Instead of posting one great big blog summarizing April to June, I am going to post a few shorter updates to keep your focus – kind of like a “fartlek update”. The European adventure began with my own personal race in Aarhus, Denmark on June 22nd. My last professional triathlon event was September 2009 at Subaru IRONMAN 70.3 Muskoka. After that, I spent about a year getting healthy after a very bad lung infection which had me hospitalized for 5 days and on IV antibiotics for 5 weeks. My lung function went from 100% at the start of 2009 to 59% in January 2010. Thankfully, I recovered from that infection and each year my lungs came back to life – 75% in 2011 – 85% in 2012 – and finally 100% in December 2013!!! So when Danish athlete, Martin Klode – father of a 3 year old boy with Cystic Fibrosis – invited me to race in IRONMAN 70.3 Aarhus, I accepted. I joined Martin’s team Delta508. With every podium finish, corporate sponsors would make a donation to CF.
Aarhus was a wonderful, friendly hospitable city. We arrived on Friday and the instant we pulled out a map on the sidewalk to find our way, a cyclist stopped to offer help. Then on the bus, we probably had 5 people in total helping us pay, find our stop and set us off in the right direction. And of course, we loved the bicycle friendly infrastructure with dedicated bike lanes on each street with their own signage and stop lights.
Race day brought sunny skies but howling winds. It was gorgeous in the sun but the wind made the air temperature a chilly 9 degrees Celsius and that, coupled with a 13 degree water temperature, meant a shivering Lisa!! The swim was fun and adventurous with plenty of jelly fish to keep me company. Even the jelly fish were friendly – they were plentiful but they were not stingers – and yes, I put my hands and feet through a few of them. Out of the water, I was freezing and since I am all about enjoying racing, I took the time to bundle up with a jacket and neoprene HUUB gloves. But even with clothes, I spend the first 2 hours shivering given the 35 kph wind and the shady roads.
The ride was absolutely gorgeous – breathtaking views – windy fun roads – and I know this because I took the time to look around. I could not feel my muscles at all and my body was a trembling mess so rather than be miserable, I made a pact with myself to enjoy the ride just as I enjoy every training ride with our athletes in Caledon. My little Cervelo P5 was not used to the leisurely pace. I probably was hypothermic but quitting was not an option! I decided to fuel up and run as fast as possible!
Poor Dave thought I had crashed on the bike because I rode slower than expected. I think I was off the bike as 44th woman but I raced the run like a pure 1/2 marathon and ran a 1:24 to finish 9th overall and 1st Age Group. I really wish IRONMAN had an elite masters AG so that I didn’t have to race in my AG, but that was my only option. The good news is that the team’s corporate sponsors made donations to CF of about $10,000 Kr or $2000 CND and Team Delta508 raised huge awareness for CF. We did a television interview after the race which was on the evening news. You can find a link here – http://www.tv2oj.dk/arkiv/2014/06/22?video_id=48257&autoplay=1
Although we were only in Aarhus from Friday to Sunday, we packed a lot of emotion into those 3 days. It was wonderful to meet families with children with CF – to meet the incredible Martin Klode with a huge passion for sport and charity – and to make friends with some many friendly, smiley “strangers” along the way!
On Monday, we travelled by train from Aarhus to Copenhagen. Train travel here is so easy despite of travelling with 2 bikes, 2 significant pieces of luggage and 2 carry-ons. Copenhagen is an incredible city with cyclists everywhere and historic old wonderful architecture. We loved our canal tour and then meandering through the city. It is definitely one of our favourite big cities!
On Tuesday, we flew to Klagenfurt, Austria where we traded our athlete/tourist hats for our coaching hats. Deb and Brenda were racing IRONMAN Austria and we were going to put the finishing touches on their taper and get them race ready from head to toe! We had a great week with activation rides on the course, short runs, open water swims, course familiarization, mental preparation and of course, lots of general craziness!
Race day was fantastic for both of them. It is just so important to celebrate getting to the start line for a big event like this and both of them put in the tremendous work necessary to do that! The race start was a spectacle – 3000 athletes running into the Worthersee. Both Deb and Brenda had terrific swims setting themselves up for a great 180 km ride. We took a ferry to Velden, a town about 20 km from the start. Athletes would pass by here at 20k, 55k, 110k and 145k. We saw Brenda powering up a hill at 55 k looking amazing. I then ran back from Velden to Klagenfurt along the bike course so that I could see Deb. I had so fun running along and cheering for the cyclists on their 2nd loop!! Then I borrowed a mountain bike so that I could coach on the marathon. I stayed off of the narrow run course on the canal and cheered from the road. Deb moved up strongly through the marathon and ran so tough. She had the determination of a champion and used that to turn her minimal run training (long run was only 90 min) into a 4th place finish in her AG. Brenda was 3rd in her AG until 21 km in the run but hung on for a strong 7th place. Both woman raced with heart and got the job done!
And now, we are back in Canada spending Sunday in Peterborough where we coached 7 of our athletes to great days in the sprint and 1/2 Iron distance events there. These were prep races for Leigh, Heidi and Kim for Nationals in Magog on July 19th, for Connie for IRONMAN 70.3 Vineman, for Ross and Jane for IRONMAN Mont-Tremblant and for Liz at IRONMAN Copenhagen.
Next up is a big training day for our August IRONMAN athletes with a 6 hr ride and a 1 hr run and figuring out some fun end of season races and 2015 schedules!