This past weekend was definitely in the style of the weekend warrior, and involved much packing, logistics and some ingenuity to make it all happen. It was my mom's birthday, so our family gathered at my aunt and uncle's lovely home in Westbank (sans aunt and uncle, who were traveling) to celebrate. Two kids, two dogs and a small space always makes for interesting times!
Not being one to pass up a little suffering, my training plan amidst the birthday festivities was to participate in the inaugural RBC Kelowna GranFondo on Saturday and do the Peach Classic olympic distance tri on Sunday. The across the lake swim was also going on Saturday morning...but alas, it conflicted with the bike ride! :)
All in all, there was much awesomeness jammed in (and very little sleep). Some tips on how to make a successful and awesome warrior weekend for yourself:
1. Look the part
The package pick-up and expo for the Kelowna GranFondo was smooth, efficient and well organized. We were quickly handed our packets and ushered into the merchandise area, where I was very quickly
Do slick matching sunglasses make you a faster weekend warrior? You bet!
2. Ride hard or go home
5am Saturday morning brought a gorgeous, calm and sunny Okanagan summer morning. Yippee!! There has been so much Saturday morning rain slogging this season that the prospect of NOT having to ride in the rain brought on relentless joy. My brother-in-law Mark and I showed up early, which turned out to be needless because the good folks at TOIT learned many a lesson from the start of the Whistler GranFondo (WGF) last year. Unlike the chaos of the WGF start, Kelowna was laid-back, well organized and really pleasant. Lots of bike racks, potties and space to move, and the riders in general were less aggressive and pushy. There were only 1400 riders and the event had a grassroots, happy feel to it.
Without ado, at 7am sharp we were off for a (supposed) 115k journey along Okanagan Lake to Vernon, with a return loop back to Kelowna along Kalamalka Lake, Wood Lake and through Oyama. The route was stunning and challenging, with a tough climb up to Predator Ridge, some interesting and technical terrain and fast downhills featuring gorgeous vistas of the valley over Kalamalka lake. I was really impressed with the course support - you pulled over and the volunteers just took over. Water bottle full, handfuls of snacks and off you went!
This was a catered training ride for me and I rode fairly hard, averaging a very nice 31 kph over some challenging terrain, including a very slow 5k section of gravel. Mark fell victim to a couple flats, so Ruby and I were left to show those mamils how it's done. Was back and forth with a good group of riders after Vernon, but on the way back to Kelowna we were accidentally steered off course by one of the volunteers. It didn't seem right to turn, but the vollie said nothing to the contrary so I followed her directions around the corner. Along with 2 other riders, we rode just over 4k before realizing we were off course. The nearly 9k diversion cost me 20 minutes! Although it is not a race, I was frustrated that the vollie steered us off course because (a) I did not want the extra distance and (b) it cost me one of the top women's positions (and bragging rights!) in the ride. Argh! Official finish time - 3:56 for 123k, but would have finished at 3:37 were it not for the bad directions.
Big warrior points for not only riding hard....but doing extra to boot! Hey, at least I looked good doing it... ;)
3. Be a survivor
Saturday afternoon and evening brought with it rain clouds, kids pool time and the usual chaos in the extended Frank family household. My sister's dog consumed not only all of poor Bogey's treats but also my pre-race nutrition (who knew dogs ate Bonk Bars?), numerous pieces of furniture were broken in (or is that broken?) and my niece Lily now has a lifelong fear of birthday sparklers. Best quote of the day: "Mama burned a hole in my pants and a hole in my leg!". Luckily, many a two-year-old's problems can be solved with chocolate cake.
With some stroke of luck, the casualties of the weekend were limited to a number of bottles of wine, a mouse (poor mouse) and Lily's leggings. Being a weekend warrior is all about surviving. That being said, some cautionary words of advice to anyone planning a family reunion: damage deposit.
4. Tri hard
If you thought a 5am wake up on a Saturday morning was bad, try 3:45 am on the subsequent morning. Weekend warrior day 3, sponsored by caffeine.
The 6:45am start for the Peach Classic not only necessitated this early start, but also required me to be supremely organized. Car packed and ready to go the night before, I left Westbank promptly at 4:45am to make it to Penticton at 5:30am for check in at the race. An Olympic distance tri does not play to my strengths at all, with its inordinately long swim leg compared to the bike and run portions. However, my recent toils over open water swimming made this a good training experience for me, knowing ahead of time that to do well I would need to swim well. And, to be clear, I just don't swim very well at all.
The two loop swim in choppy water was rough on me. It was a personal success insofar that I managed not to panic despite the torrid conditions and congested start. I knew coming out of the water that I had a lot of ground to make up on tired legs, but embraced the challenge of the chase. The 40k ride along the Naramata bench is fast, helluva good time on a tri bike and by the time I returned to transition I felt somewhat better about things. The flat, looped run course along Lakeside was little boring, but you do get to see everyone around you. My legs were tired but in a good way and I put in a solid run effort at what was essentially half-iron pace (but dismayed to note that the 10k was almost .5k long, turning my 42 minute 10k into a 43-something posted time!).
After a dismal swim, I posted the 6th fastest women's bike split of the day and 5th fastest women's run split of the day to finish a solid 10th woman and 4th in a competitive AG. Really, really must learn how to swim dammit!
5. Eat, drink, be merry
Hedonistic gastronomic excess rounded out the remainder of the weekend. One must really bask in the simple pleasures once in a while, particularly when those simple pleasures include a reward of french fries, fish tacos and wine touring. The Naramata bench boasts some fabulous wineries, amongst them some incredible family-run, small-lot vineyards that are definitely worth seeking out. The hidden gem award of the weekend goes to Nichol Vineyard, while humble and unapologetic in its simplicity, easily has the best Okanagan Pinot Noir I have ever tried. The tasting was manned by an interesting fellow named Matt, who could tell you not only where the location of the crop was that produced the wine you were tasting, but also had an unassuming intelligence about the entire operation and the wines they produce. We got to try not only the bottled vintages, but also several wines direct from the cask in varying states of readiness...all incredible. I almost don't want to spill the secret!
You would think that all this weekend warrior awesomeness would just make me tired, but it doesn't. Today, back at work, I feel energized, enthusiastic, inspired and look forward to the next great adventure!