St. Albert triathlete Lisa Ulrich is on pace to finish the season in a blaze of glory after starting it off with a bang.
Ulrich lowered her fastest time in the Olympic distance as the second overall female out of 102 finishers at the recent 10th annual Chinook Triathlon Festival in Calgary.
“It was definitely a huge bonus for me to do that,” said Ulrich, the top female out of 40 competitors in the 30 to 39 age group at two hours, 11 minutes and 10 seconds. “It was a huge personal best. It was about a five minute PB for that distance and on that course I think maybe about eight minutes.”
Ulrich, 34, equalled her placings as the second-best female in the 2012 (2:21:43) and 2010 (2:19:00) Chinook races.
“Everybody keeps getting faster so it’s really great to see I’m right there too,” said this year’s runner-up by two minutes and nine seconds behind Sarah Macthur of Calgary. “I’ve been doing this for awhile and I’m getting better and better and that’s really what I want to do.”
In the female division Ulrich was the fastest 750-metre swimmer (21:10), placed third in the 40-kilometre bike (1:03:31) and was fifth in the 10-km run (44:02).
Macthur was second in the swim (21:41), bike (1:02:59) and run (42:25).
Ailsa Macdonald, an elite-level marathoner from St. Albert, was the first in the run (41:23), placed 34th in the swim (31:00) and fourth on the bike (1:03:53) for sixth place overall in the 30 to 39 age group.
“My biking and the run were the fastest splits I’ve ever done in a race. The swimming was maybe a bit off but I still had a good swim but the other two disciplines were definitely huge improvements for me,” said Ulrich, who has competed in a couple of Olympic distance triathlons every year since her 2002 debut in Calgary.
This year’s Chinook race was an eye-opener for Ulrich.
“I knew I was going to have a good race but I surprised myself a little bit that I improved that much,” said the certified exercise physiologist. “I knew going into the race my fitness was at a good level. I’ve done some really good training, I’ve been consistent and I haven’t got sick or injured.”
It was Ulrich’s first big test since ramping up the training in preparation for the ITU world age group championships Sept. 1 in Edmonton and Ironman Lake Tahoe on Sept. 21 to wrap up the season.
“My training has been really consistent and solid throughout the winter with really awesome training partners pushing me. I did lots of indoor bike workouts, lots of speed work, lots of intervals and stuff on the treadmill. I’m also making sure I’m having better recovery, really good nutrition and really good eating and I’m getting enough sleep because recovery is such a huge part of it,” said the 14th fastest female in the 29th annual St. Albert 10-Mile Road Race at 1:11:37 for fifth spot in the 30 to 39 age group. “It was a PB by a few minutes so that was a positive result for me.”
Ulrich averages 15 hours of training a week but will increase the workload as Ironman Lake Tahoe draws closer.
“I usually go every day but every couple of weeks I will take a full rest day, which I need,” she said. “I generally tend to aim for three swims, three bikes and maybe four runs a week and I really believe in getting the strength and flexibility stuff on the side so I do hot yoga regularly.”
The upcoming Ironman will be Ulrich’s third long-distance triathlon.
“I haven’t done one in a few years so this year I wanted to do something a bit crazy. It’s kind of one of the toughest courses on the Ironman circuit so I thought I might as well make it as hard as possible,” she said. “I want to prepare really well for this one and see how I do. The other two I got through them but maybe I wasn’t racing to my potential in those. I know this is going to be a really challenging course with the altitude, it’s in the mountains, so I want to see what I can do and get the most of it.”
Ulrich is anxious to go even faster at the world age group championships.
“There is going to be athletes from all over the world and it’s going to be good competition so I would like to see where I stack up against them and if I can get a good placing out of it.”
Ulrich grew up in Edmonton as a competitive swimmer and after a couple of years with the University of Alberta swim team the Strathcona Lords alumna switched to triathlons.
“My swim is usually my strength. My biking has improved over the years so it’s also become a strength of mine and running has sort of been a work in progress over the years. I’ve been making improvements getting it up to be sort of where it’s competitive with the other racers in the age group in the whole race.”
Ulrich also coaches the St. Albert Road Runners and Triathlon Club’s swim program, is a part-time coach with Aerobic Power, specializing in single to multi-sport endurance training, and coaches athletes on her own.
“The result in Calgary was really huge for me because I’m self coached and I do coach a number of athletes as well and I want to set a good example and it gives me confidence with the program and the structure that I’m doing for others as well,” said the kinesiologist graduate. “The thing I really enjoy a lot is introducing new people to the sport and getting them involved.”
FAST TIMES: Mark Brown of St. Albert was the male winner of the Chinook race at 1:59:22. The 18 to 29 age group competitor was second in the swim (19:55), fourth on the bike (59:37) and second in the run (37:25).