Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Aerobic Corridor

I went up north one weekend recently to a friend's cottage. LR had emailed me and suggested I join her for her regular weekend cycle through a nice groomed gravel path in the Laurentians called the Aerobic Corridor.

I thought, "Can I fit this into my training?" Hmm, this ride would definitely have to be on my mountain bike, not my road bike, Freida, who doesn't like gravel. I called her and said, "Yes" ... and then started looking forward to the change of scenery or in this case, greenery, as I'd only been road biking this summer.

Saturday morning came, and I excitedly finished packing. Bottles and drink powder. Check. Gels and bars. Check. Helmet and glasses. Check. Clothes and shoes. Check. And of course, everything else non-sport that I'd need for the weekend too.

I threw my bags into the trunk and tried to heave my heavy 18-year old steel-frame no-suspension mountain bike onto the rack on top of the car. No can do. My car is too high. My bike is too heavy. I am a wimp. Sigh.

"Hey, Mr. Handy Passerby, can you please help me for a second?"

Thank you. Then off I drove, happily up north to through the winding hilly roads that'd lead me to a great day of cycling with my friend.

I arrived at the little white cottage and excitedly said, "Oh, just let me get my cycling stuff on and we can head off right away."

No bag.

I went and checked the trunk of the car.


Yup, my black overnight bag which contained almost everything that I needed for that weekend was still in the doorway at home in Montreal, where I had pushed it off to the side to get my bike out.

Sigh ... what to do, what to do. Well, I had my swim bag and my bottles which were in my saddle bag. And I could cycle in the clothes I was wearing, though it'd be a little rough without cycling shorts, unlike my road bike, which I wouldn't dare attempt without cycling shorts if I ever wanted to walk again.

But I had NO SHOES!!!

My flip flops would not bode well with my tiny SPD pedals. But wait, my friend had cycling shoes with SPD clips, and her pedals actually have a side for regular shoes ... I'd wear her shoes and she'd wear her running shoes!

Off we went, two happy cyclists, down the steep hill leading away from her cottage and into the woods. It felt strange to not have my helmet and cycling glasses but I'd grabbed my sunglasses from the car which'd protect me from things going into my contact lenses. And though her shoes were two sizes too large, better big shoes than no shoes!

I quickly realised that what my friend meant by "groomed gravel" was not the urban definition that I was familiar with. And as we went up and down all the false flats on the path composed of very loose gravel, small and big rocks, grass, sand and huge ruts, I realised that this was not the scenic friendly trail in the woods that I thought it'd be.

Every so often we'd come across barriers that block motorcycles and ATV's from using the trail and of course, I wiped out while squeezing past one. My front tire hit the edge of the damp grass and DOWN I went, twisting my elbow and pulling my shoulder out farther than it should have went. LR helped me up and after a few minutes of dizziness, we were ready to go. My arm and shoulder throbbed and I concentrated hard to not wipe out on the coarse path.

And then the rains came.

Now we also had mud and very slippery grass and rocks to contend with. Great.

My sunglasses fogged up and I felt the raw effects of not cycling with padded shorts. My too big shoes for which I was once grateful now cut painfully into my ankles. More bugs came out and bit me, even through my clothes. My bike tires, which were city slicks and not knobbies (I hadn't changed them) slipped everywhere. And my friend, LR, sped even farther ahead on her better, lighter bike. Good thing she wasn't clipped in.

I thought this again as we cycled a short section on the road to take a break from the difficult path. LR led and I drafted, a smart manouvre even with the water from her back wheel assaulting my face. It was this or be left several kilometers behind very quickly ... LR was rolling at 28-29 km/hr! No way I could sustain that kind of speed on my heavy clunker of a mountain bike ... We passed a roadie heading in the opposite direction and I waved. He ignored us. We didn't have the gear. We didn't have the bikes.

Then back onto the wooded trail we went. LR forewarned me, "Only the worst part to go now."

While climbing the last ascent, a 5% grade that went on and on forever for 3km, all I could think was:

"This is not the Aerobic Corridor. This is the PASSAGE THROUGH HELL."

I was ecstatic to be finally off the path. Now we just had the 11% grade long curved hill to climb to get back to her cottage. Sigh.

LR: You totally ROCK!! I feel like a paltry little cyclist up against you ... I bow down in respect and awe. You are hawt, hawt, HAWT!

Later on, after a tasty BBQ chicken pita snack, we went for an amazing little swim in the lake right by her cottage and then went back to a scrumptious freshly-caught BBQ trout supper with her family.

Great friends, great food, great wine, and a great ride and swim. What more could a triathlete-in-training ask for? Oh yeah, clean borrowed dry clothes (thanks!) and a quick healing arm and shoulder ...

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Sometimes you just have to dance!

A close friend of mine, Allison, recently married a fantastic guy and I was very happy to celebrate their happiness with them at their wedding ...

Alcohol was a little too free-flowing this particular weekend, what with supper with a friend from out-of-town Friday evening followed by Allie & Chris' wedding on Saturday.

I squeezed in a short swim Saturday and a paltry 15k run Sunday in my pitiful post-party state. Cycling? What dat? Half a bottle of wine, 3 cocktails, some more wine and some champagne combined with a serious lack of sleep and too much celebrating was enough to put me out of contention for "Most Dedicated Athlete" for that weekend.

Enjoy some of the pics!

Funny thing ... I caught the bouquet, which reminds me ... I caught the bouquet at the last wedding I attended too ... Mind you, my date, Jonathan Clark, caught the garter ... Hmmm ... Ha ha ha ha ha!!

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Friday, July 25, 2008


One really fun thing about triathlon training is the variety of different disciplines. It's actually quite fun since one always has to mix it up so it never really gets monotonous.

One really not so fun thing about triathlon training is the variety of different disciplines. What? Why go running when I can go cycling? Running's gotten so much more difficult since I've cut down mileage. And why go cycling on that pissy rainy day when I can go swimming? And why do swim drills when I can do leisurely concentrate-on-the-glide laps in the pool? Yes, I suppose I'm getting wet in the pool too, but at least I'm not miserably cold and being pelted by torrential rain.

Alright, I admit I haven't been paying any attention to my training program. It's not like I slack off everyday but I think I've become the Queen of Inconsistency. I have been good though when escaping to cottage country (thank you friends!) to ride killer hills at 9-12% grades and to swim across lakes. In fact, the return to urban training has been quite harsh and boring :-( And somehow too, reading, relaxing, and seeing old friends has been quite the distraction.

Sigh ... There is something in my artist soul that has rebelled against the "have-t0-do" emphasis of Ironman training. Maybe I've put too much pressure on myself throughout the years on racing ... even last year, when I was training haphazardly, I still pumped out two marathons.

Wait, I think I'm starting to see a pattern now ... Hmmm ... Guerilla training tactics.

Turtleboy is always amazed that I'm able to complete my races. He calls my training tactics, "The most for the least." Like, why train? How little can be done to finish and get the same medal as those who have logged the miles and put in the dedicated hours?

I had a dream once where I met up with some friends in a diner. They were talking about doing their first marathon and were considering running in Finland, which would set them back at least $2500 each.

Silly Sally: Wow, why run so far away? There are lots of races close by that won't cost nearly as much.

Friend: Yeah, you're right ... there's actually a race here tomorrow.

Silly Sally: Oh, really? Cool!

Friend: It's an Ironman and I've already signed you up. I thought you might be interested.

Silly Sally: Umm ... Alright.

Then I, in this dream, with absolutely no training and totally unprepared mentally and physically, completed an Ironman. I remember running down the narrow finishing chute lined with metal rails, and just like that, with absolutely no big hoo ha, I crossed the finish line. I looked at the time.


Cripes! Not bad for no training! I thought, "My last Ironman was 14:46:19. I'm only 17 minutes off that time ... was all that training two years ago worth it?" I continued watching the other athletes come in and thought, "Hey, I'm feeling pretty good. That wasn't so hard."

But somehow, I don't think Ironman Louisville will be as forgiving. I've already accepted that I will be doing this one on blood and guts.

Hey, I don't remember having received a finisher's medal ... dang, gypped by a dream ;-)

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Friday, July 11, 2008

What happened?

POOF! The weeks sure did go by quickly ... and I don't remember much ... except for two things:

1) I had an easy training week in my schedule and was quite happy that I had the right to slack off a bit ... and "slack off" I certainly did!

2) I had a hard week of training scheduled but somehow my body got caught in a time warp and thought it was the previous week, so I had an unplanned "easy than should have been" training week ... which I am not happy about.

I think I am the most undisciplined athlete I know ... sigh ... which means I will somehow have to make up mentally for toughness what my body will lack in training when it comes round to Ironman time ...

Big question now is, am I training moreso:

1) for enjoyment?
2) out of obligation since I'm already registered and committed to this IM?
3) out of complete angst and fear that I will crash and burn at my race?