2 golds! Pan Am Championships: Mar Del Plata, Argentina

Pan Ams last week was one of the hardest and most rewarding races I’ve ever done. I won’t get into all the details but here are some highlights!

Coming from London where we were at one of the nicest tracks in the world, with 10+ staff and everything taken care of, to Pan Ams where we were outdoors with huge amounts of wind and rain and 2 staff, took an adjustment. Two days before racing in London I did an 11.2s 200m, and two days before racing in Mar Del Plata I did an 11.7. Thank goodness for power meters because I saw that my power was very similar to London, just the conditions were different. (Very different.)

For staff we had John Evans and Mike Patton. As soon as they showed up I knew everything would be taken care of, even if it meant they had to stay up all night. (Which they did do one night.) We were very lucky to have them as our support staff.

Jonny on the left, Mike on the right

I knew I had pretty good form but I didn’t know how the other girls would be riding and I was extremely nervous. As the 2nd last race to collect points, the pressure was on to collect as many as possible and to beat Venezuela. (We are currently fighting for the 2nd Americas spot for the Games- Cuba’s spot is pretty secure and qualification is limited by continent)

My ipod broke the day before competition, but luckily my teammate Allison Beveridge had an extra one she lent me. It has this great track on it and it put me in a great frame of mind before racing. Despite feeling extremely nervous and borderline panicky in the pit, when I got on the track I felt confident and I raced with my instincts. It was really amazing to race that way.

I qualified 1st in the 200m qualifier, only a hundredth ahead of Lisandra from Cuba. This was the same position I was in last year, but Lisandra out-sprinted me for the win last year. I had to wait out two full days of the 1/8’s, ¼’s and ½’s until we finally got to race in the final. Our sprint rides were certainly among my best ever. Lisandra won the first ride by an inch and it was very hard to stay positive. But I did and with Mike’s help I decided on a new tactic which worked birlliantly. We tied one ride each. The next ride would decide the 2012 Pan Am Champ. When I crossed the finish line first my whole body went numb, I think I was shocked that I had finally done it!

Sprint Podium

The following day we had the first round of keirins in the morning but the semi’s and finals were delayed due to rain in the evening until the next morning. Lisandra had to leave and was not there in the morning for the final. When the finals finally came I decided on a very simple tactic. I ended up drawing the #1 spot and was riding right behind the motorbike. Venezuela was in 3rd. With two laps to go she came up beside me and I thought “Perfect. You can stay right there.” I matched her acceleration for the lap and with 1 lap to go I went all out. I couldn’t see her anymore and wasn’t looking back. In the last corner she swung up too high and Mexcio and USA came under her. It couldn’t have worked out better!

Unofficially I am sitting much better in regards to points for the Games now but I have one more race until I can count my chickens.

Winning Pan Ams is something I have been working towards for a long time, and I have had tremendous support from the entire team (riders and staff), and my family and friends. The financial support I receive from PCL Construction makes it all possible and I am extremely grateful. It was very fun to have a win this season but there are bigger things ahead and I have to stay focused for the World Championships. For now I am back in LA for 2 ½ weeks until we head to Melbourne!

Thank you for so much support!

Monique

PS A little bit of media!
Globe and Mail

Training Camp: Newport, Wales

This week the Canadian Track Team has been training in Newport, Wales to prepare for the London World Cup/ Test Event next week. Our head coach and team manager are both from Wales so it has been fun to see them in their natural environment. When I am sitting in my hotel room and someone walks by outside the door I always think it’s Rich or John because everyone sounds like them.

The camp has been really great, the countryside is beautiful and we have all had some strong training sessions on the track. I have been doing lots of motorpacing and wishing I got to race the motorbike everyday!

Tomorrow we leave for London! It is extremely exciting to visit the Olympic venue for the first time!

Thanks for following along and I’ll be back soon,

Monique

I stole some great photos from our videographer Steve Sleep. Enjoy!

World Cup #3: Beijing

It looks like my Olympic Qualification is destined to be close right till the end. (The end is April 7th)

The 200m time trial in Beijing went very poorly, so poorly in fact that we have made some significant changes in my training leading up to the next World Cup. The only way to learn is by making mistakes but sometimes I feel like I am running out of time to learn. I wish that we already had it all figured out.

But we don’t, and wishing doesn’t make it so. Even though it seems like worrying about it would help, it turns out that it doesn’t and so we just have to learn as much as we can at every race and move forward.

The keirins went a bit better for me and I made the 2nd round again which was positive. I finished 11th but because of complicated and in this case lucky Olympic details, I got 8th place points, and even though my closest competitor got 3rd, we are still very close on points. I have had some really good training since arriving back in LA, and it has been refreshing to focus on some new things.

Next Saturday we leave for London for a pre-Olympic test event and it’s a pretty big deal. I am guessing there will be 50 girls racing, and only 18 of them can qualify for the Games.

In other news, I officially have my own place! I’ve paid my dues sharing houses and fridges and showers and beds and forks and keys with both strangers and teammates in the four winters I have been training in LA, and now I get to do everything in the best way possible for me.

I really didn’t realize how much stress comes from living with 8 other people but I certainly notice the peace of coming home to my own place and I love it. (And my landlords are great! They left flowers for me for the day I moved in!) I am grateful to Richard Wooles for setting up houses for us for the last two years because I couldn’t afford my own place for all this time, but thanks to the support of PCL Construction, I will have my own place for the 6 months leading up to the Games. Having somewhere to call home where I can rest and recover is invaluable leading up to the Games and I simply couldn’t do it without their support.

Thanks again for following along and I hope to have some good news from London soon!

Take care,
Monique

World Cup #2 Cali, Colombia

I feel like someone let me onto a roller coaster that I am not quite tall enough to ride. The ups and downs of this Olympics thing are so strong and fast that I am not always sure what to do.

I didn’t write a report after the first World Cup in Astana because despite several attempts I couldn’t bring myself to explain how thoroughly disappointed I was. I tied for my worst 200m result at 22nd and once again failed to qualify for the 2nd round of the keirin. This marked my 5th World Cup keirin in a row where I got 13th place, so close to the 12 place qualifying mark, yet so very far. I knew that if I didn’t make the 2nd round at the World Cup in Cali or Beijing I would not have the points to qualify for the Games.

I went back to LA and did everything I could do to go fast. It was a very hard month for me. When people say that being an athlete is hard, you might get confused into thinking the training is hard. The training hurts yes, but sometimes that’s the simplest thing. I love the days when I can go out there and just destroy myself. But when you are trying to go as fast as possible, it’s not about who can hurt themselves the most. It’s about executing the efforts perfectly, figuring out the right gears, the right number of efforts, getting proper recovery, dealing with the drama of team dynamics and staying positive, etc, etc, etc. Those elements, combined with the uncertainty, the fear of failure and being away from home, those are the things that weigh down on me when things aren’t going well.

I came into Cali with very low expectations, but when race day came I got into my routine and was just thinking about what I needed to do to execute a good 200m time trial and make the most of this opportunity. I was nervous, the unknown before a race can be very uncomfortable, but I stayed focused.

On the line, moments before my 200 when I was really getting nervous I had a strange thought. Two weeks prior I was in a situation where I had had to confront a staff member about something and I was petrified. I have spent a good deal of my life avoiding conflict and so I don’t have much practice. When I was on the line for my 200 I realized that I was much less nervous than when I had had to confront the staff member. If I could do that then I can do anything. And as silly and as far fetched as it sounds, it really gave me some confidence and I knew that I could execute a good race. Rich told me “You ride this right and you’ll do well here” and that’s exactly what I did. I got a personal best 200m time and went on to finish 6th place in the sprint tournament, my best ever result at a World Cup.

The following day we had the keirins and I was still on a high from the sprints. Everyone was pretty equal in my keirin heat and I knew that I had as good a chance as anyone to win. We made a plan and I felt good about it. When the moment came to execute my plan it didn’t go like I thought it would, I was swarmed over the top and even thought to myself “well I messed this one up” but I stayed in the game and was patient and suddenly I was in the front coming around Fateha from Malaysia and I just piped her at the line. It was amazing. I got goosebumps when I realized I had finally, finally, got a keirin right. I didn’t ride as well in the 2nd round, I missed the move, which put me into the minor final for 7-12 place. This was still another great opportunity for experience and Olympic points. I went in with a plan, stayed patient, and with ½ a lap to go I found myself coming around Lisandra of Cuba and taking the lead for the win. Two keirin wins in one day!

So I find myself on the upswing of this roller coaster and not sure what’s next. But I do know that this coming weekend is a fun international race in Medellin, Colombia, and then I get to go home for 3 weeks to train on my new Wattbike and spend Christmas with my family.

Thanks for following along and for so much continued support.

Monique

World Cup #1 in Astana, Kazakhstan

I have been in Astana, Kazakhstan for almost 5 days now and I am still being followed relentless by the fog of jetlag so I won’t write too much today. But our videographer, Steve Sleep, has taken some great photos and he said I could share them here.

 

Here are the riders for this World Cup. A few people are sitting this one out for various reasons, Steph and Laura just came back from their gold medal performance at Pan Am Games, and Zach and Tara are still getting their track legs back after good summer seasons of road racing. From L to R we’ve have Travis, Hugo, Julia, Joseph, Gillian, me and Jasmin. (Jasmin also won gold in the Team Pursuit at Pan Am Games with Laura and Steph.)

With 24 hours of travel it is easy for bikes to get lost on the way. But with only 12 flights flying into Astana per week, it is hard to get them back! None of our bikes (or Gillian’s bag) arrived until our third day here, one day before racing started! (Racing started yesterday with the Women’s Team Pursuit. It was their first time riding as a team and they showed great potential!) Here is Sandy building up loaner bikes from the velodrome. It was very scary to ride these bikes that hardly fit on a brand new track! Here is our trusty mechanic Sandy helping us get the loaner bikes ready.

The city became the capital of Kazakhstan in 1998 and began huge changes. There are some beautiful buildings and the architechture is very creative. Still, there is a big difference between the old and the new. Frozen clothes on the line will dry if left long enough. The air temp is a chilly -11. That’s the new velodrome in the background.

Mud and straw bricks and coal heat. This house is 100 m from the new velodrome.

The velodrome building looks like an aero helment. The biggest velodrome I have ever been to.

Looking through the centre of this building, you can see a volcano shaped building in the distance. This is a shopping centre. On the 3rd floor is a beach, complete with water, palm trees, and very warm temperatures. The building glows blue at night.

The Bayterek is a monument and observation tower in Astana, epitomizing its elevation in 1997 to the status of capital of the country.

There are bronze sculptures everywhere. This one is of a woman waving across a bridge.


Thanks Steve for the photos! (And some of the captions too 🙂 )

The men have Team Sprint today, and I have the Sprints tomorrow and Keirin Sunday. I will update results when I can!

Fall training

When I get into the daily routine of training, eating and resting, there is not too much to talk about. But last week we had a small camp here in LA with the whole team and it was nice to finally be together again. Here are a couple photos courtesy Richard Wooles.

I’ll be back with a good story soon!

The whole team (mostly)
Motorpacing- The Motor bike has a big draft so we can go faster with less effort
Head coach Richard Wooles and myself

Back in Southern California

After a great summer of living and training in Calgary, I am back down in Southern California and ready to officially start the year. (It’s a little bit like back to school except it’s back to the Home Depot Center.) After driving down with my dad (who is a great driving partner), I had to find a place to stay. Since we can’t commit to a one year lease it was very hard to find places but I did find one in the end, almost exactly where I wanted to live. The only down side is that it has a very bright bubble gum pink room. I think that the boys should take that one…

So we are back to the usual routine on the track, on the road, and in the gym and so far so good. After a big training block ahead my next race is a World Cup in Astana, Kazakhstan at the beginning on November.

I have started a new project, it was inspired by this, where I will be a pen pal with Calgary students. I am working directly with a school, but if you have kids who are interested in following along, the website is here. It will be loosely based around the grade 5 and 6 curriculum. My goal is to integrate my experiences with what they are learning in class to show them a new perspective and hopefully engage the students who otherwise wouldn’t be interested. Along the way I will be posting written and video blogs, interviews, and do in class visits. I am really excited about this opportunity and I think that the students and I will both benefit from it.

Stay tuned!

9x World Champion wearing my Campione bike shop T-Shirt!!
My summer project, a PCL wall quilt- Couldn't do this without their support!

National Championships 2011


Thanks to Doug Barron for the photo

Another National Championships is over. We were supremely lucky with weather, dark heavy clouds sat over us most of the time but we had very few rain delays. The racing went well for me, I accomplished what I came here to do which was defend my 500m, sprint and keirin titles, but the most exciting part of the weekend was that we finally have some new sprinters around! Brand new faces on all podiums. We have a serious lack of development on the track in Canada and it was nice to finally see some new legs.

I can’t believe this was my 8th National Championships. Nationals is the one consistent thing that we do every year but looking back each one is different.

At my very first Nationals I was told that I was too young to compete. Back then the youngest category was junior, ages 17 and 18, and I was 15. Only once I was 16 would I be allowed to upgrade and race with the juniors. After some strong words, my coach at the time Tanya Dubnicoff, convinced them to let me race out of competition, and I got 2nd in the 500m time trial!

When they announced the podium, the announcers forgot to take me out of the results and I was given a medal. OH MAN, I was thrilled! Afterwards two commissaires greeted me (although where they found me I was kind of backed into a corner and I felt ambushed) and they took away my medal. They took it away!

I was so crushed, back then winning Nationals was the biggest deal in the world!

Fast forward a few years later and I was preparing for the Jr. World Championships and OH MAN. Being Jr. World Champion was now the biggest deal in the world. I remember people telling me to relax, that this race isn’t the end of the world, it’s just the beginning, and I should enjoy it. At the time I didn’t understand what they were talking about. I wanted to win! I came very close.

Fast forward to right now and now that Nationals are over everything we do is about qualifying for the Olympics. And OH MAN. It’s the biggest deal in the world.

At least it seems that way now.

Summer Training

After living under the same roof for 6 months, training together, and traveling the world together, the Canadian track team separates and goes home for the summer. Living in LA for the summer is both impractical and expensive for all of us. It is nice to get away from the group for a little while and to spend time with family. I’ve spoken about it before and it is no secret that I love being at home. I almost feel like I am playing house; I have carpets to vacuum and herbs to water.

Last time when I spoke about how fun it was to do all those different things, I forgot to mention how hard it was going to be to transition back into my regular training. The inspiration I got from taking a break isn’t as crisp when I wake up every morning with sore legs and I have to stand up slowly if I’ve been sitting for more than 5 minutes because my legs don’t want to move.

It is fun to be at the track in Calgary, there are lots of people and some of them even cheer for me when I do my efforts. But somehow I began to feel very alone. During training I doubted myself and started questioning my plan. Is this the best way to do this? How many? How hard should this be? Am I doing too much? Why won’t my srm (this records my power output) record higher numbers? I tried to answer the questions, but I didn’t trust the answers I told myself.

Mark, as usual, was extremely supportive, helping me figure it out. Usually when I ask him a question he just asks it right back to me.
“Mark, am I doing this right?”
“Monique, do you think you’re doing it right?”
It really does help a lot, and his support is very powerful, but I feel like a pest, always asking him for reassurance.

One thing I did do during this time was hang out with Canada’s ladies alpine ski team. They were doing cross training at the track and I purposely did my Wednesday workouts with them because they all have such a good attitude and it was a very positive training environment. Some days they would have 5 staff members there just watching them ride, and they’re not even cyclists! I loved being there, but I was also jealous. I wanted to have staff members watching me too. It felt like with all those staff there, their training must be better. More scientific, more precise. How could I compete? I felt like I could never get the best out of myself all by myself.

I have a lot support, all of you guys, the CCA and Sport Center staff, my sponsors. But I got into a dangerous place of comparing what I have to what they have, and it made it feel not good enough.

Which is why my quick trip to LA this week has been fulfilling in more ways than one. Not only did it feel like magic to put on some race wheels and ride on a wood track after training on the highway that is the velodrome in Calgary, but I got to spend time with some of our staff members; my coach Rich, our sport scientist Mike and Tanya. There were only 3 athletes, Zach, Tara, and myself, and I was reminded of the great people we have on our staff and the great teammates I get to come back to in September.

Cycling is not a tier 1 sport in Canada, we simply do not get the funding of winter sports. But we have people fighting for us and doing really great things with the funding we do have. For me personally, I have the support of PCL Construction Leaders, without whom I wouldn’t even have been able to come out on this mini training camp.

And no, next week I won’t have Rich, Mike, Tanya, Zach and Tara by my side, but I will in September, and until then, I have the many resources from the Sport Center in Calgary, my favourite massage therapist and physio, my family, and my friends.