Friday, December 30, 2016

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas everyone!  Hope the past few days have been wonderfully relaxing and full of happiness.
 All 4 of my kids back under our roof,  lots of giggles, gaming, grooving with Just dance, sledding, skating, skiing, board game, coffee with friends, late night movie fun around here.  How do kids manage to dirty so many dishes?
As the New Year is just around the corner, I like to reflect on the past year and all the things that made it great and all the improvements/challenges I have made in my life.  On Jan 1st, I look forward to all the great things I want to tackle in 2017.  The truth is, a lot of my fitness events have been already booked so now I get the calendar out and start counting back weeks and planning my workouts.  I also make plans for other areas of my life.  I'm not a resolution person but instead someone who picks a few things on my someday list and puts them on this year's list.
I am super excited about 2017- so many great plans already in place.

A bit of the past few days around our place.  
Not much beats fresh cinnamon buns! Yum

Making gingerbread houses

Outdoor skating in the back yard.

Just heading out for a ski

An amazing dessert that takes chocolate lovers to another universe

Riding on the tobaggan behind the snowmobile.

 Hill work on skis

Waiting so patiently for me to get my skis on.

A quick hello

So much fun skiing with my guy.

A grocery run today got us all the snacks and goodies we needed for our par-t-ay tonight.  My youngest daughter (15) is a Ronda Rousey fan and we have the fight on pay per view tonight ready to go.  

Enjoy your weekend!

And Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family to yours.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pre Christmas Randomness

Merry week before Christmas everyone!

Tree up, gifts wrapped, board games ready, cookies baked and family coming to take over the house.  And of course for us northern people, Christmas wouldn't be complete without it being deep freeze temperatures here.  Interesting enough, as I write this, it is super windy and the temp has risen to a balmy -4 C.  Bring out the shorts honey, let's hit the beach!  

The past 3 weeks, temps have not gotten warmer than -20 C and have been as cold as -35 C.  Supposed to be warmer for a couple days, then cooling a bit.  I only wish we would get a dump load of snow right now.  If it is going to be winter then do it right so we can ski, snowmobile and cross country ski.  Am I right? 
 All you guys still running outside in shorts right now make me sick.  

Last year at this time, our family was doing just that.  Running in shorts in sunny California as we attempted to skip Christmas.  Actually we were just skipping our families.  Oops, did I say that out loud?  Maybe I should rephrase that- we were skipping the stress.  I love Christmas and I love that both our families are close by and we don't ever need to travel through the holidays but it makes for so darn much jumping around from house to house.  Being away received a mixed bag of acceptance from the kids; a couple hated to miss the normal traditions of being home through the holidays and the other 2 were fine with trying something different.  This year, now looking back, they all thought it was a good idea.  Guess we will be trying it again sometime.  

Our boys are coming home mid week and it seems they have survived most of their exams.  If you have ever had the opportunity to experience post secondary exam time- it's something you never forget.  I feel for them.  But a necessary part of growing up, struggling a bit then getting stronger and more confident.
Speaking of struggles, this has been especially helpful for me lately.   

And now some randomness.

I went for a bike fitting a couple weeks ago.  The guys at Dutch Cycle in Regina know how to treat people right.  I told my husband they have a good business by doing good business.  Freddy took all my questions in stride and I learned a ton about both road cycling and triathlon bike fits. My position on the bike was drastically changed.  My saddle moved up and back a lot.  I was told I may feel a bit sore or different after a few rides as my positioning before had me so scrunched up I never really got full extension.  30 ish miles on Saturday and I knew getting out of bed Sunday morning was going to be a rest day.  But faster and more powerful- can't beat that.

My bike on the left and the retul bike for fitting on the right.

Electrodes on me to track the position of my foot, knee, hips, shoulders and arms.

I was at the bike fitting for over 4 hours and came out with a ton of information.  So much appreciation for quality assistance.

We ordered some new furniture and it finally arrived.  With kids leaving home and sending stuff with them, we had only the odd chair and a love seat in our main family room.  Can you see anything odd about our set up?

A beautiful day with hoar frost on the trees.  Love it.

My husband loves peanuts through Christmas.  He went looking for some and couldn't find any.  I accidentally found them and asked him how many bags he wanted.  He thought 10 but settled for 3.

I also found this floating around on social media.  Makes me smile every time.

Have a wonderful week before Christmas.  Next post I will be laying out my 2017 endurance event plans as well as how I am planning to train for them.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

When Life is Tough

Are you ever cruising along life's highway and things are going pretty well when all of a sudden the curves start coming at you so fast you are overwhelmed, weighed down and soon you find yourself on the outskirts of "Defeatville"or maybe thinking you should put a down payment on a place at the "Funny Farm."

It's crazy how quickly life changes and things that can be good one day are hard the next.

 Miscommunication and relationships are strained.  A funny feeling head and grandma is in the hospital having suffered a stroke, and then another and another.  Cold temperatures and vehicles don't start.  A mild fever and your child has migraine headaches for a week.  A family member decides to change up Christmas plans. Kids in post secondary stressed with final exams. Extra projects expected at work. Try to do something good and it back fires and bites you in the butt.  And the kicker is sometimes the things we do for enjoyment,our stress relievers also add to the pile.  A bike ride and the shifters don't work, a run that ends in a sore knee.

The point is we all have things that cause us stress or maybe cause us frustration or worry and most of the time they are kind enough to spread themselves out so we can recover a bit and get ready for the next one.  What do you do when it all comes at once?

I don't know.
Ya that's right.  I don't know.
It's easy to get sad, unhappy, frustrated, and wallow in self pity for awhile.  Maybe get hopeful when there is signs of improvement then hit the bottom again when there isn't.  What a roller coaster ride it is and if you don't like roller coasters, then prepare for a uncomfortable journey.

I found this encouragement online through a google search.

Image result for when things are tough

Now I know the author means well and with a positive mindset, these are doable things.  But when you are on overload, not so easy.  Let me state the reasons this does not work for me.  When you are in the midst of adversity, it does seem like finding peace, health, harmony, money etc is impossible.  There is no way in heck that I believe in myself or am kind to myself; there is usually a beatdown happening.  Typically, I question everything I do, withdraw, feel down and out or grab the chips or ice cream a bit too much.  Make a plan?  Who's thinking straight enough to do this?  And the nerves part, I am probably 1 nerve away from losing my mind. And most of all, when you are neck deep, I'm not sure I can ever count to 10 never mind remember 10 things.

So the only thing that really helped me was knowing that nothing lasts forever.  I may not make the right choices and handle everything perfectly, but I will try my best with what I have at this time. Thanks Teddy;)

And as time passes a bit, I do start thinking about the strength I am gaining from a tough time and the kind of character I want to see in myself.

And somewhere along the way, a friend, relative, co-worker or complete stranger shows some kindness and you have a good cry or you hear about someone else's struggles and you gain perspective and realize that you will survive.  And you will be stronger.

For the past 2 weeks, my greatest accomplishment has been not completely losing my mind.

What has helped me has been trying to stay somewhat to routine.  I still get up and run or bike in the mornings.  It hasn't been as long or as intense as normal but I still stay to routine.

I try to get extra sleep.  Sometimes it is hard to eat and some people have trouble sleeping when they are in a crisis but I have tried hard to be in bed an hour earlier every night than my usual.  I make better decisions and cope better with more rest.

If I need to cry, I do.

Don't think too far ahead.

Do something productive each day/evening.  My ambition is in the negative numbers so it has been a push doing this but doing laundry or sorting through a drawer, making Christmas cookies, wrapping gifts.  These have all helped me kept me busy but not too much and helped me think about something else but not too hard.

When the chips are calling my name- I go walk on the treadmill or read a book by the fire.

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt.  It is very easy to start blaming mostly just out of frustration.

I have listened to a LOT of podcasts.  Inspirational stories, nutrition, spiritual well-being, triathlon or running.  I can turn them off when I want to and again, it helps take my mind off things and hopefully impacts my mojo to point upward.

 Sometimes life is tough.  I have little advice except to say that if you have a heaping load of worry and stress, you aren't alone.

What are your best ways of coping in tough times?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Weekend Roundup #8

Hello All

Are the weeks flying by for everyone else too? Total craziness.  I have almost 3 weeks of work until my Christmas break (a teacher gets such great holidays- don't hate me).  I am sure ready for a break in schedule.
One of the best things about a break from the day job is a chance to be more active.  Generally, instead of gaining some weight over Christmas, I lose a bit because I am moving more.  I am looking forward to doing some cross country skiing, snow shoeing, biking and running and doing it whenever I please.

Speaking of weight gain, it is so strange that at this time every year I all of a sudden develop a bit of a gut. Like a few pounds worth of weight that comes out of no where.  It seems to be a hormone issue in my opinion but why it occurs at the same time is still beyond me.  A little bit of training and schedule in January and it disappears.  It does drive me crazy though because a couple pounds is such a bit deal to a lot of women (me included) and I have to work really hard to not let it throw me mentally.  You know the, "I feel less sexy", "I hate the way I look in my jeans", "I can't get into these jeans, jeepers", "better change the 2 piece for the 1 piece for awhile".  It is so frustrating and can be discouraging so I work really hard to love me at every shape and size.  There is more to me than a number or the fit of my jeans!

My "off season" usually begins mid to late Aug until our harvest is done sometime in October. I am still exercising and working out, it is very inconsistent though.  Typically in the past few years, there is an early season triathlon on our calendars in around the end of March or April and so training picks up in Dec and ramps up in January.  This year, we had a bike event the end of Oct and so the off season training was more than it usually is.  I feel like I have maintained my fitness better this year.  And I was motivated to keep moving.  Kona in Oct keep me engaged and Ironman Arizona also helped.  Since then though,  I have been in a bit of a slump.  Tired more than usual, lazy, unmotivated, don't want to get up in the morning,  too tired in the evening,  you get the picture.  The miles tick by so slowly and time crawls.  I hate that feeling.  It is good to honor the down time with some relaxation but too much leads to bad habits and frustration.  I am intentionally going to push things this week in terms of getting up earlier again to get a bit of a routine going.  What do you guys do when you are unmotivated?

A few random things from my week.

I saw this picture somewhere and I think it describes my closet to a tee.

Made some chocolate chip cookies and scuffles one evening last week.  Took some to the son in Regina we went to visit this past weekend.  The other son begged me to hide the rest for him.

I can't seem to get enough blueberries lately.  My oatmeal each morning looks like this with a chaser of blueberries because you can never have too many.  And I usually have more later in the day.  As I said, CAN"T. GET. ENOUGH

It is officially Christmas when you have a poinsettia on the table
and the kids get to start their chocolate advent calendars.  Even the big kids in my family were looking for their calendar last week.

I really like this.  Not sure my kids shared my sentiments.

It is more like winter around here now.  A bit of snow on the ground and below freezing temperatures.  More snow and much colder temperatures coming in the later part of this week.  Looking forward especially to the rock hard vehicle seat after work each day.

Spent from Friday to Sunday in Regina and did a few of my favorite things. (your welcome for humming that song now for the rest of the day)

A couple hours in a bike shop looking at bikes.  Forgot to take any pictures as I was too busy talking and listening, and seriously, I did do my fair share of listening.  I tried to keep my questions to under say, 20 or 30.  I am going back in a week to get fitted on a bike they are right now building!!! So exciting.

Saturday and Sunday both started with a walk to a favourite spot for oatmeal and coffee/tea with my favourite guy.

Spent an evening in a hockey arena at a WHL hockey game.  Both our boys played hockey and both girls were in figure skating so for many years, I spent at least 5 days a week in the evening at the rink from Oct to April, sometimes longer for hockey.  There has been no hockey or skating for about 4 years now and I sometimes miss it;) Hanging out with the other parents watching our kids, planning tournaments or carnivals.
We watched the Regina Pats play Prince Albert Raiders.  Nice time, good seats, cheap night ($15 a ticket), good entertainment  and lots of laughing.

Training this Week:
Monday; rest
Tuesday: 13 mile ride
                 4 mile treadmill run
Wednesday: 2 mile walk
Thursday: nothing
Friday: 16 mile ride
Saturday: 3 mile walk
Sunday: 2.5 mile walk

Also completed 2 strength training sessions about 15 min each but a very low mileage week.  Seem tired more than usual and my get up and go seems to have got up and gone without me.

Event for the Future:

Antelope Canyon Ultra Marathon

Antelope Canyon offers a 50 mile, 50 km or half marathon option and for Feb 25, 2017, this event is already sold out.  Antelope Canyon Ultra is part of the Grand Circle Trail series that offers 7 events in the Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico state areas.

The course is introduced from the event website with this statement.

 "50 miler- On this course you will experience two of the most photographed land features in the country- Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River. After traversing the desert sand and slickrock to reach these unbelievable features, the run finishes out on smooth single track around the plateau that the city of Page, AZ is built upon, with jaw-dropping views of Lake Powell.  "

Here is a video for the events.

I googled images from the event and they are breathtaking.

You can find more information about the Antelope Canyon Ultra here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Weekend Roundup #7

Last week was interesting.  I was a bit off.

Oh heck, who am I kidding.  I was just plain out grouchy, in a snit, peed on my cornflakes, panties in a knot- for a few days anyway.

The week started good then went downhill from there.  And darn it all, it is ALWAYS the little thing.  I swear if you ask what the problems were, I would need to think hard.  It was just the accumulation of all the little things that didn't go right that just got under my skin and wouldn't come out.  I just couldn't shake it.  Well until later Friday afternoon after a little bit of my own time to do what I want when I want with music playing loudly.
I know I'm not the only one this happens to and most of the time I can bounce back pretty quick from upsets but it is so tough when you try to do the right thing or help a situation out or be kind and it back fires on you.  As my kids would say, "You got burnt chicken".

With most of the heaviness behind me,  I had a relaxing weekend of putting up Christmas light, baking very yummy paleo gingerbread cookies (will share the recipe this week) and doing some general house clean up.
Our community was on board the Black Friday train and there was special deals and sales at many of the businesses. With no snow and mild temperatures, it was nice to browse a bit and get a start on some Christmas shopping.

Training this Week:
Tuesday- strength workout/pool strengthening
Wednesday- 26.5 mile ride
Thursday-3.5 mile run on treadmill
Friday-5 mile run outside
Saturday- 27 mile ride
Sunday- 9.5 mile run with hubby and the dog.  Last run before the snow on our backyard trail.

My favs for the week

Challenge Roth anyone?  Hoping I am registering next year.

A few pictures showed up in my inbox this week wanting my purchase.  A little walk down memory lane for me, my first 1/2 ironman distance triathlon in Galveston, Texas.

I really LOVE this bag.  Put it on my Christmas list.  Santa I have been very good;)

Have a great week!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Challenge Roth- The Bike

Challenge Roth bike course is a 2 lap course.  It navigates the riders through the German country side with frequent tours of small towns on route.  Some of these communities were like ghost towns without a person to be seen while others were like party central with tables and benches full of beer drinking, cheering people.

 The topography varied.  After leaving the bike start area, the road was always changing; lots of curves and turns through wooded areas and towns.  It was very visually stimulating and the constant change made the miles fly by.  I made a stop at an aid station at the porta porty.  Very infrequently did I see anyone peeing.  I am guessing the guys peed off their bikes and the ladies, I'm not sure.  Call me a baby but I refuse to pee on my bike.  I refuse to have the stink in my shorts and/or the potential damage to my shoes.  So I stop.  It only took a few minutes and I think the quick change was good.
Not long after, I encountered Solar Hill.

Solar Hill is an experience to say the least.  Nothing can prepare you for the thousands of people lining the sides of the road going up the hill.  There is a barricade to start with that is about the width of vehicle but then narrows to the width of a person when the barricades are absent.  Here the people are cheering and yelling gehen and schnell, ringing bells, banging things.  It is really just like you see in the Tour De France.

Beautiful, rolling countryside and more towns followed until the town of Greding.  Greding is a breathtaking town.  Lots of very traditional style buildings and a town wall surrounding it all built on a large hill.  There was a lot of spectators in Greding but were more spread out than in other areas.

Greding Hill is amazing.  You roll into the town of Greding and immediately start the curvy ascent which seems to go on forever.   You look up and see a corner and think "I will be at the top just after the corner" and then you get to the corner and find another steep ascent.  I finally just put my head down and kept pedaling figuring when I get to the top will be when I get to the top. It is a decently challenging hill that does continue for a couple miles.  It has been tagged on mapmyride as "challenging, steep and very difficult".

The picture below shows the aid station just beyond the town of Greding.  You can see there is still a bit of an incline.  This section is very quiet spectator wise but lots to look at with the wide open agricultural land.

**photos above all from google searches

The next section of the course starts with many very steep descends.  I started really rolling down the first hill barely feathering the brakes.  People were really flying past me and it is easy to get carried away when you have momentum and peer pressure.  But I started to feel an uneasiness in my gut and seconds later a guy that just passed me crashed into a wall of bales at a very sharp corner just a bit ahead.  It just seemed to come out of nowhere.  The road was meandering so it was easy to be not prepared for a greater than 90 degree corner.  He was lying there motionless and a volunteer was already on the phone and assisting him.  Put some fear into me.
Past the hilly descents through a forest, the course once again opened into large areas of agriculture and flat roads for the most part.  Wasn't too long and I was at the canal at the swim start and beginning my second loop.
Second time up Solar Hill had less people and I was draggy a bit.  I had stopped on the first lap to use the porta potty and again I stopped to use the bathroom and though I was doing well with consuming my UCAN nutrition and water intake, I hadn't ate any "real" food yet and didn't really feel hungry but I thought I should have one of my pb and j sandwiches.  A couple bites in and I was delirious with delight.  It tasted so good.  How come I didn't think I was hungry when all of a sudden I was ravenous.  I ate the whole english muffin w pb and j and a couple bites from the other one.  If I was a bit lethargic before the stop, I sure wasn't anymore.  Overall, I enjoyed the second loop as much as the first.

I think one of the main things that worked for me on the bike was staying in the moment.  Through all of my training, I take a distance or route and break it into parts. On almost every other race I have done, I have broken each discipline into smaller, manageable parts.  I did NONE of this on this race day.  For this ironman distance race, I decided to do this first thing in the morning (it wasn't even really a planned part of my strategy).  I just started thinking about how when I start something like the swim, a lot of the time I start thinking about when I will be done.  I just didn't want to spend most of my day looking forward to the end of each discipline.  Especially on the bike; that is a long time to wait to be done.  I wanted to enjoy every moment as much as possible.  So I was mindful of a lot of things; my nutrition, my perceived effort, my speed, my time but I was focused on my enjoyment and my surroundings.  This made all the difference for me.  So much so that I am trying not to say things like "only 3 more miles or only 45 more minutes" like I used to.

Making the turn toward Roth to T2 at the end of the second lap was very exciting.  I knew what my plan was in T2.  I was surprised that I hadn't been passed on the bike by my husband.  His wave started an hour later than mine and I thought that he might have caught up to me close to the end of the bike.
I can hear my hoka's calling me.  It's exciting to only have 26 miles to go!

Going to bike check in.  

Trek speed concept, specialized helmet, specialized road shoes, 2 water bottles with UCAN, xlab water bottle in front with NUUN, bento box (for my pb and j sandwiches, + extra stuff)
My spot 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Weekend Roundup #6

Late posting on the weekend roundup as I am not a savy enough blogger to drag my computer with me on a weekend away and post as usual.  
We spent the weekend as a family in Saskatoon where our oldest son lives.  The other boy drove from his city of residence just around 2 hours away and we had an American Thanksgiving celebration even though it was a week early and even though we are not American.  

Friday night's fun was a walk through the Enchanted Forest.  This was a 30 min walk through an amazing light display.  It featured many of Saskatchewan's hobbies/teams/attractions. It was the first night of the event and would continue until the beginning of January.  The neat part was that only on the first and the last nights can you walk through, all the other days, you drive through.  It was affordable at $20 per family and very cool.  All 4 kids came along just to keep us happy (aka: they thought it would be lame) but they all had a great time laughing about things and taking pictures.  

We stopped at Starbucks for a hot beverage after.  Kids enjoyed some Christmas themed drinks, Terry and I had peppermint tea.  We don't have a Starbucks close by so it is a real treat when we hit the city.  

Saturday started with a great 5 mile run in -8 C temp with a strong wind.  Followed that up with an oatmeal from Starbucks before the real fun happened.  We went to Bruce's Cycle shop to look at bikes.  

We were both wanting to seriously look at road bikes and get some idea of what was out there for mountain and fat tire bikes.  We love riding the fat tire bike but can't justify the cost for the amount we are going to use it.  I think the mountain bike purchase will come spring of next year.  It was good to see names, costs, specs etc to have some idea.
So, we both are intrigued by Specialized road bikes: the Ruby (women's) and Roubaix (men's).  They didn't disappoint.  The staff was super great and helpful and showed us the options and discusses specs.  We tried some out on the trainer to determine proper size.  We have some great options and a lot of thinking to do.  
Women's Ruby Elite

Men's Roubaix

Met up with the kids at the package pickup for our big "Gingerbread Run" the following morning.  Did a bit of shopping.  Found some crazy stuff.  Had a great evening of the usual Thanksgiving meal (turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, veggies followed up with creme brule dessert cake) watching Hockey Night In Canada.  
Can't wait to see him wear this for real!

Gingerbread Run was really fun.  -3 C morning with little wind.  Around 400 people running either the 10 km or 5 km.  The run was along the North Saskatchewan River so very scenic and fun to run together as a family again.  We have entered a lot of events with the kids, mostly 10 or 5 km runs but we haven't done one for awhile now.  

We were treated to delicious gingerbread cookies after the race.  Yum.  Definitely putting these on my Christmas "to make" list. Forgot how good they were.  

A little bit of furniture shopping and some r & r before heading home.

On the training front:
Monday: nothing
Tuesday: nothing
Wednesday: 12.1 mile bike ride
Thursday: 14 mile bike ride
Friday: 5 mile bike ride
              2 mile Enchanted Forest walk
Saturday: 5 mile run
Sunday: 1.3 mile walk
               3.1 mile Gingerbread Run

Not a great training week.  However, I have not included any strength training or pool strength sessions and I am getting 3-4 of those in each week.  I thought it might be ok to work on the strength right now in preparation for later.  
It also seems to be hard to get going on Mondays and Tuesdays after having big weekends away.  I am trying to keep things flexible until the beginning of January but it is great having a recap where I see the numbers.  Good incentive to get moving.

A few random things, just cause you really need to know.
I love this jersey.  So festive.  Is wearing this to Christmas dinner pushing it?
Reindeer Cycling Jersey ***SHIPS 12/09***
There is something fundamentally wrong with a bathroom layout when you can see yourself in the mirror while you are sitting on the throne.  Who thinks this is a good idea?

I am a sucker for those warm your heart Christmas movies (sappy) that just make you feel good so I am in my glory as they are on all day everyday on some channel somewhere.  Makes riding the bike more entertaining.  Hubby doesn't enjoy them though so for solo rides only.  

For those celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend, have a wonderful time anticipating your weekend. Us Canadians get to enjoy our version of Black Friday so get your Christmas shopping lists out and your credit cards primed. 
Enjoy your week!