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!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sun, Rain, Sleet and Snow

I guess I should have known better - the Winter Olympics are currently underway.

Today I set out for my toughest ride of the week: 2.5 hours that included 3x4km up Mt. Seymour. I have been working up to this distance and have felt pretty pleased with my progress so far. It has definitely helped that the weather in Vancouver has been perfect for the past week and riding outside and not on the trainer has been awesome.

Today when I left the house, it was slightly overcast, 12 degrees Celsius, but looked like it wouldn't rain for a while. I set off on my ride and made my way over to Mt. Seymour to get started. The first hill rep is always the hardest but I was committed to making this workout a great one! By the time I started the second rep, it started spitting. It didn't really bother me as I was quite warm with all my layers on and welcomed it. But, by the time I started the third rep, the rain REALLY started coming down. I was determined to finish what I had started, so I kept at it. 1km, 2km, 3km.... I had almost reached the 4km mark when the SNOW came down - hard!! I didn't want to turn around early (stupid me!) so I kept going until I had reached the 4km mark. When I looked down on my bike computer, the temperature had dropped a whopping 8 degrees and was now only 4 degrees C. Ouch! Needless to say, the ride down the mountain was NOT enjoyable. I went through snow, sleet and pouring raining before I made it to the basw. I was officially FROZEN. I also had a good 20-25min ride home in the pouring rain. I contemplated calling Mark and begging him to pick me up, but I sucked it up and finished the ride.

A hot shower and warm sweats have never felt sooooo good!

We are off to Whistler tomorrow to catch some more Olympic action. We will be at the victory ceremony on Wednesday night and the Nordic Combined on Thursday morning!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Olympic Fun!

Vancouver has fully embraced the Olympics. The city is packed with people decked out in patriotic gear from all over the world.

Initially I wasn't sure how the city would react to the Olympic Games. Vancouver always seems to be a city that enjoys participating in sporting events instead of spectating. However, if Saturday was any indication - Vancouver is ready to welcome the world and embrace anything and everything "Olympics!"

Ramsey, Mark, Nick, Dave, Allison and I with the torch!

On Saturday, we headed downtown with a group of friends to check out all the action. We spent some time walking around the city before settling at LiveCity Vancouver to watch the Canadian Women's Hockey team followed by the Women's Moguls. We waited in line for a good 45min to get into the venue, but it was well worth it. Once inside, Allison and Courtney secured us some awesome front row seats to take in the action. We cheered our hearts out as Canada won its first medal of the Olympics Games! CTV just happened to be set up in front of us, filming the fans as we cheered for our home team. Just as the TV cameras were leaving, they stopped by our table to interview both Nick and I - and we both made it on National Television! Fun.

Yesterday, we cheered from home as Canada won its first Olympic Gold Medal on home soil - EVER! Today we hope to head downtown to check out the Heineken House!!

I have a feeling I won't be doing anything productive for the next two weeks as I take in all the Olympic festivities!

Here are a few pictures from Vancouver:

Being interviewed by CTV!

Dave, Mark, Ramsey and Nick taking up the bobsled!

Being tourists in our own city!

Cheering on the home team!

Monday, January 18, 2010

SO far, SO good but SO tired!

2010 has continued to be a great year so far. The job search is keeping me busy, along with some coaching that I have picked up along the way.

With a little more "free" time on my hands, my lovely husband/coach has definitely been taking advantage of it on the training side of things. Ironman Canada is eight months away. However it is still an unbelievably daunting race and the thought of it has scared me into a consistent and intense training program.

In all my triathlons to date, I have always finished the swim in a great position, usually one of the first out of the water... but, that's when the race ends. The bikes starts, and I get passed, and passed and passed. In fact, I am pretty sure that I have never passed anyone on the bike... EVER. So, my "retired pro cycling husband" has made it his mission to make sure that doesn't happen (as much) come August.

A old picture of Mark representing Canada at some race!

For the past six weeks, I am have been on the bike - A LOT. Most of my riding has been on the trainer, thanks to all the lovely rain in Vancouver. But, as much as I love riding outside, the trainer has allowed me to do a lot of specific training without the worry of interruptions. My goal leading up to IMC is to be as prepared as possible for the 180km ride. After that, we'll see what happens...

Other bike related news - my new bike has arrived! Mark got me a TT frame for Christmas. Right now the bike is in a million different pieces on the floor of our condo. We are still waiting on a few more parts and then Mark can start building it. Also, next Saturday night, a group of us from the North Shore Tri Club will be learning to ride in the Velodrome! Should be a fun night!

Shan, Steph, Ally and I after a 100km ride on Saturday.
Enjoying a well deserved coffee break!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year

This New Year has brought a lot of changes and Mark and I are excited about what the New Year will have in store for us. 2009 was a year of excitement, fun and friendship and we have no doubt that 2010 will be that much better!

I have a few personal goals for 2010 - in no particular order.

1. Keep a training log. It has been a long time since I have systematically written down my workouts and kept track of what I was doing. I miss being able to look back and figure out what works and what doesn't - along with all that I have accomplished in the year. I decided to start this goal early and haven't missed logging a workout since Dec 1st!

2. Eat healthier. Generally, I eat quite healthy. But, there are a lot of time when convenience outweighed eating the right food. With Ironman Canada as my main goal this year, I would like to fuel my body with the best foods and not the easiest foods. This will include planning out our weekly meals, bringing my lunch to work and having healthy snacks around the house.

3. Keep our home office organized. I have always prided myself of being extremely organized...ask any of my roommates in university :). However, this past year I have managed to neglect keeping things as organized as I would have liked. Over the holidays we have organized and sorted out our condo in an attempt to start this year off on the right foot!

4. Find a career that I am passionate about! Just recently, I have decided to leave my current role in search of something more. In the last two years I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience. However, something was missing and I am on a quest to find that something. I know it won't be easy and I definitely didn't make the "easy" decision, but I know if I work hard enough, I will find the "right" fit for me.

What are your goals for 2010?