Who would have thought that the end of the season would come so quickly? I have completed 8 races in my first season as a Pro and I learned things about myself from each one of them. It has been a fabulous season of racing. I ended it off with a new personal best time, here at Ironman 70.3 Miami :)
The adventure to Florida began on Thursday morning as my parents, Rikki and I boarded our West Jet flight to Miami. The trip down went very smoothly, and before we knew it we were checking into the Mayfair Hotel in Coconut Grove, about a 20 minute drive south of where the race would be. I much prefer staying a little bit farther away from the race hotel as I find I get super nervous when I am surrounded by fellow triathletes. Staying a little further away meant I could be a little more relaxed before the race. This hotel also happens to be just gorgeous. I won't even try to describe it - just take a look at the pictures below.
Friday morning I got in a swim in the balcony pool and a quick bike in the gusty winds and rain. I desperately tried to stay upright on my bike amidst the crazy Miami traffic and bad weather - very challenging. Of course the weather improved very quickly after my ride. With the arrival of the sun we decided to take a trip to South Beach. We went to lunch at Joe's Crab Shack and had the best stone crabs! And, of course, I followed coach's instructions and drank heavily...water, that is :) Afterwards we wandered along the beach and through some souvenir shops and I got a pedicure and foot massage! The drive back to the hotel was an adventure as the combination of high winds and high tide had caused some serious flooding on the roads that led in and out of South Beach. We were all glad we had rented an Expedition, because the streets had become seriously river-like, and the smaller cars were at an increased risk of stalling. Luckily we made it home OK.
Saturday morning I got up early to get in a brick workout before traffic. However, the traffic in Miami is already heavy at sunrise! I biked about 25km including the first/last 6 miles of the bike course (the most technical part) which took me over an hour! I was cursing the stop lights that were constantly turning red on me :( It was also very windy, and the gusts were strong enough to almost knock me off the bike several times. Conclusion: the city of Miami is not a great place to ride a bike. The rest of Saturday I relaxed on the balcony by the pool, stayed hydrated and loaded up on carbs. I felt ready to race!
Sunday (Race day!) I was up at 4:45am. I didn't have a great sleep though and, in fact, I'm not even sure whether I did sleep between 2am and 4:45am ... it felt more like a daydream type sleep...if that makes sense. Very light sleep with lots of weird dreams and I remember looking at the clock at 2:30, 3:15 and 3:45am. Oh well. So I showered, had my pre-race meal of a bagel with peanut butter and banana and then we headed to the race site. I set up my transition area, went for a short jog through transition, did some arm and leg swings and my usual swim tubing exercises. They made the call that morning that the swim would be wetsuit legal (water temp was 75.5 degrees), which was a little disappointing for me, since I prefer non-wetsuit swims. However, if I have to wear a wetsuit I couldn't ask for a better one than my Blue Seventy Helix! We were allowed to jump in the water for a short swim warm-up about 5 minutes before the race start. I managed to get in a bit of a swimming before we were lined up and waiting for the start.
At 7:27 the professional women were off! There were about 17 of us, which is the largest field I have raced against so far. This made the start a bit like a washing machine. We raced as a group toward the first buoy (~250m) before we had to make a sharp right turn around the first buoy. I was with the lead group as we neared this buoy, but somehow, as the leaders in the group made their turn, the buoy got knocked into me and I ended up in a sort of punching war with this HUGE buoy. I kept trying to get around it and it would somehow end up right in my path. By the time I managed to get passed it I was no longer with the lead group. I had to swim the rest of the race about 15m behind a small group of girls who I used to keep me on course. I felt really good in the water though and, unlike in previous races, where I feel a bit dead by the end...I felt strong through the whole swim segment (thank you 20x100@1'20!). I exited the water in 25:56, which is a new swim PB (if you don't count the Pocono swim, which was a couple 100m short).
I had a smooth first transition, which quickly got me onto the bike course. It was windy, but definitely not as windy as the few days prior. The first 10km were through the city and took you along some winding roads, but nothing too technical. My legs felt pretty good, but I was careful not to let my power climb too high during the first part of the course. I was passed by two people, but also passed two people! I love passing people on the bike, it helps build a little bit of confidence, since it doesn't happen too often :) (At least not this season...but the combination of my cervelo + what coach has planned for me when training resumes and I will be quite the force next year!) As I turned onto the highway 27 I was faced with a BRUTAL head wind. This reminded me of one of the reasons I train with power. No matter what the conditions, be it a headwind, tailwind, uphill, downhill - your power output should remain relatively constant. So even though my speed was slow (hah - when did 31kph become slow for me!?! Thanks, Cervelo!), my power was right where it should be so my confidence wasn't shaken. As the highway turned north I got a bit of relief from the north west wind. I reached the turnaround in about 1hr20min and I knew it would be a fast return, with the wind at my back for the next 45km. Sure enough, heading south I was averaging about 40kph at the same power output. That speed turned to 50kph as the road turned to the south east and I just flew. I was in my hardest gear and my cadence hovering around 95rpm (high for me). Jessie Donavan passed me during this stretch on the bike and I moved into 8th. It was just after this that I started to feel the tightness in my hip flexors. Two hours in aero position will do that to you when you aren't used to it! So at this point I started cursing the terrain in Ontario for not being flat enough to allow for proper training (usually I am cursing the fact that it's not hilly enough!). The last 10km of the bike I was in agony as I tried to will myself to forget the pain. I was definitely up out of aero for a lot of the final stretch and I think I could have been a couple minutes faster had my hip flexors cooperated with me. The bike dismount didn't come fast enough, but when it did come it was a welcoming sight! I finished the bike in 2:26:32 (a whole 12 minutes faster than the previous year!)
I had a smooth transition and was off on the run! My hip flexors were still pretty tight, but seemed to loosen up with every stride. I crossed the first mile marker in 6:00. That's 3:45 per km pace! I didn't even feel like I was pushing that hard. The run course was pretty tough. It is 2 loops of an out and back course, which involves running up and over the causeway a total of 4 times. The wind was at your back on the way out and you had a headwind on the return. I was feeling pretty good until around the 11km mark. At 11km I had been averaging about 4:05/km but it was at just about that point my legs started to feel heavy. I always have a hard time taking in nutrition on the run and I hadn't taken in anything but water up to that point (rookie mistake!). So I started to play catch up with my nutrition and took in a gel, some gatorade and coke at the next aid station. I think that the damage had been done though, because it kept getting harder and harder to pick up my legs. As I headed up over the causeway for the last time, right into the wind, it took all my strength to keep moving forward. The last 2 miles were a blur, but I got passed by two more female pros and fell back into 10th. I kept pushing, hoping for a top ten finish. I did get my tenth place, after running a 1:31. The run was a lot slower than the 1:26 I was hoping for, but my overall time of 4:27 made me happy enough to make up for that.
The past couple of days I have been enjoying the off-season. I have had lots of yummy seafood, good wine, great desserts and I will continue to enjoy the next few weeks break before I resume training. My first race of 2013 will be Texas Ironman 70.3 in Galveston, Texas on April 7th!
I would also like to take this opportunity to the very special people who have helped to make my season so successful:
Turner-Tomenson Family Wealth Management - There is no question that a professional athlete needs some financial support when they start out in their "career". I wouldn't have been able to compete in so many races and get in the best training without the support of Turner-Tomenson. And I am so proud to call such a great Wealth Management Team my top supporter! Read some of the words of praise from their clients here.
WattsUp Cycling - In Toronto it is very hard to get in good quality bike training - the traffic is similar to what I described in Miami, and it takes at least 30 minutes to drive to an area conducive to cycling outdoors. WattsUp is a very short drive away and has provided me with 1000s of hours worth of quality bike training. There is no doubt that I would not be the athlete I am without having access to their great facility.
Bill Wells at Urban Athlete - This was the first season I had where I was completely injury free. Yes, I did get a few "niggles" here and there, but because of Bill nothing progressed to full blown injury. Not only that, but he provided above and beyond help that included a strength program to help with injury prevention and even biomechanical analysis of my running stride. I am so so lucky to have such an amazing Chiropractor.
Chris Basti, Dan Rishworth and all the staff at Enduro Sport - They helped me with almost everything. They got me set up with my Cervelos, tuned up my bike before every race, ensured I had all the best triathlon gear and answered all my questions quickly. I am so lucky to have such a great all-around triathlon shop behind me.
Lesley Loughlin at Cervelo - There are a few reasons that my bike improved more than any other leg of my triathlon this season...and one of them is the fact that I am now riding a P3 Cervelo. Lesley was a huge help with this and, not only did she get me my bikes, but offered many words of encouragement and congratulations to keep me motivated throughout the season.
Blue Seventy - A last minute e-mail to Blue Seventy and I got a brand new Helix and sleeveless wetsuit within a couple of weeks! My next race in my new Helix and I had a new swim personal best! The material is light in the shoulders and thick in the legs, which allows for great shoulder movement while keeping my buoyant.
My RMTs Brad Wilson, Craig Dow and Diego Ricetto - In addition to seeing Bill, I also was able to get regular massages throughout the season. There is no doubt that I was able to recover much quicker after hard training sessions and was better prepared for races because of my RMTs!
My fellow athletes, family and friends, especially Rikki, Mamma, Papa, Sara, Kevin, Bianca, Thatcher, Jewen, Surinder, Alka, Jason, Ronni, Bronwen, the Fellas, the Canellas, Faye, Pete K, Scott Judges, Ed Veal, my co-workers at the Granite Club, and all the athletes and staff at WattsUp, - They have all been amazing! Many people know that a job can get tough and even lonely, but you have to keep pushing through if you want to succeed at it. It's the same thing with triathlon training and, lucky for me, I always knew that I could count on all of my friends and family to motivate me and help get me though the tough times.
My coach, mentor and friend. He spent hours and hours, both early in the morning and late at night, perfecting my training program. When he didn't know the answer to something, he would confide in others like Scott Judges, Pete Oyler, Bill Wells, Ed Veal, Tereza Macel, to make sure that I got the best coaching possible. I am so excited that I get to work with such an amazing coach. I am also very excited that he will continue to put up with me and coach me through the 2013 season and hopefully much longer!
A few more pictures: