Rudolph’s unexpected side effect.

“C’mon… you can do anything for 5 kilometres…”

These are the encouraging words I mutter to myself, as I dig around for some warm running clothes. It’s 5:34pm, dark and foggy out. The last thing I want to do is go for a run.

I always seem to think ‘challenges’ of most sorts are a great idea, and for the first few days I am so gung ho: Give up sugar? Yes! for about 31 hours. Plank Challenge! Yes! Until… meh.

So when the Run Rudolph Run popped up on Facebook, of course I was all over it. The basic premise is that you pick some variation of a run streak that lasts between December 1 to the 24th (hence the festive title). We bandied about some different ones but I eventually settled on “Consistent Rudolph”, committing to running 5kms daily for the duration. Easy!

Narrator’s voice over: “she thought it would be easy. It wasn’t”

I tossed the Run Rudolph Run calendar I’d printed on the kitchen counter, only to have Will scoop it up and ask what it was. I explained and he immediately replied that he wanted to join me in the challenge.

I agreed. I like company. Besides, I was 99% certain that after 3 days, we’d throw in the antlers.

Fast forward to day 12 of the challenge. We’re still going strong. And no thanks to me, that’s for damn sure.  I wanted to quit by day 3. I’ve suggested to Will that we take days off and use the make up days. I’ve proposed that he skip the run on swim club days. Basically, I’ve tried to be a terrible influence.

It hasn’t worked. He’s 100% in.

I’ve never run so many consecutive days in down jackets and mitts, in the dark by the light of weak headlamp.

But Rudolph comes with an unexpected gift: every single time we set out, it ends up being my favourite 30 minutes of the day because my eldest child opens up to me. It’s as though the movement of his feet loosens his tongue and he’s off. We talk about school, friends, politics, running, christmas lists, what he wants to be when he grows up. For those 30 minutes, all barriers come down and nothing seems off limits. We aren’t mom and son for that time; we’re just 2 people sharing a run and a good chat.

A small part of me wishes Rudolph could go on forever.

Advertisements

‘Tis the (end of the off) season!

It never fails. I cross the final finish line of the season and envision the endless days of rest and relaxation that await me… No structure! Do what I want, when I want! Eat what I want! (wait… I do that anyway).

And those first 48 hours are just magical… I enjoy doing nothing. I don’t check training peaks, I don’t get sweaty. I read, I eat. I pretend I don’t like exercise.

And then, slowly but surely, the restlessness kicks in. Runs get scheduled, we go for rides. I start to troll my favourite websites for races I can sign up for. Sure, I can go out and “do stuff” but my type-A personality (disorder) misses the structure, the planning, the goals and those little green/yellow/red boxes that taunt me and motivate me.

Goal is more green, less red.

Coach liz and I joke that we have an illness. Maybe we do. But it’s one with good side effects, I think.

This year’s off season started before I went to Maui for the Xterra… that race was done on a wing and a prayer. So while, by all appearances, it may seem like I didn’t stop, I’ve been left to my own devices for *just* long enough.

Long enough that I asked if we could get back to the checking the little green boxes 1 week earlier than planned. I couldn’t help it.

I’m oddly excited for what 2018 may bring. New goals, new races, same great people.

Anyone want to go for a ride?

 

 

 

Xterra Worlds.

Or as I like to refer to it,  the Perfect Racecation.

Once I signed up for Xterra Worlds, thanks to an underserved roll-down slot, I promptly put the event out of my mind. I sort of figured I could coast to the start line powered by residual fitness from 70.3 worlds and good will from the fitness gods.

As it turns out, you can’t just rock up to the start line of a world championships and expect much more than a “I’m just really happy to be here” kind of result with that kind of prep.

No matter! I got my ass kicked and I loved it. Truly.

Here’s how the race went down for me.

The day before:

Standard raceget your gear ready, eat, rest, blah blah blah.

Xterra worldsa 5K trail run sounds like a great idea! I should note that I told myself that I’d go easy, enjoy the scenery, shake out my legs.

I came 2nd in my AG and did none of the things I said I’d do.

Morning of:

Standardwake up at a time that borders on inhuman, choke down food, battle nerves and logistics till the gun goes off.

Xterrawake up without an alarm. Enjoy coffee and breakfast on the lanai. Eventually, and leisurely, we make our way to the race venue.

Swim:

Standard: stand at the start trying to quell the fear.

Xterra: stand at the start trying to quell the fear.

Truly. I mean, when we landed on Maui, the news was announcing that the Pe’ahi Challenge was on. The surf in the days leading up to the race was big, fun and scary. On race day, I stood on the start line legitimately concerned that I was going to be last out of the water (provided I managed to get past the break, that is).

The good news is that I wasn’t last. It was fun, hard, salty and people were spread all over the ocean. I got pummelled by waves. I had a big smile on my face when I emerged from the ocean.

Bike:

Standard: I get out of the swim and work my way to the front of the pack.

Xterra:  I very much noticed my lack of bike fitness pretty early on.  My heart rate was sky high. I talked myself off the ledge almost right away, then I spent the rest of the ride passing folks and giggling (when I wasn’t riding uphill). I yelled “on your left!” and “rider!” and of course said “Sorry!” a whole lot, and passed a lot of people. It was awesome. Hard, uphill, and awesome.

My biggest area of improvement here would be my sock selection. I went with short ones due to the impossibility of pulling on proper fun ones. Hardly acceptable behaviour.

Run:

Standard: I tick along at a pretty consistent pace till I get to the finish line.

Xterra: I alternated my pace between crawl, jog, sprint, jump, whimper (is that even a pace?), slog, shuffle, run and walk. It was ugly. And yet? I still passed people and it was still fun.

This is not running.

I crossed the finish line totally depleted and pretty sure it was one of the hardest races I’ve ever done. But the good thing about doing races like that is that it makes you hungry for more.

Thanks for capturing, JO.

We spent the remainder of the vacation recovering, rehashing and reliving. Within hours we were talking about which events we want to do next.

Pretty standard, I’d say.

Just the facts:

Swim: 33:24

Bike: 2:30

Run: 1:10

24th AG.

Walking that fine line.

The kids had a swim meet this weekend. It wasn’t their first, but it was their favourite to date. Shorter distances, candy at the finish lines, fun atmosphere.

In the car there, they all admitted to feeling nervous butterflies, and I stayed quiet and let them talk through it… “once you jump in, it gets easier and I’m not nervous anymore.”

I spend the meet wandering the deck and cheering. I’ve discovered that I cannot stand the screeching sound of my cheer voice, and want to tell myself to shut up. But I love cheering on my kids, so I don’t.

The kids don’t win – not by a long shot. But I’m proud of the fact that this doesn’t seem to bother them. This doesn’t mean they aren’t trying their hardest; they are, for the most part. Often times, they come over to me, dripping and smiling, and say “I didn’t come last! Can I have a snack?”

Then.

As we drove home, Will asked if we could start swimming together, before school. He wants to improve and hit some qualifying times, move up to the next level.

Here’s where walking the fine line comes in.

Of course I’ll take him swimming. I’ll impart what little swim knowledge I have (it’s easy to repeat what I’ve been told for years. Easier than actually doing it, anyway).

BUT.

How to help him improve without becoming *that* parent? I am loathe to step on coaches toes. Where does giving the odd tip end and become fake coaching? Do I seek out a few extra coaching sessions, or is that “buying speed?” I want to encourage but not be overbearing. Am I unconsciously pushing them to do something just because I like it? Or do they actually want to it? If they quit, is it my fault? My brain is melting.

Clearly, I am overthinking this in a big way.

Parents out there, what say you? How do you handle your kids competitive endeavours?

Maybe I’ll give it some more thought during today’s swim practice.

One of those days.

I woke up in the dark, to the sound of rain smashing down on the roof. I remember there’s a rainfall warning in effect.

I quietly head downstairs. Pour some coffee, check my phone. The first thing I read is that Gord Downie has died. It takes a moment to register. Then it feels like a punch in the gut. As the media said… we knew it was coming, that doesn’t make his passing easier. We lost a man who was the voice of my Canadian generation.

We chaotically get out the door. It’s wet and dreary; we all bicker and fight over trivialities, but we get to school, walk the dog. The usual. Exhale.

I get to work. I’m underdressed, it’s snowing. Hard. I spend the day feeling cold, kind of foggy.

I hustle out of the office with the intent of getting home, spending some cozy time with the kids, sneaking in a workout. Dinner and a glass of wine, maybe.

I drive 300 meters down the road, then sit at a standstill for 45 minutes, thanks to the unexpected snowstorm. It takes just under 2 hours to make the 38km trip.

I walk in the door, I’m greeted by a sea of wet coats, boots and bags. That’s ok, I think. They’re home, I’m home. Let the cozy times begin.

Cozy times don’t happen. The kids are amped. I’m tired, feeling both lethargic and frazzled. I don’t want to make dinner. I feel overwhelmed by everything and nothing in particular. I offer our usual Mile One, if they promise to bring homework. I plan on leaving the phone at home. Family time.

We’re at the door when we discover that yet another jacket has been carelessly left somewhere, never to be seen again.

Rationally, I know it’s just stuff. But oh, the proverbial straw and camel.

It’s been about 45 minutes since they put themselves to bed, after they made themselves dinner because I quit. Threw my hands up and declared myself done. 

You could say I had a hissy fit. Because I basically did.

And now I feel like a petulant brat. I want to go get their warm, sleeping little bodies, pile them into my bed, hold them close. I want to erase the last 4 hours. I feel regret for my words, my stubbornness. I feel that nagging mom guilt.

Instead, I’ll quietly go kiss them and whisper that I’m sorry. I hope they hear me.

Tomorrow will be better. It’s got to be. I will be.

September snapshot.

You know how, when you’re driving, and a squirrel runs out in front of your car, freezes, dashes this way and that? And at the last second it somehow manages to survive and doesn’t get squished and returns safely to the ditch?

That is a terrible analogy, but I feel like I was the squirrel and  September was the car barreling down on me.

I may have hesitated, but hey, I survived and am now happily back in my ditch!

Last month was busy but oh so fun. That said, I am definitely a creature of routine, so it’s great to be home to my little mountain bubble and slow down a little. Also, September was birthday month, celebrated the best way I know how: sweating with friends.

My little brother got married! Family weddings are fun (granted, I’ve only been to 2, 3 if you count my own, so I’ve little to compare it to).

If it’s a good one, you leave the night with some funny stories, sore feet and a new family member.

I certainly did. NC, it’s time I think you still have a credit but you can let it lapse.

Working the Invictus Games may rank up there as one of my favourite events to be a part of. Hideous yellow shirts notwithstanding, the athletes and volunteers are just so great. No prima donnas, just kind and hardworking people. I got to reconnect with old colleagues and see athletes I met in 2016.

Also, I’ve not been called “ma’am” this frequently since the last Invictus Games. For that reason alone, I’m not cut out to be in the military.

With all that’s going on in the world… hurricanes, shootings, and a completely incompetent leader south of the border, I’m ever so grateful to live in my little mountain bubble. Maybe it’s a false sense of security that comes with living in a small town, surrounded by people you trust and rely on, but it felt so damn good to come home and bear hug my people.

I struggle with the sense of helplessness that comes with watching everything that is happening in the US. It makes my blood boil and yet, there is literally not one thing I can do about it, besides ignore it. Which I can’t do. Yet.

Is it still panic training when there’s 2.5 weeks left to race day? I’m going to go with YES. Working sport and endurance events is terrible for one’s fitness (no sleep and fueled by sugar, for starters). So I am definitely playing catch up. I got a roll down slot to the Xterra World Championships, and I currently feel like I’ll be throwing down a wicked battle for last place.

I’m packing the SPF 100, and the sherpa position is still open. Any takers?

Aloha.

 

70.3 miles of southern goodness. And then some.

When I qualified for the 70.3 Worlds way back in April, it was a very pleasant surprise. I took my spot, paid my money and then pretty much put the idea out of my mind.

Summer went by in a flash. My time was filled with work, training and many happy distractions.

Every few weeks, Liz and I would text each other a quick note regarding the race: sometimes it was logistics or a question about training, but usually, it was something along the lines of HOLY SHIT WE’RE GOING TO TENNESSEE.

It only really dawned on me about 10 days before the race that we were really doing this. We were going to Chattanooga to race in the world championships.

I had no idea what to expect other than knowing the swim would be tough as it was partially upriver, the weather was going to be hot and the field very talented.

Fast forward to last Thursday, and we stepped off the plane in Nashville, only to pretty much drive straight to a Waffle House.

Kicking it off in style, y’all.

The day before the women’s race (we had our own day all to ourselves, the men raced Sunday) we arrived at the race site for the practice swim in the river. The place was jammed and I wanted to vomit at the thought of fighting the current for 860m. Let me just say that swimming downstream was may more fun.

Post-swim, I was still very nervous about the whole race thing the following day, but I threw time goals out the window upon getting a feel for things and vowed to race to my ability and, more importantly, smile till my face hurt more than my legs.

I couldn’t believe how great the southern hospitality was, how kind and generous the volunteers were and what a great vibe surrounded the event.  It felt different from any other race I’ve done, and it made me feel like this exercise contest was a big deal. And ladies first? Yes, please. I am SO grateful we didn’t have to watch the men go first. Pretty sure I’d have packed up my shit and left town.

I’ll quickly break down the race itself.

Swim: 42:55 (putting me 189/230 AHAHHHAHAAHAHAHA)

It wasn’t terrible, I just swam terribly. Or, more accurately, I swam to my current level of swim fitness. I haven’t been in the water enough this summer, I’ve lost my feel and it showed. I felt fatigued when I finally made the down current turn. On the plus side? I swam straight AND I cannonballed in!

Bike: 2:54 (putting me 87/230 DO YOU THINK I LIKE BIKING?)

Absolutely awesome. And the best part? Shortly after the 10 mile marker, I heard Liz and I’s agreed upon theme song… which means that I got to ride a world championship bike course with my coach/training partner/brain twin. I am fairly certain no one else gets to do that. I loved how hard it was, even if it didn’t feel too terribly hard. I was determined to not overbike, like the good old days. I came off the bike feeling good, and ready to run. Or at the very least, strongly jog.

Run: 1:51 (putting me 79/230, I’ll take it).

Really, really hard. Never a dull moment, it was a roller coaster of terrain. BUT: I smiled my way through the entire damn thing. Coming down that final hill to the finish line, I was negotiating with my legs not to cramp, I was all emotional and giggling like a crazy person. I crossed that finish line absolutely elated.

Travelling and racing with your Brain Twin ™ is amazing: you don’t need to negotiate, you pretty much always know what the other person needs and you have a day drinking partner to debrief on the day with.

And, yes, we did very well in the day drinking department, too. Go us! I mean, our speed tour of Nashville may warrant a whole other post.

When I raced Oceanside 70.3 in April to qualify for this race, I burst into tears of unhappiness at the finish line. I didn’t have fun, or enjoy my day at all. I’ve thought about this a lot and was determined to change my mindset for Coeur D’Alene, and I wanted to race happy. Sometimes, when it hurts, you have to force the happy, but I can’t even describe how much better it makes things out there. I made friends, stupid jokes, mistakes and I had the best day.

My times were nothing spectacular. I’m used to being at the pointy end of races, so the result was, in a sense, a bit of a shock. But I don’t need be disappointed after the fact, or over analyze the results. I am so proud of the day I had.

And yes, my face hurt from smiling.

 

 

5 years

This is one of my favourite photos of Mum.

It’s been 5 years since we were at your side as you drew your last breath.

What’s left to be said since you died that I haven’t said before?

God, September is hard.

As soon as the calendar flips, I find myself constantly thinking back to your last days with us. Spending time with you in hospice. Sitting outside with A and N, trying to make sense of it all. Waiting. Not knowing what to expect but still, knowing you were lost to us. It was such a surreal experience.

I still miss you every single day. Is it possible that I miss you more now than I did when we first lost you? Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a minute of your guidance, even if that guidance is a simple reminder to just get on with it.  I quietly envy my friends who have close relationships with their mums.

You know when kids fall, and they are totally fine until they see their moms and then they burst into tears? Sometimes, I wish you were still here simply so that I could have that luxury when I most need it. To pick up the phone and burst into tears with no preamble.

I know that the memory of you has faded for the kids. They were so little when you died. But we talk about Omi often enough that they’ve created their own little memory bank. Real or imagined, it doesn’t matter. You are still a presence in their lives, and I’ll continue to add to their memory bank as much as I can. I wish I’d taken more pictures, written more down, captured more memories.

If you were alive today, I’d like to think that you’d be proud of the mother I am to 3 strong-willed children. I’d like to think you’d still be scolding me for the silly things I do. I’d like to think of you with your grandchildren, teaching them the things that I can’t.

Here’s to you, mum.

Summer footnotes

Is it possible to experience FOMO for a season, even if you are still technically in the midst of said season?

That’s how I currently feel about summer, and its impending end.

I’m not ready.

I feel like there are still many adventures to be tackled. I don’t want the kids to go back to school. I wish the days weren’t getting shorter.

Anyway. There’s not much I can do about the changing seasons… except maybe be more diligent in planning the adventures.

Chicks in the sticks, anyone?

I’ll be participating in the 70.3 world championships this weekend. Note that I stated that I was participating, not racing. That upstream swim has made me rather nervous. I have images of swimming into a firehose, then playing catchup for the rest of the day.

But at least we have plans to check out the Grand Ole Opry!

Everyone needs goals.

I spent 10 days working in Penticton with Team Canada at the ITU Multisport World Championships

When I arrived, I didn’t know my colleagues. By day 6, my stomach hurt (in a good way) from laughing and we joked that we’d pretty much either push each other in front of a moving bus or take a bullet for each other. You know, depending on the day.

Events are funny that way.

When I was in Penticton, I had a lot of flashbacks to my first triathlon: IRONMAN Canada in 2004. I had no idea what I was doing, and little did I know then that I would end up, in a very roundabout way, turning my hobby into a career.

Life is weird, isn’t it?

It’s official: riding bikes with my kids is my favourite thing ever. I have my own biker gang, and I love watching them try things that I don’t have the guts to.

The tables have turned, and there’s no going back. It’s a good thing I can still smash them on the climbs, because Mom doesn’t “get sendy”.

The kids are home again after a long month of adventures, trips and family time. I am a loner for certain, but my world feels off axis when they aren’t here with me.

The house is sparkling clean and quiet when they are away. I get a lot done. And I kind of hate it.

They came home yesterday. It was loud, messy and chaotic.

It was perfect.

I blinked and now it’s August.

I’m on the deck, trying to see Mt. Currie through the blanket of smoke that has settled in the Valley. It’s a few days post-Ironman, and I’m now recovered enough to be antsy, already looking forward to what’s next. Go figure.

Safe to say that the month of July was a total blur and revolved entirely around triathlon and children. I suppose that isn’t unusual for me, but it was intense.

The kids have shown me just how patient and awesome they can be. My mom game certainly wasn’t on point, so they were left to fend for themselves. A lot. But they handled it just fine. It helps that it meant eating out a few nights a week and a few nights of pancakes for dinner, too.

We did prioritize some days of summer fun, though. If not, I think we’d all have gone bonkers.

I also raced a few times. So that was neat.

X-Terra Victoria was a bust, race-wise, but a total win, fun-wise. Swanky resort, pool time with the kids and some quality time with friends.

Squamish triathlon was a super fun return to grass-roots racing. Good vibe, nice people, and a good way to kick off the next few weeks of crazy.

I successfully race directed an IRONMAN. I still kind of can’t believe it. It was hard and scary and awesome. And really, really tiring. Our crew at BCC live made me look good and captured my “why”. Sometimes, I find it hard to explain why I like to do what I do. I think this offers a good glimpse.

I consider myself fortunate to work with a group of people who are not only talented and relentlessly hard workers but also fun, kind and great to be around. And they put up with my dumb jokes.

And now somehow it’s August.

I predict that it will be more of the same. Triathlon and kids. With more play and some work. And hopefully, with a little less intensity.

Time to be an athlete again… 6 weeks to Chattanooga, y’all!

                                                                Bring it on, August.