Monday, December 13, 2010

Class of 2010 - NY City Marathon!

Wow I can’t believe the last time I posted was in September- yikes!

So let’s see not much to tell except I did the NEW YORK CITY MARATHON!!!!

If you only do one marathon- it should be NY. What a great experience.

My time was not the best but the experience was awesome.

These folks know how to put on a show. With over 56000 (yes 56000) people running it you can just imagine the organization it takes.

They ferry or bus everyone over to Staten Island where they have set up 3 different villages/compounds for the 3 waves. Runners are assigned to Blue, Green or Orange waves based on expected finish times and such. So each wave has its own compound at the start line with its own bag check, bathrooms, booths supplying pre-race nutrition/hydration and coffee while you wait.

Waves start in 20 minute intervals – about 20,000 peeps per group and the waves are broken down further into corrals. I was in the Orange Wave, 51st corral. I was surprised how many first –timers were running. Wow what race to do as your first!

So they announce you and you head off to your corral where once in your numbered corral they frog-march you on to the bridge where the run starts. This bridge is 6 lanes wide and 2 levels. My Wave was on the top level and had the 3 lanes on the right side. Blue was beside us with Green below.

They had an opera singer sing America the beautiful and then the starting cannons – yes 2 cannons – went off shooting = red. White and blue confetti in the air. They did this for each wave. After which they played New York, New York being sung by Frank Sinatra – super cool.

I bought a disposable camera so I could take pictures along the course. I will say one thing you can never get lonely on this course. You are always surrounded by people and will the crowds are the best ever. I kid you not they yelled and cheered the whole route it was great. Coming off the Queesnborough into Manhattan was like riding up Yellow Lake in Ironman – you could not even hear yourself think for all the screaming and yelling – not to mention the funneling of the runners as people were reaching out to high five you- it took my breath away.

I had one really bleak moment – I was having a pretty good race and really just soaking up the sights and the atmosphere – I quickly realized that a PB was going to be very hard to do on the course as it is a tough course and just due to the crowds and such. However I was able to keep a good pace going around 6:15 – 6:30 a km until around 18 miles or so and then I am not sure what bridge we were on – but around 19 miles my hamstrings and right knee really started to hurt – to the point where I actually stopped and had to take in some really deep breaths as it hurt so much. That is when my angel stopped by. A lady from Washington stopped and asked me if I was okay – I was like yes just in a wee bit of pain. She asked if I wanted her to get help and I was like NO – it is just tight I needed it to ease up. She then said can you walk – walk with me – so we started walking and talking a bit – turns out she was a little tired she had just run a marathon the week before! She noticed my Ironman tattoo and asked if I had done one and I said yes. Turns out she had just registered for her first Ironman for next year – Coeur De Leone (sp?).

We chatted about that for a bit and then she said do you want to try running – sure lets go. So she started running, I started hobbling and off we went – she quickly moved on but it was just the thing to get me going again. From that point on I would run to each mile marker and then shuffle for a minute and then make myself run again. It was slow going but at least I was moving forward.

Thank goodness for all the spectators because they sure helped so the I could dig a little deeper and keep running to each mile marker. I was super happy to see the finish that is for sure. Time 5:28….. – NY completed – check mark.

Recovery was a little slower than normal – my legs were a little stiff but my Right IT and Knee made it be known for the next few days that they were less than impressed. The rest of the trip was great we got to see 2 Broadway shows – WICKED and ELF and got on the Letterman Show and actually on TV – thanks to the lady wearing the Canadian Flag from Ottawa right in front of us.

Did some shopping, all the requisite tourist things, visited some museums and had some amazing meals. Overall I really like NY – could I live there I don’t know – I missed the natural beauty and green space of Vancouver but as we all know when you live somewhere you adjust to it and then it becomes home.

I would recommend this race to anyone – it really is a great experience. Now I am trying to decide where to next – Athens keeps popping in my mind. I would love to go to Greece and well how cool to run the original marathon… Just have to convince the boy.

Peace out


Monday, September 27, 2010

Buntzen Lake Trail Race – 5 Peaks Series

Saturday was the last trail race of the 5 Peaks at Buntzen Lake.

I was a little anxious because since the Mount Seymour Race in late July I have been on the trails exactly once

August was just a hectic month and I was completely focused on the training for Gran Fondo and New York so the Saturday trail runs were shelved. We did not even go preview the trail so we were going in blind. …. Special K and Pam were feeling the same way – they each got 1 more run on the trails than I and Special K needed to take this race to win the series for her division – Athena.

So all told we headed out early to make sure we got a parking spot – yep we were like the first ones there – now to wait for 2.5 hours…. At least there was free coffee. Oddly the time went by quick and then it was go time.

They start the races in waves of 2 minutes just so we are not all tripping over each other. Special K went to the front and Pam and I took our customary spots near the back in one of the last waves. I mean we have timing chips so time starts when we cross and I don’t like 200 runners having to try and pass me while I am inching my way down some goat trail trying not to break my neck! Best they start off in front and then I can have a peaceful enjoyable race  - Pam agrees with me.

The race started off uneventful at about 10 minutes in I felt humble as I was passed by the first half marathoner – they started an hour prior to us. That means that he was 15 km in to his race in the trails in an hour – wow that is one fast peep.

Next came the climbs and as usual I zipped up along passing everyone – I love climbing – but as always what goes up must come down and I was like get up as fast as you can so you have a time cushion for your cautious climb back down. The climb went on for quite a while to the point where I was even starting to think yeesh and then it flattened out nicely for a bit. The flat was great it was pretty wide not a lot of rocks or divots more like a big field so I was happy and could keep a good clip going.

Always at the back of mind that the next corner would be the downhill well it was and to my surprise it was a nice wide trail no big rocks, roots, divots. It was like the trails we run in Stanley Park all the time – YEEHAH - I actually laughed out loud and started booking it. Look out Special K here I come.

It was like they made this course for me – Finally a course I could run hard on in all sections! I passed so many people coming down the hills; I flew along the flats and climbed like a little mountain goat. I have to say it was nirvana for me. I mean every other race in this series I had been solidly whipped by the downhills; I finished near the back of my age group and the overall race. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the races and new it was a learning experience for me so I was not upset by it but being as competitive as I am it was humbling to say the least. So this was a nice treat after a whole season of eating humble pie.

Final time – 51:46 – YEAH. No I did not catch Special K her time 50:55 – she used to be a downhill ski racer so I am not sure I will ever be able to catch her on a trail race just because of that but I am getting closer……..

Oh and yes she won the race on Saturday and took the title for the series for her Division. She rocked it out. Pam finished a few minutes after me so she had a great race to.

Overall the race was great and the after BBQ was awesome. The series is very well run – Kathleen and her crew do a great job from the great course, lots of volunteers, great marking of the course to the awesome swag and door prizes at each race. I am definitely doing this series again next year and would recommend it to anyone looking for a new challenge/adventure.

Peace out

Monday, September 13, 2010

Gran Fondo - AWESOME

This past weekend the Zimich Girls raced in the inaugural RBC Gran Fondo - Vancouver - Whistler bike race.  It was amazing!!!!!

They had been calling for rain day of thankfully the weather gods took mercy on us and we had the most amazing weather!   Clear skies and not too hot.  It was perfect.

Our team origianlly had 8 - we made it to the start line with 5 - sort of.  Barb Zimich - our coach had recovered enough from her accident last hear - broken femur that she decided to race and happy to report she won 2nd in her division!  A couple of other ladies decided that they had not prepared well enough and we had one lady down with an injury so now we were 4. 

I was pretty anxious in the few days prior and especially on Friday and mentioned it to Coach B - she said in her own way I would be fine.  My anxiety was not from the ride - I knew I could do the ride in spades it was from riding with a team in a large group and knowing that we each had our jobs and I did not want to let the team down.  It is one thing to ride for yourself - I mean if it all goes to hell in a hand basket then it is your problem but on a team if that happens 3 other people's days are messed up to.  I wanted to make sure I did my work and contributed to a successful day and also tamped down my competitive spirit so that we stayed together. 

We found each other and crossed the start together which was harder than you can imagine with 4000 riders all hopping down the road to the start line.  But we got there and set off in our pace line - riding over the Lions Gate down the driving lanes was awesome - much prefer it to the tiny sidewalk!  We hit the first climb, Taylor Way,  and it was time for me to start my work - I just settled in and the climb went very nicely - Heather who I have only ridden with once before - is also a great climber so it was nice to work with her on the uphills.  We had agreed that when we got to the top we would regroup so we would head out on to the highway as a group of  4 and have a better chance of working together. 

I was quite amazed at the number of flat tires that we had seen on the road in the early stages.  Thankfully Judith had flatted twice for us in the previous 24 hours so we were covered for the day.  The ride out to Horseshoe Bay was great and then when we hit the first downhill we  sadly saw a rider down and injured badly - he is still in the hospital with a head injury - it rattled all of us. Especially me because when we came up on it we all had to slow down and a rider came flying up the inside before he realized he had to stop and was basically between me and the centre concrete median - he was yelling whoa and I had nowhere to go without taking out a bunch of riders - fortunately I was able to hold my line and not take out anyone but he grinded his bike along that centre meridian pretty badly - I felt awful - still do - but I really had nowhere to go.  Everyone around me assured me that there was nothing I could do. I hope his bike is okay...

After that we all settled in quite nicely - we had all ridden to Lions Bay before and well I used to live out there so I knew that portion very well and then we got to the other side - and there were a couple of big climbs - time to go to work - our team did well - as I mentioned Heather is a great climber so it was nice to have someone to work with on the front.  Cindy is an amazing downhiller and Judith is great a closing the gap and jumping on the wheel so we could stay as a group - it worked well.  Heather and I would work to get us up and if the girls fell off we did not worry too much because Cindy would get them back to us and on the flats Judith would help us jump up to the next group as well as work with Heather so that she stayed with us on the downhill since she was pretty nervous on the downhills. 

We stopped in Squamish for potty break and well I had a little glass of wine they were giving out and then off we were again.  The next 60 km was pretty much false flats and uphills so I figured I desereved a glass of wine.  Heather and I agreed that if we got too far ahead on the climbs we would wait at the top and it worked well as we never waited more than a minute or so and only stopped a few times.  It was mentioned at one time that if Heather and I wanted to we could go but we said no - we came up as a team and we would finish as a team - this was to be fun - besides the fact my legs were tired! 

We did we crossed the finish line 4 abreast and it was great - Coach B would have been proud - total time on the road was 5:40  - with our 2 breaks that were about 30 minutes in total we figure we did 5:10.  I am satisfied with that.  The race was well organized and we really enjoyed the course and after BBQ and such - we have all agreed to do it again next year and well I have already registered - it opened about 2 hours ago! 
The plan is to shoot for sub 5 hours - no breaks - I know we can do it.

Just an awesome day all round with my awesome riding pals.  Next up the last trail race of the season in 2 weeks. 

Peace out

Thursday, September 2, 2010


This past weekend was Ironman Canada in Penticton - it was amazing! I was not competing I went up to volunteer, cheer, support, and just overall soak up the atmosphere.   I love this weekend.

There were many times I had to stop and take a breath because all of the sudden I would  stop and remember a certain memory about  like last year when I was competing and be amazed that I had actually done this, that I was alumni - wow. 

The energy from the moment I arrived in town on Saturday morning was electric.  I knew so many people who were competing.  There was Cindy, Darin and Rochelle - Zimich Team mates.  My massage therapist - Kenji and running buddies - Tina, Henry, and Melinda just to name a few.

First thing I did on Saturday morning was "treat" myself to a bike ride - I rode out along the course to OK falls turned around and on the way back rode UP  a VERY steep hill to the Blasted Church Winery.  I have been deteremined to go there for the last 3 years - everytime I ride the course I see the sign and think I need to go there so as a reward to myself for doing my ride I got to ride to the winery and buy some wine.  I got a lovely merlot and white which I will open on a special occasion - I then packed them in my backpack and rode back to town in BRUTAL headwinds.  They were awful and all I could think was I sure hope it dies down tomorrow for everyone - this is nasty! 

When I got back to town and I went and picked up my volunteer shirt - I figured it was time to give back to the race - so I volunteered as a wet-suit stripper. Plus I really wanted to "strip" all my friends.   It was super fun!  I got to strip Tina and Cindy and yell at Darin and Henry - I was so proud of them all.  Not to mention all the other swimmers - it was really awesome to strip them, congratulate them on a great swim and wish them luck on thier bike ride. 

I think next time I will do another job just to experience another part of the race but I did love it and will definately volunteer again.  The adrenaline rush is awesome as you want to get the suit off the athlete as fast as possible and get them on their way for the "wee" bike ride.  I got kicked in the throat, stepped on and almost cold-cocked by one guy.  When I was pulling off his suit another swimmer running by kicked him in the head so he came up ready to swing.  Fortunately I was quick and grabbed his arm before he let loose and talked him down.  Honestly he was over 6 ft and a big boy if had hit me I would have been out - that is a sure thing.  There was the excitement of the pro's coming out of the water - most did not want to be stripped but the lead lady came out and there was trouble with her suit - the zipper jammed - after people were fussing with it for about 2 mintues she ran off to the tent with it still on - not sure how they got it off her.   I tell you though I stayed way the heck away on that one - I did not want feel I had affected her day.  In the end I heard she got caught on the bike at the out & Back so I guess the wet suit did not affect her day overall thankfully.  Then there was the heartbreak of watching a lady come out  4 min past cut-off and know that her day was done.  But I am sure she will be back because Sister Magdalena (sp?) was waiting for her and walked with her to the change tent.  The sister had problems with her wetsuit and had to pullout- the first Ironman she has ever pulled out in after being in over 40 races.   Yep I would say volunteer - the experience was amazing. 

After my shift I had to get out for my 19km run so I ran along Kettle Valley trail - it is stunning - I had never run it before up on the bluff and would recommend it to anyone.  On the way back I could see the clouds moving in and thought to myself -uh oh.   I made it back before it started raining but apparently around the same time I got back 12:30 or so the folks at the top of Yellow Lake were not having a great go of it.  The skies opened up and at one point there was hail!!  Makes last years 37 degrees and smoke seem like a picnic....  Apparently there were a lot of crashes as the wind was brutal and the roads were slick. 

When I got back I changed hooked up with some other friends and we settled into our cheering mode - chairs out on the strip and enthusiasm in hand.  I stayed out there until 8:30pm or so cheering and then had to leave as Joe was flying in to Kelowna so he could sign-up the next day and I had to pick him up at the airport.  But I did get to see Darin and Kenji finish and knew that all the others were safely on the run course and on their way home. 

The next morning got up and headed down for registration - NO not me - Joe.  yes after 4 hours of waiting I am super excited and very proud to say that my hubby JOE is registered and this time next year will be an Ironman.  I have already lined up our hotel on the strip and am planning my ensemble for next year.  I am hoping to volunteer at the finish line so I can hand him his medal like he did mine.  I can hardly wait.

Peace out Shaun

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My feet have ADD.

Yesterday was the 4th in the 5 Peaks Series - Whistler. 

I did not run it......  now hold on - I have some good reasons. 

This was supposed to be a down year and well I came to the realization that I am pretty much training as hard as I did last year for Ironman - just minus the swimming.  I am training 6 days a week in preparation for the Gran Fondo and the New York Marathon.  It is taking its toll on me.

For those who have not trail raced it is a double-edged sword - the course are stunning - when you get a chance to look around.  They are fun, exciting, terrifying and super challenging.  There is no down-time or auto pilot on a trail race- you are in the moment the whole race.  I love it.  I am not great at them but am getting alot better and look forward to the runs as exhausting and difficult as they can be. 

The thing about trail running is you have to trust your feet.  Your brain already reads and tells your feet what to do.  But what do you do when your feet have ADD?!?  This is what I said to my trail coaches - Tom and Duncan.  See my brain tells my feet rock, root, rock and my feet go got it!  Then 2 seconds later my feet go - ooohhhh pretty flower and I am on my ass or hobbling with a rolled ankle. 

The last trail race was about 4 weeks ago on the top of Mount Seymour - it is supposed to be the toughest and most technical course - I believe them it was brutal - even the mountain goats were like dumb humans!  Anyways I ran it and while I did not roll an ankle I did tweak my right ankle - and ever since then I have been having some issues.  Nothing so major as to make me stop running but it has been causing me some issues. Specifically my ankle keeps locking up - even on bike rides now and foot has been going numb - this i probably not a good thing....

So based on those minor issues and the fact that I have 2 big races coming up and am leading a clinic I decided to listen to my good angel and not go up and race Whistler.  That and there was snow at the top - my feet and their ADD would have definately meant my ass would have been touching snow by the end of that race.  However I am going to run Bunzten in September it will be the last in the series and I am Sooooo doing the whole series next year - I would recommend them to anyone - it is a great series and well run.  I wonder if you can get topical ritalen for your feet?

Peace out


Monday, August 16, 2010

The Big Climb

Okay so maybe the climb was not Avoriaz but it was tough enough. I have mentioned that there is a new bike race this year the Whistler Gran Fondo.

This is a 120km bike ride from Vancouver to Whistler Ski resort along the Sea – to- Sky highway. We have put in a women’s team and a few of us decided to ride the Squamish to Whistler portion this past Saturday. The plan was to meet in Squamish – the halfway point of the race – ride the last 60km to Whistler, coffee and then ride back to the cars in Squamish.

This would give us a bird’s eye view of the last 60km of the race where most of the climbing will be.

Saturday was a hot one and of course it gets hotter the higher and more inland you go. I realized as soon as we started riding that I forgot to put on Sunscreen. – Ah what are you going to do?

The first bit was not bad and being a climber I was like this is not too bad. Overall the ride up was not bad there was a lot of wind so it helped to keep us cool. It was mixed emotions whenever we got a downhill because it meant that we were going to have to climb it on the way home.

Mentally I had prepared myself for 60km of up the reward being 60km of down. So downhill’s on the way up meant uphill’s on the way down. Honestly while were riding up it did not seem too bad – it was hard but not unbearable – it actually seemed that the climbs were mild and then there was flat and then a mild climb. I was hot and tired when we got to Whistler but was happy we were there and could have a break. When we stopped for coffee I clipped out and went to put weight on my Right foot and shooting pain through my ankle – crap it was locked. It took a bit to get it to unlock, thankfully it did otherwise the ride home would have been brutal not to mention the 29km run I had planned for the next day.

Now I need to go see physio – I have been ignoring it for too long. A few weeks ago at the Mt Seymour Trail race I tweaked my right ankle – it was mild but ever since then it has been locking up and my right hip and hamstring are not too pleased with me so now time to deal with it.

The ride down was awesome and that is when you realize that crap it is pretty much ALL uphill to Whistler and that the "flats" were just smaller hills because now with the exception of 2 climbs it was ALL downhill and the views were stunning. Time up 2.hrs 30 min with a couple of little stops to regroup. Time down 1 hr 45min with a stop to regroup. It was an eye opener but at least now we know what we are up against. We know we can do it and we have decided as a team to enjoy the day. Team plan is 5 - 6 hours - completely reasonable and totally doable.

The only thing that freaks me out a bit is the other 3982 riders out there – hopefully everyone rides smart and plays nice. Either way I think it is going to be a great day and am more excited than ever. Only 26 more sleeps!

Peace out Shaun. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Helloooo - Anyone out there?

I know I have been remiss in posting but it was with good reason. My lawyer asked me to stop posting and go off-line till I had settled with ICBC. It was the least I could do since I insisted that I wanted this finished and to move on. I am happy to report that I have settled and now no longer have to worry about being followed and such. Not that it really stopped me before but it is just nice to close the door and move on.

So what’s been going on since April/May lots!!!! Some triumphs and some frustrations and in between a whole lot of training.

I was a pace bunny at the Vancouver Half Marathon and promoted myself up to 2:15 as my recovery has been going well. I am pleased to report that I did 2:14:34 a smidge fast but what’s a bunny to do?

In April Special K, Pam and I started doing trail running clinics in anticipation of running the 5 Peaks trail race series and possibly putting in a relay team in to Stormy. The clinics are run by Tom and Duncan from Solomon Flight Crew. Each Saturday morning we hook up with them and they give us tips for trail running and take us over trails all around Vancouver. It has been great – my trail running has improved substantially and now I know a bunch of new trails. We have run 3 of the 5 races and Special K has been rocking her division winning 3 for 3. Myself - my goals is to finish without rolling an ankle and no mud on my ass – which is tougher than you think! The courses are not for the faint of heart. They are brutal and super technical and I am happy to report that I have achieved both goals in the first 3 races. The next race I will be doing Solo up in Whistler – should be interesting as we have to take the Gondola to the top to run. I am a little worried….

Stormy, sadly, I decided it was a no go – this is a tough course and we had not done a single run on the course or formed a team. Having done this race before I was not willing to go in without some long trail runs on the course under my belt. Ah well next year!

I am running another half clinic for the Running Room and been training for the New York Marathon in November. So that covers the running aspect.

Riding – my riding has been going really well – the hill climbing is coming back very nicely. I have been 2- 3 times a week – one day is 1.5 – 2 hours by myself, Wednesdays are usually Cypress night where I ride up the local mountain with Zimich girls or do some other brutal workout – usually 2 hours, and then Sat or Sun is my long ride – 3 – 4 hours. I am doing this all in preparation for the Gran Fondo. This is a bike race from Vancouver to Whistler and it is the first year. We have a team of 8 women riding and there are 4000 riders registered. The ride is going to be amazing and super tough – it is 120 km most it being up! It is in September.

Tri’s – this has been a little weird. Just the way my schedule has been and the races I have already registered I have not been able to fit in a triathlon. A little frustrating - we did have a relay team registered for the Osoyoos Half Ironman and I was the rider. I was super stoked about this race and trained really hard for it because the course is one of the toughest out there – it is part of the Ironman course – up Richters to Crofton (Out & Back) turn around and go back to Osoyoos the same way. If you think the rollers are brutal going to Keremeos they are worse going back to Osoyoos. We were going up against my husband Joe and my goal was to crush him on the bike. The unthinkable happened – our swimmer panicked in the water and did not finish in reg time so the team was disqualified and race day over. I can not begin to explain the level of frustration and disappointment. Frustration because there was nothing I could do to help my swimmer and disappointment because I really wanted to ride this race. Well I sort of got to – the officials were nice enough to let me get the bike out of transition and go for a ride. My friend Judith – aka Guardian Angel – was waiting at the top of Richters so I texted her what had happened and that I had my bike and she called and said she would wait so I rode up and met her and we rode the course together and cheered for the riders. I was able to get back and meet the rest of the relay team so we could cheer Joe on. It was a little awkward with our TEAM BEAT JOE shirts on but we all had a good laugh about it. Overall the weekend was good – I got a ride in, the weather was amazing and Joe had a great race and won a wetsuit. We’ll get him next year!

So that covers the last couple of months for me? What’s new with you? I promise I will be on-line more. This weekend we are doing a training ride from Squamish to Whistler and then Sunday a wee “29km” run. Should be great!

Peace out


Thursday, May 6, 2010

see it, believe it, live it

During 2010 olympics some of the news reports indicated that some athletes might have felt the pressure and not been able to perform in clutch.  While no where near their potential or ability as an athlete I can sort of understand and the tool to cope with this is visualization.

I know, I know - whatever Shaun and up to just over a year and a half ago I would have thought the same.  But then coach Larry, Zimich, did this visualization exercise with us at the start of the spin class. He talked about energy, he talked about pain, he talked about the race, the spectators, the great moments the bleak moments right to the end of the ride.  THEN we did the workout and it was amazing - I was still in rehab at that time but the gains I got that day and the abillity to visualize the pain and work through it was amazing. 

I came away with a big lesson that day - see it, believe it, live it - the biggest hurdle we overcome is our mental selves.  WOW - talk about an epiphany and just in the nick of time - it was essential for me to get it and start putting it into practice if I was going to overcome all the "extra" hurdles along with the regular to get to Ironman.  

People for years had mentioned to me that I should practice visualizing and such but I tried for a nano second and then moved on.  But Larry convinced me that I needed to make this part of my training and so I did and I guarantee you it got me through the out and back and the last 4 miles of the marathon in Ironman because I knew I would finish I had seen it for months and I believed it. 

Now I give, or at least try to give the same talk to the Denman running room clinics. At lot sit down and take part and some don't but if just one joins me for the run then that is good enough for me.  You say the run?  Well when I do a visualization talk I actually do the race with them - mentally from bag check to standing in line for the gun to bathroom breaks, water stations, walk breaks, rain, hills, downhills, right down to hearing Steve King ( it is always Steve that announces your name) announcing your name and time as you cross the finish.  We go through every step of the course - we talk about power words, mantras and seeing ourselves on the course.  I talk about the highs and lows - because there is always a low.  The most important point is I talk about getting through the low coming out of the tunnel and continuing the race.  I hope it gives them coping skills - actually I know it does because pretty much everyone in the clinic with the exception of those injured or sick made their goal times. 

See it, believe it, live it.  

Peace out Shaun

Tuesday, April 20, 2010



1. characterized by or given to the expression of opinions very strongly or positively as if they were facts
2. Of or pertaining to or characteristic of a doctrine or code of beliefs accepted as authoritative
3. based on assumption rather than empirical observation
4. tending to force one's opinions on other people

So why would I list all of these different definitions for dogmatic you ask? I lead half marathon clinics out of one of the biggest stores in the lower mainland. When I originally started doing these 5 years ago we had about 70 - 80 people that would register. This current clinic as an official registration of 113, in actuality there are about 121 committed to the training program for Sunday long runs and then there are the drop-ins - folks that want the group run and the distance but feel they don't need the structure of the clinic - this makes up about 30 - 60 other runners that join us on Sunday runs.

You can see that the groups now become massive and with Vancouver being an outdoor sports city it is really important that we respect other groups - walker, cyclists, runners, and cars to ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience.

So again back to Dogmatic - as each clinic wraps up we ask folks to give feedback on the clinics, instructors and such. Yesterday I was reviewing the feedback - a lot of comments on pace leaders being too fast, groups too large, 2 pace leaders per group - which we do, pace leaders need to check on people at the back, too many talks, and so on and so forth. - The usual. Then I came to the last one and read it and my heart broke.

They had 2 chief complaints - they said they had been left behind in the dark on a Thursday workout - which in 5 years has never happened - there is always someone at the back to run with the last person - I personally make sure of it - often people will say I am okay go on and we refuse and say that no-one runs alone so I was sad to see that and need to find out how - to my knowledge no-one was left behind.

It was the next line that broke my heart - Shaun is Dogmatic and does not appear to have the people skills needed. In 5 years I have never had an assessment like this - I have been told I am authoritative - that I crack the whip that I push - but never have I been called Dogmatic. They indicated that I was not supportive or enthusiastic - harsh words to say the least. However in the next sentence they also said that their running had improved, they were stronger and that they felt they got a lot from hill technique?!?! So the message was confusing.

Now I know don't take it personally - but I do - I am very passionate and dedicated to these clinics - I take to heart what people say and when someone specifically points me out and personalizes their comments I take it personally. So after having a melt down with my life coach - she started to put it into perspective. She said 1 person had these comments - one. Okay I will give you that. She said not everyone will like you - WHAT?!?! Okay not everyone will like me. She then made me look up the definition of Dogmatic and challenged me to blog about it. And so here we are.

Yep I guess I am dogmatic if you say authoritative, opinionated, strong beliefs. Now let’s look at this in a positive way - Coach said I had to....

I am responsible for over 100 people - yes I have a co-coach and yes I have group leaders. Now my co-coach is great but she is 2nd in command and the group leaders are amazing but they are volunteers. My name and reputation are stamped all over this clinic - has been for 5 years. I have a lot of repeats - people who have done the clinic over and over again. So yep I am responsible for the success and safety of 100 + runners.

This means that I have to be authoritative - run with your pace leader, carry a map, let folks know if you are injured or not well, share the paths/trails, single file on bridges, bring water bottles/nutrition - yep authoritative - if I don't then we get pace leaders ran too fast, someone almost got hit by a bike, group leader did not know I was injured and dropped me, people almost passing out from dehydration and so on.

Strong opinions as if they were facts - I have been racing since 2001. I have done the BMO half marathon alone 6 times, I won't even mention all the other half's I have done. I have run 5 fulls, done countless triathlons at all distances, bike race - I could go on and on but you see where I am going with this. 5 years - 3 clinics a year ... I have street creed. I have made probably every mistake you can make with regards to training and racing. I have come from the back of the pack to middle to near the front. So yes I have strong opinions and thoughts about running and training but I believe I have the knowledge to back them up.

Lastly I am very passionate about every single one of my runners - I KNOW they can do their race and I will push them if I think it will help them and they ask me to. I care how each one does - why else would I make them personal finisher certificates/awards? Why I would I make sure to run with every group? Why did I walk back the last 2km last Sunday with one of runners because she felt sick and wobbly?

So after thinking about it - yep I am dogmatic and proud to be - if it means believing so strongly in you that it overwhelms then so be it. If it means ensuring that every single runner gets back safely, so be it. If it means that the general public sees us as ambassadors to running rather than a pesky juggernaut of runners every Sunday because I force you to run 2x2, so be it. And if it means that you’re running improved and you became stronger so that you will ultimately finish your race and find success then so be it.

I guess being called Dogmatic isn't so bad after all.

Peace out

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What makes a good coach?

I was asked the question and so I went on to the internet and googled it.  Well as you can guess I received 22,000,000 hits.  Now being a person with self professed ADD I quickly reviewed the first 10 hits and came to the conclusion that they all said similar things -

Dedicated, knows thier sport, continues to educate themselves, ability to encourage athletes to strive to be better, encourages fair play, the list went on but you get the gist of it. 

So then I thought about my coaches - I have 2 - my athletic/cycling coach and my life coach. Both amazing women in their own right.

I hired Barb because of her street creed - she came highly recommended to me.  I did a lot of research when I was looking for a cycling coach and her name came up every time.  What I liked about her was she had a great resume and that encouraged me to approach her. I was intimidated by it and was honest that I might be too novice for  her but after sharing emails with her and going out and meeting her for a "test" ride I immediately felt better.  Barb is not only good at what she does but she cares - she assesses athletes honestly.  That does not mean she is critical just honest about where you are - she does not baby or show pity - as she said to me the other day being an athlete is hard work - being a competitive athlete is not easy you have to work at it but if you persevere you will see improvements.  I also love that while she knows that most of us will not win or even have top 10 finishes she continues to push us and talk to us in a manner that makes you believe that if you work just a bit harder you may actually get that top 10.  I remember the first year I was working with her I was getting ready for UBC Tri - it was my first time racing an Olympic and my first tri after the disastorous Iron Mountain the previous year.  I was confident I would finish, I was confident that I would be in the middle of the pack and I was going in with it is a training race and I said so.  She looked at me and said what is a training race - there is no such thing.  My answer was - this is not my A race this year it is just a step along the way.  Her answer why would you not give it your absolute all - it is a race - see what you can do - what you can really do.  I went in to that race with those words in my head and I actually finished 3rd in my age group.  To say I was shocked was an understatement but what I learned that day was give it your all every single time - don't short change yourself amazing things can happen.  Barb's qualities - believes in her athletes, she inspires, she has experience and I trust her implicately.

Jean - my life coach - is different - Jean is one of my half marathon clinic graduates.  She is a wonderful lady that exudes positive energy.  She is ALWAYS happy, or at least when I see or talk to her and she is absolutely determined - she was not the fastest but she showed the most heart and perservernce out of all the people in her clinic.  Can not is not in her vocabulary and she does it on her terms.   I chose her for a life coach because of her determination and positive attitude - lets face it, for those that know me I am pretty hard on myself outside of sports and will find ways to avoid doing things.  I know Jean will hold me to my word and keep me accountable.  Plus when I start to whine and make excuses about why something has not been done - she does not let me off the hook - it is rather irritating but something I definately need.  I would not call her bossy but she does not let me get away with anything that is for sure. She also is teaching me to like myself - which is not always easy but important for me to succeed in other aspects of my life not just sport.

Me- as a coach I know what I think I am like and I am sure there are others who will paint different pictures.   I like to be organized - I want to walk in with a plan and do the workout accordingly. I think it is important to be like this - it shows that I value their time and respect their goals.  I try to get to know as many of my runners as I can, which can be hard as I have anywhere from 40 to 120 in any given clinic.  I like to be aware of what is going on and I care very much for all of their well-being which for some can be seen as being bossy - especially when I tell them they can't run because they are injured or tell them no Ipods because it is a safety issue.  I know they think I am a bitch at times and that hurts but everything I do is for their safety and overall health.

I think that as a coach you need to be able to read your athletes and understand them - each athlete responds differently so each one needs to be approached differently. 

My first year coaching I fractured my heel in a race and was in an Aircast for 3 months.  This meant that when I coached, depending on the workout I was either on a bike or the side of the road/track.  One night during a hill workout session one of the girls was chatting about the wonderful dinner she had the night before - for 5 hills this went on till I had had enough.  She had told me she wanted to do a certain time and she never seemed to improve - hmmm I wonder why?!?  On her sixth hill I was midway down and started jogging beside her in my aircast and running just a little in front of her - I told her that she better not let me beat her up the hill in an aircast because if I did she was doing two more hills.  She beat me but just barely and after that she worked on her hills.  Would I do that to everyone - no - but I knew that I could push her that way.  Just a few weeks ago I had another young lady and we were crossing over the Lions Gate bridge we were maybe 100 metres from the top and she stopped to walk - I gently put my hand on her back and said one more minute are you able to do one more minute?  She was like I think so - after a minute I said to her we are at the top - you can stop now and she did not want to - she was so happy that she had not stopped and finished it.  For her it was a gentle touch and question. 

And then their are others that I have to hold back - they are their own worst enemy. Overtraining animals who struggle because they are exhausted and overtired so they see no improvement.  They are just as hard to coach because they don't want to take rest days - they see it as a sign of weakness.  It is a fine line between encouraging them and monitoring them. 

I think a good coach is passionate and cares - they get to know their athletes on a personal level so they can understand and read them.  They encourage and motivate.  They hold athletes accountable and push them to improve to reach their goals.  They listen, watch and learn because you can't know everything. Finally they also celebrate with them and acknowledge their work and acheivements because let's face it we all want someone to tell us we did good!

Peace out Shaun

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Well I am not going to lie - I have the doldrums.  The olympics and the paralympics are gone and I am sad.  For those that were not here it was truly one of the most amazing experiences.  I loved and cherished every moment - literally every moment and am so grateful that I live in Vancouver/lower mainland. 

The energy was amazing and it was so incredible for people here to not only embrace both events but to embrace being Canadian.  I am a fanatic about being Canadian for those that looked at my photos from Ireland, Joe and myself are both wearing Canada memorabilia not because we thought people would be nicer to us - I mean we were in Ireland -  they are nice to everyone, but because we were proud to be Canadians.  I remember my stepdaughter saying to me - you can't wear that hat - people will know you are a tourist and mug you.  We both looked at her and said we understood the risk but were willing to take it - trust me - my husband who grew up in Belfast was constantly lecturing us on safey but not once did he say take off your Canada gear. 

It is kind of sad now that we have put our gear away but have we really?  I notice there are still lots of flags out and people are still walking around with their mittens and jackets - I think that the Vancouver Olympics/Paralmpics really did cross barriers and unite us as a nation - or at least I hope so. 

All I know is that for myself it felt great to wear my leaf on my sleeve, literally, and I promise to do more of it.  Thank you to all of our athletes for the fabulous performances and the great memories, but mostly thank you Vancouver and the lower mainland for embracing the spirit of the Olympics/Paralympics -   you did us proud.

Proud to be Canadian,eh


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Glove Love - 2010

Hey all  I hope you are enjoying the olympics as much as I am - it is such an amazing atmosphere here in Vancouver.  Honestly I am totally loving the summer olympics (just kidding). 

My gloves and I spend everyday downtown just soaking up the atmosphere.  I have come up with a little project to keep me occupied while waiting in line ups and such - GLOVE LOVE and have a little photo album on facebook of me and my gloves around the Olympics.

Here is the link - I hope you enjoy. 

Go Canada Go


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Go Canada Go!

I know, I know I promised that I would check in more often but a lot of things have happened over the last few weeks. 

I am now a certified community triathlon coach.  I have registered a domain - and I was laid off.  Oh and you might have heard about a small event happening here  - the Olympics. 

The job - it is a blessing - I was very unhappy there and am relieved I do not ever have to go back there.  Being laid off is a total blessing plus it means I get to enjoy the olympics thoroughly.  And trust me I have been - I had 2 friends actually run with the torch which was amazing - they are rock stars - a chill went down my spine when they had their torches lit and were running - absolutely breathtaking - and I was only watching.  I also had a chance to go to the Opening Ceremonies rehearsals and was enthralled and so proud to be Canadian.  Lastly I am going to go to a hockey game next week so am super excited about that and do not leave the house without all my Canada gear on - including my coveted red mittens. I have been hanging otu at differnt pavillions just soaking up the atmosphere and of course looking for ways to get into more events. 

It also allows me to pursue my aspirations of setting up my own coaching business - I have a domain now - and a slogan - tri hard and you will realize your dreams!  Now I just have to build the website, figure out rates, and I guess find some clients.  It is all very exciting and more than a  little scary- can I really do this and will people actually let me coach them? 

I took a course last weekend with Triathlon Canda for the National Community Coaching Program and so am now certified to teach adult triathletes.  The course was amazing  - I learned so much and realized I have so much more to learn!  I am thoroughly motivated and excited. 

Before I sign off - my deepest sympathies to the family and countrymen of Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Georgian luger who tragically died yesterday. 

Last but not least - GO CANADA GO

Peace out Shaun

Saturday, January 23, 2010

It is an individual journey

I may have mentioned that I lead/coach half marathon clinics out of the local Running room.  The big race in Vancouver each year is the BMO Vancouver International Half marathon, which is run in May and this particular clinic tends to be the largest.  Currently there is 106 registered and counting.

Special K is helping me lead the clinic because of the size of it.  I am also at the same time wrapping up the Fort Langly Historic Half clinic - their race is in February so there is some juggling for the next few weeks. 

One of the first things I tell people is to focus on themselves and to not worry about what the person beside, in front or behind them is doing.  I tell them this is their journey not the person beside them, it does not matter if they are faster or slower what matters is what they do.  That the only person that will hold them back is themselves. 

I have a young lady in the Fort Langley clinic who is the classic person that is worried about what everyone else is doing and how her performance compares.  She is a strong athlete and very competitive  - she is always worried where she is in the group and how fast/slow she is. 

She actually mentioned to me that she has NEVER actually raced, she does the clinics but does not race because she does not want to be last.  I was amazed and shocked.  I asked how many clinics she had done and she said she had been doing them for 4 years!  My next feelings were intense sadness for her.  Sadness?  Yep Sadness - she had never got to experience the triumf of crossing the finish line, the feeling of having someone put a medal around your neck and say congratulations.  She has never felt that pride we all have when we put on our race shirt and walk down the street knowing people are looking at us and thinking wow that person ran a half marathon - how amazing, cool or yes crazy.

I told her that it would be virtually impossible for her to be last - she is a strong runner.  And so what if she was?  She was like you don't understand - you have never been last.  I started to laugh and told her she did not know anything about me - she should not assume such things. She was like you are the coach, look at all the races you have done.  I told her I am human and everone has bad days.   I then told her that yes I had been last, a few times and while I prefered not to be last I was proud that I had not quit, that I had crossed the finish line and I used each of those experiences to learn things and prepare myself for the next race so it would not happen again.  Well we continued to chat for the rest of the run and others in the pace group shared their race experiences with her and told her to go for it.  I am happy to report that she ran up to me at the next clinic run and said I did it - I registered.  I am very excited for her - what a wonderful opportunity for her. 

With the BMO Clinic there are a lot of new eager runners who are attempting their first Half marathon.  One of my clinic leaders after the first night run sent me a note.  They were concerned about a few folks in the group.  There were some people that seemed to have a hard time with the run and they felt that these folks might not be able to complete the 7km on Sunday or if they did it might take them a really long time and how long was acceptable before we stopped them and maybe suggested that they consider not doing the run.  I knew that this was coming from a place of concern and love and not criticism. 

I knew that I had to finally come clean about my first 1/2 marathon clinic experience so that they would undertand why my response was what it was.  My response was we will not tell anyone that they cannot or may not be able to do a half marathon.  That it does not matter how long it takes them I will support them and not to worry I have someone who has agreed to stay with the last person - an accomplished runner and marathoner.

I then preceded to tell them about my first half marathon clinic.  The first Sunday run I was unable to complete it.  I missed the next one and then I was always at the back of the group - very far back, always the very last one back often eveyone had gone home already.  There was even one Sunday when another person in the clinic came up to me and gently suggested that maybe I was in over my head and shoudl consider dropping out and joining a 10km clinic.  She obviously did not know me.  I thanked her for her concern and left that morning, on the drive home I cried and then I got mad.  I decided by the time I got home to heck with her and the rest of them that I would show them! 

I was still always last but I finished the clinic and I did the race.  9 years later I am still running and loving every minute of it - imagine if I had listened to that well-meaning person?  So now everone knows why I will not tell someone they can't do it because you and I do not know why someone has decided to do the clinic only they do.  They will make the decision whether they want to go forward or not and they will find a way - our job is to support them the best way we can.

My goal is to support all of my clinic members in their journey to the start line in whatever manner they need me to. 

Enjoy the journey


Saturday, January 16, 2010

I love the WET/West coast

Sorry for not checking in for a while - no excuse really just busy getting back into it.

Today was absolutely gorgeous - one of the reasons I love living in Vancouver.  I can ride pretty much all year but the last few weeks the rides have been WET.  Today clear skys, sun and just gorgeous. I had an amazing ride and loved every moment of it. 

This is a good thing as I registered for the Whistler Gran Fondo bike race in September.  Race plans have changed a bit - I sat down with Coach Barb and based on that I changed somethings up.  The first being registering for the Bike race. It will be the inaugural year - the race goes from Downtown Vancouver to Whistler along the Sea-to-sky highway.  The organizers have said they will be closing one lane - which if they actually do will be amazing.  I am super excited to do this race - beautiful course - challenging and only 120kms.....

Next up I threw my hat in to the NY Marathon Lotto - cross your fingers - I have heard this is an amazing race and the crowds are absolutely incredible. 

Team BEAT JOE has officially registered for Osoyoos Half Iron in July - I will be doing the bike portion and it looks like I will be again racing Joe at the Oliver Halr Iron - third time is a charm? 

Stormy - I have not forgotten about it but have decide a more pragmatic approach might be better.  I am not a strong trail runner and this is a tough course so after talking with Coach I have decided that this year will be a build year - I am going to do the 5 Peaks Trail series and put a relay 4 person relay team in for Stormy with the 2011 being the year I run it solo. 

Oh and Coach Barb says I am doing the Cypress Hill Climb - she mentioned she was not pleased with my results last year - apparently my heart rate did not even go up....(I thought it did) and thus I have to do it again to redeem myself. 

Last but not least I am leading the BMO Vancouver Half clinic with Special K and it promises to be bigger and better - 101 currently registered - sure to go up with about 80% doing their first ever!  Wow that is a lot of peeps to guide through training to race day but we are up for the challenge. 

Yep 2010 is looking like it is going to be a great year!  Promise I will check in more often.

Peace out Shaun