I always had a bicycle growing up. I remember my first tricycle, and my first two-wheeler which at the age of 5 had the training wheels removed. I sailed off in the direction of my dad’s last balancing push several blocks down our street because I was afraid to turn around and fall. I graduated to my sparkly blue bike with the angel bars and banana seat and then at the age of 10 had my first 10-speed. I went everywhere on that bike – friends, school, the park and if it wasn’t being ridden it was a ready item left sprawled on the front lawn for the next adventure. I rode everywhere, often with no hands, proud of the how my bike responded to the gentle corrections from my body to stay straight or take the corner.
We moved to a rural area when I was eleven and my romance with my bike died. No longer did I have flat residential streets with schools, parks and friends. I now had long lonely roads and some pretty daunting hills. My beloved 10-speed and I ventured out a few times and I learned to tackle those hills but it wasn’t the wind-blown, no-hands dance it used to be. My trusty bike became a dusty one over time.
Fast forward through my non-riding years where I learned to drive, graduated high school, moved to the island and back, went to Nursing school and started shift work. This is when I discovered running – a simple sport that doesn’t care when or how far you go. I could lace up my shoes and venture out for whatever felt right at that time on that day. I just ran, I had no goals. Friends introduced me to my first half marathon and I recall finishing that and thinking that while it was fun, I could have kept running. I completed my first marathon in Seattle in November 1999 and haven’t stopped. My biking life returned around this time as well with a double purchase – mountain bike and road bike. Working shifts allowed for long runs, long rides and lots of fun in the trails. The regularly active part of my life was born and has only been amplified since.
I met my now husband in February 2000 and he introduced me to swimming. I had grown up spending summers at my grandparents’ home at Mara Lake so thought I was a swimmer. Truly, I would splash around, dive or cartwheel off the dock into the lake to cool down more than swim. My first attempt at swimming lengths in a pool was pathetic. I couldn’t breathe in free-style so would do a lot of breast stroke with the occasional front crawl attempt thrown in. We spent a lot of time at pools as my step-children were toddlers then so my comfort in the water grew.
When the children were old enough for swim lessons, we got in the pool too and swam rather than sitting on the benches waiting for them to finish. Now I could swim 25m free-style, 25m breast stroke and repeat. I was doing a lot of running events and had dabbled in some short distance triathlon and duathlon a few years back. Now that I was swimming, biking and running semi-regularly I thought I’d try it again. I bought a second hand wet suit and did what I thought I needed to do to prepare. Reflecting on that, it was not training at all, just a continuation of an active lifestyle. I finished but it wasn’t pretty. I panicked in the water and breast stroked the first 400m of the 1.9k swim. I flew around alright on my bike but the run was tough. Despite the struggle, I was hooked.
I completed a few more half-iron distance races before entering Ironman Canada in Penticton in 2010. My equipment had become a bit more modern and I found an on-line 37 week coaching plan. I laminated all 37 weeks and followed that schedule religiously. I was ready, or so I thought. I survived the swim, had a nice long cruise on my bike and had a fairly decent run. But, I was hungry most of the time. I had gels and some real food like fig newtons and pb and j sandwiches but I was under-fueled. I raced again in 2011 and had a similar experience except my belly was not as happy a system as it was in 2010 so I ended up in the medical tent at the end of the race. I had the will and was gaining skill but was missing knowledge.
I picked up a single dose of Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem from the Oliver Half-iron expo in 2011 but hadn’t understood how it could help me. After my experience in Penticton, I set about sorting out how to fuel. I had friends who ate the entire bike course but I had a hard time with solid food. I’d forget to eat, I’d drop the banana, or couldn’t get the pretzels or chips open and into my mouth so had the Hansel and Gretel trail behind me thus I remained under-fueled. I think I did IM that year on about 500 calories. Not great for performance and certainly not setting me up for easy recovery.
I started using Perpetuem in 2012 when I raced in Coeur D’Alene but I still didn’t use it to its full potential. I was better fueled but still not enough for the expenditure of time and energy so bonked on the run, although I did manage to avoid the medical tent! I continued to research products and discovered the multi-hour bottle concept with Hammer Perpetuem. I can build a 4-hour bottle and have more in my special needs on the bike so I am constantly fuelling without having to worry about dropping critical calories or having to get something open while flying down a hill at 60km/hr. My training and races in 2013 and 2014 have been much better thanks to this product; I had the privilege to race at the 70.3 World Championship level in 2013. Racing and travelling go together well for me, although admittedly it is a bit tougher travelling with a bike.
Perpetuem is now a staple in my home, orange cream being my flavour of choice. This product has enhanced my triathlon experience and brought back my romance with my bike. My season plan for 2015 has just been finalized for races in Victoria, Whistler and Lake Tahoe. I am delighted to be chosen as an Athlete Ambassador for Hammer Nutrition Canada in 2015 and am looking forward to sharing my experience through fuelling talks in my community.