The beginning of February.. it is so foreign to me that I still basically have three months at home before I am leaving for racing. Last year I was getting ready to go win the NOVA cross country in Arizona? this year I am getting ready to go run the Cedar 12km. Yes, some big changes in the training program this year. Instead of blazing a path through the spring cycling classics, I am getting my butt handed to me by the incredibly talented Vancouver Island running community. Loving every minute of it!
This is an important point, however, for this season. After spending two years with a real focus on cycling, while flirting with triathlon, this year I really want to see if I can improve myself as a triathlete. This means some changes are afoot. But even if you aren’t changing your focus, the year after the Olympic year is a great time to make some changes and re-think how you are training. Take an inventory of what went well and what didn’t, and try and improve the formula. If you look at the past four years, it is amazing what you have accomplished, and it is motivating thinking of where you can go. I look at the past four years for me and it is amazing to think of where I was at the beginning?.
I started training for triathlon in 2001. This was another post-Olympic year, only much worse for me where I thought I was finished racing all together with injury, team folding, thinking I needed to get a job, all of that kind of bad energy that makes racing well difficult. The highlight of 2000 was getting back my confidence that I can ride well (road Worlds for the first time), coming second in this big triathlon I didn’t even train for (Xterra Worlds 2000), but most importantly, I started having FUN again in sport. 2001 was my rebirth year as an athlete where I wanted to take a break from the mountain bike and try a sport where I was truly a rookie (the fact I had signed a contract to race on the road with Rona just proves that I am really incapable of only doing one thing?.). So I approached the triathlon center in Victoria to see if they could help me get better.
Well, I approached triathlon with huge enthusiasm and a huge capacity for volume, which I completed, and basically, trained myself into a body bag. That was not a good year at all, looking at results I got WORSE by training. But that didn’t squash my desire, I wanted to be better, and knew I could be. That is when I approached my coach Houshang Amiri. I told him my goals, and what had happened in cycling for me. Ever the patient man, he said he would help me to become the best in the world in Xterra, but he cautioned me against throwing away the cycling.
2002 was better, I won my first Xterra, I was top two at the series races, finished second in the Overall Series Championships but then came off the rails at the end of the season. Houshang and I took the good with the bad, knew we could be better, but were plotting something new – returning to mountain biking.
In 2003 I had a breakthrough year in North America. I was top five at the Sea Otter Classic in the spring, had top 5 short track results during the year, and then won the World Championships for Xterra (and a lot of other stuff along the way). Our formula worked! What a fantastic year, and what a great way to set up a run at an Olympic spot. I had a great team, Ford Cycling, a title to carry around for a season, I was absolutely stoked.
So in 2004, I trained harder than I ever have in my life. I was stronger and more motivated than ever before, and focused. But I never expected what would happen. I came out so strongly in the spring, but already I was seeing the cracks in my OVER-preparation. Illness came early, last stage of Sea Otter. Continued being sick into May? and then I went to Europe for the World Cups and had no legs at all. I basically had peaked IN MARCH!! Word to the wise, sometimes a lot is really too much. The consequence for me of training so hard, and leaving to race so early is it never really came back. That fire, that desire, that snap in your legs that leaves everyone in the dust? it was gone and I feel like my racing at the end of 2004 was good, but not great. Second at World Championships was good, but not my potential.
So this ends a four year cycle and here we are again at that place where it is time to be reborn in focus. I didn’t know how technical an Olympic preparation cycle is, and now I do. We have a plan. How foolish of me to think that I could maybe ?steal? a spot on the #1 Women’s Mountainbike Team in the world while kibbitzing in triathlon. So this quadrennial I will have to make a choice. I will see where my heart is.
I continue to train with Houshang Amiri as my lead coach, as he will keep me at the front on the bike, and knows me better than anyone else. Big news is that I have enlisted one of the best triathlon coaches in the world, Cliff English (www.competitiveedgetraining.com), to turn me into a runner. Sam McGlone (my training partner in Vic, Olympian, all round studette) is one of the best runners on the ITU circuit. Not to take anything away from her, because she is ubertalented, but Cliff is a genius, so I am all over that. So not only am I starting later, but training different. Gotta make changes, it is a rebirth year. This season, I am so focused on two things: the Xterra US Championships Series and the Xterra World Championships.
There are some 2’s I need to turn into 1’s.