Sunday, September 20, 2009

Off-Season Pain Train

Two years ago I finished the Grouse Grind Mountain Race and the first words out of my mouth were, "I'm NEVER doing that again." (it's 2.9km up Grouse Mountain, climbing 2,800 ft, with an average grade of 30%). Of course once my heart rate dropped and I could breath properly, I began to quietly plot my return to the mountain. Unfortunately last year I couldn't make my comeback as my elbow was broken after Beijing (you need both arms for this race), but I did return in the off-season with my sister, Amanda and her husband, Rob for a family "fun" race (I think I documented this event in a previous blog). There was trash-talking and tactics, but in the end, it was just a fun, hard scramble up the mountain. I didn't run a stellar time that day, but I was already thinking ahead to the race the following year, hoping that our triathlon schedule would allow me to return to Grind Race. It actually couldn't have worked out better, with the last race of the season one week ago. The preparation wasn't ideal (I would have like to done some uphill training/stair climbing), but I was just as excited as I was for any other race (maybe even a little more so...).

Last night I was able to talk Amanda into doing the race. She is anything but competitive when it comes to sports but she is fit and loves to hike the Grind most weekends. She actually did the hike yesterday, setting a huge personal best of 38-minutes. So, of course she HAD to race in the elite wave, right?! I think she felt a little out of place at the starting gate and didn't find my only race tip overly reassuring: "run to the trailhead as FAST as you can!" She found some serious competitive fire though and crushed her previous time, running 37:37, finishing 8th. What's UP! I think this was her first experience visiting that "special place" in the world of hurt... I couldn't be more proud :)

I didn't achieve my dream goal for this race, but I ran a best time (32:56), finishing 3rd. It was a more positive experience than the first time and I actually enjoyed moments of it. The highlight was definitely my extreme lack of coordination in the final quarter. There were a couple sections near the top that are runable, but after leaning over, power-hiking for the previous 30 minutes, my quads were more tired than I had anticipated. I went to lift my leg over a tiny rock and clipped it, sending me face-first into the dirty muck. This happened twice in a row...(to the guy behind me, I apologize for blocking the entire path with my flailing body). I finished with more mud on my hands and knees than I would have liked, but this time I had a smile on my face and once again, began to look forward to next year's race!

The Groves girls: muddy, stinky, sweaty, sore...but so happy to be done!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Grand Final

This will be a quick note as I am sitting at an internet cafe at Manly Beach, in Sydney.

I am definitely disappointed with yesterday's race, the Grand Final of the World Championship Series, with a 19th place finish. The swim really set the tone for the day, with the lead group swimming off course through the choppy waters. The pack behind followed and was pushed even more off course with the strong currents. Unfortunately I was stuck in the thick of things and didn't have many options but to stick with those in front of me. By the end of the swim, it was one long string consisting of nearly all of the 45 women and I was sitting in around 25-30th place in this bunch. By the time we were on the bikes, it was clear that there were three distinct packs and I was in the third group. I had about twelve or so other women in my pack and for the most part, we were not organized. I didn't have the strongest cycling legs yesterday but I put out what I could. We lost time to both packs ahead and were over two minutes behind the lead group by the end of the ride. As always, I did my best to salvage what I could of the race and was able to run into the top-20. It wasn't one of my better runs this season, but it's been a long year and I was pleased to finish up with a 12th place in the World Championship Series Rankings.

I always find it special to wear my red swim suit and represent Canada at a World Championship event. Thanks so much to everyone cheering out there! Hearing some familar voices really made a difference and if I wasn't working so hard, I would have given you a smile and/or wave!!

I'm not quite sure what is next for me, as far as training and racing goes. I'm going to take a few days off to decide if I want to jump in a few "fun" events.... or catch up on the "other" areas of my life (moving, quilting, planning a wedding... :)

For now, I am spending couple of days touring Sydney with Simon and Kim. Sightseeing, shopping, eating meat pies, drinking too many coffees is definitely on the to-do list. Photos to come!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thursday, September 3, 2009

At the Petting Zoo

I'd love to write the long, romantic version of what happened on my Birthday, yesterday at Beacon Hill park, but I am about to board a plane to Australia, so, this will have to be the short & sweet recap: Adam and I were out for a run along the waterfront just before dinner. It was Adam's first run since the epic Rockies race and he wasn't even sure he would be able to run. After about five minutes, he had to stop as his legs just weren't ready yet. He urged me to keep going but yelled, "meet me at the petting zoo!!!" as I ran away. At the end of my run we met up by my favourite stretching spot, in front of the white peacock's pen. He got down on one knee.....and asked me to marry him!! I started crying....until he said, "say SOMETHING!!"


Off to Australia now... with a ring on my finger!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I love all my fans equally....

...but some more than others.