World Cup #1

We have just returned from the first World Cup of the season in Guadalajara, Mexico, where I finished 10th in the Keirin competition. My coaching team and I are very pleased with this result from my return to the World Cup circuit and are eager and excited to continue working and improving as the season continues. Below are some thoughts from the racing but first I want to take a moment to acknowledge my new sponsors Aclaro Softworks and GenEthix! I am extremely grateful for the generous support these companies have shown me and I am proud to represent them! (Note- If you’re in the market for oil and gas software or supplements- I know the best peeps! : ) 

 

I was taken aback by the sudden and dramatic increase in pressure that the World Cup competition would bring. Competing against the world for the first time in two years was scary and it was the first real test of my form since the Olympics.

Sometimes, when there is so much pressure, there is an instinct to hide from it. I could feel a part of myself wanting to shy away from the racing, to run away from it. I wondered why I had put myself back in this world of extreme pressure and if I really belonged here.

Then the gun went off, my brain finally fell silent, and I was racing. In the keirins in particular, as soon as the gun went off, my focus narrowed and I was fully present in the moment of the race. My insecurities vanished as I enjoyed the challenge to get to that finish line first. I didn’t execute all my rides perfectly, in fact I was quite disappointed with a couple of them, but when I had my chance to race, I embraced the opportunity, attacked each one the best that I could, and loved it. Even though it may look like just a bike race, it was an opportunity just like any other to challenge myself, to bring the best out of myself, and to raise the bar.

I am going home now, back to school and to training and to my daily routine. In less than a month I will be back at a World Cup, uncomfortable and nervous; waiting for that fleeting moment when I get to race again.

Canadian Results

Guadalajara World Cup Nov. 7-9, 2014

SILVER! Women’s Team Pursuit (Jasmin Glaesser, Kirsti Lay, Allison Beveridge, Steph Roorda)

8th: Men’s Keirin (Hugo Barrette)

10th: Women’s Keirin (Monique Sullivan)

14th: Women’s Team Sprint (Kate O’Brien, Monique Sullivan)

17th: Women’s Sprint (Monique Sullivan)

16th: Men’s Team Pursuit (Aidan Caves, Eric Johnstone, Sean Mackinnon, Remi Pelletier-Roy)

16th: Men’s Team Sprint (Hugo Barrette, Joseph Veloce, Evan Carrey)

25th: Men’s Sprint (Hugo Barrette)

27th: Men’s Sprint (Joseph Veloce)

Back in the saddle

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Bike path beside the velodrome in Trexlertown, PA

My last post started with: It has been 2 1/2 years since I went to school, and this post is going to start with: It has been 2 years since I wrote a blog post.

There have been many times when I wanted to update this space in the last couple years, but it felt so official and so permanent, and most of my decisions over the last couple years have been anything but.

When I returned to Calgary and to school after the Olympics, I fell in love with “life after sport”. I was sleeping easily again after years of troubled sleep, I didn’t have to worry about how my legs felt every-single-day, and I could eat breakfasts without any protein! Mostly, though, I was just happy being Monique again, instead of always Monique-the-bike-the-racer. After 11 years of chasing my Olympic dream, I was happy pursuing new goals and I did not think I would return to bike racing.

I was wrong! Last winter I started to wonder if I had made the right choice, and a voice inside grew louder and louder until I knew that I had to get back on my bike.

I have been back racing since May 2014 and my fitness has returned stronger than before! (I’m not exaggerating, my peak power has already increased since before London!) Mostly I am happy because racing bikes, and more importantly, the training for racing bikes, has become fun again, and I am able to appreciate the incredible opportunities that life in sport has to offer.

I am really looking forward to sharing my stories in this space again, and I hope you enjoy following along!

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Pan American Championships 2014: I won gold!

One month since the Games!

Today I start school again after 2 ½ years away. I’m nervous to be heading back, (I can’t remember anything) but Tara took me to a neuroscience seminar last week and I really enjoyed sitting in a classroom learning and am looking forward to more of that. (Did you know that a snail’s memory improves after eating dark chocolate? I know. This is great news.)

It was super fun to have “summer vacation” after the Olympics, I felt like a kid again! Mark and I went mountain biking at every opportunity and have been eating everything under the sun. We floated down rivers, stayed up too late and went to the mountains. I road tripped with my dad and we got to visit my sister in Vancouver. We saw Michael Franti warming up for a show in Bend, and it was really special to visit the PCL offices in Calgary and Edmonton.

I won’t be competing at the National Championships in Dieppe this week, I have a family commitment and to be honest I am grateful to have to opportunity to give back to my family who have supported me amazingly for the last years. I have done every National Championship for the past 8 years so it does feel strange not to be there, and I do wish Good Luck to everyone competing!

Stay tuned for what’s next and don’t forget to get outside and enjoy the beautiful end-of-summer days!!

Monique

We’re home!

What an amazing experience. We all knew it would be different than any other race but I didn’t realize how profound the impression would be.

I am still trying to process everything but here are a couple articles if you are interested. I don’t know what’s next for me exactly but it was extremely special to have the opportunity to share what we have been working on with Canada and to hopefully get some more kids excited about riding bikes!

Riding bikes is one of my very favourite things to do- whether it’s riding to school or racing a motorbike on the velodrome- I am so grateful to have the opportunity.

Some of my races can be watched here on CTV Olympics(Canada only)

Canoe.ca

“There’s a lot of heartbreak out there, but everyone was getting right back up to try again and fight again,” Sullivan said. “It was completely overwhelming for one thing, but it was absolutely amazing. We live in this bubble of track cycling where we’re working really hard every day, but no one sees it,” Sullivan continued. “Hopefully, people were watching at home and saw it and it gets them excited about following their own dreams.”

Everyone noticed the 23-year-old’s sixth-place performance in the women’s keirin, and it pushed her into serious medal consideration when the 2016 Olympic Games roll into Rio de Janeiro.

“I don’t think there’s any athlete that doesn’t have it on their mind,” Sullivan said of Rio. “There’s so many things that you think of that you did that maybe you can do better. I think that’s on everyone’s mind — ‘What could I do better?’”

Reflecting back on the whirlwind experience will take time, Sullivan said.

“Now, I just relax and try to process these million thoughts going through my head.”

Calgary Herald  – With video (at 1:12)

Thank you to everyone who was a part of this, this is only the beginning for cycling in Canada! 

PS A few photos

The track team before closing ceremonies Photo Geoff Kabush
We made a giant maple leaf using only our team issue rain ponchos and safety pins and carried it out during the closing ceremonies. It was really fun and Zach gets all the credit! Photo Jenn Turner
My first bike race in 2002! I was just a kid 🙂 Photo Stephen Burke
There were huge sponsor restrictions in the village but I snuck a PCL shot with the Canada moose!
My coach Richard Wooles and I- Photo Richard Wooles
Papa Sullivan on the left and my boyfriend Mark on the right- Photo Andrea Wooles
My first Olympic race! Photo John Tolkamp

 

Leaving on Monday!

(L-R) Rich, Zach, Laura, Gillian, Monique, Tara, Jasmin, Joseph, Tanya, Johnny- Photo Richard Wooles

On Monday we leave for Europe. In 3 weeks I will compete in my first ever Olympic event. How do I explain everything I am feeling right now?

I can’t.

I can tell you that I am extremely excited and I can’t wait to get there. At the same time, I don’t want it to come, because I don’t want it to be over. The last six months have been my best ever on a bike. I love the team and the people on it and the training has been hard and satisfying. Every day has a purpose and the most important part of my day is always a bike ride.

In one month’s time we will all be at home sitting on the couch wondering what to do with our day. (Well, I want to camping, but after that, I have no idea what happens next.)

It is so strange that it is finally here, for so long it has been in the future, always on my mind, always present, but never here.

So what do we do now that it’s finally here?

We wake up. We eat breakfast and drink coffee and ride our bikes. We stretch, roll, watch race videos, shower, eat, and try to rest.  Our routine continues as usual. No, this is not just another race. But our jobs are the same. And I am doing everything so that on August 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th, I can wake up and ride my bike the very best I can. Whatever happens is out of my control. I do not know how anyone else will ride. But my goal is to get to that start line, embrace my nerves and racing heart, and ride my bike as smart, fast and powerful as I can.

It is the opportunity of a lifetime and I am so grateful I get to take part.

I can’t wait.

 

 

I don’t know if my events will be on TV, but I think all events will be streaming online on CTV and NBC, depending on where you’re watching from.

My first event will be the keirin competition on August 3rd.

My 2nd event will be the sprint  competition held on August 5th, 6th, and 7th.

Be sure to watch my teammates!!!

  • Zach Bell competes in the omnium August 4th and 5th
  • Women’s Team Pursuit on August 3rd and 4th
  • Tara Whitten in the Omnium August 6th and 7th
  • And Joseph Veloce in the keirin August 7th

2012 Olympic Track Cycling Team!!!!

Tara Whitten, Zach Bell, Jasmin Glaesser, Gillian Carleton, Laura Brown, Joseph Veloce and me!

I am very proud to be part of this team!

I started cycling when I was 12 because I loved riding my bike and 11 years later I still love riding my bike. My career has had highs and lows and I am very grateful to the support team around me for always being there to help.

“If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”- Isaac Newton

Thank you to PCL Construction Leaders for supporting my dreams from the beginning and making it all possible.

Thank you to my mom and dad, family and friends, for their unconditional support.

Thank you to my boyfriend Mark for being my rock every step of the way and my best friend.

Thank you to my coach Rich for helping me to get my passion back for riding bikes.

Thank you to my teammates for their daily inspiration and friendship.

Thank you to the many support staff, CC staff and Sport Center staff for getting us all at our best. The ones I see most regularly: John Evans, Mike Patton, Jenn Turner, Sandy Gilchrist, Mac Read, Tanya Dubnicoff, Sara Poutanen, Kirsten Barnes, Dr. Tavis Campbell, Steve Sleep, Andrea Wooles, Jacques Landry, Gwen Mckenzie, and Adam Duvendeck.

And thank you for reading along and supporting my dreams!!

Official press release here.

Back at it

I can’t believe the World Championships ended less than 7 weeks ago.

After the World Champs everyone scattered home to visit family and friends. Mark and I escaped to Emerald Lake Lodge thanks to a very generous gift certificate from his old cycling group and had a wonderful and relaxing weekend. (Where we happened to run into the team’s sport science guy Mike Patton and his wife! 🙂 )

Mark has been working for almost a year now as an engineer “in the real world” and it has been so interesting to follow along. The lessons and skills he learned as an athlete and coach have transferred so easily to the workplace it has really given him an advantage. It is something that we hear about but I didn’t realize how true it was.

There is a lot of buzz around athletes at the moment and the videos that are starting to come out put goosebumps on my arms and tears in my eyes. (Here‘s a good one.) Each sport has their own qualification system but one thing remains the same: It is cut throat and no one does it alone, there is a huge support system behind every athlete.

Last week Mark Tewksbury posted a photo on twitter of all the cargo team Canada has shipped to London and it was a phenomenal amount of stuff. It gave me a small glimpse into the behind the scenes work that goes on to get the athletes at their best. When I think about the amount of work going into our small team for London, the world wide collective effort of the Olympic Games is staggering.

After a short break I got right back to work with a small endurance block. It felt refreshing to do something different and I was so happy to be out on my bike for long rides without the pressure to perform. At the beginning of May everyone who made the Olympic Selection Pool came back to LA. It had only been 4 weeks since I rode the track but it hurt something fierce!

Everyone is working hard and slowly getting back into the swing of things. There is sunshine everyday in California and we are soaking it in after the “mixed precipitation” we all faced riding in the “Spring” at home! (At least in Calgary!)

The Team Pursuit girls are all racing in the Exergy tour in Idaho this week, we had 3 Canadian girls on the podium last night and Gillian is still wearing the young rider leaders jersey!

Thanks for following along,

Monique

These are the only photos I’ve got! I will try to take more!

The trees smell like caramel! Photo credit Ken MacDonald- Near Palm Springs. (We also saw snakes and lizards and a huge windmill farm! )

Emerald Lake

World Championships Melbourne

All there really is to say about Worlds is that The Racing Was Incredible. Every single rider there had something to prove. On one end you had riders trying to catch the last Olympic Points to secure their spot, and on the other end you had riders from the stronger countries trying to prove that they should get selected. (With only one rider per nation per event, some of the competition within countries is fierce!)

Canada had a best ever World Championship with 3 medals (Women’s Team Pursuit, Men’s Omnium and Women’s Points Race) and I can’t wait to see how the next few months unfold for the whole team!

Here is an interview I did with Canadian Cyclist

There are also a couple stories here and here