Friday, December 30, 2011

Out With the Old...

I've never understood the whole concept of celebration and partying on New Year's Eve.  I mean, I get the concept of celebrating what's to come but for me, this time is all about reflection over the year that's ending.

Hard to believe 2011 is almost over.  The year has flown by, as they tend to do as we age.  It's hard to believe I've been rehabbing the same, nagging injury for 9 months now.  It's hard to believe I have not imploded from frustration as yet... there have been many dark days when I felt alternately depressed, angry or hopeless.

I've had mood swings from elation at being able to run for 5 minutes at a time to being certain that I'm too old and broken to pursue this sport and might as well quit my training dreams and be done with it...

It wasn't a year of notable personal athletic pursuits or achievements.  Very disappointing, considering how promising things were looking right up until about March 2011.

Ah well, such is life... it's times like these that have a way of teaching you to appreciate the other things that happen along the way.

As I was slogging out my exercises in physio the other day, I glanced over and saw a young woman in a wheelchair who had no use of her legs.  She was smiling and happy as she did her upper body and core exercises with her therapist and she was so grateful to be able to do so successfully.  I smiled with her. 

I guess that was my miracle for the day.  It made me feel very humble and small-minded to be bitter about my hip/groin injury keeping me from running and biking when instead, I have a lot to be grateful for in my life and I need to remember to appreciate every ounce of it.

As I left the clinic I had a bit of a bounce back in my gait and wished that woman well in my heart as I said a silent 'Thank you' to her for the lesson. 

Moving forward, I really hope that 2012 brings a year of happiness and good health for all.

Happy New Year - one and all!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Seasonal Holiday Fare Has Lost It's Appeal...?

So, the season is upon us again!  Do you remember when you were a little kid, how it always seemed to take SO LONG for Christmas to arrive each year?  Now that you're an adult, it's more like, 'It's Christmas again - already??!'

It's that time of year when so many of us over-indulge in the abundance of seasonal fare and party foods and/or gatherings and parties... and we sabotage our otherwise healthy lifestyle.

I'm curious as to whether other like-minded people choose to remain (for the most part) on their regular diet and exercise regime or whether you just let it all hang out and go to hell in a handbasket for the week or two of holiday celebrations?

For me, I like the extra time off work to put towards extra workout sessions... it's so nice to not have to worry about getting up at 5am or getting to bed by 9pm in order to be able to function at the office... and still be able to enjoy quality workout sessions as well as enjoy leisure activities.

I enjoy the extra time off work when I can play in the kitchen and create something delicious for myself and others. 

As much as I loathe the thought of sabotaging my nutritional plan (which is usually pretty clean) I admit I'm not immune to the allure of Scottish shortbread petticoat tails (I grew up in the UK...) or - heaven help me - if there is a fruitcake or a Christmas pudding in the vicinity - it's all over...  but I've realized this year that even those well-loved indulgences just don't sit well with me anymore.

Could it be that my tastebuds are changing for these once much anticipated once yearly special treats?  Oh... a part of me is crying inside as I write this... I (sob) did not enjoy the shortbread this morning!  I dutifully ate it as I had pulled it from the tin with my bare hands... but - yuk!  I have no idea why this happened.  I'm now afraid to go looking for a traditional fruitcake recipe or friend who baked one... in case that, too, ends up falling flat in my mouth. 

I wonder whether all of my months of baking cookies and cakes for other people has finally just culminated in a general apathy towards sweets for me personally?  Sigh...

I should be happy - I know!  I don't pig out on these (forbidden) foods anyway - but gee - it would be nice to enjoy those small indulgences rather than just thinking 'eww... I should have had vegetables'.

So... I guess I'm going to have to start a new holiday tradition this year:  gold cake sparkles on mashed sweet potato and brussels sprouts with green edible glitter... after all, there is no reason why it shouldn't LOOK festive... even though it's not traditionally found on a sweet table...

I'm getting old... (or wiser... or something...)


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

7th Annual Santa Speedo Run - Toronto

The Toronto Santa Speedo Run is a fun event that runs every year in downtown Toronto - to the delight and dismay of many shoppers, store merchants and motorists...  It's not a race... it's a 3km run through the downtown area, dressed in only a red Speedo (festive adornments are permitted). 

Once again, Eric and I undressed for success (or something...) to run through Yorkville, amid the gawkers and the photographers - all for the purpose of raising funds for the Sick Kids' Hospital Toys and Games Fund.

The best part of this event?  Every single penny goes to the charity - nothing is kept by the organizers or advertizers!

This year was by far the coldest Speedo Run we've ever taken part in... it was below zero and the wind felt like it bit into our skin as we rounded the corners... there were a lot of rosy cheeks this year...

A good time was had by all - as usual!

Thank you to all of my sponsors for their very generous donations to this worthy cause!  (Even though I realize that you likely just like to see me make a fool of myself each year and are willing to pay for that... which I'm okay with!  It's for charity, after all...) 

The Festive Season is upon us!  HO!  HO!!  HO!!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Lost in Reflection... Again...

It seems that at this time of year, we say goodbye to many around us. The holidays can be a time of celebration for many and yet at the same time, a time to remember, a time to pause and reflect and - on occasion - a time of great sadness.

Once again, I write from a place of quiet reflection.  Today, the mother of one of my oldest and dearest friends, left this world.

Michelle and I have been friends for 35 years and I have known her mother since I was a wee girl of 11.  As I think of Jacqueline, I remember a petite lady (not so unlike my own departed mother) who was a surrogate mum figure when I was at her house, visiting my friend.  I remember her voice and her lovely German accent like it was only yesterday.  I remember that she talked to me and listened when I shared things with her.  I remember that she genuinely cared.

I didn't see her much when I grew into my 20's and moved away, yet she remembered me and sent me a wedding gift, along with her good wishes on the day that I married. 

I heard of her through Michelle over the years and knew that Alzheimer's had claimed her, as with so many others.  I cannot imagine the pain that must be felt when your own mother no longer remembers you.  I lost my mother when I was just 24 years old but she knew me up until the time that she left this world. 

As I sit and remember our childhood, the games we played, the TV shows that we watched and the things that we talked about while growing from grade 5 schoolgirls into pre-teens, then into teenagers and finally - into the women that we would become - wives and mothers - it seems unfathomable that Michelle and I are now close to the ages that our respective mothers were when she and I became friends so long ago.

Time is passing us by so quickly.  Thirty-plus years have melded into memories that ebb and flow... friendships and relationships that have grown apart then grown back together, ultimately withstanding the test of time.

Once again, I am lost in my own thoughts as I hear those around me repeating,  'I'm too busy', 'I don't have time' - to the question, 'When are we going to get together over the holidays?'  We can be so quick to dismiss time with those closest to us, thinking that we will always have plenty of time to do it... someday.  Only 'someday' doesn't always arrive...

I'd give anything to be able to see my mum and talk to her and hug her close and tell her that I love her.  I would bet that Michelle would say the same thing. 

If you have the opportunity to spend time with loved ones - do it!  They might annoy or infuriate you sometimes... and delight you at others... but don't waste the time that we have been given.  Time passes quickly and before you know it - that opportunity is gone...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Feel the Love Inside and Express It Outwards

It's been a sad week... I got word that a friend of mine died very suddenly while in Florida last week.  Rolf had just driven himself down there to spend 5 months relaxing (not working, as in previous years) and taking some time to be kind to himself.  As I understand it, he felt ill upon returning to his hotel room after dinner and called 911.  He arrested in the ambulance en route to the hospital and could not be revived.  He left this world so suddenly and none of us had a chance to say 'Goodbye'. 

I wonder what his last thoughts were.  I wonder if he knew that he was loved.  I hope so. 

I know that his path was not always smooth.  I know that he had many experiences in his past that helped shape him and the directions that he chose were not always those that others - not in his shoes - would have chosen for themselves or for him. 

As I think of him, I remember a man who smiled from his heart and it touched his eyes. He brought me flowers when he came to dinner. He made me feel 'special' whenever he was around just by letting his inner charm shine outwards.  It was impossible not to like him.

He leaves behind many people who knew him and loved him - for all his quirks and successes and failures - for better or for worse - he was Rolf... and now he's no longer with us.

How many times have we known inside of ourselves that we love another person - be it a friend, lover, family member... or go a little farther outwards - to your co-workers, students, teachers, acquaintances... but never said or done anything about it?

In my yoga practice and teachings, I encourage and try to foster connection within the heart and mind.  Connection with Self.  Connection with Source.  Many of us do this in our own ways. 

Feeling the love inside of us - connecting with that inner beauty and spirit that live within each one of us - is powerful - but it can't stop there - you have to express it outwards and share it with those around you.  Maybe you say 'I love you'.  Perhaps you share of yourself selflessly with another, or practice random acts of kindness with no expectation of reciprocity... give a hug to a person who needs one... go for a walk and chat with someone who is having a low day... in other words, share yourself.  Share your light with another's light and one by one, illuminate the world around you.

I don't believe that death is the end.  I do believe that when I am ready to leave this world, I wish to be free of regrets for things not said or done when I had the opportunity.  I wish to be at peace. 

Be kind to yourselves, my friends.  Tell those around you that you love them and cherish the time you have together. 

- Namaste

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Indian Summer Has Come and Gone...

What an incredible weekend we had in Toronto!  The temperatures were in the mid-to high 20's and the sun was shining gloriously on the changing leaves!

A fabulous time of year to enjoy outdoor pursuits - biking, running... and enjoy the changing of the season.

I hope that everyone managed to get out there and enjoy some of that beautiful weekend - in between turkey dinners... ;)

This weekend I'm looking forward to heading up to Mono Hills for some trail running (or likely a trail walk as not really running yet...) and enjoy some beautiful scenery up there!

Have a fabulous week everyone!

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Time To Give Thanks...

As I was sitting at my desk today, a song came on the radio that I haven't heard in ages.  When I was 15 I had a boyfriend and this was 'our' song - "Heroes" by David Bowie.

I was transported back to a time when my hair was long, all of my friends smoked (various substances), junk food was a way of life... we had house parties and field parties and went to rock concerts and later on - bars... we loitered in places because we had nowhere to go and nothing much to do - unless it was rollerskating... Swimming was unheard of, my 10-speed didn't get much use and running was something I did to get out of the way of the other girls when we played field hockey in gym class...

Thirty years has passed since that time.  Where did all that time go?  What happened to that young teenage girl (who thought she was grown up) who dreamed of doing something great but had no idea what that would be?  All those times people would ask 'what do you want to do when you graduate?'  'What do you see yourself doing for the next 5-10 years?' - Hell - I had no clue what I saw myself doing back then... becoming a secretary, finding a husband and I supposed having children and living in a little house...?  Why? - what was everyone else doing??   

Little did I know then that someday I would be sitting here, writing this blog about all of the fun and exciting things that make up my life today.  That young girl had no clue of all of the wondrous adventures that were to come.

I watched all of my friends get married and have children and live in houses while I couldn't figure out what was 'wrong' with me because I had none of those things.  I didn't seem to fit the mould that I thought I should.   So instead, I found the gym and immersed myself in bodybuilding and aerobics for a couple of decades and then some...

I watched my friends - some of them stayed married although most did not - as the years went by and spouses changed, babies were born and grew into childhood and now - adulthood...

I finally found my soulmate - at age 40.  Better late than never, eh?  ;)

Here I sit, 45 years old, listening to 'oldies' on the radio - feeling a little nostalgic for my youth but feeling more than anything, an immense sense of gratitude for all of the people and things that I have/have had in my life that made and continue to make it so rich and wonderful!  I'm so glad that I never settled for the limited dreams of my 15 year old self...

I have a life that is filled with good people, actually great people - who continue to encourage me and one another to try new things and experience more out of life.  Age is not a limiter!

I am so grateful for Eric, who is always my cheerleader. He only smiles when I take on some new task with my typical 'How hard could it be?' line...

I am so grateful to my friends and coach and training partners who continue to encourage me even on days when I feel middle-aged and slow and rather stupid for wanting to take on more...

Thank you.  All of you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sniff... It's Over... !

Yes, summer is officially over as of 5:04am today.  Oh well.  It's a bit too chilly to swim in the lake right now anyway... brrrr....

Onward we must go - to the season that I love - FALL!  Ah, yes, the cooler, crisp air, the swirling leaves on the ground and in the air... the smell of the trails... I LOVE IT!

I admit that last week I was in a bit of a funk, thinking about the summer that was - without any racing or running... but this week, I have a whole new, fresh outlook.

I RAN.  Yep!  First time in 5 months! 

Was it a long run? - Nope.  6 whole minutes on a treadmill

Was it fast? - Hell no - it was set at 3.8-4.5 mph

Was it a long, open stride?  LOL!  It was more like a tiny dog, moving it's legs in a very VERY fast trot with teensy steps!

Did it feel good? - OMG - you have NO idea how good it felt!!

It's amazing how quickly we forget what how much we have to be grateful for, especially when overachieving, OCD, A-personality types like (most athletes) us, suffer an injury that sidelines us from the activities that we love.

I feel renewed!  I RAN!  I was beaming as I went upstairs, filled out my Training Peaks log for my coach and then proceeded to send emails to several people.  I RAN!  I RAN!!  WOO HOO!!!!!!  I'M A SUPERSTAR!  ... you get the point...

Anyway, this is not something I can yet repeat on a daily or even a bi-weekly basis at this point in rehab - but for now - I'll take it!

It's a beautiful day - get out there!  :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

REV3 - Cedar Point

This past weekend we drove to Sandusky, Ohio for the Rev3 races.

What a blast!!

There were about 16 of us down there from the Toronto area and a great time was had by all.

The race itself was very professionally run and no one had any complaints. Most of the racers are planning to race there again!

There were definitely some small touches by the Rev3 people that really hit home with our racers.  One of which was the race numbers which were temporary tattoos!  I have to admit, they look much more professional in the photos than a number scrawled with a sharpie ;)  They also provided 'fun' temporary tattoos for the racers...

Bike racks are also different - you slide your front wheel into a floor rack which holds your bike upright and no need to fret about your handlebars or brake hoods hanging over the typically seen bike rack.  In addition to that, the Rev3 people give each racer a nameplate at their bike rack where they are to put their bikes.  A really nice, professional touch!  (The pros actually got posters of themselves at their rack sites!)

I went to the practice swim in Lake Erie on Saturday morning - had to wade through 2' of MUD to get into the water - I kid you not!  LOL!  It was a riot!

The theme of the park is Peanuts... well, I'll tell ya, anyone who went for a dip on Saturday morning, came out looking like Pigpen!!

The water itself, although you could not see your hand enter the water, didn't taste bad and was quite pleasant in temperature.  Cool but not cold.  My toes were chilly and never did warm up but apparently I'm an oddity that way...

I hear that the bike course is scenic and very nice.  The run course left a bit to be desired as apparently it is not very scenic but overall, everyone really enjoyed this venue.

We will be back there next September as I will be racing the half-iron distance (I deferred it from this year) and I think we'll have an even bigger showing of Toronto friends next season!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Big Summer Goal Achieved!

OK, so I couldn't race at all this year and had to take 3 months off from swimming due to injury... and just got back on the bike a month ago... but that didn't stop me from wanting to set a goal for the end of summer.

This year I set my sights on swimming 2 loops at Lake Kelso (3000m) - partly because I can't run and my bike rides are still short so I wouldn't be overly tired from other training sessions but mostly - to see if I could.

Up until then, my biggest swim ever had been 2500m in a pool - and that was last summer.  My longest open water swim had been about 2000-2100m this year.

I really wasn't sure about this.  I'd missed some swim training sessions in the couple of weeks leading up to Saturday, so I wanted to give myself some slack.  I figured at the very least, if I couldn't manage the whole thing, I could at least aim for 2600m and beat my distance from last summer...

It was a beautiful morning on Saturday - sun was shining and glinting off the water and happy athletes were enjoying their last official open water training session at Kelso for 2011. 

I set my watch and off I went; checking in at certain points in the lake, in order to gauge where I was at... I hit the lap counter when I passed the beach to start my second loop.  I was really not sure if this was going to be possible but decided that I would know if my times were really off at the checkpoints on the second loop.  Imagine my surprise when my checkpoint times were just about the same as the first loop?!  Was I going to pull it off?

By the time I rounded the bend and was making my way back to the beach, I saw Eric (hubby) and JJ (coach) standing on the beach, cheering!  I shrieked with delight and then head down - swam on... by now, I was trying to preen like a dolphin for them as I swam by... 'look at my lovely stroke' - 'don't I look graceful?' - that sort of thing... LOL!

I got out of the water in 80 minutes.  Not a super-fast swim time, I know...  but the best parts of this were:

- I didn't feel tired - I could have done MORE! (???)
- My stroke didn't feel like it totally fell apart
- my body wasn't screaming in pain after the swim
- it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be (??  This was hard to believe)

So... 2011 summer goal accomplished.  Now what??  Hmm... as I got out of the water, wanting to do another 500m (coach pulled the plug)... I thought to myself...

If I can do that... I wonder what else I can do...?

Hard to believe that 2 summers ago, I had problems swimming 25m in the outdoor swimming pool...


Monday, August 29, 2011

Toronto Island Sprint Tri - Tons of Photographic Fun!!

Yesterday was my latest stint as a professional photographer and I got to shoot the swim and the FINISH line!

The swim is my favourite part of the race so I was thrilled to be down on the beach with the athletes.

It was SO exciting to be able to sit right in the finishing chute and shoot all of the race finishers, as I screamed and shouted and jangled my cowbell (all while wielding my camera!) - loved it!!  I managed to rig the bell by attaching it to my sandal, sitting on a stool and jangling my foot up and down... hands-free, baby!! 

Eric (hubby) raced and took 1st place in his age group!  Very exciting!

My friend Tara also hit the podium with a 2nd place in her age group!

I'm surrounded by over-achieving, fast athletes... I have no idea what we have in common... LOL!!

The weather was a bit cool and windy (thanks, Irene...) but a good day for racing.  The water of Lake Ontario was freezing, by all accounts.  I was thankful that I was not racing yesterday.  The poor guys coming out of the swim sans wetsuit were adamant (and quite vocal) about how cold it really was!  I hope that they were able to warm up on the bike!!

In other news, I'll be shooting at the Ontario Womens Triathlon at Milton next Sunday.  Who's racing??

Next up:  REV3 Cedar Point - Sandusky Ohio!!

Happy racing everyone!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Photographs at Bracebridge Triathlon Races Sun Aug 6th

We were in Bracebridge on the above date to enjoy the races put on by MultiSport Triathlon Series. 

Eric raced the olympic distance race with much competitive spirit and enthusiasm. 

I am still unable to do much of anything so instead, I enthusiastically shot photos for My Sports Shooter (Mike Cheliak) at the races.  I was apparently the only person at the race (official phographer, race volunteer or spectator) that had a cow bell with them.  I say that because a) I didn't hear anyone else ringing a bell and, b) several people asked if that was me that they heard clanging one... ;) 

I've got it down to a science now:  I attach the bell to either my backpack (if I'm wearing one) or to my belt loop, so that I have both hands to wield the Canon and big zoom lens - and in order to ring the bell, I only have to shimmy and shake ;)

It's also a good way to get participants to look your way while you are shooting them - it's hard to ignore a clanging bell... it begs a little bit of attention... :)

It was certainly different taking photos as an 'official' photographer - I got to wear a vest!  And... drum roll... no one jumped in front of my camera while I was standing/sitting and shooting the racers!  Why the wearing of a loudly coloured vest makes the difference between people being considerate of the small girl with the large camera lens vs. pretending they don't see her, I am not clear... but that's okay.  Come to think of it, I may just wear that vest all the time - at the grocery store, in crowds... maybe people will finally notice I'm down there!

I know, you are shaking your head thinking, 'What is she talking about?'.... well, the sad truth is that when you're only 4'10" tall, many 'tall' people just walk along, completely oblivious to those who are not at their eye level and walk right into you!!  I honestly don't know how more children don't suffer injuries (we are the same size...)

Anyway... back to the race...

I missed the swim start because I was shooting the bike course.  A bit sad, as I love seeing them all come charging up the beach from the water... but the bike course gave me an opportunity to see every single racer. 

It was fun to see all of the racers - from the competitive crowd in the olympic distance who are so focused that they don't even look at the crowd - to the first-timers, who are either thrilled with themselves for getting out there and trying something new or terrified of the event in general... in many ways, I think seeing the first-timers is the best part.  They are not yet so competitive that they forget to enjoy the experience as it unfolds.  There is nothing quite like spotting a newbie in my lens, thrilled and empowered by this athletic body that they didn't know they possessed, flashing a big smile or a thumbs-up as they ride by or come running into the chute... still not quite believing that they managed to pull it off ;)  Just like someone else I know...

I'm hoping to be an official shooter at the Toronto Island triathlon races next.  If you are racing... remember to SMILE for the camera !!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Le Tour de Terra Cotta - Bicycle Race - Monday, August 1, 2011

THIS was a really neat event to behold.  I'd never witnessed a cycling race before - only triathlons and running races... it was quite something to see the peleton get closer and CLOSER in my 340mm zoom lens as they approached!  At times, it felt as though I was about to get run over!!  LOL!!

Here is a shot of the BIG hill that the riders had to crest as part of their looped course...

Looks like fun, huh?  That's Heritage Road in Terra Cotta, ON.

There were over 600 shots in all, over about a 3 hour period.  I missed the TT and intermediate 52k races, which was a shame...  however I managed to shoot the beginner, youth and elite 104k races.  It was a really hot day on Sunday and I applaud all who participated in this event.

For more information on next year's event, check out

See you at the races!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ironman Lake Placid - 2011

Once again, we were down in Lake Placid for Ironman.  Once again, it was a beautiful day and it was fabulous to see so many athletes doing their thing on race day!!

I started shooting photos just after 6am at the swim start area, waited for the last swimmers to exit the lake and then made my way to the bike course for a few hours before heading back towards the oval to see the finishers coming in.

I was so happy to see so many friends racing this year!  I think I knew about 20 people in the race so I was able to get tons of photographs of them!  The one thing about Lake Placid is that it's very spectator-friendly with the looped course.  If you miss an athlete the first time they come around, they will be back!

Two of my girlfriends, Maye and Cathy, were doing their very first Ironman event.  Each time I saw them, they were smiling!  You've gotta love that!!!  They were still smiling when they crossed the finish line shortly after 15 hours after beginning the race.  Way to go, girls!!!  You ROCK!

It was a scorching hot day on race day.  Honestly, I don't know how the athletes managed.  The water temperature was 77-78 degrees on race day so wetsuits were optional.  Some of my friends raced with a wetsuit and some raced without.  The ones that were going for a Kona spot, raced without. 

One friend had a mishap on the first loop of the bike course and fractured her clavicle.  We wish Denise a speedy recovery...

Another friend (Angela) was meant to race but 1 week out from race day, had a crash on her bike and was so badly injured that she couldn't race.  What a heartbreak!  All of that training and planning... sigh... I guess that's part of it but... still...  :(

Carmel won her age group and will be off to lovely Hawaii for the Kona race this year!  Way to go, Carmel!!  Some raced for 10 - 11 hours... some raced for much longer.  All earned the title 'Ironman'.  Way to go, everyone!!

Eric and some other friends signed up for 2012, so we have already planned our lodging for next year.  I can't wait to go back!  I just love that place!!

I shot 1330 photos on race day (I was out there for 14 hours, camera in hand... blisters forming on my chin - ugh!) and learned a couple of things:  I need a 100% SPF sunscreen for marathon days like that;  I need a much larger sun hat (I don't care how silly it looks - it's necessary!);  it's a good idea to take a break and plunge into the lake to cool off periodically... but the one thing that I realized (again) on race day:




A Week in Lake Placid

We just recently got back from a fabulous week in beautiful Lake Placid, NY.

This year, instead of driving all the way there for 4 days of pre and post-Ironman frenzy, we went down from Wednesday - Wednesday and actually had a vacation.  It was wonderful!

This year I got do something new - go hiking up Cascade Mountain.  When I heard 'hike', I mistakenly assumed it would involve a trail... the 'trail' consisted of boulders up the side of the mountain... the 'hike' was climbing the boulders from the base to the top, where there was a 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside and Ausable River.

What a beautiful place! 

Sadly, I didn't manage to make it all the way up to the top (this injury rehabilitation is very slow and painful but I'm grateful that I was able to accomplish something) but only got half-way up.  Next year, I will have to hoof it up to the top in order to enjoy the view.  Our friends made it to the top.  It was a nice way to spend 3 hours with friends during a hot and humid afternoon :)

A week of biking in the gorgeous countryside, swimming in Mirror Lake... and walking about town... it was glorious!  This year, I wasn't able to bike 75km like I did last year, much less complete the entire 1 loop of the bike course that I had anticipated before my injury.  I went for 45-minute bike rides on 'flats' and didn't get very far ;)

It wasn't until I drove the rest of the bike course before and after my ride that I realized just how much I actually was able to do last summer.  Wow.  I am looking forward to going back again next year and hopefully will be injury-free and able to ride the entire loop!

Mirror Lake was as fabulous as I remembered it... fresh-tasting and warm but cool enough that you didn't overheat (unless you were racing... but that's for another post) for a lovely, long swim.  I love that lake.  It feels very familiar to me.  I swam the loop twice (once was only 'almost' - I couldn't figure out how much farther the turnaround point was so called it  - and found out later it was only another 100m... duh!!!) and paddled around for some short swims on the other days.  I think I got in the lake nearly every day I was there.  Loved it!!

We had a lot of friends down there during our time in LP, which was a lot of fun.  Always someone to run into at the grocery store, in town, at the beach... and made some new friends too!

We are alll booked for next year, when we will be staying about a 5-minute walk to the lake.  That should be great!

Sadly, thanks to the uncooperative weather of Lake Placid, once again I was not able to go up Whiteface Mountain to shoot pictures - the 2 days I was able to get away, it was cloudy and overcast which resulted in zero visibility at the summit.  BOO!!!    Next year I plan to get up there the first sunny day we have!  I also heard that the ferry over to Burlington, VT is a must-do day trip.  Again, it was rained out.  Next year...  ;)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again...

Woo hoo!  I'm able to ride again!  After 2+ months of no riding, I've missed it terribly.  I finally got outside on the bike on Saturday.  It was a beautiful day to ride out of Kelso, with the sun shining, a light breeze and just me on my fabulous Guru...

I was trying out a new compact crank that I had installed a couple of weeks ago, thinking that I may need the extra low gearing for a bit as I continue to rehab the groin injury... I wasn't far off the mark, so I'm glad that I opted for the change but I feel a bit like a hamster!  LOL!  Spin-spin-spin...

All was glorious until I fell - clipped in - and landed on a big pile of sharp, jagged rocks at the side of the beautifully pristine and newly paved road... SLAM!  Wow - that one really hurt!  My entire right side is covered with lacerations and bruises from shoulder to thigh.  What a spaz, eh?  LOL!

A nice man in a truck stopped to make sure I was okay, as I was picking small rocks out of my arm, barefoot, on the side of the road... luckily, I had a fresh pedicure so while I was covered in dust and grime, at least my bare feet looked good - ha!

I knew, of course, that I would fall - it would be inevitable that as soon as I made it outside to the open road, I would have at least one spaz cleat-related fall.  It's just a really good thing that I didn't attempt this too soon - like, say, a couple of weeks ago... when a fall like that could have set me back in my rehab.

So, words to the wise:  Speedplay cleats, although extremely similar to engage/disengage from pedals as Shimano, require the foot to be shot outwards to the side immediately once released - any attempt to disengage and lift the foot upwards will be futile... it doesn't release!  It's probably supposed to be a safety feature or something... ;)

My second ride the following day was much less dramatic and I found a nice, quiet spot close to home where a Sunday morning short training ride can be pleasurable and empty of road traffic:  an industrial area :)

Happy Trails!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fun Times at the Pool

I hope that all of you got out there to enjoy the sun and beautiful warm temperatures we enjoyed on the long weekend.

Once again, I missed the Pride Parade (for years, I've wanted to go down and photograph... but something always seems to keep me in the west end of the city) - this year it was to enjoy an outdoor swim in Milton.

Rotary Park in Milton is a lovely outdoor 25m pool.  I always manage to make friends when I'm there (or anywhere else for that matter... LOL) and yesterday was no exception.

As I finished off my swim workout, I made friends with a little girl named Julia (7 years old) - who was there with her daddy (Klaus).  This little girl was amazing to watch.  Her swimming still looked more like paddling and she couldn't do a whole length but she was determined to try!  She was practicing flip turns.  Now, personally I can't do them and have only tried a couple of times but (after much reading up on the subject) I was able to help her time her somersault in order to get the wall push-off and glide. 

This little girl practiced and practiced and whenever I managed to suggest a tidbit that might help her, within 3 tries she would get it - and execute!  According to a coaching source, kids are notorious for this.  I still think she is a superstar.  I gave her a HUGE high-5 after that :)  If only I could pick things up that quickly - LOL!!

I figured she'd be tired but no - she wanted to RACE!  It was SO much fun to just play with her in the water and 'race' various things like - kicking on the back with no hands - kicking on the front with no hands - breaststroke... (ok, so I waited for her and slowed myself down so she had a chance to win...) but she was such a joy to behold!

I hope that I see my new little friend again when I am at Rotary Park.  It's great for us adults to remember to play in the water :)

Life is short - enjoy every moment!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Welland Races This Weekend! Who's Racing??

This weekend, Welland will be hosting the array of races put on by Multisport.

Although I cannot race as originally planned, I will be there with my giant zoom lens in hand, ready to capture the smiling, grimacing and sweating faces of the athletes as they do their thing.

In honour of their accomplishments, I've baked my 100-Mile Chocolate Cake (rich and dark chocolate fudge chiffon cake topped with Belgian chocolate ganache...) I'm sure more than a few race finishers will enjoy a slab of that after their efforts  - photography doesn't burn off the same amount of calories so I'll be eating an apple...   :)

If you are planning to be in Welland this upcoming weekend, look for me on course and SMILE!!  I'll be the tiny girl wearing Sugoi BC gear (silver-white-red-black) with the big camera lens... cheering LOUDLY!!

Happy racing everyone!!

- Sue

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Let the Summer Begin!

Two months of rest and I've finally got the 'ok' to attempt an easy return to swimming.  I'm so happy I'm just about bouncing around the office today.

All we need now, is a clean water test 'pass' at Kelso and I'll be there with all of my friends later on this week.


Not yet ready to bike (much less run) but ... that's okay - at least I can return to swimming :)

See you out there!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Milton Tri/Du is this Weekend!

So... who's racing at Milton this weekend? 

It's shaping up to be a nice day so hopefully the warmer weather this week will have warmed up the water at Kelso and people won't be blue when they come out ;)

I have never done this race for one very simple reason:  I am afraid of heights.  Yep.  I said it.  The Sixth Line hill is something that makes my stomach drop... I have ridden down it - once... feathering my brakes all the way (not as bad as riding 9km downhill into Keane from Lake Placid but... pretty scary for me all the same).  I have never attempted to ride UP that hill.  Somehow I don't think I could... although without trying, I guess I'll never know... LOL!

I admire anyone who likes to race this event because of the above mentioned hill.  I am amazed to see racers come FLYING down that hill, with a sharp left turn at the end... and my breath tends to whoosh out as I hope for them that they don't hit gravel or sand or... otherwise crash at that turn.  I'm a spaz, you see... I take that left turn at the bottom like a little old lady from Pasadena ;)

Anyhoo... this post was not supposed to be about me... was it?  LOL! 

I really hope that everyone who is racing this weekend has a fabulous experience and if you flat and need a tire change - may it be swift :)

I plan to be up there on Sunday morning, giant zoom lens in hand... snapping pics of the athletes.  I'll be wearing Sugoi Brand Champion gear and I'm about 4'10"... so if you see a tiny girl in red/black/silver with a big camera... say HI!!

Happy Racing!!!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Friend's Amazing Accomplishment at Sulphur Springs!

Some of you may remember that my friend introduced me to trail running last fall and I fell in love with it.

This past weekend, my friend Tina (AKA The Trail Queen, AKA Pigpen) ran her first 100 mile race (160km!!) at Sulphur Springs, ON.

Never having attended a trail race of any distance - much less witnessing those who have traversed more distance on foot than I can on my bicycle... I was intrigued to say the least.

I'd been hearing about the training plan for this race for some time and couldn't quite fathom how running 80km in training would translate to being able to run 160km on race day. 

Tina and the rest of her fellow long-distance runners left the start line at 6am on Saturday morning and had until noon on Sunday to finish their 100 miles.  30 hours.  I repeat ... 30 hours.  When was the last time you or I did anything for 30 hours without sleeping in between??

I thought about going out on the Saturday with my camera but didn't think I'd be able to see all that much - the runners were doing 20km loops and I wasn't sure how spectator friendly the course would be (considering they were in the forest...).  I was kept updated at regular intervals by other friends who were at the site and so I was well-prepared to be able to arrive on time to see Tina cross the finish line on Sunday morning.

It rained.  A lot.  I hate having wet feet at the best of times (unless I'm barefoot) and I cannot imagine staying outside for hours on end with wet and soggy shoes, socks and feet... not to mention some of these people would be out in the elements for 30 hours - these people are hardcore!

Friends had set up a big tent with a sign that read "Team Tina" - just near the finish line. Some had been there all of the preceding day and night... making sure Tina was okay on the trails. 

I got to the finish line at 10am (with a large chocolate cake in hand - it's Tina's fave) and waited eagerly to see the last runners coming in.  It was a much different sight than an Ironman finish - the finish line chute (it was a path made of cones) itself was not huge - in fact, I didn't see it right away.  There were about 10-20 people milling about, waiting for their friends and family to finish their event.  No tables of food or drinks or volunteers in brightly coloured shirts by the finish line... no crowds of people yelling and screaming... no music... no announcer on a bullhorn or PA system... just a quiet day in a conservation area with the sound of birdsong.  It was really peaceful. 

I saw a man finish, his lower body covered in mud, and then sit down immediately and have a beer with his wife.  Then about 20 minutes later, a woman finished, wearing a sunny, flowered running dress with her legs covered in mud... after which she took off her shoes and walked around with plastic grocery bags on her feet :)   After a little while, we saw Tina coming up the hill - arms raised in the air in victory - huge smile on her face!  She was accompanied by another friend, who had been pacing her for the last lap.  We all screamed and cheered her on as she crossed the finish line and then she was presented with her belt buckle by the race director and we took some photos.  Hundred mile races give out commemorative belt buckles to finishers instead of medals, in case you weren't aware... pretty cool!

Tina finished her first 100 mile race in 28:44:44 -- I was watching the clock as she crossed...

I cannot imagine what would go through your mind, on a trail for over 28 hours... sun, rain, mud... and knowing how much distance you still have to travel to get to the end... heck, I can't even stay up past 9pm without getting cranky...

Tina, you are amazing!  You are an inspiration!  You're a kook and that's why I love you ;)   

Congratulations on doing something that most of us would not dream of doing! 

I hope that Tina reads this when she wakes up... sometime on Tuesday ;)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Race Season Is Upon Us

... or it is upon some of us... personally I'd be happy to just get back to training...

I've now been injured and unable to train for... about 4 weeks.  My emotions have run the gamut from anger to frustration to defeat...  all the while I am still trying to smile - but it's hard.

I have (4 weeks later) not yet got a confirmed diagnosis.  Is it a hernia?  Is it a stress fracture of my symphysis pubis?  We just don't know...   That is the most frustrating part.   Oh - and the unrelenting pain in my groin.  And.  Orders to not do ANYTHING - not even go for a long walk (no problem there - it hurts too much anyway...)

So... I wasn't all that disappointed to miss running the half marathon at Mississauga on Sunday in the pouring rain except that I know I could have done even better than last year and I was so excited to run it and run it well... at my new super-fast pace... sigh...

Many of my friends and training partners ran fabulous race times and some qualified for Boston as well - congrats to all of them!

What's next?  Well, I have a training long weekend planned in Muskoka for the weekend after next.  That should be a blast (insert sarcasm here) - as everyone enjoys the hills for running and cycling... and I while away my time in the ice cream shop in town - LOL! 

Followed by... Welland triathlon weekend!  Yay!!  I'm very excited that a friend of mine will be doing her first try a tri at Welland and she is petrified - remember that??!  I know she's going to have a lot of fun and will do just fine :)  I doubt that, unlike me, she will bawl her eyes out on the drive to the race site - so right there, she's got a lot going for her and more confidence than I had!  LOL!

As for me... I will wait, oh so impatiently, for ultrasound results regarding the hernia situation and if it's not that... perhaps I can enjoy a bone scan or MRI for pelvic stress fracture investigations.

Onward... luckily I have fabulous camera equipment I can drag to races and photograph my friends...

Happy long weekend everyone!

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Good Friday - in many ways...

Today is Good Friday.  Most of my triathlete friends are spending the day off work doing what else?  Training!!  Everyone's excited that the sun is out, it's warm outside finally that it is not snowing... and many plan to take their bikes outside for some fresh air.

Others are running the Good Friday Road Races in Burlington (as I type).  I was one of the people who entered, hoping to bust out an ever-elusive 30:00 5km but alas, it's not to be.  I have a groin injury that has me sidelined.  I have no idea how this happened but it was a gradual onset type of thing over the past few weeks and now... I'm told that I'm not allowed to run (no problem - it feels like a hernia) - or bike - however I can swim (with a gentle flutter kick only). 

I've been consumed with frustration and misery because...

a) Eric is away - in Kona for 10 days followed by 3 days in Vegas (must be nice)

b) It keeps SNOWING!!  I'm cold all the time - grrrr...

c) I've had a miserable head cold/sinus thing for about 2 weeks and I feel absolutely awful (and co-workers keep remarking how awful I LOOK too...thank you)

d) I loathe spending Easter weekend alone - something about cute bunnies, blooming flowers, sunshine, green grass, and not having anyone to spend it with - always depresses me. 

However this year, I have yet to see spring-like green grass or flowers (they're probably scared to bloom in case it triggers another snow squall from Ma Nature) and although I'm alone, I've decided that I can spend my free time in the kitchen making caramel sauces, cakes and buttercream (hazelnut buttercream is delicious!).  I got a little carried away taste-testing yesterday and made myself kind of sick but all in all, I'm pretty impressed with my new creations!

Besides, as I woke up this morning, I recalled that it was 6 years ago on Good Friday, that I first went out for a coffee with Eric and got to know him a little.  I'd just taught a spin class and (see above about hating to be alone on Easter weekend...) I threw out to the class 'Would anyone like to go for coffee?' I never thought anyone would accept the invitation since usually it's a family day but lo and behold - Eric (the person who sat in the back row and mostly heckled the other cyclists and me) said 'Yes'.    Well, we all know how that turned out... some 6 months later we were dating :) and 3-4 months or so after that, we were engaged.  That was a GOOD Friday ;)

I got invited to a Saturday night Easter BBQ and Egg Hunt at the home of a very funny woman I know and it sounds as though there are going to be 12 of us, hunting for eggs somewhere in her home/backyard.  I have no idea whether these festivities will be fueled by alcohol...  For the occasion, I created apple pound cake cupcakes, topped with vanilla-hazelnut buttercream and decorated with handmade fondant blossoms and pixie dust.  They totally look like 'spring flowers' you would expect for Easter :)

On Sunday, I'm going to Easter dinner at the home of a woman who has been my friend for 35 years and it's also her birthday so I'm making her birthday cake:  apple spice torte filled with caramel buttercream and homemade dulce de lece, topped with hazelnut buttercream, dredged with caramel poured over the top and down the sides of the cake then sprinkled with cinnamon-pecan crunch.  I hope no one is diabetic...

...and then... on top of all of the other things to be grateful for, this morning I watched a video of Cookie - the baby penguin at the Cincinnati zoo, who squeals with (what sounds like) delight as his handler tickles him - and I was transported to a land of laughter and joy as I watched this adorable little creature and listened to his sweet vocalizing!

I think it's going to be a Good Friday, after all :)

Happy Easter everyone!  Happy Hunting... ;)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Consistency in Training

I did warn you in the 'about me' section that I'm a Cat Lady... well, I was thinking about consistency in training and how that has been applied not only to myself but also to the furkids...

It's kinda cool to see the furkids in action... if I compare the various race distances for a triathlon with the kids' efforts, it may help illustrate this for you...

Consistency in training pays off!!

We're now into our 2nd full week of training and the results speak for themselves...

Polly: this kid is built for endurance - Polly started with 3.5 laps before getting winded and being forced to rest... now, after only 2 weeks of daily training, she can do 4-5 laps at a time!! Consistency in training is paying off!! She is currently training to race olympic distance. Someday she will be an IRON CAT! Perhaps even an ultra runner!

Winnie: she is all about the sprint distance event. She does one lap - HARD - then takes her rest breaks and works on her strategy for her next sprint. We are working on her level of motivation as it's obvious she can do more but chooses not to work to her full potential... with her long legs and extra height, we think she will do great things come race season! Not to mention her waterproof coat should be a big help for the swim!

Tink: she is good in the sprint distance too although she is working her way upwards from there - she can do about 1.5-2 training laps before taking her rest break. Tink tends to hold herself back so that other competitors can do their thing... for her, it's more about the 'fun' aspect of the journey of the race rather than the end result

Karuna: super-stealthy Karuna likes to pretend that 'she doesn't play' but every once in a while... Wow! Look at her go!! FANCY FOOTWORK!!! She'd be awesome at "Whack A Mole"!! When she runs a lap of the course, she STREAKS by like an elite Kenyan on her long legs... we suspect she is doing Secret Ninja Stealth Training on her own...

Jenny: she still enjoys a good quality training session, even though she now competes in the Masters' Division. She's still got what it takes and at a relative age of 60+ years, it's a joy to see her compete with the younger kitts! Her sporty new haircut makes her fast and more aerodynamic.

Elliott: another Masters' Division athlete, Elliott doesn't race as often anymore but he still knows how to rock the course whenever he feels like it. He and his twin sister, Jenny are shining examples of how a healthy lifestyle and solid nutritional plan pay off!

Georgie: small and light on her feet, she doesn't like the straight/flat courses so much - preferring something a little more technical... for her it's ALL about strategy - she'll do a quick lap for training and then she goes into 'stealth mode' - hunkering down to be camouflaged by neighbouring furniture... and then leaping out and attacking the course again when the other competitors least expect it!

Bridget: the rookie... Bridget has smaller, more appropriate (for her) training goals - number one being to increase her base level of fitness and shed some excess weight. She started out with a super-sprint distance run course (0.5 lap) but in just 2 short weeks she has built stamina and endurance and has just graduated to sprint distance, completing 1 entire lap of the course! We are all so very proud of her!! She still has a lot of untapped potential!


Never give up!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring is here and that means... more swimming!

Not for long, though - they have forecasted 5cm of snow overnight - LOL!

I guess I'll wait a couple more weeks before I put the bike rack back on the Subaru...

For now, it's a beautiful and sunny day and I am dreaming of riding and running outside in the sunshine... enjoying the breeze as it ripples through my long, flowing golden locks... my long, shapely and well-muscled legs moving effortlessly as I traverse all kinds of terrain...oh wait - that's not me... I have short-cropped brunette hair... and I'm only 4'11"... oh well... it was a nice image :)

Race season is coming... race season is coming... not that I'm looking forward to it... much!

I've been trying to talk everyone I meet into racing at Welland this June... let's make it a party with tons of friends!!  It's only an hour's drive from home and it's a friendly race.  The water is warm and calm.  The run and bike courses are flat.  There is food at the end.  That's a pretty good combination, if you ask me!

I am getting back into the swing of things now - adding back my 3rd weekly swim every Tuesday, as of tonight.  It's been 5 months of no Tuesday swims.  I'm not sure if I'm more excited or scared...

I've been feeling like a very unsuccesful guppy these days... I'm now the slowest in my lane on both Friday and Sunday morning swims... ugh.  I'm not overly competitive... I just hate being the SLOWEST!  I'm still hoping that somehow this will turn around for me before the lake is open for business at the end of May.  Not that anyone can tell how slow I am in a lake but I'm starting to panic a bit about how much less I can swim in an hour now, compared to 5-6 months ago... luckily I'm not racing a half-iron distance till September 11, 2011, so I have plenty of time to build myself up again (or so people keep telling me). 

In the meantime, I am trying to work on balancing out my stroke - bilateral breathing all the way... (to the bottom of the pool is how it feels some days...) but I'm continuing on this quest for a fluid and balanced stroke - no matter how frustrating this is for me.  Eventually this will pay off and start coming together.  I hope it's soon... it's so hard to be patient with myself...

Happy training everyone!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring Has Arrived! Race Season Plans Are Falling Into Place...

With the arrival of spring (I know, I know... it still may likely snow some more but let me have this day, all right?) I'm finding myself bright-eyed with anticipation of spring road races and then.... yes... it's..... TRIATHLON SEASON!!!!!

Not that I'm excited or anything...

I found myself sitting on the trainer on Sunday, looking out the window, just dying to pull Lily (my Guru) off the trainer and hit the open roads... and then it snowed... again... ah well... it shouldn't be much longer before the sunshine sticks around and although it's apparently going to be a cool spring, isn't that why we have such an array of fabulous and functional clothing and accessories?  ;)  A few more weeks and then the bike rack is going back on the Subaru and we're off - to the races!  Woo hoo!!

This spring promises to be a load of fun - with several girlfriends buying new race bikes, we are already talking about going on group rides - I can't wait!! 

I just put some of my race season together with my coach today and so far, it looks like it's going to be lots of fun this year!  I'm not going to be doing two half-ironman distance triathlons but that's fine by me... my right shoulder, although much better than it was at the end of last season, has hampered my swimming mileage so I'll just continue to rebuild slowly and keep on doing what I'm doing...

Here's my lineup for 2011 thus far (I'm SO excited!!):

Friday April 22nd - Good Friday 5k
  • (I dream of pulling off a 30:00 5k - a very lofty goal for me but this year, with or without bunny ears, I will attempt to do this to the best of my ability... I mean... what's the worst that could happen - I don't WIN the race?!  ROFL!!!!!  Exactly... ;)
Sunday May 15th - Mississauga Half Marathon
  • this will be my 3rd time running this event, which has a start line 800m from my front door - you have to love that!  It's a nice course, close to home and usually there are many friends and acquaintances out and about on the course (and DOGS!!!) so it's a favourite race of mine...
Saturday June 25th - Welland Sprint Tri
  • no half-iron distance (this year...) but I vow to knock the socks off my race finish time from last year ;) 
Saturday September 11th - Cedar Point Half-Rev Tri
  • my "A" race for the season... I still have lots of time to prepare for this one... it promises to be a fun road trip with hubby and another nice couple that we know have signed up as well so we will have some friends there :)

So... what are YOU racing this year???

Friday, March 4, 2011

Book Review - Born to Run

Have you read this book???  It's AMAZING!! I can't remember the last time I read a book that had me avidly turning the pages, dying for more... diverting my attention to the internet to do some extra curricular research on the various people mentioned within those pages, smiling, laughing and even crying as I read!

The book is really well-written and talks about elite ultra runners, tribal runners, running legends... the beauty of the human spirit and the fact that anthropologically, we were 'born to run'.

After reading all about strengthening feet (I'm a yogini with a PASSION for feet - just ask my students!!) and various footwear and their relative attributes - for good or evil... I've now got this hugely renewed desire to RUN... fast... slow... uphill... tempo... in rain, sleet or snow... as long as I'm RUNNING...

You know where this is going, folks... I WANT TO RUN AN ULTRA!!!!!   OMG - how much fun would that be?!! 

In case you didn't figure it out, I have OCD... welcome to life with someone who takes in everything exciting in great gulps of delight, wanting more, more, more... usually immediately ;)

Obviously I am not ready for this... yet... at least not while my training is geared towards triathlon (I'm a TRYathlete, you know!) but someday... when I have greater endurance and stamina... I really want to do one... somewhere really cool - like in the mountains or somewhere... I've been checking out some of the really neat-sounding races all over North America - my friend, Tina the Trail Queen is going to be SO excited that I'M so excited... because, like me, she's an Aquarian and has a good deal of OCD herself when it comes to things she's passionate about. 

So anyway, I guess this wasn't much of a book review, per se but the experience of reading this book has done SO much in terms of revving me up, renewing my desire to become a more efficient and gentler runner and ENJOY THE JOURNEY without so much fixation on the destination. 

Once again - another yogic lesson :)  See?  They're everywhere!  That's the beauty of universal truths...

Anyone else done one of these or want to??  I want to hear your story!

- Sue

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

You Know It's Cold When...

... your teeth are sensitive to the cold air outside

... your water bottles freeze

... the tips of your ears are painful and you wonder about frostbite

... gels become sludge and GU chomps become... unchompable...

I was out for my long run in beautiful, picturesque Inglewood on Sunday morning after my swim.  Such a pretty little village from which all roads seemingly go uphilll.  I was excited to be there because the sun was finally shining and it's such a pretty place!  I was also excited to be there because I was on a character-building mission: to run hills on my LSD run.

I've decided that now I'm starting to build some speed and strength on my run, I owe it to myself to frequent hillier locales for my long runs.  (Actually until now, I've been too afraid that I would have to walk most of the hills and not be able to run them, so I've put it off...) No more copping out by running the relatively flat streets around my house (not very scenic anyhow) or quietly creeping onto the treadmill at the gym for a long session of boredom-induced fantasy life.  Nope - I'm headed for the hills!

It was actually a lovely day for a run.  Lucky for me, before I hit the trail, I stuffed a few "Honey Stingers" (something I picked up in Lake Placid in the summertime - really yummy!) sport chews into my mouth and washed them down.  I started off with about a 3k warmup on a 'flat' trail - of course, that was more like an agility course, because of the water, snow and ice which was solidly packed but broken up by oh so many foot and pawprints and downed tree limbs... so I hopped from place to place, trying not to break an ankle as I nimbly leaped over tree branches and super icy patches.  After about 20 minutes of constantly telling myself to relax so that I wouldn't be as likely to injure anything if I went down, I'd had more than enough fun, so I ended up veering off my chosen path and going due north for a long, steady climb towards Forks of the Credit Road.

Wow.  That was pretty miserable.  I ran on the soft shoulder, facing oncoming traffic but it was ssssooooo..... ccccc-cold... I trundled along, looking lovingly at the outside of Flapjack's and trying to come up with a good reason to scrap my run and sit inside for warmth (and maybe a few pancakes...) but I wasn't in the mood to invent a reason to quit, so I went on. Slowly. Steadily.  Uphill.

By the time I hit Forks of the Credit Road, life was looking up and I had hit the small rollers part of my route.  I have no problem climbing a hill when I know that I get to descend on the other side :)

Right about then, I realized that I should really be eating... and imagine my delight to find my GU chomps (favourite fuel of choice) had frozen so hard that the only way I could describe them was as a lozenge.  UGH!  I sucked on a couple, trying vainly to run my frozen tongue around my mouth and the lump of stuff in my mouth - to melt it... so I could have a drink to wash it down and then spent about the last 5k of my run vainly trying to pick the sticky bits out of my teeth with my still frozen tongue.  Not my finest hour.  I think I was muttering aloud at that point.  I gave up at that point, and instead just focused on drinking my icy-cold slushee - I mean, my E-Load, that I had carefully packed in my Fuel Belt...

Winter running is an acquired taste, I think.  I've spoken to several people this year who will not run outside.  They have been doing all of their training on a treadmill.  While I like the treadmill for certain shorter training sessions, nothing bores me faster and makes me want to scream aloud, than thumping along going nowhere for an hour or more...   We are so lucky that we have such pretty places to run that are within a 30 minute drive from home:  Inglewood, Caledon, Terra Cotta, Milton, Niagara Escarpment... just to name a few.

I'm going to have to figure out a way to keep my fuel from freezing... clearly, having it in a fuel belt or fanny pack doesn't work, even though I wear them next to skin to provide warmth... Maybe it's time to try wrapping them in wool socks inside my carriers?  Anyone else got any good ideas??

Happy Trails!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Race Report: Robbie Burns 8k - January 23, 2011

Each year, I like to do something 'fun' for my birthday - usually a birthday challenge kind of thing (although not as extreme as Jack LaLanne's birthday challenges... may he rest in peace...that man was amazing!)

This year, following 3 months in physio for my shoulder, I knew that it wouldn't be a swim challenge so instead, I signed up for the Robbie Burns 8k in Burlington, ON, trying for a PB in a running race.

I woke up at 6am to -29 temperatures and windows that were covered in ice.  Oh, goody!!!!  I sat in bed, eating oatmeal and cuddling a warm cat, wondering what my coach would do:  suck it up and run or bail...

I waited... no emails granting permission to stay under a warm duvet seemed to be forthcoming... drat!!

Just to be sure, I fired off a tentative email at 7 am, sort of a 'conversation opener', to see if my coach would then suggest that taking a pass would be okay... the response was something like, 'dress warm and have fun!'.  Oh. Okay, then... so I got up and starting putting on my many layers of clothing for the fun event. 

Several layers later (about 4 to be exact...) and 3-5 frustrating bathroom breaks later (when was the last time you had to pull down 4 separate layers and get dressed again... sweating and roasting inside your clothing... only to finally get it all back together and realize you have to go again because your bladder recognizes that it's cold outside...????)  it was time for the race to begin.

By then, I admit, I was bouncing around like the Happy Pixie... dancing to my iPod tunes at the start line and generally doing whatever I could to get the blood moving...   I didn't hear a start gun but apparently there was one - and we were off!

It was fun to see the runners wearing kilts (over tights) and tartan accessories all around me.  It was horrifying to see one man who was wearing ultra-short nylon running shorts with bare legs!  I have no idea how he survived that - it looked painful!!

It took less than 2k for my glasses to fog up and then freeze, so that I literally couldn't see 2 feet in front of my face... I tried peering underneath them but it was uncomfortable, so not relishing having to explain that I broke an ankle because I couldn't see the road conditions, I pushed them off to the top of my hat and ran without... experiencing for the first time the feeling of icicles on my eyelashes - that was interesting...

Each time I glanced at my run pace it hovered around 6:25-6:35/km... I was still kind of on track... but I couldn't run without breaks yesterday - it was too cold and my asthmatic lungs protested too much!!

I don't recall 8k feeling like such a long way before yesterday but by the time the route hit Lakeshore Drive I was comfortably numb (or at least my lungs were...). 

Two Ventolin breaks plus 2 more just to catch my laboured breath, and I could see the finish line.  Yay!!!   I hit a 5:45/km pace as I dashed (your definition of 'dash' may differ) across the finish line and then spent a few minutes doubled over sucking wind through my frozen balaclava before going to find Eric - who missed seeing me crossing the finish line - and then getting a bowl of hot oatmeal to warm up. 

The Burlington Runners put on several races each year and I've done their events 3 times now.  My first ever 5k was the Good Friday Road Race and although it was the hardest thing I had EVER done at that time, the race organizers did a superb job and there was a ton of swag to give away at the end for door prizes.  I won a book at my first race!

Yesterday didn't disappoint:  I won another door prize !!!  Yay!!!!!  As I ran down the auditorium aisle to pick up my prize, the guy just ahead of me, after accepting his, turned around and BAM!  The hard, sharp plastic of the casing of his prize hit and scraped me across my eyelid and upper cheek.  This is the problem with being 4'11" tall!!  'Regular' sized people just don't look down and I can't remember the amount of times I've been walked into, struck in the face by random elbows, or just not SEEN... because I'm the size of an average 10 year old kid.  OMG - that hurt!  Luckily he missed the eyeball itself... so I guess I got TWO door prizes...

Once again, the Burlington Runners put on a lovely race with great swag and a good feast afterwards.  Way to go!!

Oh yeah - my finish time... was not what I had hoped (52:00) but instead was 55:37.  Not so bad considering I had to stop 4 times... and still a PB for me (I've never run an official race of any distance at a pace under 7:00/km) so that was kind of neat :)

And for those of you that know me... this was the THIRD race event where I DID NOT STOP TO PET DOGS; In addition, I did not get passed by most of the walkers in the event and I actually PASSED a few people (other runners!).  All in all, it was a good day.  I'm so glad I didn't bail!

Stay warm, everyone!!  Spring is coming... one of these days ;)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait... Patiently or Impatiently

I'm quite possibly the most impatient yogini/yogi that I know!  I've been this way since I was a child... I have memories of 'Patience is a virtue, Suzan', being said in my mother's stern voice - ugh!  Someone make it stop!!!

'Am I ever going to get any faster?' - this is all Eric (hubby) ever hears... as I look up at him with a sad face.  Dreams of finishing a race in the mid-pack finish times falling to the floor...

Running has only been my friend for about a year or so now... we had a relationship back in 2008 but we spent some time apart (I was seeing more of my bike and my physiotherapist...on my off-work hours) but we got back together again when I hooked up with JJ (coach) and I have been very happy about that.  But...  I am a slow runner.  I dream of being able to run 10k in 60 minutes.  That 6:00/km pace eludes me.  Not by a few seconds mind you... by about a minute per km!

We (well, JJ...) decided (and I agreed!) that I need to work on shorter and faster runs for my training for 2011.  It sounded okay at the time although I worried that without long slow runs I would put weight back on... and I didn't really have a clue how doing shorter runs would pay off... I began seeing things like 'tempo run' in Training Peaks and no matter how many times I tried to understand what that means (I never did any speedwork in my running clinic back in 2008... I was just focused on getting in the prescribed mileage - at whatever speed I could run) I just could not grasp what I was trying to accomplish.

Last week, I had an epiphany after reading an old Runners World article and the lightbulbs going off in my brain nearly blinded me!  A tempo run is a lactate threshold run!!!!  How simple!  Why this never sunk in before I do not know... other than I never heard the words 'lactate threshold' which what registered - finally!

Armed with this newfound clarity, I went to the MacMillan running site and downloaded some cool pace charts to get some ideas of what I was trying to 'hit' in terms of pace on various runs.   I was so excited, I wanted to go out for a run - RIGHT NOW!!  I didn't though... it was a bike night.

Then, in the midst of all this excitement, I opened my big mouth to JJ, and admitted that I wonder if actually hold myself back mentally (afraid to run out of steam before the end of the run), and could perhaps (gasp!) go faster than I do on my training runs...?

Lo and behold, I saw a prescribed pace show up in Training Peaks this week!  LOL!!!  I was terrified!  HOW could I possibly hold this pace that looked so fast to my terrified brain, for an entire 10 minutes??

No one could be more astonished than I was last night when I finally got up the courage to check my pace at regular intervals throughout my tempo run.  Oh. My. God.  I AM GETTING FASTER!!!  Wheeeeeeeeeee!!!!!  Not only was I able to 'hold' that prescribed pace for 10 minutes but I held a pace that was 20 seconds faster than that!  The best part?  I could have kept going longer!!

Is my running body finally adapting???  I think it IS!!

Well, after all those months (3!) of whining about how much I loathe speedwork because it isn't helping my stumpy legs run any faster, doing the runs but not feeling that I was seeing any results... feeling like I'm doomed to be a one-speed runner... the work is paying off. 

I couldn't be happier!!

Maybe I will actually run a 60 minute 10k sometime this year :)  Look out Boston... I'm coming to get you in... let's see... 2050??

Happy training everyone!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winter Run Season Has Arrived

Winter running has it's own set of criteria - stay warm, stay hyrated, stay fuelled...

'I'm a rubber duck - you can't break me' - That was my mantra all through Timberman 70.3.  I thought that it would be reserved for race day but apparently it's an effective all-season training mantra too.

I found myself muttering 'rubber duck ... rubber duck... ' under my breath during my long run on the weekend - in the freezing cold, as I tromped through snow, puddles... and my (stupid) iPod ran out of battery power halfway through my run.  I was SO cold on Sunday... it felt like I just couldn't get any warmth to my body even when I tried feebly to pick up my pace... People on the sidewalk probably wondered if I was all there, as I trundled past them 'rubber duck...rubber duck'... with my lips all blue and icicles on my eyelashes...

Little did I realize until about 2 hours later, when I could not warm up even after 2 large cups of herbal tea, food, a hot bath... that I was actually very dehydrated and after I chugged some Gatorade and fruit juice and water... and soup.... I started feeling less like a human popsicle.  Between my coach and my nutritionist I have now been set straight and I see the light:  I need as much as, if not more, hydration and salt for my winter runs as summer.  Wow.  Don't I feel stupid... (hangs head in shame)

Wintertime has finally arrived in the Toronto area - goody!  It is so pretty to look at the snow... and on a mild day, when the snow is on the ground and the sun is shining - I adore going for a long run... but when it's dreary, grey, and the wind-chill is colder than -14, I'm not quite as enthusiastic.

I've been trying out my vast array of winter running clothing items to see which are the warmest (I don't know about you but I have an area between my navel and mid thigh, that wraps around my body and no matter what I wear, this area FREEZES!!) on these longer runs out in the elements.  Under Armour cold gear compression tights are pretty good as a base layer.  Mizuno Breath Thermal tights are very cozy although strangely they were not enough to keep me warm on the weekend.  Sugoi Firewall 220 tights seem pretty toasty, though I only wore them for a 30 minute run this week.  This weekend, I am kind of hoping to try out some Helly Hanson silkweight longjohns under the Firewalls...  as long as Eric remembers to bring me a pair from the store :)

Thank heavens I have OCD about my sock collection - I have a substantial array of SmartWool running socks and those are my favourite socks of all time - all year - any season ... cool in summer... warm in winter  - you can't beat that!!  Inside a pair of water-resistant Nike Triax trail shoes - perfection!

Here's hoping that my long run on Saturday finds me toasty, warm (but not overheated), properly hydrated, adequately fuelled, with happy and dry feet and plenty of battery time on my iPod so I can go back to singing aloud off-key and not just muttering to myself...

I figure I should have this all figured out by around spring... at which time the climate and my needs will change - again. 

Happy winter running, everyone!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

173 Days Til My First Race of the Season

December seems like it was a blur of baking, work, food, Christmas lunches and other assorted tidbits - like me getting my Canadian citizenship a few days before Christmas and then going to apply for a Canadian passport.  I've lived here for 35 years... it seemed like a good time. I now hold dual citizenship.

As for the whirlwind of of the holiday season... I was sick.  The entire time.  Yep.  Christmas day I leaped out of bed (sort of) and went for an hour run (before I could change my mind), then made blueberry buttermilk pancakes and then promptly went back to sleep for the day.  Eric went out to a movie.  The next day Eric went back to work.  I remained in the house... mostly in my pajamas...until yesterday.  In beween, I ran on the treadmill, rode my trainer, slept and watched movies.  Lots of movies. Mostly horror.

Now that I've watched Saw I-IV (twice each!), 1408, some others that I don't remember (they were that good) and going out to see Black Swan yesterday - I'm ready to morph into 'Athlete' Sue again.  Maybe if I say it out loud frequently enough...?

Back to work today and it feels like I never left the place (or slept) - LOL!

Welland races are in 173 days... eek!

Is it 'normal' to feel so sluggish at the first of the new year?  Ugh!!

Perhaps I should start wearing some spandex or compression gear to work each day (layers or something) to remind myself that I - AM - A - MACHINE...

Yeah... that could work...