Thank-you LUNA!

Almost exactly eight years ago, with a two month-old baby girl at home I was offered my dream contract as an an athlete – to race with the LUNA Pro team. It was all the motivation I needed to get training and get back into the best shape of my life! Thank-you to Luna for believing in me, supporting my racing and helping me to come back stronger than ever into motherhood times two! It was the ride of a life time as an athlete for seven years on the Luna Pro Team and one year as Luna Chix Sponsored athlete. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to compete at the level I have for as long as I have, and am especially proud to have worked with and represented such a progressive and incredible company as Clif Bar and Luna in this last racing chapter.

As I look back I have no regrets. I’m thankful for the years I had to put into life and racing challenges as a runner on the track, as a cross-country mountain bike racer, and finally as an Xterra off-road triathlon racer. More importantly I’ve met and made so many incredible friends that will last way beyond the next race. I look forward to lots of play in 2016 and maybe the occasional race purely for fun!


Photo during first Luna team camp in March 2008


One of the few times an Xterra run felt almost effortless on my way to 2nd place at the 2008 World Championships

xterra maui 2010

The year our amazing Luna mechanic, Chris, raced the World Championships with Shonny and I in 2011


Lots of amazing places to ride and race via Luna support for Xterra!

Maui2012 017

The best support crew ever in Maui 2012 with my family and awesome Luna team manager, Waldek holding Nico

2013 Luna Camp

2013 Team camp – Cheers to Gary and Kit (pictured in the middle and co-founders of Clif Bar) who started the Luna Pro team, a professional women’s only mountain bike team launched in 2001

Motivation and Momentum through Motherhood

Yesterday afternoon I was kitted up to ride. Then I dozed off on the couch while my kids played noisily around me. My legs were still hurting from the previous day’s running intervals on the track. It felt so good to just lie still for a while and close my eyes. I could have stayed there and skipped the day’s planned intervals on the bike and had a nice dinner with my family. No one would know or care, and my coach is afar in Calgary. But because I hate the feeling of quitting, I finally got up, had a little coffee to get me going and jumped in the saddle. The week’s intensity had added up and it was one of the toughest workouts I’ve done in a while, physically and mentally.

I believe I’ve been an athlete long enough to know when throwing a day of training out is a good idea, and a rather smart idea in the overall scheme of things. But I also know when I just need to suck it up, take it one step, or interval at a time, and just see if I can do it. And I did it! It feels good, and such days put mental toughness in the bank! Especially after those low moments now and then, when I say, “Why am I still doing this?!”

Seven years ago this month, I won the athlete lottery and was welcomed on the Luna Pro team at the annual team camp aka take a few photos and get spoiled rotten with racing gear. My daughter Zoé was six months old and it was the beginning of, “lets see how this training and racing things goes again after bringing a child into the world”. And here I still am, two children later, and a year away from 40! Really?! Since then I’ve always told myself I will race as long as I’m still motivated, still having fun, and it still works with my values of balancing it with my family. Thanks to the incredible support of the Luna team and my family, I can continue to say yes to all of the above.

March 2008

March 2008

Photo during first Luna team camp in March 2008

Photo during first Luna team camp in March 2008

I know I won’t race for Luna forever (well maybe, some of our team members have outstanding longevity – very inspiring!) or always race Pro, but I’ve learned I love training, pushing whatever my current limits are, and setting racing goals to motivate me. I know it is a lifestyle that I won’t easily give up. I’ll never be content to turn into a couch potato or just exercise 20 minutes a day in my athletic “retirement”.

I’ve also learned to appreciate all the advantages and positives of coming back to training and competition on the other side of childbirth. The first thing I learned was how much energy training gave me back! The demanding first blurry eyed months with a newborn left me feeling more like napping than getting out the door to train. But I was surprised often at how good I did feel once I got going. You are stronger than you think new moms!

Making Racing a Family Affair, July 2011

Making Racing a Family Affair, July 2011

Through ballooning up with twice with two very healthy sized babes in my belly, losing all my core strength and then starting all over again to get my fitness back I’ve learned a little more patience. And that getting back into race shape is most about how you feel, and the satisfaction of having strength, stamina, and speed come back through persistence, and plain hard work. I may never have a flat, six-pack again, such a goal is so passé anyways isn’t it?. It’s not about the numbers on the scale (best to throw that out!), or that go in your mouth – just eat often and well enough to nourish yourself and be reasonable with the treats is my motto. The only numbers I focus on are the training numbers my Coach Cal pushes me to shoot for, without him I would be deferring to my naturally lazy side, ha!

Many ask – how do you do it with kids? To be honest, I don’t know how I would still be doing it without kids at this stage of my life. My kids continually rejuvenate my motivation, put everything in perspective, and give more purpose to everything I do. They teach me to stay in the moment of everyday and focus on what is most important. They are what get me out of bed early in the morning to train so I have more time in the day to spend with them. While my body is stiffening up more with each passing year, Zoe and Nico have stretched me to grow in every way possible, and are my biggest cheering squad!

My fast growing kids, March 2014

My fast growing kids, March 2014

Xterra Mountain Champs Race Report

I love mountain venues. I think they remind me of my first years of mountain bike racing. A beautiful ski hill resort, lots of fresh mountain air, plenty of climbing usually rewarded by long, fun, technical descents (although the long descent factor was missing this weekend!). A very relaxed place to be for a race!

Back in Beaver Creek, Colorado on Thursday for the Xterra Mountain Championship this past Saturday, I timed my only pre-ride of the course by finishing the last technical descent in the dumping rain. Not the best way to check the feel of the trails which were all dry and nearly dusty again by Saturday! After an ideal pre-race day of run-nap-swim-eat beets I was feeling ready and rested.


I knew being next to Vail, CO that we were high and in thin air but I honestly couldn’t tell you the altitude before the race. I just know it pays to be a wee bit more conservative but otherwise my only plan was to listen to my body as usual – race hurt is race hurt! But for those interested the race included 3,600 feet of climbing on the bike and another 1,300 on the run. It started at 7,400 feet and peaked out at 9,400 feet.

I had a pretty good swim and was actually enjoying myself for most of it. The first lap I was drafting a crazy splashy kicker until I realized I was faster if I pulled to the side and away on my own. I had a good rhythm and felt like I was stroking strong. On the second to last buoy my arms were definitely feeling heavy but the timing was fine with the bike only a few minutes away…


Onto the bike I was down 3.5 minutes back of the leaders Julie Dibens (3x World Xterra Champ back in her first race in nearly two years after battling injury) and Flora Duffy. My teammate Suzie Snyder, as well as Kelley Cullen and Emma Garrard were also up ahead.

As we headed up under the ski lift to begin the first 3.5 miles of climbing I could see Shonny back down the switchbacks. With her absence last year I knew she would be the biggest challenge of the day for me to attempt a repeat win from last year, especially as she lives in Durango during the summer.


By that 3.5-4 mile mark I had passed Emma and then Kelley on the beginning of the pavement climb. By the end of the pavement I had passed Flora and could still see Shonny sneaking up on me. After a few miles of pavement we were back on the dirt and STILL climbing. And the top of all the climbing Shonny caught me and our teammate Suzie was in contact just ahead. After all the twisting descending and flats through some Aspen trees I had lost contact with Shonny but bridged up to Suzie on the next climb. We road together on the traverse across the mountain. After the most fun section of rolling descending single track it was one more short dirt road climb before the final corkscrew descent and into transition. There I saw Julie Dibens and managed to put in a burst to get around her before the descent.

Into and out of T2 it was Shonny, myself and then Suzie for a 1-2-3 for Luna. I did get one split that Shonny was about 2 minutes ahead. She is one of the stronger runners so I knew I would have to have a great run to catch her. So off I went feeling like I was in slow motion up and up through the Aspen trees with a few short reprieves along the way. I knew it was the same for everyone so just kept up one foot in front of the other! A long open road descent towards the transition area broke up the middle of the run. It was only a tease because right as you see the finish you have to head back up again for another loop of climbing before descending back to the finish. I was starting to feel a little queasy on the final climbs. I picked up a running partner, Craig Evans, for the last couple kilometres but unfortunately only managed to make up 25 seconds on Shonny by the end. A good day for sure and I hope I will be as fast as Shonny when I grow up to the age of 44 years young too! Suzie held on for 4th, while mom of two mountain star Kelly Cullen had a great race to run into 3rd. Rounding out the podium was mom #3 of the day, Emma Garrard.

BCpodium Lunateamfinish

Thanks again to our Luna mechanic Chris, for the pre-race support spoilage. Thanks to Branden Rakita (also placing 2nd in the Pro Men) and his parents for the accommodation set up and the most amazing pre-race meal!! And thanks to Brandi and Craig for all the laughs and amazingly fun post-race day ride – recommended to us by men’s race champ and local, Josiah Middaugh.

Beautiful views on day after race ride!

Beautiful views on day after race ride!

Now I’m out on the Hornby aka Hippy Island for a bit before heading to a new Xterra venue, at Xterra Black Diamond in Seattle in a few weeks. Can’t wait to hang with the local Luna Chix team down there as well!

Xterra West Championship Story

Well, the first race of 2013 is in the bag. It was hot, windy, and dusty but I focused on enjoying life in the in the desert for two days between leaving and returning to mid-April snow storms in Calgary, gheesh!

l-r: Melanie McQuaid, Suzie Snyder, Lesley Paterson, Shonny Valandingham, Me

l-r: Melanie McQuaid, Suzie Snyder, Lesley Paterson, Shonny Valandingham, Me

The full-distance Xterra race went off at 10:30 am, a later start than usual. It was already heating up pretty good (the high reached over 90F (28C) by midday). Once my Orca Alpha wetsuit was on, to avoid boiling over I was happy to slip into the cool 57F water for a warm-up, while it was cold to the face at first, once swimming a bit it was perfect. Once the Pro wave was away and swimming I was happy to find myself still with a pack of swimmers and getting some draft by 400m in, woohoo. I stayed with my small pack. After the second buoy in the one lap swim we headed back to the start against a headwind and bit of a chop. I unfortunately lost my pack and was back about 25 seconds by the finish. I kept stroking hard and had a good swim time relative to the competition for me in the end.

Once on the bike I was feeling better than I thought I would for getting the winter cobwebs and the first sensations of race pace pain out of the way. I focused on climbing smooth and steady and was having fun on the descents. My Maxxis Ikon tires were perfect for the loose rocky descents, and my Luna team Orbea Alma 29er bike was feeling light on the climbs. I also absolutely love our new Shimano XTR Shadow Plus rear derailleur. (It has a one-way friction clutch that only engages when the derailleur’s cage moves forward, which typically (and frequently) happens when the bike rolls over rough terrain like on this Vegas course. It practically eliminates slap and, because it keeps the chain under tension, it also limits the chance of a chain dropping off the chain rings!) Other than the fact the wind was getting crazy and came close to blowing us off course on the open moonscape. I made up a few spots by the end of the bike as started the run in 5th place.

Unfortunately, I also started the run thirsty in the heat, unusual for me and not a great sign! With a good swim, and a pretty decent bike for me on this repeat course, the run is what was the most disappointing. It was definitely a real struggle in the full hot sun. With virtually no flat running, and steep ups and downs, I did not feel like I was moving fast at all, and my coordination was not good for descending. I almost fell flat on my face a few times but saved it! In the end I came within a minute of catching 4th place Mel McQuaid but it wasn’t enough. Lesley Paterson’s fitness is on another planet right now and she finished 4th overall and destroyed the women’s field with a 12 minute lead on 2nd place, my LUNA teammate, Suzie Synder, followed by Shonny Vanlandingham in 3rd. But overall, I am satisfied given the month of crazy travel I’ve had with work and team commitments coming into this race. It was a solid start and I’m looking forward to building fitness and form (with more outdoor training time if spring ever arrives here at home!) with over 6 months of racing still to come, woohoo!

Thanks to our Luna team mechanic, Christ Mathis for supporting the Luna team this weekend!!


And big congrats to the other moms in the Pro Division, Kelley Cullen (6th place, mom of two, youngest just 10 months old), Emma Garrard (7th place and mom of 4 month old Torin), Brandi Heisterman (11th place, mom of two), Caroline Colonna (12th place, mom of two)!!

Next up: Policeman’s half marathon here at home on April 28th

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