Everything Summer: Vacation to Europe, Challenge Penticton, and Everything Inbetween!

The problem with basically every blog I’ve ever written is that I end up getting behind a little bit. And then something happens that I want to write about, but I’m behind a bit, so I don’t do it yet, and then things just pile up and up and all of a sudden my blog is dying.

So, uh, I haven’t posted anything about my life since leaving Africa basically… Whoops!

So, here, I’ll try and summarize the last 5 months since returning.. I’d much rather have done separate posts about the 5 races I’ve ran since (Pacing my friend Lisa for Calgary Half-marathon, Racing Chinook Olympic Tri, a relay segment of the 100-mile trail race – Sinister 7, Ironman Calgary 70.3, and Challenge Penticton), but I just know that’s not going to happen… Especially when you add in all the posts I wanted to do about training in Calgary and Penticton this summer. Oh, and in Europe. Jesus, this is going to be a big post. Whatever, right? I just need to catch up so I can move on and hopefully be more consistent!

So, clearly a big summer! I got back from Africa April 22 and tried to start training pretty immediately. I jumped back into Talisman Centre’s Triathlon Club workouts, Monday nights on brick, Tuesday nights doing Run Strength, Thursday mornings swimming…

Danielle and I pretty much roughed out a schedule that worked for us and kept at it most of the summer. Probably roughly 20 hours a week, two sports a day… Probably 3 swims most weeks (Tues, Thurs, Sunday), 4 rides, and 4 runs if we could. Including brick runs. Definitely biking saw the most time, with every weekend spent doing a 5-7 hour ride west of Calgary.

In mid-May we did the Golden Triangle, a 3 day ride I’d done the year before too, with Meghan and Martha, two new-to-me friends, and got rained on 2 of the 3 days. Day 3 was stellar like it was last year, but day 2 was a slog. Slog slog slog. So wet, so cold! The 100km days though, those felt like nothing after the extremeness of Africa. I mean, even 11 degrees and raining was better than 47 degrees and 166+ km of the same same scenery. 🙂 Not bitter at all! hehe. Actually, as time passes I feel better and better about my Africa experience. I’ve always felt glad I did it, but I’m beginning to remember more and more of the good and less and less of the bad now. I probably shouldn’t read this blog’s archive.

Danielle climbing Sinclair's pass outside of Radium.. Nice day despite the forecast! If only the same could be said about the hostel experience.. :-(
Danielle climbing Sinclair’s pass outside of Radium.. Nice day despite the forecast! If only the same could be said about the hostel experience.. 🙁
Rainy day 2 on the Golden Triangle, but we made it! View from the hostel as I goto sleep. Too rainy to take other pictures!
Rainy day 2 on the Golden Triangle, but we made it! View from the hostel as I goto sleep. Too rainy to take other pictures!
Castle Mountain as we finished Golden Triangle 2014!
Castle Mountain as we finished Golden Triangle 2014!

June 1 saw me doing the half marathon at the Calgary Marathon event instead of my planned 50K, mostly due to inability to run much in Africa. Whether or not this was a great decision, it was at least a good one… I paced my friend Lisa to (hopefully) a 2:00 half, but she missed it a bit this time. Alas, but it was still fun to run with her for the race!

Watching the marathoners and 50k'rs after Lisa and I finished out half together.
Watching the marathoners and 50k’rs after Lisa and I finished out half together.

That week Danielle and I bought Tri bikes! Something I’d thought of doing the year before but didn’t. She had her eye on one for a while and I had my friend at Speed Theory that could get me a deal, so everything just worked out well. Danielle’s bike is a Trek Speed Concept 7.5 and I got an Argon 18 E-116! Both definitely helped our speed, training, and just general excitement about getting out there more on the bike. Gotta tell you, it was a huge change from the steel-framed Surly Long Haul Trucker I had in Africa! So light and aero. 😀

New bikes and bike rack!
New bikes and bike rack!

Later in June was the Chinook Olympic Triathlon… I think it went pretty good! I took a lot of time off my previous year’s effort, 15 minutes or something. My swim was nearly identical, but I gained about 10 minutes on the bike (thanks Africa and new bike), and was able to put in a lot better effort on the run too, which amounted to only 3ish minutes, but I felt a lot better on it. I think I ended up around 2:29? Something like that.

Canmore Nordic Centre, trail training!
Canmore Nordic Centre, trail training!
It's a hard life, but someone's gotta do it!
It’s a hard life, but someone’s gotta do it!

Early July had us going to Crowsnest pass and competing on 2 different teams for Sinister 7. I was leg 6 and Danielle was leg 3. We both had a ton of fun! My leg started at about 10pm, so it was mostly in the dark. I tried to stay dry for the first few km, but about 5km in there was 600m of deepish water covering the whole trail… Wet it was! It was super fun though, and I think I did fairly well. It’s inspiring for certain, to see the solo people doing the whole thing themselves! I’d love to do it some year… next? 😉

Danielle w/ Crowsnest Mountain behind her.
Danielle w/ Crowsnest Mountain behind her.
The river/path for my leg of Sinister 7
The river/path for my leg of Sinister 7
Me running my night leg! Around Crowsnest Mountain!
Me running my night leg! Around Crowsnest Mountain!
Our Team! Peanut butter jelly legs.
Our Team! Peanut butter jelly legs.

At the Calgary Ironman 70.3, I saw another good increase over last year, finishing just under 5 hours, which was a goal of mine. I remember the swim being pretty fast and the bike being windier than last year (oh, and 4km longer, I think!)… Then the run just went all kinds of better for me this year. Last year it was all cramps and foot numbness and everything… This year, just general soreness, no cramping, no walking. Was nice to see so many TCTC friends (and UCTC friends from the year before) on the out and back on the run.. Saw one of our coaches, Grant, finish 5th while I was starting my run too, very cool!

Racking up in the morning
Racking up in the morning

Early August saw us going to Europe for some friends’ wedding (Niccole & Ben), some of you may know them! We went to Nice, France and Davos, Switzerland (with a tiny bit of time in Zurich as well). It was awesome! We did a lot of training there too, renting bikes in Nice and cycling along the coast, through Monaco, up into the mountains along the Col de la Madone, a training ride that Lance Armstrong often did during his TDF prep days. Then off to cooler temps in Davos where we did more running and tried out windsurfing, something we determined later that we are not very good at. 🙂 Overall a really fun trip though, and though we were worried about getting our training in pre-Challenge, we did it well I think!

Monte Carlo Casino!
Monte Carlo Casino!
Climbing Col de la Madone
Climbing Col de la Madone
Seeing a futbol game in Nice! v. Barcelona!
Seeing a futbol game in Nice! v. Barcelona!
Nice beach, so wonderful!
Nice beach, so wonderful!
Trail running / power hiking in Davos.
Trail running / power hiking in Davos.
On a hike with everyone, really like this pic!
On a hike with everyone, really like this pic!
The happy couple!!
The happy couple!!

After that it was just some tapering and boredom until Penticton! Race day!! Omg, it was so much fun. Honestly! It was so so many feels crossing that line after all the work we put in this summer!

The swim started off well, and according to my watch’s GPS I was on fire, moving really quick… But around 2/3 into it, I started feeling pretty ill… Like pukey ill! I couldn’t keep it together and ended up puking twice in the water (sorry swimmers behind me – though I was off to the side and no one was behind for 20ish metres, lol)… But then I felt good! I was slower, but I finished it, 1:19:45! Exiting the water, I ran quickly to the change tent (missing my family and friends cheering for me off to the side) and changed into bike clothes. This was the first tri that I changed completely between events, but it felt reasonable given how long everything was. A quickish 5:11 (there was a few hundred metres of running to cover too) and I was out on the bike.

About to get going!
About to get going!
Cheer Squad being photobombed by some great cheerers! In costumer all day, those guys!
Cheer Squad being photobombed by some great cheerers! In costumer all day, those guys!
Me getting out of the water
Me getting out of the water
Danielle's out too
Danielle’s out too

Overall things went pretty good there. I had a lot of these Hammer brand electrolyte tablets along the way, mostly since I was so worried about having puked up sodium and breakfast, and lots and lots and lots of Honey Stinger chews. Probably 12 packs of them, which is like 2000 calories of gummies. haha. The early bits were really crowded at times, mostly with half-distance racers, and actually most of them were in huge pelotons, which is ridiculous… Where were the marshalls? After they turned off though, it got pretty quiet! Richter pass was tough but totally doable, and I saw my parents along it, which was awesome. I really loved having them there (and Danielle’s family and our friends!), really made something to look forward to. Probably the worst part on the bike was the out and back around Keremeos, ugh! It was rainy for this bit too, and just demoralizing… Seemed uphill both ways! After that it was Yellow Lake hill climb, which I’m really glad we did back in June, since I knew pretty much exactly how long it was. Getting over the top, it was lightning fast downhill back into town, where I saw some of the top runners already on their way back from the Marathon out-and-back. Off the bike in 6:13:45 and through another change of clothes and back out to the run in 3:24!

Danielle headed out on the bike... Going to rub that sunscreen in on the move!
Danielle headed out on the bike… Going to rub that sunscreen in on the move!
Loving it!
Loving it!
I'm pretty stoked myself!
I’m pretty stoked myself!
Cheer squad!! Thanks guys!
Cheer squad!! Thanks guys!
Ok, wait a sec?!
Ok, wait a sec?!
Clearly they're getting a lot of attention at this point.
Clearly they’re getting a lot of attention at this point.
Danielle about to pass aero-helmet!
Danielle about to pass aero-helmet!
Danielle's brother Paul entertaining her as she passes..
Danielle’s brother Paul entertaining her as she passes..

I started out much too quick here… 4 minute kilometer?! Slow down, self! I ended up trying to maintain about 5:30 for the run, which had varying degrees of success… At each aid station, I’d take ice, water, and Heed, and hold the ice, dump the water on my head and drink the heed, while walking a bit. I think this walking is what made me running late for my 4h marathon goal. At 26km or so I got to see Danielle’s family and our friends again, a surprise, since I thought they’d be off eating at that time, and literally minutes later the battle began… My legs really didn’t like me anymore! I fought through though, and got a big boost from seeing Danielle at about 30km in (she was 15km in and though happy to see me later admitted she was swearing at me for being so far ahead, haha… All of our training was together, it’s shocking that I could still be faster after doing all my training miles at the same pace, more or less). With 4km to go, I was within reach of my 4 hour goal but it was going to be close and my legs were dying quick. I almost walked a bit and gave up the goal, but I was too close and had come to far to miss it. The thought of waiting year(s) to do another one to get that 4 hour ironman marathon was enough to push me through! Especially the last km down main street with people congratulating me along the way and the finish line in site! It was my fastest km for sure! 3:45 or something ridiculous!! I made my goal with 3 minutes to spare, somehow! 3:57:08! For a total time of 11:39:13! Incredible!! 😀

Me at the turn around... Dying a bit?
Me at the turn around… Dying a bit?
Danielle at the turn around!
Danielle at the turn around!
Danielle finishing!
Danielle finishing!

Thanks SO SO SO much to our friends and family that came out to cheer or were cheering from home! It means a lot!

So proud of her! And excited for myself!
So proud of her! And excited for myself!
We did it!!
We did it!!
Let's drink!
Let’s drink!
Cheer Squad! THANKS AGAIN!!
Cheer Squad! THANKS AGAIN!!

After Penticton, we lounged around for a few days there doing a lot of beach and wineries… Then headed down to Spokane, Coeur D’Alene, Heyburn State Park (Idaho), Whitefish, and Glacier National Park (Montana)… Very fun trip! Coeur D’Alene is so so nice! And so cheap for real estate! Live there one day? Maybe!! They have a wicked 72 mile long cycle track too. Here’s a bunch of pics from those days…

Duck attack!
Duck attack!
Back to Liquidity Winery. So nice!
Back to Liquidity Winery. So nice!
OK Falls beach
OK Falls beach
The girls and their wine!
The girls and their wine!
Danielle and I overlooking some vineyards in the valley!
Danielle and I overlooking some vineyards in the valley!
Challenge wine from Therapy Wines!
Challenge wine from Therapy Wines!
Us in Kelowna at the Kettle Valley Railway! Now a walk/bikeway!
Us in Kelowna at the Kettle Valley Railway! Now a walk/bikeway!
Trusses!
Trusses!
Very cool.
Very cool.
In Washington! Grand Coulee Dam. It's definitely grand, but lacks beauty! heh.
In Washington! Grand Coulee Dam. It’s definitely grand, but lacks beauty! heh.
The reservoir..
The reservoir..
These were labeled as Canadian Fries at the Spokane food festival "Pigout in the Park"... uhm, ok?
These were labeled as Canadian Fries at the Spokane food festival “Pigout in the Park”… uhm, ok?
Coeur D'Alene!
Coeur D’Alene!
And us in it!
And us in it!
Dat sunset!
Dat sunset!
The railway turned bike path! Super old bridge too.. So cool!
The railway turned bike path! Super old bridge too.. So cool!
Montana! So pretty!
Montana! So pretty!
Us in Montana
Us in Montana
I eat Pizza for the first time..
I eat Pizza for the first time..
At this guy's restaurant in Whitefish..
At this guy’s restaurant in Whitefish..
We did a small hike in Glacier Park and it was Freezing!
We did a small hike in Glacier Park and it was Freezing!
Yep, chilly.
Yep, chilly.
Wind and rain in the face faces.
Wind and rain in the face faces.

Since then, we’ve mostly been running. We signed up for the Grizzly 50K again this year (Danielle’s first ultra), and that’s in a couple weeks. I got a new job at a company called iConnectivity doing iOS, Windows, and OSX development for their MIDI related hardware… Oh, and I bought a (town)house! Weee. Life is good! Training is good! And now I’m caught up and can blog again in realtime!!

My house!
My house!
Inside, but not my furniture.
Inside, but not my furniture.

Hope you enjoyed… This took a few weeks of writing here and there and an evening of sorting pictures to finally get posted!