I have been away from the mouse-pad-on-the-beach (my place in Victoria) for a little while, resourcing myself!!
After the first series of races, I went home to St-Sauveur and took a deep breath. As usual, this was great for me. In the last month, so many fun, inspiring things happened that will keep me going so strong until Clearwater. I am now back in Victoria, happy to be waking up to a sunrise on the ocean and driving all energy into big training days. I AM READY.
So I kicked the mid-season off with a week of recovery at mom's. THANK YOU MOM. I was craving some down time and a little less training. The timing was perfect as Lance had planned a mid-season break. Back home in St-Sauveur, I was mama's little girl again, I spent time with family, gave myself a chance and accepted that I needed to get my mind off my sweet obsession just for a while. Luckely for me, mom is a great cook and won't let me use the kitchen. She also happens to be alot of fun! SHAME on ME! I was such a spoiled baby back there AND apparently, it just made mom smile that I was. She even was present at a few trainings to cheer me on.
I also got to spend time with the weiner crew, which was nice. I find the hug-a-weiner-dog therapy is definitely underated.
On my week off, François St-Onge (Equilibrum sponsor, lives 20 minutes from St-Sauveur), invited me over for another easy ride. This time I thought....François was coming off an outstanding performance at Lake placid IM (so proud of him!) and so, I figured, he would probably not inflict the usual beating to me on the bike. And so I very innocently went to visit the Equilibrum crew once again....and...about 150 MAN SPRINTS later, we had finished our ride. NOTHING CAN SLOW THESE GUYS DOWN!!! Oh well, I need a beating once in a while, a random workout with the boys with lots of hurt in the plan actualy felt quite good. That was a fun day that we resumed with a fun BarBQ. I love hanging with them.
Then training started back up with a little bit of base, I got two long rides in, in which I had destination goals (I LOVE THOSE). I rode from my place to Mount Tremblant on the longest, most hilly road possible, just aerobic, enjoying being on my bike again. The first weeks building back into training were a little hard as I still felt on vacation in St-Sauveur and had to do heat training (Philippines 70.3 was two weeks after that break!). That heat training felt HARD. The workouts were actualy quite easy in terms of intensity but tolerating that heat and humidity was quite a challenge. I remember interrupting the first few computrainer workouts by the pool just to go lean over the side of it and stick my whole upper body in it to make sure I didn't fall unconscious! I was a lobster in boiling water!! I remember the inner dialogue during that week: It can't be THIS hot over there!!! Focus...the water flowing down my knees and elbows are a sign of adaptation! Great! Is this healthy? Can I survive this? Is this going to be enough? This is hard! I can do this! an I do this?... OH goodness.
I was back in Victoria for a few days after St-Sauveur, just enough to do one or two harder training sessions before Philippines. Soon, Lance and I made our way to Manila
to meet our hosts Fred and Kerry Uytengsu and start an amazing adventure.
Fred Uytengsu and his wife Kerry were the most amazing hosts ever. Fred is one of Lance's athletes and also the president of Alaska Milk (http://www.alaskamilk.com.ph/). Fred has done alot for more than one sport in the Philippines. He has a basketball team that he supports quite proudly and as president of Sunrise events (Ironkids and Ironman 70.3 Philippines) and as head of the Polo triathlon Club of Manila, he is very involved in the growth of triathlon in the Philippines.
Manila was non-stop fun. We canadian adventurers arrived in the night and I got to see for the first time, a developing city. Action, in a jungle of new things. Everything I could see was new and exciting. Taxis everywhere honking their horns in the night (to make sure the overworking driver ahead was awake), buildings in construction everywhere, strange bicycles and motorcycles with passangers mounted on the side making their way through Jeepnees (transformed jeeps from the second world war), nothing better to keep my eyes open in the night with 14h of traveling now behind me. It was four in the morning and our trip was about to begin. In Manila, I helped Lance with the race preparation camp for the Polo triathlon team. So much fun! Lance gave some talks on race nutrition, got to show off some transition skills, we also did some fun bike-run workouts in a very fun local circuit...actualy a cemetary!
I also got to give a -barefoot running- clinic and apply some of the knowledge from Biomech. That was quite fun. I left feeling like the Polo team was family, we had shared so many smiles in such a short amount of time. Perhaps it is also because part of the camp included throwing each other a pack of 16 in a single swim lane. I also got my own workouts done in the Polo Club's beautiful 50m pool.
(below, Kerry, showing me around the Polo Club of Manila)
Bellow: Fred Uytengsu after the bike-run cemetary workout.
After Manila, Fred and Kerry sailed us away to a second dose of fun. It was time to travel to Caramoan, where we would relax for three days before the race.
(Bellow: On the boat to Caramoan)
Then a car ride threw little villages
(Bellow, a Jeepnee crossed on the road to Caramoan)
When we arrived to the ocean, we had to pause at a beach before we could keep on going to final destination. The reason for this is that, the little beach where we would spend the next three days was needed for the -Survivor- crew's Tribal council. That was fine we were quite pleased to visit the surrounding area. Joseph, our -guide- suggested that we take the boat to another island as we waited for our beach to become available. Soon after having taken off, the boat started dancing in the waves, making me feel like a rag doll subjected to acute episodes of laughter.
It was a sunny days, and all I could see around me was beach after beach, Island after Island. I wanted to set foot on each of them. Joseph chose one and out we were, exploring. We were all kids again. Arland (Philippino Elite that joined us on the trip), Lance and I went on a mission and found Star fish, huge shells and explored a strange sea weed culture. Once the first series of explorations were over, we headed back to the -survivor- beach for a first night in paradise.
(bellow: Waking up on the beach in Caramoan)
And each day in paradise was another perfect dream.
(bellow: One of our adventures was to visit some local caves, here I am with Arland and Lance)
During the trip, we mostly relaxed, swam from Island to Island and improvised ourselves as marine biologists. It was not bad at all!!!...thanks to Joseph, we had a boat escort supplying powerade and water to keep us going throughout the day.
One day, Arland, Lance and I, Island hopped our swim. Half way home, we arrived on a beach and as I innocently stood out of the water with my green paddles in my hands, I noticed a camera man, a sound technician and a stange man that looked like a Voodoo stanfing at the edge of the forest, just as perplex as I was.
-ummm....were we interrupting something? I asked...
A Cerbian girl ran out of the forest explaining something with an accent stranger than mine. Her body semmed to say: GETTATA HERE!!! NOW!!!
(they were shooting survivor, I should have known...)
So we did and off we were, body surfing waves, all the way home.
That's the kind of training I'm talking about! OLD SCHOOL STUFF!!! Batteling the waves, underwater combat on the last 500 with Arland! Jelly fish stinging my belly!! (Oh well on the last point, I just found out the next morning that I had a huge red rash on my tummy, souvenir of the Caramoanian ocean. Better than any tattoo! Except so itchy!)
Soon, the trip was over but more fun awaited at the race site and we flew out on a 40 minute Hellicopter ride and got to see the beautiful coast line from the sky!
Race site and race day
What a party it was at the race site too! Race organizers had Transformed the place! The event was so well organized and all guests were definitely spoiled. We lived in little wooden cabbins right on the race site. Three delicious meals a day were served in a tent in the few days before the event and everything just flowed wonderfuly.
The key word for this race was -fun-!
I wanted to have fun with this race, and it was so easy to! It took place on a wonderful playground!
The start, transition and finish line were at a Wakeboard park in the camsur watercomplex (CWC) (http://www.camsurwatersportscomplex.com/). The swim was divided into two lakes (I loved the idea of running out of a lake to jump into another). There was a timex bonus in the wim between the two lakes, which made it even more exciting and ade it feel like a game! I got the bonus on the swim and that was good but came out of the water second, behind Michellie.
After a quick transition, I was on the bike, determined to make it a smooth ride and just stay in front of the race without doing anything crazy (I would need my energy on the run to fight the legendary heat). The bike course led us through little villages all the way to a turnaround at the ocean. On the bike course, the energy was outstanding. It was a party out there! Flags lined the road. And holding these, were children from the villages. The sound of the crowd was constant for 90km, I had never seen anything like it before. It was such a beautiful thing to see those parents and children from those tiny villages, stand smiling and welcome us in the most outstanding way. Event organizers had even set up a contest, the village displaying the nicest cheering squad was to win! I think they all should have won.
And then there was the run. HOT HOT, challenging run. I had mentaly prepared to make it through that run, it was my mission to do a great job at it. I was curious to see how I could do in such heat and humidity. I ran into the trail that took me through more crowd, more happy kids, cheering, more hands to reach for, kids to high fives. High Fives, though, that saddly became hard to do. Soon enough I realized that I would have to respond with an occasional smile. It was time to concentrate on surviving. As soon as I started running, I knew it was going to be a mental combat, I was just going to have to focus harder than ever on putting one foot in front of the other for 21km and never stop focusing on the rythm, until the finish line.
I had an instant ice pack in transition so I snapped it and left on the run. At every aid station, I would drink all I could from a water bottle and poor the other over my head, I would also grab a gatorade whenever I saw one. After each aid station, it was head down again, and focus until the next water oasis. I had never been so hot in my life, part of me kept on wondering how long my body would hold in the heat and I could just hope it would hold until the line. I guess there is no real secret in the heat. For me it was: Focus on moving forward as fast as you can, keep the cadence up and aim for the next available water. Once there, take as much as you can, then look forward, focus and make it to the next aid station. The longest Km of the run was the last. I thought I had made it to the line when I saw I still had a 500m semi-loop to go, even then, I was thinking I had to hold on because anything could happen, I was well roasted and running on a fine line!! But then I heard the crowd, one of the loudest crowds I had ever heard and a saw that glowing finish line right in front of me! That was the moment I faught for. That was the best feeling in the world.
Then it was time to celebrate! The trip ended just as beautifuly as it had begun and I left the Philippines with so many memories that will make me come back next year.
It is back to work now for me. That trip was just what I needed. What an inspiration!