Saturday, August 31, 2013

#GoalGetter2013 - August Update

What can I say about August?  Nothing really.  I said I wasn't going to bog myself down with too many little goals and it's a good thing I didn't because August was nuts.  I had a weeks vacation and came back to complete and utter chaos at work.  2 weeks of go-go-go culminating in 3 days of shooting, with two of those days being overnighters.  Oh yeah.  We started when I normally go to bed and worked right through the night.  Talk about being completely messed up.  I'm still getting over it.  Needless to say my regular workout routine took a huge beating this past week.  It became all about sleep and not really about anything else.  That being said, I still managed to squeeze in a few workouts here and there.  One of them being an afternoon swim at the outdoor pool at the bottom of my street.  THAT was awesome.  It was a gorgeous sunny day and I actually got a tan after 55 minutes in the pool! I'm going to try and go back this afternoon.

Last weekend marked the end of my triathlon season as well.  There are two more races left in the series but I am all triathloned out.  My plan was to do 6 races but I slipped an extra one in there and did 7 so, I'm pretty tired.  My goal with these races was to try and make the podium in each one with the hope of getting enough points to be an overall winner in the series.  I managed a podium spot in each race I did.  I actually think I raced myself into really good shape by the end of the season.  As of right now, I am in the lead in points in my age group.  G says he thinks it's mathematically impossible for anyone else to catch me, mainly because of the extra 20 points I've gotten for having the fastest women's run split at 2 of the races this year.  Thank goodness for my quick legs, ha ha.  I won't believe it until Sept 16th when the last race of the year is done. 

In September, I will be refocusing on my running.  I obviously haven't been as focused on that but I do think that my triathlon racing has definitely helped my running.  I am hoping to get back out with my run group by the second week of September.  Yes, I have another busy week the first week back but I'll at least be able to get back into some semblance of a routine.

I will also be cleaning up my diet.  I let a lot of things slide this past month and my waistline has paid the price for it.  It's been really tough given that I've been so busy but I am going to make a concerted effort to get back into my Sunday Ritual of prepping food for the week.  No traveling for triathlons will definitely help with this!  I may also cut back on the beer...*gasp*  I don't usually have a lot, maybe two or three on a weekend but I think as I get closer to October, my #beerstagrams will probably go on hiatus for a while.  I've got to keep my eyes on the prize:  Sub 1:30 or bust baby!

How was your August?

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Season Finale: Toronto Island Tri

This past Sunday marked the final installment of my insane summer of racing.  I am going to be completely honest, other than the fact that my friends were going to be there,  I had not been looking forward to this race at all.  Mentally I think I had already checked out.  Seven triathlons in one summer is too much for me both mentally and physically.  Too many really early mornings and long drives in the car took it's toll on me.  Racing triathlons can really eat up your weekend.  By the time you drive to the event and drive back, you've lost 2/3 of your day.  I still love doing it but next year, I might tone it down a little and actually spend some time at home on my weekends, enjoying the back deck and maybe paying attention to my garden a bit more so it doesn't end up looking like this.


Back to race day.  I have been super busy at work as of late so I didn't really have time to read the entire pre-race report that MSC always puts out before their races.  I read the bit about the Ferry times and getting your race kit but I didn't check to see what time my wave actually started.  Had I been thinking, I probably should have done that first before I decided that we needed to be down at the Ferry dock by 6:00 am.  My wave wasn't scheduled to go until 9:12 am.  But of course, I didn't find that out until we got to the Island, ha.  On the plus side, at least I had plenty of time to get set up, take some pictures and do a proper warm up for all 3 sports.  Oh the luxury of time!

Because we arrived so early, I got a nice primo spot in transition.  Right by the edge of the rack so no one could jam their bike up beside mine on the one side.   On the other side, I had plenty of room to spread my towel out and set my stuff up.  I set everything up and then I wandered around taking a few snaps of the morning.  It was a beautiful morning.  In fact, I think every time I've come down to this race the weather has always been great.

Perfect morning for a race!

After my little picture taking escapade, I met up with G and we did a bike warm up and a run warm up.  I then ran into Caitlin who was supporting her boyfriend Mike who was doing his first triathlon.  Right after I saw her I ran into my friend David who was also racing.  I chatted with him for a while and then made my way into transition where I saw my friend Heather.  More chatting ensued.  I tried to remain jovial but I was really starting to feel an overwhelming sense of dread.  I did not feel like doing this.  Actually let's get specific: I didn't feel like doing the swim.  That is my achilles heel.  Always has and always will be.  Some days I'm great and other days, not so great.  I know I am my own worst enemy and sometimes I unintentionally set myself up to have these panic attacks.

Heather and I made our way down to the beach.  G and David were already down there.  David's wave went off at 8:15 and G's wave went off at 8:45.  I found G and he told me I should get in and do a really good warm up as the water was chilly.  Awesome.  Heather and I got ourselves zipped up and we made our way into the water.  G wasn't kidding.  It was freezing.  This further cemented my lack of desire to do the race.  But I put on a brave face and wandered out into the lake to let the cold water seep into my wetsuit.  The one really good thing about this race is that the water is really shallow for a large part of the swim.  I doesn't get really deep until about 50m before the first green buoy so you can see the nice sandy bottom for a large part of the swim.  Needless to say, it took a bit of wandering before the water was deep enough that it covered my waist. I slowly sunk in and let the water seep into the rest of my suit.  I then splashed a bit of water on my face to get used to the cold.  Then I stuck my face right in the water and just floated face down for a bit.  I did this a few times to get used to the feeling of the cold on my face.  The cold water can also attribute to feelings of panic because it can literally take your breath away so I find it really helps to get in and get used to the water.

I had plenty of time to get a good warm up in so I took full advantage of that.  I stopped to cheer on David as his wave went off.   I went back in and continued to warm up, all the while trying to think positive thoughts and put myself in the right frame of mind.  G's wave was getting ready to go off so I stopped, gave him a hug and got my good luck kiss and then they were off.   Next up was Heather's wave.  I could feel the butterflies starting in my stomach.  I was seriously ready to walk back up onto the beach and throw in the towel.  The dread was ridiculous and I couldn't shake it.  No amount of self talk was helping.  But, I'm not a quitter.  Somehow I always manage to find it within me to move forward despite what my mind is telling me.

My wave was up next.  I took my usual position off to the side but near the front, closed my eyes and took a couple of deep breaths.  The countdown started.  3...2....1 and we were off. I hit start on my Garmin and as soon as I pushed off the ground, my right calf cramped so hard I had to stop.  I grabbed it and started rubbing it like mad as I watched my wave swim away.  It felt a bit better so I tried again.  As soon as I pushed off, it cramped again.  I turned around and looked at the shore.  I was temped to walk out and call it day but something made me stay in the water.  Pride?  That competitive spirit?  Who knows.  I rubbed my calf some more and tried to push off again.  It was better this time.  I was actually able to kick.  I concentrated on flexing my foot and trying to stretch out my calf.  I looked up to see where everyone was.  The lead swimmers were at the first orange buoy already.  I seriously had my work cut out for me.  So, I put my face in the water and swam like I've never swam before.

During my warm up I experimented with breathing every 4th stroke, so always to the same side vs. breathing every 3.  I found this to be much more helpful in keeping my breathing more relaxed so that's exactly what I did for the first 250m.  I ended up catching the slower swimmers fairly quickly.  Before I knew it I was around the first buoy and there was hardly anyone around me.  I could see a few swimmers up ahead and figured I'd probably catch them at the rate I was moving.  I felt great along that back stretch.  I was definitely working hard.  I caught a few more women just before I hit the 2nd green buoy.  I made that turn and sighted.  I could see a few more ladies ahead of me.  I wasn't sure if I'd catch them but I was going to try.  Sure enough I caught one.  I sighted again and realized that I had started to swim a bit wide so I adjusted my line and continued to plow on.  I pushed for all I was worth.  It started to get really shallow so I thought about standing up and then I looked up and realized that I still had about 50m to go!  I was obviously swimming over a sandbar.  So I put my face back in and kept pushing.  I remember Kim telling me to kick hard towards the end so I started to do that.  Most of my power comes from my kick, at least in the pool.  It doesn't seem to be as effective it a wetsuit but it's hard to tell.  Anyway, I kicked like mad those last few metres.  I looked up again and realized that I could stand up so I got up on my feet and started running to the shore.  My calf was tender.  As I hit the shore I glanced at my watch.

Swim:  13:43.  15:22 with the run up to transition.  I'm pretty pleased with that given how it started!

I flew into T1 ripping my wetsuit off as I went.  I got to my bike, dropped my goggles and cap and pulled the rest of my suit off.  No real struggle this time.  I quickly wiped my feet off and put my helmet, shoes and sunglasses on.  I grabbed my bike and I was off.

T1:  1:22

The bike here is nice and flat but because the Island isn't that big, they have made the bike course into two 10km loops which means that there has to be some slowing down through the turn arounds.  One of the turn arounds you're able to keep up a decent pace because it's fairly wide but the other you really have to slow down and take it easy because it's quite tight.  Of course, I unclip and put my leg out because my bike handling skills leave a lot to be desired.

I was definitely excited to see how I'd fare with my new bike fit and the fitness that should have kicked in from our Lake Placid vacation a few weeks ago.  I hoped I'd be able to average 35 kph.   I booked it to the mount line and got on my bike.  Another woman from my AG also came out beside me and got on her bike.  She got going before I did so I had to play catch up.  The first 400m of the bike is a no passing zone so even though I caught her I had to wait to pass her.  As soon as I was able, I put the hammer down.  I got into my aerobars and watched the speedo on my SRM climb.  30kph, 32kph, 36kph.  38kph.  Whoa.  I really felt that in my legs and wasn't sure if it would be wise to try to sustain that so I backed it off a bit and stayed around 36kph.  About 5km in I hear another cyclist coming and I glance over to see Shelly Obright, the woman who beat me at Binbrook, pass me.  Crap.  I pushed to keep her in my sights.  I made sure I stayed back at least 5-7m.  I did not want to get nailed with a drafting penalty.  We caught this one dude who ended up staying with us.  He spent about 5-6km literally drafting off Shelly's wheel.  I wanted to yell at him but I kept my mouth shut.  If you cheat, you have to live with that, it's none of my business.  I finally got around him after the second turn around.  Shortly after that I passed Shelly.  I hammered along feeling really good when she passed me again.  Ugh.  I didn't want to get into a whole lot of back and forth on this course as it's not terribly wide so I stayed back the requisite 5 to 7m or so and matched her effort.  I knew I was a faster runner than her so I figured if I kept her close, I'd catch her on the run.  I was right on her tail when we ran into transition.  My bike spot was closer to the entrance so I had my bike racked and almost everything on by the time she got to her spot on the rack.  But, she is super quick in transition and her spot on the rack was closer to the run exit so she got out just ahead of me.

Bike:  34:09 - average speed: 35.14 kph.  YEAH.

T2:  00:51s.  Better!  This time I put cornstarch in my shoes so they slipped on easily.  A huge thank you to Tara Postnikoff for that tip and for the cornstarch! 

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  I LOVE the run.  I especially love having people to chase.  Shelly was my bunny.  I booked it out of transition and onto the grass right on her heels.  I caught her within the first 500m.  She tried to pass me again a shortly after that but I was having none of it.  I surged ahead and held that pace.  Holy crap did it ever hurt.  I had no idea how fast I was going because, once again, I was having Garmin issues (my own fault this time around).   They changed the run course this year to make it 4 loops on the pavement.  As much as I prefer running on pavement, this was really boring and you had to try to remember what loop you were on.  They had someone helping with that as well as a lap counter from sports stats but as John Salt said in the pre-race announcements, athletes can get stupid late in the race.  I am definitely one of those people.  I get so focused within myself that I don't pay much attention to what is going on around me.  Luckily G was cheering me on from the sidelines so he kept track of my laps for me.  At each turnaround I kept watching to see where Shelly was.  By the 3rd loop I realized that she was far enough back that she wouldn't catch me.  I still didn't let up though.  I kept pushing right through to the finish.  I ran down the finishing chute with my heart in my throat and I crossed the line completely spent.   A lovely volunteer handed me a soaking wet towel and draped it across my neck.  Ahhh--maaa-zing.  I dropped off my timing chip and went to find the gang.

Run: 21:43 - apparently the run was actually 5.4km so that means my average pace was 4:01 km's.  Woohoo!

I found David and Heather and David asked me what my time was.  My watch said 1:13:25 but I wasn't sure if that was actually the right time or not because of all the weirdness that was going on with it during the race.   We found G and we caught up on each others races.  Turns out David had a big wipe out on the bike and his back was totally scraped up.  He also managed to scrape the hell out of the top of 3 of his fingers.  Not the best thing for someone who works as a massage therapist!  His bike was fine and he didn't break any bones so he figured all was good.

Of course we hung around for draw prizes and results.  I was pretty sure I made the podium in my AG I just wasn't sure if there was anyone ahead of me.  I didn't think so but you never know.   We kept checking the results but they were slow in getting them up so David checked online and broke the news to me:  1st in my AG and 5th place woman over all.   Not a bad way to cap off the season!

Happy Happy Happy

Top 3 Ladies 40-44 Age Group
Now it's time to really get down to business and focus on my running.  If only work would cooperate and give me time to get some good solid training in!

Friday, August 23, 2013

9 Weeks Till Scotia & Yet Another Race

Yesterday I had a nice little reminder that my second A race is only 9 weeks away.  9. freaking. weeks.  Gah.   I had a bit of a panic attack when I saw that email but quickly told myself to chill out.  Normally I like to give myself 10-12 weeks to ramp up for a half, depending on my fitness level but when I sat down an actually thought about it, I realized that I was just fine.  I've been getting good solid long runs in so distance wise I'm good.  The one thing I haven't really been doing is focused speed work.  Although I guess you could count all my racing as speed work to a certain extent.  I definitely think it's helped but I don't have solid proof.   So, to test things out, I'm going to do another race.  Yup, as if my dance card wasn't full enough already.  I've got my last tri of the season this Sunday and I'm going to follow that up with a 10km on Sept 8th.  I'm going to do the MEC 10km and use that as a race pace test.  I'll do a good warm up, probably at least 20-25 minutes, race the 10km and then do a good cool down for about 15 minutes.   That should get me about 17km for the day give or take.  The race is only $15 to enter and it's not too far from my house so that makes it a no brainer.   The outcome will determine how much track time I'm going to have to put in between then and Oct 20th, ha ha.   I'm not going to kid myself, breaking 1:30 is going to be hard and it's going to hurt.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit scared.  But if I was close to doing it in March this year, I think it's within my reach. 

Who else is training for a fall race?  If so which one? 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Turn that Frown Upside Down - Bracebridge Sprint Race Report

We came back from our vacation early so we could do this race.  I had originally registered for the Olympic Distance which was on the Sunday but decided that I didn't want to swim 1500m in a race and G had decided to register for the sprint, so I switched to the sprint distance about a month before we went on holidays.

We got home from Lake Placid around 6:00 pm, dumped everything in the laundry, packed up our race bags for the next day and then decided to go out to get something to eat.  G had emailed a friend of ours who is the rep for Zoot to see if she happened to have any Zoot tri shoes in his size that he could try out.  She did and she also happened to have a pair in my size.  So after dinner we headed over to her place to try on the shoes.  We both ended up with a pair of the Zoot Ultra Kiawe's.  They fit like slippers and that's kind of the point as they are meant to be worn without socks.  Both of us were planning on giving them a go in Saturday's race.  I figured it was only a 5km run which is short enough that no real damage could be done in terms of blisters.   They are probably the brightest shoes I own.  This picture doesn't do them justice.  Seriously.  That yellow borders on neon.

It was late by the time we got home from our friends place.  I was hoping to be in bed my 9:30 since we had to be up at 4:30 am.  That didn't happen and it was closer to 10:30 by the time I hit the sack.  Not ideal but what can you do.

4:30 am came really quickly.  I got myself sorted and ate breakfast but felt scattered all morning.  Our plan was to leave at 5:30 am which would ideally get us to Bracebridge by 7:30 am give or take, which would be perfect as the race started at 8:15 am.  We didn't leave the house until 5:45 am.   Definitely off to a rough start.  We get in the car and program our destination into the GPS.  It then tells us that we won't arrive until 8:19 a.m.  Um.  REALLY not good considering our race starts at 8:15.  Now, I know the navigation system in the car is not the most reliable when it comes to calculating accurate travel time but I let it get to me and I sit there stewing for the first 45 minutes of the drive.

Since we left late, we didn't stop for our morning coffee.  We made a pit stop at the first En Route on the 400 for a bathroom break and G figured we could grab a coffee there.  He got in line while I used the facilities.  I came back out to find him still standing in line.  He stalked away complaining that that was probably the slowest line he'd ever been in.  It didn't move at all.  So we left empty handed and un-caffeinated.   So not good.

While we were driving I realized that I hadn't packed a pre-race snack.  Nothing I could do about it now.  At least the race was short so I figured I'd probably be ok.  I then started to think about registration.  I had hoped that there wasn't going to be any issues when I arrived.  Sometimes there is when you change races but that usually only happens if you do it at the last minute.  I switched about a month in advance so I figured they'd have everything sorted out.

We made it to Annie Williams Park at 7:40 am.  The race was a time trial start like Welland was so I figured I'd still have a bit of time to get myself sorted and get a warm up swim in.  At least I thought I would until I walked up to the board where you get your race number and saw that mine wasn't on there.  CRAP.  This meant I had to go line up at the registration tent.  I looked over and saw a line up of about 6 people and only one person at the table.  I started cursing under my breath and I could feel my blood start to boil.  I had originally suggested to G that we leave at 5:15.  I like to allot enough time to get up to the site, get myself sorted and deal with any potential issues that may arise and most importantly, not feel rushed doing it.  That was not the case today.  G came over and took my bike for me and racked it in transition even though I had no idea what my race number was going to be. He could tell I was stressed out.

The guy in front of me had also made the switch from the Olympic to the sprint about 3 weeks ago and he was also not registered.   This was the kind of thing that I like to make sure I have enough time to deal with race morning.   I got up to the table and let the girl know my situation, she made a note and then gave me a new race bib.  I then hustle off to pick up my kit, get body marked and then find my appropriate rack.  G had put my bike on a rack that was for bib numbers higher than mine so I grabbed it and went over to the appropriate rack, which of course was jammed.   I found a small spot and wedged my way in after a lovely lady offered to move her bike over.  It was almost 8:00 am at this point and I was completely frazzled.  I frantically set all my stuff up in transition and threw all my other stuff in my bag, dumped it against the fence and grabbed my wetsuit to get down to the swim start.  I missed most of the pre-race announcements which stressed me out even more.

The only good thing about not being properly registered was that I was seeded towards the back of the time trial start, which meant that I still had a bit of time to warm up.  I got in the water and started swimming.  I didn't go far.  I don't even think I managed to get 200m in before I decided to stop.  I didn't feel good and I really wasn't feeling into this.  I think my head was still in a bad place from my lack of good swimming in Lake Placid.  I found G and hung out with him in the water until it was time for him to get in line.  I was freezing.  The water seemed chilly but apparently it was fairly warm.  I think I was just really apprehensive.

Finally it was time for my group to line up.  I got in with a lot of older folks and a few people that seemed to be around my age.  I swam up to the edge of the dock and waited for Jason Vurma to count me down.  3-2-1 and I was off.  I felt crappy right from the get go.  Normally a time trial start makes for a much more relaxing swim start but I felt anything but relaxed.  My arms felt heavy and I felt horrible.  I tried to calm myself down but I could feel the panic welling up.  I stopped and did breast stroke for a while.  The good thing about this swim was that it was in a river so it was quite narrow so you were always close to the shore.  That helped a bit but the water was also somewhat choppy so I was having problems breathing again.  Once again, I wanted to stop and just get out.  But I put my face back in the water and forced myself to get to that first green buoy.  I made it there and I knew it was only about 30m across the river to the other buoy.  Once I rounded that other buoy I knew I'd be swimming into the current.  Sure enough the swim back seemed to take forever and I felt like I was working much harder.  I kept sighting the last buoy and it never seemed to be getting closer.  I finally made my way around it and swam like hell to the shore.  I got out of the water and glanced at my Garmin.

Swim:  13:39 when I hit the shore.  14:13 by the time I crossed the timing mat, which I seemed to be in no hurry to get to as I walked once I got out of the water.  I felt so out of it, I didn't think I could run.  Once I crossed the timing mat, I started to pick it up.

My bike was situated very close to the swim entrance so it didn't take me long to get there.  I had a lot of trouble getting my wetsuit off and when I finally got out of it I threw it on the ground.  I grabbed my helmet and put it on first, then my sunglasses and then my shoes.  No socks.  This was going to be my first sockless ride ever.  It felt a little weird but not as bad as I expected.  My feet did get a little cold on the bike though.  There is a long run out of transition to the bike mount line and I wasn't moving too quickly.  I finally hopped on my bike and started riding.  My legs felt as bad as my arms did in the swim.  Sloppy and heavy, although to be fair that's kinda how they feel for the first little bit on the bike.  I hoped that it would disappear like it normally does.

It didn't.  Obviously the week of hilly riding and the new bike position had fatigued my legs a fair bit.  I don't recommend taking a training vacation and then racing the day after you get back.  There are also two really good climbs on this course so I was happy that it was only 20km.  There were several times that I felt like I was flying so when I finally saw my average speed, I was a little surprised at how much slower than normal it was.  The bike was uneventful for the most part.  I passed a lot of people and went back and forth with one guy that I eventually dropped on the last climb.   I definitely busted my butt on this ride and my average heart rate proved that.  I rode up to the dismount line, hopped off my bike and fumbled into transition.  Running in cycling shoes is hard.

Bike:  38:43

I racked my bike, pulled off my shoes and to my surprise my feet were still kind of wet.  Awesome.  This was going to make getting my Zoot shoes on very difficult.  I took off my helmet and made my first attempt at getting my shoes on.  I got one on but the other one was really stubborn.  I almost gave myself a calf cramp trying to yank it on.  Finally got it on and bolted out of T2.

T2:  1:13.  The time I saved in T1 by not putting socks on just got added to my T2 but having to mess around with my shoes.  

The first part of the run is on grass and it goes uphill out of the park.  I totally killed myself getting up this hill.  I have to say, the shoes felt great.  I felt like I had good grip, even on the grass and I was definitely light on my feet.  My right knee wasn't sure if it liked them or not - it was a bit sore for the first 1.5km.  I was running without my orthotics so I figured there might be a few aches and pains.  Once I got out onto the pavement, I felt like I was running on a springboard.  I felt like these shoes helped propel me forward.  I definitely felt like I was moving quickly.  I caught and passed no less than 3 women in my AG in the first 2km.  In the last km, I passed another one.  I didn't know where I was in my AG because of the time trial start.  It would all come down to who had the fastest overall time.  But I figured if I was passing ladies, there was a good chance that I would at least be on the podium.  I pushed it hard on the flats, going sub 4:00 min km's at some points.  There was another uphill in the last km of the race and I was going so hard my breathing was coming in short raspy breaths.   I knew that once I got to the top of the hill and turned the corner it was downhill from there.  I rounded the bend and came barreling along into the finishing chute.  I saw G and waved as I passed two guys who were heading towards the finish line.  I crossed the line totally spent.  I checked my watch after I crossed and noticed that the run course was long by just over 1/4 of a km. 

5.25km:  21:43

I had no idea where I was in terms of placing so after we got our usual post race fuel and picked up our cool Apres Velo race t-shirts, G and I went to check results.  I was not listed at all.  Surprise surprise!  So I wandered over to the Sports Stats tent and chatted with the lovely French dude there who told me my overall time and my time for each leg and then said I was first in my age group.  Woohoo!  I said that was odd because I wasn't listed on the results at all.  He looked again and said Oh, it's because you're listed as doing the Olympic race.  Which wasn't scheduled until the next day, ha ha ha.  He switched me over and verified that I was still actually first in my age group. My frown was starting to turn upside down.

We stuck around for the awards and I found out that not only was I first in my age group but I ended up being the 4th place woman overall.  Woohoo!  Before we left I went over to the results page again to see if my results had managed to be posted.  I was curious to see how I fared in each discipline.  They weren't posted,  so on the way home, I checked Sports Stats and found out that I posted the fastest women's run split overall.  

My frown had officially been turned upside down.

Happy Happy Happy
G and I have one more race this weekend and then that's it for our triathlons this year.  After that it's time for me to re-focus on my running.  I'll still do the all the other things because that's just what I do, but running will take priority.  Sub 1:30 half or bust baby!! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lake Placid Training Vacation

Ok when did it get to be the 3rd week of August?  Wasn't I just on vacation?  Seriously this month is just flying by.  I promised I'd give you a little vacation re-cap but things have been so busy since we got back that I really haven't had a minute to sit down and collect my thoughts.

Since G and I both really enjoy being active, we wanted to go somewhere that we could have an active vacation yet still kick back and relax afterwards.  We wanted to go somewhere that we knew had good riding and swimming.  Early in the year we talked about doing a training weekend in Lake Placid so when it came time to plan our summer vacation, we figured it would be nice to go back there.  We hadn't been back since we did Ironman in 2006 so we were long overdue for a visit.

We hit the road Saturday morning at around 10:00 am, which, on the Saturday of a long weekend, was a huge mistake.  Normally when we have a long drive ahead of us, we get up really early and get going but because we wouldn't be able to check in until 3:00 pm, we figured we'd leave later.  Seems like the rest of southern Ontario had the same idea.  We sat in traffic along the 401 for what seemed like ages.  Then we sat in traffic at the border for a good hour.  At least it was sunny and warm enough to have the top down so I looked at it as a good opportunity to work on my tan.

We were staying at a new place right in the middle of town called The Haus.  If you're ever planning on going to Lake Placid, I highly recommend looking into staying here.  It was a great little one bedroom apartment with a full kitchen, living room and dining area as well as a great little deck that looked out over Mirror Lake.  The only downside was the very steep set up stairs we had to take to get to our unit as we were on the top floor.  Everything else was fantastic.

Sunday:  Since we arrived late on Saturday, we took that as our day off.  Sunday morning we were right back at it.  We did a swim followed by a long run.  My swim totally sucked but I had one of the best runs I've had in a long time that day.  I felt like I was flying.  Sunday workouts:  1500m swim, 17.54km run.  Gotta ease into the week, ha ha.

Monday:  Our plan was to try and ride the Ironman course loop but it would all depend on how I felt.  My bike position had changed so I wasn't sure how comfortable or efficient I'd be or how much power I had lost and / or gained.  I quickly found out once we started riding.  Hills were a challenge.  Not the best thing given we were riding in the mountains.  But whatever, I sucked it up and did my best.  I also think my 17km run the day before didn't help my legs much.  The hills sucked but on the flats I found that I had more power and I felt like I was pedaling much more efficiently.  When we did the climb into Wilmington my back started to spasm which was incredibly painful so I had to stop and stretch.  Further evidence that I was using muscles that I don't normally use.  On a tri bike, you are in a much more forward (aggressive) position so you generally use more of your quad muscles.  The thought process here is that it makes it easier to transition to running afterwards as you haven't completely fatigued your hamstrings out.  With my new fit, I was engaging a bit more of my hamstrings and lot more of my glutes.  This resulted in a much more fluid pedal stroke all around but a loss of power on the climbs (I am very quad dominant).  Normally I can power up hills but not anymore.  In the long run, I think this will be a good change for me as it will force me to build strength in those muscles but for now, it's a bit frustrating.   Because of the glute / hamstring engagement, my back was also doing more work that it was used to, thus the tight back muscles that went into spasm.  By the time we made the climb into Wilmington my legs were not happy so we decided to skip doing the out and back which adds another 20km to the route.  By the time we finished we had covered roughly 70km.  I have to say even though the cycling is tough out there, you can't beat the scenery.  It's stunning.
Monday Mileage:  69km bike
Happy Campers

Tuesday:  Triathlon day.  G had wanted to go and do the reverse loop of the course but my legs were trashed so I opted to ride part of the run course instead.  I knew it was going to be a really short ride but I couldn't face going back out again and killing my legs.  Once again we started our day with a swim and once again I was having major panic issues.  I could only get to about 600m or so before I started to feel really panicky.  So I'd turn around and swim back and then spend my time swimming back and forth near the shore.  Not what I had wanted to do but at least I was swimming.  After the swim we grabbed a quick bite and then got on our bikes.  We rode down to the bottom of the run course and I turned to go back to town and G went on his way to see how far he could get around the course before he caved.  The end of the run course dumps you out on highway 86 just before you start climbing the 3 Bears.  The Bears are the last 3 major climbs before you get back into Lake Placid.   They don't seem to tough on the first loop but on the second, they suck big time.  I did Papa Bear twice because I missed the shot the first time around, ha ha.  By the time I got back to the apartment I had covered 23km.  It was a nice little recovery ride.

The 3 Bears
After I loaded my bike back into the apartment, I threw on a tank top and went right back out to do a 5km run.  My legs felt horrible so I didn't push it.  Nothing like a little triathlon in the middle of the week, ha ha.  Tuesday mileage:  1725m swim, 23km bike, 5km run. 

Wednesday:  Both of us were pretty punched by Wednesday so we opted to take an "easy day" and just swim so our legs would be recovered for our "Big Day" on Thursday.  G being the crazy man that he is did 2 loops of the swim for a total of 4100m.  I managed to do just over 2km.  Still couldn't face going out to do the full loop so I did a whole bunch of smaller loops.  I decided that it wasn't worth beating myself up over and I would just do whatever I could.  I finally felt pretty good on this swim.  We were going to do some stand up paddle boarding that afternoon but it got really windy so we opted to go to the top of Whiteface Mountain instead.  Because that's what you do on a really windy day, ha.  We had talked about doing the climb up here but once I saw the condition of the road, I was totally out.  It was super bumpy.  Going up wouldn't be too bad but descending would be a total nightmare.  I'd only go up if someone drove me back down, ha ha.

Wednesday mileage:  2020m swim

Thursday:  This was the day we were going to tackle the entire Ironman course loop.  The day didn't start off well.  G got a flat about 5km in.  While he was changing it, it started to rain lightly.   Not good.  The first 1/3 of the course involves some climbing and a whole lot of descending.  It seemed to let up just as we got back on the road.  It stopped for a bit and started again.  Of course it started to rain harder as we approached the insane 10km descent into Keene.  I am a horrible descender at the best of times.  Add rain into the mix and it gets ugly.  I rode the brakes pretty much the entire way down.  I never hit more than 45 kph going down this hill whereas G probably easily hit about 75 kph - that's how hard I was riding the brakes.  My hands were so sore by the time I got to the bottom I had to stretch them out.  And of course when I got to the bottom of the descent, it stopped raining.  Or rather, I rode out of the rain cloud that was hovering over the descent.  Because that's the way things work in the mountains.  One minute you're in the rain, the next you're in the sun.  We busted it through Jay and Upper Jay.  My legs felt pretty good and I really noticed the difference in my new bike fit.  I was averaging between 36-42 kph on the flats with minimal effort.  I was loving it.  Until we hit Wilmington.  Once again that was a struggle.  My back started to bother me again.  Not as bad as that first day but enough that I had to stop and stretch before we hit the out and back.  I had forgotten how nice the out and back portion of the loop was.  First you ride through some rural houses and then you get into a forest.  There are a couple of good little climbs in there too.  I was doing ok until we hit about 70km, then my left foot started to bug me and my girlie bits just plain hurt.  I couldn't get comfortable on my saddle anymore.   I stuck it out for another 12km or so but then we had to stop.  I had to take my shoe off to stretch my foot out and I wanted to get off my bike before I had a complete meltdown and opted to throw it into the river.  The little break helped and I got through the last 10km without too much issue.  As we pulled up to the apartment my Garmin registered just under 91km.  Normally I will keep going to make it an even number but that was enough for me.  That was my longest and most challenging ride this year.   I was thankful that I had the foresight to buy a new foam roller the day before.  After we ate, we headed off to the Olympic Centre to go watch the Canadian Juniors play.  Yup, I went to a hockey game on my vacation in August.  You don't get more Canadian than that!! 

Thursday mileage:  90.86km in 3h:23 min and change. 

Friday:  Departure day.  Our plan was to do a decent swim before we left but we woke up to a steady rain.  We watched the lake for any sign of it letting up.  Surprisingly there were a few hardy souls who opted to get their swim in.  G and I couldn't face it so we packed everything up and made our way home.  I was honestly really sad to be leaving.  It was the perfect little vacation for us.  We got some good solid training in, we had the time and energy to do a little shopping and sight seeing and we slept in every day!   I don't think we'll be waiting another 7 years before we decide to head back to Lake Placid for another visit. 

Total mileage for the week:

Swim:  5245m
Bike:  182.86km
Run:  22.54km

That's a pretty solid week of training.  The smart thing to do would have been allow myself to have some rest on the weekend but instead, I raced.  I don't recommend that at. all.  But that's another blog post. 

Have you ever done a "training vacation?"

When you go away on vacation do you stick with your routine or do you take a break?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Race Day Photos: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Yesterday the online link to Saturday's race day photos was posted.  Of course I went to take a look.  I had one or two ok shots but the rest certainly didn't catch me at my best, ha ha. 

Let's face it, most race day photos are usually less than flattering, especially if the event is a long one like a marathon or an Ironman.  You get to a certain point where you just don't look that good.  Period.   I've had more than my fair share of really bad race photos.  Most of which I haven't bothered to purchase.  Although there have been some that I have purchased simply because they were the only shots of me and I wanted picture from the race.  Those are from my early days of racing when everything was shot on film (remember those days??).  Thanks to one of those race photos in particular, I realized that I should probably look at getting a decent sports bra, ha ha.  So even though some pics may be bad, they may also be good for something.   I will have to do some digging but I will definitely do a blog post with some of my no so favourite race day pics.  Today, however, I'm going to focus on the GOOD.  The race day photos that make me smile.

Let's start with the most recent addition to my collection from a couple of weekends ago in Bala.

 Yes, even when I'm busting a gut, I always have time for a smile!

 This was before the swim start in Welland.  I usually think I look strange with a swim cap on but surprisingly enough I don't mind this pic. 

This was from the Chilly Half Marathon this year.  It was my birthday and I ran a P.B.  I came very close to my sub 1:30 time goal.  Only 49 seconds away!

Crossing the finish line at Boston this year with yet another P.B = amazeballs.

My first Ironman in Lake Placid in 2006.  Not the best finishers photo since you can't really see my face but I smile every time I look at this picture.  So many great memories of that day.

The Ottawa Marathon in 2002.  Yes, that's G running beside me.  Again not the most flattering of pictures but, this was a breakthrough day for me.  It was only my second marathon and G paced me to my first Boston Qualifier.  Smiles all around at the finish. 

Do you always purchase race photos even if they are not the most flattering?  

What are some of your favourite race photos?  If you want to share, post them on my Facebook page, I'd love to see them!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Where DID The Time Go?

I'm BA-AACK!!!

We got back from our vacation late last Friday and I had all sorts of ideas running through my head but nothing ever materialized into a blog post because life took over.  So where do I even begin?  I'll give you the Coles Notes version (I'm TOTALLY dating myself with that gem).

Bike Fit: took just over 3 hours.  I have a whole boatload of data I haven't even looked at.  My seat got raised a bit and my saddle adjusted back slightly.  My cleats got adjusted so I'm pedaling more efficiently and my aerobars have been adjusted.

Do I feel better on the bike?  Yes and No.  How's that for vague?  I feel like I have a lot more power on the flats but I'm struggling a bit more on the hills.  I feel a bit more aero (he dropped my stem a bit).  I'm STILL having saddle issues though.  The adjustments he made seemed ok on the trainer but on the open road, it was an entirely different story.  So there is still work to be done there.

Vacation:  Those of you that follow me on Instagram got a wee taste of what my week entailed.  Lots of cycling, some swimming and a whole lot of beer sampling.   I had a couple of really solid rides even with the new fit.  What I didn't have was a solid swim.  My old demons came back to haunt me.  I couldn't make it out to the middle of Mirror Lake without freaking out and having to turn around.  That frustrated the hell out of me for the first few days.  I eventually got over it and figured it wasn't important.  I didn't need to beat myself up over it.  I do need to deal with it though.  I'll do a whole post on what went down while we were away.  For now here are a few pics to tide you over.

Mirror Lake - our apartment was just off to the left in this picture

This was the view from our balcony.  I could get used to this!

On our "easy" day we decided to go up Whiteface Mountain - this was from about 4600 ft.

Weekend:  We came back from our vacation on the Friday because we were racing on the Saturday.  I don't ever recommend that.  When our alarm went off on Saturday morning, I just wanted to roll over and go back to sleep.  I didn't.  I had a very rocky start to my day but I was very happy with the end result.  Race report to come at some point soon. 

Does anyone else feel like August is flying by?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Vacation Time & A Winner!

Happy Friday Ya'll!!

I'm just a little excited today.   Why?  Well let's see....

1.  I have today off.

2.  I am finally getting re-fit on my bike 

3.  G & I head out to Lake Placid for our holidays tomorrow

4.  I've got a winner for my first ever giveaway!

Drumroll Please - courtesy of the greatest drummer on earth - Neil Peart.  Sorry, it's a *wee* bit long.

And the winner is: Laura R Muise  

Congrats Laura!  Email me your info at phaedrakennedy at sympatico dot ca and I'll make sure this gets out to you right away.

Thanks to everyone that entered!  I'm hoping to start hosting a few more giveaways in the coming months so stay tuned!  If you want to check the entries you can do so here.

Good thing I've got the day off today, I've got a million and one things to do and only a day to do them.  First off, my 3.5 hour bike fitting, some running around, then a long run and I somehow have to finish the laundry, clean out the fridge and finish packing.  There are two things I hate about going on vacation:  laundry and cleaning out the fridge.  Funnily enough they are the same two things I hate about coming BACK from vacation, ha. 

I'm really looking forward to going back to Lake Placid.  We haven't been back since we did Ironman in 2006.  I'm super excited to be heading back.  It's the perfect place to take an active vacation.  You can hike, you can ride, swim, kayak, run, you name it.  I can pretty much guarantee that we'll ride one loop of the Ironman course and I know we'll definitely be swimming in Mirror Lake.   I'm also thinking that I'd like to try and tackle the climb up Whiteface Mountain.  Apparently it's very similar to riding up l'Alpe d'Huez in terms of gradient (10% in some points!).  We drove up the mountain the last time we were there and my ears popped almost all the way up.  Getting up won't be easy but getting down will probably be much harder for me.  I'm SUCH a horrible descender, I may have to walk down.  I don't mind going fast in a straight line but thrown in some winding roads and I completely freak out.  I suppose this could be a good test of my mental fortitude.   We'll see.

Anyway, I must get this show on the road.  I'm not sure how much blogging I'll get done but I'll definitely be on Instagram so if you follow me, consider this a heads up:  there will be lots of pictures of trees, lakes, bike stuff, beer and coffee. 

Happy Friday! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Kickin' it Old School: Bala Falls Triathlon - Retro Edition

This past weekend saw G and I hit the road for yet another race.  Yes, I know, we just raced last weekend.  I am tiring myself out just thinking about all the running around and racing we've been doing as of late.  No wonder I feel like I'm overdue for a vacation.  Good thing I have one coming up next week (wheeeeee!). 

The last time I did this race was in 2005 so I suppose that almost qualifies as retro, ha ha.  I had also registered for it last year but got injured a couple of weeks out and couldn't do it so it was definitely on my radar for this year.  It's a fun little race with a lot of crowd support given it's somewhat remote location.  Bala is in the heart of Muskoka area cottage country so it's a long haul from the city.  Roughly 2 hours if the traffic is good.  At 5:00 am on Sunday, it's safe to say the roads are pretty clear.   Leaving at 5:00 am meant that I was up at 4:00 am.  That's just plain wrong on a Sunday unless I'm getting on a plane to head to some far flung exotic destination.

This race has always been a popular one and with the introduction of the "Retro" theme it's popularity seems to be increasing.  What is this Retro theme I speak about?  Well, John Salt and Co thought it would be great to pay homage to the early days of triathlon and all the crazy gear that people used to race in.
Dave Scott and Mark Allen in the legendary Iron War in Kona 1989
Canadian Triathlete Lori Bowden in the mid 90's.  Source
No idea who this guy is but that's an awesome speedo! Source
Can you imagine spending 8+ hours racing in nothing but a speedo?  I can't even imagine the chafing that must have occurred.  Seriously.  Those guys were hard core. 

Anyway, the gang at Multisport Canada created a whole separate category for folks that wanted to race in retro gear.  There were prizes for best costume and best bike.  Oh there were some gems let me tell you.  The best part was that the top 2 males overall both raced in speedos and old triathlon crop tops and they were both under 25 years old.  They were barely even a year old when the legendary Iron War took place between Dave Scott and Mark Allen. 

The Folks in the Retro Category.  The interpretation of Retro was quite different as you can see.....
The race site itself is probably one of the nicest on the circuit.  The water in Moon River is beautiful.  It's quite shallow so there have been years where it's been a non-wetsuit swim because the water temperature got above 25.5 degrees Celsius.  It was headed in that direction on Friday (it was 24.5) but by Sunday it had rained and a cold front had come in and dropped the temperature by 2.5 degrees.  Even if it was a non-wetsuit swim, you are able to wear your wetsuit for safety reasons but you then become ineligible for age group awards and given my goal this year to podium in each one of these races, I would have to swim without a wetsuit.  So, I was happy hear that the temperature had dropped.    The last time I did this race, I had a panic attack in the swim.  I have been really good as of late, I've been swimming strong and haven't had any issues.  I figured that would be the case once again, especially since I was actually excited about swimming here.

I was in the 4th wave and G was in the 2nd wave so after my warm up I met up with G on the beach and we watched the first wave go off.  I got my good luck kiss goodbye and then G was off.  I was surprisingly relaxed.  I situated myself in my usual spot, off to the side but at the front.  The gun went off and I dove in.  I pulled ahead fairly quickly.  I could see one person slightly off to my right and then another person off to my left a little further back.  Perfect.  I tried to settle into my groove but for some reason I couldn't.  I kept getting water in my nose as I turned my head to breathe.  So I switched from my normal bi-lateral breathing to breathing on my right side every stroke.  That was a mistake.  After about 150m, I started gasping and the panic set in.  I started to freak out and actually contemplated quitting the race.  I stopped dead in the water and did some breast stroke.  The first buoy seemed so far away.  I was overcome with the feeling that I couldn't continue.  I rolled on my back and did come backstroke.  I glanced up to see a horde of swimmers coming at me and I started to panic again.  I rolled back over, did some more breast stroke and tried to talk myself off the ledge.

It went something like this:

Scaredy Cat Me:  Just throw in the towel, the boat is right there, you don't really want to do this.

Stubborn Me:   WTF are you doing?  You know how to swim, stop being an idiot, put your face back in the water and swim dammit. 

Scaredy Cat Me:  But the boat is right there!

Stubborn Me:   You've GOT THIS!  Besides if Kim (swim coach) knew you quit, she'd kill you.   If she can swim 40 some odd kilometers in Lake Ontario without a wetsuit then you can SUCK IT UP AND GO.

That seemed to flick the switch again and I was good to go.  I made it around the first buoy without too much panic.  By the time I hit the second buoy my breathing had finally settled down.  I was definitely working hard to try and catch up.  I caught a few folks and passed them as I made my way into shore.   I hit the shore and glanced at my Garmin, surprised at what I saw.

Swim:  13:20.  I thought for sure it would have been slower than that.  I then got pissed at myself for having the freak out because I would have been sub 13 minutes for. sure.  Stupid illogical brain.

I ran into transition, a little wobbly.  I struggled with getting my wetsuit off my left arm and then couldn't keep my balance while trying to peel it off my legs.  There were a couple of other women that were coming in so I was rushing big time.  I finally sorted myself out, grabbed my bike and headed out for the ride.

T1:  1:26.  Pretty good considering I felt like I was all over the place.

I knew the bike was going to be hilly.  As soon as you leave transition, you're climbing.  I kept it in my small ring and spun my legs out up the first climb, passing folks as I went.  Once I crested that first climb, I flipped it into my big chain ring and let 'er rip.  This course is mostly rollers.  There are a couple of climbs where you can get a bit of momentum on the downhill and there is a quasi flat section just after the 10km mark.  I tried to stay in my aerobars for most of the ride except on the two larger climbs.  I probably should have switched to my small chain ring for those climbs but I didn't. By 20km in I was hurting.  My quads were burning as were my girlie bits (sorry TMI!).  I am having all sorts of problems with that as of late.  I am becoming increasingly uncomfortable on my bike and I'm attributing that to the fact that I haven't been re-fit on it since I bought it in 2007.  A lot has changed since then.  I'll be rectifying that this Friday and I'm sure that experience will be a post in itself.

Back to the bike.   Just past the 10km mark I got passed by a girl in my AG.  This seems to be recurring theme in races and further evidence that I really need to work on my cycling.  I tried to keep her in my sights but she was a strong rider.  I really hoped she wasn't a good runner.  I motored along, keeping my eyes peeled for any other women that passed me.  There weren't any thank goodness, only speedy old guys who can't swim to save their lives, ha ha.  Other than the few climbs and the discomfort late on the bike, I felt I rode fairly strong.  The last 500m or so is a screaming downhill into transition so I let it rip until I had to make the sharp turn.  Daring for me, as I'm usually on the brakes.  I hopped off my bike and booked it into transition.

Bike:  55:40 - that included the long run in from the dismount line.  My Garmin said I averaged 33 kph.  Pretty good for a hilly course!

I ran to the rack and saw 2 other bikes there.  Again I had some balance problems while trying to remove my cycling shoes so there was a bit of fumbling.  I also pulled out one of the 8 million hair clips I had in my hair as I ripped my helmet off.  Annoying.  I yanked my Wave Sayonaras on, grabbed my visor and raced out of transition into a big field of muck.  So much for my nice new white shoes.

T2:  00:55s - a little slow but still under a minute.

I remember this run being super hilly with lots of out and backs.  You basically follow the same road you ride on and make your out and backs on 2 different side roads both of which are hard packed dirt and shaded.  So coming out of transition, you almost immediately start climbing.  As soon as I get out on the run, I'm totally in my element.  I am happy to turn myself inside out and chase people down.  I can handle the pain.  As soon as I got on the main road, I started picking people off one by one.  Watching for any woman with a 40-44 on her calf.   As I made the turn onto the first dirt road, I caught sight of the woman that passed me on the bike.  Excellent.  Target acquired.  Just as I had hoped, she was not moving too quickly.  I caught her just before we made the turnaround and flew by her.  My legs were hurting and once again I had shin splints.   Annoying.

I could see a lot of women behind me and I figured I had better keep up the pace.  My wave had women 40-49 in it so I knew that some of these ladies were probably in my AG.  I hit the road again and once again started climbing.  It wasn't far to the next turn off and as soon as I turned in, I remembered The Hill.  It was short and very steep.  Tough to run down and even tougher to run up.  My pace slowed considerably as I went up this.  My legs and lungs were burning.  With that out and back done, I was back out on the main road.  I was coming up to a couple of women and checked both of their calves.  Both of them were in the 35-39 AG.  I then recognized one of them as the owner of the other bike that had been in transition when I arrived.  SWEET.  That meant that there was a good chance that I was first in my AG.  Oh please, please pretty please....

I made it to the turnaround and grabbed a cup of water from an adorable little girl.  I thanked her and really started to book it.  The way back was mostly downhill and there were sections where I was hitting 3:30/km's.  Yeah those Wave Sayonaras are pure freaking magic.  I was passing dudes left right and centre.   I had one last climb and then it was that flying downhill to the finish.  I let my legs go and I booked it into the finishing chute.  I could hear people yelling GO PHAEDRA (you get your name on your bib if you register early) and that just pushed me even harder.

Hauling it towards the finish line! Pic courtesy of Barbara Goss

I came into the finishing chute to hear announcer Steve Fleck say that I was the fourth woman overall to cross the finish line.  Say what?

Run: 33:01 (my Garmin said I ran 7.79km vs. 7.5 that the course was listed as being.)

My friend Babs refuted that and said I was actually the third woman.  What what?  I'd believe that once I saw the results.  We got our post race goodies, ran into Jordan, another friend of ours who did the swim / bike and hung out for a bit.  We then wandered back to transition and packed up all our stuff.  I figured they'd have the results up by time I got back.  Sure enough they did.  I wedged my way in and found myself on the second page.  45th overall finisher, 3rd place woman and....first in my age group!  YEAH BABY.

Take that stupid illogical brain.

Just for kicks, I took a look at my stats from the first time I did this race way back when.  Back then the age groups were in 10 year increments instead of 5 years so I was in the 30-39 year old group.  The distance was also slightly different.  The swim and bike were the same but the run was only 7km vs. 7.5km   My times were as follows:

750m swim:  17:54  And yes, that time also included a freak out.
30km bike:  1:02:28
7km run:  33:35

Total time:  1:53:56

I've come a long way baby.  I'm starting to think that whole thing about women reaching their peak at 32 is a crock of smelly you know what.

As much fun as this race is, I'm not sure G and I will go back again next year.  It really makes for a long day if you drive up and back in the same day. Although I'm sure we could be convinced if we happened to be vacationing at a cottage up I'll leave that door open for now.

Next up on the race calendar is the Bracebridge Sprint on Aug 10th, the day after we get back from our holidays.  As I like to say, no rest for the crazy!

Speaking of crazy, just a reminder that today is your last day to enter my Crazy for Clif giveaway!