Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy 2012!

December is always one of my favorite months of the year, and this year has been no exception. At the beginning of December, a few days after Ironman AZ, I went back to Canada to visit my brother and his family in Nova Scota for a relaxing eight day "indoor vacation". Well, relaxing when my one year old nephew wasn't running around or trying to jump on the treadmill with me.;-) By the time I got back to San Diego, I was itching to get back on my bike for some long easy rides. I love long rides and I've been having a blast building up my base again on the bike. Riding inland San Diego two days before Christmas in 70 degree sunny weather is better than any gift I could ever ask for. 2011 has been a great year, and to all my friends, family and sponsors, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a very Happy 2012!

Friday, November 25, 2011

IM AZ, Thanksgiving, and the Off Season

This past triathlon season has gone by faster than any other year that I’ve been in the sport. It’s the first year that I haven’t traveled outside the US, but I’ve probably spent just as much time on the road.

I came back from Kona in October, and being the sun seeker that I am, took off for Phoenix a week later to continue my build up for IM Arizona. I have some awesome training partners in Phoenix, and with the temps in San Diego cooling down, it seemed the best place to do my four week build up before IM. I also needed to continue getting some PT on my ankle injury which I could do at Endurance Rehab in between my long desert training days.

I had some of the best swim and bike training I’ve ever had in the few weeks leading up to IM AZ, and my run kept building up week by week. Everything was going great, but I knew in the back of my head that I was rushing to get the run miles in my legs to run a marathon on just four weeks of running since my two month lay off. So the discussion I had with my coach a few days before the race left me with a decision to make. Either run the marathon with my ankle still not quite 100%, risk re-injury and accept that I might be forced with another two month lay off. Or only do part/none of the run, continue my build up for next year, and make this the first off season ever that I’d be uninjured and running before January, leading into the kind of running base that I needed to make 2012 a great year. In the end, we both agreed – any pain running through transition and I would not head out on the run.

The swim and bike at IM AZ were both close to what I expected. The water was a frigid 61 degrees, but I swam close to my usual IM swim time, 55 minutes. It was 53 degrees at the start of the bike, and it took me a little longer than usual to warm up, but eventually I got going and with each of the three 60km bike laps, my times got faster. I finished the bike in 5:06, my fastest IM bike split, and now had a decision to make about the run. Running through transition barefoot, my ankle was feeling ok, but not great. I had a flashback to IM Louisville at the end of August when I was in a similar situation, took a chance because I had a run base in my legs and could place well, but spent the next two months injured. In the end, I made the decision not to run, thinking about 2012 and the opportunities that lay ahead. So although I was disappointed not to finish, I’m also excited that for the first time ever, I’ll be running in November and December, laying down a base for next year and for some early spring races.

I drove home from AZ earlier this week, and had a quick 48 hour turn-around of unpacking summer clothes, re-packing winter clothes, and pulling off a quick Thanksgiving dinner thanks to Whole Foods down the street. I’m now officially on an off season break, aboard a plane to visit my brother and his family in Nova Scotia, with my parents flying over from Newfoundland for a mini family reunion/early Christmas/late Thanksgiving ten day vacation.

A big THANK YOU to my family, friends, coach and sponsors for all of their support through out the year. Looking forward to a great 2012!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Kona Memories

After spending the last ten days in Kona, I flew back home to San Diego yesterday. I hadn’t planned on going to Hawaii this year since I didn’t start racing until June and was too far behind in points to qualify for Kona (with the new points system, 5 races throughout the year count towards your world ranking as a pro, and for women you have to be ranked top 30 to qualify, for men top 50). However, a cheap flight and an invite from a friend to stay in her rented Kona mansion, had me suddenly planning a mini Hawaiian vacation/training camp.

The last 10 days were jam packed with training, a few sponsor obligations, meeting up with friends I hadn’t seen in a month to ten years or more, and of course enjoying a bit of Kona coffee drinking, and breakfast eating at Lava Java.

I had mixed feelings about being an Ironman spectator. I was happy to support my friends, and motivated beyond words by so many of the athletes. But in the end I’m still a competitor at heart, and a good spectator I do not make. Whether because of my inability to sit still longer than 5 minutes, my desire to be racing, or the temptation to do a long ride in the Hawaiian sun, I found myself doing what I love most - taking off on my bike for most of the day – and getting back just in time to see the second half of the marathon.

There are different reasons behind people’s decisions to live their lives the way that they do. A friend of mine who was a rower in the Olympics once told me that you should live your life so that you have the most memories to look back upon. To see athletes from all over the world training/racing in Kona, living life to the fullest, and happier than the average joe, made me realize that neither money nor material possessions can buy true happiness. I think a more accurate measure of happiness are the great memories that we make along the way.

So a big Congrats to all of my friends who raced Kona and came away having met their goals and given it their all. I hope like me that they have great memories to always look back upon.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ironman Louisville and My 2011 Road Trip

I’m heading home today after my three week road trip which started when I left San Diego August 11th and flew to Michigan for the Steelhead 70.3 in Benton Harbor on August 14th. I stayed with Mike and Katie Jones on this first of three stops on my road trip. What luck to have a homestay who owned a bike shop and looked after Aussie Christie Sym and I like we were pro cyclists…I wish everytime I flew to a race I had someone waiting to put my bike together, pick me up on a ride when a thunder and lightening storm suddenly strikes (out of nowhere!), and then proceed to shuttle my bike into the shop to prep it for the next day’s race! Unfortunately, the swim was canceled at Steelhead so it turned into a 90km timetrial start followed by a half marathon. I had developed tendonitis behind my ankle a couple of weeks earlier, and with IM L’ville two weeks down the road, I decided to skip the run and make it a bike TT day. I was happy with my 2:27 bike split, packed my bags and it was time to move on to my next stop.

The next destination on my road trip was Indianapolis so I rented a car and headed south. About 4 hrs later, I dropped off the car at the airport in Indy and was picked up by next homestay, Catherine LaCrosse. Catherine is training for Hawaii and graciously opened her house (and cereal cupboard!) to me for the week, showed me some great training rides, introduced me to the local masters swim team, gave me her Prius for the week, and became my mapquest to Whole Foods and the best coffee and frozen yogurt in town. While I was in Indianapolis, I also had the chance to visit Zipp twice, take a tour of their facility, and join them on a couple of their lunch time rides. Amazing to see the work that goes into making the best wheels in the world! Before I knew it, my week in Indy was just about up, and it was time to head south again. Unfortunately, my ankle was still not a happy camper, and I was on the fence about whether on not I’d be able to run a marathon in Louisville. If there’s anything I learned from staying with Catherine, it’s “If there’s a will, there’s a way”! In less then 24hrs before I was due to leave, she had organized for me to see a well known Podiatrist in the area and a PT with six years experience on the LPGA Tour. So my last day in Indy began with a cortisone injection, followed by physical therapy, and then I was in the car being chauffeured by Catherine to Columbus, IN (the half way point to Louisville) where both Catherine and my next homestay offered to tag team my ride to L’ville.

I arrived in Louisville on Tuesday before Ironman, and stayed with another amazing homestay, Ann Gaines, who treated me like royalty. How many times do you find a mini fridge stocked with drinks in your room, a basket of pretzels, cookies, fruit and other goodies awaiting you, and I’ll skip ahead to the three cans of Pringles and a dozen yellow roses at the IM finish line!! Ann is also a body builder and I learned how much hard work and discipline goes into training for these competitions. I’m not sure if I could give up my Pringles, cereal and ice cream to do what she does!

So after almost three weeks on the road, race day for IM L’ville finally arrived and I was still not sure how my ankle would hold up during the race. I made a deal with my coach the night before – if I was out of the money or in pain, I’d pull the plug. The swim was a fast one in the Ohio River and I came out of the water in 4th place in 54 minutes. For the first 50k of the ride, my legs didn’t feel great and I wasn’t sure that I was gaining time on any of the three girls ahead of me. By 60k, my quads finally woke up, at 120k I moved into third place, and at 160k I moved into 2nd place. I finished the bike in 5:21, about 3minutes back from Nina Kraft and with Jackie Arendt coming into transition behind me. With my not so speedy transition, I started the run in 3rd place. Heading over the bridge on the first out and back, my ankle was not feeling great and I told my bike escort that it looked like I would have to drop out when I came back near transition at the two mile mark. So it was a pleasant and welcoming surprise to me when somewhere around a mile and a half, my ankle stopped complaining. I stayed in third place until about 15miles when the lack of run training in my legs began to take effect and I was passed by a fast charging Stephanie Jones. For the last eleven miles, my pace was slowing, but I was determined to hang on to fourth place and happy to finally cross the finish line in 10:01.

My summer road trip is now over and I’m heading back to San Diego for a couple of weeks of recovery before part two of my 2011 race season. Lots of great memories from the last three weeks, but time to head home and unpack, and see what else awaits around the next bend in the road. Thank you to all of my great sponsors, my family, friends and coach who never stop supporting me, and to all of the wonderful people I have met over the last few weeks.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Top 5 Running Songs

I love listening to music when I run, and it's rare for me to head out the door for a run without my Ipod. A few people have asked me recently what type of music I listen to, and it's a bit of a mix between some old songs that I never get tired of, and some new songs that will be here today and gone tomorrow. A bit of everything really! But if I had to pick my top 5 most listened to songs (some that end up being replayed over and over if I'm doing a hard workout), I would narrow it down to the 5 below. Metric is one of my favorite Canadian bands, Pumped Up Kicks is the latest song I've downloaded, All Fired Up will be on my running list til I'm 80, and I've been singing Adrenaline in my head for more track sessions than I can remember.

If you see me running down the road with my ipod, singing in my head (so I don't shatter any mirrors or glass!), there's a good chance that I'll be listening to one of these songs...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Racine 70.3

This past weekend, I traveled to Racine, Wisconsin for my second half Ironman of the season. After racing in Texas three weeks ago, I realized how much fitness I gain from racing and decided to add an extra 70.3 to my race schedule. Racine seemed like a good choice – a wetsuit swim, a timetrial bike and a hot run – just how I like it.

Overall, I was happy with how my race went. I led out of the water which is a first for me, came in fourth off the bike, moved to sixth on the first loop of the run as two speedy runners (Michelle Wu and Jessica Jacobs) passed me in the first few kms, then got my second wind on the second loop, and moved back into fifth place. I was very happy to finish in the money and on the podium after missing out a few weeks ago in Texas.

Congrats also to my team mate Michelle Wu who came 3rd, and a big thank you to my homestay family, Susan and Mike Arts and their three cats for making me feel at home and taking such great care of me. I had an awesome weekend staying at their lighthouse home, feeling like royalty as they cooked for me and fed my caffeine and pretzel addiction, and then shared many laughs with them when Bryan Rhodes and Christie Sym showed up on Friday….never a dull moment with a Kiwi and an Aussie in the house.;)

So it’s back home to San Diego now for a few days of recovery, and then back to Santa Monica with my team for the next few weeks to get ready for my August races. Thanks to everyone who’s supported me over the last few months – my coach, team mates, sponsors, family and friends. It’s great to be back on the road again.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Buffalo Spring Cleaning

I’m happy to say that I’ve finally started my race season for this year. Unlike other years when I’ve started racing in Feb or March and had the majority of my season finished by July, this year I’m doing things in reverse – starting in June and racing until November.
This actually wasn’t part of my original plan, but after ending last season with a disabling hip injury, I’ve been slowly ramping up this year and sorting out some rehab issues to make sure I have a strong second half of the season.

So first up on my race schedule this year was Buffalo Springs 70.3 in Lubbock, Texas this past weekend. I picked this race because I like racing in the heat, and at 112 degrees on Sunday (the second highest temp in history for this day), it didn’t disappoint. I also picked this race because of where it fell on the race schedule. I’ve learned in the past that the first race of the season is like spring cleaning – getting back race fitness after six to eight months of not racing hurts, but it has to be done in order to clear out the cobwebs and be ready for the more important races.

With the hot temps in Lubbock, the strong headwinds and hilly bike, and a hilly hot run course, Sunday proved to be a good day to do some spring cleaning. With a strong pro field of 18 women and not being !00% race fit, my goal for the race was to finish top 10. Until mile 9 of the run, I was running comfortably in eighth place, but the lack of race miles in my legs combined with some steep downhills began to take their toll and I was passed by two girls in the closing three miles. All in all, still a good day of training and a top 10 finish to start the season.

So the spring cleaning is now done, and the cobwebs have been left in Buffalo Springs. Time to get on with the rest of the season!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Desert Training Part II

It's hard to believe but after almost three months in the desert, I'll be packing up and moving back to the coast in two weeks. I've lived near the ocean my whole life, so desert living was a bit of an adjustment for the first few weeks, but I've come to love the dry heat, and the endless riding with no traffic lights in sight. I've also learned the value of skin lotion because without it you can turn into a lizard overnight!

So with a block of desert training under my belt, I'll head back to the coast for another month of training before I start my race season in June. I'll miss the long days of hot weather, the long rides without once clipping out of my pedals, my local hangout "The Fudge Factory/Coffee Shop", and of course my many swims at the FishBowl over the last three months!

*Getting ready for swim practice at the FishBowl!

*Dinner at the Red Ocotillo

*Easter Egg Hunt! Guess who won!

*Group ride in the desert heat. Loving it!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Desert Training

For the last five weeks, I've been training in the desert east of San Diego with my Team Sirius team mates. I'm training much closer to home this year, but looking around at the landscape can sometimes feel like I'm on the other side of the planet. Close in miles, but a long way from the ocean and palm trees. Actually, there are surprisingly quite a few palm trees around, although in the midst of cacti and tumbleweeds, it looks like they may have immigrated from somewhere else!

Below are some pics from the last few weeks....

These prehistoric guys (the rams) are planted all over the desert. Never a lack of company while training...although a little out of my age range.

Someone was creative when they named the roads around here : Frying Pan Road, Tilting T, Bending Elbow Road. Or the Hellhole Canyon Trails which have suddenly started blooming wildflowers.

My new Trek Speed Concept arrived just in time to make the "trek" to the desert. Will continue to install the motor over the next few months.:)

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Is For Awesome

I decided to check the date of my last blog post today, and I can't believe it's been over a month since I last wrote a blog...where does the time go?? Actually, I do know where it went. I've spent the last four weeks having an awesome time training with my new TeamSirius team mates and coach in LA. Now I'm back home in San Diego for a week before I head off to the next training destination in Borrego Springs.

I could try to describe how awesome the last four weeks have been, how much I love my new coach and team mates, and how much fun every single day of training is......but somehow words just wouldn't do it justice. And for the person who's brought so much color and magic into my life in such a short period of time, I owe the biggest THANK YOU.

I'll soon have a longer blog to post, but for now I'll leave you with the most played song on my ipod over the last month....

Saturday, January 8, 2011

2011....Off and Running!

With the first week of January now over, it seemed a good time to update my blog with my new sponsors and my change of direction for 2011. I've always believed that change is good, however resistant I sometimes I appear to anything that challenges my normal routine. But like my favorite poem by Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken", it's sometimes good to go exploring down a different road and see what lies ahead.

So for the year ahead, I'm happy to announce that I'll be training mainly in the U.S. with Siri Lindley and the Team Sirius elite squad. I'm also happy to have the continued sponsor support of First Endurance, Cobb Saddles, Compex and Oakley, and to welcome my new sponsors Trek, KSwiss, Zipp, TYR and Fuel Belt.

It will be an exciting year ahead to see what awaits down the road not yet taken, because without taking risks you never know where that road might lead. And better to risk and take challenges than to regret and always wonder "what if."

Here's to a great 2011!