Tuesday, 30 December 2014

CAMP #1: December in Poway

     The season efforts began in Poway. 

A few days before it all began, I packed my car with everything triathlon I owned + a surf board that I swore I would finally baptize one day in California. The drive down from Victoria to San Diego was nice and the highlight was a fun stop in Portland. Later during the drive I spotted Mount Shasta from the highway. Mount Shasta had been mentioned in the last book I was reading  (Wild: From lost to found on the pacific crest trail by Sheryl Strayed) and I got very curious.    

I decided I had time to stop at the foothill, savor some local chocolate, stare up and think I would love to find the road that could take me higher up that blue sky, on a bike. 

Then I took that thought and that taste with me, closed the door , cranked the music and made my way on the final stretch of road.

Flashes from the camp: 

Camp mode started  right after I arrived. It always is a camp here in Poway. The real efforts though, started with a solid wake up call on the first ride back with the Wurteles. Then there were some great long ride thrills.

 New roads to discover, fast riding with great people, getting excited about biking, starting Strava. There was also action to do with the ocean: A swim across a bay holding on to feet and not thinking of sharks.

La Jolla: My first swim here with Summer Cook and Greg Billington. Left from this beach and swam all the way to another and back.

Later in the camp, there was another swim across a bay not holding feet and thinking of sharks.

There was also.....an evening on a yacht.
On the yacht with the triathlon Squad.

Among camp guests was also a friend for Alice. Kiddo Wurtele.

Here's Kiddo on his way home in his private jet. Will be missed.

Other flashes from the camp include having pain in a climb on the bike and doing it over and over.


Flashes of running on some new trains, of swimming with fins, of bilateral breathing, of

swallowing water, of witnessing how a failed attempt at tacky Christmas sweater party could turn

into a great evening.

Flashes of more climbing up the darn hill, (pedals turning slow, pain coming fast).

Climbing up the darn hill with Heather.

Christmas in Poway: 

I stayed around here for Christmas. I had just had time to start getting organized at camp and there was still work to do so going back to Quebec to visit family could not be an option. We had the idea to make the best of it and got a family skype going between Mom, Grandpa and Grandma in Quebec, my sister Ariane and her husband Sean in Florida, my brother Pierre in Brazil, Most if that idea worked out. It was just very calm here on the 24th, just cooking, listening to Christmas music with Alice and a glass of wine and the skype call in the evening. The next day, was a nice surprise. I got invited by Andrew Duggan and his family and just ended up having a great Christmas day away from home…

I got a few lighter days of training around Christmas, it was great to get to recover after the first few weeks of harder work. It’s back to work now! I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and I wish you all the best for the new year. Thank you for reading !!! 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

4 November 2014 - Miami

As I sat in the plane to Victoria, about to take off, I could feel the rhythm of the last 5 days was still with me. I was still living on the crescendo of emotion that had lead me to the raucous finish line in Miami. The music of my favorite Florida station still echoed as the soundtrack to the recent  events. I was recalling as I checked in for my flight, I was offered a sweet Cafe Cubano that had amped me up one last time. And so, a delicious last shooter had symbolicly concluded a very exhilarating 5 days.

So..here goes the story:

After a camp in San Diego……arrived in Miami on the Wednesday before the race.

Here I am arriving in Miami (Selfie...lol)
Walked a while through the airport,  got the rental car, drove to the same hotel I had been to 3 years ago, an apartment  in Miami beach 15mins away from race site. Loved it there.
The only problem with the place is that there is very limited parking. So when I arrived around 2am, I had to unload my car in a dark parking lot a few minutes walk from the hotel. Two strange men were hanging out  when I pulled in and I remember thinking I had to look TOUGH...just to be extra safe, you know ;)
So I, (some sort of overplayed trigeek / Miami thug) got out of the BLACK mid-sized rental car, emptied the twice as heavy s me bike box and proceeded to drag the multiple bags and boxes ungracefully to the hotel room. (I may have laughed at myself also).
The next morning, it was time to go pick up mom. I was excited as I hadn’t seen her in way too long. The morning started with a Miami hood gift that I truly enjoyed on the way to the airport (a random CD left in the door handle of my car).

Though ….on the way back, the volume went down. Mom did not enjoy it as much as I did. That was okay, just needed to give her a few hours in Miami and she would get into the beat.
After that it was all about getting ready for the race. It rained a lot, it poured actually, and around my hotel was not ideal for bike training. So, I found a place I could rent a bike trainer by the day and it worked out super well. As for the run, well…..running in the rain was fun.

I also found a pool 5mins from the hotel, that worked out great and leading up to the race, I started feeling like the taper was just perfect.
We were invited to the Fit2Run- store for a Press Conference on Saturday. It was good fun.

By Saturday I was SO ready to go! I just had so much energy! I don't remember ever feeling so charged up before a race. The build up and taper had been ideal.
So on SUNDAY I gave it what I just was CRAVING - getting on the race course!
Here’s how the day went: (Numbers are there to prevent too many words!)
#1 Setting up transition
#2 Walk to the swim start!  I made myself laugh with a cannon ball from the dock and then good swim warm-up in.

#3 Time to start: Good start, couldn’t believe it, at the front, swimming with Amanda Stevens, Lauren Goss, Leanda Cave and two other girls.
#4 EVENT: Getting pulled down under water by someone who grabbed my shoulder, swam over me and pushed me down. I don't think there is ANY advantage in racing that way and to stay polite, I will go on to point #5.
#5 Closing the gap back up to Leanda, swimming side by side, then fading again and swimming in her feet back to the finish and getting out of the water 38s from the front of a really strong swim group. Stoked, moment to remember.
#6 Happy with my transition.
#7 Felt good on the bike so hammered to the front. Once I was there, I kept on hammering against the wind all the way to the turnaround. I focused on staying as aero as I could in the wind. I tried and tried to get away but at the turnaround, I saw that Leanda, Lauren and Amanda were still close. I changed my strategy and was less aggressive on the way back with the tailwind as I was starting to see the race would happen on the run. I got up a few times to get my legs to loosen up. Towards the end, I had very good energy so I picked it up again into transition.
#8 Transition was good and smooth.
#9 I started running and it felt pretty light from the start. At about a mile, Lauren Goss passed me, she was flying. But I passed her back in the second mile and was leading again.

I loved running up and over that long bridge, my effort felt even smoother and I opened up some more. On the way back from the turnaround on the far side of the bridge, I was lead to the wrong side of the road and I was going to start running the opposite side on the highway!!!! Thankfully, I noticed soon enough and ran back to where I was supposed to be running. It was one of those scary –uh oh- race moments. Particularly because it was still early in the run and I had not built a solid enough gap to feel safe….at all.
#10 But after the second turnaround, I started feeling I had first place secured. But as you know, it’s never done until it’s done so I had to stay very focused and keep the rhythm going.

I didn't feel safe until the second half of the second loop. There was some tough competitors on that course and when I saw them, they looked strong!

In the last two miles, I let a smile hike it’s way up my cheeks and I let myself believe that this was going to happen….I was going to win in Miami!! I started taking it in, feeling all the cheering and smiles, absorbing as much as I could. Savouring every second of that moment I work so hard for. The Miami finishing stretch is a real treat, it was just great ambiance. I crossed the line under a rain of confetti and just lived that moment of pure happiness. Loved having mom there, smiling at the finish.

With race director Wilber Anderson. Great job to you too Wilber.

My lane mate and Paulo's athlete: Juanca Torres, Age group champion on the day! Smoking fast time and always a great smile!
The day after the race, mom and I drove to Wellington, Florida to go visit my sister (Ariane St-John). Ariane stays in Wellington part of the year where she pursues her own obsession: Horseback riding! She's quite a strong, dedicated rider, tough competitor, and  it was great to get to see the environment she thrives in.

Mom (left) and Ariane (right) at the barn.
My nephew, Alex with Ariane's horse (Fidel).

I got to see my nephew, little Alex and just relax with the family. Good times! I also got to celebrate my birthday with them. I turned 33 on October 27th.
After the few days in Florida, it was time to head to Canada for a few weeks of the off season! First, I would head back to Victoria and then  to Quebec to visit the rest of my family!
For the first time, I wish I could have kept on racing instead of calling it a season. But I am excited for 2015 and soon will be focusing on the season to come.
As the season ends of a wonderful note, I would like to thank all of those who were close to me and kept me strong during the long stretch dealing with the injury. We made it back! Thank you for having kept on believing with me. Thank you to my sponsors who kept on supporting me through the tougher times. ARGON 18, PEARL IZUMI, SHIMANO, AQUA SPHERE, POWERBAR, RUDY PROJECT, COMPUTRAINER.
I am also thinking of those who helped build things back in the last few months: Marie-Claude Bozek, Francois St-Onge, Gino Cinco and the coach who made me trust the work: Paulo Sousa. I got so much great energy training with the triathlon Squad in the last few months and am very grateful. Lastly, I would like to thank T and H for their help and ideas that changed so many things.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Silverman 70.3 Race Recap!

The first part of the trip was about driving up through the desert, from San Diego. I loved it! I enjoy long solo drives and even look forward to them. I get time to think and listen to some of my favorite music. All that went well, I got in late on Thursday. I woke up Friday morning almost forgetting that I was in Vegas.
With my stomach as my guide, I made my way to the lobby for breakfast the next morning. On the way back to my room, I saw the cafe employee and suddenly remembered I was a person, not a stomach on two feet. I looked at my gargantuan plate of food and felt quite impolite to be directing myself towards the elevator without asking if it was okay to bring my plate up to the room. To my half-embarrassed request was the following answer: Sure (mighty laugh)….HELL, YOU CAN BRING STRIPPERS UP THERE IF YOU WANT. I GOT NOTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT. I remembered I was in Vegas... 
I was in a good place. I had been logging in some good training with Paulo Sousa and the Triathlon Squad. (Working with for the last few months) and am really liking Paulo's approach, how it makes me feel and how it has allowed me to come back from injury and start running more consistently for the first time in a LONG time. Tremblant had gone well and I had had a very relaxed approached to the race as my qualification came as a surprise. I thought I wanted to approach this race in a similar way.
So here was my race prep task:
Show up happy and relaxed on race morning.
I know…it sounds easy hey? As you probably know, it’s not always that easy though!
SO…I woke up feeling nervous, like I had a huge mountain to climb and then took a moment to sit on my bed and think differently:
Today, I was actually going to go swim at Lake Mead with some fast girls to push my pace to faster then anything I could do alone, then go climbing (I love climbing) on my bike through the -yet undefeated by me- Epic Desert , I got excited at the idea of redemption. I would ride deep into the desert up to a mile after the earth turned red , then I would be riding back faster descending more back to the second check point before getting to satisfy my curiosity on the run (at last) and hopefully, ending the day feeling like I had FINALLY had some redemption on a course very similar to that Vegas world champs course I had wanted to master. That sounded like fun. And it was time to go out and DO IT.
In the swim, Lauren Goss was the quickest, I was second out of the water. It would have given me a huge smile to be able to swim with her but she was on fire and it took about a minute for my task there to go from -hang on-….to -hang on for dear life-…to –okay…well… just stay positive and execute the solo mission best you can-.
So…that’s what I did. Swam solo. Temporarily checking for a fluo pink cap ahead. A little pink spot that played with my mind more then once.
Out of the water, someone yelled I was 1:45 behind Goss. OUCH!
We had to climb a lot in the first 10miles!! It was good, because that gave me a visual on what was going on ahead. I could see Goss, even though the spot representing her had turned red and black. Now, it was time for a game of PACKMAN! ☺
The little spot would play some more with my mind, it would appear and disappear on the windy desert road. Tough mind game but definitely kept me focused and present every single second. Time flew.
I climbed A LOT until mile 25 and I kept on losing the visual when the road got windy, sometimes letting me wonder if I would ever see that little spot again. At the turnaround I was closer but I believe, still at least a minute behind, I looked at the split and I think I had made up a little bit of time. Not much though. I kept on focusing on staying steady and confident.
The true test of confidence came when, as soon as I turned around, telling myself it was time to get the speed on the long steady descents to come, the wind BLEW against me. GREAT!! (And….yes, one of those moments when I wish the positive self talk came automatically! But I had to work for it…)
After about 2hours of pedaling time, and surviving the mind games the wind was now playing with me, the spot in the distance started becoming bigger. I don’t remember the last time I felt better on the second half of the bike then I felt on the first. But Sunday, it happened. The last 40mins of the ride felt the best and I got away and to the front of the race. Since the run was still not the strongest focus of my training so far, I knew I had to build a gap, so I did.
I got off the bike knowing there was a great athlete chasing me.

In particular, a great runner ( Goss). I had to balance running fast while keeping in mind how hard the course was. It all went well and some sweet emotions starting coming on the last two miles, descending at last towards the finish line.
And then, well….I was just so HAPPY and it was all so good. I took some time to celebrate and savor a great day, that is so important. My godfather, Guynemer, had come to watch my race. Guynemer was also my dad’s best friend and it meant a lot that he drove all the way from LA to come and watch. On Monday, Guynemer and I rented a boat on Lake Mead, went swimming and then I drove back in the direction of San Diego, just feeling very grateful for great things that happened on the week-end, feeling motivated and ready for more great work.
The Hoover Damn
It’s not time to get too excited though, there is still work to do, the level is high! But I am confident I am on the right path and that is a great feeling.
Thanks everyone.

Driving back...a beautiful way for the curtain to go down...

Photo with Terry from –Bike Shop- Las Vegas. I definitely recommend going there if you are in the area. They did a great job getting the E-118 Next ready to go!
Next up is Miami 70.3, it will certainly be a good challenge with a strong field lining up on the start. First though, place to more work.
Monday after the race. Going for a recovery swim with Guynemer at Lake Mead!
Found out on Monday what kind of fish were in that lake. They were smaller and sweeter then the ones from my imagination.