Sunday, July 26, 2015

Happy 40th Anniversary Mom & Dad!

Today my parents celebrate 40 years of marriage!

In a coordinated effort that spanned three provinces, us kids pulled together this musical video as a tribute to our wonderful parents.

We are honoured to be their kids, and grateful for the healthy, intentional marriage they have modelled for us. Theirs is a marriage truly worth celebrating. Love you mom & dad... here's to 40 more years!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Ride for a Reason 2015: RECAP

Another year of Ride for a Reason has come and gone, and it was a SMASHING success! Not only did we get to enjoy riding through a heatwave with 50 of the most fabulous people on the planet, but we raised over $110,000 for Southern Alberta Bible Camp. AMAZING!

Such success wouldn't have been possible without our supporters... both personal and corporate; prayer and financial. These three businesses, in particular, have been extremely loyal and generous... THANK YOU!

I reactivated my otherwise dormant Instagram account for the occasion, as I had every intention of obnoxiously hashtagging it up for #rideforareason15. I posted, like, four whole photos, and two of them went up before the ride even began (fail)...

Lowell captured this shot of me getting a pre-ride-bike-on-van shot, and I posted it to demonstrate my commitment to overphotographing the ride. hehe.
These eyes are really all I bring to the tandem team. The majority of the mental AND physical strength comes from Lowell... but these eyes are fully functioning, baby (post-nap mascara chunks and all).
Ah well. There's always next year to improve upon my Instagramming/hashtagging skills. For now, however, my Instagram account is back in hibernation mode.

Now for the actual ride! After spending the night in Banff, we rode ~100 km from Banff to Cochrane on day one.

As coincidence would have it, each tandem team matched their partner, and we represented four years of the ride. HELLO OBVIOUS PHOTO OP.

Day one was very picturesque. Lowell obviously thought so too, as he snuck my phone and unintentionally took the most amazing video selfies of all time. He meant to take stills, but the videos are soooo much better.

Lowell also likes to snag shots of the back of my head.

And also the scenery. Not too shabby eh?!

Coffee stop. These are the speed demons. If you catch a glimpse of them during the ride, you can consider yourself lucky... and fast.

Laughing it up with our new friend, Felicia.
We're super cool.

Lunch break with our cousin pals, Theo & Liz!

We requested photo ideas as one can only take so many bike selfies. My friend, Nancy,  suggested a shadow shot. This idea has SO MUCH POTENTIAL, but we just didn't quite hit it this year. Next year we will improve upon our shadow bike photography, Nancy...

After a good hot tub soak, an excellent meal with wonderful conversation, and a stretching party, we spent the night at Southern Baptist Seminary. Good thing for our own space and bed side tables, because we had a TAD bit of technology for our bike that required a night time re-charge.

Day two began with a goofy morning cousin selfie to send to our other cousin, Ava, and make her sad that she wasn't with us...

Day two we cycled ~120km from Cochrane to High River. The first half of the day involved monster hills. Lowell in particular LOVES going down hills. He tried to break our 74km/hr record, but a) the wind was not favourable for such a feat, and b) I'm pretty trigger-fingery on the brakes because I CHOOSE LIFE. Sorry Lowell, maybe next year (or not).

Theo crested the most monstrous of hills!
Ridiculous lunch selfie with Liz... another attempt to make Ava jealous. (But seriously... you're with us next year, RIGHT AVA?!)
I had built up somewhat of a dread for the second half of day two. Last year was very challenging for me. As if a busy undivided highway with narrow shoulders, gravel, and rumble strips wasn't enough... I wasn't very experienced/confident, we had a nasty cross breeze, and we were desperately attempting to beat the gloomy storm clouds that were chasing us. This year was ONE HUNDRED PERCENT DIFFERENT. There was no sign of a storm, the wind only teased us intermittently, there was less gravel, and I'm pretty sure they widened the shoulders just for me. No? Whatever. I loved it.

We cycled through a carnival and construction on day two. Had such events taken place last year I would have lost my marbles as I was certain we would fall on our faces every time we started and stopped. This year, however, I was soooo much more confident, and we dodged construction vehicles/cones and carnival goers like a couple of bosses!

Day three was High River to SABC. This year there was an option to participate in a race on day three. Lowell had hoped to join the racers all along, but the added 20km just didn't float my boat. I outright ignored Lowell's pleading until the morning of day three when I just threw in the towel and decided to add the extra 20km and race... because why not.

We managed to stick with the top racers' draft for 32km before they dropped us going up a hill, and we needed to stop to fuel up our bodies. It's the first time I've ever truly drafted, and it was sooo satisfying. There is no way on this earth that I would have been with them had I not been teamed with Lowell, so I really lapped up the experience.

Lowell snapped this of my head and our drafter boys.
A little photo op with Machine Mark after a hydration break. Mark was our cycling buddy for basically the rest of the day!
We finished fourth, and had an average pace of 31.2km/hr... 0.8km/hr behind the winner, Verdun (woohoo Verdun!).

362km total in three days for Lowell and me. What a super fabulously fun weekend. Enough can not be said for the road crew and volunteers that make RFAR happen. As riders, we felt safe, encouraged, well-fed, and taken care of. Best of all, SABC now has a nice chunk of moola to send kids to camp who otherwise couldn't afford it!

Mike, Jenn, Justin, & Shelley were our wonderful media people and they pulled together this amazing summary video of the ride. If this doesn't whet your appetite for a 340-360km ride through Alberta, I don't know what will!

Thursday, July 02, 2015

First tethered triathlon DONE!

Lowell completed his first tethered triathlon! Nana & Papa- bless their wonderful, semi-retired grandparental souls- took the kids while we zipped to Saskatoon for the Subaru triathlon. Just a mere 13-hour round trip... no biggie.

Warren (Lowell's guide/friend) was unable to make it, so Mark- who just happens to be a triathlete friend living in Saskatoon- graciously offered to take Warren's place. Mark was a good pal of mine through University (many even assumed we were siblings), and I MAY have teared up watching them race together as a) it was special for me to witness their camaraderie, and b) I have become an emotional basketcase in general.

This was the extent of their training together...

A 40-meter ride from the van to the transition area... in flip flops. Super intense.

 And this.

Five whole minutes assessing the tether-in-water situation.
However brief, the swim practise proved useful as Lowell learned that he could actually see Mark's white swimming cap contrasted against the water. The officials at this race allowed Mark to wear the non-race white cap on race day, so hopefully officials at future events will be as accommodating!

This was definitely a training race through and through. The goal was for Lowell to get a feel for transitions as well as racing tethered among a crowd of people on unknown terrain and in murky open water. It was a good thing they were not concerned about speed because the run was particularly brutal for a visually impaired dude... switchbacks up the wazoo, in and out of shade, narrow, stairs, curbs... loads of fun for a blind guy I'm sure.

Now for race day! It. was. a. scorcher. Mark's wife, Ashley, as well as Ashely's twin sister, Lindsay, and their friend, Afton, also did the triathlon. I was paparazzi and Lindsay's boyfriend, Jeff, was my personal chauffeur.

Pre-race group shot!
I thoroughly enjoyed having my very own chauffeur!
We've done racing events with Mark & Ash before, so I wasn't surprised to see how they were protective of Lowell, and took him under their wings. Impressed and touched... but not surprised. 

Mark describing the swim course.
Ash praying with the boys.
Let the race begin! The slough swim...

Transitioning from swim to bike...

This was a unique triathlon in that there were two transition areas. Pike Lake (er, slough) is outside of Saskatoon, so the bike ride was from the lake to downtown. When the boys exited the swim, Jeff and I hussled to the van to begin our paparazzi stalking. Rather successfully, might I add.

No one apparently escapes Lowell's back-of-the-bike sneaky escapades!
Both of their seats were too low, but they looked like (and were) impressive speed demons anyway.

Between our paparazzi bike stalking and finding parking downtown, we missed the bike-to-run transition, dang it all. This is the only shot I got of that transition...

Luckily, Ashley's mama was there to snap a few shots!

Here they come!!

Oh the arm thing. Heart. melting.
Here are some post-race shots including an interview with the boys...

Ash is a twin and I'm a twin.... so probably the four of us should be quadruplets.

I am SO SO SO proud of these boys. Thanks for stepping up, Mark! 

Lowell doesn't feel as though he will be truly race-ready and competitive until next year, but he and Warren will be pursuing more training triathlons this season. I can hardly wait to witness the magic and paparazzi it up!