Bear Mountain 10km 2010 Edition

The Bear Mountain 10km is billed as Canada’s Toughest 10km.  There are probably people squirming in their seats to nominate their race for the contest as to which is the hardest but I am just going to say that if you have not participated in this one, yours will not count.  My rules.  This 10km winds its way around the top of Bear Mountain (no bears as far as I know) on the golf cart path.  It has three significant climbs that have sections of very, very steep and some very sketchy, steep downhills.  All of which make your legs feel like they have been pounded by a meat mallet when you are done.  In order to further increase it’s legendary tough status, the Bear Mountain 10km went ahead after an unheard of snowstorm in November.  So, snow/ice/cold did not deter a sold out event from going as planned.  The Bear Mountain 10km is as tough as Chuck Norris (www.twitter.com/chucknorriz).  Thanks to hard work from Frontrunners Westshore we get to participate every November.

I was defending winner from last year so despite my “offseason” status I was stoked to be on the race start list.  The rules for off season racing are:  you can’t do any training before the race, you must enforce your crappy off season diet and you must stay up late the night before the race having fun with non-racing friends.  When you do all of the above then you can still partake in as many races as you like and are not allowed to complain for one second about your result.

I actually thought I was going to do fairly well this year and although I knew I was going to have a battle on my hands with Care Wakely, I thought one of the two of us was headed for the course record.  I am running significantly faster than last year but Care has probably improved even more than I have (she and her partner Mark Nelson did very well in the TR run race).  I don’t think it played into my hands when the course was cut to 6.5km though.  I didn’t know the finish loop (would cost me 2nd) and the course had only one significant climb which had the most significant downhill.  Although I tried to push the climb as hard as possible I could not lose Care and when we went into the downhill she was far braver than I.  The downhills would be salted and fine for one second and then covered in ice and sketchy the next.  I couldn’t get visions of a knee injury out of my head (I must be getting old) and she just drifted away from me on the corners.  There was one more small hill that I clawed seconds back only to lose again in the last sketchy downhill.  She was away and I couldn’t catch her.  I didn’t expect another girl I don’t know named Laura to sprint past me when I thought we were doing some kind of loop through the village (I didn’t know we were three!), which turned out to be like 400m straight into the finish.  Ouch.  Anyways, with Care and I about 20s apart that was a close top three and a solid off season result.  Powered by licorice allsorts ;).  We were all much, much faster than last year…. even with the snow and a short course I think the quality was better. 

On the men’s side, Dave Jackson successfully defended his title ahead of Shawn Chester and Shawn Nelson.  I was stoked to see a lot of the triathlon boys in there mixing it up as well.

Frontrunners Westshore actually puts prize money up for this race which really contributes to the elite running community.  A little prize money for our effort is a nice touch so thanks guys for your commitment to the race in tough conditions and I look forward to seeing you at the races (both Mark and Nick are solid athletes in their own right!).  The race was marred by only one thing:  loads of ugly, not hot men.  I hate Mo-vember.  🙂

Thanks for reading.  Okay… back to coaching.  Tis the season to help OTHER people get on track!

The Inaugural San Francisco Triathlon at Alcatraz

I have never had the opportunity to race Escape from Alcatraz because of scheduling but have always admired that race from afar.  When I saw that Terry Davis and his Tri California events team was holding another edition as the San Francisco Triathlon at Alcatraz -I was in! Not only did going to San Francisco for the race knock another classic race off the triathlon bucket list for me, it also represented a solid training opportunity as I gear up for two XTERRA National Championships and the Worlds.

I haven’t raced such a short road triathlon race in a long time.  This race was a 1.2 mile swim, a 25 mile bike and a 7 mile run so an extra long swim (which took even longer than what 1.2 miles should take), an Olympic distance bike course and a hilly 12 km run.  Kind of a weird distance and not necessarily suited to me but with a hilly bike and a hilly offroad run course it was going to be a great challenge that would help jam some speed into my legs.  The main contenders proved to be Amanda Stevens, Tenille Hoogland and Kristen Peterson who are all amazing swimmers.   Tenille won the race just in front of Amanda with me chasing hard in third after coming into transition with Kristen, my Specialized teammate who finished fourth.

Ferry photo courtesy of Brightroom

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2010 Wildflower Triathlon

I have always wanted to go and race Wildflower as it is one of those iconic events on the North American calendar that looms legendary in the history books.  However, whether it was too scary, too early or too much of a road triathlon (only the latter) I never got a chance to toe the line until this year.  Boo!  I should have been doing this a LONG time ago!  So, so cool!  I had a super time having my butt handed to me by a deep field of super athletes with Julie Dibens reigning supreme way at the front of the race.  I am happy with fifth as really, I didn’t even have any kind of outcome goal going into this race so that was just fine.  Also I did have a bit of a new bike snafu so although I didn’t really get to see what I can do on the bike I did manage to ride up to second before some issues occurred so like Conrad, I rode well and held on for a good finish.

Mine is a cautionary tale of new equipment.  I got a brand spanking new killer amazing red rocket superspeedy Specialized Transition two days before the event.  My new steed and I met on Thursday morning and went for a 45 minute date riding around Morgan Hill before we drove to Wildflower.  Friday morning I took my friend out for another ride and then put it to bed before the race on Saturday morning.  So I had a total of 2h of time trial biking to prepare for this event.  However, the bike fit I got from Bill at Procity was amazing!  I finally listened to him and allowed him to move my stuff all over the place, essentially moving me into a TT position.  So riding the bike was so much less of a problem than any time I got on a bike in the past in my stupid hybrid mountain-biking-on-tri-bars position I was so insistent upon in the past.  Money.  However, there was still some stupidity for me to add to the mix later.  Anyhow, all went smoothly leading up to the race and I would like to thank Nick and Jeff at Shimano,  and Jeff, Joe and Myron at Specialized for the mechanical support of champions.  My issue was sort of out of their hands. 

Continue reading “2010 Wildflower Triathlon”

Bear Mountain 10km

This past Saturday morning I participated in “Canada’s Hardest 10km”.  No joke.  It was retardedly hard.

I have been invited by Mark and Nick at Frontrunners in Westshore Victoria to run in this race for the past three years.  One year I had the flu and another I felt that my competitive fire had leached out of my body with the last of any of my race fitness post season.  So I had never taken part in this super cool but unbelievably tough race.

This year I have been having some fun running with a strong run group so heading out for a race at this point in the year wasn’t nearly as daunting as in years past.  However, after the first 2km of the race I was pretty sure the next 8 would be very, very tough!  I think it is awesome that the race had such an insane turnout.  They broke a record for the number of participants this year and let me tell you, you have to be pretty hardcore to do this race.  So Victoria, good on ya for rocking out the turnout for this event.

I was late for the start, as usual, so my prerace warmup was somewhat abbreviated.  I think that probably helped in the end because I took it so easy for the first 3km to let myself warm up and I am sure that paid off in the end.  I was also advised by Jon to really take it easy on the downhills to save myself any potential injuries so again, I was running very conservatively.  I knew I was going to lose time on the downhills so I just tried to make the most of the uphills.

The course starts with a short run on the road before turning abruptly right onto the golf cart path at Bear Mountain Resort.  From there you run either vertically up or vertically downhill for the next 9.5 kms.  There isn’t a flat section anywhere on the course and thanks to the Pineapple Express weather system we have been enjoying for the last few weeks the course was wet and slippery.  Only the bridges were really sketchy but running through some shallow rivers over concrete was interesting as well.

I took the lead at about 5km not thinking I would win, just thinking that I would keep my steady pace and see what happened.  I ended up winning with Sarah Baker taking second (I think she is a triathlete as well!) so good that the girls had a strong race.  One of the fast runners I am training with, Dave Jackson, won the men’s event.  My time was a glacial 41:17 which is not an elite time for a 10km but given the course record for women is 40:15 it wasn’t totally embarassing.  The men’s record was 32:50 or something, set by Jon Brown himself and I am sure he is about a 27 minute 10km runner so yeah, it was hard and slow.  Thanks so much to Frontrunners for hosting me and putting up prize money for this event.. I will be back to try to run it a little faster next year rocking the colors of the Prairie Inn Harriers (thanks Bob!).

The ladies pack heads up the first gnarly hill (Photo by Tony Austin) and man I look haggard!

Age group awards (me and Adrianne Seredick), the overall went myself, Sarah Baker, Devon Mihalyi, Care Wakely and Jessalyn O’Donnell for top five

Good times!  I followed the day up with a wine and cheese silent auction fundraiser at Procity for Jamie and Linsey Duncan which was super fun.  Lots of people I haven’t seen in a long time and a good opportunity to just hang out and be silly.  We dragged the usual suspects back to our house to continue festivities.  Luckily I didn’t over do it but it was very late when I finally got to sleep.  I was tired the next morning so it took a huge amount of motor-vation to get myself out for my long run but by noon I was running up Willis Point into the dump to finish the week with a 1h45 effort in the muddy, wet trails.  It was actually a spectacular day for it.  Unfortunately, that run requires running from the very top of the mountain bike park down to Lochside and that descent was no fun today after yesterday’s race.  I am sure I am going to pay tomorrow for it.  I did a swim this evening hoping hydrotherapy might do the trick but not so far.  I am going to try couch surfing next.  It is off season so there is no freaking way I am going to park my butt in an ice bath until at least January.

Good racing by Sam and Jordan at IM AZ this weekend!  Totally inspiring.  Now if only I could find out how Mar did in Japan…

Resting tomorrow but working on the plan for next year.  For me, the athletes I coach and the members of my team.  Never a dull moment.

Mel’s Adventure on Skinny Tires – Lake Stevens 70.3

Well my second ever half Ironman came and went yesterday.  Similar to last season, I had three weeks to prepare for my only half Ironman of the season.  Again I chose a race with one of the toughest women’s fields of the season (18 pros – more than the men!) but it was conveniently within driving distance of Victoria and at a point in the season where I had no XTERRA obligations to worry about.  This time around I had MUCH more fun than my first race.  Lots of things went right and some went wrong but overall, I ended up fourth while actually being in the race.  Had my swim not been such an utter disaster I would have actually REALLY been in a race which is disappointing, but still motivating.  Certainly, I need more time to be really strong on my Specialized Transition but with my limited preparation I was actually in the mix and the prize money so I am motivated to prepare a bit more when I do more of these events next year.  I thought I would do a report that was all highlights/lowlights and impressions from Lake Stevens rather than a blow by blow account of my weekend.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Highlights:

– A killer homestay with Penny and Michael Dorsey.  I had two amazing evenings with wine, delicious food and fun conversations.  They are wonderful people I was privileged to have met. Thanks guys!
– My Specialized Transition was SO FUN to ride.  Riding with a Lazer Tardiz time trial helmet and some fast DuraAce wheels were icing on the cake but really, riding this kind of bike is super fun.  I can’t say it is as fun as railing singletrack on my Era mountain bike but it really is super cool to go fast.
– Running someone down in a triathlon.  Granted, Sam Warriner did not have her best run ever but still, I ran someone down.  I like that feeling.  I want more of it whenever necessary.
– Linsey Corbin and Stacey Richardson for being the friendliest other pro woman at the event.  Thanks for the warm welcome ladies and Linsey, it was a pleasure to tow you in the swim although I really wished I had someone towing me as well!
– Finishing in a sandwich between super star pros and actually feeling that I was kind of sort of competitive and taking home prize money from an Ironman race which had you asked me two years ago if I even thought I could have finished I would have laughed… who time trials for 90km? was my opinion before…

And the lowlights….

Continue reading “Mel’s Adventure on Skinny Tires – Lake Stevens 70.3”

May 2, 2004 – Stage Racing While Sucking Air Through A Straw

I guess it is a matter of opinion on whether a report is better late than never, but I have a story to tell so I am going to let you in on it whether you care at this late date what happened at Tour of the Gila, or whether you are so over that race. Those that got enough on cyclingnews.com, seeya, those that want to find out what REALLY happened, here’s my version.

Silver City is a tiny mining town in the middle of a hundred miles from nowhere and we stayed in a little town about 7miles from there called Pinos Altos. 7080 feet on top of spaghetti, this little gold rush town is quaint with a capital R for rustic. We were welcomed by the family that runs a little place called the Bear Creek Cabins for about the 8th year running…. this area was once stomping ground for Canadian training camp. This year we just came in to bust ass at the Tour of the Gila, a race known for very unforgiving courses, altitude, and beautiful scenery.

So to the race, we started with the time trial. I think it was around 17 miles of climb over a mountain pass into a headwind, descend down and then turn around and climb back up it, then throw it in your biggest gear and haul ass downhill with a tailwind to the finish. Fast chicks did it in just under 42 minutes, I did it in just over 43 minutes. Probably looking into a 56 for the time trial bike….53 was a tad slow. But the highlight of the day was testing out my super cool, orangerific time trial bike recently gifted to me by K2… my first time trial bike ever! The boys at Tommy O bikes in Phoenix had pimped it out for me the week before so it was all new bike action the day of the race and that made it fun. I wasn’t too fast, but I sure felt fast. Thanks go to Ian Abbott and Rob Hasagawa from Cedar Hill for outfitting the aero wheels, which are the next item on Melanie’s never ending bike component wish list. Busted out an 11th which is pretty good for a mountainbike girl sucking air through a straw on the first few days at altitude, and called it a day.

The next day was not good, at all. We rode from Silver City up to the top of Mogillon Pass, 71 miles or something of wind and mayhem topped off with a mega climb up to what felt like 37,000 feet. I was having issues at altitude and just the cross wind gutter action as the peloton motored to the mountain was almost enough to crack me, but turning the corner into a headwind looking at a 15km climb finished me off. I just sucked the second stage, lost like 10 minutes and went home with my tail between my legs.l

Stage 3 was a bit better, 77 miles of Inner Loop fun in a big circle up to Pinos Altos and along a beautiful road ending up back in Silver City. The climb to Pinos Altos was very civilized, not very hard a pace, then we descended like banshees into Lake Roberts (at one point me and 7 others had a cool little group of kamikazes that decided to maybe go fast downhill and see if we can keep the others away, but they caught us along the flats). The race really got hard in some of the last climbs within the last 20kms of the finish, tornado winds were mostly the reason, lots of attacks guttering us was the other, but I stayed with the lead group which was whittled to around 18 or so, and even without feeling great, some power was coming back to the system

Stage 4 was the criterium and it was a way different story from last year… I could attack. Yay! So right off the gun I tried setting a hard pace, attacked, got away, got caught, my teammate Dara attacked, got away with 2, I blocked, she cruised out front to take a prime and ride away for awhile, their group got caught, so then I sprinted for a prime and got a massive gap. I was joined by six others and then our break proceeded to put some massive real estate on the bunch. Won another prime, then started trying to imagine how to win the race, had a race plan, went into the last lap and got all jumbled up with other race plans, made a dumb move and was outsprinted by like, everyone, and ended up fifth. So much for all the fire power in starting breaks, dumb mountainbiker, but I learned a lot in that race so it was all good.

Anyway, so last day. 71 miles around the Inner Loop in the other direction. A break went really early and noone cared. So as we were meandering along I was super bored and was just about to start attacking just to get some training in and Andrea Hannos went right beside me, so I jumped with her, started busting ass with her right away, we were joined by three others and boom, a break is born. A good one too, as none of us were too high in the GC.. This one stuck, most of us worked, a hard day of hammering along the flats to be greeted by the fun climb we had so much fun careening down the other day. Three of us worked hard on the climb so we lost a couple, caught the first break, and the the decisive move was made by Kim Anderson. She was too fast for me as I was being crushed at 8000 feet, and so I just stayed with my little group of four trying to not have to pedal very hard since I was on the rivets already. Then my group became very unfriendly as they RACED, dammit! So I just held on as long as I could, until the last 500m (which is uphill because the whole last mile is climbing to the finish). At that point I knew even if I completely cracked it was all downhill to my hotel room so I would be all right, and I pulled in a 7th.

So some good riding at the end of the week, some really crap at the beginning, and an 18th overall despite the meltdown on Thursday. Tour of the Gila all over, I have some dope legs to take with me to Sonoma and Europe, and the race was so hard I was further chiseled by calorie deficit. Went back to my spring training base in Phoenix to do some last laps in the pool (okay, okay, I lay in a chair beside the pool and thought about doing laps….) and to say goodbye to my wicked hosts Jerry and Erin, and with a twinge of regret knowing I am done with Arizona, which has been my training base and home away from home since March. But they just served us vanilla ice cream on this flight so I am over it already!

Thanks so much go to my support people. Most importantly to my coach Houshang Amiri of the Pacificsport National Cycling Center. I would also like to thank Ford Motor Company, Ford Cycling (www.quickrelease.com), K2 Bicycles, Saucony, Maxxis, Compex, Sundog Eyewear, Shimano, Giro, Powerbar, Descente, Rider’s Cycles, Arq Salon, Pacificsport, and Deuter. Ian Abbott, our massage therapist, thanks for coaxing some power out of very tired legs, TommyO, thanks for the mechanical hookup and the friendly group to ride with, and again to Jerry and Erin, look forward to seeing you guys again soon!

Next stop Sonoma…….some NORBA action to tune up for the big World Cup campaign in Europe…Rice A Roni, anyone?

March 28th, 2004 – Top Mountainbike Team at Redlands 2004

I’m a little late in catching all of you up on the past week in Redlands, mixing it up with the road chicks, but it was a pretty big week and it took a couple of days to catch my breath and regroup. Now that I am at 37,000 feet on my way back to Victoria I can reflect on the awesome week Team Ford had road racing in California.

The first cool thing is that our team is specifically a mountainbike team, and we were the only mountainbike team in Redlands this year. This is unusual because in years past there would be a number of mountainbike specific teams that would travel to CA to get some training in to prepare for the mountainbike season, but this year it was only us and 26 other road teams. I have to point out at this point that we kicked ass and finished 6th overall, in front of some very good road teams.

So I will break it down for you day by day. Day one was the prologue, a 5km uphill time trial at Mt Rubidoux by Riverside, CA. This was our first top 10 finish of the week as I got 9th in the stage, and Sara Noble, our secret agent from the Rocky Mountain team, took 14th in the stage as well. Solid day one.

Day two was a new stage. Lots of kilometres in the cross wind topped off with a nasty climb at altitude up to a village called Crestline. Basically it is like heading to Big Bear. This was Sara and Daras day, as they kicked ass and rode up at the front, with Sara cracking the top 10 and Dara staying up with the lead girls. Lisa was having a wicked day as well until she flatted on the climb, and still managed a strong finish. I kinda had a rough day, was rode into the ditch, took too much wind, but sucked it up and finished okay.

The next day was another day of flat and cross winds capped off this time with a 10km climb. I was in no mood to parade to the bottom of the climb, and rode very agressively to try and get a break away. In the first 5km I went away with a small break, which was caught, and then I attacked again and noone came with. So I decided to train and see what would happen, and basically rode until the first QOM to steal some points and then waited for the pack to get me. We then rode together to the climb which felt pretty awful to me, but Sara rode at mock speed, and finished again in the top 10. Dara and I rode in about a minute apart and LIsa not far behind that.

The Panorama Point Road Race is a short circuit race of 65km, with a big fat 20% wall in it. I was starting to feel great by the end of the week and was intent on getting out of the pack and doing something fun. A break did get away with Amy Moore from Quark and Grace Fleury from Scuba Genesis (and a Rona and Basis girl who were dropped), and I thought for sure we would be gone but unfortunately noone would work but me…. other plans in the works. But again, no point in going back to the pack, might as well do some training. Eventually Lynn Bessette, SUe Palmer and Kristin Armstrong caught us on the last lap while hoofing it away from Genevieve Jeanson, and I tried to hold on as hard as I could but after pulling for three laps they gapped me on the wall. Our break was caught with that of Jeanson, and that lead group rode in behind the three front runners and I got 8th. The other girls did well in staying with good strong packs as the race really broke apart on this stage.

In the criterium on Saturday we all rode in the pack, and despite covering every break opportunity, nothing got away. Won some money, got some sprint points to take third overall in the sprinter competition, but I couldn’t get up there on the last lap and ended up 14th. The rest of the team stayed in and upright!

So the last day was our very best day of teamwork by far. The race was hard, and although I rode agressively to try and get away, I didn’t have the legs and frankly, was really hurting. LIsa rode amazing and was there on the last two laps, handing me a coke and some water, and offering all kinds of help. Sara was beside me pacing me and encouraging me to not give up ( I felt SO bad!) and Dara was up front as well riding safely with us as a team. Our fantastic riding on that stage, having three team members in the front group and one seconds off, moved us in front of Webcor who only kept two in that group, to take 6th overall.

So if you have been paying attention, our team finished in the top 15 EVERY stage, top 10 for four stages, made all but the last major break, and in general were female bad asses.

It was such a fun week! Sara took 16th overall, I took 19th overall, Dara was 26th and LIsa 39th. Not half crappy for a bunch of dirt girls.

We would like to thank the McClintock family for such a rockstar homestay. The groupie van was awesome.

Thanks to our soigneur/mechanic/driver/personal assistant Ian Abbot for getting us to and from the races happy and in top form!

I also need to thank my coach, Houshang Amiri at Pacificsport National Cycling Center, Team Ford and our Michigan cheerleaders David Myers and Paul Alman. I would like to thank Ford Motor Company, K2 Bicycles, Saucony, Maxxis, Compex, Sundog Eyewear, Shimano, Giro, Powerbar, Descente, Rider’s Cycles, Cliff English (Competitive Edge Training Systems), Arq Salon, Pacificsport and Deuter.

I’m out for a couple of weeks to prepare for some mudstomping in Sea Otter.

Peace.

Mel