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watching ironman canada

I drove north this weekend to support my coach and the 27 other athletes on our tri team who tackled the hilly-ass beast known as Ironman Canada. Initial impressions: Whistler is incredibly, stunningly, jaw-droppingly beautiful. Canadians don't look like they do on South Park. In fact, a lot of them are actually Australian. (Really, this is a thing. Apparently a lot of Aussies come up to Canada to work, particularly in the ski communities.) It doesn't take much time for three triathletes sharing a small one-bedroom condo to begin talking about how traveling makes poo difficult. Stick to beer and wine; the cocktails in Whistler are pretty much meh. (Like not muddling the mint in a mojito. Who does that?) Spectating an Ironman is exhausting, and there's a strong chance you won't shower and neither will the two other constipated triathletes you're rooming with.

Also, standing at the finish line will bring you to tears, especially if you stay until the midnight cut-off. The look of sheer joy on the finishers' faces when they cross that line is like nothing I can explain. It's just so raw and human and pure -- and you can't help wondering about these people's lives and everything that happened to bring them to that finish, both during the race and in the months and years leading up to it. 

I saw two proposals. A father and son cross the line holding hands. Athletes in their 70s looking incredibly strong and determined. A Korean woman who stopped halfway down the finishers' chute to do the Gangnam Style dance. People running while holding up photos of loved ones who passed away. 

Again: Whistler is incredibly, stunningly, jaw-droppingly beautiful.

see you in hell!

Things that make me feel like an asshole: Yesterday at work I told someone we wouldn't be able to give his program the funding he requested. And then he got in his car and got T-boned at an intersection down the street by a woman who ran a red light. He then texted a photo of himself on a stretcher to my co-worker.

Also, I really hate it when homeless women hold up signs that say "Pregnant Please Help," but you can't actually tell if they are truly expecting. (And on that note, who knows if they are actually really homeless? And am I even more of an asshole for asking that question?)

And finally: Sometimes I pee in the shower at the gym. I can't help it. I don't think I need to go, but then as soon as that warm water hits me, boom, the floodgates open.

(Oh come on. Don't tell me I'm the only one. We all know all the fun people will be burning in hell together. Walking on hot coals party! Woo!)

P.S. Remember My Little Pony? 

training on the go

You know you are at a wine event when there are people dressed like this:

Greetings from Texas, where the weather makes me feel like I'm being suffocated by a wool blanket every time I step outside. But I can't complain because I had good TexMex today. (Pieces of pineapple in an al pastor taco? Never would've thought it would work, but it does.) And the wines they're pouring here are all kinds of awesome (especially the Amarone I tasted tonight, not to mention the fantastic Pinot from Wind Gap, Failla and Rajat Parr -- I have missed Pinot since moving to Washington -- not exactly the right match for the state's climate). And I'm excited about the seminar lineup. (I get to start my day tomorrow with a sparkling wine tasting. Breakfast of champions, my friends.)

Since I just left the opening night dinner early to do a 45 minute workout in my hotel room (I'm such a Type A nerd), and the airport has pretty much become my second home (been to SEA four times this week!), thought I'd offer the following tips for getting some exercise while traveling for work:

Scout your surroundings ahead of time. Does your hotel have a gym? If so, what equipment is available? Is there a pool you can actually swim laps in? Are there running paths nearby? Some hotels even have programs where you can borrow workout gear (everything from running clothes and shoes to yoga mats and straps -- I was at a Westin last weekend and they offered Brooks gear on loan for a small fee). Check online and see what's available, and plan accordingly. If your hotel doesn't have good fitness amenities (or if you're not staying in a hotel), research the nearby area. Look for gyms with day use passes, community pools, trails, bike rentals, etc. Yoga studios and places like Bar Method also offer good drop-in options. I also love renting a paddleboard for a few hours if that's at all a possibility -- best core workout ever.

Know your itinerary. When can you sneak away? Will you have to wake up early? Leave an event early? Develop an idea of when you may have some downtime from your work schedule and be prepared to make quick exits so you can get a fast workout in.

Check the weather. It's supposed to 100-plus here in Texas this weekend. Clearly, if I want to run outside, I'm going to have to wake up at the buttcrack of dawn, or pack an enormous water bottle and get ready to suffer. Most likely, I'll end up sleeping in a little and testing my mental fortitude by running on the treadmill. Boring, but at least I won't be dying of heatstroke in a strange city.

Give yourself options when packing. Running gear is standard for me, but now I've learned to always pack a swim suit, goggles and a cap. Because I've been in situations where unexpected open water opportunities popped up and then it got a little awkward when I didn't have the proper attire. (But let's not discuss this right now.) Oh, and yoga pants are an easy staple to pack too.

Use your smartphone. I love the Yoga Studio app. It's pricey, but such a worthwhile investment. It offers 15-, 30- and 60-minute classes focusing on strength, flexibility, relaxation or a combination of those. You can also create your own class by choosing poses to string together. I can't tell you how many times this app has saved me. (Ahem, tonight.) Another app I'm testing out: Absolute Abs. (I have the free version, and so far, I've done the beginner workout. It's a little confusing because the instructor tells you to do an exercise and then times you, but the app doesn't actually explain what the exercise is.)

And finally: Be flexible. Things most likely will not go as planned. Your flight may be late. Your meeting may run long. You may end up having one too many glasses of wine (um ... ) or having such an incredible, unforgettable time somewhere that you can't bring yourself to leave so you can go do planks by yourself on your hotel room floor. Realize this will happen, and forgive yourself if you miss a workout.

And with that, I think I'm going to draw a bath now. Because (1) I really like the phrase "draw a bath" and (2) hell, I'm in a place where I can actually draw a bath.

because I'm lazy and hungry

Another example of my conflicted personality: I love food and cooking, but with my non-stop travel schedule, all free time spent training and possession of a Godzilla-sized appetite that demands immediate gratification, I rarely have time to prepare a meal and often end up ordering delivery (the Eat24 app makes this far too easy) or dining out -- neither of which are particularly healthy or good for the wallet.

So imagine my sheer delight when I stopped at Eat Local on the way home from my track workout tonight. This little shop features frozen prepared meals made with local organic ingredients -- no preservatives, chemicals or fillers. There's everything from main dishes to side dishes to soups to desserts. (Yes, they actually have a take-and-bake version of the molten chocolate lava cake that I fantasize about on a daily basis -- I swear, I almost died of joy.) They also serve Stumptown coffee and sell beans. And everything is labeled gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian or dairy-free.

I stocked up on a few meal options.

Aren't the Nikki McClure labels an awesome touch? I'm a sucker for packaging.

I had the Paprika Chicken Breast with Broccoli Florets tonight. (I've been eating a little more meat lately to up the protein in my diet.) This photo kind of makes it look like a big pile of goop, but let me tell you, that goop was good goop.

I also like that the portions are reasonable. I don't feel like a fat-ass after eating this, but at the same time, I'm pretty satisfied.

And speaking of dead birds, let's change gears and talk about this. (Don't you just love that unexpected segue? It was sort of like M. Night Shyamalan, but less cheesy.)

I found this poor little dino-bird outside my door as I was leaving for the track. The teeny guy must've fallen out of a nest. I couldn't just leave him there to become a plaything for the neighborhood cats, so I picked him up and buried him in the garden. 

debauchery, etc.

Quite possibly the biggest challenge to my training and nutrition plan: My job. I spent the weekend in San Francisco at SF Chefs, where I was surrounded by this:

And this:

And that's only what I captured in photos. There was also an oyster and Scotch pairing, Campari snowcones, sweet corn gelato, caramel popcorn with truffle salt, spicy shrimp risotto, more pork than you could ever imagine (yes, the pork trend is still going strong), lamb meatballs, wild salmon on crispy nori, gazpacho galore, mini chicken tacos and bottle after bottle of wine. Oh, and I may or may not have done tequila shots one night while dancing to really bad music at an after-hours party and then took a quick nap on a drag queen's bosom.

Of course, because I have a sick Type A personality, I tracked all of this on Training Peaks. (OK, everything except for the drag queen part. There is no graph for that activity.) The results were not pretty. Dear Coach Mark: Please don't look at my charts from the weekend.

Thankfully, though, the weekend wasn't all debauchery and fatness. I went to a Bar Method class yesterday (and am so sore today that it hurts to shrug myself into a sweater), and I got a 45-minute run in on Saturday morning.

That run may or may not have ended at the Ferry Building with a big bowl of cheese grits buried under a poached egg and pancetta.

in pictures

As I lie here in bed, already somewhat achey from the eight-mile tempo run I did today (yes, you read that correctly -- I did a tempo run on my lunch break and I actually did it the way I was supposed to -- I didn't just randomly run with no purpose -- who am I?!) all I can think about is how it really smells like cat poop in my apartment.

That, and Seattle is a beautiful city and I wish I didn't have to get up at 4 a.m. tomorrow to go to the airport and leave it. (Who thought a 6 a.m. flight was a good idea?!)

Anyway, here are some recent images from the past few months in the Emerald City. (How is it August already? And why do I have that "winter is coming" feeling in the pit of my stomach? I fear the days of limited sunlight.)

And just I was falling in love with the green and the water and the ridiculously long summer days when the daylight never seems to fade, I almost stepped on this big-ass mofo:

I want to throw up just looking at it.

Yes, folks, I can do a half-Ironman, but I ran away screaming from a slug and wouldn't leave the house the rest of the night.