Health Wellness and Endurance

The Fraser Valley’s Wellness, Fitness, and Endurance Sports Podcast.

November 19th, 2017    

With Grace and With Peace} The Alison Jackson Interview


From growing up on a farm that raised bison, near Vermilion, Alberta, to riding with “the boys” in Phoenix Velo, to the Go Pink/Cogeas cycling team in Italy, Alison Jackson has shown what happens at the confluence of ambition, talent, and grit.

In this Fitspeek Express interview, we hear about Alison’s journey in becoming a professional athlete, challenges she faces as a professional cyclist living in Italy, her Olympic ambitions, and her passion for pastries from Duft & Co.

Just a reminder of our Tri*Joy Try For Fifty promotion. You get a one on one consultation with a Tri*Joy coach, a monthly training program, and a weekly consultation for fifty dollars.

November 17th, 2017    

Coming Soon To Fitspeek: The Allison Jackson Interview


We’re just a few days away from uploading our latest Fitspeek Express interview. Our guest is Be Pink/Cogeas pro-cyclist Allison Jackson. You’ll hear how she made it from a farm near Vermilion, Alberta to The University of The Fraser Valley, to the front of the peloton.

In the meantime we have current UFV student Zack Neufeld (along with Fitspeek co-host Kevin Heinze) with your race results from the Mission Half-Marathon and the Try Events Races from Boundary Bay.

November 15th, 2017    

Overcoming The Dark Season – Fitspeek 21


Fitspeek 21 features results from the recent running races in Mission and Boundary Bay, Bryan Wilkinson from Tri*Joy stops by for a chat on off-season nutrition and training, and we have episode four of Planet Mikey. This week has 21 minutes of Fitspeek fun. Hear it by pressing play below

And remember to check out Bryan Wilkinson’s Facebook Page to support his Movember Challenge.

November 12th, 2017    

Fitspeek Welcomes Bryan Wilkinson from Tri*Joy} The Spirit of Multisport


Would you by a used car from this man? Probably not! But you would be well-advised to give a listen to this Fitspeek interview with him. We hear about his transition from a Rugby Player in Australia to a Triathlete in Agassiz.  Bryan also has some great advice on off-season training and nutrition. He also answers the question, “What’s  with the ‘stache?”

November 4th, 2017    

Ultra 520 K Reflections Part D:

 Walking up another mountain – the gravel doesn’t flow.

Kicks me in the balls and head – and those who see they know.

The grade it grinds, my soul my mind – so mindlessly I toil.

Buoyed up by my selfless crew – their energy on boil.

Some pizza here, some Red Bull there – somehow the miles pass.

Gotta make the finish line – fo’ I run out of gas. 

As usual, it has been awhile since my last Ultra piece. This one starts, just as the second day is wrapping up. Because the seat on my Scott Foil was set too low, I buggered up my right knee. Because I waited too long to sign up for my post-bike massage, I waited two hours to eat anything of substance of my 275 K bike ride on day two. I post-race bonked. All this crap before I attempt to do the longest run of my life. Just freakin’ wonderful!

Once arriving at the Sandman Inn, my crew proved how selfless and well-organized they were. It was almost like a military operation and even though I was feeling like crap, I marveled at their energy level in preparing all my stuff for the next day. All I had to do was whimper in bed. Since my post-race meal had happened so long after I had finished, there was some discussion as to whether or not it would be a good idea if I attended the breakfast the following day. After some texting, or phone calls, or whatever (my mind pretty hazy by then) we decided to skip the breakfast and get an extra thirty or forty minutes of sleep. Since I already had a fridge full of leftovers because I could not finish my supper, this proved to be a wise decision.

The longer I laid in bed dreading the next day, the better my body and spirit began to feel. Pretty strange, eh? One of the reasons that I signed up for this adventure is that I wanted to push myself and find out things about myself and that was certainly happening, at ten at night in a motel in Princeton. From about 10 to 2 I couldn’t sleep too well, so I made the best of it by guzzling water. My appetite even improved, so I managed to finish off a lot of the leftovers from supper. Drinking so much water, naturally meant quite a few trips to the bathroom. To me, this was a good thing as I had a chance to see if my injured knee was doing. I would run on the spot to see what my range of motion was like. Happily, my knee was improving. Around 2:30 or so, I finally fell asleep.

Day 3: Part B – Showtime!

Since we decided to skip the athlete’s breakfast I had an extra forty minutes or so to sleep in. This was a great idea since I didn’t sleep much and I already had some food in the fridge. After having half of a BLT sandwich and some day old fries (yummy) we packed the vehicles for the last day of the expedition. I was very pleased as I jumped into the truck, my injured knee was feeling quite good. We arrived at the run start line very early and had some time to get a short nap in the truck and snap some pictures. Again, I also had to do the usual medical check-in which involved getting weighed, among with my blood pressure and pulse being checked. The nurse told me that my weight and pulse was fine but my blood pressure was quite low. She was going to be keeping an extra close eye on me today. I thought to myself, “she is going to have a VERY long day then” as I anticipated using every minute of the twelve hours we had to run the double marathon.

After the usual pre-race briefing and pictures the gun went off and I started the longest run of my life. I suppressed the many thoughts and feelings that I had including: would my knee be ok? Would my stomach be ok? Would my feet turn to hamburger? Would I be a prick to my crew? Would I be last?

It didn’t take long for one of those fears to be realized. About five minutes into the race, I was in last place. “Whatever,” I thought to myself, “just run your numbers, eat your food, be nice to your crew, and you will finish this thing.” As it turned out I would have another competitor either just ahead of me or behind me for the next eleven hours.

As I have mentioned many, many, times in this race report the main thing that enabled me to finish this who expedition was my crew and day three was perhaps the best example of that. Today was really just a very well-catered hike. A long hike, but nothing really “other-worldly.” Our plan was for me to “run” for the first hour or so by myself to see how I was recovering from the first two days. After that our plan was to have one of our crew members run with me for about an hour or so. In addition to having run pacers, my crew supplied with me a never – ending supply of food and drinks. I had F2C Hydra-Endurance, Glyco-Endurance, Electro-Endurance, Coke, Red Bull, Green Tea, water, Gu Gels, perogies, chocolate bars, and Clif Bars. To make the run more comfortable I had a choice of five different running shoes, four pairs of spare socks, three pairs of extra running shorts, three extra running shirts, a foot bath, and finally, a yoga mat with a foam roller. If I was to not finish, it wouldn’t be because of a lack of food or from being uncomfortable.

November 3rd, 2017    

Jessica Thompson Conquers The Valley Vertikiller


The Abbotsford Trail Runners recently held their first ever trail race, the 25 KM, 1500 ft. of climbing Valley Vertikiller. 

North Vancouver’s Jessica Thompson, thought it would be the idea way to begin her career as a trail run racer. In this interview Fitspeek’s Kevin Heinze speaks with Jessica about the training, her race day experiences, and elephants.

October 29th, 2017    

Fitspeek 20: Where no podcast has gone before!


It’s our first birthday at Fitspeek, and to celebrate we have assembled a cast of dozens to inspire and entertain you. Mikey Ross will be telling us about the year that he did two Ironman races. Zack Neufeld will be telling us about how to embrace the pain in his Between The Ears segment, and Leigh Ann Parker Vanderlinde stops by for a feature interview and also helps Kevin Watt with his Instagram Shout Outs. Hear it all by pressing play below!

October 27th, 2017    

With Lazer Focus (The Leigh Ann Parker~Vanderlinde Interview)


From going down the slopes at age three in the Okanagan to leading her infamous (?) spin sessions at the Mission Leisure Centre to going down the finish chute at this year’s Ironman 70.3 Triathlon World Championships, Leigh-Ann Parker~Vanderlinde has made athletics a part of her life.  In this Fitspeek Express Interview (as a prelude to our Fitspeek 20 extravaganza) we chat with Lazer about her progression as an athlete and how parents can be the best role model…..ever! for their children. Press play below to be Lazered

October 17th, 2017    

What do Zack, Angela, Elise, Simon, Xang, and Rio all have in common?

Well, you’d know if you heard Zack’s race results on Fitspeek 19. But, if you forgot, or didn’t hear all of these folks did the Okanagan Marathon back on Thanksgiving Day. All finished! In this race report, we hear how Rio Glowasky did on her very first marathon.

Are We Having Fun Yet?

I’ve been asked by fellow athletes and friends over the past few months: why run, why race, and why invest time and money doing it.  After contemplating these questions over several miles in the sunny days of summer and fall, I now have an answer.  I run because it gives me joy and I have fun doing it, I race because it keeps me accountable, and I invest because there aren’t many other things I’d rather be doing.
I accomplished my 2017 running goals this thankful October 8th.  I can and can’t believe I did it.  I bettered my 1/2 marathon time, I broke a sub 60min/10km, and I ran a marathon with consistent training, no injuries, and discipline. 
In May I competed in the Scotiabank Half Marathon in Calgary and bettered my time by 4 mins from 7 months prior in 2016.  Although that was already an improvement and technically a check off the goal list, most of my training is done after the snow has melted after May.  So on Labour Day weekend, I decided to participate in the Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon to gauge improvement from spring to fall.  It also sounded fun with a wine tasting after the finish line and was advertised as a relatively fast and scenic course with a total elevation change of 536 feet and net loss of 422 feet.  In reality it was the toughest one I have done yet with hilly winery roads and a relatively warm morning. 
What I took away from this race however was how good I felt.  First, when I looked at my watch to see that I had ran 3.1mi in 27mins, and just a few years before I couldn’t run that distance under 31mins.  Second, when I had maintained my pace, and at 6.2mi I was under 60mins which was a goal in itself this year, let alone racing that speed in a 13.1mi race.  And third, when I finished with a 2:07.46, 7 mins faster than the one ran in May.  After 4 Half Marathon races in 15 months, I incrementally improved my divisional place 2 weeks later.
I participated in my third consecutive Melissa’s Road Race in Calgary.  Another hilly 10km race up and down Tunnel Mountain. I have often questioned why I do it and I decided half way in the summer to register again, as running up hills continue to be one of my biggest challenges and I wanted to keep myself accountable to hill train.  Although I had accomplished my goal of running a sub 60min 10km in the spring, this would be the only race I would do year after year yielding a fairly accurate measurement of improvement.  I also learned a few things.  I learned the course from the two prior years, and knew now when to take my gels and how I needed to pace myself.  This year I learned that I should take back up race clothes as I dressed for weather a few degrees cooler and regretted not having an option to dress down.   I did have the most fun this time however feeling good enough to do a little dance when starting the decent after the last incline, and improved my divisional place from 42% the year prior to 88%.  Wow… 88% percent of Females 30-39 finished after me… no kidding I felt like dancing!
I talked to several people about ending the race year with a Marathon and again spent many miles thinking about it.  I heard other people’s stories of doing one, or intending to do one, or why some would never do another one.  My respect for marathoners has grown over the years as I have cheered them on.  I looked forward to completing my own for most of the year.  I now know the feeling behind those faces of smiles and grimaces… only 26.2mi can create them. 
I was also given a lot of advice in order to be successful at the BMO Okanagan Marathon.  I was told not to do anything new a few weeks prior that could create injury.  I was anxious to get back to yoga after a few months away from the studio and said to myself… I’ll just take it easy.  I over stretched a knee and felt it ache for a good third of the marathon.  I learned to listen to the experienced. 
I was told that I should be able to rely on what the aid stations have.  I packed a backpack full of gels and 2 liters of fluid and didn’t use 2/3 of it.  I learned that aid stations are hard to rely on when they are generally unreliable, but that it can still offer most of what you probably need.
I was told, finish it without hurting yourself.  So I tapered early, did some shorter runs, and even a swim to limit impact before the race.  After mile 15 I said to myself, how can you not hurt doing a marathon?  48 hours after the race however, my stiff peg legs were gone and I recovered quicker and better than a lot of races I had done this year.  I learned to be responsible.
I was told that pacing was key, this wasn’t a half!  In August I decided that finishing the marathon in 5 hours would be a realistic challenge.  I ran mile over mile consistently, not deviating more than 40 seconds per mile with an average pace of 11:21min/miles.  I finished with a chip time of 5:00:12, smiling and proud.  I learned to pick a pace, stick with it, and if you still have anything left, you’ll need and appreciate it in the last 6 miles.
I’ve started to contemplate my running goals for 2018.  What’s next?  While I have some ideas, I think it will take a few frosty outside runs to solidify.  For now, I am thankful for my continued discipline to run when I have wanted to socialize and patio.  I am thankful for the connections I have made through talking and participating in the sport.  I am thankful for the improvement and achievements I obtained.  AND I think to myself…. What a Wonderful World.

October 15th, 2017    

Fitspeek 19: Planet Mikey & Mission Half-Marathon


Planet Mikey (L) with Fitspeek host Kevin Heinze (R). 

In our 19th episode you’ll get a chance to meet the man who has done 100 triathlons. You’ll find out that he was not your typical high school jock. That is, unless you count curling!

Also, in this run-intensive Fitspeek, you’ll hear about the upcoming half-marathon at the Mission Raceway, results from the Pitt Meadows Athletes in Kind OctoberFast event, and how well our local athletes performed at the Okanagan Marathon.

October 13th, 2017    

Running for a cause in Abbotsford


Coming up on Saturday October 21st at Rotary Stadium in Abbotsford is the 10th annual Cares Run.

Fitspeek host Kevin Heinze gets more details about the Cares organization and about the run in this Fitspeek Express Interview.

October 1st, 2017    

Fitspeek 18 is here: Fear Not – The Vertikiller has Arrived!


Although the Abbotsford Trail Running Club has only been around for a few years, they have been making a positive contribution to the community. This week’s feature interview is with Mike Thomas from the club. He will tell us about the big trail race they have planned called the Vertikiller.

It’s crazy the amount of local support they are receiving from sponsors like Kintec, Old Abby Ales, and F2C. 



Also in this episode, we find out about the health benefits of peanuts, the results from the Dynamic Race Events Cultus Lake triathlon, and Kevin Watt has his Instagram shouts outs.

Hear all about it by pressing PLAY below .

September 30th, 2017    

Ultra 520 Reflections Part D: Where are we? Bonksville!

I haven’t done an Ultra Post in a while. We pick it up as I get off my bike after the 275 K ride.

Day Two and a half

Part A: Freshly Laid (Recovery Gone Wrong)

Just like the day previous, my preparation for the next day of the Ultra came as soon as I hit the finish line. After some hugs and pictures, and a call to Bruce Wenting in Mission, my crew and I focused on preparing for the 84 kilometre run that loomed ahead on Monday. Job one was to get me off my feet and re hydrated

And although you may think that I would be sick of sugar and caffeine after almost eleven hours out there, I was happy to quickly down a can of Coke. Then things started to go wrong, but how can things go wrong when you are already done the day’s race?

The thing that I failed to do right after getting off my bike was go straight to the massage table sign up sheet. That was a big mistake. The folks that finished their rides after me did that and were able to get their massage right away. I, however had to wait for an hour. This hour had a cascading effect on the rest of the whole event – strange, but true. Here is how it happened.

After an hour of waiting around and wasting away after the ride, having nothing but water, Gatorade, and potato chips to refuel me, I finally made it to the massage table. Although I thoroughly benefited from the massage, it took an hour. My crew and I were the last people to leave the finish line area. By this time, it was about two-and-a-half hours since I finished the bike and that refueling window was slammed shut.

Day Three: Part A – The Last Supper

Despite having a great massage and a supportive crew around me, I was pissed off and feeling hopeless. To compound my foul mood, my left knee was killing me. I thought to myself there was no way I would be in any shape to take on my very first double marathon that was about to begin in about eleven hours. After some confused and spirited discussions among my crew members, there was finally a decision about where we could eat. Food was going to happen, eventually.

The nice thing about Princeton is that it is a pretty small town and finding the place we were going to eat at was very easy. That was a blessing, and so was the amazingly quick service that we received at the Princeton Grill and Bar. The problem was however, that I wasn’t really hungry.

As you can see here,

I sat in a zombified state watching people eating and drinking and talking around me as I dreaded the next 24 hours of my life.

To end off the night at the Grill and Bar, we all shared a piece of cake to celebrate my brother’s birthday. While we were starting to sing Happy Birthday to him, Steve King, Steve Brown, along with their friends and family all joined in. How could you not be happy after something like that? Unfortunately, I rose to the occasion. I stumbled out of the bar and into Kevin Watt’s truck mired in a sea of self-pity and fear. I was pretty quiet on my ride back to the motel.


September 20th, 2017    

Stories from the 70.3 World Championships Part A: Lesley Maisey

Two of our favourite female racers both qualified for the Ironman 70.3 (Half-Ironman) World Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee earlier this month. Our first race report comes to us from Lesley Maisey.

My second World Championships in two weeks, done. What an amazing and humbling experience this one was!

At the opening banquet the race director said he was excited about having the opportunity to design a really great and tough course for the Word Champs – and he wasn’t kidding. Every leg of it was challenging! The swim up river against the current, a very hilly bike course (with a fair bit of wind) and then a very hilly run course (in the heat) made for times much slower than everyone’s usual times. And it meant I had to absolutely let go of the theoretical time goals I had set for myself going into the race, and just do the best I could given the conditions we were facing.

So I’m proud to say I raced as hard as I know how to, and did as well as I could have hoped for, given the incredible field of talented athletes I was racing with. Including these two amazingly strong women from BC that I got to share pre and post-race encouragement and celebration with.

It was an honour and a pleasure to get to take part in an event of this calibre and to race with such incredible athletes. I am truly humbled by the times the top finishers were able to achieve on THAT course! And it was such a pleasure to get to race exclusively with other women – the environment of mutual support and encouragement throughout the day was incredible. The locals have all been incredibly welcoming, as well, and the volunteers were wonderful. Chatenooga does a fantastic job of putting on a race!

This was my third slowest 70.3 race since I started competing (only my first two, back in 2015, were slower.) And my placement is the lowest I have ever achieved! But I will still celebrate my 6:11:18 finish time, and my 129/187 age group standing – and 1045/1433 overall for women.

I really only had three goals for myself going into this race. 1. ENJOY the experience and the privilege of racing a World Championships. 2. Challenge and push myself to race the best race I possibly can. 3. Not be the very last athlete out of the water for the day. I can happily say I accomplished all three!

September 16th, 2017    

Motivational Push and Pull Factors: Fitspeek 17


Why do people climb mountains, do marathons, swim from the Mainland to Nanaimo, and all that other crazy endurance type stuff? And once they have achieved their goal, what keeps them challenged?

This week in Fitspeek 17, Zack Neufeld (dude above with Ironman hat)explores push and pull motivations in his Between The Ears segment. We’d also like to motivate you to listen to the rest of Fitspeek 17 which also has: Kevin Watt’s (man in black) Instagram Shout Outs, The Wenting’s Word of the Week, our upcoming events schedule, and our feature interview with Michelle Ingall from the Campbell Valley Wine Run that is being held on Sunday September 24.

Hear it all by pressing play below.

September 10th, 2017    

Fitspeek Express Interview: Campbell Valley Wine Run


The Pacific Riding for Developing Abilities has been helping people out in our area for years. One of their major fundraisers is the Campbell Valley Wine Run. You drink some wine and run a bit. Well, there is more to it than that. To get us the rest of the story, I interviewed Race Director Michelle Ingall.

You can get more information on the run here

September 9th, 2017    

Kevin Watt, Zack Neufeld, and Kevin Heinze have been busy

at work preparing for the latest edition of Fitspeek. Episode 17 features the Wenting’s Word of The Week, Zack’s Between The Ears, and KWatt’s shout outs. In our feature interview with Michelle Ingall, we will do our best to explain what the heck this picture is all about. Fitspeek 17 is coming soon.

September 2nd, 2017    

Lesley Maisey: You are an Ironman/Woman/Person

 Whenever someone invests time and energy to complete an endurance event, there is something we can learn from their efforts. In the past we have heard from folks like Rio Glowasky and Joe Crocker as they have transformed their lives since embracing racing (and the training required to do it!). Earlier this summer, our Fitspeek Follower and friend, and Ironvet (!) Lesley Maisey competed in the Ironman Race in the Napa Valley area of Central California. Here, she tells us about her experiences during her big day.
An ironman triathlon involves a swim, a bike, and a run. Sounds fairly straightforward. I just completed my tenth and even with all that experience there are things to learn. Every race is different even if you’re racing on the same course.

Primary lesson learned from Ironman Santa Rosa: pack every type of wetsuit you have. Take the fulll suit, the sleeveless, the neoprene swim shorts and the speed suit. Whether you can wear a wetsuit or not on race day depends on water temperature. At the race briefing, the legality of a wetsuit was in question but likely a non wetsuit swim due to the lake temperature at 76.1F. Another 0.1 degree F, so 76.2F meant wetsuits were not allowed. Now if you are a weaker swimmer and rely on your wetsuit’s buoyancy to get you safely through a 2.4 mile (3.8km) swim you could still wear it but you were removed from any award eligibility and cautioned on the risk of overheating. The sales of speed suits skyrocketed at the expo; I almost got sucked into the frenzy but Rob reeled me back in. I have one at home, it was my mistake not to pack it for a hot race. It’s now added to the pack list!

Race morning, the 0430 athlete shuttle out to the lake was relatively quiet and peaceful. There was a gentle buzz of conversation but no yahoos with their music blasting or jumping around trying to high five everyone (yes I’ve had that experience and it doesn’t allow for some centering and reflection before a long day). Into T1 with my headlamp as it’s still dark; we typically see sunrise part way into the swim. Tires pumped to 110psi, bottles and nutrition loaded on the bike and then down to the lake. Wetsuits were permitted as the temp was at that magical number of 76.1F. So nice to dive into warm water and have the added buoyancy but wetsuits cause extra stress on the shoulders having to move restricted with a thin neoprene layer. Pros and cons to most things aren’t there? The typical punches, kicks and swim-overs in the water were there but these don’t phase me anymore. The lake was quite choppy though and I kept losing sight of the course markers so swam a bit extra I’m sure. Not my fastest swim but I felt strong and still had good energy exiting, so an efficient swim! My transition times were long because of the 1/3 mile run up the boat launch, wetsuit stripper visit, around to the bag pick up and then finally around the back of the change tents and into the tent. New volunteer rules meant no help in the tent, not even with sunscreen application. I had a good community in the tent, as we had a line of athletes all putting sunscreen on each other’s backs. Then out and onto the bike.

I knew in the first few minutes this was going to be tough. My Garmin had been kicked and hit a ton in lap two of the swim so I had to reset it to catch any bike metrics. Most times I start the bike feeling awesome as this part is my strength, but not this time. I had ridden the 160km Valley GranFondo 6 days before and my legs were not fresh. Rob and I hadn’t driven the bike course but the profile hadn’t seemed too bad. The hills were nothing too major but felt far steeper with tired legs. The roads were in terrible shape though. Lots of orange tape marking off the worst hazards but I rode on high alert thankful for the carbon fibre frame and wheels taking some of the vibration. There were bottles and bike parts littering the course and so many people flatting out (not me though thankfully). At about 60 miles I could hear my front brake rubbing as it was finally a smooth section of road. Who knows how long that rolling resistance had been in play? Stopped for a quick adjustment and I was moving again. At mile 80 I stopped at an aid station and actually got off my bike. Normally I ride through and urinate as I go (sorry if TMI!) and rinse with a water bottle but I just needed a minute off that thing! I had 32 miles to go and wasn’t having much fun. I sat in the stinky “honey bucket” (irony at its finest) and recall hanging my head in my hands. My head ached and my body was sore but after a few minutes I got back in the saddle and resumed pedalling. The last 42 miles was a three loop section and had some of the worst roads. Every bump started to really hurt and there were groans and profanities uttered by all. I was so delighted to give my bike to the volunteer at the dismount line at 112 miles (180km). A longish run in cycling shoes took me into the next change tent.

Through T2 and onto the run. The run course was changed to a 3-looper a week before to allow more frequent access to aid stations and two stops at your special needs bag if you wanted. It felt so good to run…for about the first 4 miles. After that it was more mental than anything. I had been in my head for most of the bike course which is not good and had a hard time shaking it on the run. I saw Rob at mile 9 for a kiss and much needed words of encouragement. He was there at every loop, even ran with me for a bit and walked with me through the aid station on that part of the course. I was light headed off and on, struggling with nausea but actually not cramping at all. I could run when I talked myself into it! Grapes were the sustenance that kept me going along with cola. I could not stomach another gel, block, or bar. So grapes, a couple pieces of an orange and about 4 pretzels is what I consumed on the 26.2 mile run. My favourite sign on the run was “I bet you’d like your bike back now!” Oh how true they were!

I kept thinking that I must have missed the 22 mile marker. My Garmin had a dead battery and there were fewer than usual mile markers. I almost burst into tears when I finally did see it as in my mind it should have been there 2 miles ago! Mile 25 through to the finish was the longest 1.2 miles I have ever run. You think a marathon is long? That last mile felt like it took forever! They sure like to tour us around in Santa Rosa. In keeping with the long transition pathways of the day, the exit for the finish chute was at least 8 blocks. Just when you think you’re there, a lovely volunteer says “just two more turns” or “just two more blocks to go”. Seriously! That finish line seemed elusive. I could hear Mike Reilly’s booming voice (the announcer) but I couldn’t see that red and black magic carpet leading up to the finisher’s arch.

When I finally did, and it seemed like I had run far more than just 1.2 miles since that 25 mile sign, I had the same emotional flood that I had on my first ironman finish and every one since. Even though this was my tenth, it is never a guarantee that I will finish. Anything can happen on race day. When you do make it across that line it brings relief that I can really stop now, disappointment that I didn’t meet my goal time, joy in hearing my name called out as an ironman finisher, gratitude that Rob is there cheering me through that finish, and thankful that my body lets me do this crazy event and holds up to all the training and the challenges of race day. This one took 13 hours, 44 minutes and 46 seconds. I was sweaty, salty, dusty and sparkling due to the sunscreen (I told another athlete I was channeling my inner unicorn), but I was done! I think I’ll give it a few more days before planning 2018…

August 26th, 2017    

Ultra 520 K Reflections: Day Two “The best laid plans”

The picture below does a pretty good job of expressing my approach toward the second day of the Ultra 520 K. I knew from the very outset that it would be a challenging day in ways that I could not imagine and time did not really matter that much. The day featured a 275 kilometre bike ride through the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys. Although in training, I had done rides of almost nine hours, those rides were not after a previous ten hour day of swimming and riding. I was going to be as cautious, smart, and gentle as possible on the bike, to preserve my soul for the double-marathon the following day. What you see in the picture is me at about the three hour mark, rolling out my back and hips on a yoga mat. It seemed to work wonders for me and although that whole stop (just before the WALL in Okanagan Falls) took me about ten minutes, I think it was time well spent. In retrospect, looking at this picture makes me respect my competitors even more, and here’s why. Although every person doing the race had a crew to help them through the event, I was truly blessed to have the support that I had. I had an official crew of four, plus on this day I had an additional five people for emotional support.

My team catered to my every need. If I wanted perogies instead of gel, they were there, waiting for me at the next stop. If I didn’t like the tilt of my aero bars, I had a replacement bike ready to go. If my private parts started to get unhappy, I knew Chamois Butter was only twenty minutes away. If I got sick of F2C, I had a choice of green tea, Red Bull, or Coke at my “bicycle-buffet” as you can see here. I’m quite sure that I had the best support out of all the racers out there.


But in spite of all the niceties afforded me, I still had to go the distance and for me that took almost eleven hours. In that amount of time a lot can happen to a person’s mind and body. I remember doing the long and lonely climb to the Twin Lakes Golf Course feeling just hopeless. Ninety minutes later, I was still in a funk. I guess emotional peaks and valleys are a lot longer on bike rides lasting just as long as some of my entire Ironman races!

One of the things that sustained me (or distracted me) was the thought of folks like Craig Premack doing sixteen and twenty hour rides and Geo Wade doing eight and ten hours swims. Another, very tangible thing that helped me get through the day was the gearing on my bicycles. Even though my motivation and energy levels waivered a lot through the day, it was pretty much impossible NOT to keep going with a bike that had 12/32 gearing. They also gave me the opportunity to SPIN up all of the nasty hills that the course threw at me.

The two main things that I learned from Day Two of the Ultra 520 K were that even though you think you may be fully prepared to take on the challenges of a super long event, there are going to be things that may happen along the way that you will not necessarily be fully prepared for and this is part of the appeal. The second thing is much more pragmatic – comfort trumps aero on long distance bikes. Even though I thought my bike positions were optimized, my mind and body after seven hours seem to say  otherwise. Perhaps a less aggressive position on the bikes would have lessened the suffering. Or maybe it is just that this princess just needs to toughen up!

August 25th, 2017    

Zack is back – with another “Between The Ears” segment

As an athlete, you are always looking for an edge over your competition. Often this attitude means adopting the mind set of trying harder. For many of us that means adding stress, instead of energy to our efforts. In this “Between The Ears” segment, Fitspeek’s Zack Neufeld explains how to get faster by relaxing.

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