Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My swimming superstars!!

Ever since I became a mom, I knew that swimming was a skill I felt very important that my children have. I wanted them to be comfortable in the water and able to fend for themselves. Well, it's still a work in progress, but both boys, most certainly love the water and any opportunity they get to go swimming is scooped up faster than you can imagine. Lessons however, have been another matter.

Let's start with the youngest. Sully is definitely part fish. He has to be. He loves water so much, and isn't afraid to try anything. He jumps in, he goes under the water, he does his floats, he even loves the songs (Tiny Turtle Tim being his favourite of course). He also loves just playing in the water. He breezed through starfish, bored even as it was all babies and he wasn't even so interested in listening, but he has grown up since then... he also breezed through duck. And I know you probably can't fail those, but really, he did well. Next up was Sea Turtle, and times have changed and Sea Turtle is now a  parented class (used to be a sort of half parents, half not). Well, today was the last day, and once again, he just flew through the whole class. Every week, doing better than the last, including today, where he whizzed through it all, including the slide that half the kids freaked out over. And, the lazy river. So now, he is an aspiring Sea Otter (a new level added, so perhaps this will be the telling level on just how fishlike he is).

Sebastian, on the other hand, lessons haven't been his strongest suit. To start with, he has absolutely zero body fat, so the first round of Starfish, he shivered and was purple the whole class. We took Starfish a second time just cause he was too young for duck (and you know, he was the first born, so you are totally on top of everything haha). He did fine in the classes, and moved on to duck, again, all was fine. Then, enter Sea Turtle, he tried, but no success, so he tried again, still no... he wouldn't put his head in the water. Finally the third class, he figured that out, and we had success. Keep in mind, this is the class where you have to start in the class with your child, and gradually as the weeks go on, parents no longer have to be in the water. Salamander came along, and he was in and out of that class on the first try!! And then came Sunfish. It's a demanding class, where they want a lot out of the kids. So, he tried, and tried, and tried, and finally after three rounds at one facility, where the last round had at least 4 different teachers (can you say new teacher every week???), we decided to try a new facility. Enter Vecova. The pool is actually warm!! So, this time, we tried Sunfish, little Sebastian was not shivering the whole class the way he was at Cardel. And, the same teacher was there every week!! Well, he was still not successful, but really improved and his confidence in the water was much greater. We registered him again at Vecova, and this time, at the halfway point, it was still not looking positive (they send home a little note about the likelihood of passing, and his said likely not). We practiced with him at least once or twice a week outside of classes, and he worked so hard to do everything that was asked of him. Keep in mind he does have DCD and as a result, multiple step, multi limb activities can be tough for him to master. But, with a lot of hard work, he got through Sunfish. Jeremy sent me a text and I literally had tears in my eyes. He earned that one. It was a lot of effort on his part and it really was a huge accomplishment. So now, he can go into crocodile. I'm so glad he got through Sunfish, if no other reason, than it shows him, that hard work really does get results. Plus, he'll age out of the preschool lessons soon, so it really was his last chance to get through Sunfish!!

So great job my little ones, you did amazing!! Best of luck in your next lessons!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Always grateful!!

I am so grateful for so many things in my life, that I just felt compelled to share some of them.

I am so grateful for my husband. He is fantastic. He is the best dad to our little boys, who are so lucky to have him around most days for rides to school and swimming lessons. He works only part-time so that he can be there for all those important things going on with them!!

I am grateful to Sebastian. He came into this world, barely clinging to life, and fought very hard to stay here. Today he is in kindergarten and just amazes me every day with his witty comments, his zest for life and his amazing abilities at climbing and gymnastics. He's curious about everything and soaking up french like a sponge!!

I am grateful to Sullivan. He's such a little cutie. He has such an incredible passion for cooking. We just finished making pumpkin breads actually. He will bring out all the ingredients, and just loves pouring and mixing and all things baking. He is lots of fun, and he's words are now exploding, so he gets to be more fun every day!!

I am grateful to my dog. Cronos. He makes me feel loved every night when I get home from my shifts. I just wish his silly tail would heal itself. He somehow injured it, and it's been bleeding and as I'm sure you can imagine, it's not the easiest thing to clean up... but he is on the mend... I hope...

I am grateful for my extended family. I am so lucky to have the family I do. Most especially parents and siblings, but more than that, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins. Yeah, I'm lucky!! I wouldn't trade them for anything. So many great memories, and many more to come!!

I am grateful for the friends and coworkers I have. There are so many people in my life that I feel honoured just to have their conversation and company. People who make me laugh, and offer philosophical discussion. Friends who help me out when I'm stuck (especially when it comes to a work shift I couldn't get off!!). Friends who run with me. Friends who walk for coffees. Friends who climb, and do triathlons. Friends who simply are there with a phone call or a funny status or tweet.

I am grateful to live where I do. I am lucky to be Canadian. I don't take that for granted. I know there are countries out there, where you can't speak your mind. I know there are places where people struggle for basic necessities and basic rights, and I am lucky I am, where I am. There are plenty of military out there that leave their families to go off and help other countries to get the same freedoms I have, and some of them are lost in the conflict. My heart goes out to them and their families!! Especially at this time of year, when families are missing those loved ones!!

I am grateful for my health. There are so many people suffering from all sorts of illness and disease. I am so lucky that to this point, I have been relatively healthy. I will try and use my health to benefit those around me (can you say, Ride to Conquer Cancer?? Please, sponsor me!! I have a long way to go yet!! You know you want to... tax receipt... quick before the year ends!!)

I am grateful for so much more, but those are the big ones, and the ones I will focus on today. Because really, family and friends are where it's at!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Join the 2012 ride...

Since today is Gear Up day, and the whole point is to try and find some people who might want to ride, I thought I would repost about the ride back in June. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to email, comment or text and I'll help you out and fill you in. The ride is truly incredible. It's worth the time and effort training and fundraising. You won't regret it!! It's beautiful, it's fun, it's epic. And best of all, you are surrounded by so many incredibly, like-minded people who have all taken the time and effort to do something big. Put all that energy into one place, and it really is incredible what can be accomplished. The research that is being funded is putting Alberta on the front page. The projects are incredible, and every dollar donated gets matched usually two times over, so the impact is huge. And the projects funded are varied and support a variety of different cancers. I mean, we all know someone who has been affected, and many of us know several people. Some lose their battles, but with the research going on, maybe soon, we won't lose anyone else to this horrible disease. So come, be part of something incredible!! Register today and you get free arm warmers!! But, want to know what it's like? Here was my recap from June...

The 2011 Alberta Ride to Conquer Cancer

So this past weekend, I set out on a brand new journey. A new adventure. Something big. Something awesome. And something that, up until the day before, I wasn't entirely sure I was going to do. Fundraising is always a challenge, and the ride to conquer cancer was no exception. For me, coming off of Mother's Day, where we always put in a good effort to raise funds, since we know that the Mother's Day Run supports NICU and since that cause is obviously very near and dear to us, it was tough coming away from that, and turning around and basically asking all those same amazing people who supported us in that, to turn around and support the ride to conquer cancer as well. And really, things were not looking so good... with one night to go, I had $1000 left to raise... and since we aren't really in a position to afford that, it was tough deciding to go ahead or not. In the end, after getting a couple more donations, I went for it. I wanted to honour the donations I had already received and devised a plan to raise the rest, through a combination of a 50/50 draw and bottle drive.

So, then it was time to pack... hmmmm... deciding the night before a 200km ride, is not always the smartest move. I was scrambling trying to get everything together. Where was my platypus pack? Found the bag, found the backpack, found the tube, couldn't find the end piece... I remember Sebastian playing with it. It could be anywhere. Well, eventually found that, but then couldn't find my riding sandals (yes, my clip shoes are keen sandals... they are AWESOME!!). Well, Jeremy saved the day on the sandals, and I should also point out, that he was out in the garage working on my bike. Tuning it up, cleaning it up, making sure the gears shifted nicely and the brakes worked properly. He too, was signed up to ride, but hadn't raised any money, so him riding wasn't even a consideration that day. The work he put into my bike though, really meant a lot. He also offered up his bike. He has a nice Argon tri bike, but I just felt I'd be more comfortable on my mountain bike, so went with what I knew. Might not have been the fastest choice, but it was the choice I made!!

Went to bed with the alarm set for 0500hrs... did I mention I only work nightshifts? This was a VERY early morning for me, and the boys as well. We put my bike on the car, packed my bag, and off we went, headed for Spruce Meadows. It seemed a bit surreal, but there I was, getting ready to embark on a journey more epic than anything I had ever done before. To date, my longest ride has been 50km. So, the idea that over the next two days I'd go 200km seemed just a bit unbelievable. Yet, I knew I could. I never really doubted I had it in me... well, there was one point, but I will get to that in a bit. So I have to check in, since this was a last minute decision, I hadn't done that yet. Which is also the point where I hand over my credit card number and hope I might actually raise something in the next two months!! From there my gear was checked in, then it was time for a snack. Ran into my cousins and my uncle and chatted a bit, they didn't realize I was actually riding. The ride was important to them as another uncle had died from brain cancer and as they were quite close, it was especially hard to watch him suffer and ultimately lose his fight. Then, before I knew it, it was time to line up and get ready.

There were bikes as far as the eyes could see. I mean, when you have 2280 riders, you pretty much have 2280 bikes (except for a couple tandem bikes), and even an eliptical bike. And then there was every kind of bike for the rest of them. Road bikes, mountain bikes, tri bikes, mountain bikes with aero bars (Jeremy found this particularly amusing). And the riders came in all shapes and sizes. There were young people, old people, tall people, short people, thin people, fat people. Literally, every conceivable possible rider was there. Some had barely biked a day in their lives. Others were seasoned athletes for whom this was a mere training ride. It was really an incredible group. And when you realize that collectively, we had raised over 8 million dollars, that is powerful. That kind of money can do a lot of good in the world of research. And it's because of all those funds that everyone was there. And then there were the bikes with yellow flags on them. Each of those riders were cancer survivors. Having already battled a brutal disease, they were out here showing that cancer couldn't beat them, and taking on a huge challenge at the same time!!

There were a few speakers and of course by the end of it, I was in tears. Thank goodness I was in sunglasses. Jeremy was super emotional too (understandable since he lost his dad to cancer). It made the ride matter, it made doing this important. There are so many fundraisers out there, collecting for so many things, and all of them do matter. But today, this one really mattered. And for every person that has ever been diagnosed with cancer, and for every person that will be diagnosed, this mattered. This group of people went out of their way to try and help fight this disease. To honour the memories of those lost, to celebrate those fighting, and to try and make sure that nobody else will suffer in the future. So to everyone who took the time to donate and help me get to the starting line, thank you. Every donation mattered. Because together, with all the other donations, the money raised really will have an impact. An epic impact!! It's putting Alberta on the front stage of cancer research!!

And then we were off. I was a bit nervous on the count of my sandals and the fact that I don't have a lot of experience with clip shoes on a bike, and with so many bikes, it took a bit to get everyone going at a pace that is condusive to balancing while in clip shoes. I managed however and all was good. It was very emotional starting the ride, being part of something so much bigger!! Very soon, I settled into my ride and just kept riding. And then came the first hill, and there were people who stopped and walked their bikes up. I'm happy to report I made it to the top. And so the ride continued. With lots of hills. Soon, I approached the first pitstop in Okotoks. I was impressed I had made it that far. Grabbed myself some gatorade and a bagel with peanut butter and was on my way. Next pitstop came along and I got to snack on fruit cremes and munchies... yum!! Lunch was the third pitstop and now more than 60km was done. Chatted a bit with my uncle in Longview and then I was off again. The day was filled with lots and lots of hills and the last two legs were super windy. It was a tough ride, but it was good. I decided against the last pitstop as it was about half a kilometre off the highway and didn't really feel the need to stop, just wanted to get to the camp!! By now my butt was rather tired and not really too happy with my decision to bike so far all in one day. However, I finished and arrived at camp in the mid afternoon. Best thing ever? Having a chocolate covered cherry in your bag to eat at camp... yup, it was sooooo tasty!!

Camp was interesting. Hundreds of tents lined up in rows. Portable showers. Food. Drinks. Shops (Sugoi and gear for the race). Massage tent. Medical tent. Yoga tent. Racked my bike upon arriving and grabbed my gear. The whole thing was so well organized!! Had a shower, the shower felt so good, and the water was even hot. Who knew there were mobile showers like that!! Dinner was nice. Chatted with my uncle and cousins, and ran into a friend from work. It was nice running into her as she had given me all sorts of hints and tips for the ride. And for her the ride was especially meaningful as her dad had died just a few months earlier from cancer.

I wandered around, checking things out, filling up my platypus pack, and eventually headed towards my tent. Met my tentmate who was from BC and super nice. We chatted for a bit, and soon it was off to sleep. For being in a tent, on a foamie on a definitely not flat piece of land, I slept surprisingly well. Sadly however, I woke up to rain. This was not part of the plan. It took awhile to will myself out of my sleeping bag. The rain was depressing me to no end. I did not want to ride in the rain.

So, packed everything up, dropped my gear at the trucks, and headed off, wearing slightly different clothing from the day before. I kept my Sugoi compression tights on, along with my Sugoi bike shorts (you'll notice a trend here hahaha). Then I put on a long sleeved tech shirt, with my new Ride to Conquer Cancer jersey (also made by Sugoi), over top, and finally my Sugoi all weather jacket. At the last moment, I added another light jacket underneath, as it was really quite chilly. I had my helmet on, and away I went in search of something to help my feet (remember? bike sandals?? not so ideal in that weather!!). At the 2012 sign up tent they had garbage bags they were handing out, so I took one and made pseudo booties by wrapping my feet in the bag and taping them up. I also turned my bike gloves into mitts by wrapping part of the garbage bags around them and taping them (yeah, it was that chilly). I went out to my bike, and then had to clean out my sandals underneath so they'd be able to click in (since they were covered in mud). Yup, it was challenging, and hadn't even started riding yet. And I was absolutely dreading putting my sore butt down on that seat. Lucky for me, it was not nearly as painful as I was imagining it would be.

And off I went. It was raining, it was windy, it was cold. And, it was uphill. I had opted to skip breakfast as I didn't feel like standing in line in the rain, so I popped a GU gel and off I went. It was tough. And it was really cold and windy. rain was coming up under my sunglasses somehow, still trying to figure that one out!! The first pitstop was a welcome site. I grabbed a bagel and a banana. Stood there freezing while I ate it, then got back on the bike. Bikers were dropping like flies. Sweep vehicles went past, loaded with new bikes every time. It was tough to watch, and tempting to give up. At the second pitstop, they were asking who wanted to be swept. I made myself new booties with mylar blanket pieces so my feet would stay warmer, and headed out after some cookies and munchies. The hills going into Longview were tough, so stopping there would have been easy!! And then, the hills leaving Longview were tough. Fortunately, the next stop would be lunch, so I pushed onwards, even though it had started brutally raining again. At some moments, between the wind and the rain, even breathing wasn't so easy!! By the time I got to Turner Valley, the rain had subsided again, so lunch was pleasant enough. Ate and headed out. This time, it was the wind. Biking straight into the wind. Are you kidding me? First all the rain and cold, and now a strong head wind?? It was tough. And still some hills, let's not forget. By the end of this leg however, things were improving, the pitstop was in sight, and then, my chain falls off. Instant panic. I'm in clip shoes, and about to fall off my bike. Thankfully, I was able to get my one foot unclipped and then steady myself before falling. Phew!! Flipped my bike over, put the chain back on, and biked the 250m to the pitstop (yup, I was that close when it fell off). Got my final snacks and at this point knew I'd make it.

In chatting with a sweeper, there were 300 bikers who didn't even start on day 2, and they were picking up bikers 4 at a time from the course. And a bunch of others stopped at the pitstops. She even said good athlete type bikers couldn't take it. Lots of hypothermia that day!!

The last stretch was good. The beginning part was still tough, but let me tell you, once I hit 22X, I was a whole new rider. I had a renewed sense of energy, a new passion. And I pushed. I pushed hard. I got up to 65kilometers an hour even at one point. I just road and road my little heart out. And I thought about why I was there. Why I had just put myselft through 2 grueling days of biking 200+km (cause it's actually longer than 200km by the way, hahaha). I thought about my grandpa, and how I had seen him going through radiation at Foothills, back in the 1980s. I thought about Jeremy's dad, and how quickly cancer took over his body. And how hard it's been on Jeremy not having his dad, his go-to guy. I thought about my uncle, who was actually my godfather even. I went out and saw him in the summer before he passed away, trying hard to fight, but the cancer was winning. I thought about some of the kids I've seen at Ronald Mcdonald House, in the midst of chemo with no hair, trying to just be regular kids, probably not really understanding the battle they are facing. Cancer is horrible and takes away people we love, well before we should ever have to lose them. This ride gets people trying to do something about that. The funds raised go towards research. I truly hope one of the research projects leads to a cure, or at the very least, more effective, less destructive treatments. And the spinoffs. Some of the drugs go on to help with other diseases that just don't get the funds and attention that cancer does. So what this epic ride does, has an epic impact on the world of cancer resarch and treatment. It will make a difference.

As Spruce Meadows got closer, I was full of emotion. I was happy, I was sad. I was missing people that matter. People that should have had more time here. My heart was heavy for all those left to survive without their loved ones. It was very emotional, but in a good and healthy way. I am, so far, blessed with good health. I have a responsibility, to use that health to make a difference to those that aren't so lucky. It's important to take the time and be passionate about these causes, because they really do matter. I could hear the end. All the cheering, the announcer. It was incredible. I rounded the corner and the sides of the finish were lined with people cheering. The Canada flag (and several other flags), were all flapping in the distance. It was amazing. It was the perfect ending to two days of pushing myself to new limits. I rode through the end with tears streaming down my face. I saw my boys. I was so excited for them to be there and share in that moment. It really was epic.

Thank you so much to every single person who donated to this ride. Thank you for your kind words. Thank you for your support! Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for helping me reach my goal. Without each and every one of you, it would not have been possible. I am eternally grateful!!

So I'm signed up to do this again next year. And so is my husband. I want to keep trying to help and to make a difference. It's important. And maybe, just maybe, I'll have inspired someone else to join us. It's not easy. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Fundraising is tough. Training is tough. Heck, the ride itself is tough, but it's amazingly well supported and worth every moment. So take these words, and be inspired. Come bike with us, and if that's not something you can do, then support us. Because it's that support that makes it possible for us to do this, and truly, it's the ultimate example of how much bigger we are, when we all work together for a common goal. So, if you want, feel free to donate to the 2012 ride!! 2012 link here!! You get a tax receipt... you know you wanna...

And it would be especially nice if you donated to Jeremy, because he didn't get the chance to ride this year, and I think really, he needs to do this, for his dad!! So here's the link to his page... Jeremy's Epic Ride

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Family Picture, with everyone looking and everyone smiling!!

I feel so fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of the world. Banff is just a stone's throw from Calgary, and so we end up there a lot. I love it!! The last time we went, we did a bit of touring just to remind ourselves just how pretty it is. And, somehow, we managed to get this shot, and for that I am grateful!!

3 Valley Gap

So, on the way home from Penticton, we had a day to spare. We left Penticton after getting me signed up for Ironman 2012. We knew it was a long drive, and so we headed off. We stopped in Kelowna for a Starbucks (being married to a Barista has its' advantages!!), and after this, all three boys were asleep. At some point, Sully's cup fell upside down onto his lap and it slowly leaked all over his shorts and his carseat. They were soaked. And, Sebastian had to pee. We were planning to stop in Revelstoke but turns out it was going to have to be sooner. I knew 3 Valley Gap was coming up, and that was it. We pulled in, Jeremy grumpy, Sullivan grumpy, Sebastian grumpy (sensing a theme here??), and so I took Sebastian to the bathroom, while Jeremy changed Sully. Then, we had to deal with the carseat, so I took both boys in to play at the train table while Jeremy figured things out at the car. I was tired and really didn't want to go any further. Jeremy eventually finds us, and I suggest that maybe, just maybe we spend the night? He reluctantly agrees and we check in.
It was fantastic. It was awesome. I mean seriously, I have two little boys, they love trains, and there is a roundhouse full of trains. See where I'm going with this? We checked into our room, and headed off for the roundhouse. It was great!! Truly. My boys were ringing bells, and getting on and off train cars, engines, buses, really, they were in absolute heaven. Then we went for dinner. As Jeremy point, this is a place my mom and brother would love. All those comfort foods you'd expect: fish and chips, beef dip, veal cutlets, steak sandwich, poutine, really, not the healthiest maybe, but certainly tasty!! Sebastian is eating and says, "I just love eating dead fish". I couldn't help but laugh!!
After dinner, Jeremy went to relax, and I took the boys down to the lake. We checked out the water, checked out the helicopter, watched the boat leave, and then played on the playground. They had so much fun. It was such a great little stop and I am so glad we did!!
Now, going to sleep was not quite so pleasant... Sully, our normally amazing little sleeper, was terrible!! Fortunately he eventually went to sleep, but yikes that took a while!! The next morning, we had breakfast and went back to the roundhouse and ghost town. It was great. We explored the mine shaft, the antique cars, the covered bridge, and once again, were back in the roundhouse checking out the various train cars and engines, including a small train that was built by the family that owns and runs 3 Valley Gap, the Ghost Town and Roundhouse.
I'm sure there are many people out there who have pondered a visit, but always thought, oh, maybe next time. Well, we loved the place. Truly. The staff at the resort were so friendly and nice. The food was excellent. The grounds are beautifully maintained and so pretty with all types of flowers along the various walking paths and bridges. The scenery is stunning, with a lake, beautiful mountain back drop, train tracks and tunnel nearby and let's just say, the echo in the valley when the train blew it's whistle was amazing!! There are tons of things to do as well, with only one night, we concentrated just on the Ghost Town and Roundhouse, and truly, we just scratched the surface of those, since, for the most part, it was about letting the boys explore. The family has acquired many different buildings, cars, and traincars over the years, making it a truly historic museum. They have captured life in the area in the early years when the railway was just being built, and routes still being found. There is even a ghost car, all decorated in a Halloween type theme. Aside from there however, there are boats to rent, or boat rides to take, and helicopter rides as well. As well, there is an indoor pool with a gorgeous ship painting along the wall. We never got a chance to try the pool, only because we didn't have a lot of time. Oh, and there are a few special rooms as well, one with a 360 view, another made of rock. Truly, this is a magical place.
Will we stay there again? Definitely!! And next time, we'll probably stay at least two nights. It's relaxing, it's beautiful and it's fun. Sebastian has already asked us several times when we are going back... next year, little buddy, next year!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Before Ironman...

So, a lot of time and effort went into Jeremy's attempt at an Ironman, and on Sunday, all that effort was rewarded with Jeremy proudly crossing the finish line at Ironman Canada. It was a truly amazing accomplishment and one I am just so proud of him for achieving!! So, what exactly happened on race weekend? Well, it went a little something like this...

Got off nightshift, packed the car, and drove to Penticton, with a couple stops along the way in Yoho (for lunch and some running around) and Kelowna (for a Starbucks and a playground!!). We arrived and met up with my mom at our hotel (Apex Resort, a half hour outside of Penticton up a winding mountain road). The hotel was fantastic (basically more like a condo that gets rented out when the owners aren't using it, and by condo I mean 3 bedroom townhouse style unit with kitchen, laundry, hot tub etc... super nice!!). We settled in for the night, had some supper and went to sleep!!

In the morning, we headed down to drop off Jeremy with his coach and group he'd done a lot of his big training days with. I took the boys to the beach and they played in the lake, chased ducks, played at the playground etc. We then met up with Jeremy shortly after and headed to get him registered. This involved signing waivers, getting his athlete bracelet, his pack of numbers (for the helmet, bike, run, etc), a chip, a chip holder and an opportunity to sign up for 2012 (which he did not since 2012 will be my year). It began to start feeling real for him. We went and met up with my mom for lunch at a yummy local burger place called Burger 55. It was very tasty!! In the afternoon, we met up with the staff at SUGOI, the people who made Jeremy's entry a reality, since really, he had only entered a twitter contest multiple times, and that's what led to his entry. They were fantastic and it was so nice meeting the people behind a company we already loved (did I mention their gear rocks!!). In the evening, Jeremy was off to the athlete banquet, to welcome and inspire all the participants. It was primarily a vegetarian affair, but Jeremy said the food was excellent!! (think pasta).

Saturday Jeremy spent the first part of the morning prepping all his gear bags, one for gear before the swim, then gear after the swim to bike, then gear for the bike to run. After that, he was off for a group ride with the Vitalize group he'd trained with in the summer. Post ride he dropped off his gear and then we met up with him for lunch. In the afternoon the boys were in heaven playing at the water park and my mom was in heaven because there was a mini donut place just around the corner. It was nice. Dinner was low key, we just hung out at the resort and made some quesadillas. Jeremy wanted lots of time to just relax and a simple dinner. Mission accomplished. We got the boys to sleep, had a dip in the hot tub, and soon headed to sleep as well. Jeremy slept well, good thing!! I, on the other hand, was tossing and turning, woke numerous times, all worried we'd miss the alarm or not get there on time, or whatever!!

Morning came, and Jeremy had his special needs bags, and away we went. We soon realized, he didn't give himself quite as much time as he'd thought, and as a result, was rushing a bit once we'd arrived (still 45 minutes before race time). He had to drop off the special needs bags, pump up his tires, get in his wetsuit etc. In the end, he had to trust someone else to pump his tires for him, got everything where it needed to be, and with only a few minutes to spare, was in the water and ready to start...

Next up I'll post about the actual race, but want to get some of the words right from Jeremy, since obviously he was the one racing and can say it best what it was like racing to become an ironman!! So stay tuned, have to bug him to get me some notes!! But I will tell you, the adventure was warm (who are we kidding, HOT), there was a wasp involved, tacks, a donut and an Elmo sticker!! But you'll have to wait for those exciting details...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Privacy versus caring...

I work in an industry that is very vigilent when it comes to privacy etc. And, in many ways, I carry this over into my personal life. I always assume things are none of my business and don't ever want to interfere with someone's personal business. This might come across as me not caring, but I assure you, it's actually me trying to give someone their privacy!! I do care, I am interested, but I don't want to be nosy or anything. I need to try and find a better balance between holding true to privacy concerns and issues, and making sure that people in my life know I care!!

When it comes to strangers, I often act the same way, and again, I am sure I come across as cold and uncaring. Today though, things were a tiny bit different. After a very lazy afternoon, I finally got the boys out of the house and off we went, as a family with the boys on their bikes. First stop was Starbucks. I probably haven't mentioned this, but with Jeremy working there now, life is a little more caffienated, in the best of ways!! And, on a day when I was feeling lazy, having a mocha in hand, made for a much better ride for the boys, hahaha. When we got to the park, after a nice bike for them, there was another little boy there, on a jeep type vehicle with a motor. Sebastian was very interested in this, and the little boy was willing to let him have a go. It was fun. Sebastian was so excited to try it out, the little boy had a new friend, and Jeremy and I chatted with the parents while the boys all played. Later, when Sully wanted a turn, their little boy got to try Sully's run bike, so everyone was excited!!

It was a fun visit to the park, and nice to just chat with other parents, asking them questions, and generally appreciating life with little ones. I am making an effort to be more social with complete strangers and especially within my community. Even nominated a house for most beautiful gardening etc...

I was inspired by that list yesterday and, in checking it over, here is where I stand:

1. Sending positive thoughts and prayers to someone who recently found out a growth was cancerous!!

6. Last week gave a set of dishes we weren't using to a family that lost everything in a fire, and donated about 8 boxes of clothing and stuff to diabetes.

17. Walked to Starbucks with the boys, and then onwards to the park... no car until I had to get to work!! Love those days when we just appreciate our own area!!

Not bad for the first day!! Looking forward to what the next 30 days have in store!!

Spreading good karma...

So,I'm sure I've mentioned this website once or twice before on this blog, and if not, I know it's come up multiple times on facebook, mostly because Marc And Angel Hack Life, always have such amazing and inspiring posts. This week, the post was called 30 Good Karma Things To Do With Your Free Time.

It's a great list... a total feel-good list. Really, most of these things are so quick and easy to do!! I think I will attempt to do these 30 things in the next month or so... it should definitely be possible, right? Anyone else want to join in? Think of all the happiness you'd be spreading, and how fun it would be to compare ideas etc... I shall let you know how it goes...

On a side note... today I dropped off all the donations I had left for the Ride to Conquer Cancer. It felt very nice to get that done. I went into the ride hoping I'd be able to raise at least $1000 in the next 60 days, and thanks to some pretty amazing people I was able to do it!! I am so grateful to everyone who donated. I wouldn't have been able to do that ride without each person who took the time to donate, give bottles, buy 50/50 tickets... it was a challenge, but y'all made it easy!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Now, the question remains, will it be possible to do this again next year... heck, you could even complete number 18 on the karma list by donating to Jeremy's ride next year!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Getting rid of stuff...

I live with something of a packrat. Truly, whenever I try and get some reassurance about throwing something away, inevitibly Jeremy will give me five reasons why we should keep whatever it is I am trying to toss. And, he has such a hard time with me throwing anything away!! As a result, he is almost never wanting to try and declutter anything, so it's on me to work on that part of our lives!!

I've worked hard trying to declutter some stuff in our lives, but it sure isn't easy sometimes. Part of the problem, is, some of the stuff I'm trying to toss is toys for the kids, and that sort of thing. The items are in good condition and really, if the kids haven't seen them in awhile, they love playing with them, so even though they have more toys than they need, I feel guilty getting rid of something that they would still use. This is compounded when it was gifts from people. Then, there is even more guilt attached. I'm not quite sure why, there just is!!

However, in the interest of our house, and having an ability to keep things somewhat orderly, I have to keep trying. And, I work to try and find a new home for the stuff as well, rather than simply throwing out things that may be of use to others.

I also made a goal for myself. If I managed to get rid of a bunch of clutter, then I would get a new wii game for the family, but not before the clutter was gone!! And finally, that's happening. It's rather funny actually, we got a call from diabetes asking if we had anything to donate, and I quickly said no and hung up. Then, the next day, I remembered the boxes I'd already packed up and readied in the garage. So, I called them back and arranged a pickup, and tomorrow they will stop by for the stuff. Yay for finally dealing with boxes I got started months ago, and others from sorting through the boys clothes last week!!

I might even take in our old paint cans tomorrow too, after all, visiting a fire station is always fun!! And the one we'd be going to has a mini bronto even (Sebastian LOVES the aerial trucks)... and really, twist my arm, and make me talk with firemen...

So, next up will be the new wii game I think...here it is...


I can hardly wait!!

Jeremy's Olympic Distance Triathlon

So, Sunday was a pretty big day for Jeremy. Originally, back before he won the entry to Ironman Canada, from Sugoi, Jeremy had a different plan. For 2011, his plan was to complete an Olympic distance open water triathlon. The very race he planned this to be was the Lake Chaparral Triathlon. So, funny enough, that's the race I signed him up to do, not realizing his original plans. Once he won the ironman entry, that was no longer a concern for him.

Personally, I felt it was important for him to do an open water triathlon before Penticton. I also thought it was important for him to do a bit longer of a race. This way, he'd get a chance to practice swimming with a bunch of other people. To know what it's like to get kicked and hit etc with so many people starting to swim at once. It also would give him a chance to swim in a race in open water. Up until the race, his open water swims were all swims where he would break etc which isn't really ideal in a race. It would give him a chance to practice siting, and just see how he felt overall swimming for a long period of time in the water.

Signing him up, he instantly got nervous and wasn't sure doing the race was the best idea. He was sort of figuring, "go big or go home". He didn't want to do a race that would possibly make him nervous about swimming ahead of time and potentially scare him off the big race.

Well, in the end, he did great. He was in the water in his wetsuit warming up when I got there with the boys. And he was excited and ready. And the race started and off he went. We watched as he swam off (okay, who am I kidding, I watched, while the boys were playing in the sand). I kept on watching and eventually saw him come around for his second lap. He went on to finish all 1500m and didn't even need to take a break (I knew he wouldn't). Happily, after the fact, he reported that his pace for the swim, matched his pace in the pool. His objective going into the swim was to pace himself and he did exactly that.

I stayed behind at the beach for a bit and saw another friend head off for her sprint triathlon while the boys played in the sand and water. Eventually though, we moved on to the road to try and catch Jeremy on his bike. And, we did. We saw him go by twice (he had to do 4 laps to get to 40 kilometres). He looked happy and strong on the bike. He reported later that he did push on the bike and wouldn't push like that for ironman.

After that, we waited for him to go past on the run. He took forever to pass by and reported after that his transitions were slow and it might be an area to work on in the future. We chatted about how for an ironman, a slow transition is really okay. If you spend an extra five minutes to eat a snack, or body glide all the important places, it's better than crashing your bike trying to eat as you ride or the chafing that might result or whatever other things you might have done in transition.

We were waiting for him to go past for his second lap and ended up on the other side of the fence seeing him as Sebastian needed a pitstop at the portapotties. From there, we headed to just before the finish. Sebastian wanted to run in with his dad, and Jeremy happily allowed this.

The boys were great. We brought our bells and a few other noisemakers. Sebastian was yelling things like "looking good guys", and "nice form" and "run this way" and all sorts of other little things. Soooooo cute. And Sully had fun ringing the bells. Next up we are getting a couple cow bells though, because they are cool too and louder and for those ironman athletes, that's important!!

So, there you have it. Jeremy finished his first open water triathlon. And now, we are less than three weeks away from his epic event... I can hardly wait!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My Kid of Steel... open water edition...

Today was pretty neat!! Today someone in our family did an open water triathlon... no, it wasn't me... no it wasn't Jeremy who is busy training for ironman... then who might it have been you may be wondering? Why, our five year old!! Yes, the first person in our family to complete an open water triathlon was in fact, Sebastian. He is definitely a kid of steel!!

We arrived early, got Sebastian all set up in transition, he was body marked, got his chip, had some prerace fuel (Crispers) and away we went to the pre-race meeting. We got the low down, and soon they began, first with the oldest kids, and continued each wave, getting younger and younger, until finally, it was time for the seven and under group to go. They waited until all the 8&9 year olds were finished their bike before the little ones got to start. Before that, Sebastian and Sully were playing in the water,
playing in the sand, and just having the best time. Had to stop a couple times so Sebastian could warm up (the kid has no body fat, and so gets cold rather quickly.

Sebastian decided he wanted his mom to swim with him. I had been campaigning for dad, as I had NO desire to be in the freezing cold icky lake water. However, despite all my efforts (ask Jeremy, there were a lot!!), in the end, it was me going into the water with Sebastian, brrrrrrrrrrrrr. Believe me when I say, it took every fibre of my being to get into that water and did not really appreciate it when it got too deep to stand and suddenly my whole body was thrust into the freezing cold. However, knowing Sebastian was that much colder, I tried to at least not hate it too much!! He did good. He was cold. But he kicked and doggie paddled and slowly made his way across the lake. Soon enough we were getting out, not without a hand from the volunteers though, that boat launch was slippery!! We ran into transition, and my poor little guy was just shivering. We helped him change his shirt, got his socks and shoes on, glasses, helmet, bike gloves, jersey, number belt, and away we went to the mount/dismount line.

Sebastian got on his bike and was motoring (he calls it his police motorcycle). He did great. I basically had to run to keep up with him the whole time on the bike. And before we knew it, we were back at transition again (I don't think he actually biked 1.5km... it seemed way too short, but he did exactly what every other kid in his age group did.

Back to transition, dropped the bike, helmet and gloves, flipped the number to the front, and away we went. Again, he was just trucking. It was fantastic. He didn't stop for one second, and the look on his face as he crossed the finish line was one of pure joy!! And let's not forget the very cool medal he earned!!

All in all, it was a fantastic race. He did great. He was excited. He said he was the ogopogo (because his swim cap was green). And he just had fun!! It is so cool to see him so excited and happy about something that is so good and healthy for him!! And he is so happy to do these races. I know how important it is to be active, and seeing him be active like this, from a young age, will hopefully keep him going long into the future. I hope he continues to be active. Knowing how he can be quite challenged to learn some things, it's pretty special to watch him accomplish something like a triathlon. Not sure what's next on his agenda, but I do know his brother won't be far behind him (and since he's part fish, I see triathlon in his future too!!). But for now, I will celebrate Sebastian as the amazing little Kid of Steel that he is!! Great job little man, you make us proud!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

My little Sullivan speaks...

So, Sully has taken his time with words. But my oh my, they sure are coming fast and furious now. And, you can pretty much get him to repeat almost anything. His favourite thing to say though is YELLOW, although it sounds more like LELLOW. It's really quite cute. Now, he will point out anything yellow, and pick yellow clothes to wear.

Other things he says:

Bun-bun (his little green bunny)
Bear-bear (his little Starbucks Christmas bear)
Boo - Blue (we go through other colours now since he's so good at yellow)
Mama - yeah, I like this one hahaha
Da - his dad
Nonono - he's very good at saying no... like really really good
Bye Bye Poop - as we slowly start potty training, yeah, well, it's cute to hear him say this as he's waving goodbye and flushing away his personal garbage, so to speak

And he's my little chef. He LOVES helping in the kitchen. If you ask if he wants to help, he'll drop whatever he's doing and go running to the kitchen. He loves using the measuring cups, and stirring, and pouring and using the mixmaster. He just has so much fun. He'll help me find ingredients, and pull them out of the cupboard. It's so fun cooking with him. I just love his enthusiasm. He helped me make chicken drumsticks the other day, and puffed wheat squares, and pancakes... pretty much if you can let him help, he's there and helping!!

And he loves stories now. He'll bring books to you to read and won't leave you alone until you have read to him. His current favourite are the Scaredy Squirrel books. He loves them!! And really, they are such cute books, all about facing your fears etc.

Monkey see, monkey do. Whatever Sebastian does, Sully does. Literally. He is a little carbon copy. Wants to do everything his big brother does. Today, our neighbour came over to ask Sebastian over to play. I said all he needed was his hat, so Sully ran and got his, and was DEVASTATED when he wasn't going over to the neighbours to play!!

Oh, and he is sooooo cute on his run bike now. He's even starting to get a bit of glide happening. It's adorable really!!

And hiking. We hiked to Grassi Lakes the other day. And he hiked the difficult route. We brought the backpack with us, but he wanted nothing to do with it, until about 200m before the lake, then he'd had enough, but he hiked the whole incline and all the hard stuff!! My little trooper!! It was fantastic!!

That's my little guy. He's fabulous. I just love hearing him talk. It's fun!! He is truly a toddler and I love how much fun he's becoming.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Our Ironman in training...

So, of course Jeremy's plans for Ironman Canada this year are certainly making life busy in our family. A lot of my plans have been changed or adjusted to allow for Jeremy to get in the big long training rides, runs and swims. I'm so excited for him and what he has accomplished. He is setting such an amazing example for his kids and it's so cute to hear Sebastian talk about "the ironman".

This past weekend, Jeremy went to Penticton with the group he took his total immersion swimming from. He has learned a lot from Grant over the past year or so and the philosophy of this company has been the guiding principal that Jeremy has been following for most of his ironman training. So this past weekend, Vitalize hosted a camp in Penticton for people training for ironman. They got to swim in the lake, bike the course (and all the hills it entails), and run as well. It was a real breakthrough moment for Jeremy. It was sort of the defining weekend on whether or not he was going to be ready for ironman, and happily, he had an amazing time and is now excited (but still nervous), for Ironman Canada. He is still struggling with the open water swimming. It's a very new beast for him and it's been challenging to say the least!! He is still getting used to the cold, and the waves and the choppiness of the water and the motion it provides. And he's still learning about siting and all that good stuff. And let's not forget the part where you have to overcome your fears of drowning and being in the middle of the lake where the Ogopogo might be waiting to snack on you!! Well, at least the swim is first, and at least there is still time to work on all that stuff!!And time to get an open water race in ahead of time!! Because, unlike the calm order of a pool triathlon, an open water swim is sort of like mass chaos with flailing arms and legs everywhere!! I know I have seen a funny little training video on that, and if I find the link again, I'll post it!!

So next up for us, will be the Kids of Steel triathlon in Lake Chaparral. Sebastian will make his open water triathlon debut, and then the next day, Jeremy will make his open water triathlon debut (hmmmmm... rather amazing that my 5 year old will already have done an open water tri before my aspiring ironman!!).

And soon Jeremy will began tapering... because, in less than 30 days now, we will be in Penticton for his race!! Where did the time go???

And the coolest part? Sugoi is where Jeremy won his entry, and they've been awesome!! And next up, Jeremy's race kit will arrive... and he'll be sporting some pretty fantastic gear!! How lucky!! Now if only they want to sponsor me next year... I mean, I love their gear too!! Especially my new cycling jersey from the Epic Ride!!

I love that our family is becoming so active. I just hope it continues through next year... and it should... I just need to get signed up to volunteer at this year's ironman so I can sign up for next year...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My KID OF STEEL!!

So Canada Day was a very special day in our family this year, as it marked Sebastian's debut into the Kids of Steel triathlon program and was the first triathlon he did entirely on his own (a couple weeks earlier he was the runner on our relay team at the Canmore Try a Tri). Needless to say, as parents, we had been going back and forth on whether or not to register him for the Turner Valley Kids of Steel event. Sebastian sees us training (specifically Jeremy training for Ironman Canada) and doing work for triathlon, and has naturally expressed an interest. As well, given how sports in general can be challenging for a child who has delays in gross and fine motor, it was nice to see he had an interest. But, we didn't want to set him up for failure, and wanted to make sure at the very least, that he would succeed in his attempt. We have taken him swimming numerous times, and he's been in swimming lessons, but he is still not that good in the water. I knew he could get across, it just wasn't going to be that quickly!! And I also knew life jackets were optional, so swim, check. Now biking. Again, he is not a super strong kid, so biking has been challenging. However this year, he has grown a lot and biking has become something he is enjoying now. He has biked at the park with his friends and is getting much better with handling directions, braking, steering etc. Plus, training wheels were an option, so biking, check. And well, running, we knew that wasn't going to be even a challenge for him, so running, check. So we signed him up, still not entirely sure how it would go, but after seeing his reaction and desire about biking after the Ride To Conquer Cancer, we wanted to fuel that energy!!

So, last week, we took him swimming again, and he did fine. We took him biking, and he did fine. And then we practiced transitions. And he LOVED this. He had so much fun, transitioning from swim to bike, and then from bike to run. He pretended he was doing the Ride to Conquer Cancer. I tried to tell him, that the cancer ride was just a bike ride, and he said, "mom, I'm just pretending." It was cute. And he pretended his runners were clip shoes. And his pedals were Speedplay (those are the pedals Jeremy got for his birthday). But the part he was most proud of, was having his very own cycling jersey. And I believe, even last night, he had his cycling jersey in his bed with him, so it was close to him. Yes, kids are cute.

Bring on Race Day. It was an early morning, as Jeremy was also competing, just not in the kids of steel, hahaha. We cheered him on, ran into a couple people we know, and saw him leave on the bike and come back on the bike, and then saw him finish the run. With all sorts of bathroom breaks in between for a certain someone I won't name that drinks water and juice like it's going out of style!! The boys had fun cheering the bikers on, and playing in the grass and in the gazebo while dad raced. After Jeremy finished (and was happy with the entire race, renewed confidence, yay), we hung out for a bit, and soon it was time for the kids to get ready.

Brief Intermission for ODE TO SULLIVAN:




Sully, you are my little guy
Pretty much the apple of my eye
You were a trooper all day
For that I say yay
Soon enough it will be your turn to tri!!

Back to our regularly scheduled program:

So, Sebastian racked his bike, set up his transition mat, layed out his clip pedals (runners), helmet, gloves, glasses (can't swim in those!!), cycling jersey and number. He was ready. We changed him into his bathing suit and bathing shirt. He got body marked, (Sebastian trying to show off his body marking) complete with a happy face on the back of his leg!! He put on the life jacket, and the waiting began. The big kids started, and each age group from there, until FINALLY, the seven and under category. They had to swim 50m.

When it was Sebastian's turn, he got the second lane, he crossed the timing mat, and his race began. Poor kid has not an ounce of fat on him, so getting into the outdoor pool was COLD. Then, he didn't appreciate getting splashed very much.
But, he went across, kicking his little feet, and attempting to scoop water with his arms. It was slow, but he finished. Then, had to go to the bathroom, so quick trip, only to get partially lost and then finally, he was on his way to transition.

At transition, he was just shivering. Poor kid!! He got all ready, towelled off, put on his bike jersey (and got a few compliments for it), shoes, number, glasses, bike gloves, and helmet. Once the chin strap was done up, he could grab his bike and walk it over to the mount/dismount line. He told the volunteer in transition he had speed play pedals for his clip shoes, it was so cute. Away he went on his 1km ride. He rode the whole thing, no problems at all.


Back at transition again, he took off his helmet and gloves, moved his number around, and off he went, this time with his dad for his 500m run. He totally rocked the run!! He is an amazing runner!! And he crossed the finish line and was so proud of himself. He did all three!! He shouted "mom, I did a triathlon!!".

It was awesome. He got his medal and grabbed a snack. Couldn't have been prouder. And we were so super proud of him too. For a little guy that weighed less than 2 pounds when he was born, that we didn't even no would make it, and if he did, had no idea what the consequences of his early and rocky start must be, it was amazing to see him finish this race. I definitely had tears in my eyes watching him!!



And, he's already talking about his NEXT triathlon... love it!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Some songs I am just loving...

I love songs that have a positive message and just make life feel great. This past week I found two such songs, and they are even by the same group from the same album (are they even called that anymore??). OneRepublic sings "Marching On" and "Good Life" and they are both fantastic. For some reason, I got the "Marching On" song stuck in my head after the Ride To Conquer Cancer and the words just resonate with me as such a perfect song for such a journey. And the words in general are just fanastic. Same with "Good Life". I am just loving the songs!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The epic ride...

So this past weekend, I set out on a brand new journey. A new adventure. Something big. Something awesome. And something that, up until the day before, I wasn't entirely sure I was going to do. Fundraising is always a challenge, and the ride to conquer cancer was no exception. For me, coming off of Mother's Day, where we always put in a good effort to raise funds, since we know that the Mother's Day Run supports NICU and since that cause is obviously very near and dear to us, it was tough coming away from that, and turning around and basically asking all those same amazing people who supported us in that, to turn around and support the ride to conquer cancer as well. And really, things were not looking so good... with one night to go, I had $1000 left to raise... and since we aren't really in a position to afford that, it was tough deciding to go ahead or not. In the end, after getting a couple more donations, I went for it. I wanted to honour the donations I had already received and devised a plan to raise the rest, through a combination of a 50/50 draw and bottle drive.

So, then it was time to pack... hmmmm... deciding the night before a 200km ride, is not always the smartest move. I was scrambling trying to get everything together. Where was my platypus pack? Found the bag, found the backpack, found the tube, couldn't find the end piece... I remember Sebastian playing with it. It could be anywhere. Well, eventually found that, but then couldn't find my riding sandals (yes, my clip shoes are keen sandals... they are AWESOME!!). Well, Jeremy saved the day on the sandals, and I should also point out, that he was out in the garage working on my bike. Tuning it up, cleaning it up, making sure the gears shifted nicely and the brakes worked properly. He too, was signed up to ride, but hadn't raised any money, so him riding wasn't even a consideration that day. The work he put into my bike though, really meant a lot. He also offered up his bike. He has a nice Argon tri bike, but I just felt I'd be more comfortable on my mountain bike, so went with what I knew. Might not have been the fastest choice, but it was the choice I made!!

Went to bed with the alarm set for 0500hrs... did I mention I only work nightshifts? This was a VERY early morning for me, and the boys as well. We put my bike on the car, packed my bag, and off we went, headed for Spruce Meadows. It seemed a bit surreal, but there I was, getting ready to embark on a journey more epic than anything I had ever done before. To date, my longest ride has been 50km. So, the idea that over the next two days I'd go 200km seemed just a bit unbelievable. Yet, I knew I could. I never really doubted I had it in me... well, there was one point, but I will get to that in a bit. So I have to check in, since this was a last minute decision, I hadn't done that yet. Which is also the point where I hand over my credit card number and hope I might actually raise something in the next two months!! From there my gear was checked in, then it was time for a snack. Ran into my cousins and my uncle and chatted a bit, they didn't realize I was actually riding. The ride was important to them as another uncle had died from brain cancer and as they were quite close, it was especially hard to watch him suffer and ultimately lose his fight. Then, before I knew it, it was time to line up and get ready.

There were bikes as far as the eyes could see. I mean, when you have 2280 riders, you pretty much have 2280 bikes (except for a couple tandem bikes), and even an eliptical bike. And then there was every kind of bike for the rest of them. Road bikes, mountain bikes, tri bikes, mountain bikes with aero bars (Jeremy found this particularly amusing). And the riders came in all shapes and sizes. There were young people, old people, tall people, short people, thin people, fat people. Literally, every conceivable possible rider was there. Some had barely biked a day in their lives. Others were seasoned athletes for whom this was a mere training ride. It was really an incredible group. And when you realize that collectively, we had raised over 8 million dollars, that is powerful. That kind of money can do a lot of good in the world of research. And it's because of all those funds that everyone was there. And then there were the bikes with yellow flags on them. Each of those riders were cancer survivors. Having already battled a brutal disease, they were out here showing that cancer couldn't beat them, and taking on a huge challenge at the same time!!

There were a few speakers and of course by the end of it, I was in tears. Thank goodness I was in sunglasses. Jeremy was super emotional too (understandable since he lost his dad to cancer). It made the ride matter, it made doing this important. There are so many fundraisers out there, collecting for so many things, and all of them do matter. But today, this one really mattered. And for every person that has ever been diagnosed with cancer, and for every person that will be diagnosed, this mattered. This group of people went out of their way to try and help fight this disease. To honour the memories of those lost, to celebrate those fighting, and to try and make sure that nobody else will suffer in the future. So to everyone who took the time to donate and help me get to the starting line, thank you. Every donation mattered. Because together, with all the other donations, the money raised really will have an impact. An epic impact!! It's putting Alberta on the front stage of cancer research!!

And then we were off. I was a bit nervous on the count of my sandals and the fact that I don't have a lot of experience with clip shoes on a bike, and with so many bikes, it took a bit to get everyone going at a pace that is condusive to balancing while in clip shoes. I managed however and all was good. It was very emotional starting the ride, being part of something so much bigger!! Very soon, I settled into my ride and just kept riding. And then came the first hill, and there were people who stopped and walked their bikes up. I'm happy to report I made it to the top. And so the ride continued. With lots of hills. Soon, I approached the first pitstop in Okotoks. I was impressed I had made it that far. Grabbed myself some gatorade and a bagel with peanut butter and was on my way. Next pitstop came along and I got to snack on fruit cremes and munchies... yum!! Lunch was the third pitstop and now more than 60km was done. Chatted a bit with my uncle in Longview and then I was off again. The day was filled with lots and lots of hills and the last two legs were super windy. It was a tough ride, but it was good. I decided against the last pitstop as it was about half a kilometre off the highway and didn't really feel the need to stop, just wanted to get to the camp!! By now my butt was rather tired and not really too happy with my decision to bike so far all in one day. However, I finished and arrived at camp in the mid afternoon. Best thing ever? Having a chocolate covered cherry in your bag to eat at camp... yup, it was sooooo tasty!!

Camp was interesting. Hundreds of tents lined up in rows. Portable showers. Food. Drinks. Shops (Sugoi and gear for the race). Massage tent. Medical tent. Yoga tent. Racked my bike upon arriving and grabbed my gear. The whole thing was so well organized!! Had a shower, the shower felt so good, and the water was even hot. Who knew there were mobile showers like that!! Dinner was nice. Chatted with my uncle and cousins, and ran into a friend from work. It was nice running into her as she had given me all sorts of hints and tips for the ride. And for her the ride was especially meaningful as her dad had died just a few months earlier from cancer.

I wandered around, checking things out, filling up my platypus pack, and eventually headed towards my tent. Met my tentmate who was from BC and super nice. We chatted for a bit, and soon it was off to sleep. For being in a tent, on a foamie on a definitely not flat piece of land, I slept surprisingly well. Sadly however, I woke up to rain. This was not part of the plan. It took awhile to will myself out of my sleeping bag. The rain was depressing me to no end. I did not want to ride in the rain.

So, packed everything up, dropped my gear at the trucks, and headed off, wearing slightly different clothing from the day before. I kept my Sugoi compression tights on, along with my Sugoi bike shorts (you'll notice a trend here hahaha). Then I put on a long sleeved tech shirt, with my new Ride to Conquer Cancer jersey (also made by Sugoi), over top, and finally my Sugoi all weather jacket. At the last moment, I added another light jacket underneath, as it was really quite chilly. I had my helmet on, and away I went in search of something to help my feet (remember? bike sandals?? not so ideal in that weather!!). At the 2012 sign up tent they had garbage bags they were handing out, so I took one and made pseudo booties by wrapping my feet in the bag and taping them up. I also turned my bike gloves into mitts by wrapping part of the garbage bags around them and taping them (yeah, it was that chilly). I went out to my bike, and then had to clean out my sandals underneath so they'd be able to click in (since they were covered in mud). Yup, it was challenging, and hadn't even started riding yet. And I was absolutely dreading putting my sore butt down on that seat. Lucky for me, it was not nearly as painful as I was imagining it would be.

And off I went. It was raining, it was windy, it was cold. And, it was uphill. I had opted to skip breakfast as I didn't feel like standing in line in the rain, so I popped a GU gel and off I went. It was tough. And it was really cold and windy. rain was coming up under my sunglasses somehow, still trying to figure that one out!! The first pitstop was a welcome site. I grabbed a bagel and a banana. Stood there freezing while I ate it, then got back on the bike. Bikers were dropping like flies. Sweep vehicles went past, loaded with new bikes every time. It was tough to watch, and tempting to give up. At the second pitstop, they were asking who wanted to be swept. I made myself new booties with mylar blanket pieces so my feet would stay warmer, and headed out after some cookies and munchies. The hills going into Longview were tough, so stopping there would have been easy!! And then, the hills leaving Longview were tough. Fortunately, the next stop would be lunch, so I pushed onwards, even though it had started brutally raining again. At some moments, between the wind and the rain, even breathing wasn't so easy!! By the time I got to Turner Valley, the rain had subsided again, so lunch was pleasant enough. Ate and headed out. This time, it was the wind. Biking straight into the wind. Are you kidding me? First all the rain and cold, and now a strong head wind?? It was tough. And still some hills, let's not forget. By the end of this leg however, things were improving, the pitstop was in sight, and then, my chain falls off. Instant panic. I'm in clip shoes, and about to fall off my bike. Thankfully, I was able to get my one foot unclipped and then steady myself before falling. Phew!! Flipped my bike over, put the chain back on, and biked the 250m to the pitstop (yup, I was that close when it fell off). Got my final snacks and at this point knew I'd make it.

In chatting with a sweeper, there were 300 bikers who didn't even start on day 2, and they were picking up bikers 4 at a time from the course. And a bunch of others stopped at the pitstops. She even said good athlete type bikers couldn't take it. Lots of hypothermia that day!!

The last stretch was good. The beginning part was still tough, but let me tell you, once I hit 22X, I was a whole new rider. I had a renewed sense of energy, a new passion. And I pushed. I pushed hard. I got up to 65kilometers an hour even at one point. I just road and road my little heart out. And I thought about why I was there. Why I had just put myselft through 2 grueling days of biking 200+km (cause it's actually longer than 200km by the way, hahaha). I thought about my grandpa, and how I had seen him going through radiation at Foothills, back in the 1980s. I thought about Jeremy's dad, and how quickly cancer took over his body. And how hard it's been on Jeremy not having his dad, his go-to guy. I thought about my uncle, who was actually my godfather even. I went out and saw him in the summer before he passed away, trying hard to fight, but the cancer was winning. I thought about some of the kids I've seen at Ronald Mcdonald House, in the midst of chemo with no hair, trying to just be regular kids, probably not really understanding the battle they are facing. Cancer is horrible and takes away people we love, well before we should ever have to lose them. This ride gets people trying to do something about that. The funds raised go towards research. I truly hope one of the research projects leads to a cure, or at the very least, more effective, less destructive treatments. And the spinoffs. Some of the drugs go on to help with other diseases that just don't get the funds and attention that cancer does. So what this epic ride does, has an epic impact on the world of cancer resarch and treatment. It will make a difference.

As Spruce Meadows got closer, I was full of emotion. I was happy, I was sad. I was missing people that matter. People that should have had more time here. My heart was heavy for all those left to survive without their loved ones. It was very emotional, but in a good and healthy way. I am, so far, blessed with good health. I have a responsibility, to use that health to make a difference to those that aren't so lucky. It's important to take the time and be passionate about these causes, because they really do matter. I could hear the end. All the cheering, the announcer. It was incredible. I rounded the corner and the sides of the finish were lined with people cheering. The Canada flag (and several other flags), were all flapping in the distance. It was amazing. It was the perfect ending to two days of pushing myself to new limits. I rode through the end with tears streaming down my face. I saw my boys. I was so excited for them to be there and share in that moment. It really was epic.

Thank you so much to every single person who donated to this ride. Thank you for your kind words. Thank you for your support! Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for helping me reach my goal. Without each and every one of you, it would not have been possible. I am eternally grateful!!

So I'm signed up to do this again next year. And so is my husband. I want to keep trying to help and to make a difference. It's important. And maybe, just maybe, I'll have inspired someone else to join us. It's not easy. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Fundraising is tough. Training is tough. Heck, the ride itself is tough, but it's amazingly well supported and worth every moment. So take these words, and be inspired. Come bike with us, and if that's not something you can do, then support us. Because it's that support that makes it possible for us to do this, and truly, it's the ultimate example of how much bigger we are, when we all work together for a common goal. So, if you want, feel free to donate to the 2012 ride!! You get a tax receipt... you know you wanna...

http://www.conquercancer.ca/site/TR/Events/Alberta2012?px=2607040&pg=personal&fr_id=1411


Friday, June 24, 2011

The Ride To Conquer Cancer

Tomorrow is something totally new for me. Tomorrow I am part of the ride to conquer cancer. This is 200km ride spread over two days. It's in the beautiful foothills with the spectacular Rocky Mountains in the background. I hear the route is a little bit hilly. I think I can do it. I hope I can do it!! It's something totally new for me. Although I've always enjoyed biking, I've never really put my heart into it, the way I have with running. So this is totally new territory for me. But it's a challenge I'm ready to face, and a challenge I'm excited for.

This ride raises money for research. Important research. Because of this ride, Alberta is doing some cutting edge research that's making a real difference. The funds raised have funded many projects, including research into childhood cancers, brain cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and even blood disorders. The thing that really gets me though, is how far reaching this research can be. Cancer gets a lot of focus and rightfully so, since it does affect so many people. But there are tons of other diseases that end up with spinoff benefits because of the cancer research, so even if those diseases aren't the initial focus of the research, they benefit from the research. Take for example Avastin, a drug commonly used to treat cancer. Now, an injection of Avastin into the eyes of a preemie suffering from severe retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), fixes ROP even better than traditional laser therapy could with the added benefits of no surgery required and most kids not needing glasses later on. For our son alone, this treatment would have made a huge difference. So, in only 5 years since he was born, a cancer drug has crossed over into a disease that we have dealt with as a family directly.

Don't get me wrong though, cancer has definitely been a part of our family. When I was little, I watched my grandpa try and battle brain cancer, yet still succumbed to this awful disease. And more recently my husband lost his dad to cancer. In less than a year, he was diagnosed, attempted to fight it, and sadly lost his battle. My godfather also tried to beat brain cancer, yet once again cancer proved too much. For me, the hardest part is watching these people with iron will try to beat something that their bodies were just unable to. And then, the families they left behind are left with a huge hole in them trying to figure out how life goes on, with such a pivotal person missing. It's truly awful.

So, rather than sit on the sidelines, I'm choosing to do something to help. I am choosing to help raise money to fund research to find a cure. I don't want to see anyone else suffer this horrible disease. I want the spinoffs to help my mom and others suffering from diseases that don't get the same focus. I want a cure to be found so that if someone else I love is diagnosed, the battle can be fought, and won. Cancer doesn't have to win. So much progress has been made, and many people are beating it, but there is still so much work to do. This is my part. This is what I can do. And you can do your part, by supporting my ride. It won't be easy, but this ride is nothing compared to what people suffering from cancer face on a daily basis while in treatment.

I'll let you know how it goes, but in the meantime, please consider making a donation to the Alberta Cancer Foundation, supporting my ride: https://secure2.convio.net/cfrca/site/Donation2?idb=1774709699&df_id=1604&1604.donation=form1&FR_ID=1372&PROXY_ID=2607040&PROXY_TYPE=20&JServSessionIdr004=k4j5k5vwo2.app209b

And I promise to blog about the ride after all is said and done... thanks!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Family Triathlon!!

Clearly, I have neglected this blog to nearly the point of no return. However, I have good intentions and therefore I will try my best to commit to having more regular posts of an interesting nature. Will I succeed? Time will tell I suppose, but for now, if I get at least one post a week I'll be happy.

So, what has been going on lately? Well, Jeremy is busy training. Training, training, training. And a little bit of work thrown in, just for good measure. He is currently loving the training and the working. Our family has definitely become a busy household though and some weeks it feels like we go nonstop. However, there are some nice times and I wouldn't trade it for anything!!

Take today for example. This morning, Sebastian had preschool, Jeremy went for a run, Sully hung out with me, while I wrote my anatomy quiz. Then, we all went swimming as a family and that was fun. Jeremy snuck in a 500m quick swim, and then Sebastian and I did a 50m swim. Sebastian is excited to do a triathlon this year, but needs some practice at swimming and biking before that is going to happen!! He did good, and this should give him some confidence as he gets ready to try out triathlon. Of course his first race is going to be a team effort in Canmore at the Canmore Try a Tri on Father's Day. He is very excited for that and we are now officially registered as a team. Jeremy will be our swimmer, I'll be the biker and Sebastian will be our runner. Sullivan will be there to cheer us all on since he is a bit little still for this type of thing... but he'll get his day, just give him another year or two!!

This afternoon I think we'll go biking. Sully on his run bike and Sebastian on his big boy bike. They have been wanting to bike forever and we just keep having excuses. Well, today will be the day, although the beautiful sun has just been covered by some ominous dark clouds...

And fire trucks. Our world revolves around fire trucks. But more on that another day...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ironman Family!!

We've sped things up a bit in our family for our Ironman aspirations, because, if you can believe it, Jeremy won an entry into Ironman Canada. I mean seriously, what are the chances!! The race sells out so fast and you pretty much have to volunteer and sign up in person to guarantee yourself a spot (that was my plan for this year!!). The contest was put on by Sugoi, and it was a natural fit because we love their gear so now, not only will he be doing an ironman, he'll be all geared up in Sugoi's awesome clothes!!

So, we are now going to be an ironman family. Life is going to be centred around Jeremy's training for the next 138 days until the race in August. It's exciting, but it will be a big change. Jeremy will have to put in hours every week to make sure his body is ready for the brutal reality of an ironman (swimming 4km, then hopping on a bike to go 180km, then running 42km). Given that his longest ride up until this point has been 25km, it's a daunting task. Luckily, he's starting with a pretty good base. We've been training for the Calgary Police Half Marathon, so actually, on the day the winner was to be announced, he'd done a 20km run. And, he's been swimming on average, about 2 days a week. So really, it's just a matter of stepping things up. His challenge, of course, will be balancing training with raising the boys and keeping our house in some sense of order. But, if we all work at it together, we are going to rock it!!

So, this year will be full of new adventures, most of them fitness related, but lots of fun and a chance to bring our family into an entirely new domain. So very excited for what lies ahead!!

If you want to read his adventures of training, check out his blog...

http://www.triplesportdad.blogspot.com/

Congratulations Jeremy, we are super proud and excited for you!! And here's a photo of the guy post 23km bike ride (and don't forget the 2km swim he did in the morning!!)