Friday, November 18, 2016

Live in the Now

Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans....


My dad had a heart attack on Monday.  A big one.  If he wasn't in fairly good shape, it more than likely would have been fatal.  It happened when he was playing tennis, which is his favourite thing to do.   Thankfully my Mom got him to the hospital and they quickly realized what was happening and shipped him off to the cardiac unit at St. Mary's in Kitchener.

He is doing better but he's not 100% out of the woods just yet.   To say that this was a shock would be an understatement.

When something like this happens, it gives you pause.  It's sad that it takes a traumatic event to make people stop and take stock of their lives.  We've become so "busy" that we go through our lives in a blur not really stopping to appreciate who and what we have.  I have been 100% guilty of this.

A few weeks ago my friend Sarah published this blog post that summed up a lot of what I had been feeling over the last year.   I feel like I've been going a mile a minute.  This year has flown by without me really noticing the passage of time.  All of a sudden Christmas is just over a month away and I'm left wondering where the time went.

All of this reinforces the decision I made at the beginning of October.  It's time for me to slow things down and live more deliberately.   I need to live life at my pace and find work that is fulfilling and in alignment with what matters to me.   No more racing from deadline to deadline.  Our time here isn't infinite, so lets make the best of it.

I'm making a conscious decision to live in the now in my day to day life outside of my physical activities.  When I'm running or cycling or swimming, I am able to just "be".  I am able to focus on the here and now.  Moving my body helps to ground my brain.  It quiets the noise.  The "chatter of planning" that takes place in my brain when I'm not moving.   That chatter makes it very hard to appreciate what is going on in that very moment in my life.  It's time to dull the noise and to make sure I take the time to really appreciate the people and the things that make up my life.   It's easy for us to unintentionally take people for granted, like our parents or our spouses.  My dad was always invincible in my eyes.  I could never imagine him NOT being there.   But life is life and death is part of life.  It's not something we like to think of or face so we brush it aside until it brushes back.


I don't want to miss out on the value of the moments that life gives me because I'll probably never get a second chance at any of them.

Live intentionally, friends.

xo




Wednesday, November 9, 2016

D is For

Doubts

Dreams

Determination

The events of the last few months have created so much doubt surrounding my racing.  I have fallen so far from where I was this time last year.   Injury will do that to you.  As will stress.   My life has been anything but normal since the summer.   Selling a house, buying a house, living out of a suitcase, renovating a house and trying to balance a busy job with that will take a toll.  Training has fallen by the wayside.   Meal prep has gone out the window.  And I feel it mentally and physically.  My pants are begging me to get back on track.   Coming back from Florida gave me a very rude awakening.  A lot of my jeans don't really fit that well anymore.  I haven't stepped on a scale in months because quite frankly I don't want to know.  I don't need to see a number to reinforce how gross I'm feeling.   My clothes are telling me that enough is enough.  I'm trying not to beat myself up too badly about how I feel because I know I have the power and determination to change things.  That change is starting this week.

The dust has finally settled in the new Kennedy Compound so I should be able to get back to a normal healthy eating routine.  I have a fully functioning kitchen so Sunday meal prep will start this weekend.   It's time to get my body back into the shape that I am comfortable in.  I refuse to accept that where I am now is my new normal.   It's simply a result of life happening at a much faster pace than usual, which in my case, makes me become lazy.   When you try to fit it all in, something has to give and for me it's usually cooking.

The all new kitchen in the all new Kennedy Compound

Despite not feeling like myself, I can't complain about life in general.  I'm starting to get excited about running again.  Most of my pain is gone and I'm slowly making progress.  I'm so focused on fixing the little things.  I'm back in the gym twice a week and the home gym has been set up in new Pain Cave so I have zero excuses to do my physio homework.  I really feel like things are starting to make a difference.  I am looking forward to 2017.  I don't think I'm going to have the same ambitious goals as last year but a girl can dream.  I know I'm going to have to be very cautious with introducing speed into my running.  I think it's going to have to wait for a while.  I'd like to work on building up my distance again so that is my focus for the next couple of months.  We'll see how that goes before I start chasing any crazy dreams for 2017.

Pain Cave Version 2.0

I admit, I lost my mojo for a while.  I was cranky and feeling pretty bummed.   The Universe stepped in and kept me distracted with work, moving, house hunting & job quitting.   I firmly believe that was all I could handle at that point in time.  Now that order has somewhat been restored and things have calmed down, my determination is coming back.  This year has been a struggle in pretty much every aspect of my life.   That being said, I am determined to make the best of the rest of this year.   and I know that whatever 2017 brings will be much better than 2016.  Because I am determined to make it so.

Thanks to Deb for today's Wednesday Word (Determination)




Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Starting Over: My Relationship with Running

Oh hey, it's slacker blogger Coach PK coming at ya.  I'm epically failing at this regular blogging thing these days.

First off, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for all your support, comments & notes in regards to last weeks post.  I am very excited for the changes ahead.   I'm not going to lie, I'm scared as well.  I am a creature of habit that is used to routine so this will be a big adjustment for me.  I'm going to have to create a new routine to make sure I don't end up sitting on the couch surfing the internet all day (which is entirely possible, ha ha)  I am much more productive when I have a timeline / deadline, which is surely a by product of my career as a producer.  The best part is I can determine how busy I want to be vs. now where I don't have a choice.  That is one of the many things I'm looking forward to.

Anyway.  I have a confession to make.

This summer, I fell out of love with running.

There.  I said it.

I have been struggling with this for a while.  Ever since just after my injury actually (surprise surprise!).  I think I messed myself up so much that I've got a lot to undo.  I also think I have become fairly de-conditioned.  Cardio wise I'm good but muscularly, my body just doesn't know what to do with itself when I run.  I feel like a baby deer that isn't quite sure of what to do with it's limbs.   Over the last few visits to the Urban Athlete, Laura has video taped me running and she's pinpointed where she thinks all my issues have stemmed from.  My hips are actually pretty good - there doesn't seem to be much hip drop any more, which is great, however, my upper body rotates like crazy.  Most people swing their arms when they run but I seem to swing my arms and torso so I'm actually twisting when I run.  So I have been sent to the gym to work on strengthening my back and lats as well to learn how NOT to move my upper body too much when my legs move.  I can walk and swing my arms no problem but the minute things speed up (i.e my leg turnover increases) I start to twist.  My body has somehow learned this bad habit.   I think it's from sitting all day.  Much like my gluts, I think my back muscles don't work as efficiently as they should.

Running through Waterfront Park in Clermont
Unlearning this behaviour means that I am spending a lot of time with pulleys and bands in front of mirrors moving my arms and legs back and forth while focussing on keeping my torso fairly still.  HO-LY EFF it's HARD.

I've been doing this regularly for a few weeks now and I have noticed a slight difference.   For a while, pretty much every run I did, no matter how short, felt awful.  Everything hurt or ached or just didn't feel good.  I completely understand why new runners don't always stick with running because if you're not used to doing it on a regular basis, it does hurt.  As with anything, consistency is key.  We are creatures of habit and our bodies are always learning and adapting.   The more you do something, the sooner your body will learn that movement pattern.  That's the magic of muscle memory.

Despite my solid aerobic base, my muscles had forgotten what it was like to run.  Which is probably a good thing because I had built up a lot of bad habits that I have been working on un-doing.  I think I've gotten most of them out of my system, except for my torso twist, which I think will be the most difficult to undo.

A few weeks ago I was feeling really discouraged about everything but I've started to see some progress in the last week.  I've had two good almost pain free runs in the span of a week and my cadence is slowly getting back up to where it was pre-injury.  Post injury I couldn't get my legs to turn over at more than 173 steps per minute.  Last night's run was an average of 177 steps per minute which is pretty much where I was at pre-injury.  WAHOOO.

While I'm not at square one in terms of my running, I am starting over in a certain sense.  I'm paying more attention to what my body is doing when it's moving vs. my heart rate or pace or any of that and that is my focus with each run.   My plan is to get out and run at least 3-5x a week in the coming weeks.   Nothing more than 5-6km at the most for the first couple of weeks.  My goal by the end of November is to be able to run 10km.  Sounds so crazy coming from someone that just spent two weeks in Florida riding her bike almost every day.   But like I said earlier, my muscles had forgotten what it was like to run.   I'm sure my engine could get through the 10km but I don't know that the chassis could handle it just yet.  So 5km will be my max for now.  Distance doesn't matter to me, as long as I can run.   This last week has definitely put a smile back on my face......

Last night's run got a thumbs up.  It would have been two but I had to hold my phone to take the picture, ha.

Here's hoping that things are trending in the right direction because this old broad is starting to get the itch to race again.



Sunday, October 23, 2016

Changes are A-Coming: Part One

I've had this post written and sitting in my drafts folder for a while, waiting for the right time to be published.   The cat is out of the bag with the appropriate people so here goes:

I did something really scary a couple of weeks ago.    Something I thought I'd never do.

I quit my job.

I finally decided it was time to pull the plug on my almost 20 years as a stills producer.  Realistically it was a long time coming.  I had grown disenchanted with the ad world years ago.  I think had I been anywhere else other than Westside, I would have thrown in the towel ages ago.  But the people I work with are pretty freaking amazing so this decision wasn't taken lightly.



This year has tested me on many levels, especially professionally.  It's been incredibly busy, which translates to much more stress.  I've found as I've gotten older, I don't seem to handle stress as well as I used to.   Remove running from the equation and that's a recipe for a very unhappy lady.   I've had more sleepless nights than I care to admit, I've made more checklists and reminders over the course of this year than I think I ever have in all my years of producing.   Mondays became a day that I stopped looking forward to.  That's when you know it's time for a change.

If you had said to me the beginning of the year that we'd sell our Forever Home and I'd quit my job, I would have said you were crazy.  But, that's exactly what's happened.  Oh the times, they are - a - changing'.   Downsizing has put us in a much better position financially and lifestyle wise so that was part of what spurred me to make the change.

Nothing like hitting mid-life and finally having the courage to say "Enough".  It's time to do something different.  It's time to take a chance on doing something I love.   I will be at Westside until the end of the year.   So as of January 1st, I will be opening up my coaching roster to more people (more info to come!).   I will also work on getting my personal training certificate.    I also want to do some volunteer work.   I feel like the possibilities are endless and I want to be able to explore as many of them as possible.

Here's to taking chances and making changes.




Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Life

Well, I know I had vowed to post more often and I still have a draft folder full of half started posts but my brain can't seem to follow through with much these days, so here we go with another rambling post.....

Let me catch you up on "Life".

First off all, I just want to say that I never want to move ever again.  The next move I make will be in a pine box.  Seriously.  Moving is the WORST thing ever.  That being said, I'm happy we're finally in our new home.  I"d love to say that the move went really well but that would be a big fat lie.  It was probably the biggest gong show we've experienced in long time.  The actual moving day went really well, it was the days that followed that were filled with unexpected surprises of the costly kind.  Not the kind of surprises one likes to have.

But let's start with some pictures first!  I won't bore you with pics of every single room, I'll just give you the highlights of my two favourite rooms, the kitchen and the living room.  Or at least they WILL be my two favourite rooms once we're done with them.

Yes, that is a massive wall unit.  Yes, the room IS that big!  
 I don't know the exact measurements of this room but it's huge.  We're actually going to need MORE furniture to fill it out.  That wall unit was the bane of my existence.  It was one of the reasons I hated this place the first time I saw it.  Our realtor tried to convince us that it would look good painted white.  No.  Way.   It's not even remotely a style that G and I like.

G contemplating the best plan of attack to get the monstrosity out.

We had painters coming in so we had to get this wall unit out sooner rather than later.  Thankfully G's sister and her husband stopped by so we put Ron to work.   Within 45 minutes the monstrosity was down.  $600 later, the junk guys took it away.   Along with the horrible range hood from the kitchen.  G didn't go with it, ha ha.



These two things were what we thought were going to give us the most trouble and they turned out to be the easiest.

The bigger issue came with the appliances.  G works for GE (General Electric) so we get a pretty good deal on appliances.  So of course, G wanted to get all new appliances for the new place.  We measured everything TWICE.   All the appliances come on Saturday and we proceed to move them in to place.  Except that the fridge didn't fit under the upper cabinets.

Um.  WHAT.  THE.  EFF.

It was off by centimetres.  G was on the verge of a meltdown.  I could see it in his face.   He never has a meltdown.  That's usually my job.  So I told him not to worry, that we'd figure this out.  That's what I do.  I problem solve.  I took a look at the cabinet and could see that it was a single unit within a frame so we should be able to get it out.  That's when G's sister and her husband showed up.  Sure enough, about 30 minutes later, the cabinet was out and the fridge was in.

CHECK.

We then found a cabinet maker to cut and fix the doors and re-mount the cabinet.  $750 later (OUCH) we have a cabinet above the fridge again.  YAY.

We replaced the range hood we pulled out with a new cabinet and all that was left was getting the microwave installed.  The guy shows up to do that and says, I can't install that the wiring isn't up to code.  UGH.  So we get an electrician in to fix the wiring.  $1200 later it's all good.

We thought everything was done.  We just had to get the remainder of the appliances installed (including the microwave), which was scheduled to happen last Friday, just before we left for vacation.  On Wednesday night G pulls out the old cook top and the oven.  Both things come out really easily.  On Friday the appliance guys show up and go to install the microwave.  They take it out of the pristine box and see that it's dented.  On the keypad no less.  Crap.  G gets annoyed.  They then take out the dishwasher and go to install that.  Turns out it's missing a pipe.  So it was missing the part when it was shipped.  G is getting even more annoyed.   The guys then go to install the oven.

 It doesn't fit.

Fuck.

They then tried to install the cooktop.

It doesn't fit.

Fuckity fuck fuck fuck.

Both appliances are too small for the openings.   I called G after his series of texts.  He was in full meltdown mode because this set off a chain reaction of things.   Getting the oven to fit wouldn't be too difficult, we'd just need a carpenter to fill in the opening.  The cook top on the other hand was the bigger issue because the counter top is granite.  You can't really patch a granite counter top.  Which meant we were now replacing the countertop.  Which I'm ok with because I didn't really like other one.  BUT, dollar wise it's not something we had planned on doing just yet.

To top it all off, we let our painter know and he said he didn't want to paint the kitchen cabinets until AFTER the new counter top had been installed because there is a chance that during the removal, the cabinets could get damaged and he'd have to come back to re-paint.   So we'd need to replace the countertop before getting the kitchen painted.

So much for coming home to a finished place.

First world problems, I know.  Things could always be worse.

We spent part of yesterday running around trying to find a Benjamin Moore store so we could get swatches of the paint colours we chose for the kitchen cabinets so we could then match it with a countertop.  In case you're wondering, no one in Clermont carries Benjamin Moore.  We had to drive to Orlando for that.

But it's done.  We called our countertop guy and had him quote on a couple of options for us along with a new sink and a new faucet.  So far we're at $5000 for the countertop and sink.  I suspect the faucet will be another $600-$700.   I feel like every time we turn around it's something else.  At least we haven't heard from our painter and he's been working on the place since last Saturday so we can only assume that he hasn't run into any issues.  We are going to be coming to home to a place with no appliances other than a fridge and an old microwave so I'm not going to have anything to cook with.  But, I may just go in to the studio and spend an afternoon cooking a few things to get me through the week.

On the re-hab / injury front, Laura seems to think the pain I'm still having is coming from my glut, specifically my quadratus femoris and his surrounding friends.  I've been told to get back in the gym and strengthen everything up.  I think the injury to my left glut I had back at the end of February is at the root of all of this.    Laura thinks I may have torn something in there way back when.  All I know is that it's sore.  I ran 8km yesterday, my longest run so far and I pushed the pace for a couple of km and I was sore all day after that.   I felt a low grade burning sensation in my lower glut / upper hamstring area for the remainder of the day.  I am back in the gym and have been told to work on getting my hamstrings strong.  I hope that helps.  Honestly, I've been feeling like I won't get back to regular running.   I certainly don't feel like I'll ever get the speed I had back.  But that's a post for another day.



That little muscle and its friends are apparently the cause of my issues.  So it's back to the gym I go. And of course my therabands and I have become the best of friends.   At least I have time on my side because I suspect it's going to take a while for me to fix the mess I have become.

I will be really happy to close the book on 2016.  It's definitely been a trying year.  On the plus side, there are some good things in the works for 2017 but I will save all that for another post as well.  :)

Look at that, I now have two more posts that I can write and hopefully not keep saved in my drafts folder, ha ha.

Who else is looking forward to seeing the end of 2016?







Wednesday, September 21, 2016

That's A Wrap!

I suppose I could have titled this post the Season That Never Was, but that would be looking at this race season in a negative light.  I'm trying to stay away from that mindset and look at the good things that came from this season.

Yes, I got injured and didn't compete in my A-race.  Yes, that sucked big time.  There were tears.   But, after that race day came and went, I focused on what I could do and that was swim and ride my bike.  I spent a lot of time in the saddle this summer.  I worked on my swim stroke.  And I worked on fixing all the little things that contributed to my injury in the first place.  I'm not 100% sure that everything is fixed but I'm definitely feeling and moving better.  

I went back to Dr. Galea last week to go over the results of my MRI.  I finally got an injury diagnosis and it told me what I suspected all along:   "Mild tendinosis at the origins of the hamstrings bilaterally.  Low grade partial tear of the posterior fibres of the semimembranosus tendon origin from the left ischium"

Essentially, I tore my hamstring tendon at the insertion point.   It was small tear but it was painful.  There is some scar tissue kicking around in there still so that will have to be worked out because I still feel like there is some restriction of movement through the gait cycle.  I also still feel some pressure in and around my glut / upper hamstring.  So it looks like I'm going to be working on strengthening my hamstrings for the next little while.  The good news is that Dr. Galea thinks that this is all fixable via gait retraining.  He said that my left glut either doesn't fire or fires late (previous gait analysis has shown that it fires late).  Right now it's not even firing and that's probably due to the injury.  He's recommended that I go see a physio by the name of Laura McIntyre at The Urban Athlete so that's where I'm off to tonight.

I am hoping that I come out of this stronger and more aware of my body and how it functions.  

On to the really positive things!  

Despite not running, I still managed to get a couple of races in.  And because of all the riding I had been doing, I actually set a new 20 minute power record on the bike at the Ontario Women's Triathlon.  That really surprised me.  I went from 221 watts to 233 watts.  I still can't believe that.  Once I got injured, I stopped training with power and I just rode.  Paolina always told me not to be a slave to the numbers.  I figured I wasn't training for anything anymore so I didn't need to pay attention to the data.  It paid off.

This past weekend, I did the swim leg of The Barrelman Half Ironman with my two friends David B and David L.  Or the Double D's.  Our team name was Phaedra and her Spectacular Double D's.  Yup.  We went there.  The guys thought it was really funny.  I was a bit upset at first (I had suggested PK vs. my actual name) but, I couldn't deny it was pretty hilarious.    

If you've been reading this blog for the last few years, you know that open water swimming is not my favourite and that it gives me a fair bit of anxiety.  I have slowly been getting better at dealing with said anxiety.  I know I could have said "No" when David asked me if I wanted to be the swimmer but I thought 1) it's a chance to race 2) I get to spend the day with a couple of my favourite people and 3) it's only the swim, not the entire race.  I figured I'd be fine.

Leading up to the race, I was ok but the day before I could feel the nerves setting in.  I didn't sleep well the night before.  Race morning there was a fair bit of griping.  I was nervous.  I hadn't swam more than 1800m in open water in my wetsuit this year and that was with stops.  This would be 2km straight.  Although I could have stopped if I wanted but it's a race.  I don't like to stop.

I knew a ton of people that were going to be racing so race morning was very social which really helped to alleviate my anxiety.   There was so much chatting and hugging and laughing that I could feel my nerves easing.  David B got all set up in T1 and I started getting myself sorted.   I wedged myself into my wetsuit gave the Double D's hugs and made my way into the water to do a good warm up.  My wave went at 9:05 and I was in the water by 8:45.

Me and my spectacular Double D's.

I swam to the other side of the canal and then back to the middle.  Off to the other side, back to the middle.  I floated for a bit, swam over to the edge, got out to fix my wetsuit and went back in.  Everything felt fine.  My wetsuit was comfortable.  My goggles were snug.  I was ready.  I tread water, listened to the National anthem and smiled.  I felt relaxed.  There were some nerves but not the anxiety that I normally felt.  The pros went off to a loud cheer from the crowd.  Then wave two went off.  My wave was up next.  I fell to the back and off to the side a bit.  No need for me to be up at the front in the fray.  The horn went off, I hit start on my Garmin and let the crowd go.  A few seconds later I started slowly swimming and caught my first pair of feet.  I navigated my way towards the shoreline of the canal away from the pack.  I figured I'd be better off out here for the first little while.  I may not get the benefit of the draft but at least I could get into a good rhythm.

There weren't too many buoys along the course so instead of playing the count your strokes between buoys game to keep my brain occupied, I just counted strokes, period.  I focused on making sure I exhaled as soon as I put my face in the water so there was no panicky breathing.  I swam at a very comfortable pace for the first little while.  Not pushing it but not too slow either.  I had had a massage on the Thursday night before the race and David had really worked at freeing up my T-spine and getting a bit more mobility through my ribs and shoulders.  I felt really good.  I actually felt like I could breathe better as well.   I chugged along comfortably.  I came up to the 250m mark sign on the embankment and had one small moment of "holy shit I'm only at 250m???" .  I quickly dismissed that thought and started counting strokes again.

I hit the 500m mark and thought ok, I'm 1/4 of the way through and knew that I would be coming up to the first green buoy soon so I started sighting properly.  I didn't bother for the first bit as I just used the riverbank as a guide.  I started to swim in towards the buoy and surprisingly didn't get caught up in much of a crowd.  WOOHOO!

As I swam towards the other turnaround buoy, I remember thinking to myself that I was feeling really warm.  And I was hungry.  The water was 24 degrees, which is pretty toasty for a full wetsuit.  I lamented the fact that I probably should have drank my entire bottle of Roctane before I got in the water.  Oh well.  I got around the second big green buoy without incident and thought "Woohoo, I'm halfway done!"

Shortly after I passed that buoy, I kicked a bit hard to pass someone and my right calf cramped.  Shit. I stopped kicking with that leg and just used my arms and my left leg for a bit until the cramp subsided.   I picked up the pace again.  I had gotten into a really good rhythm and was now working a bit harder.  I could see the 500m sign on the embankment and thought "Awesome only 500m to go!"  I felt like I was swimming really well.  I had caught a bunch of people from the wave in front of me.  Just after I passed the 500m mark my right calf cramped again so I went back to the one-legged kick. It eventually went away and I went back to kicking normally.  I could see the final green buoy coming up so I started to swim harder.  As I came up to the finally buoy my left calf cramped so hard it stopped me in my tracks.  I felt like someone kicked me really hard in the calf.  I stopped swimming and yelled OUCH.  I couldn't point my foot.  It hurt way too much.  Even when it was flexed up, it hurt.  I reached down to massage it and that hurt.  I was almost in tears it hurt so much.  I kept saying ouch, oh fuck, ouch ouch ouch.   I was so close to being done and I was swimming so well.  I was pissed.  I tried moving forward but my calf spasmed some more.  That resulted in a very loud FUCK. A swimmer stopped and asked if I was ok and I said no.  She asked if I wanted her to flag someone down and I said yes.  She waved and I think she got the attention of someone on a paddle board.  I tread water for a bit more and then put my face in the water and just used my arms.  My entire left leg was hurting at this point.  Eventually I tried kicking with my right foot.  That helped.  The cramp started to subside enough that I could kick but my calf still really hurt.  I swam as hard as I could to the swim exit.  As soon as my hands started grabbing gravel, I stood up.  I hobbled out of the water and started pulling off my wetsuit.  I was boiling hot.  I ran by David L and my friend Jen and David was yelling that I didn't have to get my wetsuit off.  I was so hot, I just wanted to get out of if.  I ran into T1 and found David B.  I yanked the chip off my ankle, passed it to him and he was off.   I hobbled out of transition to find the other David.  My calf was sore for the rest of the day and it's STILL sore today.  At least I'm almost walking normally now.

I hit stop on my watch as soon as I got out of the water.  Even with my stop for cramping I managed to swim 36:23 for 2km.  Not a PR by any stretch but pretty darn good given that I haven't focused on any real speed work in the pool.   The best part?  Not one single moment of panic.  I felt in control the entire time.  I'd call that a race day win and it's something I'm going to make sure I remember going into next year's race season.  I feel like maybe, just maybe, I've conquered the swim anxiety  demons that have plagued me for the last few years.

With my portion of the race done, I was able to chill out and spend the rest of the afternoon cheering people on and socializing.  I couldn't think of a better way to end my season.  In the car on the drive home, I was thinking about all the fantastic people I've met because of this crazy sport.   As I said on Instagram the other day, I feel pretty darn lucky.



Now it's "maintenance mode" time.   Time to really focus on fixing all the little things before I start to get back into the swing of things in January.   Next year there is another huge group of us heading to Tremblant do to the 70.3 and then myself, G, Irina and Zin have signed up to do Lake Placid 70.3  Yup, two half Ironmans in the span of 2.5 months.  If that isn't motivation for me to get better, I don't know what is.







Thursday, September 15, 2016

Girls Weekend!

What.  A.  Weekend.   I know it's Thursday but I finally got around to putting my thoughts on "paper"

Seriously.   It was filled with so much awesomeness.   G was away at his annual Fall Classic golf weekend with the boys so I decided to have my own girls weekend in the city.  On Saturday, I did my first multi-sport event of the year in Georgina at the Ontario Women's Triathlon and then on Sunday I drove out to the east end to do my second D'Ornellas Girlz Ride.

SO.  MUCH.  FUN.

I feel like I've been toeing the "sick line".  I've dialled things back a bit this week so I should be healthy for my portion of Barrelman.  I don't think the Double D's would be pleased if I bailed.

Anyway....

On to the first fun part of my weekend:  the RACE!

I had been watching the weather for the week and hoped that the rain that was forecast would magically disappear.  At one point Saturday didn't look too bad.  But on Friday the forecast was back to being kinda crappy.  Overcast with rain.  Boo.  At least it was going to be warm.   I packed everything up on Friday night so all I had to do Saturday morning was roll out of bed, eat breakfast and pack up the car.

I headed out at around 7:30.  Thanks to the awesome 10 am start, I didn't have to get up at the butt crack of dawn.  YAY.    It was overcast and a bit muggy.  But cooler than it had been.  As I made my way up the DVP, I noticed the clouds breaking up a bit.  Would the sun come out?  Ohhhh...I was hoping it would!

I pulled into the parking lot to overcast skies.  The sun had decided to hide again.  Nothing I could do about the weather.  And besides, I was going to be RACING...FINALLY!   I parked the car and went in to find my bib number and pick up my race kit.  I went back to the car to grab my bike and made my way into transition through the swim exit.  I found my rack area and got myself set up.  I went to walk out of the bike entrance and realized that I forgot to check my bike in with security.  Ugh.  So I had to run back to where I set myself up, grab my bike, run out of transition and around to the bike entrance to go through security.

Whoops, ha ha.

With that sorted, I left transition to go see if I could find a race belt.  I have about 7 of them SOMEWHERE  (more than likely in a box in storage) and I could have sworn I left one in my tri bag but alas, I didn't.  I got one and made my way back to transition when I ran into Deirdre.   Can I just say that I love this girl?  She is so sweet and so lovely.  I feel like I've known her forever.

Pre-race selfie snagged from her IG account.  Thanks Dee!   Oh and you guys should check out her You Tube channel!




Speaking of people that I love, I also ran into Irina.  I have been so pre-occupied that I completely forgot that she would be racing.   Pre-race we didn't get a chance to selfie so it happened afterwards.  This picture makes me laugh.  So good.


There was so much socializing and chatting going on pre-race, there was no time to be nervous.  I think the fact that it was a Women's Only event contributed to that big time.  There's such great energy at these sorts of events.  It's a much more relaxed vibe than at a regular triathlon.   Deirdre and I spent so much time yammering that we didn't realize people were making their way down to the water.  Gotta love that.

I wedged myself into my wetsuit and Dee and I made our way down to the water.   I wanted to do a warm up so we headed into the water and started swimming.  I stayed relaxed and focused on my breathing.  Stroke, stroke, breathe.  Stroke, stroke breathe.  The water was beautiful and fairly shallow.  It got deeper as you got closer to the first buoy but I don't think it ever got too deep.

I did just under a 10 minute warm up and got out of the water to find Dee.  I found her, wished her luck and watched the waves go off.   My wave was up next.  I found Irina and got a big hug.  The 40-49 year old women all lined up on the beach and waited for the horn.  It went off and as per usual, I let the crowd go.  I wandered in slowly so I didn't get my heart rate up too high.  Eventually I dove in and started swimming.  I stuck to the outside so I wasn't in the fray.  I paid attention to my breathing and made sure I wasn't holding my breath underwater.  So far so good.  No panic.  I was sighting fairly well.  I think I've finally gotten the hang of it.  Before I knew it, I was at the first buoy.  I had passed a lot of ladies.  I could see a few more orange caps ahead of me (other ladies in my wave) so that spurred me on to push a little harder.  I caught a few more ladies and then hit the next buoy.  I could see one more orange cap so I pushed the pace a bit harder.  I was definitely working.  But I felt surprisingly in control.

I passed that last orange cap but she stayed on my heels for a bit.  I swam until I was almost crawling along the bottom.  Then I got up and ran.  As soon as I got up, I started pulling off my wetsuit.  I ran like I was being chased by a rabid dog.  The run up to T1 was a long one.  I forgot to glance at my watch as I exited the water so I don't really know what my actual swim time was.  All I knew was that this long transition was going to be added to my time.

I ran into T1 and quickly found my bike.  It had started to rain while I was out on the swim so my helmet had gotten a bit wet.  I pulled off my wetsuit, grabbed my race belt, yanked my shoes on and put my helmet on and then I grabbed my bike and started running.  There was a fairly large group of us getting on our bikes at the same time so it was a bit chaotic.  I skirted around the group, ducked int my aerobars and started pedalling.  Every time I yelled on your left, I made sure to say thank you and  nice work or looking good.   I did that until I couldn't get words out anymore.

The rain had started to come down quite hard.  I was really glad I wore my aero helmet with my visor as well as my sleeved Louis Garneau top.  It was just cool enough that I felt totally comfortable.  The visor kept all the water out of my eyes and off most of my face so I didn't notice the rain too much other than the fact that I was soaked.

The bike course is a big flat rectangle so I was really looking forward to seeing how hard I could push it on a flat course.  I haven't done any really targeted training since April but I have been riding my bike a lot.  I've been riding without my power meter, just my heart rate monitor, which I've only been using to record the data so I can look at it afterwards.  I've been riding on feel for all my rides.  Power wise, I felt pretty strong so I figured I'd crank out some solid numbers for the 15km TT.

I got through the first half of the course feeling pretty strong.  I was hurting like hell but I was loving it.  I made the turn onto the back half of the course and kept hammering away but I could feel my lack of top end fitness starting to affect me.  The lactic acid build up in my legs was making them scream.  I was breathing so hard I was almost gasping for air.  So I slowed up a bit.  I had to recover a bit before I could dig deeper.  I hit the 5km mark and figured I had about 8 minutes or so left.  I could hang on for 8 minutes.  It wasn't going to be pretty but I could do it.

The odd few times I glanced down at my watch I saw 35-36 kph, which was great.  Better than I had anticipated.  I pushed hard that last stretch.  The road has a few gentle curves so I kept hoping that the finish line was just past the curve I was coming up to.  After 2 curves, it was around the 3rd one.  THANK GOODNESS.  I was dying.  I sat up as I got close to the dismount line and then pumped my brakes a bit.  I love my hydraulic brakes!  Makes coming to quick stop very easy.  I jumped off my bike and felt woozy and a bit nauseous.  Wow.  That was new.  Guess I went really hard.  I started to run into transition and my legs felt like jello.   For the first time ever, I was honestly glad that I didn't have to run.

I stopped my watch as soon as I crossed the line.  The 500m swim and 15km bike took me just over 35 minutes.  I then paraded out to the finish line and did a little dance.  Dee had already crossed the line - no surprise there, she is a monster on the bike!  So we hung out and chatted with Paolina for a while.  Dee asked me how long my bike took so I then went through and looked at everything.  It took me just over 24 minutes to ride 15km.  The bigger deal for me was the fact that I set a new power threshold of 233 watts.  My previous power threshold was 209.  WOW.  I managed to average 36.7/kph for 15km.  AVERAGE.  In the pouring rain no less!  I am still in shock.

We chatted for a while and then I went off to find a something warmer to put on.  I then did a bit of shopping at D'Ornellas (new cycling socks, yay!).  I ran into a few other ladies post race - two of whom I met at the free clinic that Paolina had.  They had stopped me pre-race to ask me a few questions so I was happy to see them both post race.  They both had a lot of fun and, one of them ended up on the podium as well! Pretty awesome for a first triathlon!

I packed up all my soaking wet stuff, changed into a dry top, got my jacket and went in search of food.  The awards were starting soon and Dee and I were told that we were the top two finishers, we just didn't know who beat who.  I didn't really care one way or the other, I was just happy I was on the podium.  It meant that I still knew how to race.  I felt that because of my mystery injury, that I would have lost that competitive desire, that fire in my belly.  But I was very happy to see that it's still alive and well.

I went in to the pavilion, grabbed some food and found Irina.  A few minutes later Dee came and said she had been looking for me everywhere.  She told me that I had won the swim bike.  I had beat her by almost a minute.  Um.  What?  Ironically the swim was where I made up all my time, haha.  Our bike times were just over 30s apart.  I can't believe I got to within 30s of her on the bike.  That made me happy.

In the end, Dee and I both ended up with first place medals as they split the race into women 39 and under and women 40 +.    The finisher medals were super cute and the new Multisport Canada medals were also really nice!




Afterwards we stayed and chatted with Paolina and then of course there were photos.  Dee and I were some of the last people that left, ha ha.


On my drive back to the city, I couldn't help be smile as I thought about the morning.  There was so much good energy and everyone was smiling and happy despite the horrible weather.  I loved it.  It was such a popular even that MSC will be adding two more women's only events to their calendar next year.  WOOHOO - nice work Paolina and kudos to John Salt for seeing that the triathlon world needs more events like this.

Next up, the swim leg of the Barrelman Half Ironman.   This should be fun.











Friday, September 9, 2016

Getting Into Race Mode

Happy Friday!

It seems so weird to be titling a post "Getting Into Race Mode" in September.  Normally that would be something that I'd probably write about early in the season.  But, given that I haven't really had a season and my first (but amazingly, not last) race of the season is tomorrow, it's appropriate.

Tomorrow I will be toeing the line at the Ontario Women's Triathlon for the swim / bike.  I could probably tough out the triathlon as the run is only 4km but, I know that when I push the pace when I'm running, I aggravate the nerve in my leg.  So, I figured I'd play it safe and not risk doing any more damage.

I have to admit, I'm feeling a little rusty and more than a little nervous.  Of course, I broke my goggles this morning at the pool so when I get home I have to dig through everything and try to find my spares.  Or I take G's, which I think I should be able to find relatively easily.  I'm going to take my tri bike out for a spin tonight to make sure everything is running smoothly now that my race wheels are on my bike.   And of course, I can't forget to pack my wetsuit.  I also need to find my race belt.  I have no idea where that is, although I'm not sure I need it for this I'm not running.

SO MANY THINGS.   I feel like a newbie all over again, ha ha.

I am looking forward to racing this, even with the less than ideal forecast for tomorrow.   I went out to the free swim / bike clinic that Race Director, Paolina Allan held on Monday so I could check out the course and get another open water swim in.  The water is lovely!  I am hoping that it's not windy so the lake doesn't get too choppy.  The bike course it pretty much pancake flat so I can't wait to let Tom Sawyer fly.   I'll be curious to see what I can do given my lack of any sort of targeted bike training this summer.   Especially on my tri bike.  I've been riding my road bike on a regular basis since May!

Paolina and all  the ladies that came out to the clinic
I took my tri bike out a couple of times last weekend and it felt weird at first.  It just doesn't handle the same as my road bike.  But I got used to it fairly quickly.


I gotta say, I still think it's a pretty sweet bike.  I'm really hoping that it sees more action next year.

Speaking of next year, I've signed up for Tremblant 70.3 again.  Hopefully I make it to the start line.  There is also talk of doing Lake Placid 70.3, which falls on THIS weekend next September.  Could be a chilly race!  Finishing on that Olympic Oval is something pretty special.  So, we'll see what next year brings.  I have to fix my broken body first!

Anyway, good luck to everyone that may be racing this weekend and I'll be back next week with a race report.  Woohoo!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Farewell Summer + Moving On

Hi!

I'm BACK!

Stage one of Operation Florida is done.  Last Saturday we said goodbye to the home we lovingly rebuilt just over 4 years ago.  We had spent a total of 12 years in that house.  To say that we're going to miss it, would be an understatement.  I had a really tough day.  I would burst in to tears at the drop of a hat.   I'm still a little emotional when people ask how the move went (it went REALLY well thanks to the awesome crew from Tippet Richardson).  I think if we had moved into our new place right away, it wouldn't be so hard.  Unfortunately we couldn't make the closing dates align so we are in temporary lodging right now.  Nothing like living out of a suitcase for a month to keep your life pretty simple.

What this move had made me realize is that I hang on to a lot of shit.  I've never thought of myself as a hoarder like the ones you'd see on Intervention, but I do tend to put a fair bit of emotional attachment to certain things so they end up hanging around for sentimental reasons.  I'm also fairly practical in that I don't like to see things go to waste.  So, if I paid good money for something, I don't want to just throw it out.  I try to re-sell things as much as possible.  If I can't re-sell it, then it gets donated, eventually.

This move forced me to purge so much crap.  Honestly, it feels SO good to get rid of things.  Moving forward, I am going to think twice about what I purchase or bring home from work.  I work in a photography studio and sometimes we have leftover props or wardrobe that the client or agency doesn't want.  Sometimes they get donated, sometimes we keep them.  I have brought home so many things from shoots over the years and I"m pretty sure I've only used about 10% of what I've brought home.  So from now on, I'm going to ask myself:  Do we really NEED it.  Will we actually USE it?   If it's a maybe, then I don't need it.  Period.

Our goal with this move was to downsize into a townhouse.  We wanted a maintenance free lifestyle and we got it with this new place.  We no longer have a lawn to mow or a driveway to shovel.  We have a small back patio and a deck off the dining room so we have some outdoor space which is perfect for us.  Surprisingly this new place is bigger than our house by about 300 square feet, so we actually have more living space.  The best part was that we significantly downsized our mortgage as well.   Which means that we will be mortgage free much sooner.  Wahoo!

What have I been up to this last month....?

When I last left off,  I was still not really running often.  That hasn't really changed.  I go out once, maybe twice a week.  Running feels hard.  Although once in a while I have glimpses of that "flow" that I used to feel and that's what keeps me going.  I'm thankful I've been on my bike a lot this summer, I at least still have some good cardiovascular fitness!

So what's the deal with the injury?  Well I don't have answers yet.  I had my MRI last week.  I go back to Dr. Galea in two weeks.  Some days I feel fine and other days, I don't.  I know I've aggravated the nerve this week because I've felt that twingey-ness a lot.  I think I actually did it in the pool of all places.

I've been seeing a variety of health care practitioners to keep me from completely falling apart.  I seem to fix one thing and something else crops up.  My back has been a problem for the last few months and I'm chalking that up to poor mobility through my T-spine and weak chest muscles.  All the more reason for me to get back into the gym (which I have been doing).   I've had a couple of interesting treatment experiences that I will elaborate on in another post.  I do know that I really need to work on my mobility and flexibility.  It's absolutely atrocious.  I make a point of stretching every day, even if I haven't worked out.  I've definitely got a long way to go to undo all of this though.  That's ok, I've got nothing but time....

A few months ago I was chatting with my friend Lauren, and she commented that with all the things going on my life at the time, it was probably just as well that I wasn't racing as that would be one more thing on my plate.  I agreed wholeheartedly with her and I've thought about that often over the summer.  It's been strange not racing the MSC circuit this year.  Had I been healthy, I still may not have raced much simply because we put so much time and energy into house selling, house hunting and moving.   Did I miss being out there?  Of course.  I love to race.  But I feel like the universe gave me as much as I could handle this summer and racing just wasn't in the cards.  That being said, I couldn't let a perfectly good summer go by without toeing the line in some form or another.  I had a $25 credit from Multisport Canada for being a series award winner last year so I put it towards my entry fee for the Ontario Women's Triathlon on September 10th.  My old coach Paolina Allan is the race director so this is going to be AWESOME.  I'm in no condition to race a 5km so I opted for the swim / bike.  My swimming has gone to shit but my cycling seems to have improved a fair bit over the summer, even without following a specific training plan.  It will be fun to get back on my tri bike and see what I can do.  I was also roped in to being the swimmer in a relay team at The Barrelman Half Ironman.   I had wanted to do the bike but the boys I'm racing with are both lousy swimmers so I get to do my least favourite thing of the three sports, ha ha.  I am looking forward to swimming in the Welland International Flatwater centre though.  It looks amazing.

While this summer may not have been what I had hoped for in terms of racing, it hasn't been a total bust.  There have been some wonderful moments.  Most of them spent on two wheels with great people and spectacular weather.

The 100km Crew from the D'Ornellas Girlz Ride

Hanging on for dear life with the MGCC Butter Tart Boys. 

Cruising around the Burbs

Goofing around at Professor's Lake with Irina

Riding to Erin for butter tarts.  That's how we roll....

Chasing the MGCC Boys around High Park

The MGCC Sunday Cannoli Crew

Sticking to G's wheel during a Thursday morning MGCC Ride








Monday, August 1, 2016

250km on Two Wheels + An Update

Well, where do I start?  So much has happened since my last post.  The big one being:  WE SOLD OUR HOUSE!  Yahoo!  And we bought a new one.  Double Yahoo!!!  Unfortunately we couldn't get the closing we wanted on the new house so we had to find a place to live for a month.  We've found a furnished rental so now we have to start packing!   This is one reason why I've been so darn quiet.  I've spent so much time house hunting vs. training.  When we haven't been house hunting, I've been working like crazy.  I can't wait until the end of September when all the house things will be settled.  As for work, I have no control over how busy it is so I'll ride the insanity out and hope that things calm down a bit soon.

Now, on to the FUN part of this post.   I casually mentiond in this post that I was planning on riding to Huntsville with two of my friends.  Huntsville is roughly 250km from Toronto and it's pretty much all uphill.  It had been on my radar for months.  I did ONE  ride over 100km but that was it.   To say I was scared was an understatement.  I was petrified.  So much so that I hardly slept the night before.  It was actually worse than the night before a race! Luckily I wasn’t the only one that didn’t sleep well.  My friend David slept just as poorly for similar reasons.  Although I don’t think he was as freaked out as me, because he’d done this before!

The plan was to leave David’s house at 5:00 am.  I ended up running behind because I had to actually send a couple of emails once I got to the studio and I didn’t really give myself enough time to get everything loaded into the car when I planned my wake up time.  An extra 15 minutes at 3 something in the morning is a BIG DEAL.  I rolled up to David’s place at about 5:20 and we hit the road about 10 minutes later.

It was a surprisingly busy ride up Jane street at 5:30 a.m.  But we had lots of lights so we were very visible.  We were riding single file for the most part as well.  The plan was to go up Jane Street to Highway 9, cross the highway and head into the Holland Marsh.  We’d then ride through the marsh to the West side of the 400 and take Concession 5 all the way up to Barrie.  We’d stop there and refuel.  At least that was kind of the plan.


As it got brighter out, I realized that the sun was not going to come out.  It was overcast and humid but damp.   There was a slight chill in the air.  I knew the forecast had called for a 30-40% chance of showers around 7am and sure enough as we made our way into Vaughan, it started spitting a bit.  It did that on an off all the way up Jane and into the Holland Marsh.  As we left the Marsh and started heading north towards Cookstown, I noticed some very dark clouds not too far off in the distance.  I started spitting again.  The drops got progressively bigger and bigger and before we knew it, the rain was coming down in sheets.  We were completely soaked in a matter of minutes.  We couldn't see where we were going either.  I had water running down my face, all over my glasses, everywhere.   We pulled off into a nearby driveway so Jordan could put a vest on.  There was a little river rolling down Concession Five.  Awe-some.  We thought it would be good try to wait it out as we figured it wouldn't rain that hard for that long but then we started to get cold.  So, we got back on our bikes and rode into the rain.  I tried to hang back a bit so I wasn't getting totally drowned in the guys rooster tails that were flying off their back wheels.  At one point it was so bad, I was riding with one eye closed because water wouldn't stop running into it.  Had I worn one of those stylish cycling caps under my helmet, I wouldn't have had that problem apparently.  Good to know for next time.  

We motored along, praying for the rain to let up.  It eventually went from sheets of rain to a steady drizzle which finally petered out into a few drops here and there.  I knew I should have brought my rain jacket.  Or at least something to shove down the front of my jersey to keep the wind off my chest.  I was familiar with the part of the route we were on as G and I used to ride up there al the time when we were training for Ironman so I knew there was a restaurant coming up when we got to Cookstown.  

We rolled up only to see that it was closed and didn't open until 10 am.  Boo.  They had a bunch of picnic tables outside so we rolled up and took a break.  David had graciously made some PB&J wraps which we devoured.   We relaxed for about half an hour and then got ourselves organized to hit the road again.  But first, SELFIE!  

68km in.  Only 182 km to go.  No biggie.

I had gotten chilled so Jordan gave me his vest, which was essentially a sail as he is like 6ft 2.  But I was wearing a camel back so that helped keep it from flapping around.  It definitely helped keep the wind off my chest, which in turn kept me warmer.  As we left our shelter, the rain started up again.  This time it was only a slight drizzle which wasn't too bad.

Our next stop would be Barrie.  We rolled along in relative silence and then the next thing I knew I saw a sign for Barrie.  Seriously?  I thought it was so much farther!  That buoyed my spirits as I knew we'd be stopping for some real food soon.  We hit up a Tim Horton's so I could use the facilities.  I was wearing bib shorts and I was drenched so I knew that getting out of my shorts was going to be a production.  Thankfully I had brought my tube of chamois cream with me because everything I had put on in the morning got washed away in that downpour.  Gotta be nice to my lady bits!  I think it took me almost 15 minutes to get out of my shorts, go pee, reapply my chamois cream and get back IN to my ensemble.  Bibs are way more comfortable but even with the easy removal hooks in the suspender parts, they are a pain in the ass to get off.

With that business all taken care of, we were off again.  This time in search of food.  We made into downtown Barrie and rode around trying to find a place that 1) was open and 2) that had a patio to put our bikes on.  We had hoped for burgers and fries but we left so darn early that nothing was open for lunch yet.   David asked a local woman where she'd recommend we go and she suggested the Farmhouse, which we had passed on our way in.  So we doubled back and went in.  We parked our bikes on the patio and sat down.  We took the opportunity to charge all of our devices.  I took off my Garmin and popped it on the charger.   I heard it beep but didn't think anything of it.

We had an amazing brunch.  Sadly I didn't take any pics.  I was too busy laughing and talking.  I had the most delicious french toast and a whole pile of salty bacon.  SO GOOD.  I think we were there for about an hour.  I took my Garmin off the charging dock and saw that my screen had been re-set.  DAMMIT!  I was really hoping I'd get the entire ride in one go.  Stupid Garmin.  I checked to make sure I didn't lose the data - thankfully I didn't.  I was just starting from "square one" even though I had almost 100km in the bank.  Boo.  This also meant that I wasn't going to be in contention for Morning Glory's longest ride award for the week.    Oh well.

As you can see, we did a lot of climbing on our way out to Barrie.

After we fuelled up in Barrie, we skirted around Kempenfelt Bay and followed the edge of Lake Simcoe.  I thought we'd enter no man's land but the road we traveled was still fairly residential.  It was a really nice ride along here and we got some decent speed happening because it was fairly flat.  We had to stop once to figure out directions but the boys remembered everything once they looked at a map.  We stopped again a bit later to put on sunscreen.  The sun had started to peek out just as we were leaving Barrie and now it was out in full force.  I had a gel at this point because I could feel my legs just starting to get a bit cranky.  This was a bit worrisome as we were only about 120km in.  I still had a long way to go.

As we made our way into Orillia, I started to crash.   My legs were really hurting.  So we stopped at Tim Horton's and fuelled up with some Timbits.  I stretched, drank a bottle of water and took a salt tablet.  It was starting to get hot and I was worried I'd start cramping.    The Timbits helped a bit and I was good to go.  Jordan said we'd stop again when we got to Washago.  I had no idea how far that was but I figured I'd be ok for the next little while.



Orillia was fairly busy and it was also surprisingly quite flat.   We made up some good time through there as well.  The sun was out and it was hot.   I was really glad I wore my camel back.  I drank all 3 litres of it and was now on to the bottles on my bike.  Jordan had said we'd need to fuel up once we got to Washago because once we got through there, we were pretty much in the middle of nowhere for a while, which kind of worried me as I was still feeling a bit rough and figured that things were only going to get worse.

We hit Washago a short time later and stopped at a little variety store.  We turned quite a few heads when we pulled up.  I'm guessing that cyclists aren't a common sight in this little town, ha ha.  We parked our bikes out front.  The boys went in to get some goodies while I stayed outside and watched the bikes.  David came out with a couple of bottles of coke, a couple of snickers bars and who knows what else.  I had a coke and one of the snickers bars.  OMG.   I can't even begin to tell you how amazing that was.  It was exactly what I needed.  I refilled my camel back and topped up my bottles.  I also grabbed some Swedish berries.  I needed pure unadulterated sugar to get through the rest of this ride, ha ha.  We reapplied sunscreen, tossed our garbage and got back on our bikes.   We were just over 160km in.  Only 90km left to go.

When we left Washago, we were entering cottage country, which meant that we'd probably have stretches of road that we wouldn't see anyone or anything.   The landscape changed from little homes amongst some trees to more and more trees.  Before we knew it, the homes had disappeared and the road was treelined.  Which was beautiful but it also meant that the bugs were plentiful.  Thankfully there was a bit of wind so the deer flies had to really work to land on us.  They swarmed us constantly.  I ended up getting bitten a couple of times but didn't realize it until much later.  This stretch was mentally taxing for me.  The bugs drove me nuts and the road itself was awful.  It was very rough, which when you've been on the bike for 170+km, can really make your body hurt.  Despite all that this section delivered some beautiful moments.



Once we got off this road, we ended up on Doe Lake Road, which I recognized from signs on the highway.  It was a busier road with less trees so we weren't being swarmed by bugs.  YAY.  I was surprisingly feeling ok.  I think it was the coke and snickers.  I had officially surpassed my longest ride ever (180km)!  There was a bit of woohoo-ing and then we settled into quiet again.  I started to recognize some of the road names that we were passing so I figured we were getting close to Gravenhurst.  Sure enough, we rolled through and I knew exactly where we were and what road we'd be riding on.  We were going to ride parallel to Highway 11.  This road was amazing.  It had been recently paved so it was a welcome change from the bumpy cottage roads we had been on.  As we pulled on to this road we ran into a bit of a traffic jam.  As we got closer we realized that there was a parade of tractors.  They were all orange.  We joked that they were Dutch tractors.  The guys driving them seemed surprised to see us.


Once we passed the tractors I had to pee, which meant finding a place to pull off that had a bit of shelter.  Luckily there was a small side road that branched off the main road that was fully tree lined.  I left my bike and camel back with Jordan and ran off into the bushes  Getting out of my ensemble was a challenge.  And I was in the bushes so there were mosquitoes everywhere.  Awesome.  I did my thing, yanked up my bib shorts and jumped out of the bushes to put my jersey back on.   The boys took a moment to check directions and we got back on our bikes.   The next little while was passed in silence.  We were all feeling a little tired.  Not too tired to be silly though.


We motored along, and made our way into Bracebridge.  I had officially crossed the 200km mark!  We were at about 210km when the boys decided we should stop and figure out the best way to get into Huntsville.  I was starting to struggle, especially on the hills so the boys had to slow down for me.

Figuring out our final approach
Just after this picture was taken, the wheels officially feel off my wagon.   The last 30km of this ride was HARD.  It was hilly and the roads were rough.  My legs hurt.  My muscles were totally fried.  Jordan and David took turns pulling me the rest of the way.  They knew there was a big climb to get into Huntsville and they tried to find a way to avoid it but, I don't think it would have mattered which was we went in, there was always going to be some kind of big climb.  We were in Muskoka for Pete's sake, there is no such thing as flat.  I tried to really use the downhills to gain momentum and it worked for the most part.  Until we came across the big one.  It was a stepped climb and I got up the first bit and then said to David, I can't get up this part, I"m going to walk.  David said no way and he rode up beside me, put his hand on my camel back and pushed me up the hill.  It was a bit precarious and I could feel us rocking back and forth a bit too much so as we got closer to the top I said "I'm good, I'm good, I'm good..." then he let go and I said "Oh crap, I'm not good!"  ha ha ha.  I gritted my teeth, got out of the saddle and creaked my way to the top of the hill.  Holy crap.  The rest of the ride was a blur of up, down and bumpy.  The next thing I knew I started seeing some familiar sights.   We had arrived in Huntsville.  WOOOHOOOO!  I was so close I could almost taste it.

Because I had ridden from the studio to David's house, I already had 5km in the bank.  The boys had to make up the distance so David pointed the way home and the boys turned off to add 5km to their route.  I pulled into Casa Lamy and walked my bike around to the back.  I was greeted by David's wife Elyse.  I made myself a recovery drink and chatted with her while we waited for the boys to return.  I wanted to lie down but figured if I did, I may fall asleep.   A few minutes later, the guys showed up and it was picture time.


After this was taken we all jumped in the pool.  So awesome.

I am still amazed that I actually managed to do this, given that my longest ride leading up to this was 115km.  It took us 9 hours and 30 minutes.  I thought for sure it would take us longer.  The boys immediately started talking about next year and wanting to do 300km.   I found myself saying Yes.   I had so much fun that I wouldn't hesitate to do it all again.  Although I think if we're going to do 300km, 50km of that needs to be done BEFORE we get out of the city because I know that if I had to do another 50km in the Muskoka hills, I'd be out.

As for my running, it's slowly getting better.  There are still some nerve issues happening so I"m trying to be careful and not push things too much.  So I've been spending a lot of time on my bike.  I've got an MRI scheduled in a few weeks so hopefully we'll have some answers shortly after that.

As much as I'd like to say that I'll be back to regular blogging, I think it's time for me to take a bit of a break until life settles down a bit.  I've got another busy few weeks at work, plus we have to pack the house to get ready to move on August 27th.  I don't forsee a lot of free time in my life over the next little while.   But that doesn't mean I'm not writing.   Michelle Clarke and Carmy Do have launched an online magazine called Destination Outside.  It's written by women for women.  Issue one is live and they're currently working on issue two.   I get to talk about all things triathlon!  WOOHOO!

Thanks for reading along.  I'll be back soon with more stories to tell, reviews on things I've tried and other fun things!