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.....