2011 Southeast Championship, Pelham, Alabama – Beg and Borrow

The fourth stop this season on the XTERRA Pro tour at Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, Alabama was another huge W for the Specialized/AVIA squad.  I was so happy to turn last week around and join Conrad on the top step of the podium.  After a week of regrouping, relaxing and rebalancing I brought a much fresher set of legs to the race and won it with a strong swim, bike and run combination.  Nothing super flashy (although my swim was the best this season) but no leg of the race was weak.  Shonny Vanlandingham ran down Renata Bucher for second while Christine Jeffrey and Emma Garrard claimed the last two spots on the podium.

podium alabama


Conrad and I had a great chat after Santa Cruz at a team dinner….

Read more

The Mental Aspects of Recovery

The Mental Aspects Of Recovery

Note:  I wrote this article for Triathlete Magazine and it was recently republished on line at http://triathlon.competitor.com/2011/04/training/the-mental-aspects-of-recovery_26203 .  I think it is very appropriate for athletes who are in the midst of a busy time of year (pro athletes with a heavy schedule, amateurs with kids about to be let out of school, accountants finishing tax season, etc) balancing some races they would like to do well at.  Considering mental fatigue is huge.  I think mental fatigue got the better of me last weekend so a refresher reminder from this article is timely.


Published: Apr 20th 2011 1:59 PM UTC by

Professional triathlete Melanie McQuaid discusses the importance of recovering mentally during your training cycle.

Written by: Melanie McQuaid

Many athletes believe the most effective recovery modalities are those that focus on physiological regeneration-nutrition, hydration and activities like ice baths, physical therapy, massage and yoga. There is no arguing that these are very important for regenerating the body for the next planned training session, but what about your mind?

The very core of becoming an athlete was born of motivation and inspiration. So what happens when that passion and motivation are drained? Most athletes know that mental state affects performance as much as your level of fitness. Research has shown that the key markers of overtraining or staleness in training, aside from poor performance, are mood and emotions.

After your next block of training, monitor more than just the feeling in your legs. If you’re feeling mentally drained or restless, follow this checklist to help manage mental and neuromuscular fatigue:

1. Get adequate sleep. Sleep does wonders to regenerate the mind. The central nervous system is critical to high-performance athletics and it needs time to repair. This happens when you are sleeping, so try to get enough hours per night or add naps.

2. Constantly self-monitor. Ask yourself, “Do I feel like doing this?” If you don’t, take a break rather than force yourself to train and further drain your body and mind.

3. Meditation. Regeneration of the mind will occur during relaxation. A lot of visualization techniques are also very valuable for relaxing and centering the mind and body. By refocusing you can find your purpose and motivation within a training cycle, which will help you sort through distractions and stress.

4. Prioritize. Life goes on during a training cycle. You need to remain flexible. If, for example, you are constantly procrastinating a responsibility outside of training it could be weighing on you and adding stress. Make the time to get it done and you will find you can get back to training with better focus.

5. Periodize. Planning major training weeks when you have conflicting responsibilities at home or work is not wise. You can only handle so much stress, so plan to train harder when work, school or life has enough room for the increased training load.

2011 XTERRA Pacific Championship, Santa Cruz, CA

The winning streak came to a halt this weekend when Lesley Paterson ran away with the win in Santa Cruz, California.  We haven’t seen her yet this year and obviously she is in great shape so it was a well deserved win.  Renata Bucher had a solid first race in the US taking second and my Specialized teammate Emma Garrard took a career best third place in front of Shonny.  I took fifth rounding out the podium.  Obviously every race I am there to win but this wasn’t my day.   I can’t be at 100% every race and I can’t hope to win unless I am.

After the disaster week in Spain I had no choice but to cram a solid training week in advance of the coming 70.3 races I plan to do.  That complete week off in Spain was not going to be good in light of the half Ironman I am doing in three weeks.  I don’t even know if it was the training that had me feeling not only physically tired because I was pretty tired mentally as well.  That whole Spain experience was draining and I am not sure I was excited enough to hit the circuit again.  Having a World Championship in April is weird as it is kind of like “another race” in the middle of a bunch of races but asks for a little more intensity.  My team mate Conrad handled it beautifully, continuing his solid season on the XTERRA tour taking the win this weekend and I think he was the only one who came back from Spain in full form.  I just wasn’t as consistent.  It isn’t really the racing but more the travel and the training around that travel that hurt me.  Thanks so much to Specialized for sending along the awesome pro race support to help with our bikes.  It was awesome to have the trio of Myron, Jeff and Joe to help out the pro tri team this weekend and having that help really was an energy boost for me.  Couldn’t have gotten to the podium without you guys!  Also, big shoutout to Simon Dunne from Specialized, our Advocacy and First Gear guy who finished not far behind me.  Way to go Simon!

Getting my head together to suffer enough on the very tough course in Santa Cruz was my main focus starting the weekend.  The course really didn’t play into my hands with the legs I brought as the almost all uphill bike course left nowhere to hide and the flat and fast run course would have normally been good for me but not so this time around.  Despite the challenging course it was still the tightest top five finish we have seen this season so I was beaten in a very strong field which is nothing to be sad about.   It just goes to show how competitive XTERRA is… winning is a tough ask on any course!

The most inspiring part of the weekend was Jamie Whitmore’s return to racing.  After a 3 year hiatus from riding a bike due to cancer surgery, Jamie’s third ride on a mountain bike was finishing the XTERRA sport event in Santa Cruz.  Did I mention how much climbing was on the course?  Or the fact she doesn’t have a proper brace for running yet?  That girl is a racer, through and through.  Wow perseverance.  Welcome back gutzytrigirl.

Read more

2011 ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship

This was the first year the ITU (International Triathlon Union) has organized a World Championship event in the offroad discipline.  The ITU is the governing body for mainly the Olympic draft-legal format of triathlon and to date has only organized a European Championship edition of offroad racing that they have called Cross Triathlon rather than XTERRA (which is a brand like Ironman).  Their World Championship was of distances shorter than what we were accustomed to with a 1km swim, 20km bike and 6km run where the bike was 4 laps of 5km and the run was 2 laps of 3km.   It was a super spectator friendly event and evoked memories of short track racing in mountain biking with the fast and furious race format.
The XTERRA events are generally a 1.5km-30km-10km format so the favourites for this event were not immediately evident.  I am so happy that the top three women and men were all very familiar faces from the XTERRA tour with me earning the first ever World title and USA pros Shonny Vanlandingham and my Specialized teammate Emma Garrard taking the next two steps on the podium. It is only fair that we should own the first ITU titles in our off road discipline of the sport.  I was stoked for Christine Jeffrey of Canada who was the first athlete out of the water and then the first athlete after the podium in fourth.  It was a solid day for Canada as for a long while Canada was leading 1-2 in the race.  In the men’s race my Specialized teammate Conrad Stoltz won with Seth Wealing and Olivier Marceau finishing the podium.
Fresh new World Champion Title!

Melanie McQuaid crowned first ITU Cross Triathlon World Champion

Meanie McQuaid crowned first ITU Cross Triathlon World Champion
30/04/11 at 9:17 pm from www.triathlon.org
Canadian Melanie McQuaid made an impressive ITU debut and was crowned the first ITU Cross Triathlon World Champion today in Extremadura, Spain.
McQuaid overcame adversity when her bike was lost while traveling to Spain.  She was forced to race on a borrowed bike for today’s championships but didn’t let that stop her from powering to her first ever ITU World Championship, adding to her three Xterra world titles.
American Shonny Vanlandingham was second across the line for silver.  Teammate Emma Garrard took the bronze, completing a North American sweep of the women’s podium.
In all, 25 women from 11 countries tackled the course, set at “The Ring”, an International Innovation Centre for outdoor sports in Extremadura.
McQuaid’s Canadian teammate Christine Jeffrey led the women out of the 1km swim.  She held a significant lead over the favourites, with the fastest swim split by 1 46-second margin.  McQuaid trailed by over two and a half minutes after the swim.
But once on the 20km mountain bike course, McQuaid made her move and surged to the lead.  Garrard followed in second place while Jeffrey dropped to third.  Vanlandingham, who was second last out of the water, sizzled on the bike, recording the fastest bike split as the only woman to bike under an hour.  McQuaid had the second fastest bike split, more than enough to propel her to the lead.
Off the bike and out onto the 6km cross-country run, McQuaid continued to lead the field.  Behind her, Vanlandingham worked her way into the silver medal position with Garrard just behind her in third.
Even a 15-second penalty wasn’t enough to stall McQuaid in her unstoppable march to victory.  The Canadian never looked back enroute to her first career ITU World Championship, stopping the clock at 1 hour, 43 minutes, 2 seconds, a comfortable 23 seconds ahead of Vanlandingham and 41 seconds ahead of Garrard. Read more