2016 Ironman Miami 70.3

2016 Ironman Miami 70.3

I went to the 2016 Ironman Miami 70.3 cautiously optimistic and was satisfied by my result.  I was sixth in a heavy field with a nearly pain-free run for 21 straight kilometers.  For me, this is a huge breakthrough so I am absolutely stoked to know I can finally run the distance.  Now, to get faster!  ?

This race is so fun.  The overall vibe racing with 3000 athletes in downtown Miami in electric.  The strong Latin influence makes the race different.  Many athletes from South and Central America make the trip so it is an international affair.

The race

A variety of things about this race wouldn’t be my first choice including a pancake flat bike course, three hour time change, and very long travel to get there.  Things that turned out to be excellent about this race were the convenience of the hotels downtown to the race site, the incredible organization, and the hordes of fans out cheering.  I absolutely LOVED this race and would go back for sure!

 

2016 Ironman Miami pro women before swim
Figuring out the swim course – you can’t see the strong current from the dock 🙂

Overall execution

Continue reading “2016 Ironman Miami 70.3”

Stepping back in the ring at Augusta

I raced my first IM 70.3 event of 2016 at IM 70.3 Augusta in Georgia last weekend.

Like a pop quiz, going to IM 70.3 Augusta could result in four outcomes that answer the question:  Where is my fitness/rehabilitation at right now? They included:

a) A small miracle has happened and I get a podium finish my first race back.

b) I struggle a bit from lack of run fitness but still finish relatively strong, so I know I am ahead of schedule.

c) I struggle a bit more, have a tough day, but finish knowing I am healthy but need more work.

d) I am unable to finish.  DNF.  Not healthy, not healed, not ready.

Ironman race gear at augusta 70.3Ready to race my first race of the season in Augusta. Continue reading “Stepping back in the ring at Augusta”

Broken Ankle Healing Using RICE and MEAT Therapy

Promoting Broken Ankle Healing Using the RICE and MEAT Therapy Protocols

RICE is an acronym for REST, ICE, COMPRESSION and ELEVATION.  This mnemonic dates back to the 1970s when a doctor came up with this prescription for healing that became the standard protocol to treat acute injuries.

RICE is an acronym for REST, ICE, COMPRESSION and ELEVATION and MEAT is an acronym for MOVEMENT, EXERCISE, ANALGESICS and THERAPY

More recent medical opinions suggest that both rest and ice can delay healing rather than promote it.  Icing can reduce inflammation, and rest can promote joint rigidity, so movement without ice is suggested. The MEAT (MOVEMENT, EXERCISE, ANALGESICS and THERAPY) approach is considered particularly beneficial for ligament and tendon injuries.  This all gets confusing when you deal with a trimalleolar fracture that compromises both bones and ligaments.  What is the best approach if you have a combination of issues to resolve? Continue reading “Broken Ankle Healing Using RICE and MEAT Therapy”

Triathlon Cross Training With a Broken Ankle

A Broken Ankle Doesn’t Have To Prevent Triathlon Improvements

My triathlon cross training the first three weeks after surgery.

Using hand cycling to crosstrain with a broken ankleCross training for triathlon with a broken ankle still includes plenty of options if swimming, biking and running are off limits.  I discovered there were ways to not only maintain fitness, but also improve, despite my current limitations in a “not weight-bearing” state.

Training injured, in the strictest sense, is NO DIFFERENT than training while healthy.  A great training program focuses on all you can do at that moment so, injured or healthy, you focus on doing everything that you can THAT DAY.

Training injured, in the strictest sense, is NO DIFFERENT than training while healthy.  A great training program focuses on all you can do at that moment to get better.

When I am healthy, if my legs are super tired from running, I might take a break and ride or swim.  If my shoulders are maxed out from a lot of swimming, I might run a bit more and focus strength work on lower body.  The key is to focus on what you CAN IMPROVE while your body is in repair mode or fatigued.  Even while in the critical stages after ORIF surgery, there were ways for me to train and allow my body to heal.

So what did I do when I got injured and was told not swim/bike/run AT ALL (even swimming *sigh) for the first three and a half weeks?   I focused on three areas where I could actively make improvement. Continue reading “Triathlon Cross Training With a Broken Ankle”

The First Two Weeks With a Broken Ankle

My two week update after a broken ankle

Unfortunately, I crashed my bike and broke my ankle a bit over two weeks ago.  My primary objective for 2016 is to win a full Ironman; a goal I will maintain this season.

Staying Focused on the goal through injurygingerbread broken ankle

I am really fortunate to have Dr. Brent Weatherhead as my orthopedic surgeon.  He is an amazing technical surgeon and did an outstanding job to get my fractured ankle anatomically perfect so now we have a realistic plan and schedule to get me back to running full gas this season.

Eventually, every pro athlete faces some significant adversity. For me, that time is now. I have fractured my ankle crashing my bike. Fortunately I have an amazing surgeon, Dr. Brent Weatherhead, who is at Rebalance MD. I also benefit from having Dr Jamie Grimes and Katie Button, a great rehab team behind me at Synergy Wellness. Thanks to my incredibly supportive sponsors, family and medical team I will make a full recovery and return to racing this season. I will write about recovering on my website and I hope I can offer some support to anyone else who is frustratingly sidelined this season. So far my advice would be to stay positive, do everything you can in that moment and visualize where you want to go. Visit www.racergirl.com for updates 😀🏃💨#injury #adversity #rehabilitation #trimalleolarfracture #brokenankle #triathlontraining #triathlon #running #cycling

A post shared by Melanie MCQUAID (@racergirlmel) on

I know a LOT of pro triathletes who have dealt with and are dealing with injury – so my story is not unique.  Triathletes and runners have different experiences with a broken ankle.  If you found this post searching “exercises you can do with a broken ankle” and “triathlon training after a broken ankle” you are in the same mindset I was in the first two weeks after my crash.  I promise you that it gets better after the first two weeks.  I am posting these recovery updates to help educate you through MY experience and inspire you with what I found helpful and motivating.  It is important to stay positive and focused during your recovery so let’s start with things you can do.

Here are THREE WAYS YOU CAN IMMEDIATELY IMPROVE AS AN ATHLETE with a broken ankle or leg injury  Continue reading “The First Two Weeks With a Broken Ankle”

A Core Activation Exercise Series for Before Training

A Video To Demonstrate a Pre Training Core Activation Routine

This video will show you the exercises that I use to activate and prepare my core muscles for training. Without adequate warmup and activation of the core, your biomechanics will not be optimized in training.

This routine does not take a lot of time so it is very easy for me to do it frequently. This is the first thing I do every morning. I implemented this routine when I was suffering from a hip injury and since then I have had not issues with my hip or low back. However, if I don’t do the routine I am aware that my range of motion through the hips for swimming and running is not as good.

This short, simple set of exercises is EFFECTIVE.

You can do this routine in less than five minutes on the pool deck before swimming so try it at your next training session. You may find that even these simple exercises are somewhat difficult which would indicate your neuromuscular recruitment needs work. Over time you will feel stronger and you will experience better results from training – particularly early morning training. Let me know what you think!

Restarting training after a winter break

I wrote this article for www.triathlonmagazine.ca and thought it would be good for those athletes just starting to lace up their shoes again.  If you have any other questions/queries/requests please ask away at either my Facebook page www.facebook.com/racergirlmel or Tweet away at www.twitter.com/racergirlmel.

How to Restart Your Training After a Winter Break

After the last race of the season, many athletes enjoy a training break.  For anywhere from four to eight weeks, athletes might incorporate complete rest with cross training or unstructured triathlon training.  It is a good idea to take a real break from the sport and allow your body to rest.

Some athletes avoid complete rest as they believe it will be very difficult to get back to their previous level of fitness, but this fear is unfounded.  Taking a break will result in some detraining but aerobic fitness declines slowly.  Underlying fatigue from the previous season is more likely to delay improvement than a break from training.  The number one priority after every season must be rest, particularly for athletes who race Ironman and can accumulate a lot of residual fatigue, low grade injury and general overload.  The minimum post season break should be four weeks and longer if there is injury to resolve.  After that time it is good to get back in action.

Here are five tips to have a strong start to your training build after a break:

Continue reading “Restarting training after a winter break”

2015 Ironman Arizona

Competing at Ironman Arizona in my second attempt racing a full distance Ironman

My second attempt racing a full distance Ironman distance was at Ironman Arizona.  I had the privilege of having my ass handed to me by Meredith Kessler after I finished in 9:14, a time that might have been respectable 5 years ago but was in another time zone behind MBK’s 8:44 (the fastest Ironman performance of 2015-so amazing!).  It is good I was on the course with her that day.  It is invaluable to have that performance to shine a light on where I can improve.  Without comparing apples to apples, you never really know where you stack up and I was good in my second attempt but I still need to improve. Continue reading “2015 Ironman Arizona”

2015 IM 70.3 Los Cabos

Visiting San Jose del Cabo for the first time at the 2015 IM 70.3 Los Cabos

I’ve never visited San Jose del Cabo so the idea of racing IM 70.3 Los Cabos event was appealing- if only to tick a travel box while doing my job as a pro athlete.  Many aspects of this race were questionable in the final leadup to an Ironman event (Would I get sick from the water/food? Do I even need a race at this point? Would the airline travel challenge my immune system?) but I decided to stick to my Ironman Arizona plan as we originally laid it out and went.  It seems to have been a good decision.

I was better than IM 70.3 Las Vegas, I had a great swim and I had a great time.  Plus I won a bit of money, got some great exposure for Trek Mexico at the presser and I now have a whale shark BFF.  All around good times and noodle salad.

presser

Pre race pomp and circumstance. Continue reading “2015 IM 70.3 Los Cabos”

Winning my first Ironman 70.3 Event at Lake Stevens!!

I won an Ironman 70.3 triathlon event for the first time!

This past weekend I put together a great swim, a solid ride and a steady run to take first place in a field of past World Champions and all around badasses at my fifth half Ironman start ever.  It was a pretty awesome and incredible day.  The 70.3 at Vineman in Sonoma had been exciting as I came off the bike first but to have first place all the way to the finish line was WAY WAY better!!  Yes!  My goals this year were lofty, admittedly and after a day I was not satisfied with in Sonoma I wasn’t sure I was going to achieve my “Win a 70.3 Event” goal this year… but I did.  Phew!  I held off Tyler Stewart, Samantha Warriner, Samantha McGlone and Amanda Stevens on Sunday and wow, look at that firepower.  Good day for me in a huge field of talented athletes that also included famous athletes Joanna Zeiger and Linsey Corbin (Joanna’s race report is hilarious!).

All photos have been stolen from Amanda’s Facebook until I can get some from the race 😉 Time was 4:27 as we started 4 mins back…

I had a pretty crap week before the race after I managed to earn a black eye crashing into someone open water swimming, my car battery ran dead on the ferry to Anacortes on my way to the race on Friday (when I was at the front of the car line, of course) and I managed to slam my thumb in the car door as I spazzed out trying to get my battery jumped.  Friday the 13th lived up to its name.  The race was held in Lake Stevens, a lake just outside of Everett, Washington not far across the border from where I live.  The weekend was shaping up to be a hot one with temperatures up to 36 degrees Celsius which is pretty much unheard of for the Pacific Northwest.

Saturday was the turning point.  Samantha McGlone and I chose to turn it into a BFF weekend as roomies.  I joked that I was planning to bird-dog her EVERY move given she is 2006 Ironman 70.3 World Champion right down to her toothpaste… overkill maybe?  Haha!   Anyway, as soon as I got to the race site everything became much more fun.

So when o-dark-thirty arrived Sunday morning, we were up and on our way. We both independently packed the same breakfast for the race – Justin’s Nut Butter, only hers was in oatmeal and mine was on toast.  She was responsible for me arriving at the start line on time which was likely the reason I finally had a good swim.  So leaving earlier is on the menu for the future, thank you Sam!!

A quick spin on the bike, a tiny little run to check my brand new AVIA Bolt 2s were tied to the optimal tightness with my new Nathan elastic laces and a short warmup in my Profile-Design mako speedsuit (a non-wetsuit swim for pros not age groupers) and we were ready to go.  The water was 72.2 degrees, clear, smooth and had a yellow lane line from the rowers buoys underwater for us to follow.  INcredibly awesome swim conditions.  Amanda Stevens went off like she was shot out of a cannon so I held onto Joanna Zeiger (2007 Ironman 70.3 Champion) for awhile and then I was on my own until Sam Warriner and I became Siamese twins attached at the hip for the rest of the swim.  We ran over a few of the guys which was fun and then I decided just for fun to get out of the water before Sam to see if I could.  Swim done and done… third out of the water and onto the bike with my cool new Specialized shoes and helmet and my pink lens Raptor Sundog glasses.

Out with Sam Warriner….

My Specialized Transition time trial bike and I are becoming better friends.  We like hills together.  We still fight a little in the flat sections because Transition says ride a bigger gear with a lower cadence and you will go faster but I seem to hammer like a maniac, blow up my legs, slightly recover then do it all over again.. not so smooth in the flat sections… which means I am not as fast as I could/should/would like to be.  I need work on that before I take a trip to any flatter races.  I also find I ride away from all the Ironman girls on the hills only to lose some time in the flats which is frustrating but reflects the fact I am a mountain bike climber from Victoria.  I guess I am a product of my home terrain!

Go ahead slowtwitchers… bag on my position 😉

So on the bike I quickly reeled in Joanna but at one point had Sam Warriner ride up beside me.  The drafting rules say that if you are overtaken you need to drop back 10 bike lengths before reattempting the pass.  I was not in any way shape or form going to be passed on a hill.  If I was going too slow, fair enough.  So I stomped it and my Shimano C75s responded… I assaulted the hill, lost Sam and caught two more people.  One of whom I thought was Amanda.  So when “Amanda” then repassed me on the flat section I thought, whoa, she is rocking!  And tried to keep her on a legal tether.. without success.  That was until I caught the real Amanda and spent the rest of the bike wondering, was that another girl, or not?

Why Amanda had this shot of my derriere I dunno?  But this is what I tried to make sure was the only view for my competitors on the bike…

The second lap was difficult to really go fast on.  I encountered three occasions where I had to brake or run into the back of a car.  That is lame, especially when it was abundantly clear it was someones girlfriend following the race in that car.  I also had an incident where a wonderful little age group triathlete was rocking in her race and riding well.  Because the roads were narrow there is a significant amount of drafting in the age group race.  So I caught and passed her only to have her slipstream back beside me after a downhill.  I was afraid she was going to earn me a drafting penalty because she was riding my wheel past the field.  So at one point I was frustrated and told her to stop cheating which was really mean, and I apologize but sweetheart, you are a great cyclist and you might as well play by the pro rules right from the start because you have real potential.  When you are passed, DROP BACK 10 BIKE LENGTHS!!  Don’t jump on.

Before the race I toyed with idea of just killing the bike to try to get the fastest bike split just for that and was completely reined in by the coach.  He said I was to ride “regular”.  So unless you train with me I cannot give you the scientific heart rate and power zone of what regular is in frenchspeak.. haha!  Needless to say it isn’t kill yourself for the bike split.  So when I got off the bike and headed out onto the run I had the lead cyclist with me which indicated I did come off the bike first and was leading the race.  No one had come in before I left so I knew I was still somewhat ahead.  I have been working with a new coach for five weeks so I was excited to see what our hard work over a very short period of time could earn.  Jacky Evereardt owns www.triathlon-hebdo.com and coaches fast french boys in Europe Franky Batelier and Olivier Marceau so he is my new not secret weapon.  He is turning me into a warrior.

So after about a mile the cyclist asked if I wanted splits and I said NO.  I had a solid plan from Jacky which did include eating a lot of GU but did not include adjusting my race strategy for that of the others if they started faster than me.  I knew I would see the girls on the out and back giant hill section.  So on the first lap I calculated under 2 minutes to Sam Warriner and maybe another 30s or so to Tyler Stewart followed by a large gap.  I told myself okay… you DEFINITELY have a top three.  See how long you can cling to your lead cyclist!

Melanie McQuaid runs to the victory at Ironman Lake Stevens
Running to my first Ironman 70.3 win

Go steady!!

The second lap I felt pretty much the same as the first… steady eddy.  I honestly didn’t have some kind of magic legs day.  I actually complained to Jacky later that my legs were tired on the bike and maybe I did too much the week before the race so it isn’t like I peaked to my best ever day… I just pulled out every last ounce of anything I had in there to get the job done.  When I did the second lap turnaround on the run and no one was right behind me I knew I had won.  I saw Tyler Stewart had overtaken Sam Warriner (who apparently came within 25 seconds of me… good thing I did not get splits!) but was still about as far as Sam had been on the first lap.  When I got to the top of the big hill to roll down the last mile and a half to the finish I go the split from the bike:  52 seconds.  Game over.  I had a smile, I was excited and my legs were sore but they were going to get me where I needed to be.  In the finish chute I did a quick check that no one was close and enjoyed some high fives and cheers a the finish line to savour my first winning run across the Ironman finish line as long as possible.  I only needed a second after all… but I didn’t want any kind of sprint so I got my ass across that line.  Then, phew, DONE!!

Ouch.  Yay!

Contrary to Triathlete magazine’s report indicating the entire women’s field was slow in half marathon times:  the race is NEVER flat on that whole course with two significant and long climbs in the race.  So I ran a 1:25.51 and sure that isn’t the fastest out there but take 5 minutes for gnarly hills for sure.  I was within two minutes of the fastest run split which is an Ironman best for me (helps Rinny wasn’t there).  Tyler Stewart had a very impressive race to put together her second place performance and Sam Warriner, who almost caught me, surrendered to third.  Roomie Samantha McGlone put her patented run to work to run herself into fourth in front of super swimmer Amanda Stevens in fifth.  Joe Gambles won the race for the second year in a row in the men’s race in front of Paul Ambrose, Luke Bell, James Cotter and Luke McKenzie.  Also a big congrats to MelRad Racing teammate Tim Holland for taking 2nd in his age group and a spot to Clearwater.  Congratulations all round.

Women’s podium minus Sam who got lost on our way back from the fabulous Central Market… oops!

New kit… looks good huh!  Thanks @bettydesigns!  Sundogeyewear hides black eye….

MOST IMPORTANT:  after the race our BFF weekend hit high gear.  We joined Amanda Balding and Luke McKenzie for a gourmet feast and winefest at Purple Wine Bar in Seattle.  What I love about sport is it introduces to me the kinds of people I want to meet but might never get the chance because they are from farflung regions of the planet.  Amanda is a girl after my own heart:  loves cooking, good wine and wow she has great sophistication in all of the above.  Luke is an absolute sweetheart and was wonderful company for the three ladies that evening.  And Sammy, well come on, she is a riot.  Her and I are what’s known as guy/girls.  So is Amanda.  So full makeup, fancy dress, sky high heels were on the menu for the evening even though we had just spent the afternoon in the trenches sweating our butts off.  Sam and I glammed it up at the Pan Pacific, spent the morning in the shops wandering downtown Seattle and managed to watch some fish get tossed about at Pike Place market before it was time to go.  I jetted north on I-5 while she jetted East through SEA-Tac.  It’s funny, she said that a study on happiness says you should always do weekend getaways because you look forward to it, enjoy it and enjoy getting home more than you would a longer trip.  It’s true.  By 2pm on Monday I was thinking:  I wanna get the drive over with without traffic, I can’t wait to get a hug for my win from RT and I wonder how my watermelons are doing??  Big hugs to Sam who is definitely on the right track for Hawaii both in mindset and in training plan.  She is a smart girl and I really admire her.  I wasn’t kidding when I said I was watching her every move this weekend.  If I want to step up the distance I have a LONG way to go!

Thank you to all my supporters, especially those who understand my new plan for the XTERRA tour and 100% supported my half Ironman ambitions.  Thanks to AVIA, Nathan, Specialized, Shimano, Sundog Eyewear, Profile-Design, GU Sports, Maxxis, Zerod, CycleOps Power, USANA, ESI Grips, Justin’s Nut Butter, Squirt Lube, and Genuine Innovations.  There is more to come!

Oh and this is for you Amanda and Thomas…. my kindred cooking and gardening lovers.  A photo of Mel’s herb garden and my first officially healthy young watermelon.  🙂

 

Just a tiny snippet of Mel’s farm this year..

That is officially a growing mini watermelon….

 

I heart Vancouver Island.