Friday, 29 June 2007

The Countdown Begins....

The countdown begins to the Great White North 1/2 Ironman... only two more sleeps....I have all my gear sorted and ready to go, my clothes are packed, my lists are made for my food, and my nutrition and race plan has been determined. I'm good to go. Phew!

I did most of my organizing last night because I'll be leaving for Stony Plain today, but all week I've been planning and making lists in my head of what I need to do. (That fact will not suprise the parental unit I'm sure, haha.) I did have a wee moment of frustration with my nutrition planning last night. Hmm, maybe frustration isn't the right word. Basically I thought I had it all figured out, but then found out the amounts I had planned on might not be enough. I think I may have a touch of pre-race jitters because for some reason that threw me off. I started second guessing all the prep I have done. Oh well, I'm totally over it and think I now have a better handle on number of carbs and calories per hour etc. I'm thankful that I was made aware of the mistake now rather than later otherwise that might have really bunged up my race!!

Race day nutrition is one of those things that I find hard to master. I have stomach issues with just normal food, so trying to find a product that doesn't make my stomach go topsy turvy when I'm on the bike or run has been hard. The difficult part has been finding something that is a liquid, but is not all sugar. I prefer using liquids to solids as most of the solid products out there tend not to agree with me in race type situations. However, it's harder to get the calories needed with just liquid. The sugar in them usually brings up the calories and carb content, but it tends to leave me feeling very sick once I start the run. Hopefully I have got it sorted out now with the Perpeteum, and all will go well on Sunday. I won't know till I try it!

Tonight is the carb dinner and race meeting. Saturday we'll do a very short swim/bike/run session and talk about any final concerns or whatnot, then just rest up. Sunday is the big day...8am sharp!

I have to say, I'm totally stoked about this race. The GWN triathlon was my first and has been my only 1/2 Ironman to date. I did it last year and aside from stomach issues, I had a lot of fun. My goal then was just to finish, which I did. This year will be another story. This year I am going to RACE. I plan to push my mental and physical boundaries and I can't wait!! Greg has a great quote on his blog, "Only those who risk going to far can possibly find out how far they can go" ~ T.S. Elliot. I've written the quote down and will be putting it up in my hotel room so I can see it. It captures what this weekend will be about for me.

Of course the bottom line, racing or not, is to HAVE FUN!!! I most definately plan on doing that above all else. After all, if it's not fun, why the heck do it??

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Oh For Cryin' Out Loud....

This morning was a swim morning. As always on swim mornings I'm out the door before the sun has come over the horizon. I find it a very peaceful time. It's a nice drive to the pool as all the cows around are just getting up and I tend to see a deer or two. This morning there was a young deer slowly crossing Springbank Rd. Glad I saw her in time!

Todays' swim was pretty short. 800 m warm up, 8 x 50 m sprints and 400 m cool down. I was supposed to swim the first 50 m then add on time and have that as when I start for each set...but as mentioned before, I'm just not that great at the whole swim/clock thing. By the time I've added up all the little notches on the clock it's past when I was supposed to swim. So instead I just swam as fast as I could and rested until I could catch a decent breath. Then I'd be off again.

I'm pleased with my swimming, but I still haven't quite got the 'catch' part of it. I hope to get better at that eventually. The gal in the lane beside me was awesome. Super smooth stroke and faster than all heck. I was trying to watch her technique underwater hoping to learn something. She was probably wondering what I was doing! haha.

I had to laugh, here I was trying to swim fast and probably splashing a bit (perhaps a sign I'm not as efficient as I hope) and the person beside me was just zipping by me like it was nothing. For crying out loud! I didn't think I was THAT slow. I was thinking it was still the gal that was swimming there before. I'm sure she wasn't that fast. When I stopped for a break I noticed the person beside me was no longer the gal, but a guy. No wonder I couldn't keep up! Not that just cause he's a guy he's fast, but his shoulders were twice the size of mine so he was moving WAY more water than me! haha. He had on a fast bathing suit too...a speedo. Urgh.

Oh well, the best thing about swimming beside fast people is it pushes you to swim fast too!

Only a few more sleeps till GWN - I can't wait! I've already started making my lists of everything I need. Tee hee.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007


Well today was not a good training day. I had quite the headache after work and it didn't want to go away. (I really must learn to blink sometimes whilst staring at the computer!)

I was supposed to go for a bike ride, but instead did a bit of yoga. It didn't really help unfortunately. I think part of the problem is my mind is working overtime thinking about the race and other non-triathlon issues. That and I've been having troubles sleeping. One day I will master meditating and be able to 'still my mind', haha.

Days like today happen. It's nothing to get upset about or worry, you just have to accept it and look to the next day. I've got a swim tomorrow and already have all my gear ready and my program! Then Thursday and Friday are rest days - lots of time to prep for the race!

Onwards and upwards!!

Sunday, 24 June 2007


Well I must say I wasn't sure how todays ride/run was going to go. I didn't get much sleep as I was out late babysitting and I woke up super early with a headache. My head was totally stuffed up from the allergies, hence the headache. Ah the joy of allergies. Oh well, I wasn't going to let that stop me from getting out there. This was going to be my last hard ride before GWN and I wanted to test out some Hammer nutrition.

I've been having troubles figuring out what to use for fueling - the gatorade/gel combo works for short distances, but for longer it really upsets my stomach because of the high sugar content. Leslie had been trying Hammer products and had success so I was going to give it a go. I was hoping if I had a hard ride then did a run after that I could determine if I could use it next weekend.

Four of us met up for the ride this morning. It was pretty grey out there and some of the clouds looked like they could be holding rain and lightening. Yikes! No worries though, I wearing my spiffy new club jacket. The new jacket is a very very very bright neon yellow. It is sooo bright I'm sure we could be seen from the Hubble Space Centre! It definately gives you the confidence that you can be seen when riding on the road!

We did the Horse Creek loop, but as we wanted to get in at least 50 km today we started out from the soccer fields. The first part of the ride was as always takes me some time to get the cadence/speed thing happening. Finally I got into a groove. No need to dodge prairie dogs this morning...I think they were hiding from the cool weather too.

It seemed like no matter what direction I was going, there was a headwind. I just kept telling myself it wasn't a headwind but my great speed on the bike that made it feel like there was a headwind, haha! Hey, whatever you have to do to get through it! Even with the wind though I was able to keep my speed in a range I wanted and I think I did well with my cadence too. I had a great time out there! Towards the end of the ride the sun even came out. This was a very good thing as my toes were starting to get really cold!

Along with the ride being awesome, I also mastered the high velocity evacuation of mucus (H.V.E.M) also known as, the farmer blow. Now I know there are some out there that are thinking 'Ew!' right now. All I have to say is, don't knock it till you've tried it! I used to think that too...but as a gal with allergies who rides past farms with mass quanities of hay - of which I'm allergic - it can get really annoying sniff, sniff, sniffing along. Some may suggest a tissue. I've tried this - but it's really hard to peddle, try and keep speed up, extract tissue with sweaty hands, and blow. Then what does one do with said tissue?? So now I use the N.V.E.M method. It was a little tricky at first - not to mention messy - but I've learned a few tricks to help with the process.

One, always determine the direction of the wind. This is very important! Depending on which way the wind blows and the way you are blowing, you may end up with gooey right back on you. Two, make sure you have a good seal of the nostril opposite of the one you wish to evacuate. No seal, and again we have a mess. Third, always make sure the people you are riding with are not drafting you....that's just a courtesy thing. :) Today I managed to remember all things and didn't get any on my new spiffy jacket. Leslie would be proud!

The ride turned out to be about 54km done in 1:58 h. I think my average speed was about 27km/h. I got some great speed on the hills up and down! After the ride was done I went for a short 20 min run. My stomach felt great during the ride and I was hoping it would stay that way during the run, even if it was short. I'm happy to report that it did. Yay! So I will use this fueling for GWN next weekend and hopefully I don't have the GI issues from last year. Ick. I'm starting to get really excited for the race!!

Note to Jenn: Definately sign up for IMC 2008!! It's not only race itself that is exciting and fulfilling - it's the journey leading up to it!

Saturday, 23 June 2007


Well my allergies have kicked in to full gear this week. Eyes are exceptionally itchy and have been the last two days, and my energy level is a little low. Yet today I decided I wanted to run through the trees and everything that I'm allergic to, haha. Afterall, that's what eye drops and allergy medicine is for right?? My eyes are still exceptionally itchy, but it was worth it!!

We had a short run today, 1:15 hr, so decided to run through the trails up to 'Fosters' and back again. I love this route. As soon as my feet leave the pathways and sidewalks and hit the trails I get an extra bounce in my step. It's almost like I get energy from all of Mother Nature's creation. Its a blast sidestepping the slippery muddy spots, hopping over tree roots, noting the odd railway tie where there is no railway (hmmm...why is that there anyways??) and running up and down the hills.

The path on the way back is the best as it follows a little creek and the terrain is ever varying. There are more roots and trees to dodge through here as well. It's a total rush! Everytime I run through here I think, definately an offroad triathlon is next on my 'things I'd like to do' list. Xterra here I come!!

As I was running I was also thinking about my friends who are in races this weekend. Greg raced the Prestige Half Iroman this morning (I voted he'd come in between 4:45 and 4:52 - so we'll have to check his blog to find out!). Angie is racing Ironman Coeur d'Alene tomorrow - Go Angie Go! She's been strong this year and I expect she'll have a great race tomorrow. Can't wait to hear all the stories from both of them...

The countdown now starts for the GWN Half Ironman - only 8 more sleeps!!

PS Leslie - you can now post your comments! Eep. haha :)

Thursday, 21 June 2007


Leslie and I went for a run tonight out in this beautiful weather we are FINALLY having!! We had a 15 minute warm up then were to sprint really fast for 30 seconds and run easys for 1:30 minutes. We only had to do eight sets and they were actually quite fun. Les' watch would signal us with a 'beep' countdown...only I didn't know that you were supposed to wait till the last beep so on the first set I was off like a shot! All I could think about was 'Run Forrest, Run!'. haha. At least I could hear Leslie when she yelled 'Stop!'. On one of our easy intervals I stopped to pet the cutest little French Bulldog. Tons of dogs out tonight on the path!

After our intervals we had an easy run back to Les'...and thats when the excitement happened. We were running over the railway tracks when I saw Les stumble...then almost recover...feet stepping one over the other very quickly...stumbling...recovering????.....NO! She was down. Flat out. And it looked very painful. She had to take a moment to recover from the shock of falling. There were many people that stopped to help, which was so kind. When she stood up her knee was hurting quite a bit, so we took the offer of a ride home from a very kind woman, her young son and their dog. Luckily we weren't too far from Les'.

At home she rested and we got ice on her knee - her hands were cut up and her one elbow too. Les, true to form though, is one tough chica and after 15 minutes of ice and sitting, she was ready to get out there on the bike to finish up our workout! (We just had a short easy ride to do.) I think it helped her knee feel better. Thankfully GWN is a week away! It will take a bit for her palms to heal and not hurt on the handlebars.

PHEW!!! That was more excitement than either of us needed this evening. Everything turned out ok though!

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Lap One, Lap Two, Lap Three...

Today was a swim up before the sun and headed into Calgary. Not much to report today - I know, I know - it's a shocker! Granted there is a Zepplin song about how I speak and write (think 'Ramble On'), but I am capable of of being short and to the point! Sometimes.

Anyways, it was an interval day in the pool. Was doing 200 m intervals at varying pace. My technique is improving all the time, but I haven't figure out the 'catch'. I swam a total of 1900m. I have only done up to 2600 m and am truly wondering if I'll swim 3800 m before I have to do IMC! Hmm, wonder how many laps of Arbour Lake I'll have to do to get that distance??? Anyone know?

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Playing Chicken with Prairie Dogs...

What an awesome day for a ride!! I wasn't sure the weather was going to hold but it did - YAY!

I decided to ride the Horse Creek Road loop, which is about 44 km. I started out on Hwy 1A westbound, then turned right onto Grand Valley Blvd. The first little bit I took to warm up - and play chicken with a couple of prairie dogs. Okay, not really...those who know me know I brake for all small cute furry animals. I had to slow down a little bit because for some reason they didn't understand me yelling 'SHOO! SHOO little guys!!'. One dove back into his wee hole, but the other decided to double back on the road. Have no fear - there were no mishaps and all of us survived.

At first I was having troubles keeping my speed and cadence up, but after a little while I got into a groove. I lucked out as for most of the northbound portion of the ride there was little wind....which usually means as soon as I go south I'm in for it! haha. I tried to push it on the climbs and keep my speed up. I didn't do too badly, I think the mini lesson on gearing with Dale at the tri shop really helped! I was a lot more successful than I usually am.

The scenery was amazing - everything was super green because of all the rain we had. It highlighted all the red barns and brown cows around. Some of the homes along there are gorgeous too. After climbing a few hills I turned east. This section is pretty flat. I had some great speed and managed to get up to 41 km/h and hold it. I was really happy with that.

With about 20 km to go I turned right and headed south....and as predicted, there was the wind! At first it was a strong crosswind and I almost felt like I was leaning my bike into it. Then it shifted and became a headwind. I think the Wasa race taught me to be aggressive when I get into a headwind. It's a great challenge and I now find I like it rather than dread it. I managed to keep my speed up, although not as fast as the flats!

I really love this ride. There is little traffic and it's beautiful. The road for this section goes south, east, south, east. I had a wonderful surprise too as I neared the end....they paved a long section of it!! Typically there are potholes whose length typically equals the diameter of most bicycle tires. Yikes! But this was nice, beautiful, SMOOTH, blacktop!! Oh joy, oh rapture! Feel the speed!! Barely any friction!! And then it ended....haha. Ah well, it was great while it lasted. As I neared the end of my ride I once again had to yell 'SHOO!' to a prairie dog scooting near me. When I got back to my car I checked my time and it was 1:35!! I haven't done that ride in that time before. I was really happy with that as it shows I'm getting stronger and faster. YAY!

I went for a short run afterwards. I was supposed to do a couple intervals at my half ironman pace, but I think I was more at my 10km pace. Not that I know what my pace really was...I really just go by feel....and I felt great! I am really looking forward to the GWN 1/2 Ironman...just over a week away. Hopefully I will continue with the improvement that I've experienced this year.

PS Dad: finding time to write my blogs is all about PLANNING...and you know how I am when it comes to planning...tee hee.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Sidestepping Slippery Suckers....

Wow, what a day for a run! For a (very) short time I'd thought we'd waited long enough that the rain wouldn't be fact it was only spitting out when we headed out....but not for long! It really does feel like Vancouver here lately. I don't really mind all that much, I actually like running in the rain, it's kind of refreshing. At least until I get the gooshes. The first goosh occurred at about the 30 minute mark. It was my left shoe that succumbed first. I had thought I did a good job bypassing the puddles, but I guess the rain was too much. The insole of my shoe was saturated and with every step I could feel the 'goosh' of water between my toes. It made me giggle as it's kind of a funny feeling. The right shoe held out longer, but at the 40 minute mark succumbed as well. Alas, it was inevitable with the amount of rain coming down.

We started our run from the pool parking lot because we had a swim to do afterwards. The plan was originally to run on the paths, but it would have been too mucky today (offroad training will be another day!). So we stuck to the sidewalks, which was fine, except for the worms. There were TONS of them out there. Which didn't bug me, but I learned that Leslie has a wee bit of a phobia about them! This from a woman who will live under the most primtive of conditions and doesn't mind spiders and other creepy things, haha. Ah well, my only issue with them was I didn't want to step on any. Afterall, they have a right to try and sneak across the sidewalk to get to the other soggy patch of grass without the threat of a massive shoe coming down upon their head, or tail, or whatever they have! I looked like I was doing wee hops as I ran and tried to avoid them!

I think people are more sympathetic to runners in the rain. Typically if we have to run on a stretch of road the drivers won't budge. Today they seemed to give us ample room and they'd move over. Perhaps they thought we were insane, considering the conditions we were running in, and would attack their vehicle! Too funny.

The run went by fairly quickly, we were out there for 1.25 hrs. My legs felt good and I had a good run overall. Every once in a while I couldn't help but start laughing because we were absolutely drenched. Nothing was dry! We looked like drowned rats. Thankfully the only time I felt cold was when the wind picked up now and then.

The pool wasn't open when we got there, but we didn't have to wait long. I noted something today - it's much easier to remove a bathing suit from a wet bod then to try and get one ON a wet bod! As noted above we were drenched - I could even wring out a small amount of water from my running clothes. So trying to get the suit on was an feat of much wriggling and yanking. Liner spilling out everywhere too. It was really quite amusing.

The pool felt like bathwater when I got in because as it turns out my limbs were quite cold from the rain. (I guess I lost the feeling in them so didn't actually notice it whilst outside.) I got in the pool and started out with an 800m warmup that included swimming and drills. It was the first time in the pool for a while as I've been able to swim in a lake. Felt strange having to stop and turn around at each end. I'm not sure I like being able to see all the things floating about hair. GACK! Give me a lake I can't see the bottom any day! (Quite a change in tune from last week!)

The main set involved 10 x 100 m sprints. The big thing was we were to swim the first hundred and time it. Then add on 0:20 s and swim remaining sets under that time, including rest. Well this is all fine and dandy for the first one because you can figure out the time on the pool clock and it's usually even numbers. After a few though I was getting lost trying to add on time and figure out when the heck I was supposed to take off next! I'm sure for a few it was taking me longer to add all the seconds and I was resting too long. I had no idea so just ended up swimming as fast as I could for the 100m then tried to suck some air in at the end and take off as soon as possible. I definately slowed down for the last few hundred meters - lack of oxygen may have played a role. Really's hard enough some days keeping track of how many lengths you've done and how many sets - I honestly don't need to have time keeper added in there! haha.

Overall we covered 2000 m in the pool. It's amazing that that distance now feels 'easy'. I will never forget getting into the pool, for the first time in years, in the summer of 2005....I 'swam' (if you can call thrashing about in the water swimming) the first 25m and was hanging off the diving board gasping for air thinking 'what have I gotten myself into?!'. Now that I think about it though, I have yet to swim 3800 m, which I'll have to do for perhaps I shouldn't get too cocky. LOL.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and listening to the rain. This week the weather is supposed to turn around, which will be great! Not a huge training load this week, it'll likely feel like a rest week!

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Days of Thunder...

A fitting title for the day. Woke up bright and early this morning totally psyched to go for a ride...alas, it was pouring out. Heavy sigh. I was supposed to meet Leslie for 8:15am, and figured I still would and we'd figure out what to do. While eating my favourite breakfast, oatmeal fully loaded, I checked emails. Sure enough there was one there from our coach stating that an indoor ride would be just fine considering the weather. So an indoor ride it was. (And for anyone who thinks we wimped out by doing the indoor ride, I triple dog dare you to sit on a bike in a trainer for 2.5 hrs.....ugh!!) Anyways, it's not the riding in the rain that is an issue, it's more the wet and cold and being in that for many many hours. Not the best thing for ones health.

I headed over to Leslie's as she's got an awesome set up in the basement, tv's, fans etc. There is not a lot on at 8am, but we managed to find the movie 'Days of Thunder'. Having something to watch once in a while is nice - but it sure doesn't make up for zooming past beautiful scenery outside though. At least the fast race scenes automatically made me pedal faster, haha. Coach provided us with a workout so it was a good one. High spins mixed with strength intervals. My legs were feeling it at the end, that's for sure. After the bike session we headed out for a half hour run. It felt pretty cold outside, part of that was because of being soaked with sweat from the bike session, but we had a good run going down Main St. Pretty good pace too.

I have to say, it felt weird being done by noon!!! Usually we are gone most of the day. Oh well, gave me time to tidy up the house and make a trip to the tri store for some bike maintenance. Of course by the afternoon the sun came out and the roads were dry. Sometimes you just can't win with Alberta weather!! I have a feeling it will be soggy again for our run tomorrow. LOL. Good thing we'll be in the pool right after.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Blue Skies...Nothing but Blue Skies....

I was singing that tune all day in the hopes we'd have a blue sky for our run this evening. We did get blue sky for a bit..but not for the run. At least we missed the torrential rain that we had this morning - holy raindrops Batman! For a brief moment I thought I was back in Vancouver! Of course now that the run is over it's beautiful out again, haha.

The run was ok...but just ok. I didn't have the light step that I 'Jack be Nimble' step. Was out for 2.25 hrs and I felt rather sluggish. It never ceases to amaze me though, that even if I'm feeling tired or sluggish my legs just keep moving at a steady pace. There's just this rythmic 'thump, thump, thump' happening. I was also surprised that as I made my way up the hill from the rec centre, at the end of our run, that I had the strength to push it a bit...I think I just really wanted to get the hill over with actually, haha.

Not sure if my legs are still recovering from Sunday or what. Or perhaps its because I'm stretching more now and my legs are rebelling against being more flexible and loose! Speaking of stretching, I'd better get to it.

Tomorrow is a rest day - woohoo!

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Aren't Lakes Supposed to be Warm in the Summer?!

Went for a wee dip in Arbour Lake tonight. The sign said it was '12 degrees C - tepid'. Definately not mine or Les' idea of tepid I must say!

This is the one week that the lake is open to the public because the Arbour Lake Triathlon is on this weekend. As the GWN is coming up we decided to take advantage of going for a lake swim. Getting in the water is the first challenge...but wasn't that bad. It only took one lap for the feeling in my feet and hands to come back. And hey, at least this time I didn't get a 'slurpee headache' when I put my head in - always a sign it's going to be fine.

I was proud of myself tonight - I only yelped twice under water! Once when was this HUGE piece of algae floated in front of my face - I was sure it was the finger of a lake monster. (Yes, I have the imagination of a five year old!!) The second was when a fish darted out under me. Shifty little bugger it was! I'm not sure which I prefer more, the lake I can't see the bottom so I can't tell where the lake monster is....or when I can see things moving! Ick. Ah well, imagination aside, I love being in the water!! As I was swimming I was thinking of how it was going to be swimming at Ironman. Then, of course, my mind went on to think of Ogopogo and which lake he was in in Penticton...hmmmm.

We got two laps of the lake done today, yelping and all. The second lap felt much more comfortable - it usually takes me that long to get into a groove and to get comfortable in my wetsuit. I'm noticing a difference in my swimming this year in the lakes, the swim technique classes I took in the fall definately are paying off. I'm much more comfortable swimming in general and swimming in a wetsuit. YAY!

After the swim I did a very short run. The legs felt really good considering they were pretty sore on Monday after Wasa. Good thing...I have a long run tomorrow!

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Wasa Race Report 2007

June 11, 2006
I’m standing thigh deep in the water of Wasa Lake and I am in the throes of a full on anxiety attack. I start to back out of the water. My tears have half filled my goggles and my fears are surfacing. Fear of failure, fear of letting people down, fear that I won’t be able to do the half Ironman I’ve been training for – it’s only a few weeks away…the list goes on. I’m not actually sure how I got through the first lap, all I remember is feeling that I couldn’t breathe, feeling my wetsuit constricting and panic setting in. Next thing I know my friend Patti G is behind me on the beach yelling at me that I can’t give up, that I have to get back into the water and swim. At the time I don’t question why she is there as well, she should have been out already. Slowly I get back into the water, Patti follows me in and we start to swim. Gradually I calm down and finish the swim. I go on to finish the triathlon, my first of that distance and my first open water swim. Since this race I’ve participated in three other Olympic distance triathlons and a half Ironman; however, the anxiety I felt during this race was always very near the surface when I raced and would sometimes rear it’s ugly head.

June 10, 2007
It’s a year later, the morning of the race. I’ve come full circle. I’m in the hotel looking out the window. Outside it’s overcast, cool and windy. I’m not worried though, I’m here to rock this race no matter what is thrown at me. I didn’t sleep the night before. My mind was busy going over the race I was about to participate in just as it had the last month. I’ve visualized this race over and over again many times. Time to make the half hour drive to the lake.

We arrive at Wasa Lake and I’m starting to get excited. I feel strong and I know what I need to do. As I walk up to transition I can smell the sweet scent of Jiffy marker. Ah yes, nothing like a little Jiffy high before a race. The young girl who is applying marker all over me asks if I said my age was 47…uh no sweetie…I’m only 37! I have to giggle at that. Leslie teases me that 47 isn’t that bad! The excitement is building. I see so many familiar faces and my friends are here. Triathlon is an amazing community! I head back to my spot in transition and start to lay things out, remembering to smile at everything and everyone. Smiling reduces anxiety and makes one feel good I’ve learned. Leslie and I go for our warm up run then start the daunting task of applying our second skin, also know as ‘the wetsuit’. I’ve decided to become one with my wetsuit. That way it won’t try to suffocate me! I joke with Leslie about the wetsuit thrust – the wonderful move one does in order to get the darn thing over their hips. Do guys have this issue?! We share a chuckle over it, yet another way to keep anxiety at bay. Down to the water we go for our warm up swim. I get into the water and swim a few strokes, I feel great, and the wetsuit feels comfortable. I stop to look around and am bobbing up and down in the water like a seal…so are many others. One guess what we are all doing…..water doesn’t feel so cold any more!

It’s time to start the race. The anthem has been sung and the countdown is on. I position myself so I’m out of the bulk of athletes, but in the throng enough so I’ll experience some contact. I want to know what it feels like. I’m totally pumped about the swim. The countdown ends and off we go. I do a couple of dolphin dives to get started….I know Coach will love that. I’m in, I’m swimming, and I feel amazing. I’m getting hit a little from the sides and someone keeps hitting my feet. That’s okay, as far as I’m concerned they are part of my pod. (A little visualization technique to put a positive spin on the contact…we are a pod of whales and we are just letting each other know where we are.) I have gone out a little too fast and need to flip over and do some back stroke so I can take a couple deep breathes. I do about four strokes then as I flip back around to get back into the front stroke I notice I’m past the first buoy! Holy crap – I’m really doing this and I’m not dying! I’m swimming, I’m in a pack, and I’m strong and confident! I focus on my technique and sighting. I’m around the second buoy and well on my way. Too the beach I arrive with a big smile on my face, one lap down and one to go. I again dolphin dive to get back into the water (I can’t wait to tell Coach about this) and continue on. The swim is over. I’m racing up the beach to transition and I’m smiling like a lunatic. “I’ve done it!!!”, I want to scream to the spectators. I actually had a strong swim. I beat the anxiety – in fact, I felt no fear at all. I was in total control the whole time! HOOYAH!! Okay, time to focus on transition. Of course before I can do this I have to jump up and down in front of Leslie saying “I did it!!, I did it!!” Not exactly the transition of champions…but I just don’t care at this point.

On the bike I go – the new bike I might add. My Eleanor – named after a 1967 Shelby fastback. She is a fast car and she is a fast bike. The ride is great, I push harder than I have in a race. I get passed by a few, but also do a lot of passing. The high of the swim is still with me. At about the 20km mark I am passed by some really fast looking guys on their carbon fibre steeds. All I can think is ‘I swam faster than you!!!’ If I could have done the na-na-boo-boo dance, I would have. I have to focus though. Focus on my cadence and my speed. As I near the turnaround I can feel the wind pick up. On the way back there is a pretty strong headwind. I look at this as a positive thing, it’s Mother Nature making me stronger. I don’t back off, I get in a more aggressive position and give it my all. It pays off – I’m back in transition faster than I thought I would be. I look at my watch and wonder if perhaps I’m about to bonk cause this can’t be the right time can it?! Maybe the race started late. No time to try to figure it out, it’s time to run.

My legs feel like they are spinning, by the 1st kilometer I’m in a groove though. My pace feels great. I can see Leslie up ahead and think to myself it would be cool if I could catch up to her and run with her. Eventually I do, I go ahead for a bit and she catches up with me. Not much is said, I’m concentrating on my pace and trying to get oxygen into my lungs. I’m starting to feel the burn in my quads. I do however wonder if my gasping for breathe is starting to drive Leslie nuts. The kilometers slowly tick off, 6, 7, 8…I can keep up this pace can’t I? I’m not going to just pass out right here? There is now a wheezing noise coming out of me. Do professional athletes sound like this?? I keep saying my mantra in my head ‘Jack be nimble, Jack be quick’. I swear this actually works. My feet feel lighter and the pace easier. 1km, 0.750km, 0.500 km, 0.250km….we are almost there. I can hear the announcer now. He’s calling my name and Leslie’s name. We cross the finish line together, huge smiles are on our faces. We did it!!! I want to jump up and down and scream with excitement, but the slight dizziness I feel suggests that perhaps it would be better to sit down now and drink lots and lots of Gatorade.

I feel I can now say “I am a triathlete”. I raced every part of this event and I gave it my all. I’ve never felt stronger – mentally, physically or emotionally. I conquered my fears!! I took control!! The bonus of it all was running to the finish with my friend and mentor, and achieving a PR! I had visualized this event, and it unfolded as I wanted it to. That is the power of mental training in combination with all the swim, bike, run training we do.

Never give up and always believe in yourself!