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August « 2009 « Donna Phelan's Blog


Archive for August, 2009


Friday, August 28th, 2009

Last Sunday, I was in Ireland for Eireman, a first year Ironman distance race. Well, it was supposed to be a full Ironman distance race, but unfortunately Mother Nature had her own plans.

I awoke at 4am Sunday to the sound of howling wind and pouring rain outside. We were warned at the race meeting the day before that the swim might not go ahead due to the forecasted rough seas. At 6am the call was made to cancel the swim and start the race with a timetrial start for the 185km bike. It was disappointing news, but looking out at the stormy waves I feared that I might end up back in Canada if the swim were to go ahead. Maybe that was how my great great grandfather ended up in Newfoundland.;-)

The bike consisted of 5km through Courtown, then 4 loops of 44km on a closed motorway, followed by 5km back to transition. We were staggered 30 seconds apart, and because I was the last female to start, I was in the position I like best which is chasing people down. It continued raining heavily throughout the bike and I was glad that I had layered up – race kit, bike jersey, arm warmers, leg warmers, rain jacket and long socks!

For 22km in one direction, there was a gradual downhill with a major tailwind. Then for 22km in the other direction, it was a gradual uphill with yup, a major headwind. Biking into a headwind with 60kph winds was pretty challenging, but I knew that everyone out there was suffering and if I could be that much tougher than it would be to my advantage. By the 4th lap, I had calculated that I had an 11min lead on the second place Russian girl, and over 35min on the third place British girl. The final 22km seemed to be the toughest part of the bike. The wind had picked up and at times even on the flat sections I had to stand to keep the wheels turning. Well, this will make my next IM bike seem like a piece of cake!

I came into transition, shedded my rain jacket and headed out onto the run. The first 5km were through a forest on hilly trails, with some stairs and sandy sections. For 2 weeks before the race, my left IT band had been sore, but I had rested it leading up to the race and felt that it was good enough to get through the marathon. However, after 5km on trails, it wasn’t feeling so great anymore. The remainder of the 2 loop course was on rolling hills, and by the time I got to 15km it was screaming at me to stop. I struggled with the decision to keep going, but finally there wasn’t a decision to be made anymore. I knew I had done what I could, and on this day I would have to be content with a good solid bike ride in my legs and a 15k run. The lucky leprechauns I had counted on must have stayed in bed on account of the bad weather. I think they were out the next morning, but it was time to catch my flight back to the US….perhaps I’ll go back another time to reclaim my luck.

So now I’m back in San Diego, letting my knee settle down so I can plan my next race. It’s the middle of a heat wave here and I’m loving it.;-)



Over the Rainbow

Monday, August 17th, 2009

After 3 months in Switzerland, I’m leaving on Thursday in search of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This Sunday is the inaugural Eireman, the first ever Ironman to be held in Ireland, and will take place in Courtown, about 100kms from Dublin.

When I was growing up, I heard many stories about Ireland….not surprising since most of Newfoundland was settled by the English and Irish. My Phelan ancestors (derived from the word ‘wolf’ or ‘faol’ in Gaelic) sailed across the Atlantic from Ireland during the Potato Famine, and Newfoundland was the first land mass they hit. I guess they didn’t have cereal in those days, and the potato withdrawal must’ve been pretty serious.;-)

With just a few days left in Switzerland, the German hobbit and I took a ride in the cable cars to the top of the mountain in Leysin yesterday afternoon. The view from up there is amazing, and reminds me of how lucky we are to have such a great place to train in for the summer.

I’ll miss Leysin, but it’s time to head over the rainbow and see what awaits…


It’s All About The Clock

Friday, August 7th, 2009

So much has happened in the last month that the time has literally flown by…IM Swiss one weekend, the Tour passing through the next weekend, off to Alpe d’Huez the week after, and now suddenly it’s August. Where does the time go?

Yesterday, Maki and I rode to Lausanne, and I had to take a picture of my favorite clock while we were having our coke break. It made me think about how everything we do as athletes is a race against the clock, but in the end time flies by whether we like it or not.


Since I’ve decided to forego the joys of french television while I’ve been in Leysin, I’ve read a countless number of books over the last 2 months (and pestered everyone on the team for their books when I’ve run out). Last week, I read a story on David Goggins, a Navy SEAL who transformed himself into an ultramarathoner and ultratriathlete…

‘”Running is running”, he says. “It hurts, but that’s all it does. The most difficult part of training is training your mind. You build calluses on your feet to endure the road. You build calluses on your mind to endure the pain. There’s only one way to do that. You have to get out there and run….I knew I could take the pain so that’s what I did. The body breaks, but it will heal back. It will adjust….We all have our own journey in life, I’m focusing on mine. When I get to the end of the road, I don’t want to be thinking about the time I wasted or the things I could have done with that time.”‘

Yup, wouldn’t it be great if we could find a way to stop the clock. Just for a few minutes here and there perhaps…