Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Everyone. Just wanted to write a baby post announcing my return as a triathlete. Not that I ever left... but I took the most horrendous school semester of my life, so I'm very happy to say that I am DONE with that! Only positive is that I now have 6 more classes checked off the list, I will never do that again, and Onto Maui dudeeeessss!
Being home in Calgary has been very wonderful (which is good because it is going to be a while before I get over my post-traumatic-semester-disorder).
Highlights for me so far have been: seeing the family of course, powwow with the tri-it ladies (their enthusiasm always makes triathlon so exciting), and fiiiinnnnally watching the last Harry Potter movie ha. I'm going to see one of the junior world championship hockey games with my dad right now, and then hopefully we'll be off to the mountains tomorrow for some snow time before Alex and I head off to training camp.
Originally I had hoped to race some early season races for an ITU points boost, but I had some lame-o knee issue in the fall, so getting in a good block of training is the priority right now, and then I'll come up with a race plan after Maui.
Hope everyone is having a great Holiday!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 1 of 2012

I've been trying to write a season review for a while now.. but it seems like too much happened to really wrap it all together without turning it into a novel. This is why I decided to just put up pictures!
 (and a miniature novel:)
 The first half of the winter I spent sitting around with a broken collar-bone. I then proceeded to have the craziest second half of the year of my life, flying around to training camps and races, while being a part of Paula's support team (as the travelling team-mate and cheerer! some times I even got a walk-talky!). It was an amazing opportunity, an incredible experience, and I think I learnt a lot about WCS racing and training at this level. Unfortunately, due to my lack of World Cup points/past results, I didn't make it into most of the races I was at this year. That combined with some health issues led to me to race far less than I would have liked. Mid-way through the season I began to struggle with some blood pressure problems that I have dealt with in the past. I had 4 episodes this year, one of which was really scary and ended with me in the hospital over night. I still haven't quite figured out how to stop it from happening, but it was an eye-opener for me, and I am finally taking this issue seriously and am working really hard to have it all sorted out for next season. Luckily Beijing ended up being freezing cold, so I didn't have any issues and I was able to pull off a race that I am proud of. It wasn't perfect.. but 'what-if's' are silly to waste time on, so I am happy with what I learnt from it, and happy with my effort, and happy to finally run well. I was able to wrap up my season by getting my 2012 world cup standards so that was a nice way to finish. I think I progressed a lot in my training this year, so I am pleased with that and look forward to transferring my training to my racing more in the future. I'm also really looking forward to heading into this season in one piece! So thanks for the season everyone! Especially Patrick and TriCan and my parents. As well as everyone who looks after me (Kim & Joelle (massage),Kim (naturopath), Dr. Keeler, Dr. Murray (chiro), Paul (physio) and Dr. Smith & co! And I'm thankful to be racing with the world's best gear: 19 wetsuits, Trek ProCity and Pen Runners/Asics- thanks so much for helping me out this year!

 August: Very broken but still having a lot of fun
September: broken

October: broken

 November: Finally off the recliner bike and onto the trainer! (but still broken)

December 23rd: first 5km swim practice of drills, swim and lots of kick!

January: Maui baby! First road ride of the season, and went from barely finishing a 200 straight without having to open turn and suck air at the beginning of camp- to 5k open water point to point swim by the end!

February: tough month. being unaccustomed to training again after so long starts to get the best of me. 

March: Australia! Raced Mooloolaba WC as a good early season start up (finished 26th),and watched Paula win first WCS of the year in Sydney

 April/ May: Mini training camp in Arizona and not so great race in Monterray:

May/June: and then headed off to France camp & Madrid..
..and Kitzbuhel for training and Paula cheering:

June: Raced in Montreal, was having an awesome race, but ran into some blood-pressure/hydration issues and ended up in the hospital (finished 5th).

July: After lots of medical testing, headed back to France for what ended up being quite a fail camp as I was still too unhealthy. Toured Barcelona on the way home though!

August: Still trying to figure out health issues, but raced Kelowna and finished 5th, (on the podium as 3rd canadian and 3rd U23)

Finished off the season by placing 12th at U23 Worlds. Got a penalty, but still managed my fastest run of the year. Was so happy to finish strong!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

U23 Worlds Report

I've never really had any desire to go to China (luckily I can't offend anyone in China by saying that due to their ban on social media haha) but I'm really glad I was given the opportunity to see that part of the world because it was quite the experience. It ended up being both better and worse than I expected. The race site was quite green- like what you would imagine a panda jungle to be like, so that was really nice. But the smog was way worse than anything I imagined. On the bad days you could barely even see much of the scenery. Before it rained and we got a glimpse of clear air, I was wondering what it would be like to grow up and never know that the sky was actually blue not grey.. Anyways, it was an awesome experience, but boy do I love Canada.

After the first few days there, I went into the race with a list of all the different ways you can die in China: a) sliding out on the ridiculously slippery pavement if it rains, b) food/water poisoning, c) heat/humidity stroke d) asthma/allergy attack from the smog d) I can't remember what d) was actually.. but it was a legitimate fear as well (possibly something to do with getting hit by a car).. so when it was pouring on race day I couldn't help but think, 'thatttt's it! I'm a goner!!!' Our top 2 junior girls went down on the corners twice each during their race that morning, and the leading british girl was taken out by a stray dog, so that didn't make me any more confident. Luckily a) somewhat cancels out c) and possibly d) (since I can't remember what it was), and in the end since I didn't crash, it ended up working out for me quite well.

We raced at 3:15pm which is a lot later than any race I've done before, so that and the fact that the course/transition/lounge was barely open to us, made the morning leading up to the race a bit challenging. I ended up doing run and bike warmups quite early in the day and then tried to do a good swim warm up. I think that worked out.. problem was that while the lake was really nice (25 degrees) the air was really cold, so despite wearing all the clothes I could during the procession, I absolutely froze standing on the pontoon waiting for the other girls to get called out. My sprinting/start speed in the water had been feeling awesome, but somewhere between warmup and the 'go' I lost it, and my first 100 strokes were not at all what I needed. I ended up getting trapped behind A LOT of slower swimmers when we all came together. Unfortunately it was the 'oh no I am stuck behind A LOT of slower swimmer, but am so busy fighting and flailing that I'm using up all my energy anyways' type stuck. So that was too bad.
I panicked a lot. I think it was at the last 200 meters that I finally got free, surged up the front group and found that they were coasting. YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. that could have been the easiest swim ever!!! but alas it was not ha.

T1 was fine I think.. By the time we did the 180 and were coming back past transition, I was in first, and no one was going with me. Finally Lauren Goss pulled up and we exchanged leads a couple time until the hill, and then I pulled most of the way back around and back up the hill again.. Everyone worked the hill, but otherwise it was the most unmotivated front pack I've ever been in. The only positive was that I didn't have to stress about taking the corners too fast because I went into every one first. By the top of the hill on the second lap chase back caught us which was good because Alex made it up.. but bad because it meant coming off the bike with twice the amount of girls. The rest of the bike just got colder and colder and rainier and rainier. I think that was the coldest I've ever been in a race. Alex tried to put together an attack, but it ended up being at a very inopportune time for me. I totally cramped on the hill, and was literally straight legging it up while she surged ahead. Sooooorrrrrrryyyyyyy. Dying here! I was freaking out about the run after so much crampage on the bike but it ended up being ok.

I had a crappy T2 because I could NOT get my fingers defrosted enough to pull my shoes on. I headed out not too far back though, and just accepted the feeling of being too frozen to feel anything for the first lap until I had latched on to the main group of runners. That was awesome! I've never ran in a pack before. I didn't even realize how big we were until I saw pictures of us afterwards. So cool! Coming past the penalty box Craig was there telling me I had a penalty. Yuuuuppp and there was number 14- the only number up on the board- clearly posted there. I was shocked. I don't get penalties. I make fun of people who get penalties! I decided it must of been the helmet (which it was). I had thought for sure that it had gone in the box, but when I went to double check, my bike was in the way so I couldn't tell, so I just ran off having already wasted enough time struggling with my flats. So anyways that killed my soul a little bit. But it took off any pressure that I had about sticking with the girls because I knew that no matter what I would have to lose 15 seconds at some point. 'Well nothing to it but to run faster than everyone else,' I thought. I was feeling really good which has never happened to me before in an olympic distance race, so I moved to the front and tried to push the pace for laps 2 and 3. I figured I was probably being an idiot to do that, but how would I know- I've never tried this running in a pack and feeling good thing before aaaaaanndd somewhere along the line I would lose 15seconds. I had been having trouble keeping up with the girls on the steep little hill that did not feel little at all, so on the third lap I knew I would have to dig deep. I told myself: "30 seconds all out right now- ready go!" So I SPRRRRINTED........ and got totally gapped. And it took me a while to recover from my fail sprint.. probably shouldve taken the penalty then but I wanted to stay in contact with as many girls as possible. Anyways I gradually felt better and better as the last lap went on, but was still losing time to the leaders and then I had to take the penalty.. holy headrush/cramping batman.. and then sprinted my ass off (pain face and all) to make up 15 seconds and catch the 11th place girl in the last 400 meters ( I thought maybe she was a top 8 which would've been nice). But she saw me about to pass her in the last three steps, and beat me anyways.. and so now my calves are still shot from yet another sprint fail.

I had been feeling so smooth for most of the run that I didn't even think we were going fast.. I thought it was just an ez run until I died, but looking at the splits it was still the fastest run of my life even with the extra 15 seconds, so that made me happy.

All in all I would have loved to finish a bit higher, but I don't think I can expect much more from myself than that, so I'm content.
We honestly had the best support I have ever ever had at a race/event/anywhere!, so I can't thank everyone enough. Patrick for being my great coach, Craig and Gabor for switching out my cassette last second, because I would not have made it up the hill otherwise, Pierre for cooking for us, Kim, Marylin, Dr. Keeler and Rob Hasegawa for looking after me! Everyone!! Thanks for making it an awesome trip :D.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Road Trippin and the Not-Race

Man.. Kelowna is over! Noooooooo. Heading to this race I couldn't believe that it was Kelowna-time already and that after this most of the group would be on vacation. Kelowna is supposed to be the 'save the best for last' part of summer, but it doesn't feel like it has been racing season long enough for summer to be ending already. The blackberries are all coming out here in Vic though, and my to-do list includes school stuff, so I guess that makes it official. Luckily Manon, Ellen, and Marc are all in town so our group doesn't seem too small after all.
I was so excited for Kelowna. For the ferry and the drive (which are still novelties to me), and to see my family and friends and to just be in the most chill place on the planet, but unfortunately I was not so excited to race. I had zero confidence in my ability to actually finish the race which is a very bad pre-race mentality, but I knew I had to get it out of my system before Beijing. I would say that I was the most scared going into this race than I have ever been, but that would be a lie as I was a major psycho kids-of-steel. That said, the swim/bike went pretty well, and my work with a naturopath seems to have helped because I had my first Olympic distance run without legs cramping.

Swim started off funny.. I was waiting for a 'you're now in the hands of the starter' which never came, and the 'take your marks' was too quiet to hear, so by the time I clued in that the horn had gone off, everyone was already running into the water. I gradually made my way up front, and shared Paula's feet along with a US girl. When I saw that four girls were starting to pull away, I tried to surge to bridge the gap, but the US girl followed me and swam on top of me preventing me from catching up. Not getting anywhere, I settled back in, regrouped and tried again. This time I made sure to pull out really wide before sprinting up, but again she left the feet she was on and swam on top of me making us both lose the draft and not go anywhere! I think she must have had no concept of drafting because I really cannot understand her motives for drowning me like that. She continued to follow/block right up until the last 50 meters or so when I finally broke free. Somehow she didn't make our pack so that was awesome! haha! I almost ate it sprinting to transition when I hyperextended my knee though, but luckily I caught myself. Face planting on the brick walkway would be an embarrassing way to miss pack. By the time we got to the top of the hill we had reeled in the girls out front. The rest of the ride was pretty smooth. My corners felt awesome which is a HUGE improvement from the beginning of the year!

Starting the run was the tough part for me though. I just wanted to build it, but watching the front girls run away so quickly was hard on the ego. I was trying to push myself while still monitoring myself for signs of low blood pressure which meant not really pushing myself at all. I think it got to the point where I just made myself feel shitty because I was focusing on it so much. I ended up DNFing twice because it felt like I was beginning the death march- but then un-DNFed twice as well. After sitting down off the course for the second time, I told myself- " well blood pressure seems to be fine after all, there are plenty of girls out there who will be happy to finish. Walk if you have to, but finish!" So I did. And by the last lap I actually felt like I was moving and was able to pass back all the girls who had passed me during my breaks.

I can't really say I'm proud of doing that.. but I am really happy to have finished, and now I think I am so much more prepared to actually dig deep in Beijing. Even though I didn't deserve it, I was very happy to still make the U23 & Canadian podium after all that. Very happy to get the not-race out of my system.
Missing Kelowna already.

(Pics courtesy of Mark Bates & Alexis Lepage)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What happened to July?

Barcelona to Frankfurt flight complete and we’re on our way back to Canada. I'm not sure how I feel about people clapping after a clunky plane landing. I’m sure it’s just a way to say thank you to the pilot.. but it makes me feel like everyone was expecting to crash, and are thanking the pilot for saving their lives. If it is the world’s worst flight and the engines fail and a wing falls off but the pilot miraculously lands then sure I’ll clap too, but otherwise applauding a particularly jarring landing makes me scared of flying.
Matt, Alex and I spent yesterday evening getting a mini tour of Barcelona from Jon Bird! We ended up there last minute when our team realized that it was logistically impossible to get us all down from France the morning of our departure. So John Sasso, and Marilyn were so kind as to drop us, and their 8 extra pieces of luggage, off in Barcelona last night. It didn’t really dawn on any one of us until we arrived- that this could be fun! Still in the middle of race season here, so it wasn’t exactly a night on the town, but we had a little swim in the Mediterranean, got to walk along the La Rambla, and sat out in a plaza for a Sangria. Turns out the little fruits on the bottom are potent. Like little shocks straight to your brain. We were just so happy to be out in the evening and for it to still be warm out. Crazy to think that only a couple hours before we were in the Pyrenees. It’s rare that we get much tourist time on trips, so to get some free time was sooooo awesome!

Euro-trip round two 2011 was a bit of a mixed up camp for me. I left Victoria feeling pretty frustrated and stressed about all the fruitless medical tests, so I was looking forward to getting away from it all and just training again. Predictably, getting back to training ended up being more challenging than I had hoped. In short, I began the camp having low blood pressure issues all over the place, becoming too dizzy and crappy feeling to get through workouts. After the first time, the dizziness didn’t go away for two days, so I learnt to shut it down earlier after that. As my bp issues began to get better, my fatigue levels increased until I wasn't even a functional human being anymore. On the plus side, I have never been able to sleep or nap so well in my entire life! The downside was that sleeping didn’t seem to help. I had to withdraw from the Banyoles race. Finally I got to the point where I barely made the walk a block over to the grocery-store (granted it was a tired day for all of us), had an epic meltdown, and tried go home so I could rest and heal and see more people. I wasn’t able to go home though, so (with dr.Austin’s medical advice ha) Alex and I came up with a backup-plan, and I tried my best to follow a pseudo- Gaps diet to see if it would help. The Gaps diet is used to heal medical issues stemming from GI problems (everything from crohn's to autism). I couldn’t exactly just eat beef/chicken broths like you’re supposed to at the beginning, so I skipped that stage, but I cut out all remaining potentially harmful things from my diet/life, and made lots of soup even though I don’t like soup, and the difference was unreal. Within the span of 2 days, I went from feeling the worst I have ever felt, to better than I have felt in a long time. I went from sleeping all day, to feeling too hyper to sleep. The energy change was so huge that at first I felt wired alll the time. My resting hr went down by over 15 beats, and I went from being unable to imagine going for a jog to having one of those runs were you could just run forever. Annnddd finally the rainy/cloudy/cold weather we had been having let up and summer came back. I had enough energy to think again. And the ability to talk came back.. So in the end, camp was good. Thanks Alex and Matt for always making everyone happy, and John and Kim for looking out for me. Jenny & Mike, as always, were the best hosts ever. Seeing an improvement has been a huge boost mentally. I had been concerned that this was going to be the end of my season, so I’m really happy to give it another couple shots this summer.

The non-Barcelona crew are all off to London now, so wishing everyone the best! We miss you, and wish we could be there, but at the same time are ever so happy to be heading home.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

2wk Mid-Season Break

Today I got the confirmation from coach, doctor and travel agent that I will be heading back to Europe with Paula, Recent San Fran Pan American Cup winner, Matt Sharpe, and for the first time to Europe, Alex! We leave tomorrow. Needless to say the last two weeks have been quite the gongshow. I came home from Coteau du Lac feeling quite lousy. I think more then anything it was the pulling the all nighter at the hospital (sleeping in emerge is not so easy), and then getting home late the next night, and then the jet lag that did me in. Well I guess the disastrous race too.. But by the end of the week I had a caught a little cold that our group seemed to be sharing around. I then proceeded to pass it on to Alex only a few days before her race, so that was too bad.. but she still did really well! In summary: that week was quite the fail for me.
I'm really fortunate (and so thankful) to have access to physiologists and doctors and nutritionists who already know me, so they heroically threw together a massive amount of tests and meetings to try and get to the bottom of my past collapses in time for our Europe departure date. Because of all the testing, and driving all around town for testing, and my team abandoning me to go race ;), my training was rather pathetic this week as well. On top of it all, my stress levels seem to have gone through the roof- so I can't sleep anymore, so even though I've been training with way less intensity and volume then I'm used to, I've been feeling really tired and crappy.. and therefore this week was a somewhat of a fail also. I am going to pretend that this was just a 2 week mid-season rest. Kind of a lame break.. but hopefully now I'll be ready to get back to it. I agree with Paula though... ready to escape to France now!

At first I was so impressed by the Edmonton tri-fan's understanding of Paula's smart decision not to race. I knew they would support her choice because as fans they would want her to be the best she can be, on the WCS circuit.. at the I was happy to see that everyone was very proud of her for being smart despite the pressure to race. Butttt theeenn came the Edmonton Journal (front page) article about Paula having to get an MRI on such short notice. I do understand their points of view.. buuutt I guiltily have to admit that If people are going to be hard on Paula for getting in for an MRI on such short notice then there would likely be riots if I go into detail about the number of tests I was able to squeeze in in the last two weeks. Lets just say the blood clinic ladies know me by name now, and that I better be very healthy into old age because I've used up my fair share of tax dollars.
I was really hoping all the testing I did would come up with something substantial. Preferably fixable. But I guess if it were an easy fix I would have it figured it out by now (we Are going on 6 years of this happening), so makes sense that this will be a challenge for me. Through-out the process I did manage to learn some new things. The cardiologist thinks that my collapses are due to nervous system instability. It is not uncommon in young women which makes sense since I know a number of people who have collapsed in races before. My problem is that it seems to happen to me a lot. I guess during races, when adrenaline and some dehydration come into play, the parasympathetic nervous system ('rest & digest' system for those who haven't taken bio in a while) can overcompensate for the increasing symapthetic nervous system activity (fight or flight) leading to total shutdown. I hadn't been entirely convinced that this was my issue, but he described it as that feeling you get when you stub your toe REALLY badly, or whack your thumb with a hammer and you get that sinky/nauseaus awful feeling that is worse than the pain itself and you just want to yell or dance around, or yell and dance around to make it go away. Well that's the perfect description of the feeling of extreme discomfort I feel after I've collapsed, only it doesn't go away like it does when you stub your toe, it just keeps going on and on and on until I borderline lose consciousness again. It's nice to hear some explanation that makes sense to me, but not an easy fix- I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER MY STUPID BETRAYING NERVOUS SYSTEM! It seems like the only thing to prevent it is to stay well hydrated which can be an issue during races. I was treated for severe dehydration at the hospital so makes sense that hydration was an issue: The problem is WHY was I so dehydrated.. I was well hydrated going into the race, I drank well on the bike (e-load), and as mcuh as I could on the run, and yet the doctors were saying my kidney's were beginning to fail by the time I reached the hospital.

We followed up all the heart tests and blood tests with a bike/run test at 30 degrees. Unfortunately I only lasted 45 minutes into it because I was so dizzy and had reached the critical point for core temp (where you're not allowed to continue the test). I had to stop running to get my blood pressure taken every few minutes which obviously would have dropped my BP even further, but even still it was reading as low as 135/30 during the run which sounds pretty disastrously low to me. My hydration had been good. I am a very low-salt sweater. So my blood pressure issues were deemed to be not entirely related to hydration but likely to some other (at the moment) unknown mechanism.. I think maybe some other physiologists are going to look into it.. but for the time being it has been decided that nothing is wrong with me and that it was a poorly run test. sigh.
I have been quite frustrated by all the dead ends. I keep having to think back to Madrid when John had to go run and get paper bags in the middle of the market, the evening after my 5km TT, because I was still so nauseous from the morning's blood pressure episode that I just about puked in between the artist stands, And the good 5-10 minutes in the ambulance when I thought I was going to die in Montreal, to remind myself: nope this is not all in your head.
I always assumed that when I'm running and have to run with my eyes closed because I'm dizzy- that that was a normal part of getting tired. But I don't think it is. This is a problem, and problems can be fixed.
I used to just let people convince me that I'm fine. All the tests came up fine (enough..). I would let them tell me again that it was a matter of hydrating better before races, or eating more. But I am too scared of collapsing again to be complacent. I have to do more than just hydrate better. I've already tried that. I've done the salt loading, and the sports drinks. No, I'm going to have to hydrate way way way better. I think I'm going to start by healing my digestive system. I know I have some issues there, and poor gut health can lead to some serious problems (Alex and Austin have sent me like 50billion scientific articles/journals on the subject that I am supposed to be reading right now...). Maybe I have such terrible absorption that I'm not holding onto any sodium, so while I appear hydrated the reality is that I'm not retaining any water.. I mean there are a lot of other possibilities as well that we just didn't search deep enough for, hidden Thyroid issues etc.. But for now I'm going to be extra attentive of my tummy issues, I'm going to eat even more super healthy, and by my nutritionists recommendation I'm going to start taking in 4x the recommended daily allowance of sodium to see if that makes a difference. And hope for the best.. eek!

Sometimes it seems unfair that some athletes can get through an Olympic distance race without touching a bottle or gel, and I can't even make it through 5 k's.. but we all have our setbacks. And I'm not exactly on my deathbed here, so I am thankful that it is not something serious. But still maybe they'll find something else... in the mean time Ima go eat some olives or miso soup or something.. and get back to real training!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Coteau Report

(warming-up in my super-awesome new nineteen wetsuit)

On Sunday afternoon I retired.
30 minutes or-so later, I decided to make a comeback. So Newly back from retirement, here are 3 common assumptions that get on my nerves.

Number 1) That you must have been working hella hard to race until you pass out.
This is a common, but very incorrect assumption. Look at the athletes winning the WCS races. Unless they are wayyy out front like Brownlee sometimes is, they are usually giving it their all. As in, that is as hard as they can go- they can't go any faster. Then 30 seconds later microphones are shoved into their faces, and in 5 minutes or so they're up on the podium looking totally refreshed. Not in an ambulance. You pass out when something is wrong not from trying too hard.

Number 2) That you must have very poor hydration/nutrition strategies in order to become so dehydrated that your kidneys start to fail.
This is much less of a stupid assumption.. but it is still an assumption.

Number 3) That you weren't fit enough to be pushing yourself that hard thereby eliciting an uber-bonk.
Similar to Number 1, but even more insulting. As triathletes we train pretty hard. I know that we are often putting in 3 or more times the amount of training as track athletes, and yet I've collapsed in a 5km cross-country race, and major-bonked after two other 5k races. Now what were you saying about my fitness?

direct example: When I mentioned to the nurse that I've had this history of collapsing in races, but that my identical twin sister didn't have that problem, she said, "your sister is likely more fit."
ook. New nurse please.

This weekend was a good wake-up call for me. I've been whining for a while that I think there is something wrong with me when I race, but now I KNOW there is something not right. I'm not too worried about training, but I am going to wait until I get some testing done before I race again that is for sure. So about that race...

It started off awesome. The main thing I freakout about pre-race is making the front pack. Every race, I know that I’m going to have to stay really tough if I want to make that lead group, and despite being a small field- this race had quite a number of excellent swimmers. But shockingly, I dove into the water, and found myself instantly ahead of the masses. I saw Angela Quick swimming off to my right, and KNEW that those were the feet I needed to be on, so I easily skooched over, and from then on was just cruising. By the 500m turn-around it dawned on me that I could be swimming a lot harder. I have never ever felt this way before. The only problem was that my goggles had fogged up so badly that I couldn’t see anything. Not one thing. I know- Lame excuse, but I felt like if I did pull ahead on my own I would just end up on the completely wrong side of the canal. So I swam up beside Angela and tried to see if I could pick the pace up a bit by pushing it beside her, while still letting her guide me. Maybe it was just that I had moved out of the draft, but I think we picked it up a bit. On the run-around at 1000 meters I was able to give my goggles a quick wipe and the next 500 was so much better. Thank goodness I was able to see because I had separated myself from Angela on the dive back in, and from 2 people over I saw her surge (is that solely a running term?). I knew I had to get on that, but I couldn’t get over to her right away, so instead I sprinted to the bouys and since I had the inside line, I easily got on her feet as we headed back to the pontoon. She was motoring. By the swim exit she (and me with her) had made a few seconds on the other girls, and I still wasn’t feeling nearly as tired as I usually do out of the water. I had a good run to transition and ended up with a decent lead out of T1. I couldn’t believe it! As I was letting the lead pack of girls pull through, I realized Alex was on the back of them! I was so stoked! And instantly felt really bad for pushing the first bit of the bike in my attempt to shake off any stragglers. I had almost dropped my own sister! But she had made it in, and we separated from the main group, so it all worked out. Except Dorelle was nowhere to be seen! A dropped chain had landed her in chase pack. For the first two laps we could see Evelyne Blouin chasing us down. I really hoped she would catch us because I felt like we needed just one more strong rider if we wanted to stay away from the bigger chase group. I was stoked when she did catch up! Man that girl is strong. It was a tough ride, but I think the five of us worked really well together. There’s no hiding or wimping out on a bike like that. We had a couple laps of riding scared as the chase group made time on us, but then we really hardened up and increased our lead again.

Into transition, I ended up folding the back of my shoe, and came out of T2 way last of the pack for my third time this year. And to make my attempts at bridging up worse, my quads immediately started to cramp up. I have yet to do an Olympic distance without cramping, but usually I can hold out for a lap or two. This time, my quads were locked right off the bat. I couldn’t get into a comfortable stride because it felt like my muscle fibers were tearing with every step. Considering how painful walking is today- they probably were. I saw Alex and Kathy duking it out up ahead, but even though I knew I could definitely be running faster, my legs weren’t going to let me. Onto the second lap when the cramping had not eased up a bit, I knew it was going to be one looooooong ten kilometers. And I knew it was only going to get worse. Boy did it ever get worse. A podium was out, so that sucked, but I figured that if I stuck it out I still might be able to manage a top 5. And I really really really wanted that top 5 to put me in contention for a worlds spot. On the third lap I went from feeling hot and thirsty to freezing cold. I’ve experienced this before, so even though I knew this meant my body was starting to shut down, I irrationally thought the temperature outside must have suddenly plummeted. When I found myself swerving off the path onto the grass, I told myself that I had meant to do that. Onto the last lap I was. not. moving. Manon flew by me. Evelyn pulled away, but I knew I still had a decent lead on the 6th place girl. I think my body had almost completely shut down by the turn around but I just kept pushing myself towards the line. I didn’t see Alex waiting for me at the finish but I felt her catch me as I crossed it. I don’t remember anything else until I was in the ambulance.

Alex has been doing imitations of what I looked liked in the last 400 meters and it is sooooooooo embarrassing ugh haha. Like a marching duck with a wobbly head.

I almost didn't want to write about my second trip to emerge in less than a year, but it came out anyways. if you're tired of Kyla Coates dramatic blog posts, you can stop reading now.

In the ambulance, all the muscles in my legs completely locked up, it was really painful but the least of my worries. The last times this has happened it has always been during hot races, so I am usually immediately surrounded by volunteers who cover me in ice, and after some time I start to feel better- Since it wasn't hot out today, I don't think anyone considered my temperature. Now I have nooooo clue what was going on with me.. I think my blood pressure might have been low, but I really wish my temperature had been taken as well. As I was lying in the ambulance I felt like my body temperature was just building and building. I didn't feel hot necessarily, but I felt like every protein in my body was denaturing and that my organs were shutting down. Ok melodramatic I know.. but I don't know how else to describe it. It's almost like the worst pins and needles you can imagine all throughout your internal organs, and just building and building. I was begging for someone to bring me ice, but no one would. I don't usually spit inside vehicles, but I couldn't stop gagging up. A volunteer finally found me an ice pack but it wasn't enough, and as they strapped on the oxygen and the IV, I finally began to let go of my panicking. My awareness of myself and my surroundings faded away as well and I could no longer feel the pain, but I was way too scared to let myself pass out completely. It was as if all of me had become centered in a little ball of light behind my eyes. I had been rocking my legs to ease the cramping, so from my little tiny bubble of conciousness, I focused on doing that. I can’t die if I keep moving my legs I thought, and I kept repeating 'Alex came second, Alex came second, Alex came second'. It was my little anchor of happiness that was keeping me from completely passing out. I know that it's JUST a triathlon, but that was the only happy thing coming to me at the time. Either they had the windows open or they were blasting the air-conditioning, but I think the cold air made the biggest difference. Minute by minute my awareness gradually began to expand back towards normal, and when we arrived at the hospital and the paramedic told me to open my eyes, I found that I could.

I was very happy that my mom was with me, but I felt really bad about her witnessing that. I think it's easier just to say, hey mom, I passed out in a race, but I'm ok now!
I ended up on an IV for the next 22 hours in emerge because my Kidneys were showing signs of the beginnings of failure, and they were concerned about a little bit of heart stress. It wasn't the greatest experience. The IV also made me soooooo poofy that I looked like I had gained 20 pounds to my face. Alex packed up my ridiculous amounts of luggage, so we made our flight home yesterday evening. And now I am home!!! And everything is ok. And I think I do want to be a triathlete again after all, so long as my body will let me. Luckily I've got the best support staff ever here so I know I will be in good hands. I hope that this race will still have qualified me for Worlds because my only other chance is San Francisco in two weeks time, and unfortunately I really really doubt I will be ready to race again by then. My goal this year was for Alex and I to go to Worlds together though.. so at least she's done her part!
Huge congrats to Kathy and Alex, and Manon and Andrew for their podiums here in Coteau, and everyone who raced so well this weekend (Monroe & St. Malo too)!
And thanks to Kathy & DJ for letting me stay at their place and taking such great care of me earlier in the week!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Mission Accomplished Also!

I always think its funny when someone not-so-very-important like me writes: sorry for the lack of updates or something like that because REALLY? I'm pretty sure no one is actually anxiously awaiting an update so badly that it's worth apologizing for.. (I know I've written that many times, but I still think it's a silly thing to say). But then today I checked my stats, and 210 people checked my blog yesterday via Paula's Blog! And I haven't updated it recently! PAULAAAA you forgot to warn me! WWWWWAIT 210 people- COME BACK- I'm writing a new one!!!!!

Actually, I wrote this one on the Flight home, but haven't had the time to post it yet, so here are my thoughts from Kitzbuhel:

Hate to sound overly excited all the time, but after 5 weeks away I couldn’t think of a better way to end our May/June Euro Adventure. (Here.. I will take out most of the exclamation marks so this blog doesn’t sound too annoyingly happy).

-Paula won the gold Kitzbuhel goat trophy like I asked for. (oh and the deer head trophy.. can’t forget that one). While the conditions during her race fluctuated by about 20 degrees depending on the cloud cover, for the most part it wasn’t the freezing downpour the boys experienced. (guys race = not so fun (although the Brownlee show, as usual, was pretty unreal)).

Brownlee in Freezing Rain:

Goat (yay!):

Deer Head (umm..):

-After all my ordeals, I have finally mastered one carry-on, and a bag under 50lbs. No comment on the weight of the bike box and carryon though..
-We arrived at the Munchen (ie. Munich) airport this morning, and there was hardly a line up at check-in. The wonderful Aircanada ladies didn’t charge us for the bikes, and Patrick very very generously offered me his upgrade. Yup I am currently in a pod!!! (exclamation marks very necessary here) Matt described it pretty well.. ‘it’s a whole different World up there.’ He was right. THANK YOU SO MUCH PATRICK!

Our Paula is the best in the world, I’ve tried a pod.. Life Is Complete.

(.. Currently sooo full from the 4 course dinner, but they just brought out bowls of ice cream with coffee, chocolate praline somethingorother, and vanilla- how can I say no! I am making an ice cream soup with the last bits of each flavor like I used to do when I was twelve... Best. Day. Ever.)

When I was first given the opportunity to train with Paula this spring/summer, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about taking a semester off school to train and prepare for races knowing that I wouldn’t be racing myself. Would it make training mentally harder, doing weeks of specific prep, sometimes just the two of us, without a race to prepare for myself? I also felt a bit like I was jumping through hoops, experiencing the WCS atmosphere without taking any time to master Continental Cup racing first. Despite my worries, I soon realized that there weren’t many races back home that I would be missing out on. I don’t have the funds to go chasing points around other countries anyways, so I wouldn’t really be compromising my own season. And training in a world class program, with the best female triathlete on the planet (crazy thinking about that!), getting comfortable with WCS races, while traveling the world, really is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I know there are a lot of girls who would give a lot to be in my position.
I hadn’t thought too much about being part of something bigger. But when she won that first race in Sydney- I just felt like: Oh my god WE did it!
It’s a silly feeling because IIIIIIii did nothing. Even the description of training partner is embarrassing because I am in no way equal to her. I’m just there to share in the good days, and laugh through the suffering days alongside her (well more like behind her..), and then let her do all the dirty work. But after watching her win these last three races, I’ve realized that I don’t just want to be faster so that I can be competitive at this level too.. I want to be faster so that hopefully I can continue to be her team-mate as well. I think I’m on the right track. Every camp this year I’ve seen huge improvements in my ability to handle the training. Sure I still probably have 50 tired days for every one of hers, but I did it! Obviously John (physiologist) and Kim (massage) played a HUGE role in keeping us going. Kim wasn’t just there for massage, she was making me coffee every morning, really going above and beyond. And Patrick of course for putting so much caring and attention into our little group even with such a big group back home. Thank you so much!

I’m never ever going to be a Paula Findlay, but getting to be a part of it all has been so much more rewarding than I ever imagined. And to be working towards my own goals at the same time is a nice bonus. So there ya go. Kitzbuhel was awesome. Hopefully leaving behind the rain though. And I’m off for more adventuring. Kathy was very kind to let me crash at her place for a few days, so I’ll get in some training with her. And then my mom and sister are coming out to Montreal! I haven’t seen my mom in a while, and I haven’t raced with my sister in over a year- so I am very excited. Also very excited to see Dorelle and Joanna and the Ontario crew again! Yay D! And to get to race against all the Canadian talent that I don't see too often. I know Manon Letourneau and Evelyne Blouin are FIT!
I somehow managed to lose my last year’s wetsuit at the pre-race swim on Friday ☹, so I’m really lucky that Alex will be able to bring out my brand new 19 wetsuit- I have heard that it is pretty awesome. (SVP DO NOT FORGET IT ALEX!!). And then it’s back to Victoria for a week to do so some laundry and hopefully visit the bike shop, re-pack.. train..all that good stuff.

- signing off from the pod!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Kitzbuhel Pool:

(this would be the most beautiful pool I have ever seen, if it was not so deathly cold.. that takes down it's impressiveness a couple notches..)

Whew this update has been a long time coming. So much has been going on.. I have been in Europe for the past 3 weeks. 2 weeks in France, a quick stop in Madrid for the WCS, and now we’re in Kitzbuhel! Alongside traveling with bikes and doing laundry, another challenge in Europe is finding internet. The veterans who have been here before are always pointing out the various wifi locations: 'this hotel is good, but they get mad if you're not a guest, McCafe is great but a bit of a hike'.. but then a wifi connection magically appeared in the kitchen of our condo! I sure hope it sticks around..
I think Kitzbuhel is my favorite place that we've been to so far. The scenery is amazing (just like Banff, as my Dad says). The little town is gorgeous with tons of cute shops to cater to the elite (as in wealthy) ski crowd, so I can't wait to check it out on a lighter day. Maybe sans my credit card.. Where we trained in France was beautiful as well, but I always leave there with the feeling of ‘oh thank god we’re finally returning to civilization!!!’
So it is nice to now be in a beautiful European village with actual people in it.

Boys loving breakfast in france, and the Font Romeu pool:

So about Madrid!
What a weekend hey!! Now that I have internet, I really want to watch the Magazine show! Relive the excitement a little ha. It was neat to stay in the race hotel with almost all of the other athletes, and to be around all the energy and nerves but not have to worry about racing myself. I roomed in the tiniest little euro-style room with Kathy Tremblay. It was so tiny that I felt bad that she had to be in such a cramped room with me leading up to her race, but in the end we had fun, and she was a deep sleeper so she didn't seem to notice when I accidentally thwacked her with my pillow while rolling over a couple times in the night.
I got to meet a few of the superstars, mostly just the one’s staying on my floor, but that was pretty cool. Alex summed it up, “she’s not racing but she’s getting to meet a lot of famous athletes. It’s like Pokemon cards- collect them all!”.
I'm too scared to talk to some of the big names so alas my collection is likely to remain incomplete.. buttttt otherwise I'm not doing too bad! I think maybe other athletes are trying to get to know Paula through me...

Since I had trained and tapered with Paula leading up to the race, I wanted to try out a 5km. The last one I had done was on smashed legs, in a hurricane (exaggeration- but it was one of those days when even the Biggest trees are getting blown around), and with the worst pacing ever, so I figured I could pull off something better than that. I just wanted it to be low key with Patrick timing me, but we needed a second Tri-Can coach to make it official. Andddd of course the other Tri-Can coach in Madrid was none other than Barrie Shepley. So the morning rolled around and my low key TT had turned into a warmup around the nicest track I’ve ever been to with Simon Whitfield, in Madrid, paced by the Worlds best pacer, Jon Brown, timed by Patrick and Barrie Shepley, and cheered on by Paula Findlay. Oh my goodness can you get any more high profile! I couldn’t believe how many people came out to support me even though they all had WAY more important things going on that day.
Too bad I sucked.
It was fantastic being paced by Jon because not once did I have to use my brain since I knew that he was Exactly on the pace I wanted. It felt smooth for the first 3 km, but then the last 5 laps got progressively worse and worse until I ended up running 2 seconds slower than my previous crappy 5 km. At first when I finished I just thought ooohhh well, guess my running is just not where I would like it to be right now. Nothing had felt particularly off, I just felt too tired to hold onto the pace at the end. But as I was lying on the grass at the finish while all the important people rushed off to do their important things, I realized that I was not recovering at all. If I had been in the finishing shoot and someone had been telling me to 'keep moving, keep moving', I would have been one of those melodramatic ones that need to be carried to the medic tent. I really could not stand up. I knew we had to get back to the hotel asap, so gradually I went from lying to sitting, and then crawling and with a couple stops I was able to pick up my stuff and hobble to a cab with Patrick. The whole walk over I was fighting bouts of extreme stomach cramping, and dizziness. I just kept my eyes mostly closed because the black haze that came and went made me feel like I was going to fall over. At the hotel I went straight to the breakfast buffet and drank a glass of orange juice and then slept on the table for ten minutes, listening to the voices around me fade in and out, and my ridiculously high heartrate pound away. Finally it dawned on me that most people seemed to assume that I was racing, and they probably thought I was having a pre-race freakout or something, so I made myself get up, drink another glass of orange juice and go up the elevator. Unfortunately the orange juice did not sit well, and I REALLY thought I was going to throw up on the other two people inside. Thankfully that passed, and I slumped down in front of my hotel door for another 5 minutes until I was able to open my eyes again and get the key out so I could flop on my bed. I knew I had to recover because there was a very important race that I needed to be at in a couple of hours, so I was able to eat a whole Lindt chocolate bar, and 3 apricots (pretty much the extent of the food in my room) and after a while I became human again. Crappy feeling human, but functional at least. That kind of a bonk hasn’t happened to me since my pass-out days, so I’m not really sure if it was more of a blood pressure, or blood sugar, or hydration issue, but I know it wasn’t normal. So hopefully my iron isn’t disastrously low or something like that. On the plus side I don’t think I could have come so close to passing out without having my run affected, so I’m hoping that I’m running better than the time showed after all.
Anyways a couple hours later and we we’re down at the race site for the 2nd WCS race of the year! I was so nervous for Paula, and I felt bad that since I wasn’t racing I couldn’t share in her pre-race misery, so she had to suffer alone ;). But then after the first amazing lap of the swim when she came out right behind Lisa Norden and Laura Bennet, I KNEW she had it in the Bag!! And did you see her get those two Primes!! Whoohoo! It was so amazing to be there!

Can't really describe how cool it is to actually be at a WCS race! Thanks again to everyone who has put me in this position. It's really a great experience to be here. GOOOO PAULA!!!!!