Team Luna Chix Week!

Every year at the end of March, my racing team, the LUNA Chix, gets together for a week, and between eating, sleeping, and random blocks of training, this is roughly what we do for the week:

1. Meet any new teammates and catch up with the ones we don’t see so often…

New team members Teal Stetson-Lee (L) and Suzie Snyder (R) with Georgia Gould

2. Get new gear for the year and break it in (Christmas is actually in March, not December, if you’re on this team!), thanks to our team mechanics Chris and Zak for getting our bikes ready to roll, and team manager Waldek for all the rest!

3. Admire the new decals and team vans…

4. Take some photos (usually in freezing locations) for the media guide etc…

5. Go visit Clif Bar in Berkeley, CA, the coolest company ever to work for….

6. Finish the week with the Luna Chix summit – What is this?? Watch this 2min plus long video for the best explanation…

Kicking off the LUNA summit on stage at Clif Bar, team members L to R: Shonny Vanlandingham, Katerina Nash, Jane Kibii, Catharine Pendrel, Terra Castro, Suzie Snyder, Teal Stetson-Lee, Georgia Gould and Moi

Watching our big boss rock it out on the trumpet

Twelve photos for 2011

Like most of us these days, I have hundreds of photos uploaded to my computer and they are completely unorganized. I’ve been meaning to print them or make more Shutterfly albums but such projects always get pushed down the priority list! In the meantime the files keep piling up.

So I decided to give myself a little end of year challenge, to choose just one favourite photo from each month of the past year. The challenge was also to do this rather quickly and not waste too time choosing, the other drawback of the digital photo age – too many good ones to choose from! Well, maybe not THAT many, I’m not a very good photographer and not so good at remembering to bring the camera and take any pics. Like most proud parents, the majority of my photo taking involves my kids. Since I put a lot of action/race pics in my race reports, I tried to choose other pics that highlighted each month for me. Anyway, here they are and the reason why I chose each one….

January. Zoe discovered ballet and loved taking her first ballet class, many hours were spent twirling and practicing at home too!

February. Ever since my kids have come along we’ve gone back to Courtenay and Mt Washington to my parents at least once per winter,  where the xc skiing up the mountain is as fantastic as the mountain bike riding down below. This past winter Zoe enjoyed getting in some skiing and snowshoeing too! 

March. Since 2008 I’ve been lucky enough to be a member of the LUNA Pro team and every March is the real Christmas for me – team camp and photos, with new bikes and gear for the season. Here is one of my favourite team photos from that week with the Golden Gate bridge in the background.

April. Grand-mama comes out from Montreal for at least a fortnight’s visit every 4-6 months. Lots of happy play times for the kids, as she usually comes out when we are super busy and need the extra help!

May. This was my first experience at the wonderful Wildflower triathlon. I love the photo because it epitomizes  my fun but challenging balance between racing and kids as I’m putting on my wetsuit with less than 20 minutes until go time!

June. Fond memories of a family vacation that didn’t involve a race – very rare these days! It was out to my husband’s neck of the woods – Montreal. J-F is relaxing as much as is possible between black fly attacks in the Quebec countryside at his aunt and uncle’s house in beautiful St-Anne-des-Lacs

July. A fun month at home highlighted by a visit from Uncle Geoff and a day at the Calgary Stampede during which Zoe enjoyed several amusement rides with her uncle.

August. On my must do every year list – a summer trip out to our family cabin on Hornby Island on the west coast. Fun to enjoy sunning on the warm sandstone rocks and watch Nico play in the same tidal pool my brother and I also enjoyed at his age!

September. Zoe turned four and was enjoying hamming it up to the camera and goofing off with her brother on a perfect fall day. She is wearing the very cool eclectic clothing sent to her from her Aunt Keri.

October. There was no one cuter than my one year old chicken clucking around amongst the trick or treaters on Halloween!

November. Nothing much usually happens in November but this year I extended the race season with an extra long race and this photo sums up how good it felt to finish the added endurance race challenge!

December. December with house moving craziness. My parents came out to help and celebrate an early Christmas with the kids. This is one of my favourite pictures of them with the kids!

Embracing Pre-Race Nerves

I’m in Ogden, Utah. The weather is beautiful and sunny, about 25 degrees celsius, and the leaves are turning beautiful colors of red and yellow along one of the most beautiful Xterra race courses. Here is a sample of what the scenery looks like as we wind our way up the trails riding and running…

If I flashback to exactly one year ago, I would say the same things at this point. The only difference was I started vomiting all night before the race, and instead of starting the race at 9:00am with everyone else, I was heading back onto the Interstate northbound to start the long 13 hour road trip home. A big bummer!! So I must say, I am rather excited to be back again, fitter and a heck of a lot healthier condition than a year ago!!

And going into races these days, excited is often the word I use instead of nervous to describe my feelings. Of course, it hasn’t always been so…I’ve had my far share of bundles of pre-race nerves over the years! But maybe now that I’ve been racing for almost 25 years, and that I know every single race is a personal choice, I don’t like wasting any time being nervous in a negative way or dreading the race in any fashion. So here are my reminders to keep races fun, and nerves on the excitement end of the spectrum:

1. Accept any physical signs of nervousness as N-O-R-M-A-L! Everyone is unique as far as nervous symptoms but when I get dry mouth, lose my appetite a bit, get testy with my family, and start taking extra trips to the bathroom, I just go with the flow (excuse the pun!) and remember it is just my body getting ready for “go time”, and let it do its thing! No need to freak out when you start to feel a few butterflies.

2. Keeping investment-return worries in check. Yes, I’ve trained hard, yes I’m hoping to do well, but as I always like to remember and remind others, racing is only about 10% of the time you spent doing your chosen sport. There are just as many victories to be celebrated in the other 90% of the time you spend training, developing relationships and living the lifestyle that goes along with your sport. If you’ve done your best to make it all come together on race day, and can say you gave your best effort and focus at the end of the day then a “result” is icing on the cake!

3. Its your choice to race so you might as well enjoy the experience. What if I said you’re not allowed to race tomorrow? Or you’ll be sick? Or you’ll get injured or in an accident and won’t even be able to attempt your sport for awhile or forever? If you’re lucky enough to be in the position to choose (e.g. fit and healthy to go the distance as a start!) then don’t give yourself any excuse to hold back! Have a few perspective reminders in your back pocket in case excitment tips towards dread from time to time – also normal!

4. Stay focused on the “controllables”. As related to the above, if you’ve done everything in your control to be as prepared as you can for any given race including training, equipment checks, course scouting, strategizing etc within the time you have to do so then you can just enjoy the countdown to race time! And this also means sticking with what you know works for you as far as pre-race routines. I’ve seen and heard too many stories of athletes full of pre-race adrenaline thinking they need to make changes, and suddenly try something new right before a race, not always the best time to experiment – save that for training!

5. Finally, at the end of the day it is just a race! If you put all your self-esteem eggs into your racing basket then your life might be an emotional roller coaster! If not, you can give it your all and no matter how it goes, you can have lots more to look forward to when its all said and done. When I remember to smile during races it is because it takes way less muscles, helps relax the rest of my body and is because I’m looking forward to unconditional love at the finish line from my favourite little fans 🙂 Nico is with me at this race, but I’ll look forward to getting home to see “Princess Zoe” on Sunday….

Zoe, wearing her new Minnie dress, every day this week and counting since receiving it on her recent 4th birthday!!

The Evolution of an Active Family

My “little” brother Geoff arrived in town this week for mountain bike nationals coming up this weekend (pictured with Zoe and her first official cowgirl hat at the Calgary Stampede). Here we are both getting ready for the same race again and sometimes I find it comical that we are still both racing so seriously now that we are both officially in our mid-thirties! I often joke with my parents saying, bet you’re wondering when your kids are going to grow up and focus on “real” jobs, ha!

All jokes aside, I think one big reason we have both lasted this long has been from the continual support and encouragement of our parents. Since the day Geoff and I both joined the local track club at the ages of 10 and 12, my parents have been actively involved in a positive way. First, they have participated alongside us over the years. I have very fond memories growing up of family runs on the weekend with our two border collies leading the way in the trails around our house in Courtenay, B.C. My parents also chaperoned at many track meets over the years, and attended high school basketball games in the winter. Pictured below Geoff and I are riding on Hornby Island in high school, me on my brothers first ever race bike, the good old rigid purple Kona Kula!

When Geoff switched to mountain bike racing in high school, my parents soon followed along and took up mountain biking too. When an injury sidelined my running after university and I took up mountain biking, it was my parents who taught me trail skills that first summer while riding in Courtenay and on Hornby Island! Geoff was also my coach for the five years I focused on mountain bike racing before switching to Xterra.

My parents have been to countless races over the years, and I’ve always appreciated how well they understand what we do. They’ve always understood what interval times mean on the track, and understand our sport involvement (from soccer, track, volleyball, basketball, cycling, to triathlon) well enough to understand what a good or bad day means because they enjoy following it all, especially with plenty of internet race viewing now! Now both in their sixties, they aren’t running much anymore but are both still mountain biking as much as ever!

Now that I’m a mom, I’m even more grateful to my parents support. My mom or both parents have traveled with me to several races and team training camps the past four years in order to help with the kids. As a parent myself, I hope I can encourage my kids in the same way my parents have encouraged us – by simply taking an active interest in whatever sports (if any, no pressure, ha!) my kids would like to pursue. I think taking an active interest in understanding the sport, and encouraging the process and effort is the best thing a parent can do!

Three Cheers for Fathers!

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads, Daddy’s, Pops and Papas out there!

I would not be able to train and compete at this stage in my life on top of working and being a mom without such a supportive “Papa” to Zoe and Nico. “Pops” as we most often affectionately call him hardly complains on the days he comes home from work, and I head straight out the door for a workout! My first season back racing after Zoe was born, he and Zoe traveled with me to every single Xterra race in the U.S. series. I loved having them with me at the races and we continue to make race trips a family affair whenever we can!

My own dad has also been a tremendous influence on my participation in running, mountain biking, and now Xterra/Triathlon racing. When my brother, Geoff and I first joined the track club in elementary school my whole family got into running and we would go for weekend runs together along with our border collie dogs. From running to mountain biking to swimming, my dad has taken an equal interest in following the race scene and participating along side me. He is even competing in a three-day mountain bike stage race called the Furious 3 with me and my husband in a few weeks at the tender age of 67!