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January « 2010 « Tereza Macel's Blog

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Archive for January, 2010

What goes up must slide down

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Pucon is an active, outdoorsy wonderland. There are some many cool things to do- climb the volcano, white water rafting, fly fishing, canopy zip-lining, hot springs and I am sure a ton of other things. I had never climbed the volcano before, so this time I had booked my flight for a day later. I was pretty sore after the race, but a super, although painful massage, a hot bath, and a little walk later on that evening, and I figured I couldn’t pass up on the volcano, I might not get the chance ever again. Besides, the group of triathletes with Ken Glah that invited me along promised it would be nice and slow and easy.

The volcano from afar

The volcano from afar


The Sol e Nieve tour group had 5 guides taking 17 of us up the volcano. Each of us was outfitted with a backpack, pair of boots, cramp-ons, helmet, pants, jacket, gators to keep the snow out of the pant legs, and extra layer to wrap around our butts for the way down, a plastic mini toboggan thinggamigaci, and an ice pick.

A nice, sharp, ice pick, along with my backpack.

A nice, sharp, ice pick, along with my backpack.


All dressed up, and ready to go. The green thing is what you slide down on.

All dressed up, and ready to go. The green thing is what you slide down on.

Yes, an ice pick- that’s when I started to rethink this adventure. We left at 6 am, and an hour later were at the base of the volcano which is about 1400 meters. A short ski lift took us up to 1800 meters where the snow line began.
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The top of the volcano is just over 2800 meters, but going straight up is too steep so we would zig zag up, taking a route about 3-4 km long, and were told it would take about 3-4 hours. A short lesson on how to us the ice pick on the high side of the hill as you hike, how to use if if you fall and need to stop your slide down the mountain and off we went. One of the guides led our group, sometimes following preexisting footsteps, but whenever we caught up to a group ahead of us the guide would just veer off, and start a new path to get around them and up faster. It was very sunny, and hotter and hotter as we climbed up, and very slow going. Every 30-40 minutes or so we stopped for a short break, trying to find a way to sit without sliding down. Reapplied sunscreen, had some water, or a bite to eat. This definitely was not as easy as promised, but the steps were nice and small, and the pace was not quick.

Now it is starting to look steep eh?

Now it is starting to look steep eh?

We made it to the top a bit faster than expected, which was nice. This volcano is still active and even from far away you can see the smoke at the top, and at night a glow coming from the center. Once we arrived at the top the snow is all melted from the heat, and you can hear a deep rumbling deep down. We couldn’t see far down enough into the volcano to see any lava, but could see the smoke and just the area around the top show the heat coming off the core. It was pretty amazing, as were the views down and all around.

Looking into the volcano.

Looking into the volcano.

Some of the group, including 3 Canucks, at the top of the volcano

Some of the group, including 3 Canucks, at the top of the volcano


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Now the fun part, going down the volcano. I was told we would slide down on our butts, and that it was a slow day, since the snow as very wet, and it was warm. Had it been colder and icier the slide would be much faster. I figured since we zigzagged on the way up it would be the same on the way down- but no- it is just a straight line down. We had another lesson on how to slide down- how to sit with your feet together, and arms close to your body, hold the ice pick properly so you don’s stab yourself or someone else and how to use it to control your speed or stop. I was pretty nervous on the first slide- it looked so steep! But the first one was easy, then we stopped, walked a little farther across, and picked up another slide down. We did that about 4 or 5 times. A few times someone would go too quick and fly out of the track, and then have to stop themselves with the pick, and get back onto the slide route. It was like a childhood dream come true, and the guys were trying to outdo themselves seeing who could get the most speed. It was so much fun. The way down is much, much quicker and more fun than the way up.
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It is not very often that I do any touristy stuff when I go to races, but Pucon is a kind of race you have to plan to stay a few days after, and take advantage of the amazing things you can do there. As I was leaving the next day people were heading out white water rafting, and then later on to the hotsprings. So yes, it is a great race, super organization, great challenging course, and definitely not to be missed.

Back on the road

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Mid January and I was back to packing up Scarto, on a plane and relearning to sleep while sitting up. It is a long trip from Toronto to Pucon, Chile, but there is a 70.3 race in Pucon, that is very well organized, beautiful and a good way to remind myself that race season has begun..
The first thing I noticed after I arrived and caught up on my sleep with a 12 hour snooze, was how clear everything looks. It is incredible, so sunny and sharp it almost hurts the eyes. Kind of reminded me of after I had my laser eye surgery, and did not need to look through my old, dried out contacts anymore.
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I was lucky enough to be staying at the race hotel, Gran Hotel Pucon, directly on the course. I have never stayed this close to the transition and swim start- less than 200 meters to either, incredible. Lake on one side of the hotel, and a volcano on the other side. During my little swim I took a few photos of the beach, and the volcano behind the hotel. If the beach were not so packed you would see that it is actually black sand- or lava rock I think. Awesome.
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Race day came quickly enough, and I was a bit afraid of sleeping in. No need to fear that, since transition was directly below my window, and I could hear set up beginning at 3 am. It was pretty fun to have the race start directly outside the hotel, no need to worry if I forgot anything, since it would be just a few steps away.
I was not sure how I would feel during the race, I am just starting up to build my training up, and very slowly regaining a bit of fitness, so the main goal was to get in a good, honest effort. The swim was a wave start, with pro men and women starting 5 minutes ahead of the next wave. It was pretty uneventful, my first wetsuit swim since last August, in perfect water temperatures. I got on my bike in second place, but quickly caught the swim leader and settled into a nice rhythm. The bike course is rolling, with lots of very gradual ups and downs, and quite fun. It was going pretty well, except for my lower back tightening up a bit as the ride progressed. Getting off the bike I knew I was in a bit of trouble, I felt less limber than even after the toughest ironman bike ride. The run course at this race is what makes it really stand out. Within 200 meters of running out of transition the hills begin, and then keep going as you run up a peninsula for about 2 km, then back down, and onto a flat 3 km before running a second and third lap of the same loop. I am not sure what was tougher, running up the steep climbs with my hamstring feeling like it was about to snap, or running downhill and pounding the quads. I didn’t stay tough on the run like I needed to and was passed by a flying Amanda Lovato, and Heather Gollnick who was trying to win this race for the 3rd time in a row. But it was 2/3 or a pretty solid race, and a good refresher on racing.
The day after the race was the big adventure of climbing the volcano in the hotel photo- Villarica. Stay tuned for that one.

The organgrinder

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

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No, this is not a horror story blog. Although does remind me that there is a new vampire movie out that I would like to see.
I have been having some lower back achiness off and on for the past few weeks. So, the first solution whenever something does not feel quite right is a trip to the organgrinder.
Way back when I was just starting out with this crazy swim/bike/run idea I pretty much spent most of the year injured. It was the years of swimming, and no impact sports that made my body rebel anytime I made it work too hard on land. I did a 10 km in Waterloo, my university town, and a couple of km from the finish felt something go very wrong in my hip. Well 10 minutes after the race I could barely walk, and when I woke up in the middle of the night to go pee I realized that not only could I not walk, I couldn’t even lift my leg. So, I sat on the floor and started to pull myself along the floor with my arms, dragging my leg behind me. This woke Chris up and he looked at me, shook his head and asked what I was doing. Going to the washroom I said, but I didn’t factor in the travel time, so was getting a bit anxious. Well, by the next day I knew I was seriously injured. And after 3 months of physio, chiropractor, massage and doctors I was still walking with a limp and not running. Well, this is where the organ grinder comes in. Someone recommended that I go see Doug, and although I had never heard on an osteopath I was willing to try anything. As the dictionary tells me an osteopath is “a branch of medical practice that emphasizes the treatment of medical disorders through the manipulation and massage of the bones, joints, and muscles. ” I must say, very gentle, passive adjustments, no pain, no cracking or creaking noises. But somehow after 3 weeks of these adjustments I was running again.
So over the years any injury, or almost injury I have had were treated by Doug. During one treatment he was explaining how my liver, or spleen, or something was adhering to faschia connected to something, connected to something else which was giving my hip issues. When I later tried to remember the explanation or tell Chris what he did it basically sounded like Doug moved my internal organs around all over the place, and that fixed me up. So that’s how the organgrinder name came up. Of course the funniest part is that Doug is soft spoken, slight built, kind, most easy going guy you will ever meet. Not the massive giant, with meat cleavers you imagine when I say organgrinder, eh?

Reading my way into the New Year

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

So, my first blog of 2010. I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions. I think the last one I made a few years ago was to read the paper everyday, since I felt I was seriously unaware of what was happening in the world. That one lasted about two days. Was I supposed to just read the front page while at the store, like I do with tabloid magazines while I wait in line? Or buy a paper each day and read the entertainment section and that would be good enough, or read it from first to last page like a book, in which case that is a pretty big time commitment. So now I know why that resolution didn’t last long enough. I obviously wasn’t very good at the first rule of goal setting- make it specific. So since then I haven’t really done the New Year’s Resolution thing, and this year was no exception. Perhaps I will come up with a good idea later this year, and make it my February or July resolution.
reading-snowman

I usually have a few books floating around the house in various states of being read. I often start a book, and if it does not capture me I set it aside, and figure it is just is not the right time. This means that I am sometimes reading, or more like not reading, 2 or 3 books at once. Now the one book I just started that I will probably finish within a day or two is the Andre Agassi book “Open”. Definitely interesting right off the bat, I could barely put it down last night. I must admit I was not always an Agassi fan, but as his career progressed it was hard to not cheer for him. And now I makes me want to rewatch some of his matches. He talks about how tennis is one of the loneliest sports. A tennis player is behind a net, distant from his competitor, distant from the fans, and that might be why often the tennis players talk to themselves. It made me think about triathlons, where one minute you are swimming on top of someone, or inches away from cheering spectators, and the next you are in the middle of nowhere, without another person in sight, wondering if anyone would notice if you just curled up in a ditch and went to sleep. And I am sure most triathletes talk to themselves, or sing to themselves like I do while on the bike sometimes. And the magic race song that I sing in tough moments is….. top secret. But it does include jazz hands.