Athlete-Mom Interview: Lesley Tozer

I’m overdue for an another athlete-mom interview, so check out this interview with an amazing mom of seven kids, yes seven!! If you think its tough to get and stay fit with just one or two children, read on to see how Lesley has done it with in her words, “seven wonderful children ranging in age from 7 to 21.” Read on to hear about her life as a stay at home mom, to a single and super fit working mom, now in training for her second Ironman!

What are the ages and names of your children?

My first three are boys. Andrew 21, Craig 19, Benjamin 17. Then came the three girls. Shayanne 15, and twins Emily and Katie 13. Then the youngest little guy Eli who is 7.

How active were you prior to having your children?

The amount of physical activity that I did before having children was none! I was busy studying for my Social Work Degree. Shortly after graduating University I had my first baby, and they tumbled forth in rapid succession!

As a stay at home mom, my workouts were composed of running up and down stairs to change diapers, weight lifting was the laundry (which I liken to the eighth wonder of the world) and carrying car seats everywhere, running up and down the sidelines at the kid’s soccer games cheering them on and carrying them into the house when they were exhausted after their big game! I was fully immersed in raising my children. When the twins were born I had six kids aged seven and under. I also had a marriage where I was alone 80% of the year as my now “Wasband” travelled overseas most of the time. As time passed I was becoming increasingly lonely and frustrated as I knew I was losing myself, and wondered if I would ever find myself again.

How did you find the time to find physical activity (and yourself :)) again?

My fitness journey began one day when I happened upon a kickboxing studio where my oldest son was competing in soccer. I gave it a try one night, and from that day on I went everyday for 6 years (one of those years I was pregnant with my last child and actually trained intensely right up until the day I had him….EASY BIRTH/ EASY RECOVERY!!!) until I earned my black belt in Muay Thai and Kickboxing. I entered the ring and won a Canadian Championship bout in Vancouver.  I started training for my bouts at the Talisman Centre where I began another chapter, teaching the Get Ripped Program (Lesley is currently in 9 of the Get Ripped DVDs). The creator of the program had seen me at Talisman and begged me to teach it. I was incredibly reluctant to do so as I still hadn’t found myself and had NO confidence at all. Upon her insistence I started to teach the program. Right around this time my “wasband” came home from his travels one day and decided that our marriage was over. At that moment my days as a stay at home Mom were over. I hadn’t worked for 14 years. I was now single-handedly raising 7 children 99% of the year! Teaching fitness became my profession and my passion. What I didn’t know at that time was that it was something I was becoming really good at and my children and a wonderful group of highly supportive women who were participating in my classes were being so incredibly supportive that I started to find out where and who I was! I somehow gathered up a huge following who continue to encourage and support me every day. I have found that having that positive support system to be integral to anyone who is trying to juggle family and a fitness goal.

How did you get into triathlon?

Three years ago I was approached by a triathlon coach who expressed that I would be a great triathlete and would I consider trying out the sport. I have always had the philosophy that people should try things once….Well here I am three years later training for my second Ironman!

How do you balance your training with work and family?

My training schedule for this incredible undertaking is somewhat hectic and sometimes exhausting. I choose to swim early in the morning way before my kids are up, and run while they are in school. My long bike rides happen while they are with their dad on the weekends, and thankfully when they are not with him they are so supportive that they almost push me out the door!!

What do your kids think of their active mom?

My children have shown incredible support of my goal to compete in Ironman and all of the races I compete in. They understand it’s importance to me, and have joined me in my sport by competing in a few races of their own. I know they are proud and inspired by my tenacity, and my overwhelming desire to constantly get back up and keep going when times are rough.

I am blessed that they continue to allow me to fulfill my goal this year of improving my time at Ironman Canada. It is also my goal to be the very best single working parent that I can possibly be, however it is a very fine balance of  hard training, work, family and a lot of encouragement and determination.

Any advice you would give to other moms while trying to stay active while raising a family?

As a mom I think it is so important to keep yourself close to the top of the totem pole in life. Remember in addition to being a mom, a wife, an employee or employer, you are also a woman who should forever be challenging herself to personal goals and personal time to achieve those goals. My experience has allowed my children to understand the importance of goal setting, the long-term benefits of fitness and proper nutrition, the ability to create and maintain balance in their lives and the life long lesson that when life hands you a challenge, you are the only factor that can hold you back. There is ALWAYS a way, and there is no such phrase as “I can’t”. I’m proof of that.

As a side note, I now have a wonderful man in my life now who is also training for Ironman and supports me every day and allows me to do the same for him. To every challenge in life there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Think positive and surround yourself with positive people and you will accomplish everything!

What kind of work keeps you busy these days?

I am now what I call a Life Coach. I teach mostly women how to pick up the broken pieces and make themselves whole again through proper fitness and nutrition. My goal is to teach them to become whole for the rest of their lives, not just for the moment. I create individual fitness programs on line for those women who have children and just can’t get away from home, or if they can get away just for a while a program that will suit their needs at a fitness facility. I also teach Fitness classes at Talisman Centre and Heaven’s Fitness, and am a personal trainer who will come to people’s homes to train them there or if weather permitting, in the great outdoors.

To all you ladies who are striving to reach a goal and have children in your lives… I am well-known for this saying….YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

Great White North Triathlon Race Report

I’d heard about this half ironman distance race up near Edmonton that everyone raves about as long as I’ve been in Calgary. So I was excited to finally take the opportunity to participate in the Great White North Triathlon in the small, cute town of Stony Plain this past Sunday. This race has had some super strong women winners over the past years with the long-standing course record set by the famous Heather Fuhr back in 1993. With great prize money (2500$ for the win) and 250$ primes for the fastest swim, bike, and run splits, I knew it would take a really solid race to come out on top against some motivated and tough competition.

On the morning of Canada’s 145th birthday, I lined up to celebrate Canada Day with roughly 1000 other participants on the beach of Hubble lake for an 8:00am 2km swim. In the biggest mass start race I’ve ever been in for a triathlon, I managed to stay out of the chaos and got around the first two buoys okay for the first of a two-lap swim. Considering it was a grey, cool, and drizzly morning, once in the water I felt amazingly warm in my wetsuit. I exited the water 52nd overall, and with at least 8-10 women in front ot me.

After adding arm warmers and a vest in transition to the bike, I was sure glad I had the added clothes, as the rain came down hard on the bike and hardly let up the entire time! I left transition with last year’s winner, Annett Kamenz, and knowing she is a super strong cyclist, my plan was to just keep with her as long as possible. WIth so many people I eventually lost sight of her but just worked on keeping a strong pace. Fortunately I was rarely feeling cold despite the rain and could focus on just riding strong. The bike course had few hills and is known to be super fast but with the heavy rain and wind the times were likely a little slower overall. Near to the 50 km turn around mark, I caught up to Emanuela Bandol, who let me know there were a few women 5-6 minutes up ahead, shoot I had some work to do to stay in contention! I saw Annett just ahead shortly afterwards, caught back up to her and we ended up going into T2 together 30km later. With plenty of fluid and Clif shot gels in me, I was feeling reasonably good for riding 90km in the rare time trial position for me.

I hit the run in 4th place and tried to find a good rhythm as my wet, numb feet and shoes sloshed on the pavement. A few kilometres into the run I saw my Coach Cal and the rest of the Critical Speed Racing team cheering crew. They told me I was 1:30 back from 3rd place. Turns out I was about 7 minutes back from the first two places but they didn’t want to tell me that yet. With three out and back turn around’s on the run I was able to check my own back splits and soon learned at the first turnaround that I was 6 minutes back from first. The leaders Tanya Salomon and Kelly-Lynn Marcotte looked strong to me so I would just go hard and see what I could do! No pace checking, I would just go by feel. I moved into 3rd place before the 5km mark. By the halfway point, I realized I had cut the lead down to 3 minutes, I just needed to keep up the same pace! Next time I saw Cal, I had moved into 2nd and was 1 minute back of first with about 4km left to go!

Coach Cal and the Critical Speed Racing Cheering Crew! Thanks to Kelly Frank for the photos!

After the last out and back turnaround Tanya was in sight. With 2km to go, I caught up and passed. I was ecstatic to take the lead but at the same time I had to keep pressing because she was fighting hard behind me. The last bit was slightly uphill and my legs were killing me, but I was finally able to celebrate around the last corner to the finish line, with the amazing announcer Steve King bringing us all across the line! To my amazement I had run a 1:24:13, and the 6th fastest run of the day for the entire race.

A great race, I would highly recommend it! I’d like to give it another go on a warm sunny day! Congrats to all my friends, and training partners out there who completed the race!It is so much fun to do an event when knowing so many people! Full results can be found here.

Athlete-Mom Interview: Rosario Malpica

Rosario and I met through triathlon training with Critical Speed Racing in Calgary and she always has a smile on her face! She is also my very favorite person to go see the odd time I can fit in a massage. She goes deep and knows what an athlete’s muscles need! If you are in Calgary, you can find her at Therapeutic Hands. After having her first son, Sebastien in June of 2009, Rosario competed in the Honolulu marathon six months later and continued on to compete in Ironman Canada when her son was 14 months old. Her second son, Jonathon was born in June, 2011 and Rosario is back on track for her next Ironman. Her husband, Andrew has also managed to fit in some half and full Ironman races in the past few years as well. Rosario was one of those amazing pregnant moms who was able to run almost to the end of each pregnancy! Below she talks about how she has been managing to balance it all!

1. Can you tell me a little about your athletic/competitive background before becoming a mom?
I was born in Mexico and I started swimming at the age of four. I got into competitions when I was 8 years old and competed at our National Championships. I stopped swimming competitively when I was 15 years old. In 1998 I got into triathlons looking for a more dynamic way to exercise. I raced professionally in 2001 for a few months, then I started an internship at university and had to stop. I did my first marathon in 2003 and after that I just loved the long distance races, so I did a few half-marathons and half Ironmans. I did my first Ironman in 2005 and I just fell in love with it. After my second Ironman I had my first son, then I got pregnant the following year and had my second son. Presently, my sons are 8 months old and 2 years and 8 months old.

 2. What has motivated you to keep setting athletic and/or competitive goals since becoming a mother? Is it different from pre-children?
I think I just don’t want to forget about taking care of myself, plus is an amazing feeling to see your kids when you are finishing a race. It just takes you to a different level. I also think it’s very important to show to your kids this athletic world, and I am hoping in the  future that they will find a sport that they like as much as I do mine.

3. How do you balance training and/or racing with your family and work?
It’s hard to do everything. But I think you really have to organize your life if you really want it…and I keep my agenda close by. I usually do my workouts in the mornings, sometimes I have to wake up at 5am when everybody is asleep at home. Then I take my boys to the gym where I drop them off at the babysitting centre at the gym.
I am a Registered Massage Therapist and I work part-time one or two times a week during the day, some late afternoons and evenings when my husband gets home as well as full days on Saturdays. Usually my longest workouts are Saturday and Sunday mornings when my husband is home and he can help me out. Sometimes I miss having dinner with my family, but I don’t want to give up the ability to spend time and take care of my kids during the day. I will probably change my schedule once my kids are in school, that way I will be able to work more during the day and work less evenings. I do not want to stop working either because it’s a break from the busy life at home with kids, is good to talk to adults for a change. For now, I have to think that what I am doing is for everybody’s well-being. I try to keep housework up to date, so I do small amounts cleaning here and there all the time. I also cook every two days, that way the day that I don’t cook I clean or vice versa.

4. Did you train during your pregnancies? What was your approach?
I trained up until two weeks before I had my boys. I was running, doing stairs, yoga and swimming most of the time. I would alternate these activities so I was doing something at least three times per week. I always listened to my body, and if I felt like sleeping in I would do it. During my first pregnancy, I did only one activity three times a week. With my second pregnancy, I was more at ease and some days I did two activities in one day. Of course, it got harder as time went by, but I felt very good during both pregnancies.

5. What were the biggest challenges getting back into shape after your first child? And now, again after having two? Has the challenge of getting fit again been the same, different, or even easier the second time?
The first time wasn’t too bad, I just felt that I needed to strengthen my core a lot more than the rest of my body since I was able to train up until the end of my pregnancies. I gave myself 6 weeks before I did anything else after childbirth. Unfortunately after my second pregnancy my hip was out of alignment since all the ligaments where loose, after running again for a week and in combination with my work (standing for long periods of time), I developed plantar fascitis. I am still recovering from it, but getting back on track. I didn’t give up of course during this time of injury. I’ve done a lot of non weight-bearing activities like water running, crosstrainer and stairmaster. I found that after both pregnancies pilates has been very effective at getting my core stronger again. It’s amazing how sore your abdominal area can feel after long runs!! I didn’t I was due to breastfeeding, the hardest part for me was getting used to the lack of sleep. Which happens a lot with my kids. I think it’s easy to get fit again as long as you want it.

6. Any advice you would give to other moms trying to stay active and/or competitive while balancing life with children?
Organize your life, everything is possible. Remember if mommy is happy everybody is happy.

7. What is your favourite part about racing Ironmans?
I love the mental challenge more than the physical, but of course for these types of races you must have both. So you have to be ready for it, with all the hours of training.  But is your body going to give up when you start feeling all the miles on race day? It’s a lot of hours of commitment to train, but when you cross the finish line you just realize how much it means to you and the people who love you.

8. How does someone from Mexico adjust to Canadian winters? 🙂
There is not even a comparison with weather!! Ha ha ha…I think that is the hard part. But you just have to adapt and it’s the same with having a family, you need to adapt to the changes and challenges that you will face. And of course you have to do a lot of indoor training, you have to learn to love a treadmill and windtrainer, but in the end just means you will do anything for your favorite sport. I just want to say, if a Mexican girl can run on a -20 C temperature with cross winds that means any Canadian person can do it!! Good luck training and see you out there!!

12 hours in 3 days: Grumpy but not too Grumpy!

Every so often at strategically timed intervals, which come around again amazingly fast, Coach Cal puts our triathlon training group through a short volume push. For myself, it is putting close to the same number of hours I usually train in a week into three days.

On Friday we started the weekend with a group video ride at the Olympic Oval. While most of the group did some epic vertical snowshoeing near Banff on Saturday, I opted to stay home and cross-country ski at COP, swim, and trail run in order to get more family time and not be gone all day – sometimes I’ve found I have to find the best alternative options to keep my personal athlete-mom balance in check and still get in the necessary training! Sunday we finished the weekend off with an epic 5-hour Brick back at the Olympic Oval – a final test of mental and physical endurance mixed up with bike sets, running, stairs, and swim band pulls.

Coach Cal in the centre to the left leading the 5h Brick

The weekend got me thinking about how physical and mental endurance builds in increments, and that I am way better at handling training volume than I was when I first switched to being a cyclist and then a triathlete. Since I’ve spent half of my racing career so far specializing in the 1500m run on the track, I remember thinking a 90 minute bike ride was long when I started mountain biking while injured one summer. After about my third mountain bike race that same summer at Nationals in Ottawa, I couldn’t believe my brother had the energy to go out on the town with friends, while I was so wasted tired!

When Coach Cal first told me to run 2h and then 2h30 at one time, I thought that was nuts, the longest I’d done as a pure track runner was about 80 minutes! Or to run zillions of mile repeats as fast as we could go! Or when I had to do my first ride longer than 4 hours. what ride for 5-6 hours, that is crazy?!…still a rare occurence but now I know I can do it! Or gradually building up swim mileage and speed in the pool, or even to race a half marathon, and then half-ironman, nuts and too crazy hard…but of course I got to thinking each time maybe I’ll try it…and so on. Though I still think of doing an Ironman as a little crazy, ha, I’m not there yet!

As our bodies learn to handle more training over time, we learn how to better mentally embrace it, prepare for it, and have strategies for how to get through it. The same for mental intensity. As on a typical Tuesday night last week, we finished a long night of speed work on the track, and I was done like dinner at the end, but somehow finding the mental focus to get through it has become easier over time with practice, I’m better at just breaking it down to focusing on one interval at a time!

The Olympic Oval with a running track around the outside of the Long Track ice, perfect for indoor winter track sessions, and Bricks with plenty of stairs to  up the hurt factor!

And now I can finish a weekend like this and not be too much of grumpalufagus with the family, and even have a little energy left over each day to enjoy and play with my kids – not like I have a choice on that matter anyway – ha! And of course, I always like to reward some solid training with a little sweet treat – today it was quinoa chocolate cake – try this somewhat healthy one for some good protein recovery…:) It was a hit with my entire famille ce soir!

Moist Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Bring 2/3 cup quinoa, 1 and 1/3 cup water to boil, simmer for 10 minutes, turn off heat and leave to cool. Combine 1/3 cup milk, 4 large eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract in a blender or food processor. Add 2 cups of the cooked quinoa and 3/4 cup melted butter and continue to blend until smooth. Whisk together 1 and 1/2 cups white or cane sugar, 1 cup cocoa, 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp or baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt. Add to blender and mix well. Divide batter into two  8-inch, greased pans and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

Athlete-Mom Interview: Sara Gross

Many thanks to Sara Gross for being my first athlete-mom interview of 2012! I caught up with her for the first time this past year at the Calgary 70.3 in July where she finished 2nd just 7 months after giving birth to her daughter, Rosalee. After competing in Ironman Canada at the end of August and finishing 4th in a time of 9:46, Sara took the racing challenge up another notch a few months later when she went on to do two back to back Ironmans (yes that’s one week apart)!! In November Sara competed in Ironman Arizona and finished 8th in the Pro Division while running to a marathon PB (3:07) in a total time of 9:18. A week later, she competed in Ironman Cozumel and did not slow down much at all, while finishing 6th place in an impressive overall time of 9:56!

Sara also has a PhD in Ancient History and Religion from the University of Edinburgh. She works as a coach while living in Victoria, B.C. with her daughter, Rosalee and husband and personal coach, Clint. For more info on her coaching click here. You can also follow her on her personal website: In the meantime read on about Sara’s transition into motherhood racing….

Top of the podium post-partum at Subaru Victoria Half-Ironman!

1. Can you tell me a little about your athletic/competitive background before becoming a mom?

Before my daughter was born, I had been a professional triathlete for 6 years. In that time I had collected 13 top 5 Ironman finishes and was ITU European Long Course Champion in 2005

2. What has motivated you to keep setting athletic and/or competitive goals since becoming a mother? Is it different than pre-children?

The thing that motivates me most is that I have not reached my potential in the sport. Finishing in the top 5 all those times and not winning an Ironman is frustrating and keeps me pushing forward. Though many things have changed since Rosalee was born, this central motivation has remained the same.

3. How do you balance training and/or racing with your family (and work?)?

The main thing that keeps me balanced is the amount of support I have. My husband (and coach) Clint understands that if I am going to compete against the best in the world we have to prioritize my training. My mental coach Bob (from Sportexcel) taught me how important it is to move easily from one role to another on a daily basis. So when I get home from training I quickly shift from athlete-mode to mom-mode, likewise when I am coaching I shift to coach-mode. Its amazing how much easier my life is if I don’t carry the baggage of a bad training session into the rest of my day. I also don’t have much time to stop and think about how I am feeling. If I am tired, I often don’t notice until I hit the pillow at night.

4. Did you train during your pregnancy? What was your approach?

I would not consider what I did during my pregnancy “training”, but I did exercise. I averaged about 1-1.5h/ day for most of the pregnancy, just easy swimming, biking and running. I ran up to an hour until week 32 and stopped because I could feel my baby’s head pushing down on my pelvis and it was just weird. I biked (mostly on the trainer) until week 37 and swam up until the day before she was born. I was anaemic during the middle part of my pregnancy, so I felt too fatigued to do any more than this. My main goal was just to keep myself sane. I had no illusions about maintaining my fitness. When I started training again after birth, I really was starting from scratch.

5. What were the biggest challenges getting back into shape after your daughter was born?

One of the biggest challenges for me was not being able to plan my days, weeks and months the way I had previously. My time was no longer my own. I had to get used to training on a whim. For example, if Rosalee fell asleep, I would get changed and jump on the trainer. Or if she had a bad night, I might need a nap instead. I found that if I kept my priorities straight in those first few months I could get in a decent amount of training, even if I couldn’t plan out the details like I used to.

Running to second place in the Calgary 70.3

6. Any advice you would give to other moms trying to stay active (or even competitive) while balancing life as a mom?

My best advice for new moms is to let go of any guilt associated with spending time away from your child. Finding people to take care of Rosalee who love her as much as I do was good for me and for her. I think that all women should get in the habit of taking care of themselves for at least an hour or two a day. Its good for our sense of well-being and is also a good example for our kids as they get older.

7. What are some of your race goals for 2012?

I have always wanted to have a great race in Hawaii (Ironman World Championships). In 2008 I finished 20th there having cramped up on the bike. The new qualifying system for pros means I have to race to earn points to get on the startlist, so that’s what I am doing this year. And of course, I am always looking for that elusive Ironman win!

ITU Long Course Worlds Race Report

I finished my triathlon season where I began it 7 months ago in April at the Xterra West Championship. With some good recovery and a minimal amount of training since Xterra Worlds two weeks ago I arrived at Lake Las Vegas feeling good, and miraculously having avoided the terrible colds that my kids had all week. Team Canada had organized a group swim in the lake on Thursday, and although the water was cool to get in, it felt fine once we got swimming.

However, on Friday, the afternoon before the race the temperature dropped and the skies opened up with heavy rain for several hours. The next morning I arrived in the twilight at transition about 45 minutes before the scheduled 7:00am race start time to learn that the 4km swim had been cancelled!! The reason was due to the combination of cool air temperature and cool water being deemed unsafe to race. While this was definitely in my favour against my strong competitors in the elite category, most of them top swimmers, I have to admit I still feel a little jipped that I did not get to experience a 4km swim as part of a race. That said I’m definitely not complaining that we were saved from starting the bike wet and possibly hypothermic! My body also feels beat up enough after racing 120km on the bike followed by a 30km run, definitely my biggest race/endurance challenge to date! I hope be able to walk again normally in a few more days, ha!

The swim start that was not to be!

With the swim cancelled (the lake and arches we would have started under pictured above), it was a time trial start with racers starting at 5 second intervals. With no swim, I was able to dress perfectly for the weather, and at least it was sunny with the eventual high around 16 degrees. I felt good on the bike right from the start. I had not ridden my Orbea Ordu time trial bike since the end of July at the Calgary 70.3 so I was glad the position felt so comfortable as soon as I got on it again just the day before the race.

The bike course consisted of two out and back loops on either side of Lake Mead (created by the famous Hoover Dam), a National Recreation Area. The winds weren’t too bad, the weather was clear, the pavement was generally super smooth, the desert and lake views were pretty scenic, and it was fun going fast! It was also neat to see approximately where I was behind the front cyclists at each turn around. I was going back and forth with Amanda Lovato, an American for much of the bike, and we entered T2 together in Henderson. The bike  consisted of non-stop climbing or descending, and by about the 100km mark my legs were feeling pretty punched on some steep bike path climbs. I was feeling ready to be done riding – I was also thinking about the fact that if I was doing an Ironman, I’d still have 60km to go – yikes!

Mom, the photographer catches my front end coming into T2, ha!

Entering T2 was awesome because we just dismounted and volunteers took our bikes. They also helped us grab our run gear back and get changed in the changing tent. Then it was off to do four laps of 7.5km run course.  I started the run in about 13th position. I felt great from the start and got into a pretty good rythmn, and tried to find a pace that felt fast but not too hard in order to pace myself. Not unlike the bike, the run had a few short sections that you might call “flat” but otherwise, it was a loop that was all uphill and then all the way back down. By the halfway mark in the run I’d moved into 10th position but by mile 13-14ish I started to wonder if I could get through it! I was well-hydrated so was mainly taking coke and gatorade from all the aid stations. With a few miles to go though I was actually feeling hungry and instinctively grabbed a cookie from a tray at the aid station dangling in front of me, maybe a bit of a risky move to eat while running! Although I found a second wind in the last few miles, a Polish girl recaught me, and I crossed the line in 11th, after getting through the 30km run in 2h15 minutes, and my total time for the day being 6h09!

My dad giving me some splits on the run

Rachel Joyce and Leanda Cave of Great Britain came 1st and 2nd, and Meredith Kessler from the USA was third to complete the podium. As far as the other Canadian women in the Elite race, Tenille Hoogland had a great day, finishing 7th, and Margaret Bailey was 15th. As a result, we came second as a nation, (a team category I didn’t know about until they announced it at the post-race dinner) behind the U.S.

Running for Canada!

Although I was a little nervous about following all the ITU rules I had learned about at the elite race meeting, on race day the organization was super impressive. It was fun to represent Canada for the first time in a race as well. I was told there were about 150 Canadians and I could see them everywhere on the course and there were tons of spectators cheering for Canada too – maybe our red and white race kits stood out more as well!

Enjoying post-race buffet of Krispy Kreme donuts, chips, and pop with the kids

Thanks to my parents, who were able to join me and the kiddies for another “race-cation” with JF unavailable to come. We are spending a few days checking out the Vegas area and avoiding the Canadian winter just a little longer before heading home. Then I will finally enjoy the start of the off-season. My “active rest” will consist of packing up the house to move on December 1st! (We are moving into a rental house for about 8 months while we renovate a bungalow we bought in the Calgary community of Montgomery – should be a busy winter!)

Thanks to everyone who has supported me for a very fun, and productive 2011 season of racing. I especially could not do it without the support of the LUNA Pro Team, my husband, my parents, and my Coach, Cal!!

Calgary 70.3 Race Report

Although it is super nice to have a major race at home the logistics of the Calgary 70.3 are a bit crazy. Since it is a point to point race, all bikes are required to be racked at T1 the day before out at Ghost Lake, which is a good half hour west of the city. Race morning began with a 3:00am wakeup, a short taxi ride to the host hotel downtown where I got body marked before hopping on the 4:00am shuttle bus for a 45 minute ride out to the start. It was finally getting reasonably light about 25 minutes before our Pro wave start at 6:10. When I first arrived I was amused to see several Pros in transition wearing head lamps, these guys know what they’re doing!!

The water was brrrr, cold, but I decided I would do a short warm-up to avoid absolute shock when the gun went off. As we started I went after feet in front of me but was promptly dropped into no mans land with a few trailing behind me. It was tougher having to sight the whole way and even tougher once I could barely feel my hands and feet anymore and my coordination went out the window, even my face never really warmed up which was weird and rare for any open water swimming I’ve done. Thirty-two minutes later I was out of the water in fourth place, and very grateful to the volunteer wetsuit strippers out there today otherwise there was no way I would have got my wetsuit undone with how numb I was!

Although the weather eventually heated up nice and hot by the end of the run, going out for a fast ride on a time trial bike in a tri suit with no socks or gloves on isn’t exactly toasty at before 7:00am in this climate. For the first 30-40km of the bike I was seeing cross-eyed and riding rather wobbly before I eventually warmed up enough for my hands to get their circulation back and properly grab my gels and water bottles! So that’s when the race started to get a little more fun. The course is a bit long at 94km and other than a few signifiicant sustained uphills it is fast, rolling smooth and fun most of the way to T2 at the Glenmore reservoir, southwest of downtown Calgary. I really had no idea how I was doing until I passed my coach at the second aid station who told me I was 2:30 back of third place, and I thought, hey cool! I continued as strong as I could into T2, and headed out onto the run in 5th position after 2:32:55 on the bike, the third fastest split.

I moved into 4th after the first few km, and worked on keeping a steady even rythmn on the out and back run course along the paved bike path, thankfully a good amount was in the shade too. I have bad memories of the same race two years ago when I ended up in the med tent for an hour afterwards with super low blood pressure and a high heart rate. But by 8km in I realized I was feeling pretty good, and pushed on to end with the fastest run split of the day for 1:28:06 and just 24 seconds short of catching third.

Well, it wasn’t faster overall from my attempt at almost the same course two years ago, but I at least feel fitter to go the distance now, and that is a big thanks to Coach Cal who helps me maximize the quality out of the training hours I have to work with. I also have to give a HUGE thanks to my friend Luke Way for helping me get through this race feeling much better on my Orbea Ordu time trial bike. After Wildflower in April I was so sore, I could barely straighten my left leg, let alone walk the next day! So recently Luke, a professional SICI bike fitter, helped me out. After some measurements, flexibility testing, body marking, filming, dartfishing, spinning, and lazering, Luke repositioned my cleats, adjusted my saddle position, flipped my stem, and moved back my bars a little. Secondly, he is also a master mechanic and when I realized my derailleur was majorly messed up when I dropped it at T1 yesterday, he went out there in the evening, busted through the security, put in a new cable, and adjusted my derailleur so that it was shifting beautifully again for today! Merci Luke!!!

Thanks to everyone who cheered out there today, and congrats to everyone I know who raced today! Half-ironmans are tough!!!! I’m in awe of people who are motivated to race these more often and then double the distance for an Ironman! Three dunks in the cool river, and an ice bath later I’m still hobbling around, in a good way this time though 😉

Pro Women Top 5 left to right: Tenille Hoogland, Sara Gross (congrats on one of her first races back after having a baby girl 8 months ago), Mackenzie Madison, Moi and Lisa Ribes