Taking the Time to Relax

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Howdy folks! I’m sure if you’re reading this post, you’re expecting me to be writing about my latest race result, right? Well, much as I’d like to jump the gun and get right to it, I’m still a couple posts behind, so rather than just skip them, I’m forcing myself to at least write a few paragraphs on a couple things that happened before this weekend 🙂 As you’re no doubt aware, I’ve been doing a lot of training lately in preparation for my Iron distance triathlon. However, in the last few weeks of training for any big event, you’re supposed to do what’s called a taper, which is when you reduce you’re training volume. So this post and the next are about what I did during that taper. It’s important to make sure that you take some time to recover and get yourself mentally prepared for the big race! Read on to hear about what I did a few weeks back.

The last few years, Jim Doucette has hosted the Mad River float at his property out at Calabogie. This is a weekend thing where you’re supposed to bring out your best floatie thing, load up on beers, and float down the very lazy Madawaska river back to Jim’s cabin. After the float, you kick back, eat some food, and drink more beers. Many choose to camp out overnight, and head back the next day. Well, the last couple years, I’ve not been able to attend, due to other race commitments. Luckily, because of the Iron distance tri timing, I decided that for most of August, I wouldn’t be racing. So, I was happy to let Jim know that I’d be in this year!

However, there was still some training to be done, so I wouldn’t say I was going to completely give up the schedule to party all weekend. I was supposed to do a long bike ride and a long run that weekend. I figured the best way to get that done was to bike out to the float, which would be a nice 3 or so hour ride, just around 100km. Then, I’d grab a quick bite to eat, in time to join the crew and hit the river. I was lucky enough to convince Marc Levesque to take my gear up on Friday night. I didn’t have a return trip strategy, but figured that would sort itself out as the weekend wore on.

Saturday came, and the weather looked pretty decent. It was slightly overcast, and looked like it might rain at any moment. Thanks to my gear already being out there, I didn’t have any choice really, so I hit the road. The first 40 minutes or so were pretty good, then I got smacked in the face with headwinds, which didn’t let up for the rest of the ride. Oh well, at least it stayed overcast, so it wasn’t too hot. By the time I got close to Calabogie, the sun did come out strong though. I ended the ride by taking a dirt road to Jim’s place, and it’s the first time I’ve ever taken my road bike down something like that. It was quite a rush hitting 42km/h down a steep rocky road with skinny tires! A couple times I was sure there’d be a wipeout. Luckily there wasn’t. This is probably a good time to mention a new feature on my website. Maps! Some with pictures! I logged my bike ride to Jims, and you can check it out here. If you want to check out my other maps, click on the “Maps” tab above, or just click here.

Once at Jim’s, I wolfed down a sandwich and some pasta salad, and hurried to get on my floating gear, which consisted of a shorty wetsuit, a PFD, flippers, and a pair of Spongebob water wings. Most other people had opted for true floating things like little rafts or kayaks, but in the interest of minimizing gear, and in the true spirit of floating, I think I chose pretty well. I threw a few cans of beer into a mesh bag, and was ready to hit the water. The float itself was extremely slow. And hot! The sun came out in full force, cooking us as we floated. Due to the wind direction, forward progress was only achieveable if we actually kicked a bit. Another thing I brought with me for the journey was a digital camera housed in a waterproof camera bag, which allowed me to take lots of shots on the water without fear of ruining the camera, even underwater! If you’d like to check out all the pictures from that weekend, head over to the ole flickr folder online! There’re pictures from both the float as well as the overnight camping.

Once the float was done (and several beers were put in my belly), we washed up ashore at the Doucette homestead. It was getting close to supper time, so the fire was sparked up, as well as the barbecue. I had brought some delicious Juicy Jumbos and pasta salad to keep me going. As it turns out, finding something to drink wasn’t going to be problem either, because I won a case of beer for having the best floating device as chosen by the assembled masses. I think the real reason I won is that I promised they could all drink the beer that I won, since I wouldn’t want it all, but it was also because I was pretty much the only person to actually float the whole way without a raft or anything. Having that extra beer probably meant that I might have a little problem with my long run the next day, but I decided to just go with the flow. After all, I really haven’t let myself have too much fun over the last couple months between racing and training. Surely one night of ‘letting my hair down’ wouldn’t ruin too much, right?

And so I did just that. The night was a lot of fun. Even though I didn’t know most of the people out this time, I still had a good time just enjoying the outdoors and the beautiful night around a campfire. Later on, a few of us even went out for a night paddle to visit some neighbours. It was one of the clearest nights I’ve ever been camping in. Just spectacular! Luckily, I’d booked my stay in the hammock at Jim’s, so I got to sleep out under the stars. All in all, it was pretty sweet! Big thanks go out again to Allie and Jim for having us all out there.

The next day, when I finally rolled out of the hammock, I discovered that I’d left a little bit of exposed flesh hanging out of my sleeping bag for the bugs to attack. Namely, my lips! I awoke to discover that they were quite swollen from bites. I’m not sure how many there were, but I’m sure it was at least a dozen. Craziness. I managed to find a kind soul to drive my butt home, along with my gear. I left the bike with Jim, which he said he could bring back to me the next day after work. Sounded good to me. Once I got back home, things were a little slow moving for me, and I didn’t end up going for that long run after all, but I did get some chores done around then house, which is also a good thing. I don’t regret a thing about that weekend, and I definitely think that taking the time to relax a bit was actually a good thing overall for my training regimen.

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