MTB Race – USA Cycling’s Pro XCT race @ Bonelli Park

So this was an interesting day! I started off with a training run before heading to Bonelli Park in San Dimas for round one of the Cannondale Triple Crown, which was the second stop on USA Cycling’s Pro XCT series.

Not having done any pro mountain bike races before, I didn’t even have a ranking so had to start at the back of the field! Then I missed a pedal at the start and dropped even further back and thought, “Ugh, this is going to be a long day!” With nothing to lose, I just hammered it!

Long story short, I overtook all the Olympians and pros in the field to cruise to a hard fought victory – surprising everyone, but mostly myself! As a result, I’ve now put more pro mountain bike races on the schedule for 2013!

Photo is of my best bud Tammy at the finish; obviously neither of us can quite believe what just happened!


Xterra Triathlon World Champion Lesley Paterson Wins “Off-Road Athlete of the Year” Award

Xterra Triathlon World Champion Lesley Paterson Wins “Off-Road Athlete of the Year” Award

Los Angeles – Off-road triathlon phenom Lesley Paterson has capped off a sensational 2012 season by winning the Off-Road Athlete of the Year, which was presented to her at the Endurance Live Sports Awards Gala on February 23 at Club Nokia in Los Angeles. The red carpet event is seen as the Oscars for endurance athletes, with previous award winners including Chrissie Wellington, Craig Alexander and Meb Keflezighi.

Three-time off-road triathlon world champion, and current Xterra world champion, Lesley Paterson, ended a year of domination by repeating as Xterra World Champion in Maui in October 2012. She began 2012 by winning the ITU cross world championship, and in between those world championship book-ends, won both the Xterra USA National championships in addition to the season-long Xterra Pro Series.

“This award caps an incredible year for me,” says Paterson. “I was able to remain injury free for the season, for the most part, which was huge. I just went from strength to strength, both mentally and physically. My confidence grew and, as a result, I eventually stopped over-thinking my races and just went out to enjoy myself.”

Paterson, historically the fastest runner on the Xterra racing world circuit, also demonstrated how far her mountain biking has come in the past two years by posting the fastest bike leg at the Xterra world championships on Maui in October to win her second consecutive crown, along with the fastest run leg.

Paterson is no stranger to triathlon, having been a Scottish and British international since she was 15 years of age and winning a silver medal at the Duathlon Junior World Championships in 2000. With so many years spent in the sport, Paterson is the first to acknowledge how much she owes to supporters and what she refers to as “Team Paterson.”

Says Paterson, “I couldn’t have done what I did this past season without the incredible support I get from my husband, family, friends, fans and sponsors. My parents gave me fantastic support when I was young, driving me all over to races and camps. That same dedicated support has continued from so many people over the years.”

After taking a break from triathlon for a couple of years in the mid-2000s, she rediscovered her love of the sport with a vengeance, steadily improving on her fitness and global results both on and off the road every year since, culminating in 2012’s off-road triathlon dominance.

For Paterson, at this point in her incredibly successful triathlon career, it is all about giving back to the sport by encouraging young people to try it. “It is really important to now give back to the sport after it has done so much for me,” she says. “Triathlon has helped me to grow as a person and as an athlete and I want to take that message out to youngsters that are struggling to find their way in the world.”

Paterson is planning a full schedule of Xterra races again in 2013, continuing to pursue her great love of both the outdoors and off-road triathlons.

OC Tri Club Talk

As many of you know, one of the things I love to do is talk!

So any time I get the chance to impart my hard-won triathlon knowledge and experiences to others, I’m up for it. Which is exactly what I recently did with the Orange County Triathlon Club!

I had a great time nattering away for 45 minutes to a good crowd of about 120 or so.

I also managed to take some video of myself engaged in the oratory arts.

Here are links to three of the video segments. More to follow.

OC Tri Club – MTB vs Road Training Time

OC Tri Club – Xterra vs Road Triathlons

OC Tri Club – Exercises – Running off the Bike

Enjoy :-O


Chocolate Holiday Hangover

Mmmm…chocolate! Anyone that knows me knows about my infatuation with chocolate and that the one thing you must never do is raid my personal chocolate stash in the fridge door! That first bite almost feels like ecstasy. I know for me it can change my whole mood around – from a bad day to a good day – in that one initial, irresistibly inviting bite!

That said, for obvious reasons, the ready-made chocolate consuming excuse of Christmas and the holidays are both a dream and a disaster at the same time!

The big challenge for me post-holidays – and let’s be honest I don’t think I’m alone here! – is how to gradually reduce the chocolate intake and substitute it with healthier treats? However, the one thing not to do is deprive yourself of snacks or food. If your body is telling you it wants something to eat you should satisfy that demand, but just not with sugary confectionary!

That said, in chocolate’s defense though, it’s not all bad. Some studies over the years show it could actually improve the heart by improving blood flow and reducing cholesterol, and that it can even lower blood pressure. Yeah, I know, the impassioned defense of the desperate! But come on, it’s chocolate!

The most obvious place to start is to replace the chocolate and less healthy indulgences with fruit and veggy snacks. They are mostly cheap and can taste great. So instead of sultry, smooth chocolate caramel squares…have a carrot stick. Ugh! I know it sucks in comparison, but get used to it buddy. It was your choice to take a step into the confectionery dark side over the holidays, so now you have to pay the reaper and right the wrong! You fell off the healthy snack horse, so now you have to get back on it.

If fruit and veggies don’t cut the proverbial mustard then try nuts, seeds and trail mixes. They are all high in protein, vitamins and fiber, as well as some of the good fats, which help you feel like you’ve eaten something more substantial and fill you up.

I find yogurt and bananas, either separately or together, as well as any fruit with a yogurt, can be a fulfilling and healthy snack as well. There’s a reason the Greek yogurt industry in the United States has exploded into a multi-billion dollar annual industry! They taste great, especially the 2% fat varieties, although the non-fat types can sometimes hold their own pretty well.

As always though when opting for more healthy snacks and food like veggies and fruit – which invariably carry a much-reduced calorie-count – make sure you have enough calories in a day to ensure optimum training performance the next.

Above all, remember there is no “me” in chocolate…although there is in “chocolate caramel” but that’s another story…


The Orange County Triathlon Club will be hosting 2x Xterra World Champion Lesley Paterson at their next gathering on Wednesday, January 23rd. During the event, Lesley will be signing copies of the February edition of Triathlete magazine where she is featured on the cover. Lesley will also share her perspective on the “The Trials & Tribulations of Triathlon”. There will be a minimum donation of $10 per magazine. All proceeds will be donated to the San Diego Chapter of Girls on the Run. More information about this incredible organization can be found at www.gotrsd.org.

Wednesday, January 23rd from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Rausch Physical Therapy
28202 Cabot Rd., Suite 150
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

Appetizers provided by:
Bite Me Kitchen

For more information contact Jake Steen at jsteen00@yahoo.com.




Camp BraveDirt

A New Off-Road Camp coming to San Diego….NEXT weekend: Jan 11/12th/13th 2013. Only a few spots left!

Ever wanted to give Xterra a shot? Now’s your chance to try! Go to www.campbravedirt.com



Like most pros, I have a love-hate relationship with triathlon. Most of the time I absolutely love it. Sometimes though it feels a bit like a guilty pleasure. Other times it can just makes me feel guilty.

It’s true that people of all abilities and age groups sometimes allow triathlon to take over their lives at the expense of other things. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but people often bandy about the term “balanced life” without really thinking about what that actually means. They often extol the idea of the need to lead a “balanced life” with, for example, family and friends also having a role in it in order to balance it out.

But what exactly is a balanced life? What is balanced for one person is not necessarily balanced for the next. You certainly don’t want to live your life according to someone else’s perception of what “balanced” means. People have different priorities. Problems occur though when one person tries to force their “balanced life” criteria on the next person.
Let’s be honest here, often it’s like comparing apples to oranges. A “balanced life” for an age grouper training 10 hours a week is completely different for a pro like myself who usually has to put in six hours of training a day, year round, just to maintain a worldclass competitive level. It’s a lot easier to maintain the so-called elusive “balance” when you’re only training 10 hours a week instead of 35.

It seems to me that “commitment” is a double-edged sword. You don’t get to be the top of any field, athletics or otherwise, without a total commitment to what you’re doing. People usually admire commitment in others. And yet with that commitment inevitably comes guilt.

You have to give up something when you commit to being a top triathlete. Its more than just a job, it’s a life passion that infiltrates everything and everyone. You can’t do it all, or have it all. As a result, you have to prioritize what you can fit in to your week. There are only so many hours in a week. When you prioritize your week, you inevitably create disappointment, for yourself and for others. With disappointment comes guilt.

The bottom line is that, speaking personally, when you are a top triathlete you have to commit so much to the sport to be the best that you sometimes feel guilty about having to ignore other things that ordinarily would be a bigger priority in your life. But that’s one of the prices you have to pay. It doesn’t get any easier either, because it is a choice you have to constantly make, week-in and week-out.

One question that any triathlete needs to answer then, is how high a price are you willing to pay if you want to excel at the sport?


My Second World Title

Coming into the 2012 Xterra World Championships there were two things that I had never experienced before in 15 years of racing triathlons internationally. The first was that I was a defending world champion. The second was that I have never gone into a major race before feeling relaxed, injury-free, and quietly confident I could get the job done.
Almost immediately after winning the Xterra World Championship in 2011, I was enveloped in anxiety and doubt that I could maintain world-beating form and dissuade the naysayers, imagined or otherwise, that said it was a fluke and a one-off.

It seemed to me that for every major race I had been in, including the 2011 Xterra Worlds, I was coming off an injury, recovering from sickness, or just feeling overwhelmed and wracked with self doubt.

But at the beginning of the summer I had something of an epiphany. I decided I was going to enjoy my time as World Champion, with or without the ever-present target on my back in training and in races. I would train like crazy, and just go as hard as I could on any given day and let the chips fall where they may. I had begun to switch my focus – stop worrying about what other people think and get grateful for every day I was lucky enough to be out doing what I love.

Then something weird happened. I won the ITU Cross Tri World Championships at the start of 2012 and my head began to clear a little. Then I won the Xterra USA Championships later in the year completing the consecutive off-road triathlon trifecta: Xterra Worlds, ITU Worlds, Xterra USA Championships.

Then I found myself definitely in uncharted waters: pretty much injury free, enjoying my training, enjoying my racing, winning races, and feeling confident. For me, I was now in a place that had no precedent.
Then people started to say how fast some of the girls were coming over from ITU and the Olympics to race 2012 Xterra Worlds: that they were too speedy on the swim, or they were great mountain bikers, or they had faster run splits than me. Instead of listening to all that crap, I decided to focus on myself. My race, on my terms and for MY enjoyment.

So, standing on the beach in Maui at the start of the Xterra 2012 Worlds I was a little nervous, but it was a good nervous, because I was ready to race and prove to everyone, including myself, that I wasn’t a one-off and that my race results from the previous 12 months weren’t a fluke. I relaxed, took a deep breath, looked at my mantras of “Be Brave” and “I am Free” scrawled across my forearms and thought….BRING IT ON!

This race for me was truly THE BEST race I’ve ever had. I felt physically and mentally on top form, I enjoyed every minute of it and I had my 2 biggest supporters out there to experience it with me – my husband and my pops!

Thanks to all of my supporters – you know who you are!!


View Hotels

Another year, more AMAZING opportunities!

It’s funny how the world works really. After more than a decade away from the UK and British triathlon, an old tri buddie of mine connected over facebook to introduce me to a potential sponsor. So after many phone calls, hours of hustling for other sponsorships, this opportunity comes out of the blue :)

The talented and amazing Michelle Dillon of Team Dillon Coaching (www.teamdilloncoaching.com) had heard about the Xterra World Champs and thought I might be a good match with View Hotels. And thus has begun a great relationship with Neil Wong Hou-Lianq of the incredible hotel chain based in Australia. Neil is a great guy, and newbie triathlete, who loves to be in touch with his sponsored athletes…I’m hoping to get out to Australia at the end of the year and enjoy the facilities View Hotels have to offer!


World Champion

Well…it ain’t over til its over…

Having won the World Xterra Championships over a month ago, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on this momentous achievement. I think it’s finally sunk in….

It was a challenging day to say the least. I’d gone out to Maui 10 days early to prep on the new course. During that time, I was lucky enough to stay with a bunch of British guys that took all of the anxiety away and filled my heart with the wonderful sarcastic humor that is home! Sharing 1 small bedroom with 3 other blokes, I quickly remembered why I love the sport of xterra so much. It’s gritty, its tough and its one big family struggling through together!

With illness and injury having plagued me for the last 12 months, I was relieved to wake up on race morning feeling quite good. Sharing the car with my best friends Tammy and Jess as well as hubby Marshall, we trundled towards what is now affectionately known as ‘the front line’. Like soldiers getting ready for battle, we sat in silence…awaiting our fate.

The swim start was BRUTAL. I guess it always is. For once, when the gun went off, my nerves dissipated but boy was I beaten up! After the first lap, I was already 30 secs down on where I wanted to be. I’d been blocked by slower swimmers but with the run on the beach, I managed to make some time up and get clear water ahead of me!

In and out of transition and before I knew it, I was right where I wanted to be. In third position, on Mel’s (McQuaid) wheel and ready for action. But no, a win is not a win without hardship! I felt a spongy-ness bellow me and yes, I was right…a flat tire!! In pole position and a friggin flat tire. I couldn’t believe it. With every negative thought pouring through my brain, I got off and attempted to fix it by using CO2. A minute down, I headed off again, now with a semi-flat tire and the first set of trails to contend with. After a technical descend, the tire almost rolled off. Again, flat as flat could be. Luckily Jess had convinced me to carry 2 CO2s so after another minute of messing around, I got the tire filled up. Now 2 mins down and behind a bunch of other pro chicks that I’d spent hard earned time in the pool trying to gain a lead on, I was off.

You know its funny because even with the years of experience I have in racing, I still get overwhelmed by nerves and pressure. I knew I was fit enough to contend the race but somehow, in many races in the past, I’ve let the pressure get the better of me. However, with this flat tire, there came a strange sense of calmness. I didn’t care anymore. the race was over so what did I have to lose? i might as well enjoy this beautiful course and race until I blew….

On a rode, passing this girl, passing that girl and finally realizing that I was actually going pretty well and maybe I could salvage a podium spot….

Meanwhile, poor Si (aka hubby), was going through an emotional roller coaster. Having not known about my mechanical he was baffled by the twitter feeds.

Into T2 – 3.5 mins down on 2nd and 3rd, 6.5 mins down on the lead held by Mel. Normally this info would distress me but not today. I truly wasn’t even listening, I was just ready to run. Feeling the best I have probably ever felt coming off the bike, I got going up the path. Up and up and up. Passing this person and that, overtaking 2nd at only just over 2 miles. I knew the game was on.

The rest is poetry really. There are so few times in an athletes career where they see the tunnel but this was one of them for me. And by a tunnel I mean that I was so much in the zone that all I wanted to do was go forward, all I could see was the next few steps on the trail ahead of me. Dancing over the rocks and tree stumps I went from 6.5 mins down on the lead to 1 min 20 with only 1 mile to go. I kept on thinking to myself, ‘every step has to count’…that was it. That was my mantra.

And so on the last single track descent, with a helicopter above me, I saw Mel ahead, laboring. This was it. This was my chance. I pushed it out of my mind and focused on taking one step in front of the other.

In a flash, I overtook her. I was now in the lead. Coming down on to the road, there was Si, screaming and shouting..pretty much going ballistic. Focus focus focus…thats all I kept saying to myself.

With a technical river bed yet to navigate, I had to keep my wits about me. Would Mel try to stick on my heels? Was anyone behind getting close to me? BOOM, and down I went. I tripped on a rock and smashed my knee into a boulder. With blood pouring out, I popped up instantly. “Paterson get yourself together”….drumming through my head.

Limping up the riverbed, I finally got on to the beach. People were shouting and cheering but all I wanted to do was get to the finish. I daren’t look behind me. Finish finish finish.

That last 50yards in to the finish was glorious. It was like being a kid at Christmas. All that hard work, all that sacrifice, worth it….to see Si jump around, to see all my friends so happy. Magical. Plain and simple.

The days after were a blur, so many well wishes, emails, phonecalls. That’s been the best bit. All those people that have helped me through the years, just so pleased for me. My dad, my mum, my family, my training partners, my coach. When you achieve something like this, you realize that you have done this for them as much as for yourself!

I will never forget what that felt like and hope to feel it many times over in the future! I never forget how lucky I am to do this job. How lucky I am to have been given the opportunity to excel. Thats something I want to give to others and I’ll continue to try and do that as long as I can.