Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Barrelman 2016

Wasn't it just one short year ago where I swore I would never do another 70.3? And here I am now, my TFL's still angry at me for completing another one. I'm either stupid or a glutton for punishment. Probably a bit of both. A lot of both.

My main goal going into Barrelman this year was to do better on the bike. I've not swum too much this summer and my running is my running, those are what they are. The bike I really wanted to improve on, but how much better could I do? I was quite frankly sick of training by August and skipped a lot of workouts. Only race day would tell.....

After sleeping like garbage all week I finally had a solid sleep on Saturday night. This had to be a good sign right?! I picked Ivanka up at 6am and headed out to Niagara Falls where a shuttle bus would take us to the start in Welland. Been there, done that. There's something to be said about familiarity and at least I had that going for me in this race. I had done the Welland long course in June which is the same swim and 56k of the Barrelman bike course so that really helped me a lot.

We milled around saying hello to people (thanks for coming and introducing yourself Barry!) and I made a quick bathroom break before heading to get body marked by the body marker extroardinaire Nicole. Not many people realize that there is a washroom on the main floor at the Flatwater Centre so even though I was in line behind 2 guys (why do guys take forever in the bathroom any way?! Don't take your #1 poop at the race. Do that at home!) it was still shorter than the long line downstairs. I made a joke to the guy in line behind me that buddy must be taking a shower in there, he's taking so long. "There's a shower in there?!" he asked?

After giving everyone hugs and high fives and taking pics it was time to get my wetsuit on and make my way down to the swim start. I hung out with the birthday girl Irina in the water until the gun sounded, as well as Natalie and Emma. Today I was in the second last wave so expected things to be just as uneventful as they were. I love swimming at this venue. It's just so calm and civilized. Unfortunately they took out the guide wire though so I actually had to pay attention to where I was swimming this time. Boo Flatwater Centre! Swimming is still my happy place at these events believe it or not, and I'm perfectly happy to take my time and enjoy myself out there. Much of my youth was spent hurting in the pool, I'm just not down with that as an adult. Just don't tell my dad. He'd be mortified to see my swim times now. LOL With about 250m to go (I love the distance markers here!) I passed Irina which was a bit of a surprise to actually recognize a friend out there. In no time I was climbing out of the water and trying unsuccessfully to take my wetsuit off (it was stuck on my Garmin) as Nicole snapped my picture. Up into my first transition smoke break of the day and Irina was running past me giving me shit for passing her. Ha. I was surprised to still see so many bikes on the rack because I was pretty slow out there but whatever, I'll take it. I got changed into my bike stuff and strolled out onto the bike course, not a care in the world. I waved at Zindine and started out on my 89km ride.

2k swim + run up to transition 47:21
21/30 AG 138/200 Ladies

Once out on the ride course I ate two dates because I was friggin' starving. I really wish that I'd brought more than a banana to eat because I was pretty hungry before the gun even went off. I was in a fairly large pack for the first little bit but it's hard to spread out that early with that many people around. Not even 3k in and my day was almost ended when I turned to look behind me and somehow during that few seconds the guy I was riding behind had gone around a local cyclist and I almost went crashing into him. Thankfully I was able to get up onto my handlebars and veer out of the way just in time. Buddy sure would have been surprised had I not. And not a nice surprise either. After that things calmed down. People rode past me and commented on the smiley face that Nicole had drawn on the back of my calf and made comments about the wind. I watched the scenery which include lily pads, a magnitude of roadkill frogs and turtles, some water bottles and an asthma inhaler. I wondered if I should pick that up and hand it in but it was too late by the time I thought about it. Once down by the lake I found the crosswind to be really strong so I had to come up onto my handle bars for fear that the wind would pick all 120lbs of me and my bike and send us sailing across the road. At the first aid station I pulled over and had a quick pee in the porta potty (this would be the last pee I had until 8pm that night. Considering I use liquid nutrition that's pretty scary) and was back on my merry way, wondering how bad the crosswind would be once I made the next turn. Turns out it was pretty bad here too. I passed a man who was finishing up fixing a flat and asked if he needed anything. He did not but made sure to tell me on his way by that we'd probably never be rid of this headwind/crosswind all day. Greeeeeeeeat. After this I pretty much sent out a silent prayer at every turn to please please please not be headwind.

When things got boring I would play a game of trying to read peoples names on their bibs. This was actually something I did on the run too. What I would think I saw and what it actually said were very rarely the same. Basil? ....... Nope! Daniel! Pisa?!?! What the heck kind of name is that?! ....Oh! Lise! I got to the spot where Mari had passed me last year and  strangely enough Kim passed me there this year. At least she was in the same swim wave as me! LOL The entire ride was fairly uneventful as far as my triathlon rides go and I was soon chasing Tri Granny #1 down the final stretch along the Niagara River. Into the headwind. Flashbacks of last years Niagara Falls half came rushing in and I may have dropped a few F Bombs down around here. Finally I was cruising over the bridge and making the turn into the park. I thanked Tri Granny #1 for giving me something to chase down that final stretch just as Zindine was yelling out to me to have a quick transition. Ha. I made my way up to where I knew my bike rack would be (thanks Zin for pointing out that transition map to me!) and lit my T2 smoke.

89k ride 3:16
22/30 AG 153/200 Ladies

I knew that my ride was 20 minutes faster than last year so I planned to just try to stick to an easy 6:00/km pace for the run so that I could get a great PB. Haha no I didn't. My plan was a 5:30/km for the first loop and a 5:45/km for the second with a death march contingency plan of 6:00/km. Too bad for me the temp with humidity was 32* so that plan went up in smoke pretty much 200m in. There were walk breaks galore and my TFLs were not very happy with me. And there was something going on with my sock! It felt like it was all bunched up around my heel so I kept trying to stop and straighten it out. Down into the park I saw Emma. Then I saw Mellen. "Are you on your second loop?!?! I yelled to her. Bitch! Then I saw Graeme. Then I went and introduced myself to Amber by creepily grabbing hold of her race bib so that I could read the name on it.
She says it wasn't but this was probably Ambers face LOL

Then it was just me again. Me and my bunched up sock and this awful heat. Finally down along the falls it got so annoying that once I got out of anywhere I thought a photographer might be I sat down in the grass and pulled my shoe off to see what was going on. Turns out the extra hair elastic that I had thrown into my transition bag had found it's way into my shoe. Idiot! Well at least that was one less thing bothering me any way. On a list of 1000. I then made my way back through the park to the start of the second loop where I saw some of Emma's teammates cheering me on and Prasheel! What a nice surprise that was. Hopefully I didn't look as awful as I felt. I stopped at the 10.5k aid station while I heard them call Graeme's name over at the finish area, and put more infinit into my water bottle and filled it back up from their big jug. Now on top of everything else I was super sticky. Perfect. I checked my watch and saw that this first loop had taken me 1:06. I had one hour to match my time from last year. No biggie. I could do this. I made my way back down to the park where I saw Emma again. Dammit. She was almost finished and I still had another hour of suckage to go. Once I got into the park the familiar feel of my stomach cramping up hit me and I knew that things were about to hit rock bottom. I walked a little bit with the rest of the 70.3 zombies and Tri Granny #2 went running past us. You go girl. I got to the turn around down there and commented to a guy that I wished we could just run straight up to the road where we'd only have 2k left to go. "You'll only be cheating yourself" he told me. Thanks, tips. I walked with him for a few minutes where he told me that he found this course harder than Muskoka. I wonder if we did the same Muskoka?! Once I realized he had zero interest in running again I said goodbye and took off. Well, probably taking off is leaving you with a bit of the wrong mental image, but I left him nonetheless. I walked the shitty hill and chatted with another guy there while he ate pretzels. "It's too hot for this shit" I said to him. "At least you can go home after this and not feel guilty about binge watching Narcos" he said to me. "Although you'll only make it through half an episode before you fall asleep". That made me laugh. I may have started going a little crazy at this point. We got to the top of the hill where I told him I did not want to run another step. He wished me well and started to run. And then he walked. And then I ran. And then I walked. And then he ran. And then he walked. We back and forthed like this for a while until I finally passed him and never saw him again. I was running out of steam as I came to the second hill and thought I really need to eat something. I knew that a gel would not be a good idea so I opted for the pretzels. They actually helped my although they were dry as frick in my already dry mouth.

I got to the top of the hill and looked at the falls and thought I may as well take my phone out and take a picture. I didn't though. There was a nice downhill waiting for me so off I went to catch it, even though the pounding killed my TFLs. At the next aid station I grabbed some more pretzels and thankfully my tummy was not feeling any worse from them. I spied Emma and Irina's friend Kyra here and walk/ran my way to catch her to introduce myself. I then steeled myself for that final push to the finish line. I could see Tri Granny #2 in the distance and slowly made my way to catch her. I gave myself permission to walk whenever she walked and eventually passed her. As I was taking another walk break she ran past me and I gave her crap because she was running and I was only allowed to walk when she walked. Hope she knew it was a joke. Unfortch my jokes weren't killing it out here like they were in Muskoka. I think we were all just feeling a little too awful for my comedic gold. Finally there was only 1km left in this God forsaken race and I refused to walk any more. Just get this over and done with.
As I made my way to the finish line I could hear the Iron Canucks cheering for me and as I got closer to the finish I could hear Nicole cheering for me. Finally I made it over the finishing mat, turned my Garmin off and dropped the final F Bomb of the day.

21.1k Run 2:25 loop 1 1:06 loop 2 1:18
15/30 AG 132/200 Ladies

Oh hey, Tin Man!

Worlds best coach who isn't a coach 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Ironman 70.3 Muskoka

After doing Barrelman last year and seeing that I could actually cover the 70.3 distance and live to tell the tale I wanted to tackle an Ironman™ branded race because, Ironman™!! I was unable to register for Mont Tremblant 70.3 in time with Mari (which in hindsight was probably for the best, the weather was awful) I decided to sign up for Muskoka. I knew it was hard but how hard could it be? *insert pompus laughter here*

My family came up to Huntsville for the weekend with me and apart from being trapped inside the hotel for most of Saturday because of the rain we had a really great time. It's always fun to get away. We arrived Friday afternoon and after checking into the hotel we went to registration (where they still had me in the first wave with the 30-34 year olds!) and got my kit and hit the Ironman store. I'm cheap and only bought a water bottle. I knew I would be getting a finishers shirt & hat and had just gotten a backpack so what was the point in buying more? We quickly met up with Emma and her family to say hello and then made our way to downtown Hunstville. We ate dinner on the lakeside patio at Boston Pizza (beautiful!) and then drove around checking out the sights (and locals) and even found the town crack house. 

We're here!!

Best patio ever! Seats right on the water.

Saturday I met up with Irina and Zin and went to the athlete briefing. It was still pouring rain so I left my bike at the hotel room and figured I'd bring it back later in the afternoon. After the meeting I texted Derek to come and get me and he suggested that it had stopped raining so why don't they bring my bike over. Ok, good plan I thought and went up to the road to meet them. Once they arrived I found my bike IN the trunk rather than on the bike rack that Emma had lent me for the weekend and was a little worried. I quickly rode it around the parking lot and things seemed ok so I took it to transition, covered it in a garbage bag and said goodbye to go do a little geocaching. 
Geocaching on the Trans Canada Trail

Race morning finally came and I was tired. I didn't sleep well Friday night and the power went out Saturday night and the noise of the microwave losing power in our room had woken me out of a deep sleep. Then of course when the power came back on that woke me up too. Add in Derek's snoring and it's a recipe for a restless night. I met Irina and Zin in the lobby at 5:25 and we made our way to the shuttle bus where Irina secured my timing chip with a safety pin. To be honest I wasn't 100% sure why she did this. I did figure it out later though. I was feeling pretty nervous now, I was really scared about the bike course. You can do it everyone assured me, but could I? I got myself set up in transition, hit the porta potty and made my way down to the swim start with Mellen who I found in the transition area. Once again she gave me assurance that I could do this bike. I wondered did she know that I'm not a strong cyclist and only really had 8 weeks training under my belt after my marathon training? 
Obvs I didn't get the memo that we were supposed to "vogue"

Oh well, too late for second thoughts now. I saw instagrammer @piperb123 in the swim wave corral (I had just introduced myself to her in transition) and we chatted until it was time to get into the water. It was nice to have something to take my mind off of things. The water was nice and warm but it took me a little more time than usual to get my breathing controlled. I was so scared so I wasn't surprised. I lined myself up at the back of the pack just so that I wouldn't need to worry about people swimming over me for a while. I knew the relay wave was 5 minutes behind mine and that the fast ones would catch me by the halfway point but for now I could just swim and be happy. So the horn sounded the start and that's what I did. The swim was beautiful. I caught some people in the wave ahead of mine pretty early, I hoped that they made the swim cut off time. My sighting wasn't too bad. At first we were swimming into the sun so I just followed the crowd and hoped for the best because I couldn't see a single buoy for a while. After the turnaround the fast relay swimmers had caught up but they didn't bother me too much. I was in a sea of baby blue caps, green caps, dark blue caps and a couple of pink caps (two waves ahead of mine!!) just all trying to make it out of the water. I had a hard time after the final turn figuring out where the swim exit was so my line was not straight. Mental note to self, look and see where the swim exit is next time before the start. With about 200m left to go I felt someone grab my foot so I started kicking. Then I felt them grab at my timing chip and the velcro go lose! WTF?! I thought to myself. This idiot is trying to rip off my timing chip. Thank God Irina had put that safety pin on there! As buddy went to swim past me I grabbed his leg and squeezed just to let him know I was not impressed. Who the hell did this dick weed think he was trying to ruin my race like that?! I can ruin my race all on my own, thank you very much!! I made it to the exit where a man helped me out of the water and then a girl helped me off with my wetsuit and I started my way up the long hill back to transition. I think that maybe you were supposed to run this but nah. I got back to transition, fixed my timing chip and got my bike and left.

Where's that guy that tried to rip off my chip?! Lemme at him! 

Swim time 44:48 (40/51 AG)
T1 including the long run  walk up the hill 8:18

The first part of the bike course after the mount line was downhill and I was all "weeeeee" this is going to be fun. Then the uphills came and I found my bike harder and harder to ride. My heart rate was through the roof and as my watch beeped the first 5k split I seriously wondered if I would be able to ride another 89k of this. It felt SO hard. Around 8k I cursed myself for not bringing my phone because I might need to call Derek to come and pick me up. Sure that would mean that I would never be able to do another race like this again because it would always get brought up ("You're not signing up for that, remember I had to come and get you last time?") but at this point I didn't care. People were whizzing by me and I was barely pushing 15km/hr! As I climbed a hill just before 10k I realized that I could hear my back brakes rubbing so once I got to the top of the hill I hopped off of my bike and opened them up. A woman rode by and asked if I had everything that I needed and I thanked her. Things felt a lot easier after that but I was still never able to get my speed up. I made it to the first aid station but declined anything that they were offering with a thank you. People were still passing me and I wondered to myself if I would eventually be the only one out here. I played leap frog with a man for a while out here. I would pass him on the hills and say something funny and he would pass me on the straight aways and say something encouraging. I guess humour wasn't his strong suit. "Come on. push push push" he'd say. Eventually I dropped him so at least I knew I wouldn't be DFL out there. Silver linings. At the second aid station I took a bottle of water and like a pro filled up the aero bottle that Emma had given me (I'm everyone's little sister with the hand me downs, which I am not above taking). I saw Tracy (@piperb123) here and played leap frog with her and another girl until the third and last water station when I didn't see either of them again. There was an annoying headwind during this stretch that I wasn't too keen on. When my watch beeped 50k I realized that I would be out here for 4.5 hours and it was seriously the most defeated that I would feel all day. I had figured I would be about 3:45 and knew that my family would be worrying about me back at Deerhurst. Ok, maybe not my whole family because I had bought the boys passes to use the lake facilities for the day but Derek would be. I tried my hardest to speed up to get back as quick as possible but it just was not happening so I tried to push it all out of my mind and just enjoy the scenery and not focus on the rest. With the exception of that first 10k the ride was honestly not that bad the first 75k so I do not know what happened to me out there. I was stronger than what was showing but some days you're the dog and some days you're the hydrant. Today I was the hydrant. At 75k I came to the first of a string of challenging hills. As I was climbing it I passed a couple on the phone looking for something in the woods and could hear the man saying that people had flagged him down and told him someone was in trouble. I saw a water bottle on the road but that was it. Hopefully whoever it was would be ok. I made it to the top of this hill completely winded and saw 2 people getting on their bikes. "That sucked" I said. "Just think about the beer at the finish" the guy said to me. While that hill was hard I knew that the biggest challenge was going to be around 80k thanks to Emma's recon ride a few weeks ago. No walking your bike up the hills I reminded myself. As I came up to the dreaded hill I saw three people walking their bikes up it. "NOPE!" I yelled to myself and passed them. My reward for pushing up that hill was an amazing downhill. Finally something fun out here! And so went the rest of that uphill ride. Me pushing myself up those hills while I passed others walking their bikes. "This sucks, eh?" I'd grunt at all of them while they'd look at me wondering what I had to prove. Just get off and walk I could read their thought bubbles. I'd be damned if I was walking up a single hill. I needed something to be proud of myself for out here. At 88k I knew that I was going to make it but I was so not down with running after all this. I just wanted to go home. Just get it done I thought to myself. You won't get your medal if you don't run. I'm never doing this race again I thought to myself. Well maybe the relay but I'm not doing the bike! Finally I made it to the final hill and I'll be honest. I really really really wanted to join the man walking his bike but I pushed through and made it to the top. Buddy passed me after that but we ended up at the dismount line together. As I was riding down that final stretch I could see people walking by with their medals and that made me feel really down. I still had another 21k to run and they were done? Boo. I walked my bike into transition because my legs were fried, got my running stuff on and hit the porta potty. I texted Derek that I was finally done the bike and it would probably take me about 2.5 hours to finish the run. I found out later that Derek had no service on his phone and never got my text. He had somehow missed me riding in and running out and was seriously wondering if I was laying on the road somewhere. It didn't help that Noah told him that he had heard someone had died out there. Apparently at this point in the conversation Kyle asked if anyone else was hungry and if they'd be going to eat soon. LMAO 

"I'm fuckin' dying!" I yelled to the photographer

Bike time 4:29:16 (45/51 AG) 
T2 including porta potty and getting lost 5:20

As I left the porta potty I got totally disorientated in the transition area and couldn't remember where the run out was. I finally saw it but there was a volunteer standing in the way. "Am I supposed to be going this way?" I asked her. Apparently I was. Guess she wasn't expecting any more runners coming out of there. At the first uphill I stopped to walk and pulled out a zantac before my tummy started giving me any trouble. Then I walked the next up hill and the next one and oh, is that a bit of an incline? Better walk that too. I saw Emma on her way to the finish about 2k in and yelled at her "No walking". Thankfully I was running at that moment so I didn't look like a total hypocrite. I did the math and realized I was 2+ hours behind her. Yep, another low point in my day. And then the next one was when I could not see a single other runner ahead of me running out, but hundreds running in. This was going to be a long lonely suckfest. Last man on earth. Because I didn't see my family at the transition area (or them me) I wondered if they might be waiting to cheer for me in town and I started to get weepy thinking about them. I was just so tired, I wanted to go home. This was the longest I'd ever been out for a race and it was an awful feeling. It's hard to run and cry and I started to have troubles breathing so I had to push my loved ones out of my mind and get on with the run. As I got into town though a glorious thing happened. I was catching up to other runners going my way and passing them. I was not the only one out here any longer. I had people that I could commiserate with and laugh at the absurdity of it all. As I walked up a hill I said to the man walking beside me "the way back better have as many downhills as the way out has had uphills!". "I don't know who designed this course but they need to have their head examined!!" he said back to me. We chatted a bit and he asked me if we'd make the cutoff. We have lots of time I assured him. We may be pulling an entire work shift out here but we'll make it. Then someone pointed out the halfway mat to us and I said goodbye to him while I sang Bon Jovi in my head and started my internal countdown. I was passing lots of runners now and made the same stupid jokes to them as I ran by but they all laughed. I passed the retirement home where 3 ladies had been out cheering before and got a thumbs up and a "You go girl" from an elderly lady on a scooter. "Thanks, Mrs!" I yelled back to her. I was starting to chafe under my arms now and frantically asked every aid station if they had vaseline while running with my arms flapping like wings so they wouldn't rub. Finally I found a station with a fresh jar and the lady handed it to me. "Uh, I don't mind sticking my fingers in there but do you maybe have a stick?" The lady found one and pulled out the hugest blob of Vaseline for me which eventually melted and ran all down my arms. I could feel blisters on the balls of my feet now too and wondered if I should put some Vaseline on those but figured that would just feel gross so just dealt with the burning going on down there. This run was really starting to suck but I was on the homestretch. Around 16k I was really starting to run out of gas and was long out of my Infinit drink so I took a chance at the aid station and took one of their gels. I had actually said aloud "I don't think I can make it" while realizing that I was now one of those people who I usually drive past on my way home, feeling sorry for them still being out there. Low point number I've lost count of the day. Thankfully I had a gingin in my handheld pocket and that helped the gel stay settled. I walked a bit until the gel did it's job and then it was all business. Just get to the finish. I walked the last sucky hill with about 5 other people and said "I'm so glad that I did all of that hill training for this because I haven't run a single hill!" God, I was killing it out there with my jokes! At the top I started running again and left all of those people behind. I passed a man with a Pace Performance top on and I asked him if he was from Burlington. He was! "Me too" I said. And then over my shoulder added "It was your top that gave it away, I'm not creepy!". He laughed and said that he knew. I could see Deerhurst in the distance now and a guy with a medal around his neck cheered me on. "Is the medal worth it?" I asked. "Oh yeah, go get yours!" he said. I could hear the finish line and booted down Deerhurst Dr. I heard Noah yell to me and he ran in the crowd beside me to join the rest of my family cheering. I ran through the run area that surrounds the transition and people with their finishers shirts on were all cheering for me. I was SO happy. I ran down the finishing chute and heard them say my name and that I was looking for adventure. Did I write that? I don't remember if I did but I sure got it today. I saw Irina standing on the other side of the finish line and ran through the tape right into her arms and cried. "That was SO hard" I bawled. "I know" she said to me with tears in her eyes. "I was out there SO long. Everyone must have been worried". They were but they knew I'd get there eventually. And I did. Yay me. 

Look who's smiling now

Fuck me right?!

If you ever need a hug this is the girl to go to. She gives the best ones ever #freehugs

Run time 2:26:55 (40/51 AG)
Total 7:54:37 (40/51)

There it is in all of it's horrible glory. Perhaps I'll go back for redemption one day. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Toronto Goodlife Marathon

For 18 weeks less a day I was super excited for the Goodlife Marathon. I trained as best I could through the winter months, a chest infection and a sprained ankle and was feeling good about running a Nicole's BQ paced run. Then race day came and I just wasn't excited anymore. You know it's not going to be a good day when you say aloud on the bus ride to the start "I don't want to do this anymore".

Sweet ass rain coat

The weather was miserable and I knew that my tummy was going to be a bitch. My heart just wasn't in this one but I lined up at the start line with Nicole and Ivanka, let out a big sigh and started a rain coat from the dollar store that was the same material as a shower curtain liner. 1k in and I ripped that thing off like the Hulk. Or Hulk Hogan. Some sort of beastly creature that would tear a shirt at the neck any way.

I ran down unknown streets happy to let Nicole take the lead and silently counted off the kms. Only 40 more to go! Oh God. We ran halfway up a big hill and Nicole called a walk break. Right-o! I guess this was Hoggs Hollow? I have no idea but it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. We lost Ivanka on this hill so for a long time I wondered how far ahead of us she was and how she was doing. Even though we didn't talk during the race it's nice to know that someone is there beside you, I wonder if she's lonely. Around 10k I started thinking to myself that I was never going to run another marathon. This was lame. The weather sucked. Running sucked. I sucked. Forty two kilometers sure as hell sucked. Nicole was cool though. She didn't suck.

Shortly after this Nicole had to pull off and stretch her quads. I was happy for the break and my tummy was starting to ache. I pulled out some gingins and hoped for the best. We ran along some more, still in unknown areas to me. Some ladies asked us if we were doing the 10s & 1s method. "We're doing the whatever it takes to get through this method" I replied. I think my humour was lost on them as they ran ahead. Nicole asked how my tummy was. "I just need to get to the half" I told her. I had silently made a deal with myself to get to the half strong and then I could let Nicole go if I wanted. Sometimes it's easier to complete the task if you give yourself permission to have an out. I really wanted an out. This sucked. Finally we were running in the downtown area and I actually kind of knew where I was. This was exciting for me and gave me a bit of a boost. I continued to eat my gingins to help my tummy but at least I was no longer feeling like I didn't want to go on. I was going to finish this race, and probably run another, dammit! We finally got down to Lakeshore and my mindset was good. I knew where I was for once. I have never really been down here on foot but I've driven by countless times watching the runners go by on the trail. Nicole had to stretch her quads again and I silently waited. I could hear the finish line but I purposely didn't look over for it. What the eye doesn't see the heart doesn't grieve. A little while later my stomach started cramping and I couldn't face the thought of eating another gingin but then I remembered that I had thrown a prescription Zantac in my pocket at Derek's suggestion so I took that. I had to stop and walk again the cramping was so bad but then we went on running again. And then I had to stop again. Nicole's friend Peter ran by at that point so I told Nicole to go and run with him. "Why?" she asked. "I'm running with you". "I don't want to be the cause of another personal worst" I told her. See that's the thing. When it's my partner having difficulty and needing a break I'm all "No worries, take your time" and I understand and genuinely mean it, but when I'm the one holding them back it's an awful feeling. At this point a spectator in Boston gear jumped in with us. "You're wearing a donut on your shirt and you're wearing a beer! There's nothing you guys can't do!!". This was the little pep talk that I really needed at this point so I started running as he ran with us and he cheered us on. And then magically either by Boston Strangers vibes or the Zantac my tummy started to feel a lot better. Nicole suggested that we do 10s and 1s (for real this time) so we settled in to that and carried on. We watched the fast runners coming back along Lakeshore and commented how awful they all looked. Glad that we weren't the only ones feeling like garbage. All of a sudden Nicole told me that we only had 9k to go and I almost jumped out of my shoes I was so excited. I had no idea we were that far! Holy shit, I was doing this and I was actually feeling ok. We took another walk break and spied Ivanka up ahead just as Marlene passed by us with pity in her eyes (I actually laughed at the look that she gave us). At least all of us weren't feeling like crap out there. We ran for a little bit in the park, passed a large group of guys and then lost Ivanka right as we were turning into the wind. Or should I say THE WIND!!! No wonder everyone running back to the finish line looked so terrible. The wind was awful. AWFUL! I had secretly hoped that all of our windy day training runs would help us out with this element but we'd never run in the wind with 35k on our legs before so it did nothing.

Crap, let's just get this over with. I counted off each km and took the walk breaks that Nicole was calling. We even took the one at 41k that I would normally never do. We ran along cheering with the spectators that were telling us that there would be beer and donuts at the finish line (LIARS!) and thanking all of the volunteers that were out in this horrible weather. There are truly better ways to get your community service hours. Like cleaning toilets at the bus station.
First time for everything. I'm smiling Nicole is not

Finally a girl walking along yelled to me "At the green light you're going to turn. The finish is right there". I wonder if she could see that I was trying to see where the finish line was?! "Run to the green light!!" I yelled to Nicole. This was seriously the happiest I'd been all morning. Finally a light was at the end of this gloomy, rainy, windy, shit show of a tunnel. I turned at the light and let out a sigh of relief. The finish line! I ran my ass off while Nicole posed for the cameras and finally crossed that line and turned and gave Nicole a high five. The original Shalane and Amy.

Did someone leave the barn door open?

Big medals and the worst post race food ever. And no foils! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

ATB 2016

Ah, Around the Bay. How I love you. 30k of Hamilton filth, hills and the sound of people dying. What's not to love?!

On Friday as is now tradition I met up with Emma (and her hubby) Zindine and Ivanka and had Burrito Boyz for lunch and then headed over to the expo. I was pretty disappointed to see that there were no souvenir shirts for sale this year and the race shirts were now Running Room and not New Balance. And once again they were purple! I have 4 ATB race shirts. Two pink, two purple. Please get a new colour palette next year Around the Bay!! Once we finished there I headed to physio to get another laser treatment on my ankle, which was now swollen again, and some graston on my calves. Then it was home to ice my ankle for the rest of the weekend.

Race day rolled around and Nicole drove us into Hamilton. We headed to Copps to meet up with friends, eat bananas and hit the bathroom lines a couple of times before the race started.

 Eventually we headed down to the start corrals only to realize that the horn had blown and we were still on the sidewalk. EEK! Quickly I ripped off my snazzy Resolution Run throwaway jacket and we made our way into the sea of runners and were off. As luck would have it I noticed my friend Michelle amongst the spectators and was able to run over and give her a hello hug before I crossed the start line. I was super happy to see her! It was pretty cold out, my ankle was feeling iffy and my legs felt like lead. exactly how you want to start a race.
Nicole calls this "No photos please" I call it "I'm freezing my ass off". Note
Jamie's hat that his Nana knit him.

 Jamie and Graham were with us at this point and Jamie made some remark about short girls not dodging runners and losing them. I mentioned that probably wasn't good for my ankle any way so we didn't do too much bobbing and weaving. It was super crowded for a long time and I was really nervous about someone taking me out and hurting my ankle even more. I still have a marathon to run in 4 weeks. This is not a goal race for me! Our race plan was simply 'see how things go and dial it back if my ankle or Nicole's IT band starts to make it's presence known'. Time ticked away and the sun came out to teach us all a lesson about overdressing for the race, as always. The sweat was pouring off me but I didn't want to take anything off for fear of eventually turning the corner into headwind. Around 6k we passed Jamie's hat that his nana had knit him on the road. I felt bad because I wouldn't throw anything away that my Nana had made me. Turns out it fell out of his pocket so I'm sorry that I didn't pick it up. We took the over passes in stride, never slowing down and ran over the 10k mats in 53:41.

I like to break this race up into 4 parts. Gross Hamilton. The beachstrip. Northshore and York. We were now on the beachstrip and the spectators are pretty great here. There's the old people in fur coats in front of the castle, my friend Bill and his family (Bill has told me that it's cool to watch the elite runners go by and then a little while later you hear the age groupers approaching), Laura's husband Bernie and his granddad, the smell of cooking with a hint of weed and the lift bridge. We got about 2/3 of the way over the lift bridge and I told Nicole that I had to walk. It did not make my ankle feel good AT ALL! Thankfully she didn't complain. Of course there was a photographer on the lift bridge and I was all ready for him except he was too busy taking pictures of the friggin' seagulls in the steel beams! Dude, those seagulls aren't going to buy your pictures. Mind you neither am I because they are so overpriced so carry on! We played back and forth with Emma on the beachstrip but never saw her again after we turned onto Northshore. This is where Nicole's IT band started acting up so we backed off. No sense ruining Goodlife for a training run race.

We saw Amy out on Northshore who was nice enough to offer us Advil. That actually cracked me up. Thankfully she didn't also offer peanuts a la Barb. LOL Northshore is alive with spectators and it really helps with the rolling hills. There's so much going on down there with people blasting music and cheering that the rollers don't seem so bad. Then you get to the hill leading up to LaSalle and want to die but you truck up it ready for more spectators. My sister hadn't said that she was going to be there this year but I looked for her anyway. Turns out they were at the Globetrotters in Toronto. Oh well, the hope of seeing another friendly face was enough for me at that point. "One more crappy hill and then that lame incline and we're done with the hills" I said to Nicole. I was now in cheerleader mode because I could tell that Nicole's knee was really bothering her. I had felt like something was touching my butt around the LaSalle hill and then realized that it was my muscle spasming. After we turned onto Plains Rd I said to Nicole. "Four more miles. We can do this! I just want to get this shit over with! My ankle is starting to hurt and my butt is killing me." I never even mentioned the crazy chafing that I could feel going on with my bra. The salt from my sweat was stinging it like crazy. We ran past the We Will Rock you Guy and got a laugh when he told me that I was "a good looker". "Obviously he hasn't seen me up close with mouth goo and crusty salt stains" I said to Nicole.

As Plains turned into York the headwind that I knew would be waiting for us started. Because who doesn't want to end a pretty tough race with headwind?! We ran along York and I tried talking a bit to Nicole to get her mind off of things but my tummy was starting to hurt a little. . I took out a frozen Gin-Gin around 27k and hoped for the best. Of course there was a photographer right there too but thankfully there is no photographic evidence of me trying to chew that thing. We high fived the guy with beet red bare feet, ran past the reepers and had a close encounter with the 51 feet under kind. I asked Nicole if we were going to hold hands at the finish line and sing "Best friends". I think that I found this more funny than she did. We ran past all of the dying runners and I tried to give encouragement to those I could. "Holy crap, where the frig is the finish?!?!" I bitched aloud. "Twice around the track" Nicole said to me. I think one of us says this at every race.
Get me to that finish line!

We turned the corner to run into Copps and both spoke a warning to the other one to take it easy. I must have taken it a little easier than Nicole on the turn because I had to sprint to catch up to her, and then she looked at me and ran even harder and yelled for me to grab her hand. I finished the race with a huge smile on my face but forgot to sing "best friends". Jokes on me.

Beeeest friennnnnds 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Manitoba Harvest Review

A little while ago I had the opportunity to try out two of the three flavours of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Heart Bars.  I was excited to try them, I always take a protein bar with me to work on Sundays just because for some reason I never seem to get enough protein on this day, and considering it's the day after my big workout of the week it's kind of important that I do. These bars have 10 grams of plant based protein and 10 grams of omegas.

 The first one I tried was chocolate. In all fairness, I'm a pretty harsh critic when it comes to anything chocolate so this one didn't really stand a chance. I found the flavour to be pretty hempy. Probably I wouldn't eat this one again. Thankfully the second bar I tried, the apple cinnamon was a lot better and I would definitely take this one to work another day. I am curious to try the vanilla. Maybe if you'd like to buy a box with the 15% off code hhbarlaunch1015 you could hook me up with a bar or you could enter their monthly photo contest by tagging them on instagram with @manitobaharvest and using the hashtag #fuelledbyhemp. You can also find lots of Manitoba Harvest products at your local health food stores and grocery chains. Go give them a try and get #fuelledbyhemp

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Breaking out the feather duster

I suppose it's time to write my blog post for the quarter. Not a whole lot interesting going on around these parts = not much to write about. Sure I ran the Niagara Falls half a few weeks ago but I can sum that up in one word. Suck. Unless you like running into 21 straight kilometers of headwind. Then it was awesome.
I for one do  not. I did however have a fun weekend out there. The day before Derek and I went for breakfast, hit up the expo and then did some geocaching. That's always a good time. Especially in a muggle infested area like Niagara Falls. LOL
Doing the tourist thing at the falls

Lately I've just been trying to maintain my fitness. I'm just starting to be able to get up in the mornings again after the time change. Why do they have to muck around with the time?! I'm trying to run 3x week, do the trainer 2-3x week and get in a swim every week. Baby steps with the swimming seeing as I'm back to ground zero there and I don't need to aggravate my shoulders. Who knew lugging around jugs of beer and plates of wings for 20+ years would have such an impact on my body. Any way, so far I'm doing ok. Things should get interesting in January though when (maybe) marathon training starts. Seeing as Nicole is on the fence about it, so am I. I'm nothing if not a follower. Ha. I think it all depends on how ATB goes for us this year before the final decision will be made. If you can't hold MP for 30k one month before the marathon then really, what's the point?

So far I've registered for 2 races for 2016 and have a few of others that I'll sign up for after Christmas. Chilly obviously I'll do because who doesn't like to run in the cold for a bowl of canned chili?! Not signed up for it yet though because there doesn't seem to be a price increase. ATB I'm registered for because their price increase is $20 and I'm super cheap! It's also my favourite race so why wouldn't I be registered? I'm hoping that with a female race director this year we'll get an amazing coloured shirt. Fingers crossed. Goodlife will either be the half or full depending on ATB and Nicole. I'm pretty easy going, whatever happens with that happens. I'll do the Welland sprint tri because I want to swim back in the canal. Dream swim right there! I'm registered for the Muskosa half IM but haven't come out and told anyone yet. Actually, one person knows. Two think they know. The rest of the world is finding out right here. And by world I mean all two of you who may read this. After that life is up in the air. Maybe I'll finally find a race that has THE medal. The one that can not be beaten therefore I can never race again because all other medals will be ruined for me. Wouldn't that be something?!?!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Barrelman 70.3

Looks like it's time to dust off the ol' blog to tell you all about my first 70.3 adventures! What do you mean who does a 70.3 when all they've done before that were a try a tri and a sprint tri the year before?! Isn't that what all normal people do? No? I guess normal people don't have pushy friends like mine. LOL


Race morning rolls around and my pushy  friend, Mari picked me up at 6am to head down to Niagara Falls where we quickly found parking and hopped on the shuttle bus to get over to Welland for the swim start. My stomach was in knots but that quickly disappeared when I checked my tires as Mari had instructed me to do and realized that the rear tire on my bike had gone flat over night. CRAP! The girl 2 bikes down from me had a pump so I asked her if I could borrow it. She said yes. YAY! As I unscrewed the valve the whole thing flew off the wheel like a cannon. NOOOOOO! What the hell had happened?!?! Thankfully I remembered that there was a bike mechanic set up just outside of transition so I raced my bike over there and asked him to change my tube. PHEW! As he was fixing it for me the guy who's bike he fixed before mine came up and paid his $50 invoice. Oh. My. God. I have no money and no form of payment on me. What the hell am I going to do now?! I took off and went to try to find someone, anyone that I might know that would have money. I ran into Emma right away who passed me her sunglasses which I had asked to borrow because I couldn't (and still can't) find mine. "EMMA! Do you have any form of payment on you?! No?! EEK!". I went back over to the mechanic guy and asked him how much it would be because I'd have to borrow money from someone. "Naw, you provided the tube so there's no charge.". * insert angels singing here * Thank the Lord for this man! Shout out to D'Ornellas Bike Shop here. Having my bike crisis taken care of I then went and saw Nicole for hugs and body marking. She had gotten up at 4am to surprise us and volunteer at the race. Who has better friends than I do?! No one! As Nicole was marking the number on my arm she then moved over to my shoulder blade and wrote something there. I didn't think much of it until later in the race. I said goodbye as some other people had the nerve to want her to body mark them as well and made my way to the loooooooooooooooong bathroom line. I really had to pee so skipping it was not an option. Thankfully I made it out of there with 15 mins to spare to put on my wetsuit and make my way down to the canal. I found Emma, Zin and Irina on the way but could not find Mari anywhere. *sad face* I talked to my insta friend Dana (who had introduced herself at ATB, just before Nicole puked) and then spied Mari from a distance for wet good luck hugs. My favourite. I was feeling pretty relaxed and excited to start the swim. The rest I could wait for.

Swim (2k)
Time: 44.12
Pace: 2:12/100m
Overall: 316/496
Gender: 83/162
Age group: 15/34

The pros were off and then one minute later it was our waves turn to start. We had stayed at the back and I was happy to keep myself there to avoid any kicks or being swum over. I had given myself permission to just enjoy the swim seeing as it would probably be the only part of the day that wouldn't completely suck so I just went slow and easy. At the turnaround is when the fast people from the wave behind me caught up but they were cool and didn't bother me at all. My mind was pretty empty, I just swam. About 3/4 of the way through the swim I started to get cold. I could feel myself shivering and my nose was running like crazy. I kept having to wipe my nose mid stroke because if you've ever had a runny nose in the water before you'll know that snot does not just wash off by itself. It's like having a jellyfish stuck to your face. Not very attractive for race photos, it tends to take away from the weeds hanging off of your body. Before I knew it the swim was over and a man was helping me out of the water. It seemed to be kind of chaotic at the swim exit. There were so many people in the stands cheering and I was trying to figure out which way to go. I tried to find Nicole for a high five (obviously I wouldn't tell her that my hands were covered in snot!) but I couldn't see her. Boo. I ran into T1 and took my time getting myself together. I even put on deodorant which judging by my smell in the car on the way home, didn't really help.

Looking at the ground would explain why I didn't see Nicole

Bike (89km)

The bike was the part of the race that I was least looking forward to. I just don't have the same passion for riding as my friends do. Sure I enjoy it, but my heart belongs to my running shoes. I was cruising along at my intended pace for quite awhile trying to make sure that I was eating and drinking. People were passing me like crazy, most were nice and said "On your left, Samantha".... "Have a great ride".... "How're you doing?" but others had their game faces on and didn't say a word at all. So may people spoke to me that first 25k I began to wonder what exactly Nicole had written on my shoulder blade. Did she write "70.3 virgin" "newbie" "killer"?! Maybe I should ask someone, but I never did. At some point we turned a corner and were greeted with a headwind that never went away after that. "Well this isn't fun anymore" a man said to me as he passed me by. "Nope" I replied. Now I was beginning to regret not going to the bathroom before I left T1. After awhile the fact that I had to pee was all I could think about. Thankfully an aid station with a porta potty soon came into view so I pulled off and jumped in. As I stood up to leave the porta potty my left leg suddenly felt terrible and I actually grunted. Hopefully the girl who was waiting outside didn't hear me!!! I gingerly made my way back to my bike and had a bit of trouble getting going again. The left side of my leg from the sit bone to the knee was really hurting and made riding very uncomfortable. I was constantly standing up and readjusting my positioning on the bike trying to find some comfort. I was also so bored by this point I started singing to myself just to try to keep my mind off of my leg pain and to keep myself entertained. People would talk to me every now and then but because of the no drafting/blocking rules we could only speak for a few seconds so it didn't really help pass the time much and the route wasn't as exciting as it had been made out to be. There was some cheer-leading going on, on the sides of the road and at one point I came upon a group of girls. A group of girls who I recognized!! I waved and smiled to Kerry, Becky and Janine and they shouted and whistled and yelled my name. A girl passed me shortly after that and said "Your cheer squad really gave me a boost there!!!". What?! Get lost! That was my cheer squad and my boost! Get your own!! I also saw Kevin and Lynn out there which was an unexpected surprise. Shortly after I saw them, around 65k Mari passed me. "I've been waiting for you" I said to her. She asked me how I was feeling, I told her my leg was hurting. She told me to hurry, I'd catch her on the run. I told her I hoped I'd be able to walk. DRAMA QUEEN! There were several points in this ride I wondered if anyone could possiblly be left behind me. SO MANY people had passed me. I was getting passed by grandmothers for goodness sakes! With about 25k left to go I'd finally had enough and picked up the pace a little bit I was so finished and done with this ride. Go figure, I was finally passing people now. And one of them had a 40 on her leg! As long as I could keep her behind me I wouldn't be DFL in my age group! It's the little things. Ha. Eventually I came up to the bike dismount and scrambled to get the hell off of this contraption!! I have no official bike time or placing because at one point in the ride I had tried to readjust my timing chip because it was too tight and ended up having to wear it on my wrist so the mat didn't pick me up so all I have is a cumulative time between the ride and T2. Not that I care about my time, it was pretty fricking terrible but I'd really like to know how much ground I made back on the run!

Heading out on the bike, Flatwater Centre behind me

Run (21.1 km)
Time: 2:06:48
Pace: 6:02/km (first loop 1:00 second loop 1:06)
Total race time: 6:41:04
Overall: 397/496
Gender: 110/162
Age group: 23/34

I made my way through T2, racked my bike, changed my shoes and used the porta potty (at least I know I'd hydrated well so far) and made my way onto the run course. This was where I had actually given myself a goal for this race. It was the only part I'd done so. Two hours. Off I went where I was immediately greeted with a woman yelling to me "You're almost there!!!". LMAO  After about 500m I saw Derek, George, Kevin and Lynn and I yelled over "This is balls!! What was I thinking?!" But at that point it didn't feel like balls really. It felt like running and it felt great. "Great pace" a woman yelled out to me and I quickly dialed it back. That's the trouble with the run off the bike. Your legs have no idea how fast they're going. Out of nowhere Emma appeared here and I was so surprised to see her. Holy crap I thought to myself, she's gotta be like 50 minutes ahead of me!! Soon enough I also saw Mari on an out and back and I gave her a high five. Haha Mari, I wonder if I still had snot on my hands! I also saw an aid station with a huge hill right behind it that people were making their way up. Holy crap I thought to myself and made a mental note to skip that aid station because I was walking that hill! On the second hill is where I caught back up to Mari. "Keep running!" I yelled "I'm coming!!!!!". We walked the top portion of the hill together and then I went on ahead. Passing, passing, passing, passing. No one passed me. I came up behind one woman and she said "I hear a fast runner coming. Are you on your second loop?". "I wish" I said and she looked startled. "Fast runner, slow cyclist" I laughed to her. A short time later I came upon another woman just as a girl with a 20 on her leg went blazing past. "I used to be 20 once". she said to me. We all got a good laugh about that one. Except the 20 year old. She was long gone.
Running past the falls! 

At 8k I reminded myself to take a gel. At 8.5k my tummy let me know that it was not cool with the gel. Great. Was this going to be another Ottawa?! I came back into the park and made my way back out for my second loop. I was ok with the double loop. Mentally I broke the run up into two 10k runs and that really helped me. I ran past Derek again who took my picture and told myself no walking until the hill.

 I saw Emma again in pretty much the exact same spot I'd seen her before and told her how awesome she was doing (and lucky she was almost done!). She truly killed it out there. I kept going with my sore tummy until the first hill and was proud of myself for not walking before it. Too bad I couldn't keep up with that mental toughness after that though because the walk breaks were coming more and more from this point on. At 16k I forced myself to take another gel. At 17k vomit started coming up the back of my throat. Finally I was passing the last aid station. "Do you need anything?" they asked me "I need to be finished this race!!!!!!" I yelled to them. "You're almost there, girlfriend" the woman said. Yep. Almost there. My tummy started rolling after this part and the heaves began. I leaned over to the side and almost vomited on the 9k sign that was there for the first loop. "Oh boy" I said aloud. My eyes were watering like crazy but I would not stop. I was not going to feel defeated like I had in Ottawa. I walked and ran and walked and ran my way to the finish where people kept telling me how close I was. Yep. Finally I saw Derek cheering for me and knew that NOW I was almost there. I laughed when I saw that they were holding the tape up for me to run through at the finish line. So absurd. I threw my arms up into the air, broke the tape and gladly accepted my medal. I had just traveled 113km by my own locomotion and I was damn proud! It hadn't gone the way that I had envisioned but when do races ever? Go me!

Yeah baby! 

So easy to forget the garbage once the race is finished! Let's do it again!


Despite my upset tummy and sore leg (which strangely never bothered me on the run) I actually enjoyed myself out there. The swim was amazing, the bike was boring, and the run course was awesome! Running past the falls twice, feeling the mist and watching people take selfies in front of one of the wonders of the world was so, so great! Will I do another 70.3? Yes. Mari is relentless in her quest for me to do a full IM but I'd really need to get my tummy figured out before I even contemplate it. Plus I have no idea how I'd fit the training in. Not to mention I still have the BQ goal with Nicole to do. Any way, while your medal was TERRIBLE, Barrelman (You couldn't throw a little writing on the ribbon or make the barrel spin?!?! WEAK!!) I truly enjoyed myself and would recommend this race to anyone. The volunteers were all incredible, especially the ones body marking. :oD And if you're wondering what it was that Nicole wrote on my shoulder blade it was #oldboobs and #dontfuckitup