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Checking in from Florida!

Tara Norton Blog #1

Hello, this is Tara Norton, professional Ironman triathlete and multisport coach from Toronto. The folks at Triathlon Canada Magazine recently asked me to post a regular blog on their website, and I was thrilled to have this opportunity come my way. So, I readily agreed, and I hope that you will find what I have to say over the coming season both interesting and maybe even occasionally entertaining too…

February 16, 2010

I am currently in Fort Lauderdale, FL training for my upcoming first race of the season. I have been here for just over a week, and only have a couple of days left before I return home. Boo Hoo.

I am racing in the Abu Dhabi International long course triathlon on March 13, 2010. This is the inaugural year for this race and it is an exciting and unique event. This triathlon consists of a 3km swim, a 200km bike and a 20km run. The race organizers are limiting the professional race entry to 20 pro men and 20 pro women so the competition is sure to be as competitive as the Hawaii Ironman World Championship race. The best of the best triathletes in the world will be competing there, and I look forward to being pushed by such a competitive field. The prize money is also great compared to the sanctioned Ironman events, and there is also prize money for age groupers. Love it!

One of the great things about being a pro triathlete is having the opportunity to travel to parts of the world I might otherwise never see. My husband, Bruce, normally travels to my races with me, and this upcoming race in Abu Dhabi is no exception. Bruce lived for two years in the Middle East as a boy, so I know he is looking forward to going back to a part of the world that strongly influenced his childhood. Given how much it will have changed in the 35 years since he was last there, however, in many ways it will likely feel like we are both traveling there for the first time.

My good friend, Matty Long, has rented a fabulous house right on the ocean here in Fort Lauderdale, and I am staying with him. Friends from Toronto and New York have been coming at various times to train which is great. We all can push each other in various workouts. We have been riding along the A1A which is a great (one just has to watch out for some unaware snow bird drivers) but very flat road that follows the coast. The good thing is that while it is very flat, it is also very windy. It has been a bit cool but the flat, windy terrain is perfect training for Abu Dhabi!

Matty Long is my friend from Long Island, New York. I first met Matty at a training camp in Lake Placid as I was coming back from a cycling accident. I think Matty thought that I was crazy, training with my jaw wired shut, but as many of you know Matty thoroughly out-did me when he was run over by a bus a few months later in December 2005. Matty came back from being given a less than 1% chance of survival to complete the NYC marathon and Ironman USA in Lake Placid and has also started the I WILL Foundation that helps others confronted with life threatening challenges in life. Matty is my inspiration!

Since arriving in Florida last week I have done three great long rides of 160-195kms and have another scheduled for tomorrow. Today Vicki and I (Vicki is a friend from New York who will be doing my Epic Woman training camp in Arizonain March) ran 90mins and did some good Fartlek pieces into a nice headwind. Then Matty, Vicki and I did a nice little ride along the A1A where Matty showed us who was boss. Matty was on a mission to pass a guy who had passed him twice earlier in the ride!

OK, so it is off to the gym for some weights on the outdoor roof top. Fun! Too bad I have to head back to Toronto soon.