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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Santa Shuffle

I had on a numbered race bib, wore my new running shoes, and did 45 minutes of running, but wasn't intending to be in a race.  It surprised me when a race took place around me nevertheless. 
Always ready to go
The Santa Shuffle is a fund raiser for Salvation Army.  He said this is the 24th year that they have done it.  Jen and I signed up only a few days earlier when we found the time slot compatible with our work schedules.  They promote it not so much as a race, but a fun-run/walk.  They provide the horse track at Western Fair raceway for the venue.  So off we went for a fun morning run together.  There's no timing method provided.  The distance is about five kilometers or thereabouts, or as far as you feel like going within the hour that is available. Jen and I did 9 laps, which is a little over 6 km.  

Shuffling




However, Running Room is a principal event partner.  They made it into a race.  Everyone gets a race bib to wear.  There's prizes for the first finishers.  There's medals for everyone upon completion. The race is 7 laps which was considered to be almost 5 km.  Who knows.  There isn't even a finish line.  The race started and ended somewhere over there on the track.  

Shuffling with wings
Before we began, came a trip to Canadian Tire for some rope to secure the angel wings.  The included straps were fastened at the top, making them more of a backpack than wings.  Needing the rope cut to order, Jen fetched a clerk. He was startled to find the giant snowmonster in the aisle.  What to do?  Act natural and treat it like a regular customer.  The girl was talking to the snowmonster, so it must be okay.  After the race, we went to Costco.  There, I did them the courtesy of putting on pants.  It seems so much more civilized to wear pants in their store.

For us, the point of the day was the same as any other race we go into.  Have a good time.  Hang out with your friends and family.  Get some exercise.  Accomplished.  She dressed up in angel wings. I bought a couple Santa caps, then decided to make a snowman.  Most everyone had a red Santa cap.  Dogs and babies were welcome.  The weather was around freezing, with a light breeze, and no sunshine.  The track was dry, thankfully.  Even a bit of overnight snow could have turned the day into a muddy mess.  We ran laps in the gravel until most all of the runners quit.  I was surprised to get a medal.  What's a finsher's medal about when you finish whenever you feel like stopping?   

Santa came to shuffle
Anyone looks friendly when wearing a Santa cap, so the crowd appeared very friendly.  After running for a while we stayed to drink hot chocolate and coffee.  It was a good start to the holidays.  Jen and I are signed up for the Hypothermic Half in February, so we need to keep on running on into the winter.  The cold weather has just begun, and there's so much more running to do.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Yes, I rode today

It's that time of year when people ask me, "Did you ride today?"  


The first snowfall of 2014

Yes, I did.  I have all the right gear, so the snow isn't so bad. The balaclava.  Must have a balaclava. And the ski goggles. Can't leave any skin exposed at all. Snow is much better than the rain.  The rain gets in and I'm wet, and cold and there's nothing that helps.  This storm was easy, because the snow was light and fluffy, so I could cruise right through it.  When it's wet packing snow, the tires have a much harder time to plow through it with these wide tires I have on.  They pack the snow down instead of slicing through like narrow tires would.


There's a train coming

I tried snow tires for my bike, with tungsten studs screwed into the knobs.  It's supposed to help on ice.  It doesn't.  It's ice, and it's slick no matter what.  I've still got the street tires on my Townie, which I use in the winter.  When I take the bike in for the mid-winter tune up, I will have them put on the snow tires.  

Snow on the overpass


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Beware!!! Cyclists!


Be wary of cyclists
There's something disconcerting about this caution notice.  Be aware, perhaps, but beware?  Are we known to leap in front of cars? 


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Perhaps the last of the nice rides

The weather is still good, so every weekend I get to have one last ride.  

Roads of tar and chip. Just like Wisconsin.

The sheep are out

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Barrelman - Jen's Race

The swim is my only concern.  In my training swims in open water, I would take on a lot of water or air, and stop to burp, or breathe, or rest.  My stroke is fast enough, if I can keep on moving.  The shallows near the shore are rocky with lots of weeds. To get in we all have to bellyflop into the water rather than try to pick our way over the rocks. It’s really cold and there’s a big shock when the cold water spreads into the suit though the zipper on the back.  The tall weeds under that water are as tall as trees and remind me of Harry Potter with zee Grindelows in the deep.  Watch out for zee Grindelows!  I have to stop thinking like that or I’m going to scare myself.  I get going near the front but there’s lots of room for others to pass and I let them, rather than try to keep up and run out of breath. Breathing is everything during the swim. This is when I get a happy surprise! I figured that all the other blue caps would out pace me but there’s a whole bunch of us that are the same speed and I actually manage to finish the swim alongside those same girls I talked with before the race.  I'm swimming steady and strong.  At the bridge I want to wave at everyone above.  Coming out from under the bridge, I flip to my back and come out looking right up at someone.  I give him a smile and a little wave. Following closely to shore works well.  It keeps me in a straight line, and away from the crowd.  There is little jostling in the water.  It’s nothing like the stories of being kicked and punched when there's a mass start.  I’m glad for someone's hand to help me out of the water at shore.  

I see Dayna and Tammy there at the railing and wave to them as I get out of the water. They recognize me even in my wetsuit and swim cap! It's nice that they came to see us off. 

Transition takes me a long time because all my things are in a plastic bag to keep them dry from the morning rain, so I have to pull them out in order to change clothes. The order is important ‘cause have you ever tried putting your shorts on over your shoes? or put your shirt on over your bike helmet? while soaking wet? I know what I'm doing though since I've done IronGirl as a practice race earlier in the summer and learned some tricks like having your shoes already untied. 
 
Me on the my red Bianchi.  Let's not drop the bottle
The wind is ferocious.  My strategy is to hold on at a steady pace, without burning myself out, so I can make up the time in the other direction with the wind at my back. I'm down to the small ring, and barely moving.  I'm timing myself with a wristwatch wrapped onto the handlebars.  At 20 minutes for the last five kilometers pacing, let's see.  Red lights flash in my head, with alarm bells.  I'm not going to make it by 2:00 pm cutoff.

Some people call me "dear".  "On your left, dear".  It's a little weird to hear such an intimate expression.  Besides, in this wind, no one is "dear".  You're tough, or you're done.

A Miele passes me! It's orange. My commuter bike is Miele. Later another Miele passes me! It's white.  Those must really be old.  I wonder if they are older than my Bianchi.  I think they are. I give friendly shout outs to the riders cuz these are the first Mieles I have ever seen other than mine since they are so retro. And unlike mine these guys take care of theirs.

Lake Erie looks really rough.  I'm sure glad we didn't swim in that.  These big lakes are no place for a triathlon. But hey the wild lake is pretty, and I can enjoy the view since the wind is finally at my back.

We turn back from the lake, and the wind is helping instead of hurting.  It's down almost to 8 minutes for 5 km.  That's a lot better.  My accountant's brain adds it up, and I can make it there on time.  The wind took my speed, but not my strength.  I power ahead. Then we turn left.  More wind in my face and I can't see where we turn next so I know I’m gonna be riding into it for a while!  I'm swearing now.  The wind needs to end.

The tunnel is fun. It's cool to be able to bike through something like that.  I zoom down into it, and start screaming and hollering just to hear the echoes, and then fly up the other side. It is the only hill on course and it’s shallow, and now the wind is at my back for good.

I see four guys changing flat tires.  

We get to the river.  Some guy passes and yells, "gear down and save your legs for the run".  I want to yell back, "This is the low gear!"  I know what I'm doing and have it where it's comfortable and won't wear me out.  It’s 20 minutes to bike cut off, you're this far behind and think you can give advice?  

I make it to transition at 1:40 pm.  Plenty of time. The volunteers all yell and point, all the way to the back.  I know.  My number is 22.  I have to go all the way through to where I leave my bike.   I'm not running in my cycling shorts, so I switch to the tights.  I also put on sun screen.  My awesome leg tattoo needs its sunscreen. I pass off the rest of the bottle to another girl in transition who forgot hers.

I find a guy that is running steady and join him. We chat about tattoos and getting kids active. The distraction carries me through most of the first lap with lots of time to spare.  Cut off is 3:30. There's Dad!  He's just finishing the race and tells me to get going.  I haven't stopped and he didn’t lap me on the run even.  
7:45 on the dot.  
My 2nd lap is about the same pace as my first, with run-walks mixed however I feel like doing them.  I've got plenty of energy left to get running after each walk break.  I pass a few people, so I'm not dead last on course. I talk for a while with a lady about Wisconsin, and running, and her hip.  Her hip is sore.  I've had that, in marathons.  This race is easier than a marathon.  I have no blisters, no painful legs, no stiff legs the next day. Not having the marathon pains makes me realize how massively in shape I am. I notice that we have been walking a lot.  That's fine 'cause we are both on second lap. She will make it, but I have to go.  I say bye and get on with running.

I finish in 7:45 on the dot.  Where's the bananas?  There's supposed to be bananas. It is the best banana you will ever eat.

Triathlon is a different breed of pain than the marathon. Marathon pain is intense and concentrated in my legs and feet and joints. Triathlon pain is an afterburn in my muscles, all my muscles, even that spot between the shoulder blades that I didn’t realize could hurt.

Me and Dad meander off to the car and recount the day all the way home. We lounge in the hot tub and I decide to wear my hat for the next week straight. It says FINISHER on it.


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

When The Dogs Came Home

My long run is along gravel side roads.  Many of the farmers have dogs, and generally let them run free.  Sometimes they will come into the road to bark, or just greet. They are territorial and will stay by their farm. On this particular day, this particular german shepherd didn't do that.  Bounding into the road with me, it wanted to play.  No barking, but plenty of jumping and scampering alongside the road.  No amount of shooing would dissuade him.  

I carried on running with my companion.  The solution was at the corner.  They have a labrador, and it's a barker.  It totally flips out with massive barking whenever I go past.  My companion will surely keep distance from that.  No, they are friends.  Instead of the usual barking festival, they sniffed noses, and the labrador joined the party.  Sill a couple km out of town, the three of us carried on.  They had a great time, running ahead, searching through the corn fields, but always coming back to stay with me.  How nice.

When we made it to the outskirts of town, I called to them to stay close as we continued the few blocks to my house.  I let them into the backyard, and fetched a giant bowl of water for them.  They slurped that in seconds, and I refilled.  

I got out my bike, and walked them back to the edge of town, then slowly rode along the dirt road with them following.  At any time I could take off and leave them.  Before we made it back to their respective farms, however, they found another friend.  A family was in the yard, and recognized the dogs.  I explained the situation, and they took over, to get them both home safe.

Our poodle says hi to the farm dog



Why are they in my backyard?

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Lurkers

In The Walking Dead they have several names for the zombies, and none of them is "zombie".  For typical shambling zombies, they are called "walkers". Idle ones inside a building are "lurkers".  

Farm dogs come in two main types.  Casual dogs will just sit and look at you.  They don't bark, or run, or anything.  What good dogs those are.  More common are the freak-outs. They bark like mad.  They come dashing across the lawn when I go by.  Sometimes, they run right out into the road.  A couple times I've been on the far side, and the dog has blindly risked being run over, and stopped traffic when it came into the road.

This dog is different.  It's a lurker.  Here he is hiding behind a tree waiting to pounce.  
I will hide here

The one in the pictures here is the same one that bit me once.  Yes, I keep moving.  A couple weeks ago, a big farm dog came up from behind as I was running past his place, and quietly trotted along with me a few paces.  Shoo dog.  You're worrying me. 


I will creep up slowly on the unsuspecting human