Wednesday, July 30, 2008

what causes happiness....

So, maybe perhaps because of a intriguing conversation that i was apart of on monday night, in combination with watching (perhaps) my favourite movie of all time, Amelie, on Saturday, I have been somewhat introspective in the last few days.  and, it is late, so i will not dive right into it.

but, pretty much, it goes on the realm of: what is it that causes happiness, or the sense that a day has gone well, or why we wake up some days feeling like shit, or like we can conquer the world, or like the world has conquered us...  or, what makes us feel confident, or inconfident?  what causes us to be introspective, or to analyze, or to just brush it off?   

and no, this is not asking the question "why do we have emotions" or even, "what causes emotions" but maybe more so: "how do we respond to the emotions that we experience?"

how do we give credit, when credit is due?  was it the good or bad weather, or was it a person, or was it physiological, or was it god answering a prayer, or was it just God being God, or was it that you missed a bus and felt rushed for the rest of the day, or was it because you saw someone smile? and, what do we do beyond that? to we analyze *why* we might feel a certain way, or do we just "let it be?"  

other questions that i have thought about in the last two days:
  • what is a christian? (yes, it comes down to faith in christ, through grace.  but, beyond that...?)
  • how is it possible to be distracted by someone, when they are not even around? 
  • is there an answer to homelessness and addiction? and how do we find it?
  • why do i have to wake up at 4:45am tomorrow?

other thoughts that i have had in the last little bit:
  • i think that in studying for my MCAT, i am learning a bit about trust, again.
  • i *love* the movie, Amelie.  I really just don't think that i can watch it enough times in this lifetime.
  • i miss.  and, sometimes that makes me sad.  
  • maybe there are too many things to do in this world.  like climbing kilimanjaro.  or, taking the ferry to alaska.  or biking to central america.  or traveling overland through north africa.  or making it back to jerusalem, to get another ring. or, racing in more triathlons.  or moving to south africa. or helping loved ones find their path in life. or visiting people that you have not seen for a long time.  how do you choose just one or a few?
  • maybe i didnt eat enough of that Dove chocolate, and i gave too much of it to my friends.  but, i definently know that they enjoyed it every time i pulled out a little "purse pack" to give to them.  and, that made me happy....

goodnight, folks.  that is my introspectiveness for now..

ooooo. i just noticed that today, i passed reach 1001 visitors on my site since december.  that is kinda neat.  im good with that number ;) that is approximently 125/month.  5 people a day, or so.  

Monday, July 28, 2008

Squamish Race Photos...

Bicycle Freedom!!!!

I might actually look serious in this photo:

Getting our bikes into the truck for transport to T1, up at alice lake.

Some times my bike and I like to act a little frivolous....

Race number, and shameless plug for Bikes on the Drive :)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

open water swimming

so, this is my wetsuit:

sometimes (im not going to lie), it makes me feel like a superhero. i know how ridiculous that sounds.  but truely, this thing is amazing. 

i like to think that i am a pretty good swimmer.  i even like to think that i am significantly better than a lot of other triathletes, especially since triathletes are (seemingly) naturally land animals. i mean, i was a competitive swimmer for about 8 years as a child, even reaching provincial level, and winning a few medals there... in the pool, i feel so good.  

 however, that being said, open water swimming is a whole new ball game

when i put on my suit on the shore, i feel like a superhero.  i do a land warmup, and i get into the water.  i start swimming.  and, then, out of nowhere, i start breathing deeply, my heart rate soars, and i start panicking.  and, this lasts for about 500-750 meters. i feel like i am going to drown, die, and end up on the bottom of the ocean at kits beach, never to be found again. and, i have no idea why.  it did not happen at lake stevens, it did happen at squamish, and it does happen when i do my open water swim practices with vancouver open water swim association. and, one of the annoying things is because i am so panicky, i end up wasting a ton of my energy, and imagine up painful joints, etc, and by the end of my swim, it seems a ton harder than i imagine it would if i didn't go through the whole situation at the beginning.

so, in order to solve this problem, i asked one of my clients, a 3 time ironman-distance triathlete.  she says this is completely normal.  and, why it happens, is because your body goes through a mini-shock in adjustment to the cold water...  thank you sympathetic nervous system for working (ooo, hear that MCAT studyin' coming out!).  so, i googled it, and this great article about open water swimming came up. and i realized that even though the water at kits is quite warm these days (about 19 degress C, or 66 F), for comparison, that is quite cold.  (i just looked, and at lake stevens, the water was 77degrees F)

solution steps: get into water before starting workout.  let water into superhero (i mean, wet) suit.  swim about 100meters.  get out of water, get mentally ready for swim practice/race.  have a strong, consistant, long stroked swim.  

ask me next week how it goes.  

in other news:

tour de france is over.  another great bike race, with a deserving winner.  im quite glad that Cadel evans did not win.  i'm just not a fan.  he cries a lot, and seems not to be a very nice guy. the final stage was a good watch, with amazing sprinting, and a close finish.  my adrenaline was running for the short 15 minutes i watched.  i could just imagine being there, when i know that a friend of mine is over there watching in person.  yep, im pretty jealous about that one.

i got a mole removed last tuesday...  from the back of my leg.  it was amazing to me that she cut it out right there.  now i have a new scar.  and, a biopsy being taken.

the next post i write, is going to be about Dove Chocolate. and what i thought about it.  a little taste (ha ha, yes, pun intended) of my opinion is that the Dark Chocolate tasted good with red wine.  

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Do you ride? Yeah, yeah, i (deleted) ride. That's my helmet....

that title is a quote... can you name it?

outward bound quote of the day...suitable to happenings this week...
"Eventually all the pieces fall into place...until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moment, and know that everything happens for a reason. "
- Anon

when i ride my bike, i feel like i am flying.  

that is what i thought today, many times... 

I rode out to gibsons (on the sunshine coast) today, with Erika, my roommate. the map, plus the 15 km on the sunshine coast side of the ferry, is my route today, approximently.  First off, I would like to say kudos to erika, who has become a much better cyclist since she has included commuting to work into her daily schedule.  previously, some of those hills may have been too much for her, but she was able to stick it today!!!!  

the reason that we did this ride was 2 fold.  #1, though, was to go to look at a house i am going to be sitting for 10 days in august... it is beautiful, sea views, hiking/running trails, etc.  a perfect spot to spend the week before the MCATs relaxing, studying, and getting away from the bustle of the city.  #2 was to go for a training ride.  now, this is much more than a training length ride, but, it is awesome to do that!!!  in total, today i rode about 75km.  

couple things i thought about...

1) i think i am getting much better at hills.  Lion's gate bridge for one, doesn't feel like the bain of my existence anymore.  i am able to maintain consistent cadence up steady climbs, and don't quite feel like i am working at a perceived exertion of 9.9/10 ;) i don't dread climbing anymore.  and, that is sure a difference from 2 months ago.

2) i love it when you feel totally tired, but you know that you still have about 10km more to ride.  it is soooo good to push it in the last 10km, cause that is the point when you really get better... when you are tired, and it is hard.  

3)sometimes i wonder how i didnt discover cycling earlier in my life.  i feel free when i ride.  i feel like i can fly.  i feel like the world is at my finger tips when i ride.  

4) i like it that i can beat traffic most of the time.

5) i like it that on a day like today, i used at least 1600 calories while riding.... on that note, i think i am going to go on a "be more aware of what i eat" regimine.  I weighed myself the other day, at about 181 lbs.  i want to be 175.  5 pounds. that doesn't seem unreasonable, does it?

on a last note. i feel more and more nervous for the MCATs. not feeling prepared, that is forsure.  argh.  

Friday, July 18, 2008

About a boy...

So, this post may seem somewhat out of character from my normal entries, but, every once and a while, something unexpected and surprising will happen. and so, I write.  and, i write right from my heart.  

and, it starts with this... the other night, i was reminded of this bible verse, from a journal entry that I had written years ago... i don't quite remember the senario that I wrote it in, but, it was quite appropriate for what happened to me this past weekend: Hebrews 13:2.  Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.   There is this thought in hiking or outdoor communities that you meet "trail angels" along the way.  Strangers that you have a large connection with, and help out in one way or another along the trail, and they do the same for you.  Then, everyone just goes along on their own appropriate trail. 

On Thursday, at the boarder crossing while I was riding the bus home, I met this friend.  From LA, California; a fellow triathlon racer.  J was traveling up the coast, spending time watching sport events, visiting friends, and wanting to hike in vancouver and whistler.  So, naturally conversation was easy. The conversation lasted for the next 4 days. As we were talking, i offered for J to crash on our futon, or camp in our backyard.  Conversation turned into a spontaneous race entry in the squamish triathlon, a hike up the grouse grind, and food.  

And, I cannot proceed to even skim the surface of understanding of what happened in the next 4 days.  all I know, was that it was perhaps like nothing else that I have ever experienced.  all i know that somewhere during the weekend, There was something about finding a bike for him to race with.  there was something about food.  there was something about me beating him by a lot in the race, but still being amazed that he entered solely because he had just met me, even though he had not be training sufficiently. there was something about cuddling on a couch and holding hands for hours on monday morning, having conversation about life and non-profits, and superficial things, all the while pretending that it was the weekend, and that we didn't have to go anywhere.  there was something about conversations about god and the bible. There was something about local cherries.  there was something about a simple kiss on the cheek.   there was something about sharing hitchhiking stories. there was something about my roommate wanting him to stay for longer.  there was something about connection. there was something about "in this moment."

and, i don't quite know if it is fair.  i dont think that it is fair that he swooped into town, and treated me to an unbelievable weekend in so many ways, then has to leave back to LA, and off to france to watch the end of the tour.  i dont think it is fair that i have to sit here, wondering if what happened was real, or if i interpreted something different than reality.  i dont think it is fair that i do not know when i will see him again... (but, there is also something about it being okay that it was so short, cause the whole thing was not pre-thought, or overanalyzed at any point... even now.  it was what it was.)   

and, i dont understand.  I don't understand how after only meeting someone for 4 days, i can feel like i am devoid of something in my life.  i don't understand how all these emotions can merge into one.  i don't understand how someone can be seemingly so honest, and adventurous, and responsible, and caring, and have so many of the right words.  i dont understand how 4 days can leave me feeling so messed up.  i don't understand how my box of preconceptions of myself can be shattered so quickly. 

and so, i go on.  i continue on the long walk forward.  

but meanwhile, it is nice to see words like this "sweet dreams, young one" 

and this: "you are a strong, strong woman with a depth of femininity that is both refreshing and attractive."

and this: "your face has been dancing in my mind's eye... i'm still buzzing from the weekend"

in my inbox or on my cellphone... :)

was it a trail angel? where we his trail angels? 

dear trail angel.  come back to me sometime in this lifetime. 
maybe sooner than later.  
explain to me what happened.  Because i know that you understand it better than i do. 

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Squamish Triathlon Race report

So, a week following the lake stevens 70.3, I was excited and nervous and in high anticipation of my own olympic distance triathlon.  

I had hesitated in entering the Squamish Tri, because i wasn't sure if i was ready to compete. If i was in good enough physical shape.  But, it is like everything in life.  you have to bite the bullet, and go for it.  I have all the necessary equipment...  sweet pink race belt, purple and pink and black race kit, pink and blue bike, and an amazing super wet suit.  so, in all aspects, i was ready to go.  I had a great week of tapering, which included some open water swims,  a brick w/o, leisurely day of cycling, and sea kayaking while in washington state, and climbing the grouse grind on thursday afternoon... By friday afternoon, i was walking about 6 inches higher off the ground because my energy level was almost too much to handle.

Other than a few blips in transportation, I loaded up on the carbs from friday, and on saturday.  And becasue I am chronically dehydrated, I was cruising back water, gatorade, juice.  Was feeling pretty good.  Gave my bike a look over, threw some new tires on, and was good to go.  Set out my race gear, and was in bed by 9:30.  Erika (my roommate) and I woke up at 5:30, I ate some cereal, banana, and packed a bagel with cream cheese and a banana. We took off at 6am, did a ramant search for some coffee, but the only place open was starbucks.  so, non-fat, double shot latte, we were good to go.

Get up to squamish, and meet up with a new friend that entered the tri on a whim, and got ready to go.  Set up my T2, and loaded my bike into a truck, jumped on the bus, and got transported up to Alice lake.  Set up my T1, and started putting my wetsuit on.  was somewhat surprized that in total, I only went pee about 2  or three times....  then all of a sudden, I realized that we were close to start time!!! eep!  so, i went down to the water, finished pulling up my suit, capped up, and lined up.  And off we went...

Swim:  THe water was not as clear as Lake stevens, but still nice and warm.  but, I think that I had felt to rushed start, and hadn't given myself a good enough warmup.  THe first 500meters of the 1.5km were awful.  I felt paniced, short of breath, and my shoulders were not getting going.  So, i stopped, took about 10 breaststrokes, and told myself "Get yourself together, take some deep breaths, and get your head in this game." and, it made all the difference; I put my head down, and got going.  The rest of the swim felt good, esp the last 500 meters.  I was about 5th out of the 40 and under women, averaging about 1:45/100meters.  Now, I know I can go faster than that.  goal for next time: 1:30min/100 meters.  

T1: not so bad, had a hard time finding my zipper tail.  wetsuit off quickly.  Decided to wear socks.  next time, I don't think I will until T2.  reminder: buy a pair of sunglasses, add another water bottle cage onto bike.

Bike: Cruised out of T1, down a steep hill... nice way to start.  Slurped down a caffinated power goo.  Cycling went great.  my bike felt awesome with the skinny tires, and the new clean and lubed drive train shifted like butter.  The ride was a loop ride that you go 4 times around, for a total of about 37km; challenging parts were the corners, and  a 3 km steady hill (about 6% grade) up highway 99.  but, it felt great.  The only mess up: I blew a snot rocket, and in avoiding snoting on the guy behind me, I ended up steering off the pavement, and onto some gravel.  almost fell there, but controlled it just fine, back up to pavement with only lost time. Also lost my saddle bag, because i tossed it off, because after getting my jelly beans, it wouldn't stay still...  Average time:  I also loved having erika there to cheer me on every lap. I looked forward to the next time i would see her every time.  goal for next time: no driving off road.  spin in last 1km, stretch legs out.  have a more convenient way to get nutrition.  average

Run: T2 went fine, but forgot to drop my air pump.  Not quite sure that i like my "Quick laces." The run was a 2 loop, 10 km trail run.  the first 1/3 of each loop was uphill, and that was a killer. My legs felt super bad on the uphill portions, but the rest was okay!  I felt strong on the "rolling hills and flats,"  though was starting to feel quite dehydrated. my calves cramped up a few times as well; also felt like i was going to have a "stomach reversal" during the first loop.  but, didn't ;) At this point, couldn't get enough gatorade and water at the aid stations.  Also, my feet were quite hot, as the weather was dry and hot.  reminded me of the 1/2 marathon in jordan, just not nearly as bad!  i finished in 1hr, 58 seconds. goals for next time: focus my brick workouts on running, not cycling.  run some hills.  drink more on the bike, to feel better on the run.  I want to get about 55 minutes on the run. 

following the race, I was on a high.  I loved it, felt pretty decent, but just wanted nutrition, and my legs rubbed down.  it was so hot after the race, so i just lay in the shade, and Erika gave me a nice calf rub.  She complained about my sweat.  so, for 2 hours, i was on a high.  I even discovered that i won my category, in a final time of 2 hours, 50 minutes!  oh yes, you are hearing from #1 of 8 in the Athena category (150lbs+) of the squamish tri. in women, i got 33/93 in total. I couldn't stop smiling throughout my cooldown spin, lunch, and gelato.  however, about 2 hours later, i just crashed.  Felt like i had the worst hangover, and didnt want to stop lying in the fetal position for about 4 hours.  Headache, stomach upset, the works.  once i finally ate dinner, i started feeling better, and was anxious to sign up for my next one....

however, the one i was planning on doing in august, is cancelled for lack of participants.  So, i was debating doing a sprint distance, but i think i am going to focus on studying for MCATs...  so, tri #2 will be on labour day, here in stanley park.  So, please come out to watch it, i love having cheer-ers!

keep tuned for photos!  

Lake Stevens Race Report

So, I said that I would give a race report about the lake stevens 70.3 on July 6th, down in washington state, and about my more recent olympic distance tri at Squamish on July 13th (this past sunday).

Lake stevens:
Day before race, Caitlin, Risha and I go for a moderate length bikeride, to the race expo and info meeting.  We see donna there, and pick up our race packets.  We then finish off, by riding to lake stevens... The ride was nice, but unfortunently along fairly busy roads. about 25 km or so, so it was nice to just get our legs spinning.  Donna did a short 30minute brick workout at the course to get her legs moving as well. Dropped off Donna's and Caitlin's bikes, and headed out for a nice big pasta dinner :)  Found out that Donna drinks beer now, and she had a pint with dinner (this made me feel quite a bit better about my own beer drinking habits ;) )

Went to sleep and woke up nice and early, in the realms of 4:15am.  Made our way to the course, and got a little psyched up, and ready to go.  The whole thing was exciting, and kinda nerve racking, since it was my first ever open water race.  but, i put my new wetsuit on (which makes me feel like a superhero), and was good to go.  The relays are the last to take off, and it was such a fun, relaxed group to be racing with.  Esp the swimmers.  I mean, really.  we have to exercise for approximently 30mintues, when everyone else around us is getting ready to spend at least 4 hours or longer doing crazy racing.  

so, the swim was warm.  almost too warm for the suit.  But, oh man, did this new suit feel amazing.  it is so sleek, and floats so nice!  i found a pair of feet to draft off of (which Donna had told me about) within the first 2 mintutes, and stuck with them for about 1500meters.  perfect.  But, once around the last turn, the guy left the cable line for the buoys (which you can follow, because of clear, shallow water), and i felt more comfortable following the line.  So, i just picked it up a bit, and went for it.  I finished in about 32 minutes, and was 4th out of the water for the relays.

I caught Caitlin a little off guard, but she was good to go!  she jumped on the bike, and i left the rest up to her and Risha.  At the end of the day, we finished off 2nd in the women's relays, 8 overall in the relays, so we were pretty excited about the whole thing.  Caitlin and Risha were amazing on the bike and run, and i would not choose any other teammates to race with!!! :) I felt great, and cannot wait to be able to do more open water swims to get myself going even faster.

here are some photos!
Getting ready on the dock.

and, off we go!!!!

VICTORY!!!! :)  done and done, my first open water race.  feeling great, and loving life.

So many beautiful bikes in the transistion area!

Friday, July 11, 2008

rowing love....

Spent this last week in washington state, with some of my friends from West Virginia University, from my rowing team.  We participated in Lake Stevens 70.3 Triathlon, in which Donna Stullken did the full race, and I teamed up with Risha Kelley, and Caitlin Everett to do the relay.  We did amazing, and Donna was inspirational.  I will give more details on the race soon. Rook was our general support and phenomenal fan base.  

As for now, I want to post pictures!!!! Thank you risha for taking phenomenal photos!

On the ferry back to seattle from a day of bike riding on Bainbridge Island.

Finding a dock on Bainbridge, where we went on a leisurely afternoon bike ride.... Donna rented a hybrid.  it was a little different from her "Specialized Transistion" bike, but, it is BIKE FREEDOM anyways.   :)

Sea Kayaking in the San Juan Islands.  Here, donna and i are practicing ninja, balancing moves.

Donna, going the wrong way.

The man of the trip, Bradley, hanging out in the hull of the kayak.
post kayak love!!!  

Caitlin was only able to stay until monday, but she got a new job in Delaware!  So, i suppose that her leaving for a successful interview is worth it!?!?!?  Here she is on the Swing at the house that we rented.

Chilling on the front lawn...

finally, no week is complete without sampling local brew... here we (donna, myself, rookie) are at the pike place brewery....

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

despite its faults

So, today is Canada day.  and, since last year, this day will forever be etched into my memory as one that I became way to closely acquainted with the back of a pick up truck, while riding my bike.  Yes folks, it is one day to the year that i had one of the worst days of my life, and i broke my arms.  Which, to this day still do not feel "normal." 

 What a year. 

 Canada day is closely followed by july 3rd, which is my birthday.  I will turn 25.  and, although I have been in high anticipation of this birthday, mostly because 24 sucked ass, i also feel like it is a huge leap in terms of birthdays.  it is a marker birthday.  I know that I am not in many of the places that i would have hoped to be, or obtaining some of the goals that i have wished, by the time i turned 25.  yet, in so many other ways, there is little regret of the path i have taken.  the people i have met, and the experiences that we have shared are often stunning and fantastic and amazing.  

ON thursday, I will have the great opportunity to reunite with some of the most amazing people in life, who hold a very special place in my heart.  I will head down to Washington State, to meet up with my old Rowing teammates from WVU.  Risha, Donna, Caitlin, Rook and I will spend a week in a vacation home, and compete in the Lake Stevens 1/2 ironman.  Now, dont be so excited, because I'm only doing the 2km swim, as a part of a relay, but get excited for Donna, who will be doing the whole thing herself!!!! and although there are many other girls that i wish could be there this week, i take what i can get, with seeing a few of them.

Finally, yesterday, I got the chance to go mtn biking for the first time in years and years.  I think it was the first time since Brentwood, actually. so, logically, i thought about those years, and in particular, Robin McDaniel, with whom for a few terms she and I were the only girls on the mtn bike sports "team." those were great times.  But, i went up to squamish with my friends Erik and Celine, I rode 14km uphill a logging road, from squamish, to the trailhead of elfin lakes.  We were originally planning on going in another 11km, right to the lakes, but it was so challenging.  it was about 28 degrees outside, and un-relenting climbing. Let's just say it took 2 hours to get up the 14km, and 20 minutes to get down.  :)  but, it was an amazing descent!!!! soooo worth the grueling climb up. Honestly, i think this ride was the hardest physical thing that i have done in a very long time.  at one point, i think that my "rating of perceived exertion" was about 9.5/10 ;)  it was harder than cypress, which i recently wrote about.  but, i loved it.... for the challenge, and the beauty, and the super fast thrill of the ride down.  

so, let us celebrate canada day.  This glorious country, that although it has many faults, has countless amazing mountains to climb, people to meet, and things to see.  A myriad of cultures to experience, and roads to travel. On this day, I am *very* grateful for this country.  So, i will leave my computer desk, and go walk around in it! :)