Athlete.

For the month of January, the “blog squad” was writing weekly including one “choose the topic” week. It’s now February and I’m still working on this post. It keeps going around in my head:”when did you first consider yourself an athlete.” I had a few ideas down and then read Laurel‘s version of the same question. The short version: she always thought of herself as an athlete. For me, it was almost the opposite.  Although I know I’m ‘sporty’ now, I really wasn’t always and I certainly didn’t consider myself an athlete.

In highschool I tried all the sports teams and was usually benched pretty early, not having the greatest hand-eye coordination for sports such as volleyball and basketball. I still don’t, and won’t be taking up racket ball anytime soon. I did make it onto the field hockey team, but I’m pretty sure I mostly ran around and occasionally whacked a ball. The finer points of team play were lost on me. Finally, at 15 or so I joined the local sailing team where my older sister and brother were already racing. It took a few years of figuring it out, but by grade 11 and at 16 years old, I was the top of Canada for youth sailing, even winning two national titles. I still did not consider myself an athlete.

Sailing is an odd sport involving tactics, boat-handling and strength endurance. Some skills can be learned, but many of the best sailors in the world are just born with the feel for the water. Looking back now, I realize how much strength I had.  I recall being able to do one-armed pull-ups and carry around my 200lb brother. And abs. Whoa, did I ever have abs. Below is the typical position the skipper of a dinghy stays in for much of a race. Rock. Hard. Yet, I still didn’t consider myself an athlete.

hiking
Leverage your body weight over the water for hours each week for abs of steel.

After my sailing days, I switched in “type 1 fun” sports like skiing and downhill mountain biking. Considering these are both gravity driven, I certainly did not consider myself and athlete.

I did start to swim regularly and started attending masters more or less for something to do in the cold evenings of Whistler. I took up running in 2005 or so and eventually, the downhill mountain biking included more and more uphill. Was I an athlete yet? Not as far as I was concerned.

So when did I finally consider myself an athlete? I’m not sure there was an exact moment, but when a complete stranger comments, “I dare say, you look like a sportswoman” or your co-workers start calling you the “machine,” it starts to cross you mind. I do recall the morning before my first Ironman in 2011. I stood up and caught a glimpse of my 30 year old self in the mirror. I barely recognized the reflection. That girl looked like an athlete and the next day she would prove that she was one and had probably been one all along.

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Jack of all trades.

This week the team of online word warriors answer questions from our fellow members.  Hailey provided me with my topic: Liz- if you could only do one sport (from tri) for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why? Then provide some of your fave moments/routes of this sport, or bucket list things you would like to do with this sport.

We meet so many triathletes that have a clear answer for this. That big guy with the shorn legs is yelling, “BIKE!” while the woman with the gills is waiting for the race that gets shortened to just a swim.

I consider myself a “true triathlete,” meaning I really don’t have one clear winner nor one clear loser. That’s me: “Jack of all trades, master of none.”  I’m decidedly run-of-the-mill in all three sports, so which one do I do for the rest of my life? Let’s break it down.

Swim. I’m a naturally decent swimmer.  I’m very lucky that way.  I never took swim lessons as a kid unless you count the few seasons of synchro during those painfully awkward tween years. Nothing helps a girls’ confidence like a bun and nose plugs. I’m not a first out of the pack swimmer, but I don’t work that hard at it either. I enjoy the water and I would not have survived pregnancy without it. I can see how an aging body could continue to swim long into the golden years. However, with the exception of Vancouver’s amazing Kits Pool in the summer, the view doesn’t change much. A black line is a black line.

Bike. There is no sport that makes you feel like a child free in the world like cycling.  Heading out the door knowing you can make it hundreds of miles under your own power is a disaster preparedness plan like no other. I got a late start to biking also.  I was six. SIX! I recall the day clearly. I needed to get to the beach at my Aunt and Uncle’s cabin. I had been walking there in bare feet on pointy rocks and pebbles. I turned back, pick up one of the many bikes and off I went.  The peddles felt so smooth under my feet. I spent the rest of the time of that vacation riding everywhere I could. Bike is a strong contender.

lizs-iphone-357
Does this still count?

Run: all you need are shoes. I could probably end this post on that point. Shoes. No bike to maintain. No water or wetness. There are so many places you can see on two feet. I traveled around Europe solo one summer and was on the other end of many an odd look as I laced up at the hostel and headed out the door to run around a new city. Apparently, I was meant to be so hung-over that I see only the inside of a dingy bunk room.

I have examined the evidence and weighed the pros and cons.  As much as I want to cop out and choose more than one, I shall answer the question as stated. If I could do only one of the three sports for the rest of my life I would choose: running.  It’s social, accessible and I can take up kiteboarding to get the rush lost from riding a bike.  The strangest thing about choosing running is that I really don’t have any “bucket list” running events. Even Boston doesn’t make me tick. There is the ongoing family wager that if I can beat my dad’s PB marathon time of 3:25 he will take up running again (he’s 66,) but that involves running a marathon. Considering it’s been 10 years since my only open marathon, the bucket list might get drawn up very soon.  Thanks for the question Hailey.  Let’s go for a run one of these days. In fact, lets all go: Christine, Jen, Laurel, Caitlin, Elizabeth, and Erin!

 

7 for 2017

*Editor’s note: I wrote this before reading SMOs entry. Demonstration of brain sharing when you spend an inordinate amount of time with someone. Also note how she “dabbles in parenting.”

 

I sat down to start writing this “7 things of 2017” post and had a little hissy-fit. I thought these fine women (Hailey, Erin, Jen, Elizabeth, Laurel, Caitlin and Christine) were asking me to set some inconsequential goals for the year that will, apparently, change my life and make my digestive acoustics smell like crisp ocean air. I then thought I should write my usual satirical take on life changing ticks of the clock, but it’s just too easy. Have we learned nothing since 1999?  When a computer reaches 1999, it logically ticks over to 2000. It doesn’t blow up. It just carries on counting. So why do we think our entire lives can change with one change of number at the end of your cheque book? If you still have a cheque book that is. Maybe your landlord lives in the 21st century age of e-transfer.

Then Hailey posted her 7 things and I realized it can just be things we are looking forward too. Ding! I can do that.  So here they are: 7 things I’m looking forward to in 2017.

  1. Fitness. Hello? Is it me you’re looking for? The one things I can say about being really really out of shape is that there’s no way to go but up. Lately, I’ve come home from runs with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step. There’s still a long way to go, but I’m getting to be ok with that. When I do get fit, I’m gonna be that super annoying person that thinks the whole world needs to see her abs on social media. OK, maybe I won’t. That really is the worst.
  2. Numbers. I like numbers. Numbers don’t lie and they, in certain context, can tell a story. I want to use my love of numbers to make confidence decisions about what my athletes are doing for training. I do already, I just want to do it more and do it better. I also want to use my numbers to make decisions about what I’m doing with my own training. I’m self-coached, due to budget constraints, and I can do better at coaching myself. New power meter. New Heart rate monitor. No more excuses.
  3. Trips. Two trips are already planned. The usual trip to Maui with the family and a race trip to Coeur D’Alene for the 70.3. Nowhere new, but at least it’s getting out of town. Hopefully, some others added to the list before the end of the year pending my tethered small friend and his ability to eat without mum.
  4. Timing Chips. I didn’t wear a timing chip at all in 2016. 2017 holds more timing chips, race bibs, startlines and (hopefully) finish lines.
  5. Ocho. I’ll explain another time, but I’m really excited about this one.
  6. Mountains. I miss adventures with my friends. In 2015, it was trail runs up mountains, epic 200k bike rides, skate skiing, skiing. I want to get back to a level of fitness where I can confidently head out the door with my friends and seek adventures. This is no laughable feat; my friends are really fit.
  7. Oceans. In 2016, I swam in the ocean once. It was the day before Elliot arrived. I stepped on a boat once. I miss the ocean and the adventures with my husband. He likes boats. He builds boats; you should buy oneb39574_269b18a1e3d94bf0ac497864c95fe4edmv2. I want adventures on the ocean with all my boys.

So there you go; 7 things that, hopefully, don’t sounds too “resolutiony.”

[L1]

Negative Nelly never wins.

 

I’ve been composing this blog post in my head since about km 14 on the bike during Sunday’s Ironman 70.3 Victoria as it was about then that I realized I hadn’t shown up for the race.  It is said that IM 70.3 St George is one of the most challenging on the circuit; well obviously Victoria must be harder.  How else do you explain a slower time in moderate temperatures on a shorter and flatter course? I had great training sessions leading up to it; I was feeling ready and confident. The gun went off and bllleeehhhh.  Hmmm.  I’ve been doing some pretty good moping around in the hoody we got at the race and have come up with a list of excuses reasons why my race didn’t go as planned.  Most of these are true, but bonus points for spotting the false ones.

 

I woke up late Sunday night with a cold (which I still have) that had probably started earlier that day
My ferritin has dropped to 11 since St G.
It was cold and I don’t like the cold
I had a few too many life problems show up in one week
My pet unicorn ran away
My knee gave up on the run
Two porta potty stops
I was intimidated by my competition
I stupidly ran in older shoes on sharp rocks and trail
I tried new nutrition and I don’t think it worked
I was haunted at my hotel room the night before
I didn’t write a race plan
I was a bit over confident
I couldn’t find a positive thought out there if it kicked me in the teeth
I wasn’t psyched

 

But, I finished. More than a few times I thought of quitting, but I’d paid to be there so I was going to finish.  I’m still looking for the positive outcome to this race. I did still place 5th in my AG, but I just expected more.   SMO had a DNF that I didn’t know about until a few steps before the line with a legit reason.  We have set a race sign up moratorium for two weeks to prevent the “redemption race” sign up.  We need some pressure free adventures.

 

Ok, I’ll stop whining now….or tomorrow.

 

bike

Not my usual smiley running self.
Not my usual smiley running self.

 

Sick and mopey
Sick and mopey

It’s 4am. I hate Triathlon.

It’s 4am and I HATE the sport of triathlon. Triathlon is that annoying co-worker that sniffles next to you.  Triathlon is the hair in your food after you’ve eaten most of it.  Triathlon is that Nickleback song that always plays just before you get out of the car. Triathlon sucks.

Let’s rewind a little shall we?  Sometime last summer we (SMO, Kelsey and myself) decided a road trip to Ironman 70.3 St George Utah would be the perfect early season race to get our butts in gear.  After we signed up, we looked at a map.  Turns out St George is at the bottom of Utah.  Huh, who knew?  So after a bunch of trainer rides, a training trip to Maui and a few tune up half marathons, we loaded up the truck last Wednesday and hit the road.

We arrived in St George on Thursday evening with enough time to do one of those pre-race jogs that is just hard enough to scare the crap out of you.  It also didn’t help that it was still 33degrees Celsius at 6pm, what is this place? The desert or something?

Pre-race day went as planned for the most part:

-sleep in (without an 11 month old waking me up!!)

-go to the athletes meeting to get some incorrect information

-head out to the swim for a dip in the chilly waters

-spin out the road for a while to make sure all is in order.  Blow out a tire and have to hitchhike back to the car, take the wheel to a shop and spend even more money on another tire.  Wait, I guess that’s not quite the best pre-race plan, but thankful we went for the ride!

So now it’s 4am Saturday morning?> and I hate my sport.  Somehow I get out of bed, have a coffee and feel the dread of my day lift ever so slightly.  OK, hate is a strong word.  I now think triathlon is just kinda annoying. It gets better as we shuttle out to the start and I get prepped to hit the water.  Triathlon is actually kinda neat.

SWIM:

I’d never done a deep water start before and with only the other 102 women in my AG it was a wee bit of luxury. Maybe too much of a luxury.  Without the washing machine terror of most starts I swam calmly and probably a little below my potential.  I got out of the water in 32 something, but feeling awesome so perhaps those lost 2 mins were worth it.  Triathlon is pretty cool.

BIKE:

I’d been doing a lot of riding in Maui for the month of April so I was excited to see what I could do on this course.  I put my head down and pedaled looking up occasionally to admire the amazing vistas and smile at spectators. Just before km 75 I lost focus a little, in time for the Snow Canyon climb.  I lost a little time with a side-stitch up the big climb, but coming off the bike with a 2:48 was A-OK. Triathlon is really fun.

RUN:

Coming in from the bike you overlap with the run course, giving the view of the shade-less inferno that is the hilly run course.  Everyone talks about how hard the bike course is; ummm, hello?  Do they not notice the run?  Easily the toughest standalone half marathon I’ve ever done.  Maybe the dry heat sucks the memory out of people’s heads.  The first few k were slow. Then we went up hill and they didn’t get any faster.  Then I think I focused for about 6 mins on running and did ok. Then we went up hill again.  Etc.  I was surprised to see that I was running decently by half way and even more surprised with my 1:45 run split.  I had really wanted to run sub 1:40, but that course just wasn’t going to let me.  Big smiles down the finishing shoot.  Triathlon is the best sport ever!!

So there you have it. 5:11:31 is more than satisfactory for the first big race back post-bebe and landed me in 8th in my AG, 23rd amateur female.  Super duper to have a day where things went well and I didn’t fret about anything.  My bike worked, my shoes didn’t give me blisters and my Coeur Sports kit never crossed my mind except to make me feel fast and awesome (most amazing shorts ever I’ll tell ya).

After some beers and a good night’s sleep it was back in the car for the long drive home.

Oh and yesterday they announced Ironman 70.3 Victoria.  Guess who already registered?

I love triathlon.

I tried a new finish line fist pump.  I think it's working for me.
I tried a new finish line fist pump. I think it’s working for me.

photo 2

Thanks to Andrea from Coeur for this one.
Thanks to Andrea from Coeur for this one.

photo (7) photo (6) photo (5) photo (4)

photo (2)

Kelsey and I pre-race selfie
Kelsey and I pre-race selfie

Bouncing back

So. It’s been 7 weeks since Henry entered our lives and I’m pretty sure I’m kicking ass at this mother thing.  Milk goes in, pee and poop come out.  Seems simple enough to me. Motherhood rules, but I’m still not sure about that whole 9 months of pregnancy that has to go along with it.

Full fat milk = 3 lbs baby weight gain in 6 weeks.  Go Hank!
Full fat milk = 3 lbs baby weight gain in 6 weeks. Go Hank!

I always thought I’d be one of those pregnant women that stayed super fit all the way to the end.  As it turns out I’m inherently lazy. Without a race to train for, the motivation to sit on my bike trainer for more than 20mins was non existent. On top of that, the endurance athlete in me didn’t find a 20min work out worth getting dressed for.  Vicious cycle.  I did go to the gym and swim regularly, so I guess that’s something.  I don’t think I looked super huge though.  This was taken the day before I went into labour.

38.5 and ready to go.
38.5 and ready to go.

I wear 182lbs well huh? Yes. One hundred eighty two pounds. I’m sure at least 12lbs was water though. My feet and ankles looked like the Michelin man.

That whole giving birth thing is quite the experience.  I can distinctly remember thinking that an Ironman would be a piece of cake after the big squeeze.  Too bad Mother Nature does some sort of trickery where you don’t remember the pain all that clearly as quickly as a few days later. I guess that’s for the sake of all mankind; emphasis on the man.

A few days, 25lbs lighter and a squishy marshmallow belly later I started out on the quest to get back in shape.  No big deal right?  My fellow new mom and slight girl-crush Lauren Fleshman recently posted her 4 week post baby 6 pack to the envy of mothers and non-mothers alike. Although I might not be able to actually see the abdominals behind my extra ummm padding, I no longer have a gap the size of the Grand Canyon down my midsection. Progress.

5 days post Henry
5 days post Henry

My recovery regime has consisted of some running, some general fitness and some swimming.  I really launched quickly back into running; 2k. Yep, I know you’re impressed.  I only had to stop 7 times during it as well.  Pretty good seeing as last year I could only run 42km all in one go. Super handy that if you have to pee at all at the start of a run you don’t by the end. It conveniently finds its way out of your baby without any effort from you.  I wonder if peeing on the bike in a race will be easier now too.

I also go to stroller fitness. Yes, stroller fitness.  A bunch of mommies get together with their babies and do all sorts of general fitnessy things like squats, lunges and pull-ups.  I hate to brag, but I should mention that I won the game of British bulldog and I have the youngest baby by almost 3 months.  Take that beeatches. Actually, I swear a 120km brick workout is easier than 2 mins of running up a set of stairs followed by crunches.  All you people out there that workout just for the sake of working out are kinda nuts.  I don’t see the motivation in it and usually completely obliterate the workout with a giant muffin afterwards.

Swimming is just weird without my buoyancy belt of a belly.  Strangely, not having a baby riding up into your lungs makes it much easier to breath however. Yesterday, I managed 1000m and then took a 2 hour nap.

So the athlete trapped in the new mommy body is slowing cracking her way out.  Everything I read tells you to get active and eat sensibly and the baby weight will come off.  I hate eating sensibly. Guess I better think about signing up for a race or two if I expect to get at all fit by ski season.

Lookout, here comes Liz.

17 weeks.  I thought it was so obvious I was pregnant.
17 weeks. I thought it was so obvious I was pregnant.
22 weeks. Still got some abs!
22 weeks. Still got some abs!
28 weeks in Maui.
28 weeks in Maui.
31 weeks. Holy roundness.
31 weeks. Holy roundness.