2013 TR3 Transrockies Challenge – First Mountainbike Victory Of The Year!

The TR7/TR3 Transrockies Challenge event starts in Fernie, BC for the first three days (the TR3) and then continues to Canmore, Alberta for the full seven day event.  With both events running side by side for the first 3 days I was able to challenge myself against some of the very best Canadian and US riders racing in either the 3 or 7 day events as we all started together.  With some very good legs this year I managed to cross the line as first woman three days in a row, holding off a very fit and fast Sandra Walter and Kate Aardal for the overall spot in the GC for the TR3.  Kate narrowly beat out Sondra Looney for third spot in the GC (I think it came down to seconds) while Jean Ann Birkenpas and Mical Dyck will continue to battle with Petra Tlamkova in the TR7 competition over the next four days.

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 Yay!  A leader’s plate 🙂

Big thanks to all of the folks at Transrockies, you put on an incredible show and I am kind of sad to miss the fun in the next four days.  With amazing race courses from high mountain passes to ski mountain downhill trails there is something for everyone in this race.  You need a solid skill set of fitness and technical ability but if you didn’t bring those with you, you would be bound to take them home. We were reminded daily of the unique challenge we were being presented as there were bears in the area for day one and moose on the loose on day three.  Each race went off on time, except for day three when we needed to wait 15 minutes to allow a charging bull moose to take the party elsewhere.  Speaking of wildlife, Crazy Larry was in fine form for this race with a very special climb designed by him on Day 3 that we all totally appreciated.  The balloons made the steep climbing that much more festive.

2013 TR3 Stage 1

 

I loved racing the boys as well as the girls.

Easily this is the best performance in a mountain bike stage race for me in a very long time.  Sandra is having a great season, highlighted by a close silver medal position to Emily Batty at the nationals recently in Hardwood Hills, so having the ability to hold off strong charges from her over the last three days is incredible for me.  Thank you Sandra, it is such a pleasure to be racing so close to you!  I also would never have expected to stay in front of other national team badass athletes like Mical and Jean-Ann or super long distance athletes Kate Aardal and Sondra Looney.  It was really a great three days both in the outcome and the experience.  I am also very proud of Kate Button for pounding her way into the top ten on a hardtail bike- not the easiest on some of these very technical trails!  Even Mike Vine was in the mix… making it a solid pro XTERRA threesome secret training in the mountains.  Even Jenny, our third place at XTERRA Victoria and soon to be XTERRA-pro was there with her boyfriend getting some fitness in the TR7.   Further XTERRA presence was evident with Mike Kloser and Michael Tobin crushing their division in the TR7 race.  I was fortunate to ride with them for a short while on Day 3 before they dropped me.  They aren’t getting any slower.

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Fast ladies!

The most important detail of the weekend is HOW I won the races.  Given I have not been on a mountain bike at all in the past month, nor have I trained properly for mountain biking this past winter, my technical ability is not at my best.  I will admit I improved solidly after three days of crushing single track but really I saved each day by putting time on my challengers on the ascents, only to lose masses of it to their superior descending skills.  I am so impressed with how great the Canadian girls ride and I appreciate how awesomely talented they are.  Those skills have less utility on the XTERRA circuit so I have put a lot more time into getting to the top of the mountain versus getting to the bottom, and it showed.  Luckily the weather was perfect and my skills were adequate to get to the bottom safely and quickly in the mostly dry conditions.

I was fortunate enough to be sent a brand new shiny Superfly 100 by my badass sponsors Trek, Bontrager and Shimano.  The wonderful thing about this bike is it rides just as nimble as my hardtail but has a whole bunch of bump erasing travel which made me look like 10x the rider I really was on the downhills.  The Bontrager Team Edition 29er 2.2 tires worked like magic in all conditions over the weekend.  That bike is an incredible weapon and I was having so much fun I think every photo has a big smile in it.  I really do enjoy mountain biking so much even when I am scared out of my wits on gnarly trails like Rumplestumpskin (a downhiller trail we finished TR3 on).  It was so great to stretch my limits this past three days but you won’t see me at an Enduro any time soon.  My skills do not stretch that far.

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Smiling.

The stages were quite short for a stage race with most of my finish times between 2:10 and 2:40 which makes for three very intense days of racing.  This is exactly what the doctor ordered for 70.3 Worlds… as this is approximately the time for the bike portion of a half Ironman and is why I went to this race in the first place.  I am going to test out my ability on flat terrain this coming weekend in Michigan so I hope that some of this climber ability will translate well to my Trek Speed Concept on Sunday.

I also tested some nutrition ideas with my Powerbar products this weekend and felt like my recovery was perfect each day.  I know I felt stronger as the race went on and rode with strong and stronger groups so I think I was getting the fueling right each day.  I did the whole race using green apple Powergels and Perform energy drink and felt great every day.

I have some cool files from my Polar RC3 GPS from each day which gave me a lot of information about my efforts over the weekend.  It is amazing that we were climbing for an hour and forty minutes on Day 2!  I thought it felt so much shorter which is why I never got through all of the water I brought along. 

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It went waaaay up with some easy group riding at the beginning on day 2 according to Polar RC3 GPS.

I was so focused on staying with my climbing partner Edvard that day the time flew by.  Turns out Edvard and his buddy Calle train with Lisa Norden back in Sweden so I was in great company for the last three days. Seems she likes her training partners to be strong and good looking. I like her style.  Unfortunately for him, Calle ended up riding with me for a short while on Day 3 after he found himself almost 20 minutes off course otherwise he was much too fast for me as one of the top 2 early leaders in the TR7 Open Men’s race.  Good luck to both of you over the next four days!  I hope to have some extra cheers from Sweden at Las Vegas 70.3 Worlds this year.

Thank you to Champion System for the awesome kit and the cheers over the weekend.  Thank you to Rudy Project for the multitude of lens options that I chose from over the weekend in the changing weather!  Thanks so much to Arran and Troy at Procity Trek Store Victoria for tuning my brand new rocket ship pre-race – it ran perfectly! Thanks to Jamie Grimes at Synergy Health Management, Markus Blumensaat at Leftcoast Health and Rob Pearce for the biomechanical tuneups – I am feeling like I am starting to get back to my old self finally!  Thanks to Powertap, USANA, Esi Grips, and Saltstick for the support.

Finally thanks again to Adam Zucco for the coaching advice and putting up with frustrated Mel while she was making her way back from injury.  I am a handful and I am lucky he stuck it out.  I’m glad to see we are definitely trending in the right direction at this point in the season.

Here is a fun recap of the last three days. Thanks for reading.:

 

2013 Ironman Lake Stevens: 2nd Place/Fastest Bike Split

The trajectory of my season is certainly what I was hoping for!  Second place with the fastest women’s bike split is right on target.  Marching forward one race at a time from well off the back in Oceanside to actually poking my nose out to the front for a WHOLE MILE of the run is definitely motivating- although I do wish I held on for more miles, of course.  Meredith Kessler is just having a stunning season and with a super strong race with no weakness AT ALL in any split this weekend my second place to her is great.  She is the top echelon of the sport this year so even racing close to her is showing the work I am doing is effective.  Congratulations to Kate Bevilaqua for coming third and it was great to see fellow Canuck Tenille Hoogland in 5th.

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Racing such amazing chicks is fun!

It is exciting that the training I am doing with Adam Zucco at Trainingbible coaching is starting to pay off.  I was nervous about a program that prescribed training through the entire months of May and June but obviously that was what the doctor ordered to start finding some speed later in the year.  At this level, if you are out of form sometimes you actually need to train just to TRAIN to be fast and that is exactly where I was at.  Playing catch up midseason is no one’s first choice but I am thankful that with some help from Adam I am finding the front of the race!

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Ready to rip!  

On Sunday I had a strong swim to exit third and was pretty stoked to hold the leaders in my Blueseventy wetsuit for longer than ever.  I still was dropped and thus swimming alone behind them pulling the pack but every race I get a bit closer this year.  Best wetsuit swim ever!

The bike course in Lake Stevens has changed since last I raced here and I think it made it much faster as there were fewer very steep climbs.  Instead it seems there were lots of high  speed rolling sections where a large climb would be preceded by a long descent to roll into it- making for big ring riding for nearly the entire way.  It was great to have my Trek Speed Concept kitted with a Powertap disc wheel so I can see what my power efforts looked like after the race as I don’t look when I am actually racing.  It was great to see Steve from Powertap destroying it out there as well – way to go qualifying for Vegas buddy!

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Superfast Sponsor Steve

My bike was a climbing machine with some fancy 11-speed Di2 and a nice large cassette to keep the cranks spinning.  It was a beautiful and interesting course and I was excited to feel strong on both the climbs and the flat sections so I would say that with the fastest women’s bike split the changes I made the week of IM 70.3 Tremblant with Nestor at Studeo DNA are starting to reap benefits.  Thanks buddy!  Meredith was the class of the field on the bike last weekend in Vineman so outsplitting her really was a great ride. 

The run was the sole source of disappointment and that is 100% due to my resignation rather than fighting for a better run split.  I think I was torn thinking “okay she really isn’t slowing down” when we went into the second lap of the run as she was pulling away.  I thought about saving my legs for the next race.  I had a very large gap to third so you can look at that two ways:  you are safe in position and relax or use the time to take some risk.  In hindsight, I wish I had taken more risk.  I wish I had seen Meredith and said to myself:  “okay you only need to stay for 5km so hang in there” rather than thinking “Does she know how big the hill is coming up?”  Haha!  I needed to break it down to smaller chunks.  Meredith is awesome and she ran a pro man run split and I was never going to beat her in a footrace on Sunday but I wish I had used everything I had to stay closer-  but I didn’t.  I am sorry that I wasn’t confident enough in my ability to go harder… I opted to be safe.  With my newfound confidence this will be remedied in my next race so I can be more satisfied.  Lesson learned.

The great news is I am pulling up great from the race, I am building some confidence and I am getting back in action.  I couldn’t run at all in February and I am finally cracking down into the 1:20s for my off the bike run so all is looking good as we march forward to Ironman 70.3 Worlds in Vegas Sept 8th.  I am finished qualifying so my lead up to the race is now being formulated.

First up is some solid training on the dirt to build some strength.  I am off to Fernie, BC to destroy some awesome singletrack in the Trans Rockies (http://www.transrockies.com/trc/tr3) event this weekend.  So excited!

Big thanks to Trek Bikes, Bontrager, Shimano, Powerbar, Rudy Project, Blueseventy, Polar USA, Champion System, Powertap, USANA, SciCon Bags, Synergy Health Management and Trek Procity Victoria.  You guys rock and we just keep getting better this season.  Thank you so much!

The post race festivities included a trip to the awesome Purple CafĂ© and Wine Bar in downtown Seattle to start my 36 hours of not exactly ideal behaviour.  This was highlighted by Mike ordering poutine off the menu.  Frankly, I am not sure why as it tasted like an instant heart attack:  but it was heavenly. 

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Poutine. With pork belly. And some sassy old world red.  Ah-mazing.

We then hit the Bruno Mars concert and he rocked our socks off.  That sexy little man is a very talented performer.  Good times! 

 

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Post race concert

The morning after was kicked off with the best French pastry outside of France at Belle Epicurean at the Fairmont and we capped our Seattle trip with some coffee culture when we stopped in at Stumptown for a hit of awesome java.  Ahhh…. So fun. 

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But now back to work.  Two days of off the program and I am feeling guilty.  Coach Adam would be so proud.  

2013 XTERRA Victoria, Durrance Lake

Having an XTERRA in my hometown was an absolute treat this year. Thank you so much to Monique and the Human Powered Racing team for putting on a top notch event at Durrance Lake. I think I speak for all of the competitors when I say what a great day it was, what a fun course it was and how great the entire event unfolded. So much fun! Rolling out of bed and riding my bike to the start was an added bonus. Winning some cash to spend stopping in at Nourish to pound a huge pile of healthy food was a super mega bonus! I also won a chocolate cake due to staying within 15 minutes of Brent which I donated to the volunteers since coach Adam Zucco would have had heart failure and made me run 20 km further if I had eaten anything that wasn’t loaded with the highest quality nutrients without calories (haha.. just kidding Adam. Kind of.). Thank you to Hayley, Rob and the team for feeding us at www.nourishinsight.com and supporting the race. You guys are so great. Rob is famous for putting on the Mongolia Challenge so if XTERRA is not quite enough adventure check out www.mongoliachallenge.com. Thank you to Muscle Milk for having an excellent massage therapist and recovery zone on site and thanks to the guys at ProCity Trek Store for supporting the event and doing loads of pre event machine tunes. A big high five goes out to all of the youth competitors. Due to a misunderstanding with the volunteers, all of the kids rode THE ENTIRE 12km ADULT (HARD) SINGLETRACK COURSE instead of the planned 2km on fire roads. The kid’s race took between 1h40 and 2h for the entire field and ALL OF THEM FINISHED!!! So if you are wondering why superathletes come out of Victoria, that is why. Local super runner Lucy Smith was out on course coaching her daughter Maia as she tore it up out on the trails. Teaching “overcoming adversity” when the opportunity presents itself. Way to go future superstars, I think you should all be so proud of yourselves for overcoming that challenge. Local events, although low key, come with a certain amount of pressure. Most of that pressure is from within in that I want to show that I am good at my sport in front of my town. I do loads of bike races and run races where I am either not in shape or not in any condition to race fast and can just chalk it up to training. However, for my event, there are absolutely no excuses. So it was a great workout in that I did three days of quite hard training leading into the race and then I was super motivated on the day to go hard and be fast. Lots and lots of benefit will come from that. It doesn’t hurt that I have budding super pro Kate Button in the field to keep it honest on the day as well. She wouldn’t think twice to run me over if she had to and she is definitely getting closer! The swim was fun and although there was some controversy on where it actually WENT, I was out in fourth sandwiched between two fast young athletes, one of which is Maya Munzar… who I believe is going to be very strong in the future. Out onto the bike, I quickly caught ironman legend Tom Evans and was SO EXCITED! But then I took us off course in my excitement from which we needed to double back and then I held us both up soft pedaling through a bunch of sections as I wasn’t sure where to go. Sadly, after this mishap and before we started hammering again Mike Palmer caught both of us. This is what woke me up… I couldn’t let my old training partner beat me. Bragging rights were on the line. There was a long-ish climb before we did a second loop so I caught on to him and then dropped him by the top (not by much). He caught me halfway down Switchbacks and never saw him again on the bike. No hammering uphill was making up for the time I was losing to super Palmer in the singletrack as he posted the fastest bike split of the race. Nice work, buddy! I found the most technical stuff in the race was the non technical stuff because of how dry, loose and rocky the trails are. When technical is unpredictable it is worse than expected technical difficulty, in my opinion. However, that was the least technical our local trails will get and all participants can feel good about the fact that if you can crush this course, everything else on the XTERRA tour will feel like a ride along a paved bike path. Sometimes it actually is! However, out onto the run I was feeling strong but was very, very conscious of how technical the trails were. Still, my legs were ticking over well and I caught Palmer part way through the first lap. Two very fast age groupers were running by me, one was Derek who was blistering fast and then another guy named Ian went by but I kept the tractor beam on him until I sprained an ankle. I had put trail shoes with laces and socks on to try to control this risk but despite this caution, I still sprained an ankle on the last downhill (mild). It was a steep, gnarly and technical run course. The best. Tom caught me at the bottom of the hill before the finish and despite trying to sprint I still lost by 2 seconds. So much fun!! So that ends the training for Lake Stevens 70.3 this weekend. I am sure the run I did on Sunday will prepare me well for the hills in Washington State. I am happy to switch from the Trek Superfly to the Speed Concept and give it another rip on the Ironman 70.3 scene. Thanks to Trek, Procity Cycles Trek Store Victoria, Bontrager, Shimano, Powerbar, Champion System, Polar, Blueseventy, Powertap, USANA, SciCon Bags, Synergy Health Management and Wiink2. All of my sponsors, partners and friends are incredible and I invite you to see for yourself the excellent work they are doing.

2013 XTERRA Victoria

Having an XTERRA in my hometown was an absolute treat this year.  Thank you so much to Monique and the Human Powered Racing team for putting on a top notch event at Durrance Lake.  I think I speak for all of the competitors when I say what a great day it was, what a fun course it was and how great the entire event unfolded.  So much fun!

Rolling out of bed and riding my bike to the start was an added bonus.  Winning some cash to spend stopping in at Nourish to pound a huge pile of healthy food was a super mega bonus!  I  also won a chocolate cake due to staying within 15 minutes of Brent which I donated to the volunteers since coach Adam Zucco would have had heart failure and made me run 20 km further if I had eaten anything that wasn’t loaded with the highest quality nutrients without calories (haha.. just kidding Adam. Kind of.). 

Thank you to Hayley, Rob and the team for feeding us at www.nourishinsight.com and supporting the race.  You guys are so great.  Rob is famous for putting on the Mongolia Challenge so if XTERRA is not quite enough adventure check out www.mongoliachallenge.com.  Thank you to Muscle Milk for having an excellent massage therapist and recovery zone on site and thanks to the guys at ProCity  Trek Store for supporting the event and doing loads of pre event machine tunes. 

A big high five goes out to all of the youth competitors.  Due to a misunderstanding with the volunteers, all of the kids rode THE ENTIRE 12km ADULT (HARD) SINGLETRACK COURSE instead of the planned 2km on fire roads.  The kid’s race took between 1h40 and 2h for the entire field and ALL OF THEM FINISHED!!!  So if you are wondering why superathletes come out of Victoria, that is why.  Local super runner Lucy Smith was out on course coaching her daughter Maia as she tore it up out on the trails.  Teaching “overcoming adversity” when the opportunity presents itself.  Way to go future superstars, I think you should all be so proud of yourselves for overcoming that challenge.

A big thank you to Jasper Blake for being such an awesome human being in general and an excellent race announcer to boot.  So much hilarity!

Local events, although low key, come with a certain amount of pressure.  Most of that pressure is from within in that I want to show that I am good at my sport in front of my town.  I do loads of bike races and run races where I am either not in shape or not in any condition to race fast and can just chalk it up to training.  However, for my event, there are absolutely no excuses.  So it was a great workout in that I did three days of quite hard training leading into the race and then I was super motivated on the day to go hard and be fast.  Lots and lots of benefit will come from that.  It doesn’t hurt that I have budding super pro Kate Button in the field to keep it honest on the day as well.  She wouldn’t think twice to run me over if I wasn’t going fast enough (she’s getting really fast and feisty) and she is definitely getting closer!

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Ready to roll 🙂

The swim was fun.  I was out in fourth sandwiched between two fast young athletes, one of which is Maya Munzar… who I believe is going to be very strong in the future.  I know Kelly Guest is coaching a group of future stars so it is great to see them out in action mixing it up at the front.

Out onto the bike, I quickly caught ironman legend Tom Evans and was SO EXCITED!  But then I took us off course in my excitement from which we needed to double back and then I held us both up soft pedaling through a bunch of sections as I wasn’t sure where to go. Sadly, after this mishap and before we started hammering again Mike Palmer caught both of us.  This is what woke me up… I couldn’t let my old training partner beat me.  Bragging rights were on the line.

There was a long-ish climb before we did a second loop so I caught on to him and then dropped him by the top (not by much) with some encouragement from Mike who hiked in to check out the action.  This is the only advantage of an uber-light hardtail in Victoria.  He caught me halfway down Switchbacks and never saw him again on the bike.  No hammering uphill was making up for the time I was losing to super Palmer in the singletrack as he posted the fastest bike split of the race.  Nice work, buddy!  I found the most technical stuff in the race was the non technical stuff because of how dry, loose and rocky the trails are.  When technical is unpredictable it is worse than expected technical difficulty, in my opinion.  However, that was the least technical our local trails will get and all participants can feel good about the fact that if you can crush this course, everything else on the XTERRA tour will feel like a ride along a paved bike path.  Sometimes it actually is!

However, out onto the run I was feeling strong but was very, very conscious of how technical the trails were.  Still, my legs were ticking over well and I caught Palmer part way through the first lap.  Two very fast age groupers were running by me, one was Derek who was blistering fast and then another guy named Ian went by but I kept the tractor beam on him until I sprained an ankle.  I had put trail shoes with laces and socks on to try to control this risk but despite this caution, I still sprained an ankle on the last downhill (mild).  It was a steep, gnarly and technical run course.  The best kind. Tom caught me at the bottom of the hill before the finish and despite trying to sprint I still lost by 2 seconds.  So much fun!!

So that ends the training for Lake Stevens 70.3 this weekend.  I am sure the run I did on Sunday will prepare me well for the hills in Washington State.  I am happy to switch from the Trek Superfly to the Speed Concept and give it another rip on the Ironman 70.3 scene.  

Congrats to my fellow pro ladies Katie and Jennie.  Looks like we just recruited another XTERRA pro!!  See you girls at Trans Rockies.  xx

Thanks to Trek, Procity Cycles Trek Store Victoria, Bontrager, Rudy Project, Shimano, Powerbar, Champion System, Polar, Blueseventy, Powertap, USANA, SciCon Bags, Synergy Health Management and Wiink2.  All of my sponsors, partners and friends are incredible and I invite you to see for yourself the excellent work they are doing.

Thanks to local YYJ sponsors Equinox massage (I won the giftcard!!), Delta Ocean Point, Thrifty Foods and Plante Foods for supporting the event.

Finally another big thank you to Monique Moore for putting so much effort into the event and thank you to all of the volunteers and the HPR training group for helping make it such a big success.  Too bad Mike wasn’t racing, huh?