Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hello 2012!

The New Year has gotten off to a great start, but not before 2011 was finished off the right way!

Since the Vancouver weather has been less than ideal for fun outdoor riding (re: a LOT of cold, rainy days) - Diane, Steph, Ramsey and I have been spending a lot of time riding together in Ramsey's basement. As New Years Eve fell on a Saturday, we came up with the perfect way to finish off the year - the 2011 Spinfest!

Thirteen crazy friends decided to join us for the inaugural 3 hour spin followed by an amazing brunch. For those who weren't training for an upcoming Ironman, Laura offered to teach a yoga class for the second half of the time.

All set and ready to ride!

Warming down after an tough workout care of Ramsey and Doug!

A LOT of sweaty towels later....

In the end, 7 of the original 13 people finished the three hour ride. It was a LONG time to be on the trainer, but the time definitely went by quickly with some great music and even better friends.

To kick off 2012, we swam our annual 100x100. This year we opted to swim long course which made the set a little tougher but definitely more enjoyable without quite as many flip turns. Three hours later (and a few sore shoulders) a small group of us finished up the set and rewarded ourselves with a yummy breakfast at Zen.

As for the rest of Ironman training, things are going really well. Team SDS are training well and consistently without too many aches and pains. I can't believe that we are less than 6 months away from race day and I know the next few months are going to fly by.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What's Next?

After taking one full season off of structured training and racing, I was itching to get back into a steady routine and take a second try at Ironman. All I needed was to find some solid training buddies to keep me honest and push me throughout the year. Luckily I had two eager volunteers who jumped on board and we all signed up for Ironman Coeur d'Alene.

Once again, Mark agreed to set us up with a solid training plan and off we went. Diane is a first time Ironwoman who is an awesome cyclist and one of the toughest girls I know. She is always up for anything and keeps us entertained on an daily basis. For Steph and I, this will be our 2nd go at the Ironman distance, but our first time racing together. Steph and I have trained together for the past couple of years and you won't find a harder worker or a more enthusiastic training partner.

Who wouldn't want to try with these chicks?!
(Diane, Steph and I - preride coffee at Bean Around the World)
 We have been training consistently for the past 8 weeks and so far everything is going great. We have been focusing on getting strong and fit, without too much intensity at this point of the season. I am still in the process of confirming my race schedule up until IMCdA, but I think it will look something like this:
  • November 20 - Fall Classic 10k, Vancouver - 42:05 (2nd in AG)
  • December 26-31 - Training Camp, Vancouver
  • February 12 - First Half Marathon, Vancouver
  • March - Training Camp and Olympic distance race - TBC
  • May 27 - Shawnigan Lake Half Iron, Victoria
  • June 24 - Ironman Coeur d'Alene
Stay turned for more updates for from Team SDS (Steph, Diane and Susie)!

Friday, September 2, 2011

What Happened to the Summer?????

As I am sitting at my office on Friday afternoon - before the long weekend - it occurred to me that summer is quickly coming to an end.

My big plans for training and racing this summer got wildly sidetracked with an insanely busy working schedule. Before I knew, the summer was over and school officially starts on Monday - yikes!

Although I didn't end doing as many adventures as I had originally planned, I did squeeze in some fun into my busy summer. To keep things short, here is an outline of the summer.

1. Oliver Half Iron - June
Diane and I had a fun weekend with Mark as our driver, coach and mechanic extraordinaire! I had a decent race considering the amount of training under my belt. I had a good swim, a great bike and a terrible run. I am most please with my bike as I managed not to get passed my any girls and was in 3rd overall - until the run .... we won't bother talking about the rest of the race :)

2. Trip to Toronto - June
I took a couple of days off of work to jet over to Toronto to visit my family and to cheer on Mark's team at Cycling Nationals. I had a great, short visit with everyone and enjoyed cheering on Team H&R BLOCK.

3. Penticton "Work" Trip - July
I had the chance to head up to Penticton for a Whitecaps Women's game in July which was conveniently the same weekend as the Axle Merckx Gran Fondo. Once I got through with the work obligation, I managed to squeeze in a little training and a really fun ride.

4. Whistler Weekend - August
Mark and I managed to get away after a crazy summer for a few days up in Whistler. We had a relaxing time and enjoyed the sunny weather with some hiking, SUPing and downhill mountain biking. It was the perfect way to celebrate our 3 year wedding anniversary.

5. Thetis Island - August
We had a wonderful mini trip to Thetis Island to celebrate Adam & Sally's wedding weekend. We had a fun trip over on the float plane, followed by lots of swimming, running, bocci tournaments and wine! It was wonderful to be a part of their big day - congrats!

Here's to the fall and more adventures to come.....

Monday, April 18, 2011

April Fools Half Marathon and Sun Run Race Reports

I started the 2011 season off with two solid runs. Although road races aren't my favorite thing to do, I certainly recognize the importance of getting outside my comfort zone to improve my run.

Fools Half Marathon

This was my second year racing the Fools Half Marathon on the Sunshine Coast. Similar to last year, the weekend started off with a long ride on Saturday morning in Vancouver before hopping on the ferry to spend the night in Gibson's before the race. I travelled over with a big crew from the NSTC and had a wonderful prerace dinner and relaxing evening as we cheered on the Whitecaps and Canucks. Race morning was very relaxing, especially with a 9am start. I did a short warm up jog and lined myself up in the middle of the pack just before the gun went off. I started off much more conservatively than last year and spent the first few miles chatting with Scott and Dave as we settled into a steady pace. Scott and I were running really well together until the 15km mark when Scott picked up the pace. Unfortunately I couldn't stay with him but was able to hold my pace for the last 6km into the finish. I had a solid finishing time of 1:32:57 which was 5 minutes faster than last year and just off my PB. All the NSTC group had a great race and we were rewarded by a wonderful post race lunch at the Lyne's before heading back to North Van.

Sun Run

Yesterday I ran the Sun Run for the 2nd time since moving to Vancouver. The Sun Run is a really great race with 50,000 runners of all ages and abilities. The start line is unbelievable when you can look back and see just how many people have shown up to participate!

Nick and I made our way to the start nice and early and lined up in the yellow (2nd) corral. As I haven't raced a 10k in years, I didn't have a qualifying time to start in the seeded area. I wasn't sure what to expect as I rode a hard 115km ride on Saturday and I didn't know what my legs would feel like when I tried to push the pace. It was pretty crowded when the gun went off and I spent lots of time weaving in and out between people. I settled into a 6:35/mile pace and tried to maintain that while dodging people throughout the course. In fact, I must have done quite a bit of weaving as my Garmin showed I ran 6.4miles, instead of 6.2! I was able to maintain the pace I started with and finished in 41:36 which was good enough to be in the top 100 female finishers out of 21,632!

Now if only I could learn to run that fast off the bike.....

Monday, April 11, 2011

2011 Season

It took me a while to recover from a long season last year. For the first time since collegiate swimming, I was back into a regular training/competition routine. I had a wonderful season and could not have asked for a better outcome. That being said - training full time and working full time took it's toll on my body and I needed a good off season break to recover.

I took most of November/December off and slowly started getting back into shape in January. Without Ironman Canada looming at the end of the summer, I was able to start back slowly and do some "other" activities this winter that didn't involve swimming, biking or running.

I have had a little trouble committing to a race schedule for this summer. Part of me wants to try and qualify for IMC - and why not, I had such a great race last year? The other side of me realizes that realistically I won't have the time I did last summer to dedicate to improve my performance. I have been going back and forth for quite some times and have come up with some sort of a race plan for this summer.

April 3 - April Fools Half Marathon
April 17 - Sun Run with the Whitecaps!
May 6-8 - North Shore Tri Club Training Weekend, Penticton
May 8 - Blossom 10 miler (maybe)
June 5 - Oliver Half Iron
July 3 - Vancouver Half Iron (maybe)
July 10 - Desert Half Iron
August 14 - Lake Stevens 70.3 (maybe)
October16 - Nike Women's Marathon (hopefully!)

There are a few "maybes" and a few "unknowns" but I for the most part, I think this will be a fun summer of "shorter" races!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Clearwater 70.3 Race Report

Leading up to Clearwater, I had some really solid training sessions. Coming off a great result at IMC, I had the confidence to believe that I could finish off the 2010 season with a great race in Clearwater. I switch my training focus from distance based to one that focused on quality speed sessions. In retrospect, I probably pushed my body a little too hard after IMC as I developed a nasty virus the week before we were supposed to leave.

Our trip down to Clearwater went really smoothly. Mark and I rented a great condo right on the beach and spent the days leading up to the race relaxing, trying to get healthy with a little training thrown in there with the Vancouver Lifesport crew.

Race morning came and I work up feeling excited to race. I got to transition with plenty of time to pump my tires (thanks Bjorn!) and relax before the start. My age group wasn’t starting until Wave 15, so I had a good hour to wait around after the pros started. I got in a good warm up swim and before I knew it, we were lined up and ready to go.

I had a decent entry into the water, especially considering all my prior races this season started in the water. I wasn’t quite able to stick with the top girls as they took off from the start, but I found myself in a good solid group. I had clear (but choppy) water until the fourth or fifth buoy where we started to catch the waves in front of us. It was a little bit of a “gong show” as all the waves started to get mixed up. As I made the turnaround, I got a little disorientated and swam a little off course. The buoys on the way back to shore were really hard to see with the swell, but I did my best to swim in a straight line back to shore.

T1 went smoothly and I was off on the bike course in no time. I spent the first 10 minutes getting into a rhythm and settling into my race heart rate. For the first 30 minutes, the course was fairly empty. I began to think that there wasn’t going to be nearly as much drafting as I anticipated. However, before I knew it, HUGE groups of 20-50 riders started passing me by. I tried to stay out of the way as the big groups blew by me, often time pushing nearly off course. At times I found the course really dangerous as there were a lot of tight turns and turnarounds – combined with too many big groups of drafting triathletes. I did my best to stay out of the packs and remarkably rode most of the race by myself. It was tempting to tag along with the big groups as they went by, but I really wanted to see how fast I could go on my own.

Finishing up the swim

I held a decent pace and effort until about the 60km mark when I really started to tighten up. In retrospect I have never ridden that far in the aero position. Training in Vancouver, there is always plenty of elevation changes, but in Florida, it was dead flat. I spent the last 30km trying to find a comfortable position to ride in, but unfortunately, I lost quite a bit of speed and momentum.

T2 went smoothly and I was off on the run. The run in Clearwater was a two loop course that went up and over the causeway four times. I wasn’t feeling fabulous on the run, but I tried to keep a high cadence and work the hills. The heat really started getting to me towards the end of the run and I probably didn’t have nearly enough fuel as I mostly stuck with water at the aid stations.

I had a solid finish of 4:55:08, which was good enough for a 5min PB and 35th in my age group (Swim 27:52, Bike 2:33.52, Run 1:48.18). Had I been healthy, I am confident I could have been faster, but I will take a PB for now.


This season would not have been nearly as successful without the support of my wonderful husband and coach. He stuck with me through the good weeks and bad weeks and was there to support me at all the races. He looked after my bike and made sure I had all the right equipment to be competitive with all the other girls.

Mark and I relaxing at the beach post race

I also wouldn’t have enjoyed the journey nearly as much without my fabulous training buddies. Special thanks goes out to the NSTC crew, especially Team S, Steph O, Allison and all the others who kept me company for all the early morning workouts and long training weekends.

I am now looking forward to getting healthy, resting up and getting ready for another great season in 2011.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ironman Canada - Race Report

Where to begin?

Completing an Ironman has always been a goal of mine. I am not sure when I got the idea that this might be “fun” but I knew it was something that I would do one day. After cheering on all my friends at IMC 2009, I stood in line, paid my $600 and decided that I would dedicate the next year to train for IMC.
Over the past year I have trained and enjoyed the entire experience. From training ride #1 to race day – the whole experience was far better than I ever imagined. I spent the year focusing mainly on the bike. Of all three sports, this was the one I had the least experience. Luckily I am married to one heck of a cyclist (10-time National Champ!) who coached me along the way. Together we put together a program that would be “bike heavy” while keeping a good balance between training and life. Luckily for me, I made a career change in January which left me with 2.5 months between jobs = one big training camp. I spent my time off riding in the cold, wet, winter hoping that come August the hard work would pay off.

I decided that I would spend the majority of the summer training with just a couple of races to remind myself what to do on “race day.” My thought was that if I spent too many weekends training, I would sacrifice the big training blocks that needed to be done. I was lucky enough to have two solid races as a lead up to IMC. The Oliver Half Iron was my first chance to test myself and see where I stood in June. I followed up Oliver with the Calgary 70.3 which gave me some experience working through a transition very similar to IMC. I took away some valuable info from both races as well as tested my race nutrition to make sure everything that went in my stomach, stayed where it should.
My race week officially started on Tuesday morning when we packed up the car and headed to Penticton with Mark and my parents. We arrived Tuesday afternoon just in time for me to go for a VERY WAVY swim in Skaha Lake. I spent the next few days swimming, biking and running on the course and getting settled. It seemed strange, but all week it didn’t feel like race week. For some odd reason, I wasn’t nervous – I was simply enjoying the experience and spending time with family and friends.

The day before the race I had my first “freak out.” I went for an easy hour ride out to MacLean Creek Road with my race wheels and it turned out to be a very windy day. I had trouble keeping my bike on the road and started to think Ironman might not be such a good idea after all. When I got home from the ride, I got Mark to switch out my front wheel and instead of going with the fancy tri-spoke, I settled with my regular spoke wheel. Aside from that minor incident, I was ready to go!

Mark getting my bike ready for the "big day!"

Race morning came earlier than expected (thanks to an overeager friend wishing me good luck via text message!). I stayed in bed and relaxed and dozed until 4:00am when the alarm went off. I had my first breakfast, got dressed, loaded into the car and made my way to transition. Mark joined me while I dropped off my special needs bags and got body marked. After a quick kiss goodbye, I made my way into transition to get my bike ready. I made friends with a fellow competitor and we helped each other pump up our tires. I also ran into a whole crew from the North Shore Tri Club which helped ease my nerves. This was just a really fancy training day! Shannon and I hit the bathroom lines early and still had plenty of time to chat, put on sunscreen and get our wetsuits on. As I made my way to the beach, the whole experience really set it. The pros were off warming up and everyone was excited and ready to go. Somehow I found my family in the crowd, said a quick hello and headed to the water to warm up.

Once the pro’s set off, I spent nearly the whole 15 minutes warming up. The water was much warming than the air so I kept going until I heard the 3 minute countdown. I found my way to the front of the line and lined myself up with the buoys around people who “looked” like swimmers. We all wished each other good luck and before I knew it, the gun went off!
I have to admit that this is the first time I have experienced a hectic swim start. Normally (being a former competitive swimming) I start at the front and rarely have to deal with the crowds. IMC was a little different with 3000 people and it took me until the third buoy to finally have some clean water. I settled into a good pace and counted off the buoys, one by one. The swim went by fairly quickly. I move from group to group, but spent most of the swim by myself, setting my own pace.

Coming out of the water was the most incredible experience. People were lined on either side of the water and my only thought was “don’t trip!” I managed to get half my wetsuit off before finding the two biggest wetsuit strippers who had my wetsuit off before I knew it. I easily found my bag and made my way into the change tent. The change tent was almost empty when I got there so I had three lovely ladies who put on my socks and shoes, helmet and race belt. The ladies also insisted that I put on my arm warmers – which I later thanked them for!

Exiting the swim

I jumped on my bike and started to settle into a good moderate pace. A lot of people started passing me, but I tried to stay conservative knowing that the course was going to get harder and harder as the day went on. The ride out to Osoyoos went by so quickly and before I knew it, I was on the climb up Richter. I made a point of eating every 20 minutes after many prerace lectures from Mark. I also made sure to drink quite a bit and I had to make an effort to do so since it wasn’t very hot. Richter Pass and the rollers were much easier than when I rode the course in May. I tried to keep a steady effort and stay focused along the way. At some point out by the rollers, the wind started to pick up and the clouds started getting really dark. By the time I got to the “out and back” the sky was dark and I knew it wouldn’t be long before it started to rain. I opted not to take anything from my special needs bag as I had packed plenty of food and was feeling good (and therefore didn’t need my Snickers and Redbull!). By the time I was finishing up the out and back the rain really started to come down. The wind was brutal but I kept my head down and tried to ignore the rain as much as possible. I was so focused on just pedaling hard, that I didn’t even realize I was on the Yellow Lake Climb. Sure enough, just like everyone told me, there were people lined on either side of the course cheering us along in the pouring rain. I couldn’t help but smile and laugh when I saw my husband and his buddies dressed in beaver costumes on the climb. Mark ran with me for a few meters, wished me good luck and promised me that he would see me on the run course. I kept climbing in the rain and wind, but couldn’t stop smiling. I ran into friends all along the climb and before I knew it, I was at the summit and heading downhill into Penticton.

At one point during the ride it was "sunny!"

Normally this would be my favorite section of the course. However, at this point it was still pouring with rain and incredibly windy. As I descended as fast as I could (safely), I was thanking those lovely volunteers in the change tent who made me put on my warm warmers. I was still cold, but at least I had something to cover me up. I passed a bunch of people descending Yellow Lake and I was very thankful I had changed my wheel selection the day before the race. Sadly, there were ambulances at multiple corners picking up people who had washed out going around the corners. I tried to keep looking ahead and focusing on Penticton where it looked a little “sunny.”

Gotta love the support from the North Shore Tri Club Beavers!

As I hit T2, I was happy to be off the bike and starting the run. The lovely change tent ladies changed my socks and shoes, repined by race number which had almost blown off on the ride, grabbed a gel and I was off. The first few miles felt great. I settled into a moderate pace and smiled and waved when I saw my family and friends. At this point, I should note that I decided NOT to race with a watch. I didn’t wear a watch on either of my two previous races and felt that I knew my body well enough to know my limits. Also, I knew that chances are, if I was having a bad race, I didn’t want to know how slow I was going!

As I ran, I focused on one mile at a time. I also tried to refuel more than normal because I didn’t take in enough food or water on the last 30km of the bike. At one point I had the great idea that I should probably visit a Porto potty as I hadn’t gone all day. This was probably not the best idea, as I had a couple of rough miles as my stomach settled down. Remarkably I started to feel better once I reached the hills towards OK Falls. Having trained primarily on the North Shore, I found the hills easy and gained momentum as I passed people who were walking. At the turn-around, I ran into a bunch of friends and family – tried to wave and smile and went on my way.

Almost done!

I was lucky enough to have Mark and Steph out on their bikes throughout the run. They would cheer for me, ride a mile and meet me to cheer again. It was something I REALLY looked forward to. Steph was the ultimate cheerleader while Mark remained calm and cool and kept saying that I was doing great. I had NO idea how fast I was running. I just kept counting down the miles and soaking up the experience as much as I could. Steph and Mark met me at mile 24 where they cheered me on and told me that the clock was at 10:30 and if I moved my butt, I would finish around 10:45! The last two miles, I pushed as hard as I could. I smiled and waved as friends and family greeted me along the way. As I ran through the finishing chute, I also saw my time for the first time that day – 10:44:43!

I felt great at the finish! I had two fabulous volunteers that helped kept me company until Steph managed to weasel her way into the athlete area. I couldn’t believe it – I had finished my first Ironman! Eventually I was able to get up and meet my family who had braved the terrible rain and wind to cheer me along all day. I honestly couldn’t have done it without them.

In the end, my splits were as follows:
Swim – 55:21 (1:28/100m)
T1 – 2:36
Bike – 5:43:56 (19.5mph or 31.3km/h)
T2 – 2:36
Run – 4:00:16 (negative split by 44 seconds!)
Total – 10:44:43

I finished 6/77 in my age group or 268 overall (12th amateur female). Unfortunately my age group was MUCH faster than previous years so I didn’t qualify for Kona. But, I did qualify for Clearwater 70.3 Champs in November earlier this season and I am really looking forward to a fast, flat and warm course!