Thursday, November 25, 2010

November in a Blur

It’s been a month and half since Hawaii, and I’m puzzled about where the time went? Yesterday it was October, and now suddenly it’s the end of November. I can’t recall 6 weeks passing by? Maybe I fell asleep and hibernated? Or I’ve heard that time flies when you’re having fun, so maybe that’s what happened.

In either case, today is Thanksgiving Day in the US, and I woke up even more confused thinking that perhaps I had slept through the month of December as well. I grew up with Thanksgiving being a much smaller holiday in Canada, but in the US it appears to be the beginning of the Christmas season. This four day holiday marks the beginning of Christmas decorating, parties, shopping, eating and anything else associated with being joyous and merry. I guess I should just give in and enjoy the season since tomorrow I might wake up and it will be January.

Happy Thanksgiving and Thank You to my coach and team for all the great memories from the past year.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Kona 2010

October 14th, 2010 by donnaphelan
It’s now 4 days since the IM World Championships in Kona, and I’m on a flight heading back to San Diego. This is the second time I have raced Kona (my first time was 2 years ago), and both times I have loved this race. The swim is in the ocean which gives a sinker like me some buoyancy, I can spend the whole bike in the aerobars time-trialing which is what I like best, and the weather is hot which I love.
The lead up for this race was a bit different than my training 2 years ago. Two months ago, leading into IM UK, I developed some tendonitis in my hip. Then by the end of August it had developed into a “stress injury” in my pelvis. I took the next 3 weeks off training, followed by 3 wks of easy running heading into Kona. The race would also be my first time swimming without a pull buoy in 6 wks….a nice little experiment to see what happens when you don’t kick for 6 wks.;-)
To sum up my race, out of 11 Ironmans to date, it was probably my best. Despite a not so great start in the water, I came out of the swim with the usual girls I have swum with in other races…’though I’ll give myself an F for running around looking for my transition bag and what can only be described as “grandma pace” in the transition tent.
For the first 90km of the bike there was a strong headwind and towards the turn-around there were stronger crosswinds than I remember from 2 years ago. At times, I was scared to stay in the aerobars, and prayed that I wouldn’t end up pedaling off across the sky. I felt stronger on the second half of the bike and passed 5 or 6 people, finishing with a bike split 15min faster than 2 years ago.

I wasn’t sure what to expect on the marathon since my run training hadn’t been what you’d call ideal. But surprisingly, I felt pretty good until about the last 10km of the run. With 5km left, Karen Smyers went past but I couldn’t stay with her. Then with 3km left, Kate Bevalaqua came by and we ran side by side up the last hill on the Queen K, down Palani, and along Kuakini. As we were about to turn on to Ali’i with 800m to go, I had memories of my previous sprint finishes at Wildflower and IM Brazil this year not being so successful. Ok, it’s now or never, I’m not making it a 200m “sprint” this time (I say “sprint” but this word is not usually part of my vocabulary). I came across the finish line ahead of Kate, and almost catching Karen, happy with a race that 6 wks ago I had doubts I would be starting.

At the finish line with Jay. I don't know who's more tired, me or him.
The last 3 days have passed in a bit of a whirlwind with the awards party Sunday evening, followed by 2 days of snorkeling, beaching, coffee drinking and sushi eating. A big Congrats to Xena for finishing 2nd and for strong finishes from the rest of the team – Amy, Erika, Tez and Hiro. Also a big Thank-You to Brett, Alex and all of our team sponsors. And a huge Thanks to my super doc who volunteered at the medical tent and settled my hip down with a cortisone shot Monday eve, and to my super PT who works at the ART tent in Kona every year. Thank you Dr.Miller (TK) and Gino for getting me to the start and finish line.

Genki sushi where you pay according to the color of the plate. It keeps coming an coming...

My New Favorite Ride

September 27th, 2010 by donnaphelan
My long bike and my long run are my two favorite workouts of the week. I love heading out on my bike for a long ride, especially when the weather is hot and sunny. Two weeks ago I discovered a new bike loop which is actually a pretty famous long ride in San Diego called “The Henshaw Loop”. The marine layer near the coast a couple of weeks ago was thick like pea soup, and seeking the sun and hotter temps, I ventured inland a couple of Saturdays ago. I loved this ride so much that I had to go back again this Saturday, and I wasn’t disappointed – sunny and 110 degrees, great climbing and quiet roads. I’m actually a bit disappointed to be starting my taper for Hawaii soon, but I’ll be back to the Henshaw Loop again soon. Here are some pics from my Saturday ride….
This is the first long 25 min climb, from San Diego County to Ramona.

Lots of spectators heading from Ramona to Santa Ysabel. I’ve never seen camels outside of a zoo before….definitely not while I was growing up in eastern Canada!

Stopping in Santa Ysabel at the famous Dudley’s Bakery. The map shows where we’re headed….almost at the half way point. I love this ride.

Heading around Lake Henshaw towards Palomar Mountain on the same loop 2 weeks ago. It was right around this point in the ride when I almost fell off my bike. A little dehydrated and dreaming of a nice cold dip in the lake, this strange creature jumped out in the middle of the road. I had visions of being attacked by a huge beak and eaten for dinner…..only to be told after my mild panic attack that it was “only” a wild turkey. Aside from this potential wild turkey attack, definitely my favorite long ride ever.

The Beginning of the End of Summer

September 6th, 2010 by donnaphelan
This weekend is the long Labor (Labour in Canada) Day Weekend in North America. Although summer doesn’t officially end for another couple of weeks, this weekend unofficially marks the end of summer vacation. When I was a kid growing up in Canada, I dreaded the end of Labour Day which marked the beginning of the school year. Since moving to San Diego a few years ago, Labor Day has now become one of my favourite holidays of the year – tourists finally go back to wherever they came from, the beaches clear out, and I no longer fear having my head chopped off by a car door suddenly flying open in the bike lane.
But the thing I love most about this time of year is that summer’s not really over. It can stretch on into October. And if I hop on my bike and head inland, it can last for another couple of months….A long ride on a hot day and it doesn’t get much better than that. So I’ve put away my cold weather Swiss riding clothes that I brought home a couple of weeks ago and I’ve taken out my warm weather clothes again. Summer’s just begun…

*The “Cardiff Kook” about a mile from where I live. The locals dress it up for different occasions, making fun of his “not so sporty surfing style”. This weekend, he’s dressed up as Zorro with a hat and sword.

*The summer flowers are hanging on while the pumpkins are pushing for October to come. Be patient pumpkins, it’s not your time yet.

*Though fall is not too far off.

Things I’ll Miss About Swiss

August 17th, 2010 by donnaphelan
Today I took the train from Leysin to Geneva where I’m staying overnight before my flight leaves in the morning to Belgium, then Philadelphia and on to San Diego.
It’s been a great couple of months training in Switzerland. I never realize how quickly the time at camp flies by but before you know it, it’s time to pack up and move on again. There are little reminders like the number of books growing in my pile (number 10 has just been put to rest and thank you Tez, Jodie and Fiona for the extra books!). And the past week of sleeping with my hot water bottle and extra blanket means it’s time to head to sunnier skies and warmer weather.
However, there are many things that I’ll miss in Swiss….
My favorite ride to Sion and back….the only 5hr ride I’ve ever done without a single traffic light. Of course, there’s always time for a coke/bakery stop somewhere along the way.

My favorite long Sunday run…..biking down the mountain to the UCI and doing my long run along the river in Aigle. Then a quick coke/bakery stop before climbing back up to Leysin.

The amazing view from the hiking trails above Leysin on my long “hike” days, ending with a coke/bakery stop before heading home.

My favorite aisle of my favorite grocery store, the Co-op. There’s always fresh bread every morning, hot off the shelf, and nothing tastes better than fresh bread after morning swim practice.

And on my run days around the village when I don’t have time for a coke/bakery stop, there’s never a shortage of drink stops.

Ironman UK

August 4th, 2010 by donnaphelan
This past weekend I went to Bolton, England to race Ironman UK. Like with any race, I’ve come away from it learning a few important lessons.
The race started at 6am with a deep water start which meant that at 5:40am race officials were giving orders to get in the water and swim out to the start line. It was a cold lake swim and being out there for 20min beforehand was more of a cool down than a warm up. I came out of the water in 3rd place, stumbling a couple of times on the way to my bike, still a bit disoriented from the cold but within sight of 1st and 2nd place.
Onto the bike and I knew I would have to work hard to build a buffer against some of the stronger runners. Unfortunately, I spent the first half of the bike kicking myself for not wearing warmer clothes. The thought even entered my mind to stop and ask a spectator for a tshirt or jacket. Because of the cold/rain I made sure to keep eating every 15min and by 60km I moved into 2nd place. Another 60km went by and I was still wishing I had a parka and feeling the strange urge to stop and have a 5 course meal. The last 60km of the bike provided a bit of entertainment as we had the extra challenge thrown in of double lane traffic – sheep, double decker buses and Sunday drivers on their way for tea and crumpets. Unfortunately, due to the extra bodies on the road, I missed one of my turns in the last 30k and with it went another 5 or 6 minutes.
I came off the bike still in 2nd place, but with only a minute lead on 3rd. The first 2 miles of the run were a hilly cross country course through a forest of mud and puddles before we started the main out/back/out of the marathon. At this point, I was feeling a little low on fuel but concentrated on just moving one foot in front of the other. At about 30km, I had slipped into 4th place, and a huge fight, actually an outright war, was going on between my head and my quads. I knew that the pain in my quads could never compare to the pain of my brain giving up before my body did so I pulled myself together and came across the finish line in 4th place, still within 8% of the winner’s time to finish in the money.
So, the lessons learned at this race? Dress up warm when it’s cold, and always pay attention to the bike course and less to the distractions of sheep and double decker buses. A big congrats also to Bella and Stephen for both finishing 2nd and to Brandon for his 5th place finish.

Random Acts of Craziness

July 11th, 2010 by donnaphelan
A couple of days ago I had an email from a girl who used to be on my swim team when I was a kid. She recently started doing triathlons and I get an email from her from time to time asking about training, racing, which tri bike to buy, etc. This week, her question was along the lines of feeling tired and grumpy….the thought of going training is a bit of a mental struggle…is this normal?….do pro’s feel like this?
I remember a wise doc a few years back telling me the story of Rob Decastella answering a reporter’s question “Are you tired?”. His answer…”I get up in the morning tired and go to bed very, very tired. 50 weeks of the year. But it’s a price I gladly pay because 2 wks of the year I am the best in the world. And I am lucky because there are a lot of athletes as good as me out there who are not prepared to pay that price so I beat them every time in those two weeks.”
For me, peculiar things start to happen when I’m in the middle of training camp, when I’m perhaps not my usual most alert self. This past week was no exception. At the beginning of the week, I was riding down the mountain, waiting to pass through the tunnel about half way down. Pretty soon I was at the bottom with no recollection of having gone through the tunnel. I don’t suppose they moved it? There’s no way I could have gone through it. Then on Wednesday I was out riding and was convinced it was Saturday. And what did I do yesterday? Then a couple of nights ago, I had a dream about the cat who hangs around outside my apartment building. In my dream, this cat’s name was Kitzen. I think perhaps I was thinking about going to the kitchen for my middle of the night snack? Sometimes the brain fatigue is worse than the body fatigue.;-)
So the answer to my friend’s question? Yes, being tired from training is pretty normal. And may be accompanied by random acts of craziness.

Summer in Swiss

June 28th, 2010 by donnaphelan
It feels like I just arrived yesterday, but I’ve been at Swiss camp for just about 2 weeks now. This is my third summer here, and it has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world and one of the greatest places to train. The riding through the mountains is unlike anywhere else – amazing climbs, quiet roads, few traffic lights, and the cars (for the most part) are bicycle friendly. It’s a quiet area with few distractions which always makes a great training location. Oh, and did I mention the bakeries and the great coffee?
There hasn’t been much news the last couple of weeks as we’re all just busy putting our heads down and getting ready for the races we have coming up. More to come in my next blog, but for now I’ll just leave you with a few pictures of this beautiful little place in the clouds…

Here Today Gone Tomorrow

June 13th, 2010 by donnaphelan
Since Ironman Brazil, I’ve spent the last 10 days in San Diego, and I leave tomorrow for training camp in Switzerland. The last 10 days have been a whirlwind – recovering from the race and travel, getting back into a training routine, and digging out my cold weather clothes for training in the Swiss Alps.
Two of the things I enjoy most about San Diego are my “second home”, the pool, about 2 kms from where I live. And in the rare instances when I’m not training, I really enjoy the good coffee around here (much bigger cups than in Brazil).
But after 10 days of training on my own, I’m getting fidgety, and I’m ready to head back to camp. I packed my bags today, and had a couple of stow-aways trying to hitch a ride to Switzerland. They do this every time I travel. But once I told them about the big cows in Leysin, they reconsidered.

It´s a LONG way to Brazil

June 1st, 2010 by donnaphelan
My trip to IM Brazil started when I got back from Thai camp the end of April, and will finish when I get back home on Wednesday.
Going to Brazil (for Canadians anyway) requires a Visa, and so the first segment of my trip was heading to LA from San Diego to drop off my visa application at the Brazilian consolate (no mail-ins allowed). The second segment of my trip required going back to LA a week later to pick up my visa. The third segment of my trip was heading to LAX last Tuesday for my supposed flight to Brazil. However, the terminal was a zoo when I arrived with lots of angry people milling about….yup, flight cancelled with no warning due to diverted incoming flight (turbulence over the Atlantic sent 6 people to hospital in an emergency landing in Montreal). So, back to San Diego for the night, followed by my 4th trip to LA the next day and my eventual 24hrs of travel LA to Washington to Sao Paolo to Rio to Florianopolis. Wow, am I dreaming or am I actually finally here, haha.
The race was on Sunday and started with a 2 loop ocean swim, split up by a beach run in between loops. Dede Griesbauer and Tereza led out the swim and I exited in 4th place about 1:45 behind Hillary.
The bike was 2x90km loops with 4 decent size hills in each loop. My legs felt better on the second loop, but I still had some time to make up when I came off the bike, still in 4th place, about 3:30 back from Hillary.
The run started with a 21km loop followed by 2×10.5km loops. The first 15km were the most challenging with 6 short, steep hills, but I felt good and by 18km had Hillary in my sight. We started running together at 20km, but by the second loop my quads were starting to complain about the earlier hills. At 25km, Maria Omar from Argentina ran by with what would end up being the fastest run split of the day. Hillary and I continued our battle side by side, never able to put more than a few feet on the other from 20km to 42km. It was a tough 22km and coming into the finish shoot it came down to a sprint finish with Hillary outsprinting me in the last 100m.
The silver lining to a disappointing sprint was finishing within the 8% money rule, and within the 5% Kona rule, although there were only 2 Kona slots for women. Dede and Tereza had already qualified with their top 10 finishes in Kona last year, and so the two spots went to Maria and Hillary. I was hanging out at roll down the next day, just about ready to leave, when I heard my name called out. There were 3 Kona slots for men, but the guy who would´ve taken the third spot didn´t finish within 5% so it rolled back to the women. I´m glad I stuck around and thanks Tereza for loaning me the $550 US!
I started my journey back to the US Monday afternoon, from Florianopolis to Rio to Sao Paolo. My flight from Rio was late arriving in Sao Paolo and by the time I got to my gate, the doors had closed leaving myself and 2 other people to miss our connection to Washington. I was fuming, and they must have seen the steam coming out of my ears because they sent me off to one of the nicest hotels I´ve been in, complete with dinner and breakfast buffet. So here I am in the business center of the hotel this morning, catching up on email before my 10pm flight to Washington and LA this evening. It may be time for a nap soon as I didn´t have a great sleep last night. I kept having nightmares that I overslept and got to the breakfast buffet just as they were closing. And that wouldn´t have been a good thing.;-)

My Ride

May 14th, 2010 by donnaphelan
Here’s my P4 at the bike shop a few days ago, getting a tune up with my new Token race wheels.:)

Spring Cleaning

May 6th, 2010 by donnaphelan
This past weekend, I raced the Wildflower 1/2 Ironman. Being only 6hrs from where I live, it was a good chance to get an early season race under my belt before I tackle an Ironman in a few weeks time.
This was my third time racing Wildflower so I know the course a little by now. The swim was cold as I had expected (well, 59 degrees is cold for me compared to the bath tub temperatures in Thailand). I came out of the water in 6th position, and almost right away the hills started which are almost a constant at Wildflower. I think I warmed up by about 60km on the bike, and re-passed a few girls that had passed me early in the ride while I was still an icicle.
I came off the bike in 10th position with the goal of aiming for a top 10 finish. 60% of the run course is on trails with some very steep climbs and descents. My balance is not great in the best of times, and I’m sure I could have been mistaken trying to stay upright. Not to mention that my last trail run was a year ago at Wildflower. Anyway, despite the lovely terrain, I was feeling pretty good on the run and thinking that I would have a good finish. Unfortunately, with about 4km left to go, the steep downhills earlier in the run sent my quads into a screaming fit. I have mostly been running flat since my knee surgery 6 months ago, and my quads were protesting very loudly. The last km on the run is a winding downhill, and I have to admit my legs have never been in quite so much pain. I was very happy to finally see the finish chute, but not very happy to hear that there was a chase coming from behind. I sprinted as hard as I could, and crossed the finish line 1 sec ahead of the girl behind and 3 sec ahead of the next person.
One of the great things about Wildflower is how tough the course is, and how much fitness you take away from it. 4 days later, and my legs have still not forgiven me, but they will thank me later. The cobwebs have been cleaned away and now it’s time to get on with the rest of the season.
It was also great to see Amy and Brandon at the race giving it their best, and to have the support of Avia who did a great job as main sponsor of the race.

Home Again

April 26th, 2010 by donnaphelan
I arrived back in San Diego Thursday night after leaving Thailand, which of all the training camps, has been my favorite place to train. Before heading back to the US, I had an overnight in Singapore, staying with Mike from The Bike Boutique and his girlfriend Rachel. Scott also had a few hours in Singapore before his midnight flight so we took a cab to Mike’s apartment, and then biked to dinner a few km’s away. It was quite funny to see us all riding through Singapore in the dark. Scott was on Mike’s road bike and standing on the pedals because the frame was too big, and I was on Rachel’s mountain bike with my knees coming up to my chest. Where is my camera when I need it, haha.
So, I’ve been home now a few days, adapting to the time difference and change in temperature. When I’m really tired, I’ve been known to sleep walk and sleep talk. The first night back, I sat upright in bed at 2am, and said to Jay, “How many people are in here? Where’s Scott and Jocelyn??” Don’t ask…I have no idea. Almost as bad as the time I dreamt I was washing clothes and stuffed my blanket in the toilet, haha.
I do really miss the hot weather, great riding and cheap food in Thailand. I went out for a long ride yesterday wearing arm and leg warmers and vest….65 degrees and sunny but it felt like winter to me. I was disappointed not to find any cheap watermelon stands at the end of my ride. But a can of Pringles and a bottle of Mountain Dew when I got home, and all was right in the world again.;-)

The End of Thai Camp

April 18th, 2010 by donnaphelan
I’ve been in Thailand for just over 8 weeks now, and on Wednesday I head back to the US. The time here has really flown by, and I’ll miss the training in Krabi. But it’s time to head back to the US for some races, and I’m excited about that as well. And good timing since the rainy season here is just around the corner.
This past week was a little different than most of our other training weeks. We had our team photo shoot in the middle of the week, and this also coincided with the Thai New Year. Known also as the Songkran Festival, it runs from April 13th-15th. The main celebration of Songkran is the throwing of water at others as a sign of cleansing and renewal for the new year. During these three days, locals gather on the side of the road throwing buckets of water at people or drenching them with water guns and garden hoses. They also do this from the back of pick-up trucks, soaking other cars, people walking by, and of course cyclists! So for three days I came back from every ride soaking wet and wringing out my clothes. I must have needed extra cleansing because everytime I shook my head or said “no” I seemed to get extra water thrown at me. Well, hopefully all the badness is washed out of me now, and I’ll have extra good luck for the rest of the Thai New Year.
The photo shoot was a lot of fun as well. We were lucky to have Blue Seventy here for a few days, and a great photo shoot with them on Chicken Island. Can’t wait to see the pics cause I’m sure there’ll be some great ones!
And last but not least, here’s an updated photo of our hotel kitten Simba who was born in Beck’s bike bag 6wks ago. Wish I could take him home with me!

A Wacky Week

April 1st, 2010 by donnaphelan
I’ve been here in Krabi now for just about 6 weeks. Every week is pretty much the same – lots of eating, sleeping and training – but for some reason, last week seemed to have more strange happenings than usual.
In the middle of the week, Christine and I went grocery shopping and were looking for a cab to take home. Only 2km but with heavy groceries and tired legs, I obey the rule – “Don’t walk when you can drive, Don’t stand when you can sit, Don’t sit when you can lie down”. So we hailed down a truck/bus/taxi on the side of the road and said “Tawanthai Hotel”? A quick nod of the head and we were in the back of the pick-up truck with a couple of other passengers. Well, instead of turning onto our usual road, the truck kept going and going and going. After a number of stops, and 30min later, we’re in Krabi Town in front of the “Thai Hotel” with the driver waiting for us to hop out. Umm, I don’t think so. Well, to make a long story short, our usual 2k drive home turned into an hour long scenic tour….not what we were looking for in between training sessions, but one for the memory books I suppose.
With Christine and Beck, on one of our usual 2km grocery excursions.
With Christine and Beck, on one of our usual 2km grocery excursions.
The next day, a rainstorm with thunder and lightning blew through Krabi in the late afternoon. By 7pm, power was out although the hotel manager assured us it would last only 10min. By 9pm, still without power and A/C, sleeping was impossible. After finishing my book by candle light, I decided to chip away at the ice cave that had gradually become my freezer over the last few weeks. Once my defrosting mission was complete, by 10pm I went to bed with a large chunk of ice (the remnants of an ice pack from my freezer) lying on my stomach. I somehow slept like this until 11pm when the beautiful sound of the A/C whirring back to life signaled that our sauna session was finally over.
The next day was Saturday, and we had one of our longer and harder days of training. By 5pm most of us were feeling like zombies, but we still had a short run to do before calling it a day. Wongstar must have been in a hurry because she was the first out of the change room and into her running shoes. A few minutes later she comes back in and hauls off her loose tank top, “Oops, forgot my sports bra”. Heehee.
Run was done and we were all getting ready to head home. I was waiting for Tereza, and she starts to walk away from the pool with her bike helmet on. Umm, aren’t you going to take your bike with you? It might be a little faster that way. Heehee.
To finish off the week, one of the hotel kittens who had gone MIA a couple of weeks ago suddenly reappeared. No sign of the other 3 from the litter, so we’re keeping a close eye on this 3 week old bundle of fluff. Beck’s letting it live part time in her room until it’s wobbly little legs aren’t so wobbly anymore.

Thai Dining

March 21st, 2010 by donnaphelan
One of the good things about having camp in Thailand is that food is quite good and very cheap to buy. You can buy a watermelon on the side of the road for a dollar, chicken on a stick for 75 cents, and a container of rice for 30 cents. Of course, it’s easy when you know what you’re buying. The difficult part comes at the supermarket – analyzing packages of food labelled in a foreign alphabet is like buying a grab bag and hoping you get something good inside! Sometimes it’s a good surprise and other times, well, not so much.
There’s a restaurant about 40min by bike from the hotel, and I often wonder if something was lost in translation when they named it. The sign says “Cabbages and Condoms”…Did they mean “Cabbages and Carrots”? Cabbage for dinner and a surprise for dessert? Hmmm, not sure I’ll be trying that place anytime soon.
Last night we went to the street market in Krabi Town for dinner. Lots of different stalls selling many different types of food, and cheaper than you could make it yourself I’m sure. I give a thumbs up to the BBQ chicken skewers. Tereza’s Pad Thai wasn’t bad either. Hiro and Maki’s quail eggs….umm, not so much.

Chicken Adventures and Cat Shelters

March 9th, 2010 by donnaphelan
On Sunday afternoon, Alex and his wife Ellen took a bunch of us on a boat trip to Chicken Island, about 25min by boat from Ao Nang beach. We had a great time – eating lunch on the island, swimming and lazing around on the beach. Beck, Jocelyn, Amy and I found a nice shady spot on the beach, right next to a “Tsunami Hazard Zone” sign. Yikes, glad I wasn’t around here a few years back.
We headed back to Ao Nang in the late afternoon, not quite as smooth sailing as in the morning since the wind and driver’s speed seemed to have picked up. Unfortunately, Ellen and I were on the side of the boat receiving most of the spray and resorted to wearing our goggles until we got back to shore. Next to me, Beck hid under a towel and emerged when the boat’s motor turned off and we anchored at shore. The girls headed into Ao Nang for massages while the boys drank beer, and then we had an awesome dinner near the beach. Thanks Alex and Ellen for an amazing day!
Just when the excitement from our Chicken Island adventure died down, it seemed we needed some more entertainment around the Tawanthai Hotel. Yesterday afternoon, as we were heading home from a bike ride, Beck and I noticed a tiny kitten hiding under some abandoned stalls. Well, you can guess what happens when two cat lovers come across an abandoned kitten looking for food and some TLC. I rode home with the cat tucked inside the front of my jersey, we cleaned him up, fed him some dinner, and off he went to Christine’s room for the night. He spent the morning in my room, and the afternoon in Beck’s. This lucky little Tiger just landed in three laps of luxury.

Thai Living

February 28th, 2010 by donnaphelan
So I’ve been here in Krabi just over a week now….very happy to be back in training camp, back with my old team mates and getting to know the new ones. It’s funny how after a week together you feel like you’ve known each other your whole life. One big happy family.:-)
I’m loving the hot 40+ degree weather here everyday, swimming 50m instead of 25yds like I do back home, and biking 4+ hrs while seeing only 1 traffic light. I also love the cheap $9 massages, and the watermelon and cocunut that cost less than a dollar on the side of the road. The one thing I’m not a big fan of are the dogs that seem to appear out of nowhere in every size, shape and colour. I’ve been called crazy but I swear the white ones are the ‘chasers’. I take off in a sprint whenever I see one to avoid having the seat of my pants torn off!
I’ll get around to posting more pics later, but here’s one of the four elephants who live about 100m down the road – Elvin, Ellie, Edith and Ernie. For the next 2 months I figure they deserve to have names…
And this is Thai-Bo, the cute hotel cat who I’ve been known to feed on occassion…he’s a little scrawny so I’m helping him beef up a bit.
More pics coming in my next blog….

Heading to Camp

February 17th, 2010 by donnaphelan
Today was my last run along the coast and my last cold dip in the Pacific Ocean for a couple of months. Tomorrow I head off to camp in Thailand which makes today “packing day” – trying to fit everything I need for the next couple of months into a small suitcase and throwing out things at the last minute that don’t fit. I often wish I had a bottomless suitcase into which I’d stuff all the cereal, Pringles, books and clean clothes I could fit! One of my cats tried to squeeze in amongst my clothes, but I had to tell him sadly that he wouldn’t fit. Maybe next time.
More pics to come in a few days from Singapore and Thailand…

Groundhog Day

February 1st, 2010 by donnaphelan
Tomorrow, February 2nd, is GroundHog Day in the US and Canada. If Mr.Groundhog pokes his head out of his burrow and sees his shadow, he will retreat back into his burrow signifying 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, he will leave the burrow, signifying that spring is just around the corner.
Whether Mr.Groundhog sees his shadow tomorrow or not, I am very happy to be ending my winter in a couple of weeks by heading off to camp in warm, sunny Thailand.
One GroundHog Day in particular stands out in my memory. It was 02/02/02 and I was leaving home and leaving my job as a PT in Canada to head to camp in Brazil for the first time. I remember thinking about the significance of that particular date….wondering if I would be returning back home to my job and back to winter if things didn’t work out….or if spring was just around the corner with new pastures to explore.
I’ve had many early springs since then and also a few forced winters in between. But winter makes you appreciate spring, and I am very happy to have the opportunity once again to head off to camp in a couple of weeks. Thank you Mr.Groundhog for not seeing your shadow in ’02.
I do hope for the sake of all North Americans who put their faith in Mr.Groundhog that he doesn’t see his shadow tomorrow, but instead leaves his burrow searching for spring flowers and new pastures.

We Might As Well Win

January 20th, 2010 by donnaphelan
Today is the third of 5 days of predicted rain in a row for San Diego. So to keep myself from bouncing off the walls when I’m not training, I’ve returned to being a part-time book worm.
The most recent book I’ve finished is “We Might As Well Win” by Johan Bruyneel (Lance Armstrong’s coach for those who have been living under a log for the last ten years). With all the recent talk about our upcoming training camp, there were a few sections that stuck in my head and made me realize how excited I am about heading back to camp.
“Gathering the team for our first training camp of the year, is an occasion not of hope but, more accurately, of optimism : the entire season lies before us – ours for the taking if we are willing to work hard enough, and think enough, and sacrifice enough.
The loss is in the past, which can not be changed. The win – it still lies up ahead, waiting for us, and it will stay there until we figure out how to take it.”
And before stage 16 of the 2007 Tour, Johan says to Levi and Alberto, ” ‘We must ride in such a way that if we do not win, we lose. To have a chance at the top step, we have to be willing to never take one step off the podium.’ I was telling them that to take the yellow jersey they had to be willing to ride so hard it would endanger their podium spots. All or nothing. Willing to risk losing to win.”
Ok, time to hop on the windtrainer and think about which book I’ll start next!

Out with the Old, In with the New

January 9th, 2010 by donnaphelan
I know a lot of people make New Year’s resolutions to stop drinking, give up junk food, get to the gym more often, lose weight, etc, etc. Well, I don’t drink, I don’t have a sweet tooth (cereal doesn’t count), I already live at the gym/pool, and coach would have a cow if I went on a weight-loss program.
But I do have a bit of a “salty tooth”. I bring the saying “Once you pop (a can of Pringles), you just can’t stop” to life, and I can easily devour a jar of pickles, salsa or pickled beet in less time than it takes to open the jar.
So for my New Year’s Resolution, I decided I would send the Pringles on a little sabatical, and put a healthy twist on my “salty tooth”. It all started Christmas Day when my father-n-law gave me a jar of his homemade pickles. I sampled one and then the rest were history…unfortunately not making it to Christmas dinner. So I took his pickle recipe and decided to try my hand as a Pickle Maker. Put all the ingredients together in a pot, boil it for 4 minutes, cut the cucumbers and add the pickle juice. How difficult can that be?
Well, aside from crying my eyes out while I was cutting the onions (I’ll use goggles the next time), my pickle experiment didn’t turn out too badly. The only problem was that I devoured both jars as soon as they were done. So now I’m heading back to the grocery store for more ingredients….covering my eyes while I walk past the Pringle aisle.

Christmas As It Should Be

December 26th, 2009 by donnaphelan
Ahh, sunny and 70 degrees in San Diego today…..Christmas as it should be.:-)

Merry Christmas and Happy 2010

December 23rd, 2009 by donnaphelan
So in between all my Christmas baking, pie making, cleaning and decorating I thought I’d write a Christmas blog. Hahaha. Well it sounded like a good opening for a blog. But despite 4 months at home I am still not what you would call domesticated. I guess my talents lie elsewhere.;-)
But I do love Christmas, and I’m always thankful at this time of year for all of the special people in my life, including my team mates, coach and Alex for giving me the opportunities that I’ve had over the last year. THANK YOU. Looking forward to the New Year, and Best Wishes to everyone in 2010!

California Dreaming On Such a Winter’s Day

December 10th, 2009 by donnaphelan
I know I have absolutely no reason to complain about the cold weather passing through southern California this week. I spent over 25 years of my life in eastern Canada with winter lasting almost 6 months of the year. Snow from November to April and 6 months inside on the windtrainer. Ahh, the good memories, but I digress.
The last few days it’s been in the 50′s (or 10 degrees C) in San Diego, and I’ve been freezing my butt off. I came home from swim practice a few days ago, with my teeth chattering so loudly that it actually made eating cereal quite difficult. And when I went out this morning, it was with two pairs of pants, 3 shirts, a winter jacket, hat and gloves. Ahh, much better.
But this all brings me back to my point that I have reason to voice my opinion (not “complain”) about the cold. When I grew up in eastern Canada, it was warm. Heated house, heated car, heated indoor pool, heated stores and heated coffee shops. I never really had reason to be cold. I was in Arizona this summer, and it’s the coldest place I’ve ever been. I’m sure the AC of any indoor establishment would break world records for the coldest indoor temperature. And spending time outside would be a death wish of another sort so we won’t even go there.
Anyway, I’m watching the thermometer today and willing it to go above 60. Actually, I secretly wish that it could be stuck on one temperature forever. In fact, I could even be a little flexible….anywhere between 80 and 90 degrees would suit me just fine. Wishful thinking I know. But if the cold weather keeps up I just might have to make a trip back up to Canada to warm up.

Fueling at the movie store

November 29th, 2009 by donnaphelan
When I was at the movie store a few days ago, I came across the perfect way to fuel for an all day movie marathon/windtrainer session. What a great idea – pick up your movies for the windtrainer marathon and pick up your fuel at the same time. Somebody was thinking about us triathletes when they stocked the movie store, haha.


November 20th, 2009 by donnaphelan
“When one chapter closes, another one opens”. This week marked 6 weeks since my IT band surgery. I started back biking on the road again this week (although far from breaking any speed records), and I’m slowly abandoning my friend the pull buoy in the pool. For the first time in my life we’ve gotten along pretty well. We were reluctant to get together at first, but after 5 weeks it was a tough break up. I guess forced time together can only make things better.
This time of year in California is one of my favorite times of year. The weather’s still warm, but most of the tourists have gone home, the beaches are empty and there’s less traffic on the road. All the kids have left the playground so to speak, and I don’t want them to come back. I also love the fall because the mornings are cooler and there’s nothing better than the smell of hot coffee after a cold morning swim practice….with a big bowl of cereal of course.:-) And with fall comes the race season just around the corner. Yep, change is sometimes good.


November 9th, 2009 by donnaphelan
“The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight.
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upwards in the night.”
-Henry W. Longfellow

Loving Pumpkins and Beasts

October 31st, 2009 by donnaphelan
It’s Halloween tomorrow, and everywhere I look, there’s a pumpkin staring back at me. Everybody and their dog seems to be dressing up for Halloween this year. My swim coach (who will turn into John Travolta tomorrow eve) asked me today what my Halloween costume will be. “Well, what you see is what you get”, I told him. “Oh, so you’re gonna be a swimmer?” “Yeah, something like that”. I think I might just turn some of those pumpkins into pumpkin pie, haha. You know what they say about “when life hands you pumpkins….”.
One of the books I finished not too long ago is called “Born to Run”. It has some great quotes in it, and this is my favorite….
“The most advanced weapon in the ultrarunner’s arsenal : instead of cringing from fatigue, you embrace it. You refuse to let it go. You get to know it so well, you’re not afraid of it anymore….You love the Beast. You actually look forward to the Beast showing up, because everytime he does, you handle him better. You get him more under control. You have a friendly little tussle with the Beast and show it who’s boss. You can’t hate the Beast and expect to beat it; the only way to truly conquer something, as every great philosopher and geneticist will tell you, is to love it.”
Here’s to loving Pumpkins and Beasts. Happy Halloween.:-)

My Second Home

October 21st, 2009 by donnaphelan
After a week out of the water, I returned last week to my second home – the pool where I swim, about a mile from where I live. I head there early in the morning to workout in the shallow pool….pool walking and exercises while the senior pool aerobics class is going on. I’ve met many new ‘friends’ over the last week, although a little older than the average age of most of my friends. They’ve been trying to convince me to join their pool party, but I think I’ll hold off for a few years.
In the middle of the day, I do my swim workout – most of it with my pull buoy and paddles since kicking is still on the banned list. I’m also perfecting the 1 legged swivel turn which seems to be a source of constant amusement among my friends. Not that funny if you ask me. Anyway, the Swivel-D is here to stay for at least another few weeks. No more photos please.
When my swim workout is done, I head to the gym for strengthening exercises. It’s also in the same building as the pool, which also offers internet and free coffee on the way in and out. I’m thinking of moving a bed, and a mini fridge over there, and I’ll be all set.:)
dscf00041Thanks Sugar for taking the photo (not).;-)

Moving Forward

October 11th, 2009 by donnaphelan
Last Monday, I had my IT band surgery in Roanoke, Virginia. It went as good or better than I could have expected. I have an amazing doctor (Dr.TK Miller), and he and his wife took care of me for the few days I was in Roanoke. The surgery went smoothly, and that afternoon I was up and about on crutches (at the coffee shop of course, heehee). The hardest part of the day was fasting from midnight until 1pm…and you think you know what it means to be hungry.;-)
So now I’m back in San Diego, doing some rehab on my knee, and trying as doc says to “hurry slowly”. I’m very proud of all my team mates for their great efforts in Kona yesterday. It was tough watching the race online and wanting so badly to be there, but seeing everyone tough it out, and watching Tereza’s amazing 4th place finish made me very happy and proud of my fellow TBB’ers.
Tomorrow, I get back in the pool for some pool walking and to make best friends with my pull buoy for the next few weeks. I’ve been going through chlorine withdrawal for the last week, and I can’t wait to dive…uh, I mean climb into the pool tomorrow.

A Box of Chocolates

October 3rd, 2009 by donnaphelan
“Life is like a box of chocolates”, Forest Gump said. “You never know what you’re gonna get.” My favorite chocolates are the hard, chewy kind or the ones with the crunchy inside. And I’ve been lucky enough to get quite a few of these this year. But recently, I picked one with a soft strawberry filling – you know, the kind you want to put back as soon as you bite into it.
So, this strawberry filled chocolate has taken me to Virginia this week where I’m waiting to have a small surgery on Monday on my IT band (the muscle that attaches on the side of your knee). I had the same surgery on my other knee a few years ago, and I’m lucky to have a great doctor who did a super job the first time around.
So for the last few weeks, while I’ve been unable to train like I normally do, I’ve been living at the pool and working hard on my swim. The green tinged hair, prune fingers and chlorine skin are happy reminders that I’m putting miles in the swim bank, letting them pile up, to be used at a later date. Enjoying the outside of the strawberry filled chocolate, so to speak.
Next week, it’s time to pick another chocolate. Chewy or crunchy please or I’m spitting it out.;-)

My Favorite C’s

September 24th, 2009 by donnaphelan
My addictions, other than training of course, fall mostly in the ‘C’ category…..cereal, coke, chips (Pringles), coffee, my cats, my computer, and of course my Cervelo! This list, however, does not include cauliflower, cabbage or co-ordination activities. But beware if I go a day or two without any of the above and I hit the ‘Triple C’ level. You’ll find a very cranky, crooked and contrary California Canadian on the loose.
This is my cereal cupboard, stocked up in case of natural disaster. A bomb shelter of sorts. You can never have too much of a good thing….
And this is my 3 year old, holdin’ down the fort as I head out training….”Train hard mom! Don’t come home ‘Triple C’!” heehee

Tyler and Lance

September 15th, 2009 by donnaphelan
When I’m not in training camp with my favorite training partners (the TBB Ironchicks/chickens), I do most of my bike training with Tyler and Lance in San Diego. Well ok, so those aren’t their real names, but sometimes when I’m gasping for air to stay on a wheel, it feels like I’m riding with Tyler and Lance.
Like any friendship, it’s often a love-hate relationship with training partners too. You love them in the best of times, you hate them in the worst of times. I can’t complain – I have good guys to ride with – but I also have days where I’m given the HTFU speech. Most days I take it, but I’ve also been known to fire back with my own creative displays of language and the group ride turns solo. I haven’t done that in a few months so I think that’s a good sign.;-)
And on almost every ride with Lance and Tyler, I come home with some type of souvenir in my jersey pocket….a rusty nail, a piece of metal, an old penny, a bottle cap, you name it, even a paper toilet seat cover! One time, I rode for who knows how long with toilet paper streaming out of my jersey pocket! All right guys, it’s all fun and games until….I fight back!
But the best part about riding with Lance and Tyler is that I work harder than I could ever work on my own. We might push each other’s buttons but we also push each other to that new level of pain…and truly, misery does love company.
Thanks Jay for taking the photo.:)

Sun Diego

September 5th, 2009 by donnaphelan
There’s been a heat wave in San Diego since I arrived back 10 days ago. And being a lover of hot weather, I’m not complaining. I especially love swimming in the ocean this time of year when I don’t have to wear a wetsuit…I can swim for miles without doing flipturns, and I never hit arms with anyone. Of course, sometimes the occasional piece of seaweed freaks me out and sends me off on a mad 25m sprint (it was shaped like a shark’s fin, honest!)
But as much as I love the ocean, I still need my chlorine fix. It’s all about having balance in your life.;-)


August 28th, 2009 by donnaphelan
Last Sunday, I was in Ireland for Eireman, a first year Ironman distance race. Well, it was supposed to be a full Ironman distance race, but unfortunately Mother Nature had her own plans.
I awoke at 4am Sunday to the sound of howling wind and pouring rain outside. We were warned at the race meeting the day before that the swim might not go ahead due to the forecasted rough seas. At 6am the call was made to cancel the swim and start the race with a timetrial start for the 185km bike. It was disappointing news, but looking out at the stormy waves I feared that I might end up back in Canada if the swim were to go ahead. Maybe that was how my great great grandfather ended up in Newfoundland.;-)
The bike consisted of 5km through Courtown, then 4 loops of 44km on a closed motorway, followed by 5km back to transition. We were staggered 30 seconds apart, and because I was the last female to start, I was in the position I like best which is chasing people down. It continued raining heavily throughout the bike and I was glad that I had layered up – race kit, bike jersey, arm warmers, leg warmers, rain jacket and long socks!
For 22km in one direction, there was a gradual downhill with a major tailwind. Then for 22km in the other direction, it was a gradual uphill with yup, a major headwind. Biking into a headwind with 60kph winds was pretty challenging, but I knew that everyone out there was suffering and if I could be that much tougher than it would be to my advantage. By the 4th lap, I had calculated that I had an 11min lead on the second place Russian girl, and over 35min on the third place British girl. The final 22km seemed to be the toughest part of the bike. The wind had picked up and at times even on the flat sections I had to stand to keep the wheels turning. Well, this will make my next IM bike seem like a piece of cake!
I came into transition, shedded my rain jacket and headed out onto the run. The first 5km were through a forest on hilly trails, with some stairs and sandy sections. For 2 weeks before the race, my left IT band had been sore, but I had rested it leading up to the race and felt that it was good enough to get through the marathon. However, after 5km on trails, it wasn’t feeling so great anymore. The remainder of the 2 loop course was on rolling hills, and by the time I got to 15km it was screaming at me to stop. I struggled with the decision to keep going, but finally there wasn’t a decision to be made anymore. I knew I had done what I could, and on this day I would have to be content with a good solid bike ride in my legs and a 15k run. The lucky leprechauns I had counted on must have stayed in bed on account of the bad weather. I think they were out the next morning, but it was time to catch my flight back to the US….perhaps I’ll go back another time to reclaim my luck.
So now I’m back in San Diego, letting my knee settle down so I can plan my next race. It’s the middle of a heat wave here and I’m loving it.;-)

Over the Rainbow

August 17th, 2009 by donnaphelan
After 3 months in Switzerland, I’m leaving on Thursday in search of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This Sunday is the inaugural Eireman, the first ever Ironman to be held in Ireland, and will take place in Courtown, about 100kms from Dublin.
When I was growing up, I heard many stories about Ireland….not surprising since most of Newfoundland was settled by the English and Irish. My Phelan ancestors (derived from the word ‘wolf’ or ‘faol’ in Gaelic) sailed across the Atlantic from Ireland during the Potato Famine, and Newfoundland was the first land mass they hit. I guess they didn’t have cereal in those days, and the potato withdrawal must’ve been pretty serious.;-)
With just a few days left in Switzerland, the German hobbit and I took a ride in the cable cars to the top of the mountain in Leysin yesterday afternoon. The view from up there is amazing, and reminds me of how lucky we are to have such a great place to train in for the summer.
I’ll miss Leysin, but it’s time to head over the rainbow and see what awaits…

It’s All About The Clock

August 7th, 2009 by donnaphelan
So much has happened in the last month that the time has literally flown by…IM Swiss one weekend, the Tour passing through the next weekend, off to Alpe d’Huez the week after, and now suddenly it’s August. Where does the time go?
Yesterday, Maki and I rode to Lausanne, and I had to take a picture of my favorite clock while we were having our coke break. It made me think about how everything we do as athletes is a race against the clock, but in the end time flies by whether we like it or not.
Since I’ve decided to forego the joys of french television while I’ve been in Leysin, I’ve read a countless number of books over the last 2 months (and pestered everyone on the team for their books when I’ve run out). Last week, I read a story on David Goggins, a Navy SEAL who transformed himself into an ultramarathoner and ultratriathlete…
‘”Running is running”, he says. “It hurts, but that’s all it does. The most difficult part of training is training your mind. You build calluses on your feet to endure the road. You build calluses on your mind to endure the pain. There’s only one way to do that. You have to get out there and run….I knew I could take the pain so that’s what I did. The body breaks, but it will heal back. It will adjust….We all have our own journey in life, I’m focusing on mine. When I get to the end of the road, I don’t want to be thinking about the time I wasted or the things I could have done with that time.”‘
Yup, wouldn’t it be great if we could find a way to stop the clock. Just for a few minutes here and there perhaps…

TDF ’09

July 24th, 2009 by donnaphelan
Last Sunday, LC, Bean, Steve and I went to Le Sepey – 3km down the mountain from Leysin – to watch the Tour pass through. The Caravan (a parade of cars and floats) came by about an hour and a half before the riders, handing our prizes and chalk to the spectators waiting on the side of the road. This provided almost as much excitement as the Tour itself. Bean kept herself busy doing artwork on the road – “Team TBB Was Here”, as well as a marriage proposal to Thor Hushovd. And we all came away with a few “prizes” – caps, key chains, canvas bags, candy. I worked pretty hard for the one key chain I managed to claim. It came flying towards me from one of the floats, but a man standing next to me tried to step on it with his foot. Luckily he missed so I reached down and grabbed it. Then the next thing I knew he was trying to take it out of my hand!! Hmph, I don’t think so. I held onto it like a piece of gold until he finally gave up and walked away. I am now the proud owner of a “RoadSign Australia” keychain…even though I almost ended up as roadkill trying to get it.;-)
Eventually, around 3pm, we saw the first sign of riders coming down one of the switchbacks from Les Mosses. It was pretty amazing to feel the excitement in the air – to hear the helicopters overhead, to see the lead vehicles approach and then finally the lead group of 5 cyclists with Fabian Cancellara in the lead. Then before we knew it, the Peloton flew by. Look! There’s Lance!! I took a few pics, but with all the excitement I really just wanted to watch the riders fly by.
The official Tour de France will be over on Sunday, which is when Team TBB’s own TDF ’09 starts…a 2 day bike to Alp D’Huez to race the Alp D’Huez Triathlon next Wednesday and then our return bike ride back to Leysin. Can’t wait!

IM Swiss

July 15th, 2009 by donnaphelan
Last Sunday, I raced Ironman Switzerland in Zurich. I did this race in 2008 when it was raining and 12 degrees, and really wanted to improve on my 9th place finish from last year. I knew there were some stong runners in the race this year so I had one strategy in mind – go hard on the swim and bike and build up some time heading into the run.
I came out of the swim in 6th position, not exactly where I wanted to be, but knowing that a few of the girls weren’t too far ahead. Coach had told me I was ready to have a good bike ride, so I knew if I did a good job on the bike I could make up some time. About 40km through the first of the 2 loop hilly bike course, I passed Sarah Schutz. I knew she had out run Nicola and Erika already this year so I was happy to have her behind me. A short while later, I passed Lizbeth, and then finally passed Miriam Moser to move into 3rd position.
I held onto 3rd position for the rest of the bike, and headed out onto the run knowing I had my work cut out for me. But regardless of what would happen behind me, I knew there was only one thing I could do – give it everything I had and hold them off for as long as I could, hoping that the effort to catch me might cause them to fade in the end.
At around 24km, Sarah Schutz ran past, and a few km’s later came Monika Lehman with Lizbeth not too far behind. Somewhere in the last 10kms, there was a shuffling of positions as I passed Caroline Steffan, Sarah faded to 4th and Monika would finish just 30sec ahead of Lizbeth.
I was happy to finish in 5th place in 9:31, knowing I had given it my everything on that day, and finished with my fastest marathon time. I was also very happy to see Lizbeth have a great race, and really tough it out on the run to finish 3rd. We were both lucky to have coach there to support us….although I hear he’s quite sore from all his running around.;-)
Below is a picture of ‘Hearbreak Hill’…the third of 3 big climbs on the bike course…

Going Aero

July 7th, 2009 by donnaphelan
On Sunday morning, I went down to the UCI in Aigle to do my long Sunday run. Afterwards, I spent some time practicing my new aero position on the bike….

Lac Saint Point Triathlon

July 4th, 2009 by donnaphelan
Last Sunday, I rented a car and drove to Pontarlier, France for the Lac Saint Point Triathlon. The Olympic distance race started at 2pm, so I set off from Leysin that morning and arrived at Lac Saint Point around lunch time.
There was a mass start for the Olympic distance wave – 2 loops of Lac Saint Point – and I came out of the water in second place behind a girl from France with another female pro from Brazil just behind me. The Brazil girl quickly passed me in transition and took the lead on the bike. After the 2 loop hilly bike course, I had moved into second place ahead of the French girl. I could see the Brazilian at various points on the 2 loop hilly run, but having the same run split, the gap between us didn’t change and I came across the line in 2nd place. Wow, that was short compared to an Ironman.:)
Once the race was finished, I stayed around for the awards and then hit the road back to Leysin. A good day of training, with a little pay check and some prizes to take home.:)


June 26th, 2009 by donnaphelan
I love running with my ipod. I never leave home without it when I head out the door for a run. I was lucky enough during the training camp in Subic to be room mates with LC who is not only a computer wizard, but also has a huge selection of music on her laptop. Sort of like an LC of all trades. Anyway, my little Felipina friend tripled the number of songs on my ipod (not hard to do when I only had 30 to begin with;-) Well, after a few long runs of listening to my new songs, I had a new favorite running song – “Twittering” by Gavin Rossdale. It was the song I played repeatedly on the track, over and over again, When the going got tough, “Twittering” kept me going.
Well, one day in Subic I came back from the track, and I couldn’t get the lyrics of “Twittering” out of my head. Tereza had moved in with us by then, and when LC and Tez heard me singing my new lyrics, they looked at me like I had 2 heads. They informed me that the song was actually called “Adrenaline” and not “Twittering”. Well, I argued with them and we played the song a few times, and to keep the peace I admitted that perhaps I had been living in my own little world, singing along to the beat of my own drum. However, I’ve still been singing “Twittering” in my head every time I put on my ipod and go for a run.
So today, LC sent me a YouTube video of “Adrenaline” by Gavin Rossdale. Perhaps she’s right, but it will always be “Twittering” to me.

Sunday at the UCI

June 17th, 2009 by donnaphelan
UCI Aigle
Last Sunday, Scott and I decided to have a change of scenery for our long run. We met on our bikes in the morning, and rode down the mountain to Aigle. Aigle is where the UCI is located (Union Cycliste Internationale) so we figured this might be a good place to stash our bikes. We met a cyclist outside the velodrome, and he said “no problem, follow me”. He took us into the velodrome and showed us where to park our bikes….amongst rack upon rack of fixed gear bikes. It was pretty impressive to watch the workout taking place on the velodrome. And even more impressive to watch the cyclists walk off the track…their tree trunk legs made mine and Scott’s look like sticks. Ah well, let’s see if they can swim and run with those legs.;-)
After being spectators for a few minutes, we took off for a long run on the endless bike paths and trails along the river in Aigle. These trails go on forever, and after a couple of hours I met Scott back at the velodrome. We were both starving, and decided to eat at the restaurant at the UCI. And this restaurant just happened to have a buffet – perfect. After eating our money’s worth, we rode back to the train station in Aigle and took the train back up the mountain.
A perfect Sunday morning….nothing beats a long run, a breakfast buffet and a free ride up the mountain.;-)

Riding in the Alps

June 6th, 2009 by donnaphelan
I’ve been in Switzerland for 2 weeks now, and a large part of that time has been spent on my bike….whether I’m training or resting.;-) The climb we do most often is the long 14km climb from Aigle back up to Leysin. I was looking at the Tour Guide for this year’s Tour de France, and it showed a picture of “Our Hill” from a stage race a couple of years ago…
Another one of my favorite rides is from Leysin to Sion. It’s a deceptively flat ride because there’s always a huge headwind on the way back as it funnels between the mountains. I set out with Abi’s boyfriend Steve for an “easy” ride a few days ago. It was all fun ‘n games on the way out, but when we turned back into the headwind, it became the Hwy to Hell.;-) It’s still one of my favorite rides – challenging but like everywhere else here, the scenery is amazing.

Livin’ Swiss

May 26th, 2009 by donnaphelan
Last Thursday I arrived in Leysin, one of my favorite places in the world to train. It has everything you could want as a triathlete : a great 25m pool that’s available to us almost anytime we want, an endless number of hills and mountains to ride up and down, quiet roads, bicycle friendly drivers, and a great track just down the hill and across the meadow…ok, well that hill is 14km long and the trek to the track is another 10km, but that’s besides the point.;-)
One of the other reasons I love Switzerland is because of the bread. Besides cows, clocks, and chocolate, Switzerland is also known for it’s bakeries which appear on almost every street corner. There’s one across the street from where I’m staying, and in the morning it’s the best smell in the world. In the US, we stop at 7-eleven’s on long rides, but here it’s a trip to the bakery (which also sells coke…what more could I ask for?;-)
Yesterday, a few of us rode to Lausanne and back on our “easy” day. Below is myself, Tereza, Abi and Steve (Abi’s Aussie mate) having a coffee/coke break. Thanks Travis for taking the photo! Another beautiful day in Swiss…

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

May 16th, 2009 by donnaphelan
Well, not exactly, but after 3 weeks back in San Diego, I’m getting ready to head off to our next camp in Switzerland on Wednesday.
The past 3 weeks have passed in a whirlwind, but it’s been good to have some time to unpack and repack, and catch up with family and friends. Time enough also to get some much needed servicing on my bike – and to realize that I’d been riding Erika’s training wheels for the last 2 months while she’d been riding mine. Yes, that might be the reason why my shifting hadn’t been so great with her Campy cassette while she had my SRAM cassette. It might also explain why her bike suddenly caught the “screaming rear hub disease” while my rear wheel was suddenly cured. And it might also explain the confusion when doc asked me a few weeks ago why I had a spoke protector on my rear wheel? Uhhh…to make it more aero??:-P Where did that thing come from anyway??
Time enough also to catch up with friends at the pool. Even if they don’t fully understand what I’ve been doing the last few months, in their own way they try to show their support…”What?! You’re racing Wildflower 2 weeks after an Ironman?! What kind of medication do you take for that type of insanity??” Haha, there are many comedians at the pool where I swim.
So, now it’s time to start packing again – exchanging summer clothes for cool weather clothes. Yes, training in the Philippines in winter, and Swiss in the summer means that winter is summer and summer is winter. There’s also one other item I’m trying to pack in my luggage, but I’m not sure if he’ll fit….??

Wildflower Weekend

May 4th, 2009 by donnaphelan
This past weekend, I went to Wildflower to race the 1/2 Ironman. I did this race in 2002 and it was my first long course triathlon. I was doing World Cup races at the time, and it was a big turning point for me. I really loved racing the longer distance/non drafting format, and within a year I did my first Ironman.
Well, fast forward to 2009, and I was headed back to Wildflower once again. With IM China 2 weeks behind me, it was a good chance to get back to some long training and see where my fitness was. Wildflower is also an Avia sponsored event, and all of the athletes from TeamTBB were treated like royalty.
I stayed in a trailer in the transition area parking lot, overlooking the race start…I kid you not, I literally tumbled out of bed race morning and walked 200 yds to my bike rack!
There were about 25 women in the pro field, and I came out of the swim in 10th place. Not as high up as I would have liked, but still within striking distance of having a good race. I got on the bike, and headed out on the hills hoping to make up some time. It was about 60 degrees for the first half of the ride – not usually considered cold, but my thermostat seems to be out of whack after China’s 113 degrees! I shivered trying to stay warm, and my legs felt very stiff for the first 45km. Finally, the temperature started to warm up and for the last 40km my legs came back to life. I passed a few of the girls who had passed me earlier, and came into transition behind Gina Kehr in 11th place. 11th place is almost as bad as 4th (but not quite), and I was determined if nothing else that I would make it into the top 10.
The run for me was probably one of the better parts of my race. I say “probably” because it was 60% trails, and I am not the world’s best trail runner (hence the nickname ‘Stumbles’ by some friends who have seen me run on trails;-). I am sure I looked at times like someone who had stumbled out of a bar! I passed Gina at about 3 miles and shortly after passed Pip who later dnf’d. Then with about 4 miles left to go, Gina came back to life and passed me again. I was hoping to catch another couple of girls in front of me, but the finish line came a little too soon, and I came across the line in 10th place.
Wildflower was a tough, but really fun race, and a great weekend of camping out with the Avia crew. A big CONGRATS also to Erika and Rei for finishing on the podium, to Jonathan for having a solid race in a tough field, and to Jocelyn who won her age group in the Olympic distance. It was also good to see Angela in good spirits and on the mend – you’ll be back before you know it.
I drove back to San Diego on Sunday, and there was one last picture I couldn’t resist taking. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, and leads to who knows where.;-)

Ironman China

April 22nd, 2009 by donnaphelan
I’ve just returned from my trip to Ironman China. I guess by now, everybody’s heard the stories about the 2km/hr currents in the river, the 112 degree temperatures, and the death march on the run. But part of what makes this race so special is the reward of overcoming these obstacles…or as they say, “the greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it.”
I can’t say for sure if the swim went as I expected. It would be interesting to see an overhead shot of where I actually swam going around the 2 loops of the swim. The currents were the worst I’ve ever swum in, and I undoubtedly lost some time zigzagging around the course. I came out of the water in 3rd position, about where I expected, but with a little more time down on the leaders than I would have liked.
Just after exiting transition on the bike, I had the feeling that my rear tire wasn’t fully inflated. I asked a guy riding next to me what he thought, and he said, “no mate, you’re still shook up from the swim, that’s all”. Ok, just my imagination playing tricks on me. A couple of kms later, Edith Niederfriniger rode by, and after about 30km came Charlotte Paul. I thought for sure I had packed my bike legs when I left Subic, but I began to think that maybe they had missed the flight. At around 50k, the bike course made it’s way through a small village with some short steep descents. I stood up on one of the climbs and I knew right away something wasn’t right. My wheel was making a squeeking sound and I seemed to be stuck in quick sand. I got off my bike and tried to spin the wheel but it wasn’t moving….yup, my brake had been rubbing for 50km. Grrrr. Well, the rest of the ride seemed much easier after that, and 12 bottles of Gatorade later, I came off the bike in 6th place. My imaginary slow leak was also completely flat when I went to pick up my bike a few hours later. I know, I know…an important lesson learned on checking my bike race morning!
By the time the run started, it was 112 degrees, and I knew from my experience in China last year that it would be a day of running steady and controlled. Coming out of transition, I moved into 5th place, and from then on my goal was to keep a steady pace that would enable me to hang on to top 5 without blowing up. Like most people who did the race will tell you, the marathon at times was like running in a sauna.
I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t admit that at times I felt like walking like so many others were doing. It’s in races like this that it becomes more of a mental game for me than physical. I think of all the age group athletes who work full time and are out there giving it there best. I think of how much I enjoy doing this, all the hard work I’ve done, and how badly I want to get to the finish line. And I think of another quote that a wise doc once told me a few years back, “The strongest man in the ring is the one who gets up again when he physically can’t.” So I think, ok I’ll be that person, let my body quit and I’ll keep going…
With about 12k left to go, I passed Kim Loeffler and moved into 4th place. I hung onto this position for the rest of the run, and was very happy to finally cross the finish line in 4th place. I was also very happy for Tereza who finished 3rd, for Jocelyn who had an amazing race to finish 8th, and for Matt who showed how strong he is mentally, made the most of what he had and never gave up. And to the other guys, I know they’ll be back with a vengeance, some important lessons learned, and will never experience another race as tough as China. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

And The Lucky Winners Are….

April 13th, 2009 by donnaphelan
Manny, LC and I wearing our new Coke shirts. “A Coke a Day Keeps The Bad Trip Away”.;-) Sorry, I don’t know what the other shirts say. LC???

Good Night and Good Luck

April 8th, 2009 by donnaphelan
It’s crazy to think that I’ve been in Subic for 2 months now….I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun. In a few days, Maki Mouse and Samurai will head to Japan, and next week, the rest of us still left at camp will head to China.
In the last couple of months, we’ve all had our tired days, and it’s usually a sign that training’s going well and we’re doing what we came here to do. Erika at times speaks to me in Hungarian, Lucy has spoken to me in Chech, and this week, LC answered me in Tagalog. The little Filipino had the last laugh though when I went to bed a few nights ago and wished her “Good Luck”. Good luck. Good night. Whatever. I’m tired, I’m going to bed. She laughed again the next day when I walked into the sliding glass door, Pringles flying everywhere. Uh, yeah, I did that on purpose. No really, I did.
About a week ago, Tereza moved in from upstairs after Erika left. She’s the most domesticated in our house, and has taken over from Erika as the one who answers LC’s cooking questions, and teaches her new recipes. We in turn are trying to get Tereza hooked on American Idol. So far she can sit through half a show…although I’m not sure if it’s the show itself or mine and LC’s singing that she doesn’t enjoy? Ah well, practice makes perfect so I guess we’ll have to keep at it.
Ok, time for bed before I walk into any more glass doors…Good Night and Good Luck.;-)

Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs…

March 29th, 2009 by donnaphelan
Last Thursday, the ‘blue house’ (pink house now since it’s been re-painted) became very quiet with Coco heading back to the US, and Lil C heading to Manila for the weekend.
So Saturday rolled around, and it was our recovery day from training. As anyone who knows me well can attest to, I don’t do well sitting around with time on my hands. So when the boredom hit and I started talking to myself, I wandered over to the ‘green house’ to pay the Wongstar a visit. Well, there wasn’t a whole lot of excitement in the ‘green house’ either…very devoid of the Bean’s presense since she left for S.Africa earlier in the week. So feeling a bit of ‘cabin fever’ coming on, Wongstar and I took a spin on our bikes around the neighborhood. Yes, rule #1 of being an athlete : never walk if you don’t have to.
I’ve been in Subic 7 weeks now, but most days all we really see is the road ahead of us. On our joy ride around the neighborhood, Wongstar and I came across some unusual signs that were a little puzzling to us. Perhaps we don’t know our neighborhood as well as we thought we did…

Sometimes you have to buy your own prizes…

March 20th, 2009 by donnaphelan
So with all the Coke discussions on the forum this week, I decided to write an update on my attempts at winning a Coke shirt in the Coke Philippines Contest (see LC’s blog from a couple of weeks ago).
Despite 6 weeks of looking under ever Coke cap in sight, LC and I have resigned ourselves to the fact that no “Free Shirt” Coke bottles were sent to Subic. What other explanation could there be? Obviously, the winning Coke bottles were all kept in Manila, while the “Smile! Ha!” bottle caps were all sent to Subic. If I see one more of these, I swear I’ll cry.
Anyway, frustrated with the manufacturers of Coke Philippines, LC and I have decided to boycott the Coke Contest. The lobbyists on the forum this week will obviously be very happy with our decision. And as a consolation prize, I found a Pepsi tank top for $2 US in Olongopo which I’ve been proudly wearing during my boycott. Caroline, however, knew that I was doing this out of spite, and being the thoughtful person that she is, she bought me my own Coke shirt while she was out shopping the other day. It’s not the authentic Coke shirt from the Coke Philippines Contest, but I like to think it’s even better.;-)


March 11th, 2009 by donnaphelan
This past week Coco, LC and I had a surprise house guest – an unexpected and uninvited house guest, and I was not at all happy about it. His name was Lester, and he showed up late Friday night. I guess he thought “the blue house” would be a good place to crash for the weekend.
I have to say, I had a bad impression of Lester right from the start. I was just drifting off to sleep Friday night when I heard a loud scream from the kitchen. Apparently, Lester had arrived earlier in the evening and was hanging out in the kitchen when Coco arrived home. She wasn’t expecting to see an unattractive male making himself at home in our kitchen, and neither was I when I came stumbling out of bed half asleep.
Later that night, I woke to go to the bathroom, and this time it was my turn to scream. I saw Lester’s shadow on my bedroom wall, and tried to hit him with my shoe – the nerve of the little guy coming into my room while I was sleeping!
Well, I think Lester had enough of the screaming girls for one night because we haven’t seen him since. He stayed in “the blue house” only one night, but it was one night too long. Sorry Lester, you wore out your welcome.
Before Lester left, Coco took a photo of him to warn the others on our team to be on the look out. Beware of Lester, he’s out there somewhere….

IM Malaysia

March 2nd, 2009 by donnaphelan
On Saturday, the Team TBB road show stopped in Langkawi for Ironman Malaysia. With six members of the team racing, and the support crew from TBB Singapore along with Alex, we had a full crew arranged to put on a great show.
Heading into the race, I had 2 goals – a hard swim and bike, and a top 10 finish. My run preparation hadn’t been ideal leading up to the race. My calf tear in November resulted in 2 months of no running, and a short build up of run training before the race. As always though, coach got me back on track when I showed up at camp in February, and I was ready to join the show in Malaysia.
I came out of the 1 loop swim in 3rd place behind Maki and Belinda. A pretty uneventful swim other than having my leg pulled on and losing my timing chip. From what I could see, there was a big pack ahead of me, but too far to close the gap, and the rest of the pro’s strung out somewhere behind.
I came out of the water, and headed out on the bike course, not knowing what position I was in. My plan was to ride strong and steady, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear at the 60k mark that I was in third place. Coco warned me before the race not to unclip and have a picnic at the special needs station like I usually do, and I am happy to say I was able to load all my food on my bike for this race. The hottest part of the day was probably during the middle part of the bike so while avoiding cows, chickens, dogs and monkeys, I was drinking about 2 bottles every hour. With about 25km left to go, I passed Maki and came into transition in second place.
I started out on the run with doc’s orders to keep it easy in my head. I ran along with an Aussie guy for the first 20k, chatting and thinking “perfect, this will make sure I keep it easy”. Well, unfortunately what I thought was easy pace was not what my legs had in mind. At 25k, the Mak attack came along, and at about 30k came Nicole Leder. I knew this wouldn’t be the day to go with either of them, so I concentrated on running my own race. Whatever my legs would give me would be where I’d end up. The last 10k my goal was to keep my legs turning over and hold onto 4th place. I have to admit, I started seeing $ signs in my eyes at this point. My legs were screaming, but as a wise doc once told me, “Endure What Can’t Be Cured.” I finished the last km glancing over my shoulder and happy that no one was in site. Very happy also to see Alex, Maki, Hiro, Coco and my old team mate BG waiting at the finish line.
So, yes, a long day at the office, but happy to get a long bike in my legs, and the start of some good run preparation for my next race. A big CONGRATS as well to Maki, Hiro and Matt. And a big THANK YOU to Alex and all the guys from TBB Singapore for their support. They put on a great show in Malaysia.

Joining the Circus

February 22nd, 2009 by donnaphelan
When I left home for Subic two and a half weeks ago, I felt like I was running off to join the circus. The TBB Circus that is. A new team this year, new faces, new expectations. But what I didn’t expect was how quickly the circus would become one big, happy family.
The TBB Circus is a fun place to be. We all have our own tricks and special talents, and a ringleader who keeps us all in order, making sure that we’re ready to perform when it counts. It might look easy from the outside, but a lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes…practicing over and over again our tricks of the trade. It might seem like we work for peanuts, but it’s all worth it when we go on stage to perform.
So next weekend, the circus has its first show on the road. A quick stop in Langkawi where six members of the TBB Circus will put on a show : the Flying Japanese Trapeze Duo, the Brazilian Tiger Rei, Mathieu – the bearded man who walks on water, the Hungarian Coco who flies through air, and myself, the Diesel fighter. The rest of the troupe will remain in Subic, training hard with the ringmaster for upcoming shows in New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and China. Book your tickets now for the best show on the road.

California Dreamin’…On Such a Winter’s Day

February 1st, 2009 by donnaphelan
So it’s time to hit the road again after 3 months back in San Diego. The last 2 weeks have been really fun…a mini training camp with Coco before we head off on Wednesday for Subic. We’ve gone on all of my favorite training rides – including a trip up Palomar Mountain, but unfortunately no more Landis sightings (although I did have my camera ready this time). In between all the swimming, biking and running, we’ve been keeping the sushi restaurants in business…or perhaps I should say putting them out of business. I expect the next time we show up for sushi, there’ll be a sign in the window saying “No Hungry Triathletes Allowed”. I wonder if perhaps the Japanese aren’t such big sushi eaters??
Anyway, I’m excited to head off to camp in a few days, and meet all the new rookies. Having Erika here the last couple of weeks has made me remember how great it is having team mates to train with. It’s looking like 2009 will be a big year for Team TBB, and I’m excited to be a part of it.

Landis Sighting

January 15th, 2009 by donnaphelan
Yesterday, I was on a long ride with two of my training partners, whom I call Tyler and Lance. In the middle of nowhere, at the base of a long climb, we stopped at a store for our usual “coke break”. Then in walks Floyd (no, really, it was Floyd Landis). He buys a 2L of milk, takes it outside, off with his shoes, feet up, and starts drinking the milk. I didn’t wait around to see if he drank the whole 2 liters. Tyler, Lance and I took off up the climb. About 40min later, we started to descend back down, and passed Floyd on his way up. I swear, it looked like he was flying. Milk, anyone?

Happy 2009

January 9th, 2009 by donnaphelan
Hi Everyone,
It’s 2009, and I can’t believe a year has gone by since I joined the team. After my last race of 2008, IM Arizona in November, I went back home to Canada to visit my family. I grew up in Newfoundland, but my brother lives in Nova Scotia so we met there for a family get together. It’s been about 5 years since I’ve been in “winter weather”….nice in small doses, but I was very happy to return to warmer weather in San Diego.:))
So, now I’m getting ready for the 2009 season – working on my bike and getting used to my new bike set-up. After much harassing from doc and everyone else in the tri world ;-) , my bike set-up is finally starting to look “normal”. In with the New Year, out with the beach cruiser. My good friend, Miss Coco, comes in a week, and I can’t wait to take her on some of my favorite rides around here…a ‘mini camp’ before the real camp starts. Of course, I’ve also promised her great sushi so we’ll have to find time to fit that in as well.;-)
Best wishes to everyone for a happy, healthy, successful 2009!

IM Arizona

November 25th, 2008 by donnaphelan
Last Thursday, I drove to Arizona for the last North American IM race of the season. After Hawaii, I had been contemplating doing another IM to end the season, and with Arizona only 5 hours drive from San Diego, it was too hard to turn down.
The pro field for Arizona was one of the biggest of the year, outside of Hawaii. Almost 90 pros were on the start line for the 1 loop swim in Tempe Town Lake. Well, I’ve been saying it all year, and I really mean it now – it’s time for me to take some boxing lessons! Two seconds after the gun went off, I got nailed in the head (resulting in a black eye), and 2 seconds later, I got nailed again and my goggles disappeared. It was a good thing I had lasix surgery a year ago or I’d probably still be in there yelling ‘marco-polo’, trying to find my way out.;-) Anyway, after round 1 of the boxing match, I settled into a rhythm, had a couple of good swimmers on my breathing side to sight off of, and came out of the water in 3rd place for the pro women.
The bike course was 3 x 60km loops – a gradual uphill into a headwind for the first 30km, then a faster 30km back into town. It was actually pretty cold race morning and didn’t warm up until about 10am. I had planned to eat/drink my usual amount of calories per hour, but because it was colder than I expected, I wasn’t drinking as much, and switched to eating every 15min instead of 20. But typical of the desert, by 10am, it was warming up pretty quickly, and I was very happy not to be melting under an aero helmet. About 30km from the finish, my front wheel started to feel a bit soft, but luckily not bad enough to stop (later when I got my bike out of transition, it was definitely flat – very happy it didn’t go all the way down while I was riding!). I came off the bike in 5th place, feeling like I had one of my better IM bike rides, but knowing I still have some work to do for next year.
So, coming off the bike, I had some decisions to make. Prior to Hawaii, I had been having some pain on the inside of my calf, and about 2 weeks before Arizona, it got worse and I wasn’t able to run. I kept thinking that with the rest, it would get better and a 2 week run taper wasn’t so bad. During the swim-bike run transition, my calf wasn’t feeling the best (I had some shoes at the swim exit, but they ended up in lost and found?!). However, I still felt that if I didn’t at least attempt to start the marathon, I wouldn’t know for sure if my calf could handle it. Well, a few minutes of running and I had my answer. I went to the med tent to get some ice, and the doctor confirmed that I have a tear in my calf muscle. Not great news, but if there’s ever a ‘good’ time to have an injury, it’s the off-season.
So, although not happy to DNF, I had a good hard swim/bike workout, and like after all races, I’m excited to start planning for my next one.:) Next up, a trip back to Canada on Thursday…time to dig out the winter clothes.;-)

Hawaii Ironman 2008

October 14th, 2008 by donnaphelan
Well, I’m still in daze, after traveling last Tuesday from S.Korea to Kona, racing Ironman on Saturday, and here it is Tuesday again and I’m back “home” in San Diego. In the span of a week, I feel like I entered a magical world on the Big Island – so much energy, so many people from around the world, and the experience of racing the Hawaii Ironman, which I’ve watched on tv for so many years and only dreamed of one day doing, was completely unbelievable.
I can’t even begin to describe the energy at the start of the swim. This was my fifth ironman, my third this year, and nothing I’ve ever experienced comes close to the energy that was in the air with helicopters flying overhead, over 200 pro men and women inching forward at the start line while kayakers did what they could to hold us back, thousands of spectators lining the shore, and then finally, the cannon going off to start the race. My plan was to start next to some pro men in hopes of stealing their draft, but 30 seconds into the swim, I felt like I was taking part in a boxing match. Eventually, things settled down, and although not in the pack I wanted to be in, I came out of the water in 13th place for the pro women.
About 20km into the bike, I felt like something wasn’t right as I felt a searing pain on the inside of my left quad. I kept pushing on the best I could until about 90k when I knew something just wasn’t right with my bike. I looked down and saw that my seat post had slipped down, and the tape used to mark my seat height was now only party visible. I stopped on the side of the road to fix my seat, and this time really tightened it down. Although my quad still wasn’t the happiest of campers, the second half of the bike was much better for me, as I re-passed some of the speedy age group men and a couple of pro women that had passed me on the way to Hawi. It was another 12 bottle bike ride, but I remembered the heat in China earlier in the year, and I knew that being a camel now would pay off later in the marathon.
I started the run feeling pretty good, but knew I had to pace myself because of the heat and the limited run training I had done the couple of months prior due to a groin injury. The crowd support in town and heading up to the Queen K highway was unbelievable – thousands of people from around the world yelling and screaming. It was especially motivating to see my fellow TeamTBB ironchicks (and Stephen, the ironchicken:) at the turn-around on Ali’i Drive and heading out of the energy lab. I knew how hard they had worked all year and how much they deserved to have the great races they were having. Coming back into town was like a huge party – I was spent but somehow felt like I was being carried along to the finish line with the energy from the crowd. So many people screaming and yelling, and I was so happy to cross the finish line, knowing I had done my best, but having learned from the race and knowing that I could do better.
I have to say a huge CONGRATULATIONS to Chrissie, Erika, Bella, Belinda, Hillary, Stephen and Steve for great races, and for giving their best out there. They have all been a huge inspiration to me this year, and have become more than just team mates, but also close friends. I also have to thank doc for being the best coach in the world, and for giving me this opportunity that I could only have dreamed of. I often questioned whether I could come back to ironman after 5 years off with injuries, and last year, frustrated with the sport, watched the Hawaii Ironman on tv, and wished that perhaps one day I could be there. 12 months and 3 ironmans later, a thank you does not seem nearly enough. And of course to Alex, a huge thanks because without you, none of this would be possible.
See you all next year! Mahalo!

On The Road Again

September 5th, 2008 by donnaphelan
Tonight, I leave for camp in Korea after almost 3 weeks back “home” in San Diego. It’s been an amazing year so far, having spent all but 5 weeks of it in training camps in the Phillipines and Switzerland.
The last 3 wks have given me a chance to take care of a few things before I take off again. My bike underwent a much needed visit to the bike shop for new cables, chain and cassette (the guys at the shop were NOT impressed with my neglect nor my riding in the rain!). I also had a chance to unpack my cold weather Swiss clothes in exchange for warm weather attire (good bye arm warmers, hello tank tops!:)). And of course, I had a chance to catch up with some old training partners and explore some of my favorite training rides. I really was amazed the first few days back to see that the hills here had gotten smaller and the descents less technical since I was here last…it’s funny how training in Switzerland can have that effect.:)
So, it’s time to head off again and accumulate some more air miles. I’m excited to catch up with the rest of the iron chicks, and have another great month of training ahead. Pickled cabbage, here I come.;)

IM Switzerland

July 15th, 2008 by donnaphelan
On Sunday, I raced IM Switzerland in Zurich. I woke up race morning to pouring rain and 10 degree Celsius temperatures. I had wished for cooler temperatures at IM China a few months ago – I guess my wish was just a bit delayed and not very welcome at this race!
The swim went as about expected. I had a little battle on my hands in the first hundred meters with a couple of the pro guys, but eventually things settled down and I came out of the water in 3rd place for the pro women.
I headed out of transition area wearing an extra bike jersey and vest as the rain continued to pour down. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so cold on a bike. My feet went numb after a few kms, and I continued to shiver for most of the ride. The descents on the course were tricky in the best of conditions – with a couple of sections where penalties were given out for using aerobars – so I decided not to take any chances in the rain. Braking became even more of a challenge with fingers that were not cooperating in the cold! Despite the weather, it was nice to see so many spectators on the course ringing cowbells, and yelling, “Hup, hup, hup, go Doh-na, go!” as I went by.
The first half of the marathon went well as I started to warm up, and I made up some of the time that I had lost on the bike. I was on target for a good run split, feeling like I could continue the pace and finish in the top 5. Unfortunately, somewhere around 25km, my legs decided to start complaining. I knew the other girls were suffering too, so I continued to push on while my legs were having an outright battle with my head. At 40km, I moved into 9th place, past the girl who had the fastest bike split of the day. I held onto this position for the last 2km, very happy to cross the finish line! It wasn’t the placing that I had hoped for, but like China, another battle against the elements that I was happy to overcome. What’s that saying about “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”…
So, now that this race is over, I’m really excited to do my next Ironman… normal conditions.:)

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

May 23rd, 2008 by donnaphelan
So, let’s see, where did I leave off? Oh yeah, I was in China for IM, then back to the Phillipines for a few days. I then spent an unexpected few days in Manilla with green card difficulties (who knew it was so hard to get back in the US with a Canadian passport…lesson learned!), finally arrived back “home” in San Diego for 2 weeks, then flew to Zurich on Sunday, followed by a 3hr train ride, and a mountain tram to my new home in the Alps.
Despite having some jetlag the first few days (asleep at 8pm, then wide awake from 1am-4am surfing the net, and having my second dinner:), I’m happy to call this beautiful little mountain village my home for the next two months. The weather has been a little cooler than I expected (yes, I know I was warned;), but coming from the Philippines, a sauna might feel a little on the cool side.
The training here, especially on the bike, is incredible and breath taking. As it’s my first camp in this part of Switzerland, I was a little naive when coach told me to have an easy flat ride at the bottom of the mountain my first day here. I cruised down the hillside, wind in my hair, enjoying my scenic little ride to Montreaux. Unfortunately, the “down” side, or should I say “up” side, to any flat riding around here is the climb back up the mountain. “What goes down must come up”, and I had conveniently blocked this from my mind on my scenic little excursion…there will now be a damper on any of my future flat riding adventures in Switzerland.:-[
Due to the jetlag or perhaps the altitude, I thought I was going crazy when I first arrived, hearing bells ringing on/off throughout the day. I was at Rebecca’s place the other day when she solved the mystery for me. “Rebecca”, I asked, “is that the fire alarm? Do we need to evacuate?” “No mate, just the cow bells, they’re moving pasteurs at the end of the day”. Oh, ok. I headed out the door on my bike, only to see a parade of cows blocking the narrow road in front of me. I tried to go around them, then realized I was in jeopardy of getting splashed by the remnants of whatever the cows had for dinner the evening before. I tucked in at the back, only to realize they were turning off in the same direction I was headed, straight past my place. It was a nice average pace of 5km/hr for my ride home.:)
Despite my initial jetlag and cow confusion, I’m very happy to be back at camp, in this very beautiful little part of the world. Until next time…

Ironman China

April 21st, 2008 by donnaphelan
It’s hard to believe it’s been 5 yrs since my last ironman (although my legs today are reminding me). There were many bumps (and potholes) along the way, but as they say, everything happens for a reason. I now have a new love for triathlon, and I couldn’t have been happier to be on the start line at Ironman China on Sunday.
The swim for me went as about expected. I did do some extra swimming around the course as the turning buoys were one of many fishing boats about 1000m out from shore…luckily I wasn’t too far off with my first pick.:) I came out of the water in 3rd place, fumbled a bit in the change tent as the Chinese volunteers stuffed my wetsuit in my transition bag on top of my bike helmet and bike gear. Uhhh…I might be needing those?
After a few km’s into the bike, I was passed by Belinda who was riding really strong and looking like a demon. I reminded myself I wasn’t doing sprint tri’s anymore, and put my blinders back on. Just about the halfway point of the bike, I could feel the temperature starting to soar and continued to drink as often as I could…13 bottles in total! I was beginning to think I was maybe a camel in a former lifetime.
I came into run transiton in 3rd place, 8min down on Ute Meukle, 16min down on Belinda with Abigail Bailey 2min back, and Jo King and Belinda Harrison chasing from behind. After about 12km, I passed Ute, but shortly after the effects of running a marathon on concrete started to become evident. Both of my quads were screaming at the top of their lungs for me to stop. I knew I still had 30km to go, but I also knew there were some strong runners behind me and I couldn’t let up. At this point, it really was a mind game. I thought to myself that everyone else was suffering as much as I was, and if I could keep shuffling along and not walk then I had a chance of making it to the podium. I also came armed to the race with some motivating words from my team mates and coach….my secret weapon when the going got tough. I had Bella in my head “wretching with effort” in South Africa, Chrissie in Australia saying, “Oh and my hammy did hurt. I ignored it”, Erika telling me “The race is in your legs already”, and the words from doc, “Endure what can’t be cured”.
The last 2 hrs of the race were the most painful of my life. But, as I said, everything happens for a reason. Not being able to race ironman for the last 5 years due to injury and many starts/stops has given me a whole new appreciation for triathlon. I never take for granted being able to train and race, and when the going gets tough, I know it’s never as tough as where I’ve been.
In the end, I did hang on to second place, and crossed the finish line in 10:37, Abigail 7min back, and Belinda probably already having coffee and her nails done. I was beyond happy coming across the finish line, but the one thought I had in my head was how lucky I am to be a part of this team, training with the best athletes and the best coach in the world.:) The wait was well worth it.:)))

The Wonderful Peso

March 12th, 2008 by donnaphelan
Well, it’s my day off (yeah!:), and I’m getting ready for my daily trip to the grocery store (when the training increases, the eating increases.:) Unfortunately, that means the spending increases too, but fortunately for us, the US $/Peso conversion works in our favor : 40 pesos is equivalent to 1 US dollar. When I first arrived, I was shocked to spend 2000 pesos at the grocery store, but by doing the math, I realized it’s actually pretty cheap. These are some other examples of the wonderful peso conversion :
- coke light 20 pesos = 50 cents
- papaya 30 pesos = 75 cents
- 1 hr massage 400-500 pesos = $10-$12
- pool fee 50 pesos = $1.25
- track fee 10 pesos = 25 cents
- oatmeal, milk, toast 60 pesos = $1.50
- abercrombie and fitch tank top (I think it’s a fake:) = $2.50
So…I’ve convinced myself that I’m actually saving money by being in the Philippines. Some imported items are of course more expensive. I’m still griping about the $5 cost of my beloved box of Kelloggs, but hey, I’m saving money so it all works out.:))

The Long Journey

February 20th, 2008 by donnaphelan
Well, after a 2 hr drive to LA, a 5 hr flight to Hawaii, a 3 hr stop-over, a 7 hr flight to Guam, a 2hr stop-over, a 3 hr flight to Manila, and a 3 hr drive from the airport, I finally arrived in Subic Bay 10 days ago. They say, “It’s the journey, not the destination”, but I couldn’t have been happier to get off the plane and arrive at training camp.
The set up here has been great. I’m sharing a house with Hillary and Chrissie, and we think we may have a fourth house guest that scurries around the kitchen at night. We’re not sure what it is, and in this case, ignorance is bliss! We’ve also seen a ton of monkeys on the side of the road and sitting on telephone wires. I keep expecting to wake up in the middle of the night with one in bed with me!
The weather has also been great for training. Warm, humid and breezy. The locals seem very happy to have us here as well. They honk their horns and wave as we ride by, and a little boy about 2 ft tall tried to race me as I ran past yesterday. Pretty quick for his height….a possible team tbb’er perhaps?:)
I am very happy and feeling at home here (minus Jay and my 2 cats of course:(. It’s been a long journey to get here, and I couldn’t be happier.