Chattanooga 70.3

Race number 2 of the season was Chattanooga 70.3. The lead-in to this race could not have been more different than for St. Anthony’s (which went perfectly). 10 days out from the race I was fighting a cold and had next to zero energy. I am working a lot more closely with Barrie this year, so while I still write out my training plan, when an outside voice of reason is needed he is there to provide it- in this case it meant that workouts got scrapped or cut short in order to try and stay healthy and be ready to race. Better to be under-cooked than over-cooked when you’re at the start line. So despite what seemed like a dreadful taper, I still had a great race, so some lessons to be learned.

I was also concerned about my lack of volume. I had only 2 bike workouts since March that reached 3 hours, with most being in the 1-2hr range. This is vastly different to what I was doing last year, where 2 hours on the bike was considered short. However, the lack of volume has been contrasted with an increase in intensity, and this race was to be the test to see how that was working out for me.  (the tldr: worked just fine)

There were some nerves amongst all the athletes about the weather forecast heading into the race. A week out the forecast was calling for 40 degrees and sunny, and I was having flashbacks to Eagleman last year where I ended up in the med-tent post-race due to overheating and dehydration. As the race drew nearer the forecast changed to 29 degrees and “100% chance of thunderstorms,” which left us wondering whether we would even have a race. The thunderstorms that came Saturday night were loud enough to rattle the dishes in the kitchen, which was kind of awesome, but I went to sleep mentally prepared to race a full race, but also prepared to adapt to whatever happened in the morning. Being able to deal with last minute changes to races is something that as a professional (or at any level), is a necessity. I don’t think I’ve ever gone an entire year without a race needing to be changed due to weather. However, when I checked the radar at 3:45am race morning (yay for early mornings right?…) it looked like the storms were going to travel just east of us and miss us completely. The race was on!

I went through my usual pre-race routine and took the shuttle upstream to the swim start. We had about 4 minutes in the water before the gun went off. The course was ~350m upstream, 100m across, and then the rest of the way downstream with the current. This is something that benefits the weaker swimmers (comparatively speaking), so no complaints from me. Apparently we took too long to swim upstream (sorry??) so the age groupers had their course changed so they only had to swim downstream… I did not think the current was that strong, but oh well. I ended up leading the group of myself, Heather Jackson, Barbara Riveros, and Lauren Capone out of the water, so I was in good company.

On to the bike course I focused on settling into my own pace. Heather took off quickly, and knowing her biking abilities I wisely decided to not try and match it that early in the race.  The course took us south to do a big loop in Georgia, and the scenery is spectacular- thankfully I drove the course beforehand because I don’t pay much attention to what is around me when I’m racing. Once we were out of town I was able to see two athletes well up the road, spaced fairly far apart. This was great as it was motivation to keep my pace steady and keep them in sight. At about 25 miles I passed the first of the two (Jackie Hering), and set my sights on the next person. I did not seem to be getting any closer and I found myself wondering “who IS this??” Usually I go through the start list before the race and try to figure out who will be ahead of me out of the swim, but I didn’t do that this time (I don’t have time for it and it’s essentially useless information), so the only athlete I knew who was ahead of me was Sarah True. As the miles ticked by I came to wonder if it was in fact Sarah up the road. Finally the gap started to close so I knew I would find out who this person was soon. At around mile 40 I caught up to them and my first thought was “ooo, that’s a nice bike” and then “holy shit I’m passing Sarah True, where are the cameras???”  Of course they are never around when you want them right? After the race Sarah said she was glad I came by because she was getting bored- welcome to long distance racing!?!  Anyways, I was pretty stoked by the fact that I was actually competing with a 2x Olympian and someone I have watched race on TV countless times. She stuck behind me the rest of the way and we entered transition side by side (again, WHERE were the cameras? I would have paid Finisherpix $26US for a photo of that).

Out onto the run course I focused on finding a good pace and relaxing into it. Sarah left me in her dust out of transition and I had no illusions that I was going to catch her- maybe someday, but not today. So it was a matter of staying ahead of the people behind me. 3 miles in Jackie Hering caught back up with me and I tried to run with her but it became evident very quickly that I was not going to be running that pace for another 10 miles, so I settled back down into my own rhythm. I knew that Barbara Riveros was behind me and quite capable of running 4+min faster than me. There are several little out and back sections on the run course, so it was around mile 8 that I saw where Barbara was on the course. “Ahhh, shit” was pretty much what I was thinking. At the next little out and back a mile later I tried to gauge how much of a gap I had- probably 60 seconds, although when you’re running in a race it’s very hard judge the gap or how fast each of you is moving. Then I started doing the math- 4 miles left, so she’d have to run 15 seconds faster per mile to catch me- I would never underestimate someone who came 5th at the Rio Olympics, so I continued to push as hard as I could. It was not until I reached the finish line carpet that I dared to look behind me- all clear! Not only had I secured another 4th place finish, I had finally achieved my goal that I set two years ago of running a 1hr25min half off a good bike.  😀

Thanks to everyone who has supported and cheered for me- I love it!

C3 Canadian Cross Training Club

Skechers

Alto Cycling

Rudy Project (ask me for a code if you want discounted gear)

DKOS

Riplaces

Caledon Hills Cycle

Royal Containers

I am continuing to focus my efforts on getting faster over the Olympic distance, so next up will be Escape from Philadelphia on June 25th.

St. Anthony’s Triathlon

Hello! I haven’t written anything in a while- working full time & training makes me very busy (and I LOVE it!). The changes I have made to training and life in general since last season I think warrant another blog post, or I’d never get to the race report, but things have been going very well and I was in a great head-space going into St. Anthony’s on the weekend. I was confident in my training and ability to execute a great race.

Florida was kind enough to have a heat wave over the weekend, with record setting heat and humidity from Thursday to Sunday. Coming from Ontario, it was a bit of a shock to the system, but I made sure to hydrate and stay out of the sun when possible.

Race morning dawned warm and windy, and as a result the swim was shortened to 900m (or so), with a long run from the swim exit to transition. I did not complain 😉

At 6:53am the gun went off for the pro women to start. It was a beach start and a long way to go in shallow water before we could start swimming, which has never been one of my strengths (especially since this type of start disadvantages the short people). However, I just followed in the footsteps of Laurel Wassner and when the water got deep enough dove in and tried to stick to her feet. It was one of the best starts I have ever had and although I ended up doing the majority of the swim on my own, I exited the water with Jillian Petersen and Laurel, two people whom I would generally try to stick with in races. The thing I was most pleased with was my ability to stay calm in conditions that have in the past caused a good deal of anxiety. I found that being able to relax I was able to get into a rhythm with the waves rather than feeling like I was fighting it the whole time. Barrie had detoured his flight home from Tucson to come through Tampa to watch the race, and he informed me as I ran to T1 that I was 75 seconds down on the leaders. This may or may not have been accurate (if you know Barrie), but sounded about what I was expecting.

getting shoes post-swim for the long run to T1. and no, i’m not spending $60US to get photos without a watermark

Onto the bike I was determined (come hell or high water) that I would NOT over-bike. I did that last year and it was not a fun run; it was dreadful actually. So I focused on settling into a comfortably hard effort and did not try to catch anyone quickly. I reminded myself to be patient and that I had about an hour and forty minutes left of racing. Plenty of time. In the first 5 miles or so I passed 3 athletes, had a moment of confusion around mile 7 where a ‘race support’ vehicle started yelling ‘go right!’ and a police officer was motioning to go straight (I needed to go straight), but overall a fairly uneventful ride. Around mile 20 I passed another athlete, bringing me into 4th place, although I knew there were athletes not far behind, and the people ahead weren’t very far away. Still I focused on my own race because I sure as hell wanted to run well.

criticise the bike position all you want. at least the wheels make me go fast 😉

My typical slow T2 saw Kaitlin Donner take off ahead of me with a couple athletes only a few seconds behind as we headed out onto the run course. I felt pretty good! (a later analysis of the power file would reveal that I didn’t bike as hard as I should be capable of). At first I thought that I would not see Kaitlin again, as she is a very good runner. However in the first mile the distance between us did not increase and my legs started to feel better, so I was able to make the pass around 1.5 miles. The athletes behind were falling further back. My goal had been to get under 38 minutes for the run, so I focused on staying at a consistently strong pace. At the turn-around I could see that I had made up considerable time on Jen Spieldenner, and the thought crossed my mind that I may be able to catch her over the next 5km. She had other ideas and also picked up her pace, so while I chased her down as quickly as I could, I came up short, 23 seconds behind at the finish line, but with the second fastest run split on the day!!!

Smiling!

 

Female Pro podium

 

Overall I am extremely happy with the race and it lets me know that the training I have been doing has me on the right track for a great 2017 season. My next race will be Chattanooga 70.3, although my training for the year will focus almost entirely on the Olympic distance. Gotta learn to go fast before you go long!

I want to extend a special thank you to my FABULOUS homestay, the Morrow family, who made my time in Florida thoroughly enjoyable, as well as the volunteers and staff of St. Anthony’s Triathlon who put on a spectacular race. Also thank you to Barrie Shepley, who detoured his flights to come watch the race, Alto Cycling, Skechers, Rudy Project, DKOS, and Riplaces for providing me the gear I need to train and race fast, and Royal Containers, C3, and Caledon Hills Cycling for their on-going support of my athletic adventures.

Thanks for reading!

A week of training- balancing a full time job and still chasing the dream

There are many things I could have written a blog post about right now, however I chose to do a simple account of what a week of training looks like for me now that I am working full time. I haven’t given up on the dream of racing as a professional, and by the way training has been going of late, it would appear that having a full time job is better than not working. Two of the workouts I completed on the bike this week I could not have done last year, so something has to be going right. 🙂

This was the 3rd week of a three week build, so was my hardest week before an easier recovery week.

A few things you may notice about the training- there are no ‘epic’ workouts- generally I finish every workout feeling like I could have done another interval. Two key things about winter training especially (but really applies to training year-round) are Consistency and Repeatability. The ability to come back day after day and execute workouts is what makes a great athlete, not smashing one workout that leaves you needing 3+ days of recovery. Those kinds of efforts should, for the most part, be reserved for race day; they may look good on social media, but in the end you are doing yourself a disservice if they become the essence of your training plan.

The run workouts I am doing are not in the realm of very challenging. Right now I am focused on getting in consistent weeks of running and will dial back or scrap any run workout if I feel my legs are not coping with the training load.

There are a lot of bike workouts with V02 max level efforts. According to science (I mean PubMed research articles, not what I read on triathlete.com or what my friend said is good), the biggest improvements in cycling occur when a plan of one week with 4-5 very hard sessions followed by 3 weeks of the traditional 1-2 very hard sessions per week is followed.  I am testing it out- the studies were done on pure cyclists, so the challenge becomes trying to incorporate that idea into a 3-sport training program.

For reference with the wattages, for a well-paced half-ironman I would ride an average of 205W, and there is definitely a difference between indoor and outdoor wattages. Generally I think I would be 10-15 watts higher outside for the same effort level, I think a large part of which comes from the ability to create torque outside (rather than being locked in place by the trainer inside).

Monday to Friday I am up at 4:15am and out the door in 12 minutes flat. This allows me to get in the pool at 5:15am, provided we don’t have shitty weather.

Monday

5:15am- 70min endurance swim.

8×50

400

4×100

600

2×200

600

4×100

400

8×50

These were all done on a base pace time of 1:30/100m. It may not sound hard but the fatigue builds over the set.

6:45am-7:30 weights/core

4:45pm- 75min on the elliptical

Tuesday

5:15am- IM set in the pool

7am- 75min on the spin bike at the gym. Main set was 15x 1min HARD!/1min ez

5:45pm- 65 min run- 3x10min tempo efforts at about half marathon pace plus strides at the end.

Wednesday

5:15am- hard swim

Main set: 2×200 + 4×100 + 4×50 + 4×50 + 4×100 + 2×200. Objective was to hold 1:15/100m on a pace time of 1:30/100m.

6:45-7:30- weights/core

5pm- 2hr bike. Main set was 5x4min @260W (zone 5)/4min ez.

Thursday

5:15am- 85min swim, technique/endurance focus.

7am- 70min run with 5x5min at ~10km race pace/ 3min ez.

5:45pm- 90min ez spin + 20min tempo run. (usually it is only a 1 hour ez spin but I was waiting for the snow storm to clear up)

Friday

5:15am- hard swim

Main set was 4×50 + 4×100 + 2×150 + 400 then 3×200. All attempting to go 1:15/100m (didn’t quite make it)

6:45-7:30- weights/core

5pm- 2hr bike. Main set was 6x3min @265W (zone 5)/ 3min ez.

Saturday

9am- Easy long run- 80min

12:30pm- 2hr30min bike with 2×20 + 2×10 @220W

5pm- 1hr swim, main set was 10×100@1:30 holding 1:15. (normally I would not swim on Saturday but was otherwise occupied Sunday afternoon and wanted to get the swim in)

Sunday

7am- 2hr bike with 8x2min @270W/ 3min ez

30min brick run (not hard as it was extremely slippery outside)

And there you have it. Between training, working, and 2+ hrs/day of commuting, there is not much time for anything else; of course this lifestyle would not be sustainable if I had kids (heaven forbid), but for now this is working for me. Merry Christmas everyone! (or ‘Happy Holidays’ if you prefer) 😉

2016 training summary

As promised, I have compiled some stats of my training from Jan 1, 2016 through Oct 31, 2016. First the graphs and then my thoughts on what I think worked and what clearly didn’t.

Monthly Volume

2016-monthly-volume

Weekly Volume

2016-training-graph

*Misc.= cross training (elliptical/ elliptigo, water run)

 

Swimming

If nothing else, I consistently made it to the pool, swimming six days a week on average- some of these days I did two, one-hour swims, although most often it was one 90min swim.

However, like many triathletes, I did not give my swimming the same priority as the bike and the run. If I was tired, a hard swim became less hard, mostly by using the pull buoy as a crutch for my tired legs. I could have done things better by planning out which days were intended to be very hard, the way I do with biking and running, as opposed to what became a lot of days with ‘kinda hard but not too hard’ workouts.

Favourite workout: 20×100 long course @1:30

Biking

Last year I came to the conclusion that I could have utilised my time on the bike a lot better which would have led to bigger improvements. So this year I made sure that there were lots of intervals and every single ride had an explicit purpose. I went with what is commonly called a ‘reverse periodization’ approach (which is not an accurate description, but nevertheless). This meant short hard intervals in the winter progressing to longer intervals over the summer. However, I did very very little race pace work ever, opting for a more polarized approach. I think I have found a combination of things that are working very well for me and was very satisfied with how the season went on the bike, so I will only make minor adjustments to what I am doing for 2017 (mostly to keep things interesting).

Favourite workout: 10x4min hard! (zone 5)

Running

Last year I had a little meme that said “set the bar low, be a winner every time!” And yet I managed to set the bar low in 2015 and do the limbo under it this year.  To be fair, things were on the right track for the first half of the year with a 1:29 half off the bike at Mont Tremblant 70.3 on what was purportedly a ‘slow day.’ But that was where it ended as I got injured a week later. This could have been the result of having switched to a pair of shoes that had less support in them, as my running volume and intensity should not have resulted in an injury that took 2+ months to heal. Interestingly, both last year and this year I got injured after putting in a month of just over 20hrs of running. I am trying to accept the fact that this may be a reality that I have to deal with and keep the run volume low regardless of whether I feel I can handle more or not.

Favourite workout: cut down tempo run (get faster at every pre-determined increment)

Strength

What a waste of time.

I’m only kinda joking. I put in A LOT of time at the gym with weights, resistance bands, stability balls, etc. all in the hopes that I could strengthen my running muscles and not get injured. So clearly that didn’t work.

There are some exercises that I think are beneficial, such as single and double leg squats and deadlifts, lateral band walks, some upper body work, as well as core work, but what I was doing was overkill. Moving forward I will only spend enough time in the gym to get a few exercises done that I feel are actually being effective.

 

What’s in the cards for 2017?

First off, to answer some questions I got after my last post, yes, I am still going to be racing as a pro.

I might (but don’t hold me to it) start using Training Peaks, as I think there are some things that it can help me with, such as looking at CTL (chronic training load) vs. ATL (acute training load) and a few other metrics. But I believe this would mean I’d need to use HR and power and such in all my training sessions, which I think is a hassle, so we’ll see.

I’m going to go to work like a responsible adult. 🙂 Starting in a couple of days I will be working a 9-5 job like a regular person with a lovely 2.5hours of commuting each day. So that training volume is definitely going to come down. Quality over quantity! 🙂

I have not set any goals yet. I just had two weeks of being a lazy person and am only starting to get back into the ‘training to train’ stage of things, so I will set some goals in a bit. Mostly I am just excited that I will be earning money and might be able to eat something other than canned tuna and rice for dinner.

Moving Forward

So I guess I should provide a race report from Miami… I kept it brief as it’s honestly a day I would like to forget.

After having been injured for the past few months I was excited to head to Miami to get one last race in. I travelled Thursday and being out on my bike Friday I was extremely excited- the sun was shining, the roads are spectacular, and the weather was relatively cool. Unfortunately I woke up Saturday and headed straight to the bathroom to throw up. This set the tone for the entire day- I could not eat or drink anything without being sick minutes later. When I was still feeling dreadful at 7pm I e-mailed Barrie in a panic- do I race? what do I do? He assured me the world would not end if I was too sick to race, but to take things one at a time in the morning. I literally could not believe this was happening- I just wanted to wake up from the nightmare.

Sunday morning did not bring much change, although having not eaten it meant I wasn’t heaving my guts up. It was not until 90minutes to race start that I decided to ride my bike down to the start and do the swim. One thing at a time.

With almost 40 women in the field it was a big pack to start with, but things splintered pretty quickly. I felt like I was moving in slow motion and knew I was not in the pack I should be in, but I had three others to keep me company so I focused on staying with them. I was 4+ minutes down from the leaders when it should have normally been 2-2.5min. Onto the bike it was again like my body was moving in slow motion. By 40km I could not wait to get back to T2. My stomach was cramping so I had to keep getting out of the aero bars to let it settle down. About 55km in a fellow Ontario pro, Miranda Tomensen passed me and I knew that the best way to stay focused was to sit behind her (at 12m). I did this all the way back to T2 where I dismounted and walked through transition to the bike rack. I spent a couple minutes there looking at my bike and my running shoes while I drank a bottle of water. Eventually I decided I would try to run one mile and see how it went. This was the theme of the run- just one mile at a time, one aid station at a time. No matter how bad I felt, a DNF feels worse, so I just kept putting one foot in front of the other until I got to the finish line- exhausted, dizzy and still feeling disbelief that this is how my season ended.

 

It is easy to think the season was a total waste, but I have to remind myself to look at the things that were achieved rather than what wasn’t. Things were definitely on the right track prior to getting injured, with respectable results at big races and improvements from 2015. I held my own against single-sport athletes at some open water swim races and a bike race when I couldn’t run, and a 2hr14min bike split at Barrelman shows that I was doing something right on my bike this year.

I may also have found the biggest culprit to my running injuries (significant over-pronation on the right side) and now have orthotics from DKOS that will hopefully correct this and allow me to get more than 6 months of running in without getting injured.

I have also been coaching with a triathlon group in Dundas and am now a certified coach, so look forward to expanding on that. Moving forward I would like to place my focus on coaching rather than my own training, as the lack of balance that comes with pro-triathlon life is not something that is really working for me. I raced much better when I was juggling school and training and think that taking the pressure off my racing performance will see better results and a happier me. Contact info is under the “Coaching” tab above. I will also be leading a small women’s-only stream at the McMaster clinic in a month for anyone that is interested.

In the next week or so I will do a post on 2016 training as that seemed to be a popular post last year. Stay tuned!

 

Thanks to all those who have supported me this year

C3 Candian Cross Training Club

Skechers

Wishbone Athletics

Alto Cycling

Neworld Cycle and Pro Shop

Rudy Project

DKOS orthotic solutions

Riplaces

 

Making the time count

It has been a while since I have done a triathlon (over two months, but who’s counting?) – no matter how fast or not fast you may be, injuries are always hard to deal with, and when your career is on the line, things become that much harder.

In the week leading in to Mont- Tremblant 70.3, I had some tendonitis develop in the right post-tib tendon. However, it was one of those races where I didn’t notice a thing while I was running and thought maybe it would go away even if I continued to run. Clearly I have learned nothing in the 5 years of re-occurring injuries. Tendonitis developed into something bigger and badder, but after having seen multiple specialists so far, no one can tell me exactly what is going on, so all I can say is it hurt (a lot) to run.

It has been a challenging couple of months. Every time I tried to focus on getting ready for a new race, the time would draw near and I would realize that I would not be going to that race. Finally I just resorted to telling everyone who asked when my next race was that the answer was “Never, I am never racing again.” Obviously not true, but it was much easier to train without trying to put a timeline on things.grumpycat

I have found myself questioning whether I am cut out to be a pro triathlete (as often happens when I am injured and unable to actually do what a pro triathlete should do)- the first 18months of this endeavour have not been entirely successful in my eyes, and there are only so many times you can convince yourself that “at least you learned something” at a race. I want to be competitive, fighting it out for the podium, running stride for stride with my competitors until the last miles of the race- that is what I would define as (the most important part of) being a successful pro. Of course, not everyone can walk on to the pro scene and immediately get admirable results, but I’ll be the first to admit that patience is not one of my strong suits. The goals I set at the beginning of the season have not been achieved, and given the current state of not-racing, are no longer achievable. This begs the question- Why? What went wrong? What could I have done differently? Were the goals even realistic to begin with?  I think I have some answers to those questions, but they warrant a different blog post.

swimbikerun
but just the first two

Despite the rampant self-doubts, I fortunately, am one of those people who just loves to train. All day, every day, from when the sun comes up until it goes down. Slight exaggeration, but you get the point. I don’t need a race on the calendar for motivation, in fact I kind of enjoy the fact that I don’t have to put in taper and recovery weeks around races. So I have continued to train, going back to a similar approach to what I was doing in the winter (obviously less the running, but time on the elliptigo!). There is a distant hope that I will get in another couple of races before the year is done. I have tried to maximize the use of my time while I am not gallivanting around North America to races. This involved two open water swim races, the second one in Lake Ontario being a true test of my mental fortitude as I battled the chop and waves. I got my ass kicked in a road race but loved every minute of it. Unable to race with Multisport Canada I volunteered in Toronto as well as with the Women’s Triathlon clinic this past weekend, and will be volunteering at the race this coming weekend. And I will be racing the swim-bike at Barrelman in 10 days- I have set some lofty goals for the race so it will be a true sufferfest, but I am looking forward to it. 🙂

I know it is tough to sponsor/support an athlete who is injured and unable to race, so to those who have stood by me, a truly heart-felt THANK YOU. You know I’ll be back out there as soon as I can.

dontgiveup2

Mont Tremblant 70.3

The lead in to Mont-Tremblant 70.3 was very different than my typical approach. Having raced two weeks previously at Eagleman 70.3, there was a matter of balancing recovery and getting prepared to race again, something I failed at miserably last year in the same situations. Having looked at the very competitive start list, I already figured that even on an incredibly fantastic day I would not end up in the prize money, so taking some risks was not going to affect my earning potential. It took an astonishingly long time to recover from Eagleman, and I spent the entire week feeling pretty beat-up- however instead of trying to rush back in to training I respected that my body was telling me it needed recovery, with my first workout back in to things being at the Guelph Lake triathlon- it still felt crummy but things were improving.  From there I built into Mont-Tremblant, with more volume and intensity than I have ever had before leading into a half-ironman, a plan that had the potential to back-fire and leave me very tired on race day- but with great risk comes the potential for great reward 🙂

The race started at 8am in Lac Tremblant- it is a massive lake and quite cool, so I allowed extra time for a swim warm-up to adjust to the temperature. With such a quality field of women and some great swimmers, I had no idea if I would end up swimming with anyone. The gun went off and we ran in to the water, and I was almost immediately gapped by a handful of women. I focused on settling in to my own rhythm and eventually found myself swimming on my own. The lake is pretty calm so the only challenge was to not be blinded by the sun. In the last couple hundred meters I caught up to a group of 3 women ahead of me and we began the long run to transition. While the swim time itself looks pretty decent, no swim course is the same, and if they are short (or long) it can have a pretty dramatic effect on the swim time. I was 4 minutes down on the leader, 3.5 minutes down on the eventual race winner, and 2 minutes down on the chase pack- in other words, I still have a lot of work to do on my swimming.

tremblantswimstart
swim start
tremblantswimexit
swim exit
tremblanttoT1
long run to T1

My plan for the bike was to ride at a lower effort level than I typically do. Having been using a power meter occasionally in training I became aware that my perceived “90km race effort” was bringing me in at about 93-94% of my FTP, potentially even higher in an actual race situation. That is, by all research that I can find, too high, so my goal was to be closer to about 90% and see if that had any effect on my run time. I never looked at my watch (since with a stages power meter my watch has to be placed near the seat post in order for it to be close enough to pick up the data from the power meter), so I was still going by effort level. Starting out a group of 4 of us were riding close to each other with a bit of back and forth happening as we tackled the hills going out to the first out and back section. Once it flattened out I was at the front and only one of them stayed with me. As we came back to town and had the last 30km of hilly terrain she went ahead, but I was willing to bet money that she was going to suffer from that effort on the run (fyi, I was right). I potentially executed my best ever 90km ride as my power was pretty even throughout the race, with the end result being an average power a couple watts less than 90% of my FTP and normalized power a couple watts higher.

tremblantbiketremblantT2exit

The run course is fairly challenging with the first 5km and last 6km being “rolling” hills (they seem pretty big when you’re running them). However, the crowds are amazing so with all the cheering it made things seem a lot easier. I had no idea what place I was in so I just concentrated on running the best 21km I could. I passed the woman who had taken off on the bike for the last 30km about 3km into the run and heading into the rail trail for the middle 10km I started to feel really good. I do 99% of my running on the rail trail in Hamilton, so it was familiar terrain and felt like I was just doing what I do every Sunday morning. A few more kilometers in I passed another athlete who said I was in 6th– I was shocked, I had thought maybe I was getting in to top 8 at that point. Because it is an out and back course I could see where the other athletes were, and 5th place was a long way ahead (at that point probably 1.5km ahead), but there were some quick moving athletes behind me too. I just focused on keeping the turnover high and the last 7km or so really hurt, but I did not want to get caught. The crowds were incredible as were the other racers out there cheering me on as I headed back in to town, and I finished strong, only 90 seconds back from 5th place.

tremblantrun

I am really happy with the overall result (probably the happiest 6th place finisher on the day 😛 ), but the highlight for me is that for the first time in a very long time I actually ran well.  I have struggled with confidence on the run after having so many injuries in university and then repeatedly running like garbage in races, creating a vicious cycle of negative thoughts. While having a fast bike split is great, getting passed by many athletes on the run is not fun, so I will continue to work towards finding the fastest overall combination of swim-bike-run.

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I can’t give enough thanks to the town of Mont Tremblant and the incredible race they put on, to the volunteers, and to my incredible homestay who not only put up with me all weekend but came to the race and took pictures and cheered me on. And thanks to all those supporting me: C3 Canadian Cross Training Club, Skechers, Rudy Project, Alto Cycling, Kristen Pawlick at Wishbone Athletics, Riplaces, and Neworld Cycle.

Eagleman 70.3

Eagleman 70.3

I was excited to head to my first half-distance race of the season at Eagleman 70.3. While working on speed in an Olympic distance race is essential, the half-distance is still my favourite.

My goals for the race were as follows:

  1. Be in the chase pack, exiting the water within 2.5minutes of Jen Spieldenner and anyone who is with her.
  2. Bike sub 2hrs24min (factoring in the slightly long course, heat, and wind)
  3. Run an even split or slight negative split
  4. Top-3 result- attainable if 1-3 are done.

Heading into the race my preparation was nearly perfect. My biking was the best it has ever been, my swimming was improving weekly to where it once was, and I was feeling fit and fast on the run. I was confident, calm, and focused the week leading into the race- I knew what I needed to do to achieve my goals and knew I was capable of doing it, all I had to do was execute on the day.

As is typical of Eagleman 70.3, the hottest day of the month in Cambridge, Maryland was race day. The forecast was for 33 degrees + humidity, and the weatherman was right, perhaps even underestimating the thermostat. This didn’t bother me too much as Miami was hot and humid last year and I seemed to be okay.

The swim was fairly uneventful. I started out quick and then settled into my pace, finding myself in a group of 3-4 others. There were some waves and chop to deal with, but not too bad. Exiting the water I saw I was with Laurel Wassner (a very good swimmer) and a couple others, and heard that we were about 2 minutes down on Jen (who swam solo).  Jen had the fastest swim of the day (of both pro men and pro women). Heading into T1 I was pumped- Goal one received a check mark.

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Bike course. Flat as far as the eye can see.

Onto the bike I quickly found myself at the front of the group from the swim. The key for me was to remain patient and make sure to keep the cadence up (as I have found myself starting to favour the lower cadences, which destroys the quads for the run- not good). Somewhere around mile 13 I caught up to Jen, which surprised me, but I knew she was coming back from an injury and may not be biking to the best of her ability yet. We exchanged pleasantries (“hey, how are you? Nice course eh?” etc.) and then I was on my way to the front of the race. Around mile 25 Carrie Lester passed me, and I went with her for a little bit but knew that wasn’t going to be sustainable for the second half of the race and went back to my own effort level. In hindsight, I made a couple of mistakes on the bike- 1) I should have opted for a road helmet in the heat- my thick hair causes my head to heat up enough as it is, so some ventilation would have been helpful. 2) My plan of getting 2+ bottles of water on the bike course at the aid stations did not go as planned as the water bottles had the flip cap (rather than the ones that pull up), and were not undone already- this meant that I had to rip it open with my teeth and drink as much as possible in the remaining seconds before chucking the bottle at the end of the aid station- normally I would grab the bottle and immediately squeeze it into the aero drink bottle on the front of my bike. And that is just my very long way of saying that I should have slowed down more in order to get the water I needed, but I didn’t and ended the bike portion already in a deficit with regards to hydration. However, I got the pacing and effort level pretty accurate, with a 2hrs21min bike split and getting off the bike ready to run- goal number 2 got a check mark.

eaglemanruncourse
This applies to the whole course really. No shade and little breeze.

Onto the run I didn’t feel too bad. I was hot from the get-go, but figured this would be manageable with ice and water at every aid station. The first 1.5miles are by the water before heading inland, which meant a nice breeze to start with. I focused on a steady pace, one mile at a time. I exchanged high-fives with Cody Beals who was coming back and with a significant lead while I was on my way out- I was feeling decent, he was doing great, things were good.  But surprising how quickly things can go downhill. By mile 5 I was starting to feel nauseous and soon after I got to re-taste those shot bloks I consumed on the bike. So delightful.  I wasn’t keeping water down anymore and there was not a lot of thought processes going on by the half-way point. Of course, it doesn’t take genius to figure out that I was losing a lot of electrolytes and minerals in my sweat, and should have been drinking something other than water long before I was feeling like that, but I evidently didn’t bring my intelligence with me on the run. Next time I’ll put it on my T2 checklist. Anyways, two people passed me in the second half of the run and I ended up 4th– goals 3 and 4 receive an ‘F’.

It is disappointing to not meet my goals, especially when the reasons for it were completely within my control. However, I will have more races in similar conditions this year so will have another attempt to be successful.

I signed up for Mont Tremblant 70.3 as a last-minute decision, so will be racing again in 12 days. I’ll let you know after the race whether that is a good or a bad decision.

A huge thanks to my homestay Bill and Amy Craig, to Kristen Pawlick and Dr. Scott Christie for helping with the on-going hamstring issue, and to my sponsors for their continued support: C3 Canadian Cross Training Club, Alto Cycling, Skechers, Rudy Project, Riplaces, and Neworld Cycle.

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This was on the fridge at my homestay. Thought it was good.

Rev3 Knoxville Race Recap

So this past weekend I drove down to Tennessee to race in Rev3’s first pro race of the year in Knoxville. If you have any questions about ‘what/who is Rev3?’ then a good article can be found here.

Race morning dawned a perfect cool and sunny day and with the half-distance athletes starting before us, we didn’t need to be ready to go until 7:30am. The swim takes place in the Tennessee River, and given that we have had a cool spring, the race was wetsuit-legal even for the pros (below 68 degrees). No complaints from me 🙂  I positioned myself in what I deemed to be a good spot at the start line with the intention of getting onto the feet of someone slightly faster than myself. Alas, as has happened I think every single time, I have no top-end speed and quickly found myself swimming on my own, a few people behind me but most people ahead. “Huh, well, good thing it’s not a swim race,” I thought to myself. The first 400m or so are directly into the rising sun and this is generally how we felt:

myeyes

However, as we turn and swim the 1km or so back to the swim exit it was smooth going and I found myself slowly catching back up to a couple of the women ahead of me. Exiting the water I was almost 2min down on the fastest swimmer, which (although is A LOT) is less than it was in St. Anthony’s a month ago.

Out onto the bike my goal was to have a cadence around 90rpm, versus the 80 or so that I was riding at last race. The hamstring issue that flared up has not gone away and from my training I have realized that the lower the cadence I ride at, the more aggravated it becomes- so, while I was sacrificing watts and speed at the higher cadence, I was giving myself the best chance of running decently once we got off the bike. I quickly started to catch some the of the people who exited the water ahead of me as we rode through the hilly bike course, and by about mile 15 or so I was in second place. I rode almost the entire course in my big chain ring, as on one of the early hills I decided to get into the small chain ring, only to have the chain jam- while it only took a few seconds to fix, there went my rights to ‘fastest bike split.’ Shucks. And I wasn’t about to risk it again so there was a bit of grinding up the hills. I was grateful for my several attempts at the down-Mt. Lemmon Strava records in Tucson though, as those handling skills were useful on some of the fast and technical descents on the course.

knoxvilleT2

I got off the bike with about 30seconds on third place, so I set to work to put out my best run possible. Unfortunately this was not enough to hold on to second place and I fell to third, but still ran significantly better than last race. My awesome homestay even came to the finish line to cheer, which was fantastic 🙂

knoxvillefinishedit

I would like to thank Rev3 and all the volunteers for putting on a spectacular race and once again to all my sponsors: C3 Canadian Cross Training Club, Skechers, Alto Cycling, Riplaces, Rudy Project, Wishbone Athletics, Neworld Cycle and Nineteen.

My *wink wink nudge nudge* to pros: Actions speak louder than words. Saying “I wish there were more Olympic distance races” means little if you don’t show up. $15,000 at Quassy for the men- hopefully that’s enough incentive to register (that’s more than there is at dozens of races put on by “other race organizations”).  Any age groupers who want a discount code to Rev3 Williamsburg or Rev3 Maine, please contact me.

St. Anthony’s Race Report

I started off my season in St. Petersburg, at the St. Anthony’s Triathlon- a long-running triathlon and one of the few Olympic-distance races that supports a pro field. Prior to the race I spent 7 weeks in Tucson, Arizona, putting in many hours of training with a focus on improving my cycling.

A couple days before the race I flew in to Tampa and was taken to my homestay’s apartment. The organizers of this race do a fantastic job of finding homestays for any pros who need one, thanks to a large triathlon club based in the area. This makes it a lot easier for us to get to races as the costs can be prohibitively expensive when hotels are factored in. I was in a fantastic location, just a few hundred meters away from the race expo and transition area.

I had already expended most of my stress before race day arrived, so was fairly calm headed into the race. At 5:30am race morning I headed down to the transition area and got ready to start the race. Although this race has been known to have very choppy conditions in the water, my prayers were answered and the water was fairly calm as we got into the water shortly before 7am.  Prior to the race I had worked out who was likely to be swimming about my speed and positioned myself near a couple of them at the start line. The gun went off and I eventually found myself swimming beside Mirinda Carfrae. So that is pretty much the most exciting thing that will ever happen. But seriously, I don’t look up to a lot of people, but Rinny would be one of those few people, and I thought it was pretty freakin’ awesome. I was not actually impressed with her sighting and felt we were swimming a little crooked, so took my own line and eventually was swimming with someone else, although all 3 of us exited the water together. Ideally I would be swimming faster than that, but no sense dwelling on my shoddy swimming. I was ‘only’ 2 and a half minutes back from the leaders, and I had been anticipating anywhere up to 3 minutes, so things could have been worse.

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Relatively calm waters

Slow transition for me and then out onto the bike. I quickly chased down a couple people and set my sights on Rinny. I have been practising my time-trialling so was more intent on riding the 40km well than catching people, but about 3 miles in I was in position to pass her and put it in the big gear, 80rpm, and went by. Also pretty freakin’ awesome. I did not drop her and we rode the rest of the bike leg within 15m of each other, passing a few people throughout the 40km. Sixty-one minutes later I was back in T2. So although that is a fast course, I would say the extra time and effort put in to my cycling has paid off.

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My weapon. Cervelo P3 complete with Alto race wheels.
I wish the race had ended there, but unfortunately we had to go run. A nagging hip/hamstring issue flared up on the bike ride, and I basically limped through the 10km at a pace not much faster than my long-run pace. Shit happens, better luck next time.

Huge thanks to the race organizers for putting on a great race. And a massive thanks to everyone who is supporting me while I try to figure out this pro triathlon stuff; C3 Canadian Cross Training Club, Skechers, Alto Cycling, Rudy Project, Riplaces, Neworld Cycle, Wishbone Athletics, and Nineteen.