So I’ve had this blog link on my website since I launched it in March. But I have yet to hop on the blogging train. Since then, I was approached by Toit Events, the company that puts on the Gran Fondo’s in Canada to contribute to a “Women in Cycling Blog.” I just wrote my first blog post for it, so I figured I might as well carry this momentum into my own first blog post.
Since it may be confusing if I just started posting in the middle of my season, I thought an update on my year so far would be a useful first post. In interest of trying to be less verbose, I’m going to do my update in two parts.
Where to start? Well probably the most significant event in my life this year was the car accident I got into on January 5, 2011. Being the dedicated athlete I am, I was driving to the track in the rain and dark that evening to do a workout and a car pulled out in front of me as I was going through a green light. I hit the side of the car pretty hard and my airbag deployed. My [boyfriend’s] car was a write-off and I got whiplash. Five months later I am still dealing with whiplash. I never expected it to be this big of a deal, but my neck is not back to normal and I’m still not able to train normally. In the meantime, I’ve missed a lot of workouts, done a lot of workouts only up to my pain threshold (i.e. easy and short) and generally been forced to be a slacker.
Anyone who knows my personality would know that is not how I roll. I tried not to give up on the high goals I set for myself (qualifying for Ironman 70.3 worlds through the new points system), because otherwise I think I would’ve went crazy not having a goal to get better for.
I couldn’t compete at my first two planned races this season, and my first time racing was the bike time trial at the Spring Series Stage Race at the beginning of April. I had been riding the trainer nearly every day in March because I couldn’t do much else due to my injury. So it’s not that surprising that I did well. It was a windy day and my average speed wasn’t quite what I wanted (40 kph for 12 km), but I was top woman and took 1.5 minutes off my time from last year. A perk from that race was beating something like 60 men…ladies am I right? It feels good to beat men. I was only 5 seconds behind my teammate Rob Johnson and I’m still kicking myself for missing my chance to beat a guy who got scolded by his father early in his triathlon career for letting Kirstin Sweetland beat him. My boyfriend Dave Stephens is on the Garneau Evolution elite cycling team and also won the category A race that day, so it was a good day with double wins for Team Amy-Dave! We need to make matching t-shirts STAT!
I did my first tri at Ironman 70.3 New Orleans on April 17th. Lucky for me the swim was cancelled due to 23 mph winds. I was having a fairly good bike with my 1.5 week old 2011 Cervelo P3 on the extremely windy and flat course (despite being passed and dropped by drafters, grrr) until the last 45’ when my neck started hurting a lot. This was my first race with a power meter thanks to Quarq, so I could tell objectively that my effort/power dropped with the onset of pain.
The nice thing is, as soon as I got off the bike my neck felt better. I ended up having a great run at 1:25 for the half marathon with only 6 weeks of running since the car accident under my belt. I was also super happy about racing in my Newton performance racers for the first time, they are amazingly light and comfortable!
So in the end, my 36 kph avg bike speed and 1:25 half marathon were equivalent to my times at the end of last season. On one hand it was encouraging that I was still as fast on much less training. On the other hand it was depressing that the entire last year seemed like a waste. I’m still so new to triathlon and to long distance racing that I can still expect to see large gains…if I could actually train.
I did the BMO Marathon 8 km race on May 2 just for fun. I hadn’t done a short running race in years, but I was running pretty well despite the setbacks. My only concern was that when I run really hard and breath really hard since the accident my arms would get numb and tingly from my neck muscles compressing on my nerves. Luckily that didn’t happen in the race, but it was mighty painful nonetheless. I forgot how much it hurts to run fast. I rather like my comfortable half marathon pace off the bike. Somehow I managed to run a decent time (29:31), but I think that was only because elite runner Kristina Rody (who won the CIS championships when I was in uni) pushed the pace for kms 4, 5, 6, and 7 and made me hurt real bad. If she wasn’t there I would’ve ran way slower and it wouldn’t have hurt so bad. Somehow I got away from her with one km to go and got to break the banner! It was another weekend of double wins for Dave and I, as he solo won the Washington State Road Race Championships the same day by 43 seconds (just a *little* bit bigger deal than my race). That win and the notion that if I could hold that pace for another 2 km I would run a sub 37 minute 10 km really got me itching to do some more running races. But alas, like I decided after my last varsity track meet, I am a triathlete now!
This is it for part 1 of the update. Next week in part two I’ll talk about my two Ironman 70.3 races in May in Europe including my literal “run-in” with a nudist area and my horrible crash on my face in Austria.
Follow me on twitter for instant updates on my happenings: @AmyAKirkham