Back in the Swing of Things

Since the last update, I have been keeping very busy with working, training and racing. This season is all about balance, and doing things that I want to do. Because of this, I have jumped into many more local short races than I normally would. In the past I never really wanted to do a race unless I knew I was prepared. Well for the most part this season, that would mean that I would never be racing – so I just jumped into some races without feeling fully prepared. This is a fun way to approach races – no expectations, just go out and have a great workout.

A couple of my main goals for the year are #1 – try my hand at an XTERRA race and #2 – do Ironman Canada which I have never done.

Well, goal #1 of the XTERRA race was very much an eye opener. I had been doing quite a bit of mountain biking, tackling things at my pace and getting a little better. Believe me, I had no delusions of grandeur when entering the XTERRA race, but I did think that with the more time spent on the mountain bike, it might pay off. Well, it quickly became clear that I was totally out of my element. It wasn’t like my fun little training rides where I took my time and made it through things. I was constantly losing time during the ride, I guess I am not used to having that many people around me when I am mountain biking. I made it through one lap of the two lap bike course without any incidents – I had actually made it up a couple of the things that I didn’t make in training – but I continued to be light years behind the leaders. To add insult to injury – with a few miles to go up a slight grade my pedal literally fell off. I thought that my foot had unclipped from the pedals, so I pulled off to the side to get out of peoples way – as I did so and set my foot down, my pedal was still attached. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I tried to get the pedal back on and I could not get it threaded back on. So there I was, wondering what I would do now. I knew that if I could get myself to the top of the last hill, it would be all downhill and I could coast to the transition. So I pushed, ran, single legged my way to the top and then was able to coast down to the transition sans pedal. I probably got there just before the leaders were finishing. Because I had no reason not to finish, I headed out on the very tough run course, and completed the course. In reality, the mishap with the pedal did not make that much difference – I would have still been in the same place that I was regardless. I ended up 6th pro – not bad hey! – well that is 6th out of 6. So my XTERRA career was not meant to be.

What I realized is that I thoroughly enjoy riding my mountain bike, but I do not enjoy racing my mountain bike. It takes a certain person to do well, and I certainly do not have that – there is no way that I will ever overcome my fear to ride downhill fast. Even if I could hold my own on the uphills (which I couldn’t) the time lost on the downhill was way too much to overcome!!! I already had a great appreciation for the XTERRA athletes and what they do, and my experience just reinforced this – they are awesome and hardcore!!

So now it is onto goal #2 – Ironman Canada which is on August 26th. I have been watching quite a few races this year and so now it is time to get back on the other side of things. My preparation for Ironman Canada started with the Lake Stevens 70.3 race on July 9th. Because I have not done any long races this year, I figured I had better get in at least one 70.3 or half distance race before Ironman Canada. My training had been fairly consistent, but definitely less than I would usually do for a half – but nothing like baptism by fire. The main purpose of the Lake Stevens event was to see where my fitness level was and to serve as a reminder as to the difficulty both physically and mentally of longer races. It is easy to lose sight of reality sitting by the sidelines and watching athletes compete. The race went as well as could be expected – nothing spectacular by any means, but certainly a starting point for my preparation for IM Canada. I had some moments where I had to remind myself what I was there for – so I was happy to conquer these demons and finish strong. Most of the girls that were racing are very much at the top of their game – so to be anywhere near them was a great feeling.

Most people would assume that my Ironman Canada preparation had started months ago – but not so. The Lake Stevens race was a kick off – but I still had a couple of weeks after the race before I began my Ironman preparation in earnest. I know that there is a limit to what my body can handle as far as training goes and how much time and energy I am willing to invest to get ready for the race – the magic number seems to be about 5 weeks. I can look at this and it is manageable – something I can get my head around and focus for that amount of time – any longer would be counter productive. I get myself into the best shape that I can in this time frame and toe the line and be as competitive as I can.

I was able to go and check out the Ironman Canada course in Penticton during our Multisports.com Ironman Canada training camp which took place on June 13-15th. This was my first opportunity to ride or run on the course. I had spent some time in Penticton many years ago, but this was before my Ironman days. The course is truly incredible – back to old school Ironman racing. I knew that this was an event that I wanted to do and what a better time than now – for the 25th anniversary.

Now it is time to buckle down and do the final preparation for the race. I will keep you posted on how the race goes.

Heather

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