Sunday 1 January 2012

Today is the first day of 2012...

and the first official day of training for Louisville Ironman 2012.  The past year (2011) has been a journey of self-discovery. I began the year trying to train for a full marathon, which ended abruptly with a hamstring injury.  Months and months of training with a coach out the window, I was devastated.  What was I going to do now, if I wasn’t a marathon runner what was I?  First things first I told myself…get better… then…try again…?

My coach Kevin Smith (Marathon Dynamics) recommended I get rehab advice from Dr. Cindy Lewis of Absolute Endurance (AE).  This is were I left my dreams of running the Boston Marathon and began to fall in love with triathlons. I hired a coach at AE, Alan Chud, who has so far been the only person that can successfully infiltrate my thick head.

My first Tri. Placed 3rd in my age group. That's Alan on the right. 

The main reason I failed to finish the training for a marathon is due in part to me.  My brain is wired to believe if your coach says, “run 5k today” then 10k would be better.  Some of my past coaches were ok with this (or were just not paying attention), but not Alan…more about him later.

I could describe in detail all of the events I entered last year but I think for now I will just highlight the good, the bad, and the truly ugly of 2011.

The Good...


That's me in the pink cap!


I successfully conquered my debilitating fear of lake water.

I would have panic attacks every time I entered a lake.  I went to a therapist (Margaret Powell) and she used EMDR technique on me.  With one 2hr session I was cured. Sounds impossible but it’s true.  She uncovered a repressed memory of an event that happened 25 years ago.  I almost drowned by falling under a moving boat that was entering it’s slip.  I have attached a link with more info on EMDR and its ability to help people with posttraumatic stress disorder, if anyone is curious (


I learned how to swim (correctly). 

Yes, now that I can swim in the lake I wasn’t going to get very far with my 50-meter max front crawl. I hired Murray Drudge a national swim coach and swam in an endless pool with mirrors on the bottom.  Literally one lesson later I was bilateral breathing and swimming many more lengths than 2… LOL.  I have had 5 lessons with Murray and will need more, but currently I can easily swim well over 3 km.



I climbed Mount Lemmon in Arizona (April 2011). What the hell was I doing there?… I am still scratching my head.  I think I was still under the devastating influence of having left my marathon journey, and I needed a distraction.  I signed up for the AE Arizona Triathlon Training Boot camp.  I was fit from running but was only cycling once a week in a spinning class – and this was a full on 5-day intense cycling/tri training camp.  It is a good thing that I don’t over-think these things, because if I had, I probably would not have gone.

Taking a break on Mt. Lemmon
I owe so much to this trip.  Mt. Lemmon is a 52km uphill climb in your lowest gear.  The day we climbed the winds were up to 40mph which made this epic uphill ride much much tougher.  I pleaded with the wind that day, mostly because it had the capacity to pick me and my bike up (and it did several times).  I made deals, I made promises, I swore, I laughed and I almost cried…almost. I still can’t believe I did it. Every hill since (well almost every hill) looks easy.  I am going back in April 2012 and have some new goals for this climb…stay tuned.


I have discovered that I am pretty good at cycling.

Ottawa 1/2 Ironman

I love riding with guys because they challenge me.  Cycling is my best event and I love, love, love it.  I may one day just cycle (time trial racing) but for now, three events feel right.


2010 Sporting Life 10K. In the chute after the finish. 

Ahh… running… what can I say about this love/hate relationship? Well, my running career started with me slowly jogging my newly adopted, fat rescue dog (Yogi) and the semi fat, 30lb heavier me, around the block in late 2009.  I was convinced at that time that I would never be a runner.  However, as Yogi and I continued circling the neighborhood my confidence increased and so did my distances. I entered my first race in May 2010 – The Sporting Life 10km.  I will never forget that day. I cried for the first 2km (yes I cried at the beginning, not the end) – the sights and sounds were more than I could handle.  The sense of accomplishment is something that still drives me today. I was hooked – hooked on seeking experiences that will challenge me.

My running gets better everyday.

a video of me learning to run with a new form

Several months ago my coach, Alan, helped me change my running style from a heal striker to a midfoot landing.  This has been difficult and painful but I PB* my last 10k by 5min without trying. 

*Personal Best


Yoga…specifically hot Bikram Yoga.  I discovered this wonderful 90min moving meditation style yoga when a friend (also a triathlete) suggested I try it.  What an incredible exercise. The focus, the challenge, OMG the heat! I didn’t think I was capable of sweating so much. Very hard, but so good for you.


Cycling for a cause.  There are races and cycling events that sponsor charities and last year I rode for Coast to Coast / Tour for Kids, helping to fund camps for kids with cancer. This incredible organization ensures that 100% of the funds raised goes towards improving the quality of life of the children and their families impacted by cancer. What an unbelievable experience, that is all I can say.

I rode somewhere meaningful.

Meeting new people and forming new friendships.

After riding 2 x 100 miles in the Ride to Conquer Cancer 2011
Judy, Michael, me, Marc, Karin, Allen 

It has been an incredible year for meeting like-minded people.  The new friendships I have are likely to be the kind that will last forever.   


Last, but not least… I eat (and drink) whatever I want, and recently my coach told me I need to eat more… nice perk.

The Bad


The cost…geeeeez this has been an expensive journey.  A road bike (a couple k)…a yet to be purchased tri-bike (more k’s), coaching, two club memberships (don’t ask), massages, training and race gear for 3 sports, shoes, clothing (cuz a girl’s gotta to look good!!!), special food, gel, protein crap, race fees, travel expenses… etc… etc… etc… I don’t want to add it up. I just don’t want to know.

My bike "Ruby" in Arizona. Priceless.  

The pain, the pain, the pain.  Nothing good comes without a little pain…right?  I guess I have a lot of good coming my way then.  I ran 10km this morning, I was sleep deprived and a little hung over (it is New Year’s day remember)  my calf muscles hurt so much they felt like they were bleeding (still working on that new running form).  Like I said earlier, a love/hate relationship.


The boredom is sometimes palpable. I solo train most of the time with all three sports, but swimming is incredibly mind numbing.  I recently bought a waterproof MP3 player. I hope it gets better.  


Goggleface – every time I swim I get the worst goggle impression that lasts for hours (to say nothing about how I look with them on).  I have given myself a black eye, and broken a few blood vessels!!! If someone out there has figured out a way to keep the chlorinated water from leaking into goggles so I don’t have to keep them so tight, I am all ears.   And don’t tell me to buy new goggles, I have tried that.

Note bruise forming under right eye.

Anytime you try something new you have to be prepared to look stupid…right? Well, I have had my share of embarrassing moments, especially on the bike.  My first ride on my new road bike is a great example.  I asked Larry Optis a PT and cycling coach from my club to teach me how to properly ride my new fancy bike.

Larry Optis
Ok, so the first stupid thing I did was to forget my helmet, so down the road I went wearing Larry’s helmet.  Moments later at the first major intersection we stopped at, I fell over!  I still can’t figure out to this day how with one foot firmly planted on the ground, I could fall over.  Now, I am clipped-in so once you start falling there is virtually nothing you can do about it.  Poor Larry stood there probably wondering what he just got himself into.  To his credit he has never poked fun at me, a true professional.

The truly Ugly


I DNF!!! (did not finish) my first triathlon race (swim/bike half Iron in Welland).
I had a panic attack in the water within the first 5 minutes.  OMG, there are so many things I wish I could tell that poor girl in the water now.  I would tell her that it takes a good 15 minutes of stressful breathing as her body warms up and not to panic…it’s normal.  I would tell her that the wetsuit she just bought wasn’t too tight, that she is not having a claustrophobic event, just STAY CALM.  I would tell her that the fish and the snakes she saw through her leaking goggles are pretty, and it is not dirty Lake Wilcox but the very clear, see-to-the-bottom Welland Canal, so STAY CALM.

click to enlarge (my shame)

I would then finally tell her not to skulk out of the water. Just dog paddle, swim on your back, side stroke, anything, just STAY CALM.  The upside to this first-time-out, disastrous event was I got on my bike and rode my ass off.   I was so mad at myself for quitting the swim, that I road hard and finished 90km under 3hrs.  Pretty good for a newbie.


Lost my big toenail just before the 2011 summer sandal season.  Yes, this falls in the category of truly ugly.

Drew (my husband) says
this is what my toe looked like.
I have never lost a toenail before but apparently you are not a true “runner” until you have lost at least one nail.  Well, I have lost two and I hope that is it!!! I have my toes crossed.


Pick-up truck drivers hate cyclists!!! Like cats to dogs, I guess. I am not sure why but this is truly a phenomenon.  I have had drivers yell at me, throw water bottles, and squeeze me over to the gravel shoulder.  If they only knew how dangerous their actions were, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t do it…?

I have one more thing to add to the “Ugly” list which could be in its own category.  These sports have a really gross side to them.

As mentioned, cycling with men has its training upside but it also has a disgusting down side. They spit!! And the spray always seems to find me.  Once, this guy decided to clear his nose and yes, it landed on my shoe (actually my black shoe cover or “booty”). It’s so much better to see a booger on a black canvas. I couldn’t stop looking at it. I gagged a lot that ride.

One swim several months ago, I saw something moving at the bottom of the pool, so I went to pick it up, and it disintegrated in my hand!!!!! Did I mention it was brown? I swear I had the hottest, longest shower 5 seconds later.

oh, come on....this is funny:)
I have also heard about (and hope never to experience) getting sprayed with pee while cycling… yup, you read that right.  In races, if you draft off of another cyclist (which is a disqualifying offense), some competitors will urinate while riding to get you off their back.  It’s a rumor, and it’s an effective one if you ask me.  

Summing up the year...

As I sum up the past year, I feel lucky to have found the people who I now call my friends: my coach, my instructors, and my training partners.  2012 will undoubtedly bring a whole new set of challenges. And, as I train for my first Ironman I pray that my body, and my mind will persevere.  Let the journey begin. 

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