2015 XTERRA West Championships

I added the XTERRA West Championship to my schedule not only because I really miss and enjoy that style of racing but also because I have been finding that the best taper for a race is to race the weekend before.  I have almost without exception found that resting into race #1 leaves me good but not 100% and the following weekend I feel amazing.  Since I am really hoping to have a good go in St George I thought I would employ this strategy, literally clean the cobwebs off my Superfly, and use the race in Lake Las Vegas as my pre-race tuneup.  Since I had a good race, stayed upright and am quickly recovered and back on track I can say that so far things are going as expected.

2015 vegas preride

 Preriding with my roomies Brittany, Katharine and Buttons.

I am excited to see the top girls in XTERRA are doing a phenomenal job of raising the bar and pushing each other to continue raising the level in the sport.  Lesley is in her characteristic all year round top shape early season-on a course that favored her Southern California training environment-so it was not surprising that she was the fastest this weekend.   I was impressed to see Emma Garrard come out of her Park City hibernation in ripping form to make the race a close and exciting one right from the first transition.  Not to be overlooked is the always improving Suzie Snyder who performed well in her busy racing schedule to take third place in her third weekend of racing in a row.  The deciding factor that day was both Emma and Lesley’s lightning fast run splits that set them apart from the rest of the field and I am only sorry we couldn’t see what super Flora could do as well.  XTERRA is definitely taking on an ITU flavor which is not surprising since XTERRA is one of the only Olympic distance races with prize money other than ITU but it looks like Emma and Suzie are adapting to the new racing environment.

I am absolutely astonished at the ladies that take a year off to go and push out a baby and somehow make it look like it might be some sort of advantage.  I am absolutely certain that doing that to your body should not be considered performance enhancing and yet I see Emma come back a rockstar, Sara Schuler outrun me and my friend Hilary Stellingwerff back home in Victoria is already back to Olympian shape for 1500m after giving birth to baby Theo mere months ago. Amazing runners like Paula Radcliffe and Shalene Flanagan, my friend Danelle Kabush, who races with not one but TWO babies, and Beth Gerdes impress me so much.  The discipline, commitment and hard work it takes to get your body back to professional athlete status is huge – I don’t know how you guys do it! 

I was fourth in the race and honestly that was about what I expected given I don’t focus on this distance and these girls are fast!  Although I was smart and started beside super swimmer Sara McClarty I am not sure I swam what I was hoping but didn’t lose any time to the top three girls-but 3 minutes to super Sara.   It was a great hit out on the new Blueseventy Helix which is AMAZING!  I appreciated my mirrored goggles but they really ended up unnecessary as it turned cloudy.  The dark lenses didn’t matter because you couldn’t see one centimeter underwater which made it challenging to follow feet.

When we got on the bike I actually expected to lose more time on the climbs but I was happy to say that on most of the extended climbs I held my ground.  However, I was bleeding time profusely in the downhills and transitions.  I think I lost 15-20 seconds in the first sandy swoopy corner of the day and lost contact- which pretty much continued all day.  My purse strings were too tight on the brakes J

2015 xterra vegas bike

I tested out the Apex triathlon suit from Champion System.  Much more mountain bike style, no?  A bit awkward for the body numbers 🙂

It is funny to think how I used to complain so much that these courses are not technical.  Although I was able to ride all the lines in the race smoothly, the top girls clearly exposed this as a glacial pace.  Turns out my skills are quite rusty after three mountain bike rides, two here and one in sketchy wet technical conditions at home.  I am definitely not used to cornering on marbles in dirt at 50 km/h.  I rode with one of the top age group men on his first lap while I was on my second and I could see that I was also forgetting to do all of the punchy little attacks you need to push your momentum mountain biking.  Ironman and XTERRA are not all that similar J

The run was exactly the speed I have been training for but not fast enough to run anybody down so my position did not change.  I know I am in super shape right now and this race just adds a good dose of punchy speed to the recipe.  I remember doing my first XTERRA races in past seasons and blowing up before I even got to the run which is such a contrast to how I feel now.  I am definitely a different athlete now compared to when I was an XTERRA girl.

It was great to see Kate Button from Victoria coming into T2 as the next pro woman behind me so she continues to improve, taking 8th place on the day.  Overall age group winner and Canadian cross country skiing Olympian Brittany Webster ran her way up to fifth place overall so Canada has two more super athletes in development within the sport of XTERRA, which is so fun for me to see.  The third member of the COG racing team Katharine Wilson was fifth age group and 15th overall so it looks like she is ready to take on the pro ranks as well to add another strong Canadian chick to the long list of future stars.  Great job girls!  It was a fun weekend hanging out with the XTERRA crowd.  Not many Ironman girls I have hung out with are as eager to crack a beer as often as these girls, so it was a different vibe in offroad racing.  It was nice to be back even for one weekend.

After the race we went for a social ride and joined pros Craig Evans and Canadian Karston Madson for a little spin around the desert.  https://instagram.com/p/18_Umdj2_B/ XTERRA is a fun little family.  Although I love the Ironman stuff and don’t regret for one second changing my focus it does feel really great to be welcomed back  by my fellow pros even for a short visit.

Now I just have a short drive up to St George to visit my awesome homestay Sue Lipsman.  I am looking forward to a fun weekend with her, Mark from Trek and my bf Mike… not to mention the awesome challenge of racing a world class field of Ironman girls at the North American Championships.

Thanks to Trek, Shimano, Bontrager, Powertap, Rudy Project North America, Champion System, Asics, Frontrunners, Synergy Wellness, Blueseventy, USANA and my amazing coach/advisor Kelly Guest of Livefit coaching for helping me to get ready, fit and prepared to tackle the huge race in St George next weekend.   I am so happy to be here and so happy to have the versatility to choose to race all of these amazing athletes in such fun places.  Good times!

2014 XTERRA World Champs

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

2014 XTERRA Victoria

The XTERRA event in Victoria grows every year.  It started as a little sprint event at Durrance Lake and has been steadily growing and attracting interest from further abroad year after year.  This year there were many racers from out of town and even out of country.  I participated in a pre race training clinic with Brent and Danelle which saw more than 20 keen triathletes pay to go ride with us (the money went to a cancer charity!) and I was amazed at how GREAT everyone could ride!  It was very fun.  It was also my only ride on a mountain bike before the race so I was happy to take some time to learn the lines again.

spreading some powerbar love

 

The Halloween bag of Powerbar wafers is sent around the circle.  Brent is extra stoked to get some 🙂

So this is the main takeaway from this event for me.  I rode ZERO mountain bike miles leading up to this race for a variety of reasons but mostly because I have focused 100% of my attention on training for 70.3.  I will admit that having the race here in Victoria means that despite my lack of practice I do have loads of mileage in the trees here so it would not take much for me to become comfortable riding technical terrain again.  However, I rode awful in the singletrack.  I crashed no less than four times and I still rode a faster split than last year.   Fitness beats skills. 

It was very fun.  Highlights on the swim for me were sprinting to oblivion to the first buoy, dying completely, and rallying to catch back up to the group behind Brent.  I am fit for swimming.  There was a guy who kept stopping to swim breaststroke and I think he still stayed with my group though.  I don’t know how I feel about that.  I am feeling really great in my Blueseventy Helix wetsuit though.  Having switched to the new MS Women’s size is making an absolute world of difference for me.  I am much more comfortable and fast in it.

XTERRA Swim fern

Second highlight was doing battle with Ironman legend Tom Evans.   It appears he is getting serious about his mountain biking because he was very fast in the trails this year.  I tried my hardest to crack him on the climbs but it just wasn’t happening.  I should have known he was in awesome shape when he held Brent for the swim.  Also a highlight for me was seeing the improvement in little Kate Button on her mountain bike.  I think the last time I rode was with her and Brent (winter) and we came up to this steep little drop thing which I was like, hmmm, maybe not today and I walked down.  Shortly after I finished wrapping my purse in my spokes she plowed through it on her beat up old hard tail.  So proud of you Buttons!

Third highlight was setting the fastest run split on a super steep and technical run course.  I am sure Danelle could have run faster if she hadn’t just taken a little injury break due to a calf strain but I am still going to feel good about running fast this weekend.   I am hoping she will train more with me so I can try to run like her in Maui.  Staying within seven minutes of Brent on a technical (not my strength) and very steep (also not my strength) and long in time duration course (more time to lose time) is solid.  Looking back at where I have been in XTERRA I would regularly lose more than 10 minutes to the men on the run.  This is good.

podium xterra victoriaRacing in Victoria is legit with very fast athletes on the line.  Leis for the Mcwinners 😉

 

I really appreciate all the local volunteers and Human Powered Racing for putting on this event.  Monique you are a star!    Thanks to Sandy Wilson from Arbutus Physio for being onsite to take care of athlete’s post race niggles – including mine! Thanks to the Trek ProCity boys Bill, Troy and Mitch for being on hand to take care of anyone’s last minute mechanical stress and for feeding the hordes barbeque after the race.   Great job to Troy and Erin Glazier from Chek News for crushing the team relay in the Sprint event.  

woodie xterra 640x640

Woodie’s triathlon debut

Glazier has become quite the triathlete under the tutelage of Ironman legend Jasper Blake.  Thanks to Sean Cunningham and Jasper for providing the event’s entertainment.  And thanks to the event sponsors http://www.xterravictoria.ca/sponsors/ for making it all happen.  Nourish was the meeting spot where a group of us enjoyed some post race sustenance (so good!) . 

2014-07-06 14.06.09 480x640

 

Seriously amazing food.

Congratulations to all who earned their spots in Maui and I look forward to seeing you all there J  Thanks to all of my sponsors who indulge in my versatile schedule which has now seen a win over the half distance, Olympic distance and now XTERRA.  I would like to try to win a mountain bike race now.  That will have to wait because I don’t think it will happen if I don’t brush up on my skills a little.

A shoutout to the SCUD ambassador at the race, Rob Bourguigion.  It is nice that XTERRA remembers such a passionate proponent of XTERRA racing and the lifestyle.  Scott Scudamore touched all the lives of everyone who races XTERRA.

scud pic 

Thanks Trek, Bontrager, Shimano, Powerbar, Blueseventy, Champion System, Rudy Project, Powertap and USANA.  Also thanks so much to my Victoria supporters Synergy Health Management, Frontrunners Westshore and Wiink2.  Congrats to FR Westshore owner Nick Walker for punching his ticket to XTERRA Worlds on a fancy Trek Superfly.  Looks like I have added a training partner in September!   

2013 XTERRA World Championship

The 2013 XTERRA Worlds were an excellent experience albeit a terrible performance. Given that training into the event went very well there is nothing leading up to the race to indicate to me I would achieve my personal worst performance in Hawaii. Starting the day with an excellent swim setting me up for the bike well, I expected to hop on the bike and do what I do best, only to not be at my best.

2013 xterra worlds

The only thing I am sure of is that my best form in my triathlon career is still to come.  I truly believe there is so much better potential than I have displayed this year.  The only way to realize that ability is to put this race in the rearview and get on with the next ones, even if my ego and confidence needed bandaids for a couple of weeks.

Thank you to all my sponsors and supporters who have offered some words of encouragement as I look to the races coming up at the end of this year and those in 2014.  Big thank you to my Hawaii friends Mark and Aaron in Paia for my local connection-  thanks you guys!(xx).  Extra big thank you to my boyfriend Mike and his family who packed in more fun into the trip than I have ever experienced in all my years of fun-having.  Dave and Barb you are pros…so much aloha to you guys.  

I have quoted an exerpt from one of my favorite poems that I find appropriate to consider when addressing such an astonishing disappointment.  I hope you appreciate it.  Aloha.

Lines from Rudyard Kipling’s “If-” (not the entire poem)

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;  
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

2013 XTERRA USA Championship: Snowbasin, Utah

The last race of the US XTERRA Pro series was this past weekend at Snowbasin Resort in Ogden, Utah.  Lesley Paterson finished off a perfect season winning the final race, Barb Riveros took second place, Chantal Widney of Canada third place with Emma Garrard and Danelle Kabush rounding out the podium.  Great to have two Canucks up there!  The quality of field for this race was the best ever seen for both men and women and it was a great prelude to the final race of the season in Maui, Hawaii.   It is exciting to see our sport mature and I am so proud to have so many strong Canadians in the race.  I am in excellent company representing triathlon in Canada.

Utah Canadians

 

The Canadian ladies in Utah!

I was eighth on the day and fourth on the XTERRA tour overall.  My stranglehold on top 2 (the last 10 years?) ended on Sunday.  With a better day on Sunday I might have held on for another year of top 2 but it wasn’t to be.   Lots of girls handing me my arse when I didn’t show up with my best.  

I was asked before the race: would you be happy with your race if you didn’t win?  I said yes, if I performed at my best and it still wasn’t good enough I would be satisfied for sure.  I am impressed with how strong the field is in XTERRA and I really look forward to sharpening my tools before I show up in Maui.  All of the women in front of me this weekend are strong and focused on XTERRA and there were more superfast girls still behind me, so I can’t be that disappointed.  However, I do know that focused or not on XTERRA my fitness is better than that but I still have to prove it.  That was the day and if I want a better result I am just going to have to work harder and make it happen.  

I’m sure I am not the only one who felt a bit frustrated with their performance on Saturday.  It all has to come out on the big day and small things can affect that day’s performance.  The only thing you can do is go back to work, be diligent, disciplined and confident that eventually it will all come together.  Keeping your confidence is the trick.  I am sure I will have a good race come together if I stay on track and refuse to be discouraged when things don’t play out as expected.

Now for some things you may or may not have known about the race in Ogden:

        The swim was about 2.1km instead of 1.5 km.  In very un-XTERRA style… we did a super crazy long swim to start the race.  Weird.

        The weather was probably the warmest we have ever had at this race.  Normally race morning is freezing and we have frozen feet the whole day. It was downright beautiful!

        There were more ITU and WTC types in the race than any other XTERRA other than Maui.  Looks like the qualifying requirement is definitely working to improve the depth of field!

        Emma Garrard had a baby 9 months ago before she went and had her best Nationals ever, finishing 4th!  Another super fast mom in the field.

        There were 1000 people taking part in the triathlon and who knows how many more in the trail race.  That is a solid turnout for a mountain bike triathlon event!

        The race was point to point, starting down at 6000 ish feet and topping out at 7700 ish before descending to about 7000 where the run started and finished.  

 

 2013 xterra nationals

My www.polarpersonaltrainer.com file from the race showing the effort was there even if the power went out.  You can see that I suffered on the run… where the heartrate went down instead of up.

I have turned this season mostly into positive despite a start that was looking a little troubling.  Starting training for the season in April is not ideal but coming from not being able to run resulting in my worst Oceanside performance ever, to working myself back to three top 3 Ironman 70.3 races, two bike course records on the Ironman 70.3 circuit, a 1st and a 2nd place on the XTERRA tour and a win at the TransRockies mountain bike race against quality girls is not that bad a year.  I may not have knocked it out of the park but generally you need to start with good momentum to make that happen. And that is what I have now, some awesome momentum.  I think it is turning around now and I am excited to see how the coming races pan out

I take inspiration from World Mountain Bike Champion Julie Bresset who had an injury during the mountain bike season.  She blew up at the World Cup weeks out from the World Championships where she rode at the front and faded, only to roar back and win the World Championships a few weeks later.  That pointy end form takes a bit to come back and first you have to feel it before you can keep it.  I think for a few precious minutes I felt it.

Thanks to all of my amazing sponsors and supporters.  You inspire me every day to work my hardest… thank you!  Thanks to Adam Zucco who is patiently riding this roller coaster of return to form with me… all the while talking me off the ledge when I get impatient 🙂  Thank you to Rob and Linda Karz, my Park City host family who give me such an amazing base to work from for this race.  Such a pleasure to have annual visits with such incredible people.  This really is a charmed life I lead.

Back to work.

 

2013 Utah champs

 

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!

photo 2 640x480

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?  

2013 East Championship: Richmond, VA the Dirty Duathlon

The 2013 edition of this race was in jeopardy of cancellation due to stormy weather creating soggy trails and flooding of the James River.  Only the commitment of the Richmond Parks Department Trail Manager  Nathan Burrell and some last minute sunny weather kept the race alive, albeit without a swim.  This is the second time I have raced a duathlon at this venue.  The lack of swim combined with lackluster legs on the bike did not bode well for my overall race performance.  I ran and pedaled hard and after it was said and done finished fourth behind hard charging Lesley, Shonny and Brandi while managing to hold off speedy Danelle in the closing miles of the second run.   

 

Lots of Canadians 🙂

My performance was summed up by Brandi Heisterman, who passed me very early on the first lap:  “you were riding a bit like a donkey.”  Agreed – losing 5 minutes to the fastest bike split on this course not what I would generally expect from myself or how I have ever performed here.  I held on for a lap but crappy legs from the half Ironman last weekend added up to me dropping back instead of surging forward.   These XTERRA girls are fast and when I’m not at my best its a tough go.  I didn’t focus much of my season on the XTERRA series this year so although I’m disappointed I know where these results are coming from.   Could be much better.

2013 richmond start

 

Yes I am wearing gloves, it was to speed up my transition 🙂

I think it is 100% a crapshoot how you are going to feel one week out of a 70.3 event, last year I was great after Honu but that was coming off a bad 70.3 race and 8 days rather than 7 in between.  I think the quality of racing you exhibit at a 70.3 will determine recovery time, with better races requiring more time to bounce back than crappy races.  Racing XTERRA, which requires maximum power AFTER the 70.3 which is more sustained power is challenging within a week.  The races would pan out better if I could schedule them in the opposite way but that just isn’t how the schedule laid out.   I am happy to have raced and pushed myself on a tough day and I am marching forward with improving fitness towards races later this season.  

2013 richmond bike

Riding dirty. 

I     With the Polar RC3 GPS not only can I track heart rate, but I can also see pace during the race which is very useful going forward.  This file is quite different from the heart rate profiles from last year when I was feeling great.  My heart rate is much lower and dips on the second lap of the bike showing that there was a significant decline in input (heart rate measures mostly your INPUT/power and pace measure OUTPUT)… which resulted in less output on the bike and explains the less than stellar bike split for me.  You can use your heartrate monitor information in this way to more objectively measure your performance especially after you have made a more subjective call on how you felt.  

–      The Race Notes:

–     Luck Stone is a local sponsor who incorporated their own GPS technology allowing fans to follow their favorite pros on race day.  This is an incredible step forward in promoting a participant sport’s fan base – THANK YOU for allowing others to follow along on race day.  Awesome.

BMVEI6NCUAEvmwt

 

This is where my chip ended up 🙂

–  Canadian pro girls outnumbered the non-Canadian girls in the field.  My work here is done, haha!  If Chantal Whidney had not had a flat she would have been in the mix as well.

–        Duct tape is not an acceptable mode of race kit repair.  Although Champion System offered to replace the kit I thought I would be swimming in the James River and thus destroy the new one anyways so I decided to try to fix it.  Didn’t work out when I stuffed my GPS down my pants when the strap for that broke as well.  Eventually I lost the GPS, my seat bag and a bit more coverage of my butt.  I noticed the crazy fans appreciated the low cut version of the arse of my outfit.  You’re welcome boys!

2013-06-08 19.16.23 480x640

 

Duct tape almost fixes anything.  Almost. 

Next up is Mt Tremblant 70.3 where I will continue my progress towards a spot at Vegas 70.3 Worlds.  My running is feeling strong and I look forward to showing that improvement at a race – SOON!  I will be spending more time dialing my position on the Trek Speed Concept in the coming weeks.

 

Thanks to Trek, Bontrager, Shimano, Champion System, Powerbar, Polar USA, Champion System, Rudy Project, Powertap, Blueseventy, eSoles, SciCon Bags, Synergy Health Management in Victoria and USANA.  Thanks to Jay and Celine for another year at Casa Stuart Ave.  Thanks to Al and Helen for another fun day in Cary, NC.  Thanks to XTERRA and Nathan at Richmond Parks Department for rolling with the punches and pulling off a successful event under challenging conditions.  Thanks to the Canadian girls: Buttons, Brandi, CJ, Danelle and Chantal for a fun post race debriefing, always great to have such a strong contingent speaking Canuck.  Lastly big congratulations again to Lesley who is having such an amazing season.  Way to go girl, you’re wearing that World Champion title well.  Best of luck with the mountain biking in July!

2013 XTERRA Alabama: Old Mel Racing More Like the Old Mel

 

It was my birthday this last weekend and for my birthday I was given a glimpse of my past form with what I consider my best race since early last season.  Never before have I been so happy with the runner up position!  Not too happy, mind you, I’m not planning to settle but for now, PROGRESS is good.  With the fastest bike split I took second to Lesley Paterson, with Brandi Heisterman from Squamish taking her first podium in third and the Luna Chix Shonny and Suzi rounding out the top five.   I am so impressed and astonished by how strong Lesley is at the moment and I am so happy that I am chipping away at my deficit to her.  Certainly she is setting a blistering pace for us to follow and I am stoked that for much of the race I could match it.  Here’s to working hard to try to stay in front longer!  


That Champion System kit really stands out huh?  Love it!

It was the first time we raced in somewhat wet and wild conditions and I was surprised at how NOT slippery the course rode.  The sketchiest part of the race were the bridges for sure as they were like skating rinks but the roots, rocks and corners got tackier if anything so the overall speed of the race wasn’t diminished much.  I rode the Trek Superfly SL on my same old 29-1 Bontrager tires with a teeny bit less pressure and was fairly solid start to finish.   I felt the sketchiest part of the race were the bogs on the run course as I slipped in my Pearl Izumi N1 road shoes (which have a very smooth sole) not realizing how slick the off camber sections were.  Danelle said she lost a shoe in one of the bogs which totally illustrates why XTERRA is a departure from road triathlon.  You never know what obstacle is going to get you in XTERRA!

The biggest excitement of the day was the water temperature being called under 68 degrees (VERY questionable call in my opinion) and a handful of the top pros were caught out with no wetsuit.  Normally (read: every other instance) of this race the water was a bathtub so my heart goes out to them.  It was a last minute decision to chuck my blueseventy in the bike box so I am happy for me but sad for them that they didn’t make the same call.  Normally I would get out of the water with Suzi Snyder but she was a suitless victim along with fellow Canadian Danelle Kabush so I am sure their races didn’t start as they had hoped.

Here’s fast facts and conclusions from the race:

Swim: The swim was good but still not great as I was in a good group very close to the front for the first lap and then got dropped on the in/out of the water to lose 45 more seconds on the second lap plowing my own water. 

Conclusion: Fiddlesticks!  More time in the Blueseventy for the coming weeks.

Bike: The bike was good but still could be better as I couldn’t hold Lesley on the main climb and had to catch her back in the downhill and flat twisting section in the last third.   I came off with 45seconds which is not enough to hold her off on the run.  Still Trek+Shimano+Bontrager= fastest split.  Bam!

Conclusion: More power, please. 

My run was much, much, much improved but again is not in the range to be challenging super Lesley so it remains my main focus at present.  What is good is my Polar heart rate monitor is showing some good input went into the race.  I like that.

Conclusion: No cookies for Mel.  She’s on the chisel again.

However, given I was a distant fourth at the last XTERRA, coming back to the front and into the race was the kind of improvement I was looking for in the last month.  I think there is still a lot of low hanging fruit as far as my form is concerned so I think we are just starting to get rolling.

Now the best part of the weekend was a reminder of why my career has been such an amazing privilege and such a special opportunity- the people I have met.  My girlfriends in XTERRA treated me to a pedi and coffee date the day before the race which was so much fun. Thank you for making your pre-race routine a date with me Danelle, Buttons, Emma, Brandi and Suzi!  It was so excellent for us to all spend the afternoon in Brandyland J  Then I had a delicious birthday dinner of the “slop” (we missed ya Fast Freddie) with my hilarious friends Mark and Dianne who have been my homestay since my first race in Pelham.  I love you guys.

Then I had a fun race before the angels at Cahaba Cycles and Trek Bicycles organized my bike to be packed and shipped straight to Richmond for me so that I could catch the first flight home to Victoria that night. Thank you thank you thank you!!!

The next day I was treated to an afternoon with my other lovely ladies and besties Day, Tammy and Maia where we again had a mani/pedi date (mine was ruined in the race so the double pedi situation was a winner!).  We then rolled to Maia’s gorgeous home for a session with Erin-mae the hair and makeup goddess, some bubbly and get ready time for the big party.  

 

 

Hot chicks.

Then my buddies Woodie and Bill drove me in my Datsun chariot to the party. 

Much love to my man Mike for throwing this party for me.  He brought the talent from the Pier hotel to treat us to an excellent steak and salmon barbeque.  Thank you to all my amazing guests for making the night fantastic.  It was so great to see so many of my old and new friends. 

I have a few photos from the night including the bouquet of flowers from Day, Maia and Tammy that made me cry. 

 The most stunning bouquet in history.  Wow.

Big love to Paul from Broadmead Orthopedic Physio and his gorgeous fiancee Colleen for bringing this present for me.  OMG awesome.  

So many incredible bottles were brought to share I am obviously surrounded by oenophiles, thank you.  Big high five to Jamie and Dee for the Willy Wonka chocolate all the way from the old country… that stuff is incredible.  Buttons gave me two bottles which perfectly describe me:  Stubborn fool pinot noir and fat bird sauvignon blanc.  Yum!  Thank you to the cute bicycle plant from Markus and Joelle.. honestly the gifts were too much.  It was a big day for Mel 🙂

Much love to you all.  I appreciate so much my world in triathlon and the city of Victoria for bringing me all of the amazing people I can call my friends into my life.  Life is good.

Love these girls.. Coops and Kirks are two of the most hilarious and lovely women ever, ever.  That guy is fairly amusing as well.

 

 

2013 XTERRA West Champs, Vegas

The kickoff of the North American pro XTERRA series was Saturday and although some of the global athletes were competing in New Zealand, the core group of XTERRA professsionals were on hand to duke it out for the points and money up for grabs in the 2013 season.  After the considerable amount of dust settled, Josiah Middaugh and Lesley Paterson were the top male/female athletes and I finished in fourth. 

 In the wake of the bombing in Boston I thought of how important sport is to so many of us.  Anyone in endurance sport knows that all of us our connected by our mutual passion for all the values that sport espouses.  I know I was riveted by the coverage of the event and was inspired by the top athletes- as were many of us around the world -so to end the day with a bloody attack at the finishline was raw and painful and disorienting… who would do that?  My heart goes out to the victims of that attack.  I read that an 8 year old boy died after giving his dad a hug the finishline.  That is heart wrenching.  Sport is about celebrating the human spirit and to have such a bright day darkened by people with such bad spirit is terrible.  We want to express ourselves through sport and through competition but at the base of it all we just want to be loved and have our loved ones be safe.  I am so sad today.  However, I am going to go back to swimming, biking and running and will participate in as many big events as I can in this lifetime because sport is part of my life and always will be.  One act of violence cannot prevent me from enjoying sport as much as I possibly can and it shouldn’t stop you either.  Much love to you Boston.  We will endure this and be stronger after.

I did recap the race on Saturday if you still feel like reading but I get that it is much less important than an event of the magnitude of the one in Boston so maybe you want to go for a run instead and I encourage you to go for a run today for Boston.

Anytime I get on the podium is a good day.  I am happy that there were lots of things to be happy about.  First, I managed to squeak into the lead group for longer than I ever have on the swim, cruising along in my new BlueSeventy wetsuit like a rockstar right up until I completely and utterly blew up.  I watched two pro men swim up to my right and tried SO hard to stay with them but I was in massive O2 debt.  When the main pack caught me I settled into the middle and the pace was so easy so there was nothing lost and some knowledge gained.  The first moment of female domination was when Christine Jeffrey came out in front of all the pro men.  Every guy got chicked.

Then we went out on the bike and I went back and forth with Suzy Snyder for most of the bike. My Bontrager 29-1 tires were really good in the sand as I kept riding past her in that section.  I would like to think the big fat tires were why I was slower on the uphills as Lesley Paterson was riding away  but I think I am just not in good enough shape.  We came off the bike too far behind to challenge the win.  Especially since the second episode of “You Got Chicked” was showing, as Lesley ran faster than all the pro men.  Wow.

Discomfort. 

My run was terrible.  My legs weren’t good as soon as I came off the bike which is frankly, lack of conditioning.  I am doing some weird things that I normally don’t do because of my hip and this time I tried to run with orthotics.  This was dumb since they were moving all over the place in the hilly terrain.  This honestly wasn’t terrible on the uphill but I couldn’t run downhill at all as I had no stability.  My Pearl Izumi N1 Run shoes are great but one must glue orthotics down for hilly courses if you must use them.  Shonny V caught me on the run but I managed to hold off fellow Canadian Danelle Kabush who rounded out the top 5 on the podium.  Congrats to Emma Garrard for her return to racing after having a baby and nice to see the other Canadian momma Brandy H on the startline.  I love that there is a good contingent of Canucks in the women’s race – Buttons you were missed!!

Now I have kicked off both 70.3 and XTERRA season with both races about the same in terms of performance, I have some work to do.  The level that the 70.3 athletes and the XTERRA athletes are setting for triathlon is certainly intimidating but I know I have more work to do and frankly, it is super motivating to have a big challenge.   I was there before so I know I can get there again with some time. 

Sometimes Taurus needs a reminder.  

I do need to get some training done before I go back to racing.  I am going to take a break to get some work done and reset my form before I race again.  In that time I have another visit to Wolf at Endurance Rehab and Pariac at Cyclologic in Scottsdale for some more help with biomechanics so that I can get back to high intensity training and hopefully back to my best performance.

Thanks to Trek and Bontrager for my amazing Superfly SL which I love love love to ride.  Thanks to Greg and Katie from Shimano for being there to cheer and chat about how perfect the XTR on my bike was that day.  Thanks to Champion System for the fantastic outfit that was so comfy.

The race day rig before full prep

Thanks Powerbar:  needed 7 gels and 3 bottles of Perform just for 2.5 hours. Thanks to Polar USA for the heart rate monitor that can objectively measure that performance beyond the results.  Thanks Rudy Project for the great looking helmets and glasses for both mountain bike and road triathlon. 

Mel n CJ the superswimmer enjoying some preride time rockin full Rudy Project helmet/glass combos 🙂

Shoutout to Blueseventy for a wetsuit getting me closer to the front group on the swim, so exciting!  Esoles rocks for putting together my recovery plan with my crew in Scottsdale and Houshang Amiri for helping build a solid program to come back, even if it is taking longer than I would like.   Thanks to Cycleops and Powertap for the power measurement devices for my bike and trainers that I find essential for my training.  Thanks to Pearl Izumi for shoes, USANA for supplements, Esi Grips and Sci Con Bike Travel Bags for the support.  Can’t do it without you guys.

 

My other passion can now be indulged thanks to spring #sevenwatermelonvarietiesthisseason

Another of my favorite things… very thoughtful gift from Kirk at www.esoles.com after a trip to Spain 🙂

Or unless I miss her birthday altogether… then we won’t be celebrating either.  Happy Birthday to @DayDeansBuchan1 🙂

I am standing in an awkward position hence my awkwardlookingness.  Podium.