2015 Ironman 70.3 Victoria

This year was the 20th anniversary of the Victoria Half Ironman.  For 12 years this was a Frontrunners event and they did an incredible job in cementing the history of this event into the community.   It is true that it has gone through a few iterations and patently obvious that Ironman taking over the event improved its reach.  This year there were more than 1900 participants in a sell-out event.  Incredible!  I have never participated in this race to date and it has always been on the “bucket list” to tick off so racing the course was important to me.  I would have preferred to have a pro division to compete against but this year Ironman did not choose to put a pro prize purse on this race.  This was unfortunate for all of the local Victoria pros but I still wanted to use the race for training.  The one weakness to training for triathlon in Victoria is opportunity to ride in aero position for long periods of time – there are no long roads without stop signs or traffic lights.

Luckily, Sara Gross (part of the 5Q and @triequal group) got the okay from the organizers for us to “participate” (ie race as hard as we want) without disrupting any age group categories.  This was a winning combination as we all live here and wanted the opportunity to smash whatever part of the race we liked at a no pressure training race- with no travel.  It made a bunch of sense.  Plus, we all have local sponsors and supporters that NEVER see us race so getting a chance to show some stuff at home is good.  Sadly, Sara got the plague so she needed to downgrade to a relay and Kate was trying her first ever half so I was on my own in the pro division.  Locally, I really only compete in running races now, usually getting completely annihilated by Marilyn Arsenault and Hilary Stellingwerff (Melissa, Danelle, Claire, Care… list goes on of superstar runners in town), so it is nice to do a local race in my own sport  J

Speaking of very fast runners, the winner of the overall age group race for women was Malindi Elmore.  She is a 1500m Olympian who had a baby about a year ago and has turned her attention to triathlon in the past few years.  She already has a world class motor and it looks like she is building a kickass chassis for the sport of triathlon.  Like the Wurtele’s she trains in Kelowna… I think I need to hang out there a bit J

Since I am building up to the Challenge St Andrews event on July 5 followed by Ironman Canada on July 26, I came up with a race-training plan with Kelly (www.livefitcoaching.com) that included a solid swim and bike with a run where I would test my “dream” IM Canada pace for 21kms. I was also testing a change in nutrition for both the bike and run to reflect what I will do on an Ironman race day… so I did the run with a Fuelbelt loaded up with goodies (I don’t use a belt in the half distance normally).  I also tested riding my Trek Speed Concept with a more aero drink holding setup because who doesn’t want an extra 5-10 Watts savings in drag over 180kms? I am riding very well at the moment so I want to maximize this strength for sure.

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It was a lot easier to go that hard with 2000 super stoked triathletes than by myself so thank you Heather, Keats and Rebecca for your help getting registered, thank you for the amazing athletes for motivating me and thanks to all the amazing volunteers and spectators.   Nice to get a chance to poke my nose out at the very front of the race for a while too-rarely happens for us chicks (except in Saskatoon last year – love Canadian races!)  I had a great time swimming, biking and running after rolling out of my own bed. This race absolutely killed it for race vibe.  It is very hard racing doing the half distance no matter what pace you are going at so congratulations to all the finishers.  I hope you all achieved your goals!  However, Ironman can we please have a pro race next year??

The only downer is I did NOT get a hoodie.  Sold out.  I am very sad.  Hoodies are part of the tradition.  Ironman can you please do that for this race as well? We love our traditions.

I was happy to see none other than Bob Saunders of Saunders Subaru at the finishing tape.  Subaru was title sponsor of this race and Bob and his family do so much for sport in Canada and in Victoria we have a lot to be thankful for because of them.  Great to get that finish line hug.

Thanks to Synergy Wellness, Procity Racing and Frontrunners Victoria, three local businesses that help me with my health, my bikes and my feet- and help so many of Victoria’s incredible athlete community keep pushing the limit. Also thank you to Markus at Left Coast health.. another go to therapist I depend on!

Thanks to my sponsors Trek, Bontrager, Champion System, Shimano, Rudy Project, Blueseventy, Powertap, Sci Con Bags, Asics and USANA.  Another entry into the training diary as I collect some knowledge and experience for my first full distance race!

 

2015 Ironman 70.3 Raleigh, NC

2015 was the second year I chose to race in Raleigh.  Now that the race is done the event went better than my first go at the race despite a less impressive placing.  Such is the nature of the 70.3 series this year.  It is not often the women's field is not packed with fast girls. Less races makes for more competitive races and this weekend was no exception.  Meredith Kessler, Lauren Barnett and Cait Snow took the top steps with super awesome races.  Meredith was consistently solid all around, Lauren put together the best bike/run combo and Cait lit up the run course to pick her way up to the top steps.  Three different but very effective approaches.

 

My race started with a terrible swim (same as 2013).  Not sure why as I believe I am a very good non wetsuit swimmer.  However I was immediately and decisively dropped and lost four minutes right off the bat.  Yikes.  Then I got on the bike and hammered.  I was out of the water pretty much with Lauren so she and I ended up riding the bike together.  We rode ourselves up to fourth/fifth and at 10 miles on the run I thought I was going to catch Holly Lawrence and take third.  However the wheels came off on the way back to town, I never made up another inch on Holly and lost four more places as the top run splits came flying by.  I didn’t need to have a fast run for third… I needed to not die.  Despite a controlled bike and a very conservative and controlled first lap on the run I still fell apart in the closing miles.  I have a real hate relationship with south east heat as this has happened many times before (including 2013 edition of this race).  It puzzles/frustrates/crushes me every time.

 

Positives:

1.      1.  Rode fast.  Turns out three other girls rode as fast if not a few seconds faster.  Still gave myself a chance to get top 3 with that bike split despite my crap swim.

2.      2.  Bike arrived safe and sound with little effort on my part:  the SciCon travel bag really is amazing.  I also rode safely from T1 to T2 thanks to some fancy new Bontrager Tubulars aboard my Bontrager wheels.  2015 is a tubular season from now on.  Thanks Mark at Trek race shop!

3.      3.  Awesome homestay:  Alan and Helen took such good care of me before, during (they in the awesome mile 7 feed zone on the run) and after the race.  I chose to come to this race 100% because I knew I could stay with them.

4.      4.   I am fit – there were just much faster girls on the day this weekend.  Despite dying on the run I really don’t think it is fitness related.  My heart rate was like a flat line.  I had the motor to drive the output but hyperthermia shut it down.  The swim is a question mark but again I have a fistful of crap East coast swim splits to compare to.  I am pretty sure despite my desperate attempts to be on the time zone arriving four days out I just don’t get going until the bike when the races start at 6:30 or 7am EST.  Solution:  arrive sooner?

Since I still to date have never had a race in the Eastern time zone I am satisfied with I think I should not expect to race well in humidity on the East coast without a minimum 10 day acclimation similar to altitude.  Even with good form I consistently fail in the heat and humidity on the East coast… but I have had good races in the heat and humidity in Hawaii.  The southeastern oven cooks me every single time and I am not stoked about that.  If I need to race East I think I need to go early.

That’s pretty much it.  I don’t have anything negative to say  other than I am not satisfied with 2/3rds of my execution and as a result I would approach this race differently if I did it over again.  That has to be balanced with the fact it was a race to get a race in so donating that long to acclimation/race preparation rather than training would have been a trade-off that this year I chose not to make.  I can’t be all that upset just realistic: the races are SO competitive that if you want to be there you need to be firing 100%.  I was fast for a lot of the race but six girls were faster in the end. 

Thanks so much to Trek, Shimano, Powertap, Bontrager and Sci Con Bags for providing and protecting this beauty for race day.

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Thanks to Blueseventy for a sweet swimskin and goggles that I enjoyed wearing for a little too long on race morning. Thanks Champion System for keeping me comfy and cute in my race kit and Rudy Project for protecting my noggin and eyeballs from bike start to run finish.  Thanks to Frontrunners Victoria and Asics Canada for comfy kicks out on the run course and USANA for keeping me healthy.  Thanks to Kelly at Livefit coaching for helping me prepare and focus on the main goals, find the positive and put the negative in perspective and then the rearview.

 

It is such a pleasure to race with such fast girls.  Congrats again to Meredith, Lauren and Cait, the three podium ladies, and congrats to Alexandra, Jacky and Holly for 4th to 6th and Jen in 8th.  Top 8 is dollars ladies!!  Woohoo!  You are all incredibly strong and it is so motivating to keep working hard to try to win another one of these races.  It is so great to be inspired to better your best.  Thank you for the fuel.

And thanks again Alan and Helen. You guys are the best :)

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2015 XTERRA West Championships

I added the XTERRA West Championship to my schedule not only because I really miss and enjoy that style of racing but also because I have been finding that the best taper for a race is to race the weekend before.  I have almost without exception found that resting into race #1 leaves me good but not 100% and the following weekend I feel amazing.  Since I am really hoping to have a good go in St George I thought I would employ this strategy, literally clean the cobwebs off my Superfly, and use the race in Lake Las Vegas as my pre-race tuneup.  Since I had a good race, stayed upright and am quickly recovered and back on track I can say that so far things are going as expected.

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 Preriding with my roomies Brittany, Katharine and Buttons.

I am excited to see the top girls in XTERRA are doing a phenomenal job of raising the bar and pushing each other to continue raising the level in the sport.  Lesley is in her characteristic all year round top shape early season-on a course that favored her Southern California training environment-so it was not surprising that she was the fastest this weekend.   I was impressed to see Emma Garrard come out of her Park City hibernation in ripping form to make the race a close and exciting one right from the first transition.  Not to be overlooked is the always improving Suzie Snyder who performed well in her busy racing schedule to take third place in her third weekend of racing in a row.  The deciding factor that day was both Emma and Lesley’s lightning fast run splits that set them apart from the rest of the field and I am only sorry we couldn't see what super Flora could do as well.  XTERRA is definitely taking on an ITU flavor which is not surprising since XTERRA is one of the only Olympic distance races with prize money other than ITU but it looks like Emma and Suzie are adapting to the new racing environment.

I am absolutely astonished at the ladies that take a year off to go and push out a baby and somehow make it look like it might be some sort of advantage.  I am absolutely certain that doing that to your body should not be considered performance enhancing and yet I see Emma come back a rockstar, Sara Schuler outrun me and my friend Hilary Stellingwerff back home in Victoria is already back to Olympian shape for 1500m after giving birth to baby Theo mere months ago. Amazing runners like Paula Radcliffe and Shalene Flanagan, my friend Danelle Kabush, who races with not one but TWO babies, and Beth Gerdes impress me so much.  The discipline, commitment and hard work it takes to get your body back to professional athlete status is huge - I don't know how you guys do it! 

I was fourth in the race and honestly that was about what I expected given I don’t focus on this distance and these girls are fast!  Although I was smart and started beside super swimmer Sara McClarty I am not sure I swam what I was hoping but didn’t lose any time to the top three girls-but 3 minutes to super Sara.   It was a great hit out on the new Blueseventy Helix which is AMAZING!  I appreciated my mirrored goggles but they really ended up unnecessary as it turned cloudy.  The dark lenses didn't matter because you couldn't see one centimeter underwater which made it challenging to follow feet.

When we got on the bike I actually expected to lose more time on the climbs but I was happy to say that on most of the extended climbs I held my ground.  However, I was bleeding time profusely in the downhills and transitions.  I think I lost 15-20 seconds in the first sandy swoopy corner of the day and lost contact- which pretty much continued all day.  My purse strings were too tight on the brakes J

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I tested out the Apex triathlon suit from Champion System.  Much more mountain bike style, no?  A bit awkward for the body numbers :)

It is funny to think how I used to complain so much that these courses are not technical.  Although I was able to ride all the lines in the race smoothly, the top girls clearly exposed this as a glacial pace.  Turns out my skills are quite rusty after three mountain bike rides, two here and one in sketchy wet technical conditions at home.  I am definitely not used to cornering on marbles in dirt at 50 km/h.  I rode with one of the top age group men on his first lap while I was on my second and I could see that I was also forgetting to do all of the punchy little attacks you need to push your momentum mountain biking.  Ironman and XTERRA are not all that similar J

The run was exactly the speed I have been training for but not fast enough to run anybody down so my position did not change.  I know I am in super shape right now and this race just adds a good dose of punchy speed to the recipe.  I remember doing my first XTERRA races in past seasons and blowing up before I even got to the run which is such a contrast to how I feel now.  I am definitely a different athlete now compared to when I was an XTERRA girl.

It was great to see Kate Button from Victoria coming into T2 as the next pro woman behind me so she continues to improve, taking 8th place on the day.  Overall age group winner and Canadian cross country skiing Olympian Brittany Webster ran her way up to fifth place overall so Canada has two more super athletes in development within the sport of XTERRA, which is so fun for me to see.  The third member of the COG racing team Katharine Wilson was fifth age group and 15th overall so it looks like she is ready to take on the pro ranks as well to add another strong Canadian chick to the long list of future stars.  Great job girls!  It was a fun weekend hanging out with the XTERRA crowd.  Not many Ironman girls I have hung out with are as eager to crack a beer as often as these girls, so it was a different vibe in offroad racing.  It was nice to be back even for one weekend.

After the race we went for a social ride and joined pros Craig Evans and Canadian Karston Madson for a little spin around the desert.  https://instagram.com/p/18_Umdj2_B/ XTERRA is a fun little family.  Although I love the Ironman stuff and don't regret for one second changing my focus it does feel really great to be welcomed back  by my fellow pros even for a short visit.

Now I just have a short drive up to St George to visit my awesome homestay Sue Lipsman.  I am looking forward to a fun weekend with her, Mark from Trek and my bf Mike… not to mention the awesome challenge of racing a world class field of Ironman girls at the North American Championships.

Thanks to Trek, Shimano, Bontrager, Powertap, Rudy Project North America, Champion System, Asics, Frontrunners, Synergy Wellness, Blueseventy, USANA and my amazing coach/advisor Kelly Guest of Livefit coaching for helping me to get ready, fit and prepared to tackle the huge race in St George next weekend.   I am so happy to be here and so happy to have the versatility to choose to race all of these amazing athletes in such fun places.  Good times!

2015 IM 70.3 Oceanside

I am so impressed with how fast the ladies field was this year and how deep the talent ran.  Wow to both Heather Jackson and Heather Wurtele for continuing to hold this race by the throat by trading off wins, this was HJ’s year.  Welcome to super-fast Holly Lawrence who came in under the radar and almost rode away with the race and held off fourth place Alicia Kaye.  The Canadians definitely came out guns blazing with Angela Duncan in fifth and solid Rachel McBride in 6th.  Magali would have been in the mix without a mechanical.  Go Canada!  Speaking of Canada, how about 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th in the men’s with Lionel, Brent, Taylor and Trevor kicking ass in top 10.  Never has the Canadian long course talent been deeper. Add to that my friend Marilyn Arsenault's win in the master's division at the Carlsbad 5000 - yay Mar!  Good times.

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Most of team Canada... missing the Wurteles, Angela Naeth and Alicia Kaye and including coaches Cliff English and Barry Shepley.  What do you think of the new Rudy Project WARP glasses on me?

I was back in 11th.  Race reports when you aren’t going that fast are difficult to make interesting.  There are only attempted excuses or explanations for why you weren’t keeping up.  These facts aren’t about how to be faster which are much juicier.  However, my attempt to unravel things might be comforting if you did your best and weren’t good as well… because that is all there is.  I have been training well, I thought I was going to be pretty good and I didn't race any leg of the race close to the vicinity I expected. 

I didn’t get off to a good start as the worst part of my race was the swim.  It was my worst swim ever – even worse than the time I tripped running into the water in Clearwater at 70.3 Worlds and fell flat on my face.  Wow, that is a bit of a downer/reality check/surprise because I thought my swimming might be really good.  So that needs to be rectified ASAP. The bike started with a bunch of wasted time in the first 7 miles with a minor mechanical I handled poorly and finished after I just pedaled.  The run started and finished the same… which was actually maybe can be spun positive as I was consistent.  All of this created my deficit at the finish line I wasn’t overly stoked about.  But it was the race I put together so – moving on.

Rockin the Champion System running with Liz Lyles

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I’ve done this race in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and now 2015.  That is a lot of Oceansides!  My bag of results includes chronologically: off the bike first and 6th/winner/13th/7th/11th.  For a course that I would think is actually pretty good for me my results here are definitely mixed.  Other than the year I won here, when it was cold, without a training camp in February in warm California or Tucson weather I have been very average to start the year.  So maybe I should expect less.

I would prefer to be flying all of the time, of course.  If I look at the last many seasons the fact is training at home delays my best fitness, I need spring training down south if I want to get in shape sooner.  This year I took an extra-long break this winter due to illness, changed my training/coaching and approached things differently so I guess I can expect different responses to that training.  Going away wasn’t an option because I wanted to work on some technical aspects of my racing with Kelly in Victoria.  So this means I need to check my ego, get my butt kicked so that I can get an appropriate dose of hard racing stimulus, and then forget the result and focus on the process on how to improve the next one.  I pocket that fitness and go back to work knowing what needs the work.

11th on the day I had isn’t that bad considering the load of talent in the event and the fact I know I wasn’t near my best.  Lots of girls came locked and loaded and I know I wasn't the only one who has some unfinished business after this event.

Thanks very much to Mark Andrews for coming from Trek in Wisconsin to help me dial in some last minute details on my new Trek bike and for side line cheers.  Thanks Bontrager, Shimano, Rudy Project, Blueseventy, Champion System, Powertap and Cycleops, USANA, Frontrunners Victoria and Asics, SciCon bags, Synergy Wellness, and Procity Racing for support and I look forward to another season with all of you!  Thanks to Kelly Guest and all his juniors for pushing me… looks like there is more work to do.

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Some goodies from Champion System and Blueseventy.  Seems like the first trip to the USA is athlete Christmastime :)

The non-racing fun stuff from the weekend was the amazing time I had with my friend Monica (my chemistry buddy from Uvic) and her adorable family.  Five days with those kids was not enough J  

This is a message Amaya left on my bed for me to find when I got home the night before the race

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This is my fan club on race day

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I also am very thankful to have my friend and fit guru Nestor take a look at my bike after the race and confirm it needed some tweaks to be like my bike from last year.  I changed to ski bend bars for 2015 and didn’t quite get it right.  Studeo DNA has been very helpful in me finding where to sit on my bike. 

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Thanks so much Nes!

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I am on my way back to YYJ to regroup and get ready to try again in St George.  I couldn’t pick tougher fields this year but that was the goal, to try to perform when everyone fast is around.  Second go in five weeks J

 

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In the end... it is all good in California :)  In the short term I definitely need to sort out a haircut.  Yikes.

Pursue Your Potential - Should You Go Pro?

Training with younger athletes reminds me of my own struggle to find my way in sport early in my career (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth).  I remember balancing a zero budget, university studies, international travel and worried parents with my intense desire to progress in the sport.  Looking back, I never expected my career to follow the path it has. I love being around young athletes and I am constantly encouraging them to have the courage to follow their dreams, no matter how intimidating that seems. 

 

The few athletes that make it to the top rise out of the ranks of beginners just as everyone else.  There are a handful of athletes with outstanding success in the sport and many more with moderate to limited success.  Challenging yourself to pursue the highest level in triathlon requires a considerable conviction, determination and resilience.  It also requires sacrifice including financial hardship, postponing education, postponing other career choices, missing major events in life (birthdays, weddings, parties, etc.), physical challenges (injuries, illness, etc.) and strain on your personal relationships.  These are all real costs associated with following your dreams.

This advice is not limited to youngsters though--the same applies to amateur athletes going after their goals later in life. Whether you’re a young athlete pursuing the Olympics, or a middle-aged athlete who just learned to swim and wants to qualify for Kona, your goals matter. 

While you’re working on achieving your goals, you’ll experience a journey unlike any you can have outside of sport.  When you explore the world on your bike, it looks a lot different than it does from the seat of a plane, car or a bus.  Being an athlete allows you to meet a wide spectrum of people with whom you may not have anything else in common, but through sport you find a connection.  Racing lets you experience the scents, sights and elements with an intensity that makes them hard to forget, regardless of your results. 

The athletes I speak to who are in their early 20s often worry about delaying their non-sport careers.  I tell them that exercise is a lifestyle they’ll carry with them into the boardroom.  Cycling and triathlon are the new golf of CEOs.  Companies are sure to see the value of an athlete’s commitment and ability to work hard.  Who wouldn’t want an employee who understands the importance of goal setting?  Athletes are the leaders of the future who are learning important life skills in sport.

Discussing the sacrifices a family needs to make for mom or dad to train for triathlon is more complicated than encouraging a teenager.  Generally, I ask an age group athlete with a family, partner, or significant work obligations, what the people around them would think of their goals.  If they have kids, I ask them what kind of role model they would choose for their kids.  Parents pursuing their dreams and passion in life, certainly sends an important message to kids. Considering the needs of a family is necessary, but if training for sport can be managed it benefits and inspires everyone.

Not following your dreams also has a cost and many people don’t consider that as it’s much more insidious and subtle.  Over time, not following your dreams can erode your happiness. Many people choose to quit because it’s safer and more predictable to choose a more secure path in life.   I believe doing so will leave you with unanswered potential and regret.  The question of “what if” will always be in the back of your mind.  This regret is potentially more difficult to live with than kick starting a traditional career later in life.  There’s no guarantee you’ll be successful in sport, but you definitely won’t be if you don’t try.

Removing the limitation of other people’s expectations will give you freedom to explore new challenges in life.  You can have your athletic goals and still be a great parent, become a doctor or get an engineering degree.  Anything you choose to do can be facilitated with a plan, some organization and support from the people around you.  Even if you never reach the level in the sport you sought, you will be happy that you tried.  The effort, the failure and the lessons you learn will change your life. 

 

 

 

 

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