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.
..so 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!!!!!