Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kelowna Apple Sprint Triathlon Race Report

I'm a bit slow getting this post up - spent most of Monday/Tuesday getting my race report podcast out then went in to school all day today to unpack 35 boxes and start getting my brand new classroom set up - fun!!!

So here goes!

If you managed to slog through my race plan a few posts back, you probably saw that my plan was to get up at 4:30 and leave the house by 5:40. Haha - here's the plan, and in brackets, how it really went.

4:30 Get up, eat yogurt and banana, coffee, water (Ooops, I set the alarm for pm instead of am, Erik woke me from a dead sleep at 5:05, jumped out of bed, showered, ate, did last minute stuff, and left the house about 6am - at this point I wasn't too worried because I was using last year's times and my wave was 15 minutes later than last year so I had some leeway)

Leave house, drive, park, set up transition (had to park further away than expected, got sent directly to long line for body marking before being allowed into transition)

6:00-6:30 Body marking (6:45 finally arrive in transition, set up some stuff, then head to long line for bathroom, 7:15 finish set up, put on wetsuit, run to beach)

Short warm up swim (7:25 very short warm up swim, windy, cool air, brrrr)

My wave start (Scramble to beach in time to hear the whistle and run into the water.)

The Race


My swim was probably my best event this year. Go figure. I seeded myself fairly close to the front, and to the left, close to the line for the buoys. There was only one woman directly in front of me at the start, but lots of women to my right and a few to my left. They split the sprint women into two groups this year, under 40 and over 40 so there were only about 50-60 women in my wave and that made a difference I think.

I planned to go easy at first but I felt confident and strong right from the start to I kept at it. I had NONE of the anxiety that I had in my practice swim the day before and I'm pretty sure that's because I wasn't swimming alone today. Good thing.

It was breezy and the water was choppy but not too difficult. I swam fairly straight and managed to stay out of other people's way this time so didn't get hit much, except on one turn.

I passed the first 2 buoys, made the turn and kept swimming strong and steady but didn't push too hard or get out of breath. I stayed with breathing on one side most of the time. I noticed there weren't too many people from my wave ahead of me at this point. At one point, I saw a larger group of swimmers ahead but realized they had yellow caps and were the men from the earlier wave. Yes!

Once I had made the long haul to the next buoy and turned back towards the shore, I swam harder and got to the beach in 16:27 for the swim leg, a minute faster than last year! I was so happy!

Transition One

Although I had sussed out the pathway through the maze of bikes in transition (1600+), and thought I had a foolproof path, I STILL managed to turn one row early and lost about 20 seconds or so doing the extra running on an already very long distance from the beach.

Wetsuit off, shoes and helmet on, quick drink and grab the bike all seemed to go quickly and smoothly but my T1 time was still 3:34, pretty sucky. The fastest T1 times were around the 2 minute mark with the avg fast time about 2:30 but I imagine some of those women didn't wear wetsuits. My time last year was 3:01 without a wetsuit (for comparison).


My quads felt a little tired on the bike but not too bad - I didn't hit the lap button on the Knox Mtn climb but I think it was about 2:15 (my best time is about 2:00) so I was a bit disappointed about that. Overall I felt I rode pretty well. It was windy on the bike course as well and that had a significant effect on my time, especially on the flats and on Glenmore when it was a head wind. As I came round the course to start the second lap, I could see my time was just over 20 minutes for the first lap so went for a negative split on the second lap. I climbed Knox strongly this time and although I don't know my time, I realized more than halfway up, I was cross-chained in my big ring up front. Idiot. I laughed at myself and commented to a guy who was passing me at that moment. Pretty stupid but it probably gave me some extra oomph up that ugly hill. :)

Because the younger women were already out on the course 10 minutes ahead of me, I had very little female competition on the bike leg. The super fast women were also fast swimmers so they were well ahead of me, and I was ahead of the rest of the other women. Only one woman passed me and that was almost immediately after coming out of transition. I passed a number of men and women from the earlier waves, as well as a couple of faster swimmers from my wave. My second bike split was about 19:something so I was happier with that lap but my total time was still only 40:14, 2 minutes slower than last year. I truly believe most of that time loss was due to the wind.

Last year, over 35% of the women maintained an avg bike speed over 30 km/h or higher, this year only 15% did. Clearly the wind was an issue for everyone.

Transition Two

I came into T2 and changed shoes/hat etc fairly quickly I thought, but again, I still seemed to be a little slow on transitions in general. I admit I do put on my socks in T2 instead of T1 so my T2 is sometimes slower than other women for that alone. I'm not going to stop that though. I find I can bike in bare feet without any problems, and it's much easier to put socks on later than when my feet are still damp/sandy from the swim. T2 - 1:53, only 4 seconds slower than last year.


My goal was to run the first km in 6 min and then the rest in 5:30-5:50. I felt good though and my legs did not feel heavy so my first km was 5:39. I slowed down a bit and my second km was 5:55.

For whatever reason, after the 2km mark, my STUPID IT band decided to act up again. It is SO random and few and far between that I never know when it's going to happen. I have not had any ITB problems for over a month and thought that was behind me now (and in addition, my shins felt absolutely fine in the run, no pain whatsoever). It was right knee as usual, and it kept tightening up until I finally decided to stop and stretch it for 15-20 seconds, then went back to running. My 3rd km was about 6:08 pace, and then it tightened up again so I stretched once more. Fourth km was 6:16 and last km was 6:09 for a total run time of 31:01. Ugh. I'm wondering if I should get an IT band strap to wear in races?

The Finish

My total time was 1:33:11. I would have been happy with 1:32 given the wind on the bike but the run killed it for me, once again. (Are you getting tired of hearing about my running troubles because I'm getting tired of having them.. ;)

Anyway, overall I was pretty happy with my race. I had no texpected to do as well as I did given my lack of training and I was super excited about my relatively great swim time!


Well there were lots of tough ladies in my age group this year and I came in 11/19. Interestingly enough, even if I'd had my fourth place time from last year, I still would have come in 10th this year so I really should be pretty happy with my performance over all. They have not posted the World's Qualifiers yet so I will have to wait for that. I am in 5th place in the 50-54 AG right now but I'm not sure how many women in my AG are 49 and will be in the 50-54 next year.


Swim - 16:27 - 6th in my AG
T1 - 3:34
Bike - 40:14 - 6th in my AG
T2 - 1:53
Run - 31:01 - 15th in my AG

Total time: 1:33:11

The run is definitely where these ladies kill me. The faster women are doing that run in 21-27 minutes. Yowza, if only I could get my running improved, I'd do so well!

Well, I will! I am going to work on my run ALL WINTER and no matter what, I am going to be a better runner next year. Definitely.

After the race, we celebrated with beer and pulled pork sandwiches at the beer gardens and then watch the olympic tri and the elite racers come in. It was pretty exciting watching Lauren Groves and Simon Whitfield both come in first!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Last Practice Swim

So today I went down to Tugboat Beach to swim the course. There were races in the morning, then they leave the course open for 45 minutes before they take the log boom down for the night. Erik suggested that Simon Whitfield and the other elite racers may also take advantage of this opportunity and sure enough they were all there! Erik pushed me to go ask for a photo opp and Simon immediately and graciously agreed. He even suggested a joke picture of us showing our muscles. It was fun to watch the Olympians relax and chat amongst one another, all very good- natured, friendly, and down-to-earth. These are the types of 'celebrities' I truly admire, so much more than the movie star types...

And Simon wished me luck in my race tomorrow - stupid me - I was too star-struck to say the same thing back!

Who's got bigger muscles?

Lauren Groves was there too - she is just a tiny bit of a thing - but so powerful!

ANYWAY, back to me, and my not-quite-as-exciting triathlon career. :)

My Practice Swim

I went into it feeling confident. I had a good OWS at my tri in May (although that one was along the lakeshore and wasn't very deep) and I've done this swim course last year and did well (17:30). I swam at Gyro beach earlier this week and felt good, and I even did 100m of warm up in the lake today before I swam. So it SHOULD have gone well.

I dunno. I started to swim and it was choppy and there were lots of fast people around me, but not really too close so that shouldn't have been a big issue. I know enough to go easy at first, to swim steady, get into a rhythm, and get my heart rate under control. But the chop and the waves were hitting me in the face when I took a breath and I was having trouble getting into a rhythmic breathing pattern. Less than 100m into the swim, my goggles had a leak so I had to stop and tread water while I tried to fix them. They continued to be a minor problem for the rest of the swim.

After the goggle incident, I tried again to get back into it but kept having mini-freakouts. At one point, about 200m, my heart was just pounding and I couldn't breath properly and I was gasping and choking so I floated on my back for a second and tried to calm myself down. For a moment I thought about swimming back to shore to relax and try again in a few minutes but I stopped myself. I told myself to relax and just swim slow. Keep on going. Slow, steady, I can do it. I also switched to one-sided breathing because the chop was only hitting me on one side of the face and that helped a lot.

To put things in perspective, other people were swimming like crazy past me, and the chop wasn't really very bad to most people I'm sure. Anyway, I kept swimming on, thinking that if I could get to the furthest marker (300m) and make the turn, I'd probably be ok. I also reminded myself that I can float in the wetsuit without really trying. Eventually I got my heart rate down and decided that I didn't care what my time was, I should just keep going and finish the damn thing or it would be a black cloud over my head tomorrow. After I passed the buoy, the Olympic team went flying past, and over me. I stopped and tread water for a minute so I could stay out of their way. :)

It was 200m to the next buoy and it was way out there, so that was the hardest part mentally but I was in a bit of a groove by then and had more confidence. When I hit the next buoy and turned, I was able to start swimming a little harder and I kept up a steady, slightly quicker pace until I reached the shore. Overall, my sighting was mostly ok, I only went a bit off-course once.

I was afraid to look at my watch, guessing on a time of about 22:00 minutes given all my stops to tread water and catch my breath but I was amazed to see my time was 17:00 even! My swim time last year was 17:30 so that really surprised me. I'm wondering if I was just swimming harder than I realized, perhaps because I was out there with all the elites and they were just flying by me? I don't know.

Anyway, as soon as I got in, I told Erik I wanted to go back and do the first 150m again, just to gain more confidence and have a positive experience to replace the bad one. I tightened the straps on my goggles and they were much better and this time I felt fine doing an out and back loop. I came in feeling fairly confident that #1. I will be fine tomorrows and #2. if I *do* panic, I can regain control and I don't have to bail no matter what happens.

The race meeting notes were posted on the tri website so I skipped the meeting this afternoon but I have to go back between 4-8 pm to drop off my bike. I checked out transition and my spot is in the 4th row, fairly close to where it was last year. My bike will be right by the sign too so that will help.

The racers this morning wore wetsuits and I suspect that we will be allowed to tomorrow. We won't know for sure until they take the temp at 6 am tho so I have to be prepared for both possibilities.

I'm starting to think that if I can wear a wetsuit, I might wear my green cycling top under it instead of the new tri top, just because it is more comfortable and if I don't have to swim in it alone, it doesn't matter so much about the slightly weightier fabric etc. I guess I'll decide tomorrow.

I was also checking out the air temperature this year compared to last year. Last year I raced in 21-25C. This year it'll be closer to 15-20C from start to finish. I'm wqondering if I might be chilly after the swim and need a jersey or vest to put on for the bike so I will take them with me and decide right at the moment.

I guess there's nothing else to do now but rest, relax, and try to get to bed early tonight....

Thanks for all the good luck wishes - I really appreciate it!

PS Last year I dedicated a blog post to my husband just before my race. I was revisiting it today and decided to link to it. I could not do any of the things I do if it wasn't for Erik. I love you!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Race Plan

Getting closer, starting to get major butterflies every time I think about the race. Why do I get SO nervous?

So here's what I did this week:

Tues - 750m swim at Gyro. Went into the lake in wetsuit for first time this year. Felt ok, a few minor panics but nothing serious. Didn't swim hard but managed to do 750m in just under 18 min.

Tues - Ran 4 km on the road. Did 1 km warm up then 2 km fast, then 1 km cool down. Pace 5:31 and 5:44 per km. 8:52 and 9:13 per mile. Not bad but I couldn't do that after a hard bike, nor could I maintain that pace over 5 km. Shins hurts like stink after. Did ice bath and stretching.

Wed - Rode one lap of the tri bike course in 22:30. went easy at first, then hard on the hills. Did Knox in 2 min (good), and overall time was ok but hard to tell what it'll be like on Sunday.

Thurs - took it easy, no more running or biking till the race. Iced shins twice, stretch well twice. Picked up race package. Got biked tires checked. Cleaned bike. Oiled chain.

Today - Took it easy all day. Bad headache off and on from braces adjustment yesterday. Hope it's gone by Sunday. Shins feeling better today. Iced them again. Stretched in evening.

Tomorrow - Will swim the course at 1 pm, go to race meeting at 3 pm, and drop bike off at T1 at 4 pm. Then a relaxing evening at home, and early to bed.



The night before
• high carb, low fat, low fiber meal, water, sleep.
• bag and backpack ready
• clothes laid out
• breakfast food ready
• calm, focussed, relaxed (LOL, yeah right)

Sunday Morning

4:30 Get up, eat yogurt and banana, coffee, water
5:40 Leave house, drive, park, set up transition
6:00-6:30 Body marking
7:10-7:15 Short warm up swim
7:30 My wave start


My Bike
• on the bike – garmin, bento box, underseat bag (dropped at T1 Sat night)
• bento box – puffer, kleenex
• underseat bag – tube, 2 CO2, tire levers, bike tool
• helmet – sunglasses, race belt

What I'll wear

•tri top, shorts, HRM, watch, sandals, track suit if it's cool, hat, ponytail, sunglasses

In my bag
• runners, bike shoes, 2 sox, pink polka dot towel, wet suit, swim cap, goggles, body glide, hand towel, extra water bottles, puffer, hammer gel, hand held bottle, helmet, race belt, take extra jersey/vest?

In backpack with Erik
• camera
• recorder
• blackberry
• food
• jacket
• tylenol
• cell phone
• TP
• choc milk


Before – T1/2 set up, body mark, warm up, HRM on, body glide, wetsuit, watch, ponytail, swim cap, goggles, leave sandals, turn on garmin, at 7:00am eat 1 hammer gel, sip water, use puffer, then warm up swim.

T1 set up – pink polka dot towel, helmet, garmin, race belt #580, bike shoes, garmin on, hand towel, water bottle, Nuun bottle, hand held bottle in case.

Just before entering water, start timer on watch. Check it! LIne up about 1/3 back from front.

Exiting water - fill suit with water, hit lap button watch, lift goggles, take off top of wetsuit (all while running). Goal: Anything less than 18 minutes will be great.

At T1 - take off wetsuit, goggles, cap. Put on bike shoes, helmet, sunglasses, race belt. Have a drink. Run with bike. Start Garmin/hit lap button on watch if I can. Get on bike, clip in, ride fast.

On Bike
– get HR under control, drink, climb hard, push on flats, spin a bit before 2nd climb, lap button on 2nd lap if I can, go hard, drink. Hit lap button at end of bike. Goal: 30 kmh avg, 20 min lap or faster.

T2 set up
- runners, sox ready in runners, hat, extra water/Nuun, hand bottle, small towel, race belt, adjust ponytail

Bike to Run – run with bike, hit lap button on watch/Garmin if I can, rack bike, helmet off, shoes off, sox and runners on. Grab Garmin off bike. Drink. Carry hat, sunglasses, garmin. Starting running – adjust ponytail, hat on, sunglasses on. Lap button on watch and Garmin at start of run, and each km if I want to.

Take hand held water bottle if very thirsty.

On Run – steady, HR under control, 6:00 pace – 1st km. Pick it up each km. Goal: 5:30-6:00 km avg? (27-28 minutes)


Extra stuff
Extra set of clothes in case

OK, that's all I can think of right now. I will be adding more as I remember things.

Goal Times - not really sure this year:

Swim: 18 minutes (assuming it's the same distance as my last tri)

T1: 3 Minutes (long run to T1)

Bike: 40 minutes (or less I hope)

T2: 1:30

Run: Tough to guess, hopefully under 30 minutes.

18+3+40+1+30 = 1:32 Max

Last year my time was 1:30:04. I suspect I'm pretty close to the same fitness for the swim and run, probably a bit slower on the bike. Hopefully a bit faster on T1 and 2.

Last year there were 11 women in my Age Group, this year there are 24! Some of them are serious contenders. No real hope for a AG place this year but I will have fun!

Monday, August 17, 2009


Actually this whole summer has been a taper of sorts. I mean, I have been training, but not to the extent I did before the Oliver Tri in May, or even to the extent I did last summer. I feel fairly fit but really have no idea where my fitness level is at because I haven't been doing any of my 'test' rides this year. I didn't even ride up Anarchist when we were there last week. I was a slacker I guess, but there just didn't seem to be any point to killing myself up that climb so I didn't do it.

It rained off and on most of the week were camping down in Osoyoos but the sun came out every afternoon except for Friday when it poured all day. Jesse and I were playing in the water as soon as the sun came out but it never got really hot all week, staying in the upper 20's at best.

So to pick up where I left off last post, I did get up early on Sunday the 9th and did a 5.75 km run that morning, even after my wakeful night. Then I headed up to Mabel Lake with the girls for 2 days. When I got home on Monday afternoon, we packed up the van and were set up at our site in Osoyoos, 2 hours south of Kelowna, by 7:30 pm.

Didn't do any training on Tuesday, but Wednesday morning I got up and went for a 6 km run. I felt great and thought I could have run further but decided to quit while I was ahead. That afternoon I rode for 90 minutes, heading to Oliver and back. I went fairly hard going out, but got a bad pain in my side and had to ride home slowly. I was happy to have made it because that happened to me once last summer and Erik had to get the car and pick me up. Anyway, I felt fine again 15 minutes after getting off the bike - I have no idea what it was from. 42 km bike ride.

The boys rode Anarchist on Thursday and I bailed, choosing to hang out by the lake with Jesse instead. And no, I wasn't swimming - the water in that area is murky and weedy. Ick. A storm came up just as the boys arrived back to the campsite and we were inundated with wind and rain for the next 24 hours.

I got up at 7 am on Saturday morning and did a brick before we packed up and came home. Did a 20 km bike ride followed by a 3 km run. Overall I felt good, but the run was rolling hills and that slowed me down a bit.

Sunday - didn't do anything.

Today - I rode downtown and then did the tri route to refresh my muscle memory. Good thing too because I forgot a lot of what I learned last year - like when to shift, and when to push hard or ease off, and even where to turn. OK, I know that the route will be marked on Sunday but I was still surprised when I rode right past one of the turns. :)

I couldn't get a true test of my time because I had to come to a complete stop several times for road constructions and traffic lights, and there are at least six stop signs along the way that won't be an issue next weekend. Still, I managed to pull off just under 22 minutes for one 10k loop and I wasn't killing myself so cutting another 2-3 minutes off that time should be close to doable.

Tomorrow, I WILL go down to Gyro and swim. There, I've said it and typed it so it will be done.

Bad news - likely no wetsuits again this year. Crapola. I like wearing my wetsuit. Also, it means I need to come up with an alternate clothing plan again. I refuse to wear my swim suit and pull on bike shorts this year and the tri top I wore in the spring is not feeling that comfortable right now so I took my $100 gift certificate down to Fresh Air and spent half an hour trying on every tri top they had.

It is a truly humbling experience trying on tri tops and shorts at my age. I mean, I really don't look bad in street clothes, I know that. And I'm certainly not what you'd consider to be over weight. But every one of the tops made me look fat. They invented rolls where there are none (or at least where I pretend there are none). I tried large, medium, and small in 6-7 different brands and styles. Sometimes the size large fit, sometimes I disappeared in it, sometimes the small fit, and once I had to get Erik into the change room to help me get it off again. Sigh. There is a HUGE hole in the market for decent, comfortable, well fitted, tri clothes for regular human beings.

That being said, I ended up buying a new top. I bought the small because that's all they had left, although I suspect the medium might have been a tad more comfy. The upside is that it is really really cute! Haha, and I'm not a cutesy-clothes kind of girl as you probably know.

And I will be able to wear this top with my black 2XU shorts alone in the swim, or with my wetsuit, depending on the water temp on Sunday morning. Cross your fingers. I just won't eat anything between now and then... ;)

So my weight has been steady at 121.5 for the past week. I'm extremely lucky I didn't gain anything while I was away and gorging myself every day. So lucky. Still, I'm up 2-3 lbs from this time last August. Not a huge deal, but it's there.

Plans for this Week

Tues - swim, easy run
Wed - tri bike route if I can fit it in. Have to go to Summerland that day.
Thur - swim again? or run? or bike? Pick up race package.
Fri - rest day
Sat - swim the tri route at 1 pm while it's open.

And that's all she wrote folks, ttyl.....

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Almost Race Time!

It's 3:30am and I'm doing the peri-menopausal "waking up in the middle of the night for no apparent reason" thing so I figured now is as good a time as any to get my blog updated as promised.

If you listen to my podcast, specifically episode #30, you'll know that for the past 3-4 months, I've been wrestling with the idea that the Apple Sprint is supposed to be my "A" race this year and yet, because of work and my trip to Europe, I'll be woefully unprepared compared to last year. How can I take 3 weeks off training in the middle of July and expect to compete at the same level as last year, particularly because my training was weak most of June due to job pressures?

At any rate, while I was away, I thought a lot about this and finally decided to give myself permission to just go out and have fun on this triathlon. Forget about the heavy training schedules when I get back, forget about trying to PR or get an AG placement - just train the way I feel each day, then do the race for the pure enjoyment of it. Do a triathlon for fun? My, what a concept? Not sure why it took me so much time to figure that one out. D'oh!

Anyway, I obviously put too much pressure on myself and it feels pretty good to relax a little and just go with the flow. I still have to fight the urge to compete, however unprepared I am, but I am enjoying the reduced training load and the pure enjoyment of doing whatever kind of training that suits me each day. I know for a fact, I could go into the race on Sunday, August 23rd and finish it just fine without doing one more day of training so I figure any workouts I do at this point are a bonus!

After I got home from my trip, it took a couple days to get un-jet-lagged, and then, quite honestly, I didn't even feel like even LOOKING at my bike for awhile. However, I was pretty anxious to get out there and do some running so on the next day back, I did a treadmill run at the YMCA. It was my first try at the treadmill but because it was still hovering around 38C (102F), I thought it might be a good idea to run indoors that day. The next day I did a fairly easy bike ride on my own and I've been doing various types of training most days since then.

We've had some fairly heavy smoke from local forest fires so that has hampered my outdoors activities a little and I've had to my use my inhaler before I run/bike so avoid wheezing.

Here's what I've done since I got back:


26 - arrived home, slept, relaxed
27 - 40 min treadmill run
28 - 60 min easy bike, 1500m swim
29 - 3o min road run, felt crappy, too hot
30 - off - (busy with family party)
31 - went to pool but they'd closed the lane swimming, played in wave pool instead. :)


1 - Brick Intervals. 5 min bike/800m run X 5. Felt awesome, ran fast (5:15-5:35 km pace)
2 - played 9 holes of golf
3 - 1200m swim, yoga
4 - off - side pain, too smokey
5 - 8km trail run, good for first 6.5k, then ITB/knee locked up. (too much, too soon)
6 - 2000m swim
7 - Bike hill repeats. Felt great! 5 X 6min with 3:30 recovery ride back down the hill. 4-10%. Stronger than last May!
8 - Off, busy packing for camping etc.

Throughout this time, I've also done 1-3 hours of yardwork and/or cleaning the garage and basement so I've been doing some physical activity in that sense as well. Also, I've been trying to get some core work done again as well, aiming for 15 minutes per day.

The next week:

So today - August 9th, I'm not likely to do any training. I had thought about getting up early and going for a run, but now that I'm having this long wakefulness in the middle of the night, I'm not likely to want to get up at 6:30.

At 9am, I have to pick up my friend, Janice, and we're heading up to Mabel Lake where we are spending the night with 9 of the 'houseboat girls." I suppose in theory, I could take my shoes and go for a 30 minutes run while I'm there, but I know that's just not gonna happen - too much fun, food, and booze to do any serious training. :)

On Monday, I've got to be back home by 4pm so we can pack up the van and we can be in Osoyoos by 7:30pm where we will be camping until next Saturday.

I will have plenty of time to get in some training while I'm down there, especially biking, but the intensity may not be there. I will probably try to do a brick again and do at least one serious swim since we are camping right on the lake. But again, it's family, food, and wine for a week too. :)

So that's my training update. What do you think? Can Kelownagurl do the switch from competition to tri-for-fun? Only time will tell. I can tell you one thing, no matter what happens, I will still give my all when I do my race on the 23rd so you never know - maybe none of the hardcore ladies from last year will show up! lol...

Have a great week everyone! I'll do an update when I get home next Sunday!

PS Hey Paul, if you're reading this, email me if you want to get together for a drink or a coffee! We'll be at Shady LAgoon and I'll have my Blackberry.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's August!

Wow, this summer is going by way too fast! But what a great summer it has been so far!
Our trip was awesome, what can I say? I did the blog update once when I had a half-decent wifi connection one day (which was rare). There's a picture of me typing that last blog post here on my podcast website.

We rode two more days after that last post, and then took the night train to Florence. The train was fun and we paid a little extra to have our own two-person sleeping compartment. We slept well and arrived in Florence at about 8am. We left our bags at the train station and wandered around the city until the afternoon when we could check into our hotel/B&B, then we went back out to tour some more. We climbed up 463 steps to the top of the famous Duomo (below is a picture of me at the top) and had a nice dinner in the Piazza Republica complete with Italian music, and a merry-go-round. Italy was just as hot as France, over 100F every day.

The next morning, we picked up our rental car, a little Fiat Panda, and headed out onto the CRAZY Italian roads. It was nuts trying to figure out the road signs and the traffic circle exits without a city map, and we came within an inch (literally) of an accident within 5 minutes of being in the car. Erik was an excellent driver though, and after about half an hour of crazy highway driving, we managed to find a side road that took us to Pisa.

Again, we had no city map, and for some reason I had just imagined that Pisa would be a small town and the tower would be obvious. After a while of aimless driving in town, we parked and headed off to find someone to give us directions. It turned out we were only 3-4 blocks away so off we went to see the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was pretty amazing to be there in person and see something so well-known.

It was well over 100F though so we grabbed some cheap pizza and headed back to the car. By now, it was getting late in the afternoon and we realized there was NO way we'd get to Cinque Terre so we sadly, we had to bypass that plan (next time...) and we got back on the highway.

Somehow we found our way to our B&B, (but not before we got lost in Poggibonsi), and we were soon checked into our lovely suite.

The place was amazing with a gorgeous view of the rolling Tuscan hills and the beautiful town of San Gimignano in the distance.

We relaxed for awhile, then drove 1km down the road to have dinner in a lovely little Italian restaurant.

The next day, we drove through the Chianti region to Castellini and had another nice lunch, and then back to the B&B to laze by the huge pool and have one final, fabulous meal in Tuscany.

In the morning, we had leave early to get back to Florence in time to drop the car off before 10:30 and catch our train to Rome at 11:30. Although it was supposed to be a 35 minute drive, it took us close to 2 hours including time getting lost and time stuck in road construction.

The train to Rome only took 1.5 hours and we were soon checked into our very nice, clean hotel close to the train station, which was chosen for a quick morning getaway to the airport. Soon we were doing a walking tour of Rome - first stop the Colloseum! It actually brought tears to my eyes to turn the corner and see that building in the distance. We took a lot of pictures, then headed off through some ancient areas to find Trevi Fountain. It was so incredibly hot that I began to get heat exhaustion at this point. My fingers were swelling and I was dizzy so I was lucky to find a kiosk with gatorade and I rested in the shade for a bit. From there, we tried to find shadier streets and eventually we got to the famous fountain where I was able to cool off a little.

We continued our wandering back to the hotel, taking in the site as we went and then relaxed in the lovely a/c for awhile before having our final Italian meal at a nearby cafe. The nex morning, we took the train to the airport and did the mandatory 3 hour wait before taking off at 2pm. Because we had a stopover in Barcelona, it was a 14 hour flight so we arrived in Vancouver too late to catch a flight home so we didn't arrive home until noon the next day.

As much as I LOVED our trip, it was wonderful to be home again, sleeping in my own bed, eating familiar food, and speaking English. :)

I have a 10 minute slideshow of our trip highlights on youtube if you want to check them out. The resolution's not great but you'll get the idea.

So - what's up with training and racing you ask?

Check in tomorrow when I have time to do another blog update. :)

or listen to my podcast!