Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Goals

This trip I brought my new giant suitcase. My new mini-rolly suitcase (that I’m not 100% convinced actually conforms to the carry-on size limitations. Maybe if the wheels were removable..), my brand new speedo backpack cause the last backack didn’t survive the previous carryon experience, and my super-awesome biknd bikebox/bag. For the most part this all went very well. I avoided paying overweight fees on the suitcase. I never made eye-contact with any of the flight attendants while boarding, and tried to hide my not-so mini rolly-carry-on behind my legs, so no-one would figure out that I was Definitely exceeding the ‘one carryon, one personal item rule’ heck both my carry-ons probably exceeded the size and weight limit. Individually!
The only unfortunate moment, was when I boarded the smaller plane in Frankfurt, and there were hardly any overhead compartments available for the rolly. I finally found a place above a grumpy looking couple, and with the speedo bag shoved into the face of the person across the aisle, I proceeded to take about 10 minutes leaning over the couple on my tipi-toes trying to shove my bag into the too-small spot. I kept repeatedly trying to shut the compartment door, only to have it bounce back off the wheels that were sticking way out.. maybe if I slam it hard enough I thought.. nope.. ‘it conforms to the size limitations I swear …’ I was trying to act as casual as possible while repeatedly slamming the door- I didn’t want the flight attendants to notice me and show me my ticket which clearly said in large block letters: ONE CARRY-ON. Finally with enough re-arranging I got the compartment closed and shuffled awkwardly through the onlookers back to my seat. “you’re in the emergency exit seat ma’am, you’re going to have to find a spot in the overhead compartements for your backpack.”
You have got to be kidding me… Annnnnd the process began again.

Well in the end I arrived in one piece. Spring here is absolutely beautiful. We’ve had wonderful weather, and despite the snow on the mountain peaks we’ve mostly been riding without even arm-warmers.
But the Jetlag.. I vaguely remembered having issues with it last year, but boy did I underestimate it. Wide awake at night, eating full meals at 3 in the morning because I am TOO starving to sleep, dragging my butt all day long. But the napping is amazing. Back home I rarely fall asleep when I nap, I just doze off and wake up feeling a bit more refreshed. Here I can fall deep asleep at noon in a second. The waking up from naps is less enjoyable. For some reason it’s even worse than waking up early in the morning. This feels more like waking up from the dead. As if only a strong enough will to live can bring you back (or a great enough fear of the consequences if you just went back to sleep..), and even then you’re only a shadow of your former self, stumbling around holding your eyelids open with your fingers, and inhaling caffeine, sugar ANYTHING that will help keep your eyes open on their own.
Luckily a long enough exposure to sunlight seems to help, and as your zombie self begins to fade away in the sunshine, you are oh so thankful for that nap for giving you the ability to make it through the next workout.

That feeling is quite similar to the food here really. Let me explain. European countries are often known for having good food.. and I won’t deny that, buuuuuuttt they sure aren’t into the gluten free fad. The boys can tease me all they like but it really does bug my stomach, so as much as the fresh French bread and chocolate croissants taunt me every morning, I try to avoid them as much as possible. Ok there have been a after-swimming mornings, where I come home to the wonderful breakfasts our hosts set out for us, and been like, ‘move aside boys today is a chocolate-bread day!’. But I usually regret that decision later on. Anyways, avoiding bread in this country seems to make finding other food tricky. At least they have not-too moldy yams imported from some South American country this year. But they don’t do nut butters. I mean other than nutella of course. There is a whole wall in the grocery store dedicated to it. A shrine really. With big jars, and little jars, and glass jars, and cans, and the normal type, and fancy-looking healthy types (first ingredient is still sugar..), and smooth types and the nutty-types. So with no other choice- nutella it is! They also don’t do any type of cereals without wheat. Except for chocolate rice crispies. Shoot not more chocolate!
So life is good with my chocolate rice crispies, and my nutella addiction. You know. Other than the sugar crashes.. So in that way I find it similar to loving the napping, but hating the waking up and/or trying to fall asleep again later that night.

Now it recently dawned on me that almost all my troubles would be avoided if I was just an Elite. An Air Canada Elite that is. I don’t know how many carry-ons you’re allowed.. could it be 2?? But even then it wouldn’t matter because when you’re Elite your big giant suitcase is allowed to be over 50 lbs. So that rolly-carryon for all the heavy items isn’t even necessary! Andddd you could bring your very own almond butter, or gluten free cereal, or salad dressing that doesn’t contain mustard (yuck), so you wouldn’t have to depend entirely on Nutella and chocolate cereal for survival. I’m not really sure if being an Air Canada Elite has the ability to overcome jetlag.. but heck the Elite Lounge and the upgrades have got to help.
So a life goal: Become an Elite. Get a Pod.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Arizona- Mexico- Arizona

I am currently sitting in the sun, drinking coffee on my Aunt & Uncle's patio 45 minutes or so outside of Pheonix. Life is good. They've got this fancy smancy rec center with an outdoor 25 meter pool that I'm going to check out next. Originally I had been planning on staying overnight at an airport hotel in pheonix before joining up with the Arizona training camp crew the next evening to travel home with them. At the very last second I realized that I didn't want to stay on the airport hotel strip very much.. we did that on the way out, and I wouldn't have even been comfortable going for a run around there by myself. There was a mall nearbyish, but I would have had to check out with my bike and ridiculously heavy suitcase likely around noon, which would have meant another afternoon spent at the airport. Noooo thanks. And then a miracle happened. My aunt and uncle had just arrived in town not too long ago, and they happened to be at the Ikea in Pheonix only 15 minutes away from the airport, so they came and rescued me!! yayay! Food!!

The trip went really well. ARuss was a fantastic travel buddy, so I made it there and back in one piece. Thanks Drew for organizing everything. Craig and Greg and Dr. Vanessa were fantastic support, I couldn't have asked for better! Montterey itself really surprised me. The whole park and canal system was absolutely gorgeous. And despite being massacre capital of the world I felt very safe the whole time. I'm still not sure what to think about the race.. Mostly just feeling a little discontent and frustrated with it.. There were definitely some positives to take away from it, but mostly I'm just looking forward to trying again next time.
The swim was really crazy. I think being ranked among 'the lasts' was more of a handicap then usual with this course set up. The pontoon was off to one side, so that we could swim by it on the way back, so the people on the right had a straight line and the people on the left had one big long diagonal line. As number 70 & number 73 of 73, Joanna and I didn't stand a chance! I didn't really feel like I was ever on good feet, but maybe that will come with some more open water practice. I took some good hits, but did not swim into a concrete wall with my face like Kathy did, so I really can't complain. The first 3 laps of the bike just felt like one huge sprint for me. The first lap was spent chasing first pack, and then the next two was me trying to not get dropped off the back of first pack, as the back-of-the-packers were letting big gaps form on each turn. I think mid-way through the third lap I finally succeeded in moving up, and from then on I was a lot more comfortable.
It took me until about midnight the night after the race for it to dawn on me that that was my first time making front pack in a world cup. So that was a positive at least!
Unfortunately chase pack caught us half way through the ride making us one giant pack, so my making front pack didn't matter very much. Luckily the corners went 100 times better than in Mooloolaba. I felt fairly confident on them, and the one girl who went down right in front of me slid away so fast that I didn't even have to swerve to miss her. Craig told me to keep my cadence up through the chicany sections and that helped a lot too. Since the course was consta-corners I didn't even drink half as much as I usually do in a race, so I wasn't feeling so hot by the time I got on the run. I don't really feel like I could have done much better of a job of hydrating though.. I really needed both hands on the bars allll the time. I was pretty dizzy getting my shoes on in T2, so right out of transition I found myself in no-mans land aaggain. And the next lap proceeded to suck bigtime, so I couldn't even bridge up. I got in a little water from those ridiculous plastic water bags they hand out, and took a gel, and felt way stronger for the second lap. For a little while I got on the shoulder of a faster runner and felt fantastic, but then my calves and quads started cramping and it all went downhill again from there. Mostly I just felt really slow. I think better nutrition/hydration would have helped me a lot this race.. but also I think I just need to start running faster.

next time!
The rest of the canadian team sure had some amazing performances. I fried my brains out watching the men's race, but Brent was still able to make an amazing comeback. Before this trip- I hadn't had much opportunity to spend time with Joanna Brown, so rooming with her was really fun. It was her first ever Olympic distance and World Cup and she nailed it. She's a monster on the bike & run, and she proved she can swim at a world cup level! So Don't worry folks the future of our sport is in very good hands!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Learning the hard way

by Kyla Coates

-Do not take classes by correspondence. I said I would never take one again last year. Well this time I really really mean it. Do not take courses by correspondence.
It is especially a drag when you are traveling to races in the summertime, and everyone has finished their school and they are catching up on movies on the flight, and reading books on their brand new Kindles.. while you are lugging around 15lbs of text books through the airports with no Kindle and no movies in order to STAY focused! mannnn I realllly wanted to see that movie!!

-If you just drank a caffeinated beverage and are thinking you maybe might have to pee a little tiny bit but you're not so sure.. Do not think, 'oh I'll just go on the plane.' You will be trapped in a window seat with two 200lb tattooed men snoring away beside you on a crazy turbulent flight causing the seat belt sign to stay on the entire flight (not turbulent enough to wake up scary tatooed men unfortunately). Trying not to think about it makes it worse. Trying to learn correspondence course makes it way worse. All you can do it tap your foot along to the 'I have to pee so badly, I think I'm going to die' song that you are singing in your head.

-If you need help getting your suitcase zipped up before you depart.. when everything is perfectly folded and organized..
..you will not stand a chance on the way home when you're in a rush to pack up your pile of dirty laundry, and your roomate is already waiting in the cab and therefore unavailable to sit on your bag while you zip...
Buying a rolly-carryon for the trip home helps a lot in these desperate situations, but does add one more item to cart through the airport and fit into shuttles.
Sooo buying a great BIG suitcase is obviously the thing to do. Packing is a breeze, and you can even add in some of the little things that all female triathletes seem to manage to bring on trips, like your favorite teas and spices, and cooking oils and bath salts.
The problems arise at check in, when your perfect-easily-solo-zipper-upper- suitcase is 15 lbs overweight. This may be ok in Canada when the overweight fee is 20 bones.
Those epsom salts are worth it.
But on the way home..
100$ added onto your 200$ bike fee.. mmm maybe not so much..
So the rearranging begins.. bike box is already considered overweight and they are giving you the 'don't even think about making it any heavier look'. So the heaviest important things go in the carry-on, and the grocery bag that will now also be a carry-on. Heavy, not so important things, go in the trash. like shampoo and contact solution.
This is less than great when you later remember need those things for your next night at the airport hotel.. sigh.
So you lug your 50lb carryon backpack and 20lb grocery bag through 3 airports and customs and shuttles, and try to focus on using your core as much as possible to relieve your compressed spine. And you're singing the 'My shoulders and back and arms are in so much pain I think I'm going to die, and what is that ripping sound coming from my backpack' song in your head in order to stay focused.
Buying another rolly-carryon for the trip home would help a lot in this situation. If not for the guilt of already having one at home.. is $100 on another suitcase preferable to just paying the overweight fee?

Some people just get everything right the first time. I do not. Ooooh my compressed spine.
and you thought this post was going to be about the race.. ;)

ps. that post will be along shortly
pps. no I have not reached the level of packing cooking oils and bath salts.. how they manage it I do not know.