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Overdue Blog!

Tara Norton Update from Lanzarote!

Ok, I must apologize because I have been terribly poor at blogging.  I am going to try to make up for lost time in this entry and also be more regular with my posts!  I have so much to say…I am in Lanzarote now, getting ready to race Ironman on the 22nd of this month.  I arrived here four days later than planned as my initial flight was canceled due to the volcanic ash from Iceland so I am relieved and thrilled to be back on this very special island.  This place really holds a special place in my heart and coming back here is like coming home in a way.

Let me start my update by saying Bruce and I had a REAL holiday after the race in Abu Dhabi.  It consisted of almost no training and a lot of sight-seeing, eating and relaxation.  I usually do not travel around at my race destinations so this was a real treat for us.

Two days after the race in Abu Dhabi, Bruce and I traveled to Dubai for a brief visit (Dubai is a must see because it is like Las Vegas on steroids with its indoor mall ski resort and the tallest building in the world to name a couple Dubai crazy sights), but we then went on to spend more time traveling to Oman and Istanbul which was absolutely amazing.

We rented a car in Dubai and drove north to Oman where we took a dhow boat trip in the Straight of Hormuz. We met a really nice couple from England (he is a British Bobby working in Abu Dhabi) which was fun and we were the only four on the day trip. Later that day they drove us down to this really unique beach or fishing ‘port’ in their four wheel drive vehicle. This drive would have been a real challenge in our Yaris and it was one of the spots we really wanted to see and so we were thankful they offered to take us there. Not only was their vehicle 4WD, but it also came equipped with a hot plate stove and tea bags so we had a lovely cup of tea and chat with a spectacular view. Sweet!

On the way home we had a two day layover in Istanbul and while we did so much walking and sight-seeing in two days, I would love to go back to explore more of Turkey. It was beautiful with its OLD architecture and cobble stone streets. Aside from everyone wanting to sell you a carpet, I loved everything about the city. The mosques were ornate and spectacular, the markets were colourful and fun and the pomegranate juice was delicious. One night we ate in one of the many restaurants underneath the bridge that unites the European side with the Middle Eastern side of the city, and it was cool watching all the thousands of fishermen who lined the top of the bridge. We walked for hours each day and I am sure there is still so much more to see.

I think I was home for a mere two weeks before I then departed to Arizona for two great training camps. I hardly had to unpack!!

The first camp I coached was my inaugural EPIC WOMAN and it was a huge success. In the end, there were six campers and three support crew. I am still so proud that this has gotten off the ground because I love the concept of this all women, high volume/intensity camp where women can train together and push each others limits.

My sponsors really pulled through for the camp and the campers walked away need another suitcase to carry all their schwag! A BIG THANK YOU to Zoot, GU, Fuel Belt, Coffees of Hawaii, Toronto Athletic Club, and Shimano for your amazing support. Three pairs of Zoot shoes, Zoot backpack, Zoot compression tights, Fuel Belt goodies, Coffees of Hawaii, GU for fuel and recovery and a TAC gym bag are a few of the goodies everyone walked away with. Double sweet!!

In addition, my support crew (Etienne, Monique and Andrea) was stellar. They each did some of their own training but their main job of making the camp run perfectly smoothly for all the campers was top notch. It turned out exactly as I had envisioned it to be and I am extremely thankful for all their amazing organization, hard work and dedication.

The totals for the camp (approximately because some ended up doing a little bit less or some different numbers) consisted of 22 kms of swimming, 1165 kms of cycling, and 80 kms of running; and a total of 51-60 hours of great training. Triple sweet!!!

With my mental coach, Etienne Couture, along for the camp, we had unique ‘mental challenges’ (for points!) to add further challenge. I have been working with Etienne for a number of years so it was neat for me to share some of his expertise with other amazing athletes.

Day 5 of the camp was particularly challenging a 205km ride to Prescott that had 7000 feet of ascent. Mission accomplished: EPIC! Everyone did great and I believe learned more about what they are capable of by pushing to a new level they had never pushed to before. This ride is beyond spectacular and the best was that everyone got to experience it the following day with the net downhill to really see what they had accomplished in a fast and fun way.

The next camp was a camp with Absolute Endurance (the centre where I am coaching) and this was the second year for this camp. It too was a huge success and a ton of fun. Watching people achieve big things is extremely rewarding and riding in Tucson is the best. Climbing Mount Lemmon was a highlight for both camps and both times it was a bit chilly at the top with lots of snow around. Cool.

I was again home for just a couple weeks before my departure to Lanzarote. Well, a couple weeks plus a few days of delay from the volcanic ash that is! I again have met my good friend Denis from Germany here. He is a special friend who supports me at many of my races and is a passionate videographer extraordinaire.

I know this island is always windy but I still forget just how windy until I feel it again in person. I keep sending updates to my coach Scott that say “Did I ever mention that this island is windy!?” and “It is impossible to spin easy here coach!”

Yesterday I rode the two big climbs and descents with Hillary and a couple Epic buddies as well as the new part of the course and after riding these roads again, I am excited to race here again. I am finally feeling like I am stronger after my big crash in Kona in 2008 and this is a really good feeling. Last year I didn’t finish this race which is my most favourite race in the world, and I am thrilled to come back again to complete some unfinished business.

I have the new Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 components on my bike and OMG, Di2 is amazing! I can’t get over just how fast and smooth the shifting is. The most amazing part is when you shift the front rings. Simply effortless and soooooo smooth – even when climbing!! I can see why people say you can never go back!

Did I ever mention that this island is windy? As I type this last sentence, the wind is howling outside my window. More updates to come, I promise!  I am off to bed now.

Thanks for reading.