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Donna Phelan's Blog


It´s a LONG way to Brazil

June 1st, 2010 by donnaphelan

My trip to IM Brazil started when I got back from Thai camp the end of April, and will finish when I get back home on Wednesday.

Going to Brazil (for Canadians anyway) requires a Visa, and so the first segment of my trip was heading to LA from San Diego to drop off my visa application at the Brazilian consolate (no mail-ins allowed). The second segment of my trip required going back to LA a week later to pick up my visa. The third segment of my trip was heading to LAX last Tuesday for my supposed flight to Brazil. However, the terminal was a zoo when I arrived with lots of angry people milling about….yup, flight cancelled with no warning due to diverted incoming flight (turbulence over the Atlantic sent 6 people to hospital in an emergency landing in Montreal). So, back to San Diego for the night, followed by my 4th trip to LA the next day and my eventual 24hrs of travel LA to Washington to Sao Paolo to Rio to Florianopolis. Wow, am I dreaming or am I actually finally here, haha.

The race was on Sunday and started with a 2 loop ocean swim, split up by a beach run in between loops. Dede Griesbauer and Tereza led out the swim and I exited in 4th place about 1:45 behind Hillary.

The bike was 2x90km loops with 4 decent size hills in each loop. My legs felt better on the second loop, but I still had some time to make up when I came off the bike, still in 4th place, about 3:30 back from Hillary.

The run started with a 21km loop followed by 2×10.5km loops. The first 15km were the most challenging with 6 short, steep hills, but I felt good and by 18km had Hillary in my sight. We started running together at 20km, but by the second loop my quads were starting to complain about the earlier hills. At 25km, Maria Omar from Argentina ran by with what would end up being the fastest run split of the day. Hillary and I continued our battle side by side, never able to put more than a few feet on the other from 20km to 42km. It was a tough 22km and coming into the finish shoot it came down to a sprint finish with Hillary outsprinting me in the last 100m.

The silver lining to a disappointing sprint was finishing within the 8% money rule, and within the 5% Kona rule, although there were only 2 Kona slots for women. Dede and Tereza had already qualified with their top 10 finishes in Kona last year, and so the two spots went to Maria and Hillary. I was hanging out at roll down the next day, just about ready to leave, when I heard my name called out. There were 3 Kona slots for men, but the guy who would´ve taken the third spot didn´t finish within 5% so it rolled back to the women. I´m glad I stuck around and thanks Tereza for loaning me the $550 US!

I started my journey back to the US Monday afternoon, from Florianopolis to Rio to Sao Paolo. My flight from Rio was late arriving in Sao Paolo and by the time I got to my gate, the doors had closed leaving myself and 2 other people to miss our connection to Washington. I was fuming, and they must have seen the steam coming out of my ears because they sent me off to one of the nicest hotels I´ve been in, complete with dinner and breakfast buffet. So here I am in the business center of the hotel this morning, catching up on email before my 10pm flight to Washington and LA this evening. It may be time for a nap soon as I didn´t have a great sleep last night. I kept having nightmares that I overslept and got to the breakfast buffet just as they were closing. And that wouldn´t have been a good thing.;-)

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My Ride

May 14th, 2010 by donnaphelan

Here’s my P4 at the bike shop a few days ago, getting a tune up with my new Token race wheels.:)


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Spring Cleaning

May 6th, 2010 by donnaphelan

This past weekend, I raced the Wildflower 1/2 Ironman. Being only 6hrs from where I live, it was a good chance to get an early season race under my belt before I tackle an Ironman in a few weeks time.

This was my third time racing Wildflower so I know the course a little by now. The swim was cold as I had expected (well, 59 degrees is cold for me compared to the bath tub temperatures in Thailand). I came out of the water in 6th position, and almost right away the hills started which are almost a constant at Wildflower. I think I warmed up by about 60km on the bike, and re-passed a few girls that had passed me early in the ride while I was still an icicle.

I came off the bike in 10th position with the goal of aiming for a top 10 finish. 60% of the run course is on trails with some very steep climbs and descents. My balance is not great in the best of times, and I’m sure I could have been mistaken trying to stay upright. Not to mention that my last trail run was a year ago at Wildflower. Anyway, despite the lovely terrain, I was feeling pretty good on the run and thinking that I would have a good finish. Unfortunately, with about 4km left to go, the steep downhills earlier in the run sent my quads into a screaming fit. I have mostly been running flat since my knee surgery 6 months ago, and my quads were protesting very loudly. The last km on the run is a winding downhill, and I have to admit my legs have never been in quite so much pain. I was very happy to finally see the finish chute, but not very happy to hear that there was a chase coming from behind. I sprinted as hard as I could, and crossed the finish line 1 sec ahead of the girl behind and 3 sec ahead of the next person.

One of the great things about Wildflower is how tough the course is, and how much fitness you take away from it. 4 days later, and my legs have still not forgiven me, but they will thank me later. The cobwebs have been cleaned away and now it’s time to get on with the rest of the season.

It was also great to see Amy and Brandon at the race giving it their best, and to have the support of Avia who did a great job as main sponsor of the race.

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Home Again

April 26th, 2010 by donnaphelan

I arrived back in San Diego Thursday night after leaving Thailand, which of all the training camps, has been my favorite place to train. Before heading back to the US, I had an overnight in Singapore, staying with Mike from The Bike Boutique and his girlfriend Rachel. Scott also had a few hours in Singapore before his midnight flight so we took a cab to Mike’s apartment, and then biked to dinner a few km’s away. It was quite funny to see us all riding through Singapore in the dark. Scott was on Mike’s road bike and standing on the pedals because the frame was too big, and I was on Rachel’s mountain bike with my knees coming up to my chest. Where is my camera when I need it, haha.

So, I’ve been home now a few days, adapting to the time difference and change in temperature. When I’m really tired, I’ve been known to sleep walk and sleep talk. The first night back, I sat upright in bed at 2am, and said to Jay, “How many people are in here? Where’s Scott and Jocelyn??” Don’t ask…I have no idea. Almost as bad as the time I dreamt I was washing clothes and stuffed my blanket in the toilet, haha.

I do really miss the hot weather, great riding and cheap food in Thailand. I went out for a long ride yesterday wearing arm and leg warmers and vest….65 degrees and sunny but it felt like winter to me. I was disappointed not to find any cheap watermelon stands at the end of my ride. But a can of Pringles and a bottle of Mountain Dew when I got home, and all was right in the world again.;-)

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The End of Thai Camp

April 18th, 2010 by donnaphelan

I’ve been in Thailand for just over 8 weeks now, and on Wednesday I head back to the US. The time here has really flown by, and I’ll miss the training in Krabi. But it’s time to head back to the US for some races, and I’m excited about that as well. And good timing since the rainy season here is just around the corner.

This past week was a little different than most of our other training weeks. We had our team photo shoot in the middle of the week, and this also coincided with the Thai New Year. Known also as the Songkran Festival, it runs from April 13th-15th. The main celebration of Songkran is the throwing of water at others as a sign of cleansing and renewal for the new year. During these three days, locals gather on the side of the road throwing buckets of water at people or drenching them with water guns and garden hoses. They also do this from the back of pick-up trucks, soaking other cars, people walking by, and of course cyclists! So for three days I came back from every ride soaking wet and wringing out my clothes. I must have needed extra cleansing because everytime I shook my head or said “no” I seemed to get extra water thrown at me. Well, hopefully all the badness is washed out of me now, and I’ll have extra good luck for the rest of the Thai New Year.

The photo shoot was a lot of fun as well. We were lucky to have Blue Seventy here for a few days, and a great photo shoot with them on Chicken Island. Can’t wait to see the pics cause I’m sure there’ll be some great ones!

And last but not least, here’s an updated photo of our hotel kitten Simba who was born in Beck’s bike bag 6wks ago. Wish I could take him home with me!


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A Wacky Week

April 1st, 2010 by donnaphelan

I’ve been here in Krabi now for just about 6 weeks. Every week is pretty much the same – lots of eating, sleeping and training – but for some reason, last week seemed to have more strange happenings than usual.

In the middle of the week, Christine and I went grocery shopping and were looking for a cab to take home. Only 2km but with heavy groceries and tired legs, I obey the rule – “Don’t walk when you can drive, Don’t stand when you can sit, Don’t sit when you can lie down”. So we hailed down a truck/bus/taxi on the side of the road and said “Tawanthai Hotel”? A quick nod of the head and we were in the back of the pick-up truck with a couple of other passengers. Well, instead of turning onto our usual road, the truck kept going and going and going. After a number of stops, and 30min later, we’re in Krabi Town in front of the “Thai Hotel” with the driver waiting for us to hop out. Umm, I don’t think so. Well, to make a long story short, our usual 2k drive home turned into an hour long scenic tour….not what we were looking for in between training sessions, but one for the memory books I suppose.

With Christine and Beck, on one of our usual 2km grocery excursions.

With Christine and Beck, on one of our usual 2km grocery excursions.

The next day, a rainstorm with thunder and lightning blew through Krabi in the late afternoon. By 7pm, power was out although the hotel manager assured us it would last only 10min. By 9pm, still without power and A/C, sleeping was impossible. After finishing my book by candle light, I decided to chip away at the ice cave that had gradually become my freezer over the last few weeks. Once my defrosting mission was complete, by 10pm I went to bed with a large chunk of ice (the remnants of an ice pack from my freezer) lying on my stomach. I somehow slept like this until 11pm when the beautiful sound of the A/C whirring back to life signaled that our sauna session was finally over.

The next day was Saturday, and we had one of our longer and harder days of training. By 5pm most of us were feeling like zombies, but we still had a short run to do before calling it a day. Wongstar must have been in a hurry because she was the first out of the change room and into her running shoes. A few minutes later she comes back in and hauls off her loose tank top, “Oops, forgot my sports bra”. Heehee.

Run was done and we were all getting ready to head home. I was waiting for Tereza, and she starts to walk away from the pool with her bike helmet on. Umm, aren’t you going to take your bike with you? It might be a little faster that way. Heehee.

To finish off the week, one of the hotel kittens who had gone MIA a couple of weeks ago suddenly reappeared. No sign of the other 3 from the litter, so we’re keeping a close eye on this 3 week old bundle of fluff. Beck’s letting it live part time in her room until it’s wobbly little legs aren’t so wobbly anymore.


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Thai Dining

March 21st, 2010 by donnaphelan

One of the good things about having camp in Thailand is that food is quite good and very cheap to buy. You can buy a watermelon on the side of the road for a dollar, chicken on a stick for 75 cents, and a container of rice for 30 cents. Of course, it’s easy when you know what you’re buying. The difficult part comes at the supermarket – analyzing packages of food labelled in a foreign alphabet is like buying a grab bag and hoping you get something good inside! Sometimes it’s a good surprise and other times, well, not so much.

There’s a restaurant about 40min by bike from the hotel, and I often wonder if something was lost in translation when they named it. The sign says “Cabbages and Condoms”…Did they mean “Cabbages and Carrots”? Cabbage for dinner and a surprise for dessert? Hmmm, not sure I’ll be trying that place anytime soon.


Last night we went to the street market in Krabi Town for dinner. Lots of different stalls selling many different types of food, and cheaper than you could make it yourself I’m sure. I give a thumbs up to the BBQ chicken skewers. Tereza’s Pad Thai wasn’t bad either. Hiro and Maki’s quail eggs….umm, not so much.



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Chicken Adventures and Cat Shelters

March 9th, 2010 by donnaphelan

On Sunday afternoon, Alex and his wife Ellen took a bunch of us on a boat trip to Chicken Island, about 25min by boat from Ao Nang beach. We had a great time – eating lunch on the island, swimming and lazing around on the beach. Beck, Jocelyn, Amy and I found a nice shady spot on the beach, right next to a “Tsunami Hazard Zone” sign. Yikes, glad I wasn’t around here a few years back.

We headed back to Ao Nang in the late afternoon, not quite as smooth sailing as in the morning since the wind and driver’s speed seemed to have picked up. Unfortunately, Ellen and I were on the side of the boat receiving most of the spray and resorted to wearing our goggles until we got back to shore. Next to me, Beck hid under a towel and emerged when the boat’s motor turned off and we anchored at shore. The girls headed into Ao Nang for massages while the boys drank beer, and then we had an awesome dinner near the beach. Thanks Alex and Ellen for an amazing day!


Just when the excitement from our Chicken Island adventure died down, it seemed we needed some more entertainment around the Tawanthai Hotel. Yesterday afternoon, as we were heading home from a bike ride, Beck and I noticed a tiny kitten hiding under some abandoned stalls. Well, you can guess what happens when two cat lovers come across an abandoned kitten looking for food and some TLC. I rode home with the cat tucked inside the front of my jersey, we cleaned him up, fed him some dinner, and off he went to Christine’s room for the night. He spent the morning in my room, and the afternoon in Beck’s. This lucky little Tiger just landed in three laps of luxury.


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Thai Living

February 28th, 2010 by donnaphelan

So I’ve been here in Krabi just over a week now….very happy to be back in training camp, back with my old team mates and getting to know the new ones. It’s funny how after a week together you feel like you’ve known each other your whole life. One big happy family.:-)

I’m loving the hot 40+ degree weather here everyday, swimming 50m instead of 25yds like I do back home, and biking 4+ hrs while seeing only 1 traffic light. I also love the cheap $9 massages, and the watermelon and cocunut that cost less than a dollar on the side of the road. The one thing I’m not a big fan of are the dogs that seem to appear out of nowhere in every size, shape and colour. I’ve been called crazy but I swear the white ones are the ‘chasers’. I take off in a sprint whenever I see one to avoid having the seat of my pants torn off!

I’ll get around to posting more pics later, but here’s one of the four elephants who live about 100m down the road – Elvin, Ellie, Edith and Ernie. For the next 2 months I figure they deserve to have names…


And this is Thai-Bo, the cute hotel cat who I’ve been known to feed on occassion…he’s a little scrawny so I’m helping him beef up a bit.


More pics coming in my next blog….

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Heading to Camp

February 17th, 2010 by donnaphelan

Today was my last run along the coast and my last cold dip in the Pacific Ocean for a couple of months. Tomorrow I head off to camp in Thailand which makes today “packing day” – trying to fit everything I need for the next couple of months into a small suitcase and throwing out things at the last minute that don’t fit. I often wish I had a bottomless suitcase into which I’d stuff all the cereal, Pringles, books and clean clothes I could fit! One of my cats tried to squeeze in amongst my clothes, but I had to tell him sadly that he wouldn’t fit. Maybe next time.

More pics to come in a few days from Singapore and Thailand…

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