Sunday, November 6, 2016

Excuses, excuses... and a new life ahead

There is a post in my drafts about the Barrelman Swim/Bike, another one about the Zoo Run 10K, yet here I am starting another one full of excuses instead. Life happened, again. About the same time last year I abandoned my blog, but for entirely different reasons. I was about to hit a concrete wall, quite literally. This time around, life is pretty full of awesome.
Fall is my favorite season. The smile says it all.
At the end of September, the Monday after Barrelman, I left my 16 yr long career in computer engineering to start a new adventure. I went back to school to become an arborist. I am in a two semester program at the Humber College that will give me a diploma in Urban Arboriculture sometime in April 2017.
Humber North Campus and the daily sunrise
To say that it is intense it is an understatement. We learn tree biology, how to identify over 50 trees, everything about safety in working at heights, operating a chainsaw, a chipper and other sharp and dangerous objects. We learn about tree diseases, fungi, how to identify failures in a tree and how to deal with hydro, wildlife, construction, root damage etc. And that's just the theory. We learn to make more than a dozen knots (blindfolded), how to climb a tree, walk on limbs, do aerial rescues, prune, fell trees, chip brush, set up our climbing system, use a lanyard and much more. For people with little upper body strength like me, every practice session is a full body workout. You can probably understand how much soreness and muscle tiredness I deal with on a daily basis. You may think it's an excuse, but I had weeks when I could not even hold my fork and knife at lunch to eat. Going to Taekwondo, swimming, biking or running was just too much physically.
Climbing trees has never been more exciting, especially when you do it safely.
Welcome to my classroom
Tree identification bouquet after a walk through the Arboretum
Then mid October I started not one job, but two. I work as a server at Swiss Chalet and Uber EATS driver, just so I can help Zin make ends meet. It hasn't been easy. I've been learning the value of money the hard way. When I earn 15 bucks from a delivery and then I spend 15 bucks on my lunch, I see exactly where the money is going. This is the kind of perspective that I didn't have before. But such is life, and it is quite humbling to go back to earning minimum wage. But aside from bringing enough money to help pay our bills, I have no other sources of stress, which is a huge step forward from what my life used to be. I spend 3 days a week outside climbing trees and cutting wood, then evenings making other people's day by bringing them food, be it at their table or at their door. I am actually having a lot of fun, in a new and challenging way, and I have zero regrets about leaving the corporate world behind.

Alas, working weekends and evenings also removed lots of opportunities for working out. I thought about going for a run today, but my last "excuse" is that I have also been sick for the past two weeks. I have been coughing, and coughing often and hard. Combined with the crisp, cold autumn air and my asthma, the cough has been relentless. After 10 days of Tylenol Cold and Sinus, I went to the doctor and begged for a Codeine cough syrup that should do the trick by knocking myself out for a few nights.

And these are the reasons why I stopped working out in the last month (my last run was on October 10) and concentrated on surviving my new arborist training days. I really hope to be able to get on top of this cold and at least go back to Taekwondo. I decided to wait for January to start my training for Ironman Mt Tremblant 70.3. Until then, I am going to concentrate on my next belt grading at the end of December and maybe, just maybe, being able to sneak in a run or two.

One thing that happened though and I almost forgot about, is that I attended another Taekwondo tournament and I didn't get my ribs broken this time, yeah! I ended getting silver in sparring and gold in patterns in my division. Besides, I got my Encyclopedia signed by the founder of Taekwondo's son, and president of the International Taekwondo Federation, Grand Master Choi Jung Hwa. A day full of win, indeed!
Two gigantic medals at a very special tournament
Humbled to have the Taekwondo Encyclopedia signed by the founder's son
And this is all I can share today, with the little time I have on my hands. School exams are going to occupy most of my free time going forward, aside from everything else that has to do with being an adult, like saving for our kids' college and paying our mortgage and taxes on time. Maybe I will find some time to write race reports, maybe I'll choose to take a nap instead. I honestly don't know. I am living so much in the present, I rather not make any ambitious plans. Right now, it's all about enjoying the special moments in the canopy like the one below.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Ontario Women's Triathlon Race Report

My first ever running race was a women's 5K and it had chocolate, firefighters and medals that looked like silver keychains (I don't even remember getting one). I said never again. The marketing towards women of all things bubbly and pink was making me gag. No surprise since I am more of a tomboy myself and I don't get fashion, makeup and high heels. Whatever, that's not the point here. Ever since that first race, I was turned off by women specific races. It just seemed that they were getting more and more ridiculous as the time went by.

When Iron Girl came to Ontario a few years ago, I rolled my eyes three times inside my head when I saw the pink glitter on the medal. Only Swarowski crystals were missing from it, or was there a big, fat one in the middle?... I don't remember. Maybe I am just jealous that I didn't get one... A couple of years forward, and Multisport announced that they were going to have their own women's tri and I was very reluctant to participate. However, once I heard that Paolina Allan was going to be race director, and knowing her badassery, I started wondering if it was worth giving it a try. Only idiots don't change their minds, the saying goes. Phaedra said she was going to go, a few women from our tri club were interested as well... I said, what the hell, let's make it a party! (with a good dose of estrogen thrown in it, yikes).

Honestly, the lack of medals in triathlon has started to get to me. I race for bling, ok?? And it does not have to be pink, or to be covered in glitter, to be worth fighting for. While I have gotten into the top 10 often enough, I only made it on a triathlon podium once, and it was at Barrelman swim/bike last year thanks to a field of 20. So anyway... this race had medals, yay!! And they were going to be ... pink. *sigh* Beggars can be choosers, right? Yet another reason to toe the line.

The morning of the race started like any other weekend for a triathlete... alarm clock at  6am to head out for a workout. Given that I was going to drive for over an hour, I was very thankful for the 10am late start. I took my sweet time to eat breakfast, pack my transition bag, fill my water bottles etc... Zin helped me with my bike, then off I went. I was still undecided what to wear, so I took both my FMCT tri kit and my TRS Racing team bike jersey and tri shorts. The weather gods promised to dump copious amounts of water on our heads, but I was still unsure about the temperature. I decided to wait to arrive on site to make a choice.

Once there, I racked my bike, then proceeded to pick up my race kit, chip and get body marked. Once again, the 42 on my calf smiled at me. The "Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything" according to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In a few days from now, I may even start glowing in the dark, you'll see. I made a portapotty stop, hugged my friends, listened to John Salt and Paolina doing the race briefing (I didn't even bother look at the race maps, oops), then squeezed into my wetsuit as the first raindrops were starting to fall on us.
FMCT models. I want to be Barb when I grow up. 
I headed to the beach, trying to figure out where the run back to T1 was going to be. Someone said that we're going through a tunnel?? Oh, there it is! It goes under the road... that's cool, I guess. I was going to be in the second wave with the 40-49 ladies. The lack of men in the race was a little confusing, but in the end everyone in wetsuits and swim caps looked just about the same, with a little more curves and spunk. The energy was awesome to tell you the truth. Not only it was going to be one of the largest Multisport races, but it had 250 women and that was truly impressive. To put it in perspective, the last Olympic tri of the season had 173 participants altogether. The thought of a larger age group gave me an even bigger motivation to race hard and see how I can hold my own out there, despite my serious lack of training this season.

With all the excitement around, I had little to no time to warm up. I was still trying to figure out the course buoys and how many dolphin dives I was supposed to do, thanks to the shallow water that went on forever. I did manage to get in the water for a minute or two, just enough to get water inside my wetsuit and on my face. I watched with amusement the first wave start and how many women ran all the way up to the first buoy. But I could hear Paolina in the back telling us that's better to swim as soon as we can and I took a mental note. Not even 3 minutes later the gun went off and it was our time to run through the waves, even though there were none that morning.

Went to Hell and back
I ran for maybe 20 meters, then did 2-3 dolphin dives and started swimming pretty hard, while a bunch of feet were hitting the ground all around me. And for the first time ever in my open water swimming experience, I could not breathe. I could feel a panic attack building up and I was unable to take deep breaths. Usually big breaths are supposed to help with regaining your calm, but it was impossible to do so at the time. I faced two options: stand up and walk, or just keep swimming... just keep swimming... just keep swimming... I opted for the second option just because Ellen always makes me laugh. It took at least 200m to finally be able to breathe somewhat normally. However, given how hard I was swimming, there was no time to take peaceful breaths. I was in full race mode, alright. Thankfully the course (500m) was very short and I knew that I only needed to survive the ordeal for 10 minutes or so. I swam until my arms hit the sand, then stood up and ran towards the shore. You can tell by the photo above that was not my most blissful swim. As a matter of fact, it was my fastest swim this year!! Where is T1 again??

It seemed like it took forever to get back, as we almost ran a full circle around the transition area. That's ok, more time to appreciate how I did not die. Yay me.

Back in transition, I found my spot without too much effort and quickly put on my helmet and bike shoes. By then the rain was in full force, but having thought to cover my mat with a large garbage bag before the race start, I was glad to see that both pairs of shoes were not yet soaked. I trotted my way out of transition and right away got in aero and dropped the hammer. The ride was an out and back along Lake Simcoe and I was joyfully reminded of the ride I did with Zin, Paul and Mellen last year that brought us to Jackson Point on a cold fall day. This time it was quite warm, despite the buckets of water being dumped on us. I love riding in the rain, especially when the course is flat and I am not freezing my ass. I kept passing girls and lost my voice shouting "Left!". During the entire ride I was only passed twice, once by Clare and once by Felicia. I took a note of their names and wondered if I was going to see them again that day, but given the difference in speed, it was more like... buh bye!! Enjoy the podium!
My bike Trinity and I having fun in the rain
I did not look at my watch once, going only by feel and asking myself every once in a while... can you push harder? Obviously my fitness is nowhere near where it was before, but I still felt quite powerful passing so many people out there. Obviously, this was a race targeted towards beginners, so I cannot really compare, but still... an average of 30.5kph is not too shabby. I took a gel halfway and a few sips of water. I had never done such a short race and I kept wondering if I wasn't supposed to drink more, but the rain kept me hydrated, I guess.

And so I was back in transition in just over 29 minutes. Question was, how much was I going to hurt on the run? I quickly changed into my running shoes and put on my bib, then ran out. I waited a few minutes to settle into a groove before looking at my watch. I saw some numbers in the 5:30/km and decided to try and stay on that pace until the end. I knew that I had run faster earlier in the season, but not after a bike. This was going to be a challenge, but doable I thought. I passed a few women and gave myself a virtual pat on the back. 4km... that is less than a Taekwondo run around the block. I can do this!!

Once I got to the turnaround, I passed a woman in my AG. Honestly I wasn't sure whether she was in the du or the tri, but it made me run scared. From that moment on, my goal became to keep ahead of her. I did not look back, but I kept pushing forward.
You can clearly see how I kicked it into the second gear by my heart rate trace, for a beautiful negative split.
In the end I met my goal of 5:30min/km, but I was spent!! I kept wondering in the last km if I was going to puke at the finish line again. I crossed the mat exhausted but relieved to be done. Can you tell? Thanks to this effort I finished 5th out of 32 in my age group and I could not be happier with this result.
That was a hard fight, it deserved a fist pump!
Paolina gave me my medal and I instantly forgot that it was pink. New distance (my shortest race ever!), new PR, sweet medal, great company, fantastic venue. When can I do it again?? It was truly amazing and I could not be happier for Multisport and Paolina for such a success. I heard that they are going to add more women's races next year and I say, bring it on!! You made me a convert and I love it how they encourage more women to join the sport. I will be more than happy to represent!

After the race I made sure to change clothes since I was soaked to the bone, then went to grab some food and a glass of bubbly. I watched the awards ceremony and I was super happy to see Barb, Phaedra and Amanda on the podium. So much fun!!
I won the crazy hair competition this time, yay! Phaedra must be impressed.
Then I went home and hang my new medal along with all the other ones. I may not have many, not even a rack to display them properly, but this one truly brought a smile to my face for everything that it represents. I made some awesome friendships thanks to running and triathlon and this medal shows how I finally embraced the community and the joyful spirit that brings us all together in competition and outside of it. It may be pink, but I love it.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Not afraid

Cue Eminem music:

Yeah... something like all that minus the dick in the dirt part because that sounds gross. And although Eminem wrote this song for his comeback, mine isn't really one yet. Or maybe it is a different kind of comeback and that's what I want to talk about.

I've been living in fear of injury for over two years now. As a result, at first sign of discomfort when I run, I stop. I honestly thought that I was smarter than others for listening to my body and being cautious, with the thought that it would serve me in the long run (pun intended), and that my recovery would be faster. And while I am no longer injured per se after all this time, I have learned in the process that my soon 42 year old body cannot function properly without a certain amount of maintenance and conditioning. Besides, I have no financial means to have a physio therapist on speed dial. I see people doing all kinds of crazy stuff to keep themselves together (cortisone injections, dry needling, acupuncture - so many needles!), but this sounds more like a band-aid to me. I want to be CURED of all my aches and pains. I want all my boo-boos to go away, to feel like a brand new coin coming out of the mint. I want, I want, I want... The Universe seems to have other plans for me though, and it all starts to make sense now. (I should really not write blog posts while drunk, but I'm sticking to this story, at least for the rest of the post).

I don't believe in God, but I believe in karma. Does this make me spiritual? I guess it depends where I am in my menstrual cycle. When all those hormones come rushing to break havoc on my psyche, I cling onto anything to make myself feel better, especially ice cream. And some days I just want to believe that things happen for a reason.

Like my return to Taekwondo. About 10 years ago I was sinking into the black hole of depression and decided to throw away all my belts, uniforms etc. I must have said something like "screw this, I'm too broken for this shit". Yet I kept one uniform and my last belt, safely in my Taekwondo gym bag. The same bag that went on accumulating dust in my basement and that I took out in a similar situation last December. I remember being on my bike and not being able to pedal without pain and once again I said "fuck all this, I am too broken to do triathlons". And I went back to Taekwondo. The loop was looped, a bit like the infinity symbol. I should get a tattoo or something. Since then I worked my way around injuries by doing a good amount of painful workouts in the dojang paired with enough swim/bike/run workouts to keep myself from thinking that I've given up.

I told you a little wile ago that I was going to have my first belt grading at my current school on August 27. Twelve years later since I got my blue belt. I worked hard to re-learn to do a proper sine wave, to bring my hips into submission to do a side kick, to remember half a dozen patterns, to speak Korean "taekwonese", to learn the purpose and method of each movement, to follow protocol, and most and foremost - to FOCUS with the goal of bringing my mind and body together and stop losing my shit. On top of it, I had to do it all this in front of my instructors and whoever else was going to be in audience. Anxiety reached its peak. I lost countless nights of sleep. To say that I was scared was an understatement. Yet when the day came I showed up and I did my best. It was not perfect by any means of the imagination - I am still pretty rusty after all - but at the end of the day, I did not break. And that my friends, was monumental.
(Photos courtesy Miss Julia Sapershteyn)

A couple of days later I went out for a run and decided to push the pace. Once again, I pushed the fear aside and told myself that I am a better runner than 9 months ago. Last year I could not do 20 lunges without being sore for 4 days. One night at the dojang I did 600 lunges and the next day I went back for more. In January I could not do a kick in slow motion. Now I can do 4 dozens. My flexibility and strength have increased tremendously. It cannot be for nothing. I still feel my IT bands being tight every once in a while, but I've rarely felt pain during my runs this year. So I kept telling myself while I was running that I am no longer broken, that I can be a runner again. I still need to follow a proper progression, of course, but I should be able to run a little longer if I wanted to. And so I signed up for my longest running race of this year, the Toronto Zoo Run 10K on September 24. I am working towards it, and my goal is to keep the pain at bay.

Last but not least, yesterday I conquered another fear. Two years ago when I turned 40, I made a "to do" list of sorts which I called "40 steps to 40" and one of them was to try stand up paddle boarding. Not sure what kept me from making it happen - maybe it was fear, maybe competing priorities with the Ironman training... Looking back, maybe I just procrastinated until it was too late. Yesterday I was tired from a lot of time spent in the saddle two days in a row and a hard taekwondo workout the day before, so I let Zin swim by himself at the quarry and I decided to rest instead. Soon enough though, that plan went out of the window because a couple of ladies returned from a SUP trip on the lake and left their paddle boards beside me. The lake was calm as glass and the conditions looked ideal for trying. I asked them if they rented the boards and they said yes, and that it would only cost $10. Another sign that it was meant to happen as I had brought exactly $10 with me, even though I had not planned to pay for my swim.
This was the plan
Then this became the plan. Only idiots don't change their minds, right?
I knew that I would have no issues swimming if I were to fall in the water, so I did not wear any extra safety. I just hopped on and paddled away. It took about 30 minutes to feel comfortable on it and release the tension in my legs. Being in the middle of a lake standing up on a wobbly board with nothing to hang onto is a little unnerving, for sure. But eventually I let go of my fear and managed to have fun. I spent about 45 minutes on it, at times paddling pretty hard, so it was no surprise that when I came back my arms and back were aching. So much for resting, haha. I'll leave that for another day, when there will be no bucket list items waiting for me.

Until then, Carpe Diem!!

Friday, September 2, 2016

My supercalifragilisticexpialidocious sherpa Ironman vacation

If I had a better word than "super" to describe this vacation I would have used it, but the truth is, I needed the extra califragilisticexpialidocious to make you understand just how amazing this week was (and how long this blog post is going to be, oops - my bad).

We left for Mt. Tremblant on Wednesday and I knew that I was in for a long drive, but the few stops along the way, especially the one in Ottawa in the Bayward Market for mussels, fries and treats made it rather enjoyable. We arrived at destination around 5:30pm and after settling in our condo at Cap Tremblant Resort, we decided to go out for a shakeout run on the Petit Train du Nord trail, part of the run course and a stone throw away from where we were staying.

(Brace yourselves, there will be photos, and lots of them!)
The walk towards the condo
Our condo is at the bottom. No stairs, yay!
Living room
Seating area
Cozy, eh? I could not believe it when I saw it. Very quiet, spacious... exactly what we needed, and perfectly located in the old Mt Tremblant, away from all the craziness of the athletes village.
At the start of the run with my Ironman in Training
Oh deer! Stopped us dead in our tracks and we took pictures and a video. These guys were totally unphased.
Zin ran 8km run and I settled on a 6km distance as an out and back on the trail. It was exactly what we needed after sitting down for 8+ hours. Back at the resort we took a shower and went out for dinner because we were starving!

The next day we met with friends for lunch in the athletes' village, then walked around for a bit, immersing ourselves into the M-Dot Extravaganza and posing for pictures, pretty much like everyone else. My favorite past time in these places is to find the hardcore IM fans and the wannabe pros. Quite entertaining if you ask me. So much compression gear and aero everything! But let's go back to the most memorable detail, the food.

We ate in a restaurant called SoCal Kitchen and it was absolutely delicious. I even placed the guacamole as second best that I've eaten, first being the one that I make based on an Alton Brown recipe, of course.
So much yum
Athletes athletes everywhere
A gorgeous day in the village
Quick ride in the gondola to save the legs with view on the finish line
Pledging allegiance to M-Dot
And another postcard view from the gondola with the changing tent in the background
We spent a bit of time up and down the streets of the village, wondering what else we could eat, then headed over to Lake Tremblant for a swim. I had never swum there outside my IM race day back in 2014, so I was really looking forward to finding my zen in those waters without the pressure of the race. Little did I know that I was going to have one of the toughest swims in my life. The lake was super choppy and the training course was tricky, so Zin, our friend Louis and I decided to go out to the 7th buoy and back. According to my Strava, we swam for 1.4km in about 34 minutes, but it felt like double the effort. We were pretty happy to be done!
I don't even remember if this was before or after. Let's pretend it was after and the wetsuits dried really really fast.
We rushed back to the condo, took a shower and went out for dinner with friends, again. If this sounds familiar, it's because we love to eat, as you must have noticed. This time we met a larger group of friends from our tri club in St Jovite at Le Vieux Four, one of our favorite Italian restaurants in the area. And in a very non Italian fashion, I had mussels and fries, again. And they were even better than those I had in Ottawa at the Fish Market. However I was a little disappointed because the waiter forgot to bring me a salad with goat cheese that I ordered as appetizer and I finished by drowning my sorrow into a cup of Tiramisu. (story of my life)

The next morning, we went to St Jovite for breakfast and started the carb loading in style. Started? Umm... for the day, that's it. Bon appetit!
Brioche and almond croissant. Orgasmic.
Back to our home for the week, Zin had a bike workout on the menu, and I supported him by streaming the men's Olympic triathlon on my laptop since CBC did not care to show it on TV. I also cheered him from the couch and refilled his bottles when asked. I am such a nice sherpa.
Then we went back to the village for registration. Hubbs and our friends met again and they all lined up at registration, at the M-Dot sign for pictures and in the IM store where they collectively left a little fortune. You can't help it when it's your first Ironman, I guess. For once, I was pretty restraint I should say. I bought 2 IM beer/cider glasses (because we had booze in the fridge), the last Kona DVD (because the Kona Lottery is no more and IM did not send me one this year) and a magnet for our car since we were both going to be legitimate 140.6 drivers.

And speaking of legit, here's another M-Dot picture because I was wearing my finisher tshirt. So legit, I'm going to show it to you in XL. Ahem.
Two thumbs up for this IM finisher. I hope I didn't break your screen...
Back to St Jovite for a late lunch at The Vieux Four. I really, really wanted that goat cheese salad, and Zin continued his carb loading with pizza. I also could not resist the Profiterolles, so here they are in all their beauty, before I murdered them. You must wonder who is doing an Ironman here... But it explains why I put on 10lb since the beginning of the year.
There was a 3rd crouton there, but I ate it before I took the picture
No caption necessary. Lick the screen here.
Once again, we went back to the condo and I was itching to go on my bike (and burn some of those damn calories). Zin told me not to ride the bike course because he didn't want me to die before I saw him finish the IM, so I listened and went to ride on the safer parts of the course. Sort of. We needed to settle the argument whether Montee Ryan was going up or down towards the highway 117, so I took the Petit Train du Nord to Montee Ryan, then "up" to the village, then on the run course to old Mt Tremblant (Chemin du Village), and on the Petit Train du Nord for another loop. I guess the argument is settled now (he won).

It was absolutely glorious, aside from the ... uphill section on Montee Ryan. I was on my road bike and did not have clip-on bike shoes, and let's say I struggled a bit there. However the smile was stuck on my face for the rest of the ride and I just didn't want to go back inside. I rode for about 1.5h, then called it a day. Not only it was getting late, but I was also tasked to get us dinner, and as a good sherpa, I drove back to the village and quickly stole a chicken from St Hubert (within the free 15 minutes parking that I found without a credit card).
What day is it again? Friday, that's right... Pretty sure that I got a few things mixed up above, but who cares... it all happened one day or another. Swim, bike, run, eat, sleep... repeat.

Saturday morning I tried to beat the rush at the beach and started my day with an early swim in Lac Mercier. There were only one or two people in the water and I could not wait to join them. I brought my little orange buoy just in case I was going to meet a weeds monster or a local version of the Loch Ness, but soon enough I completely forgot that it was trailing behind me. So much for the extra safety. At least it kept my car keys and phone dry.
As for the swim, I loved every minute of it. I was apprehensive at first of the big, unknown lake, but it turned out to be the most beautiful swim that I've ever done. I even swam in a heart shape for posterity in Strava. How cool is that?
For lunch we went back to the village because I was in mood for another salad, this time with duck confit. The restaurant La Forge at the top of the main street in the village makes an an awesome version of it, and I eat it every time I go to Tremblant. You should try it sometime, preferably paired with a pint of Stella. ;-) The afternoon was pretty uneventful for once as everyone decided to rest their legs before the big day. Since I did not have the race pressure, I chose to tire my legs a little more instead, with another run on the trail, topped with a walk from the condo to the trail and back, which added another 2.5km to the total.

I was pretty tired from all the walking/biking/swimming though and chose to keep it short, only a 5km out and back. However, the walk back added another challenge with the 15-30% incline of the road. It was so steep, I had even been afraid to ride on it on my bike. Once again, I met deer on the path and even saw a few that made the climb all the way to our backyard.
The rest of the evening was quiet as well... We watched some TV, then went to bed early. I believe it was 9:30pm. Zin fell asleep instantly. I am so jealous... I think I woke up around 2am and it was almost impossible to fall asleep again. I don't remember exactly when our alarm went off, but it mustn't have been later than 4am. All I remember is that we got dressed, had something quick for breakfast and then I drove Zin to the transition area where I dropped him off before going to park the car near the swim start.

The plan was to stay with hubbs until the start of the race, then go back to the car, pick up the road bike and follow him all day with my camera, hopefully able to take some good pics and give him some kisses in return.
After a bit of a freak out because he forgot his aero drink bottle straw at home, we met at the swim start and I finally managed to calm down knowing that he found a bike technician in transition who helped him out. Many thanks to Cycle Technique for their assistance!
It never gets easier... just a little overwhelmed.
Soon enough we heard the deafening noise made by the jets flying above us and we knew that we had to make our way to the beach. I asked Zin not to die once again and gave him a goodbye kiss. I watched all the waves starting the swim and once everyone was in the water I made my way back to the car where I picked up my bike. I rode back to the village and positioned myself along the red carpet that led from the swim exit to the changing tent, starting the wait. I saw the pros coming out, then fast Matt, our club coach, Louis, Paul and eventually Zin, who did not have the best swim, but gave me a thumb up nonetheless. Apparently there had been a lot of chop on the second half of the swim and that made it a lot more challenging than expected. I knew hubbs was a good cyclist though and I was expecting him to catch up. Onward and upward!
I then ran towards the road and took my camera out again, waiting for him to start the bike. And then I waited again... crazy how 5 minutes seem like an eternity sometimes...

Eventually I saw him zooming by and managed to take the kick ass picture below. It was going to be one of the best I took that day since everything went down from there... especially the weather. A few minutes later and it was pouring!
I quickly retreated to the city in search for coffee. By then I was completely wet and was trying to minimize the damage on my camera. Thankfully my camera bag had a protective sleeve and I had brought big garbage bags to wear over my clothes... not very helpful to keep the rain out, but at least they kept me warm.
After camping for an hour or so under a big patio umbrella at one of the coffee shops atop of the village, I took my courage in my hands and rode over to the General Store to buy an umbrella for my camera. I had procrastinated the entire trip, hoping that the weather gods would be wrong, but it was clear by then that the rain was not going to stop. I bought one of the last umbrellas they had, and the perfect size to carry around. I was back in business, yeah! Quickly I rode over to the turn around at the end of the first loop and Zin showed up less than 5 minutes later, woohooo!! Despite the downpour he was having a great bike and I could not be happier to see him safe after seeing so many police vehicles and ambulances leaving for emergencies the road.

Another hour or two went by and I tried to keep myself busy catching Pokemon in the village. But soon enough I had to go back on the road to see him coming back from the second loop and start the run. I was once again relieved to see him zooming by on his way to Chemin Duplessis and I knew that it would take about 30min for him to roll into transition. I went over to the run start and saw a few familiar faces leaving the changing tent. Eventually Zin appeared in a dry change of clothes and he stopped to give me a kiss. Everyone shouted "oh les amoureux!!"and cheered for us. And so he was on his way again... From the number of open umbrellas around you can guess that his dryness was not going to last.
By then it was almost 2pm and I was starving!! I joined Matt's family in the village and they brought me a yummy vegan pizza, which I inhaled (thank you!!!). This time we were going to wait for Matt to start his second loop in the marathon. He was having the best day ever and we were all excited that he might qualify for Kona. As you can see, his wife Cary and I were all smiles, despite being drenched to the bone. The ice cream must have helped for sure!
Once again I saw the pros running by, then Matt and soon enough, my hubby. I gave him another kiss, the crowds went wild again and my smile got even bigger. That's when the Ironman photographer nearby captured the image below. I am famous, yay!
From that moment on I started following him on the run course on my bike, trying to dodge runners and cars left and right. That course was sure interesting for a paparazzi like me... But it was a lot of fun. Here's hubbs doing his best shuffle run on the second lap. He was struggling a bit because he could not hold down calories, but he was making forward progress and that was great. If he was going to keep up the pace he was going to finish in daylight. How awesome for his first Ironman!

I waited for him to come back at the end of the Petit Train du Nord and saw a lot of familiar faces again: our friends Paul, Louis and Mike Cooke, Durwin Brennan, then Jamie from the blog "From Couch to Ironwoman". It was really great to see them all. Once he started running the last 5km I knew that I had to go ahead and drop by the car to pick up Zindine's dry clothes so he can change into them after the finish. I stayed with him for another 5 minutes then hurried up to get myself to the finish line before he arrived.

There is always plenty of movement in the stands and I had no doubt that I'd get a good spot to see him finish. I left my bike somewhere at the back and joined by Maggie, Louis's wife and kids, I started  the countdown. It took maybe another 10-15 minutes, then I heard Mike Reilly calling his name. I was over the moon and so incredibly proud of my hubby for finishing under 11h30, more precisely in 11h 19min 23sec. You can see me in the video on the left of the arch (second row from the bottom)  taking pictures with my DSLR and yelling "Wooohoooooo!!!!".

We were soon joined by Matt and Cary who gave us the best news of the day: Matt finished 3rd in his AG and qualified for Kona!! There is going to be such a party in our tri club!! Louis joined the finishers' ranks just 30 minutes later, then Paul. For their first Ironman, and despite the very harsh conditions, these guys absolutely rocked it!! So much respect to all.
The boys went to shower and change clothes at Louis's place, then we went out for pizza. I had a salad again (because I had pizza at lunch) and for once I skipped dessert. I did however splurge in a different store as I was sick and tired of my wet running shoes, so I bought the first pair of flats that I found and it was a pair of Birkenstock, my first! However I still had to wear my wet shoes one last time to go pick up the car and then Zin and his stuff from transition. 

All went without a hiccup and we were back in our condo by 10pm. This day almost felt too ...easy. Nope, I don't believe it either. I know that it certainly wasn't for any of the athletes. Plus, spectating is quite a sport in itself, so I crashed on the couch, exhausted but so friggin' happy! The next day we were lining up for the finisher jacket at 6am, no surprise here. The boys were feeling a little tired, but not tired enough for some shenanigans with the fallen Ironman sign. Not sure what happened to it... but it literally went downhill from there. By noon that M-Dot was completely destroyed.
Which one of you broke the Ironman sign, huh?

We were surprised to see that there were no "special" jackets other than the ones we had seen a few days before in the store. So be it. The boys got theirs then we went for breakfast. I had one breakfast, Zin had two, of course. It was so, so good! We definitely recommend the restaurant Le Saint Louis in the old Mt Tremblant. 

We spent the rest of the day being lazy. No more workouts for either one of us, d'uh. I have little recollection of what happened that day, so it's probably better that I start wrapping up this blog post as well. The next day we drove back home anyway, The End. 

We had just about the best time ever. Beautiful setting, excellent food, great company, and outstanding races by all our friends. How could I ask for more? There is only one thing left to do.... sign up for another one. Hahaha!! Ok, maybe not an Ironman, but we'll go back to Mt Tremblant next summer as we all signed up for the 70.3, yeah!!!

 If you read all the way here... congratulations. You are an endurance reader. Bravo!!