Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kettle Valley Rail Trail

After finally locating the Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) Trail on Thursday, I knew I had to go back on Friday and do my long run there. The KVR is a 455km trail that runs through the Okanagan Valley and was originally used for the railroads before rail traffic was abandoned along the line and the trail was turned into a multi-use trail in the 1990s. The portion of the trail I ran on goes all the way to Kelowna or over 60km or 40mi.

The views are stunning. I started from our motel and made my way up Vancouver hill (steep!) and then out onto the trail. The immediate views are of downtown Penticton and the lakefront and then as you continue on the trail you run through vineyards and over trestles. I wish I had a mountain bike so I could have spent more time up there. Of course the trail is uphill on the way out - and more then I had realized so what was supposed to be a 90 min run turned into 45 on the way out and 38 on the way back in. And even though I had left just after 8am, it was already hot, and the clay cliffs suck the heat in and make everything around it warm. There were a few shady spots on the trail and I was glad for them.

I ran as far as where we had lunch the previous day (the cute bistro) before I decided my legs had had enough. I wish I had kept going though! I have a feeling I will be back again before I leave.

Penticton and the surrounding areas are actually home to numerous trail systems and there are many local operations which offer bike riding and wine tasting combos. I can’t see too much wrong with that!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Penticton - the first few days

We left Vancouver early Tuesday morning and headed to Penticton along the Hope-Princeton connector. Although traffic was heavier on the connector then I have seen it before, we still made good time. We stopped in Hedley (former gold mining town) for a picnic lunch we had picked up on the way out of town. After another stop to try and see mountain goats (I didn't see any - again), and for some local fruit, we made it to town and our motel early afternoon.

We had dinner reservations at Theo's the first night so we both headed out for a short run before getting ready for dinner. We had eaten at Theo's when we were here last year and I had been looking forward to eating there again. We decided to eat there early in the week as it gets really busy later on. Being that we had made a reservation and it wasn't very busy we were sat at the hostesses favourite table - the Juliet Balcony. It's a great table overlooking the courtyard which was enclosed a few years ago. We started with the seafood salata which was so good I could eat it everynight. Ceviche and salmon mousse. Yum. We both had the kalimarkia entree. I was glad I was hungry! It was all washed down with a bottle of Jackson Triggs Cab Sauv.

Wednesday started off with a swim in Okanagan Lake. I swam from right in front of our motel down to the Peach and back (about 1500m) with only a couple stops. I was a little perturbed at the number of people I was faster than. I hope they were taking it easy because there is a cutoff for the swim afterall.

We followed the swim up with breakfast/brunch at Dream Cafe and then picked up groceries and of course some local beer and wine. Then it was time to ride the run course. Just over 40km ride out to OK Falls and back. Beautiful day, but quite windy!

Thursday morning I did a 45 min run and eventually found the Kettle Valley Trail (KVR) which I had heard of last time we were here. I didn't have my camera and was really sorry and decided to do my long run there on Friday.

The lineup for registration was really long so we decided to try it again later in the day. I guess being that triathletes are generally Type A personalities, everyone wants to be there first thing and get it done. The problem being of course it just makes for longer lines! Instead we decided to head out for some wine tasting. Naramata Bench is literally a couple miles out of downtown Penticton and is home to numerous wineries.

The first stop of the morning was in Naramata after a wrong turn but we ended up finding a little coffee shop that serves our favourite coffee from Vancouver. From there it was on to Therapy Vineyards. Some very good and interesting white wines and we picked up a bottle of Chardonnay. On to Laughing Stock, and a bottle of their Blind Trust Red. The Blind Trust (red & whites) are blends and you don't get to find out the exact blend of that particular year until you open the bottle.

It was about time for lunch and I had read a few recommendations for the restaurant at Hillside Estate Winery. And the recommendations were good. I had a thin crust pizza with grilled pears, caramelized onions, bleu cheese spread (very light but still noticeable) and pine nuts. I also had the wine pairing which was their Old Vines blend. The wine was a little young tasting but the pizza was amazing. The bistro itself is very cute.

Graeme wanted to swim again but I decided I was too lazy so I spent some time relaxing on the beach while he swam. We then headed over to a club members rental house for a get together with people from the club for a BBQ. Over a dozen people showed up and it was a really nice evening. Plus it was nice to be done by 10 and walk the 2 blocks back to our motel.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Shoes that fit!

My feet have always been hard to fit. I have very clear memories of when I first moved to Canada. I was back to school shopping with my family we were looking for shoes for me. In Ireland I hasn’t had issues with shoes, likely due to European sizes being narrower, but after many shoe stores and some advice from a store owner, it was decided that custom shoes were the only way I was going to have shoes that fit.

I guess as I got older I just got used to having my feet float around in shoes. Dress shoes are not as bad, but running shoes have never fit me properly. Along with my feet being long and narrow, my heel is very narrow and my Achilles is straight up and down which has limited some shoe options. After trying many many different running shoe brands, I settled on Mizuno. I have been running in the Inspires for a few years now and have noticed the widening of the shoe through its last few model changes.

After trying on the current model in a local running store, I was not sure they were going to work. With the previous model the lace structure was almost touching across the top of the foot and the new model was even worse. I left without buying new shoes and wondering what I was going to do. A week or so later I was in another running/triathlon store and because I was really in need of shoes, I decided to give them another go. I put them on and knew it wasn’t going to work. It was then that the store employee mentioned that Mizuno had just added a AA width. I was a bit nervous that they would be too narrow as I haven’t had the width of my feet measured in years. He pulled out the measuring device and it turns out my right foot is actually AAAA – the same it was when I was younger.

They didn’t have the narrow model in stock but ordered them in for me and they arrived last week. When I tried them on I was so excited. I can’t even describe what its like to actually put on running shoes that fit when it has never happened before. So thank you to North Shore Athletics!

And they are pretty too!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Family Time

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of family. Mostly Graeme's with a bit of mine thrown in. In the space of 2 weeks both his brother and sister were married. So 2 weddings, 2 rehearsal dinners and a shower and stagette for his sister. His sister lives in Paris but was married here so it meant all of the wedding festivities were crammed into a few days, and is also why both brother and sisters weddings were so close, so there wouldn't have to be travel back to Vancouver twice in one summer. So not much time for anything else! But I get along well with both of Graeme's siblings and their now husband and wife and am very happy for both couples.

Happy couple number 1

Happy couple number 2 (and bridal party)

And another happy couple (with a very squinty me)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


This made me laugh.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


One of the things I learned during the Ragnar Relay, is apparently I can run in the heat. This knowledge was going to prove useful over the next week as Vancouver had its longest and hottest heatwave ever. Many heat records were broken and the heat just kept coming.

While I would have liked to spend every night at the beach and floating around in the ocean, last week was a busy one for a number of reasons including strata meetings, a golf tournament I had organized (where it was 38/100 or 43/109 with the humidity!), a rehearsal dinner for my BILs wedding, and then the wedding itself. Thankfully the weather had cooled slightly for the Saturday evening wedding and its location on top of Grouse Mountain meant it was cooler then in the city.

Still, there was some beach time, and some early morning running when the temperatures were slightly cooler, but only slightly. My legs were definitely feeling the affects of the race. No specific soreness, just tired and heavy and lots of feelings that I wasn't in shape. I did a few short runs Tues/Wed & Fri mornings and a lovely 7am Kits Pool swim on Thursday morning where it was already 30/82 before I jumped in. It was like swimming in bath water. Salty bath water, but bath water nonetheless!

Saturday was a quick 2 hour ride and Sunday another Kits Pool swim. Monday was beachtime with some ocean swimming. Apparently the ocean temperature had been 24/75 a couple days earlier and if anything, it was warmer on Monday. A wetsuit was not needed at all. I could have floated around in the ocean all day.

Now I know a lot of people have been complaining about the heat and while 38 may be a bit too warm on a regular basis for somewhere that people don't have AC in their homes, I could do with the low 30s every day of summer. And I'll run in it too.