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#best9of2015: Top 9 Lessons from my Bicycle

1. Just start. January is a great time to get fit. Heck, January is a great time to kick off a training camp in the sunshine! Big Vertical Cycling Camp was some of the most beautiful riding I’ve ever done, with remarkable human beings, hanging on for dear life. Can’t wait to go back to kick off 2016.

2. Life is freakin’ precious and nevereverever take one day (of riding) for granted. This was my last ride with #teamtrav – it was the end of February and we climbed Cypress Mountain. Less than two weeks later, he was in the hospital recovering from ultra-surgery and *luckily* not paralysed.
3. Always be up for the adventure. Davey had a conference in Dubrovnik and we thought it would be fun to cycle the islands of Croatia. His longest ride through hair-pin-euro roads made for white knuckles and awesome memories.
4. It’s worth the climb. Haleakala is my favorite ride of all time. It always reminds me to find comfort in the uncomfortable and joy in the journey. Not to mention (weather) change — the only true constant in this lifetime.
5. And climbing is meant to be done with best friends. This was taken on May 2nd with Mikey, our first ascent of Pemberton to Whistler. We did this climb 12times between May and race day (IM Whistler). Something tells me we have even more of these in store for 2016!
6. Never. Freakin’. EVER give up. This was my 7th attempt to qualify for IM Hawaii. This pic was taken at IM Whistler 60km into the bike ride when I was about to call it a day. I was freezing cold and completely deflated with a darn mechanical. While it wasn’t my fastest race, it was indeed my most proud finish line with a ticket to Kona! (1st F30-34/ 2nd amateur female OA)
7. “Find your tribe. Love them hard.” – Danielle LaPorte We’ve packed Method Indoor Cycling to gain qualify fitness  friendships on the bike. Rain or shine, I’m always so insanely grateful to have a full room to rock out hard intervals with.  ‘cause how you do anything is how you do everything!  
8. We live in a beautiful place with beautiful people. The Whistler GranFondo might just be an annual event on our calendar. It is the most gorgeous ride on the coast with great aid stations! Yet what really made this special was riding with Sian who I had the sweet pleasure of coaching to her first IM finish line this year. The B78 Coaching crew full of eager athletes has given sport an even greater purpose to me. It reminds me of the vulnerability of really pouring your heart into something you love for no greater reason than the love of it!
9. Do it for the L O V E!  When you dream a bigger dream, the world will rise to celebrate with you. When yo do it for the love, you will do whatever it takes. Qualifying for Kona2015 + Kona2016 before October, really truly felt like a dream come true. And having #teamtrav/ B78 in Kona for the big day made me realize the most important days are the ones spent with people we love…doing what we love. So let’s do more of that!
best9of2015

KONA: Part 1 – Ironman Hawaii Race Report

Ironman Hawaii was my 3rd IM finish line in the last 3months, so to declare that I’m properly cooked is an understatement. As my blisters subside and the chaffing heals, I’m reminded just how remarkable our bodies are. I want to capture the facts and more importantly the feelings of this really special event, I want to share my gratitude for all of the cheers and I want you to know what it feels like to weigh in on race morning. I have 3 posts compiled and I hope you will stick around for the aftermath of Ironman Hawaii 2015.

Kona: PART 1 – IRONMAN HAWAII Race Report

PreRace

I landed on the Big Island 2weeks before the race in an attempt to get acclimated and out of the Vancouver rain. Two weeks was great and, I think next year it might be longer. I spent the first week getting my patoot kicked by Madame Pele and the Kona sunshine, which didn’t leave a ton of room for confidence going into race day. Yet I knew I wasn’t going to be alone in the battle against the lava fields and there is something sort of grossly comforting knowing we will all be suffering. Race week arrived and so did my sweet Man. There is alwaysalwaysalways a certain kinda peace with him around. I know he wants the best and I also know he will love me just the same if I completely implode. Coach Jazzy also arrived with bro-in-law Chad and the pre-#irontribe was complete. We had a week together before the rest of the crew landed. They shopped and cooked and beached and ran and laughed and lanai’d. It was awesome. And by the end of the week, despite a few moments of serious pre-race nerves, I was feeling really darn grateful and ready to do what I love to do so much…race!

Race Morning

I slept like a baby and sprung out of the bed as my Bro + Mikey had arrived at midnight the night before! It really did feel like Christmas morning and Santa was waiting in the living room. This has become some sort of routine – coffee, peanut butter on a bagel with 2chubby bananas, grab a bottle of electrolytes and get out the door! Mikey, Bro, Davey are the pre-race Ateam. #nextyearmikeyraces (there will be more on the #irontribe in the next post…)

Swim

We got in the water early and were waiting around for the age group men to go off 15min before hand. (FYI: 15min on race morning, treading water feels like an eternity!) Once it was our turn to swim out to the start line, a group of women took off from shore and it was in that moment that I was oh-so-quickly reminded that this was the World Championships and the best of the best were there. I was quickly pummelled and women were swimming on top of me in short order. When we stopped at the line, I looked up and who was beside me but B78’s very own Britni! Every time we race together, I swear we end up seeing each other side by side at the start and it is just so cool. She is an athlete that I very much look up to and this was her 10th Kona experience. Alas, the gun goes off and the water battle begins. After about 400m a few packs had formed and by 1500m we were catching the men. I tried to stay on the toes in front of me yet found my sighting to be horrible and by the first corner my neck chaffing was really bugging me (which made sighting even more challenging). No excuses – I wasn’t swimming in a straight line and I wasn’t swimming as well as I know I can. I always focus on swimming as well as I can from buoy to buoy and that was all that I could do. I exited the swim and look down at my watch in disappointment. OY! Well, it happens…and there was nothing I could do except scurry thru transition (wait…why were there so many ladies in the change tent with me?! Oh right…Kona!) and focus on a great bike. The volunteers at every.single.event are truly remarkable, but I gotta say – the volunteers here were NEXT level. I had 3 people, speaking different languages, getting my shoes on and sunscreen lathered and out that door as fast as can be. #mahalo

BIKE

I had an agreement with Bro + Davey that if I was top20, I wanted to know my placing, however, if I was more than 20th, I didn’t care to know. (And the deeeeep deeeeeep down goal was that if I could finish top10 in my AG I would be utterly elated!) I also had an agreement with Coach that nutrition and effort were all that I could manage on the bike. So I whipped my Sugoi Speed Suit up over my shoulders (the BEST decision on outfit choice, ever!) while running to my bike, with a calmness that as soon as I hopped onto that saddle, it was time to hunker into the “game plan”. With SERIOUS gratitude to the Cervelo team + Velofix Hawaii, I felt very confident that my bike was ready to ride so it was only going to be a question of my lil engine. I got out onto the highway and realized I was in the middle of the men’s race with not many ladies around. And sure enough, by the time I hit the #irontribe, I saw Davey holding up 8 fingers! I was 8th! That got a fist pump and a big “heck yes”…and out to the highway I went. I wasn’t smart enough to know what race numbers corresponded to what age group, which was an absolute blessing at this stage(!!) of the race. A few ladies would pass me and then we’d pass some more men, so it was a proper game of cat and mouse. I knew my HR wasn’t to creep over 155 (I beat high!), I knew where my watts should be and I knew I was going to drink every 5 minutes/ eat every 10minutes – I made that agreement with myself. My ride was going well out to Hawi – I saw Pops at the turn around waving his huge Canadian flag and I saw the famous speedos with a jumping LaPorte in Waikoloa which was the last happy moment of the bike.

Wardrobe Change! They really know how to cheer!

Because moments later, Ma Pele let the head winds rip and despite my best efforts to stay positive and maintain my agreements, it felt like a furnace of hot air being blasted at my head and the idea of “a fast bike split” was quickly disappearing. I was really bummed because my swim had already been slow, enough women had passed me that I thought I surely had slipped into 30th and the only thing I thought I could control would be a best time and that too was slipping away.

RUN

T2 in Kona is a mean joke – because nothing feels quite as great as hoping off your bike, yet nothing hurts quite as much as running bare foot around the entire perimeter of the pier to get to the change tent. However, yet again, volunteers FOR THE WIN, as they draped my shoulders in an ice cold towel, vaseline’d my chaffing/ sunburnt neck and didn’t tell me how hot it was. I saw Lifesport’s Dan Smith as I was coming into T2 and wanted to exit quickly to try to run with him – at this point in the day, misery certainly loves company! Surprisingly, I got out on my feet and felt pretty okay physically, but the mental battle was a challenge. I promised to give it my best on the final IM of the year and I really wanted my times to reflect that effort…and I was feeling down about that not being my reality. However, within the first couple of miles, I passed the #ironboys who were all cheers and Jasper who made me feel like I was having an “okay” day. I also passed lots of people walking. And it hit me then that this was not a day about being top10 or a best time. This was a day of remembering how hard I had worked to have the PRIVILEGE of running down Ali’I Drive. And with that, I was off to trot my way thru this marathon. I saw TeamVancouver on the out and back – the men of my hometown were all in fine form and TeamBicicletta were all smiles despite the carnage. I actually think I recall GFoxxy trying to take a picture after an aid station where I couldn’t throw water on my face fast enough – thank goodness that didn’t make the instagram feed! By the infamous Palani Hill, there was just not a lot of grace left in my heart – it was gonna be a whole lotta grit to finish this race. I pride myself on usually being able to go to a happy place, a grateful place while suffering and it was realllly really tough on race day to find that special place. Thankfully, I hit the top of the hill and was greeted by none other than TeamMcKenzie – Trav + Lauren were in full force. Lauren was the ultimate and I looked at Trav and said “please tell me something” – I will not forget the look on his face that just said “ be grateful you are doing something that I wish I was doing right now”. We’ve raced in TeamTrav hats all season and there was something really special about seeing them out on the race course – it was like the belief in the dream to race in Kona, this year or next year was a united force. Moments later, Coach Jazz was out on the Queen K on his bike and I don’t have words for this experience. He rode a km or so ahead of me and had the best combination of encouragement meets tough love, but ya know what else he had was the attitude of a champion. Women would run by me and he’d ride up on them to offer them words of wisdom and encouragement. I’d watch him cheer for every single person. His IronSpirit runs deep and he is so there to see everyone cross the line.

these guys!

And when I hit the Energy Lab, the boys popped up with tunes + new custom t’s that brought the first smile of the run to my face! Oh these guys! I knew they had to travel to get out there and they were the icecube to a warm drink – they made it SO much better. The energy lab was a hot, soul sucking journey as it always is. Climbing out of it really makes you question if you can make it home? I swear it was at least 6degrees hotter at the turn around. Well, yet again, I see the #ironboys…they ask me how I’m feeling and to be honest, at this moment in time, I fight back tears of defeat and say “I feel like I’ve got 10km to go”. I see the look on Mikey’s face as he proceeds to take a team selfie running alongside me and I know that his heart beats to be racing Kona2016.

leaving the energy lab, barely getting one foot off the ground. #thestruggleisreal

So I rallied those final 10km, like I was racing with my Mikey. I tried to walk for less time at the aid stations. I took in more salt. I tried to just…keep…moving…forward. With 1mile to go, ONE MILE, I had run back to TeamMcKenzie – I was hoping Lauren would run with me and truthfully, I was nervous to see Trav because in that moment, I just didn’t have the capacity for the best kinda tough love he knows how to dish. And ya know what he said “savour this moment, take it all in on Ali’i”. Of course he knew exactly how I was feeling – he’d been there the year before – and he knew the sufferfest. This is when I really recognized how raw and vulnerable it is to race “your best”. It takes guts. Lauren was all love and trotted along side of me shouting sweet words of GO, while I heard Trav say “you are top 10”. #WOAHWOAHWAOH I asked Lauren to look behind and see if any girls were running up on me. She promised me that there was no one in sight*. I thought that I would give it my everything and hope Trav was right that I was closing in on Top10. That last mile is the second meanest joke of Kona because it feels way too long.

Well, guess what? As I turned the corner onto Ali’I Drive – the cheers went from “go steph” to “go girls”….I was getting passed with 400m to go! And I was getting passed with intention – she turned back and looked at my race number and took off! I screamed “how old are you?” to which she said “your age” and I knew the race was not over yet. The story of my season has been getting out-sprinted. 2nd OA amateur at IM Whistler just isn’t quite the same as WINNER and 11th is just not the same as Top 10 in Kona. So with all of my might, with a very calculated guess of how long I could sprint, I waited 50m and went for it. I went ALL IN, like a Tuesday morning track session. And I beat her!

(*To Lauren’s credit: this chic was 90sec back with 1mile to go, so she was seriously hunting me down!)

I crossed the line 10th, as the first Canadian in my AG and the second Canadian female of the day! (Unfortunately, our two Canadian pro’s didn’t finish.) I crossed the line with absolutely everything I had in me. This might not have been a best time, but it was indeed my very very best effort. And for that, I am both insanely grateful and mighty proud.

Stay tuned…coming up next:

Kona: Part 2 – Everything I’ve needed to know I’ve learned from the #irontribe…CaptainCorker, my Davey Frey + their tribe make for the most special experience. (And it is a LONG day for spectators, yo!)

the #irontribe in #teamtrav hats!

Kona: Part 3 – Why I will never step on a scale to weigh myself ever again

The #roadtokona: 10days away!

I missed the “2weeks to go” entry because I was getting my tail handed to me on the Queen K with some seriously mighty winds that had me questioning my fitness completely. Alas, I’m settling into life on the island and the heat becomes more manageable each day.

I’m off for my last long ride today – my last taper of 2015 is before me. I find it hard to believe. Being back on the Big Island feels like a dream come true. Really. (Especially after last year when it felt so darn far away…)

I needed to drop off my car to be picked up after the ride (logistics of getting a 4hr ride in from home!). And with my aero bars sticking out of the back of my convertible, because they ran out of SUVs, sitting in my tri suit like a proper tri nerd, I realized that this pic really sums up this year of triathlon – DOING WHATEVER IT TAKES! Having a lot of fun along the way…DOING WHATEVER IT TAKES to get the job done.

I had a very inspiring chat with Jason Dorland, a decorated Olympian + High Performance Coach, on the lanai yesterday. He mentioned that he is working with athletes beyond the sport of rowing now and beyond the confines of sport because corporations need the same high performance training. We discussed outfits. We discussed Love. He believes Love trumps Grit! (“Love is the most powerful, sustaining form of motivation that we have.” – #truthbombfromthelanai

What was really clear was regardless of what suit you wear – if it is a tri suit made of spandex with only 2 lil pockets or a proper cashmere 3-piece business suit, you dress up to be your best on that day. It might be race day or it might be a Wednesday. It doesn’t matter what type of suit you wear, as long as you are dressed to BE YOUR BEST…doing what you LOVE…cause then you will DO WHATEVER IT TAKES!

The count down to Kona is on…tri nerds unite…suit up!

The #roadtokona: 3weeks away!

Ironman Muskoka was 3 weeks ago. I shared over here that the going got a lil tough for me on the run, as it does. What I didn’t share was that as I turned the corner for my second lap of the marathon, Lisa Bentley was along the side of the road. She gave me a cheer and I gave her a smile.  I remember so vividly watching her race and WIN Ironman Canada in Penticton! With all of my might, I said to her “Lisa…can you please give me some sage advice right about now?”

And as I ran into km22 this is what I heard from her…
“Run the road you are on. Stay within the mile you are running. Keep a happy heart. Remember how lucky you are to be out there racing.”

I stuffed those words into my Stuff It Bra (cause those things can carry everything!) and kept drinking coke, apparently the liquid fuel for a happy heart!

So here we are 3 weeks later and 3 weeks away from Kona and while I’m not drinking coke, I’m still drawing on her wise words. This whole notion of living in the moment may seem cliche until you realize that whether you are running a marathon at the end of Ironman or running a business, it is the most efficient way to get anything done. I’m also certain that it is THE most effective way to enjoy the journey! With endless to-do lists/ get sh*t done lists/ make this happen lists…I’m practicing one thing at a time; one moment at a time; one mile at a time.

in the moment: might not always be comfortable; always worth it.

21 days to practice this excellent habit. Let’s hope for less than 629moments (err, minutes!) across the finish line on October 10th!

 

 

 

The #roadtokona: 4weeks to go!

Two weeks have passed since IM Muskoka and we are now four weeks out from IM Hawaii – really, the most dreamed about start line of the year.

I set a goal in January to find a start line or a training camp (ie. increased training volume to push me outta my comfort zone!) once a month for the year of 2015. And now, the night before my September start line – the Vancouver to Whistler GranFondo – I realize that I’ve delivered on this goal for 9months. Kona will be my 10th start line and quite certainly, my last start line for the year. 10/12 will be just fine!

You see, I’ve spent the last two weeks hovering a very (very very!) fine line of utter exhaustion and pure elation. I’ve called Jasper feeling like I’ve been run over by a train and cannot possibly imagine doing anything physical, let alone a structured workout. I question how will I be able to run another marathon?? I’ve felt on the edge of a mental breakdown where the only words I can mutter are “will these feelings pass? My brain just really hurts.”. I think Jasper secretly loves it when I call him in this state because 98% of the time, be it a great training session or a not-so-great training session, I’m puking rainbows! Grateful to be doing what I love and seeing some steady improvements. But it all changes after an Ironman…recovery is a beast.

the struggle is real.

I’ve also demanded dinner and sleep at home with my Man on some serious terms as though I would die of complete starvation if we didn’t eat dinner immediately. Bless Davey Frey who usually just chuckles and says “we can talk about that after you eat” or “how about you go have a nap”. #pointtaken #heisSUCHakeeper

Training, preparing and starting an Ironman race is no joke. But I believe that therein lies all the hype. We don’t talk about the dark days on the other side of the finish line. Physiologically we are toasted – hormones and adrenals are the farthest thing from balanced and psychologically our brain chemistry is rather outta wack. (These are the things you learn with a coach when your brain doesn’t work properly!) So here I am in this mess…day dreaming about Ali’i Drive. Quite literally, I awoke two nights ago dreaming about suffering from heat stroke and looking down at my garmin to see if I could run just 5seconds faster/km cause this would be IT! The last finish line of the year.

And as if my thoughts are not enough, people – bless all the wonderful people – who ask “when will you be done with this?” and “why why why do you keep going?”. There is no better time than right now to answer that question – in the thick of it, when people are calling it off-season and I’m calling in the troops for one final build. I’m doing it for the LOVE of it! I’m doing it because start lines and triathlon have become a hobby I’m passionately obsessed about. Truthfully, I hope that I never stop being this passionately obsessed with a hobby – I look forward to every training session, every healthy meal and I even look forward to the humidity that awaits on the big island. I look forward to pouring my heart into something that may never be able to be properly quantified or qualified…yet what I know for sure is that you can’t argue with LOVE. #dotiforthelove

do it for the SIX PACKS! #KONAUPR

PS – Michael Franti is marrying his beloved Sara Agah tmrw night. Check it out at #teamfrantiagah xo

Leadership Lesson #4: KARA NORTMAN

Two things I know for sure because of…Kara Nortman:

1. Ruthless focus. Hustle. Resiliency. –> her secrets to success!

2. It’s all about great people. She said it best: “I don’t think I will ever work with an asshole. I will probably miss out on working with some billion dollar people and ideas, but I’d rather work with people I like.

I attended the GROW conference in Whistler a few weeks ago and hearing Kara speak was indeed one of my highlights. Her poise and no-BS approach, while being perfectly (and beautifully!) feminine is super attractive to me. This VC world can easily be disguised as a boys club.

Kara was one of the early investors in tinder, before it was meant to be a dating app and was simply going to connect “people and places in the business world” – ha! She spent several years as a young force at Battery Ventures , she has landed dream jobs and resigned from perfect jobs because she had ideas of her own that kept her awake at night (ie: like up until 2AM while 6months preggo with her 3rd child, cause she was just that excited to launch a new children’s brand. Whaaaaat!). She is now a partner at the largest fund in southern California.

I really dig her secrets to success…and promise to never work with jerks!

 

IRONMAN MUSKOKA: a race among friends

Disclaimer: I often feel way too narcissistic writing race reports and think the social feed explosion on race day is surely enough triathlon talk for a while. However, I’ve really come to realize how special these finish lines are as I know my life will not consist of 3+ Ironman races a year forever, or even perhaps much longer. This is a chapter that I’m insanely grateful for and super passionate about. And my book of life has more chapters to be written as well. The best part of all of these chapters will indeed be the common denominator of amazing friendships. This race really felt like a race among friends.

The race was put on the calendar from MikeyP. When it was announced last year, he was IN and I was very on the fence. Yet training partners don’t let partners race alone, so when mapping out the race season, it seemed like a great idea to back up Whistler with Muskoka. And Mikey and I have shared nearly every bike mile this year together. It has been a training season for the memory books, for sure! My buddy Fawn and I have really known each other at a distance, but what she might not know is that I looked forward to every morning swim practice that I knew she’d be at. Her tenacity is wildly inspiring. Racing with her really is such a treat and I’m grateful to be able to be able to give her a good luck squeeze before the gun goes off – it’s rare and I get that. And serious love goes out to my childhood friends – Asher Maan (+ his rad man David) and Kate Hunter – we have been friends since elementary school and seeing them on race day made my chubby lil heart burst!

Newmarket as kids; Muskoka as adults! Davey, David, Steph + Asher.

So with that, here is my recap of Ironman #12. As per always, my list of gratitude does not falter and in fact was spot on to Ironman Whistler, with the addition of the Corker + Frey families that showed up on home turf. #hometownfamilyadvantage (My Bro wasn’t at this race, but I knew that he’d check in on the day. His energy is contagious, even across the country.)

The swim takes place in a classic cottage lake and ends in a swamp-like shoreline. The water was calm, the course was straight forward and I knew there were a handful of remarkable swimmers so if I could get outta the water within the top5 girls, I’d be happy. I exited T1 and kept my wetsuit on for the run UP hill – this transition is no joke – figuring I could take it down while moving which would keep me a little warmer and also ensure I didn’t burn a match on this 400m climb. #coachesorders

I moved thru T1 as swiftly as I could, feeling quite excited to ride 180km as I hadn’t ridden that long in a month! This course was brand new – Mikey + I had ridden 20km of it and the remaining 160km were going to be a total surprise. The rumours were it was “hilly”, but for Vancouverites, I wasn’t quite certain what that would mean. Well, call the rumours true – it’s bumpy and definitely not flat. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it is not fast either. All of that aside, I was ready to have a bike split that was indicative of my training. I was first and foremost considering this to be an excellent training day for Kona. So I rode the course as though it was straight out of Training Peaks. My HR was never a beat too high, my power was spot on. I went for consistency and didn’t miss one 5min window without drinking. Jasper always tells me to ride my own race and good things will happen. He is constantly drilling me to be deliberate and stay in the moment. I find this is top of mind for me on the ride when I get ahead of myself, I come back to each 10km section. I ride 10km at a time – it’s the fastest way to get thru 180km! TeamParents were out in full force with great cheers and of course, Davey was right at the sidelines shouting out splits. My Mama had found the steepest hill and chalked it up with words of cheer. It was simply great. And, it was indeed hilly. It was actually rather lonely in places as I’d ride without anyone in sight for quite some time. The volunteers at aid stations were absolutely incredible. When I hit 160km, feeling rather fresh, I thought I’d try to maintain my effort so if Mikey was going to catch me, I was going to stay with him (legally, of course)…

Super smiles coming off of the bike!

Well, into T2 without Mikey just yet and holding 4th OA/ 3rd in my AG. (As I came running out of transition, Mikey was on his way in — we exchanged a few words and I shouted at him “come and catch me!”.) I knew 1st + 2nd (Robyn + Fawn) were exceptional runners, so I was going to try to hang onto 3rd without getting caught. (remember: it wasn’t that long ago that I spent the bike getting passed silly and then constantly getting run down. the downside of being a swimmer! so, improvement!) I actually thought about Dylan Gleeson who raced IM Mt Tremblant and said he got off the bike and really went for it – I was up for going for it! And by km7, I thought my day was over. Dave’s Mom said it best: “it was really early on in the run and you didn’t look very good.” #motherstruth And ya know what, I didn’t feel very good either. My spot on nutrition plan for the bike was not working for the run. Each km I tried to get something in, it was not interested in staying. The fog has cleared and the sun was coming out. My confidence from feeling strong on the bike only took one big hill on the run to quickly evaporate and the only thing worse than your nutrition blowing up is when your mind blows up! Within the next few km’s, I saw both of my parents who were bursting with cheer for me. It really hit me – they didn’t give two hoots, I mean, I say this with love, they just do not care how I finish and it is the best feeling in the whole world. And then I saw my Dave and sweet friends Asher + David who were cheering their hearts out – I knew I mustn’t be having too bad of a run because Davey was in fine cheering form! And then, out from the sidewalk was Kate Hunter! My childhood bestie, who is a new Mom and no one cheers like Kate Hunter. In my sweaty state, I stopped to give her a hug and saw her man who was shouting words of “keeeeeep going!”. I could play that entire marathon km to km for you, because I remember every single one of them. But you get the picture – my mind went dark, my nutrition went out the window, my unrelenting cheer squad never gave up and when Davey would throw in an update from Jasper, I knew coach was watching this unfold. “Keep fighting, right until the very end” – I only needed to hear that once to believe it. I decided to run aid station to aid station, coke cup to coke cup – with my whole heart and while it might not have been fast, I just didn’t give up! I was so (so so!) thrilled to turn the corner and see 10:29 on the clock…I was closing in on a PB and breaking the infamous 10:30 threshold, while still holding onto to 3rd in my AG. Sweet Fawner had held onto 2nd to secure her spot to Kona with an amazing day + Mikey hung on for his first back to back IM experience like a champ! The lesson from this run that I mustn’t ever ever forget: it is never as bad as you think it is + LOVE WINS…

Seriously. Davey Frey, I adore you. He is simply the best!

I’ve been asked quite a bit “when will it be enough” and “if you’ve already qualified for Kona, why do you want to go again?” And in the moment, it is usually quite difficult for me to articulate the feeling that gets me out of bed every morning. But that finish line – the guts and the glory, the sheer grit for 42.2km – is a feeling that you just can’t make up! I consider race days opportunities to practice how you wanna feel every single day — grit + grace, wrapped in aloha with a whole lotta love. I also appreciate that days like Sunday remind me to go after the “what if it’s possible” vs. the “what if you fail”…cause Kona2016 is officially in the bag! That is some serious ALOHA for the summer of 2015!

Next up: Ironman Hawaii – the 6week count down is on. Follow along for the truth + the tales of 3 Ironmans in 3months…(teaser: not every day is sunshine + pineapples!)

Leadership Lesson #3: MICHAEL FRANTI

So the lessons of the summer: dreams come true. you can have it all. and it just keeps getting better!
Over dinner with Michael Franti on Monday night, I was so intrigued as to how he pulls it off. He doesn’t just jam on stage — he performs, he preaches, he jumps and dances his whole heart out! And then he sleeps for only a few hours on the tour bus to the next stop, and does it all over again. I wanted to know about the secret cocktail or potion that keeps him going. But instead, he told me this:
People ask me how I do it. How I maintain my energy levels on the road for 5 straight shows in a row, on minimal sleep. It’s my enthusiasm! Sometimes my (physical) body cannot keep up, but I have endless enthusiasm. Every show, every performance, there is absolutely no where else I’d rather be. And I want to work with people with the same capacity for enthusiasm...because they can play music from their heart, not from their education/ years of study. There is no guard, no vail…only the feeling of making something special. I want people to feel it.
This is not the first time I’ve encountered enthusiasm as a pre-requisite to joining a team. Danielle LaPorte tells me that she will take enthusiasm over experience any day, as long as they will get the job done. [Important side note: enthusiasm with integrity matters. Enthusiasm without results is flakey. Enthusiasm usually means they will figure it out, they will find a way to make it happen!] We can’t pay for nor train for enthusiasm on TeamD – we’ve just gotta find it within each special soul.
And if they say the truth comes in 3’s, check out the first page I read of The Alchemist on my plane ride home:

…the language of enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose…

I’ve just finished a two week stint of training for life – a training block that did not involve specific swim bike run workouts, but instead nurtured real relationships and realllly cool experiences. I tell you, how you do anything is how you do everything! Be it is a start line or a finish line, a new store opening or a new product launch…I really hope you do it for the love...with a whole lot of enthusiasm.

the aftermath of an IM… not so pretty! but always a sweet reminder on the back of my race number.

A First!

First times only happen once and on Sunday, I won my first Ironman age group race. I’m still in complete disbelief.

You can read and see all over the internet about what a gnarly day it was in Whistler. I think it is safe to say that it was the toughest conditions I will ever race in, ever again! (Heck, I would not even leave my house to train in a day like that!)

Leading up to the race was miracle after miracle: my 650 wheels found a wheel cover so I could ride a ‘disc’ (thanks to bicicletta!), my Sugoi suit was just one size too big and they turned around a new custom suit in time for me to race in it and my best friend was able to secure accommodations in Kona; I knew I was in for some kinda wonderful!

This race report will come in two parts and gratitude always come first. This song has been the theme song of the summer so let’s start with the cheerleaders that made Sunday so darn special.

PART I | to those who got me to the start line…

+ Jasper Blake, founder of B78 Coaching – do they say 3x a charm? I came to Jasper as a chubby lil athlete with really big dreams. He has stuck with me thru the rough days, and 3 years later, I feel like I’ve become a better human being because of him. Beyond swimbikerun, I understand how the mental game of sport translates into every area of your life. He has gotten me to start lines with fire in my belly and a calm state of mind. And we are just getting rolling…!

+ Trav McKenzie – was a huge inspiration this year coming back from his accident in February. We started track workouts together and he always had just the right thing to say to keep motivation flowing week over week. Beyond the track, he is so committed to getting back to racing it is very hard to not take one workout for granted with him around. We had #teamtrav hats made so he knew we were bringing his fight along for the day – surely it was worth at least a few seconds/km of grit!

+ Noa Deutsch – runs an awesome local program and allowed me to join her super speedy swim practices this year. Other than the fact that everyone is far too serious at 5:30AM, it did feel great to crank out 5K practices and feel like I was 12yrs old again! (Very special mention to my buddy Fawn – cause I loved swimming with her!) Noa also help me with the 4th sport of triathlon which is nutrition and I was thrilled to feel nutritionally loaded going into this race.

+ bicicletta – my favorite local bike shop! GFox and his crew kept my cervelo P3 rolling over the last few years and ensured I didn’t feel like a tart when walking in their doors.

+ Sugoi – this year was faster and prettier because of their product. I’m super grateful to have a custom kit made by their inhouse design team and their Marketing team always made us feel like total rockstars. The season is just getting rolling with them and I’m already stoked to hang with this crew in Kona.

+ eat prima – made by a local favorite, Dave’s bars keep me satisfied on every long ride and before every Method class. I look forward to the half way point when I start to nibble on my chai bar on race day!

+ Smith Optics – protected my retinas both on and off the race course. And provided me with my saucy new Overtake Helmet. Best of all, I appreciate being able to start the run with a fresh pair of shades and these ones always give me new perspective.

…and those who got me across the finish line:

+  the #irontribe – there are no words for this crew! They got up at 4AM to make it to the start; they stood outside in the freezing cold to cheer; Fryer flew in from California and JoJo could have been mistaken for a blonde bear jumping out of the woods she was just so darn enthusiastic! They didn’t miss a beat and to have a crew of human beings in your life like this is something I absolutely cherish. These are really special friends who followed along, online and offline, to share their good vibes and cheers and I felt every single one of them. Special mention to TeamGleeson cause hearing Jenna scream aloha, while Dylan (last year’s amateur winner!) dropped coach-bombs was super rad. And of course, Chef Kyle who ensured that the tribe was fed + fuelled all day deserves extra praise!

+ MikeyP – my (training) partner in crime. We shared every long ride and cokes at the top of the climbs; we shared a cabin and taper-tantrums. Most of all, we shared the dream that Sunday could be awesome…and it was. I just hope that he will continue to let me hang onto his wheel and I will continue to chase his backwards hat around the track! #watchoutkona #herecomesmikey

+ and most of all, to my two biggest fans – my Bro + my Man. There are no two other human beings that see me at my worst, at my hangriest, and my most tired…yet still love me. For that and every heartbeat that they give me, goodness, I am so wildly grateful. My wish for everyone is that they have a Bro/Davey combo in their life to help them achieve their wildest, craziest dreams!

PART II | how the day went down…

SWIM – it started in the pouring rain hanging onto the Subaru barge with Coach Jazzy.

And ended, apparently quite intense as I exited the water with this sweet gal on my feet. Really, I knew I hadn’t had an awesome swim as I saw several pink caps ahead of me in the water, but knew this race wasn’t going to be won with my swim.

T1 – bless the sweet volunteer who tried to put everything in my T1 bag on me. Instead, I opted for wool socks and arm warmers, convinced the rain would pass. #whoops As I ran to get on my bike, I was slipping and my bike wasn’t quite moving…what the heck?!

BIKE – as I started pedaling, I was stalling and could not figure out what was going on. I thought it was my chain in the rain? Let’s be honest, I have no clue what is happening when my bike makes funny noises. I was getting passed like I was standing still and thought, the race won’t be won in the first half of the bike but it would sure be nice if I could get going! Well, after 3 stops on the side of the road trying to get mechanical help and not knowing what was going on, I decided to ride to Coach Jasper + HPR Coach Mike Neil on the side of the highway. I rode passed the #irontribe huddled in a bus shelter while it was POURING and thought I can’t give up so easily. As I rode into the B78 tent, Coach Trav jumped to the rescue for a pep talk and Coach Mike informed me that Jasper had said emphatically to “just keep going”. So I did. I ripped my rear brake apart completely and thought that if I didn’t die descending into Pemberton, I might have a chance to be back in the race! The thing with Ironman is no matter how well you are prepared, you will go through the highs and the lows. It’s about making it thru the low to get back to a high without taking a second of it for granted along the way. While my brakes were rubbing and my HR was too high, I just kept eating and drinking. It was the only thing I could control. Weather? nope. Bike? nope. Food? YES! So by the time I hit the 100km marker, I was well fueled and realized I was gaining on people; the rain had subsided and the race was indeed not over. Just as we planned it, Mikey P came flying by me — I knew he was off to have an amazing day. I took note that this day felt like a training ride that we had done at least 12 Saturdays in a row. Mikey blasting off the front, me hanging on from behind. I just needed to repeat that once more today. While out in the flats I calculated that I was about 13min behind the next girl in my age group. I knew I would need to be at least top 2 for a Kona spot and top 3 if I was realllly lucky. The climb out of Pemberton became my favorite. No rear brake rubbing this time, I already felt like a winner! As I rolled back thru Whistler, I wanted to see Coach Trav to let him know that I was back in the game because of him. I was ready to run! To my delight, Jo Jo was jumping for joy on the side of the highway…and only a minute ahead was Coach Jazzy letting me know that I had ridden my way into 3rd. WTHECK?! The last time I was at that stop I was contemplating dropping out?!

T2 – I rolled into transition where the volunteers were simply remarkable. I was in and out of there in what felt like no time at all and so excited to run. If I was 3rd, I just needed to hang tough and I could be in the Kona-game.

RUN – it was a quick km before I turned a corner to see the #irontribe in ALLLL of their glory cheering on the sidelines. Davey ran along side to let me know that I was in 2nd. Horray! Seeing these smiling faces is pure joy. There are no words! The sun had come out, everyone was sporting their #teamtrav trucker hats and I felt so insanely blessed to call all of these people my friends. Really! My goal was to run the first loop as conservatively as I could, as I am usually getting chased and would need to save something for the final few km’s. Except this race was a little different. After 21km, I was told that I had extended the lead (yes, the lead!) from 3min to 15min and I was leading the overall amateur race. WHAAAAT! Well, hang on to your hats, lots can happen in the back half of Ironman. And sure enough, as I rounded the corner, Coach Trav is dishing out just that advice “lots can happen“. Davey and Bro are riding up and down the street “run your own race” and I’m frantically asking at every opportunity: what is going on behind me?? With a solid lead and 2 more start lines on the horizon, I knew this wasn’t the time to go into the hurt locker. So with a smile and some steady feet…I was passed with 1km to go by a 29 year old and decided that 2nd overall amateur female was gonna be just fine!

The day wasn’t as “fast” as I had hoped for, however, an age group win was good enough for me. I could not have been any happier to receive my $1000 lei, by none other than Jazzy!

Next stop: Kona, baby (with one more adventure along the way!). ALOOOOOHA:)

 

a moment of reflection

Here we are, the night before race day! Ironman Canada will be my 11th IM. (It’s still crazy to me to think about that!) While I sit squirrelly at home and do very proactive tasks like empty my inbox and delete duplicate photos off of my phone, I came across this one that gave me pause for thought. It was the last shot I took on my last bike ride with my Man + Mikey. If you look closely in my SMITH Pivlock glasses, you can see the mountains of Whistler:

IMG_7497

These last couple of weeks of taper felt especially challenging — perhaps it’s been the volume leading up to it, with awesome sunshine with great training buddies. It’s hard to come down from the high of high volume, highly awesome training, ya know! The last 6+ months have been pretty spectacular…and when I pause to reflect, I’m mighty grateful for the adventures and life lessons that have come before this start line:

+ I’ve packed my bike to a training camp in LA, a holiday on Hvar + a wedding/ training trip to Maui.

+ I’ve spent more hours inside on a Kaiser bike, starring at a power meter and making play lists than I think I spent riding outside all of last year! (maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but you get my point!) I’ve also tried to recruit everyone with a heartbeat to join me — and if you are reading this, be ready to ride with me in the fall!

+ I’ve had the absolute honour of coaching athletes and learning the feelings of being totally helpless on the sidelines, ferociously refreshing IronTracker; cheering my face off for them, without them ever really knowing.

+ I’ve celebrated a year of rockin’ it out as a People Consultant and can confirm that how you do anything is how you do everything – steph corker inc is thriving! Working with such remarkable clients gives me great purpose to how I sweat the stuff that matters — be it in a board room or on a long run.

+ I’ve cherished every monster training weekend in Whistler with Mikey + friends at the Strong Leg Lodge. Especially staying up late to listen to the tales of Jeff Symonds and riding with Matt Lieto when he tried to ride me into the bear on the side of the road! #teamtrav came up for the Whistler 1/2 marathon and a crew of awesome people joined Ironman Legend Jasper Blake for his 3rd annual training camp. This Whistler cabin only knows of strong, awesome people!

+ I’ve also consumed more coke than any other summer to fuel repeats up Pemberton – and can confidently say we know each other intimately.

And upon this reflection, what I know for sure if that it is not about the shiny stuff. It’s not about the great long rides in the palm trees; it’s about the tough rides in the pouring rain. It’s about the choices – the kombucha-over-wine-Friday-nights. It’s about the stuff that isn’t flashy and no one knows about. Frankly, I might not have fully appreciated why some of those days were so tough in the moment. Yet tomorrow morning at 7AM, when I toe that start line, I am prepared to empty the bank account of every deposit made. The rear view makes me really grateful; the current front view makes my heart very excited to race!

Let’s do this!

(Follow along the #irontribe for the most hilarious and enthusiastic updates you’ve ever seen. My Bro + Davey , along with the crew really do NOT disappoint. So insanely grateful friends! XO)