Racing, Travel, Triathlon

Solo Mission

I do a lot of stuff alone, particularly when it comes to sport. I mostly train alone and have never played team sports. All that togetherness and camaraderie, it’s all very intimidating and so not me.

The closest I come to Team Sports.
The closest I come to Team Sports.

Don’t get me wrong. I love running and riding with my friends when I can, mostly because it’s a fairly rare treat. I even like swimming with friends (we know how that goes – you chat for 30 seconds at the end of the lane then debate where to have post-swim coffee).

Perhaps what makes training alone so rewarding is the culmination of it all, which for me traditionally results in a trip somewhere with a bunch of friends to do whatever race or event you’re gunning for. You prep together, analyze the forecast together, etc etc. And of course, post-race beers. Post-race beers are the best beers.

Now, here’s a question.

Am I going to still have post-race beers after Austin?

Because Austin is the first time ever (I think) that I am going to a race completely by myself. Like a big girl.

I can’t even recall the last time I even went to a 10km running race where I didn’t at least have an acquaintance to chat with on the start line! Maybe I’ve been spoiled. Anyway.

Austin fit into the schedule for me and initially, I was pretty convinced in my own powers of persuasion and that I’d talk some friends into coming with. Well, lo and behold, people have lives beyond a triathlon that I picked that suited me. And so, here I am. Solo mission.

There’s a part of me that’s super excited to have 5 days alone with no one to think of but myself (hello, selfish triathlete nature), to live in my little vintage camper that I scored (no one over 6ft allowed) and to do what I want, when I want, particularly if that means having breakfast for dinner.

However.

There’s a part of me that is already fretting. Who’s going to remind me to bring body glide to the start? What if I sleep through my alarm? What am I going to wear? There are 2 transitions! I have a headache already. Who is the first person I am going to talk to at the finish line?! Am I just going to follow some randoms to the closest brewery?

“Hi folks! I’m Canadian! Can I have a post-race beer with y’all?”

Man alive, you’d think I’d never been anywhere on my own, ever.

Time to put on my big girl pants. Sheesh.

My teeny home away from home.
My teeny home away from home.

 

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Day-to-day life, Racing, Running, Triathlon, Whistler

Introducing the Higgins

David and Brandi Higgins have been fixtures on the Whistler Triathlon scene for as long as I’ve known about the club.  Without their help and training, I surely would have drowned in my first Ironman.

Since meeting them on the pool deck in 2003, I’ve come to know them as good friends, racing partners and commiserating parents.

wetsuits pre-race

I’ll always remember one of my first “real” conversations with David, a few days before heading to Penticton for my race.  I didn’t know him well and was actually quite frightened of him (he had that Russian-style of coaching which I’ve now come to embrace: “you suck but whatever – try this.  It might help.  But probably not.  Just go faster”).  We sat down on the edge of the pool and he basically said: “So, you are racing this weekend.  Are you scared?  Ask me anything”.  I thought – and still do think – that was pretty cool and a really nice way to make a newbie feel welcome.

David World Champ Honolulu

Brandi has become a good friend, fellow shoe lover and fun race-seeker.  She’s a wealth of knowledge and has a commanding presence pool-side.  Everyone needs  a friend like Martini Brandi!  She also makes a mean sticky-toffee pudding (which I happen to lurve)… One of Brandi’s pet peeves when racing at the same event as her beloved is that the announcers always tend to point out that they are married and inevitably shift their focus to Dave’s race.  So, to that end, let’s lead with her interview, shall we?

Brandi Finish Ironman

1. What was your first tri – and why that one?

a. UBC…because it was there.

2. What was your most embarrassing race moment?

a. Realizing post-race that the suit I had worn was essentially see through when wet…don’t you just love neon!

3. Who is your biggest training/racing foe?

a. Me, myself, and I.

4. Bucket list race?

a. One that I am actually happy with the results.

b. It’ll never happen bucket list – Kona.

5. Best and worst part of training in Whistler/Vancouver?

a. The hills.

i. Best because once you’ve trained here pretty much no hill should bother you.

ii. Worst because it’s always uphill coming home!

Brandi on bike in Oliver

6. Fave post-race food

a. PRINGLES! And Coke. Always a coke!

7. Race superstition?

a. Don’t know if I have any. When I played basketball I had to keep my legs shaved, because I was sure on the day that I didn’t I would sprain my ankle. The doctor was cute. Do the math.

8. If you could train with one person for a day, who would it be and why?

a. Paula Newby-Fraser cause she was f…ing fast and ate pizza the night before IM.

i. Caveat…do I have to train with her, or can I just ride in a car and talk to her while she trains? ‘Cause we all know I wouldn’t survive 5 minutes riding with her!

9. What’s your weirdest racing or training habit?

a. Taking my espresso machine everywhere I go.

(Editor’s note: Another reason I like travelling to races with Brandi.)

10. Who’s your athletic hero? If you have one…

a. Unfortunately, my athletic heroes have taken a bit of a beating…Marion, Lance. Of course, I still think Lance should keep his titles…if he was juiced so was everyone else and he still beat them, and Lance and the Livestrong foundation did a whole lot more for the general public than any other racer and their (non-existent) foundation did.

11. What’s your favourite Whistler event/trail/race etc.

Event: KOS and the Lil Rippers run. And comfy numb when we were organizing it.

12. Describe your athletic style/career in one sentence.

Completer not competer. Or. I am a diesel truck: I am big, I am slow and I am in it for the long haul…and don’t you dare get in my way (hahaha).

13. Describe that nightmare you have before racing (i.e. I show up without pants)

The course runs through an amusement park on a cruise ship and I keep getting lost and realizing that everyone else is finished.

14. 3 words that describe you as a person

Loud. Caffeinated. Opinionated (aka know-it-all).

15. Dream sponsor?

Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo.
(Editor’s note: SEE??!  Fellow shoe-lover).

 David’s Turn:

1. What was your first tri – and why that one?

UBC, 1991.  I was going to school there and the swim was going to be easy.  Got a little more difficult after that. 

2. What was your most embarrassing race moment?

Any time Nicholas finished in front of me.  Fortunately it didn’t happen often.  Other than that nothing.  I seem to manage to keep my pants on in transition, haven’t fallen off my bike (yet) and not really hurt myself running (in the race). 

(Editor’s note: That would be Paul Nicholas.  You’ll be meeting him soon, if he ever finds 3 minutes to fill out my questionnaire!) 

3. Who is your biggest training/racing foe?

Kevin, Scott and Paul, pushed me real hard and getting me faster.   Went running with them when I started and the three of them killed me.  Oh look there’s a hill let’s go up it.  I needed to keep up with these bozos.  Still can’t keep up to Kevin, but I am working on it.  I don’t have a race foe I can think of – maybe Dave Kirk. 

(Editor’s note: Kevin Titus, Scott Pass, Paul Nicholas.  Whistler local’s one and all.) 

4. Bucket list race?

Wildflower would be fun. Waimea 10km just cause it’s in Hawaii. 

5. Best and worst part of training in Whistler/Vancouver?

Best part is the quality of people, you get some fast yahoos here who really just want to have fun.  Worst part is the snow, lasts far too long. 

Fall Classic 2012 option 2

6. Fave post-race food. 

Burger, big greasy Burger. 

7. Race superstition?

Need to eat a lot before a race.  Pasta for the morning. 

8. If you could train with one person for a day, who would it be and why? 

You know I found all the people I want to train with.  Though if I could make Brandi train with me all day, and she had to like it and not complain (that would be harder than getting anyone famous) – that would be fun too.

 (Editor’s note: Awwww.)

9. What’s your weirdest racing or training habit?

I get a training routine and then I have to stick to it.  Tues/Thurs/Sat Swim, Wed/Fri/Sun Bike, Mon/Wed/Sun Run.  A little OCD. 

10. Who’s your athletic hero? If you have one… 

Changes depending on the day, time and year. For example in 1991 it was Alex Popov

11. What’s your favourite Whistler event/trail/race etc. 

I used to really like the Whistler 10k

12. Describe your athletic style/career in one sentence. 

Gun goes off, I am in the race, no race I am all fun and games. 

13. Describe that nightmare you have before racing (i.e. I show up without pants).

I got nothing here. 

14. 3 words that describe you as a person.

Talkative, competitive, know-it-all. 

15. Dream sponsor?

Hershey’s Chipits, I like making chocolate chip cookies!

(Editor’s note: my children and I are thankful).

Thanks Higgi!  Stay tuned for more…

Biking, Racing, Running, Triathlon, Whistler

Up Next: Superwoman

Alright.  I had fun interviewing my first candidate, so here’s another one!

Christine Suter is a well known and very speedy Whistler-based triathlete/ultra-runner.  Perhaps you are currently getting whipped into shape by her hands-on coaching.  Maybe she’s drawn blood when making you feel like dying on the bike (seriously.  She pokes your finger with a needle.  It hurts and you swear.  I know this from experience).

You’ve seen her around, I’m sure: always smiley, quick with a friendly word and wave.  Usually wearing unusually large mitts on her bike.  Recently gained semi-fame as the kayaking dog-rescuer of Pinecrest.

I know her as a friend and coach – that is, when I get my act together and need accountability and butt-kicking.  She’s so good at making me push myself but understanding my need for some kind of balance.

An Ironman athlete several times over, she’s become an invaluable resource to many, many athletes in our community.  So without further ado, here she is!

1. What was your first tri – and why that one?

UBC back in 1987

2. What was your most embarrassing race moment?

Squamish Tri in the swim to bike transition and I got stuck trying to get my lycra top on over my bra top-  you know when it all rolls up and I could not get the top down- being a good swimmer I was one of the first female swimmers out- so there were lots of spectators.

(Edited to add: this happens to me all the time.  In the locker room.  Ahem).

3. Who is your biggest training/racing foe?

Greg Sandkuhl

(Edited to add: I sense I need to ask him these questions)

4. Bucket list race?

Ultraman hawaii

lizziecolour
Team Lizzie Sandwich!
And some other dudes 😉

5. Best and worst part of training in Whistler/Vancouver?

Worst- Snow salt on the roads so a late start to outdoor riding and being cold!

Best-  the hills because I have yet to race anything worse than where I live and the ride up to Callaghan.

6. Fave post race food

Since I usually cannot eat anything after a race-  chicken soup.

7. Race superstition?

Don’t really have one.

8. If you could train with one person for a day, who would it be and why?

My husband Paul because he has not been able to do anything for 5 years and I miss being able to go out training with him!

(Edited to add: awwwwww.)

9. What’s your weirdest racing or training habit?

I like to sing one phrase of a song to myself over and over again to keep me motivated or I count my foot strikes while running to the count of 8 and keep on repeating it

10. Who’s your athletic hero? If you have one…

Jon Blais

11. What’s your favourite Whistler event/trail/race etc

Rubble Creek Classic

12. Describe your athletic style/career in one sentence.

Constantly seeing how far I can push myself and my body.

When your country is on your chest, you've totally made it.
When your country is on your chest, you’ve totally made it.

13. Describe that nightmare you have before racing (i.e. I show up without pants)

I sleep through my alarm and miss the start.

14. 3 words that describe you as a person

determined, too serious.

15. Dream sponsor?

Visa! Then they can pay for my flights, my hotels and my gear!!

Ok, so normally, I’d end it here but I needed some pics of Christine so I Googled her and feel it only fair to point out that she’s the only person I know to have ever competed nationally in… synchronized swimming.  No photographic evidence available.

Thanks Suter!

Stay tuned for the next one!

Biking, Racing, Running, Triathlon, Whistler

But enough about me.

You may know her as triathlon age-group slayer Liz Cullen.  2x Ironman finisher.  Or perhaps you remember her from her ski bum days as a long-time Whistler local (let’s face it: she may live in Vancouver but I’m pretty sure her heart’s up here).

Some of you may know her as The Sarcastic Triathlete (if you don’t, it’s a refreshing read: go there).

I know her as a training partner/racing ass-kicker/co-adventure planner and good friend.

She’s currently incubating a human, so we won’t be running any races in matching shirts in the early season, but I have no doubt she’ll be back in action in no time.

She’s the first subject in what I hope to become a regular feature here: interviews with some of my favourite folks.

Herewith, I introduce to you Lizzie.

1.     What was your first tri – and why that one?

UBC Sprint tri in July 2003.  Because my mom was doing it so I thought I’d give it a try on her old bike.  I then did a random smattering of tris until 2006 when I actually started training for them.

2.     What was your most embarassing race moment?

Oliver Half Iron 2008.  I got a flat with 4km to go and decided to just ride it back to transition.  There was one final corner 400m before transition and I washed out and hit the curb with most of the town watching.  When I got up to head to transition my wheel wouldn’t turn so I had to jog in bare feet carrying my bike.

3.     Who is your biggest training/racing foe?

This tiny little cycling powerhouse named Christine, she sometimes goes by SMO.  Oh wait, that’s you.  Biggest foe and best training buddy all in one.  I have the swim, she has the bike and the run is getting close.  When we both start racing again it could get ugly.

**Editor’s note: I can’t wait.

4.     Bucket list race?

Other than Kona. Wildflower.

5.     Best and worst part of training in Whistler/Vancouver?

Best: Kits pool!

Worst: rain.  Lots of rain.

12591358

6.     Fave post race food

Salt and vinegar potato chips

7.     Race superstition?

Don’t really have one, but I do have rituals.  I tuck notes of encouragement in my race kit even if they don’t get read and end up a squishy blob.

8.     If you could train with one person for a day, who would it be and why?

How ’bout Heather Wurtele.  Because she seems really fun and nice and I like feeling short sometimes.

9.     What’s your weirdest racing or training habit?

Not sure I have any (others may say differently)  I do like doing handstands in the water before races, might as well get a laugh in.

10.  Who’s your athletic hero?  If you have one…

Other than the obvious of Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong and Kobe Bryant, top of the list: Chrissie Wellington, Natasha Badmann, Lisa Bentley, and so on.

11.  What’s your favourite Whistler event/trail/race etc

Whistler Half Marathon.  Although only in its 3rd year and overcoming course distance growing pains, it’s super neat to run through your own town with tons of supporters.

IMG_2526

12.  Describe your athletic style/career in one sentence.

Late blooming, somewhat competitive age group triathlete that combats laziness with lofty goals.

13.  Desribe that nightmare you have before racing (i.e. I show up without pants).

That I miss the race entirely usually because I got the day wrong and show up too late.  I actually did that once to an exam in university so it’s not beyond impossible.

14.  3 words that describe you as a person.

Geez, what is this? A job interview?  I consider myself a perfectionist.  Ha kidding. According to me: humorous, uncomplicated, pregnant (for the next 2.5 months at least).

15.  Dream sponsor?

Ben and Jerry’s. Ok ok, probably Saucony.  You can never have too many bright fun shoes.

Thanks for taking the time, ‘Zard.

So friends: who shall be my next interviewee/victim?