I have written a blow by blow account of the race for Triathlon Magazine Canada and you can read it HERE. This race report is more about what has been different behind the scenes to create this race. If you don’t feel like reading my other report and just want to know what happened the guts of it is that I put myself in a strong position to win the race with the fastest swim and bike, but finished it off with a strong run as well. Liz Lyles, a very strong pro and a fabulous runner, was only able gain just over two minutes on me in the run which is easily my strongest run of the year. It was a good day.
The background is that the race fell after a really successful block of three weeks where I really pushed my limits in training. I had a solid week to recover to the race but I am excited to see what happens when that block really starts to settle in. I have a lot of people to thank (well besides MC for putting up with like 95 hours of training in three weeks- I was a barrel of monkeys worth of fun I bet- love you baby! xx) and I would like to talk about some of them below.
First is in the swim. I have had a banner year of swim development which is only right now starting to really show in my races. I love the Blueseventy Helix which is why I asked to be a part of Blueseventy’s program, but I have also really benefitted from medium-small sizing. Changing to a smaller wetsuit has been very, very good for my wetsuit swims. I did have one swim where I wasn’t allowed in a swimskin and I believe my Champion System elite trisuit rocked it. These suits are a great choice if you are planning ITU rules events or Canadian races that may not allow any swimskins.
I have had a group of athletes in Victoria to swim with who are very dedicated. The most frequent training group I swim with is Clint Lien's- my training partners are Steven Kilshaw, James Cook, Sara Gross, Kate Button, sometimes Karen Thibodeau and in open water- Brent McMahon and Danelle Kabush. In and outside of the swims I do with them, I have periodized the swim training I am doing overall in order to swim more, and then swim more quality. Sometimes it just isn’t enough to mindlessly follow what the masters or even a triathlon swim squad is doing. You have to be sure it fits in with what you are doing around the swimming – it doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Each session, even a swim session, matters. I think I have been much better at recognizing that and I am sure I am swimming better because of it. So that is why my swims in races are getting better and I managed to be first out of the water twice. Not all of them are great, but some of my bad swims were followed by an average race as well, so it can be a canary in a coal mine.
Second, my riding is improving because of a commitment to programming philosophy from the Pacific Cycling Center. Houshang Amiri is a brilliant coach who has taught me a lot of things but the one thing you really can’t teach is patience. Sometimes I would push too much intensity, too soon, when I wasn’t seeing the immediate benefit of aerobic endurance training. Houshang is the master of creating aerobic monsters. Svein Tuft is probably Houshang’s most famous athlete but I can honestly say that working with Houshang has made me better as an athlete and a coach. I am self coached for triathlon but really, self coached athletes need to be smart about who they learn from in order to be good self-coachers. You may want to consult www.pacificcyclingcenter.ca to see if any of his camps or programs work for you. A winter of training with Houshang’s group followed by a block of incorporating his work into my program late season has been very effective for me.
Riding as part of the Trek Factory team is an inspiring and motivating experience. I am lucky to ride the fastest machine outfitted with amazing Bontrager wheels with Powertap hubs, full Shimano Di2 components, the most aero helmet from Rudy Project and the latest and greatest saddles from Cobb Cycling. I am very privileged in this regard and it makes me very proud to be a fast cyclist who has the equipment to be even faster. I am lucky to have a Trek Concept Store in Victoria. The Trek Procity Store is full of amazing and dynamic personalities and I love those guys/gals to bits. Thanks very much for being a part of my support team for many many years. I have five races with the fastest bike split so far this year.. and I am not finished yet. I love being a fast rider but you can’t rely on your bike split to win the race.
Third and most important aspect of my racing to improve was my running. In order to run faster I first had to start practicing my nutrition with my Powerbar products on the run. This has made a difference. Then I asked my friend Marilyn to show me HOW to run as a participant in her www.mindfulstrides.com course. Huge benefit! With a bit of technical ability, I just put my head down and ran a lot, lot more. That is where Frontrunners Westshore comes in, helping me choose footwear that will keep me healthy and injury free. With more running, I was leaning on Synergy Wellness where I meet Jamie Grimes for weekly chiropractic tuneups and I visit Markus Blumensaat at Leftcoast Health for regular massage and stretching sessions. Without these two guys and Marilyn my hip would still be that of a 90 year old. Thank you to all of you! My last shoutout goes to Geoff McLaughlan, who has sadly (for me) moved to McGill to pursue his doctorate in math. He was my solid as a rock run training partner all summer and he will be missed by me and the swim squad for sure while he is gone!
So I am hoping at this point I have learned some things that are going to help further my development because I am planning to race first at a world class level in the ranks of 70.3 for the remainder of this season and then hopefully make the leap to full Ironman in early 2015. It is time but it certainly is not too late. Jo Pavey is very inspirational to me – she didn’t win any major championship event in running despite a long, long career which started when she was a junior. Recently, at 41 years of age, she won the Commonwealth Games 5km and then the Euro Champs in the 10km. Ladies, it ain’t over until you say it’s over.Plus I have USANA products to keep my skin and body young as a 20 year old!
So on that note of delayed retirement for an as yet undetermined period of time, I am a happy auntie and leader of Ironkids events. I had a lot of fun with all of YOUR children while in Lake Stevens so take a peek at this if you want to have a little giggle about how adorable your children are.
The Vineman event had a big highlight on it for me. I really enjoy the course, I really enjoy wine and I really enjoy tough race fields. Thus, the 2014 edition of this event was ticking all the boxes for me to get fired up.
This last block I focused a bit more effort on high intensity and as a result, packed in a few races to test the ‘fastness’. It started with a strong win in Saskatoon, another very strong day at the XTERRA in Victoria and now for my third week, meant to be the coup de grace, I had 3/5ths of a very strong day. I don’t have any regrets on how I raced in Vineman, I just know I did not have the run I felt I have built in the last few months. However like Tiger Woods said: "Winning is not always the barometer of getting better." I have consistently been at the front in races this year so it is clearly motivating.
I would like to thank Marc Kelley for being a super amazing homestay and race sherpa. I had the greatest support going into the race including an excellent tour of the course with Silvio, who works with the Cannondale pro men's team. I like motorpacing on a strong wheel in the days before the race so all of this was lining up perfectly. Thanks so much you guys. Also thank you to Dave and Amy Latourette who make Vineman the pro spectacle it is. Without their amazing support the pro field would not be as amazing as it is year after year so thanks so much guys.
The pro women's race is really changing. We have more and more strong women and thus the race is becoming more tactical. What is exciting for Canada is we have a lot of very strong cyclists and many of us are getting faster and faster on the run. Leading the charge is Heather Wurtele. For Worlds I think it will be very important for us to work hard to get up to the front. The draft rules are difficult- all the dropping back to stay within the rules slow everyone down and the legal distance is frankly, still drafting. So the front swimmers are legally working together and it will take some smart riding to get them. I felt that while I was in the group and unable to get away I was going slower. Racing has a lot more dynamics than you can see from an armchair. I think there needs to be some thought on what we are doing while we can't get away from each other to make sure that we at least continue to move forward as fast as possible!
I made a few errors on the day. First is I did not look at how the swim buoys were laid out and did not know that they snaked along the river back and forth. This made for lots of jostling and bumping. Rachel was beside me at the start and I saw her head for the far right to go straight. I should have followed. Instead I got pushed, shoved and at one point, dropped! OMG. Anyways, I managed to catch back up by the turnaround and the pace was very comfortable so I just resigned myself to a fast bike as pulling the swim pack is always dumb. Plus I saw Mel Hauschildt in that group so I knew I would have strong company once we got out.
Onto the bike… the women’s field at Vineman was full of “uberbikers”. A bunch of us are “fastest split” type of girls so it was not surprising that those of us out of the swim had a hard time getting away from each other. I think I was a stronger climber than the other girls but I was riding a smaller cog. This meant I was a pain in the ass on the flats because I was missing the one cog I needed and then would blast past uphill. Or, I am just getting back to the old Mel who used to climb very fast. I am hoping it was the latter but there is a consequence of the fabulously large 28 Shimano 11 speed cassette- you get some awesome gears to stay in big ring all day but you might miss the 11 one the downhills and one of the middle ones on the flats. I found I was stuck between a cadence of 95 and 85 all day and all I wanted was 90 ish. Still, I caught Rachel at the bigger Chalk Hill and we rode together to T2 with a small gap to Melissa. Trek bikes in for 2nd and 3rd!
Meredith outswam us by 2:30 then rode 15 seconds faster so she was clear out in front all day. Domination wire to wire. Nice work Meredith! I only know about the race for second place.
So out onto the run I felt so awesome. That bike was the least taxing I have had all year, my legs were fresh and I was thinking this is the day I am going to run the 1:22 I have been training for. I was so excited. I went out, looked at my watch: 3:45/km. Okay too fast. Slow down. Next mile 3:50/km okay comfortable just settle in. I settled in, eased past Rachel and Melissa ran by. Faster than me but not so fast that I felt the breeze of her wake ripping my shirt off. I decided to attach a visual bungee and keep to my pace. But at about 4 miles I went from all good to legs turned off. Not tired, not heart rate blowing to bits but guts exploding (more lady guts than stomach) and hips stuck. Could not run. 6 long miles of not being able to run, pace dropped by more than 50 seconds per mile and I shuffled along. Then at about 10 miles, legs unlocked a little, I pounded a bunch of Powergels and I brought the pace down 30 seconds per mile again to run it in at about 4 min/kms.
So other than the middle 6 miles of the run it was a fantastic race. The best I could have hoped for would have been to duke it out with Rachel a bit closer so it almost met all my expectations and I am satisfied with that. I don’t know if it was 3 races in a row making it a bit too much racing (my weakness is I would rather race than train) or whether it was just really bad timing of the month. I haven’t ever nailed the exact wrong day before so this was a first with that. Honestly, I think a lot of it was the latter because I had a big, fat, bloaty belly all day and I waddled a bit in the photos. It wasn’t that pretty.
So here we go for the last push of the season. I am going to take some time to really build the engine for worlds, test it at Lake Stevens, then giver to represent all of my awesome sponsors and Canada in Mont Tremblant. Somebody smack me if I try to add any more races please! Thanks for reading and thanks for the awesome feedback on my Vineman soccer video. The pro field is a great bunch of people and I appreciate them making my trip a lot of fun. I like to win the fun-having contest at every event if I can J
Thanks to Trek Bikes for the support, to Shimano Triathlon, Powerbar, Rudy Project, Bontrager, Champion System, Blueseventy, Powertap, USANA, Frontrunners Westshore and Trek Procity Racing Victoria.
I may not have the supermagnum from Vineman, but La Crema was not the only winery I got to visit. I spent an evening with my favorite winemaker, Chris Howell at Cain Vineyards. It is always so interesting to talk with him and the view above the vines is spectacular.
Cain Five is a wonderful consolation prize to a double magnum of La Crema :)
Oh and have you seen it?
The XTERRA event in Victoria grows every year. It started as a little sprint event at Durrance Lake and has been steadily growing and attracting interest from further abroad year after year. This year there were many racers from out of town and even out of country. I participated in a pre race training clinic with Brent and Danelle which saw more than 20 keen triathletes pay to go ride with us (the money went to a cancer charity!) and I was amazed at how GREAT everyone could ride! It was very fun. It was also my only ride on a mountain bike before the race so I was happy to take some time to learn the lines again.
The Halloween bag of Powerbar wafers is sent around the circle. Brent is extra stoked to get some :)
So this is the main takeaway from this event for me. I rode ZERO mountain bike miles leading up to this race for a variety of reasons but mostly because I have focused 100% of my attention on training for 70.3. I will admit that having the race here in Victoria means that despite my lack of practice I do have loads of mileage in the trees here so it would not take much for me to become comfortable riding technical terrain again. However, I rode awful in the singletrack. I crashed no less than four times and I still rode a faster split than last year. Fitness beats skills.
It was very fun. Highlights on the swim for me were sprinting to oblivion to the first buoy, dying completely, and rallying to catch back up to the group behind Brent. I am fit for swimming. There was a guy who kept stopping to swim breaststroke and I think he still stayed with my group though. I don’t know how I feel about that. I am feeling really great in my Blueseventy Helix wetsuit though. Having switched to the new MS Women's size is making an absolute world of difference for me. I am much more comfortable and fast in it.
Second highlight was doing battle with Ironman legend Tom Evans. It appears he is getting serious about his mountain biking because he was very fast in the trails this year. I tried my hardest to crack him on the climbs but it just wasn’t happening. I should have known he was in awesome shape when he held Brent for the swim. Also a highlight for me was seeing the improvement in little Kate Button on her mountain bike. I think the last time I rode was with her and Brent (winter) and we came up to this steep little drop thing which I was like, hmmm, maybe not today and I walked down. Shortly after I finished wrapping my purse in my spokes she plowed through it on her beat up old hard tail. So proud of you Buttons!
Third highlight was setting the fastest run split on a super steep and technical run course. I am sure Danelle could have run faster if she hadn’t just taken a little injury break due to a calf strain but I am still going to feel good about running fast this weekend. I am hoping she will train more with me so I can try to run like her in Maui. Staying within seven minutes of Brent on a technical (not my strength) and very steep (also not my strength) and long in time duration course (more time to lose time) is solid. Looking back at where I have been in XTERRA I would regularly lose more than 10 minutes to the men on the run. This is good.
Racing in Victoria is legit with very fast athletes on the line. Leis for the Mcwinners ;)
I really appreciate all the local volunteers and Human Powered Racing for putting on this event. Monique you are a star! Thanks to Sandy Wilson from Arbutus Physio for being onsite to take care of athlete’s post race niggles – including mine! Thanks to the Trek ProCity boys Bill, Troy and Mitch for being on hand to take care of anyone’s last minute mechanical stress and for feeding the hordes barbeque after the race. Great job to Troy and Erin Glazier from Chek News for crushing the team relay in the Sprint event.
Woodie's triathlon debut
Glazier has become quite the triathlete under the tutelage of Ironman legend Jasper Blake. Thanks to Sean Cunningham and Jasper for providing the event’s entertainment. And thanks to the event sponsors http://www.xterravictoria.ca/sponsors/ for making it all happen. Nourish was the meeting spot where a group of us enjoyed some post race sustenance (so good!) .
Seriously amazing food.
Congratulations to all who earned their spots in Maui and I look forward to seeing you all there J Thanks to all of my sponsors who indulge in my versatile schedule which has now seen a win over the half distance, Olympic distance and now XTERRA. I would like to try to win a mountain bike race now. That will have to wait because I don’t think it will happen if I don’t brush up on my skills a little.
A shoutout to the SCUD ambassador at the race, Rob Bourguigion. It is nice that XTERRA remembers such a passionate proponent of XTERRA racing and the lifestyle. Scott Scudamore touched all the lives of everyone who races XTERRA.
Thanks Trek, Bontrager, Shimano, Powerbar, Blueseventy, Champion System, Rudy Project, Powertap and USANA. Also thanks so much to my Victoria supporters Synergy Health Management, Frontrunners Westshore and Wiink2. Congrats to FR Westshore owner Nick Walker for punching his ticket to XTERRA Worlds on a fancy Trek Superfly. Looks like I have added a training partner in September!
The Subaru West Triathlon series is a group of events that were recently acquired by WTC. This year the Victoria event was an IM 70.3 event and the Saskatoon Olympic distance race I took part in this weekend was categorized a 5150. The difference for this race was that a time handicap was established between the pro men and women and an additional prize purse was allotted to the first PERSON across the line. I was planning/hoping this to be a girl’s year.
Interview props for the TSN coverage
The time gap proved to be generous (16 minutes) but only because the course conditions could not have suited me better (and because I had an astonishingly good race). Although I got semi-smoked in the swim by both Alison Hooper and Alex Coates, in incredibly choppy conditions (windy lake swims are my swimming Achilles heel) the deficit was erased within 10 kilometers thanks to the gusting wind blowing us all over the road. These conditions are right in my wheelhouse. Riding fast on a flat and windy course is a breeze on a Trek Speed Concept (the most aero triathlon bike) with fast Bontrager Aeolus wheels and Shimano Di2, my rocketship, along with the proven fastest aero helmet from Rudy Project, the Wing57. I even put the handy magnetic tail on the back of it to maximize my hole-in-the-wind-punching ability and honestly, it was fantastic. I felt like a marvel of aerodynamic invention and my aero position established by Nes at Studeo DNA is becoming more and more comfortable for me which is reflected in my splits.
Racing ITU speedsters is always challenging as their superior high end can often trump the strength of a long course athlete. However, I have been working very, very hard on high end in recent weeks to try to make my 70.3 pace more impressive so I was ready to do battle. I blasted through the bike course had a solid gap off the bike despite following the lead car off course instead of following the well-marked and very well marshalled course to T2 (DOH!!). What’s another precious few seconds, right? I am a rookie of being the very first PERSON…..
Another Trek fastest trip back to transition... this time first person overall!
This photo was taken by a volunteer named Heather Smith who was volunteering since her friend raced the sprint event. Thanks for the awesome photo Heather!
I was quite panicked for the first 5km of the run and felt concerned that the course was so going by very slowly for me. I had expected flat and fast but when I got on it there was not much flat and many obstacles/switchbacks in my way of going fast. However, even the superfast ITU boys ran 34 minutes so again, running by GPS splits is not better than running by feel. Speedy Taylor Reid’s 34 minute run couldn’t make up enough time although it did earn him the top step in the men’s race. Barry Shepley's group in Caledon is definitely making headway in the battle for producing Canadian triathlon talent. In the last kilometer I was being cheeky and stopped to wait for the boys to see if I could just tease them within sight of the line but after a bit I decided it was better to just go ahead and win before I pull a hamstring and DNF or something dumb like that. I am the oldest pro after all, s$&*t can happen!
So I say yay! for another win, for another very strong bike and for another strong run. Yay! for the girls that we won the chase and yay! for long course dominating the ITU speedsters on this round. Congrats to Alex for turning around a very stressful morning where she had no bike and earning second place and to Alison Hooper who ran very fast to take third spot. Taylor beat Jeff Symonds out in the men’s event and Brent McMahon took third.
Thank you very much to Paul Regensburg at for the invitation, thank you to Subaru Saskatoon for setting up Brent and I in a pimpin’ new Tribeca to go spin donuts in the fields in (not really) and thank you to the town of Saskatoon for the warm welcome, great volunteers, and beautiful course. My first visit to Saskatoon was amazing. Thank you!!
Thanks to Blueseventy for super fast wetsuits, goggles and speedsuits. Thank you to Trek, Shimano, Powerbar, Rudy Project helmets and glasses, Powerbar and Bontrager for being my dream team and helping me rock out on the bike to win this race. Thanks to Champion System for sweet looking custom kits. Thanks to Sci Con Travel Cases for getting me to Saskatoon. Thanks Synergy Wellness Management for keeping me healthy and Mindful Strides for bringing my run back in competition. Thanks to Frontrunners Westshore, Saltstick, USANA, Procity Racing and Wiink2 for the continued support :)
Goody bags for pros
My favorite vendor in the public market :)