Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lisa Balerna: What a great 2011 race season!

Lisa Balerna is an incredible athlete living in Ottawa, Ontario. Check out a report she wrote about her experiences in 2011:

My race season began later than normal due to overtime at work and planning of my brother’s wedding. I felt it was important not to force it. I was still training but not as hard. I plan to start my 2012 season in April. Please find attached some photos from my race season.

I started my “season” by working at the CEP booth at the Ottawa Race Weekend (40,000 runners competing!) last week of May 2011. I had a ton of fun hanging out CEP rep Young-Mi and meeting new runners. I had fun for once being a spectator at this wonderful event. It is not very often that world-class runners come to Ottawa to compete.

My first race of the season was the Somersault Britannia Beach Olympic Distance duathlon on Saturday, June 11/2011. I was definitely feeling the butterflies with this race being my first of the year. It went well and it was great to start the season with a victory – first female overall and 4th among the men.

Every year, I try to find a new race and challenge. I was happy to finally have the opportunity to race at the Somersault Sydenham races on July 3, 2011. Sydendam is near Kingston. It was fun to take an overnight trip. It was super hot race morning. I loved the rolling bike course on perfect pavement! It was a very well organized event. I was happy to place 1st female overall and 5th among the men. I won a very high-end cycling helmet. I already owned one so I sold it to a friend. It was a fun weekend and I hope to go back in 2012.

One week later, I competed in the Somersault Graham Beasley duathlon on Sunday, July 10/2011. This is a popular event with races from try-a-tris, sprint tri, Olympic and half ironman competitors. It was another warm day but I love the heat so I wasn’t complaining. I was blessed to come away with another victory finishing 1st female and 5th among all the competitors.

I had one week off racing to get in some quality training. My next event was the Somersault Ottawa Duathlon that took place on Sat. July 30/2011. There were many races taking place with over 1000 competitors. The weather was perfect and I felt really good. I know the course very well so there is comfort in that. I was the first female overall and 3rd among the men..

On August 14, 2011, I travelled to Brockville, ON for the Somersault races and once again with over 1000 competitors combined in all events.. For the 2nd year in a row, we were concerned with the forecast! Thankfully, mother nature was on our side and we never got the thunderstorms. I was first female overall and 6th among all competitors. We ended the afternoon with a great brunch with friends in Brockville.

I took the following week relatively easy as I had another race – the Cornwall race weekend on Saturday August 20 and Sunday August 21/2011. This is a wonderful event organized by Rob Lefebvre. There was a kid’s race, duathlon, sprint tri and Olympic tri. It was an epic day with torrential rainfall. I managed to stay warm but was definetely very cautious on the technical bike course. I managed to stay upright and place 1st female overall and 10th among all competitors. There was prize money at this event so that was a nice treat. It brings a lot of competitors. If you win the event, you get automatic free entry to next year’s races so I hope to be back in 2012. They also added 2010 champions to the 2011 race shirt. Pretty cool to see my name on a t-shirt 

I had a few weeks of good quality training before my next event – Somersault marquee event – the Canadian race weekend which took place on Saturday, September 3/2011. There were several events from try-a-tri, sprint, olympic, half ironman and full ironman distance events. I always choose to do the Sprint Du event and then volunteer all afternoon for the longer events. I am in charge of a water station and try to recruit volunteers. I really enjoy doing this once a year. It is good to give back to the sport and secondly, it makes you appreciate the hard work involved to volunteer. I always try to thank at least a few volunteers at each event that I participate in. These races cannot run smoothly without volunteer help and they are not paid to do this. I felt really strong at this race and managed to win again – 1st female overall and 6th among the men.

I left the day after the race for my vacation to Las Vegas, NV. It was my dream to watch a Triathlon World Championship so I chose the 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas that took place on September 11, 2011. It was incredible to go to an event and not have pressure for your own performance. I had a mini-run camp and ran 140km while I was there. I had a lot of fun meeting a lot of the professional athletes and even attended the press-conference. I had the pleasure of meeting Herb, CEO of Warrior Mist( at the expo. This is an all-natural skin, muscle, joint and support formula for your niggly aches and pains. It smells great! Herb and I are just in the process of finalizing things for my sponsorship in 2012. You will find a picture with myself and pro Canadian triathlete Magali Tisseyre.

Once I returned from Las Vegas, I planned to train thru and race the Army Run half marathon which took place on Sunday, Sept 18, 2011. It was a hilly course so I wasn’t expecting to get a personal best due to the terrain. I was happy how I felt. I was 6th female overall out of 3116 women competing in the half marathon. Picture with my teammates. We all came in the top 10.

On Saturday, October 8, 2011, I competed in the Cumberland sprint duathlon. There was also an Olympic distance duathlon. The weather was picture-perfect and the race attracted a lot of triathletes which was great. I had the 3rd fastest opening run among the men. I was feeling great during the ride. I had told the volunteer that I had ridden two loops as I only needed to for the sprint. There was no turnaround sign or pylon. Unfortunately he guided me in the wrong direction. I did an extra loop on the bike. I knew it cost me the race win but I still wanted to finish. It was a beautiful sunny day. I had the 4th fastest among the men for the closing 3.1km run. I was initially upset but quickly realized how lucky I am to have the health to compete. I love this race and I will be back in 2012!! I won’t miss the turnaround whether there is a sign or not. 

My final race of the year was a fun local race – Rattle me Bones 5km on Sunday October 23/2011. The weather was decent for this time of year. It is a nice community event. I figured I could surprise myself with a good time or just confirm to me that it is time to hang up racing flats for the season. It proved to be the latter! There was nothing in the well. I still managed to place 6th female overall out approximately 800 female competitors but clearly the body had enough for the year. I ran my half marathon pace! I look forward to a few months of unstructured training and begin to plan my 2012 season. I set a new challenge for myself to learn how to classic ski and I hope this will make me a faster runner and cyclist in 2012. I need to buy skis!

I had the pleasure of attending a talk with “the Man” 6-time Ironman Triathlon Champion Dave Scott on October 22/2011. He was so friendly! You will find a pic attached.

For the fourth consecutive year, I am the overall series duathlon female winner for the 2011 Somersault race series. The party will take place on December 1st, 2011.

 I will be deciding my tenative 2012 season by January.

If you care at all, you'll get some results. If you care enough, you'll get incredible results.

Thanks to all of you for your support and for making me look good on the race course. I hope we can continue to work together for my 2012 race season.

 Congratulations to you Lisa on an incredible year! All the best for 2012.

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