2014 In The Books

That’s a wrap folks.

After the fun outing jogging at Kualoa Ranch this weekend, my season has come to a close.  Well, maybe my  body decided it came to a close more like a month ago but my brain pushed it a little and frankly, would push it more if my body would let it.  I have never had so much motivation to race and fun with a season.  Thank you all for being a part of it!  It was also a pretty darn good season as well.  I thought I would recap with a few pictures since they save me a lot of words.

The season started a bit slow with a 13th in Oceanside and an 11th in St George as I solved a niggle in my right foot.

st g

 

The I finally started rolling with a 3rd place and fastest bike split at Honu 70.3 (won by Angela Naeth).

Then my season broke through with the win at Boise70.3 the following weekend.  It was wire to wire with the fastest swim and bike splits and a solid run. 

 

boise

It  was fun to share the podium on the day with my friend Brent McMahon.

brent

 

Then I went on and won the Saskatoon 5150.  Since it was a chase format and there was added money if the handicapped girls could hold off the men, I was first into transition.  I also won the chase that day with a strong run.

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sask podiu

Pretty special to be on the box with Brent McMahon and Jeff Symonds.

After that I won XTERRA Canada and while I was home managed to teach some mountainbike skills and build some stoke in a fun group of mountain biker/XTERRA/Ironman types.

clinic

Then I tested my resilience by stuffing in the Vineman half Ironman and took a fourth place (won by Meredith Kessler) which, although SLIGHTLY disappointing, just let me know when I reach the limit of my racing: training ratio.

vineman run

Battling Rachel who had a very strong race.

 

I followed that event with another super solid win at the Lake Stevens 70.3 holding off super fast Liz Lyles with a run that was almost matching her for 9 miles.  It was a breakthrough running race for me and another wire to wire win.

stevenswin

Then I crashed.  So all the work for the 70.3 worlds kind of ended up not showing and I had a terrible day in Quebec.  Oh well.

worlds

I turned around and tried mountainbiking again and got myself as high as 4th place at XTERRA World Championship in the race but finished in 8th.  It was solid but a reminder that without specificity I will not achieve my goals in races.  I need to stick to what I am focusing on.

mtb grass

So then I went off to Australia and despite having more illness in 30 days than I have in five years I won another race wire to wire.  I took fastest swim, fastest bike and second fastest run at IM70.3 Ballarat and really gave myself some confidence that I might be good at Ironman racing.

ballarat win

So now it is time to relax, reflect and refocus again.

First thank you to Mike.  He doesn't want me to talk about him on the internet at all but he was a huge part of my success this year. xoxo

Thank you to Trek Bikes, Bontrager, and Shimano for keeping my wheels rolling.  In addition, thank you to the Trek Race Shop, Trek Procity Victoria, Shimano Australia, Cycles Galleria, Cyclescape Ballarat, and Trek Store Santa Rosa for the fun times and the support this year.  I love being part of the Trek family and Shimano, as my longest sponsor, you have been incredible as far as staying at the forefront of the industry forever and as the most amazing supporter of athlete’s dreams.  Trek and Shimano = awesomeness.

 galleria

My team in Melbourne :)

Thank you Champion System for creating competitive outfits that also help me to show my own personality. Personalization is so special but comfortable kits are essential 

Thank you Rudy Project- for supplying me with helmets and glasses for lightning fast bike splits and sunnies to help me look cool and composed during interviews.  I love the casual line very much and couldn’t find a better performing glass both on and off road from anywhere.  Keep up the excellent design.

Thank you Powertap for the ability to measure my bike output and to train indoors with precision.  I have been a Powertap fan for many years now and it is so great to see exactly where my training is at.  Keep making awesome measuring devices!  Thanks to Chris Till and Monza Imports for helping me to train while in Australia by making some equipment available.  You guys are amazing.

Thank you to Blueseventy for helping provide me with a wetsuit that allowed me to swim to the front 3 times this year – the first time ever in my career!  Blueseventy wetsuits, goggles and swimsuits have turned me into a fish.

Thank you to Powerbar for providing the nutrition I need to work towards full distance racing.  Thank you USANA for keeping me (mostly) healthy (overdoing it just can’t be fixed with nutrition) .

Thank you to Nick at Frontrunners and the folks at Asics for sending me some sweet kicks that kept me healthy as I try to push the run volume up to what would make me competitive.  I still have a long way to go but I think given I just started bumping into a decent volume range in August I would like to see what I can do now that I am honestly 100% healthy (that took until May!!).

Thanks to Jamie Grimes at Synergy Wellness for putting my body back together.  I wouldn’t have a career right now without you.  Also big appreciation goes to Markus Blumensaat for some excellent therapy and advice along the way. You two are my A team in Victoria- much love.

Thank you to SciCon for providing me with bike cases that kept my babies ready for race day despite more than 50,000 kilometers of travel.

scicon

Thanks to Triathlon Magazine Canada for helping me hone some media skills.  I appreciate the opportunity and I plan to continue some professional development to further improve on my ability to contribute to the magazine.  Thanks to my brother Shawn for helping me learn more about social media and online marketing – you are a wizard!

Thank you to Ironman and Ironman Asia Pacific for the invitations to compete and for putting on great races.  Thanks to Lance and Paul for the invite to the Saskatoon 5150 and to XTERRA for continuing to invite me to compete while I have gone to the “dark side”  J  Thank you Monique for creating XTERRA Canada in Victoria and building such a fun event.

Thanks to the long list of homestays (mostly nicknames here to protect identities – they know who they are and I love them) – Rodsquad, Sueblips, Marcy and Bo, Tobinators, Mark, Dr Aaron, Wardo, and Pipes and Jared – what an incredible year of memories.  Hugs to you all.

Thanks to Kelly Guest for being a phenomenal training partner and swim coach for the second half of my season.  Thanks to Clint Lien for putting up with me for most of the season and to all the talented pros in the Tuesday Swim Squad for the comraderie.  Thanks to Marilyn, Buttons and Danelle for the fun times training.  Thanks Houshang Amiri for inviting me to train during the Pacific Cycling Center sessions and to all the strong cyclists in Victoria for helping me to prepare.  There are loads of people I have done sessions with so I am sorry I am missing some of you but you know  those days are what makes the quality of my life so great and I appreciate you all.

I don’t think I am done yet.  I am not sure I am ready to fully announce plans yet because I want to take some time to think about what journey in 2015 would really make for an album of memories I would cherish.  I still have so much desire to crush races but I also want to be healthy about this stuff.  So soon I will talk about 2015 but it has to be a bit later.

Mahalo.  I am sure we will have more to celebrate in the coming year.

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IM 70.3 West Sydney - Thank You For The Memories Australia

My last race of the year was in Penrith, NSW, another new race on the ironman calendar.  The race was won by Anja Beranek followed closely by Gina Crawford and Lisa Marangon.  I was a DNF.

runoutt2 west sydney

Run for it!!!

 

Despite swimming with the leaders and staying in contact with Gina and Lisa, I came off the bike and could not run.  Two days after flying I knew I had caught another flu and by race day I couldn’t keep my stomach in check.  I had no power and I could not run.  Regardless, I kept running for awhile because I find it very difficult to pull the plug if I am in contention for a much-needed paycheck.  I think at one point I was walking and asked the girls how deep the money in the race went because I was a bit delirious and couldn’t remember.  This is the less glamorous reality of racing – we eat what we kill.  However, I was running slower than 6:00/km due to frequent stops to run off course and there was no way I could finish so I wisely just stepped off the course.  It was not what I was hoping to do at my last race of the season and although I am a bit frustrated with my immune system, what can you do.  It was time for a break.

2014 was a great year.  I went back to self-coaching in May of this year as I am at the stage in my career that I know what works for me.  That doesn't mean I don't have a solid group of people to run things by and rely on to find the right path.  But by June I was back on track with winning form.  3rd place and fastest bike split at Honu 70.3 in Hawaii followed by a wire to wire win and fastest bike split at Boise 70.3.  Then I won the 5150 in Saskatoon and XTERRA Canada.  A 4th in a stacked field at Vineman 70.3 preceded another wire to wire win at IM 70.3 Lake Stevens.  A crash a week out of World Champs led to a disappointing result there but then I went back to work to race XTERRA Worlds in Hawaii and a month in Australia.  I earned another wire to wire win at IM 70.3 Ballarat and 8th in Hawaii.  

Someone in the media mentioned that my Ironman results are much better than my XTERRA results this year and that makes me laugh.  Of course they are!  I don’t focus on mountain biking anymore and really haven’t properly for a few years now.   However, 8th place at XTERRA Worlds is actually quite good for an Ironman athlete.  XTERRA courses are not technical so the skills and speed for this sport are much more reflective of an ITU athlete’s preparation than an Ironman athlete.  I am happy that I did well with my limited preparation and now I want to continue to focus on my Ironman stuff.

 I have so much love to my homestay in Melbourne Lucy and Jared.  They were so much fun to hang around with and I can’t thank them enough.  I miss my Melbourne family already.

I also had an incredible amount of support from Shimano Australia and Trek Bicycle Australia.  Between the help from Cyclescape in Ballarat and the loaner bike from Cycles Galleria organized and facilitated by Shimano – I felt like I was right at home.  Add to that the loaner wheels and trainer from Cycleops/Powertap Australia (Monza Imports) and I had everything I needed.  I love you guys, thank you!

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Matt at the Trek store Cyclescape in Ballarat

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The crew from Cycles Galleria: Jimmy, Mark, Phil and Rich from Shimano Australia.

Thanks to Tammy from Ironman Asia Pacific for help with the logistics and planning!  I really hope to be back and maybe much sooner than next fall.

And finally a thank you to Kelly Guest for being a super training partner and sounding board for my past six weeks of training.  I am generally a self-coached athlete but I have been finding I need someone to work things out with.  He has been a valuable friend and helped coach me with some really great advice. 

So the goal now is to rest/recover/rejuventate/remotivate.  I don’t know that this Australia trip went as planned, given I spent about two full weeks of it sick if you count the first 10 days and the last five days.  But if someone said to you, “You are going to fly to Australia and things are not going to go as planned at all but you will win a race.”  Of course you would be stoked to go.  So I am super pumped.

Now I am on Oahu.  I am spending a “girl week” with one of my favorite people who I am importing to crush this race this weekend.  Then I guess the plan is to try to figure out how to race full Ironman.  It is time because it is now or never.  All I know is I will race Ironman exactly how I race every other race.. all in or down in flames.  Cheers to being all in with whatever you dream up!

 

Thanks to my sponsors this year, I can’t do it without you!  Thanks to Trek, Bontrager, Shimano, Powerbar, Rudy Project North America, Powertap, Champion System, Blueseventy, Synergy Wellness, Asics, Frontrunners Westshore, Cobb Saddles, and USANA.

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2014 Ironman 70.3 Ballarat, Australia

I flew from 11 hours from Maui to Honolulu to Auckland, laid over 7 hours, then flew 8 hours to Perth on November the 1st -hoping to start my Australian campaign at the Aussie Championship in Mandurah.  Unfortunately, that much time in the germ tube and airports meant that by my second day in Australia I went down for the count.  Five full days of illness and inactivity followed, which meant I missed the event altogether.  I was devastated.  I think I was the worst homestay athlete ever given all I did was either sit on the couch or in bed all day.  My hosts Jamie, Nicky and Robin were gracious and did all they could for someone wracked with fever and crawly skin – they loaned me four seasons of Game of Thrones.  Now I am all up to date – bring on Season 5!  J

Needless to say, I was extraordinarily hungry to race in Ballarat the following weekend but honestly, my mental game needed a tuneup.  The leadup was not ideal - as my body was still a bit sick and I was feeling quite flat- so I didn’t have the workouts I normally use to fuel some confidence.  I really didn’t know what to expect.  However, I got the mental kick in the pants on race morning when I was faced with the possibility of NOT RACING AT ALL.  I can honestly say that if an opportunity is taken away from you, you will suddenly discover just how bad you wanted that opportunity and what you would do if you had it back again.  This was an excellent prerace gift, to lose and then regain the opportunity, and I am sure it was why I was as strong as I was on the day.  I think the old adage is racing is 90% mental and the other half physical? 

Winning!  All race photos are by Delly Carr.

The swim was held in Lake Wendouree, an Olympic rowing venue from days gone by that has become home to numerous beautiful black swans.  Ironically, I described the race as a “black swan event” the day before.  A black swan event is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. 

Swans!  Black ones!

Day before - ready to rock

There was a terrible storm rolling through Ballarat the night before, complete with frightening thunder and lightning. I don’t know if it was the fact my bike endured a lightning storm the night before or not but when I got to the bike in the morning I discovered the bike did not work.  Black swan event –it was an absolute freak occurrence.

01 im703 ballarat start gun

Rifle shot start to the race.  Thanks to the soldiers for the race support.

So as I stood fretting about the possibility of flying all the way to Australia to have no opportunity to race, the brilliant Matt of Cyclescape Trek Store Ballarat worked his way through the problem. Having the opportunity presented back to me was invaluable.  Suddenly I was going to make the most of every single minute.  When the soldier shot the gun to start the race I was completely immersed in the process of racing.  I got a bit confused on the swim course (it was not complicated but some wind chop made the teeny buoys hard to see) but I still managed to lead Maddie out of the water for my third Blueseventy swim victory of the season.  In transition, I took my sweet time putting a lot of clothes on, while Maddie roared out onto the bike course.  It was freezing.  It was also wet, which meant I took the first lap very slow as my crash the week before 70.3 worlds has turned me into a fraidy-cat in wet conditions.  I decided that lying on the ground is slower than taking a corner slowly.

The bike course went out along the Avenue of Honor, a stretch of road lined with trees planted for fallen WW1 and WW2 soldiers from the town of Ballarat.  The course also went through beautiful Victoria Park and Ballarat Botanical gardens, areas full of beautiful war memorials and art.  The run was on a tan track that circumnavigated the lake, dedicated to Olympic hero Steve Monghetti.  The town of Ballarat really appreciates heroes from all walks of life.  Having this race in November, shortly after Remembrance Day, was an excellent sobering reminder of the history of sacrifices that allow us to live our lives the way we choose today.

05 im703 ballarat ride

That isn’t me but you can see that some of the roads were skinny, slippery, one lane avenues to navigate on the bike.

It took me until about 15kms to find the front of the race on the bike.  It was very cold in the wind, both on the bike and on the run.  Despite putting socks on, for the first 6km of the run my feet were frozen and my legs were threatening to seize up and cramp.  Cold weather makes running fast difficult.  I was running at a good clip until I hit the freezing headwinds.  At that point I stopped looking at splits, ate another Powergel, and pumped my arms harder.  It wasn’t going to be my best ever splits on that day.  

I won the champagne celebration – managed to empty nearly the whole bottle on my fellow podium girls J

Running across the finish line was the best feeling in the whole world and the crowds were amazing. Congratulations to Madeleine Oldfield and Mareen Hufe for second and third on the day and to Jessica Mitchell and Kirsty Hallet for rounding out the top five  A pleasure to race with you all.

Ironman events are absolutely fantastic.  The races are always hard, competition and course inclusive, but the satisfaction of doing your best on the day is immeasurable.  I am so stoked to have the fastest swim, fastest bike and second fastest run on the day to a flying Jessica Mitchell.

Lean in! My run splits are improving thanks to Asics and Marilyn of Mindful Strides!

So that makes three half Ironman wins in one season.  I am looking forward to one more in two weeks before I come home to plan for 2015.  One thing is for sure, I just have to remember the feeling I had when I considered not being allowed to race on the day to know I would definitely rather give it everything I have, with what I have on the day, than not have the chance to try at all.

Thank you to Kelly Guest and his elite juniors for inviting me to train with you for the last push of my 2014 season.  I really think I have a lot of great form thanks to chasing these super fast kids around... and after chasing coach Kelly for a number of workouts as well.  Thank you so much for your help! 

Thanks to the Trek Store Cyclescape in Ballarat for saving my race for me.  Thanks to Chris at Monza Imports for loaning me Powertap wheels and a Cycleops trainer to use while I am here.  Thanks Trek Bikes and Trek Bikes Australia for making me part of the family.  Thanks Shimano, Bontrager, Champion System, Rudy Project North America, Powerbar, Powertap, Asics, Cobb Saddles, Frontrunners Westshore, Synergy Wellness, and USANA.  See you all in Sydney for IM 70.3 West Sydney!

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2014 XTERRA World Champs

This year at the XTERRA World Championship I took 8th place.  Top 10 at a World Championship is always good.  It is a respectable position and you earn money so some of the boxes get ticked from that effort.  Of course, I was aiming for much higher.  I think that with a few tweaks in execution I would have finished a bit higher as well but that is very often the case after a race- we learn how to be faster.

Flora Duffy, Barb Rivieros and Nicky Samuels were fantastic and they had outstanding races to sweep the podium.  However, training for and participating in the race was not only fun but very useful for me as I headed to Australia to put the cap on my season.  I also absolutely love being in Maui so I am grateful to get the time there each year.  If I ever quit racing I will still find some race to come and spend some time enjoying Maui.   I am addicted to this island.

There was a lot of rain before the race and this made the course an absolute mess for days.  As with any mountain bike event, there was endless tire talk and even rumors of the course being shortened.  In Hawaii, the dirt turns to slippery clay, and as it dries it gets really sticky.  Bike tires will cake with that clay like giant vegetation donuts and once the clearance between the tire and the frame is reached the tires stop rolling.  Hawaii does not have a good kind of mud.  Luckily, it stopped raining and by race day the course could not have been faster.  Much ado about nothing.

This is the short story of my race.  The swim swells were the largest I have experienced on this course. This is one of the big differences between this venue and the old race venue, the Makena venue was in a more protected bay with less exposure to swells so the swim was generally smoother. I had a great swim start and found myself in front of Charlotte McShane and felt that was a good place to be. I lost that group when I bungled my exit after the long loop looking back and waiting to get pounded by waves, so I ended up a few seconds down on the group into transition. I rode my way up through the group to fourth by the sixth mile with Katrin Muller hot on my heels. We rode together for the rest of the bike, with her exposing my weakness on the very steep climbs and me riding past on the flat sections.  Riding with her was a lot of fun as she is amazingly sportsmanlike and we moved out of each other’s way when we felt the other would be the better leader. Having not seen the course before the race, I let her ride all the fast descents on the second half of the course, and she let me lead all the twisting technical bits near the end. Up until I crashed at least. My strengths have changed significantly with my present time trialing focus.

 

By the time the bike was finished I found myself in 8th place. I went out onto the run behind Katrin and caught her on the first climb. I thought I would run myself into 7th but that ITU speedster McShane tracked me down on the sand in the closing meters and sprinted past to leave me 18 seconds back (I am not much of a sand sprinter) in 8th again. It wasn’t my most impressive day but it also was a strong day.  I was racing a very strong field and after multiple years of complete blowouts since 2011 I am happy to have been racing at the front.   I was strong across all three disciplines but not my fastest at any of them. It was a great reminder about how much speed and power is in XTERRA racing and it was so much fun to duke it out even if I wasn’t competing for the topmost rung. 

Please enjoy the little video I made of my time in Maui:

 

So now I am in Australia. I managed to get a very nasty chest infection off the plane and unfortunately missed the first race I planned in Perth. So now I am on the mend, in Melbourne, planning to race the second event, the Ballerat 70.3. Wish me luck! Thanks to the amazing partners I have. Thank you to Trek Factory Racing, Bontrager, Shimano, Powerbar, Rudy Project NA, Powertap, Blueseventy, Champion System, Frontrunners Westshore, Procity Racing, USANA and Synergy Wellness. Lets find a few more podiums before we put the lid on 2014.

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Coach Mel: 60 Minute Workout - Four Minute Hills

This session was originally posted online with Triathlon Magazine Canada September 16, 2014 at http://triathlonmagazine.ca/racing/profiles/sixty-minute-bike-workout-mels-max-hill-reps/

2013 Utah champs

 With the XTERRAWorld Championships coming up for some of us, this week’s 60 minute training session focuses on working your maximum climbing power.  You can do it on the trainer or use a short hill that allows you to climb for a minimum of four minutes at maximum effort.  Your heart rate should reach over 90 per cent of your maximum by the end so don’t be afraid to really go for it.

 

Warmup (10 minutes):

Start with a 10 minute warmup slowly increasing cadence as you ride.  In the last five minutes increase cadence by  five rpm per minute up to the maximum cadence you can hold (aim for 130 rpm or more) in a relatively easy gear or low wattage:  something like 39 x 17 or 100 watts on the Powerbeam.

 

Final warm up preparation (10 minutes):

You can do these accelerations uphill or use the trainer to increase watts.  For a continuous 10 minutes, complete 15 second accelerations uphill or at high watts on the trainer, recovering for 1:45 after each.  Repeat five times.

 

Main Set (28 minutes):

The workout is a simple 4 x 4 minutes set with 3 minutes of recovery after every interval.  Push the hardest gear you can maintain at 80-90 rpm.

Don’t let your cadence drop below 80 rpm and try to keep at least the same gear or harder for each successive effort. If you’re on the trainer, hold your best average watts and be sure the last set is not lower than the first. You may want to start a bit conservative then blow the doors off the last one.   If you’re using a powermeter, these are meant to be above threshold efforts.

 

Finish (12 minutes):

Warm down is 12 minutes.  Ride the first five minutes at 120 rpm in a very easy gear to spin the legs out then easy warm down as you choose.

Visualize crushing the steep, stair-step climbs on the Maui course if you are preparing for Xterra.  The steep sections of the climbs on that course are between two and four minutes long before it flattens out slightly, so finding your max four minute efforts will be useful for that race.

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  1. 2014 Lake Stevens 70.3 - An Evolution

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