The Power Of Mental Strength

Hello Ladies,

How have you been? Any nice training rides recently?

I just came back from 1 week of training camp in the south of France. The week turned out to be a lot of fun accompanied by very hard work on the road and in the pool. This year we were more than ever, 120 of us left Paris to look for nicer weather and some heavy workouts.

This year due to my new job I was not quite able to get as much training in as I wanted. It is difficult to get 1 longer bike ride in during the weekdays due to the weather and time issues therefore I was more stressed than ever if I could keep up with my group or not. I was very upset because 2 days before I left Paris I got to know that I am no longer in the same group with my training buddies especially one person who I am always competing with. I thought that this was not fear since during most of the bike rides I could maintain the speed he did so I couldn’t agree with the decision of the coaches. I was upset and reacted in a childish way. In the meantime I knew that in my new group I am going to be one of the strongest riders and I was trying to turn my mindset towards to positive sides: I will be up front leadind the group all the time therefore I will certainly work more as the others. Also I decided to congratulate myself because I changed jobs, this was my initial goal and there’s absolutely no sense in putting too much stress on myself. I can’t perform 100% everywhere…I was therefore concentrating a lot harder than ever before during our bike rides to give a good example and to show that I am over my disappointment and I am ready to move on. Eventually I even found out that I could teach some rules/training tips to the others who were in my group – so this turned out to be my new goal.

From our third day of training my “big rival” was eventually advised to rather bike with my group because he was having some troubles keeping up with the other group. New situation, new stress…But after I spent half of the night tossing and turning because I just so much wanted to show off to him and the others that I was stronger next morning I woke up tried to eat as much as possible and off we went with the group. This was supposed to be one of the longest rides with my group and our coach decided to bring us up towards the mountains. Up in altitude and in the uphills I am definitely someone to count with. Some people from the group passed me but I forced myself to stay calm and relaxed. I was thinking about what most of the pro athletes are doing – they use visualisation – to move forward. I was 100% focused on my heartrate and my rythm on the bike because I knew that the climb was going to take about 1 hr and it makes no sense to speed up, I have to respect the mountain.

About 30 min into the ride I was up front with 1 guy and I felt good. But I didn’t feel good because I passed everyone, I felt happy because I overcame my stress and I could concentrate and show myself that I can eventually create a bubble around myself and be focused on my own performance without comparing in to everyone else all the time.

Mental strength is something that we learn by reading some training materials, books and articles. But it also comes with age and experience. I hardly recommend to use this “bubble method”, DO NOT WORRY about what others are doing, know yourself, know what is the best for you and bring out the maximum of every single training. Even if you do not succeed the most important is that you tried and you improved your self esteem and motivation.

Have a wonderful week ladies and happy training!


Hello All,

I am preparing for my first Olympic Distance Triathlon in july in Paris. I have found a few on the internet and am struggling to make sense of them. Most of them strike me as being incredibly tough and well over the times I would hope to achieve for this (30min for the swim, 90 min for the bike, 60min for the run).

So when I read about 60/75 min swim sessions I am a little confused as to why you would want to swim double the time you’re aiming for (and is a realistic target for me based on my training so far). Same with bike and runs. I understand that of you can do 60 you can therefore swim 30 but I am slightly worried I am going to be completely burnt out following those.

Now I know an Olympic Triathlon is obviously a demanding endeavour and that you should be prepared to suffer but having done my first marathon last year, I am finding the proposed triathlon training way more difficult than the marathons training programs I found.

If anybody can recommend good and tested training plans (even ones you have to pay for), that would be much appreciated.

A New Side To TRI

Who says you have to do the same races/distances year in and year out? This coming June I am happy to say that I am trying something new (again) in the world of triathlon. The triathlon relay!

I will be the first to admit that the Type A/OCD in me comes out a little and I feel a bit odd about relinquishing control of “my” race. But it isn’t just “my” race. And I am ok with that.

The flip side is that I am helping someone new get into the sport. I am sharing my passion! The friend of mine that will be doing the bike portion is using this to “try a tri”. And I have to tell you, that makes me so excited! For some reason, every time I get someone new to try a sport (like triathlon or even running) it just gets me pumped up!

I guess I just know how good training for and finishing races makes me feel. And if I can help someone else find that feeling, that sense of accomplishment – then I will do whatever I can!

If you find yourself needing to switch things up, needing to add some fun back into racing or are looking for a way to help someone get into the sport – see if they offer a relay division at your favorite races. The relay is also a way that you can still race if you are plagued by an injury, many injuries that face us still leave us able to hit the pool; so round up some friends, make a team and have some fun!

Now if anyone has some clever suggestions for a team name, we are all ears …

Looking Up!

Just wanted to give a little update from my last post and say a huge THANK YOU to evveryone who commented both here and on Facebook, offering both support and great advice!

GI issues:  These miraculously improved on a weekend away from home.  I am still having some minor issues, but nothing like I was.  I have stopped drinking our well water and am going to have it tested.  This is the only thing I have changed so far.  I am going to start working with a registered dietician/ sports nutritionist to try to figure out my remaining issues.

Dizziness:  Two weeks ago, I saw the ENT.  He ordered more bloodwork ( all negative), a brain MRI (negative), and an evaluation with the physical therapist for vestibular paresis.  The evaluation with the physical therapist showed definite signs of vestibular paresis and I have begun therapy for that.  Just exercises at home for now.  Once my babysitter (my mom) returns from vacation, I’ll be going to work with the therapist several times a week.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to test out any progress while running, yet.  I managed to pull a hip flexor last week and haven’t run since I started doing them.  I am still swimming and biking, but I didn’t get dizzy during those activities in the first place.

Also, this could be related to both issues:  I found some mold in our house.  This really didn’t surprise me.  For each of the last two years we have had water in the basement about 4 months of the year.  (When the water table is high, it comes up through the cracks in the floor.)  While my son was away this past week, I did a lot of disinfecting, have had windows open almost constantly, and ordered a good-quality filter for our HVAC system.  We are planning to move to a different house sometime early next year, I am working on accelerating that timeline.

So, anyway, things are looking UP around here!  I don’t have it all figured out, but I have a plan.

And again, thank you so much for ALL of your advice and support!


So, after breaking my leg in early February and attempting to keep my mind going during March, three weeks ago, my cast finally came off and I was ready to get my rehab going!

Off to the physio I went and he immediately allowed me to get swimming (yay!!) and also to do some minor cycling.

My ankle was still swollen and it would swell even more after I’d been cycling for only 10 minutes 🙁

Also, my calves looked a little odd-sized:

The physio didn’t seem too worried by this though and he told me to spend as much time as I want in the pool.

I’m happy to report that 3 weeks after my cast has come off, I am now fully able to swim as much as I want, I can cycle up to an hour, I’m walking without crutches and I am FINALLY allowed to go on an elliptical.

I’m not allowed to run yet, which I didn’t expect, to be honest, but I am coming on in leaps and bounds and am looking forward to getting into full training again soon.

There is one minor hiccup left – they’re removing some of the pins on the 30th and after that I might have a week or two off my feet again, but all-in-all, I am feeling quite good about the recovery process so far 🙂

Interview With Protriathlete Lewis Elliot

GOTRIbal:Tell us why you took on this crazy, fun endurance sports lifestyle?

Lewis: I grew up competing in all sorts of sports, at 7 years old my father had myself and two brothers racing local 2 mile running races.  I’ve always been very active. After a few years of being on the US National Cycling Team and a brief stint as a college soccer player, I found myself a career as a pro triathlete. There have been many highs and lows over the last ten years racing professionally, but I’ve never really thought about doing anything else.


GT:  What are your favorite distances to race?

Lewis: I enjoy all distances from sprint up to Ironman.  I’m probably most suited to the Half Ironman distance.  Lately, I’ve gotten into 100 mile endurance mountain bike races, which are a new challenge and a BLAST to compete in!


GT:Who have been major forces for you in maintaining your involvement in multisport?

Lewis: My father was my originally motivator, he and my late mother were always my biggest fans and supporters.  He always encouraged me to chase my dreams even if it sometimes looked less financially rewarding or even acceptable from a societal point of view.  The older I get, the more sense he makes to me.  As far as more recently, my good friend Preston Miller has kept me going and more-or-less on a good track.   Preston is the founder of Tri-Scottsdale which is my local club in Arizona, he has been quite a mentor for me in my approach to multisport, personal relations, and business.


GT: What experience do you remember the most in “paying it forward”?

Lewis: I’ve gotten more help over the years than I ever could mention in one interview, those people know who they are.  I’m now at a point where I try to do the same for others as much as possible! Even though it’s cliche to say, I find the giving back VERY rewarding.  I’m always looking to do the little things that in some way may make a big difference in somebody’s life.


GT: You work in an entirely different industry, specifically as a model for Ford. How did you get involved?

Lewis: I do work as a model with Ford as well as a few other big agencies in various markets.  I did work in that industry freelance here and there for a couple years, doing lower-pay work including a two week stint as an extra in NYC on the set of the movie Zoolander.  (Seriously, I know…)  I have always been interested in the entertainment industry and wanted to be an actor or a guitar player, and I can do both at a fairly low level.  Modeling, although not my initial dream, I figured was a great way to make a little money and meet some cute girls.  Fortunately for me, that was the case, and both well beyond my expectations!

I would say that I got my “break” signing with Ford when I was 23.  I was good friends with a well-known model and ultra-marathon runner named Scott Alan who lives in Fountain Hills, Arizona.  Scott really went to bat for me and helped me get signed with Ford and I started getting decent work right away.  Most of it was in newspapers and magazines in things like,”Dillard’s, Back To School” ads, where I looked a lot like a high school kid!  I enjoyed it, and I could really use the money as a young, aspiring, pro triathlete, financially it’s very challenging!  In 2011 I booked two International TV commercials as the lead roll in the “Pro-Form Tour De France Trainer” ad and also the “Pearl Drops” tooth whitening product ad, which was a final scene spoof on the movie “Love Actually” shown mostly in Europe. ….

Interview With 4x World Ironman Champion, Chrissie Wellington

Got your copy yet? GOTRIbal ambassador and four-time World Ironman Champion Chrissie Wellington shares her life story thus far in her new autobiography, “A Life Without Limits: A World Champion’s Journey.” As you may already know she’s taking the year off from competition to promote her book and focus on causes close to her heart, including expanding the message about GOTRIbal. In fact, she’ll be chatting live with GOTRIbal members on Facebook, May 12 at 2:00 PDT. Excited? Can’t wait? Me neither. So I asked her a few questions in anticipation of the live chat.

Kara: How. Do. You. Do. It?

Chrissie: Physical talent is nothing without a willingness to practice and I believe that professional triathlon is a 24/7 job. When in full-time training/racing mode, I devote my life to it. It is not just about when you are in the pool, on the bike or running. You need to have all your ducks in a row, taking into account rest and recovery, nutrition, hydration, massage, physical therapy, sleep and so forth. And, of course, getting the body in shape is only half the battle – all the physical strength in the world won’t help you if your mind is not prepared. This is such an important part of training; the part that people don’t put in their log books; the part that all the monitors and gadgets in the world can’t help you out with. I believe I was born with a high level of self-motivation, drive and stubbornness – but these traits and characteristics can also be honed and developed. Mental preparation is one of the main keys to success, and I invest a lot of time in strengthening my brain, as well as my body.

Kara:You have come closer to competing head to head with the men than any other women in triathlon, even setting an example for sport as a whole for the potential to break gender barriers. What does that mean to you?

Chrissie: While it is true that my performances have narrowed the gap between men and women, it would be extremely disrespectful to my competitors to take full credit for this. The women’s field is so incredibly strong and deep – now more than ever before. Mirinda, Julie, Catriona, Leanda, Rachel, Caroline, Mary Beth and many others are taking Ironman distance racing to a new level. Natasha Badmann is still winning Ironman races at age 45. Truly inspirational! That’s what sport is all about. Like a snowball, success breeds improvement in all those prepared to rise to the challenge. And I love that. The deeper the field, and the stronger the competition, the harder we are forced to work, the better we have to get and the deeper we have to dig, in training and racing. For example, knowing that Rinny had already run a 2.53 marathon at Kona definitely put a huge firework up my backside and I don’t think I could have secured my fourth crown without her breathing down my neck, coupled with the desire to overtake the great athletes up ahead.

So yes, I think many of the pro girls are breaking down barriers and showing what is truly possible. Hopefully we are a shining light that every single woman around the world (and men!) can look to for inspiration – demonstrating what strength, power, confidence and femininity really mean, and showing that gender is no barrier when it comes to taking up, and being competitive in, endurance sports.

Kara: You speak candidly of battling eating disorders as a teen and in college. Will this now become part of your platform and mission, or do you simply want to serve as an example for other women who are working to overcoming their own issues?

Chrissie: You’re right – the relationship I have had with my body has changed over time, and hasn’t always been an easy one. For some of my young adult years I disliked many aspects of my external body. I compared myself, self depreciatively, to others. I would stand in front of the mirror, my mind full of criticism at the image that stared back at me. I ignored the fact that I had a body that enabled me to achieve the highest academic grades, to play sport, to climb mountains and to live my life to the full. I took control of my body and punished it for what I thought it lacked – suffering from bulimia and anorexia. That was around 12 years ago. Today, I have a very different relationship with my body. I try not to judge my body on its external appearance, but for what it does for me, day in day out. Further, I see my body as a unique combination of my mother and father, and those two people are my shining light – to criticize my body is to criticize them – and that is something I could never do.

Like I said above, my autobiography was the place where I really publicized my problems and how I managed to overcome them. In terms of whether this will now become part of my platform and mission, or whether I want to serve as an example, I don’t necessarily see the two as being separate. My objective, or mission, has always been to try and inspire and encourage people to achieve their goals and overcome their fears and personal hurdles. In publicizing my battles with eating I hoped to hold out a light to other sufferers around the world, so that they know that they are not alone and give them confidence that this illness can be overcome. I also hoped that the relatives and friends of those suffering from eating disorders/disordered eating could also draw on my words to better understand the illness and how they may be able to help their loved ones. Hence, the book (and subsequent, follow-up articles like this!) are hopefully serving as a platform through which I can continue to convey these really really important messages.

Kara: You have said, “…with my four World Championship victories I have the platform I dreamed of to combine sport and development work and bring about positive change.” In what capacity do you plan to get back to development work?

Chrissie: I have always been passionate about development issues, even when I was a child. I think I drove my parents mad trying to organize trash collections and yard sales! Of course I made that interest and passion my career when I became a civil servant, working for the UK Government and also took the sabbatical in Nepal. Not long after I started as a professional in February 2007, I remember saying to Brett (Sutton), “I feel so selfish. All I do is swim, bike and run – and it’s all for me.” And he replied, “Chrissie, just you wait. Before long you will be able to affect change in a way you never thought possible.” His wise words have come true – I have the platform that I always dreamed of to combine my two passions in life – sport and development.  Sport has a tremendous power – and can be a force for considerable change.  It is empowering in its own right, but can also be a vehicle for raising funds and awareness for incredibly important causes.

My desire to work a lot more actively with all of my chosen charities was a key reason for my decision to step back from full-time training and racing for a little while. I have an amazing opportunity to use my platform to raise funds and awareness for causes that are important to me, and simply felt that I couldn’t do as much as I wanted to do whilst also trying to be the best athlete I could be. The charitable work will focus on those that I am already actively supporting, such as the Blazeman Foundation for ALS, Girls Education Nepal, Janes Appeal, Challenged Athletes Foundation and well as helping to grow GOTRIbal.

I haven’t made any firm plans as to what this work might be yet, but includes participating in charity Challenges, such as the 1000km ride I just completed for Janes Appeal; organizing specific events (such as ‘Runs with Chrissie’ in the UK) promoting these organizations in the media; attending clinics, events, races and so forth; auctioning items of memorabilia, as well, as working directly with some of the beneficiaries of these charities, as I did with the Challenged Athletes Foundation in San Diego after Kona, and more recently in March this year. I am also fortunate to be able to use other projects (such as the recently launched coaching and motivational downloads I made with Audiofuel) as a vehicle to support worthwhile causes. The world truly is our oyster, and I really look forward to being able to see what is possible.

Winds Of Change

Good Day Ladies,

What an amazing weather here in the City of Lights…Fantastic, great motivation to go out and have fun on the bike!-)My only concern is that it is not possible to read “A life without limits” why sitting on my bike:-)

I am not quite sure if you have read the book of Chrissie but it is definitely a “must read” for any woman or men who are involved in triathlon. I should say that actually it is not only for those of us who are living a sporty life it might me a motivation to start things and pick up a new life style other than sitting on the sofa and watching Grey’s Anatomy:-)

I am extremely happy that our sport seems to be getting more and more media coverage. This is due to many things partly because of the accessability and the beauty of our sport but most importantly to our ambassadors who show great sportmanship at every single race they are participating at.

Recently and old/new champion is giving a try to test himself at the Ironman Distance. Lance Armstrong 7 time Tour de France winner is by no means someone who we should neglect as a personality. People often say either you hate him or you adore him. I used to be a big Lance Armstrong fan I think I read his book (It is not about the bike, Every second counts) at least 4 times and he was my hero for quite a while.

I changed…When I am looking for someone to support no matter if it is in the personal or professional life that person needs to be so much more than just numbers and race results…I am always looking for a positive attitude and a personality which could have a positive affect on my life.

When I saw Lance followed by his bodyguard to the swimstart of his first Ironman 70.3 race I was simply disgusted. Also by the way he approaches the media was somewhat different from what I expect from a champion. What I love the most about this sport is actually the same as what Chrissie is writing about in her book: it is probably the only 1 sport in the world where the pro athletes compete the same day/same hour same place with the age groupers and amateur athletes. This is such an amazing platform for everyone!

Triathlon and Ironman especially teaches you a lot of things and I know that personally it is making me to become a better person every day. However it also raises the bar…For me breaking the World Record or winning the Tour de France is not enough any more, I need champions, friends and bosses who are not just representing numbers but making significant positive changes on others lives.

Go ladies, get yourselves out from the house, bring your girlfriends to the park for a run and be a great ambassador for our wonderful sport!

Good Luck.

Life After An Ironman

Hello Ladies,

Today I am going to share a very interesting topic with you that is usually not that much of a subject in the tri blogs/forums. What do we do with our lives when our BIG race is over and we have accomplished the goal what we set for ourselves about a year ago…

Well, I must say that the person who invented the idea that sport and triathlon in general can become an addiction that is similar to drugs was totally right…Our bodies are used to 13-16 hours of training per week and once the race is over we are actually supposed to NOT do anything real serious for about 2 months…AHHHH it is HARD!!

I can’t believe that I miss training so much! I miss reading my weekly plans and I miss fighting with my polar watch:-)

There is of course to aspects of recuparation:

1. Mental

2. Phisical

The mental part is actually just as hard as the phisical. I am dealing it with it though, I am focusing on next year and my plans to find a new job. I want to spend more time with my friends and mostly to discover Paris more. I am tyring new restaurants, I purposely go to areas where I have never been before and it is really COOL!

Phisically it is really hard. 5 weeks after the race sometimes my body still feels really tired but I hate the fact that my muscles are gone and yes, I think I have been gaining some weight as well…I got back to some basic training and I did a 16k Paris – Versailles Run race as well but I keep paying for it. I went to hard even though I promised that I was going to take it easy…

Ladies one big advice for you and for me: Recuperation is just as important as the race itself. Take action, put your compresssports on and profit from the fact that now you can see friends you haven’t seen for a while and go to a restaurant that you’ve wanted to try forever!

Take it easy and enjoy the falling leaves from the trees!


Ko Aloha La Ea, Or “Keep Your Love”

Ironman World Championship 2011 Race Report:

Hawai’i seems both a world away and so close at the same time.  I have had so many thoughts go through my head in the past 10 days that I have often thought how it would be possible to capture them all and explain to you what this race meant to me.  I don’t think I can, and I certainly don’t have the memory to recall everything I’ve thought.  So, I’ll try to write a sketch of it all, and forgive me if things go off the rail at times, but it seems to be how my mind works.  I’ve also been having a hard time of figuring out where to start – where do you jump into the ocean off a cliff?

I think I’m going to give you the actual race ‘report’.  It’s such an elusive race, the Hawai’i Ironman, Ironman Kona, or Ironman World Championships, whatever it’s called, that perhaps people want a peek into what it’s like to do this race.  To me, the report is what I lived out, concrete and finite.  What is more interesting to me is what I learned from the race, what thoughts it stirred up in my head, what it makes me want to figure out, but I’ll start with the race and see how much metaphorical rhetoric I can jam in here.

Part 1: Skip all the pre-race blah blah boring – get to the point.

There are helicopters above you, thumping and whistling.  I’ve watched the sun rise while sitting on the pier, looking right through all the people milling around me.  I watched a guy spray sunscreen all around him, but seemingly not on him, and I think a lot on his bike.  His carbon fibre will be happily protected from the killer sun.

I walked down the stairs, into the water, looking out at a mostly open ocean, save for boats and paddlers.  Nothing about this felt strange or uncomfortable.  I swam out, slowly, keeping an eye out for those guys who hand out punches to the face while swimming in opposite directions.  None for me!  What a novelty.  I went out early (you have to tread water while everyone is loaded in the water) and just enjoyed being out there.  It’s not a super chatty place, because it’s enough work just to tread water and stay relaxed.

It was a little wavy out there.  Thankfully I’m happy enough with the behaviour of the ocean, and can accept the rolls and heaves it provides.  I don’t think it was an extreme day by any means, but nor was it flat, and certainly there was an amusing current.  If you looked to your left, you could watch breakers crash on shore, as they had been doing with much more enthusiasm in the days leading up to the race.

Paddle boarders sweep the front and keep the front line honest.  I was 2nd to the front line, happy to let someone lead out.  I heard two minutes to go, and then never heard a countdown to the cannon.  I just heard BOOM and realized it was time to hit my watch and get my head in the water.  And true to form, about 5 seconds in, I got a very decent punch to the face.  Sweet!  It was game on time.  I’ve really come to accept these punches with enthusiasm, and the whole process of swimming really, with excitement and downright glee.  I love the contact, and I’m by no means an ‘excellent’ swimmer who can say this because I rip a whole in the ocean with my speed.  I’m a good swimmer, and I just refuse to say I don’t really like swimming just because I’m not the fastest at it.  I’ve really grown to like it, and for anyone who likes swimming, you just have to love this Ironman swim.

kaboom.  i’m about as left as you can get.

Part 2: The Swim

Long story short, my swim was a little slower than I had hoped for, but I certainly got more out of it than I was expecting, which I’ll explain in the minute.  For you metric’ers (you know who you are) I swam 1:14 something, about 5 minutes slower than what I had hoped for.  Not too bad, considering I’d never swam this course before.  I do have to say though, I am of the belief that wetsuits would make very little difference here, unless you really had trouble staying afloat.  This ocean is very buoyant, in fact, I had an easier time floating while treading water in my swim suit than I ever had in our ocean or lake.  So, just my two cents.

Here is what really stood out to me.  Firstly, I realized the swell was enough that I was never going to see a buoy so I quit trying to figure that one out, and just keep my head down and enjoy swimming.  Second, a large (to me) ray of some variety was swimming right below me – for me, this is motivation to swim a little faster, but really neat at the same time.  Even being able to see in the water was such a treat here, compared to our ocean back home.  (Also not worrying about hypothermia is another wicked feature of this ocean).  Thirdly, eventually as I mixed in amongst different swimmers, I realized the man beside me had 1 and 1/2 arms, and although can’t remember how it turned out, he was swimming as fast or faster than me.  This would eventually lead me to the man who was missing the lower sections of both his legs, who I had come up behind, and only realized this by reaching out to touch feet and hitting something harder than normal.

I can’t say I’m ‘amazed’ just because these people are missing parts of their limbs as I think that’s patronizing, but I can say I have the ultimate respect for these people’s athletic ability.  The same way I have respect for my athletic ability to get to this race.  Both roads are hard, both roads are most certainly different, but it truly made me feel the spirit of this race that you can’t help but notice all around you.  In this case, it hit me in the face while swimming through an amazingly blue ocean.  Then to top it off, as we swam back to shore (not that I could see it but I trusted those in front of me) a pod of dolphins were swimming below us (quite deep – they looked like mini dolphins) which you could hear a distinctive click before you ever saw.  I was amazed, and happy, and enjoying the entire process.  And I came out of the water a little slow, and I really didn’t care too much about it.  People say this swim is nuts, I felt like it was the most pleasant IM swim of my career.  I’ve done 3 IMs now though, so maybe I’m untrustworthy.

Part 3: The Transition

What happens next is quite funny.  I went through transition, grabbed the bag I was pointed towards (they’re hanging in rows) and ran to the women’s change tent.  Open up the bag and see large mens shoes.  “Ahhh, sh*t”, is what I thought exactly.  Bolt back up, jump back over women with their heads down changing stuff, luckily (well, hopefully) didn’t kick anyone, and run to change my bag back.

Run into HOARDS of people like a salmon swimming upstream while giant boulders of line-backer size men and running right into you.  I body checked (and I am talking HARD) two giant men in the sense that you hit them once, and neither one of you want to change direction, and you body check them again, and then you both push each other (with some frustration and maybe cursing, although not on my part) out of the way.  I have lived another life as a soccer player, and I felt like, in general, my role was to check people into the ground by whatever means necesary (in the fair play sense).  So, this past of mine came in useful.  Also useful was the man running towards me who was # 1782, who really wanted his bag from me – sorry to have caused you distress – I did feel badly about that.

It was my fault, I won’t lie and say they gave me the wrong bag (I think maybe they pointed to the wrong spot), but it’s a pretty confusing place, and I should have double checked before I left.  However, I now had been punched in the face and body checked two clydesdales and was fully ready to bike.  It’s very fun to run around this transition pier, and in no time you’re out on the bike.

getting used to a speedy pace on the bike.

Part 4: The Bike

The bike is tough.  I think it’s the toughest thing on the course, and I knew that going in.  So, I just biked my little heart out, happy to be there and happy to be challenged by the amazing power of the winds of Hawi.  It was a low wind day, which really blows my mind.  I actually loved biking in the nutso winds, getting thrown around to the point of laughter with some of the people that managed to be around each other for the craziest of sections.  It’s really fun.  And I think that so many race reports talk about it with dread (fair enough) but I’d like to tell you that really, you can make it fun (and it’s probably more fun if you don’t have a power meter/garmin/techno metric whatever telling you that you are currently sucking). So if you go there, you don’t have to be scared, if you don’t want to.

What was the only slightly nerve racking moment was being carried to the centre lane by a large gust just as the NBC convertible was driving down the centre lane filming someone of importance and knowing that if I overcorrected the gust I’d likely crash.  So, I just kept my eye on the car and watched the sideview mirror come about a foot from my hip.  Totally safe pass.  Ahhhh……if I could have peed my pants at that time it would have been welcomed, but it’s honestly too difficult to stay on your bike while peeing at the same time.  There really should be some type of prestigious club of “I peed while cycling up to Hawi”.  Doing it going the other way is much less of a challenge.

Speaking of people cycling the other way, it certainly was cool (and humbling, although you have to remind yourself pros have a 30 min headstart) to see the pros roll by the other way.  I can’t say I was overly fascinated with the men’s race, so to see Julie Dibens blowing away the chase packs of Wellington, Carfrae, Cave, and on and on, was really, really cool.  The woman I was cycling around for a good section of the lead up to Hawi and I really delighted in the ‘coolness’ factor of getting to see these girls race.  A major perk of going to the World Championships.

Another perk?  (Although this might make me sound like a jerk…..hey, hey?) is that people are caught for drafting.  I’m never really in a group where I could stay behind the same person.  I appear to be either a) faster or b) slower and c) really believe I should ride at my effort to stay true to me (physically and morally).  But after the turn around in Hawi the penalty tent was FULL of riders. They couldn’t all fit their bikes in the tent it was so full.

As you ride along, you can see red marks across the bib number implies a penalty, and as I really slowed down in the last 1.5 hrs of the race (because I really don’t like when people blame inanimate objects for their performance, I will cite “tiredness” for my decrease in speed) I got to see a lot of these people go by.  Just makes you think, is all.  Like the thought, I saw a lot of “say no to doping”….perhaps you need to wear the “say no to drafting” shirt before you’re allowed to wear the “down the with WADA” theme.  I may lose some followers, but it’s about time as I notice more and more people reading my blog.  Don’t want to get too popular.  Also guaranteed now next race I do I’ll get a drafting penalty.  To be fair, there is lots of cycling behind other people in this race, however, as I listened to a race official explain to someone on the street corner (yes, eavesdropping is always part of the race prep), they “would give athletes the benefit of the doubt…and aren’t as concerned with the measured gap as they are with those who intentionally stalk and track other athletes”.  Enough said.

Again, for the metrics, I think my bike was 5:35, which I believe was 1 minute slower than my Ironman Canada.  I have no complaints and was quite surprised by that.  What I can say is that the efforts required for both races were quite different.  I can describe IM Canada as controlled, straight forward, positive and happy.  I would describe this race as toughening, crazy, fun, desperate, and keep control of yourself.  I encountered a section where I had slowed in speed, while others maintain or increase their speed, and that means you get passed.  It seemed like I got passed A LOT.  In reality, I’m sure it wasn’t that horrible, but to me, as a competitive person, I really don’t like it.  To me, at this point in the race, I was already quite physically challenged and then I became incredibly mentally challenged.  Hey…..hmmm, wait.

What I mean was that I found myself in a rough spot.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think negative things, feel sorry for myself, think escapism type actions, get distracted from the purpose of the day (which incidentally, was to work hard and enjoy the experience).  After a little while you realize negativity serves no purpose, and that you are only wasting your opportunity of experiencing the greatness of this race.  But if you’ve ever had this experience, then you know you can’t just switch off the bad thoughts and see puppies and rainbows.  So, I started the slow count from 100 backwards to 0 with one deep breath in between.  Then surprisingly, there were no rainbows at 0.  So back up to 100 I went.  No puppies.  Insert curse word, twice.  Back down to 0.  I think by this time I was able to return to words and sentences not including numbers.  Then I puked.  Albeit little pukes.  Although the second came out my nose, so how little could that be.  I really don’t get too revved up about puking.  I’d get revved up about pooping in my pants, which I will write about later on.  If you’re still reading this race report by now, as Macca says to Raelert, you’re a true champion mate.

“When you don’t have anything nice to say, better to not say anything at all”.  You have to be good to yourself, you have to respect the challenges you face and work through them.  If you really believe in the ‘process’ to the goal, these parts are your process.  The stuff that goes off routine without a hitch and you never think of again, are a very small part of the process.  The bike comparison between my last two races are very different.  What I learned from the two?  Almost nothing from IM Canada, and HEAPS from IM Kona.  What is more important to a developing athlete?  And that may be the biggest take away message I have to give from this race.  I learned so much from this experience.  As a relative newcomer to this sport, I’ve learned quickly that I’m actually pretty good at it, but being in this race I learned also that there are people who are great at it.  I learned I want to be great.  Winning is terrific, but with winning can sometimes come the lack of fire to improve oneself.  So there is a benefit to finishing 12th in your age group, I believe, 22nd overall as an age groupers, and I think most impressively, 42nd (or something like that) overall.  Gaining perspective is a wonderful lesson.

I must also say, thanks to Doug Giles for lending me his wheels.  If you know me, you know I have a road bike, and no race wheels, so out of total kindness, Doug offered me his wheels.  I didn’t even ask.  I think he should take them himself to Kona next year.  Jeremy Hopwood also lent wheels to me for Ironman Canada.  I think I owe these guys some baked goods.

happy & relieved to be running.

Part 5: The Run

No secrets here – I love the run.  Firstly, very happy to shuttle my bike away to catchers and get going on the run.  I said my goodbye, managed to get off my shoes while cycling (first time ever – the magic powers of being shamed in the shoot made me do it), hopefully distracted some people with my 1 in 10 road bike (zing!).  My legs felt as they should, mostly crappy with a chance of sunshine, went through the bag tent, risked being boring and took the correct bag, and threw on my shoes.  Someone threw on a cold towel across my back and at that moment I realized I was hot.  I really hadn’t felt that bad (except for the part I felt really badly for myself, but I really never lingered too much on thoughts of temperature) – but I realized at this point that it must be hot if this towel feels that cold.  However, I think I quickly forgot about the heat as I set out on the run.  Not too sound too much like a jerk, but I really didn’t think the race was that hot.  So either I was delusional or well acclimatized.  I’ll go with the latter.

I wrote before and I meant very strongly about the beauty of Ali’i drive.  It’s vine and flower covered, with bright blue ocean and stark lava rock adorning the shore.  It’s gorgeous.  I continued to appreciate it and never had a grumpy thought while running along.  I did have the thought, “HA, you passed me on the bike, so did you, so did you, so did you”…you get the point.  I passed a lot of people back, and that’s the beauty of triathlon (at least, it’s the beauty for me).  And I told myself that on the bike but when you’re in a bit of a black hole it’s hard to see forest for the trees.

So I powered on, feeling quite comfortable while keeping an eye out for signs of mass destruction (possible as I had felt great while starting some runs while doing some training here leading up to the race, then quickly nose dived into a strange feeling of heat panic and a strange heart rhythm, 3 beats fast, 3 slow beats, any cardiac nurses out there?), but there were none, so just ran comfortably in typical 1st half of the marathon style.  To me, it’s just the way to do it.  Maybe one day I’ll launch myself into a killer pace, but that really seems self-destructive.

All systems normal, I ran along getting tons of compliments on my race suit provided by Aquadiva (thank you!) and people are always willing to voice their support for Canada (very nice of you, eh).  It’s quite fun to run back into town and UP Palani.  That is quite the hill.  This is where I’m quite sure I encountered some funny running behaviour.  So this is a steep hill and I saw no purpose in grinding up it, so I just took it lightly, enjoyed the sidelines and started to notice a woman in white beside me.  We ran up to the top mostly together (and people on the sidelines are very enthusiastic about “BEATING” the woman who is beside you while you still have 15 miles to go) and started the Queen K together.  I don’t know if I’m just sensitive, or if I’m right on, but this woman continued to find a way to run in front of me (as in, I ran 5 feet to the left to not run on her heels and she moved over 5 feet – that’s a bit more than delusional drunk snake run tactics).  As I was just trying to recover from the hill and get my stride back, I just found this annoying and it happened 3 or 4 times.  Eventually I just had enough of her and ran quickly and easily past.  I’ll sound like a snob, but oh well.  I think I’ve earned the right to say I’m a great runner.  In fact, I recently learned that I’m one of the best.

i love the darkness & light of this course.  i also love chicking guys.

So a big ol’ highway and a lot of people to pass.  And the ability to watch Chrissie run by (smiling somewhat!).  Mirinda – not smiling.  Wurtele – doing so well!  So inspiring to watch.  Now, somewhere in the middle of the highway I’m not feeling so great.  It was one of those instant moments where your head spins a bit just as your stomach turns.  I instantly slowed down as a protective mechanism.  Assess.  What is going on?  My head then felt fine but my gut did not.  It’s a cramp.  I think.  Just run on, take a mile or two to work it out.  Two miles later.  “What side is your appendix on?”.  I don’t know the answer to that question, and I think how dumb b/c you’re a health care professional.  I continue with all the ice, the fluids, the gels, as I’m not going to let myself get distracted from my plan.  But honestly this was a bit painful.  I tried for a bathroom, it was locked and I’m too stubborn to wait.  Next bathroom, locked.  Into the energy lab (about 4 miles later), I was thankful to run in here, knowing there would be a turnaround and more nutrition in my bag that I needed (I put one gel too few in my bag, but had enough nutrition in eLoad etabs to get me there, always have a backup).

Next bathroom.  Locked.  I’m now convinced I really have to go to the bathroom.  This is the pooping in your pants part I previously mentioned.  No, I actually didn’t poop in my pants to I’m sure your disappointment.  Although at times I had to worry, and this is something I’ll need to sort out for future races, as you have some control in planning out your nutrition, and it’s a tricky science, and I may need some help with it.  I ended up with a lot of gas (this was the pseudo appendix pain) and had no choice but to pass it, and just hope everything would turn out rose-coloured.  Um, not literally, although…I suppose possible.

I am still hurting, knowing I’ve slowed but not caring too much as it was still my best effort, I arrived at the special needs station.  I know they had called out my # as I ran into the lab turnaround, so I was expecting they’d have it ready.  No, no they didn’t.  Well, at least it will be on the ground.  No.  Well, at least they’ll have it.  No.  That was a case of ‘great expectations’ if there ever was one.  So, after running to special needs, slowing, stopping, waiting (not long but 10 seconds feels long) and finally yelling my bib #, getting a “It’s not here” and me needing to release a little tension in yelling “COME ON!”, and then a somewhat pirate induced “ARgggggggh” as I started up running.  I felt a sense like, you could cry or you could figure out a plan.  I still had eLoad tabs with me, which was enough to get me to another station so I took it and just got on with things, the dark horse of negative thoughts flying a little too closely to my shoulder than I would have liked.

Just when I had pulled myself together and starting running up the not so big but looks big hill to the highway (doesn’t help it’s wavy with heat) I heard a very quick footfall behind me.  Really, this doesn’t happen to me in the race.  I never hear a fast person come up behind me, so it seemed odd, in the energy lab of all places.  It was a little boy, running with my bag.  I didn’t have much ability to talk, but I said thank you.  He said “sorry”.   I was humbled again, like I was in the water.  This race is bigger than you, I thought to myself.  That boy warmed my heart (which incidently was probably at some stage of overheating as it was) and my belief was restored that everything would be alright.

Top of the hill.  The bathroom.  An open one.  All details spared I allowed myself 60 seconds (when you do sit in a race it is very tempting to stay seating, so I find giving myself time goals helps from dilly dallying).  Then I realized I needed 90.  But no more, and back on the highway I went.  Not immediately feeling glorious, but better.  Then it became a purpose to pass back those who had re-passed me while I was seated.  Upon finishing that, feeling back in control of what was going on, I realized I had a decision to make, and perhaps the most important decision of my entire race.

I could see girls up the road, but quite far up the road.  It’s a long highway, you can see a lot.  My life at this point basically boils down to these thoughts.  This is the world championships.  You want to walk away from this knowing you gave it everything you had.  Don’t regret anything.  You have made a lot of choices in your life to get to this point.  You can still make choices now.  You must believe in yourself.  One person at a time, you can do this.

And I did.  After going through turnarounds I could realize that I was out of contention for a top 5 or 10 in my age group.  That would be the only thing I can say I was a little sad about, in all honesty I really did wish for a top 5 in my age group, but if you scroll through you can see the amazing depth of competition it took to place there.  That was initially disappointing but all you can do (or all I can do) is learn from that and use it to help me understand not to get overly comfortable with my ‘bests’ as there are a lot ‘better bests’ out there.  It’s not upsetting, it’s inspiring, to realize I need to work harder and get ready to blow some ‘limits’ out of the water (ironically, it starts with faster swimming).  So at a point while running back toward town, I was running with all heart and no need for worry about placing.  It was truly a race against myself.  And whatever poor girl ran ahead of me.  And I did really well.  With the obstacles I had to positively overcome, I ran a 3:16 something, good for 2nd overall fastest age group run.  Not too shabby.

Again, for the moments that make you think, as I was running back to town, so where some other people, but they were doing it on their bikes.  They would still have a marathon to run.  It was a slow trickle of riders coming through, and all I could think for them was ‘good for you’ because I knew they would make it.  I also thought ‘my god that is going to be tough’ because you still have a marathon to go.  Humbling.

Eventually upon reaching Palani there were no more girls in sight.  So, I was able to start enjoying this just a little bit more.  I smashed my way down the hill (enough that my laces – yes – my elastic laces – became somewhat undone).  I could feel that it was possible for my shoe to come off, and if so, I didn’t care enough to run back up the hill and get it.  It would have made for some comedy, but luckily for my skin it stayed on.  You run along an amazingly supportive stretch for a few blocks, turn the corner and then you’re back along Ali’i drive to the finish, lined with people, probably 5-10 deep all the way along.  I had the luxury of being all on my own, no one really close, so I was able to slow down and just look at everything around me.  I had many people heed advice to enjoy the last stretch.  I did.  I was so amazed with it all when I reached the finish line I really didn’t know what to do.  So I just took it all in, and there’s a lot to think about when you’re up on that ramp.

Although I’d have to double check, I think my time was 10:14:07.  And I worked for every minute of it.

Part 6: The Thanks

I can write on and on, but this is reaching novel proportions, and I’ve certainly had many more thoughts on the race, my life, my future and my support.  All I want to finish by saying quite classically I could have done this without the support I’ve received from so many, most closely my family but especially from my partner Shawn.  I’ve been given the opportunity of a lifetime and I’ve done all I can to honour that and try to not take anything for granted throughout the year.  My life has changed as a result.  As with so many turns in the road of life, I didn’t know this was coming.  But most things that I hold most important to me in my life, come from surprises, risks, and dreams.

this guy finally gets a holiday! so deserved!

A big thank you to so many of my friends and training partners who are such wonderful people, to my coaches Jeremy Hopwood & Jerry Ziak (ofVanRunning) and swim coach Nathan Skirrow.   To the companies who put their faith my desire to do well and be a good ambassador for sport: Aquadiva Swimwear, Reflect Sports, the new & equally as awesome sponsor CHICKED, and the Massage Therapy Clinic at the UBC Aquatic Centre.  Also a big thanks to Compressport Canada who sent compression sleeves in a flash for me to take to Kona – they were wonderful & my calves love them!  You have all made me feel so special with your support & enthusiasm!  You can all do me a favour by checking out all these companies and support those that support athletes.  Their involvement in sport is a lot more than product=money.  These people do a ton to help athletes anyway they can.  It has been really neat to be able to partner and experience this with them.

Part 7: The Wrap

As I’ve also written before, as I learned this year, there is nothing wrong with being a dreamer.  And I couldn’t help but notice, in those that have achieved greatness in this sport that dreams are a common theme.  So if you take anything away from this report, maybe you’ll feel that it could be that it’s ok to have a dream, whether you tell your neighbour that dream or not, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that you’re ok with having one.

The rest is up to you.