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. :D

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!! :D

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!

Catching up on blogging! Cape Town and the End of TDA 2014

Well! OK, this post should’ve been posted 2 months ago, but I’ve been busy (lol, ok not *that* busy), and just generally lazy posting it. But it needs to happen so I can continue on with other things!

I left the tour with about 3 weeks left and fast forwarded to Cape Town, definitely the favourite big city I spent any time in in Africa, and possibly one of my favourite cities in the world now! It was pretty incredible!

Day 1 started with me looking for a bit of food and trying to find a spot to take a picture of Table Mountain from. I kept walking closer and eventually found a trail up the mountain, then a sign telling of two routes you could take, one hard and one easier. The hard route recommended being well prepared and not doing it alone and talked of hand-holds and climbing rocks to get up… All I had was my phone and a 500mL bottle of diet Coke, but I chose the hard route. I figured there’d probably be people on it and any poor weather that surprised me would still be pretty good for a Canadian… lol. :)

Anyways, some 3 hours after I left my hostel I found myself on top of Table Mountain looking down on the most amazing views of both Cape Town downtown (and port) and Camps Bay. It was AMAZING! :D One of the best hikes of my life, and I was so ill prepared for it. ;) On the way down I took the easier route, which had about a billion steps in the rock and 100s of tourists climbing up asking me how far it was… It was sad to tell people it’d be at least 45min more when they were clearly suffering… But I hope they did it! It was well worth the climb! I’m just so amazed that I could leave my hostel downtown and find myself on top of an 1100 meter mountain a few hours later! :D

The next day I walked down to the water and around Lions Head to find myself in the richer part of town and eventually Camps Bay, though really Sea Point, Bantry Bay, Clifton, etc were all rich areas of town. I was pretty flabbergasted by the show of wealth here in CT after months in the rest of Africa where poverty was everywhere.

After exploring the beach and relaxing in Camps Bay a bit I decided that it was too great an opportunity to not run through the pass between Lions Head and Table Mountains, and did just that. I followed Kloof Rd up the 250ish meters to the pass and then came down the other side, I think about 5 or 6k to the hostel from there. A great run, and my last run in Africa. I ran at least once in every country I spent at least a night in (ie. not Zimbabwe, though I did ride my bike there).

The next day I had signed up for a tour of the Cape Peninsula, mostly to see the penguins, but also semi-excited about what else this tour had to offer. I was not disappointed! :D Such a great day! I met a great new friend, Nathalie, on the tour, and finally had someone to eat a dinner with on Long Street that night. Along the way in the day, we went on a small boat ride to see seals, followed by the penguins, a 12k mountain bike ride along paved roads in the national park at the end of the Peninsula, a climb up to the Cape Point Lighthouse, and then a visit to the SW-most point of Africa… Cape of Good Hope. Pictures of all this follows! :D

Overall I’m glad I left the tour when I did. I missed some fun times it sounded like, but the riding got hellish and offroad again, which I would not have been ready for (remember people, if you’re reading this thinking about doing a TDA trip in the future, make sure to install cross-brakes on your bike if all you’ve got are roadie ones, omg! Could’ve saved so much trouble for me)… I’m glad I got to experience Cape Town in the warm and sunny time and not the rain that it sounds like TDA’rs got…

The tour was a great experience, and I met a lot of great people and saw a lot of great things. I just don’t think I was ready to do 4 months of the same thing every day, and it killed me in the end. ;)

While away I chatted almost daily with Danielle from back home here in Calgary, who started as a friend from tri club (Talisman) and ended up as a girlfriend, and since returning most of our days have been filled with training for Challenge Penticton, the old Ironman Canada course (3.8k swim, 180k bike, 42.2k run), coming up August 24. This has included going on the Elbow Valley Cycling Club’s 3 day 320k ride from Castle Mountain to Radium Hot Springs to Golden BC to Castle Mountain, a weekend in Penticton for Danielle’s birthday where we rode most of the Challenge bike course, and about 10 other workouts per week. My swimming is at an all-time best, I’d say, at least since I was in Cascade swim club as a little kid (circa 1992). Two weekends ago we ran Chinook Triathlon at Midnapore Lake (Olympic distance) and I set an 8 minute PB off last year’s time, even with a horrible T1. More on that later. Looking forward we have the Sinister 7 relay race, Calgary 70.3, and then Challenge Penticton on August 24. Hopefully life will settle down a bit more then and we’ll have more spare time. We get about 3-4 hours together a week of complete downtime where we’re not training actively or wolfing down a meal starved for calories. Long rides on the weekend have now hit 160k (a daily ride in Africa, sure, but tougher when combined with speed, interval, run, swim workouts, etc). And trying to have a life too!

PICTURES! And then later, more updates on my life and training!

Table Mountain Shrouded in Cloud
Table Mountain Shrouded in Cloud
Getting closer..
Getting closer..
Lions Head, which I didn't summit.
Lions Head, which I didn’t summit.
Hike in a group, take supplies, be careful, omg! Ok, I'll bring some diet coke.
Hike in a group, take supplies, be careful, omg! Ok, I’ll bring some diet coke.
I was rewarded with some awesome rock!
I was rewarded with some awesome rock!
Looking back at what I'm climbing up.
Looking back at what I’m climbing up.
The super easy way up. I avoided! ;)
The super easy way up. I avoided! ;)
Follow the yellow footsteps... Even when they're completely vertical.
Follow the yellow footsteps… Even when they’re completely vertical.
I will!
I will!
Climbing Aids!
Climbing Aids!
Oh man, I forgot how rough those shoes were by now.
Oh man, I forgot how rough those shoes were by now.
Looking back again.
Looking back again.
Some of the side of Table Mountain.
Some of the side of Table Mountain.
Another view of the Gondola.
Another view of the Gondola.
Looking down on Camps Bay and the other side of Table Mountain.
Looking down on Camps Bay and the other side of Table Mountain.
Nice Clouds. It was a bit cold and windy here but worth it!
Nice Clouds. It was a bit cold and windy here but worth it!
Nor up!
Nor up!
The top was foggy at first.
The top was foggy at first.
I've still got Diet Coke left! I also bought a water up here for the walk down. ;)
I’ve still got Diet Coke left! I also bought a water up here for the walk down. ;)
Me and the City Bowl
Me and the City Bowl
Another view towards Camps.
Another view towards Camps.
Me and Lions Head.
Me and Lions Head.
Starting the trek down.
Starting the trek down.
Great Valley!
Great Valley!
Another..
Another..
More City Bowl
More City Bowl
Looking up at my way down.
Looking up at my way down.
Looking up at my way down... again.
Looking up at my way down… again.
Some nice housesI saw on the way down...
Some nice housesI saw on the way down…
Some nice housesI saw on the way down...
Some nice housesI saw on the way down…
Some nice housesI saw on the way down...
Some nice housesI saw on the way down…
Some nice housesI saw on the way down...
Some nice housesI saw on the way down…
I saw a bunch of classic cars there... and a fair number of Crucks.
I saw a bunch of classic cars there… and a fair number of Crucks.
OMG delicious. I think this was at the Royal Eatery.
OMG delicious. I think this was at the Royal Eatery.
Truly western.
Truly western.
Kosher Diet Coke!
Kosher Diet Coke!
The sea wall somewhere around Sea Point
The sea wall somewhere around Sea Point
Look at how sad this puppy is!
Look at how sad this puppy is!
So many runners and cyclists around, so nice!
So many runners and cyclists around, so nice!
Listening to music while I walk...
Listening to music while I walk…
Lions head, and some dude on a scooter as I took the pic.
Lions head, and some dude on a scooter as I took the pic.
Dem views! Nice apartments!
Dem views! Nice apartments!
Wouldn't it be nice?
Wouldn’t it be nice?
Love it!
Love it!
Clifton Beach, I think! Amazeballs
Clifton Beach, I think! Amazeballs
What to do with a stranded marine animal!
What to do with a stranded marine animal!
Table Mountain from the other side.
Table Mountain from the other side.
My hostel's rooftop patio. Penthouse on Long.
My hostel’s rooftop patio. Penthouse on Long.
The morning of the Cape Point tour...
The morning of the Cape Point tour…
Seals!
Seals!

52-IMG_2808

The bay where our boat departed to go see seals..
The bay where our boat departed to go see seals..
Boulders Beach, African Penguin time!!
Boulders Beach, African Penguin time!!
So many tourists! And Penguins!
So many tourists! And Penguins!
Fuzzy!
Fuzzy!
Me and some Penguin friends!
Me and some Penguin friends!
Walking lonely across the beach.
Walking lonely across the beach.
Oh, you want me to pose? Ok then!
Oh, you want me to pose? Ok then!
Rider Meeting! haha... day tour style.
Rider Meeting! haha… day tour style.
Me and my borrowed bike for the 12k ride. ;) I convinced Nathalie to join me, but I think she'd have been fine with the 6k option.
Me and my borrowed bike for the 12k ride. ;) I convinced Nathalie to join me, but I think she’d have been fine with the 6k option.
Nathalie taking some photos
Nathalie taking some photos
Me and Cape of Good Hope behind me!
Me and Cape of Good Hope behind me!
Me and Cape of Good Hope behind me (different angle)!
Me and Cape of Good Hope behind me (different angle)!
This was a cool idea! Apparently it's all over the world though. Before I die...
This was a cool idea! Apparently it’s all over the world though. Before I die…
YES! Stop it!!
YES! Stop it!!
On the plane to start my journey home! And it runs Linux. :D
On the plane to start my journey home! And it runs Linux. :D