive 2300m mark... but once again, due to a combination of factors, I didn't quite make it. 

Bathroom breaks while swimming really irk me!  Last week, once again, I did not actually spend the entire 1:15 in the pool... my session was punctuated by several bathroom trips... aargh!  Oh well... I just kept swimming and focused on quality rather than quantity. 

But... this week - I was on FIRE!  I got there early, watched the junior swim team do their thing and spent time chatting with their coaches on deck... identifying effective techniques of the catch and pull phase that I could hopefully put into action... for the 2200m program I had for this week.

I anxiously awaited the 'ok' to jump in and was off and swimming... one bathroom break (it was warp speed!) and 1:14:25 later... I had completed a swim distance of (drum roll please...)  2500m!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I doubt that any 10 year old child who just received a new puppy could have been any more excited than I was... 2500???  Holy cow!!!  My big distance was 1000m at Christmas - 4 months ago!??  There was no one there to witness this momentous occasion... even my lifeguard friend, Erin, had left...

I called JJ, and when he answered his cell, I stressed that he must 'hold the phone away from your (his) ear' and then let out a huge WHOOP of delight at my accomplishment!!   Poor guy... he had NO idea what he was in for when he took me on as a client... LOL!!  He's learning, though... ;)

At a time like this, there is really only one true way to celebrate:  with a delicious cupcake frosted with luscious buttercream.... mmmmmmmm....  I do enjoy swimming!!

- never underestimate the power of determination - each of us is capable of achieving so much more than we give ourselves credit for... it's an amazing thing, this gift of life!! 

- Shanti

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Golden Fin Award Goes To...

Perpetual Child... that's me ;)  I am an Aquarius, after all - we are known for this quality... as well as personifying the 'fine line between genius and insanity' bit... (seriously... look it up)

I have loved this silly swim cap since I first saw it last year and vowed that one day I would wear one! 

When I saw it last night, in the display case at the community pool, I decided that I would 'reward' myself for swimming my greatest distance to date, by donning that swim cap for my 'victory lap'.

I was meant to swim 2300m (a lofty goal for me although I was not nervous - I actually believed I could do it, so long as I didn't waste any time - the swim session is 1:15 in length). 

I arrived 45 minutes early, and sat down to watch the junior swim team at their practice... I love watching these kids - they amaze me!  After watching flip turns on GO-Swim on my lunch hour, I was avidly watching these youngsters to see if they were doing what the woman on the the video was recommending... and trying to figure out if I could do that without getting water up my nose.

Somewhere between my spectator spot and the pool, I lost my earplugs (aargh!!!  I have a tube in one ear - I can't swim without a plug) and wasted precious minutes retracing steps to find them again...

I jumped in and, vowing not to panic about finishing and end up thrashing my way through, I systematically followed my swim plan.  This was the first time that 10 seconds actually felt like enough of a break after a drill... this was promising to be a good session ;)

The pool was quiet last night - only 4 of us at the busiest point in our double-wide lane - and it dwindled to 2 of us for the last 30 minutes.  The sun came in through the windows and it felt glorious to be swimming in clear, cool water with the sun on my face.

I saw my 'pool buddy' Angela and found out that she is training for her first Ironman - IM Arizona in November 2010!  Wow!!  I am so excited for her!  (This is the same girl that I vowed to beat in a 25m freestyle race SOMEDAY... I should mention that it's a friendly competition that exists only in MY mind) Oh darn - I wanted to talk to her about IM but... arrrgh - look at the time!!!  Sorry - gotta swim!!! 

Eric (hubby) was scheduled to come and meet me (I was certain I was going to swim 2300m and wanted to celebrate afterwards!) and he was there - waving from the upper deck as I just kept swimming...

Three bathroom breaks later... I knew that I was not going to reach that goal of 2300m... (Why does my bladder always seem to be roughly the size of an egg when I am in the pool???) there simply was not enough time left and the lifeguard was going to haul me out soon if I did not exit willingly... I could see the masters swim group gathering on deck for the next session.  I kept my head down so as not to make eye contact with anyone and I sped up my stroke and squeaked out an extra 100m, thereby reaching a new swim distance of 2100m - my longest swim to date.  Ha - I broke my 2000m record!

It was disappointing but since I did hit a new record distance, decided that 'half' a celebration was better than none, so I showered and changed and then donned the 'GOLDEN FIN AWARD' cap to meet Eric in the lobby before we went to dinner.  I explained that each time I swim a greater distance than ever before, I will proudly wear my 'reward' cap.  Sadly, I did not get to wear it in the pool...this time...

The staff at the leisure centre in Milton likely think I'm a nutjob and they are probably right... but life is short and meant to be ENJOYED!!

- just keep swimming
- glub

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Body in Motion...(Don't Stop! Don't STOP!!)

I have just experienced a week from Hell.  I spent 5 days flat on my back, alternating ice and heat, downing Advil or Excedrin, depending on the day, hoping and praying that the debilitating back spasms I was experiencing would STOP! so that I could get on with my BUILD CYCLE...

Imagine my surprise when, last Monday, 10 minutes before my athletes arrived for their yoga class, I bent down to about knee-level in order to put a bag of candy on a shelf and POW!  I could not straighten up again...

Tears rolling down my face, I greeted the 'stiff' athletes who look to me to help them get limber and flexible...and thought... how I wish I were inflexible like you!!

It's interesting to note that when one is a yoga teacher and very flexible, others think that this means no such experiences as noted above... Unfortunately, my experience is just the opposite.  I am what is known as a 'hypermobile' individual.  All those years of practicing gymnastics and yoga from childhood onwards... yes, I'm limber... and yes, it's true, I don't really have to stretch out much the way other runners and athletes are encouraged to do by coaches and instructors (including myself!!)... it doesn't benefit me anyway...I'm already loose and limber... perpetually... problem is, when your ligaments are loose, there is really nothing holding you together. 

I call it 'Broken Dolly Syndrome'.  You remember Dolly, don't you?  She was made of paper or cardboard, and her limbs and head were held to her torso by those grommet things that allowed you to move them around... and if they were too tight, she didn't move very well and if they were too loose, they spun around?  Well, that's how I function around my core area... my stabilizing muscles don't fire when and how they are supposed to and I end up falling apart. (Note:  this does not preclude me from doing deep yoga poses... or evoking envious glances from others who wish they could bend as easily as I... just don't ask me to try to run, bike or swim without screaming).

Last year I did not race and barely trained at all.  I spent all of last summer with my physiotherapist, who taught me techniques and exercises for stabilizing my mid-section so that I don't look like I'm doing the Hula every time I walk, run, swim, etc... I thought all of my troubles were gone for good... sigh... wishful thinking... I had forgotten my main trigger...

I seem to be fairly typical in that my experience is very similar to that of other hypermobile individuals (my heart goes out to them)... but the (typical) athletes that I encounter have a much different view, as do my co-workers at the office.  'You're doing too much!'.  'You need to rest!!'.  'Maybe you are overtraining...?' 'You need to take some time OFF'.  It all sounds sensible but the sad truth is that my biggest downfall and precursor to being immobilized by these flare ups is:  INactivity!  Yes, you heard me... what did I do to bring on this horrendous period of disability?  Simple... I spent extra time in bed, resting, for about 3-4 days, in order to cure a respiratory bug... how frustrating is that?!! 

The only way for me to stay mobile is... well... to keep MOVING.  No marathon movie sessions on the couch, or lounging around in bed with the papers or curled up with a good book... if I expect this body to function optimally, I have to keep it in forward motion... (I think I feel tired just thinking about that...)

Well, I do have an interest in endurance sports... and they do tend to keep you moving for an extended amount of time... (especially when you are slow like me...).  I guess should plan to be involved in endurance activities for a long time to come...  (as I begin to ponder all of the wonderful adventures upon which I can embark in my future...half-marathons, marathons, cycling trips, IM... wow... the options are many...). 

Here I am a week later and almost as good as new... ready to begin building upon my fitness again... my body seems happiest when running... I'd better give it what it wants...