NYC Triathlon

With my focus this year being on getting FAST over the Olympic-distance, NYC was the next stop in my racing season. Training since Philadelphia did not go as planned, as I am at that time of year when I inevitably start having lower-leg issues with the running. Fortunately I have gained enough wisdom to realize that my one and only option is to stop running completely if I want to finish out the season, so I spent the three weeks with all my run training transferred over to the elliptical. While I don’t think it makes you faster, I do believe that for short periods of time the elliptical can maintain run fitness, so I was not actually too worried heading into the race.

Race morning started at 3am, as the women were due to jump off the pontoon at 5:50am. This is one of the only races left that is done in the ‘chase’ format- the men start at a pre-determined amount of time behind the women, with whoever crossing the finish line first getting an extra bonus amount of money (time difference was 11:30).

With my race number being somewhat in the middle of the start list, I was at a slight disadvantage diving into the Hudson, as the current is the strongest on the right (towards the center of the river). Knowing this, I immediately started working my way to the right and trying to get on the feet of some of the faster swimmers. I remained in contact with a couple of others and could see that upon exiting, I had probably had one of the best swims of my life, only 40 seconds or so down on the lead pack (although this swim is massively current-aided). 4th out of the water I began the long painful-barefoot run on asphalt to T1.

New York has one of the toughest bike courses I have ever done, as there is not a moment of flat road- only hill after hill after hill. I focused on settling into a strong rhythm and maintaining the most even power output that I could. At the turn- around I could see that all the women were fairly close together- I was still sitting in 4th but seemed to be slowly gaining on two up the road, however there were some very fast cyclists behind me. About 30km into the ride Amy Bevilacqua passed me and I could not match her pace- not a face we see often in triathlon as she is a Cat 1 pro cyclist. I focused on keeping her in sight as long as possible and entered T2 still in 4th, about 60 seconds down on both Amy and Erin Storie (nee Jones). This ended up being my best ride ever in a triathlon with an average power of 222W for 65min (NP=227). In contrast I went 62min at St. Anthony’s in April off of 205W.

Usually when I get to the run I think about pacing myself as evenly as possible to achieve the fastest possible run split. On this day though my only thought was to catch the two ahead of me. Surprisingly my legs felt great and I kept a quick turnover. I thought for sure I would catch them. After 3 miles of running it seemed I had gained very little and I started having a mental battle, wavering between “I’m not going to catch them” to “no, for sure they are slowing down, I’ll catch them.” No matter the result, I just committed to giving it everything I had until the finish line. At 5 miles I managed to get by Erin and didn’t dare look back, just praying she didn’t come with me.

 

With 300m left to go I had gotten the gap to Amy down to 15 seconds, but alas just ran out space to catch her. I slowed down in the finish chute with a sizable gap back to Erin, but was happy knowing that I gave everything I had on the day. And I ended up with the fastest run split!!!!! I was also a full 12 minutes faster than I was on this course 2 years ago, so it is great to see that everything is coming together.

I have decided to forgo racing in August to ensure that my shins are okay, but will back at things with the Escape Series in September.

 

Thanks to all my sponsors for their ongoing support!

C3

Royal Containers

Skechers Performance Canada

Alto Cycling

Rudy Project North America

DKOS

Riplaces

Caledon Hills Cycling

 

Escape from Philadelphia

No pre-amble, just into the race recap.

Schuylkill River

 

The swim for this race occurs in the Schuylkill River, which notoriously is not safe for swimming. I knew this signing up, so it was no surprise when I woke up race morning to find out that the swim was cancelled- the PhillyRiverCast had the bacteria levels at RED- “Unsafe for activities that involve contact with the water” so it was a good thing we didn’t need to get in there. The race director opted to modify the race to a 2mile run- 40km bike – 4.2mile run.

I modified my usual race warm-up to doing exactly what I would do to warm-up for a run workout. The less thinking required on race morning the better, so it was good to do a well-practiced routine. The race ended up starting a few minutes late, normally not an issue, but it was and we’ll get there.

At 6:39am the pro women started. I chose to pace the first run as a tempo effort and didn’t fret when some of the others started to pull away- I knew their run abilities and made the (correct) assumption that they were going to pay for their efforts once they got to the bike. There are times to take risks and times to be smart, and doing a 2 mile run before a 40km bike is a time to be smart, especially if you don’t train for it. I got into T1 about 40 seconds down from the leaders and 15-20 seconds off the next group of 3.

Lap 1 (and no drafting)

On to the bike it took me less than 2 miles to catch up to 4 of the 5 athletes ahead of me (and Alicia Kaye was not going to be caught). From then on it was a group of 4 of us who powered through the 2-loop bike course. It was a great battle as we pushed each other and was looking like it was going to come down to the run. But then we got to loop 2 of the course. Disaster. Now, the race director was supposed to delay the age group start so that the pro women could get to the second loop of the bike course without interference from the age group athletes. However, we started a few minutes late, and the age group race started at 7am.  So we had a grand total of 21 minutes buffer to get through 20km of biking. Not gonna happen. This was compounded by the fact that it was a 2-mile run and not a swim at the beginning (a swim would have separated athletes a lot more).  So we entered the second loop and there were athletes everywhere. Far too many athletes for the space on the course so there were times when I almost hit other athletes as I tried to pass (which these men were certainly not happy to see happening). Coming off a straight, flat section of the course I was at the front of a small pack of athletes as we hit one of the steep hills on the course. Now, anyone who has ridden in a group knows what happens in this situation. The athletes who were drafting off me on the flat section used my slip stream to go past me as I slowed down on the uphill. No-one has ever applauded my hill-climbing abilities (which are minimal at best), so a couple athletes passed me and moved right in front of me. I was hugging the right side of the road. Another athlete was directly beside me on my left. I had nowhere to go but into the ditch beside me if I wanted to get out of their draft zone. I had a 10 hour drive after the race to replay this scene in my head, and I stand by my analysis of the situation- I had nowhere to go, and I certainly was not receiving a benefit of a draft at my crawling pace up the hill. Nevertheless, I got to the top of the hill and the referee yelled at me to stand down. I let out one outburst “Are you KIDDING ME?!?” as I all but jumped off my bike. He was not kidding, by the way. I had a couple options at this point. I assumed my race was all but over, and it would have been easy to become very de-motivated for the rest of the race. But I chose not to take this option. I calmly let the official know I disagreed with his decision given the dynamics of the race and that I literally had no space to get out of the draft zone in the 3-second time limit (and we will continue to disagree), but acted professionally and accepted my fate, let him tell me why he thought I deserved a penalty, and unleashed my frustration into the remainder of the bike course when he finally let me go. I was counting on the fact that I considered myself a faster runner than almost everyone in the race, and was bound and determined to give it everything I had until I got to the finish line.

You can imagine my surprise when I got to T2 and there were only 2 bikes there. I thought I was being pranked, and as I got my running shoes back on I asked the official standing there “where is everyone else? Are there really only two athletes back?” I was not being pranked, and as it would turn out later, almost half the pro-women’s field received drafting penalties. On to the run I had a faint hope of catching the athlete ahead of me (who was directly behind me at the time of the penalty) but 4.2miles was simply not enough distance and I finished in third, but with the second fastest run split, only 4 seconds slower than the blistering pace set by Alicia Kaye.

In good company on the podium

So, while I am frustrated and absolutely disagree with the drafting penalty, it is what it is, and there are a lot of positives to take away from the race. I will remain a little pissed off and definitely be bringing my A-game to NYC in three weeks- 1 loop bike course so won’t have to worry about drafting penalties.

Thanks to my amazing homestay Kim and John Stoveld, and thank you to everyone who supports me in my triathlon journey: C3, Royal Containers, Skechers, Alto Cycling, Rudy Project, DKOS, Riplaces, and Caledon Hills Cycling.

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.

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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.

tremblantaward

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.