June 2014 - Run for the Thrills


Half Ironman Inspiration

Posted by | Triathlon Training, Why I Run | One Comment

Congratulations to Nate and Geron at completing the Syracuse Half Ironman this past weekend (June 22)!  They are my dear friends, training buddies and Half Ironman Inspiration.  I have them to thank for introducing me to this great (and crazy) sport of Triathlon.  This weekend was truly inspiring as I went down to Syracuse with Nate; I was able to support and cheer on my friends.

Syracuse Half Ironman was a huge race (2200 participants) – fit, muscular people everywhere – the setting for the race was gorgeous.  It was a spectacular race to watch.  In the early morning hour, waves of swimmers were set out, by age group, in their colour-coded swim caps, across the serene reservoir lake.  The swim was 1.9km square route.

After the long swim, the athletes ran up on shore, had their wet suits stripped by volunteers and ran to their bikes with determination and grit.  Both Geron and Nate had excellent swims.  These athletes do not stop; this is intense and suddenly they were off again – this time on wheels.  The ride was 90 km through the rolling countryside.

Two and a half hours later Shelley (Geron’s wife) and I were ready to watch Geron as he jumped from his bike and headed off into the run.  A short while later, Nate was also off on her run.  Both of them looked strong and in good spirits.  They both blessed us with quick smiles before the focused look of determination returned and they were off on the half marathon distance run of 21.1km.

The run was grueling, with steep hills that were repeated twice, as it was a double loop course.  It was impressive to see athletes digging deep to use all their strength to keep going. Geron finished strong with a time of 5:03:40  and Nate had an incredible finish of 5:24:37 – a personal best by 24 min.  Check out all the race results at Sportstats.

It was a privilege to go down to Syracuse with Nate and cheer her on.  She is a determined athlete and she manages to balance her family life with her three kids, her job and her triathlon training.  She is an inspiration to me and a real encouragement as I venture into this new sport.

Being a spectator was  a change for me from racing.  It gave me a great appreciation for all that my family does when they support me and cheer for me at racing events.  Kudos to all the supportive friends and families who are there for the athletes!


Welland Sprint Triathlon

Posted by | Events, Triathlon Training | 3 Comments

I took a risk and tried something new, and it was worth it! I think I can call my first triathlon a success.

I’ll admit I was nervous to do my first triathlon – the Welland Sprint Triathlon.  I was like a fish out of water–”where do I go, what do I need…?”– but everyone at the race was incredibly helpful and friendly.  I was expecting to be intimidated by the other triathletes, who not only run (like myself) but swim and cycle, but I enjoyed talking to everyone I met.  Everyone shared stories and tips and we all lined up for the swim in the best of spirits.

SWIM:  The 750 m swim was a time trial start.  Rather than all of us heading off at once in a mass start in the water, each athlete was released one at a time, every 5 sec., in bib number order.  I was number 204. We all lined up along the shore in numerical order.  I had my little fan club with me: my family and a friend from work.  My boys kept me positive and distracted from my nerves and my fears.  The water was warmer than the air, so it was actually a relief to finally get going!  I felt like I swam well – pushed it a bit and swam steady.  There was no thrashing about and colliding with other athletes, because we were all spread out.  I passed a few swimmers and a few passed me…

…then I was running up on the shore. I ran 400m barefoot to the bike (in the transition area), pulling off my goggles, swim cap, and getting my arms out of the wet suit.  Transitions were the most challenging part for me of the whole event!  At the bike I got the rest of my wet suit off, got my helmet on, my cold feet into my cycling shoes, and made a wise decision to wear my wind jacket, as the air was still cool and there was a strong wind.  Then I was off running with the bike through the transition area to the start of the bike route….

BIKE:  The 30 km bike felt great.  I had borrowed my friend Nate’s tri-bike, and after the first few tight turns I was able to settle into the aero-bars for the flat course.  There was wind; I was glad for the jacket and I pushed hard.  I was able to pass quite a few cyclists at the start.  There were also strong, fast guys passing me, with their serious racing helmets and muscle power.  I was able to pick it up on the second half.  The wind at the back helped!

…then it was back to the transition area.  Now time to hang up my bike again, get my helmet off, unzip my jacket and get my running number attached.  I had a challenge getting into my running shoes – my feet were very cold, and both my feet and my fingers were not responsive.  I had to sit down, pry open my shoes and cram my stiff feet into my runners.  Once I completed that challenge, I was off and running (literally) out of the transition area…

RUN: 7.5km of what I know!  This is my thing and what I do best!  I felt great, and in this stage of the race I was doing all the passing. The run had a couple of out and back sections, so it was fun to see where people were, and to recognize friends and training buddies along the route as we passed at various stages.    I felt great and finished strong.  I ran into the finish and was greeted by family and friends. (Did I already mention that I felt great?!)

I ended up being the 3rd female overall and the 1st female in my age group: 40-44.  I loved the whole experience.  The Welland race was an excellent first triathlon.  It was incredibly well organized. Everything was thoroughly explained, which is necessary for a newbie like myself.  Results of all the races (Triathlon, Duathlon and Give-it-A-Tri) are posted on the Multisport Canada Website and Sportstats. Thanks to the organizers in Multisport Canada and all the volunteers for a great event.

I think this is the beginning of something wonderful…

Check out upcoming MultiSport Canada Races to plan your first triathlon!



Trail Race Challenge

Posted by | Events, Why I Run | One Comment

The 12mile Creek Half Marathon is a local Trail Race Classic.  Trail, creek, rolling hills, steep hills, bridges…..all the best that nature has to offer, followed by pizza, beer and live music.  The St. Catharines Road Runner have organized this successful event for 26 years.  I have had enjoyment of running it for the past 4 years.

It is a challenging course, alternating between single track narrow Bruce Trail sections and wider gravel paths, with the large climb up the escarpment on Hydro Hill (behind Brock U) at the 18th km.  Trail races are much more technical than road races, with the uneven footing and constantly changing terrain.  Leaping over roots, jumping over puddles or sliding through them, keep you constantly “on your toes”.  Trail races are so interesting that the kilometers do seem to fly by – and suddenly you have completed a half marathon.

I defended my title again this year – I had a solid challenge from Ashley Powers from London.  We ran together for the first 12kms.  Slowly I pulled away; she stayed strong and finished in second place.  My finishing time was 1:30:54, quicker than last year, however a few minutes off from the course record that I set in 2011 of 1:27:16  .  Check out all the race results (divided into age groups).

Kevin Moore won the men’s race in an impressive 1:19:56  .  I was proud of my friends who posted great race times:  Karen Natho, my running buddy, ran a half marathon Personal Best of 1:35:14   (rare to PB in a trail race – all the more impressive!).  Melani Pyke, who has only run a few half marthons, ran a 1:43:49.  My running buddy Dave Smith was brave to run this race after being in Europe for two weeks and surviving a year of running injuries.  The fact that he completed this grueling race, shows his grit and determination. (It does not matter that it was a PW – Sorry Dave!)

I look forward to seeing everyone out at next year’s race.  This is a race you simply can’t miss.


Open Water Swim Challenge

Posted by | Events, Triathlon Training | 2 Comments

I ventured out into a new sport and challenged myself to my first ever open water swim race this Sunday at the first race in the Aktiv Swim Series. It was a wonderful new experience, but  I have lots to learn.  It was the day after my half marathon; perfect training for a half-ironman – my goal for September in Muskoka.

To make the whole event even better, my son Caleb also swam his first race at the same time. Caleb swam the 750m distance while I swam the half-ironman swim distance (1.9km).  He won his race; I came 10th (or 3rd last) in mine.  I was very proud of Caleb and rather humbled in my performance.

The race took place in the Welland Canal at the Welland Recreational Canal Flatwater Community Center.  For the novices, like Caleb and myself, there was a swim clinic to start.  We started by squeezing our bodies into the skin-tight wetsuits.  Then we jumped in and adjusted to the shock of 62 degree water. I found it was not too bad in the wetsuit, once I was moving around. Then we practiced “sighting” while swimming (keeping an eye on your destination and trying to swim straight rather than in a crooked, inefficient path). Finally, we practiced swimming in close proximity with other swimmers.


The race itself was a mass start, and though there were only approx. 30 swimmers, all the splashing, thrashing and kicking around was new to me. I held back as I was jostled about, rather than pushing myself forward, and was surprised to suddenly find myself at the back of the group.  I should not have been that far back, but that is naturally what happens if one does not start off hard in a race!

I started the swim at a steady pace and I think I picked it up a bit as the race went on.  Steady, but not too fast. I guess I have much to learn about how to execute a solid swim race performance.  Maybe I should take lessons from my son, who did so incredibly well, finishing the 750m swim in 12:08 and coming in first. I finished the 1.9k in 35:48.

This was a great practice race for me, as I will be doing my first triathlon next weekend in the Welland Rose City Triathlon.  I learned a ton, which I fully intend to put into practice at the triathlon.  Most importantly, I’ll start off harder from the outset.  I will also plan to swim at a higher intensity throughout the race itself, especially because it will be a shorter distance.

I’m thankful for the experience and to Barb and Wolf at Trysport for organizing this event.  I am definitely excited for the triathlon next Saturday….



Beginning Triathlon Training

Posted by | Events, Triathlon Training | 2 Comments

I am loving my swim and cycling workouts these days. I feel a bit guilty as I find myself enjoying my rides and swims – dare I say – as much as my runs!  Beginning triathlon training is a huge shift in focus and I have much to learn.

It’s exciting switching gears for the summer from marathon training to triathlon training. My first triathlon is scheduled for June 14th – less than two weeks away! The Welland triathlon is going to be an exciting first race for me.  I have decided to do the Sprint distance and work up to the Half Ironman distance, as this will be my first ever triathlon.  The Sprint distance is a 750m swim, 30km bike and 7.5km run.


My regular workout routine used to consist of five days of running and two days cross-training with swimming and yoga. My new schedule has me swimming, cycling, running and doing Brick workouts:

CYCLING: This weekend, rather than my regular long Sunday morning run, I was cruising up and down the escarpment hills on my road bike for 94 km. This was my third ride over 90km and I was no longer counting down the kilometers.  I was simply enjoying the ride.  I have been riding once per week and now I am increasing to two or three rides per week, in preparation for my first triathlons.  It has been good to ease into the new sports; no injuries, no overly fatigued muscles.

SWIMMING:  I added regular swim workouts to my life a year ago.  My form and speed are improving with regular swim workouts.  This week I did my first open water swim of the year in the Welland canal.  It felt great.  I had a wet suit on to keep warm in the 62 degree water.  The water has been slow to warm up this  year, after our brutal winter.  I am ready to swim in the canal for the Aktiv Swim Series – the first race on Sunday June 8th –  and for the Welland Triathlon.  These races all take place in the Welland canal, so it is a perfect training location.

swim series

BRICK WORKOUTS:  I know I am capable of performing each sport separately, but combining them is a whole new experience.  Brick workouts, involving cycling and then transitioning immediately to running, are a new challenge. These workouts are essential in order to train my legs to switch gears.  It is a definitely a strange feeling to go from cycling to running. My legs are not used to it yet; they definitely feel stiff and awkward when I start running after the ride. More brick workouts are on the workout schedule for me!

I challenge everyone to try something new this summer.  If you are a runner, join me in the sprint triathlon or “Give-it-A-Tri“, which is perfect for complete novices.  Experiment with open water swimming; take up cycling….the possibilities are endless.  I do not have all the gear, or all the right lingo, but when I get intimidated, I remind myself why I am doing this – yes, for the thrill of it.  This is enjoyable and I think it is essential to continue to try new things throughout one’s entire life.

Share your goals  below.  Hope to see you out at some races this summer.  I will keep you posted on my training and races.