Thursday, October 26, 2017

Ironman World Championships - Kona 2017

Wow...   not great at updating my blog :)   But I figured this one deserved to be written about so here I go....

Race Week:

I couldn't get enough swimming in before the race!  Loved it!

The vibe in Kona race week is unlike anything I've ever experienced!  I remember driving down Ali'i that first morning to get a practice swim in and there were runners and cyclists everywhere!   The drive gave me chills!  When we got to the pier it was more chills!  The four days I had in Kona prior to the race were magic.  I found the perfect combo of the crowds and finding relaxation at our house.  My training went perfectly!  All my swims were amazing and I felt so fast on my runs and confident on my bike.  I knew Kona would be hard and I was prepared to work hard.  I knew it would be hot and humid and I was prepared to go slower to deal with that.  I knew it would be windy on the bike and I was ready with my HR and power plan to not fight the wind.  No time goals, no placing goals for me.   These things I knew and Kona threw out all the punches on race day and nearly knocked me out....

The Swim:

I knew the swim would be the easiest part of the day for me.  I knew the heat wouldn't affect me too badly here ( temps in the bay were 80F).  I had done most of my training in the Didsbury pool which is kept at 86F so I was used to being hot in the swim.   I knew I wanted to swim hard and get a jump on the wind and heat if possible.   

The swim out to the start line was kind of surreal.  I kept thinking "I am really here!".  I chose a spot in the middle and ranged from second to third row while we were treading water waiting for the race to start.  The line morphed alot while we were waiting from having a good spot to an ok spot.  Looking back I should have taken a spot in the front line for sure.  The cannon went off ( The cannon!!!) and it was mayhem!    I had to do head up front crawl for the first 30 seconds as it was so crowded.  There was tons of contact!  I started with one pack and swam through them and caught another pack.  Swam through that one and caught a third pack!  I was having a great swim!  From there it seemed more stable but you were never alone, always swimming with a group around you, beside, in front, behind.  Always.  We started catching the men who started 15 mins ahead of us before we hit the turnaround.  And it got solidly busier from there.  It was hard for packs of women to go around groups of slower men smoothly and a few times I got boxed out and had to breast stroke and change course.  It was one heck of a busy swim course.  But I loved it!  It was fast and fun!  I was so happy with my swim!!  I came out feeling good and no nauseousness at all.   I rinsed off in the showers and went to grab my T1 bag but both the volunteer and I were having trouble finding it.  All it had in it were sunglasses as I had my shoes and helmet on my bike.   Once I had my sunglasses I went into the tent for a sloppy shot of sunscreen and I was off to grab my bike.    Hit the mount line smoothly and was off....

The Bike:

I was pretty happy to see my family!

That rip through town was something else!  We do a little loop around the transition area then head south on the Kuakini highway for a short out and back before hitting the Queen K of Misery.  There were so many people on the course at once, it was heads up riding for sure!  I got to see my family twice and slowed down the second time just a bit and was able to throw a high five out to Liam on the way by.  Then it was time to climb Palani and hit the Queen K and settle in.  

It was so crowded out there for the first hour on the Queen K.  People moved in packs for the most part "flirting with drafting" and honestly there wasn 't really a choice.  If you sat up to get out of a draft zone you would have sat up through a few hundred people.  Things started to spread out better by Waikoloa but it was still a very congested course and very easy to draft.   I would say I stayed draft legal for the most part after Waikoloa but not everyone else did!   Up to this point I was holding just under my goal watts and although I was hot I was feeling pretty good.

We really started to get into the big winds after the turn to Hawi at Kawaiwahae.  They were everything you've read about and more.  Such a long slog up to Hawi in those winds!  I was starting to feel a little fried as I got into Hawi and got my second bottle of concentrate but soon after the descent starts you need to be firing on all cylinders to stay safe.  I am a cyclist that loves to bomb down hills but here I can say I rode more conservatively than normal.  The crosswinds do toss you around and that's scary at high speeds!

I really started to feel tired towards the end of the descent back down to Kawaiwahae.  I was pushing lower watts and it didn't feel right to try and keep them up, so I didn't.   After Kawaiwahae I got really hot, hotter than I ever could have imagined.  Hotter than I can find words to describe!  Did I mention I was hot?  I felt prepared to work hard and get tired on the bike but I wasn't mentally prepared to suffer on the bike, not like you do on the run.  I really suffered on the back third of this bike.  My daughter sent me a video the night before the race with some great wisdom and I had written down one of the quotes she gave me #magicinmisery on my forearm.  I can't tell you how many times I looked at that in the last 60km on the bike ( and the run too! ).  

I couldn't hold power and my stomach started to get upset and all I could think about was getting cooled off.  I felt my mental alertness starting to slip so I made the decision to stop at an aid station with about 30km to go.  I took my helmet off ( which was a nice hybrid well ventilated helmet!) and doused my head with ice water and the volunteers gave me ice from the coolers to put down my top, front and back.  I felt like a new person for 20 min or so but it didn't take long to heat back up.  Around this same time I really struggled to get fluids down too.  My stomach was not good.  

I was never so happy to be coming off the bike, getting into T2 felt like a huge milestone.  When I came off the bike my left foot was so painful ( bunion fun ) that I had to walk part way into transition before I could run again.  I hit the change tent and got my run gear on, got smeared with sunscreen again and then a porta potty stop ( should have reversed those last two!) and I was out onto the run...

The Run:

Fake it till you make it!  Smiling and waiving....  and not feeling good!

Holy cow did I feel awful starting the run!  I didn't even have to tell my self to slow down because I couldn't go fast.  I felt gross, nauseous and hot and I was scared.   I was scared of what my stomach would do, I was scared I wouldn't be able get in enough fluids and calories to do the marathon.  I was scared I wouldn't be able to finish!  I saw Marty and Liam and my Dad as I left T2 and all I wanted to do was cry when I saw them.  It was probably a good thing they were behind a barrier because if had stopped to talk I might have lost it.  I smiled and waved and hoped for the best.

So here starts the marathon.  With a sloshy and nauseous gut as my companion, I headed out at what I thought would be an easy pace to run this marathon.   I walked the first few aid stations and took advantage of the water, ice and sponges to cool myself off and took in very little by mouth.  Sips at most.  I was running with a great gal and she was walking aid stations too and we were a good match.  After about 40 minutes of fighting my stomach I made the decision to try and walk to see if I could settle it.  I walked for about 1km and never really felt better and decided I didn't want to prolong the suffering so I decided to start running again with a plan to walk aid stations and try to keep getting small amounts of fluids and calories in to support the rest of the marathon.  The rest of Ali'i was hot and miserable.  

I saw Marty and Liam right before the climb up Palani back onto the highway and I just burst into tears.  They walked a bit with me while I told them my woes.  Marty gave me all the good tips, the ones I had already tried but in the end he could just leave me with the advice to battle through it.  And I did.  It was hard, harder than anything I've ever done or could have imagined.  I suffered!  I felt nauseous most of the run and in hind sight I probably should have just forced an exodus from my stomach but when you are hot and tired and feeling bad you don't always think straight.   Every aid station felt like a brief miracle where I could pour water on myself and cool off but also a fight because I knew I needed fluids and calories but had no desire to take in any.  

With around 5km to go I felt confident that I had enough in me to finish without taking any more in and this is when my stomach finally settled.  Funny to say but the end of the race was when I felt the absolute best!   I still walked the aid stations to get water and sponges and ice to cool off but I started flying!  It felt so good to feel good and finally run the way I know I can!  When I hit Palani I did a fist pump!  So close!  I flew down Palani, skipped the last aid station and just kept pushing.   Marty and Liam gave me a cheer on Kuakini and then sped to the finish line.  They couldn't believe how fast I was running.   As I came down the short stretch of Hualalai before making that "final turn onto Ali'i" there were a couple ladies in front of me putting the speed on too.  I know it seems silly at the very end of an Ironman but I didn't want to slow down and I couldn't visualize how far down Ali'i the finish line was so I poured it on some more to pass them so we weren't all in the finish chute at the same time.  And there was a bit more to go....  I heard my mom and dad and mother and father - law cheer me on ( but didn't see them I was blind for anything but that finish line!).  I passed a couple men ( looking back should have slowed down and enjoyed the crowds a bit more but I never wanted a finish line more than anything in my life!) and gave out some high fives on my way through the chute and heard Marty and Liam but didn't slow down one bit until I hit that arch!   Holy cow was I happy girl!  No tears, just pure joy at finishing. 

Who passes people in the ironman chute??  I do!  Get me to that line!



As I type this I feel like something is missing.  I know I had "good" day when you look at my times.  And I am grateful, I truly am!  Racing at Kona has been one of the best experiences of my life.  I went into this race in the best fitness ever and completely healthy!   It's hard to reconcile what you know you can do with what you did on the day when you are limited by factors other than your fitness and preparation.  It leaves me hungry for more, to want another try - fast or not so fast - to prove myself on that course, despite the extreme conditions.  Not for a time or a placing, but to do my absolute best.  So... for awhile the Big Island will be calling me back and I do hope get back there someday soon!  


If you've read this far thank you!  This experience wouldn't have been possible without so much support!  My family, my coach, my friends, my athletes, my clients ( wow you should see a tired bootcamp instructor teach HIIT Cardio at the end of an Ironman build.... ) and our amazing triathlon community.  I had so much love and support from all of you!  I tried to channel the love so much on race day, you have no idea how much it helped knowing so many of you out there were tracking my day.  I could not have done this without you all having my back.  So thank you!  Much love to you all.    

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ironman Arizona 2016

Ironman Arizona Nov 20, 2016 race report

I guess this starts way back in 2009 when I joined Angie with team TriLife.....   So many from our team raced Ironman Canada that August and I remember reading the race reports and bawling my eyes out and thinking one day I would do one.   I really started to get the itch about 4 years ago but decided to put it off for the year I turned 40 so I could put more time into chasing my teens around with their competitive sports.   

So that brings us to 2016 and 9 seasons of racing triathlons under my belt and 4 years of racing half IM's.  So although I was a 40 year old IM virgin, I had a ton of triathlon experience under my belt and I wasn't racing this just to finish, I wanted to have my best day out there and as the date got closer the internal pressure was building.  I finally decided that I had to let outcome goals go for this race and really just make the day about me and executing each event to the best of my ability.   For those  of you that know me I "race" every event I enter.  I want to know what place I'm in when I get out of the water, off the bike, etc....  But for this race I knew I couldn't have my success be dependent on where I placed so I gave my supporters instructions not to tell me what place I was in until I was halfway through the run and only then if I asked for the info.   

What Marty was doing while I was busy pulling my valve core out
But still....the nerves and expectations for myself created enough stress for a very poor night of sleep.  I slept well for about 3 hours then tossed and turned until about 30 minutes before my alarm was set to go off at 3:45am.   The beauty of being up half the night with an anxious stomach was that by the time I got up and had to eat my stomach wasn't doing too badly.   I was able to get most of my breakfast down and Marty and Tara and I were on the road on time and in transition nice and early.  I got my special needs bags dropped off, set my nutrition up on my bike and as I was inflating my tires I pulled my valve core out!  Eeek!  I took a big breath and here I was thankful for arriving early as the line for the bike mechanics was short.  He re tightened my valve core (now a tool I will be sure to have with me race morning from now on!) and inflated my tires.  I double checked my bike and run gear bags and met Marty under the mill street bridge for wetsuit time.   Event though I knew hands down I was physically ready to be honest I was still feeling pretty unsure and nervous at this point.   I was really hoping the excitement would take over but it really didn't.   So many unknowns of doing this for the first time were filling my brain.  I finished getting suited up, Marty gave me the best pep talk and sent me on my way to line up for the rolling swim start.  I walked away with tears in my eyes wondering what the day would hold for me.

Swim Start

I found Tanya Salomon as I entered the chute and we lined up at the one hour sign and kept each other company. She is an absolute champ and I have so much respect for her!  I'm so glad I was able to wait with her.  When the cannon went off we started funneling to the stairs and I went to the far left where there were fewer bodies entering the water.  The first 100m meters was pretty smooth and then I started catching people that didn't seed themselves properly and ended up getting quite a bit of contact as I got boxed in a few times.  I had someone pulling down on my calves quite a bit!  I went a bit to the right for some clearer water and after a while veered back to the buoys on the left and found a bit of company.  I may have swum a bit extra here.  I didn't try to draft at all in this race.  The water was so murky it was very hard to see anything (even worse than good ole last mountain lake back home in Sask).   I was sighting a ton to make sure I didn't run into anyone, making my back a bit sore.  I was surprised at how many people were still around me 1/3 of the way through the swim, but of course I had never done a race with this many people before!  Definitely not many pink caps around me, mostly men.  Sometime after the halfway turnaround I took one too many strokes without a sight and and got kicked square in the mouth.  It shocked me so much I had to stop for a bit and tread water and gather myself.  My lip was bleeding, I could taste the blood!  My googles had been knocked askew and I fixed them and started swimming again.  I ended up with water in my googles and it was burning my eyes so I had to stop again and fix the googles.  All of this definitely messed with my focus and I know I slowed down in the final km of the race.  I kept thinking "this is a really long time to be in the water"!  But I was still really happy with my 1:03 swim time, right where I wanted to be.

I saw Marty and Angie exiting the water and heard my name from a couple others but was too focused on finding my land legs and getting to my gear to see who it was.   I rolled through transition, grabbed my bag, ripped it open before I hit the tent and was quickly in my helmet and shoes and on my way to my bike.  I had my bike in hand and headed to the mount line and was off.  As I made my way out to the street my Carstairs crew was there cheering and I offered a quick wave and was out to start the 180km ride.  

I settled in, started sipping fluids and went to have a look at my hr.  My whole plan for the bike was to ride a few beats lower than my average at the Challenge Penticton long course race....  Except my hr wasn't reading!  I scrolled through the settings hoping it would pick it up, but to no avail.  No HR for the whole race!  Ok....  Plan b I guess!  RPE!  I settled in and listened to my legs and lungs.     The first lap was interesting for sure!  Lots of age group men were already in "packs" not right on each other's wheels but no where near 6 bike lengths apart!  Maybe 1 or 2!  I did see draft marshals either giving some of them warnings or penalties but definitely not enough!  The drafting by some of the men was terrible!  I did as planned and dropped back through these packs as they passed me trying not to give away any energy to their tactics.   I was really happy with how the ride played out for the most part, being able to ride a clean race without having to drop back too many times nor burn matches to get away.   I did have a couple times where a guy would pass me and pull in front of me way too fast making me actually hit the brakes to avoid hitting him.  I also had a close call at the turnaround on the beeline on the second loop when a slower gal on her first lap was having a hard time making the uturn while 4 or 5 of us faster cyclist were also trying to make it.  Very sketchy!  I found sitting in aero for so long was making it a bit harder on my stomach than what I was used to so was a bit slower than I usually am at getting my fluids down but was able to catch up as the ride went on.  I did try taking in some solid food on the first lap, which I don't normally do in a tri and that seemed to work well.  My stomach did feel a bit fuller than usual towards the end of the bike so I was a bit worried at how that would play out on the run for sure.  

 I was able to see Marty and Angie and the TTL support crew at McClintock a few times so that was great.  Marty moved into the underpass and it made the cheering nice and loud!  I was pretty happy with how I paced the bike, riding the first two laps exactly the same, an hour out and 45 minutes back and the wind changed on the third lap making the way back a bit slower so I was an hour out, 19 minutes back for a bike time of 5:19.   I think my rpe on the bike started around 4 and maybe only built to a 5 or 6.  I really wish I could see the HR data from that ride!

My legs felt pretty good coming off the bike!  I hustled through transition and decided for a quick portapotty stop, because, no I did not pee on my bike :).  I was out pretty quick and settled into a 5:10 pace on the run.  My plan was run around a 5:05-5:10 and then walk the aid stations to try for an avg of 5:15.  My stomach was feeling off to start and I didn't feel like taking in anything sweet but I knew I still had to get the fluids and calories in so stuck to my fueling plan of taking a gel at 30 minutes and then one every 45 minutes after that.  I took in water and Gatorade to start at each aid station, except when I had taken a gel and then only water.  After 3 miles my stomach settled and my legs were coming around and it wasn't too hot so decided to run the aid stations.  I was also dumping water on my head at every aid station and taking in some ice as well (great to chew on between aid stations).   I starting taking in coke in the second half of the marathon and that went down really well.   

The support I had on the run course was amazing!!  Angie at the McClintock turn around twice, Toni and Dave on each side of rural a few times and Marty on both sides as well multiple times and locations.  My Carstairs posse by mill street three times and one of the gals I coached in cross country and track was at the top of the hill (she surprised the heck out of me!  I was so excited!), by run special needs...  She got around!  I saw Sarah VT a couple times too!  Wow it was awesome!!  Marty cracked me up every time I saw him!  He was pretty excited by how well I was doing and feeling and I think the second last time I saw him I told him he had to stop it or I was going to cry!   I don't know where this visual came from but every time I passed a timing wire I had this visual of a living room full of my supporters back home standing up out of their seats and cheering, like their favourite team had just scored a goal.  Seriously.... I know I'm weird!  I smiled a ton on the run course, always giving the people cheering a smile, maybe not as much in the final miles but I smiled a ton during the run!  I cheered on those I passed or that passed me as much as possible, taking in the energy from around me and hopefully giving some back.  

The muscle pain started around the half way mark and I was worried about how the second half was going to feel so I slowed down a wee bit but my energy still felt great and I continued to try and work with a 5:10-5:15 pace as much as possible.   I saw Angie at the 14 mile mark and told her, "ok, you can tell me now".  But she didn't know so she and Trevor figured it out and texted Marty and when I saw him around 16 miles he told me I was in fourth and running them down.   I was pretty happy with fourth to be honest and knowing my place wasn't going to change my pace or my plans but it was nice to know.  I don't know when I passed third place but I passed Tanya at the far turnaround on the other side of the lake.  She had absolutely annihilated the bike split, even with a flat.  They changed her whole wheel and she didn't have enough gears so perhaps she had over biked a bit and was feeling it on the second lap of the run.  I have so much respect for Tanya and she has been a great support for me building up for this race.  I asked her if she needed anything, told her she was amazing and kept pressing forward.  

The final two miles were so hard!   I saw Marty and wanted to stop and give him a kiss but I knew if I let my legs stop it would be a bad idea.  I saw the Carstairs posse one last time but was starting to get emotional so didn't swing across the road for high fives that time.  I saw Jacque and gave her a pat on the back and told her she was doing great.  We were going through the base salt station and they had loud music blaring.  Once the music died down I heard her yelling at me to go!  It was awesome!  My legs hurt but that draw to the finish kept me going!  I hit the bridge and knew once I crossed it that I would see the 25 mile marker and I was so excited I yelled out loud "I'm on the bridge!"   

The best place in the world!  The finisher's chute!
Once I hit Rio Salado and the one mile marker I started getting emotional thinking about the finish line and I though a lot about my kids watching the finish line feed and of course the support I knew was going on back home.  I had to say out loud to myself a few times "not yet" to keep my emotions in check.   I had one last hit of coke (haha) at the last aid station and pressed on!  I saw Angie a couple hundred meters from the finish and she was so excited!  I was starting to lose my cool so I told her to stop, lol!  I couldn't even look at her!  I picked up the pace a bit going up the hill and made the final turn into the finishing chute and then finally let myself go emotionally.  Marty and the Carstairs posse were in the stands and I hit them with high fives and was bawling!  You know, the ugly cry where you can't breath very well?  I was alone in the chute and once I hit the carpet I slowed to walk to take it all in and let the emotions flow.  I threw my arms in the air...  I had done it!  I was an Ironman!  Finally!!!!  As soon as I crossed the line I made a heart with my hands around my eyes for my kids and blew them a kiss then burst into full on tears as my catcher wrapped a blanket around me.

I walked around a bit in the finishers area, afraid to sit down and made my way over to the fence to find Marty.  I started crying again and gave him a big sweaty / Gatorade / coke soaked hug.  The Carstairs crew and Angie came over and they got the same!  After the hugs I went back into the finisher area and chowed down some pizza :)  I was shocked I was able to eat!  After eating I got changed and made it to the finish to see Tara cross and then decided to pack it in and head back tired and sore and completely thrilled!  

By the numbers:

Swim: 1:03:31 1:38/100m. 5th age group, 39 all women (including pros) 208 all competitors 
Bike: 5:19:11. 33.8km/hour. 6th Age group, 35 all women 221 all competitors
Run: 3:43:21 5:18 min/km. 2nd age group, 27 all women 171 all competitors 

Overall time: 10:11:44
2nd age group, 7 amateur female overall, 27th out of all females including pros.  171 all competitors

This guy... what a support he has been for me!  I couldn't have done it without him!

Podium with the men

Kona bound!!  And with this awesome coach who got her spot a week later!

Superstar stalking!  Canada's own Lionel Sanders who set a new IM World Record at IMAZ!

Monday, October 5, 2015

2015 Summer Triathlons Wrap Up!

Coming into the finish. 
Up first in June was the Wasa Lake Triathlon. I was fit and ready going into this race and I think being ready is what makes me so nervous!  I had also won this race last year and was assigned the #1 bib so was extra nervous!  I had a strong swim, very typical for me on this course, 24:57.   I had a strong bike, was a few seconds faster than last year in less favorable conditions, made a few passes and rode myself into third place in 1:03:19 which was the fastest women's bike split of the day.  I moved into second on the run around the 4km mark and stayed strong hitting my goal pace finishing the run in 40:42 and holding on to second place.   A new Olympic Distance PR and a nice $500 prize!
The Team TriLife Crew Post Race

After Wasa Lake the focus turned to half iron distance training for one of my favorite races, Great White North Triathlon.  I had been 4th in 2014 and was very focused on getting on the podium in 2015.  I nailed all my training going into this race.  My running was fast and holding race pace in training felt easy.  I was riding fast and was able to get three really good long rides in before race day.  I was ready for this race!   Unfortunately my body had other plans and I became ill with a stomach bug 8 days out from the race and remained ill for the whole 8 days.   I had no idea how my energy would be on race day.  I swam strong and was quite happy with my swim time 27:38.
Photo Credit Ken Anderson
Out on the bike it was cold and windy and I was riding hard.  I felt like I was missing some energy on that ride and although my time was good, 2:31:43 I knew based on my training I was capable of doing this ride faster.   Out on the run I held my goal pace for the first 5km and that's when I knew the wheels were coming off the bus.  I had no energy and my legs were heavy and flat.  I struggled on the run and finished the slightly short run course in 1:31:02 knowing that it wasn't close to what my potential was.   Final time was 4:30.22 and 4th place overall in the women's race. It was disappointing to fall short of my goals after being so well prepared to smash my course record for this race.  After chatting with Coach Angie I was able to feel somewhat better knowing that I did give 100% of the 80% I had to give that day.   Hopeful there will be redemption next year!

I took a week off training after GWN to help my body recover not only from the race but from the illness.  After that it was back to short and fast work to get ready for ITU World's in Chicago.   Before getting to my next tri I decided to throw one more track race in at the Athletics Alberta provincials for a nice little visit to the pain cave in the 3000m.   I didn't taper going into this race so knew it wouldn't be a PB day but was thrilled to finish it just short of my pb in a time of 10:43.

Up next was the Chinook Olympic Distance Pro Chase!  I was so excited to be part of this race with male and female pros from Canada and the US.   The ladies were given a head start on the guys and then the chase was on!
Team TriLife Crew post race
The swim was pretty rough and I missed the lead group (they were so fast!!) but still had a great swim on a slightly long course in 26:28 and 9th out of the water.   I rode my way into 6th female on the bike and was at the 40km mark getting ready to make the final short climb before the nice long descend back into Sylvan and dropped my chain on the inside of my chain ring.  I quickly hopped off to put it back on but it had become wedged under the chain catcher.  No amount of pulling was going to get it back around the chain catcher and I was most certainly looking at DNF when an age group racer from the half race that had started earlier pulled over to help me!  I was so relieved when I asked him if he had a tool and he said yes!  I was able to loosen the chain catcher off and get my chain back on and rejoin the race.  Unfortunately my mechanical cost me several spots and finished the ride back in 10th place out of the women in a time of 1:22:35 (bike was ~ 43km).   I was so upset to have lost so much ground on the bike and was determined to have a good run.  My wonderful husband was there on the run course cheering me on telling me to forget the bike and focus on a great run.  Which is what I did.   I avg 3:55 per km on the 10km and it felt so good!  I ran my way back into 6th place and finished the slightly short run course in 38:28.   I was so happy with how I raced the whole race, but just frustrated knowing that I could have been 3rd or 4th female overall and top 10 in the chase with the men.   Again...   redemption next year!
Yeah that's me and one of the best in the world!  Heather Wurtele!

|After Chinook I had a big 5 week break from racing to really focus on training for Chicago and have everything firing on all cylinders.   Two weeks before Chicago was the Edmonton ITU race and Triathlon Canada Age Group Sprint Nationals.  The plan was to do the sprint race as a warmup / final test before Chicago.  I trained into this race with just a small taper, but was feeling so strong and fast.  Race day ended up being awful weather so the race became a Du, with a 5km run, 20km bike and 2.5km run.  With the last minute changes there was some confusion on my part on the run course for the first run and I ended up running a bit extra but was thrilled with my avg pace of 3:45 and a time of 20:05.   The bike was wet and cold and windy so I was more cautious than normal on some of the descents and corners but still had a great time of 34:15.  On the second run I just went as hard as I could knowing it was only 2.5kms and I was able to avg 3:45 again and do the second run in 9:56.  I do run well in the cold!  I finished the race in 1:07:25, first female in my age group and first female overall!  Bring on Chicago!!

I went into Chicago fit and ready to go and hungry for a podium.  I knew if it was warm and humid it be a lot harder for me but I was confident in my fitness that if it did slow me down, it wouldn't be much!  I had an awesome swim despite very choppy conditions and averaged 1:30/100m and a swim time of 23:36 6th in my heat and 14th in my age group.   The bike was very congested and quite technical.    Part of the course was underground in tunnels!  We didn't have a chance to preview the course so I had no idea what the course would be like other than seeing it on a 2D map.  Despite the corners and ramps and u-turns I rode very hard in my first lap to stay out of the draft zones and didn't slow down much in my second lap.   I was very happy with my bike.  I had the 7th fastest bike split in my age group and a time of 58:36 on the 38km course.  I went out on the run hoping to hold 3:55 like I did at Chinook.  The aggressive ride and humidity slowed me down some, but I was still able to hold 4min/km.  The run felt hard and I gave it everything I had in the tank, not knowing at all what place I was in.   My run time was 42:19 on the 40.5km course.  When I crossed the line I was done!  When I learned I had finished fourth and missed the podium I couldn't even be disappointed because I had my best race ever.   I had raced to a new OD pr in a final time of 2:10:30.   It was a great way to finish the tri season off and even better was two full days to enjoy and explore the city with Marty and the kiddos.  Bring on the deep dish pizza!!
So happy to have my husband and kids there to support me and celebrate after the race!

I would like to wrap this blog post up by making some thank-yous.  First and foremost to my husband Marty for his support.   I wouldn't be able to follow this passion of mine without his love and support.  To my kids for their support and putting up with me.  They are teens and I'm thrilled that they will still come out and cheer their mom on and even give me hugs post race :)   To my coach Angie...  You are always there for me and know just how to push me and when to back off.   I have learned so much from you over the years and respect your experience and vast knowledge in the sport.  By being my coach you have not only made me a better athlete, but a better coach!  To my Team TriLife athletes, teammates and triathlon friends from across the province and the country.    You inspire me with your own training and racing and I am blessed to have you in my life.  Following you and your races is as exciting for me as racing myself.  To my family and friends...   I feel so fortunate to have such a group always supporting me and checking in on me.  The messages of support you send me via text, email, facebook or phone mean the world to me.   Also a special thanks to Cranked bike shop in Airdrie and Louis Garneau bikes for helping set me up this year on the speedy GennixTR1!

And finally, the running and triathlon world and my own family has lost one of the very best of us this year.    A woman who always put others first and had the kindest heart.  She was always one of the first I heard from to get a good - luck wish or a congrats on a race.   And she was a damn good runner too!  Doris Henry, your family and friends will miss you fiercely and you will never ever be forgotten.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Spring Road Racing and a Duathlon!

This spring I did 4 road races a duathlon and they all get to share one blog post (because I am behind like ususal!).

Chick Chaser Awards
Up first was the Chick Chaser 5 miler in March.   I have done this race a couple times before and it's a total blast!  I didn't want to go too hard here because I had one more track meet to go the week after.  I settled into a fairly comfortable pace (after those 3000's on the track it felt so nice !).   My goal was to do the race in 32 minutes and average 4 min/ km.   I was a bit behind with one km to go so I kicked it in nice and quick to finish the race in 32 minutes and a fun second place prize too :)

Early in the race with Lindsay Winters (photo cred Jordan Bryden)
The next race was the Glencoe Icebreaker 10km at the end of March.  This is not a fast course with a good size hill and some false flats but I was feeling good from running track and really felt I could run 39 minutes on this course this year.   I went out waaay to fast, but it felt good so went with it.  I was doing this race with my training partner Willie and we stuck together for the first 3km and then he pulled ahead slightly.  I kept
him in my sights all the while thinking about my goal of 39 mins.  I caught back up to him around the 7km mark and the two of us worked really hard together ( and deeply in the pain cave) to try and hit our goals.   He edged ahead of me at the very end and I was thrilled to come away with a small PB and a time of 38:57. This also gave me 3rd place overall for the ladies!  It was a great race early season race for me!!!

Up next was the Calgary Police Half.  I was feeling really good going into this race and had set a goal to run it in 1:29 despite the tough course and uphill finish.  Off the start of the race I was running in 6th place and settled in behind Andrea Glover, a super speedy marathoner.  I kept her in my sights and passed a couple ladies to move into 4th around the 7km mark.  I was feeling really good at this point so decided to pick up the pace and try and catch up to Andrea.  I caught her around the 9km mark and settle in at her shoulder.   We caught second and first place and the two of us had moved into the lead around the 16km mark.  I was still feeling really good so at this point decided to stick on her shoulder and see what the rest of the race would bring.  With about 3 km to go a found myself a few steps ahead of her and decided to make my move at this point.  This is also around the time the course starts a climb to the finish.   I dug in and worked really  hard to not slow down in the final kms.  I was able to hold pace and win the ladies division of the race in a time of 1:27:57 just two seconds off my half marathon PR.  I was absolutely thrilled with this race!  Everything clicked.... you could call it a zen race!

Leoni, myself and Hillie after the race
I have some bad luck when it comes to my ankles.  I joke that I like to sprain my ankle every two years....   so this year was the year, and 6 days before the Sylvan Lake Sprint Du I sprained my ankle getting out of my truck....yup!  I'm that coordinated!   I gave it some good rest and did some swimming as pull only and some easy cycling when I could do that pain free.  I still really wanted to race at Sylvan Lake so I braced it up and decided to run the first run (only 3km), bike as hard as I could, and only run the second run if I had no pain.   The first run was pain free, I was up at the front with some younger guys, it felt great!   Up next was the bike and I put the hammer down and rode it pretty darn quick!  I avgerage 39km /hour over the 26km!  I got off the bike and went out on the run.   I passed two runners ahead of me from an earlier heat and realized I was in front of everyone, even the men!  I worked pretty hard in the last 2-3km of the run to hold the guys off and crossed the finish line in first overall!  So much fun and almost pain free :)

Just one week after the Syvlan Lake Du was the Calgary Marathon 10km.  This is a flat and fast course and was a PB for me last year.   I knew I was faster than last year based on my times from the Police Half and Glencoe so I set a pretty lofty goal of under 38:30.  I went out too fast (again) and may have burned my legs in the first km.  I struggled!  It might have been the effects of the du the week before had taken their toll or having had missed some key run workouts while the ankle was healing.  Either way my legs were not happy during this race.  I struggled to hold my goal pace and decided to modify my goal for a 39 min run.   I struggled to hold that pace as well.  It was a tough day for me and finished in a time of 39:18, good enough for 4th overall and first in  my age group.

And that catches me up to end of May!  Up next race reports from Wasa Lake and GWN!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Adventures in Track and Field

My son Liam runs track and field with the Airdrie Aces.  I really enjoyed watching him race in 2014 and often wished I had entered some of the masters events at the meets he went to.  So this winter....I went for it!  I returned to the track after almost 20 years.  My plan was to attend 3 meets, Golden Bear Open in Jan, Alberta Indoor Games in Feb, and Athletics Alberta Provincials in March and do the 3000m at each one.

I had some downtime in Nov/ Dec due to injury and illness so didn't have a ton of prep for the first meet.  I set a goal of 11:15 and felt comfortable I could achieve that.  They had the masters women run with the youth girls (grades 10 and 11).  When I toed the line the young gal next me asked me what my time was ( I remember asking other racers the same thing back when I was that age ).   I had a little laugh and told her I didn't know, I hadn't ran track in 20 years.   She kindly told me that anything under 12 was really good (again, I remember thinking the same thing at that age :)).  I went out with the leaders and quickly settled in second place behind a speedy gal from MAC Track.   I wasn't able to stay with her but ended up running 11:00.56 which I was really happy with.  Did I mention I those 11 minutes were some of the hardest racing I have done in awhile??   It was a much faster pace than I was used to!

After the first meet was done I got a little ambitious.  I looked up the masters records and saw for my age group the record was 10:47.  I figured that was a great goal to shoot for by March.   So my plan for the meet in Feb was to pace for 10:46 and try and hold on, knowing I had another shot in March.  Before this race I did an 800m speed work session just trying to hold 10:46 race pace and it was so hard!  In this race they put the masters women in with the Senior women (ages 19-34).  I got to race against the speedy triathlete and U of C dino Sarah McArthur.   I let her go and ran my own race, sitting in second the whole time.  With 3 laps to go I was right on pace so dug in and went for it and ended up finishing in 10:44.15 and getting the record.  Again, for me, so fast and sooooo hard!!!

1500m sprinting :)
After achieving my goal in Feb I got all crazy and decided to try a 1500m.....what was I thinking!   I never train at speeds that fast, literally!  If you had asked me to sprint 100m that's my 1500m race pace!  Again for this meet we were paired with the youth girls and after looking at the entry list I figured I needed to go out in 3rd spot.   I was a bit nervous of the start, it was a full heat and I hadn't ran anything as fast as a 1500m in a very long time.  I was right to be nervous because I got boxed out right away and found my self running the first 300m out in lanes 2 and 3.  I was finally able to get in behind the first two gals and settle on their heels.  It was at this point I realized I was literally sprinting!  Holy smokes!  I did my best to hold onto these girlies and stayed fairly close to them crossing the line in 4:56.22, 4 seconds faster than my goal of 5 minutes flat.  Did I mention how hard this was?  Definitely taking me to new levels in the pain cave.
The next day was the 3000m and after how hard the 10:44 was, and running the 1500m the day before, I definitely didn't have plans of setting a new PB.  I was in with the youth women again and was once again up with the speedy gal from MAC track.  I figured I would go out with her based on her previous seed time of 10:40.  Well she had other plans and went out way faster than a 10:40 pace....oooops.  As my son said she burned me.   I eventually let her go and held on for dear life and finished with a a new PB and record in 10:40.66.  I was thrilled to set a new PB!

My lessons learned from track and field as a 38 year old?  I am faster and fitter than I was when I ran track from 15-21.   I have defined new levels what it means to work hard in a race.   I know exactly how my son feels when I'm telling him to "pick it up in the middle".  It's not so great.   But, I loved it, it was a lot of fun and look forward to squeezing in some races in the outdoor season.

Monday, April 13, 2015

2014 Year in Review!

In 2015 my goal is to update my blog more....   we shall see!

Ok we go!

Rock and Roll Arizona Marathon - January

Me barely upright post race, they had to get the car for me!
I was fit and ready to go for this race!  I'd put in some grueling long runs in a nasty winter, and some wicked interval sessions.  Most of them with the help of my training partner Willie.  This race went as perfectly as possible.  I was able to stay at my coach Angie's home, cook my pre-race supper and have a good night's sleep.  I got dropped off quite close to the race start and was warmed up, familiarized with the start area, etc and ready to roll.  The weather was perfect.  Low teens to start, high teens to finish.  My goal was 3:15 for this race but I also had a goal of rrunning as close to an equal split as possible.   So when I rolled through the half way mark in 1:36 I decided that I needed to aim higher than 3:15.  The muscle pain that hits you in the last quarter of a marathon started a bit earlier in this one than the last one, so I was worried that I had gone out too fast, but just focused on my technique and pacing.  The last few kms were quiet but I focused on the people that helped me along the way, held pace for the most part and passed quiet a few that were hitting the wall!  I crossed the line in 3:12:57, 2 minutes ahead of my goal and completely thrilled (and unable to walk, lol!)

Glencoe Icebreaker 10km April 2014

After the marathon I took some time off so this was my first post marathon test of fitness.  I felt fitter than previous years this time of year so knew I could likely set a course PR here.  Conditions were great and I finished in 40:20, a great time for me for April!

Calgary Police Half April 2014

Enjoying Florence, Italy with my girl Ayden
This race is a great prep for the upcoming half ironman race season so decided to do it again, despite the fact that I would be only 3 days home from a trip to Italy.  After eating a lot of cheese, chocolate, bread and salami/prosciutto I knew this race wouldn't be perfect....   The tough course didn't disappoint and the last 5km were so hard!  I finished in 1:31:13 just a few seconds slower than the year before so considering the travels and bad eating habits I was pretty happy with it!
Sweet award!

Sylvan Lake Sprint May 2014

This is one of my favorite tri's!  So well run and organized and awesome volunteers.   I didn't taper for this race and felt like it was an equal performance to the year before ( I was a minute faster than 2013, but didn't have race wheels in 2013 so call it even!).    A good indication that the season was off to a good start.  The swim and bike were strong and the run almost felt effortless!   My time was 1:16:21 ( a sprint with a 26km bike course).

Calgary Marathon 10km June 2014

This race was late add on.  I was planning on attending the race to support my athletes doing the half and full marathons so decided to throw in the 10km as I would be there anyways.  I went out pretty quick but discovered that it was feeling pretty great so decided to go for it.  Around the 5km mark I realized I was on my way to a new PB and quite possibly a sub 39 min 10km, which is a standard I never thought I would hit.  I dug in as hard as I could in the last 3 km and crossed the line in 38:58!  A new surprise PB!

Wasa Lake Triathlon June 2014

Hardest part of the race!  Winner's speech!
My run in Calgary gave me some great confidence going into the Wasa race.  I really wanted to do well here.  I was 3rd last year, and 5th the year before.  I was focused on swimming a strong swim leg, swimming hard from start to finish with no mental lapses.  Check!   On the bike my goal was to maintain the same effort start to finish.  I had a couple gals ahead of me and knew I had a couple fast gals behind me.  To my surprise I passed the ladies ahead of me and held off the ones behind me and went out onto the run in first.   I ran scared and hard.  I passed one of my teammates on the out and back course, around the 5km mark and he yelled at me that I was having the race of my life and to go for it.  It was at the point that I decided it was indeed possible for me to hold off the gals behind me and win this race.  The last 3kms were so hard but I was able to hold my pace and hold onto first and win at Wasa!  It was such a thrill to win such a competetive race and finish ahead of gals I have been chasing in past races!

Great White North Half July 2014

On the bike, thanks Ken Anderson for the pic!
The problem with exceeding your own expectations is that you start to put higher ones on yourself.  I was crazy nervous at the start of this race.  A flat tire in transition threw me for a loop but thankfully the ever supportive Marty was there to keep me calm and help me change it.
Hurting on the run!
I had set some pretty big goals for this race for myself.   My swim was great!  I found feet right away and was able to stay on feet almost the whole race.  I came out right around the time I wanted to and went out and had a great ride.  I was back and forth a couple times with Kelly-Lynne Marcott in the second half of the bike but was able to pass her in the last 8km and hold her off heading into T2 in fourth place.  I ran a hard half marathon in 1:33 (oh man did that hurt!) but wasn't able to move onto the podium.  Nonetheless I was thrilled with my final finish and time, a new PR is 4:32:44.  I was fourth overall female, but first amateur female.

Lake Chapparral Olympic Distance Aug 2014

Swim start!  That's speedy Kristina Schulz with no wetsuit. 
After GWN I took a full week off to recharge and
refocus on the upcoming age group world champs.
Part of this build was to do another OD race before Sept.    This was right in between the two races so was the perfect option.  All went well, I had a strong swim, stayed right on the feet of strong triathlete and swimmer Kristina Schulz.   I passed her early on in the bike and stayed in first for the rest of the race.  Went out on to the run feeling good but around 7km I started getting pain in my hamstring so pulled up and slowed down as I have history of pulling hamstrings :).    I was still able to hold onto first and good time as well.  2:12:52.

Grizzly 1500m open water swim, Aug 2014

The TTL gang post swim.
This was a late add on but was so glad I did it!  Such a great race /great atmosphere.  It was so much fun to do "just" the swim.  Not nearly as many nerves as for a tri!   It was 3 laps of a 500m loop.  By the time I hit the first buoy I had found myself swimming with another gal.   We seemed to trade lead off and on for the rest of the race (as we did the "beach run" and went around bouys) and as we rounded the final buoy we came out side by side and it was a race to the finish.  We both seemed to want to get the other and swam hard and straight to the finishing chute side by side for 200m.   As we hit the beach I was able to get a better line and out sprint her to the finish line.   So much fun to do a swim race like this!  I surprised myself by placing in the top 3 women overall and winning my age group.

ITU Age Group World Champs Sept 2014

Opening ceremonies
All the great races this year and all the great training had come down to this.  I knew if I raced well I had a good shot at the podium.  I'm not going to lie, I would have been disappointed with anything else.   I had several days in Edmonton to do some workouts and review the course.  The experience as a whole was so much fun.   From the opening ceremonies, to the team activities, to watching the elites and para-triathletes race, it was an experience like none other!   Race day came and the temps were cool!  I sought out a spot in the pavilion by the lake to stay warm.  There were alot of triathletes in there doing the same but I had headphones and tried to relax.   I put my wetsuit on in the building, went and checked my bag and joined my age group in the athlete area.   We were walked down to the lake by bagpipes, definitely sent chills and excitement through me.  We lined up in the corrals by the lake waiting our turn to go in.  I finally was able to see my family on the other side of the fence and I just started tearing up.  I was so happy to have my hubby and kids there to cheer me on!
We lined up and I chose a spot I had practiced on a couple days earlier.  I had a good start and was off quickly.  I swam most of the race on my own, in 4th or 5th place.   I came out of the water 5th, and passed one gal after the exit so I could cross to the other side of the chute to high 5 Leoni and Hillie who were hard to miss in their TTL gear.   I ended up passing another gal in transition but didn't know it.
First lap of the run course
 I had a very strong bike and thought I was in 5th for most of the ride, passing one gal and moving up to fourth.  In reality I had rode most of the ride in 3rd and the pass had put me in 2nd.  It was a crowded race course with other age group waves out there so very hard to know what place I was in.  I hit T2 in second, but thought I was 4th.   I passed the gal ahead of me just before we exited T2, now thinking I was 3rd (side note, everyone tracking me on the live results knew I was in first but me!).   I wanted a podium spot so badly so I ran so hard.   I had a good first lap and found another gear in me for the
The fam with swag :)
second lap and was able to run faster.   I crossed the finish line having left everything out on the course and happy that I snagged a world championship medal.  After I crossed the line there were no other ladies from my age group waiting and I wasn't sure what was going on.  The gal who won silver came across and told me that I won, and then the gal who won bronze came across and told me the same thing.  I didn't believe them until a race official pulled up the live results on his phone and showed me. This is right around the same time my family saw me on the other side of the fence and I broke into tears.   They waved me to to the exit and we just had the biggest group hug ever.
 I had done it!   I think I cried a few more times that day, running into other people who had supported me or chatting on the phone with people...  and the text messages and facebook posts.....  it was so overwhelming. Snagging the gold medal later that night at the closing ceremonies and holding up the Canadian flag is a memory I will never forget!

Claiming the gold for Canada!

Melissa's 10km Sept 2014

I took a week off after Worlds and then it back to a couple weeks of training to do Melissa's.  I had been having some hip pain so wasn't sure how that would go, but knew I was fit and set a goal of running this race in 39:00.   With the big hill I knew I would have my work cut out for me but wanted to give it a try.  I did have some pain in my hip for most of the race but nothing that I couldn't manage.  I had a quick first couple kms and then settled in to "effort" for the climb up the hill.  Once I crested I worked on making up a bit of time on the downhills and then running strong the final 5kms in town.  This run hurt (do I say this about all my races???)!  I managed a 39:07 which I was thrilled with!  It was a 2:05 course PR!  Good enough for 4th overall and 3rd in my age group.

After Melissa's I ramped up the training for Last Chance Half.  My hip was slowly getting better and the workouts were going really well!  I was excited at the chance (weather permitting) to have a PB day.  However, my body had other plans and I pulled my hamstring 4 days out from the race.  I celebrated the end of a good season with some chips and dip and a bottle of wine (together, I know....gross!).

On to 2015.....

Sunday, November 2, 2014

2013 Races Part Two

So....just trying to catch up on recapping all my races and I seems I am over a year behind.   So here goes, a quick recap of the rest of 2013.

GWN July 2013
This was my first time at this race and it didn't disappoint.  There was a huge TTL crew there and this was a big part of why  my day went so well!  I swam, biked and ran well across the board.  Quads tried to cramp a bit on the run and I had to pull back at times, but other than that this race was near perfect.  Swim was 28:31 (according to sources around 150m too short), bike was 2:33:55 and run was 1:34:47 for a total time of 4:37:12.  When I crossed the finish line of this race I was bawling because I couldn't believe how fast I had gone!

Calgary 70.3 July 2013
After GWN I was pumped to do another half so signed up for this race right after.  This race also went so well!  Everything really clicked across the board.  Swim was a bit rough catching up to the men who had started 5 minutes ahead of us (got kicked a few times).  31:00.   Bike was 2:31:53 (a shorter course).  I had some trouble with a group that was drafting in the last 5km so elected to slow down rather than try and blow by a group of around 10 that were all "flirting with drafting".   You know the ones that stay just inside the draft zone, enough to get a benefit but not close enough to make it blatant.  Run was great 1:35:59 on a tough course.  Total time 4:38:52.  I was so excited by how well I did I claimed my 70.3 world's spot for Sept.

Calgary Women's Run Aug 2013
I didn't taper for this race, my legs were bagged but I still really wanted to go sub 40 on this course again.  Hung on for dear life and finished in 39:52 good enough for 4th overall and 3rd in my AG

Ironman 70.3 World Champs
I was just flat out disappointed with my performance at this race.  I can't pinpoint one thing as being the problem but the end result was I underperformed.  My swim was 2 minutes slower than normal and my swim typically doesn't fluctuate.  The bike was hard, lots of hills and heavy rain followed by heat made it tough.  Things fell apart on the run and I wasn't able to run to my ability at all.  Swim was 34:08, Bike 2:48:30, Run 1:42:46.  18th in my age group when I knew in my heart I should have been top 10, if not top 5.  I wanted redemption for this race.....   

Melissa's 10km Sept 2013
My plan for this race was to run a good pace to the hill, hold effort up the hill, cruise down and work really hard on the flats to finish.  I did this in a new course PR of 41:12 which on the day was good enough for 2nd overall and 1st in my age group.  Always fun to win some $$$

Last Chance Half Nov 2013
I wanted a PB at this race but mother nature dictated otherwise!  There was more than a few fresh centimeters of snow at this race making conditions tough for everyone.  On top of the fresh snow it was also quite cold.  Must have kept the fast gals home because my 1:31:04 in the snow was enough for 1st overall and $500 paycheck :)