Ironman 70.3 Australian Pro Championships and Ironman 70.3 Shepparton 4:15 Race Time

This is a two part race report since I have sorely neglected my updates and feel that with the races somewhat far in the rearview its best to update both in a short-ish double report.  I was 5th at the Australian Pro Champs in Mandurah and 2nd at the IM 70.3 Shepparton event.

The first race was in West Australia in Mandurah.  I did not do a lot of research on anything with regards to this race other than discovering the travel from Maui was more than 30 hours.  It was a long way especially since I had to fly to LAX from Maui to then fly BACK over Maui to Melbourne on the way to Perth.  WTF.  However, travelling there was a fantastic decision on my part.  I was well taken care of by Ian Crane of the Mandurah tri club who connected me to Gill and Jamie who were superb hosts. Jamie and I were both racing so cruising around pre and post race was a family affair and I ended up having some local support in the crowd which was awesome.  His daughter raced the kids race and her number was 111, just like I was in Maui.  111 is a number associated with divine intervention and manifestataion which is a bunch of new agey hooey but it is so weird how this number has followed me around since Maui.  I thought it was following my friend Barb because she read about it and experienced a bunch of it but here I am in Australia and 111 followed me there.  Here is a quote on the number:

Angel Number 111 is a message from your angels to be very aware of your persistent thoughts and ideas as these are manifesting quickly into your reality.  Ensure that your beliefs, thoughts and mind-sets are positive and optimistic in order to draw the energies of abundance and balance into your life.  Angel Number 111 signifies that an energetic gateway has opened up for you, and this will rapidly manifest your thoughts into your reality.  

I know sounds like massive BS but anyways, number 111 was with me again.

Mandurah has similar temperatures to Las Vegas but a very fast and flat course with a “downhill” current-assisted swim.  I wasn’t pleased with my swim but no time in my wetsuit in the past two months probably contributed to this weak performance.  On the bike I had one fantastic lap where I took back ¾ of the time loss to the leaders out only to fade and lose most of it on the second lap.  I didn’t have one fast step for the entire run and managed to lose a 2km lead to Laura Bennett.  I probably saw that coming when I tried running the day before and my legs felt like tree stumps and running 4:00/km felt like an all out sprint.  All in all, the race had bright moments and some lowlights.  I think I should have travelled earlier to the race.  I didn’t manifest a win.

My feedback to these organizers is having 2km between aid stations handing out warm water is probably not the best in 40C temperatures.  More feed zones are definitely needed here.  Other than that, I loved the event and would go back for sure, maybe travelling a few days earlier to give myself time to loosen up a little more next time.  I loved all the wildlife everywhere (roos, and lizards, and pelicans oh my!) and the seaside towns are very cool.   Mel Hauschilt won the event and is not only a phenomenal athlete… she is a very gracious and conscientious one.  I really enjoyed chatting with her and listening to her post race comments.  She is an excellent ambassador for the sport.

2013-11-09 14.33.23 480x640

I flew in on an A380 and it was about the same size as this bird. 

2013-11-09 15.51.32 480x640

Number 111 was following me.

2013-11-11 12.15.30-1 640x480

Melbourne was superior to Mandurah for coffee but this spot in Rockingham was awesome.

2013-11-11 15.53.34 640x480

Mel, Jamie and Gillian check out King’s Park in Perth

I then travelled to Melbourne before doing the Shepparton 70.3.  In the days leading up to the race my legs on the bike came around very quickly which was encouraging. However, my swimming and running were stubbornly terrible.  I think I need to run a lot more than I have in the past few weeks with the taper to Maui, the recovery from Maui, the travel to Australia and blah blah I just need more workouts for this stuff.  Whereas for riding, I can take days at a time away and still ride well.  I guess cycling is just part of my genetic makeup whereas swimming and running are foreign entities.  The last couple days before the race I at least felt like I had some shock absorption when I went for runs and my mindset was go as hard as possible.

Shepparton 70.3 is put on by the local tri club and it is the biggest local race I have ever been to.  The event had a complete local grassroots feeling but massive participation and professional execution.  This race further confirmed for me that I want to be at Ironman events.  Even the tiny ones are huge.  All my family and friends at home watched video of the event start to finish.  This is how to run a race!

The swim was in a man-made residential lake that looked like chocolate milk.  There was clay in the soil so the water was extremely turbid.  You couldn’t see a thing 1 mm from your goggles so sighting on feet was impossible.  I swam across the lake to get a good warm up in which achieved the warm up objective right up until I got cold waiting for the gun to go off.  I have never started so slowly in my life.  I was still able to swim on some feet (we started with the men) but I saw the caps of Rebekah and Lisa swimming away from me quickly. 

Once we got on the bike the temps were warming up nicely and I cruised off in pursuit. This race was not to be without some turmoil as it seems after my preride of the lap on the very rough asphalt my bottle cage on the front of my bike between the armpads decided to rattle loose.  Coming out of transition my bottle was swaying precariously left and right.  So I quickly reshuffled the bottles to leave that cage empty but it was dangerously close to coming completely unbolted.  I spent a lot of that lap retightening that bolt with my fingers every 3 minutes or so which was a distraction but in the end might have helped me not go out too hard?  Not sure.  I caught Lisa Marangon in 20km and Rebekah Keat shortly after.  I kept the bike pretty steady throughout and ended up with a good split, seven minutes faster than any of the other women and surprisingly earned me a lead.  I actually thought Rebekah was right behind me the whole time but I guess it was a pro man.

So I had a three minute lead on Rebekah into T2 which should have been plenty to hold her off and for one of the seven kilometer laps I was going fast enough to actually do that.  But then I starting tying up and I started slowing down while she continued accelerating.  I could see when we passed each other that the real estate was shrinking between us.  I ran a 1:26 which might have been enough had she not out run all but two of the pro men with a 1:20 flat.   Very impressive running and she was a deserving champion.  We both crushed the previous course record but she gets to hold the new one with her awesome race.

So overall it was a fabulous trip.  I hung out in Melbourne with my hosts Lucy and Jared and they took me for a bike ride with our buddy Jonesy on Beach Road and a run around the Botanical gardens where a million people do workouts.  I checked out downtown and the Queen Victoria market, the Mornington Peninsula wine region and a bunch of areas of town for shopping including Elwood and Chapel St.  It was such a great experience and I have to say Melbourne has amazing coffee culture.  Anyone from the Pacific Northwest would be impressed. Thank you so much to all of you and to Meg and Luke who I haven’t seen since they lived in Canada for connecting me to the Melbourne crowd.

Now I am home.  Ending the season with a strong performance is awesome.  Last year I ended the season with a terrible race, an SI joint injury and downward momentum.  This year I am strong, healthy and motivated.  I look forward to a solid winter of training to kick off a year focused on Ironman events where I will stubbornly pursue success in that arena. I am not ready to throw in the towel yet.

Thanks for reading and thank you to all of my sponsors for getting me through a stormy two seasons.  I think we can safely say I am back on track with the fastest bike split and course record at three Ironman 70.3 events, four top three performances in 70.3 and some wins in the XTERRA/mountain bike arena.  I look forward to improving on this season next year with a solid winter of training.

 

Thanks to Adam Zucco and Trainingbible coaching for resurrecting this career.  I don’t think we have actually knocked it out of the park yet but we are at least on track to step up to the plate.  Thank you to Jamie Grimes at Synergy Wellness in Victoria and eSoles, Paraic McGlynn and Wolfgang at Endurance Rehab for getting me off injury roster and back in the game.  Thanks to Nestor at Studeo DNA for optimizing my racing position on the Speed Concept.  Thank you to Trek, Bontrager, Shimano, Polar, Champion System, Powerbar, Blueseventy, Powertap, Frontrunners, Synergy Wellness Victoria, eSoles, Saltstick, Procity Victoria and Wiink2.  I love you all so much and am so fortunate to have the best team behind me.  Here’s to 2014!

2013-11-17 18.30.19 640x479

Mates and I check out a pub in St Kilda-Paul, Luke’s dad, Luke, Lucy and Jared

 

2013-11-19 13.51.08 480x640

 

 

Preferred mode of transport in Melbourne

2013-11-20 14.18.39 640x480

Gorgeous roses at the ends of the rows in the vineyards of Mornington Peninsula. This is Paringa Estate.

 

2013 70.3 Worlds: Vegas Is A Bust

I don’t quit races.  I finish what I start even if I have to finish an hour behind the winner because I am having an off day.  On Sunday I had a DNF.  My race day ended at T2.  My racing actually ended at about 30 miles into the bike.  There is no excuse that ever matters: I couldn’t finish and didn’t get the job done with my first DNF in a very long time.  That was not the performance that I know I was capable of coming into the event.  The ultimate respect and admiration for Mel Hauschilt for taking the win while all the pressure was on and to Heather Jackson and Annabel Luxford for earning podium spots with superb races on a tough course.  Their performances were what we all aspired to.

I really had put everything wholeheartedly into creating an excellent performance for myself and now I will refocus to make it happen in 2 weeks.  I was ready, both mentally and physically and everything was indicating I was going to have a great day.  Even while the race was unfolding I was adapting to the circumstances to try to maximize whatever performance I had regardless of what outcome resulted.

I actually had a brilliant start to the race and swam with the leaders for a long while (thanks for the tow Leanda!) before I swam off course and ended up in the main bunch (that murky water is pesky if you like swimming crooked).  Every race I swim better and I almost had the swim I have been working for.  I think my swim training was spot on:  I had speed and my stamina continues to improve.  Thank you Clint and the Tuesday morning swim club:  I saw Tenille swimming UP to me!  Execution should have been better.  However, enough good energy from that swim experience had me positive for the bike … maybe I could have swam front pack if it were clear water, especially in the no wetsuit conditions? Or maybe if the front pack slowed down a bit ;)?  Or if I could fart rocket launching power out my bum to keep me on their feet?  Whatever.. I didn’t stay but there is still positive thoughts to work with at my next race.

When we started the bike I didn’t have good legs at all.  However, I just continued to reframe the situation and refocused, thinking things might come around as the race went on.  Sometimes a hard swim just zaps your legs for the opening miles and they come back.  But there was no recovery on Sunday.  Even MC said that when he saw me early into the bike portion of the race my body language on the bike was not right – my giddyup was missing.   I just did not have any power at all, ever.  It seemed that Heather W left some of hers in T1 as well because I was wondering why I couldn’t pedal and she was kind of with me which gave me hope that maybe I was feeling just really bad but riding ok? I was going for my best day even if it wasn’t my best performance….

At about 10 miles I started to feel quite nauseas, had a pounding headache and drinking from my bottle had me revisit my breakfast so no… I wasn’t riding okay or coming around and I wasn’t riding at my own level.  Heather and everyone else left me behind.  Ryan from Blueseventy’s excellent advice to “Pedal Harder” aside (my request), after a couple hours of trying to push through with no food staying down, barely anything to drink and my lost breakfast, I was empty.  In T2 I knew I was not going to be able to run and there was no turning that day around.  No miracles on ice for this girl.  From that great opportunity was born a missed opportunity, from which I will learn and find some great opportunity in the future.  Not really what Herb Brooks meant… but that is what I experienced*.

I am not sure I have ever trained harder or been more committed than I have been to the process of getting back to form from my injury this season and everything prior to this race showed the work was progressing nicely.  I missed something last weekend.  I have done the work and was pretty scrupulous about staying away from any small children and people visibly harboring disease but that wasn’t enough.

Right now the main goal is to put this particular race in my rear view mirror, not dwell on a missed opportunity and instead refocus the new opportunities I have coming up**.   My 70.3 season improved as the season progressed with three top three results and two course records on the bike, so that shows my form is coming back to the top level.  I started the season in the deepest hole ever, from which Adam Zucco dragged me to the surface and it just didn’t come together on Sunday.   

Thanks so much to my sponsors and supporters for the actual and virtual hugs on race day.  It was a tough day and I appreciate the words of support.  I am looking forward to using this disappointment to create some fury for my next event in Ogden, Utah in two weeks at the US XTERRA Championship at Snowbasin Resort.   

 

 *If you don’t know what I am talking about you must YouTube search “Miracle On Ice speech” and educate yourself on some of the finest hockey inspiration there is.

** This tweet is appropriate as I move on:  7h

Sometimes the harder you try to force something to happen, the less it does! Step back, relax, then re-engage with the right intensity

2013 IM 70.3 Steelhead, Benton Harbor, Michigan

Sunday I raced my last event in a planned four week block of racing and it didn’t really go as I had planned.  The result was great but maybe not the performance that I think I was looking for.  Four weeks of racing in a row might be too much of a good thing, perhaps?  I really enjoyed the weekend, had a great bike split and enjoyed the short lived battle for first with a victorious Cait Snow and runner up Radka Vodickova.  It is always fun to see the front, even if it is only up to 5km into the run.  I made it in for third place.

IMG3614

 

Help!  Coke!  Perform!  Chips!  Pickles!  Blankie!

I definitely found my limits this race as there was nothing in the tank at all by the end.  Unfortunately those limits existed at about 35 miles on the bike, which is woefully short of the finish line.  You never know exactly why a race plan doesn’t get executed 100% but I can point to some lacking calories on the bike due to an experimental Vegas plan (ineffective to say the least) and some limited reserves after four weeks of racing.  At any event, it shows me for sure that after many attempts, two weeks between 70.3 events is generally not good for me, whereas one week apart seems to be good.  I also managed the fastest bike split even with some energy lacking on a flat course.  This is absolutely the first time, EVER, I have ridden well on a flat course.  Booya!  I will just put the credit where that is due:  MY NEW BIKE J  oh and probably the coaching too.  J 

IMG0961

 

Hotness #ProjectOne

Ya, the new Trek Speed Concept is pretty snazzy and I know there are a lot of jealous athletes out there that I got to take it for a gallop first.  I think it is excellent for one’s confidence to know you have the absolute best possible bike on the course and I am so inspired to show what this bike can do in Las Vegas.  It is going to be a ton of fun and I know both Linsey Corbin and I are going to be legitimate badasses out there rocking it.

 

IMG2166

I got my glasses helladirty.  Couldn’t see anything out of them so that is them stuffed down my top 🙂

Although parts of the race were less fun, everything about GOING to the race was a wicked time.  I travelled with Adam Zucco, Scott Iott and Cesar Valera which was non-stop hilarity.  Both Adam and Scott crushed it so we had loads to celebrate after the weekend which made for more good times.  Big thank you to Lindsay and Adam Zucco for hosting me over the course of the week and to Adam for coaching me back to the front of the race.  However, Adam, I do want to be beating you so maybe could you put a bit more effort in?  Just kidding…. Sort of.  Haha!

steelhead penalty tent

 

Our crew at Steelhead. We deserved the penalty tent for the post race activities.

Huge thank you to Mark Andrews for the white glove hand delivery of my new machine.  I always trust whatever bike he hands me before a race and without fail, the bike is mint.  This race was no exception.  Much love and gratitude to Mark and everyone at Trek for helping me get back into the groove on the bike.   Shout out to Nestor at Studeo DNA for helping me tweak my position now that I am healthy with the right amount of comfort and aggressiveness.  This mountain biker has lots to learn still but I have a great team behind me.

So now I am back to work until Las Vegas.  I have lots of confidence in my fitness right now and look forward to a solid block of rest and work before the race on Sept 8th.  It is going to be so much fun to toe the line with the superstar lineup it looks like Worlds is going to attract.  How cool is that??  Not to mention, I am feeling pretty darn skippy so it is going to be fun to then turn my attention to my first love… the Superfly.  I will be a mountain biker again after Vegas for Utah and Maui… and then it looks like I have another month of fun.  So really, the season is just starting for Mel!  Awesome.

Thank you so much to all my kickass supporters Trek Bikes, Bontrager, Shimano, Powerbar, Rudy Project, Blueseventy, Polar USA, Champion System, Powertap, USANA, SciCon Bags, Synergy Health Management and Trek Procity Victoria.  So excited to get to work in the coming weeks. 

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.

MelnMerfinish 640x480

 

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!

Lake Stevens bike 640x480

 

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!

Meln stevepowertap 480x640

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 Café 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. 

photo 4 640x480

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! 

 

photo 3 640x480

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. 

stumptown 480x640

 

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

2013 IM 70.3 Tremblant – Racing In La Belle Province Doesn’t Disappoint

During my tenure as a mountain bike professional I was fortunate to race in Quebec numerous times on the World and Canada Cup circuit.  There were a number of years where I travelled to Mont Tremblant to enjoy the awesome trails and beautiful village.  This year I returned to enjoy the paved surfaces and aquatic environment at the venue and I have found my new favorite.   Wow, Tremblant.. what a show!  The race was challenging in both the course and the competition and I am happy to have held third place with Linsey Corbin and Magali Tissyere taking top spots in front of me.  I continue my march back to fitness and a podium is excellent!

23062013-sans-titre-7169-Modifier

 Copyright Nathalie Madore photo.  This is Melanie using her Pearl Izumis like a skier uses her skis! (I got rocks in them somehow)

Racing in Quebec is always of the highest quality.  From the excellent prerace excitement, the incredibly well organized expo and course, the nicest road surfaces I have ever raced on, the best run aid station energy, lots of media and a sold out field of 2300 people: this race is incredible.  You must do it.

23062013-sans-titre-0114-Modifier

The day began with my worst swim ever in history.  I don’t know what happened.  I was swimming fine until the first turn buoy and then somehow I drowned.  I don’t know how I lost the group because I didn’t blow up I just stopped moving.  I can’t even explain it.  I am so comfy in my Blue Seventy wetsuit and it is of the best quality suit on the market so something I am doing when I swim is wrong.  This is my main disappointment on the day.  What happened?  I am actually a good swimmer!

2013-06-24 11.42.11 480x640

 Mel’s cute Blueseventy swimsuit and the goggles of choice for race morning.  Sweet 🙂

Needless to say spotting more than 2 minutes to Linsey and Magali and riding alone didn’t set me up for Mel’s best race.  I gathered my wits and my courage but lost further time on the day.  I think in the end when I look at all the splits everything was equally a bit off.  I hope to go faster on the bike in particular in the future as that wasn’t really the ride i had anticipated.  Third fastest bike split but not enough to find my way back into the race.

23062013-sans-titre-1040-Modifier

Sticking your tongue out does make this much easier.  Nice pedi, eh?

My run started strong and I took back a few seconds from Magali early on but in the final stretch faded a bit.  I was strong enough to run back into third and hold with a solid lead on fourth.  Running into such an amazing finish line with so many fans is awesome.  The organizers of Tremblant really had a solid dress rehearsal for the 2014 World Championships with this event.  It is going to be awesome.

23062013-sans-titre-1165-Modifier

 Merci pour le beatdown Tremblant!

2013-06-21 12.06.06 480x640

We ran down this towards the finish line.

Thanks so much to Tremblant for the invitation to such a great event.  Thank you to the legions of volunteers, police and Quebec government for making the race possible.  Thanks to Synergy Heath Management for the post bike fit tuneup J  I made some changes to my position this week that I think are going to be a big change for future races.

Thanks to Shimano and Cyclo Technique Montreal for the pre race support!


2013-06-21 16.12.58 480x640

 

Thanks to Champion System for the kits pre race…  say no to butt crack!

2013-06-21 15.05.12 480x640

 

Thanks to Trek, Bontrager, Powerbar, Polar, Rudy Project, Blueseventy wetsuits, Powertap, USANA and SciCon bags.  Thanks also to my local YYJ supporters Pro City Racing and Synergy Health Management.

Thanks also to my friends Magali Tissyere and Linsey Corbin and the rest of the women’s field for being such excellent competitors and great people as well.  Always a pleasure to test myself against such incredible athletes.  Congratulations to Terenzo, Brent, Guillame, Trevor and the men’s field as well for putting on a great show!

2013-06-22 12.03.10 480x640

 Mini Mel and Mini Mags in the mega chair.

P.S.  This was the cookie that Trevor Wurtele was trying to temp me with…..luckily I am an oatmeal raisin girl…

2013-06-22 12.11.47 480x640

2013 Raleigh 70.3 – Beauty In The Southeast

The last time I visited North Carolina was to attend the superfantastic Pisgah Stage Race.  It was love at first sight and I knew that another trip to the “First In Flight” state was on my wish list.  So when the inaugural Raleigh 70.3 was announced one week out from the Richmond XTERRA, I was in.  This meant much less travel than last year coming from Hawaii and more time adjusting to the challenging weather conditions the Southeast loves to throw at athletes.  I definitely made an excellent decision.  What a wonderful place.

 

Hot for a Canadian, Bob Hennessy photo

My race on Sunday was pretty darn good.  First off,  lets discuss how hard Ironman is for a second.  It was horribly humid and you need to keep moving for hours and hours.  I recognize it could have been hotter and the bike portion of the race was somewhat cool due to cloud cover but by the time we got to that bear of a run it was stinkin hot.  To come third behind rockstars like Laura Bennett and Emma Kate lidbury and stay in front of Jessica Jacobs and Beth Shutt in the southeast with 4 days of acclimation is freaking great.  To come third in a 70.3 finally after more than a year of biomechanical failure is also delicious.  On a course with a flat bike (least least favorite) and a run from hell (not the flavor I would ever choose) is even better.  Despite conditions not playing to my strengths I kept it together and had a great result.  I am so excited about that.  However, I was solidly pounded by race winner, Olympian and fellow Champion System athlete Laura Bennett in the swim and the run though so there is room for improvement.  I am not going to rest on this but rather use it as a signpost for the direction I need to go in order to attain the level I want to race at.  Big congratulations to both Laura and Greg Bennett for reigning supreme on the day.

 

Polarpersonaltrainer.com indicates kind of a slow death in the heat on race day.

 

Now a short recap.  The swim was another version of the Alabama switch where the supposedly definitively non wetsuit race became wetsuit.  Again, many pros left wetsuit free.  I was not one of them.  On the swim the fastest girls all managed to position themselves with about 15 seconds to cannon on the opposite end of the pack from me despite my focused stalking of Laura all morning.  Seriously, one minute we are all there the next they are on the absolute opposite end of the pack, wtf.  So then I was sucked into Laura’s superswimmer tactics where she busted left AWAY from the buoys (where I’m lined up) so I had to sprint, cross the entire field to get on the back of a tiny 3 person pack which was swimming away from me.  After I made contact with one pair of feet for about 25 seconds, I was dropped and plowed my own water all swim.  Dagnabbit.

Then out onto the bike I put my head down and got within sight of the foursome in front of me (they had a couple of men they out swam in with them) in the first hour but that was when the course was going up a little.  When the terrain got a bit faster and more downhill, the elastic stretched again.  I am really not that good in the flat fast courses and need hills to use my power.  I mean, that is the nature of my strength right now but this race has shown me I want to work harder on that.  So I never really got in contact with the leaders despite posting second fastest bike split.  Emma Kate is fast. 

Out onto the run I was expecting something resembling the course profile.  Notsomuch.  Here are some of my thoughts:  Where the heck did all these mountains over by the art gallery come from?  Who turned up the heat?  Why is the whole way on the way out totally uphill when the profile says it is flat?  The run was really really hard.  When most of the pro men are in the 1:20s range you know it is hard.   I was spending the entire run trying not to do my classic southeastern chicken dance instead of finishing.  I walked aid stations, took 4 cups of ice cubes and generally went into meltdown protection mode.  I was briefly passed by Jessica Jacobs where there was two laps of one mile and prayed she was a mile behind because I had no chance of staying with her.  Thankfully, she was as she cracked fastest women’s run split.  Lucky me I could hold her off.

 

Must… go….. faster!!!!!!

So I saw none of the beauty on the run course since I was blind with suffering but the bike was incredibly awesome.  So green, best roads in the world, most fans on the side of the road ever, best aid stations ever, most interesting point to point journey, you name it this race is awesome.  I loved it. Want to come back.

Thank you to the spectator who gave up their seat on the shuttle for me on race morning, you are a doll!  Thank you to Helen and Al McCleary my homestays who are so fun and interesting to hang out with. 

 

Al and Helen almost let it slip by me that they HATE beets!  Dinner was loaded with them.  Haha!

Thank you to the adorable race director Brian Myrick for solving my massive wardrobe malfunction on race morning J 

 

Um, yeah, fatass ripped her pants on race morning 🙂

Thank you Blue Seventy for sending a sleeveless wetsuit to prevent my massive overheating in the questionably 76 degree lake water in the morning.  Thanks to Trek, Shimano, Bontrager, Powerbar, Polar, Rudy Project, Champion System, Powertap, and USANA.  Thank you to Adam Zucco of Trainingbible coaching for some excellent comeback advice and thanks to Clint Lien and my Tuesday AM Swim Club kids for setting a new level of expectation for all of us.

 

Feels good to start the form rolling again.  See ya in Richmond, eh?

2013 Oceanside 70.3

The spring kickoff for Ironman racing in North America was last Saturday in sunny Oceanside, California.  The field was stacked, particularly on the women’s side, so as returning 2012 champion I had a formidable challenge to repeat.  70.3 racing at early 2013 international events has been inspiring, with eye popping splits and real breakthrough performances.  It appears the bar has been set much higher for this year, not just by the influx of ITU racers (although they are part of it) but also by massive improvements from the 70.3 specialists as well.  The racing at Oceanside last week continued this trend with Heather Jackson taking the win ahead of Heather Wurtele and Lesley Paterson who just nipped Linsey Corbin for third.  Great job ladies!  I was 13th

photo 3

A very, very nervous Mel- not my usual composure before races

While my Oceanside result isn’t where I expected to find myself at the finish of the race, realistically it is a step forward and can be viewed in positive light given my challenging offseason.  On Saturday, I endured a nightmare swim, put my head down on the bike and pulled myself back up briefly into single digit position with Vodickova and Joyce off the bike and then ran to 13th.  Although I am not stoked about my race, it is the first in a long time that I have been steady start to finish without physical problems.   Now I will pocket the fitness, get back to work and look forward to continued improvement at my next race.

The injury has forced me to reassess aspects of my biomechanics for Ironman racing.  This process and my partnership with eSoles custom insoles has brought some amazing professionals in physical therapy and bike fitting to my team.  I am stoked that I had a chance to visit Endurance Rehab and Cyclologic in Scottsdale as I feel both Wolfgang and Paraic have made a real differences in my recovery and my ability to ride a tt bike.  After a complete revamp of my bike fit and bike cleats things are looking great with respect to training and completing recovery and my Oceanside finish demonstrates that I can start to build from here.

Being a returning winner for a title defense was exciting but also nerve wracking as I knew I wasn’t 100% flying.  I couldn’t sleep for two nights before the race I was so nervous.  The experience was a stepping stone that I had to put a foot on to find my way back to the pointy end of a race. 

I really benefitted from prerace support and advice from Mark Andrews at Trek and prerace/onsite support from Heather Fuhr.  She is our pro athlete babysitter and we are helpless without her, thank you Heather!  I also love my friends from Maui and a big happy birthday shoutout to Aaron and a huge hug to my friend Jody, both of whom flew in to see the race.  Mahalo you guys xx

My personal army starts with Trek, Bontrager, Shimano, Cycleops/Powertap, Rudy Project and Polar for supporting me with the fastest stuff.  With objective data from Polar and Powertap I can track exactly where I am with power and heart rate data from racing and from training that will show my progression through the year which is going to be motivating to look at.  I have Powerbar helping fine tune my nutrition to figure out how to fuel events this long.  I have Champion System making gorgeous custom kits to keep me looking good and comfortable in aero position which is an amazing feat.  I have eSoles/Endurance Rehab/Cyclologic taking a real interest in my recovery and sorting out the insoles, physio and bike fit needs that have become increasingly important as I do more Ironman events.  I have Synergy Wellness Management in Victoria monitoring and treating my pesky right hip and providing the yoga sessions that have become essential in my training.  Sci Con Bike travel bags keeps my bike safe, Pearl Izumi sorting out my footwear needs and Usana, Genunine Innovations and ESI grips round out the supporters that help keep me healthy and safe on the road.  Thanks guys, I appreciate you guys so much. 

See you in Vegas.

2013-03-29 17.12.37 480x640Pretty Maui gift from Jody 🙂

2013 Panama 70.3

This past weekend I tested out some racing in February at the Panama 70.3 race in Panama City. It was awesome that Heather Wurtele won such a big event, she is a such a champion. Camilla Pederson, Kelly Williamson, Marg Shapiro and Jodie Swallow rounded out the top of the podium and I ended up 7th behind Terra Castro. All of those girls are phenomenal athletes and I was amazed to see how fit they were in February which is certainly a kick in the pants for me. The race was puzzling as nothing really played out the way I thought it would. I am not sure what I thought would happen cramming a race into the winter after a longer than normal offseason but now I guess the mystery is solved.  

It is amazing that we could do what we did on Sunday on such incredibly busy roads. Big props go out to the local organizers and Ironman for offering a completely closed bike course. I noticed a few Panamanian cyclists NOT in the race taking advantage of clear roads for training which I am sure is not often the case. There were quite a few mountain bikes with slicks so I am sure some of the stars of La Ruta Mtb Stage Race were out there training on our race day. Thanks to IM for an excellent event, the chance to swim in the 7th or 8th Wonder of the World and the fun times racing across the Bridge of the Americas. It was my first trip to Central America and my first visit to a Latin culture (Mexican resorts do not count) so I tried to learn/absorb/enjoy all that I could while I was there.

Going into this race I felt I was undertrained for triathlon but I thought I was in shape on the bike, which isn’t ideal for a big championship level event, but thought there were some things I could gain in coming to this one despite all of that. I think in the end the gamble of coming not in top form was worth it, even if I felt it was tough trying to race in Panamanian hot/humid conditions coming from winter in Victoria. Lots of other top athletes also got crushed so I wasn’t alone out there.

I was very disappointed in my riding and I don’t really know how to explain that. The flat tire does not reconcile my bike split. Although my run wasn’t awesome I knew what to expect since I have been injured since 70.3 Worlds and not training at all for running and frankly, the heat was insane. Honestly, my run was average for about 17km and then completely terrible for the last 4km which was where I lost gobs of time- the wheels came off of an already rickety cart. However, as bad as it was I think it was better than the last four 70.3s I did where I was trained and injured. Baby steps as I can build from here. It was a good workout.

The highlight was my swim which after only three weeks of proper training is right where it should be. We all basically time trialed as the current in the water and the boats we swam around splintered us into individuals rather than a pack. That was the shiny part of the whole race, as I came out with a very small deficit.

I can say I am healthy, I know with my current fitness I can already do better than happened this past weekend and I can swim. Given it is still February I have a lot of time before my actual season starts and I probably just need to spend a bit more time riding my time trial bike potentially in warmer conditions. It was scorching hot there.

To summarize the weekend I can now say I have seen Central America, got massive sunburn, practiced getting a mechanical in a race, run a whole 21km for the first time since last July and I moved 100 spots up the ranking with the points I gained. I got to try out the new awesome Champion System tri kit in the water so organizing for the season is happening earlier than ever.   So all in all, many boxes were ticked even if my cycling ego is bruised. I will get over it and ride faster in Oceanside last week of March. I also learned those hats everyone thinks are Panama hats are actually Ecuadorian.  Google that.  

I did check out some of Panama City and have included some fun photos from this colorful place. My hands down favorite were the painted buses ferrying people in and out of the city.  Crazy.

I think they paint over the windshield of the party bus so that no one has to witness the chaos that is the traffic in this city.  My other taxi lesson along with learning it is totally normal to be sharing with a stranger is that there are NO seatbelts in the back.  Wanna wear a seatbelt?  Gotta be in the front.

 

Old Panama City to the right…


New Panama City to the left…

Someone forgot to check the tide charts….

 Gracias por leer mis amigos triatlón!