Monday, September 26, 2011

Moving Weekend

Nothing exciting this weekend - spent Friday and Saturday packing up, and Sunday moving to the new apartment. This also means we won't have Internet until till mid-week, so this will be short.

Looks lonely, huh?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Road to Kelowna and Beyond

As promised, the continuation of the story of my triathlon summer.  It will probably take two posts to finish because I'd like to do a post for race weekend... there is a lot to say about a three sport event!

Where was I... oh right...

After Iron Mountain, we jumped right back into training.  At the start of the whole thing, sixteen weeks seemed like a really long time.  Now with only eight weeks to go (really seven weeks because the last week was for tapering for the race) it seemed to be coming up really, really fast.

Knowing that my run was definitely my weakest sport, I laid out a pretty aggressive training plan and signed up for a 10k road race, the Diva on the Run 10k to give me some sort of benchmark for a 10k time.

Two things went horribly wrong with that race.

Two things went well in that race.

The first horribly wrong thing was that I injured my knee on the Monday/Tuesday of the race.  Monday was a double work out day (8km run followed in the afternoon by a 50k bike ride).  My run went pretty well, nothing special, but I felt FANTASTIC on the bike.  I pushed super hard and flew up the last hill on the way home (keeping up to Matt for basically the first time ever).

I did my usual post workout stretch, hydrate and fuel and went to bed feeling fine.

In the morning, I did not feel fine.  My knee felt like someone had driven a nail down the back.  I decided I would R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compress, elevate) for the day and see how it felt in the morning before I began to panic - maybe it was just a tweak or something that would leave as fast as it came?

No luck, still hurt like crazy in the morning.  I called my physio to book an appointment to figure out what I had done and what I should do about my Sunday race.

Again, no luck.  My physio, Trish at Envision Physiotherapy was on holiday. Until Monday.  If I wanted, I could have an appointment with someone else on Friday.  I don't know how many people know, but I crashed my bike in late March and have been quite a regular of Trish's for months (I was fine!).  I wasn't so sure how I felt about someone else, but I figured I might as well take it and hope that things were going to be feeling better by Sunday.

By Friday, things were looking much better although it still hurt to run and I had been off since Monday (not my optimal race prep by a long shot).  I found out I had a mild strain to a muscle that connects into the back of my knee.  Or something like that.  Anyways, the physio said as long as the pain wasn't sharp or didn't escalate I was good to go!

On to the second horribly wrong thing.  The day before my race, Matt raced The Gearjammer, a 52km mountain bike race in Squamish.

At the start!

To make a long story short, I ended up sitting on a logging road, in the hot sun, without food or water, for 3.5 hours.  Not, again, my optimal race prep...

So I had had a fairly lofty time goal going into the race.  About 500m from the start, I renegotiated with myself that a personal best, any personal best, would be just awesome.  By about 3k, I was worried about even that. And spent the rest of the race counting of meters and wishing I was anywhere but there.  Even at 9k I wanted to stop, which doesn't usually happen to me.  Usually I get to that point and it's so close to the end, it's hard to envision quitting.  I would have gladly quit.  Any time.

One good thing that happened in the race is that I managed to hold on to my personal best with a time of 49.05 - about 30 seconds faster than my previous best.  However, I did it with the worst splits ever, finishing the first half in 23:14 and the second in 25:51.  Oops.

Diva on the Run 10k

The other good thing? I still managed to win my age group!

Diva on the Run 10k

Goals for Kelowna Apple Triathlon:

I figured out at the beginning of the season (and didn't tell almost anyone because of the pressure) that the Apple Triathlon is the big World Age Group Triathlon Championships qualifier for Team Canada.  I worked out that I needed about a 2:30:00 race to be even close to qualifying... scary fast.  I would be looking for about 27.5 min in the water, 1:15 on the bike and 45 min on the run (with some time left over for transitions).  I had no idea if it was possible... I hoped it was possible!

Up next Kelowna race report!

You can also read about our awesome training weekend in Merritt/Kelowna if you haven't already: Speaking of Cows

Monday, September 19, 2011

Famous. At Long Last.

You remember the Revelstoke bike race that we entered a few weeks back?  Where we mentioned that a 56 year old Masters racer crushed the competition?  Well, since Mike is living in Revelstoke right now, he happened to read the local paper:


"yada yada yada, passes Matt Reid, yada yada yada".  That's right.  I'm the guy that Olav beat.  And now the whole world can see.

On the bright side, in exchange for first realizing my fame as "that guy that the winner passed", I got some cool pictures.  Fair trade.

Revelstoke Bike Race

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Lions: check. Sort of.

One of the classic hikes close to Vancouver is "The Lions".  The local guidebook notes that it is only included in the book due to it's prominence and proximity to Vancouver, isn't a particularly good scramble, and " top it off, as a scramble route this trip suffers from an ascent almost entirely in the trees, with only a few short sections on rock".

Well, we kicked it up a notch: we did it in the rain.

The Lions have been on our must-do list basically since we got to Vancouver, for the same reasons the guidebook notes: they are right there, staring you in the face.  Even knowing what you're getting in to, I think it is a must do for everyone.

Here is a shot from Google Earth of the route:

2011.09.17 Lions

As you can see, there are two Lions.  The West Lion is the one that is "climbable", but you have to leave a little self-preservation instinct behind.  You'll notice my bright orange line stops at the base.

Anyways, we got up early to head out.  It was raining, but the weather network said that the rain would stop in an hour, and by lunchtime (when we should be at the top) it would be bright and sunny.

I know.  I don't know why I never learn that lesson.

It was still raining when we got to the start of the hike, and by the time we got to the first ridge, it was...still raining. Plus we were now right inside the cloud, so basically only knew we were on the ridge because if you kept walking, you started walking downwards.  This is the view from the ridge:

2011.09.17 Lions (7)

We followed the ridge to "the Notch", the first technical section of the route, and the true beginning of the scramble up the West Lion.  Here is me checking it out:

2011.09.17 Lions (2)

This is what the view would have been during a clear day, by the way:


And this is the vote to continue or not:

2011.09.17 Lions (4)

We got back to the car at about 3pm.  The sun came out about 3:10.

Total distance (return): ~15km
Total elevation gain: ~1350m
Total time: 7 hours

Friday, September 16, 2011

Speaking of Cows

Or, "The August Long Weekend"

In our scheming for this triathlon, we thought it would be a really good idea to do a bit of reconnaissance. So to Kelowna we went for the long weekend. We roped Susan into coming along, and decided to turn the weekend into a bit of a training camp - a few runs, a few rides, and maybe even some swimming.

The first step was finding somewhere to stay. The long weekend in Kelowna can be pretty ridiculous. We decided to stay a little out of town, just out of Merritt at a forestry campsite.

The site is amazing.  Completely amazing.

View Larger Map

The only downside we discovered is that herds of cows seem to migrate to the lakes every morning, and proceed to moo like the world is about to end.  Every morning.  For hours.  Other than that, though, very peaceful.

2011.07.30 - Merritt (6)

Saturday we pre-rode and ran the course.  I'm pretty excited - the bike course is a lapped course, and each lap basically has one big hill, and then the entire rest of the lap is a gradual downhill to the beginning.  Which means that you are absolutely flying for about 90% of the time.  Really really fun.  The run is twisty, but completely flat, so that should be fine.   And you can't do much to a swim course.  Not looking forward to that part.

Sunday was a ride on the old highway between Kamloops and Merritt.  The route we chose is an out and back, heads northeast around Nicola Lake, and stays pretty true to that direction the whole way.  When we started there was a wind coming out of the southwest at about 30km/h.   This makes for a very fun first half of the ride.

And then to wrap it all up, there was the mandatory swim.  We started right beside our campsite, and headed out to the other side of the lake.  When we got to the other side of the lake we discovered that it was not cow free as we had thought.  Remember those herds of cows?  They seem to hang out at that lake often.  This was fairly disgusting.  Plus, when you tried to stand up to get out of the lake, you sank in to about your knees in goo.  I don't want to think about what made up that goo.  Very disgusting.

2011.07.30 - Merritt (12)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Welcome to Triathlon - Iron Mountain Triathlon Race Report

The time has finally come where I simply cannot put off writing my first blog post any longer! As Matt pointed out (almost 3 weeks ago, eek!), I owe a race report for Kelowna Apple Triathlon - but I thought I would start with a bit of background information first...

Matt and I have been thinking about trying triathlon for a while now. We toyed with joining a club (like Leading Edge Triathlon) but every January (when you usually start with the clubs so you can learn and get fit for tri season), we would decide that we didn’t really have time to commit to all the practises. They usually have long rides and runs on the weekends and our mantra has always been to spend the weekends hiking in the mountains... or sometimes on long rides in the mountains.

Ride to Ashlu Mountain
In May this year, I decided I needed some fitness goals to get me motivated. Last year I didn’t enter anything and spent the whole summer dragging my butt through various activities wishing I was doing anything else. I didn’t want to do that again. I decided to give triathlon a try because I was kind of sick of just running and found the cycling scene a bit intimidating.

We chose Iron Mountain Triathlon for our first event, because they offered a sprint distance (750m swim / 20km bike / 5km run) and it was a lake swim, which is easier for a rookie than an ocean swim. Think calm, placid morning waters rather than waves breaking in your face. It gave us eight weeks to train, which seemed like enough time for a 1.5 hour event, given we were both starting at least somewhat fit.

For the second race we went with the Kelowna Apple Triathlon, Olympic distance this time (1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run). It was eight weeks after Iron Mountain and seemed like a good stepping stone. I got to work and mapped out a training plan for 16 weeks, joined a swim club and got to work. I should mention that neither Matt or I had done any sort of formal swim training (other than blue, white, bronze etc whatever when we were kids), ever! 

Iron Mountain Race Report:

The morning of Iron Mountain dawned wet and cold. Make that raining and really really cold, like eight degrees. Our race didn’t start until 10:45 so we got to take our time getting out to Maple Ridge. As we were driving in, the Olympic distance athletes were out on course. One girl was only in a tri bathing suit! I snuggled down into my fleece in the warm car and thought about turning on my seat warmer. Since this was our first race, we arrived at transition fairly early and got our bikes racked and our transitions set up. Everything worked out pretty well and I felt good.

We decided to get into our wetsuits (borrowed from Susan on my part (thanks again!) and rented from Speed Theory on Matt’s part). I was super thankful to have a wetsuit - the lake looked so unappealing. Of course, about five minutes after I got my wetsuit on, I decided I had to go to the washroom - mistake - next time I will remember to go first rather than have to put it on twice. We then headed down to the water to wait for the start and talk quietly amongst ourselves about how cold the girl without the wetsuit looked.

We got called to the start and chose a position pretty close to the outside edge so we wouldn’t get annihilated by 75 swimmers all aimed at one buoy. In about two seconds I realized my second mistake was not warming up in the water, or if you want to look back further, not practising open water swimming... at all... It took me a minute or two to just put my head under water - I couldn’t catch my breath or find a rhythm. Also, in my quest to avoid the masses of people to my left, I swam too far out before the first buoy, right into the weeds. By the time I got to the first buoy I was starting to feel better and find a rhythm. I rounded the second buoy feeling great and bee-lined it for shore. I checked my watch as I crossed the timing mat and was quite excited - 15:42 - right on my time goal!

I came into T1 (transition 1) pretty much just happy to be out of the water. My wetsuit came off easily and I got into my shoes and socks. I would rather ride without socks to save time but my seven years ancient bike shoes are a little too big and a little too uncomfortable to go without. I also decided to wear my Speed Theory windproof vest for the ride. Definitely made the right choice as I still didn’t warm up until the 3rd lap on the bike course.

I got through T1 in 1:18 (8th place!) but lost some time getting on my bike and up through the gravel pathway to the road. No way I was going to try a flying mount in the rain, on gravel, my first time out! The bike course was three laps around Whonnock Lake.

It was a lot hillier than we had expected but I felt good and just concentrated on a steady effort while hoping I was keeping a little for the run. I finished the bike in 1:15:14, which was again right on my time goal! Consider I really just pulled numbers out of the air of what I thought I might, if everything went perfectly, be able to achieve, I was feeling fantastic! 

I rolled up to the dismount line and again lost a little time by getting off my bike normal style. I’ll need to work on these little details in the future but for now I just didn’t want to fall or do something else embarrassing. I had another really good transition and got going on the run. I couldn’t get my watch clipped into the quick release and ended up messing up the multi-sport function for my data. I finally got organized and focused on the course - two laps making up 4.6km.  

The first section was rolling with a block of slight down hill and two blocks (country blocks) of fairly flat. I don’t know why, but I was feeling so super fantastic!!! Everyone always said, oh your legs feel really dead the first bit of the run etc, but I can honestly say I just felt great. I started passing some people - even one tall, lanky, chiseled calves guy in a tri suit. I seriously just breezed right by him on an up hill. I must have eaten Wheeties for breakfast or something.

I started feeling pretty tired in the second lap and was just trying to work on keeping my pace even. One of the race volunteers (on a bike) was riding along near my on the down hill section when she mentioned I might be the first or second place woman. Forget feeling tired! Now the pressure was on. She stayed with me the final 1.5km which really helped me keep the pace up and I came across the line with 20:51. Just to put that in perspective, that was a full four minutes faster than I had been hoping to run and also at a pace about four minutes faster than I had EVER run a 5k! Seriously, Wheeties!

I ended up crossing the line in 1:23:44. My possible, but highly unlikly, but I’m still going to hope for it goal was 1:25. I was super happy with my result to say the least. I was also super taken with the sport of triathlon - time to buy my own wetsuit! To top it all off, I was first in my age group and second female overall and won a 50$ gift certificate for Peninsula Runners!

Results (placing overall) - Click here to see the results page online:

Swim: 15:42 - 2:06/100m (11th)
T1: 1:18 (8th)
Bike: 45:14 - 30.5 km/hr (16th)
T2: 0:41 (11th)
Run: 20:51 - 4:32/km (15th)
Total: 1:23:44 (7th overall, 2nd female, 1st F25-29)

Next up: prep for Kelowna Apple Tri and goals for the future :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Have you Ever Heard of Olav Stana?

I hadn't, either.

The backstory: this weekend we loaded up the car for the second road trip weekend in two weeks. First we headed up to Merritt to meet Cliff and Lori, who were finishing up their two-week BC tour.


We arrived at the forestry campsite pretty late Friday night, and immediately hopped on our bikes and went out for a night ride.  The moon was 89.6% full, according to the computer, which seemed to be just enough to see by and find the trails we were looking for.   The first trail took us up and over a big hill, then down the other side, into a ravine, and....into an impassable forest, where the trail dwindled to nothing.  We had been following a cow trail.  So maybe not quite enough light to find the trails we were looking for.  On the plus side, as we were pushing our bikes back up and out of the ravine, the northern lights came out.  And I mean came out.  I've never seen the lights like that before - spread across the majority of the northern horizon, waving and flickering, and we even saw a few shades of green and red in there.  Amazing.  Unfortunately, no pictures.  From now on, even mountain biking after dark in the grasslands, always bring a camera.  Always.

After we had our fill of the lights, we finished backtracking and rode back to the main service road.  Continued down the road (this time with headlamps on), and found the actual trailhead.  Probably.  A trailhead, anyways.  We rode this one out into the hills for a while.  The trail was nice and smooth dirt, twisty enough to keep it interesting, and riding at night is always amazing.  I was really enjoying myself.  Then I heard sort of a pop, and suddenly found myself 2 inches lower and heading right into a small tree.

A minute later I had picked myself up and was realizing that I hadn't brought the multitool to fix my seatpost with me.  Then I heard sort of a yipping.  I looked up, and realized everyone else had heard it too.  Then it became a lot of yipping.  Sort of sounded like a pack of coyotes about 20 or 30 feet in front of us, in the woods we were about to enter.  Sounded a lot like that, actually.  Then I saw the whites of Cliff's eyes as he picked his bike up and ran past me back down the trail.  Lori was hot on his heels.   I decided the seatpost could wait.

The next day was less eventful.  Went out for another ride in the grasslands, spent a few hours and decided that the trails were un-findable even in the daylight, chased some cows, and then headed in to Kelowna.  Naturally we went to the H2O centre and rode waterslides and the flowrider for a few hours.  The flowrider is a lot of fun.

Back to Olav, though.

We headed to Revelstoke Saturday night, to get ready for the Mount Revelstoke Steamer hill climb race.  At ~27 km and 1600 metres of vertical gain, it is a serious hill.  This would also be the first actual bike race that Caroline and I had ever entered.

Race day was blazing hot.  Not too much to say about the race other than that... it was a big hill.  Both Caroline and I came in almost right where we thought we would, time wise.  This put me a little below mid-pack for my category, and gave Caroline a fourth place finish.  She seems to like those this year.  And again, since we were both racing, we have no pictures.  There were some official photographers on course, so hopefully we can get some of those.

Then the awards ceremony. Second place through fifth place overall were separated by about two and a half minutes in total.  The fourth place finisher missed third by seven seconds.  All of these guys were between 22 and 31, in the prime age bracket for a fast time.  This was a close race.  You can look around the patio, and it's very obvious who the fast racers are - late twenties, tall and skinny, wearing their sponsored or team clothes, eating mountains of fried food and beer.

Then they announce the winner.  He won by four minutes.  He absolutely crushed it.  The all time course record was broken by two minutes.  Olav Stana gets up from the back corner of the patio.  He is wearing suit pants and a pressed polo.  He adjusts his bifocals.  Olav is 56 years old.  He then walks to the front, shakes everyone's hand, smiles politely, takes the prize money, and heads back to his corner.  Then he gets back to his novel.  No big deal.

You can find the official results here.