Wednesday, August 27, 2014

We took up the Challenge and OWNED IT!



Cole's notes version

Joe CRUSHED his 2011 time by 1 hour and 39 minutes. - Final time 12:19:06

Team Gets Better with Age rocked the course finishing 29 minutes behind Joe  12:48:04

Okay for those interested in details here they are.

Joe and I got up at 4:45 am so we would have time to eat and digest before going in the water.  The weather reports had been sketchy all weekend calling for rain, thunderstorms, wind, sun - it was changing from hour to hour so we had no idea what we would get. 

We were hoping for calm water and warm to hot temperatures with no wind.  Thankfully when we headed out the door at 5:45am the lake looked  calm, the sky clear of dark clouds and it was nice and warm.  We made sure to wake up Joe sr before leaving and I reminded him I hoped to be out of the water around 8:40 am so be there for the chip handoff. 

It was quite a bit quieter walking down to Transition than previous years but with only 1400 athletes in all races combined not unexpected.  It always amazes me how fast that hour goes until you are in the water but the next thing we knew we were standing beside each other in the water waiting for the gun.  The Joseph Witnesses were on the beach in full ensemble with their Joe Head sign which was great because they were easy to spot. 

The swim for me was awesome - it is my weakest part of triathlons and the one that causes me great anxiety.  However from the first stroke I was okay and calm.  Maybe knowing I was only doing this portion helped but the water was gorgeous.  Thankfully it was cool enough that we got to wear wetsuits one degree warmer and we would have been like the pros.  They were not allowed to wear their wetsuits.  I was very relieved when they said age groupers were still in wetsuits.  My time in the swim, which was 100m longer than the 3.8 km, was 1:37.  This is a great time for me and a personal best by at least 10 minutes!!!!  I came racing out of the water hoping Joe had beat me and was out on his bike.  He was very anxious and wanted to beat his dad on the bike.  When I ran into Transition I could not see Joe Sr but I found June bug right away - the multicolored rainbow wig was easy to spot.  It took another few seconds before we found Joe SR - I handed off the chip along with my little envelope of Bishop's fur that I had carried in a water proof bag on the swim and shoved it in the back of his jersey and told him Bishop and Mom will keep you safe - ride safe and be careful - no speed wobbles - see you on the course.   The bike he has been using has had some issues and if he goes to fast he goes into a speed wobble - I wanted him to use my bike since we are about the same height but he said it would be fine. June and I hugged him and off he went to his bike while we zipped back to the hotel so I could change in to my cheer gear.

On the way June told that Joe had come out about 15 minutes ahead of me so I knew he was on the course - I said a short prayer to keep him safe, no flats and let him ride fast and strong.  At the hotel the Cheer squad regrouped and we talked strategy - we would head out to the bear and check on wear the leaders were when we got there.  At the Bear I got to chat with an official and he gave me the update that the leader was probably about 30/40 minutes away which let me know we had some time.  So we decided as a group to head to the out and back and start chalking messages on the road.

We got to the first aid station on the out and back and jumped out to write some messages - Beer this way with an arrow and Ice Cream this way with arrow.  Go Joe x 2 with their numbers.  THen an official came and asked what we were doing so we told him and he went to his vehicle came back with a spray paint can - it was chalk paint - AWESOME.  AND THEN HE WENT OVER OUR SIGNS AND MADE THEM BETTER - how cool is that we were like you are the best and he just laughed and said we need more spectators like you ladies.  So I hugged him - high fived him and said we are off to Special needs to do more chalking and away we went.  But before we left we got to see the leader Jeff Symonds ride by and we yelled and screamed for him it was awesome. 

In the car and to the Special needs corner where we continued to cheer for people while we wrote messages on the road encouraging people.  Athletes were super excited to see us as we had cow bells,  pom poms,  tamborines and of course our Giant Joe  Head on a stick.  You could not miss us that is for sure!  I checked the updates online of times and Whats App'd the family as they were chattering like mad on Joe's phone.  And then there he was my boy riding into Special needs looking happy and full of energy.  He jumped off the bike to go to the bathroom and came out and said where is he?!?  LOL I was like about 30 - 40 min out maybe.  In actuality it was about 15 minutes - woops.  A quick hug and he was off and I said to the others June and I are going to bolt so I can get her back to town.  They were staying to wait for Joe Sr and continuing cheering.

I had pondered stopping at the top of Yellow Lake but I knew that June had to change and wanted to eat something so decided it best to just get back to the hotel so she could get changed. Turns out this was the right decision because Joe Sr was only 15 minutes behind Joe and looking strong! 
June got ready and we booked it down to transition because we did not want to miss Joe coming in.  We got into transition and had about 15 minutes to wait before I saw Joe running into transition - we was looking a little tired but still smiling and he shouted at me - he is only 15 min behind!  Bike time for Joe 5:59 and change I told him well best get a move on if he is only 15 minutes behind.  LOL   He changed his shoes came hugged me and June and was off for his wee run.  Now to wait for Joe Sr.  Sure enough 15 minutes later a happy but tired Joe Sr came strolling into transition.  Bike time 6:04 and some change - not bad for 72 years young.  Boo Yah and the race is on.   LOL - meanwhile the rest of the Joseph Witnesses had called and were on the race course cheering - Joe had just gone by and was on his way out of town.   I told them June will be out on course shortly. Quick hugs for June and off she went for her "catered training run". 

Back to the room again so Joe sr could shower and change into cheer gear and then into the car to "break" onto the run course.  It was much easier to get onto the course this year than past years.  I know the runners appreciated it - the smiles that would come on their faces as we drove slowly by -tunes cranked, cow bells and tambourines going with our cheering were the best thing to see.  Having been out there - it can be lonely and you are soo tired that any type of encouragement is deeply appreciated.  

We found Joe around 18km and first words out - where is she?  Yeesh - no hi, hey what's up - LOL.  About 15 minutes behind - and he was like gotta go and away he went.  Sure as heck June, 15 min later June was on the horizon - go girl - we yelled our hearts out.  Hugs all around and back in the car - off to the out and back/turn around.  We were able to park for a bit there.  I cranked the music opened all the windows and doors and athletes were happy for the distraction and said thanks as they went by. 

When we had seen Joe at 18 I knew he was in some pain and struggling a bit.  I had anticipated this and had thrown a running hat and my shoes into the car.   It was time to payback the favour from last year when he ran with me for a while to help me.  I took off the wig, changed shoes, grabbed my hat and tossed the keys to Karen.  Joe was jogging up the hill and I jumped in beside him - his legs were cramping pretty bad.  On the way back there are some big climbs back out of OK falls so I just jogged with him and talked to him.  When we hit an aid station I rubbed his calves and the backs of his knees, grabbed him whatever he wanted for nutrition and just generally kept encouraging him.  I stayed with him for about 5km and I think it was a good plan because he started to pick up his pace and I was having to start working hard to stay beside him.  So I told him I jumping off - go you got this - see you at the finish line.  Then I waited at the next station for my possee.  We parked and cheered for everyone until June came by.  The station was about 34km.  June had fallen to about 25 min at this time so when she came by we all hugged her and did a photo op and then I told her - we are off to the finish - we will see you there - you are doing great. 

We zipped to the finish line and headed to the chute - after about 20 minutes of cheering there he was  - my Joe - right on schedule.  Challenge encourages loved one's to cross with their athletes - it is an amazing gift to the families and athletes to allow this.  Sadly Ironman does not allow it.  Joe sr and I argued who should go and in the end I went out and ran in with Joe.  It was so great to be part of that moment with him.  I stayed with him for a few moments for some finish line pics and stuff and to make sure he was okay and then bolted back out to wait for June bug. 

The wait was not long and there was our girl - we jumped in beside her - me in my colored wig, Joe Sr in his viking helmet - dancing and jumping beside her all the way -  yelling at the crowds to cheer.  People said we had the best finish  - it was awesome.  So much fun. 

But it was not over  - Challenge has a beer garden at the finish line so after getting food for and bevvies for all we settled in to stands to cheer till the very last finisher crossed. And we did not leave until the last person crossed.

The other great thing is for the last 20 minutes they set up an athlete tunnel so the last finishers get to run under a tunnel of arms into the finishers chute - I jumped in there and had a blast - the winners were there along with other pro athletes and it was just so much fun.  These people know how to make this about the athletes and the family!  They throw out prizes to spectators and when the last person crosses - they have fireworks which were amazing to watch.

I can honestly say that I will be back to Penticton - they did not let us down.  I encourage everyone to try this race if for nothing else then the atmosphere.  They care about the athletes - Joe was walked to the massage tent and was  put in right away - while he was there they went and got him food and a drink  Oh and the food - no crappy pizza but the option of beef, chicken or veggie burger with 3 types of salads - greek, greens and pasta salad.  That was a special surprise and so delicious. 

Next years registration is open and they have lowered the entry fees.  Depending on if I get into Roth or not will be dependent on what race I do but I do know I am going back.  We need to support this race and this organization - options are half ironman relay or solo and full ironman relay and solo. 

Peace out

Shaun


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Challenge - Are you up for it?

Only 6 more sleeps until Challenge Penticton - aka the original Ironman Canada. 

Yes for all of you that think the Penticton race is no more you are wrong.   SO VERY WRONG it is alive and going strong. 

Without bringing up all the drama and yada yada basically the folks in Penticton rebranded their race.  They wanted it to be about the community and athletes again and not so corporate which is where it had been going in the last few years when IRONMAN became a brand and a corporation.

The group that won the contract is CHALLENGE - not well known in North America but huge in Europe and elsewhere in the world.  Their mandate is athlete and community first.  They run the biggest Iron Distance race in the world - Challenge Roth which is my dream to race in but that is another story.

So back to Penticton - the course is the same as the old course,l the volunteers are, as always, amazing and yes the iconic Steve King is still calling the finish line.    New things - they have a relay option which is a fantastic way to introduce newbies to the distance and this year they have added a Half-Ironman distance both individual and relay options.  Another great way to introduce people to long distance triathlon. 

I had the pleasure of racing in the inaugural Challenge full distance race last year and it was everything Ironman had been and more.  I  was quite anxious last year as I had some struggles with nagging injuries and really did not get training until the beginning of March again.  To add another wrinkle I was doing it without a coach - financially it was not feasible for us.  Joe had been in a car vs bike accident (he was on the bike) in February and suffered a very bad concussion - so bad that he was off work for several months and then on restricted duties until this year.  This meant he was not training and my other training partner had a lot of work issues so I really was doing this  one solo.  Fortunately I had my training plan(s) from last time and I took them and created a schedule. 

People always say I could never do an Iron distance race - YES YOU CAN IF YOU WANT TO.  3 things are needed - perseverance, dedication and desire.  You have to want it, you have to commit to the training plan and you have persevere and keep going on days when you just don't want to.  As someone said once - "do when others don't and you will be able to when others won't.  Anyone that knows me will tell you when  I make up my mind and decide then I will do what I need to do to get to my goal. 

Last year's goals - Finish faster than the first time and after Oliver - HAVE FUN doing it.

 I am thrilled to say both accomplished - coles notes - swim  - very windy - slower than I had hoped.  Bike - had issues with nausea from swim and tummy settled down around out and back - bike was faster.  Run - well I got it done and finished strong dancing.  Probably would have been faster but I was determined that I was going to have fun on the run so I spent a lot of time hugging volunteers at aid stations, dancing with spectators when there was music and getting my photo retaken because I was not happy with the action shot of me running along the road.  Seriously - I made the poor photographer take it 3 different times to make sure we got it right - he thought I was nuts - LOL.  Was I as fast I had hoped - like I said I spent alot time goofing around on the run - but I was faster by over 15 minutes and more importantly I had a lot of fun - so much that we are going back this year.  Joe to do the full and I coaxed Joe's dad and June Bug to do the full distance relay with me.

Our team is called - Gets better with Age.  It was a toss up that name or "what would you do for a  glass of wine"  (spin off on the Klondike bar ad).  I went with "Gets better with Age"  because June Bug is a smidge older than me - running the marathon and Joe Sr is a young 72 years  young as my cyclist, and yep me the swimmer. 

I will fill you in on the race reports - but let it be known that the Joseph Witnesses/Shaunettes will be back on course cheering and screaming for all with a few suprises up their sleeves.  It is going to be AWESOME.

Peace out

Shaun


Monday, August 11, 2014

The Epithany

I have been "racing" in half marathon, marathons, short, middle and long distance triathlons as well as cycling for about 14 years now.

I say "racing" because the leaders/winners are in no way threatened by me.  For those that know me I am a smidge competitive.  This is more for me and maybe the 5 or 6 people in my time zone on the course but yep I am competitive.

I don't quit, I train religiously and I race hard.  My friends will tell you I am different animal when the gun goes off in a race as opposed to a training day.  I am intense and the I push - I always say there is no such thing as a "training race"  It is a race- throw it down and go!

2012 was not a great year - I had a torn calf muscle, I bounced myself pretty hard off the pavement and got a nasty concussion out of it and the start of 2013 was not going much better.  I had registered for Challenge Pentiction - just a renaming of IRonman Canada, Penticton - same course, same distance so in January 2013 I had healed up and was ready to start training. 

I started with a bang - I was in a swim clinic to work on my stroke and endurance swimming great coached workouts Sunday morning and after Jude and I would go do our long runs.  I was riding to work and back and running with the full marathon clinic on weeknights.  It was going great and then.... I was getting off the bus start of February and my  right leg sort of siezed up.  No worries but by the next day I could hardly put any weight on it let alone walk.  Thankfully working in a hospital I was able to go to the Urgent Care and after xrays, bloodwork, ct scan all coming back negative I was given a set of crutches and told possible fracture of the femur, we will order a bone scan tomorrow.  Stay off the leg.  WHAT!?!?!?!  I am not going to lie I hobbled to the bus stop crying the whole way.  Called Joe and Jude crying.  I was devastated and scared.  Again because I work where I do and I used to be a Nuclear Med Tech I was able to go down and talk to the team there and get in that afternoon with results 2 hours later because I used to work with the physician.  It pays to know peeps.  Good news no fracture bad news califcation deposit from all my crashes so I had to get that broken up and worked on.  Back to Physio.

Okay well I have been here before and knew that my marathon was benched but my Challenge was still viable if I rehabbed properly and trained within myself.  I was on crutches for another week and by March I was given the go ahead to do runs adding 5 min each day and rides but no hill repeats for at least a month. Swimming and water running once again my main training.  My rehab went so well that I was able to run the half marathon in May and decided to still do my Half IRon the first week of June. 

The half ironman was where i had the epithany.  2013 was the year of wind - seriously every darn race was windy.  The morning of the swim I got in the water and there were whitecaps and waves.  Okay you can do this I actually did not have too bad a swim but when I came out I was not feeling great my stomach was not happy and I ended up throwing up twice once on the way to transition and once in transition.  Shake it off.
I jumped on the bike and out on to the course and boom headwinds.  Not just little headwinds but strong headwinds all along the course did not matter which direction.  That was the hardest ride I had done in a long time and by the time I got off the bike I was tired and pissed.  My time sucked.  I changed in to runners and still in dark cloud headed out on the run course - my peeps Special K and Pam were there yelling way to go and I just barked at them I WANT MY PHONE!  I needed to call Joe - he would understand - so I did and I can't remember all I said but I was ranting and bitching something fierce.  Joe said it is a training race - me more ranting, and then he said if it is that bad walk off the course.  What?  You need to change your mindset this is supposed to be fun and a training race.  Whoa  - I started to calm down we talked a bit more and I hung up.  I thought about what he said and looked to the side and saw a little girl with a dog cheering people on and it hit me - he is right - when did this stop being fun?  So you know what I did - I stopped I walked over and I sat down beside the little girl and asked if I could pet her dog.  I stayed probably 2 or 3 minutes and we chatted about her dog and such.  I then thanked her for cheering and said I better get going.

Joe was right this was a training day but more importantly doing this stuff was supposed to be fun.  So after that I made sure to chat with people and high five the spectators,  I petted  a few more dogs and just generally started to relax and enjoy the moment again.  I think it was probably my slowest half marathon in a long time but by the end of it I felt so much better about the race.

I even afterwards when we got back to the hotel sat down with the Special K and Pam and proceeded to have several celebratory glasses wine.  Which I would not have done before as I was in training.  I ate chips, drank wine and just relaxed it was the best and made me realize that I needed to keep this whole "racing" in perspective.

I will tell you how Challenge went later but since my epithany all my races have been great.  I am enjoying doing these things again and since I have taken the pressure off myself  they are fun again. 

Peace out Shaun

Friday, August 1, 2014

Hello Its been a while.

Ah lets just admit it I am not very good at this blogging stuff but I will try again to be more consistent in my blogs. 

I guess I just feel like I don't really have a lot to say most of the time.

SO lets see since Oct 2012 what has happened.

Had an epithany at the Oliver Half Ironman in June of 2013

Finished another Iron Distance Race - the inaugural Challenge Penticton - 2013 - it was awesome.

Travelled to N. Ireland and Amsterdam and fell in love with the cycling culture in Amsterdam.  Met my step-grandson and generally got to catch up with family in Belfast.

Ran some great trail races. 

Lost my running partner - Bishop after 13.5 years  :(   but gained a new running partner in training Blue.  Still miss Bishop - always will but love Blue more and more each day. 

Lost my mother-in-law to cancer at Christmas back to Belfast for the funeral.  I hate Cancer! 

Because we want a well adjusted puppy I have been low key on the racing and training just doing the occasional trail race.

I also have a buddy - her name is Avery and she has Downs Syndrome.  I joined this great group https://www.facebook.com/IRunFor  and Avery is my buddy.  I have not told her mom about the blog yet so I won't talk too much about her until I chat with her mom because I want to respect their privacy.  But suffice it to say that I use Avery as motivation to get out and train.  I remember that she can't do all the things I do and I should be grateful and I hope that it helps motivate her a bit to know that someone is out there each day sending a positive thought her way.

I guess the other big news is Joe is doing the iron distance at Challenge Penticton this year.  I have a relay team in - Gets Better with Age - I will be swimming,  Joe's dad (72 years old!) will be our cyclist and June Bug will be my runner (older than me but it is not polite to publish a girl's age :))  We are doing the full-distance.

And lastly Joe got into Challenge Roth in Germany next year.  This is my dream race - I did not get in but will try again there is another chance to try and register.  I really want to do this for myself and Avery. 

So there you are caught up on the highlights.

I promise I will post more often

Peace out

Shaun