2013 XTERRA Alabama: Old Mel Racing More Like the Old Mel


It was my birthday this last weekend and for my birthday I was given a glimpse of my past form with what I consider my best race since early last season.  Never before have I been so happy with the runner up position!  Not too happy, mind you, I’m not planning to settle but for now, PROGRESS is good.  With the fastest bike split I took second to Lesley Paterson, with Brandi Heisterman from Squamish taking her first podium in third and the Luna Chix Shonny and Suzi rounding out the top five.   I am so impressed and astonished by how strong Lesley is at the moment and I am so happy that I am chipping away at my deficit to her.  Certainly she is setting a blistering pace for us to follow and I am stoked that for much of the race I could match it.  Here’s to working hard to try to stay in front longer!  

That Champion System kit really stands out huh?  Love it!

It was the first time we raced in somewhat wet and wild conditions and I was surprised at how NOT slippery the course rode.  The sketchiest part of the race were the bridges for sure as they were like skating rinks but the roots, rocks and corners got tackier if anything so the overall speed of the race wasn’t diminished much.  I rode the Trek Superfly SL on my same old 29-1 Bontrager tires with a teeny bit less pressure and was fairly solid start to finish.   I felt the sketchiest part of the race were the bogs on the run course as I slipped in my Pearl Izumi N1 road shoes (which have a very smooth sole) not realizing how slick the off camber sections were.  Danelle said she lost a shoe in one of the bogs which totally illustrates why XTERRA is a departure from road triathlon.  You never know what obstacle is going to get you in XTERRA!

The biggest excitement of the day was the water temperature being called under 68 degrees (VERY questionable call in my opinion) and a handful of the top pros were caught out with no wetsuit.  Normally (read: every other instance) of this race the water was a bathtub so my heart goes out to them.  It was a last minute decision to chuck my blueseventy in the bike box so I am happy for me but sad for them that they didn’t make the same call.  Normally I would get out of the water with Suzi Snyder but she was a suitless victim along with fellow Canadian Danelle Kabush so I am sure their races didn’t start as they had hoped.

Here’s fast facts and conclusions from the race:

Swim: The swim was good but still not great as I was in a good group very close to the front for the first lap and then got dropped on the in/out of the water to lose 45 more seconds on the second lap plowing my own water. 

Conclusion: Fiddlesticks!  More time in the Blueseventy for the coming weeks.

Bike: The bike was good but still could be better as I couldn’t hold Lesley on the main climb and had to catch her back in the downhill and flat twisting section in the last third.   I came off with 45seconds which is not enough to hold her off on the run.  Still Trek+Shimano+Bontrager= fastest split.  Bam!

Conclusion: More power, please. 

My run was much, much, much improved but again is not in the range to be challenging super Lesley so it remains my main focus at present.  What is good is my Polar heart rate monitor is showing some good input went into the race.  I like that.

Conclusion: No cookies for Mel.  She’s on the chisel again.

However, given I was a distant fourth at the last XTERRA, coming back to the front and into the race was the kind of improvement I was looking for in the last month.  I think there is still a lot of low hanging fruit as far as my form is concerned so I think we are just starting to get rolling.

Now the best part of the weekend was a reminder of why my career has been such an amazing privilege and such a special opportunity- the people I have met.  My girlfriends in XTERRA treated me to a pedi and coffee date the day before the race which was so much fun. Thank you for making your pre-race routine a date with me Danelle, Buttons, Emma, Brandi and Suzi!  It was so excellent for us to all spend the afternoon in Brandyland J  Then I had a delicious birthday dinner of the “slop” (we missed ya Fast Freddie) with my hilarious friends Mark and Dianne who have been my homestay since my first race in Pelham.  I love you guys.

Then I had a fun race before the angels at Cahaba Cycles and Trek Bicycles organized my bike to be packed and shipped straight to Richmond for me so that I could catch the first flight home to Victoria that night. Thank you thank you thank you!!!

The next day I was treated to an afternoon with my other lovely ladies and besties Day, Tammy and Maia where we again had a mani/pedi date (mine was ruined in the race so the double pedi situation was a winner!).  We then rolled to Maia’s gorgeous home for a session with Erin-mae the hair and makeup goddess, some bubbly and get ready time for the big party.  



Hot chicks.

Then my buddies Woodie and Bill drove me in my Datsun chariot to the party. 

Much love to my man Mike for throwing this party for me.  He brought the talent from the Pier hotel to treat us to an excellent steak and salmon barbeque.  Thank you to all my amazing guests for making the night fantastic.  It was so great to see so many of my old and new friends. 

I have a few photos from the night including the bouquet of flowers from Day, Maia and Tammy that made me cry. 

 The most stunning bouquet in history.  Wow.

Big love to Paul from Broadmead Orthopedic Physio and his gorgeous fiancee Colleen for bringing this present for me.  OMG awesome.  

So many incredible bottles were brought to share I am obviously surrounded by oenophiles, thank you.  Big high five to Jamie and Dee for the Willy Wonka chocolate all the way from the old country… that stuff is incredible.  Buttons gave me two bottles which perfectly describe me:  Stubborn fool pinot noir and fat bird sauvignon blanc.  Yum!  Thank you to the cute bicycle plant from Markus and Joelle.. honestly the gifts were too much.  It was a big day for Mel 🙂

Much love to you all.  I appreciate so much my world in triathlon and the city of Victoria for bringing me all of the amazing people I can call my friends into my life.  Life is good.

Love these girls.. Coops and Kirks are two of the most hilarious and lovely women ever, ever.  That guy is fairly amusing as well.



Putting all the pieces together

I just came home from another visit to the masterminds at Endurance Rehab and Cyclologic down in Scottsdale, Arizona.  My main goal for this trip was to test my progress in my hip rehabilitation and reassess my bike position once the progress of my injury had been analysed. 

I was very disappointed with the opening races of the season but in reality, I was pretty far behind my competition in preparation and the outcome reflected that.  The races early season indicated I would be better off getting in some work rather than competing so I scratched from some events I had planned for early May in favor of taking the opportunity to do a solid block of training and then reassess.

There are a lot of really great professionals in Victoria who have been so helpful in getting me back into a position where I can fully train.  I have a huge amount of support from Synergy Health Management, in particular Jamie Grimes, which is why I am on the comeback trail from injury.  Had Jamie not been realistic about where I was at and adamant that I had to stop training I would probably be just scratching my head wondering why my back was sore and I was racing so poorly.  The issue is that although we have great people here in town, they don’t get to work together.  My bike fit with Houshang needed to be alongside a therapist like Jamie but coordinating that is tough/impossible.  This is why I am lucky to get the chance to work with Paraic at Cyclologic and Wolfgang at Endurance Rehab in concert with one another.

Paraic uses the Dartfish system when he does fits.

This is where this facility stands alone as great minds get to work side by side to ensure that everyone is aware of EVERYTHING.  They have many years of experience and have the ability to work directly with eSoles for any kind of orthotic required so an athlete can find the most biomechanically correct position and then find what makes them the fastest from head to toe.  I have been so fortunate to take advantage of this.

My main problem moving to the 70.3 distance is very little body awareness as far as what should be comfortable for aero position.  In essence, I was so hurried in trying to transfer fitness from mountain bike to time trial bike I just set things up without really reassessing what I was doing or how it was feeling.  In doing so, once I committed to more riding on my Trek Speed Concept in 2012 I ran into trouble.

It is taking weeks at a time for my body to relax and adapt to the changes we are introducing it to but I do feel like I have more support for putting together my best triathlon now.  The latest visit also included some new exercises to challenge my hips to support more explosive power.  I will be sure to share one or two with you on Racergirl Television.

I was soaking up the strength exercises like a sponge and wanted to take all of the equipment home with me to recreate the Endurance Rehab environment in my own training room.  Nate was so kind to let me take some of the equipment right off the floor, haha!  I was pretty excited to drag my giant blue foamy block through the airport.  Thanks Nate!

Still a work in progress for sure!

We also had the chance to do some VO2 max testing with Jeff Kitchen and test some shoes out to see which Pearl Izumi shoes would be appropriate for training and racing.  Video analysis tells you a lot about what is going on with your feet so I would highly recommend using this technology in making your own decisions.

I have been pleased with my progress during the last few weeks so I am looking forward to testing myself again at the XTERRA event in Alabama.  I miss pushing my limits so much!  In hindsight though, I am learning so many things I did not know before which I am sure are going to make me so much better. 

This is where I insert the big fat thank you to Adam Zucco at Trainingbible for his help in overhauling my return to run form.  I work really well with Houshang for my bike program but my run needed more guidance.  Thanks also to Simon Whitfield for graciously offering his advice to us when he “trains” with us long course types at Clint Lien’s morning swim club.  That guy has a lot of good info and we are lucky he is fairly mellow about his own training right now because his input into our efforts has been invaluable.  I also have been fortunate to be surrounded by athletes like Brent McMahon, Tenille Hoogland, Sara Gross and Magali Tissyere which is definitely lifting the performance bar for the YYJ long course pro triathlon group.  It is an exciting time for triathlon in Victoria and it is about time we had a proper group of long course athletes training here.  Victoria is the new Boulder people, pack your stuff and get here!  J

Who isn’t excited to run with custom Champion System running shorts! #awesome

Thanks for following along and see you at the races!

I know you are dying to know the garden’ progress so here’s a short update 🙂

April 5, 2013


May 5, 2013