Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Our Visit to Victoria, BC

Triathlon brought us to Victoria but we left with far more. Victoria is a smallish city with a outdoor, classy style with a bit of artistic vibe thrown in.  It is really easy to get around and has amazing history and architecture.  There is clearly a British influence as many buildings have a European look to them.  There is a lot of modern influence as well, and many multi million dollar gated estates.

Great restaurants with amazing seafood.  I ate salmon, halibut and other local fish every chance I got. The beauty of the area is spectacular.  And I really mean spectacular.  It has it all; mountains, lush vegetation, trees, amazing flowers, ocean views at every turn.  Amazing.  
Can you see the hearts in my eyes?  
Looking forward to returning someday soon.  

Here is my rambling recap with coles notes at the end so you get to choose.

Thurs morning we left home at 5:30 am, drove to Saskatoon to catch our flight to Calgary then to Victoria.  Arrived early afternoon local time.  Flying is amazing!  It would have taken us almost 3 days to drive this distance.  Got checked into our hotel Cherry Tree Inn.  Just a small, family run hotel with no bells and whistles but was very close to Elk Lake where Ironman Victoria 70.3 was occurring. We really believe in staying as close to the race venue as possible.  The times we have had a long distance to drive from hotel to race was really tough.  Though this hotel was clean, affordable, had a fridge and microwave, it was very small and sparse and I would only recommend this if someone was coming to race the triathlon.  If you visit to Victoria is a holiday, stay in the downtown area not here.

It was a last minute (meaning 1 1/2 days prior to leaving) decision to rent bikes while we were there instead of bringing our own.  Haven't done this before but we were really pushed for time and basically got our packing done after supper the night before we left.  Terry just finished seeding that day so taking the bikes apart, packing them in the bags, hauling around to, through and from the airport, re-assembling then doing the whole thing over again on Sunday after the event was just too much to handle this time.  Plus, for us who are geographically challenged with limited resources, the bikes are never quite exactly the way they were when we put them back together again and there is no bike shop close by to help us out with the small adjustments.  A real pain in the butt.
So pedals were the only thing coming.  Didn't even take our own saddle, though we considered it.  Tried to keep things easy.

Had our first glimpse of downtown Victoria as we drove to pick up our bikes.  I loved the drive through China town with the hanging lanterns on all the streets.  Wish I could see it in the dark.  

Rented our bikes from a North 48 Bike Shop which specializes in bike tours.  We had excellent service with David Ley, the owner.  He wanted our measurements from our road bikes and he set up the rental bikes according to these measurements.  Not exactly like your own but at least adjusted to fit better.  Saddle did feel different and I was wishing that I brought my own, but it didn't take long and my butt adjusted. 

Loaded the bikes up and went exploring the downtown area on foot.

Fresh seafood at Earl's on their outdoor patio, a quick stop at the grocery store for a few essentials then to the hotel to settle in.  

With the 2 hour time change, we felt ready for bed early in the evening.  I knew that we would wake up super early so heading to bed sooner than usual tonight was perfect.  

Indeed, we were up at 4 am and hit the roads not long after with our runners on to explore.  Our goal was to find the easiest way to get across the main highway to Elk Lake on the other side.  We wanted to run on the path around the lake, which was the triathlon run course.  Found our way to the beach then continued to run on the path around the lake.  It was almost magical with tall, towering trees, deep and thick foliage, ferns everywhere, constant glimpses of a breathtakingly calm lake.  I loved every minute of it.  I think when we set out for the run, both of us were thinking around 4 miles maybe 5.  Finally called it at 8.  Just having too much fun.  

Cleaned our selves up and set out to explore again, this time on 2 wheels.  We took the Lockside Trail to downtown Victoria.  It is a trail that travels both streets and trail with a couple traffic lights but a mostly straight through journey to downtown.  We found a Starbucks and had our usual; 2 plain oatmeal, 1 coffee, 1 peppermint tea.  

I had an appointment for an hour and Terry went exploring.
Lunch was on the patio of the Days Inn restaurant.  It faced the harbour so the views were awesome. It is a cool corner right in the heart of the downtown area with the harbour on the west side of the street, the magnificent Embassy Hotel on the east side and the Legislative Building on the south.  

The entire afternoon was spent touring around, following the scenic road (Beach Drive) from the downtown area through James Bay and around the east side of the island.  We had ocean views 80% of the time.  

It was spectacular.  Lots of parks, 2 harbours, the ferry station, residential areas with gated homes.  Tea at Starbucks a time or two and many bathroom breaks from too much peppermint tea.

Mile 1 where Terry Fox started his journey.

We went straight to Ironman Victoria check in and got ourselves registered.  There was very few exhibitor booths set up but we checked them out and listened to a speaker talk about having a successful swim event.  

Headed back to our hotel to clean our selves up then grabbed a burger from Boston Pizza. We had an errand to run on the west side of Victoria toward Langford.  Lots more hills and rocks. The mountains of the USA seems so close, only  a few miles to the south. 

Saturday morning included another early morning bike ride with plans to go directly to the event location to drop our bikes off for the mandatory bike check in.  Breakfast was at Starbucks again though a new location.  We biked part of the triathlon bike course that took us back into transition.  Lots of athletes riding the same area we did.  It was quiet country type paved roads, narrow and rolling hills.   I realized we didn't put our stickers on our bikes.  So back we went to the hotel to sticker our bikes, and helmets. 

We walked the 2 miles back from the transition area to the hotel then showered up to go have lunch.  Bought a few groceries and decided to drive some of the bike route which went from Elk Lake, north to Sidney and along the west side of the peninsula before heading back to Elk Lake.  A very nice scenic route with coastal views.  Took a couple hours by the time we made some stops but it was perfect for some of the afternoon.  

Got everything set up and ready for the triathlon.  Pasta for supper and feet up for the evening.  I wasn't feeling so hot and was getting a bit worried about how my body was going to handle the triathlon tomorrow.  

Alarm at 4 and first thing my husband said to me was that he thought we shouldn't go to the triathlon.  There have been a couple events that have had undesirable weather conditions or other tough issues that have given us a moment of thought of not participating but never before have we seriously considered it.  But truth be told, after 10 min of discussion with the premise being that we were both worried I would get really sick, it was decided to go pick up our bikes and have our own day.  I was ok with spectating while he participated but he said it wouldn't be the same and he wanted to spend the day with me.  Couldn't argue that.  I was both relieved and disappointed at the same time.  My heart and body were both talking to me sending opposite messages.  Which do you listen to?  In the end, health is more important.  

So, walked to transition and picked up our bikes just as the triathlon was going to start.  We started biking from there, making a big circle from along the coast to the downtown area and across the harbour bridge and back up to the Elk Lake area.  It was so wonderful to bike a huge part of the day, touring around, stopping when we wanted to and just enjoying the ride as tourists.  

Can't beat the ocean view

A park nestled in a residential area

Me in front of the Legislative Building

Embassy hotel

Bell that rang at each hour and played a song

Watched a bike race event that was held right in front of the Legislative Building. 1 Km loop that these bikers needed to do 42 times!  They just whizzed by.

Late afternoon lunch- McDonald's cheeseburger each and shared a McFlurry

We came back to the downtown area to return the bikes and for supper (our last fill of fresh seafood) and overheard a lot of triathletes (also eating) about how great the course/day was.  I was so glad for them.  I hope I can come back sometime to complete unfinished business.   

Monday morning we were heading back home.

Coles notes version of Victoria - you should go!! like now!!

-very scenic and totally worth visiting
-it has the tropical plants and flowers like California but the coniferous trees of Canada with cedar trees, mountains and of course the ocean
-weather was challenging for me to dress for; hot when you weren't in the wind but needed a sweater or jacket in the wind but lots of people were wearing more "summer wear" I guess more adapted to the wind/sun hot/cold thing
-we were only there from Fri- Mon but visiting at this time of the year (beginning of June) we had cloudy weather each morning with possible mist and a bit cool 7 C with more sunny skies in the afternoon and temp around 17 C
-I took a windbreaker and arm warmers for biking and used them every time I was on my bike and only took the windbreaker off once
-we stayed close to the event at Elk Lake but most people choose to stay in the downtown area and I would also do this when I return again
-rent a bike and hit the trails; there are too many paths and too much to see to not do this
-eat the fresh. local fish -  like lots of it
-walk around downtown, the harbour is very cool, many places to window shop or spend some money, very interesting architecture and waffle shops everywhere
-didn't see an ice cream shop anywhere we were
-we had wondered if we could get by without renting a vehicle and though Victoria is only 26 kms away, it would be very difficult to just go with a bike but buses run every hour back and forth and it is an hour ride between the 2 so that is doable
-we considered taking the ferry and going either to Olympic National Park, Oregon to the south or Salt Springs Island to the north but needed another day or two in Victoria to make it work, $2 to take the ferry on the bike

 bike rental: https://north48bikes.com/

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Reminders of Our Strength

Like many other fitness/endurance/adventurer enthusiasts, I confess to loving my active wear.

If you need to borrow a pair of runners, I have you covered.  Dress shoes not so much.  It would be really hard for me to find more than 2 "dressy" combinations of clothing from my closet.
I have embraced the fact that I am a jeans wearing, hiking boots, leggings, wicking shirt kind of gal.

My favs come from many different companies.   I will try to put together a post of my favourites.   I love looking at what other people can't live without.

While we were in California a couple months ago and my husband and I were engaging in our favourite pass time-  riding south on the PCH and stopping for coffee where ever we please.  One day, I stumbled upon a new brand of active wear.  I noticed this business a couple times riding past and today was the day to stop in and check things out.

I enjoy knowing the beginning of a company and especially how the name was chosen.  There have been a lot of new and interesting retailers I have discovered in California; Coeur Sports, De Soto, Wattie Ink, Oiselle, Betty Designs, and Soas to name a few.

GRACEDBYGRIT is a company started by 2 women who wanted women to feel empowered and safe.  What I love the most though is this quote that comes directly from their website.

"Every woman has experienced that difficult moment that she thinks might just break her. How we make it through those moments defines us. We have realized that our grittiest moments give us our grace. Every woman has been GRACEDBYGRIT." 

Does that hit real close?

You hear a lot about having a mantra to get you through tough times.  I don't exactly have 1 mantra that follows me wherever I go.  Most of the time, I get my encouragement from the things surrounding me right then and there.  My GRACEDBYGRIT delicious tank helped me muster up some grit and determination at mile 18 while running my marathon last month.

Or how about Oiselle.

"But perhaps most powerfully, it's been about celebrating a sense of freedom. And thus the name Oiselle (pronounced wa-zelle). A French word for bird, it alludes to that feeling of weightlessness that most athletes know and love. That sense of flight - when the legs go fast and the heart goes free."

When I wear my Roga shorts, I remind myself when my legs are tired that they are free, not tied down and they can fly.  I see myself running with high legs, barely touching the ground as my feet fly.  I swear, I find new energy.

My most favourite tri/biking shorts are from Coeur Sports.  They are just plain awesome.  

"Coeur is French for heart & the root of the word courage. And that’s what we put into our collections and our sport. As an athlete, you know that athletic performance is about so much more than genetic talent. Its also about heart. Heart is about digging deep and being mentally tough. Heart is what gets you to the finish line when all the body wants to do is lay down.  Heart is at the center of the community and the friendships you find in sport. Heart is what makes you give back to the community that has given you so much. Everything we do at Coeur - from our designs to how we play a role in our community - should reflect our values and how we aim to conduct ourselves. "

Most miles during an Ironman triathlon need a reminder to be courageous and brave; to have heart.

These are just a couple of my favourite companies that produce awesome athletic wear that don't just perform well and fit right, but they make me feel empowered, strong, brave and remind me that anything is possible.

This is what I need to reflect on when I am in tough moments.  This is what pulls me along when I want to slow down; what helps me get up when I stumble;  and what keeps me thankful for the strength of my body and what it can do.

What are your favourite reminders of strength?

Thursday, May 25, 2017


Hello warm temperatures!😊

and I guess hello mosquitoes😞

Hope everyone had a great long weekend.  May long weekend is the official kickoff to camping in Canada.  All you lucky people that got to enjoy the great outdoors, camp fires and smores, I am so jealous!  I hope to get to the lake one of these days to get some cleaning done before summer so we can really just go enjoy ourselves when we are there.

#farming2017 has been in high gear getting our crops in the ground, harrowing, picking rocks and such and we couldn't have had nicer weather.

Filling the seeding tank with seed and fertilizer

Me taking a water break while picking rocks and boy did I need it.  

The "baby" of the family got her learner's license.  So proud of her but also sad for me for the reminder that I am getting older.

She was also involved in a huge high school drama production of "The Lion King".  What an amazing job they did and what a huge undertaking it must have been for those organizing.

This drama and farming is what conflicted with our tentative plan to attend Spruce Woods Ultra.  It was the right thing to miss the ultra this year.  Really still hope to run it sometime.  Need to get this body of mine on the right track first.

On that note, the training has still not been going well.  Thankfully, I am kinda past the point of pure and complete exhaustion.  The kind where it is so very difficult to get myself out of bed so obviously have no desire, energy or ability to do much activity.  I have had a few short bike rides and a longer ride on gravel on Sunday.  I was feeling a bit better but as per our usual, we get exploring and the miles tick along until I pretty much hit bottom.  It was a day that was meant for riding all day- warm temperature, few bugs, not much traffic, low wind and a chance to unwind and spent time with my husband.  I felt very unwell the rest of the day as a result of my overexertion though.

Love this old barn

I captured this picture on Mother's Day- who could ask for more?

Any safer suggestions on how to get magpie's to pack their bags and move out?

And finally, a really nice evening in the back yard with the dog.

With seeding soon to be complete, hopefully, I will posting a bit more frequently.  I am planning to share what has been happening to me health wise and the plan I have for the near future.  I hope that if anyone else has also been on a lost train of confusion (in terms of weird health issues) that I can share my story with the goal of helping one of you.

Have an amazing week.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Rocky's Motivational Punch

I hate to start anything out on a negative note because I am a really positive person but I need to get this off my chest.
I have been pretty discouraged.
In the dumps in fact.

The stomach infection that took me YEARS to figure out and then months to get rid of is back.
 Insert big, heavy sigh.  

This is way more complicated than a 2 week dose of antibiotics.  It affects my entire body in so many ways and takes a ton of effort in a lot of areas to get back on track.  It will change my training and affect my day to day life in pretty big ways.

I wasn't going to bring this up.  I thought I would just bide my time until things starting feeling better and my emotions were a bit more in control before I shot out a blog post.  Like who really wants to spend their free time reading a blog post about someone who is scraping the bottom of the barrel?  Heck, I don't think a day goes by that we all aren't faced with some conflict and negativity.  No one wants more of it.
I changed my mind about staying quiet about it when I realized there is more to this story than me being a debbie downer.

I have a challenge to face, a mountain to climb, a demon to fight, a wall to bust down.  And I will do it one step, one stone and one brick at a time.  With that will come a soul that will be empowered,  a new sense of awareness, more strength, courage and determination.  I will find more pieces to my puzzle.  This part of the journey might not be of my choosing but I am confident that there will be many gains along the way.

In 2016, I had the most amazing year as I could train, race and live "like a normal person" having energy, health and a body that did what I wanted it to do.  For the first time in a long time.  And it was awesome.

Some of my recent discouragement was thinking that would be gone.  I love adventures and have a few of them planned for this year and I was already mourning the loss of them or maybe what they could have been.
Don't do that. It's stupid to mourn something that isn't dead yet.  There is time and things can change.  It might not but it might.  I need to remain positive and concern myself with things coming up when they come.

Life doesn't come to us without obstacles.  I sometimes used to wish for that red easy button you see on the Staples commercials and could just push it and everything would be good, done, just how you want it.  It would be that easy.
But life doesn't always deal cards fairly and add to that a mixture of genetics, environment, stress, relationships and other factors and you sometimes get the perfect storm.
A storm that changes it's appearance steadily; to some it is a physical storm like an infection, autoimmune disorder, cancer, or heart troubles. To others it may be a relational storm that leads to divorce, estrangement, issues with your kids or troubles at work.  Or it may also manifest in an individual as unhappiness, anxiety or depression.

A few things through all this tie us as together as people;
1. we are not alone, people everywhere are experiencing difficulties (even if it looks like they have their crap together) so take strength and comfort in number.
2. we all have the same questions to answer- "Will I let this ______define me?  I may fall but am I getting back up? Am I going to remain positive and thankful or become jaded and bitter?"
3. the journey continues and our choice in how we live will influence and affect countless numbers of people

My favourite words of encouragement have always been from Rocky.

I have watched the Rocky movies years ago.  I can't remember that much about each movie and I it has been my plan to spend some winter trainer rides re-watching. It hasn't happened yet but will someday.  He can pack quite a motivational punch (no pun intended) about the tough moments in life, about choices in life and about being a fighter.


Monday, May 1, 2017

Weekend Roundup and a Weird Anniversary

Hello May! and holy mackerel where did April go to?

We had a smashing good weekend.  Had all 4 kids home together for a few hours, celebrated my husband's birthday, went on my first road bike ride this year early Sat morning, did a bit of relaxing and made a good dent in the yard/house spring cleaning.

It was fantastic to get back on the road bike again.  It was only a month ago while away on vacation that I rode it almost everyday.  In fact, I rode 500 miles in the 2 weeks while I was away.

My bike missed me I could tell.

The ride was a bit cool with temp just over the freezing mark but with little wind.  I wore gloves instead of mitts- bad decision but I survived and still have all 10 digits.  Toes got pretty cold on the way home even with toe covers  but they survived too.  I have 2 black toe nails from my marathon a couple weeks ago so maybe they are toughening up.

Hubby's birthday cake was a peanut butter cup pie.  It was the first time I made this particular recipe and I was skeptical about the filling but after licking the spoon and then the bowl, I knew it was a winner.  I will be making it again.

On the training front- I have to confess, things have been pretty sporadic.   I feel like I am just not on my feet again and recovered from my cold.  I am still blowing my nose endlessly and just feel so tired out a lot of the time.  It has been just over 2 weeks and quite frankly, I am getting tired of being tired.  I need my energy back.
I had some nice runs and bike rides but they have been easy and I have stayed pretty close to home.

I was pretty darn serious about running in the Spruce Woods Ultra held on May 13th but my daughter is in a major drama production "The Lion King" at school and they are performing that weekend so we will be opting out of the ultra this year.  I was a bit unsure about it at first but was truly disappointed when I found out the date of the drama and knew that I couldn't run.  The drama is typically the 3rd weekend in May so I had not even thought about it interfering.  Oh well.  With the way I have been feeling, sometimes things just work out the way they are supposed to right?

A couple days ago marked the anniversary of my daughter having her wisdom teeth removed.  Normally, this isn't really an anniversary to remember but later that day (2 years ago) after the extraction, she lost consciousness and suffered a concussion that has had lasting effects.  The worst of these effects has been chronic migraines.  She has had a headache everyday since her concussion and usually about once every month or so, suffers with a severe migraine that takes up to a week to break.  Interesting enough, she is in bed as I write this, waiting for the migraine to break.  It has been painfully hard to see my child suffer and have to rearrange her goals and plans for post grade 12 and her future.  We have sought out medical assistance in every imaginable way to find few answers and no solution to her headaches.  Last year alone, we travelled almost 11 000 kms to attend various appointments.  Only to really be told to give it time.
A weird anniversary to think about and when she reminded me of it the other day, I told her I didn't want to talk about it or think about it.  It was a horrible time and I still can't think of that 24 hours of stitches, ambulance rides, testing and her unbearable agony without getting really upset.  I try to forget and here she is asking me to remember.  I began to understand that in her mind and those who have also suffered injury, loss, rehabilitation or other life changing event, the anniversary marks something very special.  She has had to fight really hard.  Lots of appointments, constant road blocks and dead ends.  Not to mention the loss of friends (who don't understand), the loss of her planned future and the loss of the the joy of young adulthood.  It has been a real roller coaster.  And somewhere deep inside, she has had to dig real deep, many, many times to stay positive and upbeat, to have patience and faith.  The burden has been many times overwhelming and in her words she said "I have had a headache for 730 days but I have also been courageous, shown perseverance and been tested to my limits in those 730 days and I have survived."

So for those of you who are in the trenches and those fighting along side their loved ones- don't give up, stay strong and celebrate the victory of courage and determination.  I think I will take her flowers and a Dairy Queen blizzard tonight and tell her how proud I am of her.

Hope you have a great day!