August 22, 2010

August 19, 2010

Xterra Canmore 2010

I woke up without any nerves today which was nice for a change. I even emptied the dishwasher as I drank my morning coffee before hitting the road to Canmore. I think I hit repeat on Katy Perry's new song "Teenage Dream" the whole way - it is catchy and has a good beat!

When I arrived I parked at Quarry (swim and T1 area) and ran into a few of my athletes and other friends. I set up my own T1 and then headed up to the Nordic Centre to set-up T2, get body marked and get my timing chip. I found my friend Erin and after Tony's official pre-race meeting, we boarded the bus to shuttle us back down to the swim/T1 (yes, lots of logistics in this race). Full course women were last which meant I had an hour from the first group to go until I went. I had a great time cheering on Erin, Cindy, Kerstin and others and hanging out on shore. I still wasn't nervous and felt very relaxed. This is very unusual as normally I am dry heaving at this point! Yes, it is true! I get so nervous I dry heave before most races.

Then it was finally our turn to go, women - full course. I did a quick warm-up and then waded into the water with the other women. "Ok, everybody be nice!" I yelled, "let's all be swim friends" as Tony did the coutdown. And we were off! The swim was very uneventful and no contact (thanks ladies!). I did keep veering right as my right arm seems to be stronger than my left these days. Possibly a hazard of not really swim training this year I guess. I tried my best to sight and stay left but kept veering right. I worked on not pulling as hard with my right arm to straighten mysef out and it helped a little - I am sure my swim form looked hidious! As I rounded by shore the wonderful TRi It staff was on shore cheering. I took a second to wave (yep and they even saw me wave!) and then completed lap 2 of the swim. As I got out of the water I knew I was about mid-pack.

I ran all the way to T1 but man, it is a LONG run from Quarry Lake to T1. I had to sit to get my wetsuit off and shoes on as I was dizzy. Caesar from Terrascape Racing (my mountain bike team) was helping out in T1. He packed my wetsuit into my bag and even offered his shirt to dry my hand to get my gloves on quicker. Thanks Caesar! And I was off on my mountain bike - whew, now I was in my element! I quickly worked on passing girls but remaining patient. I climbed to the Nordic Centre and headed out on my first lap. I hit the technical sections and cleaned then nicely. I had several spectators and men racing comment on how fast and confident I was riding. Love it! Before I knew it I was at the long climb (Georgetown to Matching Jersey's). I flew up it faster than normal as I have wridden this for several races this year. Back to the stadium for lap 2 and I continued to pass more men and women. As I passed and encouraged a few men on the climb at the beginning of the lap one guy said "I am trying not to like you because you are making this look fun and easy. Stop being so nice". I laughed and pulled away. The ride was uneventful in that nothing bad happened (such as a fall or seeing anyone else fall) but I just know I had a HUGE smile the whole time. I was having so much fun! I LOVE BEING ON MY MOUNTAIN BIKE!!!!!!!! 

I hit the stadium and went through T2 as fast as I could. My athletes who were racing the sprint were all done and there cheering me on with the Tri It staff. As I headed out on the run someone told me I had 6 women in front of me. I knew that I could not likely catch any of them but simply run scared to hold onto 6th. I was having a great run and hit the technical sections without incident. I manged to pass 1 women which brought me to 5th women overall and still running scared! My buddy Rob ran with me for a bit until he pulled away as we neared the stadium. Just then I saw Danelle behind me (Danelle Kabush, Luna Pro Xterra athlete). She would be heading towards the finish as I headed out for lap 2. I did not want to get lapped so I tried to push but had nothing so I jumped and screamed instead. "Nooooo Danelle!!! Don't lap me!" I screamed and laughed. She told me I had too much energy and better run fatser if I had energy to scream and jump. She passed me 100m before the finish/lap area. Darn!

My second lap was much slower than my first as my quads were fatigued. I just kept pushing forward and only allowed myself 5 steps when I needed to walk on flat but, had to walk the hills. I continued to look over my shoulder running scared as I knew a women had to be close behind. As I saw the stadium I tried to run faster but fatigue had set in and I hit a root and landed in a full skid on my belly. I jumped up and quickly assessed - no blood. OK, get going. I ran my little heart out as I hit the stadium securing my 5th place women position. Thrilled!
More thrilled when I found out 1st in women (30 - 34).

We then hung out in the sun for the rest of the afternoon. What a great day! Tony really puts on great events and this is now my favorite race! Triathlon and kick-ass mountain biking combined! What more could I ask for!? I love Xterra!

August 17, 2010

Jordan Bryden

Jordan is an amazing triathlete who is working so hard to achieve his dreams! Go Jordan!

Cycling Physio

A great link from a friend Sarah:

These are cycling exercises!

August 13, 2010

TR3 (3 days of hell!)

The Globe and Mail described TransRockies racers a cross between rockstars and mental patients! After doing this race, I see why.

Pre-Race Day
Upon arriving in Fernie we headed straight to the package pick-up. First person we see is Matt from United Cycle (a racer who also races on the Alberta mountain bike circuit with me and who is an expert bike tech). He is an ambassador for the week meaning he rides the course and helps people fix major mechanical problems. He gets me checked in and I stand in each line gathering all that I need. I then run into Lisa (my teammate from Terrascape) and we discuss start times as day 1 is a time trial start format vs. a typical mass start. I wonder why I am starting in the morning and not afternoon like I had thought and go back to the registration table. I am on the list twice! I opt for the afternoon start and Jeff and I then head to get settled into camp. Jeff is along as my amazing support crew and expert bike tech. The rest of the day is relaxing, attending the pre-race meeting, and visiting my friend Danielle who lives in Fernie.

Day 1 – Fernie Time Trial (31km – 3:52min)
Thought of the Day: This is really hard!

We wake up to a ridiculous amount of rain. Great! Love those muddy, wet, slippery MTB courses. The morning is spent anxiously waiting my 2:15 start time. Jeff points out that I am being unusually quiet; I am nervous and don’t have much to say. Passing the time, waiting for an afternoon start is hard. We scout out the start area and see everyone coming back covered head to toe in mud! It is so muddy people arrive back with not a single spot on their body not covered in mud. My anxiety grows as wet courses make for tough mountain biking and slower times.

When it is finally my turn to go, I get to the start area and the sky has cleared and it is not raining. However, I know the course will still be very wet and slick – and chewed up as 500+ riders have riden it ahead of us. I wait in the start zone.
The beeps go and I am off. The first section is not bad as we head from downtown Fernie to the trails. We start climbing, and climbing, and climbing! My legs feel so dead – I knew this was coming as I chose to race a ½ Ironman last weekend – suck it up Richelle and just do it. For over 6km we climb straight uphill over technical roots sections and 180 degree switchbacks. I know the top riders are riding this, but not me. I let my mental state deteriorate as I am frustrated with how much climbing there is. When I finally reach the quick technical down which I love I am not even happy. I can’t seem to turn my mood around. I pass a few of the girls who had passed me on the up and I try to focus on how much I love these downhill sections. Ok, maybe the climb was worth it. I focus on being positive.

A few more ups and down, a quick fire road section and I am at the final checkpoint with 11km to go. I am feeling good. I was told the last section is fast and has a lot of down. Well, that guy lied! I can see how it would be fast when it was dry, but with it being totally muddy/wet and being one of the last riders to ride the course that day it was a tough slog the last 11km. I started to get very frustrated and hit a big mental low as I dragged me and my bike that last few kilometers. It was an amazing bunch of single-track but, I was not having fun. This was really hard and I was pushing my bike way more than I am used to. I love mountain biking – I am supposed to be having fun but, I am not. I had a few more hissy fits, a big crash that sent me flying off my bike, and a few more slippery falls. I also slammed into the front of my steer tube at one point - yes boys, it hurts when girls crash into their bikes there too! I yelled and cursed as the last few kilometers seemed to take an eternity. Finally I see the end of the trail. As I hit the pavement into the finish area I was relived to be done and as I crossed the finish line there were no smiles. Jeff snapped a quick picture and came over and asked how it was. “It was hard!” as I burst into tears. I tried to put myself back together as I washed my bike off and talked with a few racers who raced earlier that day. I was choking back tears as best I could.

I then rode to Danielle’s for a shower (there was no way Jeff was letting this muddy girl into the truck). On the way over I quickly took stock of what I just did. You know what?! That was hard, and I freakin’ did it! Stop the pitty party princess I thought to myself. I felt better and realized I needed to celebrate the accomplishment. OK, pitty party over. I showered, ate and we then had to go to the route meeting for the next day. With some very cool animation we were able to get a great idea of how tomorrow would look. I also got to see friends who I had not seen all day and hear about their days. Jeff Nielson gave me a quick pep talk and food consumption advice for the next day and we were off to bed. Jeff quickly tuned my bike for the next day - lucky me, my very own mechanic. Day 1 done.

Day 2 – Fernie to Sparwood (72km – 5:59 min)
Thought of the Day: If there is any down, you will climb back up.
I didn’t want to eat breakfast but, Jeff forced me too. I was anxious again and the weather was not looking promising. I sat back down after my failed attempt to leave with eating only 2 bites of oatmeal and took 3 more bites and claimed I was done. I felt like I was 5 years old again! I gathered my gear and got on my bike and rode to the start line in downtown Fernie. Danielle met me in town and Jeff followed shortly too. Pictures and hugs and into the start shoot where I found Lyndsay. We joked around and chatted with other racers as we waited for the start. The gun went and because we were in our designated start shoot (near the back) it took well over a minute for us to even reach the start arch. A quick lap around downtown Fernie (to help spread us all out) and onto the a fire road. Lyndsay and I found Bev, and the 3 of us biked and chatted until they eventually pulled away and I climbed on my own. Not to worry though as I found a pack of boys my pace right away and we chatted and climbed together.
It was long climb and there was nothing else to do but chat up other riders and just keep pedaling. Up and up and up. At around 16km I had to laugh at the boys behind me pondering how much longer till “beer time”. I laughed at them and found they were from Calgary. I hung with them until the next checkpoint. My back started to ache from all of the climbing. I got off and stretched as best I could. It sometimes alleviated the pain for a minute or so and other times did not. I was not frustrated though and was having a great day. We popped into some single-track, the first of the day so I was ecstatic. I worked to pass a few people until we hit the wall. The wall is a huge rock that you have to haul you and your bike up – in bike shoes. A fellow from Spain who I was near had gotten there just before me and was already on top of the rock. He told me to hand him my bike which I did and then he grabbed my elbow and yanked me up too! Well, that was easy – he he! Talk about right place at the right time! A bit more single-track t the top was great except when I had to stop, slipped off my pedal and put a cog tooth or two into my shin. Ouch! Blood! I was oddly excited as I was not really hurt but I knew it wouldn't be a true TransRockies experience without a little blood! A few more minutes of climbing at I final saw the Porky Blue sign which was the downhill section!

As I screamed down the downhill portion I knew I had a grin ear to ear. This was an amazing downhill! I loved it! I caught the girls from Brazil and had a laugh with them as the 3 of us ripped down the descent. It was almost 6km of wicked downhill. I was loving it! As we hit the fire road again I felt like a kid who wanted to go back for a second ride. Again! Again! But 49km of fire road still awaited me before the finish arch.

I suffered immensely over the next 50km. My back ached bad! I have not been on my road bike a tone this year nor ridden fire roads as mountain bike training. I held on stopping often to stretch. It was fairly uneventful and nothing to do but push as best I could. have to I saw the finish from across the river and did everything I could to just hold on and cross that line. As I rounded the corner to the finish I saw Jeff (head down looking at pictures on the camera). I shouted for his attention and he looked up as I flew by. Ha! I give him more than credit for waiting for me each day never knowing how long it would take me. When he found me he asked how today was and the response was “hard but fun! And a wicked down!” – all said with a smile!

We found Lyndsay and we all got loaded into our truck as opposed to having to wait for a shuttle like the rest of the racers. We were lucky as we arrived back at camp early and it was mostly the top racers only back already. We hit the showers early and had time to get organized for the next day all before dinner. Got to see my favorite buddy Ken who had stitches on his knee! Again, yeah Ken! True TransRockies exeprince with stitches. Memory exscapes me how he cut up his knee but I am sure it was an epic fall - right Ken!? :)After the route review and slideshow for the day Luke tried to adjust me seat for more comfort and ease my back pain for the next day. Jeff had done a great job cleaning and tuning my bike as it arrived both days now COVERED in mud. Here it is after Jeff got his hands on it. She is beautiful and ready to go for the next day!

I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

Day 3 – Elkford to Etherington Creek (62km – 6:41min)
Thought of the Day: More up! Really!

As I got on my bike I immediately had the OUCH factor - you know when your butt hurts to sit on a bike seat after multiple days of riding. I rode to the start hoping it would go away when the adrenaline started. I found Lyndsay and we stretched and got a few pictures before our final day of TR3.
We started the day with a parade loop around the community centre and back onto fire road. There was a big crash up ahead and a few top riders went down. I avoided the crash and quickly found Matt and Stu (TransRockies ambassadors and racing friends) and rode with them for a bit until they had to stop to help fix a mechanical issue another rider was having.
My back ached a lot and I had to stop a lot to stretch my hip flexors to take the pressure off my back. It was not working. It ached! The first checkpoint I flew through and was excited to get to #2 that had pretzels (that I thought were the best tasting things ever!) So, 40km down and 3 hours in at checkpoint #2 and a fairly uneventful morning despite this crazy sore back. We turned off the fire road right at checkpoint #2 and onto single-track. Yeah! I finally started to pass people instead of forever being passed and my back was feeling better. But just 2km later I hit the hike-a-bike section. I knew this was coming but, I am not sure I was prepared for it exactly. For the next 2 hours and only 8km distance wise, we pushed our bikes straight uphill for over 1000m in elevation gain! Yes, that means straight up and pushing, not riding your bike. At times it was so steep we had to carry our bikes up the hills. Oh, and did I mention the alder bushes that completely covered the trail and attempted to grab your derailleur and tear it off your bike?! They were unsuccessful at getting my bike but, I did see a few riders they did get.

I met a new friend, Kevin who was from Banff and we chatted as I used him to keep me distracted through the push up. I would think we were near the top and we would turn and then, more up. Again we would push and then turn a corner to…more up! This was crazy! We were headed over the Continental Divide and I just couldn’t believe how high we were. It was beautiful but, I was too tired to really appreciate where I was at the time. We hit the last pitch to the top and had to throw our bikes over our shoulders and scramble to the top. I saw a park ranger standing beside a sign and I knew this was for real – we were finally at the top! Many riders stopped to take pictures and put on jackets. With the rain clouds looming I opted to just get on my bike and hit the down! My arms hurt and I rode hard down. I started passing a lot of riders and was so happy to be on the down. One girl commented that I always pass her on the down but, I reminded her since that was the case she always beat me on the up! The down was fun and technical at parts which I loved. So much fun! It then went to a fast down with short ups and bunch of river crossings – Augh! Wet feet! Trying to carry bike and wade across knee deep water was sketchy. Other riders were falling and getting completely soaked in the freezing water. Yuck! When I finally realized we had just 8km to go we were back on fire road. I pushed as hard as I could to stay ahead of the girls who I knew were now close behind me. The Calgary boys from yesterday caught me with 3km to go and I tried to stay with them but did so unsuccessfully. However, before I knew it I saw a volunteer ahead at a corner and I asked how much further. “30 seconds” she said. I pushed past camp set up to cross the finish line with a big smile! I did it! I survived TR3!!!!!
As I crossed the finish line it almost felt anti-climactic as although I had just completed 3 epic days, over 300 racers still had 4 more days to go. I did have a big smile that the announcer commented on and all I could say was “I survived!”. My excitement was quickly gone though as I found out Lyndsay had broken her collarbone on the descent. I tried to see her but they would not let me into the medical tent. They assured me her husband was on his way and she would be fine. So we packed up and headed home. As we drove home I went back and forth in my head of “yes, I will do this again – what a fun and amazing experience” to “no, I am never doing this again – that was way too hard!” and then back again. I am still back and forth and I am sure I will be until registration comes around.

For now, I am on recovery (or attempting to be) as this will take about as long as Ironman recovery to get over. My legs are still like dead weights and I can’t walk up the stairs without taking a break at the top gasping for air. Worth the experience? Yep - wouldn't trade it for anything in the world!

August 3, 2010

Wednesday - Aug 4th ride

Meet on HorseCreek road at 6pm tomorrow night. Easy ride for folks who raced last weekend. Intervals for everyone else! Bring your runners if you did not race on the weekend.

See you there!

August 2, 2010

Calgary 70.3

I woke up around 2am to rain and thunder - ugh! I dozed in and out of consciousness until 4:15am when my alarm went off. Up and dressed, and breakfast in. As I got my bottles ready I started to get sad. Jeff was not there as he is on a kayaking trip with his buddies. Race morning he is always so great with helping get me organized and ready to go, and of course give me hugs and encouraging words to keep me calm. However, I was lucky to have Angie picking me up and delivering me to the race start and I knew Jeff was sending me good race vibes from afar.

When we arrived at Ghost I was less than happy to be there in the rain, and was extremely anxious about the swim. I had not swam in 2 months and had only swam 3 or 4 times in the pool previous to that since Ironman! That leads me to why the hell am I even at this race! I hadn't trained at all on the swim, or run, and for the bike - I've been only riding and racing my mountain bike. I had signed up for Calgary 70.3 last September and had decided that I was was not going to do the race a few months later, but a few days ago decided - what the hell!? Luke instructed today to be a long training day as Trans Rockies (a 3 day multistage mountain bike race) is next weekend. The plan was to survive the swim, bike hard and go easy on the run without pain. OK, dial it down. But I still had the "little" 2 km swim and I was very nervous. I know people tried to talk to me but I could barely compute what they were saying and forcing a smile was out of the question. Unusual for me. Gerry helped me get my wetsuit while I tried not to hyperventalite over the fact that I was actually doing this, and I then haeded to the water and did a quick warm-up. My friend Erin and I held hands and hugged while I tried to push down the nerves before the start of our heat.

The gun went off and I just went. Nice and easy and I quicky found open water. There was no kicking or punching, and I did not get hit. I was just swimming. I was actually nice. I focused on just one strooke after the other and before long I was at the last buoy to head to shore. It was all happening so quick! II hit shore with relief. I ran out and was my usual happy self again. "I did it" I yelled as I saw Coach Sarah and crew. I was so happy that I had survived the swim. It really is like riding a bike - it all comes back to you.

I went through transition as quick as I could and was on my way passing people on my bike. The bike was going great and I was feeling strong. I hit the TTL aid station and sat up and cheered and yelled as I went through! I saw so many happy TTL friendly faces - Hope, Danielle, Angie, Ally to name only a few! There were so many of you guys, THANK-YOU! I continued to push and ride strong until I saw my friend Amy walking her bike near the bottom of HorseCreek. I knew she was trying to qualify for Clearwater so I stopped. She needed a CO2 cartridge. As I got off my bike a cyclist with his head down came towards us and saw us at the last minute. He swerved but hit the ditch! He then went over his bars and landed on his head. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. He lay there unconscious. I screamed for a cell phone as cyclists passed until a rider stopped with one and I called 911. Then I saw a car and flagged it down and it was Richard (one of my athlete's dad). He got some jackets on me as I was shivering as I was talking to the 911 operator. The ambulance pulled up and Richard told me to get going. I really wanted to call it a day though. I was cold and this was an intense situation. The race official that had come up too told me and the other cyclist who had stopped with the cell phone that we should go, so we did. I got back on my bike but my head was still not all there and I could not believe the events that had just happened. However, after a few minutes I started pushing the pedals and working to pass people all over again. By the way, it felt like way more hills this year than last year!

I finally hit Glenmore Park despite being at a complete stop for over 15 minutes on the bike, and really wanting to quit. It was tempting. I was welcomed by tonnes of cheers off the bike. I went through transition and out on the run. I saw so many people cheering and giving me high-5's that it put me back in a great mood! There were so many people on the course and you have no idea how much your cheers are appreciated! THANK-YOU!!!

When I hit the Weaselhead hill to go down I hooked up with my friend Kristy who ran and walked with me until we returned to the top of Weaselhead hill again (about 14 km). Thank-you Kristy! We walked when my IT band hurt, all of the hills and aid stations. I was dialing it back and having fun cheering on others and just working towards finishing. And Kristy is one of the few people who yells louder than me so with the 2 of us yelling and cheering on the course we were having a blast! The last 3km did hurt however. My IT band was sore and I started to get impatient to just be done. So I pushed a bit in the last few km more than I should have. With 1 km to go Madi biked along side me and gave a few words of encouragement that I am thankful for. I turned the corner and into the finishing shoot lined with TTL crew! Yeah! So exciting to see you all!

Final time 6:05.  Got my second belt buckle! Not the ideal day but pretty darn close to how I wanted to execute it. And, I proved you can do a half Ironman on mountain bike only training but I do not recommend it! Now to recover and get ready for TR3 (TransRockies 3 day mountain bike race)!