2015 Ironman Canada

This quote sums up my 2nd place (and fastest bike split) debut Ironman Canada performance and why I am so happy with what happened but hungry, motivated and determined for more:

“A win doesn’t feel as good as a loss feels bad, and the good feeling doesn’t last as long as the bad. Not even close.” – Andre Agassi

Coming that close to winning my first Ironman was insane.  But losing the race that late in the race leaves me with the belief that I could maybe win an Ironman.  I don’t know that I truly thought I could win Sunday.  I don’t really feel “bad” about anything on Sunday because I truly gave my best on the day.  The fact I made some mistakes and didn’t win means there is still unfinished business and I am so glad.  It is what drives us.

Danielle Mack executed a super strong race under terrible conditions to win her second Ironman.  Although I love a lot of the girls I race against- because they are amazing people I admire so much- having a former XTERRA age group World Champ win this Ironman makes me very happy.  I am so happy for her and I am so glad she got to experience the wonderful vibe and support my country brought on the day.  So my sincerest, biggest, proudest congratulations to you Danielle on such a great race!

Third place was another Canadian -Jen Annett- who posted the fastest run.  XTERRA girls and Canadian girls are tougher than a $3 steak so the race conditions were no match for us.  Thank you to the rest of the field for making my first Ironman such a hard effort because I wanted nothing less than my best on the day and that is exactly what I gave thanks to you guys.  What a day.

Thank you Whistler for welcoming us, taking care of us and inspiring us.  Through terrible weather there were volunteers and fans everywhere, from Whistler to Pemberton.  I actually had tears welling up coming in off the bike because there were SO MANY PEOPLE!!!!!  It was overwhelming.   Thank you thank you!  I never would have expected an Ironman to create career moments but there are many from Sunday.  Whistler, you rock.  Also thank you to Ironman Canada and WTC for this event.  I appreciated so much the opportunity to race in my home country and seeing the familiar faces from Ironman in Victoria and Whistler helped me calm my nerves.  Thanks a lot guys.

destruction

Absolute destruction

So here is my day:

 “What you feel doesn’t matter in the end; it’s what you do that makes you brave.” – good old Andre again.

The weather was not good for anyone- there are no magical powers that make you good in cold weather it is just 100% acceptance of the situation and immediate problem solving to make the most of it.  Well, and maybe some experience slogging through it (the Canucks and Brits are good at this).  I was just determined to have the best possible first Ironman I could-no matter what the conditions.  I told myself: “No one gives a crap whether you are cold, sore or tired (I was all of the above).  What are you going to do about it?  Make this count.”

I was worried about how much to wear because I am so terrible riding no hands on my time trial bike so what went on was going to end up staying on for the duration of the bike.  I knew it was going to be chilly and cold so I chose long finger gloves, arm warmers and a vest.  The vest was key.  Make no mistake, when it is less than 15 degrees Celsius you better keep your core warm or you are going to burn a bunch of calories you can’t replace. 

So with my outfit planned out I went and swam my first straight 3800m swim.  In hindsight, I need to swim more super long swims.  I stuck on the feet of Karen Thibodeau and Laurel Wassner until we passed buoy number 4 and then I think maybe the lead changed between those two and the feet I was on disappeared.  So I dangled and wondered do I punch it to stay in their group or do I cool it and get dropped.  How much does swimming cost in an Ironman???  So I tried harder for maybe 50m and then I gave up the chase because they really were too fast for me.  I plowed alone in the water all by myself (well other than some REALLY fast AG athlete who passed me at about 2100 m) until the last 100m when a couple of age group men, Liz Lyles and Cait Snow ran by me into transition.  Dangit.

So then we are on the bikes and since it is only a 5’ gap to age groupers I am seeing more Agers already.  Liz had blasted out of T1 without putting many clothes on so I didn’t catch her again until about 15km down the road.  I tried to make a joke when I caught up and went by but she was not happy about the weather.  She is tiny and she needed a parka and a toque.  I was told to cruise it up Callaghan and not go hard so I didn’t.  I did not realize there was a $1000 prime to the top (I think this was good in hindsight).   I had Laurel in my sights but she wasn’t coming back super quickly.  I just stuck to a heart rate and minded my own business.  I think she was planning on the prime because once she won it the gap evaporated and I passed her on the second switchback down the hill.  Then I was in the lead.  Woohoo!

bike riding IMC

Fffffffffffffreezing.

Thank you to Eon D’Ornellas, 4x Olympian and 2x Canadian road race champion for changing my tire for me before the race and offering excellent pre-race cycling advice.   He said to take it very easy on all of the technical bits and I took that advice.  This meant any skills I had were waste because I took absolutely zero risks all day and rode my brakes like a Cat 5.  I was very, very slow on every corner which I am sure didn’t help pad my lead.  I don’t regret that though… I did NOT want to run my first marathon with road rash.

I just kept plowing away in 10cm deep puddles for 180kms all by myself and man, it took forever.   No one was setting any records…. We couldn’t go fast even when it was flat because the flat had a massive headwind.   Not a soul was around so I was singing songs to myself (thanks Beth for the advice!) and smiled to stay positive.  I was passed by a few Agers up to Callaghan but passed up to three or more of them by the Meadows (not sure if they were AG or pro men).  I struggled in the Meadows section.  My hip was hurting from some kind of weird cramp, I was all tense and freezing and I couldn’t hold aero position – so I was standing up a lot.  That was a terrible, terrible section for me.  I also saw the rest of my competition all riding together (legally!) and they really weren’t that far.   Cait Snow was riding by herself, all smiles as usual.  On the run she was cheering for me…haha.  She is such a freaking star.  I would not want to go to an Ironman just to finish for points especially after just kicking ass and winning in France so high five Cait – you are so damn tough.  Thank you for the encouragement out there.  Can’t wait to cheer for you in Kona!

I live in Victoria and have ridden so many rides in my career in equally crappy weather with Houshang Amiri’s http://pacificcyclingcentre.ca/ group.  I just kept going back to that.  “You can live through this, you’ve done this a million times, if it is hurting you it’s hurting everyone.”  That is the benefit of being tough in the winter… you are ready for any race.

When I rode into Whistler the crowds were incredible.  They were calling my name and freaking out.  I almost started to cry.  It was effin crazy.  So I was so stoked to get out there and run when I came off the bike (I was stuck leaning forward for about 15 steps- yikes) I tore into the change tent.  Then I couldn’t get my armwarmers off but got the gloves and vest off ( with helpers), changed my socks, put on a race belt, put on my Fuelbelt and was off running.  My transition was not fast.  I saw Christine Fletcher come ripping out of the portaloo… almost missing her lead biker duty! Hilarious. 

Then my Fuelbelt fell off and a yardsale of random sports nutrition was everywhere.  So I started running around collecting it all and a volunteer tried to spiral pass one of the flasks to me… which I of course missed.  I ran around the corner and the belt fell off again.  Picked it up and put it on again … nope, down again.  The belt I have used a million times in training refused to Velcro shut in this race.  WTF.  So I salvaged two gels and a flask at a feedzone and carried on without the rest of my stuff (salt pills, extra gel etc) and tried to carry the flask.  Which I dropped two more times in the first kilometer.  When the race comes down to about 120 seconds you start to remember these things in crystal clear detail.. haha!

 

hold belt

Race belt snafu plus hair tie destruction.  Even my hair elastics weren’t up to the task.

Then I got to running.  Unfortunately, I chose to run based on heart rate rather than on pace.  Dumb dumb dumb.  Now I know you should run on heart rate or pace- choosing whichever is not fantasy. Everyone warned me… including MBK, Brent, Beth Gerdes and Kelly Williamson…..  I think the words were “Don’t go out TOO HARD!!!” by all of them.  So running 6km at 4:00/km pace (2:48 marathon) and another 8 km at about 3:01 pace was stupid, stupid, stupid because the back half of that marathon was at a glacial pace.  Back to reality….  My dream marathon was 3:10 so 4:31/km pace.  Going out like a rocket came back and bit me so hard in the back half.  Lesson learned.  Plus no one told me Garmin’s don’t last through an IM.  You need more than one!  Lesson #2.  Danielle caught me somewhere around 4 kms to go and she was just gone.  Game over.

hug

Hugging it out post race 🙂

The freaking gong show of people at Whistler cheering at the finish was amazing.  OMG that was the most fun ever in my life.  You guys are so cool… some that I remember hearing (I am so sorry I don’t remember everyone) were Care, Jasper, Mike, Lala, Elladee?, MC, Lisa, Clint, Sara, and Alison.  So great to have a big hug from Jazz at the finish.   I heard Clint a lot out there and I appreciate it so much buddy!  Especially the calming words after I was run over by the tv scooter..haha!  I know there are a million more of you guys but I was kind of in a hypoglycemia induced coma for probably 15kms of that marathon so I was foggy on what happened for a lot of the day but there were people from my mountain bike career, XTERRA people, Victoria folks, Vancouver people.. it was crazy.  Thank you guys so much… I tried SO HARD!!  That feels so good today.. thanks for helping me get that out of myself.

chalk IMC

You guys are soooo awesome!

So thank you to my yoda, Kelly Guest of Livefit coaching, for helping me transform into someone who can actually almost win a race that includes a run marathon.  I can’t wait to try again.  I want to crush a marathon so bad.  Thank you for all the elite juniors I train with that help me attempt to ignore my age:  Hanna, Elspeth, Holly, Hamish, Megan, Abby, and Lydia.  Thanks to Clint Lien’s group for letting me drop in and hang out with some athletes who are my own age and thank you to the Thetis Lake Friday morning swim club for constantly crushing me every Friday.  You guys are amazing.  Thank you to Houshang Amiri for letting me train with his U23 http://pacificcyclingcentre.ca/ cycling stars in the winter.  Here’s hoping I can keep up for a while longer!  Thank you to my regular run training partners Danelle Kabush, Kelly, Nick, Mike, Buttons, Care, Marilyn, Trent, Hilary and Elspeth.   Extra thank you for Danelle.  You are the best- not just as a training partner but also for the mindset!  Look her up for mental training because she will make you unstoppable http://danellekabush.com/sponsors/ .

Thank you to my sponsors who believe in me and see that I can race at the highest level at this point in my career.  Easily, I am as fit if not even fitter than I have ever been in my life.  Trek Bikes is amazing – what a privilege to be on this team.  Thanks to Bontrager for the amazing wheels and shoes.  Thank you to Shimano for pedals and shifting that were bombproof on the worst of days.  Thanks to Rudy Project for the amazing helmets and glasses.  Thanks Blueseventy wetsuits for allowing me to swim solo and lose 3 ish minutes to fast swimmers in my first Ironman.  Thanks Powertap for helping me train on the bike with proper objective data.  Thanks Champion System for the cool clothes with my own designs.  Thank you Frontrunners Victoria and Asics for figuring out my footwear to transform into a runner.  Thank you Procity Racing for heckling me and keeping me grounded throughout my long career… oh and race tuning my machines to perfection.  Thanks USANA for keeping me healthy and Sci Con Bags for keeping my bike healthy during travel, thanks Saltstick and Powerbar for providing nutrition.

 Summer holidays then Challenge Penticton August 30. Right now I am so sore.  Thanks for reading.

2015 Challenge St Andrews

The Challenge event in St Andrews did not disappoint as #myfirstChallenge, a hashtag devoted to those trying this brand of middle and full distance triathlon races around the world for the first time.  Although I have a bucketload of half distance triathlon finishes, I have never participated in a Challenge Family event but after this race it will not be my last. 

The race was held as far across Canada as I could go.  Please consult this map to see where I went.  However, flying out of Victoria and then in to Saint John it looked almost like we had turned around… only the trees were different J  St Andrews on the Sea is kind of like cruising through Oak Bay.. if you are from Victoria.

map

Green is Victoria- Blue is St Andrews.

Anybody coming from mountain bike racing or XTERRA would feel right at home at these events.  It has all the infrastructure and organization of a top notch professional event but it still remains relaxed and inclusive.  All of the energy, friendliness, and beauty in Challenge St Andrews has to be experienced before you scoff at the superlatives.  It was simply an amazing and special event.

For a town of 1500 to hold a race of this size is amazing.  I think long after my pro career has finished someone is going to talk about missing racing Challenge St Andrews because it sold out in 15 seconds and I will be that wrinkled up old leatherback saying, “Yeah?  I raced that back in ’15.  I remember a salt water lake and some fireman who ran around the course with a 35 pound air tank.”  Memories, thanks for that Fireman Rob.

I keep saying that a professional career has to be fun outside of winning and I can’t stress enough to age group athletes that it is even more important to have that perspective when you balance racing with life.  This is all about having fun. It is hard to balance a relationship, a family, a career and your goals if you don’t enjoy every minute of time in your life you have devoted to pursuing your goals.  It isn’t just about winning or a personal best.. it is about experiencing life with passion and inspiration. Make it count and make it memorable.  Events like this create the memories that last longer than your results and I appreciate that at this point in my career more than ever.  Having the opportunity to race at a stunning tourist destination, with the most welcoming hosts and an entire race field full of smiling faces was just such a pleasure.  Thank you so much for inviting me.  It was so special.

On behalf of the pros I want to extend another huge thank you to all of the volunteers who put so much time into this race.  I recognize that it is not a big place and a lot of people came “from away” to make the race happen.  We can’t be professionals without races and we can’t have races without volunteers.  I appreciate so much the opportunity that you have presented to all of us.

St A run

Kind of like running along Dallas Road, no?

Winning my first Challenge race doesn’t hurt to make it memorable though.  I had my work cut out for me as Kirsten and Jillian really stuck it to me in the first half of the race.  I was pleased when my legs came around about halfway on the bike and I started moving to the front and held my lead through the run.  It was great to share the podium with Kristin Marchant, Jillian Peterson, Charisa Wernick and Caroline St-Pierre.  I would like to throw up a huge high five to Taylor Reid for winning his first ever professional half distance event although this wasn’t really his first win because he did win the men’s race in Saskatoon last year… he just couldn’t beat all of the women J  Such a bright future in non- drafting for that guy.

Contrary to the race reports, I did not have the fastest swim.  The four hour time change meant I was waking up at midnight to race at 3 am so it is lucky I got my Blueseventy on without zipping it up backwards.  I was dropped off of good feet to follow about 200m from the start and proceeded to plow my own way through the water to T1.  I am 0 for 4 good swims on the East coast now.  I am sure my first four week block of real Ironman training didn’t help me leap from the gates either.  Exiting the swim I stopped, took off my wetsuit and put on shoes to run the 400 m up the hill because my tootsies are a bit sensitive at the moment.  With Ironman in a few weeks I opted for very slow transitions and safety for the feet so I was doling out time like a referee on Burrows.  I gave over two minutes to the leaders between the swim and transition before the bike.  I need to tighten that up in the next few weeks.  On to the bike, the sluggish start continued as my first 45kms was fairly slow and I felt like I wasn’t gaining any time but by about 30kms I could see they were coming back every 14km stretch of the loop at the highway. 

On the second half of the bike I woke up a bit more and got going.  I focused on my Powertap Joule to keep my cadence up and managed to get a nice even split coming into transition despite it being mostly downhill into T2.  I had 3.5 minutes to second at the first time check so I ran calm and controlled.  My running has been strong so I figured I had lots in the tank if someone made a late charge.  I heard my lead had extended to 4:15 by the 13km mark so I put it in cruise control for the last 8kms and enjoyed my run with the male pro I caught out there named Pierre who kept chatting to his fans in French J.  Coming up the hill for the last 2kms there was some confusion as I was told I needed to serve a penalty.  It wasn’t a big deal as I had plenty of time left in the lead so the win was mine.  I could relax and enjoy my first challenge race with a WIN!  So my run split wasn’t that fast but it also wasn’t as slow as reported- but the swim was also not 23 minutes J

Spending my weekend with the Tanners was great- Adam Tanner was a gentleman and amazing host to Jillian Peterson and I.  What an incredible young man who I want to wish the best of luck in maritime college in Newfoundland.  The logistics could not have been much easier, given the entire race venue and course was all organized around the Algonquin Resort which was around the corner from where I was staying.  It took me two minutes to get to transition and the same to the swim start, the awards and the pub….all was quite convenient.

scott and tressa

Scott and Tressa

Thank you so much to Scott and Tressa Bevington for inviting me to their incredible race.  Thank you to co-race directors Garth and Helena Miller for everything.  Thank you to the town of St Andrews and all of the volunteers for putting on a world class event and inviting the professional field to such a fun and exciting race.  Thank you to the RCMP for making the roads safe, thank you to the 100 kids (100!!!) who absolutely lit it up in the kids splash n dash race that made my Saturday so much fun, thank you to the Algonquin Resort and Kingsbrae gardens for the amazing venue, thanks to all of Challenge St Andrews’ sponsors and finally thank you to the pro and amateur field for the fun day at the races.  It was a pleasure to share the course with you all.

I created this little video so you could get a glimpse of what Challenge St Andrews is all about.  I am sure that putting this race in your calendar would be your best decision of 2016.  I loved it so, so much.

 

 

Thanks so much to my sponsors that make this adventure as a triathlon pro a reality:  thanks to Trek Bikes, Bontrager, Powertap, Champion System, Rudy Project North America, Shimano Triathlon, Blueseventy, Sci Con Bike Travel Bags, Frontrunners Victoria, Asics, Synergy Wellness, Markus Blumensaat, and Procity Trek Store.

 

 

I would like to leave you with this quote that I love:  “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou.  Thank you Challenge St Andrews for how you made me feel this past weekend.  I won’t forget it.