2012 IM 70.3 World Championship, Las Vegas, NV

I gave this advice to a friend of mine who had a bad race recently while everyone was watching.

 sh$t happens, it is what you make of the pile that matters 

Look at me.  Look at the pile.  Now back to me. No one was watching me in Vegas because I was so far back, one advantage I had on said friend I offered that advice to. Now I plan to utilize it myself.

The top performances at the Worlds aside, there were highlights that stuck with me personally from the race in Vegas.  Watching Leanda win another World Championship 5 years after her last, after a season of up and downs, punctuated with a super dominant performance was excellent.   She was a favorite to win for sure but she blew the doors off that sucker.  Kelly Williamson powered to second place with a phenomenal run and I heard some doubts from her the day before.  All of us sometimes waver in our confidence but I know she was game face only by race morning.  Lastly, seeing Angela Naeth finish the race after sliding down a cheese grater at mile 19 was most excellent.  They grow us chicks tough in Canada and that Angela makes me proud of our culture of triathlon in Canada. 

My performance was forgettable and as a professional I have some people to whom I owe an explanation and there are some people are just interested in WTF.  In hindsight I have learned it is better to just know when to pause and re-evaluate.  I have made a series of decisions this season that left me injured for weeks and ultimately unprepared for Worlds.  An overstuffed schedule continually alternating between XTERRA and 70.3 meant I disregarded warning signs in my body until I left myself little time to get prepared for one of my biggest races.

When the injury was finally diagnosed and changes to my cleats and time trial position were made, I pursued therapy aggressively.  I experienced over the top effort of Jamie Grimes at Synergy Health, Paul McIntyre at Broadmead Orthopedic Physiotherapy and massive amounts of massage from Markus Blumensaat and Alex Forsythe.  I had 2.5 weeks post Trekworld to salvage the Vegas worlds and XTERRA Canada.  There were rays of hope that pushed me down this path.  Those people worked so hard to get me back on track and I was energized by a good performance in Canada.  However, I couldn’t get it done.   It isn’t because I am not capable of riding at the front, as I have done so numerous times this season with these same phenomenal athletes.  I just couldn’t on Sunday.

To be honest, injury management aside, I did learn something which was positive.  My preparation for the extreme temperatures was not ideal and I won’t go straight from Victoria to the burning inferno of Vegas next year.  Certainly feeling like dried roadkill did not speed me up at all.  I was headed backwards before the heat got me but it did and that is bad.  A bit more time would have made the experience a lot more comfortable. 

Scheduling this year has been an issue.  I like racing EVERYTHING and that isn’t working out that well.  Some girls did about 5 races.  I multiplied that by about 5 if you include all my training events so maybe I found the breaking point?  It did not work up to now, anyway.

Not finishing and earning the rotton finish waiting for me would have meant compromising my XTERRA season, finishing a bunch of races in a terrible position to qualify, earning the confidence of sponsors and friends and leaning on my awesome boyfriend Mike (who sat in the boiling temperatures cheering for WAY too long) would have been for absolutely NOTHING at all. I never quit if at all possible and I think being a somewhat graceful loser gives me an opportunity to be a better winner.  I think dropping out gets easier every time you do it so I avoid it.  Everyone struggles out there… so embracing the struggle is important to me.

My main goal in racing 70.3 was to challenge myself at the highest level and push my limits.  I want to win all kinds of events including 70.3, mountain bike and XTERRA events and getting out of my comfort zone has been good.  I am just having trouble finding my way right now and am a bit frustrated with the half Ironman stuff.

XTERRA is a much different sport but like all triathlon it has a cast of super strong characters.  Knowing that, it is time for me to do everything I can to be ready for the US Nationals and the XTERRA Worlds because those races are going to be FAST.  I think this last race is a poor reflection of my ability which includes winning the Oceanside 70.3 with the top girls from Worlds in the field, earning a top 3 and fastest bike split at the Calgary 70.3 with an injury and winning Richmond and Canada XTERRA events this year.  I am stronger than the long workout I performed in Vegas might indicate. 

My next opportunity to race the best in the world happens to be on the dirt… just where I like it.    I did work really hard this season and all these disappointments, although tough to swallow, are motivating me. I’m looking forward to finding my fastness again.  I am going to make it a bit easier on myself though…no more riding two horses with one ass….it is all my Trek Superfly, Bontrager monster truck 2.2 tires and Shimano XTR shifting from here to the end of October.

Thanks to AVIA, Polar, Rudy Project, Powerbar, Esi Grips, Powertap, Champion System, USANA, Genuine Innovations, Nineteen Wetsuits and Trigger Point Technologies.  Big thank you to my local supporters: Trek Procity Victoria,  Synergy Health Management (Jamie Grimes and Kate Button in particular), Broadmead Physio (Paul McIntyre) and Markus Blumensaat, RMT and new supertalent: Alex Forsythe, RMT.   I am really well supported by phenomenally talented people and spectacular products so I look forward to showcasing this advantage properly.

2012 IM 70.3 Boulder

First off, I was so impressed with how fast Liz Blatchford, Mel Haushilt and Leanda Cave were at the Boulder 70.3.  That was such a hot and difficult race that they made look so easy. Very impressive racing by all of them and everyone that finished that day should  be happy with their effort.

It is amazing how much your mind will affect your body’s ability to perform.  I have experienced both sides of the spectrum now.. my mind taking over and pushing me harder than my body can handle and now the opposite, my mind taking my foot off the gas and inhibiting my ability to perform with whatever I have on the day.

This past weekend I had the worst race of my 70.3 career.  It was very crappy.  I had some problems for sure but none that would have created the result I earned.  I squandered a lot of time that day reviewing my season and the decisions I have made which made it impossible to perform to whatever my ability was that  day.  I also wasted extra time contemplating whether I should finish the race.   It was clear I completely lost the plot. I like to fancy myself as the triathlete with balance and frankly, the frustration I have been feeling over how some of this season has gone has been tipping my balance and disrupting my perspective.  This race was not well planned or executed and I certainly set myself up for failure… but I still could have done better.

I enjoy incredible privilege and opportunity every time I get to a start line and I am so angry with myself that I didn’t maximize that opportunity on Sunday.  I wasn’t going to win that day as I was decidedly off form and not being in strong race form wasn’t the problem.  I ended up losing it mentally because of too many negative thoughts about little problems I was having that I couldn’t do anything about that started compounding.  It was a character building/embarrassing/devastating/uninspiring/humbling day but ultimately totally it was necessary to finish that race.  I wasted a lot of time looking around for reasons why it wasn’t going my way and not enough time looking inside to see what I could do to salvage what I could from the day.  I think I went at least 8 spots further back than I really needed to mostly because I lost it mentally very early on a very hard day physically and it was a good reminder to keep it together when things get tough.  I don’t want that to happen again.  I made myself finish ensuring that I know that I don’t have the option to drop out.  If I want to be a sissy and go slower than I need to again I will know exactly what it is going to feel like to let myself down.   It was not a proud moment on a very bad day.

The most frustrating part of all of this is the knowledge, with the benefit of hindsight, that changing my plans to try to make up for setbacks earlier in the season has all been fruitless.  That was going through my head over and over during the race.  I never meant to do the race in Boulder, Calgary or in Beaver Creek.  The chain of events goes back to April and the 5th place I earned in Vegas when I wasn’t healthy and although I am sure the Beaver Creek XTERRA race might have gone well, ultimately 3 flats meant I only matched that 5th place performance and as a result I wasted my time going.  Going to that XTERRA meant I had to find another 70.3 to get qualification for Worlds so my last choices of races were the only ones left before the cutoff and those were Calgary and Boulder (Boulder only being an “extra” points event). Sometimes you need a bit of luck with your preparation and unfortunately, I haven’t created the luck I was looking for.

I didn’t stay in Colorado before Calgary and Boulder 70.3s because I felt I can train with better quality for later in the season at home.  I underestimated the altitude in Calgary and overdid it before that event which resulted in a tough last 10km.  After that race I was pretty tired going into the next race at altitude which never works out for me.  I felt like a bag of crap in Vail and not much better down in Boulder from the start gun and it showed.  I need 2 weeks of focused effort to race with any ability at altitude and that didn’t happen so my result was terrible.  However, the ONLY reason I did those two altitude races was qualification for Vegas.

Chasing points for XTERRA and for 70.3 is making my racing absolute crap and it is super frustrating for me.  Next go around I will just stick to the plan to go to races I want to be at that I think suit my ability.  I will not travel around to a bunch of events that don’t make sense.  The fields at 70.3 in particular are too strong and the effort it takes to go well at that distance is wasted if it isn’t thought through and planned properly.  I am  not happy racing with this kind of form and unhappiness does not make you fast.

Back to work.  I fully intend to turn down the suck and turn up the rock. 

Thank you to all the amazing competitors and volunteers in Boulder.  You guys were so great and thank you to the athletes I was running with on Sunday. You guys were fun to be around… even if there were moments where I definitely WAS NOT!  Thank you to Doug and Sara for being awesome hosts… we did have a lot of fun that week with you even if that day was average.  All the best in your upcoming wedding!  xx

2012 Calgary Ironman 70.3

Calgary hosted the 1988 Olympics, continues to host the famous Stampede, the Flames hockey team, lots of energy companies (the province of Alberta is Canada’s oilpatch) and this past weekend, a group of hardcore Ironman types looking to race a really tough half. Home of the oil cowboys of Canada, Calgary is posh and fancy but likes to dress itself up casual. I have to give a side note to my American friends: only here do Canadians call a road a trail. In Victoria, trails are skinny and not meant for cars. For this 70.3 event the weather was spectacular all weekend, the course was gorgeous and the spectators were awesome. Thank you to Paul Anderson and his organizing crew in Calgary for such an amazing race and big thanks to Rose and Madi Serpico from Tri-It Multisport for such a fun homestay. I will be back for more.

Every half Ironman is tough and the competition at this year’s event in the women’s pro division was formidable. However, I underestimated how hard just racing this course was going to be, let alone meeting the challenge of my competitors. I was very happy to share the podium in third with women’s winner Magali Tissyere who had a strong race start to finish and Heather Jackson who continues to impress this season with her very close runner up position. Following girls who have earned podiums at the World Championships is excellent. Two speedy Canadians Sara Gross and Lisa Mensink took fourth/fifth. Another interesting fact is that all top 5 females had blonde hair so rest assured blondes are all having more fun tonight.

The biggest positive I can take from the race was the bike. First a big thank you goes to Ridley’s Cycle in Calgary for sorting out some pre-race mechanical issues, due 100% to my poor mechanical skills. I earned the fastest bike split on a pancake course (well there was maybe a tiny uphill here and there but I wasn’t out of the big ring even once so that is a FLAT course in my books. Last season I had my arse handed to me on ALL flat courses no matter how fit I was on the bike so this is promising and I can work with that.

Looking at my race in the overall picture I wasn’t flying but because of some strong riding my race result was excellent. I didn’t have the kind of day to challenge Magali or Heather for the win in the end and I am greatly disappointed my run was appalling. However, I am stoked to have been part of the front of the race that day. I am pretty sure there are a few things I could tweak that may result in immediate improvement for my next event. I know that although my splits for the swim and run are the only signs of weakness, the bike was tough as well. Getting it all together is really, really difficult and the frustration motivates me greatly. This is why this sport is so addicting!

In the end I think I underestimated the altitude. I know my body and know that altitude requires respect if I am going to do well…. I just didn’t check the precise altitude where the race started or that of the race as it rolled back to Calgary. The last 10km of that race was so hard and I was thinking that each kilometer of the last 10km felt like two. Mostly because each kilometer was taking me close to the time I normally take to run two of them 🙂

To earn the fastest bike split of the day I rode my Trek Speed Concept 9.9 size small with Di2, the Hilo saddle and an Aeolus 5 with the disc wheel built on a Powertap G3. That is a fast combination but I think I would have gotten away with the Aeolus 7 as well as the wind wasn’t as gusty as I expected. Sadly I messed up my bike cockpit before the swim and couldn’t actually gather any data on race day. Blonde moment I guess.

I think it was an excellent result on a day that wasn’t really as strong as I am know I can be. Onwards I go, off to Colorado to give it another go next weekend with more acclimation. No matter what, these races are going to be good training for me going into Worlds this year.

Thanks to Trek, Bontrager, Rudy Project, Shimano, AVIA, Powerbar, Polar, Powertap, Champion System, Hwy 19 Wetsuits, USANA, ESI Grips, TP Therapy and Saltstick. Another podium place which is adding up to a lot of podium spots this season. Hope to keep the streak running. I still would love to see the top step at a 70.3 this year again. Thanks to all the awesome athletes and volunteers for making the race in Calgary so special and thanks to Paul Anderson for running the pro podium in time for me to attend and make my flight out… so appreciated!! Sorry I had to miss your speech Rasmus… big congrats again on your win!

I am now in Vail at my friend Kevin’s place relaxing at elevation. Looking forward to visiting altitude ace Sara Tarkington in Boulder and her fiancé Doug. Next up Boulder is 70.3, so stoked!!

It’s good to have friends 🙂

2012 IM 70.3 Honu, Kohala Coast, Hawaii

This was my first time ever racing on the Big Island of Hawaii and it did not disappoint.  The weather was fantastic and the winds were howling.  I loved every single moment of it and I was so well taken care of choosing the Mauna Lani Bay Resort as my home for race week.  With a lap pool, fitness center, location right on course and a stellar beach, the Mauna Lani is pure luxury for any athlete.  Lucky me.  No matter how many amazing experiences I have had in my career I definitely never stop appreciating how ridiculously fortunate I am to get these opportunities.

The race course itself includes the far end of the infamous Ironman World Championship bike course, so a field of Ironman types chose to race this as a tuneup and a qualifier (for age groupers) for the big show.  I just did it because Hawaii seems like as good a venue as any to go try to gather some points to qualify for Vegas.  In hindsight, the course was really great and I want another shot at it for sure.  It was really exciting to have Mark Andrews there supporting myself and all of my Trek teammates and due to the location and the presence of Mr. Armstrong what was originally a fairly small race became a much bigger deal.

Trek had an absolutely spectacular weekend with Lance and LInsey taking top spots and Chris coming 3rd.  I came in 5th.  It is great to see both Linsey and Lance in such good form going into their Ironmans in a few weeks.  My Rudy Project teammate Hilary Biscay had a spectacular swim after racing two Ironmans in a row to crush us coming out of the water.  How does she do that?  I mean, I am racing every two weeks and not loving it, she is a freak of nature.  Way to go Hilary!

For me, I am continuing to not race as well as I had hoped/expected/prepared for.  That is racing, sometimes you are in the zone and sometimes you are in the muck.  I need to find the reset button and hopefully soon.  No matter what I do in the 2 weeks between races, my body is just not cooperating.  I swam in the pack and then I pretty much cracked early on the bike and went backwards as the stronger riders on the day took over.  I thought I might rally for about two miles on the run then my stomach turned and I hit the bushes/lava/rocks at various spots on course instead for the first time ever in a race.  Ever tried to hide pulling down a one piece in a lava field?  Awesome.  This despite not really changing anything nutritionally so my body just rejected whatever I had been feeding it.  It was pretty much a miserable racing experience from that perspective but honestly, the views, the crowds and the beauty of the Kohala Coast really have my chalking it up to another great experience.  I haven’t done that many 70.3s so in every one I learn something and this one is no exception.  The half distance is a long way if you don’t feel good and I cannot imagine what the athletes in Kona go through on a bad day.  Whoa.  It wasn’t even hot!  

I am still staying in contention on the bike even if I don’t have very good legs because of the Speed Concept.  It really is all the bike right now and I can’t wait until I can actually apply more watts to it.  Last year I would shake my head why I couldn’t get in the race at a 70.3 even when I seemed to be on fire at XTERRAs, this year I am riding well even if it isn’t my best day and I can still find the front at some point.  I am so happy that I have that sorted out.  On Saturday I was just holding on in the crosswinds while the Speed Concept quickly delivered me to T2 to run it in.  I use my Polar heart rate monitor to evaluate the race after the fact and it shows I am fit, just not racing at the intensity I would like and that bike is keeping me in the game. 

To say I am frustrated is an understatement but I have no real option right now but to stay the course until I go home for 5 weeks before Vineman and start to rebuild.  For this last race, I am hoping maybe a 1 week break between races is better than these 2 week breaks that are not working at all.  We’ll see what happens in Richmond.  I am an optimist.  It’s funny how sometimes it can be like a switch turning and suddenly, you feel great.

I am really excited about my new shoes from AVIA.  The new 2013 Mantis is really comfortable and lightweight.  The race at Honu with no socks and no blisters was confirmation this shoe is excellent for triathlon.  I think I poured half of every aid station in those suckers with not even a chip in my pedi.  Love it.

Thanks so much to all of my supporters.  Thanks to all of my sponsors for helping me pursue my goals and to all of the race organizers and local supporters that give us professionals and amateurs alike the opportunity to test ourselves.  See ya in Richmond.

melanie sponsors 2012 v3

2012 Wildflower Triathlon: Coming Back To Life

The three weeks between XTERRA Vegas and the Wildflower triathlon were spent fighting a nasty chest infection.  My main hope for Wildflower was that enough hay would be in the barn that a three week battle with some sporadic workouts would not really slow me down that much. I also had some promising workouts about 10 days out so I went into the race with some hope for a good day.

Wildflower Triathlon attracts 7500 triathlon fanatics to the middle of nowhere to enjoy one of the hardest half Ironman courses in the world.  The race celebrated its 30th anniversary this year so there was even more pomp and circumstance around the already iconic event.  The hardcore pro athletes would be camping next to the pot smoking Cal Poly college kids… awesome!  I enjoyed some post race time on the dock after the race with some folks from Santa Cruz who were doing the Saturday afternoon Cinquo de Mayo festivities up right.  It was like summer holidays!  So fun.

Post race dock party….

I was lucky to have AVIA as my super awesome sponsor because I was given a mad pimpin RV right beside transition.  This allowed maximum socializing time and maximum sleep in time in the morning since transition was all of five feet away.  I think AVIA got wind of my punctuality issues…. Haha! 

When the gun went off I comfortably hopped on Leanda’s hip thanks to my improved wetsuit swimming in the HWY 19 Rogue – only to have her swim away from me at the first buoy along with two other girls.  I spent the next 1000 meters 5 strokes away from third (Keat) enduring constant foot grabs from the girl on my feet which was super annoying but part of racing.  When we rounded the buoy I had had enough footsie and cut left off course to force her to pass only to discover that I had been dragging the entire main pack.  Once on someone else’s feet my swim pace got a heck of a lot easier and I just cruised it in to transition.  I need a bit more fitness and good form to haul ass the whole way in a half so that was just some smarter racing.

Onto the bike I started very conservatively.  I wasn’t feeling it right away and my race plan was to build from 40 miles while pacing strong but not all out to that point.  I had some back and forth with some girls on the first climb as I started with some spinning but once we hit the open road the Speed Concept and I started rolling.  I moved into first at 30 miles or so which is pretty awesome for a race of this caliber with a swim/biker like Leanda in the field.  No matter how I felt that makes me feel really good about the future of my half-Ironmaning.  I know I can be there in the mix if I am in good form. It is exciting to lead a race no matter how you slice it. 

However, winning wasn’t on the menu as I basically deflated at about 40 miles and catapulted backwards when I went out onto the run.  It wasn’t pretty.  The quality of the field was handing me my ass and the course was finishing the job.  Wildflower is one of the toughest half Ironmans there is so when you don’t feel good the course can seem brutally punishing.  I did make it to the prime line first (I wasn’t even aware there was a prime so that is a bonus!) which is a career first which I will celebrate for sure. 

I am so excited for Heather Jackson to have taken her first win at the race and my teammate Linsey represented Trek bikes for both of us with 2nd on the podium and fellow Canadian Magali Tissyere took third.  I ran in for 8th after being passed in the last mile by three people.. one of whom is my other Trek teammate Rebekah Keat who I would be mad at if she wasn’t such a baller and so funny.  See ya next time Beks!

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Just another terrible road to ride on that the poor boys doing Tour of California are going to have to endure.

The good news is I was racing at the top calibre for about 2.5 hours.  The bad news for the race was that there were still 2 more hours of racing to go.  The ITU race is short in Alabama in two weeks and although I suffered finishing I am sure the effort will serve me well.  I am sure things will come around.  Although the timing for getting sick hasn’t been ideal it has spared some of my larger goals hopefully so I am head down until May 19th to try to bring the best I’ve got to Oak Mountain.

I spent the last few days in Sonoma for a Trek photoshoot of the new road product.  I know you guys have heard of the Domane but wow… you have to go ride that thing.  Such a smart concept and it works awesome.  Go check the one they have at Trek Procity out.  Awesome.

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Perfect road for a Domane

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Bodega Head.  Pretty ugly.

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The photoshoot location was also quite ugly.

2012 IM 70.3 Oceanside: The Gamechanger

The best way to erase a bad memory is to replace it with a good one.  Goodbye end of 2011, hello 2012.  BAM!!

OMG Stoked! Gani Pinero @endurapix.com

I couldn’t be more thrilled to start off the 2012 season with my  partners with the biggest 70.3 win of my career.  How great is that to give your supporters a boost in confidence right off the bat, huh?  I have had some confidence that I have been keeping somewhat quiet as I slowly built my form towards this season.  To be honest, I wasn’t thinking that I could win given how strong the field was in Oceanside and I was just starting my season.  To nab the top spot on the podium was the most killer feeling that came entirely unexpectedly.  But I think you need some background to understand why this win is so special to me.

First, I would like to thank the incredible female professionals who pushed me so hard on Saturday that I managed to crush my own time from last year’s race by 12 minutes.  Heather Jackson created a great battle before taking second- thank you and wow you are so talented and undoubtedly have many successful years ahead of you.  To Meredith Kessler in 3rd, you are a class act- it was so inspiring to even catch you out there after such a fast swim!  Rachel McBride from Canada, who also rode a Trek Speed Concept to the second fastest bike time in Oceanside, had a breakthrough race to eventually hold 4th place overall. Congratulations to my teammates Linsey Corbin and XTERRA World Champion Lesley Paterson who rode their Trek Speed Concept to 5th  and 6th place on the day.  4/6 top spots on Trek Speed Concepts.  If you aren’t riding a Trek, why not? READ MORE FOR THE REST…..

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