Tuesday, December 11, 2012


For those that want an update on the Zeus-meister, here it is. He's now 6 months old and the size of a big dog already. I can't imagine how big and fluffy he'll be when he's actually an adult... the size of a piano, perhaps? Still looks like a wee wolf, though...

On the plus side, he very rarely eats his own shit anymore (apparently a very German Shepherd thing to do), swims a whole lot, is very smart and responsive, I can run with him on short runs and we stop and sit at all crosswalks before crossing. He's a good wee fart.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Southland "Summer" Challenge 1/3 Ironman

Six days after placing 3rd in the Wooing Tree Sprint Triathlon, I was at the start line of another race: a ~1/3 Ironman (1500m swim, 60k bike, 15k run). This time, no 55km cycle warm up, no 55km cycle cool down. Drive down to Gore, show up, and race!

It is apparently summer, too, in Southland but you'd have no idea with an air temp of 7C for race day. I don't know how the Southland girls do it, must be used to it, but I pretty much put on a snowsuit in T1 to deal with being soaking wet and now cycling in the cold.

Swim: 29:08, 1500m.

I had such an epic swim!! The official time is 29:08, but here's what really went down: 2 loop course, at 760m each (just over 1500m total). I swam hard, the wetsuit kept me warm, and I felt like I was really motoring. By the time I had gotten out of the water, run up the hill, across the paddock to transition, the clock read 25:08. So I must have swam, given how long I'd been running, a high-23 to low-24 minute swim. Awesome!!! I then spent 4 minutes, quite literally, putting on clothes. I was shivering badly, and knew it'd get worse on the bike given I weigh 47kg. Bruuuutal to lose all that time, but it was the right choice. I maybe could have done with just the vest, gloves and socks (no arm warmers or headband thingy).
Coming out of the water, 5th F, with everyone behind those reeds on the right.

Walk/running up the steep hill to transition.

Putting on the snow suit

FINALLY leaving!!!!

Bike: 2:09:14, 60k.
Oi! What a day!  I got onto the bike, was cold for a bit but then all my clothes did the job. I was warm and could work hard. Given my low iron levels, small stature and low blood pressure, I NEED to keep warm otherwise I struggle badly. The course was 6 loops. You'd think that would be bad, but it was pretty epic. The first section was false flat up, so I was in my little ring, keeping things under control, then we turn and go up some pretty mean uphills, like 40rpm in the littlest gear ratio. Finally, at the top, we have some sweet sweet downhills in which to big ring it and GOOOOO... I went to switch into big ring, and holy BATMAN my front derailleur cable just exploded. I was stuck in the little chain ring... and this was an epic downhill to gain some serious speed. I cross-chained, I spun at 120rpm, but nothing doing, I was pretty much coasting for half of each loop. At first, I was pissed off, like really pissed off. Then, getting that out of my system, I just did what I could, worked like hell on the ups and spun down, minimizing my losses as those that I passed on the climbs passed me again on the downs. Frustrating? YES! But I'll be back next year for some serious vengeance on a pretty epic course.

Run: 1:12:30, 15k.
A 3-loop course, my favorite! I headed out onto the run having thrown off all my warm weather gear. The first section is on road and heading up up up. Once at the top, we turn into a headwind for a while. Finally, we turn again, head into farmland and run on the 4WD tracks on someone's farm property. The downhill is STEEP, quad-busting. Then, there's just some pretty flat cruising within the farm, including an out-and-back to check out how everyone else is doing and to place bulls-eyes on fellow racers' backs. First lap, everything in control. On the second lap, heading down that steep downhill, I got massive sidestitches. Like, really bad, as bad as the ones I got when I ran the Mt Haig trail half marathon (race report). So I managed, I managed, I tried to breathe into it, as well as push my hand into the really tense and taut diaphragm muscle to try to get it to release. I did slow down, running aerobically, trying to limit my losses to the 2 girls ahead. I finally got relief heading out onto the 3rd loop's uphill section. I caught up with the girls, managed that steep downhill again, and then decided to sprint the last 3k. I was flying, quite literally sprinting for 3km straight. Thank you, 8 servings of caffeine!! Some run photos below...

Cruising along first lap
Managing the pain and yelling to my partner "my gear cable broke, I had to little ring the shit out of 60k!"
Sprinting 3rd lap
I love my Saucony's but seriously, every pair I've ever owned have ripped where that bandage is. They got a little bloody, too...
Ah "summer" in Southland. Camping in The Catlins after the race.
Okay, nice, but still cooooold.
So, in the end, 10th F on a bit of a weird day. It has been a bit topsy-turvy lately. Last weekend, I got 3rd place (yay!) but my garmin died and so had to send it off for repair. This weekend, my bike failed me, but I won the major spot prize of a 400$ blueseventy wetsuit! Yayyyyy!!
No, seriously, I adored this course when I thought I would dread it (so many loops). It's challenging as heck, weeds out the weaklings and the big gear mashing flatlanders, and it is fun fun fun! I am already giddy about next year's event just to see what I can actually do without putting on 10 thousand layers of clothing in T1 and the use of the big ring on the bike. I am seriously happy with how I handled this weekend, and really content with my effort, all things considering.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Wooing Tree Sprint Triathlon Race Report

Finally, the summer season has officially begun!! In the last few weeks, under the guidance of Andi Ramer (a phenomenal ultra-endurance athlete herself), I'd been putting in some serious training time. 17-20 hour weeks, and this race would be at the back end of a 20-hr week. I was tired, and had very low expectations. This was compounded by the fact that I was riding to the race (56kms) and riding back (56kms). 

The ride down was pleasant, light tailwind, but I felt fatigued. If I put in any big efforts, I was puffed within a minute or two. Does not bode well!!! We made it down there in good time (easy spin effort, 29kph avg).  

The race itself is incredibly well organized, if not a bit odd. It is set within the Wooing Tree vineyard in Cromwell. The swim is 4 1/2 circular laps around a pond, the bike is an out and back on our classically rough NZ roads and the run is 2 laps on grass all within the vineyard. Quite odd, each race segment different and intriguing. 

Getting ready.
Being a bit of a creeper...
I knew, to make it out of this alive and not come dead last (which I thought was a high possibility), I needed a high dose of caffeine injected into my veins! Har, no joke, I took a 2x caffeine gel 15' before race start, a 2x caff gel once on the bike, and a 1x caff gel at the end of the bike. 

Swim: Onto the swim, I recognized 2 of the girls as super-swimmers; I'd seen them swimming at the pool a couple days ago while I worked there. Sure enough, right at the start, they pulled away instantly. Within 50m, they had 10m on me. What amazed me, though, is that I was the leader of the rest of the entire girl's swim! And I held it throughout. I remember thinking to myself: "WOAH HOW COOL IS THIS!!! This is going to be the highlight of my day, for sure... it's all downhill from here, no doubt". 
Bike: Onto the bike, and I quickly saw girls pass me. I was fucked, my legs were tired, but I so wanted to push hard. Didn't really manage it (143W avg for the ride, about a very hard half ironman up to Olympic effort). Jo Williams passed me, and would go on to take the win, a massive girl that big gear mashed passed me like I was standing still. I told myself I would get her on the run. A girl all decked out in sponsored K-Swiss gear passed me, and a woman with a tiger-striped tri suit passed me. I passed some people, but I'm pretty sure they were doing a different race (duathlon, super sprint, etc). I did finally pass a girl just before the end of the bike course, and she stuck with me onto the run. 
Run: I'll confess, I'm a shitty short-course athlete. Throughout a sprint or even an Olympic, I am constantly telling myself that I hate this burning feeling, this super hard effort, I back off, it still hurts. I'm mentally not tough enough for sprints, is what I thought. Here's where I got a bit of a confidence booster. I was so fatigued going into the race, and now so high on caffeine and adrenaline, that I had completely turned off my brain by the time the race started. Once on the run, with a girl right up my butt breathing hard, I built up a "tough girl" mental approach of telling myself I'd break her and drop her. Indeed, the elastic snapped by the end of the first lap, and she was long gone behind me on the second lap. 
Start of the 2nd lap
It was on the second lap that I passed big gear mashing girl, other ladies as well, and -- to my sheer delight -- the K-Swiss girl that looked all pro. Crushed her!! Later did I find out that she was in the duathlon (and won it). 

In the end, I came in 3rd, behind Jo Williams (who I cycled to Cromwell with, and would cycle back with). She's a phenomenal multisport athlete and adventure racer. I admire her greatly. Second place lady was the tiger-striped suit, and then I showed up: 1:14:53 minutes after I started, hissing and grunting and panting hysterically, to take third place.

I'm fucked -- and the clock is from the start of the kids tri/du.
Some of the Wanaka gang, representin'!

The girls riding back, yes I took off those arm warmers.
The boys I swim with: Simon (5th today!) and my partner Christian.
The ride back was brutal. The Northwesterly winds had picked up to 70-80kph, massive headwind, and the riding was slow. 23kph slow. Very gusty, very loud, and just a rough rough time. I was glad to be home, but now so high on caffeine to come out of this blustery day alive that I knew I'd come crashing down soon. In the end, proud of my 3rd place effort and training through, utterly fucked.

Onto the next one: This Saturday, there is a 1/3 Ironman in Gore (1500m swim, 60k bike, 15k run). Redneck central, but good lead up to Challenge Wanaka half-iron in January.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Southland half marathon race report, oopsie doodles!

A couple posts ago, I mentioned my goals and thoughts for my upcoming half marathon: the Southland half marathon on November 18th. Well, the Friday of the weekend before the race, I received an e-mail newsletter from the race director which included all I needed to know for the race in 2 days' time.

RUH ROH, wait what??? In my season planning, I must have accidentally written down November 18th instead of 11th, and had, even when visiting the race website and registered, still misread the date. All to say, I got in touch with my coach, I swapped shifts at work, I had the miniest of tapers and the quickest of drives down south to make it to the start line in time. Oopsie doodles!!

The half-marathon started in Waianiwa (middle of nowhere) and ended in Invercargill. In essence, it is an on-road race that has us first running on some pretty quiet country roads and ended running along the highway (ugly) and then through Invercargill residential area (slow, trafficky). I race because I like beautiful courses and this... wasn't particularly scenic. Never mind that... how did the race go?

Well, the night prior to the race we had camped along the river in Winton (15 min drive from race start) but, being a Saturday night, some local hooligans were doing wheelies all along the dirt roads by the riverside and it was actually quite scary being in a tent and these cars coming whizzing by you REALLY closely honking their horn. I thought I'd be raped and killed. Thankfully, they left after we let the dogs out (I'm assuming they thought my partner was a hunter and, after letting the dogs out, he was going for his hunting gun... which he doesn't have). Never mind, they got the message and left, although I'd had my burst of adrenaline. I did not sleep well!!

The day of the race was cool, perfect running weather. It was cloudy but not windy; we got our fair share of a downpour mid-race but it stopped after a couple k's. My plan for the race was this: control yourself in the first 5-10k, and then really try to aerobically suffer. The first k's were awesome: I was running 4:45/km and cruising nicely. Then, however, not being used to road running and having no change of muscle stimulation (unlike trails), my calves got incredibly fatigued and I had to drag myself forward another way. I used to be quite a heel striker when I first started running, I kept getting shin splints in one leg, and finally I had had enough, started using more and more minimalist shoes while walking and shoes with less of a heel-to-toe drop while running and became a forefoot/midfoot striker. The change was very slow (1+ year) but I now never ever get injured and can run faster. In saying that, my calves are still not 100% conditioned and it shows up when I am trying to combine fast AND long distance. They fatigue quickly, and then I'm fucked. That showed up again. My heart rate dropped to aerobic effort but no matter how hard I tried, my cadence was the same (90-95rpm) but my stride had shortened drastically. I couldn't will myself to run faster, so the km's passed at around 5:05-5:10/km... slow and bored and I was grumpy. To top it off, when running within the city limits, I accidentally followed a construction cone rather than a race cone and, given there were no race marshals at the turn, I kept going straight and lost 1-2 minutes going in the wrong direction. AWESOME. I only knew to come back because a car was honking at me to go back. I was a grumpy pants after that.

Form is good, stride length shortened -- 2k to go.
I'm impressed my form held up despite the fatigue in my calves

Ah, the beautiful and flattering race pictures abound...
All in all, I finished in 1:46:36 (having run 500m longer than the 21.1km course)... new PB by 24 sec but it is bittersweet, of course, given the above sentiments.
In the days following the race, I felt pretty much no fatigue, nothing is sore, except for the debilitating achiness/soreness in my calves. They had hurt to even look at, let alone contract. OUCH! 

8/44 Open Female (under 40)
8/63 Female
48/136 Overall

Onto the next one!!

Review: Nairn's Oatcakes

Nairn's Oatcakes recently contacted me about doing a review of their cracker and cookie products. They are a company that specializes in wheat- (and gluten)-free foods; the main ingredient is whole grain oats. Here are my thoughts on the company and its products:

The company produces foods that are all natural, wheat/gluten free with a focus on wholegrain oats. They are based in Scotland. What I found most impressive, other than catering to the gluten-free crowd, is that their cookies are high in fiber, low in sugar and source their palm oil sustainably. Thumbs up and well done for that.

I sampled two boxes of nairn's oat biscuits: mixed berries and stem ginger. Both had great taste, and a noticeably lower sugar content than other traditional cookies. These were more filling than fattening, I'd say.

Although I am not gluten-free, I recognize that consuming huge amounts of wheat can have a detrimental effect on the digestive system (you can read more about it in the book "Wheat Belly") and thus I limit my wheat intake. These cookies helped!!

I'd definitely recommend them if you're looking for a filling snack that isn't overwhelmingly sweet or calorie-dense: I've been crumbling my cookies in plain yogurt, smearing peanut butter on them, etc etc. The cookies are plain, slightly sweetened with nice flavor; the stem ginger flavor has a really nice tang to it! Take a look at their website for recipes and where you might find a local stockist: Nairn's Oatcakes!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

half marathon, ruh roh

Now that I'm back in NZ (yay!) and the days are long and sunny, it's time to begin the season! First off, given that I've just started working with a new coach, I'm throwing myself into a half-marathon on November 18th down in Southland. Just to see where I'm at... what kind of run fitness I have (if any) and how I can improve. In my most recent half-ironman, I ran a 1:47:00, so I'm aiming for AT LEAST sub 1:45. Well, I'm really aiming to just run as hard as possible, avoid puking but also avoid cruising.

It's a point to point course starting in Waianiwa and ending in Invercargill. It looks like 133 people have entered. There's a net loss of about 50m elevation (practically nothing), and it looks flat to maybe some bumps; and perhaps either a mistake in plotting or a bitch of a spiky hill near the end? Course map and profile!

What this really means is ROAD TRIP!!!! My partner and I and our two dogs are driving down Friday night, camping, cruising around the Catlins, going for a wee hike and a swim on Saturday and then I'm racing Sunday.

I'm nervous as I haven't run a stand-alone run race in a while, but I'm also oddly excited because... well... it's racing, let's see how much I can increase the suffering per km run. Predict my time and whoever is closest wins... MY LOVE AND ADMIRATION!! I'm going to guess as well.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I'm Q&A'ing myself

Rodney, a fellow 2012 TrainingPeaks ambassador, recently posted an excellent Q&A with himself about his goals in triathlon, for this season and overall. I thought I'd do a sneaky copy/paste and ask myself those very same questions.

Why are you racing?

I started racing because I was doing those 3 activities (swim, bike, and run) as rehab from surgery for a knee injury in 2007-8. A lady in the pool's change rooms gave me my first (neon pink) swim cap and told me to sign up for a triathlon, damn it! So I did, the moment I got home.

I race triathlons now because I absolutely love improving myself and challenging myself. I also like to make myself suffer, because you become a stronger person as a result, and you definitely learn a lot about yourself. So, although suffering sucks, it's worth it, in the end.

Additionally, I have been very competitive from a very early age (just not in sport). I had to be better than ALL MY FRIENDS. At the time, it was school grades. And I was, I was better than everyone. Nerd alert! So when school no longer challenged me, I stopped going. Of course, I could continue on with my education, which is what society wants me to do, but because I know I can do it, why do it? Triathlon presents a huge challenge for me. I've declared that I wish to become professional, in time. This endurance sport is a vast puzzle, and I am young enough to declare war on it and seek to acquire my pro racing license. Am I good enough yet? God no, I'm floating around the top third of my age group, but never even been on the top step of my age group, let alone amateurs. That doesn't deter me, I'm going to do it. So I train (and especially race) triathlon because success is not a given, and honestly, in school and the scholastic arena, for me success was soooooo a given. I was bored. By the time I was nearing the end of my bachelors, I was testing myself to see how little work I could do and still get the best result. For example, after classes were done and before exams were to begin, instead of studying I flew from Melbourne to Cairns to race the Challenge Cairns half-iron and go traveling for 1 week, flew home, slept for 8 hours, went to my swim squad in the morning, a couple of my fellow swimmers took me out to a farewell breakfast (I was leaving Melb permanently in a few short days), I studied for half an hour, then took my exam. I got an A (or H1, the Australian equivalent). In short, bored.

Triathlon doesn't bore me, it intrigues me. Thus, I've presented myself with the challenge of becoming professional (and it IS a challenge, given I've no innate athletic talent, whatever speed I have I've worked hard for).

What are your triathlon strengths?

Good swimmer, strong runner (off the bike, not necessarily speedy), and namely: I. don't. slow. down. I will willingly kill myself before giving up, and have only DNF'ed twice: once was a bad bike crash in a sprint tri and the second was the half-iron 'A' race 6 days later. I hadn't been able to walk the entire week, but tried to race anyway. I got through the 1.9k swim, 90k bike and 6ks of the run before my other leg went numb from overuse and imbalance. I pulled out.

I also know when to take rest. After experiencing anemia combined with overtraining, and needing to spend 3 months coming out of it, I relish my rest, and have learned to despise feeling stale. 

I guess another strength would be that I'm young and have the time and mental fortitude to commit. Now I just have to find the right coach, be patient, and put in the work, all of which I am willing to do!

What are your areas of improvement in triathlon?

I need to become a stronger cyclist, especially on the flats, and a more powerful runner. That means strengthening my weak-ass girl body. I need to continue racing so that I can figure out how much I can push against that red line. Usually I don't push myself to the limit and could have gotten more out of myself. On the rare occasion, I overshoot so drastically and crawl home (my 12:29 rather than 11:30-11:45 IM Louisville 2011 finish, oh god, I couldn't even see properly the last half marathon, because I was overeager in that first half marathon. THAT was pain...)

What are your previous times/rankings for the same or similar events?

4th AG almost always... that's a curse I am trying to break. 
Swim PB: 31:03, but regularly floating in the 31-34 range.
Bike PB: 2:51:10, but, unless something goes horribly wrong, I should expect a sub-3:00. Indeed, I'm struggling to express my cycling fitness in races. I'm a sub-2:45 cyclist, but I am also disproportionately, it seems, affected by wind and rough roads (why, again, do I live in New Zealand? Ha! ... Just kidding, amazing training grounds to toughen me up)
Run PB: 1:47:00, and always getting better!

Identify the items you have to work on before your next race. 

- Strength training the lower body and core
- Speed work on the run
- Sustained speed work on the bike (e.g 3x30' @ xx watts... I lose focus/don't want to)
- Staying in race mode, even if on un-challenging or ugly courses
- Not over-hydrating on the run (race day specific)

In three sentences or less, define a successful race.

I swim to my ability and never above. My bike split finally showcases my ability, and is consistent. And my run is not overeager nor is it pedestrian; it builds in effort (and aggression). I purposely rein myself in in the first half and don't make excuses to unleash in the second half. I maintain focus, and I fuel myself properly.

I'm eager for my fun training races in the next few summer months in and around Wanaka, NZ... and I am especially eager to re-visit the IM distance (IMNZ and IM Cairns, March and June 2013 respectively).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Playing the waiting game...

For those in the loop, I'm sitting here waiting in Montreal. To GET in the loop, read this blog post. I arrived in Montreal at 1:30am last Tuesday. 8 hours later, after 4 hours of sleep, I was downtown getting my fingerprints taken so that I could receive my criminal record check ASAP. It did indeed arrive, and I sent off my visa application as SOON as it had. Quite literally. I had been compulsively checking my mailbox every day a couple minutes after the mailman had arrived and the moment I had it in my hands, I sprinted, SPRINTED, to the post shop to mail it off. This is the most organized visa application you can find - for goodness sake, it has a table of contents!!!! It arrived at the New Zealand High Commission in Ottawa mid-morning. And now, here I wait again... hoping that I get someone on top of it and that recognizes that I'm in love (with my partner and with New Zealand) and JUST. WANT. TO. GO. HOME. I've done everything they ask, including spending almost ALL of my savings to fly back to Canada to get this criminal record check in time and to not be unlawful, despite the fact that I did everything right first and foremost, and have a valid reason to be downright pissed off.

Never mind, I hope my visa application is approved quickly so I can go home.

In other news, I've been doing some weird training lately. Given I have to get everywhere by commute running, here's what a typical day looks like:

1. Easy jog to the pool as warm up
2. A 3k swim at the pool
3. Eat lunch in the change room as my hair dries under the dryer.
4. Slow, SLOW jog avoiding cramps as I digest my lunch. I run from the pool to the gym.
5. I do a 1 hour session on the bike, and/or a 1 hour strength session.
6. I eat more food, this time in the gym's change room.
7. I jog back home.
(0:50 run total, 1:00 swim, 1:00 bike and/or 1:00 strength)

It's a bit of a mission each day, but this shit's gotta get done somehow!! For example, tomorrow, I am:

1. Jogging to the pool, gear all packed in my Nathan pack
2. Swim 3.5k at the pool, eat some lollies (sugary stuff)
3. Jog to visit my grandmother, this time doing hill repeats up the hill to her house
4. She'll be in ecstasy because I'm visiting her and she can feed me lunch
5. I digest and interact with the Nana, then easy jog to the gym.
6. I do a bike workout, then a strength workout
7. I eat more lollies to sustain me for the jog home
8. I jog home, shower, and eaaaaat. And continue to wait...
(approx 1:15 run, 1:10 swim, 1:15 bike, 0:50 strength)

I'll post again soon. I'll also try to avoid going crazy waiting and waiting, but no promises.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Weird bricks

I've been doing some weird Sunday bricks lately...

Last Sunday was:
Drive to Glendhu Bay! 
1. 1h30 run, from Glendhu Bay to Wanaka, 16k. The trail is lightly undulating for the first 30 minutes, then quite hilly the next 30, then ends quite flat before gently rising back up to our house on the hill. I ran while my partner mountain biked next to me and one of our dogs ran like heck chasing all the rabbits and sheep. From there, given the shitty weather conditions (pouring rain and windy), I...
2. mountain biked 1hr, going a roundabout way back out to Glendhu Bay to pick up my car. Pouring rain and windy, 5C. Thankfully, I was so high on caffeine that it wasn't too bad...

Yesterday's brick was:
Drive out to Luggate!
1. 1h30 ride heading out to Queensberry, then back to Wanaka, with 30 minutes at half-iron race watts.
2. From Wanaka, get changed for running, give all my gels and a waterbottle to my partner while he mountain biked next to me as I ran back out to Luggate with him. We practiced aid stations, so I'd get given a gel, followed by some water, at 20-odd minute intervals, and I'd survive off that until the next "aid station" came up. Point to point trail run. I had mis-remembered the distance, and realized our run was 21kms back to our car unless I did something about it (and work was only 20 minutes away now!) so I stopped my run at the scheduled 1h20 mark, and did a cooldown walk/jog back out to the highway while my partner Christian mountain biked like hell the remaining couple k's to the truck and picked me up somewhere along the highway. And by highway, I mean... I think 6 cars passed me over the 10-minute span of time I stood there waiting. I loooooove the isolation and emptiness of my home! We drove home, I showered and went to work, and he made me lunch and brought it to me!

Another successful training block in the bank! That most recent session, yesterday's, was the final day of an amazing 3 week build. A rest week has approached and I am READY for it. My muscles need the rest!

First though, I fly back to Canada to get that darn police criminal record check (read the whole story here)... hopefully I am in and out within a week to two tops. I love my home so much, it's 1 million times better than most vacation destinations. I live in the. most. beautiful. place.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Random life sh*t

I generally prefer a drama-free life. That's why I moved to New Zealand to "just be". My days end up like this: train in the morning, take care of my dog, work in the afternoon, spend time with my partner in the evening. The training is in the most beautiful place in the world, the work is peaceful and I get to chat with fellow athletes, and I love my partner to bits. There's none of this same old shit that I experienced living back in Canada, or Australia: (sub)urbia, consumerism, people wasting time trying to impress other people, etc.

So of course I made plans to apply for another visa after this one year Working Holiday visa was over. I did everything in advance, and the list is lengthy:
- Get a medical certificate, get X-Rays, blood work, etc done (800+ $)
- Apply for a police certificate from your home country to prove you're not a criminal (50$)
- Fill out goodness knows how many forms (free)
- Have all kinds of proof of your relationship: letters from family, friends, co-workers, etc, tenancy agreement, bank transfers, mail to our address, bills, etc. (free)
- Get everything certified by a solicitor (15$)
- Send in the visa application (360$)

Again, all this was done on time. I did everything in advance. For example, I applied for a criminal record check by getting my fingerprints taken at a New Zealand police station, and I sent them off to the Canadian RCMP back in JULY. At the date of application, their processing time was 8 weeks. I waited and waited. My current visa was due to expire, and still no police certificate. I checked the status of my application and they simply replied that the wait time had now been changed from 8 weeks to 18 weeks. And of course, Immigration New Zealand does not care what the excuse is: I am missing a mandatory part of my visa application. It was denied (despite providing all the proof I could for the reason for the delay).

So, I have to spend 3000$ flying back to Canada, applying for another police certificate from Canada (turnaround time: 3 days, compared to 18 weeks abroad), apply for a visa from my home country, wait for its arrival, then fly back home to NZ. To fully appreciate my frustration, I think is almost impossible. I am wasting 3000$, and I only have 5000$ in total, I have to stop work and put my life on hold in NZ, and waste anywhere from 7 days to 1 month (if I am lucky) back in Canada, in Montreal, at a place that I left long ago because I simply despised it. Yay!!

The only bright spot in this mess is that it will never. EVER. happen again. Life in Wanaka will return back to normal, I just have to wait a while. And everyone in town has really stepped up to show their support and to help me in any way they can. I still have my job (even though my boss, nor I, know when I'll return), and everyone I know has provided amazing letters stating that I'm an awesome person, that my partner and I are really in love, and that I should goddamn be able to stay in a country that I've considered home since my arrival back in November 2010.

Training will continue, of course, even though Montreal is probably the worst place to train in.
Swimming: as per usual, I'll join one of the masters groups I used to swim with several years ago
Cycling: nope, not bringing any of my bikes, but I am in a strength period now so things can be a bit shorter, on a stationary bike in the gym or on commuting bikes, and it's all about short bursts of MASSIVE power. Keep on trucking.
Running: it'll be on roads, which is mentally painful, and on the track, but it's do-able. Just no trail running and "strength training" hill running.
Strength: 3x a week strength work.

So, onwards and upwards...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ending one season... starting the next...

Since Ironman 70.3 Yeppoon, I've had a nice 3 week break. I gave myself a couple rest days in the first week, and other than that, it's just been about "keeping active" and exercising rather than training. That means, restricting the exercise to one session a day, and to 1 hour (up to 2 hours if it is a road ride).

I'm going to reflect on last season, it was a turbulent one:

It started when I moved back to New Zealand. I trained but was still quite fatigued from the previous season (1 Ironman, 4 half-ironmans). Then I found out I had polycystic ovarian syndrome, got on medication, was menstruating for 5 out of 7-odd weeks, became anemic, became overtrained while trying to train through it, and was in a bike crash. Yeehaw!? So, the month of February and March was about re-building myself from the ground up. And that mainly meant sleeping 10-12 hours each night. I also changed coaches, to Brian Butler of Natural Ability. He built me back up very slowly and cautiously. By the time Hawaii 70.3 rolled around, I felt fit. I unfortunately didn't have the day I wanted (buoys got blown off course by the wind, I got blown off by the crosswinds on the bike, and proceeded to struggle on the run). I regrouped, decided to stay with a friend in Cairns for 1 month, where I proceeded to have great results: 2nd female in a hilly trail half-marathon, 1st open female in a 5k (2nd overall female), and 4th AG in Yeppoon 70.3 with a new PB of 5:18, with OH SO MUCH room to improve. Perhaps that was some sort of redemption. All the race reports are below.

Mar 24-26. Goldrush 375k multisport, Day 1Day 2,Day 3.
June 2. IM 70.3 Hawaii
Aug 19. IM 70.3 Yeppoon

So what's next? Well, I've parted ways with said coach, on very friendly terms. Should my current situation not work out, it's been made clear that I can return to work with him, and I will jump at the opportunity to. So why did I leave? Well, I had the opportunity to work with a phenomenal LOCAL coach here in Wanaka, NZ. I was a part of her run group last summer, saw her coaching talents at work, and knew she could do a lot for me in the long run. If you can find an excellent local coach, I think that's the best of both worlds. Onwards! Below is the 2012-2013 summer race schedule:

Nov 18. Southland half marathon
Nov 24. Southland Open Water Swimming Series, 2k OWS race @ Lake Dunstan
Dec 8. Southland Summer Challenge triathlon (1.5k swim, 60k bike, 15k run)
Dec 27. Lake Hayes Christmas sprint or olympic triathlon
Jan 6. Race the Train 12k
Jan 19. Challenge Wanaka half-iron triathlon (B+ race)
Mar 3. Ironman New Zealand (A race)
Mar 31. Southern Lakes half marathon
Apr ? Lake Hayes Easter sprint triathlon
June 9. Ironman Cairns (A race)

There you have it! Am I excited? OH YES!!! I can't wait for summer to hit. Winter's departed us, spring has arrived, along with the very variable weather. Today we had warm temps but gusty gusty northwesterlies of 50+ kph, and now, night-time, it is pouring rain and cold. The saying goes: the more variable the weather in spring, the hotter and drier the summer here in Wanaka.  :)

And for those that have wanted an update on the puppy, Zeus went from this:
To this:

And we are hitting the 4th month now, apparently a "Growth Spurt" month, thank goodness. I can't wait for him to be epically gigantic. The guy is a little genius with a sparky attitude. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Photos Yeppoon 70.3

And finally... some hi-res (ahem) photos of Ironman 70.3 Yeppoon... I don't know when I transitioned from being a pronator to a supinator, but somehow it happened. Odd, that.
I mainly ate throughout the 90k ride,
ate more than raced, I'd say. 

Twisting and turning in resort grounds.
Despite my face - it always looks like
Yep, dying running into the finish chute
5:18:41, yay! F under 40 started 10' after
pro men. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ironman 70.3 Yeppoon Race Report

In the airport, on my way home to NZ... I'm going to be here a while (read: FOREVER) so might as well write a race report, race pics to come in a later post.

I had some great training coming into the race. 'Nuf said. I felt ready to lower my half-ironman PR (5:23:47, Boulder 70.3 2011) by quite a bit, and I desperately wanted to break my 4th AG curse -- I was 4th AG in every half-ironman and ironman last season... and I don't mean break it in the 6th AG Ironman 70.3 Hawaii kind of way, where I was blown across the road multiple times, clinging to my bike in the Hawaiian cross-winds. Nope, I wanted to break the 4th AG curse by hitting the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd notes.

Pre-race: I had made a friend at the Gordonvale 5k the previous week (2nd place male), we exchanged details, and instead of flying down, paying for bike fees, and couch surfing with a stranger, I opted to drive down from Cairns to Yeppon with him and his wife, stay with them, and do the race. He, too, was racing, his wife was a very pregnant (8th month) spectator. Both were amazing, I cannot thank them enough for their generosity.

Race day: Cool, "winter" day. Sort of like a cold Canadian summer day. That is, weather topped at 21C, sometimes sunny, sometimes cloudy.

I had my race plan, time to execute. I was looking forward to the swim, and to the run. I was dreading the bike, which was a very painful 5x out-and-back course on the roughest roads known to man. All power output felt like it was lost to the road (and I have none to spare, I weigh like -5 lbs!)...

Swim: 31:03
I finally got that sub-30 swim out... but I then had to run up the beach, up the hill, through the resort grounds to cross the line into transition... so, until next time, the "official" sub-30 has eluded me. Choppy conditions, but the minimal current was with us/sideways against us in the ocean.
TP swim file: here

T1: 2:06
Nothing to complain about. All I've practiced is taking shoes off while riding. I still don't know how to slip into already clipped in shoes. That's what I am practicing for next time!

Bike: 2:57:38
Haha, embarassing. Let me say this course sucks. It is 5x an out-and-back ride. 9ks out, 9ks back. Nothing to look at, nothing to see, on the roughest road imaginable. AND I RIDE ON NEW ZEALAND CHIP SEAL. It was flat, it was dull, and I was uninspired. Given so many people on such a small course, I spent most of my ride avoiding the drafting call, and "pretending to race". At least nutrition was spot on. I want tough courses, I want beautiful courses. What really gets to me... this is the 13th year of the Yeppoon 70.3, surely they'd have become established enough to get permits to use the roads into the national park right nearby? It's embarrassing. I didn't really try hard, I was mainly bored. And then that night I found out my rear brake pad was stuck to the carbon rim of my wheel... so that probably didn't help things either. Ah well...
nutrition: 1 gel every 30' for 6 total. 600cals.
hydration: 3 bottles nuun
TP bike file: here

T2: 0:54
You know the drill...

Run: 1:47:00
I haven't run a stand-alone half-marathon since 2010, but this turned out to be a PB half-marathon time by 2:17. Yay! It wasn't necessarily a fast course, but it was fun. It was 3 loops of: 1/3 through twisting and turning resort grounds, 1/3 of straight flat road, 1/3 of trail running, not hilly just a few bumps here and there. It was AWESOME, it kept me on my toes, and challenged me. I picked up speed on the flats, worked hard on the trails, and ran my tangents everywhere. I was motivated and picking people off one-by-one.
nutrition: 9 clif bloks in the first 2 1/3 laps of the course, and coke on the last 2/3 of the last lap. 300cals + coke
hydration: a couple cupfuls of water, only drank to thirst, did NOT overdrink this time, yay! the coke as well
TP run file: here

So, yes, a new PB of 5:18:41, sadly 4th place AG yet again, no Vegas slot (it went to 3rd)... There are good and bad things to take from this race, and I'm extremely motivated to work on them all. Until the next time...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gordonvale 5k Cross-Country Race Report

Gordonvale is a town about 30 minutes south of Cairns, entirely based on cane sugar production. There are massive cane fields nearby, and the town's epicentre is the mill that spews out billows of sweetly smelling smoke. It is what I would call a country town, but happens to be quite near Cairns itself. Every year, they are the hosts to the infamous Pyramid Race, which is a 12k run race that starts in Gordonvale and climbs up Walsh's Pyramid, which is a beastly steep climb from sea level up to 922m in 3km. Rough! My friend was doing the race, and I opted to race the 5k, seeing as I had a 70.3 in one week's time.

Race day:
We had a pretty relaxed morning. The race only started at 2pm, so we made our way slowly over to Gordonvale, and did a 1h30 relaxed road ride together through the cane fields. Pretty, and quite windy!
We then changed, ambled through the Gordonvale fair. At 2pm, I saw Laura off on her Pyramid Race adventure.
I promise I'm not pooping in public... although
looks are deceiving, in this case. 
Not long after, the 5k cross-country race began. Many kids took part in the race, as did many casual joggers, and some more serious runners as well. Our 5k race went across part of the same course as the Pyramid Race, that is, we ran up to the base of the pyramid (just under 3k) and then rather than go up it, we ran straight back into town. So, although advertised as a 5k, it was just under 6k of running!

I purposely did not go out too hard. Almost the entire field went off at a 400m sprint pace, and I controlled my first 1k so that I could build up to speed rather than build up an insurmountable amount of lactic acid almost immediately. Within 500m I started passing most of the field back, although some phenomenal kids I never even got to pass. Most kids go out sprinting but die within a couple hundred meters. There are some that have no idea of how fast or slow they are going, they just run, and some don't slow. It's phenomenal to watch kids race, they really go all in.

The race was a tough one, but a short run race is the one instance where I enjoy an out-and-back. We ran out on roads, then turned off onto a path, crossed a train line or two, hopped over some stones, and made our way onto the grass near the cane fields. Once on a gravel road at the base of the Pyramid, at about the 3k mark, we turned around and ran back. It was at this point that I saw that I was in 2nd place female, and the girl ahead was flying! I made sure to really crush the girls behind me so that they'd have no chance of catching up, and just ran it in, HARD. It was awesome!!
For the 6k, I had a time of 27:xx, 2nd female.
Surprisingly enough, the first female was 12. years. old. Absolutely phenomenal!! Sadly enough (but good for me), that meant she wasn't in the "open female" category, so I ended up getting 1st female open, and a 200$ paycheck! Yeehaw!! (The race organization recognized her achievement and scrounged up a gift certificate for her)

This result was definitely not what I was expecting because this was the second last day of a huge 3-week build in training, and I was EXHAUSTED. But I shut my emotions down, didn't look at my watch the entire time, and just ran by feel. I was surprisingly quite consistent, but I know not as fast as I could have been, had I been fresh. No, the competition wasn't particularly fierce, but I'm glad I got a hard workout in before the taper began, and that hard workout happened to pay me 200$. :D

As I waited around for my friend to finish the Pyramid Race, I got changed, and chatted with the lady face painting the children. She made me a pretty flower:
Soon, Laura finished in 4th open female (yay!), and I received my monies:
That's me up there somewhere...

The next day, I did my last hard workout before taper began: a 2 hour ride into a 1h30 brick run.
And now I am in full-on taper mode, thank goodness!

I'm going to use the 200$ to help my partner afford a wetsuit, which he'll need in the training for his very first half-ironman: Challenge Wanaka half-iron, January 2013. Super excited to go back to our home in New Zealand to train with him again!! First up, though, is making my way down to Yeppoon for the 70.3 this weekend. :)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Insulin sensitivity!

So, as some of you may know, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome last November. Following that diagnosis, I went on an androgen blocker/birth control pill. The excess of androgens that my body was producing had a number of effects. For me, most notably, was:
1. very infrequent menstruation, maybe 4x a year?
2. the decreased sensitivity of insulin

My body simply did not respond as well when I consumed pure sugars, and it would require quite a huge blood glucose spike for the insulin to even begin working. I'm surprised I wasn't overweight or diabetic, most PCOS-women are! Again it was probably countered by the fact that I have adored exercising since I was born (soccer at the age of 4 up until 20, yoga, martial arts, gym kid and now this swim-bike-run thing). I'm pretty sure that saved my life!

Although I was never overweight (I weighed 115 lbs (52-53kg), at 5'4"(162cm), I could tell that the excess weight was hanging around weirdly; that is, mainly around the midline torso area.

So, after a couple months now of taking this androgen blocker, I am quite surprised with the results. First, by the numbers: I am still 5'4" (duh!), but am now 105-108lbs (48-49kg), which "fits" given my moderately high level of training. Secondly, my insulin sensitivity has sky-rocketed to what I would call "normal".

As a comparison, I remember ironman training 1-2 years ago and I would come home quite smashed after a 6+ hour ride. I would consume about 1 kilo of very sugary yogurt. I'm pretty sure that's excessive, but my body constantly CRAVED sugar and never seemed to be satisfied. Now, if I do the same training effort, my body will definitely crave simple sugars post-ride, which is natural, but the moment I get enough of it, my body tells me "Okay, that's good, I don't need anymore".

In short, my body has gone from incessantly craving highly processed sugars, unable to effectively utilize them given low insulin sensitivity to... craving just the right amount of sugars when I need them, and craving far more REAL FOODS. That is, vegetables and complex carbs and protein sources. My palate has changed rather drastically. Huzzah!

(NERD ALERT! This weight change also means that I can be pushing ridiculously low wattage, like 80-100W, and still be easy-cruising at 32kph (20mph). Double huzzah!)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pretty Photos 021 - Tropical Queensland!

I've been staying with a friend in Cairns, Queensland for the last couple weeks, and of course have taken to swim-bike-running as much of Cairns as possible. Here are some of the prettier photos of the surrounds:

Crystal Cascades
Lake Morris (a 16k climb!)
Barron Gorge
Port Douglas beach

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Shampoo, Blow-dry & Run #001

Along with the Pretty Photos series of posts on this blog, I'm going to start another series entitled "Shampoo, Blow-dry & Run"... in which I will post one workout, created by myself, per sport (swim, bike, run). I simply adore creating workouts, along with organizing training plans (thus, why I coach). But, I figured I'd regularly start sharing some of the workouts in my brain!! I'll note what type of workout it is, and when it would be best to do it (e.g. in the build part of your season).


I did a shortened version of this one today. It's a good way to get hypoxic in the fly, and then force yourself to focus on form in the free... Best to do in a Long Course (50m pool) to experience the true hypoxic effect, but still good in a 25m/25y pool.

warm up:
(100 swim)
(50 fly kick with board)
(200 pull, paddles)
(100 swim)
main set:
3x1000, with the 1000 a continuous 4x repeat of (50 fly, 100 free, 50 back, 50 free)
warm down:
200 as you choose! very easy!

Type of workout: Endurance, focus on maintaining form after being hypoxic so slightly mimicking the triathlon race start.
When to do it: In the base/build or early peak stages of training. Don't do in taper or very late in the peak stages of training!


This is a classic, as it really trains you to focus on finishing rides strongly. Aim to consume more calories in the first 1/2 of the workout than in the second, though still consuming some in the back half, too!

warm up:
10 min. warm up, start easy, build in effort
main set:
1h to 2h ride OUT on an out-and-back course, or a loop course with relatively similar first and second halves. Ride at a pace that is sustainable but still "working hard". Note your average power for the way out.
1h to 2h ride BACK on said out-and-back course, this time demanding of yourself AT LEAST 5 watts higher average power on the return trip. Do not big-gear mash, this higher power output should occur at a higher cadence than before!
Keep on top of your nutrition and hydration, and never let yourself fall behind. Stay especially on top of it in the first half of the ride!
cool down:
10 min. very easy spin on a very high, easy cadence

Type of workout: Classic base-building workout, focus is on training you to pace yourself effectively, and to fuel yourself adequately.
When to do it: Base/build period of training. Do a much shorter version than is usual (but at a harder effort) in the peak period of training.


Find a hilly course with hills that aren't gradual but are more on the "spiky" end of things. Trails are usually better for this sort of stuff.

warm up:
10 min. easy running, if you encounter hills in the warm up, take them very very easy
main set:
40 min. continuous of running the uphills at a slightly stupid, unsustainable effort. Run with perfect form, but make these strength-building, short, gut busters! USE YOUR GLUTES, god damn it! At the top of each mini-incline, walk 10-15 sec. and then easy jog. Repeat for the entire 40 min., always attacking the hills with vigor and cruising the rest.
cool down:
10 min. easy running, this time walking the uphills (not bent over), and jogging the rest

Type of workout: Strength-builder, endurance builder.
When to do it: You can do a shortened version in the base period of training, but this is a classic "build" type of workout. The course makes you work hard.

Hope you like it! :)

I'm a coach, in the process of acquiring my TriNZ Level 1 coaching certification, and awesomely sponsored by TrainingPeaks!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mt Haig Trail Half-Marathon 2nd female!!

I flew to my friend's place in Cairns on the 20th of July and 2 days later we had hopped into a local trail half-marathon. This one was taking place outside of Cairns, by Lake Tinaroo, and the profile looked brutal! We were ascending for 10.5k's, and then descending for 10.5k's. It was an out-and-back with a total ascent of 1110m (3642ft)... that's more elevation gain than most 90k half-ironman bike courses!

We drove out to the race start, got our bibs, and cruised around waiting for the start. About 15' prior to race start there was a race briefing, which only told us that
1. The mandatory hydration packs weren't that mandatory b/c there'd be water jugs at 2.5k, 5k and 10.5k (the respective turnarounds for the 5k, 10k and 21.1k). No cups, though, so you'd refill your flask or drink from the "tap". I opted to leave my hydration pack and stuffed 3 gels into my bra instead.
2. Not to get lost. No seriously, there was one turn on the course (a left on the way out and a right on the way back). The race directly REALLY wanted us to make sure we turned right instead of left in the last 1.3k stretch, otherwise we'd have to do the whole 45k loop again...

After a very quick warmup of running and drills, the race abruptly started. It was 10.5kms of very painful uphill, where my HR was about 180bpm the entire time and it felt like either my heart or my calves were going to explode at any moment. I stopped for a couple moments at the 5k mark to take in some water, but it took me a frustratingly long while to figure out how to turn on the water (it was a pump, and I was trying to turn a "handle").

It was a beautiful race, though: wide, nicely adequately maintained fire roads (so not "real trails"), and incredibly forested. Lush Australian tropical bush. I had dreams (nightmares?) the night prior to the race that there were crocodiles in the nearby waters just waiting for my blue shorts to come running by...

At the turnaround, which is at the top of Mt Haig and our max elevation for the day (1200m), I had noticed that I was in 4th place female. Laura, the friend I was staying with, who was just coming off an incredible Ironman Cairns race herself, was first. Two chicks separated myself and Laura. Being a better descender than a climber, I tried to smash all 3 of them and win. However, the moment I turned around, I was faced with debilitating side stitches, on both sides! Constant uphill running meant my core was tired, very tired, and it definitely didn't want to experience the pounding of 10.5k's downhill. I tried to breathe through it but really only got respite in the brief uphills. Nevertheless, I did smash by 3rd and then 2nd place to move my way into 2nd, but simply ran out of real estate to nab Laura in the butt. She came away with 1st female in 2:08:07, while I came in 2:14:05. I remember when a 2:14:xx was my plain old half-marathon PB, on flat courses such as Ottawa or Montreal. That was... 3 years ago? Now, I somehow manage to do that time but after climbing up and then back down a mountain. Sweeeet!

I did think I'd enjoy the downhill quite a bit, but after 15' of pounding down, I was so over it. This was killing my glutes! My feet were taking a beating! My sidestitches were ripping me in two!

I finished the race and immediately felt wobbly and like utter crap. I *needed* something, not sure what, and I needed it desperately! I ate a small bag of salt and vinegar chips, along with watermelon slices, part of homemade granola bar, peppermint tea with milk and sugar, and hoped that would do the job. I started to feel better. On the way home, I drank an entire bottle of chocolate milk, and later in the day I ate a massive burger, along with salty salty rice cakes.

I'm ashamed that I didn't take my camera for before-during-after the race. I take it wherever I go, and I had completely forgotten it in the trunk of the car in my Nathan pack.
Thus, I can only present you with one photo: my very cool Australian stone trophy for 2nd place female!

Our car cleaned up quite nicely. I'd made the trip with my friend, Laura, and one of her flatmates Ben. He destroyed the men's race, finishing ~10 minutes faster than everyone in 1:35:xx, an UNREAL time for that course. Laura got 1st female, and I got 2nd. We quite nicely owned the course!

I'm quite happy with myself for this race. I had been in a huge build up to Yeppoon 70.3, with just a few days easier training leading up to the race. My body was a tired MESS just a few days prior from 5 solid weeks of GO-GO-GO, so despite not going into the race nice and fresh, I also wasn't a complete wreck. I've got more work to do, this time exploring Cairns while training, and then it's taper and a quick trip down the coast to Yeppoon for their 70.3 on August 19. Don't ask me how I'm getting there b/c
1. My driver's license, a Canadian one, expires August 13th and I haven't been anywhere near Canada in a loooong while, so I have no idea how to renew it. I thought I might do a little campervan-ing down the coast but I can't!
2. Every single bed of accommodation in Yeppoon is already booked for the race, and I clearly had not made any accommodation arrangements as early as everyone else. I'm hoping someone on couchsurfing.org pulls through for me, because right now I feel rightly fucked!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pretty Photos 020 - Windy choppy lake!

MTBing over farmland at base of mountains
Choppy lake in windy conditions (50+kph), and some
farmer's doing some burnoff.