Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Recap

“If you don’t come out front pack, the first thing you ask yourself is, ‘where’s Nicola?’ because when that train goes by, you better be ready to jump on it.“
-KT

I had a great feeling swim when I wasn’t getting beaten up. I felt relaxed and in control as opposed to hanging on for dear life like in Des Moines. Somehow Paula, Kathy and I ended up on the pontoon beside one another. I had my first good start of the year, and had a very clean first 300m to the first buoy. I mean I wasn’t up with Laura Bennett by any means, but I think I was up there on the first corner. But with almost 70 girls on the startlist, and only 300m to those two tight 90 degree turns, being ‘up there’ isn’t good enough to escape the death trap. Somehow Paula, Kathy and I ended up coming out of lap one all together though, so I was very happy with that. Lap 2, I got separated at the turn-around and was never quite able to make up those 8 seconds. I jumped on my bike frantically trying to bridge the gap all by myself. And then I saw Spirig gaining on me.. my one and possibly only chance to make front pack.. Right as I was moving over to jump on her wheel, I heard a 'hey hey hey', and randomly this other girl appeared behind me- also in the process of jumping on Spirig's wheel. I had to veer away to avoid cutting her off, and the two of them were off and away as if I'd been sitting still. Major fail. I kept hammering until I was swept up by the chase pack. The tail end of the front pack was teasingly winking in and out of sight as we weaved around the corners, so our pack was plenty motivated. There was no organization yet, but lots of standing, sprinting and jockeying for positions. I was in the middle-back of the pack, in my drops, focused intently on not crossing the wheels of the swervy girls in front me, when I went down. I just didn't see the speed bump coming, hit it hard and flipped off my bike. I have no clue why I fell- maybe it was a particularly nasty speed bump because later footage shows waterbottles flying out at that spot, but who knows. I just remember calmly thinking 'aw shit' as I was launched towards the pavement. I landed a lot on my head, so the combination of mini concussion and probably shock, make my memories after the 'aw shit' part pretty hazy. I did vaguely notice another girl picking up her bike and jumping back on, so I'm so sorry for taking you out Erin.

When I crashed I didn't go into the usual panic-shock where you frantically try to jump back into the race while shakily assessing the severity of your wounds. Either I went into the other type of shock, where you're perfectly calm- and time moves really slow and hazily, or else that feeling came from the landing on my head part. I don't remember a time passing between crashing and being surrounded by medical volunteers, but there must have been one. I don't recall my surroundings other than sky and pavement. But as I lay on my back on the asphalt, I was mostly thinking, 'please please please don't be broken before Budapest.' And also how the UV index must be really high because I was definitely burning, and that I was most likely going to get run over again as the packs came around again, but I couldn't seem to get myself to move.

By the time I got to the hospital I was with it enough to know that I had at least 90% for sure broken my collarbone. I was in a neck brace because I had had a lot of head and neck pain when they first found me, but that was going away so I knew my neck would be ok. I was so relieved when Doctor Keeler found me in Emerge a little while after the paramedics dropped me off. Even though I couldn't really tell you what year it was, or how old I was, I knew that being broken, alone, in a bathing-suit and bike shoes, without any money, insurance, or the contact info of anybody on the trip, probably wasn't a good thing. Dr. Keeler had run a whole lap of the bike course trying to find me, and arrived at the corner just as I was being taken away in an ambulance. He then was able to track down the hospital they had taken me to, but with no ride there he ended up running all the way to the hospital too. It didn't feel like much time had passed between crashing and Dr. Keeler getting to the hospital, but in that time Paula won the biggest race of the year. I was so so so happy and amazed to hear that. We waited for neck X-rays. Finally someone came and wheeled me away. Alone for a few minutes in the dark X-Ray room, the devastation I felt over my ruined season began to overwhelm me. Today was my first and last day of being fit this season. All my previous races I'd only been chubby-fit, and unable to finish a ten k without my SI joint getting jammed. But today I had been ready. I felt like I had wasted all the amazing experiences I had been given leading up to this race and Budapest. I was so incredibly lucky to be taken to Des Moines, Les Angles, and here that I felt like I had just ruined all that. Thinking about starting all over again, and focusing on next summer when I had been handed such amazing opportunities this year, and had such high expectations for this season, was really depressing. I would have maybe started to tear up for the first time that day except that I thought the X-ray guy might get a little worried to come back and find me crying.
Besides I'm sure he's seen people lose a lot more than their racing season. So I stopped feeling sorry for myself.
After getting wheeled back to Dr. Keeler we got the all clear to wait around for collarbone X-rays. And then when I was finally declared broken, a kind little nurse came in to work on the road rash. Dr. Keeler was so great, he had brought me my clothes and flip flops, so that I had something to put on as the nurse cut off my suit. He bought me treats from the vending machine when I was bonking, and around six pm he brought us back to the hotel.
When someone genuinely feels bad for you, and you already feel sorry for yourself, sometimes that overflows- so when I saw Patrick my tough-spree ended and I got a little teary. I had been really excited for Budapest. But then Paula helped me do my hair, Patrick and Kim brought me dinner and treats, aaaaaand Lauren and Kirsten came back with a whole new broken collarbone outfit for me! (such a lifesaver because it was the only thing I could get on for the next three days). All the love and the crazy pain meds that make me drunk helped me feel muuuuch better. The whole team took such good care of me the whole rest of the trip.

I was so fortunate to go on this trip, I never ever imagined I'd be spending a month this year in Europe training and racing with two of our national team girls- two of the most talented, hard-working girls on the planet. And I definitely never ever thought I would be in a WCS race. Once I found my happy back, I realized that there is no way you can 'waste' an experience that already happened. The training camp itself was great, the experience of being in London was great, being in London when Paula WON was great. Thanks so much for this season, even cut in half it was the coolest thing I've ever done.
Be Back next year.




Sunday, July 18, 2010

LE TOUR!!!!!!!!!!











4 Days ago there was a boil water advisory that we didn’t hear about until 2 days ago. Needless to say, 3 days ago I came down with a stomach bug. The first evening of tummy cramps I laid on the kitchen floor until bedtime and hoped it would be gone by morning. Next day of tummy acheage and sporadic cramping was on our lighter day, so it wasn’t that big of a deal but I whined continually nonetheless, and had to eat really slooowwlyy to get any food in. Day after that was a big day, so it made things much more difficult. I made it through the swim quite well, and then the run I was only really affected at the end. But then the bike happened...
I found myself an hour away from home getting dropped up another damn mountain while doubled over and unable to breath from excruciating intestinal cramps, and bonking because I hadn’t been able to eat all day. May or may not have been a couple tears. That evening I didn’t move off the couch, and reflected upon how nice my life had been.
By some miracle, the next morning I noticed an improvement! But the bug had taken such a toll on my energy levels that I had to starfish float on numerous occasions to make it through warm-up. I was completely and utterly spent. In the end I was unable to make it to a brick-workout that afternoon. Instead I spent the day getting a massage with Yulla, and by some freaky luck- visiting with Dr. Keeler, Dr. Young and the family who just happened to be passing through town as they followed the tour! I was so amazed to see little Chloe and Liam (I guess not so little anymore) following the tour so intently, and listing off the rider’s names way better than I ever could. This morning I woke up normal-tired instead of Zombie-Meltdown tired with only minimal residual tummy aches.

- And that is the story of how I self-tapered for the day the Tour de France went by.

BEST DAY EVER.

We parked at the base of the mountain, and then rode up to the top of le Col de la Port de Pailheres. I think it was a 10km climb, but much steeper than the long climbs we usually do like Lemmon. I think it's the second longest climb on the tour, and it's ranked as the hardest type of climb. It took us about an hour but it didn’t feel that long at all to me!... but then I hadn’t done the brick yesterday.. The whole way up was lined with crazy spectators cheering us and the other weekend warriors up. Everyone had out their picnics, and booze.. there were old men playing the accordion, and young men blasting french rap, and wherever there were trailers with TV’s on- crowds would form around the windows trying to watch the tour as it made it’s way nearer and nearer. When we finally made it to the top we were able to buy some souvenirs- although we were limited by the amount of cash we had brought up (IOU PK), and baguettes with ham and Orangina (staples of this country). And soon enough the caravan came by and we joined in with the kids and drunk people for about an hour trying to catch all the freebies getting thrown at us. A jersey flew about a foot in front of my face- but some crazy-matrix old guy snatched it out of the air even though he’d been like 3 meters away, and quickly shoved it inside his jacket with all the rest of his shwagg. At least 7 helicopters preceded the riders. They might have been going a little tiny bit faster than us.
I'm so happy I was better in time to see the Tour today. And rested enough to make it up the climb smiling. Now I better go check out the highlights to see how the stage finished! Thank you thank Patrick and Mike for taking us.

note crazy fan in last pic. Oh and Lance Armstrong in the one before that. Oh and everybody else cool in the one before that!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Woot

Congrats to the Team over in Saskatchewan! Especially Christine and Matt for their continued domination!! Marc, Ali, Gabby Edwards! So proud of you guys. I was going to list everyone else who deserves a congrats.. but then I realized that everyone did so well that I'd just be re-writing the results out.. so good job team!

Latest pictures:


Friday, July 9, 2010

Training camp day 10


I wrote this blog a few days ago, but was unable to post it due to a lack of internet time. And then yesterday was my bonk evening, and I never summoned up the strength to make it to the bowling alley. Sorry I never got the chance to wish everyone good luck at SanFran and Saskatoon! Hope to hear about it soon ☺.

First off- I added a couple more pictures to the original set of pictures in the last post- so don't miss them! The big white Pyrenees Mountain dog is Lily, Mike and Jenny's one year old puppy. Sophie took her on a run today, and I think she's pretty pooped. We had to move out of our wonderful house today :(. We're going to miss Mike and Jenny and the wonderful breakfasts they would bring us each morning. My brother is on an exchange somewhere in France right now too- and I sure hope they're not feeding him as well as Mike and Jenny fed us. I'm not a huge croissant or danish person myself, but I gotta say those chocolate croissant thingy's were pretty gooood, and pretty hard to resist when coming back from a morning death swim workout. I know if the opportunity presented itself my brother would have eaten every one they brought us.

As DJ said.. " a chocolate bread a day- keeps you happy All Day!"
I always thought it was mostly just a stereotype about the French and their croissants and baguettes, but I guess most homes here just have mini fridges, and each day the locals walk over to the boulangerie and the backery for their meat, and baguettes and morning croissant- so it's true. At the till of the grocery store everyone has a baguette or two. Being gluten free takes serious will power. I decided to give it a shot but I only lasted 1.5days. Since then I have deemed it too difficult and not worth-it. Anyways point of this story: Mom and Dad prepare for Evan to return home chubbier than when he left.

Paula and I are now in a condo downtown, and the rest of the crew is in a house a ways away- With the most amazing view!


Well Paula and I are probably a lot closer to any internet locations, so we're hoping the condo is the way to go. Watch the house have it's own wifi or something ha. Anyways I'm currently at the local bowling alley/arcade/bar for free internet! No more of the local hotel/restaurant's 2.20 euro gross teas just to bum internet. Despite being one of two people in here- the tunes are bumpin. Hearing myself think is somewhat difficult, but I'm ready for a dance party.

Yesterday was our off day! We smushed ourselves into the van for a family trip to Andorra. I thought we were just heading to a town just past the border in Spain. But nope- Andorra is whole nother Country smushed in between France and Spain. I guess there are no taxes, so it has developed a tourist niche. Nestled high in the mountains, was this modern shopping city! Completely different from the 500 year old buildings and (older still) skinny cobblestone roads in France. I was told to go shopping in Europe because the fashion is years ahead..or something like that- but I was quite overwhelmed. The style seemed to be everything flashy, studded, multicolored, or sparkly. oh and mostly designer labels. And jumpsuits.

As for this altitude business- wellll. I am gradually adapting. I think I said that last post.. there have been some workouts where I don’t seem to suffer as much. That said, I still feel a bit like my purpose on this trip has mostly been moral support for the other girls as opposed to being an effective training partner. You know when you’re hurting, but the person you’re training or racing with is quite obviously suffering so much worse, that in turn it makes you feel quite good! And before you know it you’re having the best workout of your life. Well that’s been my job- the one about to drop dead at any second. Willing to resign from the position at anytime. Ha no but really.. I think I might be starting to adapt..

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Training camp day 3.5

Woke up this morning to the sound of rain on our skylight. It wasn't really what I wanted to hear when heading off for a lake swim, but I suppose if you're going to be getting wet anyways... In the end the lake actually wasn't too cold, so I had been all reluctant for nothing. Mike, the man we're renting from, had scared us by saying it was mountain-stream fed, but I guess all the hot hot weather here has heated it up. It has been really summery here. I love it. It's rained off and on.. well thunder showered really, but it stays pretty warm out during the day and the sun always comes back again in the evenings. Mike, and Jenny (his wife) have been really great to us. We are very fortunate to have found them. Mike is a retired pro cyclist (he went to the olympics for britain I think), as well as a mountaineer (climbed everest), and local hiking/climbing guide. So not only has he mapped out most of our rides for us, but he's also taken us on beautiful hikes. And he has a puppy! We've mostly been swimming in the little local outdoor pool which is nice because it's warm- perfect in the morning. But it doesn't have any lines on the bottom, or at the walls, so we resorted to dropping rocks at each end to let us know when the wall is about to smash into our faces. We've also visited the national center (or something official like that anyways..) longcourse pool, which had wrap-around windows and the most beautiful view! I'm an idiot and forgot to upload the new pictures before making the trek over to our internet hotel cafe, but I'll put those up later.
We actually did our bike workout in Spain today!! It was super cool we just drove down half an hour and all of a sudden everything was spanish. It was actually pretty different from the France side. I had a better ride today too. So far I have been struggling with the altitude. My HR has gotten near max for almost all the easy sessions we've done+ full body lactic+ getting dropped in everything is not so much fun :(. But Spain was a lot lower and it made a huge difference for me. I think I'll start adapting to this altitude thing soon. And I've still been having a lot of fun- and really enjoy being here despite sucking in all my workouts.
Ok I've been trying to upload more pictures from our first day here for ageeeeess but they're not working. So goodnight! I'll try again next time I make it on the internet! Hope everything's going well back home.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Les Angles

Paula, Kathy and I are in Les Angles right now for an altitude camp. We have great support from Yulla (massage) and Sophie (chiro), and the coaches. So far it has been amazing. The countryside reminds me a bit of my cabin in the rockies which is really nice because I miss going to my cabin in the summer.

Our house:

The view from our house is beautiful!

Victoria to France

I’ll try to avoid making this into a Monster post, but I’m worried that it might turn out that way- too many blog worthy things have happened in the past couple weeks. We spent the last week in Quebec for the Coteau du Lac continental cup, and now we’re in a little skiing village in the Pyrenees in France! I find that my French has been coming back really quickly being in all these French places.. I’m still too shy to speak unless I have to, but I catch myself thinking French sentences sometimes- and that has happened since high school.

But starting from the beginning. Coteau was a good race for me- I’m slowly getting a little bit better at this Olympic distance thing. I made the qualification for the Worlds team so I’m very happy about that- hopefully this means I will be selected to go! It was my only chance at qualifying (unless I came/come top 20 at either Des Moines or London which is highly unlikely), and I wasn’t really sure I could do it since I have no clue how I compare to most of the girls in the U23 circuit, but in the end everything worked out.
Warming up I got to watch the sprint finish between Alexander and Matt- looked like a tie to me! Luckily there were two jr. male spots up for grabs at this race, so I’m so happy for both of them that they’ll be going to Budapest.
My swim started off really slow- I had a lousy dive and ended up underneath the girls on either side of me. The girl on my left immediately started veering towards me, so I was pummeled and squashed from both sides. I ducked under her, and swam in the gap she had created on her left. This gave me clear water, and I pulled ahead of the rest of the pack, but when I finally looked up for the first time, I saw Dorelle, Paula, and Angela easily two body lengths ahead of everyone. Damn. I was very worried that I had just lost the race in the first 30 seconds. So I cranked it up another notch, and gradually me and another American girl closed the gap. I was very relieved to come out front pack. The bike was good.. we were a group of seven to start, four Canadians and two Americans. We all worked really well together, making a very efficient pace line, but it was also crazy windy, and the chase pack behind us was big- so we were working hard! As the laps went by, our pack dropped down to 6 and then 5 through the technical section, which was sad because having the extra people to pull in the pack made it significantly easier. Stevie was so strong on the bike (as always ☺), and I had to give it my all to pull through each time after her. We made time on the chase group the first two laps, and then worked our butts off to maintain the gap the last 4 laps. The first thing that popped into my head when I jumped off my bike and tried to run it into transition, was a blog inappropriate swear word- legs weren’t feeling so great. Paula was immediately way out front, but surprisingly I found myself in second. I ran pretty strong the first two laps, just pretending I was winning rather than like 2 minutes or so down from Paula already, but by the third lap my legs really began to feel the hard bike. I knew a girl from the chase pack was gaining on me, so I tried to pick it up, but my legs don’t have a lot of miles under them yet, so they wouldn’t go any faster. Like Des Moines I felt really relaxed cardiovascularly, but my legs hated me. The girl who finished second flew by me with 1.25 to go and I had absolutely no hope. I was happy with how I placed though, and I know that as I get more fitness and experience the season will hopefully continue to get better. I also felt way better as far as nutrition and hydration goes than the last two races- so I’m glad to have that almost figured out (although it was a lot less hot..).
I missed most of the guys race in drug testing, but Andrew Yorke had an amazing race and won, with JP in third. Congrats boys! There were a couple crashes though, and I know the results could have been completely different, so I hope you’re feeling better soon boys- time to kick ass at the next races!

Paula, Patrick and I spent the next three days in Valleyfield, Quebec, before heading to Montreal to catch our flight to Paris. The Air Canada check-in was an absolute circus and I have never come so close to missing a flight before. (It’s a good thing you have the sweet movies/tv’s on your planes Air Canada or we would be fighting right now.)
We then proceeded to miss a night of sleep on the 6 hour flight to Paris, and arrived in the morning for a short flight to Toulouse, and then a beautiful 2.5-3 hour drive up through the Pyrenees to Les Angles.

When I was in grade 5 my parents took us on a 3 week trip of Europe. I don’t remember it that clearly, but I remember not being able to sleep on the flight over, and then doing headbobs, unable to stay awake, on our tour of London when we arrived. Apparently not much has changed. Wanted to sleep on the plane but couldn’t and wanted to stay awake to see the scenery during the drive, but couldn’t keep my eyes open!

Here are some pictures of a little town we stopped at on the way up. We will get to see the Tour go by here in a couple weeks!


So we made it ☺. Shorter more frequent blog posts to come.