Sunday, July 25, 2010

It's Time for a Break

Yes it was finally time to take a week off work and relax. This year Amber and I decided to spend a week in Penticton given that we weren't able to ride in the Tour BC due to scheduling issues (Bon Jovi- which Amber said was totally worth it).We love Penticton and spending a week out there in the beautiful weather relaxing on the beach and riding our bikes was a perfect way to enjoy our holiday. I left for Jasper on Thursday night with Harley and we waited for Amber to meet us the following day. It was nice to have the morning in Jasper and Harley and I went for a great 80 minute trail run up to Pyramid Lake and back. If you've never done that trail I would highly recommend it, one of my favorite runs that overlooks the town.
Amber arrived at noon and we started the long journey down to the mecca. Other than a little air conditioning issue with Amber's vehicle the drive was perfect, gorgeous scenery and warm weather... finally. We spent the next day picking up our race packets, walking Harley, laying on the beach and riding the bike course. We were both racing the Peach Classic, I was doing the Olympic and Amber the Sprint. It was a great race although I wished I had done less training during the week leading up to the event and I really wished I had swam more. It was a struggle to get through the 1500m swim but and I didn't post any blazing fast times out there but it was a lot of fun to not have one person pass me on the bike or run. I ended up finishing a very ordinary 20th but I was shocked to hear that it was good enough for 2nd in my age group, cool.

The rest of the week we spent a lot of time on our bikes riding, 80kms Monday, 165kms Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday off and 90kms Friday. It was great to do the IMC course and we saw a lot of other athletes out there, if I'm not doing Ironman this year it was such a great feeling to fly down to Osoyoos, struggle up Richter and over the rollers, feel a little better on the way to Karameos, hurt up Yellow Lake and coast back into town. I will miss doing the race but I had my run up Lakeshore Drive during the Peach Classic and it didn't take 10hrs to get there. It was a great opportunity to spend some time with Amber she has been so busy lately that it's been tough for us to connect but I really felt relaxed and happy all week to have her and Harley there. We capped off the week with a hilarous float down the canal with Harley and I in the same boat and Amber in a floaty tied to us. It was hilarous because Harley wouldn't sit still for long and we spent half the time trying to calm him down. Back home now and although we always feel an incredible affinity with Penticton, GP is home and we are both happy to be here.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Year of the Domestique

Back in the 1911 Tour de France there was a classic battle between two great French riders, Maurice Brocco and Henri Desgrange. That year the tour was a monster, 5,344kms with one stage (12) being 470kms and taking over 18hrs to complete. By the time Brocco reached that stage he had already lost significant time and he knew he would not contend for the podium so he decided to offer help to a Luxembourgian rider Francois Faber, who was also facing the possibility of elimination for missing the time limit. Allegedly, the two riders agreed on an "arrangement," and Brocco paced Faber to the finish line and the stage victory. Desgrange was absolutely furious at Brocco and was quoted in the the French paper, L'Auto "He is unworthy. He is no more than a domestique." That led to the concept of a rider sacrificing their personal ambitions of victory for someone else to be thought of as a "domestique." From an insult in 1911 to a noble title today, this is my year to become the domistique (servant) for others.

The people close to me know that I've been struggling all year with some sort of cold, flu or virus and it's been happening far too often and for far too long. Most people know how to read the subtle signals their body is giving them to back off or scale back on the intensity. Well my body has been screaming at me for 6 months now to stop racing so much. I finally get it and I'm going to listen. I was in Jasper last week and I should have been incredibly excited to go out for a ride in the mountains but I was just tired and weak and I couldn't manage to go more than 5kms. I took it easy for the next couple days but when I got back home and I was suffering again from a terrible stomach flu that had me throwing up all Canada Day I finally decided enough was enough. This was probably the 6th time I've been sick since January, time to re-evaluate my plans for the year.

Amber has been doing some research in Adrenal fatigue and I think that is probably the best explanation to what has been happening. It comes from years of pushing your body very, very hard with little to no rest that your body eventually just starts to shut down and does not allow you to push yourself like it used to. I admit I am not very good at allowing myself to take some down time and just rest but it's finding that new level within myself that keeps driving me to push harder and harder. However now I realize that my body is not a machine that continually improves year after year and eventually I need to plan years off or my body will do it for me. So I've scaled back my race plans for the year, I'm no longer doing anything over an Olympic distance this year. It was a very tough decision to make but I've realized that it's far more noble to become a "domestique" this year for other local athletes. So I'm going to do what I can to help Amber reach her goals for the year (whatever they may be) and be there for Robert, Dennis, and anyone else who needs a training partner to do a long swim-ride-or run with. I have to admit I will really miss the excitement and energy of Ironman week and the day itself but I'm going to do what I can to help others be successful and come back stronger and more focused next year.