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.

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.


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.

swim start
swim exit
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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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:


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.


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 🙂


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.

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.

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.

The beginning of 2016

So as the snow blows furiously outside my window, and I happily think of the sunshine I will be in at this time tomorrow, I thought I’d provide a little update on the first two months of 2016 training. They’ve been fantastic and I am really looking forward to getting outside, feeling the wind on my skin rather than the blowing of my fan.

For the latter part of November and December I had less structure to my training but more just what I felt like doing and getting fit and ready to put in some serious training. I spent a lot of time during these months researching the science behind triathlon training, becoming familiar with terms such as V02 max, lactate threshold, efficiency and economy, periodization and reverse periodization etc etc, and reading and evaluating the research studies behind different training protocols.  By gleaning this knowledge I was then able to confidently progress with my training, knowing that my approach was backed by science.


Much of January was focused on bringing my swim volume back up. There was some intensity added in, but I have learned that trying to maintain a high level of fitness in the water over a long period of time is not really possible or practical. Therefore, the approach is to become aerobically fit and technically a much better swimmer, and then starting (very soon), to work on the higher end speed. Miguel Vadillo has been a great help with improving my technical efficiency in the water, and while it will be a matter of practice, practice, practice, I am confident that some of the changes I am making to my stroke will pay off over time.


This is where some of the bigger changes to my training needed to be made. In January I was left to my own devices with creating my own training, something I thoroughly enjoyed. Having done my research the intention was to follow a reverse periodization plan, which meant lots of very high end work. Intervals were typically 2-4 minutes long, targeting the V02 max range of effort. This work was really challenging and tiring, but also very satisfying to see progress from week to week.  As a change from last year, I made sure that my training was either very hard or very easy, with very little time spent in zone 3. I also have not done very many rides in the 3hr range. Last year I was doing 2 rides a week that were ~3hrs in length, while this year I have not even been doing one a week (usually every 2 weeks), and have switched to doing many rides that are around 2hrs in length. This allows me to get in more quality, while knowing that there is still plenty of time in the year to get in some long rides. Moving into February I was persuaded by Barrie to allow Mirek Mazur to take over my cycling coaching. I was skeptical at first, as his approach is different to what I was doing, however after a month of his workouts, I am seeing improvements and am willing to see how this goes over the next few months.


Nothing remarkable is happening here. I have followed the gradual progression in running volume and intensity and am following a pretty standard plan of 2 workouts, 1 long run, and 1 short brick run per week. Overall I am satisfied with how things are progressing, as I am far ahead of where I was at this time last year. My intention is to get my run volume to somewhere around 4 hours/week and stay there, hopefully remaining injury free. While this is a very low volume for a pro triathlete, given that I averaged less than 2.5hours/week last year, I don’t want to set too lofty a goal that will see me injured in short order.

Overall it has been a blast. I love having the consistency and schedule that winter training can so easily provide, and I think there are a lot of benefits to doing the indoor workouts. That being said, there are certainly a lot of benefits to being outside, so I am headed to Arizona in the morning to take the fitness I have been working on to the roads. I am excited to get some natural Vitamin D again and will make sure to post periodic updates here to tell you about all the fun I am having. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

A look at 2015

Apologies for not having written anything since the end of the season- I needed a little time-out and then started having too much fun training to write about it. 🙂 And then I ended up making this post quite long, so it all balances out 🙂

“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”- Benjamin Franklin

And you can’t set a good plan in place if you don’t know where you’re coming from. For those who are interested, the following will outline what 2015 looked like for me (and when relatives ask me “but what do you do?” I can point them here).

Some of the things accomplished in 2015:

  • Got a piece of paper that proves I’m smart [kidding, it just proves I have a BSc, intelligence is still in question 😉 ].
  • Got my pro card (a relatively easy process- meet the criteria, give Triathlon Canada some money, they e-mail you a number, voila, now a pro)
  • Discovered more of the world (more specifically, the USA)

Now to look at my training over the year. This is absolutely NOT a guide of what you should do, nor are total hours giving any idea of how that time was spent. The reason I have looked at these statistics is to make changes, and there are many to make. Even as I have gone back to look at what I did, there are times when I’ve said to myself “wtf were you thinking Kristen?” It all made sense at the time…

Graphs:                                      Monthly Training Volume 2015 (stacked bar chart)


Monthly Training Volume 2015 (line graph)


Weekly Training Volume March 30th – December 28th, 2015


**water running is included with running because the site I use to log my training puts them together

***misc. refers to crosstraining


A total of 453 hours, highest was January (61.25 hours- building into university championships in February), lowest was November (26.4 hours- end-of season break).  I wasn’t overall happy with how the swim training went over the year. Up until May things went well, but moving to Hamilton meant changing who I was swimming with (I have been training with the Mac team), and the triathlon season doesn’t match up with university varsity swimming. This meant that workouts were too easy when I needed to go hard, and the hard workouts were too hard (pace times that were appropriate for those much faster than myself). Given that the Mac team is no longer a varsity team, I have no idea what will happen with my swim training come May.

In races: Any race with a large pro field I was consistently front of the first chase pack- not bad for someone who didn’t grow up swimming, but lots of room for improvement.


A total of 628 hours, a max of 64.25 hours, a minimum of 24.8 hours (in a month) but too much of this was ‘fluff.’ (not ‘junk miles’ or ‘waste’ because I think it all has a purpose). Fluff is like ice cream-so good you want lots of it, but should really only be consumed in moderation. Image result for ice cream

consume in moderation

I think I could have done probably 70% of the volume to achieve the same results if there had been more intensity at the appropriate times.

In races: Consistently around top 5 in bike splits, fastest 90km was 2hrs20min in Miami. #crushedit


Well, well, well, what can I say about this… Total run volume for the year was 137 hours (no that’s not a typo). Average run training per week was 2hrs22min, ranging from 0-5 hours over the year. Given that my average half-marathon time in a half-iron distance race was 93 minutes, I would say I was getting a pretty good ROI from my run training (unlike my bike training, there was no fluff with the running), but I don’t consider 93 minutes to be an acceptable time for someone who wants to call themselves a pro. I guess I have set the bar pretty low for improvement.


In races: My weakest of the three disciplines, times were mid-pack within the field.


To supplement the lack of running I was on the elliptical/stair master/ water running a fair bit, totalling 156 hours.


I consider strength training to be a fairly important part of being an athlete- I know there are differing opinions out there (some would rather just swim/bike/run more), however I think each person needs to find what works for them. There is fairly good evidence that strength training improves running economy, 5k run times, and reduces the risk of injury, all of which I think are good enough benefits to warrant going to the gym. Injury prevention is my biggest focus although I also notice a substantial difference in the water when I do weights vs not doing them. Total time spent on strength and core was 79.8 hours- I was doing really well with it until August when I needed a little time-out from triathlon for a few days and then the strength work just never got added back in…such is life. I am back on the band wagon now though 😛


I don’t track my sleep, but I have always considered sleep to be vitally important.  According to this article, it is actually better to cut down on training volume and intensity in favour of more sleep. I definitely notice a huge difference in my mood and ability to perform in training when I don’t get enough sleep. My optimal sleep time is 9.5- 10 hours, so I make sure not to stay up too late very often and if I can sleep in, I do.


This is not something I delved into much over the season, mostly because I was in denial of the toll it was taking on my body. Yes, I mentioned in race reports that I was stressed, but really that was an understatement. While most of this pressure/stress was self-imposed, the reality remains (as my father likes to remind me frequently), the only income I’m getting is coming from races “so you’d better do well.” The reason I had to take a time-out in August was only partly physical fatigue. I got some blood tests done that showed some low values (B12, iron, etc) that needed to be addressed, but nothing was a ten exclamation point (!!!!!!!!!!) alarm bell that something was wrong.  The doctor tried to tell me it was stress but I just brushed it off- I didn’t want to admit that I was mentally unfit. However, things had gotten to the point where I couldn’t finish run workouts as I was dizzy and in danger of fainting, and I felt like my lungs were constantly constricted- bad enough that I wouldn’t ride in my aero bars as it made the symptoms worse and I felt like I was hyperventilating. The constant headaches and lack of quality sleep then just made me even more irritable etc. Eventually the lid on the bottle of stress just popped off (and then I slept about 16 hours a day for 3 days straight). No doubt all of this led to under-performing at races and is something I am working on for the coming season.

If you’ve made it this far down the post, congratulations, you’re a trooper! (and you should probably get back to work… 😉 ) I am thoroughly enjoying the off season now and am waking up excited to train every day. I hope everyone has had a great holiday and thanks for reading! Please feel free to leave questions/comments and/or harshly criticize my training.

Austin 70.3

First off, thanks to my brother for getting this site up and running- no more blogger.

Also, thanks to Jesus Riveros from UltrabikeX for letting me stay at his place in Miami after the race, and for the Jerome family here in Austin for putting up with me for a few days (and yes, i’ll take your dog back to Canada, no problem 😉 )

Getting back into training after Miami 70.3 did not really go as planned, every workout seemed forced and more difficult than it should have- I attributed this to the 43 degree temperatures and baking sun and assumed that arriving in Texas would see me feeling great again. Austin went into winter mode about 6 hours after I arrived, with race morning dawning a chilly 10 degrees and significant wind- it felt like Ontario.

I have not looked at the results from the race, I can only tell you how things felt during the race.

The swim was in a pretty large lake, and with the wind in the morning there was a significant amount of choppiness, however by no means the hardest swim I have done. The gun went off and we started swimming- I did not manage to stay on anyone’s feet so swam on my own, a group was up ahead, and there were people behind me, but no-one with me. I don’t feel like I had a great swim, but not awful, just an average day in the water.

A muddy run through transition and out onto the bike course. I normally do not agree when people complain about bad road conditions in a race, but this would be an exception. Partly due to the country roads we were riding on, and partly due to the massive amount of rain Texas had received in the past couple of weeks, these roads were pretty atrocious. There were sections where there just was no road left as it had been washed away, and other roads were just bumpy as hell, not to mention the potholes and large cracks (more like crevices that could swallow you and your bike up, never to be seen again). The ride started out okay, but at mile 17 or so there was a short but very steep hill- I got to the top and my body just seemed to shut down- I had no energy and could not get my speed back up. This was not a nutritional matter, I was just tired- a deep, general, overall fatigue. I kept riding and trying to race, but I was losing time to those ahead of me and people started to catch me.

Getting into T2 I thought about just calling it quits, there was no way I could get in the prize money and could probably just fall asleep at the bike rack if I lay down. But I don’t want a DNF beside my name for no good reason, so I went through the motions of getting my run gear on and walked out onto the run course, trying to gather myself together and get on with the 13.1 miles ahead of me. It was painful, it was slow, my left leg was cramping and my hip was in agony, but I eventually got to the finish line. I could not stop shaking with exhaustion for a while after the race, so huge thanks to David and Karen from Riplaces for letting me chill at their booth for the next few hours.

Obviously this is not how I wanted to end my season, perhaps this race was just a result of doing 4 half-distance races in 7 weeks, perhaps there was more going on. Regardless, I will take some down time now and then get ready for 2016.

Once again, a huge thank you to everyone who has supported me through this season- C3, Multisport Canada, Wishbone Athletics, Nineteen, Blade Carbon Wheels, Louis Garneau, and Skechers.

Miami 70.3

This was my second last race of the season, and was glad to escape the cold Ontario weather by heading down to sunny Miami. Heading into this race my goal was to go out and have fun, focusing not on the end result, but on each task at hand, right from doing a good taper, to executing one thing at a time during the race. I have spent far too much time this season worrying about the end result of the race before the gun even went off, which I don’t think was the best approach to racing, and the new mindset definitely paid off.
During the race briefing the day before the race we were told that the swim was in question, due to a large presence of jellyfish. I had mixed feelings about this, as I know that I do better with a swim, but I also didn’t want to swim with jellyfish or any other stinging sea creatures. The call on the swim was not going to be made until 10 minutes before race start. I didn’t let this bother me though, I was prepared for either scenario.
Due to the dwindling daylight hours, the race was not to start until 7:30, half an hour later than usual, which was great as it just meant a little bit more sleep for me. I woke up excited to race and not nervous at all. We did end up having a swim. Once the men were off the women had 4 minutes to get in the water and warm up before the gun went off. Loads of time. Literally the second I jumped in the water I got stung by a jellyfish in my armpit- perfect. Brief warm-up and time to go. While there was a large pro field at the race, there were a lot of people from European and South American countries, so I didn’t recognize a lot of names. There were 3 women who I was sure would swim faster than I would- Jen Spieldenner, Sarah Haskins, and Leanda Cave. I got right behind Jen at the start line with the intent of trying to stay on her feet as long as possible. With my incredible top end speed, I lost her feet within 10 seconds. No sweat, next task was to get to the first turn buoy quickly, as it was only 300m out- not enough time to really separate the field and I didn’t want to get in a boxing match going around it. This went as planned and as we headed out into the bay I separated myself from almost all the other swimmers, I think a couple people remained on my feet, but it felt like I was swimming alone. There weren’t thousands of jellyfish, but there were some. I punched one right on the top (dunno if that is classified as the head), and another one got me pretty good with its stingers on my arm. Finding Nemo popped into my head.

I don’t know if the swim course was short, or if the waves were helping a lot, but all the swim times are quite fast. (or maybe it was the fear of the jellyfish). Getting out of the water I had literally no idea how many people were ahead of me. (Looking at the results, I was 4th out of the water, woot woot)
My plan for the bike ride was to hold back slightly on the way out- my power meter has gone from not working well to not working at all, so I didn’t have the option of looking at my power numbers, although this was not a problem as I have never used them in a race. Even holding back slightly I was easily able to pass a few men in the opening miles of the ride which gave me a boost of confidence. There was a woman up the road about 200-300 meters, who was neither pulling away or getting closer. I didn’t worry about it, reminded myself that it was a 90km ride and there was plenty of time to catch her, no need to burn any matches up early in the ride. At the turnaround I saw that this person was Leanda Cave- like holy shit! I was riding the same pace as a former 70.3 and Ironman world champion. Buoyed by this and sticking to my plan, I increased the effort for the ride back to T2. Leanda had obviously been told to ride harder by someone (coach/ friend?) who was at the turn around, so we remained the same distance apart until about mile 40, where I started to reel her in and was able to make the pass.  Coming into T2 I felt like a) I had absolutely nailed the pacing on the bike and b) I was in third!!!
Now for the run- I was determined to keep a positive attitude during the run, despite the fact that I have not been running well this year. I actually felt pretty good heading out and pushed the pace beyond what I thought was going to be sustainable for 21km, but a) you don’t know if you don’t try (or “tri” if we go with terrible puns) and b) Leanda was hot on my heels and I knew there were other fast runners behind me. I held Leanda off for 6km but could not go with her when she passed me. No need to worry, and there were two people behind me who were running much faster than I was- I wasn’t going down without a fight. Coming from Ontario, the 30+ degree sunny weather was cooking me, especially the 2 mile section that had no aid stations and was over a bridge; a large hill to climb and no shade available. Nothing I can do about the weather, so every aid station I made sure to drink lots of water, put water on my head, and grab ice (when available) to throw down the front and back of my jersey. Literally the only good thing about wearing a bra is that it holds ice remarkably well. This was a two lap run course, so each time we had a turn-around I was able to see 5th and 6th place getting closer. I held onto the hope that I would get to the finish line before they caught me, and was pushing myself as fast as I could go, but no dice, one caught me with 5km left, the other with 3km. But Spieldenner, who was 2ndoff the bike, had slowed down considerably. With one mile left I caught her and pushed to the finish line, ecstatic that I felt like I had a great race and my best placing at a 70.3 so far. While the final run split doesn’t have anyone thinking “gee Kristen, you’re fast” this is the closest I have been to the leaders in run splits. Progress is being made.

Next and final race is Austin 70.3 in two weeks. #lastonefastone
Special thanks to Jesus Rivero from UltrabikeX for putting up with me for my time down in Miami.

Thanks once again to all those supporting me, Nineteen Wetsuits, Louis Garneau, Blade Carbon Wheels, Skechers, WishboneAthletics, C3, and a huge huge thanks to everyone who reads these reports and offers encouraging and supportive words- it truly means a lot.

Silverman Race Report

First time to Vegas calls for only one thing- a race! Silverman 70.3 boasted a competitive pro field and a very challenging course right from the gun. To cut to the chase, I came 10th and was initially very upset with that. Really this was only because I was outside the money, and am very stressed about that whole situation (not that I didn’t know this was what I was getting into, and not that I haven’t applied for jobs, but apparently having a BSc makes you over-qualified for part-time work). After chatting with a fellow competitor who was at the same hotel, I realized that I shouldn’t be upset with the race. He asked what I could have done differently, and the answer is nothing. There is nothing I could have done to place better, I raced to the best of my ability and simply have work to do to be faster.
So on to the race.
The swim takes place in Lake Mead, which is a small part of Lake Las Vegas, a massive, man-made body of water. 

The swim course was essentially a triangle, but the top side was only 300m, with the other two sides being very long. I mention this because it made the swim extremely challenging. The wind (at 40+km/hr) was coming from the side, which meant we had big waves coming from the side for the majority of the swim. I am sure I spent more energy attempting to swim in a straight line than I did trying to go forward, and also drank A LOT of water (yum yum, all that algae). Warm water temperatures meant no wetsuit, but this was the first time I had a Nineteen speed suit- it definitely made the swimming feel smoother. I started on the outside, which was technically the furthest distance to the first turn buoy, but with the waves this was a smart choice as they pushed me over to the side without me consciously needing to do it (I actually had to make sure I didn’t go too far inside the buoys). With 40 pro women signed up for the race, I was 7th out of the water- I honestly cannot ask for more than that at this point, that is a really great swim for me.

Onto the bike. Here is the elevation profile:
 So yes, that is 1,300m of climbing in 90km. It was not as challenging as I was expecting, as the hills are very rolling- I think the only times I stood up were to stretch my legs, and not really because I needed to to climb the hill. However, the wind. Holy crap. This makes that race in Georgina seem like we had a gentle breeze. On multiple occasions I had to get out of aero just to control my bike, and this is with only a 33mm depth Blade Carbon race wheel on the front.  I caught a couple people on the bike, but 3 or 4 passed me. I was already going as hard as I could and had nothing to try and go with them, so spent most of the ride going solo. As a person who likes greenery and trees, I found this course to be very boring. Just brown rolling hills with dead vegetation- it all looked the same so seemed like we would never get out of the national park.

By the time I got to T2 I was totally fried, physically and mentally.

On went the Skechers GoRun Ultras and onto the run course. Here is the run course profile:
I hope you are cringing as you imagine running that. Up, up, up, down, down, down and repeat x3. The first lap I focused on trying to settle into a manageable pace and taking one lap at a time. By lap two I was thinking things weren’t so bad and managed to catch two people, Kate Bevilaqua (3x ironman champion) and Melanie McQuaid (3x Xterra world champion and person who beat me in St. Andrew’s)- this race really had top notch athletes. But then I got to lap 3 and things started to not feel so good. I hadn’t been able to totally follow my nutrition plan on the bike and coke wasn’t sitting well on the run, so I was running on empty and definitely feeling the effects of it. Malindi Elmore (former track Olympian) passed me like I was standing still at 10miles and another athlete caught me as I shuffled up the gigantic hill. I held on for 10thand was completely drained crossing the finish line.

I have taken some extra recovery time from the race as it was definitely needed, but will now do a good block of training in preparation for the FLAT Miami 70.3 on October 25th.