Thursday, August 27, 2015

A First Time for Everything - The Toronto Island Tri Race Report

This race is my favourite race of the season, hands down.  I've done it every year since 2012.   If you're really bored, you can read each race report here, here and here.   In 2012 it was 750m swim, 30km bike and 7.5km run but they've since shortened it to a 20km bike and 5km run due to congestion on the race course.  Toronto Island isn't that big and both the bike and the run courses are loops.  The run course used to be mostly on grass but now, because it's shortened, it's almost entirely on pavement, which is great.  It's also completely flat.  You do get some wind on the course which can make things a bit tough depending on which way it's blowing.

Because the area we race in is small, the waves are spread out more so than normal to avoid congestion on the bike course.  That generally means it's a bit of a long morning, especially for me as the last few years I've typically gone in the last wave.  This year was no exception.  We got to the Island at 7:30 am to set up.  The race starts at 8:00 am with the elites and pros.  My wave went at 9:24 am.  By the time I had started, the elites were done and packing up to go home.  G started at 9:00 am, which meant he was done as I was just going out on the run.

The day started off a bit overcast, but the sun started to peek out just before my wave started.  The water temp this year was 19 degrees vs. the 13 it was last year.  Still a bit cool for my liking but tolerable at least.  Since I had ample amounts of time, I met up with my friend David and went down to watch him start.  I then found G, went to transition, grabbed my wetsuit and we made our way down to the lake to do a warm up.  I got in and dunked myself quickly.  Yup, it was cool.   I put my face in and started swimming.  The longer I have to warm up the better for me.  I seem to be able to calm myself down a fair bit with a longer warm up.  I did some easy swimming and some harder swimming and then stopped to watch some of the other waves go off.  Before I knew it, it was G's turn to go.  I kissed him good luck and watched them leave.  I had 24 minutes to kill so I continued to swim on and off.  I tried to stay in the water as long as possible.

People started getting into position so instead of going right to the back, I positioned myself off to the side near the front.  My wave was quite large (women 40+ and men 60+) but most people seemed to be hanging back a bit.  I wanted to have a decent swim so I figured I'd dive right in and go for it this time around.  The horn went off, I hit start on my Garmin and waded into the water, waiting for the right space to jump in and start going.  I found a bit of open water and started swimming.  I caught some feet almost immediately but made my way through them. My breathing was erratic and I focused on trying to regulate it.  It was tough because of the chop created by everyone in the water.  I started breathing just to my right to avoid inhaling water when I turned to my left.  This resulted it me swimming off course slightly.  I glanced up to sight and noticed that I had passed the orange marker buoy but that I was way off to the right.  So I corrected that and tried to get back to bilateral breathing.  I eventually found my rhythm by counting strokes.  1-2-3-breathe.  The next thing I knew, I was at the first green buoy.  Time to turn left.  This is where I started to pick up the pace.  My breathing was under control, now I felt I could work harder.  I was swimming fairly wide and had to watch that I didn't swim off course again.  I tend to pull harder on my right so I end up drifting right more.  I glanced up to see the second green buoy just as I passed it so I made a sharp turn and headed towards shore.  At this point I was really working hard.  I found a pair of fast feet and hung on for a bit but my inability to swim in a straight line had me swimming off to this guys left side.  I managed to find his feet again and stay there.  I swam hard until my hands scraped the sand and then I stood up and ran.  I still had a few meters of knee deep water to get through before I hit the shore.  As soon as I hit the shore, I glanced down at my watch and saw 13 minutes.  SWEET.  I made it through the entire swim without a single freakout.  AND, I didn't stop ONCE.  As soon as I got out of the water, I knew I had a long run up to transition so that was going to give me ample opportunity to get the top half of my wetsuit off.

Swim with run up to T1:  14:41

I ran into T1 and quickly found my bike.  The ground in transition was dotted with wood chips and dirt, which made for quite the mess.  I started wriggling out of my wetsuit but lost my balance and fell over on one knee.  I quickly got up and managed to get the rest of my wetsuit off without incident.  I was going to wipe my feet off on my towel but opted not to.  Mistake.  As soon as I shoved my left shoe on and started running, I could feel a wood chip stuck to my foot.  Awesome.

T1:  1:30 

I ran up to the mount line, crossed it and got on my bike.  I was hoping I wouldn't notice the wood chip stuck to the bottom of my foot but alas as soon as I clipped in and started pedaling, I felt it.  I knew it was going to drive me nuts so I tried to shake my foot around in my shoe.  It moved the chip a bit but I didn't fall off.  Annoying.  I probably could have undone my shoe and taken my foot out but I didn't know what position I was in so I didn't want to lose time if I didn't have to so I rode with it in my shoe.  I got into my aerobars and got ready to put the hammer down.  I was really hoping I didn't get stuck behind a vehicle like I did last year.  I tucked in and started working.  Almost immediately I had to start calling out on your left.  The first bit of the course was fairly sheltered but as soon as it opened up towards the turn around, I got hit with a headwind.  And then some crosswinds, just to make it fun.  I could really feel the lactic acid building up in my legs.  My breathing was pretty ragged as well.  I tried to dial it back a bit and get my breathing into some kind of rhythm.  The course is kind of shaped like a lollipop on the top end as you go around a loop for the turn around so I got out of my aerobars here, caught my breath and eased up a bit.  Normally I would have been on the brakes through here but I wasn't.  Clearly my early morning rides with Morning Glory have paid off in the bike handling department.  At least when it comes to taking wider turns at almost full speed.

I started to make my way back to transition for lap number two and was pleasantly surprised to feel a bit of wind at my back.  I glanced down at my Garmin to see that my current average speed was just over 34kph.  Not bad.  I figured I was capable of faster than that so I put my head down and pedaled harder.  The slight tailwind was a nice bonus.  I hoped that it was there for my second lap.  I motored towards the turnaround point, surprised that I hadn't yet caught anyone in my AG.  Could I have been first out of the water?  No way.  THAT would be a first for me for sure.  I slowed up as I got to the sharp turn and at the last minute, unclipped.  Guess my bike handling skills still need a bit of work, ha ha.  I rounded the bend, clipped back in and got back into my aerobars.   Hammer time, part two.  My legs were really feeling the burn and when I hit the open area, there was a decent head wind, followed by some gusting crosswinds that actually blew my front wheel a little sideways.  My legs were screaming at me at this point but I could see my average speed was close to 35kph so I kept pushing.  I flew through the roundabout / turnaround and motored along.  There was a great tailwind for a couple of km's that made me feel like I was flying.

I made my way back round the turnaround and turned off towards the dismount line.  I unclipped and jumped off my bike.

Bike:  33:52 for an average of 35.43/kph - a new PR on that course.

Photo courtesy of Mike Cheliak - My Sports Shooter
I ran into T2, racked my bike and pulled my shoes off.  This time I took the time to wipe my feet off.  I had to get rid of the wood chip and all the other crap on my feet.  I then took the time to put body glide on my feet as my Zoot shoes have been giving me blisters.  So T2 was longer than I would have liked but whatever, you gotta do what you gotta do!

T2:  1:14

This run course is fast.  My current 5km PR is on this course, OFF the bike no less.  I knew that I probably wasn't going to come close to beating it given my lack of regular speed work but I was definitely going to push it.  They changed the course slightly this year as well.  Last year it was 4.8km but this year they added a little "hump" to the loop that added the extra 200m.  Every year I'd always get messed up with my loop count but for some reason the addition of this little hump, made it easy for me to remember what loop I was on.   I booked it out of transition and made my way along the grass to the bike path.  I heard my name and looked up to see my sister & brother in law and my niece and nephew.  YAY!  I waved as I went flying by.  My legs didn't feel great but that's not surprising.  I've done no real brick training since Eagleman.  I figured they'd sort themselves out after the first km or so and I wasn't wrong.  I motored along like a crazy woman, checking out the calves of almost every woman I passed.  Still no one in my AG.  There's usually SOMEONE ahead of me.   Loop one, done.  Still no one.  G yells "Hurry Up" as I run by.  I stick my tongue out at him.  Onto loop two.   There are a few more people out at this point.  So more calf checking ensues.  Still no one.  The thought pops into my head:  "What if I've been in the lead since the swim??"  Nah.  I keep chugging along.  I see my friend Paula who is always such a bundle of positive energy - she yells "You're looking great!!!"

I finish loop two and head out onto loop three.  My legs have found their groove.  I'm definitely working hard.  I could feel my shoe rubbing slightly on the ball of my foot.  It's not painful, just annoying.  I keep digging.  I'm not paying attention to my splits, I'm just running.   As I head out onto loop three, the volunteer that is marshaling yells "you're Killing IT!"  as I run by.  That made me laugh.  I could feel my form starting to fade.  My shoulders were rolling forward.  I pushed them back.  As I rounded the corner by the ferry line, the announcer there said "here she comes again, looking STRONG".  Nice to get a little support on the top end of the course.   The course had become a lot busier as the Island was getting busier with people coming to spend the day there.  I had to dodge a few folks here and there but nothing that really slowed me down.  I went over the timing mat and saw lap 3 come up.  One more to go.

I still hadn't seen anyone from my age group.  It was kind of strange.  Even though I was tired, I just really wanted to be done so I tried to pick up the pace.  My lungs felt like they were going to burst.  I certainly don't have that top end speed / fitness that I had last year.  Use it or lose it, so the saying goes, and I haven't been using it.  At least not very often.  I came around the top end of the course and had to wedge my way through a small cluster of people.  It would have taken more energy for me to get around them so I said excuse me and ducked through the middle.  Gotta take the most direct route to the finish line.  There were even more people on the path now so I had to do some bobbing and weaving.  I made the little turn, hit the timing mat and saw lap 4.  YESSSSSS.  I rounded the bend, saw G and yelled, "heading to the finish!".   I turned onto the grass and made my way towards the finish line.  There was no one in front of me.  As I rounded the bend I saw a couple of guys finish but the finishing chute was totally wide open.  That has never happened for me at this race.  Steve Fleck spotted me and announced that I was finishing.  I could hear my niece and nephew cheering.  I crossed the finish line and immediately looked down to stop my Garmin.  And it was all caught on camera.  At least they got a good action shot before I crossed the line, ha ha.



I shook hands with Jason Vurma, one of the race organizers and wandered off to find G and the rest of his family.  I couldn't find them but I did find my friends David and Mike.  David asked me how I did and only then did I look down at my Garmin to check my final time.  1:12:04.  I was pretty sure that was a course P.R.  We stood around and chatted for a while.  Mike ended up getting second in his AG.  I eventually found my crew.  I waited around a bit and then went to check results.  I ended up being 1st in my AG and 4th female overall.  The best part?  I led the race from start to finish. I was first out of the water, first off the bike and first in the run.  THAT was a first for me, ha ha.  Normally I have to climb my way up the standings when I get on the bike and then I seal the deal in the run.  Not this day. 


I can't think of a better way to cap off my season than this.  Despite all of my issues, I've still managed to have a really solid year of racing.   That and I hit a new power PR on the bike.


The Morning Glory rides are definitely paying off.  I do think it's time for me to do another FTP test, just to see where things are at.  Perhaps just before I hunker down in the Pain Cave for the winter.  Now it's time to get some more running back into my life because Scotia is a mere 7 weeks away.

Time to get some longer km's under my belt!









Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tri Talk Tuesday - Race Day Routine

Oh HEY!  It's Tuesday and you know what that means???  It's time for Tri Talk Tuesday!  Today is the day us Tri Geeks get together and chat about all things triathlon related.  Today my lovely co-hosts, Courtney & Cynthia and I are chatting about our race day routines and various tips and tricks that we may use.  I've chosen to outline my race morning routine. 


If you look at the routine of any successful athlete,  I think one of the first things you'd notice is the consistency.   Once they find something that works for them, they stick to it.  That goes from how they train, to what they eat, to how they prepare for race day.   The key to a successful race day is to stick to your plan and what works for YOU.

My race day routine doesn't vary too much, regardless of the distance I'm tackling.  The only thing that really changes is what I pack in my transition bag.   If it's a short course race vs. a long course race, my running shoes will be different and I will pack socks if it's long course.  Since I'm getting old and forgetful,  I've started packing my bag the night BEFORE a race and then, because I have the memory span of a goldfish, I check it again in the morning.

Night Before:

Make up my race day hydration and put it in the fridge. Prep my breakfast.  Check my bike tires and inflate if necessary.  Pack up my handy Zoot transition bag with running shoes, socks (if using) cycling shoes, helmet, sunglasses, wetsuit, goggles and a change of clothes.  I always leave certain items in my transition bag because I know I'll always need / use them and that way I won't forget to pack them on race day.
  • Body glide
  • Deoderant
  • Wet Wipes
  • Gels / bars 
  • Race belt

Pre-Race:

Breakfast:  usually overnight oats with chia, coconut flakes, almond milk + some sliced banana and maple syrup + a glass of water.   I give myself ample time for my body to wake up and clear itself out, ha ha.  We usually grab coffee en route to the race site.  Unless it's Europe then we have time for a stay home leisurely morning coffee ha ha.

Race Site:

If it's a short distance race, then I'm racking my bike when I get there.  If it's a half Ironman, then my bike is racked already and all I need to do is lay out my gear in transition.  Once I've racked my bike, I check my tires again.  I check my brakes because sometimes they rub on my race wheels.  I then lay out my transition mat.  Lastly I put my hydration in my aero bottle, put my race day nutrition in my bento box, if it fits.  If not, I put some in my bento box and lay the rest beside my cycling & running shoes so I know to grab it when I go out for each leg.  Once all of that is done, I take a look around transition to see what's around my rack.  I look at where the bike & run exits are so I know which way to run after each leg.



Once my transition area is set up, I get into my wetsuit and do a swim warm up.  The longer the warmup the better for me.  I do some easy swimming, then I pick up the pace to get my heart rate up, then I go back to easy swimming.  If I have a lot of time to kill before my wave goes off, I try to stay in the water as long as possible, especially if it's on the cool side.  Then it's not so much of shock when I start swimming.

Post Race:

This is one area that I'm trying to get better at.  When I get home, I usually have a recovery drink.  I really like Genuine Health's Active Recover.  When you mix it with vanilla almond milk, it tastes like a creamsicle.  I've gotten MUCH better at post race stretching and foam rolling.  After I got home and showered from Sunday's race, I immediately got on the foam roller for a few minutes.  Later on that day I stretched and foam rolled again.   I usually try to have an epsom salt bath if possible as well.  I find that helps make me feel a bit better.  I also tend to sleep better afterwards.


So there you have it.  That's my race day routine!  Head on over to the link up and check out all the other posts.

Join us again on September 8th for our next Tri Talk Tuesday.  We'll be talking rest and recovery!

















Monday, August 24, 2015

Another Season Almost Over

Happy Monday gang.  What an epically beautiful weekend we had here in T.O.  It was a little chilly in the mornings but as soon as that sun came up, it was pretty much perfect.   We didn't have any major plans other than racing on Sunday.  I had a relatively free-ish Saturday as I opted to do a short ride that morning since we were racing on Sunday.  I could have easily filled my afternoon with errands but instead I opted to go for a swim at the outdoor pool and then spend some time on the back deck working on training plans and doing some reading.  I haven't done that at all this summer so it was the perfect way to spend an afternoon. 


Sunday was our last race of the season (definitely G's last, maybe mine, I'm not sure yet).  It's one of my faves - the Toronto Island Triathlon.  I love it because it's close to home and the course is pancake flat so you can really let it rip.  My sister & brother in law came out to watch along with our niece and nephew and they hung out with us afterwards for some pizza on the back deck!  Race report will come later on this week...hopefully!  It was definitely one of my better all around efforts. 

I had a pretty good week of training.  My sciatic / hip issue seems to be sorting itself out so I've started adding some speed work in to my running.   I felt it a little bit on my tri bike on my Saturday ride but I think it was because I haven't ridden it in a while.  I'm making sure I stretch really well and foam roll almost every day.  That seems to be making a huge difference, especially in my knees.   I think with a few more osteopath treatments, I should be back to normal.  I'm hoping to start to make it out with my old run club in the next couple of weeks but we'll see!

This is how last week went down:

Monday:  2400m swim
Tuesday:  33.5km bike followed by a 45 minute strength workout.  After work I did a 7km progressive tempo run.  Yup.  It was a big day.
Wednesday:  OFF
Thursday:  5km treadmill run at the gym followed by 45 minute strength workout.


Friday:  2650m swim
Saturday:  43km ride + 1650m swim


Sunday:  RACE:  750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run.

Total time:  8h 31 minutes.  Training Stress Score:  367.1

I suspect it will take me a couple of days to recover from Sunday's race so I don't plan on doing any hard workouts until later in the week.  Work is also shaping up to be a bit crazy so we'll see what happens.  Next weekend we're heading up to Muskoka to volunteer at Ironman Muskoka as well as cheer on a couple of our friends that are racing.  I'm looking forward to it!

How was your week of workouts?  Did you race this weekend?





Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday Five: 5 Things in 5 Years - Dreams, Wishes & Goals

After posting yesterday about my 2016 plans, I saw that this weeks Friday Five topic was "Five Things I'll be Doing 5 Years from Now".   Which is ironic because lately I've been thinking a lot about the future and my various goals and dreams.  So I'm hopping on the Friday Five bandwagon and playing along with Courtney, Cynthia and Mar.

Five years from now it will be 2020.  Which sounds so crazy.  I will be 49 years old, which sounds even crazier.  G will be almost 55!!!  WOW.  We're OLD, ha ha.  I really love our life now and I hope it doesn't change TOO much but there are some things that I'd like to see happen. Some of them will take a lot of hard work, some of them will take a giant leap of faith and some will cost money.  But, that's life, right? 


1.  TRIATHLON:   Every year, I always have some kind of goal or game plan in terms of my running and triathlon season.  Sometime in the next couple of years, I want to crack the top 5 in my AG at the 70.3 distance.  And I want to get a spot and actually GO to the 70.3 World Championships.  I could have taken a spot in Luxembourg but the goal at that point in time was for G and I to qualify together and go together.  He didn't end up racing so I didn't end up taking the spot.   My running goals may have to be revisited as I am getting older but I'd still love to break 20 minutes for a 5km, hit 1:25 for a half marathon and break 3:15 for a marathon.  I've got to lose 6s on my 5km time, 2 minutes and 12s for my half marathon time and 1 minute and 3s for my marathon time, ha ha. 



2.  LIVING:   G and I have lived in Toronto all of our lives.  G's job with GE (General Electric) has him working in the U.S. a couple of times a month.  All of his teams are in the U.S. but we live in Toronto.  He works from home when he's not traveling.  We had the opportunity to move to Chicago but opted not to because it wasn't necessarily *that* different from Toronto.  We've both decided that if we're going to leave Toronto, it's going to be for somewhere a bit more temperate.  We could both do without the brutal Canadian winter.  When the right opportunity comes along, we'll definitely take it.

3.  LEARNING:   As a running and triathlon coach, I think the best way I can serve my athletes is by continuing to learn.  There are a few things I'd like to get under my belt over the next few years.  1) my CanFitPro certification and 2) I'd love to take the Human Foundations course with Naudi Aguilar from Functional Patterns.  

4.  TRAVEL:  We don't have kids, so it's fairly easy for us to travel and it's something both of us like to do.   Since I've gotten over my fear of flying, my desire to travel and explore has skyrocketed, especially after last years European Adventure.  I'd love to go back to Europe again.  Ideally for another race but if not, that's perfectly ok too.  I'd also love to explore a few more tropical places like St. Lucia, Barbados and Antigua.

Nice, France

Bassano del Grappa, Italy

5.  COACHING:   Right now, I limit the number of athletes I coach simply because I have a full time job which can be quite busy and I want to make sure each athlete gets a good amount of attention.  When it's busy I hardly have time for myself let alone other people.  I'd love to be able to expand my roster of athletes knowing that I could look after each and every one of them properly.   Essentially that would mean quitting my full time job as a producer and leaving my "second family" that I've been with for the last 15 years.  Not an easy thing - but change is never easy.  The other issue, obviously, is money.  Even if I took on 20 athletes, that still wouldn't bring in enough money to pay the bills, so I'd have to look at taking on a part time job.  But that might not be a bad thing.

So many things to think about.....

Do you have your goals mapped out or do you go with the flow and see where life takes you?

Head on over to the link up and check out the other posts!  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Goings On and 2016 Plans

 It's been a while since I've taken the time to sit down and write a "this is where things are at" kinda post.  So.  Here it is.  I feel like I am getting to a much better place physically and mentally.  When my back / sciatic issues started in May, I felt like I had just kind of dealt with one hurdle (my knees), only to have to deal with another.  It really did a number on my psyche.  I tried to remain positive and adjusted my training as needed (i.e didn't run).  I really still wanted to race though, so I raced through a fair bit of discomfort.  Whether that was smart or not remains to be seen.  I am finally starting to feel better and see some progress which is great considering it wasn't too long ago that I was feeling pretty crappy and unmotivated.  I really wanted the race season to be over.  Actually what I really wanted was a do-over.  I know I haven't trained the way I would have liked.  Instead I did what I could.  I am grateful that I was even able to do that.  But training while in discomfort takes the joy out of training, at least for me.  It took the joy out of my favourite thing (running) and replaced it with apathy.  I do feel that is changing, especially after having two really good runs this past week and an excellent track session last week.  The joy is starting to come back but I don't want to push it.  I have a couple more races on the docket for the year but after that I'm looking forward to taking some time off of running to work on other things. 

I have a solid game plan for the off season that involves strength work and flexibility.  Two things I really need to work on before the 2016 race season starts.  Since I've stopped lifting heavy, my legs have lost a fair bit of power.  I really notice it when I'm climbing on the bike.  So that will be the first order of business.  Especially since I signed up for this on Monday.



There are at least 7 of us that will be racing.  And a bunch of others on IG that have also committed to it.  I think it's going to be pretty freaking awesome.   I sat at my desk and counted down the minutes until noon when registration opened.  I had the page up and ready to go.  I texted G at noon and said GO!!!  I suspect that a whole bunch of other people were doing exactly the same thing.  The race sold out by 8:00 pm on Monday night!  G and I are headed to Tremblant on the Labour Day long weekend to check it out and put in some quality time in the saddle.   I have some lofty goals for next year so I'd like to know what I'm getting myself into.   I'm not going to spill them just yet...I'll save that for the end of the year.

I have been spending a LOT more time on the bike and I think that has helped keep me at a decent level of fitness.  I joined Morning Glory and try to ride with them twice a week.  I'm riding with mostly guys (and the odd REALLY fast girl) so I find that I'm working WAY harder than I would if I was on my own or even on the trainer.  In the 6 weeks that I've been riding with them, my bike handling skills have improved immensely.  I am no longer skittish in a pack and I have no problems drafting off someone's wheel.  I'm learning proper gearing and my descending skills are starting to improve.  I've also noticed that my speed on the flats has improved a lot as has my ability to accelerate quickly.   I never thought I'd say this but I will miss the 5:40 am rides over the winter!  I'm going to have to work extra hard in the Kennedy Compound Pain Cave this off season so I can come out guns a blazin' in 2016.

This new found joy in bike riding has prompted me to start buying #allthethings - I've become especially obsessed with fun cycling socks.  Of course they have to match your kit.  This is problem for me because all of the stuff I own is piece meal.  But I did buy a Morning Glory kit so when I get that I will proudly wear it.  Along with these awesome matching socks.


I'm currently trying to find a top that matches the blue in these socks.  Clearly I have a problem.


The other crazy thing that's happened is that I've ridden my road bike more than my tri bike in the last two months!  Even on our last couple of long rides, I've opted to ride my road bike.  Don't get me wrong, I still love Tom Sawyer but I feel like Snow Dog is helping me become a better rider.  That and tri bikes are generally frowned upon in group rides.  There have been a few that have been out but they usually stay at the back. 


Speaking of cycling, there is a new indoor training facility coming to the west end.  It's called Watts Up Cycling.  It's a computrainer studio much like the one RPM had.  RPM opted to remove the computrainers and use that space for something else, which really opened the door for Watts Up.  The really fun part?  I'll be leading a class there on Friday mornings!  Wahoo!  So if you want hang out with me and put in some hard work in the saddle, then keep your eyes peeled for updates on the Watts Up Cycling site.  There will be a free trial week in October and the studio officially opens on November 1st.  

So there you have it.  I'm going to make a concerted effort to get back to blogging regularly.   My writing brain took a bit of a hiatus these last few months but I've got a few things I'm working on.  I'm also going to start using Periscope a bit more.  You can find me there @redrunningshoe - it's time for me to get over my camera shyness, ha ha.


Happy Thursday gang - keep on keepin' on. 

















Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Where Did That Come From? - The Bracebridge Sprint Race Report

It's been a couple of years since I did this race.   G and a bunch of my friends did it last year and I went out to cheer them on as I was racing Iron Girl the next day.  I had forgotten how much I actually quite like this race with it's time trial start in the river.  It makes for a much more civilized swim experience.  They line everyone up youngest to oldest, although the elites go first regardless of age.  Being at the top end of my AG, I figured I'd be last in the group of ladies and sure enough I was.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I had been feeling pretty crappy leading up to this race.  Low energy, really bloated, generally gross. We had also been away so I hadn't done any riding or swimming.  I managed to squeeze one ride & one swim in after we got back and both were ugly.  I was so tired, I actually slept for most of the drive up to the start.   G woke me up so I could see the sunrise and then I fell asleep again.

Red Skies at Morning, Sailors Take Warning....The rain didn't stay away....
We got to the park with about 50 minutes before the race started, which I wasn't happy about.  I know G doesn't like to get up too early but I hate being rushed.  I like to have at least an hour to an hour and 15 minutes to sort myself out race morning.  Seems like everyone else had the same idea because the normally short registration process took forever.  So much so that they ended up pushing the start of the race back by 15 minutes!  That at least meant that I could get a decent warm up in.

I got suited up and made my way down to the river.  I spotted IG / Facebook pal, Christa Davidson before I went in so of course it was time for a selfie, ha ha.  I look like a spaz.


G had gotten in the water ahead of me so I got in and swam out looking for him.  I found him down the river so I swam over to him.  He was testing out his new sleeveless wetsuit.   We swam a little further down the river and then turned around and made our way back.  The race had started so we milled about off shore for a bit until we could see the lead swimmer coming back.  We then shuffled over towards the dock and started filtering into our respective age group places.  Sure enough I was the last one to go in my age group, ha ha.

I kissed G good luck and got in line.  I had no idea what bib number my AG started at so there was going to be a whole lot of calf checking once I got out on the bike.  The line up moved along and then it was my turn to go.  Jason Vurma counted me down and I hit start on my Garmin and off I went.  I took a few strokes and glanced at my Garmin to make sure I had actually pressed start.  I hadn't.  Surprise!  So I hit start and continued on.  I was feeling a little rough.  Definitely not very smooth.  Guess that's what happens when we take a week off swimming.  I caught several people fairly quickly.  I had forgotten just how narrow this river was so there were small packs of people that were pretty much everywhere, that I had to swim through.  I slowed down a couple of times to try to avoid the packs but my goal was to swim the entire thing without stopping, just like I did in Bala.  I was focusing on my breathing and trying to remain calm.  It seemed to work.  I got to the first buoy made it around, swam across to the second buoy, 30m across the river.  It was a bit chaotic.  I had caught a pack of people and there were some people that were back stroking.  I slowed up and navigated my way through the crowd.  I had swam at a comfortable pace on the way out but wanted to push the pace on the way back so I started working harder.  I was also working against the current a bit so I tried to stay closer to the shore.  Everyone else had the same idea so I ended up moving out a bit.  I found some clear water and got into a groove.  I kept my eyes peeled for bubbles, which meant that someone was up head or nearby.  I was hoping a faster swimmer would pass me and I could hop on their feet, but no such luck.  I could see the last green turn around buoy a few meters ahead.  I started to pick it up a bit more.  I made my way around the buoy and swam to the shore, kicking my legs hard as I went.  I stood up and started running.  I glanced at my watch as I came out of the water and saw 13 minutes and change.  Not bad!  I ran into T1 pulling off my wetsuit.

Swim:  13:38

I ran into T1, dropped my goggles by my bike and struggled to get out of my wetsuit.  I could see that one of the ladies in my AG had already gotten out on the bike.  I finally got out of my wetsuit, grabbed my helmet and pulled my shoes on.  Off I went.

T1:  1:33.  The wetsuit struggle was real ha ha.

I had forgotten about the long run up to the mount line here.  I shuffled along in the dirt and then on the paved path to the mount line, crossed it and then got on my bike.  I was in my big chain ring which meant that I had to grind it up the small incline.  I picked up the pace as soon as I got out of the park and onto the road.  I remembered that there was at least one big climb on this course.   I wasn't sure I'd be ready for the hills, but whatever.  I tucked into my aerobars and started to hammer.  The skies had been grey and cloudy all the way up and sure enough, the rain started about 2km into the bike.  Awesome.  At least it wasn't cold out.  I started passing people and calling on your left.  I was about to find out how many women were ahead of me.  With a time trial start, it's even harder to catch people in your AG because there's 5 seconds between each person in your AG.  I came up to one woman in my AG at around the 4km mark.  Caught and passed.  I chugged along and hit the climb.  I had forgotten how flipping hard it was.  I thought maybe I could do it in my big chain ring but my legs were having none of it.  Into the small chain ring I went.  I got up it, flipped back into the big ring and hammered the downhill.

My legs were burning.  I was definitely working hard but I didn't feel like I was going that fast.  I don't have my watch set to see speed, only power, distance and time and I had messed up my bike time because I didn't hit lap, I hit stop, then lap, which meant I was still technically in T1.  I realized that about 1.5km into the bike and rectified the situation.  Normally looking at my bike time I'd have some idea as to how fast I was going but because of that screw up, I had no way to figure it out.  I put my head down and kept grinding.  I could see a Team Canada uniform up ahead and I realized it was a woman in my AG.  That spurred me on to dig deep.  I was slowly but surely reeling her in.  I caught her and passed her.  A minute later she caught me and passed me back.  DAMMIT.   She stayed in front of me until we passed the turn around.  The turn around was at the bottom of a climb so as soon as I got around the pylon, I started to really hammer up the hill.  My Morning Glory rides have been starting to pay off.  I caught her and passed her.  I was fully expecting her to catch me again a few minutes later but she didn't.  I settled back into my aero bars and watched for any other ladies.  I knew that one was still out there as I hadn't seen her or her bike yet.  As I was coming up to the 15km mark, I spotted her.   I put my head down and hammered, caught her and passed her.  I was really hoping I was in first at this point.  My legs were screaming at me and I still had one climb left.  I rolled up to the climb and about halfway up it, someone came up on my left.  I glanced over to see the woman in the Canada tri suit.  DAMMIT.  She blew by me.  I had nothing.  I got up to the top and hammered the descent in the hopes of catching her but she was at least 20-30 seconds ahead of me.  She had started 5 people ahead of me which meant that she had a 25s to play with.  I hoped she wasn't a super fast runner.  I kept her in my sights for as long as possible until she turned into the park.  I got stuck behind a very tall guy when we were turning into the park.  I didn't realize it wasn't a no passing zone so I didn't hammer through here.  I got to the dismount line and went to get off my bike when I heard someone yell "Coming through!" It was G who completely blew by me.  Damn him and his awesome flying dismounts, ha ha.  I shuffled awkwardly along the dirt into T2.

Bike:  37:23 for 20km

I racked my bike, pulled off my helmet and dried my feet off.  They were soaking wet.  I then quickly applied some body glide.  My feet blistered really badly at Bala and I didn't want to have a repeat of that.  Just as I was yanking on my shoes, the girl I had passed on the bike (Jordie) was racking her bike.  I grabbed my sunglasses and started running.  I knew she was a really strong runner so I was going to have to book it to keep her at bay.   She had a 40s head start on me so me being ahead of her meant that she had her work cut out for her.

T2:  57s  

The first few hundred meters of this race is uphill.  On grass.  It's kind of brutal.  But the spectators hang out by here and cheer you on like crazy so it's also pretty cool.   I was dying as I came out of transition.  My heart was in my throat.  You can see how tired I am by my horrible posture.

I knew once I got up the hill, I'd have flat and then downhill for a while so I should be able to get into a good groove.  As soon as I got out of the park, I really started to push the pace.  I caught another woman in my AG.  WTH?  She had a 41 on her leg so she was probably up near the front of our group.  I motored along the road, really pushing the pace.  I knew G was ahead of me as well so I kept my eyes peeled for him.  I hit the first km in 4:18.  Sweet.  I was hurting but at least I was moving well.  And, I wasn't in pain.  My glute was fine.  I felt the occasional twinge but it wasn't affecting my run at all.  YES.  The course goes downhill until the turnaround so I was going to push as hard as possible and hope that I didn't implode when I started climbing back up.  My breathing was ragged but I felt like I was running well.  I could see G up ahead.  I slowly started to reel him in.  He was running well so it wasn't easy.  I hit the 2km mark and saw 4:05 when my watch beeped.  Awesome.  I could see the girl in Canada tri suit up at the turnaround.  She became my carrot.  I figured once I got to the turnaround I'd be able to see where Jordie was as well.  I ran around the pylon and saw Jordie about 250-300m back.  Crap.  She had 2.5km to catch me.  It might be close.  I ran along past the aid station.  I was tempted to grab something but I didn't want to slow down.  I was so focused on catching the girl in the Canada tri suit.  As I passed the aid station the road started to rise.  The girl in the Canada tri suit was slowing down.  I powered hard up that hill, wanting to barf.  She had turned onto the main road and was heading towards the bridge.  I was closing in.  I looked for a place to pass and saw an opening on the inside.  I don't know where it came from but I found an extra gear.  I caught her and passed her.  Both her and the other girl I passed said nice run and I said thanks.  I really hoped she didn't have anything in the tank.  I crested another hill and made the turn towards the park, mentally calculating how much time I had left to suffer.  I didn't let up through here but was a bit careful on the descent to the finish line.  I was sprinting hard when I glanced to my left and saw a familiar figure.  It was Jordie.  She caught me at the line.   She's behind the woman in the black.


I patted her on her shoulder and said nice run as we went through the finishing chute.   Thankfully I knew I had made up about 40s on her so I knew I wouldn't be giving up any points.

Run: 21:23

Final time:  1:14:55 - which was a course PB by about 2 minutes.  Most of that time was made up on the bike but I actually had a faster run this time around than last time!  Not bad for not running much, ha ha.

We milled about for a while, waiting for the results to be posted.  We packed up our stuff, cheered some more people on, got some food and then went to check the results.  G got 3rd in his AG!  He found me, listed a few spots below him.  I was 4th female overall and 1st in my AG.  Sweet.  Another 100 points!  I was really happy G got on the podium.   It makes me really happy to see him up there.  And it made for a cute post race selfie too.


Next up is Toronto Island this weekend.  I'm really hoping it stays warm and doesn't get too windy.  I don't want a repeat of last year.   The weather forecast is looking perfect so hopefully the water stays warm! 

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Free Weekend!

Those of you that read along regularly know just how crazy this summer has been.  All of my weekly recaps usually talk about some kind of weekend trip or event or race.  I'm happy to say that this weekend had NONE of that.  Nothing.  Nada.  For the first time all summer we had nothing scheduled.  My sister and her boyfriend were going to be crashing at our place on Saturday night as they were in town to go to a festival so we figured we'd do brunch on Sunday.

We both wanted to do a longer ride so we went out to Bolton to ride out there.  It's been a while since we tackled those hills.  It was scorching hot and there was no wind.  I did a good job of hanging onto G's wheel for the first half of the ride.  My legs were feeling the hills though.  I had a pretty big week last week so they were pretty tired.   We rode out to Belfountain and stopped for coffee and a sit down.  What better way to refuel mid ride than with a butter tart?





Getting back on my bike was rather unpleasant.  My legs felt pretty punched.  Luckily it was mostly downhill the rest of the way back.  There were points where G had to drag me back.  I did a pretty good job of sticking to his wheel - I think my weekly Morning Glory rides have certainly paid off in that regards.  I was pretty tired when we got back.  I foam rolled the hell out of my legs and stretched really well.  And re-hydrated because holy smokes did I ever sweat a LOT.   We ended up going out Saturday evening to watch our nephews baseball game but I managed to sneak in some food prep before we headed out.   That is one thing in my life that has been sorely missing so it was nice to get a few things made and frozen for future busy times.

Sunday I hit the road early-ish for a long run.  I left the house at 8:20 and within 10 minutes I was soaked.  It was HOT.   You know it's going to be a scorcher when you can barely tell where the lake starts and the horizon ends.



My legs felt horrible when I started but got better as I went along.  I actually negative split the run.  I ran the second half much faster than the first.  The best part?  NO GLUTE OR HIP PAIN!  My knees were a bit sore to start.  And then my left knee REALLY hurt after I stopped to fill up one of my water bottles.  I was worried that I might not be able to run but, my kneecap found it's groove again and I was off.   It felt so good to go out and run long again.  I ran 17km.  Not very quickly but whatever.  I did it and that's what matters.


The rest of our Sunday was spent having brunch and lazing around.  I did some more meal prep and some plan work for my coaching clients and I finally finished my Bracebridge race report.  That will be up tomorrow!  We capped off the weekend with a frosty beverage on the back deck.  It was the first time this year I've sat out there.  Better late than never!!

This past week I promised myself I'd get back to the gym twice and try to make it to both Morning Glory rides.  Amazingly, I did both! 

Monday:  OFF - was tired from the race
Tuesday:  31km bike with Morning Glory + 4.5km run off the bike.  Which sucked immensely.   My legs were still feeling Sunday's race.
Wednesday:  2350m swim + 40 minute strength workout
Thursday:   a.m. 31km ride with Morning Glory again - hung on to the 3rd group for a lap!  That never happens!  p.m. I finally hit the track for some speed work.  I did a total of 7km with 5x400m repeats.  I was pleased to see that I was hitting splits I hit 2 years ago so at least my really short speed is still kinda there, ha ha. 


Friday:  1600m swim + 40 minute strength workout.  Legs were tired after this.
Saturday:  85km on the bike
Sunday:  17km run

Total time:  10h 30 minutes.  Training stress score:  557. 

I've got Toronto Island coming up this Sunday so I suspect that my weekend activities will be somewhat reduced.  It's technically my last race of the season so I really want to nail it.  I say "technically" because there are still 3 races left in the series after this one so I'll have to see where I stand in the points after Wasaga Beach.  It may mean I have to do Lakeside.  Which I really don't want to do as it's the day before the Epic Tour of Halton.  So we'll see.

How was your week of training?  Who else has races coming up??


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tri Talk Tuesday - These Are A Few of My Favourite Things!

Hey Hey Hey...it's TRI TALK TUESDAY!  I'm super excited for today's post because Cynthia, Courtney and I are talking about our favourite triathlon things.  This is anything triathlon related - it could be your favourite race, your favourite running shoe, whatever.  I love posts like these because they inevitably introduce me to new products.  Just what every triathlete needs...MORE things to add to their "I want" list, ha ha.


There are lots of things I own that I like and that serve me well, but there are only a few that I absolutely LOVE and wouldn't want to train without them.  I also threw a race in there because why not?  These are my FAB FOUR.



1.  My Garmin 920xt.  I have to admit, I have a love / hate relationship with my Garmin stuff.  When it works, it works REALLY well.  But when it doesn't...it's a failure of epic proportions.  They've gotten a bit better at keeping software updated to fix glitches.  I found the 920 to be a bit glitchy (the screen would freeze a LOT) when I first got it but this latest software update seems to have fixed the issues.  I love how connected this machine is.  I just recently paired it to my iphone and now I get text messages and other alerts ON MY GARMIN.  Mind=blown.   And I can instantly upload my workout to the Garmin Connect app via Bluetooth.  No more waiting until I get home, hoping that the wifi automatically connects.   And no more connecting it to my laptop and hoping it syncs.  I've also just started using it to track my sleep.  Yes, it means I have to wear it to bed but I don't really notice it.   I don't even think I've scratched the surface of what this piece of equipment is capable of!

Clearly I need to sleep a little deeper, ha ha

2.  My Cervelo P3.  I've had Tom Sawyer for a year now and I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this bike.  I had a 7 year old Scott Plasma Contessa that was wonderful but wasn't suited to my riding abilities any longer.  I needed something responsive and light.  G had gotten a P3 the year before and I was very envious.  I probably should have done the same thing at the time but we were going to Europe and I didn't want to spend the money on a new bike.  Looking back I probably could have used the extra gears, ha ha.  But I waited a year and ended up getting the same bike with race wheels for a really good deal.  I've logged some serious km's on this bike over the last year.  My first ride on it was my very first stand alone time trial and I ended up in 3rd place overall, averaging just over 36kph.  I knew right then and there that was money well spent.



3IM Luxembourg 70.3:  Maybe because this was my first Ironman branded half, and maybe because it was in Europe...but I absolutely LOVED this race.  If money was no issue, I'd go back and race it again in a heartbeat.  For a race that we picked totally randomly, it suited my abilities perfectly.  The swim was in a narrow river, which helped keep me calm (always close to shore) the bike was 50% flat and 50% rolling hills with 2 good climbs.  The run was 3 loops (I love multiple looped courses) and it was also flat.  And there were lots of spectators on the run course which always makes it better because I draw a lot of energy from people cheering - it really gives me a boost.  It's also the only course on the Ironman circuit that goes into 3 different countries.  You swim in the Moselle River, on one side is Luxembourg, on the other side is Germany.  If you swim wide enough in the swim, like I did, you cross the border, ha ha.  About 10km of the bike course goes through France.   It was one of the coolest races I've done.  And Luxembourg is absolutely stunning.  One more reason to go back.  Look at how happy I was coming down the finishing chute!



4.  My Mizuno Wave Sayonara 3's:  These are a brand new addition to my shoe rotation as they are a really new shoe.  I wore the original Sayonara's and LOVED the responsiveness of them but I found that the ride was really firm especially if you are heavy on your feet like I am (I may be small but I'm not light on my feet).  After racing a half marathon in them, my feet actually hurt.  They were sore.  But I could go REALLY fast in them.  Mizuno has now beefed them up a bit.  There is more cushioning through the mid-foot but they are still super light and responsive.  I'm pretty confident I could race a marathon in these babies with no issues where as before I'd use my Sayonaras for a half marathon or shorter and then I'd use my Wave Riders for anything longer.



Tell me a few of your favourite things!

And of course, don't forget to check out the link up for even more favourites!


Monday, August 10, 2015

August Already!

Ok.  Will somebody PLEASE but the brakes on summer??  I can't believe it's August already!!!  I guess that's what happens when you jam pack your weekends with races, training, trips and visits with family and friends. 

Last week was a REALLY short week for us.  We didn't get back from Newfoundland until Wednesday mid afternoon so I only had two days of work last week, which was lovely.  I didn't come back to chaos which was also really lovely.   I like being able to ease back into the swing of things versus being punched in the face with busy as soon as I step through the door.  

Despite being away, I still managed to do some kind of workout almost every day, in addition to walking EVERYWHERE.  I think we must have walked anywhere between 4-6km a day, depending on what we were doing.  There was a pretty decent gym at the hotel so I got in a few good weight workouts as wel.  What we did miss was swimming and biking.  The Atlantic Ocean was a balmy 8 degrees so people weren't flocking to the beach to go swimming, ha ha.  And we didn't want to lug our bikes with us on this trip so that was out.  But we made up for it when we got back.

Monday:  40 minute gym workout + walking around St. John's

Tuesday:  11km run with G + a walk half way up Signal Hill and around St. John's



Wednesday:  OFF (travel day!)

Thursday:  Back in the saddle to ride with Morning Glory.  That was ugly.  40km done. 


Friday:  Back in the pool after 10 days off.  Not as ugly as I thought.  The pool supervisor showed up half an hour late so I only got in 1500m before I had to get out.  Better than nothing especially since I was racing the next day.

Saturday:  Bracebridge Sprint Tri - 750m swim, 20.9km bike, 5km run.  Race report to come!  Photo courtesy of Christa Davidson. 



Sunday:  15km recovery run.  I finally felt good!  I'm almost back to 100% I think.  The last 1.5km was tough as my knees started to hurt and my sciatica started to flare a little bit but that is progress. Considering that's my longest run since Muskoka, I'll happily take it.

Total time:  6h 14 minutes.  Training Stress Score:  405 - which means I had a fairly intense week.  This is something I'm going to start elaborating on / including in more of my weekly recaps. 


Don't forget, tomorrow is Tri Talk Tuesday and we're talking Triathlon Favourites!  I can't WAIT to see what everyone posts about tomorrow!

How was your week?  Do you try to stay active on vacation?

Friday, August 7, 2015

Long May Yer Big Jib Draw...

As you may or may not have noticed, I took a little break from the blog world last week when we went on vacation.  I didn't cut out social media all together, I just stuck with things that I could do easily on my phone, while moving around and blogging isn't really conducive to that.  If you follow me on Instagram, your feed would have gotten my daily flood of images.  Sorry about that.  I also just started using Periscope while we were away and I clearly have no idea how to use it.  At least how the chat function works while recording.  But I'll figure that out eventually.  I tried 3 broadcasts that seemed to work.  I'll have to keep playing with that app for sure. 

Where did we go?  Well, G and I headed out to St. John's, Newfoundland for a friends wedding.  Neither one of us had been out that way so when we got the invite, we jumped at the chance.   It was over the August long weekend, so we figured we'd extend things a bit and stay for a few days and do some exploring.   Apparently we were coming to visit just as summer was finally arriving to the Island.  July had been the worst July in almost 70 years there.  So much so that the local police arrested the weatherman on the NTV news.


They weren't kidding about the crappy weather.  We left Toronto at 6:45 am on the Friday and it was 25 degrees.  When we landed in St. John's it was 11 degrees, overcast and REALLY windy.  The forecast didn't look great for the wedding the next day either.  It ended up raining in the morning and then clearing later in the evening.  When we got up on Sunday, the sun was shining and the temperatures were on the rise.  Everyone was talking about the arrival of summer. 


The wedding was a fairly intimate affair at the Admirals Green Golf Course, which had a spectacular view of St. John's...once the fog lifted.   Jon had warned me that all the CFA's (come from away, i.e mainlanders) would have to be "Screeched In".   Screech is "a colloquial term used to describe any cheap, high alcohol spirit, including moonshine" (so says Wikipedia).  Being Screeched In involves reciting an oath of sorts, kissing a cod and downing a shot of screech.  Some ceremonies also have you eating a piece of Newfie Steak (a piece of baloney) or wearing a Sou'wester hat while reciting the "oath".  After this, you are declared an honorary Newfoundlander.  

Our ceremony was led by a very charismatic guy.  I couldn't understand a single word he said.  Neither could anyone else which made for some incredibly entertaining interactions.  As he chatted with us, filling us in on local traditions,  someone was passing around some "Newfie Steak" which we had to eat before we could begin.  The shots of screech were passed out shortly after that.  Once we had eaten the "steak", he pulled one guy out of the group and bantered back and forth with him for a while then he went around the group and asked some of us where we were from.  That garnered a lot of teasing from him which was hilarious.  He then asked us if we were Screechers.  The first time that drew a lot of blank stares.  A few people said yes, which is apparently NOT the proper response.   The proper response is "Deed I is, me ol' cock! And long may yer big jib draw!"  This translates to "Yes I am my old friend, and may your sails always catch wind."  There was a LOT of laughing as we all tried to say this as a group.  Eventually we all got it right.  That then meant it was time to kiss the cod.  Our guy pulled a huge frozen cod out of a bag and passed it around the room.  After the cod had been kissed, we did our shot of screech.  Which is just as well because I wanted to burn the salty fish stink off my mouth.  The screech did just that.  Afterwards we all got an official certificate to commemorate the occasion.



Here comes the COD!  Even our resident Newfoundlander looks grossed out! 

SCREECH  
It's Official!
It was definitely a fun evening!

On Sunday the sun came out so G and I went for a run around the Harbour.  G wasn't feeling so hot so he stopped at 5km and I went out another km.  Unfortunately that last km had a doozy of a climb back to the hotel.  

Yes, that says 21.1% grade.  WTH.  The first thing I realized in St. John's is that there are really only two directions.  Straight up or straight down.  The only flat ground we really found was around the Harbour.  If you're walking or running anywhere around St. John's be prepared for steep hills.   I couldn't imagine trying to ride a bike there without a triple crank set.  I wasn't surprised that we only saw one small group of cyclists (3 dudes).   And they were riding around the Harbour, ha ha. 

We spent Sunday afternoon exploring Cape Spear and driving around part of the Irish Loop in our rented Mustang convertible.   Cape Spear was absolutely stunning.  I was amazed at how much the temperature dropped from St. John's to Cape Spear.  It wasn't more than half an hour's drive but it went from 27 degrees to 19!  Probably because it was insanely windy.  As evidenced by my selfie.  It takes a lot to blow the fro back! 

Cape Spear


Cape Spear is the eastern most point in North America so it didn't get any more east coast than this! 

Monday we had planned on going whale watching and thankfully we had another clear, sunny day.  Apparently July and August are the best times of the year to go whale watching so we were hopeful we'd see something.  We were NOT disappointed.   We saw multiple whales as well as a mother and calf that breached right by our boat.  It was amazing.  I figured it was a good time to test out Periscope (you can find me under my twitter handle @redrunningshoe) as well so I did two short broadcasts. 

They were SO FREAKING CLOSE!!!



I really wished I had a good camera for this but alas, I only had my iPhone.  After the whale watching the boat took us out to Gull Island.  It's a small island that is home to something like half a million birds.  It was INSANE.  The noise was unbelievable.  There were all sorts of birds everywhere.  It was the first time I had ever seen a Puffin as well.  I didn't realize they were such small birds! 

All the white and dark brown spots are BIRDS!  Every single flat piece of rock had a bird on it.

The tip of Gull Island.  All those specks in the air are birds!
That was a pretty amazing experience, one that we'll probably never have again.  I'm so glad I did it, even though I'm not a big fan of boats. 

Tuesday morning we planned on running up part of Signal Hill and hitting the trails on the Grand Concourse.   Running up Signal Hill was no joke.  The gradient was anywhere between 6 and 16%.  It was pretty much straight up.  We ran up half way and then turned off onto one of the Grand Concourse trails.   Amazingly the trail was relatively flat compared to the roads! 


We did 11km along the trails and I felt surprisingly good.  I could have easily kept going.  My knees were a bit sore when I'd stop and then start again but once I got going they were fine.  My glute / hip is almost back to normal.  A few more sessions with the osteopath and I should be totally good to go!  This was an awesome way to explore the residential communities of St. John's.  I didn't realize how many small lakes were actually in St. John's.  At a higher elevation than the ocean no less! 

Quidi Vidi Lake
After our run we gobbled up breakfast, cleaned ourselves up and hopped in the car to drive up the rest of Signal Hill.  WOW.  Just.  WOW.  The view from up here was amazing. 

The top of the hill from mid way up. 
Looking over towards the St. John's Harbour
Looking out over the Atlantic
After wandering around here we got back in the car and drove west out of St. John's to do a bit of exploring.  We hit a few small communities and checked out one of the local beaches (it was freezing cold and covered in rocks so we left.)   The last stop was Quidi Vidi Brewery, home of the famous Iceberg Beer.   It was so close to where we were, I wasn't about to NOT pay a visit.  We did a tasting of all 7 of their beers.  The woman that led it was awesome.  G had hoped to get some Iceberg to bring home but by the time we finished the tasting, they had sold out!  So he left empty handed. 



It was a wonderful 5 days.  We ate some great food, drank some excellent local beer, shopped, explored, celebrated a friends nuptials and took a much needed break.  Now it's back to our regularly scheduled madness for another few weeks until the September long weekend when we head to Mont Tremblant for another little getaway.  Up this weekend?  Another race of course.  G and I are heading out to Bracebridge to race the sprint distance race.  Should be interesting.  Stay tuned for a race report sometime next week!   Speaking of next week, Tuesday is Tri Talk Tuesday and we're talking Triathlon Favourites!  It could be anything you love;  your favourite training tool, your favourite race, your favourite shorts, that's all fair game for next week.

TGIF friends!