Thursday, August 25, 2016

Because they're worth it

I started this blog post 10 days ago, then we went on vacation to Mt. Tremblant where hubby participated in his first full Ironman. You will have to wait for a future blog post to read how it all went down, because for now I want to finish this one... So time shift your brain to 2 weeks ago, then read below...

I had a very rewarding week, and not from beating any records or piling miles in crazy workouts, but from spending quality time with my family and friends. And it felt really good to be able to arrange my life around these moments.

As I was saying in the previous blog post, on Wednesday I gave up my Taekwondo workout for a trip downtown with my older son to watch the Blue Jays game. Not only the Jays won, but the evening delivered another surprise in meeting Kari and Dorothy, my IM Muskoka finish line friends who were in TO for their honeymoon fun filled activities. Can you tell how happy I was?
Kari takes awesome pics. How do you like my 'do?
I am totally crashing their girls' night out
The next day, on Thursday, I gave up my Taekwondo class again (I hope my instructor does not read this), this time for a friend of mine, Amy, a runner who signed up for her first try a tri in a couple of weeks and needed a bit of confidence building in open water. I suggested Professor's Lake as one of the best places to try, since we have lifeguards and a manageable 750m loop, and a lot of people around to help with encouragement and tips. Besides, I had planned to swim with her and make sure that she is as comfortable in the water as possible. If I can say, my mission has always been to help people fall in love with open water swimming the same way I did a few years ago. I know it's a tough task because humans are not natural swimmers, but I'm always up for it.

The lake was warm and quiet and we beat the storm by a hair. Moreover, I think Amy enjoyed herself in the water and I truly hope that it helped her for her upcoming race. I swam a loop with her and one by myself, and managed to find my zen at the end of the day, which is always my goal.

The next day I tried going to Taekwondo again (I swear!), but just as I pulled in the school's parking lot, Zin called me and asked that I pick him up after getting two flats on the bike. He was stranded somewhere in Caledon and like a good wifey and sherpa, I drove there right away and rescued him. Yep, he was also worth it.

On Saturday I fulfilled my sherpa duties again, by driving Zin to Cambridge where he picked up his race wheels after having them serviced by Chris from 3Sixty5 Cycling (and one of our club founding members if you didn't know). Zin's plan was to ride back home from Cambridge, a total of 100km, but his plan eventually got aborted after a monster storm hit our area and he had to be picked up again. Poor guy he was soaked to the bone and survived dodging tree branches flying across the road. I knew this was going to be a bad storm as soon as I heard tornado warnings on the radio and indeed, it was pretty scary out there. So glad that I could help though.

In the afternoon I finally made it to Taekwondo!! YAY ME!! It was a super hard workout which made up for the sessions missed during the week, and gave me additional confidence for the upcoming belt grading on the 27th of August. With each of these classes I learn a little more, so hopefully it sticks for long enough to become muscle and brain memory.

Weather wise, Mother Nature ended her temper tantrum on time for us to go back to Professor's Lake on Sunday for another open water swim with the club. At the last minute, Phaedra decided to join us as well, and she suggested that we do a bike ride together afterwards. I could not be more excited since we had never ridden together before and it was definitely time to catch up on life, etc. As for me, catching her up on the bike... that was another story, haha. She isn't an AG champion for nothing.
The swim was pretty awesome, as usual. Did my two loops, then had some fun trying to fulfill my social media duties by capturing the moment. No iPhones were harmed in this picture, but it was close. Above is Phaedra's version, below is mine. Isn't it fun to see different perspectives?
We then headed to our place to start the ride. Zin did a tube change on Phadra's bike because it had suspiciously leaked a lot of air, then we were on our way, direction Erin for butter tarts.
As I had anticipated, I had a lot of fun, in a torturous kind of way, leading most of the time because not only I was scared to let Phaedra pull me above my abilities, but also because it was a new route for her and it was polite that I showed the way. It was super hot and since we started the ride pretty late, we struggled at times, but we still enjoyed ourselves, especially on the downhills. Phaedra is a girl after my heart, taking off at times to HAMMER DOWN (then she had to wait for me, with enough time to have pizza delivered). I hope she beat enough records that day. I know for one that I got a few Strava PRs and an Extreme Suffer Score. What?? Not EPIC?? I must be getting better... I should ride with them fast girls more often. ;-)
You can read the suffer scores on our face. And I tried competing for the craziest 'do, but Phaedra still won.
And that's about it for the week before the last. All in all, I chose to spend quality time with those close to my heart and at the end of the day, I had zero regrets. No workouts are worth more than friendships. I even Face Timed with my best friend from France, but I know she'd kill me if I posted here the great screen shot that I took during our call. These moments always bring the best smiles, the smiles that make our jaw hurt and remind us that we are not alone. A good friend is never too far, you just have to pick up the phone or send a text. You never know how the stars align and you get to spend the best of times. To many more like these!! <3 Thank you my friends!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

National Lazy but Motivational Day

Did you know that today is National Lazy Day? I had no clue until about a minute ago when I saw it trending on Twitter. Since I have been feeling pretty lazy lately, it gave me enough motivation to write a blog post. Not sure how that worked, but whatever.

Actually I am not even sure it was laziness to write a blog post, since this one has been circling inside my brain for over a week, but in other areas such as indoor cycling, for sure. I cannot fathom going on the trainer these days, and yes - that IS pure laziness. As to the blog post... well, every once in a while I find myself boring.

I came back from Kingston, it was still the weekend, a long one that is thanks to Canada's Civic Holiday. As a good group leader, I organized 2 club social rides last week. One on Monday because there seemed to be a lot of interest and I don't turn down an occasion to ride outside, especially when I don't go to work, and another one on Saturday. Both between 60-70km, with a coffee/treats stop in the middle. They turned out awesome and I could not have been happier for the company and the exhilarating moments zooming up and down our countryside's roads. And the treats delivered too!
Nobody gets left behind
Butter tart and fancy mocha for the win!
I don't remember doing anything special on Tuesday/Wednesday of last week, other than a lot of walking and Pokehunting. On Thursday I returned to Professor's Lake for our weekly OWS practice. I did 2 x 750m blissful loops, and had a great time in the water, as usual. I am already starting to think about the dreadful pool workouts and how I am going to skip those again coming winter time. Following the swim, I ran around the lake but it was super hot again and gave up after 5km because of stomach cramps. On Sunday I went to the C3 Quarry and did two more loops there for 2.2km total, and tried pushing myself a little, just to stay ahead of a breast stroker who almost made me give up freestroke because she was putting me to shame.

And that's it for last week. Took it easy, spent time with my peeps, went to our club workouts... boring, right? And so I wonder... do you guys really care? Do you mind reading about the same type of workouts week after week? I mean, I have no big goals, I am not smashing any records, my life is pretty ordinary with a family, a cat and a full time job. Sure, my hubby is training for an Ironman, but I am not talking about his workouts. Do you care about all the pictures that I post? Do I post too many of those? Is my smile driving you crazy? Jeez, I dunno... I mostly write for myself, my friends, my family... and 5 other readers who comment every once in a while. Should I care about building interaction? Should I care at all?? What are YOU looking for in my blog? Why don't you leave me a comment to let me know, so I can stop agonizing over this?

And now, for something just as boring, this week's workouts. My Taekwondo squad is back, and so are the daily classes, yay!! I am so proud of my school, I could burst. They brought back 12 medals from the ITF World Championships in UK. Below is a video with highlights from Day 1 and most podiums.

So now, with my belt grading being scheduled on August 27, I need to focus on Taekwondo training, especially since I'll be taking a week off for going to Mt Tremblant with hubbs. I already went back Monday and Tuesday and it was not pretty. Taking 10 days off sure brought the DOMS back. I was going to go again tonight, but an opportunity arose to go to the Blue Jays's game with my older son and I'm taking it!! It's been a while since we spent some time together, and these moments are increasingly rare these days. And that's all folks... short and sweet.

There won't be much tri training until the end of the month, but sure I will try to sneak in a swim, bike or run when I can. Life is all about the opportunities that we take... Here are two motivational videos that I discovered lately. They are wonderful.

Friday, August 5, 2016

2016 Kingston Triathlon and Pokehunting Race Report

Last year I accompanied my hubby to Kingston and he raced the Long Course triathlon. We drove the bike course together and I was able to spend a weekend on site to appreciate the city and its surroundings (Wolfe Island is great for biking! I still have a QOM there by the way, ha! Don't you get any ideas...). Look at all the Zzzz's!
But since the triathlon is not on Wolfe Island, let's move on. I decided last year that I would race there one day, a bucket list item for sure. I could not be happier when Zin decided to return this year and because I follow him everywhere like a good sherpa, I signed up for the shorter version of the race, which was still the longer breed of sprint triathlon: 750m swim, 30km bike, 7.2km run. I was a little apprehensive because the longest I had run this year was 6km, and I was hoping that my knees were going to take me 1.2km farther without much complaining. Overall I was in a good head space and without competitive goals this year, I was only looking for a happy finish.

The Friday before the race I took the day off work again, so I can have a mega long weekend (Monday we were also off for Civic Holiday) and went on another bike ride with Mellen. This time we planned to go to Schomberg and ride about 78km. Mellen had ridden 160km the day before, so I wasn't too scared of the speed she'd impose on me with that many kms in her legs. Easy, peasy so I thought. In our enthusiasm though, we decided to go a bit too far north before turning towards Schomberg and got stuck in no man's land, which added approximately a 23km detour to our route. Besides, once we got to Schomberg the usual road was in construction and we had to take another detour...Oh well, we made it, we had a coffee at the Scruffy Duck restaurant (the only one open on a Friday, why??) and a Bounce protein ball (those are pretty awesome if you've never tried them). We realized that the Bounce headquarters for Canada were in the same place as the Scruffy Duck and they were the most appropriate snack that we could buy there.
Oh Scruffy, what a mighty duck you are!
Bounce baby, bounce!
Taking over a Pokemon Gym may not have been in the plans, but it was too tempting.
Sorry for the detour to the race report, but it was worth mentioning that I went into the race with a few more km in the legs than I had planned for... Thankfully Saturday we drove there, mostly, and I could rest them. Soo... after a long and painful drive, we made it to the race site with 15 minutes to spare for kit pickup. That was quick and easy, but I spent a little more time around the harbourfront to catch a bunch of Pokemon. Yup, that place was Pokemon Central apparently and you would not have recognized the transition area if you saw it. People and Pokemon everywhere!! There was even a Pokemon themed fundraiser in the middle of it.
View from transition. Gotta catch them all!
Transition? What transition?!
Is that a rat in my portapotty?
 After catching enough of them digital creatures to satisfy my appetite (mostly Magikarp, Psyduck, Poliwag, Staryu and Squirtles), we went to the hotel to check in. We stayed at the Howard Johnson Inn and got a cool little room on the second floor, super clean, with all amenities included and a mighty AC unit, which we had to switch off after it turned our room into a freezer. Because we skipped lunch, we were quite hungry, so we didn't lose much time and went back to the waterfront to find a place to eat dinner. We pretty much stepped into the first place that we found, which served mostly Mexican style seafood dishes, conveniently located on top of a lured Pokestop.
Tacos for days!
We went for ALL THE TACOS and supplemented with a salad and guac on the side. It was so-so in my opinion, but definitely hit the spot.

We didn't spend too much time on our feet because at least one of us was thinking about podium. Ok, just one of us, who am I kidding. So we went back to the hotel, hoping to find a channel that would show Luke Aikin's jump from 25000 feet without a parachute. By the time we got back though, it was already on You Tube. Watch here if you are inclined.

I don't even remember what we ended watching on TV, but I think we switched the lights off around 10:45pm and we woke up at 5:30am... maybe? Jeez it's such a blur already. All I remember is that Zin wanted us to be in transition by 7am, and after turning around the block a few times to find parking, we made it on time. We went to pick up our tracking chips and get body marked, then chatted with the many friends who were also attending the race.
Kimtor ready to race and volunteer!
Selfie with the Kyrasdair.
Kyra and Alasdair, serial racers.
We went to the nearby Tim Hortons to pick up breakfast and I packed on the goodies because I still had 2h ahead before the start of my race. Back in transition, I set up my little spot and chatted some more. Found Mari and Janet, as well as Nathalie, who were all going to do the "little" tri with me. I was still very sleepy by then and to be honest, not very motivated. I even joked with Mari and Janet that we should rather go as a relay team, but after I realized that they were dead serious to switch, I backed out of my proposal. I still wanted to do this race, sleepwalking or not.
Long course guys racked in the sprint area... hmm.
Colour of the day, pink!
After getting all my stuff in order, I put on my wetsuit, went to cheer on Zin and Kim who were coming through T1, then headed over to the lake for a warmup swim. Once I jumped in, I could not believe it how warm the water was. For Lake Ontario, it was almost a miracle, or maybe that's what happens when you start behind 150 athletes from the Long Course. :-)

I was in the third wave, and the gun went off at 9:06. I was already in a much more enthusiastic mood and ready to take on the course! I went straight for the first green buoy and caught some feet for a bit. After making the first turn, I was a little more lonely since many athletes were way ahead of me by then and I was stuck with a few breast strokers who were going for my ribs. I managed to swim around them, then concentrated on the battle with the chop. After the third turn buoy, all was smooth sailing back to the shore and I was very much enjoying every minute of it. I came out of the water with a huge smile on my face, despite feeling rather dizzy and wiping out on the ramp (thank you volunteers and Hector for helping me out!). Swim time, 16:43.

I had one of my slowest transitions ever. Just when I made it back to my spot, a girl came out of the water rather panicked and asked me to help her get the wetsuit off. Her zipper was stuck and after struggling with it for a few seconds, I managed to get it to open. I told myself, she better not be in my AG, lol. Eventually I got moving as well and then spent another 30sec at the mounting line, struggling to get on my bike. The chain was jammed and I had not checked it when I racked it. Oh well, after a big push, praying that I don't break it, I finally put it in the right gear in order to make forward progress.

Hubby had given me a power number to try to hold for the ride (near my FTP), but not only that number felt rather unattainable on the bike without blowing up, I had plans involving my heart rate instead. I really, really wanted to have a pleasant race and I was already thinking about my run.
So after passing "the" hill and saw my HR around 175, I decided to bring it under 170 for the rest of the bike leg. I think it was the right decision because I had a blast. I played leapfrog with a few girls, I didn't care about those passing me, aside from one dude that was veering so much in and out of his lane, he was making me nervous. I tried to kill the downhills as usual. I seriously bike for the downhills, I think I mentioned this before. It's the only way to redeem yourself after being constantly passed on the uphills, right?
I had a gel and some water about halfway and concentrated on keeping the rubber side down. Since the ride was an out and back, it went by really fast. I finished this leg in just over 1h, then managed to get lost in transition, again!!
Yep. Wrong row. And since mine was pretty hard to access, I beat another record for the slowest transition ever. I should have had my other half of muffin and finish my breakfast lemonade while I was at it. But I found my bearings eventually, went around the round benches Pokestop which thankfully was not lured at the moment and changed into my running shoes. Took my cap, race belt and my chews and off I went. Where was that run exit again?? Oh yes, towards the fountain Pokestop. You Pokemon, get out of my way!!

The run was completely in unknown territory, so I followed the crowd. I quickly discovered that it was a beauty, very scenic along the lake, with well stocked water stations and a lot of people cheering along. I was having such a great time, I almost regretted not doing the long course. That is, until we hit "the" other hill before the turn around. I didn't even notice that we ran by "the" Kingston maximum security penitentiary where all the bad boys used to be locked up until 2013 when it closed. But I did notice the helipad and wondered if it was a hospital or some government building. Not far, I suppose... Did you know that Kingston had 7 Correctional Institutions?
My goal with this run, was of course, to finish. I chose not to look at my watch at all and go by feel. I was so happy to be there and race, nothing else really mattered. And so I ran happy, giving thumbs up and thanks to those who were cheering, encouraging runners when I was passing them and saying "good job" when they were passing me. I took water at each station, drank half of the cup, the rest went on my chest and back. I ate my Gu chomps at the turn around, ran back up the hill and down, letting the gravity do its thing to settle my heart rate. I promised myself not to walk during the run unless absolutely necessary. I had many of these occasions in the past when I had a stomach cramp or worse, knee pain, but this time there was no reason. I gave high fives to Nathalie, Mari, Janet, Alasdair and Kyra. I saw Matt, our club coach and friend zooming by. He was really killing it. I kept wondering if Zin was having a good day. I was a little worried to tell you the truth, he seemed to me far back from the leaders, but in fact was just a perception because people from 3 races were mixed together.

I started thinking that the ideal scenario was be that he'd catch me in the last 100 meters and we'd run together to the finish (run time 43 minutes). But I crossed the finish line ahead of him, hoping that he would follow not far behind. Thankfully I did not get to worry for too long, as he arrived merely 5-10 minutes later. I was elated to find out that he actually finished second in his AG, improving in all disciplines by a big margin since the previous year. Here he is with Matt, who took 1st in his AG! FMCT on the podium again, booyah!!
We waited around for the sprint and long course awards, and I took the opportunity to hunt Pokemons and talk strategy with Matt in leveling up, taking over gyms and evolving for most points. This was serious business, according to this pic.
We also spent some time with Nathalie, Kyra and Alasdair who ended being the racer of the day! Zin won a cute Timex watch and I got 2 dozens Magikarp and a cute medal because the organizers realized that us Sprint Tri people did not get any for "The Legend" and it was a mistake. Better late than never, for sure. Hey, just for the medal I will be back!
I am kidding. The medal was a nice surprise, but I was not even expecting one.  I also finished 5th out of 12 in my AG with a total time of 2:07:24, which was another pleasant surprise. I will definitely be back, medal or not. I absolutely loved everything about this course, and the Pokehunting was the cherry on the cake. Always such a pleasure to race with Multisport Canada, and Steve Fleck even got my name right. All in all, a very successful weekend and I had just about the perfect race. No pain, no disappointment, and so much fun!