Wednesday, December 17, 2014

#Mingsanity, Boston, A European Adventure & A Few Surprises: A 2014 Highlight Reel

Here we are folks, the last month of the year.  The end of the year is always a time for reflection for me as I'm sure it is for most people.   Did it meet all your expectations?  What were the highlights?  The low points?  The last few years I've written my year end recap with excitement and high expectations for the following year.  This year I can safely say, I'm not writing from that place.  For once I have no expectations for next year.   I have things that I'd like to accomplish but until I am back to running regularly, serious training for said things will have to wait.

That doesn't mean that this year was a wash out.  Far from it.  I tackled 13 races over the course of 8 months.  Racing all of them with messed up knees and a lazy ass.  Which is why I'm where I'm at now.  But that's ok.   I handed over the planning reigns to a coach, which was probably one of the best things I did this year.  I also learned a lot about what I'm capable of and ultimately, that's all I can ask for - that's what racing is all about for me.  Testing my mettle.  And I did so every time I toed the line.

This year's bling.


The Goals:

This year I had 3 racing goals.  Two of which were a little lofty but I like to dream big.  It forces me to work outside my comfort zone.

1:  Go sub 3:10 at Boston.  

This was a very lofty goal but one I thought would be attainable given my previous years performance.  Needless to say, my race didn't go as planned.  The Newton hills absolutely killed me this year.  I still had a decent race given the conditions but I can honestly say I was ill prepared going into that race.  Not enough hill work or time on my feet.  But that's what happens when you're trying to balance training for a marathon and a 70.3 8 weeks later.  Not something I'd do again.  I do think I have a 3:10 marathon in me but that goal will have to wait.  Long distance running is off the table for the first half of 2015. 

2:  Qualify for the 70.3 World Championships / Go sub 5:30 for a 70.3

Had G raced Luxembourg with me, the second half of my season would have looked very different.  I managed to snag a spot in the roll down but didn't take it because the plan was for the two of us to qualify and race it together.   Had he raced, he would have also gotten a roll down spot and we would have made our way to Mont Tremblant in September.  Instead, he raced Muskoka and I spent the day being cheerleader for him and the plethora of friends that I had racing. That was a fun day and probably the right move given the condition of my knees by that point.

My initial goal was to break 5:30 for a half ironman but as things progressed in my training, I thought there would be a good chance that I could go faster than that.  Once I got to Luxembourg and assessed the course, I figured 5:15 was probably doable.  If I had a really great day then I could probably hit 5:00.   I came in at 5:09:57 which landed me 10th in my AG in a super competitive field.  Those European women are REALLY fast.   I was over the moon with my result here and figured if I had managed another 3-4 weeks of solid bike training, I might have landed on the podium.  It was an amazing day.

I smile every time I look at this picture. 
That trip was the highlight of my year.  I had a fantastic race and we had a wonderful holiday.  It was the perfect way to celebrate 10 years of marriage.  The only sad part was that G didn't get to race with me.

3. Reclaim my Age Group Series Title in the Recharge with Milk Series.

Last year I raced 7 triathlons in this series.  I was not about to do that this year.  It was way too much for me.  My goal was to race the minimum number of races (4) and see where that got me.  I ended up having to race 5 in order to secure my spot at the top.  The competition seemed much stronger this year, even with my hugely improved bike times.  I PR'd on almost every course I raced on this year in comparison to last year.  I can chalk that up to #Mingsanity.   Ming made me understand what hard work feels like on the bike and it showed in my results.



The Training

To say that I worked hard for the first 6 months of the year would be an understatement.  Looking back at my training log, I can honestly say I busted my ass.  Having a coach, someone to be accountable to, took my work ethic to a whole new level.  I normally don't have a problem with motivation or training.  I do have a tendency to overdo things sometimes so having that guidance was a good thing.

After G got injured, I figured I was on my own in terms of training.  But thanks to my amazing friends, Heather, Jordan & David, that never happened.  They picked up the slack when G was sidelined.  I had one of my most memorable training days with David right before we left for Europe.  We rode the Tour de Grand and then dragged our sorry asses out for a 13km run after.  In the rain.   That was promptly followed by a burger, fries and timbits.  We're all about quality post workout fuel, ha.

Tour de Grand Fun!


Jordan, Heather and I at Binbrook

The Surprises

One of the other goals that I kept somewhat quiet about was getting my run coach certification.   I got that in March of this year and literally the day after I announced on Instagram that I was certified, I received an email from Megan, a lovely girl in Tennessee, who became my first paying client.   I coached her to her second half marathon.  She was an absolute joy to work with.  Since then I've had the pleasure of coaching several people to PR's this year.   Thanks to Christina, whom I've been working with for a year now, I've had even more people enlist my services.  Instagram and my blog have also brought people my way and I am happy to say that I have a full roster of folks for the first half of 2015.   I am so honored that these people have chosen me to help guide them to their goals.  I truly enjoy helping people see their potential and I can't wait to see what my crew of athletes pulls off in 2015.  I've had so much fun with this that I'm going to get my NCCP Triathlon coaching certificate in January.  Cats out of the bag now, ha ha.

The other surprise that happened this year was my last minute decision to ride in the Real Deal / Morning Glory Time Trial in August.  I had no expectations what so ever as I figured I'd be racing against some seriously talented ladies.  This was going to be about how much pain I could take for 15km.  Amazingly I managed to pull off 3rd place on a brand new bike and race wheels.  The best part was that I averaged 36 kph.   Never in a million years did I think that was possible.  Thank you Ming.

photo courtesy of Brendan Smyth @ Smyth Photo

The People

Thanks to the interwebs, I've met a whole bunch of wonderful people this year.  People that share my passion for triathlon, running and racing.  Some are local and some are not.  Some I've met and some I hope to meet someday.  Irina, Zin, Sam, Nicole, Jodi & Jessica, are a few of the folks that I'm really glad to have met this year.  Finally meeting Danielle in person this year after coaching her for a YEAR was also pretty darn awesome.  Especially since it happened when she PR'd at Hamilton.  LOVE that.

Two of my awesome athletes!

Post race at Bala Falls.  Photo courtesy of Irina Souiki

Freezing our butts off post race at Lakeside

The Changes

I definitely started 2014 in a different place than where I am now.  I feel like I'm slowly climbing my way out of a deep dark valley.  I vaguely remember what the sun looks and feels like but it seems like I still have a ways to go before I get back into it.  I am starting to see the light though and that's a good thing.  That's the thing about an injury.  It can erase any iota of confidence you had in yourself and your ability.  But, I've been patient and diligent and I'm starting to see glimmers of my old self.

One major thing I've learned this year is a greater awareness of my body and how it moves.  Having a gait analysis done was the first step in that growth process.  Seeing what I was doing wrong and what was potentially causing my issues was huge.  Doing pilates has been a big help in understanding my body and how everything is connected.  A huge thank you to Elyse for encouraging me to come and try it.  Working with her was wonderful and it's something I will continue to do moving forward.  It's definitely something I recommend every runner / triathlete incorporate into their routine where ever possible.   Focusing on the little things that make up the big picture is what will make me a stronger athlete moving forward.  That means that my physio work will always be a part of my routine now.  No more neglecting the little muscles in favour of the big ones.  Functional fitness is where it's at for me. 

I also learned that I can kind of survive without running in my life.  Would I ever chose to NOT have it in my life?  No.  I enjoy it far too much.  Not running regularly opened the door for me to do other things.  Like mountain biking.  That is something I had been wanting to try for a couple of years and this year seemed like the right time.  I am so thankful that I have an incredible husband who supports my endeavors to try different things.  It helps that he loves to mountain bike so he was more than happy to take me out.  It's fun, it's scary and it makes you feel like a kid again.  What more can you ask for?

The Thank Yous

It takes a village....or so the saying goes.  There is a huge network of people that are responsible for everything I accomplished this year and they deserve a shout out.

Firstly, my coaches Ming & Mike at Real Deal Racing.  Ming gave me the work & Mike helped with my mental game.  I couldn't have asked for two better people to guide me through the first half of 2014.  If you want to get to that next level, I firmly believe in working with a coach.  These guys know their stuff and are a pleasure to work with.

My friends and coworkers who a) get excited about and b) support every single crazy endeavor I've decided to do.  There are no words to express just how lucky I am to be surrounded by such amazing people.

My "caregivers".   The people that keep my body in good working order.  My friend and RMT David has been instrumental in keeping me mobile this past year.  The incredible folks at Pivot: Babs, Peter & Mary Ellen.  They have all played an important role in keeping me healthy or, as of late, getting me back to normal.

And most importantly, I would never be able to do what I do without the support of my amazing husband and partner in crime.  He is the ying to my yang, my voice of reason, my best friend and I honestly don't know where I'd be without him.   Doing all of this without him by my side is unfathomable.  Love you to the moon and back, G.   Especially when you make that goofy face. 


As for 2015, well, I haven't officially registered for any races yet but I suspect that will come in due time.   Along with some more concrete goals.  But that's a post for another time.  In the meantime, I just want to say THANK YOU to everyone that has been following along for the last 3 years.  I appreciate each and every one of you taking the time to read my ramblings.

Wishing you the happiest and healthiest of Holidays.  

PK  xo






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