Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rule #5

We Vancouverites are a demanding lot.  We have the pleasure of living in what is (arguably) amongst the least harsh of Canadian climates and yet, the weather is a constant source of dismay.  I find it funny.

As a transplanted Albertan, I am quite appreciative of the fact that I can enjoy the outdoors year round. Sure we have to endure some rain, but a little rain (and sometimes even a lot of rain) is a heckuva lot more pleasant than six months of snow.  Hell, we are such lightweights when it comes to weather that people in the lower mainland think a "snow day" is justified at half a centimeter!

So I was totally amused this morning with a conversation between two guys at my office who were lamenting about the awful weather on their Saturday ride.  When asked if they were geared up properly, they looked perplexed.  I repeated the question - were you dressed for the weather?  Did you have rain jackets and booties?  No, they did not.

So perhaps this is intrinsic proof, not that "Vancouver sucks" as these two had so quickly concluded, but perhaps that there is no such thing as "bad weather"....just bad clothing choices and bad attitudes.  :)

We hardly live in an geography of extremes.  It gets rainy, but rarely snows.  It gets warm, but is rarely scorching.  I would totally understand the complaining if we lived in heat ravaged desert or in permafrost.  But seriously guys, we live in Vancouver.  It was probably 8 degrees with a little rain.  So you got wet.  My guess is that you probably dried out.  Oh, and there is this really fantastic stuff called "Gore-Tex".  Check it out sometime.

I'm not saying that it is pleasant to be stuck in nasty weather.  In fact, just a couple weeks ago, I was caught in a torrential downpour while riding on the Sea to Sky.  Although that ride was definitely hypothermia inducing and was not something I would want to repeat on a daily or weekly basis, the truth is that we really don't have it all that bad.  There is a solace and peacefulness about riding or running in the rain that I just cannot explain.  It reminds you that you are alive, and that you have the ability to move.  Of course, when you stop moving it gets cold but it teaches you to just keep moving.

I read a poem about weather in Running Times a while back that really resonated with me.  I repeat it every time that I try to justify skipping a workout because of rain:

Whether the weather be fine,
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold,
Or whether the weather be hot,
We'll weather the weather,
Whatever the weather
Whether we like it or not.

Usually I find that repeating this is enough to get me out in rain, wind, whatever the weather.  Hell, if I waited for perfect weather, I would be hard pressed to do most of my workouts!

Scotia Half 2007 in a deluge.  Lucky for me, I am waterproof.
I have also realized that as challenging it can be to motivate myself to get going in suboptimal weather, it is rare workout that I am not glad I have done once I am into it.  More often than not, I find that there is an unspoken joy to be found in those rainy day experiences.  The childish delight of stomping through muddy, wet trails.  The solace of being the only person on the seawall in the rain.  Watching the mountains meet the mist.  Laughing at how ridiculous it is to ride sideways in the wind.  You learn to buck up and get it done, and I believe, you learn a little about yourself in the process!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Shhh.....training in progress

Swim, bike, run, repeat.  Throw in work, sleep, eating, dog walking and lots of laundry and you pretty much have a synopsis of the past few weeks.  I honestly feel sometimes like I have 3.5 spare minutes a week!

Yet, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  It is my last build cycle before the taper into Boise 70.3 and although I've been admittedly negligent at blogging, I feel very focused on the workouts.  With a few more weeks of hard work left, focus will soon shift to recovery and race day preparation.  My run and bike workouts have been challenging me as of late, with more attention to strength and speed than last year.  Training for my first Ironman last year was about survival.  This year, with my goal race having only half the distance, the focus is on speed, endurance and fine tuning.

(Well, except for the swimming part....which is still about survival.)

Interestingly, I have noticed some adaptations to the training schedule.  Even with the number of hours I am putting in, there is definitely less a** dragging than last year and more tail wagging.  Whereas at the same time last year I was battling fatigue and constant hunger, the biggest challenge this spring has been the incessantly brutal weather...rain, rain, cold, wind, rain, hail, yeeeeech.  Waking up to my long ride last Saturday and hearing the rain pounding off the work required more than a little mental game to get going.  Thank goodness for training partners....that ride was definitely brutal to get through!

I have also realized that I have now sunk pretty far into the triathlon lifestyle and think it is pretty amusing.  Can't imagine the last time I bought myself some jewelry or new non-workout shoes, but I did get pretty excited about a spanky new torque wrench that I just treated myself to.  Yes, a torque wrench.  Manicures and lip gloss?  Ha.  Let's talk chamois cream and SPF anti-chafing lip balm instead.  Wednesdays are hill repeats, Friday evenings are bike maintenance and Sunday afternoons are about compression socks.  Carbon, not diamonds, are this girl's best friend.

May long weekend will mark my second pilgrimage to Penticton this year (we had an incredible training weekend over Easter).  Fingers are crossed for more Okanagan sunshine and I'm looking forward to a fun weekend with friends, perhaps the first lake swim of the year and some great riding and running!