Posts Tagged ‘Destination’

Destination: Niagara Falls

October 26, 2013 2 comments

BandDTomorrow morning my wife is running her third half-marathon.  That’s right folks – this time I get to be the cheerleader, not the racer!!

My wife comes out to all of my races.  She’s my rock.  She gives up her weekends, wakes up at the shit-crack-of-early, takes lots of pictures (and drinks lots of coffee).  She cheers for me, and supports me.  And this weekend it’s my turn to cheer for her!  I’m really excited about it!

The race is going to be amazing.  The host city so far is a bit of a let down though.  We’re staying in a Ramada hotel (where apparently “smoke free” rooms are just a suggestion – Strike 1), and had dinner at a TGI Fridays (where overpriced frozen burgers and soggy flavourless quesadillas are on the menu – Strike 2).  To top it off – it’s freezing cold and pouring rain.  Not that that’s the city’s fault, but really the best things to do in this city are all outdoors.  So instead, it’s hotel room cable TV for us.

But that’s not the point (phew!  Thank goodness for editing my posts).  The point is, she’s going to have an amazing race tomorrow morning, rain or shine.  And I can’t wait to cheer her on!!


Race Preview: Cincinnati Triathlon

July 17, 2013 1 comment
This, apparently, is Cincinnati

This, apparently, is Cincinnati

I’ve been away from posting for a little while – owing partly to a bit of a training ramp up, and a bit of a laptop crash.  Feels like there’s a lot to catch up on…

This weekend is the Cincinnati Triathlon.  I’m crazy-stoked for this one.  I posted recently about wanting to find my mental strength, and that being a focus these past few weeks.  It’s paid off.  I’ve had some great training sessions!

mrstrongOn Friday of last week I had my first personal training session with a good friend of mine @EmilyMcGray (who is going to school to be a Personal Trainer – she’s legit).  Holy crap did she kick my ass.  We put in a solid 90 minutes that left my abs feeling weak for about 3 days afterward.  But it felt so good to work with a pro again.  It’s been years since I last worked with a trainer – usually I just fumble through the gym on my own.  I had a plan, and together we pushed through it.  #Awesome!

This past weekend I took my bike on the train up to Barrie ON for a little self-guided Triathlon Boot Camp!  Just me, my bike, my running shoes, and the summer heat.  I like to give a good training push the weekend before a race, before beginning my taper week.  First challenge: the 40+ km crazy-hill bike ride from Barrie to Wasaga Beach… with a full weekend’s worth of supplies on my back… in > 30° full sun, mid-afternoon torturous heat.  Bring it!


The ride was a little slow – owing mostly to my father and uncle riding out from Wasaga to meet me half way (and the resulting social visits on the side of the road that followed).  On paper the ride took me 1:48:xx to complete, but I’m sure I spent a good 20 minutes of that standing around chatting.  Nothing beats a good mix of hard training work with a bit of socializing sprinkled in.

The next day I put in a good hard bike/run brick.  It was hot, but I pushed through.  And I’m really glad I did, because Cincinnati this coming weekend looks like it could be a real stinker  (although, Sunday does look like the best day in Cincinnati in the next 5 days)…


I’m really looking forward to this race.  This is going to be my first destination race.  My wife and I are leaving Toronto for the ~8hr drive via Detroit to Cincinnati on Saturday morning.  The goal is to be on the road at 6:00am (ha!… well, we’ll try).  That should put us in around 2:00 – with 2hrs left before race kit pick up closes at 4:00.  Then we have the evening to explore the city.  Any recommendations from anyone out there of how to power see Cincinnati in an evening?  Maybe a Reds game?  Or a walk through downtown?

Sunday morning is race morning.  400m swim, point to point, downstream, in the Ohio river (I think this is the definition of a ‘sprint’ swim) followed by a 20km bike and 5km run along the river banks in downtown Cincinnati.  I’m going to have to keep from gawking at Great America Ball Park or Paul Brown Stadium as I bike by – I’m a sucker for sports stadiums!

I’m feeling, perhaps, the most prepared for a race I’ve ever felt.  I could always have trained more, but I’m ready to go.  I think this is going to be a great race!  My only apprehension is the 7:00am gun start.  God that’s early!  I have to have my transition set up and be out of the transition area by 6:45am.  It’s going to be a really early wake up call in my hotel, I think…

But, the beauty of a 7:00am race gun is that we’ll be back at the hotel in time to grab some free hotel breakfast buffet after the race.  Score!

Go Buckeyes!!!

Go Buckeyes!!!

After the race we’re driving up to Columbus OH to spend the rest of Sunday touring another city – the city I was born in.  I haven’t been back since I was 2 years old.  I can’t wait.  I’m looking forward to touring The Ohio State University, my dad’s alma mater.  After that, we’re letting be our city guide.  I’ll be ready for a post race drink or two!

Monday we’ll be road tripping home, taking a lengthy stop in Cleveland OH to visit Fat Head’s Saloon for lunch, and possibly a stop in Buffalo NY for dinner (whatever it takes to avoid crossing the border at rush hour).  I love that my wife loves beer as much as I do – this is going to be a great road trip!

Blue Monk

I can’t wait to do my first destination race.  I’ve been excited about this one since I laid out my race schedule last November.  I’m not fast – I don’t race to win, just to do my best and have fun.  The idea of rolling it into a road trip – a vacation – sounds perfect to me!  This is what Age Group racing is all about!!!

Have you ever done a destination race?  Any tips for this travel rookie?

 – – or – –

Have you ever been to Cincinnati, Columbus, or Cleveland?  Any suggestions of what we need to see or do?


Destination: Toronto (For Keeps)

April 9, 2013 Leave a comment


Sometimes life takes us down strange and unexpected paths.  Sometimes those paths cause a great deal of anxiety and stress at first, but they usually work out well in the end.  I’m going to trust this is one of those “work out in the end times”…

My wife and I are moving to Toronto.  We found out about 2 weeks ago of a change in her summer placement and have been scrambling to find a place to live (and deal with our current home).  With less than 4 weeks’ notice until her placement starts, it’s been a whirlwind – thinking through the unexpected task of packing (and downsizing), arranging for all of our service providers, and changing all of our summer plans.  We need to be moved and settled by the end of April.

At times it’s been a schedule strain.  We’ve made 4 separate trips into Toronto to view apartments.  This has led to a lot of canceled training sessions, a few canceled date nights, and even a few rescheduled work meetings.

At times it’s been an emotional strain.  Facing moving to a new city that we neither expected nor asked for – rationalizing the implications of an unexpected change on our finances, our social life, and our home.  There has been tears, and there has been ice cream (more of the latter than the former, thankfully).

My wife has been a trouper – her life has been turned upside down.  In addition to our home relocation, she’s had to adjust to a new job: new clinic, new city, new preceptor.  I’ve tried to be helpful and supportive – not always sure I’ve done a great job, but I keep trying.  I’ve noticed the impact to my training.  I’ve missed quite a few training sessions because of last minute apartment hunting trips (or having to work at odd hours due to apartment hunting).  My sleep has been off, and my mood has been turning sour as the stress and reduced exercise take their toll.

Sometimes I just want to sleep... anywhere

Sometimes I just want to sleep… anywhere

I’m not concerned about missed training from a race perspective – sometimes life > training.  But I notice the impact it has on me.  An experience like this reminds me how much I enjoy training, as a hobby as much as for race preparation.  It reminds me how much I use training as my own thinking time (or non-thinking time, as is sometimes more needed).  Sometimes I need my training time not only to keep moving faster, but just to keep moving.

Today we got confirmation of our new apartment in Toronto.  After several search sessions (and anxiety all weekend waiting to hear we were approved – we knew we would be, but the waiting game is still tough) I feel like I can turn a corner.  I can start making plans, knowing we have a new home waiting for us.  I can start getting excited about Toronto.

I can start to look for jogging trails in my new neighborhood.

I can start to look for community centers with pools in my new neighborhood.

I can start to figure out where the hell I’m going to store a bike in 700 square feet of space (I’m going to miss having a house with a basement)!!

I can start looking for a pub for post-training carbs 😉

There are lots of positives to take from this unexpected experience.  My daily drive to work will suddenly disappear – our new home is walking distance to our Toronto office.  Though we had a few great friends in Hamilton, we have more family and friends in Toronto who we will get to catch up with.  And I’m looking forward to a summer in the Big City, with all the pubs and cafes and activities and culture the city has to offer.  I think this will be a good thing for us (if not an expected thing).

We now have 2 1/2 weeks to pack, and purge, and plan, and get the hell out of Hamilton.  It’s going to be busy and anxious and stressful (and will probably continue to wreck my training plans), but once we get there it’s going to work out in the end.


Destination: Whistler, BC

March 16, 2013 Leave a comment
My wife and I at the top of Whistler

My wife and I at the top of Whistler

Finally getting a chance to write about my recent trip to Whistler.  It was an amazing vacation.  I’d go back in a heartbeat.

We flew out on Wednesday March 6th and returned on the 13th.  8 days in the mountains.  What a perfect place in the world.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t wondering what it would take to move out there on several occasions.

Our drive out took us from Vancouver to Whistler along the Sea to Sky Highway, which I remember from a previous visit in my youth as a rather sketchy stretch of road, but I had heard it was improved for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.  It was actually pretty good.

Hwy 99 from Vancouver to Whistler

Hwy 99 from Vancouver to Whistler

What impressed me the most about this highway was the presence of a bicycle lane on both sides, the whole way.  We past several road cyclists getting a workout in the Rocky Mountains as we drove up – the road a constant series of hills and turns as the highway hugs the mountain edges along the waterway.  How amazing would it be to have that road to bike train along?  Great climbs to work the legs, constant turns to work on technical riding, and views you wouldn’t ever get tired of.  I could live out there.

The skiing was pretty good.  The first day the light was so flat we couldn’t see anything – did a few runs, then got ourselves down to the pub at the base.  This is vacation after all!

The next few days though were beautifully sunny, with temperatures around freezing at the peak, and 10ºC at the base.  Perfect!

Most of the crew at Whistler Peak

Most of the crew at Whistler Peak

On the sunny days, you could see for miles.  It felt like the top of the world.  I could live out there.

My wife and I broke off from our group one day to meet up with a Guide on the hill who took us down the longest run in on the mountain: the Peak To Creak run – 11km (6.8 miles) long.  On the way down she pointed out to us a lake around the village at the bottom of the hill, Alta Lake.  Surrounded by Rocky Mountains and trees, it was nature at it’s most beautiful.  Our guide told us that the Whistler area originally appealed to visitors because of Alta Lake as a fishing destination, not for the mountain.  The lake looked so perfect – I could imagine swimming there in the summer, practicing my open water swim at the base of the mountains.  I could live out there.

I brought my running shoes with me, but never got a chance to use them.  Between the 8 hour days on the ski hill (and the workout that was on my legs) and the beers waiting for me at the base of the hill each night, running never seemed to be a priority.  The village would have been great for running though – looking at maps, it seemed to have cross country trails running all throughout.  Next time I visit I’ll have to make sure I set aside time to run some of those trails.  Probably much more interesting than running along Main Street here in town.

The trip was fantastic – great skiing, great place, and a fantastic visit with my uncles and cousins.  I will be back someday – hopefully soon.

That being said, the trip was a bit bitter-sweet.  I’m back from Whistler 3 days now, and 8 days away from The Bay.  I read a Facebook post from a friend of mine who’s also running The Bay next weekend – she shared a photo of the finish area being set up (possibly from a previous year, I’m not sure…) and stated excitedly that she’s starting her taper week.  I should be starting my taper week too, except I don’t know how to taper when I haven’t run in the past week?  Seriously – who takes a vacation 2 weeks before race day?!

Just gotta make it to that finish line...

Just gotta make it to that finish line…

I’m back from vacation.  Back to work.  Back to reality.  And I have a lot of work to do this week to get ready for Race Day.  But my head is still at Whistler I think.  Someday, I’ll be back…

I could live here...

I could live out there…

If you could live somewhere else in the world, where would you live?



Destination: Edmonton

December 19, 2012 1 comment
Canada's "Winter City"... apparently...

Canada’s “Winter City”… apparently…

Today we took a lovely day trip into Edmonton, Canada’s Winter City.

Did you know:

We decided to hit the road at 9:00am this morning to head off to The City.  Accordingly, I set my alarm last night to make sure I was up on time (I am on vacation, after all).  I had a moment of thought this morning at roughly 7:00am to get up and get my run in before our trip.  I’m glad I rolled over instead.  When I did get up, I was given a weather report: -28°C with a windchill of -31°C.  Really glad I didn’t get up for a run.

Our trip to Edmonton was mostly a shopping trip – with brief detours for food and beer shopping, we otherwise went straight to West Edmonton Mall.  It’s as much a tourist attraction as a shopping center.

Did you know there's a full size water park in West Edmonton Mall?

Did you know there’s a full size water park in West Edmonton Mall?

... and a decent sized amusement park with a roller coaster!!

… and a decent sized amusement park with a roller coaster!!

We were only at the mall for a few hours – and distracted by the water park and amusement park, we actually didn’t do a lot of shopping.  Although, I did find myself a ManBag.  My wife will be so happy with the lack of crap being carried in my pockets going forward.

That's right... I can rock a ManBag... problem?

That’s right… I can rock a ManBag…

Men with ManBags… pro or con?


Destination: Wetaskiwin, AB

December 18, 2012 Leave a comment
It's officially winter up here!

It’s officially winter up here!

Welcome to Wetaskiwin, Alberta.  About a 45 minute drive south of Edmonton.  It’s crazy-cold up here!

Did you know:

  • Wetaskiwin has a population of about 12,500.
  • There are 7 different private liquor stores in Wetaskiwin (or about 1 per 1,800 people).
  • Wetaskiwin has the distinction of having the highest level of car sales per capita in Canada.

It’s crazy – every time I told someone (from Alberta) that I was going to Wetaskiwin, they all, without fail, began singing the jingle “Cars Cost Less in Wetaskiwin” from some TV commercial they all seem to know (which, I can’t find on YouTube, otherwise I would have linked it here – so maybe they’re all making it up).  Welcome to Wetaskiwin Alberta folks!

It’s actually a lovely small town, and currently a winter wonderland (by my Southern Ontario standards).  I’ve been taking every opportunity I can thus far to get outside and go for a walk or a car ride, just to get used to the temperature difference.

This afternoon I went for my first run in Wetaskiwin.  6.5kms – not a long dash, but it was hard.  My lungs felt like I was breathing an ice cube, my legs felt like they were running on sand wherever the sidewalk wasn’t shoveled, and I probably had an extra 5lbs of sweaters and long johns on to keep warm.  Seriously.  The things we do to get out for a run.

Tomorrow we’re taking our first road trip into Edmonton proper.  I’m actually kind of excited (read: really excited).  I love cities.  I’m looking forward to seeing this one.

In the meantime it’s full on Christmas here in Wetaskiwin.  The tree is lit and the carols are playing.  We had our first turkey dinner last night, and today’s treat is Eggnog Fudge.  Hells, yeah!

So festive!

So festive!

What treat do you most associate with the holidays?


Christmas Vacation

December 16, 2012 3 comments
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  Best.  Christmas.  Movie.  Period.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Best. Christmas. Movie. Ever.

Holy shit, it feels really good to be on vacation!  Not gonna lie, I’ve done little more than sleep and sit on the couch since my vacation started Friday morning (and eat cookies – cheers to my cousin for leaving a bag of cookies here Thursday night.  Hooray for other people’s cookie exchange parties!)

Okay, I did go for an 8km run yesterday.  That felt good.  And I’m planning a 14km run today if the rain lets up.  So that’s something more than sleeping and sitting.

Tomorrow we fly out to visit my wife’s family in Northern Alberta.  My mother-in-law sent us a lovely email this morning, with a link to get us excited for our trip…

Geez... doesn't that make you want to rush right out there! ;-)

Geez… doesn’t that make you want to rush right out there! 😉

Almost makes our current slighly-above-freezing-and-rainy weather seem tropical… almost…

I’m really looking forward to the trip.  I’ve never been to Edmonton before (my parents-in-law just moved there about a month ago), and I always love visiting family.  I can’t wait for the next 10 days of great laughter, great food, and great fun (and maybe a few great beers too)…

And for 10 days of running in the freezing cold.  But I think it’s better than running here, in the rain.  I hate running in cold winter rain.  At least snow is nice and fluffy, and doesn’t leave you soaked (not in the same way that rain leaves you soaked).  Even if it is going to be 20°C colder there than it is here…

What would you rather run in?  2°C and rainy, or -12°C and sunny (or snowing)?

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