Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Getting Back Into Shape

Hurts a lot!!! That seems to be the common thread going around the social networks these days and I have to agree. Sat down with Gareth and have planned out the year, in detail up until the end of April. With ITU hosting the first ever Cross World Championships April 30th in Spain, we needed to get a bit more focused this December than years past. Week one is in the books and the evil SRM has not been friendly. My run and swim feel pretty good, but the bike legs have vanished like the good weather. Definitely need some new music on the mp3 player to get through the next couple of weeks.

Took a page out of the 'Mel McQuaid's book of offseason racing' and entered the Egg Nog Jog 10.8km race at the Terracotta Conservation Area on Sunday, dubbed the hardest 10km road race in Ontario. True to Mel's rules I headed out to my Birthday Party, oops I mean Tom's Birthday/Christmas Party:), and had way too much to eat and a couple of glasses of wine the night before. Sunday morning arrived with a severe weather watch for most of the Great Lakes area. Unfortunately the temperature was sitting just above freezing so instead of nice snow flurries and a hard packed running surface it was raining and a mix of slushy, icing roads. Got warmed up the best I could and headed to the start line already pretty much soaked. Tried to keep things under control for the first bit of the race but still went through the first mile in about 5:30 and really hoped that is was because it was straight downhill and not that I was going to suffer for the remainder of the race. The rest of the race pretty much felt all uphill which is really fun on ice!! Except for the calves protesting a bit at the end, I felt really great and took the win and 10th place overall. Thanks to everyone at Georgetown Runners and all the volunteers for putting on a great race for the sell out crowd of 600 crazy people who thought it would be fun to race in the middle of a storm.

Woke up Monday feeling like, surprise, I had just raced on no training. The legs definitely letting me know that they were not happy. So just for fun I decided to sign up for the Boxing Day 10miler in Hamilton. Hey, why not, especially since you get these really cool mittens in the race packet!! One has to look for any kind of motivation this time of year. Otherwise it is back to base training. I have jumped in with the RTC group here in Guelph for my swimming and am really enjoying the company. I have been told a couple of them keep some pretty interesting blogs, and Perhaps a couple future top Canadian triathletes. Of course Ian will have to work on that bi-lateral breathing and stop inflicting penalty kick 50's on the group before then!!! Next up, weekend Ironman viewing/Christmas Party at James' and Tom will be doing the frozen beer mile, awesome !!!!! Later :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Winter Riding

Feeling a little couped up and have decided to brave -2C and go out of a ride, lots of time to ride the trainer in the weeks to come. Made me think of a funny article I came across a couple of years ago. Enjoy.... PETE'S WINTER CYCLING TIPS I am a commuter who cycles year round. I have been doing it for about twelve years. Winters here in Ottawa are relatively cold and snowy. Ottawa is the second coldest capital in the world. The following comments are the results of my experiences. I am not recommending them, only telling you what works for me. You may find it useful, or you may find the stupid things that I do are humorous. PRELUDE Me: I am not a real cyclist. I just ride a bicycle. I have done a century, but that was still commuting. There was a networking conference 110 miles away, so I took my bicycle. There and back. (does that make two centuries?) I usually do not ride a bicycle just for a ride. Lots of things I say may make real cyclists pull out their hair. I have three kids, and cannot *afford* to be a bike weenie. People often ask me why I do it.... I don't know. I might say that it saves me money, but no. Gasoline produces more energy per dollar than food. (OK, I suppose if I would eat only beans, rice and pasta with nothing on them.... I like more variety) Do I do it for the environment? Nah! I never take issues with anything. I don't ride for health, although as I get older, I appreciate the benefits. I guess I must do it because I like it. Definitions Since words like "very", "not too", etc. are very subjective, I will use the following definitions: Cold : greater than 15 degrees F Very cold : 0 through 15 Degrees F Extreme cold : -15 through 0 degrees F Insane cold: below -15 degrees F Basic philosophy I have two: 1) If its good, don't ruin it, if its junk you needn't worry. 2) I use a brute force algorithm of cycling: Pedal long enough, and you'll get there. Bicycle riding in snow and ice is a problem of friction: Too much of the rolling type, and not enough of the sideways type. Road conditions: More will be covered below, but now let it suffice to say that a lot of salt is used on the roads here. Water splashed up tastes as salty as a cup of Lipton Chicken soup to which an additional spool of salt has been added. Salt eats metal. Bicycles dissolve. EQUIPMENT: Bicycle: Although I have a better bicycle which I ride in nice weather, I buy my commuting bikes at garage sales for about $25.00. They're disposable. Once they start dissolving, I remove any salvageable parts, then throw the rest away. Right now, I'm riding a '10-speed' bike. I used to ride mountain bikes, but I'm back to the '10-speed'. Here's why. Mountain bikes cost $50.00 at the garage sales. They're more in demand around here. Since I've ridden both, I'll comment on each one. The Mountain bikes do have better handling, but they are tougher to ride through deep snow. The 10-speed cuts through the deep snow better. I can ride in deeper snow with it, and when the snow gets too deep to ride, its easier to carry. Fenders on the bike? Sounds like it might be a good idea, and someday I'll try it out. I think, however, that snow/ice will build up between the fender and the tire causing it to be real tough to pedal. I have a rack on the back with a piece of plywood to prevent too much junk being thrown on my back. I would *like* to be able to maintain the bike, but its tough to work outside in the winter. My wife (maybe I should write to Dear Abbey about this) will not let me bring my slop covered bicycle through the house to get it in the basement. About once a month we have a warm enough day that I am able to go out with a bucket of water, wash all of the gunk off of the bike, let it dry and then bring it in. I tear the thing down, clean it and put it together with lots of grease. I use some kind of grease made for farm equipment that is supposed to be more resistant to the elements. When I put it together, I grease the threads, then cover the nuts, screws, whatever with a layer of grease. This prevents them from rusting solidly in place making it impossible to remove. Protection against corrosion is the primary purpose of the grease. Lubrication is secondary. remember to put a drop of oil on the threads of each spoke, otherwise, the spokes rust solidly, and its impossible to do any truing Outside, I keep a plastic ketchup squirter, which I fill with automotive oil (lately its been 90 weight standard transmission oil). Every two or three days, I use it to re-oil my chain and derailleur, and brakes. It drips all over the snow beneath me when I do it, and gets onto my 'cuffs'(or whatever you call the bottom of those pants. See, I told you I don't cycle for the environment. I probably end up dumping an ounce of heavy oil into the snow run-off each year. Clothing Starting at the bottom, on my feet I wear Sorell Caribou boots. These are huge ugly things, but they keep my feet warm. I have found that in extreme to insane cold, my toes get cold otherwise. These boots do not make it easy to ride, but they do keep me warm (see rule 2, brute force). They do not fit into any toe-clips that I have seen. I used to wear lighter things for less cold weather, but I found judging the weather to be a pain. If its not too cold, I ride with them half unlaced. The colder it gets, the more I lace them, and finally, I'll tie them. Fortunately, wet days are not too cold, and cold days are not wet. When its dry, I wear a pair of cycling shorts, and one or two (depending on temp and wind) cotton sweat pants covering that. I know about lycra and polypro (and use them for skiing), but these things are destroyed by road-dirt, slush and mud.(see rule 1 above). I save my good clothes for x-country skiing. An important clothing item in extreme to insane cold, is a third sock. You put it in your pants. No, not to increase the bulge to impress the girls, but for insulation. Although several months after it happens it may be funny, when it does happens, frostbite on the penis is not funny. I speak from experience! Twice, no less! I have no idea of what to recommend to women in this section. Next in line, I wear a polypro shirt, covered by a wool sweater, covered by a 'ski-jacket' (a real ugly one with a stripe up the back. The ski jacket protects the rest of my clothes, and I can regulate my temperature with the zipper in front. I usually take a scarf with me. For years I have had a fear that the scarf would get caught in the spokes, and I'd be strangled in the middle of the street, but it has not yet happened. When the temp is extreme or colder, I like keeping my neck warm. I have one small problem. Sometimes the moisture in my breath will cause the scarf to freeze to my beard. On my hands, I wear wool mittens when its not too cold, and when it gets really cold, I wear my cross-country skiing gloves (swix) with wool mittens covering them. Hands sweat in certain areas (at least mine do), and I like watching the frost form on the outside of the mittens. By looking at the frost, I can tell which muscles are working. I am amused by things like this. On my head, I wear a toque (Ski-hat?) covered by a bicycle helmet. I don't wear one of those full face masks because I haven't yet been able to find one that fits well with eye glasses. In extreme to insane cold, my forehead will often get quite cold, and I have to keep pulling my hat down. The bottoms of my ears sometimes stick out from my hat, and they're always getting frostbitten. This year, I'm thinking of trying my son's Lifa/polypro balaclava. Its thin enough so that it won't bother me, and I only need a bit more protection from frostbite. I carry my clothes for the day in a knapsack. Everything that goes in the knapsack goes into a plastic bag. Check the plastic bag often for leaks. A small hole near the top may let in water which won't be able to get out. The net result is that things get more wet than would otherwise be expected. The zippers will eventually corrode. Even the plastic ones become useless after a few years. RIDING: In the winter, the road is narrower. There are snow banks on either side. Cars do not expect to see bicycles. There are less hours of daylight, and the its harder to maintain control of the bicycle. Be careful. I don't worry about what legal rights I have on the road, I simply worry about my life. I'd rather crash into a snow bank for sure rather than take a chance of crashing into a car. I haven't yet had a winter accident in 12 years. I've intentionally driven into many snow banks. Sometimes, during a storm, I get into places where I just can't ride. It is sometimes necessary to carry the bicycle across open fields. When this happens, I appreciate my boots. It takes a lot more energy to pedal. Grease gets thick, and parts (the bicycle's and mine) don't seem to move as easily. My traveling time increases about 30% in nice weather, and can even double during a raging storm. The wind seems to be always worse in winter. It's not uncommon to have to pedal to go down hills. Be careful on slushy days. Imagine an 8 inch snowfall followed by rain. This produces heavy slush. If a car rides quickly through deep slush, it may send a wave of the slush at you. This stuff is heavy. When it hits you, it really throws you off balance. Its roughly like getting a 10 lbs sack of rotten potatoes thrown at your back. This stuff could even knock over a pedestrian. Freezing rain is the worst. Oddly enough, I find it easier to ride across a parking lot covered with wet smooth ice than it is to walk across it. The only problem is that sometimes the bicycle simply slides sideways out from under you. I practice unicycle riding, and that may help my balance. (Maybe not, but its fun anyway) Beware of bridges that have metal grating. This stuff gets real slippery when snow covered. One time, I slid, hit an expansion joint, went over the handle bars, over the railing of the bridge. I don't know how, but one arm reached out and grabbed the railing. Kind of like being MacGyver. Stopping. There are several ways of stopping. The first one is to use the brakes. This does not always work. Breaks can ice up, a bit of water gets between the cable and its sheathing when the warm afternoon sun shines on the bike. It freezes solid after. Or the salt causes brake cables to break, etc. I have had brakes work on one corner, but stop working by the time I get to the next. I have several other means of stopping. The casual method. For a stop when you have plenty of time. Rest the ball of your foot on top of the front derailleur, and *gradually* work your heel between the tire and the frame. By varying the pressure, you can control your speed. Be sure that you don't let your foot get wedged in there! Faster method. Get your pedals in the 6-12 O'clock position. Stand up. The 6 O'clock foot remains on the pedal, while you place the other foot on the ground in front of the pedal. By varying your balance, you can apply more or less pressure to your foot. The pedal, wedged against the back of your calf, forces your foot down more, providing more friction. Really fast! Start with the fast method, but then dismount while sliding the bicycle in front of you. You will end up sliding on your two feet, holding onto the bike in front for balance. If it gets *really* critical, throw the bike ahead of you, and sit down and roll. Do not do this on dry pavement, your feet need to be able to slide. In some conditions, running into a snow bank on the side will stop you quickly, easily, and safely. If you're going too fast, you might want to dive off of the bicycle over the side. Only do this when the snow bank is soft. Make sure that there isn't a car hidden under that soft snow. Don't jump into fire hydrants either. ETC. Freezing locks. I recommend carrying a BIC lighter. Very often the lock will get wet, and freeze solid. Usually the heat from my hands applied for a minute or so (a real minute or so, not what seems like a minute) will melt it, but sometimes it just needs more than that. Eating Popsicles Something I like doing in the winter is to buy a Popsicle before I leave, and put it in my pocket. It won't melt! I take it out and start eating it just as I arrive at the University. Its fun to watch peoples' expressions when they see me, riding in the snow, eating a Popsicle. You have to be careful with Popsicles in the winter. I once had a horrible experience. You know how when you are a kid, your parents told you never to put your tongue onto a metal pole? In very cold weather, a Popsicle acts the same way. If you are not careful, your upper lip, lower lip, and tongue become cemented to the Popsicle. Although this sounds funny when I write about it, it was definitely not funny when it happened.

Friday, November 26, 2010

New Job.....

It's tough to make a living at this triathlon thing, perhaps a new career.....
Position: Surveyor
Salary: $200 per hour (tax-free)
Qualification: Must be fast on your feet

Isn't it comforting to know that when you are about to become a bear's breakfast your buddy is standing there taking photos?
Thanks to JR for sending this to me last year :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My other life...

I often tell people I feel a bit schizophrenic. On one side I have the triathlete, trains lots, eat well, gets lots of sleep and generally hang out with others that share a very healthy active lifestyle. Then there is the other side, construction. While I am technically a landscape architect, I work for a construction company and well the above mentioned characteristics don't really fit into this side. With the season now over I am spending the bulk of my time in construction mode and while I haven't taken up smoking or fast food, my language has significantly deteriorated with the added exposure, especially since we are rushing to beat the weather to get the last few projects in the ground and everyone is just a little stressed. As it stands right now there is one small frontyard completely ripped apart (yep, the homeowners are always really happy at this stage) and another thankfully unoccupied new home that needs a whole yard. Not likely to happen before the freeze sets in but hopefully at least the patios and walkways, maybe some plants and grass if we are lucky. On the design end just wrapping up two more custom homes that should be ready to go first thing in the spring.
This is a project I designed earlier in the year that I really wanted to do the construction on. It was going to be this fabulous pool with a raised spa and rock waterfall. Unfortunately they ended up going with a different contractor, boo!!
I did indulge my healthy side this weekend with what may end up being the last good mountain bike ride of the season. I have wanted to check out the trails up in Collingwood/Blue Mountain but was a little hesitant to just head up there solo as there really isn't any trail maps. After meeting fellow Xterra athlete and Collingwood local Katie Button in Maui I decided to invite myself up for a day of riding. We met up with Canadian National MTB Team member Amanda Sin and hubby Kaesy for a great, although slighty muddy, ride at 3 Stages. The riding up there has some really good climbing to get you up onto the Niagara Escarpment, then a whole series of fun winding trails that criss-cross along the top.

With the area being almost exclusively hardwood forest and the leaves all off the trees it was a much different feel that what I usually ride which tends to be much thicker and full of evergreens. It also was helpful in following Amanda, as she and Kaesy (on his singlespeed) continually dropped us!! Finished up the day with some great oven-fired pizza at Blue Mountain Village before heading back home.

Starting to feel like getting back into some training and will likely ease back into next week (I do think I said that last week to a couple of people) and I have officially set December 1 as get back in the pool day. Hmmm, not sure I am looking forward to that one. I have also been indulging in some pretty good sleep-ins!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest We Forget

In Flanders Fields
written May 3, 1915
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
Guelph, Ontario, Canada
1872 - 1918
In the first world war over 620,000 Canadians fought and over 60,000 perished serving this great country of ours.
Take a moment today to remember those that have and continue to serve

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Xterra World Championships Race Report

It's been over two weeks since the Xterra World Championships and I am still pretty excited about the race. Leading into the race all things were pointing towards a great result. I was healthy, injury free, and super fit. After my last hard week of training Gareth emailed me telling me to start expecting a great performance, top 3. I'm not sure I truly believed that was possible, especially with the incredible fire power in the women's race, but improving on my 5th place finish two years ago and being back on the podium was something I really wanted. Being picked by the Xterra TV crew as one of the top 5 pro women to look for definitely gave the confidence another little boost. My first year, 2008, I had no idea what was headed my way and really had no expectations for the race. A year later, with a surprise podium finish under my belt, I remember getting to the start line with a sense of dread and uncertainty about whether I could pull off a good race so it was a pleasant surprise that race morning arrived and I got through setting up transition and warm-up with a strange sense of calm confidence. I never feel great warming up before a big race so I have stopped worrying about it and just do what I need to do trusting once the gun goes off and the adrenaline is pumping everything will fall into place.
The swim start was much better set up than last year giving everyone more space across the start line, unfortunately it didn't help me and I had one of my roughest starts. It seems either my front end swim speed is lacking or everyone else has upped their game. Heading into the beach for the first lap I was fighting just to stay somewhere in 10th to 15th place and Julie Dibens was swimming right next to me. Not what I had planned. I hustled the beach run and jumped back in for the 2nd lap hoping to feel a bit better. One by one I picked off the guys in front of me until I ended up on Seth's and Craig's feet and headed into T1 in 3rd hoping I had put some serious time on the rest of the womens field.
If Ironman had taken anything out of Julie's legs it certainly wasn't apparent as she came flying by me in about the same spot she had the previous two years!! I didn't feel great but I don't think anyone does heading straight uphill right out of transition. My first panic moment came as I tried to get a drink out of my camelbak and got nothing. With only one bottle of electrolytes on my bike I really needed to get it working. After a bit of a struggle I figured out if I waited to a relatively smooth flat section and pulled it off one shoulder and swung it around to the front I could get a drink out of it, so at the first occasion I put back at least half of it and thankfully the stomach didn't seem to have a problem with it. Wasn't an ideal situation (and I likely looked like a complete amateur), but I would have lost a lot more time blowing up at the end of the bike. After Julie, Shonny was the next one to go by and was absolutely moving!! I was riding well, staying on my bike for a lot more of the climbs and rocky sections than previous years and taking the downhills with confidence. Mel passed me sometime after Heartbreak Hill (yes I had to walk - maybe next year!!) but wasn't looking sharp and I was able to hang with her. I was down into fourth place but still feeling pretty comfortable with my position until Suzie Snyder came by me. In just her second or third race as a pro she wasn't one of the girls I had expected to be at the front of the race. I remember thinking I hope she is having the race of her life. (She was!!!) With Suzie and Mel riding just in front of me and now in fifth (last podium spot) I admittedly was fighting to stay positive and keep my head in the game wondering who would be the next one to ride by, the downside of being the fastest swimmer. After the plunge, the section past the Oil Tanks is the rockiest part of the course. You don't carry any momemtum and have to fight with every pedal stroke to keep the bike moving. It's also the last mile or two before the downhill into transition and with the end of the bike in sight I was not going to loose another spot before then. Into transition and quickly into the shoes I headed out onto the run still in 5th listening to Jamie Whitmore, who was helping Xterra call the race, announce I was just 45sec down on Suzie and not much more to Mel. I heard "She could easily run herself into 3rd" and decided that was exactly what I was going to do. I got some added motivation as I headed out the chute and saw the entire fleet-footed crew rolling into transition right behind me. Nothing like having Marion Lorblanchet, Carina Wasle, and Lesley Patterson lined up on your heels to get you moving. Panic moment number two came as I hit the road and got into my run stride only to have both quads and calves cramp. I had gotten in both my bottle and camelbak of electrolytes, all 3 drop water bottles, my gels, and 3 salt tablets and I couldn't believe that wasn't enough. My Atlanta training partner Mark Rudder running right in front of me totally saved the day handing me 2 of his salt tablets which I immediately dry swallowed not sure where exactly the next aid station was and afraid I might drop them. Problem hopefully solved and back to the work at hand - 3rd!! I passed Suzie back as we turned off the road and started up the longest hill in the world (or at least it feels that way) I was hoping I would just run right by her without a fight but she was having the race of her life and decided to hang tough, grrr. I finally gapped her and set my eyes on Mel, who was unfortunately not having the day she was hoping for. Moved into 3rd at the top of Cactus alley wondering how long I could hold off the surely approaching runners. Unless you are leading the race a hovering camera can only mean one thing, you are about to get passed!!! At the bottom of cactus alley before crossing the road onto Big Beach, the dreaded motor bike appeared and it was only a matter of who and how many were right behind me. Marion and I headed out onto the beach just a couple of feet apart. She took the high line in the deep soft sand while I headed straight to the waterline hoping to find some firm sand. I closed down the space between us and was moving ahead when she noticed and joined me. I tried to hang on to her heels but she was just too fast and the elastic band snapped heading into "spooky forest". I was desperate to know if I had anyone else right behind me but was afraid to look back. Scampering across the last section of coral before the finish line someone gratefully let me know there was no one in sight and I got to enjoy the run up to the line, indulging in some high 5's with the cheering kids lining the path. Sure top 3 would have been nice, but 4th was still pretty amazing!! Shonny had the race of the day taking the win less than a minute ahead of Julie, then Marion and myself in 3rd and 4th with Suzie having the surprise race of the day out-sprinting Carina at the line for 5th!!!

Mark Rudder - thanks for saving the day!!!

As always a big thanks to everyone; coach, family, friends, and sponsors,(Rudy Project, Maxxis, Extreme Endurance, Rocket Science Sports) who help out and make it all possible, I couldn't do it without all of them. It is now time for a break but it will be next season before you know it, CAN'T WAIT!!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

4th at Xterra World Championships!!!!

Had a great race on Sunday to take 4th at worlds.  Great end to a long season.  I'm currently in the middle of suffering through my 15+hour trip home and looking forward to some serious sleep when I finally get there.  Congrats to all the athletes who gave it their all on Sunday!!! Full thoughts, comments, photos (maybe even some from the post race Halloween costume party) soon. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

'Twas the night before Xterra worlds...

and all through the incredibly hot condo people were running around like crazy trying to get everything ready to race. Okay, well maybe it was just me, but it was certainly hot as the two portable air conditioning units in our condo have been running full blast since we got here and still haven't managed to cool the place off to a comfortable level. Hopefully that means we will all be better acclimatized for the blast furnace tomorrow. I finally arrived at the condo Wednesday evening around midnight and since that was about 6am EST my body decided it was time to wake up, gotta love jetlag. Thursday was a crazy day starting with filming a TV interview with for the broadcast of the race. I then jumped on the bike and headed out to the practice course for a quick spin. The race course is on private land and not open until race day so we have a short loop to ride on that gives everyone the chance to remember what it is like riding on the loose chunky lava. Usually I find the practice loop much tougher than the race course and almost unrideable. This year the loop was in great condition. With a couple of days of rain earlier in the week all the lava dust was nicely packed down and tacky. Apparently the roads on the course have also been graded this year which could make for a super fast bike. I finished up the training for the day with a quick run along the last couple of miles of the run course and jumped in ocean to cool off. After a quick stop at the condo to drop off the bike and clean up it was off to the airport to pick up Mike and Sarah. They both got in no problem, however, Sarah's bike seemed to have been left in Toronto and was following somewhere behind her. It finally arrived in well after 11pm. The last two members of the condo, Dave and Bobby Rakita were going through the same hassle with Branden's bike and joined us later for a great grilled meal. (Sarah is a chef and has been cooking up some tasty dishes - check out her blog for great stories and recipes Friday it was up early again so that Branden and I could do the swim clinic as part of the Xterra University presented by Paul Mitchell. We had a great turnout and hopefully passed on some good information for the swim tomorrow. We also scored some great Paul Mitchell product, unfortunately it might put me over the weight limit trying to fly it all back home. Today it was a quick swim, bike, run in the morning then back to the condo to relax and pack. As usual things took a bit longer and I had to scramble to get back to the race site to do another photo shoot for the race broadcast. I was picked along with Julie Dibens, Melanie McQuaid, Leslie Patterson, and Shonny V. as one of the five pro women to look for. Not bad company to be part of, hopefully a good sign for tomorrow. Now it is off to the race briefing and pre-race dinner. All the work is done, time to relax and get ready to race!!!!

Mike and Bob (the chicken) on the practice course

Sarah and I riding down Cactus alley
Lava, Lava, Lava
Paul Mitchell Haul!!!
The Competition

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Maui Bound

Not a bad place to be headed at the end of October, though I have to say the weather has cooperated and let me get in all the training needed before the World Championships. Unfortunately it is going to be a quick trip, in and out for the race with little time to spend relaxing on the beach. I've given up trying to explain to people not associated with triathlon that this does not constitute a vacation!! Until after the race on Sunday there will be minimal time even spent outside, forget laying on the beach or engaging in any fun water sports. So I am in the Vancouver airport after an uneventful 5 hour flight from Toronto. (didn't get charged for the bike and empty middle seat) 3hour layover here then 6 hrs to Maui. Long day!! Next post from Hawaii!!!! Okay so the WiFi still works on the plane so I will add a bit more. I seem to be stuck in the baby section. At least three of them are screaming right now. Oh joy. Especially since I am on east coast time and it is already 9pm. Hopefully they will get it all out and sleep for the flight. Make that 5, 2 more just sat down. Good thing I brought earplugs!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

That is to all the Canucks out there. I am spending the long weekend up at the cottage in Muskoka enjoying the amazing fall colours and incredible weather so I decided to change up the the blog to reflect the season. A little hard to read but kinda fun anyways. Sunday we had a great family dinner with my Aunt, Uncle and four cousins on my Mum's side, stuffing ourselves with the usual turkey and such then finishing off the evening with a spirited game of dice, which coincidentally I won!
Only two weeks to go before Xterra Worlds and training has been going great. It is always motivating to come off a great race and put in a block of training right after still feeling good. It just seems easier to dig deep when you have just been reminded of how all the hard work pays off. I am just finishing off the last couple of hard workouts before taper time!!!
Not much of a post, but hey life can't always be super exciting!!
Couple of more photos from Xterra USA in Utah.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

5th at Xterra USA Nationals!!

Finally put together a really great Xterra race this season with a 5th place at USA Nationals. (up from 9th last year) The altitude really made it tough but I felt strong the whole way, even had the 3rd fastest run behind uber runners Leslie Patterson and Carina Wasle (both likely well under 100lbs) Struggled through the swim a bit, really feeling the lack of swim training after the shoulder injury 3 weeks ago and getting totally dunked and swum over at the start. I ended up leading the 2nd pack out of the water. Got into a good groove on the bike and other than Mel who had a great swim and was flying, held off the other girls much further than previous years. Leslie and Shonny caught me just at halfway through the bike, Sarah and Jenny about three quarters of the way, and Renata and I rode into transition together. Renata surged once we hit the single track and I couldn't hang on and had to let her go. Then just passed halfway I reeled her back in and passed her with Sara visible just ahead. I passed Sara with about 2miles to go and had Jenny in my sights. With the last mile straight downhill I knew that I had to catch her by the top of the last climb and she was running scared knowing I was right behind her. She got over the top a bit in front of me and held me off to the end. No matter, great race. Now its off to pack up the bike and hed over to the post race party!!!!
Xterra USA Podium

Xterra USA Series Podium

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words...

So instead of trying to write a whole bunch I have decided to post pictures with some brief comments in between. After the Muskoka Triathlon way back in July I had a nice three week block of training before heading down to Windsor to do the sprint triathlon there. One of only a couple races in Ontario with prize money it is a favourite among the local elite racers. The coach wasn't nearly as impressed so I went into the race pretty worked over but still looking for the win. James Loaring's sister Char graciously offered up the family home in Windsor for a whole group of us to stay at and even hosted the post-race get together. Race morning turned out to be one of the hottest and most humid days of the summer. The swim was 1km in Lake St Clair and wasn't even waist deep the majority of the way. The elite wave decided on our own rule to swim, not dolphin dive, the swim, though Sean Bechtel did take a few extra off the start to get out ahead of the field. The 30km bike was flat and fast and even the wind at 35+km/hr didn't evaporate the sweat that was pouring off of me. I headed out onto the run feeling like I was going to either pass out or throw up (or both) and struggled just to finish. It was definitely the longest 6km run of my life (likely also the slowest). The post race party was a blast and I added another win and some money to the bank account. Not a bad weekend.
Into T2 at the Windsor Triathlon
Windsor Triathlon Women's Top Five
Post-race Fun
The very next weekend I was excited to race again at the first off-road triathlon held in Ontario in a very long time. Put on by James Kowalewski at, the 'Mine' over Matter Triathlon was held at the Kelso Conservationa Area just outside Toronto. Unlike the weekend before, a cold front moved in late Saturday afternoon and preceeded to dump serious amounts of rain throughout the evening. The rain stopped just as I pulled into the venue and thankfully stayed away for the race but the trails were super slick and most of us were pretty thankful the race stayed away from the technical stuff and I definitely rode conservatively, though I still managed to slide of the trail and into the bushes the second time down the escarpment. I led Karsten Madsen and the rest of the field out of the swim and through the first lap of the bike, getting passed by Karsten and two other guys on the second lap. I headed out onto the run fourth overall and first women and held that position to the end. Despite the weather James put on a great race and sounds as though he is working on expanding to a couple of races next year, even reviving the Guelph Lake off-road Tri, very exciting.
My Dirty bike after the 'Mine over Matter' Tri
A quick two weeks later it was off to Whistler BC, for Xterra Canada. What a great venue and great race organized by Cal Zaryski and Yoeri Geerits. I just finished writing the race report for the website so here is the link if you want to hear about all the details, crazy weather, super technical trails, a dislocated shoulder.... (seeing as this post has seemed have expanded past a couple of comments between photos)

Sunrise at Rainbow Park before the swim start

One of the scary descents I decided to walk

Run course - Xterra Style

More photos of the races at

I am now in Utah, another spectacular racing venue, just two days away from the Xterra USA Nationals. Not really my style of course, point to point uphill course at altitude, but I have been here almost a week and was sleeping in my altitude tent prior to getting here and a little surprisingly have been feeling pretty good. Had a great spin around the upper loop of the bike course and I am really looking forward to the race on Saturday!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Oh yah, this blog!!! Hmm, Oops. I would try to come up with a good excuse for being MIA but there really isn't one. So once again I will do the very brief point form recap: Xterra Richmond - All things considered a solid race. I didn't beach myself in the middle of the James river during the swim and managed to get out with the lead men. I also didn't manage to put much time on the rest of the women (not that I expected to with the stupid short swim). I biked well but couldn't even come close to matching Mel, Shonny, and Renata and headed onto the run in 4th. Ran strong but once again couldn't hold off Emma and rounded out the podium in 5th. Ryan added to the drama of the weekend by completely destroying his knee in a freak bike crash and ended up having to have surgery to repair most of the tendons in it once he got back home. It was a late night drive home for us pulling into Detroit around 3am. Pretty fried after back to back races Gareth and I decided it was probably a good time to throw in a nice mid-season week off. Belwood Lake Triathlon - Since I wasn't going to be racing the last of the Xterra Cup races in Beaver Creek (simply not enough oxygen for me to bother going) and the next Xterra race isn't until late August, I decided to throw in a couple of local road tri's for fun. My sister and I headed out to Belwood Lake for the Subaru Triathlon Series race there on July 18th. What a joy to be able to sleep in my own bed before the race and what a great venue, probably the smoothest roads I have ever raced on. Took the win ahead of Angela Quick from the Provincial Training Center here in Guelph. Sista took 3rd in her AG. Muskoka Triathlon - I raced this race way back when I was an age grouper just getting started in Triathlon. It was at this race I met Tereza Macel and Donna Phelan who convinced me to step it up and race as a pro. I have put this race on my schedule so many times in the years since then but just haven't seemed to be able to do it, so this year I was super excited that it fit nicely into the schedule largely due to it being later in the year than normal. (perhaps the only good thing about the G8 in Huntsville!!!) The women's pro field wasn't quite what it has been in the past with the usual suspects out with injuries or training overseas but it was nice to take the win anyways. I had a great race, strong from start to finish, taking 11th overall. (Somebody has to keep the boys honest)

Up this weekend the Windsor Triathlon, then back to Xterra to finish off the season.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Xterra Urban-Style

JAMES RIVER - Photo by Emma Garrard
Just getting ready for the second race in back to back weekends with crazy travel between. The course in Richmond is unlike any other we do in the Xterra series as it is literally located right in the middle of the city. The swim (or what passes for a swim here) is in the James river. The river is running fairly high this year which means that we will swim most of it instead of beaching ourselves on the rocks or sand bars multiple times. It is about a 500-600m swim across to a small island, a short run across the island and the swim back. With the run into transition it might take us at the most 15minutes. Usually this has me more than a little upset since my chance to put time on the other girls is greatly diminished but this year the bike course has totally changed.
Two years ago I did this race for the first time and was nothing short of a train wreck. I didn't have the skills to ride a lot of the technical urban style trails: ramps, drops, rock gardens, skinny bridges, and nearly cried during the pre-ride. I got through the race, barely, spending a lot of time off my bike. This year we arrived in Richmond to find the trails had been completely redone, lots of the technical sections have been blocked off and the rest of the trails buffed out and totally smooth. Add to that we are running the course backwards this year which makes most of the really steep uphills downhills. The course has also gotten seriously shorter to a lightning fast 18km or so. The guys will definitely be under an hour and the women not much over, yeah for me!!! They also decided to cut out the last section of singletrack on the run making the whole race almost a sprint distance. Should be exciting, though not everyone is excited as I am about all the changes. Considering the forecast is 98deg. tomorrow, shorter might not be a bad idea after last weekends meltdown in Bama!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tough Day

So the race on Sunday wasn't what I had hoped for and it's been crazy non-stop since then. I knew the weather was going to be hot but I really thought that I would be able to handle it better. Race morning came around and I got through the whole routine smoothly and relaxed. There was plenty of room at the swim start even though it was a mass start with all the pros and amateurs together.
Emma, Seth, myself and Conrad chose to start off to the right with Craig and Bruce Gennari opting for the left side. Seth decided not to wear the overheating suit (aka swimskin) which in hindsight was probably a good idea. Conrad tried the ice in the swim cap but apparently it melted long before the first buoy. The swim specialists all ended up coming together at the first buoy of the two lap swim, then Craig pulled the first lap and the two of us did the short run around the flags together heading into the second lap while Seth, Conrad and Bruce had fallen off the pace a bit. I ended up pulling the second loop even though with the water temperature in the mid-eighties I felt like my head was going to explode. I kept telling my arms to pick up the tempo but the message just wasn't getting through. I think just about everyone was feeling the same way.
I then had probably the slowest transition of my life and got out onto the bike. It wasn't all that hot once we got under the canopy of the trees and out of the sun but my legs just didn't seem to have anything. Mel was about 2min back of me out of the swim and passed me early on in the single track. Then the Shonny, Leslie, Renata train came flying by up the long uphill climb (I think Will Kelsay got himself in the middle of that one, on his way to a great 6th place finish) That was about a third of the way through the bike leg. The rest of the bike I just tried to keep the pace going as best I could without totally blowing the legs. I knew Emma wouldn't be far behind and with one of the hardest runs coming up I knew that I needed every second. As it turns out, Emma posted the fastest run of the day for the women and went by me halfway through the run and almost caught Renata. I totally melted on the run. The first half is along the singletrack that we started the bike on, then the second half is nothing but straight up and down steep ridges for 5km. It was all I could do to walk up the climbs and keep my legs moving. It didn't help that there was probably half the water stations the course needed judging by the number of people in the med tent after the race.

The finish line finally came and it was over, done with a 6th place finish. Shonny once again showed that she has gotten this Xterra thing down taking the win and an amazing 6th place overall, followed by Mel, Leslie, Renata, and Emma.

You would think the drama was done for the day but no... I decided since I had a long trip home after the race to get back to work on Monday that I needed a long cooldown. Mark Rudder (my Atlanta training homestay) and I headed out for a 30min spin on the bikes during which time Renata nearly took her big toe off getting it caught in her chain ring while warming down. I got back to the car to pack things up only to find Ryan running around like a crazy person trying to organize getting Renata to the hospital. The next 3hours involved me trying to find another ride back to JR's to get packed up, realizing that half my stuff from transition had gotten put in Renata's bag and was on its way to the hospital along with my bike, then getting all my stuff organized for Ryan to drive over to Richmond, and laying out Renata's stuff that had gotten put in my bag to make sure she got it back, and finally rushing to get a ride to the airport with Matt Boobar and catching my 5:30pm flight home. All with a serious case of low blood sugar and an upset stomach. The day finally ended after a 4hr drive home from the airport in Detroit - 3am, not a happy camper.

It's now wednesday afternoon, well early evening, and after three days of work and very little training I am headed back to Detroit to start the craziness all over again (in reverse) for the race in Richmond this Sunday, gotta go!!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Xterra Alabama Meltdown

It's pre-race night here in Birmingham Alabama and I'm just getting the last things prep'd for tomorrow's Xterra race. Love this course, especially since I spend the winters here training but it is going to be a hot one tomorrow, 90+ degrees with lots of humidity. On top of that, the water temperature is mid to high 80s so hot, hot, hot. Drove down with Ryan DeCook on Thursday (10+ hours) after driving into Detroit wednesday evening (4hours) thankfullly Ryan wanted to drive so I slept a good portion of the way. Got some good pre-riding/running in on the course the past two days and even helped out with the kids xterra for a bit this afternoon. It is surprisingly hard to swim while holding a ten year old afloat, but it saved him from getting pulled in the boat and he got to finish the race. Check out my pre-race video interview with Xterra!!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Xterra South Central Champs, Waco TX

Race morning finally came after a surprisingly good nights sleep. Usually I toss and turn trying to fall asleep, then wake up a couple of hours early and can't get back to sleep. Having my homestay just a minute or two bike ride from the race site made things extra easy and stress free, no worrying about drive time or finding a parking spot. I got to transition and got set-up and was already sweating up a storm, it was definitely going to be a warm one. Got in a good warm-up and headed over to the swim start. Again the pros got there own wave start and this time we had plenty of room for a clean start. The one loop river swim headed downstream first for 375m, then a nice 750m stretch against the current, and finishing up with another 375m downstream. Craig Evans, Branden Rakita, and I quickly made our way to the front of the field with Conrad trying desperately to hang on. I was planning on a nice draft and was glued to Craig's feet around the first two buoys, but the pace slowed down heading upstream so I moved around to the front and put the hammer down. I figured the boys would be able to hang on but apparently not and I found myself with a nice little gap off the front. The river bank had a nice muddy steep bank so it was nice to get there first and have the full attention of the helpers waiting to pull me out.
The pro women hanging out before the start brows furrowed, not sure why
Into transition and smoothly out on the bike, I had two minutes on Mel and a couple more on the rest of the women. I knew the bike was going to be technical and tough and just kept my eyes forward and the pedals turning. I got through the first half with just a couple of uphills that I needed to run up and the course was definitely running much faster than anyone had anticipated. The sport race athletes that were on the course ahead of us were absolutely the most courteous athletes at any race I have ever been to and were amazing at letting us through. Mel again caught me quickly then Renata and Shonny. The second half of the course had a short loop with a couple of tricky climbs. With some seriously tired legs I definitely lost sometime having to get off my bike more than I wanted and with the fatigue setting in I frequently had issues getting clipped back in leading to a bit of frustration. The last section before the straightaway to the finish was a cool newly built section where you swooped down through a huge drainage culvert onto a skateboard like ramp bridge. The local MTB guys had just finished building it for the race and overall did an amazing job with the trails and course, definitely hope we come back to Waco next year.

Into T2 in fourth and I could see Shae Rainier right on my heels as I headed up Jacob's ladder, this huge set of stairs right out of transition. I was feeling a little sluggish on the run as I had taken a little more than week off with a sore hip going into the race and was missing the snap and turnover I had in Vegas. I have to admit I really got stuck in no man's land and thinking back on it definitely eased off the pace. There was literally no one in sight either behind me or in front and on a couple of occasions I even started to wonder if I was still on the right course. That was until we came out of the trails and onto the road with a hundred meters or so to the finish and Emma came just flying by me. I heard her just seconds before she caught me and tried to make it a sprint finish but she was just moving way to quickly and I had to settle for fifth. Solid race, but could have ridden the bike smoother and definitely could have dug deeper on the run.

Women's Podium

Big congrats to Renata for taking the win and Emma for her highest placing ever. Post race I again showed off my excellent bike handling skills by completely wiping out trying to hop the smallest curb ever on the cool down ride with Branden, Renata, and Ryan. Thankfully, other than a bruise on my hip, embarrassment was all that I inflicted on myself. Next up ALABAMA!!! Can't wait. I almost think of it as my second home now as I've trained there for the past two winters. Oak Mountain has some of the best trails in the South and overall it is just a great venue for a race. If you were even considering travelling to an Xterra race this year definitely come to this one!!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Calm before the storm...

So it's the night before the race here in Waco Texas and I find myself with some time before heading to bed for a few lines. The course here in Cameron Park is going to be a tough one, fun but really really tough. I got here thursday afternoon after 14hrs of travel which is about 5hrs longer than it should have taken but the plane for the last leg from Houston to Waco had some mechanical issues. Luckily Ryan DeCook and I were on the same flight and had some company waiting it out. Once again I am so lucky and have another fabulous homestay. I am staying with Ian and his two kids, Jude and Hanna right next to the course in a historic 1928 Colonial Cameron Park Home. Ryan and I quickly got our bikes set up and headed out to check out a bit of the bike before either the daylight faded or the looming thunderstorm rolled in, it ended up being touch and go for both, though the fireflies out on the trails were seriously cool to see. The course.... as I said, going to be really tough. It is super tight and twisty with lots of steep uphill switchbacks and gnarly fast descents. Bridges, roots, rocks, armadillos check, thankfully no one has seen any copperheads yet. Hopefully they aren't waiting until tomorrow to show up. I think I was really tired and dehydrated (really?!!! after 14hrs of travelling, you think?!!) and probably should not have ridden but I did and really struggled with the course, couldn't get up a lot of the climbs and my balance was so off I quickly found myself flying through the air and hitting the trail. Not nearly as much damage as Vegas but I hope this is not a pre-race trend that continues much longer. No worries, got back to the house before the downpour and headed out to dinner with Will, Branden, and Ryan who are always good for more than a few laughs, politically incorrect comments and generally TMI, thanks guys.
These guys are seriously cool, nothing like them in Canada
Friday headed out for a full loop of the bike course and started to feel more comfortable with it, though still a little off and frustrated. Finished up the training for the day with a swim which made everything all better. There had been talk earlier in the week about e coli levels in the river being to high and the race turning into a duathlon, my worst nightmare. Instead the results came back good to go and with water temperature in the mid-seventies it means no wetsuit swim, perfect. I got to try out my new Rocket Science Sports skinsuit and absolutely love it. For dinner the usually suspects plus Matt Boobar came over for dinner where we absolutely astounded Ian with the quantity of food that five people were going to eat. Today I got out for just a quick spin on the bike after a short run and finally feel really good. Hit the first section of switchbacks that were giving me troubles perfectly and all is good in the world again. Looking forward to racing tomorrow, should be a total blast, it's only suppose to hit 94degrees (34 celsius) and 60% humidity!!!!

Friday, May 21, 2010


A little late with the race report seeing as I am already in Texas getting ready for the next Xterra Cup Race but here goes. Headed out to Vegas early Thursday April 22nd for the first Xterra race of the season. I was feeling really well prep’d but one never knows what is going to happen at the first tri of the season. I had a direct flight, which is rare these days and with the time change arrived in Vegas quite early in the morning. I was fortunate to have a great homestay for the race and was going to be staying in north LV with Kurt and Stacy. I totally missed seeing Kurt coming to pick me up as I was enthralled with the goings on at the airport. 8:30 in the morning and an intoxicated bachelorette party wearing what looked to be high school prom dresses were stumbling around the passenger pick up area. One had even managed to rip open her dress all the way up the back, only in Vegas. Got to the house and unpacked the bike with enough time to head out to the course for a quick loop on the bike. The course was going to be very close to the same as last year, a two loop bike and run, with the transition area thankfully moved to the parking lot of the Loews Lake Las Vegas resort instead of the middle of the desert. Kurt was going to be racing the sport race on Sunday so he decided to join me for a lap. The course, which got dubbed the moonscape last year, is held on roughly graded loose gravelly, sandy, jeep roads with a few washes and a tiny bit of singletrack thrown in for good measure. There is really only one sketchy downhill section and I quickly showed off my expect pro skills by planting my front wheel into a rocky washed out section of it and going over the handlebars. Ouch, skinned up my elbows and knees pretty badly and planted my right knee right into a rock. It instantly started to swell and stiffen up, nice. We finished up the lap without further incident and headed back to the house for some ice and first aid treatment. Friday morning I rolled out in style in Kurt and Stacy’s Audi (yes I do get the best homestays) and met up with Renata and Emma for a quick swim in Lake Mead as Lake Las Vegas was closed to pre-swimming. I then decided to just go easy and ride only the second half of the course and do a short transition run. I was still a bit shaken by the crash and wanted to take an extra day for my brain to forget the image of me crashing and also to let others pre-ride the course a bunch and hopefully work in a nice line down the hill. Thankfully they did and by Saturday morning a nice line had been packed down and pretty much cleared of the larger, chunkier stuff. A quick bike-run on Saturday, then it was just relax, get all the gear ready and get a good night’s sleep. Sunday morning was an early start. Kurt went off at 8am for the sport race and me at 8:30 for the championship race. Got to the race site with plenty of time to get everything set-up and get in a good warm-up. It was good to see everyone and catch up after six months of no racing. There was a pretty good size pro field and the swim start was a little narrow so I tried to get an outside line. Unfortunately I got boxed in a little and missed the feet of the lead group of guys, Jorden Bryden, Seth Wealing, Branden Rakita, and Craig Evans. I spent most of the swim chasing hard and finally caught them with a little time to draft before heading into T1. I got through transition relatively quickly and out onto the bike hopefully with a nice gap on the rest of the women. I was a bit disappointed when I got passed by Mel, then Shonny, in just about the exact same places as last year. Before heading to the race I had gone back and reread my race report from last years race and was determined this time to not ease up on the bike but just keep hammering away. I was riding technically really well, no troubles on the downhill, and easily over the water pipe that took more than its fair share of casualties. I held off Lesley and Renata until almost the end of the bike, much better than end of the first lap last year, and headed into T2 in fifth right on their heels. I had a good gap on sixth and knew that catching the fleet footed Lesley Patterson was probably out of my reach so I set my sights on catching Renata and fourth place. I felt nice and light on my feet and got into a nice high cadence for the two-loop run. The run was pretty much straight up, turn around, straight down, twice. I quickly caught Renata on the uphill section of the first lap then just kept the pace going all the way to the finish. Shonny used an insane bike split to catch Mel and take the win, Mel held on for second, Lesley third, myself fourth and fellow canuck Rosemarie Gerspacher taking the last spot on the podium. (yes that is, count’em, 3 CANUCKS on the podium!!!). Kurt also had a great race placing near the top of his age group. He decided to walk the sketchy downhill saying visions of me endoing stopped him for giving it a go, oops. Overall I was much happier with my race than last year, definitely better effort on my part, both mentally and physically, but also I’m closing the gap to the top girls on the bike. I just need to keep working on my technical skills and high-end power and I will get there. Post race the gang and friends headed out to this crazy Cajun restaurant where they serve you shrimp, crab, or crawdads right on the table, very messy but seriously tasty. This year I couldn’t rally for a trip down to the strip for some late night shenanigans and opted instead for an early night to bed before a long day of traveling back home. Big thanks to Kurt and Stacy for hosting me, always makes a trip easier and more fun having a home to stay at. Next up, a couple of MTB races then off to Texas (well already here actually) for the Xterra South Central Champs. Race Gallery -