A quick update on what's been going on.
I raced 70.3 mont Tremblant 6 weeks ago where I got my ass whooped again by the speedy Meredith Kessler. But I was closer! And I reckon I've got her measured for any future races ;0-) At some point during the second half of the run I landed slightly funny on one step and felt something tweak in my "good" now "bad" knee. It wasn't killer, so I continued on but with a definite feeling of concern in my belly.
The next four weeks were spent trying to address said good/bad knee and eventually we deduced that I needed to get it scoped to have a few rather large floaters removed. By that I mean that the Drs went in and cleaned out the knee and removed some cartalige that had come lose both at the race and probably over time too. No two ways about it, I don't have knees that are made for running! Or biking either to be honest! Maybe I should have stuck to swimming!
So I had my surgery here in Boulder a few days ago and things went as well as anticipated. The recovery time from the surgery is anticipated to be fairly short, but as I'm learning, it will be as quick or as slow as it wants to be. U can't force these things.
Mentally I'd be lying if I didn't say I was tired. Tired of fighting. Once again, many people are questioning why I don't move on and hang up my boots. Only time will tell what I decide. But in the meantime I am 100% focused on getting healthy again. Regardless of what lies in store for my future, being healthy, active and adventurous is in my blood, it's who I am, what makes me tick. So my goal right now is to rehab correctly and smartly under the guidance of magic hands Lawrence, and get myself back doing what I love to do.
Of course a big thanks goes out to my supporters.... Friends, family, sponsors and any Uber fans out there.
Back at it!
There's no two ways about it, it's been a long tough road to get back to racing. My last race was in Kona 2011 where I DnF'ed. That was 2 1/2 yrs ago, which in racing years (which are kinda like dog years) is a long time. I'm sure at some point I'll get round to sharing some of my reasons, thoughts and emotions throughout those two years, but now's not the time. For now I want to focus on the positives and change my mindset from that of "the forever injured Julie Dibens" back to "the I'm a Professional triathlete Julie Dibens".
Racing was kind of a big deal for me today. There has been a lot of fear, doubt and questioning going on, and I had to put those Gremlins to rest. The only way to do that was to get out there and race, and race hard against some fast fast girls!
My two biggest questions were as to whether 1) I could still do it/did I still have it and 2) would I still enjoy it. This 2nd one may sound silly, but it's so important!
Thankfully, I can say that I loved it. During the swim I found myself smiling to myself as I tucked in behind Roka teammate Meredith Kessler. "Now this is what it's all about". Once out on the bike I was in my familiar "happy place", and of course relished the opportunity to be leading the race. I definitely felt somewhat rusty and unsure as to my pacing. Was I going hard enough?, too hard? I really wasn't sure. But regardless, I was out there riding my bike in a beautiful setting, the sun was shining and I had a whole gaggle of girls trying to chase me down! Yeah baby!
Obviously I entered T2 a little anxious as to how the body parts would feel on the run, but left pleasantly surprised. Not too bad! From T2 to the finish it was just about me doing what I had came here to do, get to the finish line, test the knee and the snaggle toes and see where I stacked up in probably the most stacked field Ever! Ok just kidding on that part, but the way Heather W and Jacko raced, u don't ever get much faster than that! Other than two big as your face blisters things were good, and despite my appearance crossing the finish line I was delighted with my result. Just somewhat overwhelmed I think with built up emotion and somewhat amazed at the support I got out on the run course. While I may not acknowledge the cheers and words of encouragement, I definitely heard them.
So now this race is done, I feel I can move forward. I feel I can make that mental adjustment and start believing again, which I have no doubt will help me raise the bar in my training. My next race will be in St George in early May. By all accounts it sounds like an epic course and one I look forward to tackling.
I can't say it enough but I really wouldn't still be dreaming big if it wasn't for some great people around me. They know who they are and I thank them all. It's easier this way because i can't miss anyone out.... Not that i would... Or have ever done that before.... Cough cough!
And to my sponsors: I need to thank Trek bicycles, Powerbar and ISM saddles for your continued support the last 3 yrs. You stood by me through a couple of dry years! Thank you, and I hope to do you proud this year. And to two new sponsors who had the balls to take me on during the drought; Roka, your wetsuit I am in Love with! And I hope every swim I do is cold enough for me to bust out that bad boy! And Louis Garneau for your quality kit and helmets. Thank you both for adding me to your team.
A big shout out to Heather W, Jacko and MBK for some fast racing. There is no doubt these girls have raised the bar while I've been sitting around perfecting the art of cookie eating! Chapeau! girls. It was an honor to race with you today girls.
Until next time Dream big! Or don't dream at all
Weekly Wingnut adventures in Colorado and beyond:
So for a few months now there has been the odd tweet from me about an adventure here there and everywhere instigated by the Fairy Godmother herself Wingnut Wendy Ingraham. At first I was a little reluctant. I'm very much a routine person, and once I'm in a routine it's hard for me to break it. Those that have been to Boulder probably also know that once inside the Boulder bubble, it's often hard to break out! But for whatever reason Wing was pretty persistent and I finally broke out of the bubble for a MTB ride in Golden. Not surprisingly I survived!... And more importantly I had a blast doing it, and am now somewhat hooked on our weekly adventures.
I recently retweeted something that Dave Scott's son Ryan tweeted that really struck a nerve with me: "One day u will wake up and realize that u don't have time to do all the things u always wanted to do. Do it now #thewritingsonthewall"
These adventures are really a way for me to do this. Mike and I moved to Colorado 4 years ago, and one of the reasons why was that I wanted to be able to be out there, be active and just enjoy being healthy and outdoors. These adventures really sum that up for me. It's been super fun to just get out there, ride, run, just do things that I don't normally get to do in my daily training/living routine. It also allows me to really explore and get to see how awesome the state of Colorado is! Loving it
So far our Colorado adventures have included:
- Mtb'ing Chimney Gulch/apex trails in Golden
- Mtb'ing Lair O' The Bear/Bear Creek Trail in Morrison
- Mtb'ing in Winter Park
- A week long adventure in Maui, HI. Highlight Mtb'ing from Polipoli to the top of Haleakala and back, a morning sunrise hike, and Dragging Wingnut around the Maui west loop the day after Xterra worlds....Paybacks a beeatch
- Mtb'ing to the top of Saxon MTN road in Georgetown
- Trail running on black ridge trail in the Colorado Monument National park in Grand junction
- Mtb'ing Flight of Icarus trail ** cut short due to snow storm
- Trip to Glenwood Springs hot springs.
Each adventure has to be followed up by eating a big ass burrito. It's now tradition!
If u guys have any recommendations of fun places, trails, or adventures that we should try in Colorado tweet us at @juliedibens @Wingnut900 #weeklyadventure
Check back soon to read about the next one.
Update Nov 2013
It's been a while since my last update, well since the Tour of Cal to be exact. I only managed to race once between now and then and that's why I think I've failed to write anything. But, as a friend just reminded me, itís not like nothing has been going on. Rather than write a long winded therapeutic journal, I thought I'd just touch on the highlights.
Xterra Beaver Creek- 7th place: It was a real emotional battle preparing, racing and the post race evaluation. It was awesome to be back out racing, and while I knew I wasn't really race ready, I still hold high expectations for myself. It was a harsh reminder of how much more I have to do if I want to get back to where I once was.
Run training: the fact that I'm even writing about it is a plus! Things have been progressing well, and with the continued treatment I get and some smart advice from Mr. Dave Scott, I have been able to get some consistent running in. I have limitations due to the damage in my knee, but itís awesome and exciting to still see the progressions I was making. The dream is still alive
Kona/Supporting Rinny Week1: much like last year I had the opportunity to fly out to Kona with Rinny and help her in her preparations leading up to the IM WC. It also gave me a good opportunity to get some good heat training in for my build up to the Xterra WC in Maui, 2 weeks after Kona. I had a sense that Rinsta was going to crush it this year. She had that quiet calm confidence about her. To me she also looked like a new athlete on the bike. She looked good on it, looked comfortable, aggressive and at one with it. To me she always used to look a little awkward (sorry Rinsta), so I knew those girls were in trouble. But enough of her!!! My training that week was going well, and it was great for me to get some sea level running in to boost my own confidence a tad.
Kona week 2 Race week: after spending the first week with Rinny out at the Mauna Lani, race week I moved into Kona and managed to blag sharing a condo with Rinny's managers/agents Shannon and Wendy (aka Wingnut aka the fairy godmother). It was really fun for me to see what the "other" side to Kona is like. And big thanks to them for looking after me! When u are racing, u get so focused on the race that u do sometimes forget that fun can be had too. So it was really refreshing to hang w these two chicks.
Crash: the day before the race in Kona I had an unfortunate run in with a car. I was riding back into town w Dave Scott and Christine Bell, and we were trying to get to Huggo's for Dave to be on Breakfast w Bob. As it always seems to, it all happened so fast. One minute I remember being alongside a red car, and the next I remember him turning into me. I vaguely remember lying on the floor and people yelling for me not to move, and then remember waking up in the ambulance. Thankfully it could have been a lot worse, and I walked out of the hospital a few hours later. But there's no doubt I was pretty banged up.
Watching Kona: The big downside was that I was forced to watch most of the race the next day from the safety of our condo. At least I got to listen to Michael Lovato, Welchy and big Matty L on the live coverage! They did awesome! Once the girls got on to the run though, I just had to get out there to cheer them on. Wingnut and Shannon threw me on the back of their scooter... while far from the safest thing, it was the super fun option for sure! I got a few funny looks from friends, athletes, fans with half of my face bandaged up. The best though was when Tyler Butterfield who was having the race of his life running in ... Says to me as he's running by... "Dibs.. What the heck! Are u ever gonna take it easy on yourself". Too funny from a guy who was running in 4th place at the time! It was especially awesome to see Rinny and Rachel go 1-2, pretty much my dream picks for 1-2.
Maui/Xterra World champs: after my crash it was always going to be a tough ask to get myself ready to race. But I wanted to give myself every chance to do this, so I stuck to my plan and flew out to Maui with Wingnut and friend/athlete Grant Bovee a week before the race. I hoped that with every day the soreness would ease, but it wasn't to be the case and I pulled out of the race a few days prior. The whole Xterra crew were so welcoming to me and understanding. It was great to see them all again. It really is one of the best races you can do out there. The upside to not racing was that I got to "play" and "adventure" more than normal. With Mike joining us mid-week, it was fun to be able to kick back and enjoy the island.
The race: The obvious downside was that I was forced to watch another race from the sidelines. But with so many friends racing, it was fun to cheer them on and see them all race their hearts out on a grueling course. Flora Duffy gets the stand out performance of the day, and I think even surprised herself.
What's next: I think my whole Hawaiian experience could have pushed me one of two ways. I could have seen it all as a sign to finally move on. The crash, the frustrations with that, and then the fun I had could have easily steered me that direction. But instead, it's pushed me the other way (with a nudge from the FG). It showed me that I still really do want to try and get myself back on the Kona start line, and if I'm going to try I need to go all in, give it one more go! To do this I know I need to have a great team around me, and that's what the next few weeks are for. Spending the time getting the A team together and devising a plan to get me back to Kona. We are calling it "Project XXX" and I haven't been this excited in years! It's time to stop *&$@ 'ing around and make it happen!
Project XXX is a go! Check back soon to learn more on the team and how we can make this happen. Some pics from the trip:
Amgen tour of California: post race midnight musings!
It's 1am the night after my race at the Amgen Tour of California. I'm wide wake... Like I normally am the night after a triathlon, and my brain is just ticka ticka ticking away. Over analyzing this that and the other. What went wrong, what went right, why'd I do that, why didn't I do this ... that kinda thing. Normally, I would mull things over a little before putting pen to paper but I figure what the heck. Lets crack it out now.
My initial thoughts of my performance are:
- fark me that hurt
- that was a blast
- those girls can ride!!!
- what a day
I'm lying here trying to figure out why I'm disappointed. I genuinely had no fricking idea how I would stack up next to these top women cyclists. No idea! Sure, I hoped I could be competitive, i hoped i could be in the mix, but until I tried I just wouldn't know. So to come in 8th out of 15, I'd have thought I'd be pretty happy! So why am I not? That's the nagging question I've been going over the last few hrs. This is what if figured out so far!
1) I'm disappointed in my build up to the race. I mentioned it a little in one of my pre race interviews, but I got carried away in training and training too hard for this event. I failed to notice all the blatantly obvious warning signs that I was overcooked and instead of shutting it down, cracked on wanting more more more! Shit Dibs! How many times are u gonna put yourself in a hole before u learn! Dumb mistake, that forced me into some panic resting (...yes opposite to the infamous panic training u normally see the first week in October). So the first thing I'm disappointed in is in my preparation. I got greedy and ignored the warning signs.
2) I'm disappointed because I love to race and I love to kick ass no matter what the competition is. I ve always been that way, and I imagine I always will. I came 8th and got an ass whooping. especially from the top 3 girls who were awesome! I don't like this :)
3) I don't like this especially because I'm used to "cycling" being my turf per se. Someone asked me this afternoon, when was the last time a girl passed u on the bike? It's been a while... But it has happened... Just ask Rinny :) she passed me in st croix one year and likes to remind me every once in a while. So While having my ass handed to me on a platter on the bike is foreign to me.... These girls are cyclists so maybe i shouldnt I feel disappointed ...... Shit who knows!
4) I'm disappointed because I sensed that some people thought i could come in and seriously kick some cycling kick ass. Whether im right in sensing this or not, i did feel "pressure" in that people really thought i could come in and win. While of course that would have been fun, I always felt that it was not only disrespectful to these women cyclists but it was crazy talk! I've been a triathlete and trained like one since 1998 (before that I had gills). I swim 5-6 x a week, and when healthy I'm running most days. U cant change an athletes make up in 6-8 wks! These top women are professional cyclists. This is what they do, they take it seriously and do a great job at it. Evelyn's performance today was simply amazing to me. She absolutely crushed it and beat a ton of guys doing it. Seeing that today just really showed me, and hopefully the rest of the world that these girls can ride their bikes! There is such "inequality" in the media attention, prize money and sponsorship between the men's and women's cycling today that I think the perception is that the wonens standard isn't as high. To that I say bullshit! and to those that thought I could come in and podium I'm sorry to disappoint.
Damn I'm starting to feel better already!
Putting my disappointments aside I still had a blast doing this. Yesterday and today I felt like a kid at Christmas. I was so excited! I knew something was coming but I didn't know what to expect.... Was I gonna like it? Was it gonna be fun? Was I gonna be any good? I was a bundle of nervous energy, but the good kind. We were driving home from breakfast this morning and mike looked across at me and asked "are u cold? U're shivering" to which I said w a big smile on myself and a little high pitched giggle..."heck no! I just got really nervous". I think that moment really showed me how much I've missed racing and missed racing on the big stage. I love all the hype, anticipation, and anxiety that goes along w these big races. I raced as hard as I could and loved the challenge that the course represented. That climb at the end was awesomely tough!
So to sum it up:
- Am I disappointed: sort of
- Did it hurt: yes
- Did I have fun: heck yeah
- Can those girls ride: f@&$ yeah!
A big shout out to my manager Franko, Trek bicycles, Mark and the organizers of the race for letting me join in the fun; to Ryan Ung and Andrew Messick for making it happen. To Axel and the Bontrager pro cycling team for letting me use their space to get warmed up and ready; to powerbar for the sweet custom painted helmet;to everyone who has supported me in getting ready for this (Mike, Adam, DFS, DB, Marcos, Nick and all my friends... Ooohh I just wanna hug u all!)
Next up is operation running.... Wish me luck.
2013 and Beyond
First a summary of 2012: As you know I had my foot and knee surgery early in the year, and spent the first 6months focusing on rehab, swimming and an introduction back into biking. While both surgeries went well, the knee operation was a lot more complex than anticipated. Expected recovery to resume running was 6-9 months. Of course like most athletes I only heard the 6 part of that estimation, and hence was left a little (to say the least) disappointed and frustrated when my knee was not ready to run on that date. I am now just around the 10month mark, and am sad to say that I am still not really running. I have tried a few times in the last 3 months, and while the foot issue has greatly improved, the knee is still giving me some swelling. The last 6-9 weeks I have really hit the gym hard, and have been focusing on really trying to alleviate any weakness I still have as a result of some if the foot injury. I have made some great gains so far and am definitely in a lot stronger position to try to run again within the next month. Long live GUNS and BUNS!
While being on the sidelines last year was far from ideal, I do feel like I walked away from the year having learned a lot. Through various different avenues I was fortunate enough to get to experience the triathlon scene from the other side. I got to see my competitors race. See how they handled themselves both during the race when under pressure and pre and post. I think this gave me a great insight not only into their mindset as athletes, but also as to how I can be a better athlete myself. I think I also got to learn how I can be a better ambassador for the sport of triathlon, and for the sponsors I represent. I also hope that I can help grow the sport, share my insight and experiences, while I continue to try to get myself back on the start line as soon as I can. When you are competing at the top of the sport, I think it is easy to lose sight of this, and become a bit self-consumed with only your race results. While this is often seen as a side effect of focusing 100% on your sport, I now think I realize that there is more to professional sport than just competing, and in the future, I will give more focus on the business' of my sponsors who support me as an athlete.
For the most part, in 2012, my athletic performance side of things were put on hold. I still feel like I did everything I could to get myself ready to race, if that was possible. I spent my many hrs in the gym imitating a clam, imagining someone was stealing a 100$ bill from my butt-crack (squeezing the glutes), and generally doing mindless boring exercises that would strengthen everything around my knee from the hip down and the foot up. I also spent many hrs at PT's office, on the massage table, getting poked with dry needles, in the pool, and when able on the bike.
Once some fitness returned I was tempted to go out and test myself, satisfying that competitive nature all triathletes tend to have, with some bike races like Leadville, and some Hill TTís, but I felt it was too risky and too early. Instead I forced myself to back off the training, and spend more time on the rehab. At times this was very un-natural, and instead of doing what I would normally do when frustrated (go out and crush some training), I found myself having to back off and let my body heal when it was ready. The only time I really let myself lose and let my competitive nature free was my 2 weeks in Kona for the IM. I had two fantastic weeks supporting Rinny, and working alongside Triathlete magazine. During these two weeks I did some incredible riding, and managed to test myself against the clock on the Kona course a couple of times. The opportunity to spend that much time on the Queen K was awesome and after testing my form on the bike, I came away with some invaluable information on what I think I can do, and what I now I will need to do to set myself up to win that race.
So while last year was a year to sit back, focus on the rehab, and watch the triathlon world move around me, 2013 will be a different approach. The big goal is still 100% to get back to racing at a higher level than before. I am as hungry as I ever have been to achieve this and still find myself waking up every morning with that burning desire to get out there and push myself to new levels. I cannot wait to get out there and race. Thatís what I do! And, I feel I need to get back out there and race at that level again. This may include swim races, Mtb races, TT's, and other bike races at first. I feel that if I can do this, then when I am able to run at a decent level again, that the transition back to top racing again will be that much smoother.
I am also getting back more into coaching. Coaching is something I started back in 2006 when with a few other athletes we set up a UK based coaching company Driven to Tri. Since moving to the US, and stepping up to IM, the coaching side of things took a back seat. I now have the time and energy to devote to it, and am excited to be coaching a small number of athletes. I am also going to be coaching at a number of different camps throughout the year, which I think should be a lot of fun, and a great way for me to interact more and goof around like I normally do.
Wozers ....itís the middle of August 2012 already! This time of year, like most triAthAletes I am pushing myself to new training limits, as I prepare for my biggest races of the year. This year, while I donít have those goals, there are plenty of new limits I am trying to push myself through. Most are foreign to me as they are so much more about restraint than pushing my body to new heights. I have been so used to just getting after it in training, achieving better training parameters, withstanding bigger volume, and in general just focusing on getting faster in swim, bike, and run. On reflection that all seems so easy! I would get up each morning, swim/bike and or run, interspersed with rest, recovery, massage, ice baths and eating, then Iíd go to bed and wake up the next day and do it all again. Life was simple, as I could devote and focus all my energy on getting my body and mind ready for a set race/date. It's a selfish existence in many ways, but those close knew this and supported me in my dreams and aspirations.
This year is different in many ways. After opting to have foot and knee surgery earlier in the year, many would have urged me to take time off away from the sport, or even hang up my goggles and move on. That in many ways would have been the easy option. These last few months have been hard no doubt. Just ask those close to me :). I have battled the urges to do what I know best and just get out there and try and beast myself in the pool and on the bike. Itís so natural for me to do that, and at times I have succumbed to those urges. Itís what I love to do, and it seems so easy for me just to get out there and crush myself on the bike or in the pool day after day. Itís what Iím good at. Itís what Iíve done for the last however many years. But is that the right thing for me right now? Sure on the fitness level it is, and for my ego it is....but is it the right thing for me and what I still want to do in the sport of triathlon? The harsh truth is, NO it's probably not. Not yet!
Someone reminded me recently to reflect back on why I decided to have surgery. It was because I felt like I couldn't achieve my goals, training and racing with the limitations I had last year. My foot was foo-bar'ed. I knew that! I felt that every day. I probably didn't realize the extent of the damage in my knee, because of the issue in the foot. I didn't have to go under the knife. It was a decision that I took myself. I knew that the road back to full health was going to have uncertainty, and could be a little rocky, but itís what I had to do for me to reach my ultimate goals as an athlete.
While I have no regrets at all about my decision, I can look back on the days and weeks post-surgery, and those days.....well frankly.... sucked! First it was the post-surgical pain, then it was the immobility and boredom, then it was the frustration, the total lack of fitness, the worry that I would never be able to get fit again, the lack of racing, etc etc etc. I was reminded that I didn't put myself (and those close to me) through all that to go and F*@& it up now by getting carried away doing what I love to do...crush it on the bike and in the pool. There is still a lot of work behind the scenes for me to do, before I can really let myself loose. Rehab on the foot and knee still need to be 100% the priority. Yes the surgery was successful, but unless I build back the strength and functionality in the surrounding areas, it will all be for nothing, and my dreams will be crushed. Yes there will be a time and place for that, but it's not now. I'm now almost 6 months post-surgery and Iím not out of the woods yet.
I have to keep my eyes on the prize. I have to let go of the fear that I may never get my fitness back. It will come back, and in the big picture, it will come back relatively quickly. I have to let go of outside pressures from sponsors, and financial pressures, and most importantly the pressures that I put on myself to get back as soon as I can. The only thing holding me back right now, is not taking care of the small things, and pushing too hard too soon. This means my rehab is and must be a priority. The bike and swim...and hopefully run soon, are all secondary. The last few months I will admit I have had this backwards. I now aim to rehab first and treat my swims and bikes as a reward. Itís what I love more than almost anything....a ride or a swim....and yes even a run!
Hopefully this doesn't sound like a negative post. That's not its purpose. I'm actually in a good place now. My body feels good, my foot feels good, and my knee just needs more time for the cartilage to heal. It's all positive stuff. This week has just been a bit of a reality check, and a reminder for me to keep focused on me and what I need to do.
Its now been a month and 2 days since my surgery....but who's counting right! As far as i can tell, so far so good, and both the knee and the foot appear to be progressing as expected, which i think is great news. I always believe that the early part of the recovery/rehab phases are the most critical, and this is the time that we really need to listen to medical advice. Push too hard too soon, or ignore advice and you will end straight back in the hospital. Its been interesting to see myself go through different phases within this relatively short period of time on both the mental and physical side, and because i have too much time on my hands i thought i would share it with u all :). I have also decided to rate them on a scale of 1-10 on both a mental agony and physical agony...1 being no problem at all, 10 being hell-like.
Phase 1 - Pre Surgery phase: this is the time between when u have decided that u are having the surgery and the date that you are actually having it. From my experience this can be one of the hardest times to stay motivated. It is easy to slip into the thought process of why bother continuing to train/exercise/gym. You are going to lose it all as soon as you go under the knife anyway right? In some of my previous surgeries i have really struggled with this, but this time it wasn't so bad. Maybe i am getting wise in my old age....? I was really fortunate this round because this time period for me was actually only a few days, which is remarkable when u think we had to coordinate two different surgeons to be available back-to-back (one for the foot, one for the knee), so that i could knock it all out in one go. But reminiscing back a bit when I was thinking that this surgery might even be a possibility, i was especially being diligent in the gym to stay on top of things. I believe this has really helped me get to where i am at now without any hitches. In effect i had already started working on some of my rehab stuff before i even knew it, which meant that i had ingrained in my mind and muscles before they had a chance to forget them.
- Mental agony: 2/10 - i was actually super positive and finally felt like i was going to be getting some forward progression. I felt like my time since Kona, while i had tried everything, i hadn't had any forward momentum especially on the foot front. If i really wanted to try and achieve my goals, i knew something else had to be done.
- Physical agony: 4/10 - a 4 because i was getting pain in the foot especially doing every day stuff like walking the dog, and in the knee un able to kick in the pool...let alone bike or run.
Phase 2 - Surgery and first 3-4 days post op: Probably the most unpleasant time of it all. The day leading up to the surgery and the actual morning of the surgery i was a sweaty nervous mess. I was anxious and worried about what lay ahead. There is always uncertainty and risks associated with any surgery. My biggest worry was with the foot, and that i already had done too much damage to snaggle #1 which had been discussed with Dr Coughlin at the consultation. Much was the same with the knee - decisions were going to be made during the surgery, but to be honest i had no idea how bad the knee was, and all my focus was on the foot. As soon as i awoke from the surgery, i remember being told that the foot surgery had gone really well and that Dr Coughlin was very happy with both what he found and what they managed to do. And the knee...well they found a lot more damage than expected, and again was really happy with the outcome. So all in all i was pleased to hear this. Initially i wasn't in too much pain, but was fairly nauseous and groggy, which is never pleasant. I spent the night in the hospital, and thanks to my friendly nurse Camille who checked on me every couple of hours was kept up to speed on my pain meds. SO far everything was to be as expected. It wasn't until i was out of the hosptial and about 24hrs post op that the pain really kicked in. I had had a nerve block of the lower foot pre op, and it was only when this wore off that my pain levels went from about a 2/10 to a 10 in about the space of 5mins. And oh my God did it hurt. Thankfully i had Little miss Miller keeping a beady eye on me, and was in constant contact with the evil brothers John and Jeff Shilt. I call them the evil brothers cos they were involved with my pain levels...but they were actually far from evil ;). For the next 2 days i pretty much slept. I would wake up Mary Miller and tell her which movie we should next watch and then proceed to fall back to sleep within about 10mins ...sorry Miller ;). Once i was at least able to get up and stay awake for more than 10mins, we had to catch a flight home. With a foot and knee that wants to be elevated at all times, and still drugged up to the gills and pretty nauseous, sitting on a plane for a few hrs filled me with dread. But i survived and was super happy to make to back to Mike, Lucky and our little house in the G-barrel (Boulder's East side).
- Mental agony: 2/10 - I was feeling great about things. Surgeries had gone well. Both surgeons were optimistic that i would be able to be able to attempt to achieve my goals, and i was finally moving forward with my progress.
- Physical agony: 9/10 - I have never experienced pain like i did when that nerve block wore off, and i wouldn't wish that on anyone. I guess thats what is to be expected when they cut your bones, reattach ligaments, put pins in, and take bones out and do cartilage transplants.
Phase 3 - day 5 to day 14 post op: It was great to be back at home, and the pain was now under control. I pretty quickly weaned myself off the pain meds, as i never liked how they make you feel. I also pretty quickly remembered/realized how useless i was at doing anything while on crutches. Anyone who has been on crutches will know what i mean in that not only can u not carry anything yourself, but it also takes u FOREVER to do anything. Simple tasks such as getting dressed, showering, brushing your teeth, going to the bathroom, all of a sudden became major tasks. Not only that but every time i stood up, my foot in particular would swell and hurt, so i actually really didn't want to do anything at all. This is where the boredom really set in. Other than sit in my CPM machine and some initial Physical therapy exercises, there really was nothing i could be doing. I needed to be icing and elevating the foot and knee as much as possible. This is where i think it really hit home as to what i just had done, and how long a recovery period time it was going to be. At this point i kept telling myself that the worst was over, and that i just needed to focus on what i can do, and break things down into segments and check them off along the way. *note - not once during this phase did i even think about exercising...or want to be exercising. This to me is always a sign that i am not ready, as normally i am all about it. Listen to your body!
- Mental agony: 8/10 - I think this was the hardest time for me mentally. Not only dealing with the boredom, but with the doubts and negativity that kept creeping in
- Physical agony: 4/10 - I was still in pain, but it had reduced significantly since the 2-4 days post op.
Phase 4 - 2week to 4week(and 2 days): Somewhere in that 2 week post op, i actually started to feel like i could start doing something than sitting on my ass and elevating my leg. My days started to fill up gradually with more "rehab" tasks, and my energy levels and motivation levels started to rise. I was still trying to log 6hrs a day in my CPM machine (in 2hr stints), doing my daily rehab exercises for my knee 2-3x's a day, having PT 3x's a week, massage, Normatec, and dry needling. Along with this i started hitting up the gym, and along with the expertise of Dave "the man" Scott and a personal trainer at Flatirons Athletic Club here in Boulder, we devised a Strength and condition program that i could do without putting any pressure on the bad leg (i'm still non-weightbearing). This was huge for me. I went into this with the approach of "sure there is alot of things i can't do, but lets focus on what i can do, and try and get that as strong as i can so that when i am able to start training my body is ready." The program consisted of not only upper body stuff, but also plenty of core and glute exercises, as well as some single leg exercises to try and keep my left leg as strong as possible. There is a fair amount of research out there to say that even if one leg is not being trained there will be a cross over (in fitness?) from the leg that is being trained. And this is also where the single leg cycling came about. The single leg cycling was also a way for me to get my fix of an "aerobic" workout. I started out with 20mins, and have gradually built up to almost an hr. I'll probably cap it at that! At the 3 week mark, i had my sutures removed from both my foot and knee, and a few days later was allowed to get back into the pool for some "pseudo- swimming". I call it this because i had strict instructions that i wasn't allowed to bend my knee, flip turn, or push off from the wall. But again at least i was able to do something, so embraced it! Throughout all this time, i think my biggest battle was again mentally. Physically i could feel that i was progressing. Each day i was either able to add new exercises, or i could feel i was getting stronger either in the gym or in my rehab exercises. I could also sense that the knee and foot were healing, as i would be able to get around with more ease and be in less pain when my foot was not elevated. Mentally though i was really frustrated. Not being able to drive was a huge part of this. I was constantly relying on Mike and friends to get me from A to B. Thankfully i have some great friends who were willing to help....but still i hate asking for anything!! let alone having to do it even for a glass of water (thats when i attached the water bottle cage to the crutches). I also felt like my life was totally on hold! Not only was i not able to do what i love to do (swim,bike,run) but also i wasn't able to do everyday stuff, like walk the dog, go to the grocery store, go to the movies, etc etc.
- Mental Agony: 9/10 - for the the loss of freedom and dependance on others.
- Physical Agony: 2/10 - i love how i feel that i am progressing everyday, and so i give that a 2/10.
A few days ago i persuaded Mike that i needed to get a scooter so that i could at least get around by myself. I'm still not able to drive because they dont want me putting pressure through my forefoot (plus i'm still full not weightbearing). So we decided that as long as i could bend my knee enough that a scooter was the way to go. And i have to say yesterday as i rode into the pool for a dip i had a huge smile on my face the whole way there. I think it was a combination of having the freedom to do what i want, and getting some of the same sensations as you get when riding your bike (wind rushing over u, and the speed) just was awesome.
There is still a long road ahead until full recovery, but as i am learning take it one step at a time. Focus on what i can do rather than what i can't, keep believing, and keep my eyes on the prize.
A special thanks to all those who have helped me get through the last 5 wks. It has been made alot easier because of all of you! And to all my sponsors who have stuck by me this year. I hope to make you all proud one day soon enough!
Last Monday I underwent foot and knee surgery in Boise, ID. It all happened rather suddenly and I am pumped to say that both went as well as they could but it means there will be no racing for me for a wee while. Here is a quick update of my initial feelings:
Things they FAIL to tell u before u have a 2 for 1 surgery ....that u wish they had:
- about 26hrs after u wake up you are going to experience pain like nothing before and u are going to want to rip someone's bloody head off. Sorry Jeff u were the lucky winner on this occasion.
- there is a fairly good chance u are not going to be able to drop a deuce for a few days. And when u do it will feel like u gave birth to a small baby elephant only to see u produced something resembling a rather large grape. Good lord! A bit of a warning might have been nice
- having surgery on your foot and knee at the same time sounds like a good idea at first. Until u realize that u are not going to be able to bend your leg or have the strength to stop your gimpy foot from looking like a rag dollís. Makes pretty much doing anything near impossible.
- getting someone to simply stretch your foot out is going to feel almost as good as anything u have felt before. I never thought such a simple movement would get me smiling and repeating "oh wow don't stop! That feels sooo good!" inappropriate at PT.... Probably!
- u will start dreaming about doing some of the simplest of tasks that u are unable to do. I am currently craving being able to lie on my belly, and simply just bend my leg, sooo badly. I actually dreamed i was playing an awesome video game last night. It was like one of those shoot em up video games, but it was set in a mall. All the friends I mention below we're sneaking around and their goals were to try to either lie down on their bellies or sit down w both legs bent, without me seeing them. If I saw them I could shoot an electric shock into them and 3 shocks and they died. Funnily enough my friend the eagle ninja was the best at it!
- u will lose your appetite for pretty much everything for about 7 days. To the point where I even had a cookie sit by my side without touching it for 4 days! That is unheard off and in my eyes simply plain wrong. What is the world coming to.
And lastly more of a sentimental one: u are really going to learn who your friends are and those that genuinely care and want to support u. U hear it all the time, but I really got to appreciate this while I was at my lowest.
Mike I couldn't do any of this without u. Your unwavering belief in me is astounding even to me. U are willing and want to support me in whichever direction I end up turning and I couldn't do it without u.
To my family far and wide I know it's hard being so far away, but having your support and belief is huge!
The Mary Miller, these last few weeks u have been an unbelievable friend. Mike and I will thank you big time for being with me in Boise (2'ce).
The medical team in Boise, Jeff and John Shilt who went out of their way to help me coordinate and execute operation 2 for 1. And Dr. Coughlin for your expertise on Snaggle toes.
To the cartilage donor and their family (whoever u are) I canít thank u enough and will forever be in your debt and hope u can power me through the barriers that lie in wait for me.
To Franko Vatterott my manager for understanding, "getting it" and standing by me through the good times and the dry ones :)
Lastly, to some of my competitors/ training buddies who have gone out of their way to show support. Couldn't have done it without ya (in no particular order to prevent competitiveness amongst u): my Facebook BFF and partner, my winter training husband and his wife, ms bigtime, eagle ninja no.1, mr and mrs boom boom, my P.A. in abu dhabi and her old man husband, mr and mrs UMBA and tommy tattle plus 1. There are others.... But sorry but these are only the A listers. Try harder next time ;)I know over the next few weeks and months that there is a lot of work to do to get me back to full fighting fitness. But strangely enough with the team of friends, support crew and sponsors around me I'm more confident than ever before. Bring on Kona 2013
Crowie and I had the privilege to work with Spinfocus to create an indoor cycling video!!
From their website:
SPINfocus has created the Worldís best Indoor Cycling Program. This signature edition features World Champions: Craig Alexander and Julie Dibens. This structured workout out is narrated by Steve King ďthe voiceĒ of many of the top races. This signature edition cycling DVD was filmed indoor and outdoor in Boulder, Colorado and Vancouver BC. Build the strength, speed and endurance that you have always wanted, all while doing a fun and engaging cycling workout at home. All you need is an indoor bike trainer and this world class cycling program. SPINfocus is a fun but challenging cycling workout that will keep you fit, improve endurance, increase speed, enhance the overall conditioning of your body. Train with World Champions! Click here to order your DVD today.
November 2011 Update
I was a little hesitant to post my post-Kona update. The day it was about to go live a few things changed on the Ďsnaggle toeí front, and to be honest I couldn't be bothered to change it...or even post it. Pretty much since then my head has either been stuck up my ass in sorrow, or glued to the rim of an adult bevereage. Ok, so it really hasn't been that bad, and Iíve actually had a chance to really enjoy the off season for once...but it sounded good right?
So an update on the snaggle:
I was puzzled by the initial diagnosis of having a fractured snaggle. I just didn't buy it, and looked for a few other opinions on the MRI scan that I had done. Of course they all came back differently. Itís a picture of my foot damn it....how hard can it be! Tell me whatís wrong and tell me now! ;) Just kidding. Well that really was what I was thinking...but I know it's not as easy as that. Even with detailed images of my foot things can be tricky to diagnose. Things went initially from just rest, to surgery, back to rest, back to surgery and then back to rest and see. After 4 weeks of consulting with some great medical people, we finally came to a conclusion we are happy with.
A quick summary:
As I have said before back in 2004/2005 I had surgery on Snaggle #1 (aka 2nd toe) to stop it dislocating. They ended up fusing the toe and doing some tendon transfers. This took 3 surgeries to get it to where it was manageable. It was never 100% pain free, and I knew that I was always going to have limitations due to the fusion in the toe. I just had to manage things the best I could. Things were under control it seems until I really stepped up the mileage as I prepared for racing the Ironman distance. With my snaggle #1 non functional, the snaggle #2 had to take up all the slack, and eventually it started to scream and yell. What I have in the 3rd MTP joint (metatarsal phalangeal joint for those less educated in the medical jargon out there) has a fancy name called Freidbergs disease....which I understand as the metatarsal head has been worn away and flattened off. Due to the anatomy of my feet (super high arches and tight calves) it also means that every time I run/step the met head is pounding into the ground. Good times little snaggle...good times.
So what to do:
Even though microfracture surgery is an option, it appears that it wouldn't fix the problem. It may give me some short term relief, but that would only be after a fairly lengthy lay-off and rehab. I think I have also learned that any time you are cut open and things are done surgically that you may just be opening up a can of worms to get other problems....and should be the absolute last option. The alternatives to microfracture surgery, was to rest it and rehab it, or look at getting a prosthetic toe.....even though the latter sounds kinda cool in a sick kinda way, I opted to rest and rehab it.
What does that mean:
Well it means I walked around in a boot for the first 3 weeks. The only time I was sans boot was for little dips in the pool, and rides on my bike. Since then I have started rehab'ing (mainly strengthening, stretching and ultrasound) while still not running. The plan will be to start back proper running after 6 weeks.
How does the future look:
I think only time will tell! I believe I can get it back to a manageable state. With improved foot mechanics, calf flexibility, and a stiffer shoe, I hope that I can get it back to a manageable state. I will have limitations due to snaggle #1 and his buddy snaggle #2, and will more than likely have to adapt my training and possibly racing plans. It may mean no more IM...but we will see. I still have a hunger ....ok, itís more like a starvation to compete in Kona, but in all reality my foot may not allow that. If I had the choice of trying to get to Kona and risk not racing at all, or racing successfully over the Olympic/ middle distance and Xterra, I would have to choose the latter. I think my body "could" handle 1 IM a year, but with the new qualification rules this isn't possible so the Kona dream may have to go on hold. There are soooo many other races out there that I can get excited for and ones that I hope to be at next year include 5150, Rev3, Abu Dhabi, Vegas, Xterra and the list goes on.
For now I just have to take it one step at a time. The first step for me to focus on is getting my body ready to run again. After those first few weeks of running I think I will have a better idea of how things are going and we can take it from there. In the mean time I am just keeping a base level of fitness by swimming and riding when I feel. I want to freshen up the mind and body, but I also want to be ready to start structured training on Jan 1st. So for now Iím just keeping things fun and going with the flow.
Thanks to everyone for their continued support and belief in me.
Race report (of sorts) from IM CDA
- U know itís gonna be a long day when at the first turn buoy on the swim you wonder why the heck you are doing this silly race because you are so cold.
- U know itís gonna be a long day when you exit the first lap of the swim, and head back in for lap two, and you are still thinking ďwhy donít I just stick to 70.3, Iíd be jumping on my bike nowĒ
- U know itís gonna be a long day when you think you see Barrack Obama standing at the side of the ride at mile 30 on the bike. Oh no thatís right it was actually my Manager Franko goofíing off. It gave me a good chuckle at the time though.
- U know itís gonna be a long day when u realize that you are having way too much fun on the bike, and actually forget you are in a race. That means you probably are riding too hardÖand trouble is ahead. I just couldnít contain myself, the course was awesome.
- U know itís gonna be a long day when you see a fresh tampon in the road half way through the second lap on the bike. Some poor lady obviously thought she was going to be in for a really long day and wanted to be 100% prepared. That was my first tampon sighting in a race. Again put a smile on my face which canít be a bad thing.
- U know itís gonna be a long day when you find that the snaggle toe already has a little cut on it from the bike. That only means one thingÖ.a bloody running shoe to come. Itís amazing how much a tiny little cut can bleed.
- U know itís gonna be a long day when you start seeing stars at about mile 14 on the run. My initial thought wasÖ.this is gonna be a long walk in! How long will 12miles take me to walk. SHIT!
- U know itís gonna be a long day when a chocolate powerbar and latte powergel taste good (I really donít like chocolate or coffee), and a cookie tastes bad (my favorite). My taste buds were truly out of whack
- U know itís gonna be a long day when you see a gorilla in a tree cheering you on and you donít do a double take.
And last but no means least
- U know itís gonna be a long day when you think you might have done a tiny little poo in your pants but you are really not sure. (sorry TO..probably TMI again there)
All in all, Iím not going to lie, I am disappointed with my performance yesterday here in Coeur Díalene. The jury is still out as to whether I am cut out to be an Ironman athleteÖor at least to achieve my dreams as an Ironman athlete. But as I learnt with pretty much everything else I have done in life, just because you donít get success immediately doesnít mean it should stop you from trying. I just have to look back at the 70.3 worlds in Clearwater. I had to go there 3 times and come 4th twice, before I raced how I wanted to. Lets to hoping my 3írd IM will follow that trend.
Congrats go out to Crowie who put in another awesome performance, and all the other Ironman CDA finishers!
I have to send a big shout out to my sponsors. I know a lot of you groupies out there think us proís just do this because you think we get paid, but I really couldnít do it without them. My shout out of the week goes to Trek Ė the Speed concept is the beast of all beasts! Unless you come up with a faster bike, I doubt I will ever race on anything but! Not to mention the best bike mechanic, Mark Andrews, from Trek. A huge thanks to all my other sponsors too. I love you all and love that I have in my eyes the support of the best products and companies out there. Kswiss, Tyr, PowerBar, Nuun, Oakley, EFX, Saris, Flatlines, Lazer, Fuelbelt, ISM, Bontrager
Oh and lastly, it is without doubt that I can say, IRONMAN is just SILLY! Until next timeÖ
Revenge at the Rev3tri in Quassy
This time last year, I was probably sat here trying to figure out something positive that I could write after really struggling to even finish my first time racing in Quassy. The course is brutal! and thanks to the huge prize purse that Rev3 put up ($150,000) the field is always stacked. Add into this my little rivalry with Rinny and u have a recipe for lots of Dibens motivation. I was anxious to go back and show the race course who was boss! I was determined at least to get around that run course without pulling out the "walking card"....and if I could beat a few more people along the way, even better.
One of the biggest things I think I learnt from last year is that I have to race my race, and not worry about the freight train, Rinsta, that is going to be chasing me down later on in the race. Last year I got too caught up in this, and was not overly confident in my run, and so was keen to get as much time as possible on her and the other competitors by the end of the bike. As we all know, a triathlon is all about putting your best three disciplines together, and last year while I had a great swim bike, I suffered way too much on the run. This year, my plan was to just go out there and race my race. I didn't even really listen or look for splits and just focused on me racing at my pace. With so many great girls coming thru at the 70.3/half ironman distance as well, I knew that if I wanted to finish on the podium I would have to race smart, and this meant no meltdowns allowed. While a lot of the pre race talk was about the constant banter between Rinny and I, we both knew the race with me and her, was just a race within the race. The other girls like Angela Naeth, Jacko, MB, and MagalI are all hugely talented athletes that are getting faster and faster each time they race.
Whether you like the "Rinsta" battles we have, I love it. It's fun, we get to goof around, talk shit, and talk it up. Itís ok that most of the time I am the only one with funny remarks though ;)....as typically she is the one kicking my ass. In all seriousness, I think it really helps bring the best out in us. I think it helps me stay motivated on the hard days, as I know if I can beat her, I get bragging rights for a few days at least. On a performance level, it think we are actually starting to push each other to new levels.. This doesn't mean that we go out and beast ourselves in training trying to get faster stronger fitter, but that we are both training and racing smarter trying to save our best for the very best.
I donít think our paths will cross on the racing front until possibly Boulder 5150, if not then...maybe Vegas 70.3 WC...and then the big dance in Kona. Much fun to be had!!....I hope.
A quick report on the race, I am obviously super happy to have won (both the race...and the race within the race!). Everything really went to plan. I didn't panic, and focused on just being patient and racing at my own pace. As soon as I hit the run, I knew that I felt a lot better than the year before, so over the first 2-3 miles I was hopeful that the walking boots would stay packed away. I controlled the pace on the big climb at mile 3-4, and then just tried to get into a groove. Sure I knew that Rinny would be chasing hard, and closing me down, but for some reason I didn't panic. I just focused on running strong. It was only in the last 2 miles that I started to think about the win.
Next up for me is Ironman Ceour D'Alene in just under 3 weeks. Itís a little daunting to think that I have to run 26.2miles again....but it is something that has to be done if I want to qualify for Kona...so I must suck it up and get through it.
Thanks for all the support from my sponsors Trek, Kswiss, TYR, Powerbar, Oakley, CycleOps Power, EFX, Lazer, Flatlines, Nuun, Feltbelt, ISM saddles, and Bontrager. I couldnít do it without you.
Knoxville 2nd place
Re-calculating, Re-calculating! GPS malfuction. Wanna borrow my Garmin for your next race Dibs? Yes, Very Funny! I've heard it all. So i went off course a little at the Rev3 Olympic in Knoxville on the weekend. While it was a confusing part of the course, i do always believe its the athletes responsibility to know the course. BUT, i do think that it could have been better marked. For the pro's, we are doing this for a living, and for the AG'rs a lot of thought and hard work has gone into getting to the race, and so its a shame to see people's races put at jeopardy by going off course.
Anyway after all the shenanagans was over and i was finally back on course, i put my initial thought of "screw it I'm going home" to the back of my head, and turned my disappointment into frustration verging on anger, and got straight to the task at hand...trying to salvage something from my %*%$ up. The first split i got at about mile 5 was that i was about 4mins back from the leaders. Not overly encouraged by this i just tried to put the power down, and worst case, get a great workout in. Before i knew it the time gaps were coming down, and slowly i was starting to believe that i might be able to close some of the girls down. Other than the first and last 3-4miles of the course, the bike in Knoxville is great. Its a nice rolling course. Twisty and windy, and hard to really get in a good rhythym. Very different from most olympic distance non-drafting races in the US.
By the time i rolled into T2 i had moved into 3rd and i heard that the time gap to the leaders Leanda and Becky was down to about 1min15 or so. I headed out onto the run pretty angry still....this is maybe something i should learn from...as for me i had a pretty good run and moved into 2nd place. And for the first time ever posted the fastest run split. ( I dont think i cut the course!...honest!).
So all in all, to go from...screw it! i'm going home, to coming 2nd i cant really complain. It shows my fitness is right there, i just need to focus on executing everything and that includes the small details of being aware as to where you are on the course and staying on course.
Congrats to Big Bird LC and Big Matty Reed on the wins
Next up i have the Rev3 Quassy, followed by IM Ceour D'Alene a few weeks later. Anyone that followed me or the race last year in Quassy, may remember that i had quite a spectacular meltdown, so i am anxious not to have a repeat of last year. The womens field is looking stacked, with MB, Angela, Jacko, Liz Blatchford and of course the Rinsta. Its gonna be a tough race, but one that i hope i can at least be competitive for.
New Orleans 70.3ish
Anyone that knows a little bit about me will probably know that I went to college at Louisiana State University on a swimming scholarship. I truly had a great time there, and I very much doubt I would be doing triathlon today had I not gone there. Through my swimming, and academics I learnt the discipline and drive that I have today to succeed as a triathlete. With LSU also being a renowned party school, I think I also managed to get most of that out of my system before I hit my triathlon days. Which can only be a good thing, if we think back a few months and remember the infamous Flabongo of Clearwater. I also met some great people, obviously Mike being one of the main ones, as well as Becky and Jenny Gibbs who whether they know it or not, have been hugely influential in my life. I have some truly great memories of my time at LSU, and being part of the swimming and diving team there.
Since graduating in 1998, I think I have only been back to the state of Louisiana once and that was to see the Tigers play in a bowl game down in New Orleans. The Tigers won, and from what I remember a good time was had by all. This year when my schedule allowed for me to go back to Louisiana, and to race the 70.3 in New Orleans I jumped at the chance. Even though we didn't get a chance to go back to Baton Rouge, you always seem have a fun time in New Orleans. Mike was also excited to come back and catch up with some college friends who still lived locally, and of course to tuck into the boiled crawfish and Abita beer. I also got the chance to get a custom painted Lazer helmet for the race, made to look like an LSU football helmet. Not only did it look pretty sweet, but I hoped that it would help bring in some local support behind me....it didn't fail to disappoint.
As for the race itself, I would be lying if I said I was excited about the bike course. I knew that it wasn't going to be the most "scenic of races", and with the bike course being pancake flat some would argue that it wouldn't suit my strengths on the bike. However I was excited about the run course, as it was a point to point run, starting just behind UNO (University of N.O.) and finishing downtown in the French Quarter. That was pretty special, and worth the trip for sure.
Race morning I arrived in transition and bumped into Bill Burke (former race director of this race). He informed me that the swim had been cancelled and that it was now a bike-run. I was pretty surprised, and actually seriously thought he was messing with me. Bill has a great sense of humour, and knows that my swim is one of my strengths, so I wouldn't put it past him to joke with me like that. But unfortunately it was no joke. For some reason they also decided to somewhat randomly to turn it into a Bike - run rather than the traditional run - bike - run. Now I shouldn't really complain, as we all know the less running the better for me! So bike-run it was to be.
Of course there were mixed emotions amongst the pro's around transition. Some happier than others ;). But for my sake I just had to forget about the lack of a swim, and try and switch this negative into a positive. This was now a chance for me to prove that I don't always need a lead out of the swim to win a race, and that I can hold my own on the bike and run alone. All of a sudden I actually got pretty fired up by it all, and was raring to go. I had nothing to lose, I just had to get out there and bike and run to the max.
It was strange starting straight on the bike. All of a sudden it felt like I was doing a bike TT, and before I knew it I realised I was probably going way to hard at the start. But as it turned out I think everyone was! With the wind, the bike was hard, and I managed to open up a small gap on Sam Warriner who started 1min ahead of me. Sam biked really well, and proved that she definitely can be a force to be reckoned with on the bike.....especially that she too is now riding a Speed Concept. Damn u Trek!!!!!!!!!!! You can't just go and give your speed demon out to my competitors! ;). I entered T2 with about a 20 sec lead on Sam, and headed out on the run not feeling overly confident. I know Sam is a great runner, as she has won many ITU world cups on the run. I just settled into my own pace, and focused on my own game plan for the run. About 1/2 a mile out of transition Sam came storming by me, but was breathing like a freight train. I thought at the time...wow...if she can keep that up, good on her! We ended up running the next 8 or so miles with me about 20-30m behind her. I was pretty happy with this, as I knew that I only had to keep her within a min to win (as I had started 1 min behind her). I eventually managed to close the gap down, and ran into the French Quarter with a small lead. As I crossed the finish line, I still wasn't sure if I had won though, as I knew some of the girls behind me were chasing hard. Linsey "giddy up" Corbin had a great run and closed the gap a bit, but luckily for me not enough, and so I managed to hold on for the win, with Sam in 2nd and Yvonne in 3rd.
Next up for me is a return to the Wildflower triathlon in CA. The women's field looks to be stacked, so I better bring my A game again, or Iíll get left behind for sure.
2011 kicks off with a win in Abu Dhabi
Itís always great to kick off a new season with a win. It helps set the tone for the rest of the year, and also reminds you of how good it really does feel to win. It definitely makes u hungry for more success. Not only that, but after finishing off the end of last year on a bit of sour note with my 8th place in Clearwater, I really wanted to move past that. It's good and bad when you finish off a season badly. Good because it leaves u fired up, angry and motivated to do better the following year, but bad because it usually means you go for a long time (4-5months) without a win or a good result. Thatís a long time to stew over things. As a reminder I actually left my race number from Clearwater on my bike until a few days before Abu Dhabi. It was good to finally rip that bad boy off!
It was great to go back to Abu Dhabi again. It's such a unique and different place for many of us to go to. This year Mike and I decided that he wouldn't come along for the ride. Mainly because itís such a long way to travel, and with his limited vacation days we decided to save them up till later in the year. This opened the door for me to bring along Mat Steinmetz who is now stepping into a coaching role for me. It was great having Mat out there to carry my bags and wash my dishes......er I mean make sure I was 100% ready for the race. In all seriousness Mat is great as he really looks at all the finer details, not only at trying to help me get to the start line in great shape. He is always trying to look at ways for me to get "free time". And free time is good time, right? Mat also works closely with the "king" aka Craig "Crowie" Alexander. This is good for me, as it means I get to watch closely how and IM world champ operates. Not only that, but the King can be very entertaining, and as I have found out can talk the hind legs off a donkey if the topic is right. So thanks for the entertainment Crowie!
With the big time change (11hrs) Mat and I decided to fly out to Abu Dhabi early. I wanted at least 5 whole days to try to adjust. Ideally I would have had a bit longer, but the training right in Abu Dhabi is not ideal. Thankfully, one of the local schools opened up their pool to us, which was great. Riding was pretty much restricted to my trusty Saris Powerbeam, and the running was fine, as this year stayed close enough to the course that we could run to it. We were actually staying in a stunning 5 star hotel called the Khalidiya palace, which was right across from the amazing Emirates Palace. Don't worry, we don't normally stay in 5 star hotels! A huge thank you has to go out to not only the organizers of the race and IMG, but also the Hotel and hotel staff who put up with no doubt a slightly different clientele.
One of my highlights in the days leading up to the race was getting a chance to visit one of the local British schools in Abu Dhabi. It was mostly a Q and A session, but the general message the head teacher wanted me to portray was how if you work hard and dedicate yourself to something, then the results will come. My two favorite questions of the day had to be firstly when we were discussing and looking at my bike, a girl came up and asked to look at it. She then proceeded to ask how much it cost. I replied probably in the region of about $8,000- 10,000. She looked a little bewildered and just said "why?"....to which I didn't really know the answer. The second question that stood out, after we had been discussing a little the hours I put in, and how focused I am was a girl who simply asked "how often do you go out?". I replied, about once a year....but with Clearwater still fresh in my mind failed to give her too many details other than that.
As for the race itself, it went pretty smoothly from the gun, and I managed to get out to an early lead with Big Bird Leanda Cave tippy tapping my toes. By the end of the swim we had opened up a nice 2 minute lead on the rest of the field. Out on the 200km bike and it was all about just getting into my own zone and slowly tick away the km's. It was great to be racing with my new Powertap wheel, as sticking to the power really allowed me to control things into the head and cross winds, and keep the pressure on in the tail winds. I felt very much in control...as I imagine you should at the start of a 200km ride, and was pretty happy with how things were going. Towards the end of the 2nd 80km loop, my stomach started playing up a little and I was struggling to keep any fluids down. With dehydration and cramping often being an issue for me, I knew I had to slow down a little so I could try to keep taking fluids in. Once onto the run, other than putting one step in front of the other, all I was really focusing on the whole 20km was not puking. It's amazing what you can tell yourself and the power of the mind sometimes. And it wasn't until I entered into the finish chute, that I must have switched off and stopped thinking about it, as all of a sudden it got ugly. And as one person has since commented.....it's not the usual way to run down the finish chute...blowing chunks rather than kisses!
Of course I was delighted to have won again in Abu Dhabi. Considering the race has only been around for 2 years now, it is incredible as to how well organized it is, and to the interest around the race. Hopefully it will continue for many years to come. A huge congrats to Frederik Van Lierde for his impressive win, to Dirk Bockel's 3rd place and to the King for hanging tough and finishing 6th.
Just Getting the Job Done
For some reason I have had no inspiration to write anything/blog or update the website recently. Until today of course. There is always a fair amount of talk or comments about why some people choose to stay in the colder climates during the winter months. Comments like "are you crazy", or "why do you stay in Boulder over the winter, doesn't it get cold as shit?" are fairly common for me to hear. I know I am by no means the only person to stay put all year round rather than disappear to warmer climates. Some people, in fact, the majority of triathletes out there (....the real triathletes ), do not have the luxury of disappearing of to the southern hemisphere the instance the snow shovel appears. They have real jobs, family, and other commitments that come along with that. They don't really have a choice. Then there are some pro's who could, if they wanted to, follow the sun, but for whatever reason decide to stay put. What I was wondering today, was whether there are any performance trends between those that stay put, and those that follow the sun.
I can't really speak for others on this topic, but for me, I like to stay here in Boulder for a number of reasons.
- Mike and Lucky are here. This is where my Home is, and I like more than anything to be with them, at home. Plain and simple.
- I cannot maintain my fitness for 12 months a year. If I was somewhere warm and sunny all year round, I believe I would end up training longer and harder and getting burnt out mid season. I love it when it snows. It gives me an excuse to slack off a little and either head up into the mountains and get my ski-on, or stay indoors and do my best potato impression. I find that the cold weather helps me be a bit more relaxed thru the winter months, and so allows me, I believe, to be that much more focused when I need to be.
- It keeps things interesting. Running in the snow is such a different experience to running in 90F temps. It's different from running in the perpetual British rain too. Sometimes a change in the weather can spice things up a little and help keep things interesting and different. Sometimes thatís all you need to get the motivation to get out the door and get the job done.
- I'm not afraid to bash things out indoors. I have long been a fan of the indoor trainer. I think I was partly forced into this years ago whilst rehabing from surgery. After my first knee surgery, pretty much the only exercise I could do for 3 months was ride indoors on the trainer. For 1 month of this, I was even forced to doing Left leg only stuff...or at least mostly Left leg, with the right foot only gently resting on the pedal. Since those days, I am not ashamed to say I am pretty reliant on using the indoor trainer all year round. I believe it makes you strong both mentally and physically, and again I like the unique challenges that it brings with it. The same goes for the treadmill. Some people are afraid to use both of these tools, but the way I see it, is that they both allow you to get the job done...plain and simple.
- I have learnt over the years that any success that I have has come from consistent training, day in day out, week in week out. I do this by getting into a routine and sticking with it. During these months, I am looking to get through workouts in one piece, rather than knock each one out of the park. Mentally I ask myself the question....could I repeat this workout exactly the same way tomorrow, the next day and the next. If not, I know I am going too hard for right now. Being based in the same place for an extended period of time, being familiar with the terrain, the roads the routes, the swim schedules all allows me to shoot to get the consistency I need without either pushing too hard or getting carried away. It also means I probably end up having more days to train because there are less interruptions with travel days etc. I remember at the end of one year looking back over the year and figuring out that I ended up missing 55 days that year in training days because of travel days or other obligations. I now try to keep these to a minimum if possible.
Back to getting the job done, last Saturday a few of us here in Boulder went out for our typical long ride. It was a small group...but thatís just the way I like it. And for the most part everyone had something slightly different to do. The weather was a lot colder than expected and it was a pretty overcast day. I think it barely topped high 30's the whole ride. Our group consisted of myself, "the champ" Rinsta who is spending her first winter over here...and is definitely not overly familiar with the snow, MB - Mary Beth Ellis, Ty Butterfield, and Michael and Amanda Lovato. I was expecting my favorite wheel of all time to sit on TO - Tim O Donnell, but after building the ride up beforehand, opted to leave us and ride with the Legendary Tim Deboom. Not that I am bitter or anything . I mention this for a reason... I will come back to it.
SO we pretty much all started out together. Rinny and I had 5hrs steady to easy (steady for me...easy for Rinsta) on tap, Mb...4 ish, Ty a 2-3hr appearance with us, and the Lovatos 4ish hours with some intervals. So we all had our own agenda. It was cold, and I bet everyone was feeling it, and no one wanted to be there, BUT, we all just got the job done. You just shut up and do it. Itís what we do. Sure it would be nice to be roasty toasty in the sun, rather than pretending to smuggle peanuts, but thatís the way it is. You switch your brain off and get the job done...no matter what it is. I have long learned that I donít like training with people who complain - reason being is it is contagious and as the saying goes ( I donít know if this is an official saying but I like it), "both shit and attitude roll downhill", so letís not even bother go there. The ride ended up being a good one. We all got what we needed to get done.
Which brings me back to the point. It doesn't matter where you are, rain snow or shine, ultimately you still have to get ...yes you guessed it...the job done! Sure all that stuff helps, but no-one cares about that. It's not like when I line up for the race in Abu Dhabi in 7 weeks, that they are going to say "ok, those that trained in 30F or below temps start now...and those that trained in the warm and sun start 2mins back". No-one gives a monkey. I choose to stay here all year round, for the reasons I mentioned above, so itís my responsibility to make the most of what I have here, and train smart and hard when I can and when I need to. The same went for everyone on that ride last Saturday. Ty stuck to his plan, MB to hers (minus a flat tyre), and the Lovatos to theirs. Even TO despite ditching us for a "better ride" did it for a reason and got what he needed to out of it. As for Rinny and I well we just played silly buggers as we normally do, and ended up talking smack most of the ride.
Pink Flamingo's, Leg Spreaders and a race too many!
My trip to Clearwater for the 2010 70.3 world champs this past weekend was an eventfull one. Maybe not quite exactly in the ways i had imagined, but hey ho...we live and learn. My performance was sub par, and i am not going to make excuses for it. I am almost ashamed to say but for whatever reason, my head just wasn't in the game. I didn't want it enough, and wasn't willing to push my body to the limit, or to the level that it needs to be pushed to be in contention to win another world title. Despite having similar sensations in training during the last 3 weeks, i was hoping that i could swtich the brain off, and push out one last 4hr effort for the year. Having won the race last year, i felt it was only right to put myself on the start line, and "represent" as best i could on the day. Jodie and Leanda both raced races that i know only too well that they are capable of. The three of us have raced each other for nearly 10 years now, as we all started racing ITU races within the British team around the same time. We know each others strengths and weaknesses well, and i knew they were the ones to watch. Both performed as i expected them too, and it is great to have 2 more female brits on top of the podium at a world champs.
Anyway enough of the boring and onto the juicy....the post race shenanagans. 2010 has been a long year of racing for me, with me kicking things off in Abu Dhabi back in March. This was my first real long distance event, which meant i had to really start training hard earlier than normal at the end of last year. Combine this with me going on Lockdown mode for my Kona Prep, it left me itching to get after it at the after party down in Clearwater. I think i had a lot of non triathlon related energy that needed to be let loose. All was going swimmingly well, until the dreaded Pink Flabongo appeared, along with a handful of Leg Spreader shots. All that mixed in with way too many mojitos, left for an ugly night ahead. Not only that but a monumental hangover that lasted about 48hrs! Mike has since told me that next time (he is assuming there is a next time...i am saying otherwise!), that he has to hand-cuff me. Everytime he lost me, he said when he found me again, i either had a shot in my hand or that damn Pink Flamingo. The one good thing out of the night was that i reportedly did KICK Sam Mcglones ass at downing the Flabongo....yeah whats UP SAMMY MAC :). The rest of the night is still to fresh in my mind to recount, and i think i am too ashamed to share it...yet. I should have learned from the Queen of partying herself the rinsta, and stuck to the dance floor. You get yourself in a lot less trouble that way...and it probably ends up being a heck of a lot cheaper too!
All in both of these (the race and the after party), will be notched up as "Life Experiences" and i will try to learn from both of them.
Next up for me, is the arrival of my parents from England. We will spend a few days here in Boulder before heading up in the mountains to hit up some early season skiing. It seems like there has been some great early season snow up there, and i think it will the perfect way to freshen up the mind and body before i start looking at whats in store for 2011.
Lastly i have to send out a huge congrats to teammate Michael Raelart. He has been phenominal these past 12 months and has proved that he is the best athlete over the 70.3 distance no matter the course or conditions. To repeat his win from last year is incredible, and yes i am jealous as hell Michael :)....but it is well deserved. On this note i also have to congratulate 2 other Trek/Kswiss athletes Joe gambles and Heather Jackson. Joe for his awesome effort, attacking towards the end of the bike and holding on for 4th. And to Heather for her 5th place finish. Heather had a rough time leading into the race, and managed to put all that to the back of her mind and go on to have the race of her life (well so far anyway...as i have no doubt she will get faster and faster). I am honoured to be apart of such a great team, and look forward to some more successful stories in 2011.
Thanks for reading. Apologies if i disappointed anyone with my behaviour after the race....it wasn't me i promise...just my evil twin!
2nd Place at Xterra Worlds
So I know I should feel happy about my 2nd place finish at the Xterra worlds, but for some reason I am not. Of course I am happy for Shonny V, who really stepped up her came and had a phenomenal race PR'ing all over the place and dropping 10mins off her time from last year. I really do think she is a "true" Xterra champion, and not so much an Xterra wannabe like me the last few years. I donít spend enough time on my MTB to be that! Maybe it's because I was pretty close to closing her down on the run...or maybe because it was so hard from the get-go...not sure why I feel disappointed. I knew it was always going to be hard to back it up after my race in the Ironman in Kona, but I never wanted to use that as an excuse. It was my decision to race there, and then race here in Maui. It's not like the other girls were going to feel sorry for me and give me a head start just because I felt "a little tired".....it would have been nice though :).
The race itself was hard from the start. I got boxed in the leading group, and was getting the shit kicked out of me for pretty much the first 500m. Last year I remember seeing turtles as we swam along. All I could see this year was arms, legs, feet, the occasional goggle and a lot of white water. Eventually I managed to get in a little bit of clear water, and found myself swimming next to my training buddy from the last few weeks Dan Hugo. Even though the body was not happy, I was pretty happy with my overall swim, as I exited the water just where I needed to be, in the front pack. Once out onto the bike, things got hard. I just felt out of reach the whole time. I felt tired and hot, and generally was not in a happy place :). I did get to smile a few times though, as I yo-yo'ed back and forth with Tyler Butterfield. It was Ty's first race here in Maui, and having also raced in Kona for the first time was no doubt feeling a little flat too. I would see Ty power away with the other guys on the some of the uphill climbs, only topass him again head in the bushes, ass in the air on the downhills (sorry Ty :). I think it was probably the first time in 4 years that I have actually passed someone on the bike course here! In general the bike course to me seemed a little sketchier than the last few years, especially a nasty section towards the end of the course. This is where I saw a blue bullet fly by me. I shouted "go Shonny", as she went by...but I doubt she heard me she was going so fast.
I came into T2 right around 1 minute down on Shonny, and a few minutes up on the rest of the girls. I actually felt ok-ish for the short road section, and closed my gap down to about 40 sections early on, only to see if creep back up, as we started climbing up. I just tried to focus and think that Shonny was probably hurting just as bad, and tired to slowly close the gap down again. On the downhill section, where in the past I feel like I have done well, I was all over the shop. I'm not sure how many times I went over on my ankle....but I know it was too many. On the beach section, I had Shonny clearly in my sights, and really tried to push on. But the body didn't respond. And as I say, I know I should be happy with 2nd, and hopefully in a day or two I will be. But for now, I feel flat and frustrated. Maybe I am a glutton for punishment I don't know. But for now I need to pack up shop and get back to Boulder. I have been away from Mike, Lucky and home for way too long. I need to get home, freshen up, and then cram a little training in if I want to go back and defend my title in Clearwater in 3 weeks time.
Congrats again to Shonny. A class race....esp by a 41 year old!, and to Conrad as well. Awesome race by the Caveman, and he totally deserves to make history by being the first person to win this title 4 times.
3rd place at Ironman World Champs.
It is now 4 days since the race, and while I do still plan on giving a thorough review of my experiences at my first Ironman, I have decided for now to keep it brief and light hearted. The main reason being, is that I now only have 10 days until the Xterra world champs. I know that if I want to give myself a chance to be in contention to win again, I need to switch out of ironman mode and into Xterra mode. I need to move on, and block out the emotions/thoughts/memories and future plans I have from the race in Kona, and stay focused on the next goal at handÖ the Xterra world champs.
In brief my top 3 highlights and Lowlights from my race and time in Kona:
- No 3 Ė Seeing my twitter enemy Rinny have an unbelievable race and win the world title. She performed at the highest level on the day, and showed that itís now not only her unbelievable running talent that we have to watch out for, but also her swimming and biking. Itís great to see someone you know well pull out all the stops on one of the biggest days in sport. Donít worry though Rinsta Iím still gunning for you.
- No 2 Ė Hearing someone shout at the top of his lungs at me as I was running up Pilani (10mile mark)ÖĒTIGER BAIT, TIGER BAIT, TIGER BAITĒ. This really made me smile and almost laugh. I was thinking WTÖF? I knew that they were cheering for meÖbut didnít they realize that that is what we used to shout in college to our competitors! After the race I found out that the culprit was race organizer Bill Burke. His kids I believe go to LSU, and he knew I went there tooÖso figured he would shout it. Not sure if he knew at the time that it would be one of the highlights of my race!
- No 1 Ė The 20secs during and after I crossed the finish line. I was hoping the feeling would have lasted longer, but to be honest I really didnít get to enjoy running down the finish shoot as I had expected. I was just so focused on getting to the line. Once I got there, it felt awesome, and especially to see ďthe ChampĒ Rinny standing there. It felt great to give her a hug and congratulate her. Then to get to see Mike and give him a hug too was special, as he is such a big part of any success I have. These feelings of joy didnít last long though before I felt like I was going to pass out, and I got wisked away into the med tent.
- No.3 Ė going off course on the swim. While I knew that, as In most cases, the swim wasnít going to win me the race, I knew that it could set me up to have a great race, if I could swim with the front pack of guys. I was right with them until the turn for home. The pace picked up a little on the way back, and 2 of the guys I was sitting behind let a gap open up. (my own fault for not sitting further up). Next minute I know, I sense that we are heading way off course. Eventually I stop and double check and immediately see that we are now heading for the out buoys instead of the buoys used for the way back. We were about 50m of course. Again my own fault for not realizing sooner. I didnít panic though, as I knew there was still a long day ahead, but was frustrated none the less. Iíll put it down to a rookie mistake!
- No.2 Ė Dealing with some severe muscle cramps during the race. This may well just be part of ironman racing, but I have never had muscle cramps like I had during this race. At points on the run, my calves and hamstrings were in full cramp mode at the same time, and my legs would just buckle underneath me. Frustrating at the time, as when they calmed down, I actually found I could run ok. But again, a big part of the learning curve for me is the nutrition side of things. While I think I did plenty of things right in this area, I feel there is definite room for improvement in this area, and my overall performance if I want to do anymore ironmans in the future.
- No.1 Ė The disappointment of not racing against the Chrissenator. I was shocked when I first heard the announcement about 30mins before the start of the race. While my initial reaction was WAHHHAYÖone less to worry aboutÖand a goodíun at that! Shortly after I was pretty bummed, as I wanted to really see how I stacked up next to Chrissie as she has been so dominant in all the Ironmans she has done. I wanted to see if I was even in the same ball park as her. It was a world championships, and at a world championships you want to race against the best in the world. I know it was a hard decision for Chrissie to make, to have to withdraw at the last minute, but she believes it was the right one to make, and I know (unfortunately for me) that she will come back fighting stronger than ever before.
My New Trek for Kona
T minus 10
We are now 10days away from my first Ironman, and I am surprisingly excited about it. It may seem weird that I say "surprisingly", but to me it is. I have made no secrets about the fact that when I qualified in Clearwater last year, I was very apprehensive about the whole prospect of Ironman, the training and the racing. I was very unsure as to whether my body would handle the change in workload, as well as to whether I would enjoy the training and the build up to it. Enjoyment is key for me now. This doesn't mean that I take things light hearted at all, but more that I want to have fun while I am training hard. To me this is so important, as triathlon is to hard if you didnít know.
I can honestly say that I have really enjoyed this whole journey to get here thus far.....yes there are still 10days to go and I know only too well that anything can happen between now and then. The training has been different, and very challenging in many different ways. I have survived some training blocks that I never thought I was capable of, and for the most part have done it with a smile on my face. It has been incredibly hard at times, but I think I knew to expect that. The hardest thing I battled with was the constant feeling of fatigue day in day out. In my training for Olympic distances and Halfs and Xterras, yes I trained hard, but I had many more easy days in between key sessions. This year I would hit those key sessions off the back of repeated solid days, week after week. Mentally I found this hard because I felt like I never really knew what kind of shape I was in. Yes I knew I was fit....but was I fast????...well no not when I was tired :)...but I didnít have anything really to compare it too. I am now looking forward to putting that tired feeling to bed....as I try to become fresh like lettuce for the race.
My two weeks in Kona have gone well. It has been great having Teammate Fraser Cartmell out here, as well as my old coach Captain Quads Richard Hobson. Richard coached me from about 2002 up until after the Olympics in 2004/2005, and I always enjoyed working with him. Anyone that knows him, knows that he is a pretty laid back guy, and he always emphasized the importance of having fun, at the same time as getting the job done. After he turned 45 this year, he decided to see if he could qualify himself for Kona. He last raced here in 1994 and 1995. When I heard that he qualified after placing 2nd in Lanzarote I jumped at the chance to see if I could get him out here a bit early. It has been great having him out here. Even though itís a while since we worked together, I obviously haven't changed that much....as he seems to still know me pretty well...and know when I am on the brink of cracking :). ....not that I have been even close at all. I look forward to seeing how he races, and just hope I donít see those quads come flying by me (Pro's do get a 30min head start after all!)
Now onto the important stuff. My big race of the year is almost over....Yes my Twitter race with Rinsta (Mirinda Carfrae). The finish line is coming up soon, so if you know of anyone who isn't following me ask nicely if they will. And if you know of anyone following her.....ask them politely to unfollow her at least until the week after Kona ;).
As always thanks for reading, and for your continued support.
A win at the Malibu Triathlon
I decided to race the Malibu triathlon pretty late, but am really glad I picked it. I was always planning on racing the same weekend, was just unsure as which race to do. But it seemed to work out perfectly. It was one month out of Kona, and allowed me to get some of the travel out to Kona done with. It was also a bit of a smaller, more low key race, which I think in a way was just what I needed. It was refreshing to see so many first timers out there, and so many people just loving being part of the sport of triathlon. Sometimes as a pro, as we lead into the bigger races, I think we sometimes forget this. We get so caught up in our own training, getting every ounce of energy out of ourselves, as we prepare for the "bigger races" of the year, that we often forget why we got into the sport of triathlon. I know I did because I wanted to stay healthy and active, after achieving all that I wanted in my swimming career. At the time I had no idea to what level I would go, but I was instantly hooked by the sport. It was great to be reminded of this, and to chat with people genuinely excited to be there. Thanks to Rich Cruse for the photos!
As for the race itself, I really didn't know what to expect out of myself. In the last 2 months my training has changed a fair bit, as I added a lot more volume into the bike and the run. I put in some weeks I never thought were possible from me, and to be honest found it quite tough mentally to get used the constant feeling of fatigue day after day. Needless to say I was a little apprehensive as to how I would far back over the shorter Olympic distance. But I knew it was all part of the bigger plan. The swim went well. It was a tad nippy out there, and it took me a while to get going. I exited about 20-30sec back off uber swimmer Hayley Peirsol, which I was pretty happy with. On the bike I felt pretty flat the whole way. On a positive note the 25miles did seem to fly by! And then I ended up feeling pretty spritely on the run. With Rebecca Wassner getting off the bike only about 1min 30 behind me, I knew I was going to have to run well to hold on the for the win, and I was delighted to be able to do that. I was delighted to see that not all my speed has gone, and that I can still mix it up over the short course distance.
I am now out in Kona, and have been settled out here for 4 days now. It is great to be out here early, and I am already starting to deal with the heat and humidity better and better. I managed to get out and ride the course yesterday and got treated to the what I believe was the wind at it's finest! It was blowing a fricking gale! Add that onto getting stung by a bee, and a flat tyre, it made for a long lonely ride out there, but I think one that will be invaluable come race day in 3 weeks time.
I am now excited to see what this whole Ironman stuff is all about. I know it is going to be a tough day out there, and that I am going to have to dig really deep to get through it, but I have to be happy with my preparation so far. Of course I have to thank a few people who have helped me get this far and this close to the race in one piece (knock knock). Of course Mike, who has put up with me being a zombie for the last 2 months, Trek - for providing me with the fastest bike out on the market...esp in these conditions out here with the cross winds, Powerbar for providing me with best nutrition products out on the market, K-swiss for their cool apparel and shoes, and TYR for the best swim gear out there. I saw in the new TYR Torque today out on the course and am happy to report that bad boy is sweeet!
I hope to take some pics from out here to give you all a bit of an insight in to how tough my life is right now ;), so will post them soon. Thanks for reading, and for your continued support.
Oh and donít forget the big TWITTER race with Rinny finishes soon on the 9th OCT at midnight...so get all your friends to follow me...and unfollow her :)
Long over due
So after some abuse from some of my local followers I am finally getting around to an update! Apologies for the delay. Since the last update, I had a hard hard race at the Boise 70.3. I won, but it was one of the hardest races I have ever done. Mainly due to only having 5 days to recover after my meltdown at the Rev3 half. On reflection, I really think I had over cooked things leading into these 2 races. This is often the risk leading into some key races. You want to push so hard to get the most out of yourself, that you ignore all the signs that are telling you to back off. I always knew that the Rev3 half was going to be one of my most competitive races of the year so I had a super hard block of training leading in! Obviously something didn't work, and while it was frustrating, in a way it was a blessing in disguise. Up until then, in 2010 everything had gone swimmingly. WHen this happens, sometimes I think you become complacent as you think everything is tickadeeboo! These hard dissappointing races really made me re-evalutate things and look into my training and preparation in more depth.
Since then what else have I been up to:
- I had a slight flare up of an old knee injury. It scared the beejesus out of me, and reminded me of how lucky I am to still be doing this as a profession. Those that have been following me for many years will know only too well that my career has not always smelled of roses! There have been some major injuries along the way where I have seriously wondered if I would be able to continue on in the sport of triathlon. Thankfully I have, and this flare up just reminded me of this, and how important it is for me to stay on top of all aspects of training - not just the swim/bike/run! It only set me back 2-3 weeks so thankfully it ended up being no biggie.
- I went on "operation Recon" to Kona. It was a bit last minute, but ended up being invaluable. Crowie "the King", his crew (Frank and Mat from Retul), and TJ Tolakson "the Cannon Ball" kindly invited me along for the week to check out the course, and test out a few things. I think it really calmed the nerves a little, because if I am being honest before I went I think I was a little intimated by it all. Now that I have seen it, and checked it all, I feel a lot happier about things. I also learnt some top info in some of the key sessions over there. But I think the thing I valued the most about being out there was seeing The King in full action. I always new he was a total professional, but I had no idea as to how much so. I found it so impressive to not only see his approach to training, but all the other aspects that go along with being the best you can be. Diligent in his recovery, gym work, dealing with sponsor/media requests etc etc, and probably most of all his attention to detail. I almost found it refreshing in away.....that his wins haven't just come down to genetics or hard work, but also because he takes care of every aspect of being a triathlete. AND he has fun doing it...which is huge! My week out in Kona also happened to be my biggest week of training ever by quite a way!
- I then returned home in a basket to my parents who were over to visit from England. It was great to see them, and for them to get to enjoy Boulder and Colorado in the summer. Our garden/yard is now immaculate, and my belly is fully loaded after some yummy dinners, and we will be sad to see them go soon. But they will be back to see the snow in November.
- During this week I also had a fun day doing a photo shoot for the new triathlon magazine Lava. Lava are running a piece on Mirinda "the rinsta" carfrae and myself, and so they did the photo shoot of us together. It's always fun hanging out with the Rinsta, as there is always a good bit of banter between the two of us. It looks like Uber photographer Don Miralle got some cracking shots too. So keep you eyes out for LAVA when the next issues comes out. Above is a pic of the Rinsta and I goofing around between shots. We were doing a "where's Waldo" shot :)
- And lastly, just a few days ago I raced in the Boulder 70.3. I love racing so close to home, and you really can't get much closer with the start taking place about 2-3km from our house. It is so nice not having to travel, and to be able to sleep in your own bed the night before and after the race is great too. Despite feeling still somewhat trapped in the basket that I flew home in from Kona, I raced well winning the race. On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being like poo on a stick, and 10 being a million and one doll-hairs, in the swim I felt like a 2, the bike a 7 and the run a 5. Of course I am delighted to win another race but know once again that there is still lots of work to be done before my busy end to the season. I am still planning on racing the world champ triple Kona/Maui/Clearwater....but I think only time will tell if that is a realistic goal.
Anyway that's all for now before I get writers cramp. Thanks for reading, and if you keep hassling me it wont be as long til the next update.
4th Place in Quassy
The last few months for me have been pretty consistently good, and everything has been falling into place nicely. Training has been going well, not great, but well enough. I've definitly had alot worse, but I have also had better. "Solid" sessions day in day out rather than setting the world on fire. ALso in the last few weeks I also had a bit of a niggle in my foot which is never ideal leading into a big race, but no biggy. It just stopped me running much at all leading into this race. I think it is now behind me, as it didn't bother me at all during the race yesterday which is great.
I had always targeted this race, the Rev3 Half in Quassy, as a big race. I knew that the field would be stacked with some great athletes racing for the huge prize purse on offer. Reports from last year also told that the course was super super tough, and so I was itching to get stuck in. I always new that the biggest competition would come from "the rinsta" Mirinda Carfrae, I was just hoping I could at least make her work for it :).
Anyone that has followed me racing knows that I like to race hard from the gun, and leave everything out there. It is rare that I hold back, and just pretty much go full throttle from the start. Yesterday was no different, and I exited the swim right with Joanna Zeiger, Mb Ellis, and Kelly Williamson. I felt good on the swim and relaxed, and then headed out on to the bike. I seemed to open up a gap pretty quickly from the other girls, and just set about riding at a hard but sustainable pace. With the Rinsta riding strongly behind me, I knew that I would have to try to open up a big gap if I wanted a chance at holding her off. Even though I rode hard, on reflection I dont think I rode too hard. In fact I believe there have been races where I have biked harder. The thing I think I underestimated was the humidity, and I neglected to drink enough. Those that have seen me train, know I have the sweat rate of a monster trapped in a sauna! By the end of the ride I was already starting to cramp in my adductor, but I have had this before so wasn't too too concerned.
I came off the bike and headed out on the run I think with a 6-7min leaded on Rinny, and the other girls. The first mile, I felt ok but this was probably because it was down hill :). Then things started to go wrong. I still am not entirely sure what happened, but my guess would be dehydration. It wasn't long before I went from running to try to win the race, to trying to hold on for 2nd, to 100% survival mode.....and this was between mile 2 - 4. Hello....only 9-11miles to go...goodie. It was ugly out there, there's no bones about it. Rinny passed looking great and left me thinking I was like a turtle running through mud! Mile 5-8 then got even uglier as I stumbled my way through the aid stations. This is where I think both Kelly Williamson and Sam "i've learnt how to wear my helmet straight" Warriner passed me. Luckily for me, the last 4-5miles were flatish and I managed to get going again, and finished 4th just in front of good friend MB Ellis, who was chasing me down.
All in all, while it was without a doubt a tough day in the office, there are plenty of positives to go along with the negatives. My swimming is back to where it should be (this time last year I was losing 2mins to the girls I came out with), my biking with my new "prairie dog position" thanks to Mat at Retul and my new Adamo saddle feels awesome, and I managed to get through possibly the roughest patch I have ever had in a race and still finish in the money. On the negatives, the main ones being my lack of attention to hydration....yes I am a numptie, and my lack of any run ability whatsoever.
SO there is plenty for me to think on, and work on in the months to come, especially with the thought of Kona in the back of my mind. I'm not going to lie, I was thinking during the "ugliest part of my ugly run" ...Shit Dibens if you are struggling here...how are you going to expect to survive in the oven in Kona? A fair point, but one that I am still excited about trying to work on. It without a doubt will be the biggest challenge of my triathlon career, and one that I am now itching to get my teeth into.
Again well done to Rinny for a dominate performance, and to Kelly and Sam for a great 2nd and 3rd. A huge thanks goes out to the Rev3 crew for putting on a great race and a great series. Anyone looking for some really well put on, and thought out races should consider the Rev3 races in 2011....and rumour has it there will be plenty more to choose from.
Next up ....i think.... (still deciding) is the Boise 70.3 in 5 days. Yippee.
Nothing's changed....just finishing higher up the pecking order.
I just got back from having lunch with friend and now 'occasional' training buddy (when her coach Simon lets her!) Mary Beth Ellis. We had just finished racing the inaugural REV3 tri here in Knoxville, and with our bellies rumbling we went for a bite to eat. It is sometimes hard after a race, especially when one has a good race, and the other not so. But with MB being the champ that she is, it didn't take her long to get the giggle rolling and before we knew it we were laughing our way through lunch. As per usual she had her typical salad, and me....my usual plate of "filth", which today consisted of a chicken sandwich and some fries. They were at least sweet potato! If that wasn't enough I then went on to treat myself to some ice cream, with cookie dough mixed in to boot, for dessert. Joe Gambles, you would have been proud!
Anyway, midway through are romantic lunch for two, MB asked the question "so what do you think has changed to make you start off the year on such a roll?". My initial response was nothing really. And after thinking more about it, I stand by it. My training has been pretty similar to previous years. Those that know me, know that I am very much for routine. The weekly training schedule has not changed much at all. All the same elements are in there, and I wouldn't necessarily say I have been going any faster in training. I suppose the one big difference is in the consistency. Other than the bout of illness I had, and the invasion of my little unwanted friends after Abu Dhabi, training has been really consistent....probably all the way back to just before the 5430 (now to be Boulder 70.3) last August. I guess another small difference is that with Abu Dhabi being in March I did end up biking more than normal during the cold winter months. This probably allowed me to kick start the season with a real focus, and better form. Knock on wood, and hopefully this wonít come back to bite me in the ass later in the year.
Now don't get me wrong I am delighted to have won the races I have won recently. As any pro will tell you, it is a lot of fun when you win. But letís not get carried away here. I have some big goals that I want to achieve this year, and even with these past results I know and feel that I have A LOT of work to do if I want to get anywhere near achieving these. So Iíll look to take them for what they are...early season wins...and move on.
I am now looking forward to heading back to Boulder tomorrow. My next race isn't until the Rev3 half ironman in early June, so I hope to have a good training block leading into that. Now that the masses are returning to boulder, I will be spoilt for choice for training partners which is great, and one of the things I really love about boulder. It keeps things interesting...as well as keeping me on my toes.
Thanks for reading, and train/be safe.
The Wonders of Wildflower
So, after many years of talking the talk about racing the Wildflower triathlon in California, I finally stepped up and did it. For whatever reason, the last few years I have either not been able to race due to injury, or ended up back at my favorite island of St Croix to race the 70.3 there. For as long as I can remember the two races have been held on the same weekend....which is fine by me as it means I can choose whichever race people like Mirinda Carfrae aka "the rinsta" decide not to do :).
Wildflower is really what triathlon should all be about. It is a fantastic festival weekend with music entertainment, food, a huge expo, and of course plenty of racing action throughout the weekend. It helps as well when the weather is gorgeous like it was this weekend, and of course the venue, Lake San Antonio which is stunning. Throughout the weekend I meet plenty of families who were there for the whole weekend, and were having a blast. Even the kids were loving it. I have said this before in a previous blog, but sometimes we triathletes can get so obsessed with the actual triathlon part of it, that we forget to have fun while we do it. So to be able to enjoy such a carnival atmosphere with friends and family makes all the hard work feel that much more worthwhile.
On a more selfish note, it was fantastic as a pro to actually feel welcome and wanted there. Some of you may find this a funny/weird thing for me to say, but Dixie and the whole tri cal team really go out of their way to make all the pro's feel welcome. And no I don't think it was just to boost our already humungous egos :). I think they genuinely like us being there! They try to house all of us either onsite in some cabins, or at some gorgeous houses on another lake nearby, they spend the time to introduce all the pro's no matter how big or small, and they even have a raffle prize thing for us during the pro meeting. I think the prize of the day went to Sam Mcglone who was delighted to win a pair of socks. I joke a little here, but it was fun and unique....and definitely a bit "out there" compared to your bog standard race briefing.
As for the race itself, itís a cracker! I loved it. Hilly, slow roads on the bike, and up and down all day on the road and off, on the run. This all more often than not makes for a true race by scaring most of the dirty cheating drafters, and by splitting up the field early.
I went into this race very relaxed with where I was at. If you read my previous blogs you would have seen I struggled a little after Abu Dhabi. Things had turned around the last 2-3 weeks and I was delighted to feel normal again, and super excited to feel ready to be on the start line at one of the biggest races in the US. For some reason, even though I was unsure of where my fitness was, I went into the race really relaxed about things. I really wasn't nervous at all, and was just excited to check out this beast of a course.
The swim was pretty uneventful, I managed to build an early gap and kept it. I was excited to be racing in my new Hurricane TYR wetsuit for the first time. I tried to push on hard and make the most of my early race speed, and then settle into a rhythm and just get into my own race. As people know, the swim rarely will win you the race, but it can certainly set u up to win the race. And this was my whole goal on the swim. To get a lead big enough to put me hopefully out of sight for as long as possible.
Out on to the bike, and we hit the hills pretty early. I had a couple of pro guys that passed me early on, and I just let them go and do their own thing and just rode at a pace that I thought was about right. I worked the climbs hard, but never redlined it. Having never pre-ridden the course I wanted to make sure there was plenty left in the tank for the end of the bike, and the run. There were times out there where I did feel like I was going so so slowly....and that surely the other girls were catching me. Thankfully I donít think they were....but it sure felt like it at times! Things start spice-ing up around mile 40-45, within which the infamous "Nasty grade" climb is. It was tough, but I have to say "The Beast" in St Croix is ALOT tougher, as are some of the climbs at the UK 70.3. It's still tough though. Thankfully I had a few other guys in my sights up here, and I used them to keep the focus. At some point after nasty grade there is a wicked fast decent. It was fun...short but fun, and I think I maxed out 81km's an hour...which I reckon is pretty fast.
I kept the pressure on back to transition, opted to put socks on (sssshhh donít tell anyone), and headed out on to the run having not had a chance to check it out at all. I wouldn't normally recommend this, but I was actually weirdly excited to see what it was all about. It was a great run course. It has a bit of everything, off road, on road, gradual climbs and descents as well as steep energy sapping ones. The volunteers at the aid stations were fantastic, and gave out huge cheers whenever you ran by. They definitely help break up the 13mile run. I felt pretty strong throughout the run, which is quite unusual for me :). The one bad patch I had was up the last climb just before mile 12. I think this was probably due to my not sticking totally to my nutrition plan that I have been working on with Brian Shea at Personal Best Nutrition. It was a massive improvement from my nonexistent nutrition habits previously. Still room for improvements though for sure.
All in all I was delighted to put out a strong performance, and obviously delighted to win against a great field of women pro's. I have been in this sport long enough to know that you have to relish the wins and the good days, as I am sure there will be plenty of bad days to come....it just comes with the rollercoaster nature of the sport.....or is that just me!
Next up for me is the Rev3 Olympic distance race in Knoxville. Not only is the Rev3 series a great series, but now with Team Trakkers laying down the team challenge, I am going to have to rest up and recover quickly if I want to do my team K-Swiss/Trek proud.
Thanks to Rich Cruse for the photos and for reading. Check back again next week for more.
Driving the Porcelain Bus
It's now just over 3 weeks since I returned from Abu Dhabi, and I reckon its about time for a new update. Not much has been going on to be honest, both on the training front and the social front. As I reported on my twitter page, things got pretty ugly on our return from the UAE. Both Mike and I spent most of our first day back praying to the porcelain gods. After a good 12hrs of it, I think I mentioned to Mike that I actually thought I might die. At this point we jumped in the car and made a trip to our local dick doc. They put us both on IV's and gave us some anti vomiting medicine and sent us on our merry way. It took me a good week to start to feel like eating again, and I started to find some energy to think about training again too, which always helps.
2 weeks further down the line, and I still don't feel 100%. Each day is getting a little better, esp the last 2 or 3 days. I think one sign is that I feel like I might be starting to get my sense of humor back! To be on the safe side of things I have just recently got some tests done to check things. I am still awaiting the results, but hopefully all come back negative, and I just got the sheeeeet kicked out of me from racing, travelling and vomiting.
Outside of all this, one of my major highlights these last 3 weeks was getting to go in the Wind Tunnel in San Diego. Myself and 2 other Trek/Kswiss team members Chris Lieto and Michi Raelert got the opportunity to test and tweak or positions in the tunnel. It really was a unique experience, and it gives me some super confidence as I look to step up to longer distances.
Another highlight these last few weeks has been the return of one of our basement dwellers :) Mary Miller. Mary is a great person, and great friend to have in the house. She is extremely positive and fun, and Mike, Lucky and I enjoy having her around. On Easter Sunday Mary encouraged us to have a BBQ, and invite some friends round. The highlight of the evening was the Easter egg hunt. I don't think I have ever done one of these. In the UK we tend to just give and eat lots of chocolate eggs. Here I guess you have to work for your candy in that you have to find it first. I like their style!
Next up for me?....good question. The original plan was to race St Anthonyís at the end of April, then back it up with Wildflower, which is a tough half ironman the following weekend. At this rate I don't think I will be ready for St Ants, so may well have to pull the plug on that one, but hopefully if I can start to get some decent training in, rather than just going thru the motions, I will be back for Wildflower. One thing I know is that I wonít race unless I feel ready. Having been in the sport for just over a decade now, I have learnt this lesson many a time.....you can do more harm than good sometimes. SO it's not worth the risk. Especially when I think to Oct, and Nov when my big races for the year are. Plenty of time, plenty of time.
Race Report from Abu Dhabi
So for the most part with my updates I like to keep things pretty light hearted and fun. Every once in a while though I do like to throw in your typical bog standard race report. While it may bore some of you to death, others ....mostly the die hard tri fans (aka tri geeks), I believe find these reports interesting.
As some of you will now have heard, I won the Abu Dhabi International triathlon. It was my first ďlong Distance EventĒ, and I think was a great introduction to the ďpleasuresĒ of long distance racing. It was a first time event, and I believe the first triathlon of this magnitude to be held in the United Arab Emirates. The organisers managed to bring together a really top international field of athletes to race over the unique distances of a 3km swim/ 200km bike / 20km run. This was no doubt helped by the huge prize purse on offer.
After committing to the race back at the end of last year, it left me with about 10 weeks to step up my game and start spending more time on my bike. 200km for those of you that donít know is a bloody long way to ride your bike, especially when you have never raced over 90km before.
Despite the cold weather in Boulder my 10 week training block went well. I increased my long rides up to 5hrs, and even stretched 1 or 2 up to 6. With the outside temps barely cracking 35-40F I found these rides where taking a lot out of me, and would end up passed out on the couch the rest of the afternoon. (Donít tell James Hadley or Tim O Donnell that though....never show signs of weakness ?). I had planned on getting in at least 1 200km ride in training before the race, but never quite managed this. I think my longest ride was just shy of 185km. Which I figured was good enough. The pace of these rides I would say were steady rather than easy. Other than this long ride each week, the majority of my other rides where done indoors on my trusty Computrainer. They make you strong I tell ya!
On the swim and run side of things, I kept things pretty normal for this time of year, and kept things pretty aerobic keeping the intensity down. I was conscious that even though I wanted to get to Abu Dhabi in good shape, I didnít want to be firing on all cylinders, as the season is long. My biggest races of the year wonít be until Oct/Nov, and I know I cannot hold top form anywhere near that long.
On the nutrition front over the winter I started working on perfecting my race nutrition with Brian Shea of Personal Best Nutrition. I know that my nutrition would play a very important role in dealing with stepping up to race the longer distances. Over a short period of time Brian helped me massively in this area, and I have gone from having the nutrition plan of a Gnat, to one of a proper athlete. I now have confidence in my plan, and to knowing that I am working with some of the most knowledgable people in nutrition in the sport is a big part of that.
Anyhow. So I arrived in Abu Dhabi, pretty happy with how things had gone. Yet I was still quite apprehensive about the prospect of racing so far. Ok, lets be honest.....i was shitting my self ?. But I was also excited about it too. It was going to be a new challenge, and lets face it I would much prefer a race with a abnormally long bike, than an abnormally long run!
Onto the race:
The swim started well, and I ended up leading the first lap. Well all until Lucie Zelenkova nipped by me just before the end of the lap. We then had a short run up the beach, before diving straight back in again for Lap 2. I felt good and very much in control and happy to sit near the front of the small group that had formed. I was starting to get frustrated with the helicopter which was hovering so close above us that at one point I thought they were coming to get us cos their were sharks in the water. Yes seriously that thought popped through my head at the time!
I survived the scare with the helicopters and exited water in 2nd place, had an unusually smooth transition for me, and zipped out onto the bike in the lead. The first 45km of the bike was then pretty uneventfully as I put my head down and tried to hold back a little....else it would get ugly later on. Leanda Cave was riding strongly in 2nd place behind me, and I believe Tereza Marcel in 3rd. At about the 45km we entered onto the Yaz Formula 1 race track. All I can say was WOW! It was absolutely awesome riding round there. I tried to imagine I was Jenson Button as I zipped around some of the hairpins. I could even feel the G-forces.......oh the power of mental imagery?. This was totally the highlight of my race.
It was short lived though, as it was then back onto the straight flat roads, which meant just time to tap tap away with the hammer on the bike as I tried to extend my lead. All was going swimmingly well. I was on top of my nutrition plan and feeling good, up until about the 75km mark, when I felt my back wheel go flat. Earlier in the race, after hitting a bump my rear bottle had flown off the bike. Along with it had gone my Pitstop (which helps fix a flat). Realising I had nothing to fix it I just kept riding on the rim. I was hoping that I would either miraculously see my Pitstop lying at the side of the road, another competitor would throw me a bone, or I would get some support from the sag vehicle that was somewhere out on the course. I ended up riding for just under 20km, and was seriously about to pull the plug when I saw my Saviour for the day, Wolfi. Wolfi, a local bike shop owner and the on site bike mechanic, was in the sag vehicle and had come back to help me. They handed me a new back wheel, and sent me away on my merry way.
With the time I had lost I now had to do some chasing. Which in hindsight was probably both a good and bad thing. Good in that it gave me something to think about and get angry about, and bad because I probably ended up pushing a little harder than I would liked to have. I also had totally lost track of my nutrition plan, so had to get back onto it ASAP.
The 2nd time round the race track was just as fun as the first, if not more. This time I was angry, and was taking more risks than normal. It was fun though! I caught Leanda on the way back, and then extended my lead into T2 to about 3-4mins. At this point I knew the race was definitely not won. It was hotting up, and with my lack of heat preparation I knew I might suffer like a dog out there.
Heading out onto the run, felt ok. Not great by any means, but I had felt a lot worse. I just focused on putting one step in front of the other, and not grabbing fluid at every aid station. After lap 1 my lead had extended up to 6mins which I was surprised at, so eased off the throttle a little. Which was a good thing, as by the turnaround I was starting to suffer. I pretty much then tried to just put it on auto pilot to get to the finish line. It was hot, and I was hurting! But I managed to hold on and win, which I was delighted about. I was in a whole world of pain though, and ended up having to then cut a few live interviews short due to some puking. Nice! And then spent a good hour or so in medical tent. So I would say I probably didnít get to enjoy this win initially as much as I would have liked!
All in all, it I think it was a great taste of Long distance racing. I always knew it would be hard both physically and mentally, and it definitely was that! Right now I am wondering how I am going to manage running another 22km after doing all that! At least I have a good 6 months to work on it though!
Thanks to IMG and all the organizers of the race, in Particular Pip Davey the Elite Coordinator. Dealing with Elite triathletes and keeping us all happy is no easy task! Thanks for you patience Pip. Thanks to Faris Al Sultan, and Abu Dhabi triathlon for creating this race, and of course for the people Abu Dhabi for welcoming a new event onto your streets.
And lastly a huge thank you to Mike, my Mum, and Gail and Olivia for all the support pre, during and post race. It is always fun to have some friendly smiling faces out on the course.
Next up for me after a recovery week will be the St Anthonys triathlon in April, followed by the Wildflower triathlon in May.
Thanks for reading, and keep following me on Twitter....i am in a race with Mirinda Carfrae to 2000 followers! Help me get there first
Update from Trek/kswiss camp
Last weekend I got the chance to escape the snow and cold in Boulder and head over to California for a few days for the Trek/Kswiss team camp. It probably couldn't have come at a better time, as the week leading up to it I had been fighting a virus of sorts. It was great to head down to sea level for a bit, fill my lungs with oxygen, and have a few easier days on the swim/bike/run front.
Many of you that follow triathlon, may have seen reports of the camp on numerous triathlon websites (xtri.com, ironman.com, triathlon.competitor.com ) All of which can give you a great insight into what went on at the camp. From my perspective it was first and foremost - alot of fun. It really is a great group of people to be involved with. There are no big ego's to get past....minus my own of course, which is so important when you try to bring a small group of professional athletes together.
I thought I would give you my perspective of the group:
The Trek/Kswiss Smurfs:
- Pappa Smurf - has to go to Chris Lieto. The elder statesman of the group, and without a doubt the most experienced as well. Add on to that the fact that the man travelled with his own set of clippers, determined to make the rest of the team look like him! He also had an uncanny knack to make up the rules as we went along. All of a sudden we would see him sprint for an imaginary line here or there....an crown himself the victor! I caught him napping on the last one though! Obviously also a great guy, and so open and willing to help out everyone on the team byt sharing his experiences and knowledge. Feel honoured to be on the same team as such a legend. Not so sure about his hairdressing skills though!
- Baby Smurf - while Andrew is the "baby" of the group, there is a lot of respect for him amongst the team. He has a clear vision of where he wants to be in the sport, and I am not sure if anything will stop him. For someone so young..(and someone that looks even younger), he has a solid head on his shoulders. He is driven, yet smart with it. He is often the quiet one, but then perks up every now and then with a comment or two that has us all in stitches of laughter. A great addition to the team, if not for his speed on the bike, for his ability to keep the older guys honest and on their toes.
- Joe Gambles - a mix between Brainy smurf and Vanity smurf - Joe is the stat man amongst the group. He loves all the gadgets, he loves to know exactly how far or how fast we went, and how many feet we climbed. He will probably know every race split he has ever done, and exactly what he needs to do this year to win. He will be our go to guy for any statistics needed. He also was a most afraid of Pappa smurf with the clippers. After spending a reported $60 on a haircut, some might not be surprised! Best asset he brings to the team is his confidence in his own ability, as well as his smile and aussie/brit sense of humour.
- Fraser Cartmell - Is Brainy Smurf's right hand man. If ever Joe is a little slow to answer, Frase will be right there backing him up. For the most part they agree :) which is a good thing. From my perspective Frase is a great addition to the team....and thats not only because he is another Brit. He has a sometimes firey personality, and likes to speak his mind...like most scots do! And most importantly he has no fear and loves to work hard.
- Farmer Smurf - Paul "barney" Matthews - I went for Farmer smurf because after much harrassment Paul finally told us where he got his nickname Barney from. It's a long story, but has something to do with barns and farms. So I figured it was appropriate. Barney, while quiet at times, has a classic sense of humour that only brits and aussies truely appreciate. I know he had Heather stumped at least once or twice! With his strong aussie accent, at times he comes across a bit brash, but deep down I know he is a real softie at heart. I know he managed to put the fear of god into the Kid Yoder, who sleeping on the pull out couch was too scared to knock on the bedroom door to use the bathroom in fear of waking him up :).
- Giggler Smurfette - Heather Jackson - Everytime I saw Heather I think she was laughing/giggling/ or at very least smiling. She took the abuse I handed out about her swim talent well, and if it wasn't for a "high heels sore toe" I know would have handed out a big load of whoop ass to me on the bike ride on the sunday. Great to see her excitment to be part of the team, and made me feel good when she laughed at all my jokes.
- Matt Lieto - is a toss up between Grandpa Smurf (for his haircut...which was classic and had us all in seriously doubled over in pain from laughing so hard.), and Jokey Smurf.- Matt seems to have a contagious appetite for fun. He always seemed to have a smile on his face, and seemed to genuinely enjoy the whole experience. If given the opportunity I am sure he would have jumped on the chance to play some pranks on some of the other athletes. I think that he really brings a fresh and contagious attitidue to the team, in that he got into the sport from a different perspective than most of us. He even still puts a smiley face on his calf in races to remind people that he...and we all should have fun while we are racing.
- Michael Raleart - Talker smurf - Ya...its like..Ya Ya I dunno...Ya... Just don't give the man a microphone - u might never get it back! Given the right opportunity the man loves to talk, which is kinda funny given his quiet demeanour. He comes across as having a heart of gold which makes you just want to hug him :).
- I guess that just leaves me :). Probably a mix between grouchy, greedy and clumsy :)....and thats just on a good day.
In all seriousness, this is exciting times for all of us. I know there is alot of sceptisism about whether we can really benefit from being a team....but the proof will be in the pudding as they say.
I believe next up for the team is Abu Dhabi for Myself, Brainy and his side kick, and Giggler. Miami for Papa and baby smurf, and Singapore 70.3 for the Farmer boy.
Thanks for reading and check back soon for more insight into the team.
My Top 10 favorite and least favorite things about winter training in Boulder.
Top 10 Favorite:
- 10 - When its cold u can ride for 100miles and not get passed by another cyclist....cos no one else is silly enough to ride. Hence you can ride slower than a slow snail with a food coma.
- 9 - It is stunning! U can't help but get motivated to get out the door when the sun is shining.
- 8 - U can actually swim when you go to masters at FAC. Anyone who has gone in the summer will know what I mean. Come on it's not really swimming when you have 150 people on the pool at the same time.
- 7 - Growing a winter coat is a benefit for sure!
- 6 - When dressed as a ninja, you can get your secret squirrel training in without anyone seeing...cos they are all in indoors.
- 5 - U can stalk your competitiors on FB rather than in person, cos most disappear to the other side of the world. It's a lot easier I can promise you, cos most are faster than the speed of light.
- 4 - I don't have to travel. This is a biggy, especially having to pack and un pack the bike.
- 3 - I get to take TFW (triathlon free weekends) and disappear up into the mountains for some proper winter sport action.
- 2 - We get our house to ourselves and have fewer pikey triathletes crash here. Andrew Yoder...you went and blew that one for us didn't you :)
- 1 - I get to spend more time with my hunny.
Top 10 least Favorite:
The last 10 minutes before you fall asleep.
I am currently reading Andre Agassi's autobiography "Open", and am really struggling to put it down. I have always been a big tennis fan, but was never really a big Agassi supporter. For some reason I always tended pull for Pete Sampras instead. But reading Agassi's book for some reason really hit home on how much really goes on behind the scenes of a professional athlete. It is crazy how the media can pretty much create an athleteís persona out of nothing. And then once it's there...it's there for good. In this respect, we as pro triathletes are pretty fortunate, in that our sport is still so small that the media presence is still pretty remote. For the most part, even the best triathletes in the world (Olympic champions, Ironman world champions, etc) can get on with their everyday lives uninterrupted. This is probably one of the only benefits to triathlon being a "small sport", but one I think we are all probably glad for.
Anyway, on to the reason for my blog - " the last 10 minutes before you fall asleep". In Agassi's book, at some point he references these last 10 minutes before you sleep and how they can either be heaven or hell. He recalls how on the days that he gave 100% in training and in races, how those last 10minutes before he fell asleep were bliss. On the days that he fell short, those 10 minutes were hell, as he lay there listening to the booing inside his head, and nothing felt worse.
I think we can all totally relate to this. Not just as athletes, but as people in general. I know I certainly can. The days where I know that I haven't given 100% in training, or taken care of my nutrition and hydration in the best way possible, or not been the best friend I could to those around me, or the best wife, daughter, sister, I lie there kicking myself. Those nights I tend to sleep like shit as well, as my mind "ticker tickers" over what I should have done. After races where I know I haven't given a 100% effort this is usually taken a step further, beating myself up for a couple of weeks!
On the flip side when I know, deep within, that I have given everything I could (regardless of the outcome), I sleep like a baby, and once in a while might actually fall asleep before Mike - who tends to fall asleep as he is getting into bed.
Andre, in his book, references this point as he reflects back on a tournament in D.C. There is a heat wave going on, and everyone is complaining about the heat. After his final practice, on the drive back to the hotel he gets his friend Perry to drop him off, and he ends up running the last few miles home - all this despite the heat. He felt that he hadn't given his utmost in his final practice, and wanted to be able to sleep that night.
I think this time of year it is really important to think about giving a great effort. For most of us in the northern hemisphere, the weather has gone tits up, and it is colder than a cold person stuck in a freezer. There are many excuses that you can use to back out of this workout or that, or cut things short. Yes it is hard! Yes it is cold, but we can still get things done. I do think you have to be realistic with your goals and plans. Chances are that you may have to adjust our workouts a little, or move them indoors, but we can still give a great and honest effort. I think you just have to be realistic with what we can or cannot still get done when the weather is bad, and then get the job done.
I am currently finding that my long rides are taking a lot more out of me than normal. I am convinced this is because of the cold. But with me stepping up and racing Abu Dhabi in March, I think it is important to still get outside for a long ride at least once a week if I can. I have cut many of my other rides shorter and moved them indoors on my faithful Computrainer. Hours of fun to be had there.
As we all know recovery is a huge part of being able to perform at the highest level. The best way to recover properly is to sleep well at night. So for me to be able to do this, I will be giving 100% during my days. Whether this is, doing a 30min easy jog....as an easy jog, or doing some TT repeats on the Computrainer. It's all about 100% baby! I want to sleep at night and be able to switch that brain off.
Hang tough people...spring and summer are just around the corner.... I promise.
Clearwater and Maui seem a decade ago by now. As they should! I like to celebrate and enjoy the moment, and then move on. Otherwise you can get caught napping and miss out on the world moving along around you. Yes, my success at both of those races gave me a wonderful sense of achievement, and I really feel lucky to have achieved my goals. I know I work hard, but as I have learnt this year it isn't just hard work that gets you the results. If it was due to hard work alone, then a lot of people here in Boulder would have the results they craved too. Boulder is a haven for hard work. A lot of top class athletes train their little socks off, and I only wish we could share out the success between us all.
Triathlon is still a minority sport, and possibly always will be. This makes it hard for us all to make a living from the sport. I have been really fortunate this year, in having a few doors and windows open up on the sponsorship front. I look forward to working with them, and using these opportunities to hopefully take me on to bigger and better things. Things haven't always been this positive though, and I really feel for some fellow pro athletes who are trying to make ends meet. But saying this, we have all chosen to do this for a living. No one pushed us into it, and I doubt anyone really went into it believing they would become a millionaire out of it. We choose to do it because we love the sport of triathlon. We love the challenges that it brings to us, and we crave the hard work and dedication that it takes, to achieve the lofty goals that we set.
I will continue to strive to not only be successful at what I do, but to also enjoy what I do. I believe my move to boulder has really helped me do that - stunning terrain and scenery, great weather, and a multitude of awesome training partners. It has now been 4 weeks since Clearwater, I am now anxious and excited about getting back into training for next year. I had a great time relaxing, and spending time with my parentals. It was great to show them around the Boulder area, and enjoy spending time with them when I am not 100% focused on triathlon. They may disagree though ;).
For next year I will have a new set of goals, and ones that without a doubt will be a challenge. The first of which will be racing the Abu Dhabi triathlon in March. Abu Dhabi will be my first real taste of Long course racing, and so no doubt will be a huge learning lesson for me. The race is unique and exciting in its format. It is a 3km swim, 200km bike, and 20km run, which on paper (with the long bike/short run) looks to suit my style of racing. The only downside, is that I have never raced over 90km on the bike (or even riding over 150km in training). So I will definitely be going in a bit apprehensive. But it is a new challenge, and one that will hopefully help me get out the door and on my bike throughout the winter months. I am excited about it for many reasons: the length of it; the opportunity to travel to the UAE...somewhere I have never been before; challenge of doing something very new...and something I have no idea if I will be good at ; and the opportunity to test out some new exciting equipment that I will be using later in the year.
After Abu Dhabi, I hope to get back to a similar type of schedule as to the last couple of years, where I will mix up racing Olympic distance non drafting races, with some 70.3's and some Xterras. And if all goes well in Abu Dhabi, I may even step up and join the other crazies at the Ironman distance. One step at a time though....my first step is to learn how to ride a fricking long way...and be able to run (or hobble) off it.
Hopefully the weather will now cooperate and warm up a little. I actually do enjoy having snow and cold weather a lot......But -10F might be testing me a bit much....especially if you have to bike and run in it. It certainly makes things a little more challenging and interesting though. Until then the treadmill and Computrainer will continue to be my best friend and worst enemy.
Thanks Mum and dad for a great few weeks in Boulder, and see you back here in the summertime!
Flippin-eck! I did it!
Anyone that has been following me the last few years, will know that I have been really focused on trying to win the 70.3 world champs in Clearwater. It really has been my motivation to get out of bed, and crank out some hard ass sessions day in day out, week in week out. I don't think I have wanted anything as much as this, since I first set my sights on qualifying for the Olympic games in both 2000 and 2004. So to actually win in Clearwater on saturday was unbelieveable. I can honestly say that running down that finish shoot was the best feeling ever. But I guess that is to be expected when you have come so close....and yet so far 2'ce before, and when you want it so much. Flippin-eck it was awesome, and a feeling that I will never forget.
Leading into the race things had pretty much gone to plan. I felt I had recovered well from my efforts in Maui, and also managed to get a good 10days of some solid training in, before the final taper of the year leading into the race. It was important for me to rest up after Maui, and then get out there and get some solid bike sessions done on my new Trek Speed Concept bike. The last 2 years, with there having been only 2 weeks in between Xterra and 70.3, there really hasn't been enough time for me to get any quality bike workouts in. I think you could then see this in my results in Clearwater. Even though I still felt strong on the bike in 2007 and 2008, my legs just were not used to the TT position due to me being on a mtb leading up to Xterra. In 07 and 08, by the time I got to the run, my legs were already cramping. Not a good sign! So this year, I very much focused on addressing this, and got some good work done. This was helped by the fact that every time I got on the bike, I felt strong, comfortable, and most importantly Fast. My running was still feeling good, a little up and down, but better than in past years, and with the help of my Florida training buddy, Fraser Cartmell, my swimming looked to be finally coming around too!
Despite all this, once all the pre race shenanagans was over (interviews, briefings, press confrences, chit chat etc etc), all of a sudden the nerves kicked in big times. The night before the race I was having serious doubts about my form, and was truely....."shitting myself" (excuse my french). Mike even noted after the race, that he had never seen me so nervous. I think basically all of sudden it hit me how much I wanted to win this race. I also knew that I was in great shape, and I think this made me even more nervous....as I guess I felt I had more to lose...more mistakes to make...and that if I didn't win it this year, that I was never gonna win it.
Once the gun went off though, the game face was on, and auto pilot kicked in. The swim went very much to plan. After having some shocking swims earlier in the year, where I came out about 2mins down on the fastest females, it was great to come out right with the leaders. This set me up for being able to try and put the hammer down early on the bike and get away from the rest of the girls. I was able to use some of my Olympic distance speed to ride away from the get go, and just set out to ride my own race, ride hard, and at worst case, make the other girls run their little socks off to chase me down.
I think I opened up a sizeable gap early, up to 3 mins I think within the first 20miles. I got to the dead turn, at about 25miles in about 58mins, so I knew I was riding well. I was a little un nevered to then see about 30-40 pro guys only a couple of mins back. I have to be honest in that I was a little surprised and disappointed to see them so early.....and see so many of them still together. This I knew would make it pretty unavoidable for some of the other girls to get pulled along with the guys. Next thing I know, at about mile 35, the first guy passes me, and I hear my lead is down to 1min! I kept on just trying to ride my own race. It's not easy, when you have such a big group of guys passing. Jimmy R, the head referree came up and told me "julie, you need to let all these guys go, and ride your own race"...."all the girls behind you are riding alone". I think my response was something like " are you serious??? You want me to just sit up, for about 2mins to let these guys go....just tell these guys to speed up instead, and get out of my way! " I was getting frustrated for sure. The organisers really need to think about how the women can have a fair race. Last year, we got caught up in some of the slower guys, which also had an impact on our race. I actually believed that be sending us off first it would be fairer.....but I don't think we anticipated the front mens pack being quite so big.
Anyway back to the race. I entered T2 with about a 4min lead. Deja vu anyone! Thats what I had in 2007. The big difference was this year, my running legs felt ok. I headed out on the run, and was running a comfortable 6:15-6:20min mile pace. But I knew things were still early days. I really focused on just running smooth, and keeping the legs turning over. The support out there was awesome. Mike was literally doing jumping jacks...and I could see him from a good mile away! :). With him out there screaming his head off, and some other good friends cheering me hard too....i couldn't let them down again...could i? The whole run, I kept just saying to myself "run like the Rinsta" (aka Mirinda Carfrae). Some of Rinny's races this year have been so inspiring, and she seriously runs like the wind. I figured if I could at least feel like I was running like her, then I might have a chance. Now I know I didn't look anything like her running.....or that I didn't run anywhere near as fast as her....but in mind I was...OK! It was only til the last 2miles that I really started to hurt, but at that point I knew that as long as I kept a reasonable pace, this race was mine.
My run down the finish shoot, was all that you dream about, and one that I will seriously never forget. It was awesome. To top it off, training buddy, and good friend MB Ellis came in 2nd too! Nice one MB...and well deserved too!
The post race party that night on the other hand is one that I could forget for sure! I just wish people would stop posting incriminating pictures of me on FB! Thats just not fair!
A huge thank you to everyone that helped make this dream/goal achievable.
- Mike - you are the best ever. I love you to bits, and couldn't do this without your support, and your belief in me.
- Mum and Dad - you have always supported in me in all my endevours, and I love the thought of you sat at home in front of the laptop biting your finger nails. Sorry I make it so stressful for you.....but it makes it more enjoyable when I do occasionally win them right?
- My new training buddies/friends in Boulder - u know who you are
- All My sponsors - and in particular Trek and Bontrager, you guys are awesome!
Next up for me, some down time. Which will enclude minimal swimming, biking and running, Lots of chilling with friends and family, and L-dog, hitting the slopes, playing rockband...and a beer or margarita or two.
Thanks also to everyone for following, and for all the messages. They have been a joy to read.
Julie Wins the 70.3 World Championship
Julie and I are both over the moon with the win. This is just a quick update and some photos before a proper race update. Come back soon. Follow me on Twitter or click the register button to receive notification for all website updates.
More photos from Xterra World Champs
Xterra World champ 2009
Its funny how we are always quicker to update/blog about races that you do well in hey! So here I am a couple of hours after the race back in the hotel room firing off a quick email to mike to update the website. Get on it Mikey :)
The race went well and of course I am delighted to have won again here in Maui. People have been making a big deal about the possibility of me winning 3 in a row, but to be honest I am just delighted to have won TODAY. The races last year and the year before seem so far away. Yes it was great to have won them, but so much has happened between now and then. The race today showed me that all the work I have done this year is starting to pay off. I know I had a few setbacks along the way, but throughout it all I have managed to maintain some great training blocks. This win, and my form coming into it, has shown me that Mike and my move to Boulder was the right thing for my triathlon career. I have made some great new friends in Boulder (you all know who you are), and have found a new lease of life in my training. Of course I miss being so close to you Mum and Dad, but for right now, this has shown me this has been the right move.
As for the race itself - I felt strong throughout the day. Well, maybe til the last mile stretch along the lava rock. I hate that stuff! Compared to last year I felt in control on the bike. Last year, I was on the rivet all the time. A big part of this I am convinced was due to my swtich to the Trek Top Fuel bike. It seriously did half of the work for me. All I had to to was pedal a little bit, and point the bike in the right direction! Being in control on the bike, also alowed me to get off the bike and head out onto the run a lot fresher. Last year I suffered big time! This year I felt strong, and after seeing the lead I had coming into transition, knew that as long as I didn't blow (like I have done many a time before), this race was mine for the taking.
All in all GBR had a great day out here. The highlights were Darrelle "DAZ" Parker (who I have coached now for 2 years), who is believed to have been the fastest female Age grouper. Not bad for a 41??? yr old :), and to Graham Wadsworth who finished 18th Male Pro. Top racing guys.
On the flip side, I am gutted for Sammy G Gardner, who once again had mechanical problems out on the bike. Sammy G was romping it, and has improved his swim no end through guts and dedication. He deserved alot more today, and I know you will come out stronger for it.....maybe not right now...but after a few beers at least. And to Chris Leigh, who also had tyre trouble out on the course. Way to come back and run the fastest time of the day. A true champion Chris!
Next up for me, is the annual Halloween costume party here in Maui. Alot of fun to be had tonight. Tomorrow the last phase of Operation Clearwater begins.Thanks for all the lovely messages, both pre and post the race. Check back soon for some pics from tonight :).
Read some archived news
Oct 2009 - Oct 2008.