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Why Tuesday?

The Girlfriend's Guide to Health will be updated every Tuesday.... Stay tuned dear readers and let me rock your world.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Half Assed Iron Man

Promises made and promises lost my sisters. On this day of all Tuesdays, I’ve been thinking a lot about the paths we take in life and how one moment indeed can define us as much as a thousand of them.

Last week I was scheduled to race the Penticton Challenge. Physically I was strong and (somewhat) ready. I had trained for months with my fabulous coach (shout out K.B.) whose arms are indeed as perfect as her soul.

But as the race day drew near, I just “did not have it”. Something in me could not get into the idea that this triathlon would be mine. Sure, I could just go and do the race- but really? You can’t “phone in” a Half Iron man distance triathlon. After swimming for 1.9km, you cycle 90km and then run 21.1km.

This would be the second time I totally lost my mind in an endeavour of this nature. Last year I did my first Half Iron Man triathlon and finished in last place. Make no mistake- it was awesome. If you don’t believe me…. Read this.

But this year something had shifted. I was ready for the race’s physical challenge but mentally my mind was elsewhere. Perhaps it was because this year’s race calendar had been full? Perhaps I had been working a bit too hard?  Perhaps I just did not have “it”…. You know, the Mojo, the charm, the spell that usually takes over a few weeks before a race and BAM you are hooked and good to go.

I am not sure what it was last week that made me change my triathlon mind, but I did. And so I decided a week before my race to just NOT do it.

I should preface this by saying this behaviour is not in my character. I am not a person who backs down easily from any challenge. In life there are those of us who run into the burning building and those of us who run out. I would count myself the former.

Be it work or play, sport or shoe sale- I am someone who definitely shows up.

And so it was a bit out of character for me to BACK DOWN on this, the Penticton challenge.

Mentally how would I cope with the idea that for the first time in my relatively young racing life, I had walked away from a challenge?

On a practical note, what would I do this weekend? Here I was locked and loaded with endurance to spare and nowhere to put it?

The practical solution came easy.

Vancouver has many a race every weekend. Could I compensate for my Half assed Iron man with a three-day event that would make up the distance?

Certainly. Could I “mix and match” a series of races and come up with the 70.3 miles of swim, bike run without ever leaving the Vancouver lower mainland?


This past weekend Vancouver was hosting the Lululemon Sewheeze half marathon.  I bought an entry bib (or shall I say and entry bracelet?) from some lovely girlfriend on Facebook and spent 4 hours in line on Friday morning at the Seawheeze pop up store in search of the perfect racing outfit.

Do not judge my sisters… I was grieving the loss of my triathlon and trying to shop my was through my decision. Retail therapy is genius.

And so on Saturday morning, I suited up with 10,000 other sisters… believe me there were maybe 100 men in this race- Seawheeze is an estrogen fest to run for glory.

The race was a glorious one and I must admit- indeed it erased any doubt in my mind regarding my triathlon misgivings.

I had a good run (not a great one) and my medal matches my outfit. This cannot be wrong in any universe.

ON Sunday, legs a bit weary, I strapped on my cycling shoes and Bella (my bike) and I raced the demons away in Coquitlam at the Mountain Equipment Co-Op Century ride. Nothing chases away the devil like a 100km ride through the rolling hills of the Lower Mainland.

That is until 4 hours into the ride you find yourself walking up said hills with your bike because the 20% grade is meant for someone with greater stuff than I. By greater stuff I mean a motorbike or a drug doping scandal.

For some reason, the race organizers thought that a few very steep hills would add to the challenge. Make no mistake- I can bike a hill. Just last week, I cycled up Cypress Mountain.  I am not adverse to hills- I don’t; speed up them but I can do them (with a bit of Bitching and moaning to power me through). But a 17% grade hill followed by a 20% grade hill in the middle of the race is really the devils work.

There I was, in the middle of nowhere pushing my bike up a hill in bike cleats- this was the equivalent of walking in heels… to Whistler.

No fingers pointed- I signed up for this course….

I should say that as I write this, the memory of pushing my bike up a hill with bike shoes on is quickly fading. .

The scenery was epic.

My first half of the ride was glorious. My legs were stiff but I was ready. But 30km in- I lost touch with a pack and wound up riding the remaining race alone. “No, matter,” I told myself- “I ride alone all the time”.

The problem with riding alone on the country roads of Coquitlam was that MEC in their infinite wisdom had failed to mark the course clearly. Getting lost on a back road in British Columbia indeed tests the soul as much as it tests the legs. 

And so I spent 20km wandering through Coquitlam looking for race markers wondering whether a cab would drive out this far to get me.

It was indeed somewhere around the 70km mark that I faced my own HEART OF DARKNESS.

You see, I backed out of the Half Iron Man because I did not have the mental will for such a race. There I was with a half marathon run on my legs and 70km of bike riding behind me lost in Coquitlam with no cell phone coverage and somehow I found my way home.

I called my fabulous coach (who had likely finished the race an hour or so before) and asked for directions. Graciously- she let me rant and then talked me home. With new directions in tow- I made it safely across the finish line 90 minutes later- 120km on my bike’s odometer. This was a century PLUS ride and I had found my way.

I awoke Monday morning with a plan to swim 1.9km in order to complete my own personal triathlon. There was no need.

For some reason I had banished the doubt. I had washed away the urge to perform and had risen to my own occasion.

No evidence this week- but I learned a lot, my sisters about what it really means to be an athlete. As someone who always is a little slower than the pack- I often wonder if I am making the same mark as the others in the race.

But this weekend with a half marathon race and a century ride- I learned that in life- sometimes we do readjust our expectations and the world indeed accommodates. Sometimes a moment on a country rode is more significant than 8 hours of racing for glory.

Because in life as in any sport- it’s not how you start…. It’s not even how you finish…. It’s WHO YOU ARE along the way that makes the rubber hit the road.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Show and Tell...

I have spent the last few months watching more than a few You-Tube videos. No, get your heads out of the gutter- not the dirty kind. Just the generic “stupid human tricks” that seem to be posted quite a bit on the site.

In fact I would maintain that You Tube is our species version of “Grown-Up SHOW AND TELL”.

Do you remember the real SHOW AND TELL? We all had one experience or another. Typically it was in kindergarten or Grade 1. We were five or six years old. We stood in front of classrooms all over this great nation with a rock from a camping trip or a caterpillar gripping to life (and leaf) in a jam jar. We proudly announced to the class the origin of the unusual sea pebble or the lifecycle of a butterfly as we knew it.

But years gone by and we’ve passed the age when you can stand before a group of your peers and “show em what you’ve got”. This is where the internet comes in….

Yes my dear girlfriends, well over a year of blogging later and I now fully realize that the internet is our species SHOW AND TELL.

Want to share with friends about your latest meal? Why not Twitter that you “ate duck two ways at a great restaurant just last night”. Want friends and family to know what little Jessica looked like after eating her first bite of peas? Just video tape it and blast her little green face into cyber space for all to see and enjoy.

Isn’t FACEBOOK, the very defintion of grown up SHOW AND TELL gone wild? I know more about the people I went to highschool with NOW than I did when we were in Highschool!

Make no mistake, I am a huge fan of the whole SHOW AND TELL thing we’ve got going on as a culture. I think it is a true revelation. Hell this is entertainment at its finest. I loved SHOW AND TELL back as a six year old and I sure as hell love it even more now that we’ve moved beyond the flora and the fauna….

But I can’t help but notice that the internet has become quite feline these days. What I mean by this is that there are a hell of a lot of cats out in cybersapce lately. Haven’t you noticed my dear girlfriends? We seem to be pushing the whole “CAT AGENDA” quite a bit. Whether it’s the Freaky cat videos on You Tube (where the little kitten is being filmed making a rather human gesture) or the cat versus larger animal videos (cat v. alligator, cat v. polar bear) that have gone viral.

In fact I would argue that cat video emails have replaced Viagra emails as the new number one topic of cyber spam.

So what is it with cat owners and their exhibitionist needs?

According to a study presented this past year at the International Stroke Conference in New Orleans owning a cat could reduce your risk of a heart attack by nearly one third.

The finding was the main result of a 10 year study of more than 4,000 Americans by researchers at the University of Minnesota's Stroke Institute in Minneapolis.

The study was based on data extracted from people aged 30 to 75, from the second National Health and Nutrition Examination Study. Participants were recruited from 1976-1980 and followed over a 10 year period. Of the 4,435 Americans in the study, 2,435 of the participants were current or former cat owners, while the remaining 2,000 had never had a cat.

Using the main outcome as death from all causes, including stroke and heart events, the researchers found that over a 10 year follow up period, cat owners showed a 30 per cent lower risk of death from heart attack compared to non cat owners.

I’m not suggesting we all go out and buy a kitten… I am personally allergic and have always been more of a dog person. In fact, I have never been particularly fond of cats.

Apart from the fact that every cat I meet prompts me to have an Asthma attack, I am not what you would call, a “CAT PERSON”.

I find them too “stand offish”. After a long day at work, I want a pet that greet me at the door and is so excited to see me that, hell, it could easily pee on the floor given the chance.

A cat does not do that. A cat is the kind of animal that can be left alone with enough food and water for days on end and still survive. While I admire that kind of independence, it is not something I am looking for in a household pet.

But we can’t ignore the science once again. Cat people live longer than those who are feline free. The science of why there are so many cats on the internet? Simply put…because their owners have nine lives….

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Naked Truth

Truth be told, I did not grow up in a naked house. Make no mistake there was a healthy regard for one's physical self... the standard self esteem was "dished out" over one's physical form. We walked around in pajamas or underwear just as much as the next family, but there was a standard uniform of undergarments used at any given time. Ever a fan of outfits, you can imagine that this "bare clothing minimum" suited (no pun intended) me fine. In fact I assumed the rest of the world followed similar "Behind Clothes Doors Policy" That was until I met the "Naked Girl".

My latest locker room experience is so common place that it is merely a prototype, if you will. It stands as an example of all previous and future encounters. It is not fiction. It happens to me all the time and I am not alone.

There I was at the Aquatic Centre in Vancouver. I had just finished a fabulous 1500 metre swim and walked into the women's changing room to shower, change and do what any normal woman does after a swim... You know... lather, rinse, repeat. There are two change rooms for women at the Aquatic Centre. There is the "common" change room which is like any public pool changing room. Then there is the "Adults Only" change room which is for women who do not want to change in front of 4 year old boys staring in fascination at their girlie bits. I, ever a fan of elitism, always chose the latter. The "Adults Only" change room, as it happens was closed for cleaning. The "Adults Only" change room has separate private showers, each with a curtain. Such is not the case in the "common" change rooms.

In my experience women fall into one of three categories of naked locker room behaviour. You have the "Naked Girl" who really is the subject of this article. On the other end of the spectrum you have the "Under the Towel Girl" who essentially uses her towel as a shield from the outside world unless she is changing in a bathroom stall with the door closed (no judgement here- just an observation). And then you have everything in between. As far as locker room nudity goes, I would classify myself as a middle of the road naked person. I shower, change and leave. Should you find yourself in a locker room next to me, you may see parts of me naked, however, you WILL NOT be able to draw me nude from memory.

I can not say the same for some of my locker room sisters. For there in the "common" shower room was what I could only describe as a cross between a shampoo advertisement and a burlesque show. I recently read that a women's fitness establishment in the US banned nudity in its locker rooms in order to provide women with body image issues with a nonthreatening atmosphere. I must admit, I thought (and still do think) this was ridiculous. I'm all for women having nonthreatening atmospheres but to ask our fellow sisters to change with the "over the bra, under the towel" trick from the safety of a locker room is yet another example of how common sense is the greatest example of literary irony in existence today.

As for the scene in the public shower of the "common" locker room, there she was in all of her splendor, lathering up like a peep show professional, the latest and greatest "Naked Girl". I will spare you the details, but it is safe to say that I am not being a prude when I say that a woman does not need to scrub herself that thoroughly unless she has just been to a nuclear reactor spill. This was a chlorinated pool, not Chernobyl. Having spent a full five minutes in a perverted after school special in the showers, I ventured into the changing rooms only to discover three women standing (I kid you not) full frontal on the benches and putting on lotion. These were three separate women, not three friends. The weather called for naked and I was in the middle of a vagina hailstorm.

I will end it there. As it stands, I blame the the "common" change rooms but in retrospect this was not my first encounter with the inevitable "Naked Girl" who parades around the locker room either chatting on her cell phone or doing her taxes in all her natural glory. We have all seen her. She comes in various shapes and sizes and inevitably her locker is always the one next to ours. "Naked Girl" always engages in conversation, always posing the challenge of where to look when you talk to her and ONLY uses her towel to dry her feet. She makes the even most self assured woman feel a little shy.

I have searched the medical literature to secure some scientific basis for my claim that this woman really should put some clothes on, but I have come up empty. There is little data on the lack of sanitation of the situation.

I did come upon some interesting articles about STD transmission in male locker rooms but this was as a result of sexual activities in said locker rooms. Incidentally, gyms in New York are required by law to enforce the state sanitary code against sex on their premises, often post signs notifying exercisers that "inappropriate behavior" is not permitted.

As for the Girls Gone Wild- locker room edition which we have all encountered, there is little to find, scientifically. However, I believe it was Charles Darwin who said "where science ends, faith begins".

And so, my cyber sisters, let us evolve as Darwin intended us to- save the sexy scrub show for the privacy of your own bathroom or the Red Light District in Amsterdam. Ever a fan of self expression- it really is something that one should do in the comfort of one's own home or peep show window. In the spirit of sisterhood and in the name of all locker rooms everywhere, ladies, I pray that we may strive to find a tiled public changing room where naked women everywhere can co-exist. Where we shall be judged not by the size of our waist to hip ratio but by the name on our gym bag; not by the quality of our breast augmentation, but by the quality of our $75 Bumble and Bumble conditioner. And let us say, Amen.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

So sorry sweet sisters for the day of silence. Am on holidays this week and well, I just can't get my shit together. Promise to post later in the week.... stay tuned. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

So sorry sweet sisters for the day of silence. Am on holidays this week and well, I just can't get my shit together. Promise to post later in the week.... stay tuned.