Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Biking AZ, Running UT -

Road trip - PART 1

I always knew that I wanted to provide an opportunity for my clients and athletes to escape the winter weather a little early and go somewhere warm and sunny to lay down early season miles.  Many of us do as much as we can inside, strength focused, using the computrainers and running on the treadmill when the snow and slush outside arrives. Finally after many years of humming and hawing and trying to decide how to organize and plan a fun yet focused getaway, I finally made it happen!

Eight of us headed down to Tuscon, AZ at the end of March for a six day bike camp and our experience there did not disappoint.  Norm and I drove down, leaving Squamish at 8pm on the Saturday evening so that we (and by that I mean me) could drive through the night while Kiel slept. Not ideal or fun but it was the best way to log 12 of the 27hrs that it would take to get to Tuscon and make it easy on Kman. We made it to San Fran Sunday afternoon and spent a great evening hanging out with my DART nuun-Sport Multi team mates and friends, Jen & RVG.  Monday morning it was back in the car and after looking at our map more closely we decided that Solana Beach, just north of San Diego, really only added on an extra 1hr to the trip so rather then push it all day again, we headed for a quick visit to see our good friend TR and enjoy a little SoCal Mexican style dinner. Tuesday morning it was up and out though at 5am so that we could make it to the Cycling House in Tuscon for the launch of the camp and ride #1.

I can see why so many athletes head to Arizona for Winter training. The routes we rode each day were stunning, and of course, the roads were dry.  We had an all inclusive package at the Cycling House, we didn’t have to do anything except for ride our bikes!  Amazing, organic and tasty meals were served, dishes done, bikes tuned, nutrition products laid out and a morning stretch/core class offered. Our guides were the best, able to accommodate all ride levels and still give everyone a great experience. We had van support on the longer days which was really great.   We rode all the classic routes in the area including Mt Lemmon, Sugaro National Park and Gates Pass.  A few of us got out for evening trail runs and swims in the nearby outdoor pool.   A highlight for me was the wicked automatic espresso machine at the Cycling House!  Funny what stands out isn’t it?

I can’t say enough about how great this training camp was. It was so good in fact that we have booked out the entire house for 2015.  If you are keen to join in, let me know soon as space is limited there.  I’ve posted the details to the www.challengebychoice.ca website already as people are asking.

I was so lucky that Norm and Kiel could join in on the fun down in Arizona.  Norm enjoyed quality time with his son during the day and we were so fortunate to have the helping hands of his Aunty Sheena and Aunt Barb plus my other amazing clients.  I strongly feel that the more that I can expose Kiel to these wonderful sports that we do and the people that we do them with, it will be nothing but positive learning for him. 

After a great 18hr week of biking and running, we loaded up the Subaru and started the drive North.  Next stop, Utah.  I had signed up to race the Zion 100km for training.  After pacing it twice, I wanted  
to come back and run the mesa’s and red dirt tracks.  The only problem would be fitting in some pre race rest. 

Details on the Zion 100km coming next! Sit tight.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

An Argentinian and Peruvian Adventure

I actually didn’t know if it would be possible to be back racing 5 and a half months after having a baby.  But what I did know is that IF I was going to attempt a competition, it was going to have to be somewhere awesome.  I started to see what was out there early in the year and when I got the invite from the RD down at La Mision in Argentina, that was it, I was sold.  How could I pass up the opportunity to finally visit this dream place.

Start line of my 1st race as a mom!
As excited as I was, I knew that it would be a “time would tell” story as to not only if I could be ready to race but would Kiel and I be ready for me to race.   I set my sights on the 100miler as the race course looked stunning and I was so motivated. Thankfully we have had the driest winter ever in Squamish so it made training runs really pleasant. I wasn’t able to log the miles that I had hoped for and only managed a few four hour sessions and I think one 5hr. I relied on quick workouts of doing the Chief (sometimes a few ups and downs back to back) as well as carrying Kiel up there LOTS. I lifted lots of weights and that really helped prepare my legs and not to mention, assist with my achilles re-hab.  Other training included compu trainer and a few outdoor rides in good weather.  I knew that I would rely on years of miles and experience that my body had stored.

Relaxing post race in Patagonia.
As La Mision grew near, I made the decision 2 weeks out to drop down and race the 50miler instead.  There would only be 2 aid stations on the 100miler course and I feared that if Robyn and Jo (my awesome friends, travel partners and Kiel watchers :) needed me, they wouldn’t be able to get to me.  I didn’t feel good about that so I made the call to drop the distance.  It was for sure the right decision to do the 50miler where I would see K-man once and the time on course would be shorter. I thought this was a good plan for my first race back.  As I've always said and will continue to say, Kiel is my priority now. 
Good times on the road.
So to back up now, Robyn and I flew from Squamish and despite a long trip to finally end up in Bariloche, ARG, we had great travels. Kiel has become a superman flyer, I’m so grateful (lets hope it lasts).  Jo flew from Australia, my bestest friend who’s quick decision to join in on fun didn’t surprise me the slightest.  How lucky was I to have 2 great ladies travel with me and a little baby. Not for everyone I know.  We made our way to Villa de Angoustura, to the cute little race town in the Lakes District. Chocolate galore and amazing meat dinners. Yum!  Thanks to Robyn’s fluent Spanish, travel here was made very easy.  I focused on resting upon arrival, only doing a stunning little 12km hike one day to get the blood flowing. At this point, rest would be my best friend.  Therapists at Garibaldi Active Wellness, Laura Miller and my chiropractor Amber Kirk had worked so hard to settle the achilles before I left that I feared flaring it. I wanted to start pain free for once!

When you order lamb, you get lamb.
On race day, things got underway at 12 noon.  It was great to meet up with friends and racers Denise and Greg McHale who were down there traveling and playing. They raced the 40km distance and post race we caught up over a great dinner party.  Back to the race.  I left a very well fed Kiel with Robyn and Jo and set out on a very challenging race course. Huge climbs greeted us right near the start. I think the first climb took near 2 hrs to reach the ridgeline.  Once above treeline, there was no trail, just scree and steep slopes to travel on.  The going was hard, my achilles was angry. Most people used poles and I sure wished I had. Anyways, the view on top did not disappoint and I just soaked it all in. I wanted to enjoy this entire race.  No pressure, no expectations, I just ran.   The terrain changed so much as we descended and climbed, it was everything I had thought Patagonia might be.  Two major climbs later, I finally got to Kiel at the 8.5hr mark. So awesome to see him. I fed him for 20mins just as I had planned to do.   I didn’t’ see another female ahead of me and knew
that 2 other males had already passed through.  
Breast feeding on the course. There is a first time for everything. 
Comfortable in 3rd overall, I set out for my last climb in the dark. It had been awhile since I had gotten to headlamp run and I loved it, alone in the dark, warm temperatures and in Argentina!  One long descent and 3.5 hrs later, I crossed the finish line in town at 12:30am in the morning!  Total time, 12.5hrs!!! Ouch!  However, this course was so hard and had so much climbing that the RD had expected an overall win time of 12hrs!!  The win male was 11.5hrs so I guess my 12.5hrs was right on target. The best part was seeing Jo and Robyn at the finish line and getting to scoop up Kiel and give him a hug.  He was my motivation that run and my 1st place win is dedicated to him.

Fellow Canadians Greg and Denise McHale.  Race start line.
And yes, helmets were mandatory.
We spent another few days in Argentina enjoying beaches, doing a bit of hiking, eating chocolate, seeing Bariloche, visiting the ski hills and just touring about in our rental car. Thankfully Robyn did the driving as driving down there is a serious talent. I have fallen in love with Argentina, just as I feared I would.  Going to make every effort to get back there next year for MORE PLAY and some racing! Seems to be some good interest from other runners so stay posted on a traveling team to go down there and take on La Mision. I have nothing but great things to say about the race and the race organization!
Beach Time.  Exhausted being mom's cheer leader. 
Next stop, it was onto Peru, more flights and more travels. Robyn has been doing her PhD studies in the Northern Peru region on the elusive spectacle bear for many years now. She has dedicated herself to bear research in a country and area that has made studying more complex and difficult then I ever understood or imagined.  Check out Robyn’s amazing organization (Spectacled Bear Conservation Peru) where she has been at the forefront in bear protecting and researching initiatives.  She has inspired me more then I can even explain.  Her energy and her teams passion to study and protect these bears makes me want to do something to help them.  My thinking cap is on.

Finding exotic fruit in Lima before flying to Northern Peru.

Hiking. Checking Camera's. Dripping in sweat. Epic terrain. 
It might be time to return to adventure racing. 
Inkawasi, high in the mountains. They called Kiel "coconut head."
Our time in Peru, with Robyn's Peruvian family and friends is an experience that will stick with me forever.  I’m so lucky to have been exposed to a very different way of life and a Peru not seen by many.  When Kiel grows older he will be amazed and blown away at what he did and where he was at only 5 months.  Spending a night up in the high mountains of Inkawasi, sleeping in a mud hut seeing life very much “off the grid” was a highlight.  I left Kiel back at the research station one day so that I could join in on an 8hr trek to see the bear habitat and check cameras.  Crazy, hostile terrain but beautiful in its own way.  Thankyou Robyn for showing us your world in Peru and giving me such an eye opening adventure.

A unique way of life. 

Felicida about to prepare us an amazing stone oven dinner. 
The trip to Argentina and Peru was exactly what I needed to kickstart my return to running from a year off.  While I love racing, I love adventure even more.  If my running can continue to take me to little pieces of the world, I will remain a happy person!

Quick Reflections:
1) I couldn’t have asked anymore from my body then it gave me. Am I in peak form?  Very far from it but I will use the next 100miler in a few weeks time to continue the prep for Hardrock.
2) Mangoes are my new favourite fruit.
3) Kiel did amazing on 10 separate flights. I hope my luck lasts for another 5 years.
4) I continue to find strength and inspiration from the athletes I coach.  Thanks to them I find motivation everyday to get out the door even when I’m sleep deprived and tired from a night of no sleep.
5)  So thankful that neither Kiel or I (or Jo or Robyn) got sick during the trip.
6) I must learn how to speak Spanish. 
7) I proved to myself that I don’t have to stop doing all the things I love just because I have a baby.  Things are not the same anymore, they are just different.  We are committed to having Kiel integrated into our lives and raising him in a way that will expose him to travel, culture, adventure and challenge.

 Adventure Onwards!

My travel buddy. Soak it up little man. The world awaits you!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Here's to 2014

I thought the days flew by fast before I became a mom but now, it's brought the speed of life to a whole new level.  It seems like just as fast as I can sip my espresso in the morning, it's already time for putting Kiel down to bed and for me to sit and hammer some work out on the computer.  I suppose what matters most is HOW I spend my days and not the fact that they come and go so fast.  So in saying that, I'd say that my days are well spent.

Kiel is almost 4 months old. It's been a crazy and fabulous ride thus far as I struggle to find balance between raising him, being a partner to Norm, returning to my own training and running a business.  My first race is just around the corner and I couldn't be more excited.  I'm headed down to Argentina, a place I have never been, to experience La Mision.  I had originally intended to race the 100mile but now after some good reflection of both where I'm at in preparation for the distance and where Kiel is at as a little guy with his feeding schedule and attachment to me, I feel it's best that I run the 50mile.  The race course looks absolutely stunning and so I head down to Patagonia with no expectations but rather to just enjoy the trails and experience all that the region has to offer.  There is this odd feeling in me that I will be returning in 2015.

My return to training has been going as good as I can expect.  My priorities have now shifted.  Kiel is at the centre of my world and so adapting to his needs and changing schedule (what schedule really, lets be honest, it seems to change everyday) has had its challenges.  I was already a busy person before I had him and now I'm just extra busy.  However, training still gives me that outlet which is greatly needed so thanks to Norm and some very good friends, I am able to continue to get out there and prepare for the season ahead. 

My body seems to be adjusting and embracing the training load.  I am very aware of my achilles. It never fully healed during pregnancy so my training program has now changed to accommodate what my body will allow for.  Running two days in a row does't feel good so I alternate run days with bike days and it seems to be working well. For the past 2 months my strength training has really come along and I'm noticing it with my hill climbing as well as my achilles tendon repair.  Research shows that heavy lifting helps repair tendons and I would have to agree.  It seems to really be helping.  Often runs start at 5:30am with a headlamp on in order to log miles and get home in time to feed little man. I spend alternate days on the Computrainer at my gym and I'm lifting weights 3-4x's a week.  Kiel is my training buddy for the Chief which I do anywhere from 2-3x's.  Plus, he also joins me on various other mid week hikes.  Sometimes I push him in the Chariot when I want the added resistance workouts.  Ski touring with Norm and Kiel in the ergo rounds out my training.

In a selfish way, the lack of snow this winter has made for amazing trails.  I knew that I wouldn't be skiing very much so having clear trails for riding and running is just fine by me.  However, we had a icy spell right before Christmas and I slipped on a big ice puddle when out running one morning and gave myself a mild concussion.  Thankfully, Amber at SkyHigh Lifestyles was able to assist with the whip lash with a few chiro adjustments.  I've also got to pay special attention to my right calf as it continues to do more of the work when I'm running.  I got a mild gastroc strain last week when training in Victoria at Thetis Lake.  Some good massages from Di, Britt and Laura and I'm back on track but have been warned that I need to keep up with stretching and not allowing it to get tight.  I will have to give my calf the attention that it needs or else I will be in a world of trouble.

The biggest thing perhaps is that I'm motivated. While I'm still setting the calendar this year, I'm eager to get back to challenging myself and to see how the body responds post pregnancy.  I can't wait to cross a finish line and have Kiel there waiting.  I've set a lot of personal goals for myself for the next 3 years and I'm eager to tackle them all.

I hope everyone is ready to make 2014 the best year yet!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mentally Strong

I just had to share these words with everyone as they are great reminders to what I consider to be keys to success.  Apply it athletically or to other aspects of your life.

Side Note:  I'm not sure who wrote it as it was passed to me by a friend so I can't give credit where credit is due.  However, I love what it says.


Mentally strong people have healthy habits. They manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in ways that set them up for success in life.
1. They Don’t Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves
Mentally strong people don’t sit around feeling sorry about their circumstances or how others have treated them. Instead, they take responsibility for their role in life and understand that life isn’t always easy or fair.
2. They Don’t Give Away Their Power
They don’t allow others to control them, and they don’t give someone else power over them. They don’t say things like, “My boss makes me feel bad,” because they understand that they are in control over their own emotions and they have a choice in how they respond.
3. They Don’t Shy Away from Change
Mentally strong people don’t try to avoid change. Instead, they welcome positive change and are willing to be flexible. They understand that change is inevitable and believe in their abilities to adapt.
4. They Don’t Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control
You won’t hear a mentally strong person complaining over lost luggage or traffic jams. Instead, they focus on what they can control in their lives. They recognize that sometimes, the only thing they can control is their attitude.
5. They Don’t Worry About Pleasing Everyone
Mentally strong people recognize that they don’t need to please everyone all the time. They’re not afraid to say no or speak up when necessary. They strive to be kind and fair, but can handle other people being upset if they didn’t make them happy.
6. They Don’t Fear Taking Calculated Risks
They don’t take reckless or foolish risks, but don’t mind taking calculated risks. Mentally strong people spend time weighing the risks and benefits before making a big decision, and they’re fully informed of the potential downsides before they take action.
7. They Don’t Dwell on the Past
Mentally strong people don’t waste time dwelling on the past and wishing things could be different. They acknowledge their past and can say what they’ve learned from it. However, they don’t constantly relive bad experiences or fantasize about the glory days. Instead, they live for the present and plan for the future.
8. They Don’t Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over
Mentally strong people accept responsibility for their behavior and learn from their past mistakes. As a result, they don’t keep repeating those mistakes over and over. Instead, they move on and make better decisions in the future.
9. They Don’t Resent Other People’s Success
Mentally strong people can appreciate and celebrate other people’s success in life. They don’t grow jealous or feel cheated when others surpass them. Instead, they recognize that success comes with hard work, and they are willing to work hard for their own chance at success.
10. They Don’t Give Up After the First Failure
Mentally strong people don’t view failure as a reason to give up. Instead, they use failure as an opportunity to grow and improve. They are willing to keep trying until they get it right.
11. They Don’t Fear Alone Time
Mentally strong people can tolerate being alone and they don’t fear silence. They aren’t afraid to be alone with their thoughts and they can use downtime to be productive. They enjoy their own company and aren’t dependent on others for companionship and entertainment all the time but instead can be happy alone.
12. They Don’t Feel the World Owes Them Anything
Mentally strong people don’t feel entitled to things in life. They weren’t born with a mentality that others would take care of them or that the world must give them something. Instead, they look for opportunities based on their own merits.
13. They Don’t Expect Immediate Results

Whether they are working on improving their health or getting a new business off the ground, mentally strong people don’t expect immediate results. Instead, they apply their skills and time to the best of their ability and understand that real change takes time.