Friday, December 21, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

When the Going Gets Rough

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months wallowing in self-pity, which is a completely useless and selfish emotion. It doesn’t make anything better, it doesn’t solve problems, and it doesn’t change the past. Stepping up and making changes is ultimately what makes things better. And having a little perspective, that helps too. Sure, the past year has been rough, but my definition of rough is having a sports-related injury and having low iron and not winning an Olympic medal. In the real world, that’s not rough. Rough is having your home destroyed by a giant hurricane, or being Lance Armstrong, or having cancer. We found out a few weeks ago that my dad has cancer in his colon. He’s going in for a big surgery tomorrow to try and remove it. This would usually be considered a self-pity worthy situation, but recognizing that this is not a productive emotion, he’s decided not to wallow in it. He’s keeping an optimistic attitude while suffering only the occasional grump-attack. But we'd all have grump-attacks surviving on a diet of jell-O and apple juice. His situation has forced me to take a new perspective on the past year. No matter how hard I hit rock bottom, my rock bottom wasn’t really that bad. He's showed that optimism and positivity are powerful tools when the going gets rough. Cancer sucks, but if anyone can beat it then this guy can! 

Friday, September 28, 2012

ABC Thank You's

I probably had the most awesome 2012 triathlon season ever in the history of the world. Ha, just kidding, it was dreadful. But through it all, I had some fabulous people by my side.  Since my season has come to an end, I have a lot of Thank You’s to give out. One night when I couldn’t sleep I started making a Thank You list in my head. In alphabetical order. Sorta like counting sheep. I finally snoozed off thinking about all these great supporters of mine. And it was a fabulous sleep indeed. 

A is for Air Canada, thank you for getting me safely to all of my destinations (mostly) on time and (mostly) with all of my luggage, and for letting me ride at the front (mostly) every time.
B is for Bikes, and Specialized makes the fastest, nicest, lightest ones on the planet.
C is for Champion Systems. Pulling on my Canada suit always gets me pumped to race.
D is for Dad, who just drove my car 4000 km across the country for me. Superman! (Ps. Dad if you’re reading this I'm ready for you to drive it back now).
E is for EVOC bike bags, keeping my bike safe when I'm on the go.
F is for my fabulous Family and Friends. All of the most important people in my life.
G is for General Mills. Being on the Reeses Puffs cereal box is probably the raddest thing that’s ever happened to me.
H is for Helper and Michelle Comeau, you are one fantastic helper. Thanks for making my life easier and being so understanding of my ever-changing plans.
I is for Immunity FX. 2 pills a day keeps the doctor away.
J is for Jon Brown, super coach, thanks for taking me on in the lead up to the games, and for doing every single run workout alongside me.
K is for Kim Ward, massage therapist extraordinaire, and Dr. Keeler, who did everything he could to help me get better.
L is for Lasik MD. No more contacts wooo!
M is for Marilyn, hands down the best physio ever. Would not have been on the start line in London without you.
N is for Nike. Best shoes, best clothes, best people. Game on world.
O is for Own the Podium, thanks for making sure I had everything I needed to be my best. Sorry I couldn’t be my best this year.
P is for Proctor & Gamble. Your support for my awesome mom and me, and for all Olympic moms across the world, is tremendously appreciated.
Q is for Quarq, my power meter. Always reliable. Love-hate relationship.
R is for Rogue, the fastest most comfortable wetsuit ever made. Thanks, Nineteen.
S is for Sables. Magic fog-proof superhero goggles.
T is for my hardcore Training Partners, I couldn’t get out the door and push myself every day without you guys.
U is for United Cycle, my bike shop in Edmonton. They gave me my first bike 6 years ago and have supported me since day one.
V is for Vitamins. Sometimes I think 7 Systems saves my life.
W is for Whitfield. Thanks Simon for being my friend and big brother and mentor and training partner. You're a hero.
X is for the fluorescent X Spidertech tape that held me together when I was broken.
Y is for YOU! All of you reading this who reached out and supported me when all I wanted to do was hide away from the world.
Z is for Zipp. These. Wheels. Are. Super. Fast.

Thanks. I couldn't do what I do every day without you all.  

I’m on a serious mission to make you a little more proud next year.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Series of Unfortunate Events

This was the name of my favorite book series when I was younger. It’s the story of the three Baudelaire children whose parents are killed in a fire and are placed in the custody of their evil cousin who plots terrible schemes to steal their inheritance. Seemingly everything that could possibly go wrong, goes wrong. Sounds dark and horrible but is somehow charming and entertaining.

With every negative situation that I’ve faced this year, I feel more and more like the Baudelaire children, having a continuous string of unfortunate events block my path. Slightly less dramatic since my parents did not die in a fire and I don’t have a cousin trying to kill me, but similar nonetheless.

I came home from the Olympics feeling upset and directionless after my disappointing experience. A few days later I had a generous offer from Craig Taylor at the RTC in Guelph to train with his group and get ready for the World Championships in October. It was the perfect opportunity to try something new with a refreshing change of scenery. Craig and the group here have been fantastic, and Guelph really is a lovely place to train. What an awesome bunch of happy, positive people.

I had some blood work done about a week after I arrived just to make sure that everything was normal. I was feeling tired but assumed this was just an effect from training hard again. Unfortunately the numbers came back with some of the lowest iron levels that the doctors had ever seen. It is a simple but quite serious problem that likely had a huge impact on my race in London, and got overlooked because of the focus on healing my injury. The fact is that it is not really possible to continue to train at the level I need to in order to have the result I am looking for in 6 weeks. I’m devastated and frustrated that I can’t have a shot at another race this season. I was hoping to restore some confidence in myself after the Olympic disaster. I guess this will have to wait until next year.

I realize this is fairly private medical information that I’m sharing, but a lot of people are asking what my plans are for the rest of the season. Iron deficiency anemia is something that a lot of athletes struggle with and it is a fixable, treatable problem. For now I need to focus on what I CAN do. Some good lower intensity base training while I work on getting my iron and energy levels back up. This might actually be a good thing, establishing a good foundation for next year so that I can come back strong and healthy. Liver for dinner, yes please!

At the end of 13 horrible wonderful books, the Baudelaire children eventually overcome their misfortune and the author Lemony Snicket leaves off with this:

“At times the world may seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe that there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough. And what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events may in fact be the first steps of a journey.

Keep a good outlook, and a series of unfortunate events may not be so unfortunate after all. I knew these kid books were good for something! Thanks Lemony Snicket.

Onwards and upwards…

Monday, August 13, 2012

I’ve had this quote on my computer desktop for the past 6 months, and because I spend way too much time on my laptop, it’s engraved into my brain. It was my mantra when the going got tough, and believe me, the going got pretty darn tough. A simple but important reminder to ignore the noise, stay positive and just keep on truckin’ through all the roadblocks.

Getting to the start line on August 4th was a feat in itself. Injuries, appeals, coaching changes, politics, and a less than ideal time frame to get into race shape. Despite all this, I wasn’t headed to the Olympics just to participate and call myself an Olympian. I wanted to be on the podium. I was aware that my chances of accomplishing this were significantly lower after my difficult year, but it never lessened my desire to be the best. I lined up against 54 of the worlds fastest triathletes wanting to beat them, and believing that maybe I could. If I didn’t believe that it could happen, then there’s no way it was going to happen. (Yeah I know, it didn’t happen).

I had a fairly solid 8 weeks of training behind me and was feeling fit. My injury was gone and I was running more consistently than ever. What I didn’t anticipate was that the lack of race-specific experience would really hit me hard. I started the swim feeling good, thinking that I was in okay position, but after getting trampled at the first turn buoy there was a sea of girls in front of me. I didn’t lose hope, this has happened before in races that I’ve won, but it’s not a good feeling to know I’m not up where I need to be. I came out of the water well back of the leaders, got on my bike to chase and had no power in my legs. I worked with a few other girls to catch the pack in front of us, but we couldn't. I contemplated pulling out of the race several times on the bike and it felt like the longest ride I’ve ever done in my life. It’s a big mental challenge to stay in the game when you’re so far out of the game it’s not even funny. I came off the bike to a similar wobbly, powerless feeling, and stumbled my way around the first lap. I pulled off to our team doctor, crying that there was no way I could physically finish 3 more. He encouraged me pull myself together and finish if I could, I’d be more satisfied with crossing the line than not. So I ran 3 of the most painful, embarrassing laps ever, being lapped by the race that I was supposed to be a contender in, humiliated and screaming at myself inside. It was the Canada flags along the course, my family in the stands, and the roaring crowd that pulled me along to the finish line. 

An enormous thank you to coach Jon Brown, physio Marilyn Adams, massage therapist Kim Ward and the one and only Simon Whitfield who were my amazing little team for the past few months. I couldn’t have got to the start line without the huge efforts from each of you. Thanks to Triathlon Canada and Own The Podium who made sure I had all the resources I needed to get to London. And finally thanks to my wonderful family and friends who came to London to support me. Check out this awesome crew!

The outpouring of support has been touching and overwhelming, and I appreciate it more than you know. My race aside, the Olympics were an incredible experience. I’m so inspired by our Canadian team. What a bunch of champions and I’m honoured to have been a part of it all.

I need to make some changes and I’m not entirely sure what the next few months have in store for me. I think I’ll keep that quote on my laptop for now. Never give up, finish what you start, and keep on believing.

Thanks a million to you all.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Happy Canada Day!

With the Olympics less than a month away this day seems even more special this year. It’s exciting to see everyone celebrating this awesome country that we're fortunate to call home. It truly is the best place on earth and I can’t wait to wear the maple leaf when I line up to race next month. 

Training is going great right now and I’m in a good mindset. As always there’s outside noise and politics and distractions, but I’m keeping my blinders on and just doing a good job in training every single day. It’s been a crazy few months, but I have a smart and supportive group of people who I trust and who have my back. Regardless of what’s going on around me, I’m confident that I’m doing everything I can to be the best I can be. And that's all I can do. 

So cheers to my fellow Canadians! Have a happy, patriotic day, and keep your Canada Flags handy. You're gonna need them in a few short weeks when we’ll all be waving them high and proud once again. 

Go Canada. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Give Your Everything

The COC has been releasing videos over the past few months showcasing some of Canada’s athletes on the road to London. Here’s mine. Thanks to the COC for creating these awesome clips. A tiny glimpse into what we do every day and are so fortunate to call a “job”.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

On the Up

I just got home from a 2-week trip to Hamilton with Simon, his coach Jon and physio Marilyn. Not a common destination for triathlon training but it was the perfect opportunity for me to get consistent treatment from Marilyn and continue a good run progression with Jon. I’ve seen more forward progress in the past 3 weeks than I have since February and I’m slowly regaining hope that maybe everything will come together in time for August. Hamilton was a surprisingly wonderful place to train. The McMaster swim team was very welcoming, the roads were perfect and the trails were endless. Who knew, Ontario?! I’m impressed. 

Before this trip I was on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. I was upset and frustrated as the Olympic countdown clock was ticking fast and my body was not cooperating. I spent time in Vancouver getting intense treatment and “rebuilding” myself so that I could stay injury-free, but this left me with some gaps in my training. Thankfully everything is finally coming together with a smarter build back to running and constant treatment from my super physios. 

I’m really excited to have Lauren as my training partner for the next few months. She has graciously offered to be by my side for every workout and training camp leading up to the Olympics. I couldn’t ask for a more positive, hard-working, happy, experienced friend to support me. She’s always been one of my favorite people to train with and I’m so glad to have her help.

I’ve come to accept that things aren't quite ideal for me leading into an Olympic Games. But then again, maybe they actually are. I haven’t had to rush into any races or anything so I’m feeling really fresh! (That’s a positive spin on “kinda unfit and ready to start working hard because I’m losing my mind”). I’m a bit more relaxed heading into London because I can only do what I can do with the time I have left. No one will really know where I’m at, not even me! So maybe I can be the underdog again. My favourite. 

Feelin' happy, healthy and … fresh! 

Rock on. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What's Up

After a solid 6-week training camp in Maui to kick off 2012, I came home feeling fit and excited to get the New Year under way. This was rather short lived when I started having some recurring hip pain a few weeks later. I didn’t panic, as I was able to manage it through the fall and it was feeling completely better. I left for Australia in early March thinking that some warm weather and daily treatment would clear things up and I could start my season as planned.

Well, things didn’t go exactly as planned. Frustrated and fed up and after a few too many tears, I went to Brisbane to see an orthopedic hip specialist and have another MRI (after having 2 un-notable ones last fall). The doctor found a small labral tear on my right hip. I sat in his office shocked, scared, and somewhat relieved to finally have a diagnosis. I'm frustrated that this was not discovered 8 months ago, but the abnormality is so subtle that it is difficult to pick up on an MRI. I had 2 options, neither desirable, and both with the ultimate goal of being fit on the start line in August. Labral tears do not heal on their own so the obvious solution is to have surgery and hope to be back to somewhat normal running in 2 months. The other option is to manage the pain and inflammation with cortisone in my hip joint, anti-inflammatory meds, icing and treatment. Surgery is so risky at this point and it would be a rush to get fit in time for the Olympics, so I decided to go down the “management” road. It feels a lot better when the inflammation is controlled, and I did have a good block of training in the fall/January, so I’m optimistic that this will work.

Right now Sydney is out of the plan, and I’m taking things day by day. I had a cortisone shot last week and it seems to really be working, I can run pain free. Now I don’t know how long it will last, or if it will even be a solution, but I’ve decided that part of this battle is mental. I need to believe it will work and be really smart about my training and decision making over the next 15 weeks.

I’ve been debating whether or not to share these details. When I’m injured, I usually want to keep it a secret and hide away from the world. But injuries are one of the realities of being an athlete and I’d rather be honest than pretend like everything is a-okay. I also understand that cortisone injections are controversial, and believe me, I don’t want to be in a wheel chair in 5 years just so that I can go to the Olympic Games when I’m 22. But I can’t worry too much about what other people are thinking, and I need to trust the team of people who are helping me through this. It’s just a little (ok.. giant, enormous, annoying) curveball that’s been thrown at me. IDEAL timing, right?

Someone sent me a reassuring email a few days ago.

“Get some relief and comfort in having a diagnosis, knowing that it is treatable and NOT a crippling, life-long problem, and that it is absolutely nothing that can prevent you from competing in London.

Life is often ridiculously hard. Rest, breathe, and remember you can’t control much, but you can control your attitude.”

So I might as well have a good one.

Please don’t write me off just yet.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Maui Video: Take 2

Here's another movie of our Maui adventures!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Maui Training Camp Video

This is my first try making a video so I need some practice.. but here's a little look into our training camp so far.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Year Update

Rough life I have, 2 trips to Hawaii in the past 3 months! Lots has happened between my last update in Kona and our current training camp in Maui. Here’s a quick recap and some pictures from the past few months.

After Kona I took a trip to the Nike World Headquarters in Portland, Oregon. This was an incredible place and it was cool to see what goes on behind the scenes in the Nike world. We went to the employee store for a big shopping trip, which was super fun and I came home 3 bags heavier. I met some awesome athletes there too, like really really fast runner Shalane Flanagan who won the US Olympic Marathon trials today!

Next I went home to Edmonton to have Lasik MD eye surgery. I’ve had bad luck with my contact lenses falling out in races, either from getting whacked in the goggles during the swim, or having them pop out on the bike when my eyes get dry. I’ve had a lens fall out in 5 of the 8 WCS races I’ve done in the past few years, so this was important to get done and was honestly a huge life changer for me. 10 minutes in and out of the “operating room” and I can see 100% perfectly. Just had to wear these rockin' sun glasses around for a few days and not swim for a week. Easy.

A few weeks later I flew to Toronto for the Olympic Excellence Series and Media Summit. This was a great opportunity to meet other Canadian athletes from other sports and get a good idea of what the Olympic Games will be like. It was followed by 2 full days of media and interviews, which was a bit exhausting but important to do. I also went with Simon to the opening of the new Nike store in downtown Toronto where they put us on the wall! It was super cool.

I was back in Victoria after that for a good block of training before going home for Christmas break. I spent the holidays in Canmore and Edmonton, doing lots of relaxing and visiting friends and xcountry skiing. Nike generously gave me tickets to a few of the World Junior Hockey games over the holidays, which were fun to watch. The atmosphere in there was crazy exciting. If only Canada loved triathlon as much as they love hockey!

Now I’m in Maui for our January training camp and it’s been awesome so far. Training is so much easier when it’s warm and sunny, and there’s a great group of 7 girls working well together. I didn’t do very much outdoor riding this fall so it’s been good to get back on the bike for some longer rides. My body is sore and achy and tired, but it definitely feels good! We also got to swim with the U of A team at the end of their Maui camp and it was nice to see some old friends.

Hoping this kicks off a good year ahead. My number one priority is to stay consistent and injury free, which I've discovered it much easier said than done!

Thanks for reading,