Maridee Arrives!

MD Chute

16 1/2 hours of exertion and Maridee is still fresh and strong. Incredibly, she says, “I,m sorry it was such a long day for you.” It’s no wonder she is so well-known and loved by so many in the area.

MD Final Shot

Here is the face of fulfillment I will remember forever. Maridee, you are an Ironman!

(For more event photos and to hear the wrap up interview with MD, see the Epilogue.)

The First Finisher and the Late Night Finals


Winner, Trevor Wurtele from Vernon, BC, with a time of less than 8hrs, 40min.

Later Finishers

The race continues into the night. These athletes have been at it for almost 14hrs. It was fun to watch a high-level professional athlete win the race, but much later, when these people came in, with the husky, compelling voice of the announcer calling their names, one after another, it was like a church revival meeting.

But instead of shouting for their salvation, he cried out for celebration:  John Smith, from Tumbler Ridge, BC, “You-are-an-Ironman!” Over and over he called each of the names of the finishers as they came thorough, and each time the crowd erupted. We never got tired of hearing his frenetic mantra. We all joined in, again and again, each time slightly louder, “You are an Ironman!”, and all us of shared in the miraculous finish of each of these heroes of the day, and in a way, we were all born again.

These determined participants have dreamed of this for months, even years. And behind each one of them and their visions of this moment, there is a story that came with them to this place, and now it has arrived at its climax. Cheers, tears, release and relief – “You are an Ironman!!”

The Chute


Waiting for Maridee.

The Run

MD RunningRunners

Race Run

Both the bike and the run are 2 loops around the course. Here comes Maridee for the first time. The participants were focused, some smiling and steady, others looked like they had just come out of surgery. The weather turned out to be “Goldilocks” conditions. Not too hot and no rain.

The Bike Leg

Cyclists Cones2MD Bike

Bike Race

Lots of challenging grade earlier for the cyclists. Maridee overcame back pain for 180km, but she is still pretty in pink. Cyclists were riding under good, dry conditions, but that didn’t make the hills any easier. The headwinds were there, but weren’t as bad as they had been during Maridee’s many training runs.

Bike Transition

Transition 2Transition 1.1Transition 3

The perspective of the bike transition for the race leaders, right inside the transition area.

Maridee Wrangled, On Film

Maridee’s moment with the volunteers – always graceful:

Mayhem at the Lake

This was one of the most dramatic parts of the race, I was so close to the action, I was getting wet:



I got really lucky and was in the perfect spot to get these shots. Even with the great access I had inside the fence between the spectators and the athletes, I tried to get closer. For this sequence, the officials were holding me back from getting any nearer. Behind me there were hundreds of people crushing against the fence, chanting and cheering.

I shouted, “Maridee you’re a winner!”

Many, Many Swimmers

This race has an “in-the-water” start. The top-seeded “pros” enter first and line up at the buoys, treading water. Then the rest of the entrants follow them into the water. Maridee is toward the rear of the group.

The cannon blasts and the race begins. The pent up energy from waiting, preparing and thinking about the race is released and the water boils and churns with aggression. The top swimmers literally windmill across the lake – and back.

The Day Arrives

The athletes enter the water and wait for the cannon.

Ready, Set, Go!

The wonderful people from IRONMAN were generous enough to invite me onto the media boat to cover the swim leg of Sunday’s race in Whistler, BC. Regrettably, I didn’t make the final selection to be on board. Hopefully, they weren’t put off when I arrived at the dock wearing my Titanic Rocks t-shirt.

This does not dampen my spirits in the slightest. Hell or highwater, vigilant coverage of Maridee’s progress will continue. Watch for Bib #863 and a pink jersey, only 3 hours away…

[twitter-follow username=”howdoigetbetter” scheme=”dark”]


(Swimmers by Chris Hunkeler, boat by thefunklab)

Ready for the Ride?

The mood in Whistler is festive, contrasting to the tension felt among the athletes as we head into the final stretch of the waiting game for the village’s inaugural, 2013 IRONMAN race. With only 1 day to go before submitting her over-fifty body to 16hrs of consecutive swimming, cycling and running (much of the latter uphill), we checked in with Maridee to see how she was holding up. Continue reading

Weather Predictions

No one knows for sure what the weather will bring. Amid changing forecasts for Sunday’s IRONMAN race, there is some concern about rain. To eliminate speculation, I’m going to trump the Weather Channel and intervene with the most reliable source available: Gumby.

Our malleable, dough-headed friend is calling for clear skies, so you can pretty well count on seeing the sun. Maridee has reported headwinds during every trial run of what promises to be a challenging bike course. Given the gusts and the grade, Gumby’s sunny disposition is garnering a welcome response. Driving rain for 180km is a killer. Continue reading

Nocturnal Gnashing

As we come down to the wire, we’re going to have to face our biggest foe:  Worry. Beyond all of the external good will and internal bravado, we have to face facts. What we are going to attempt on Sunday’s IRONMAN is scary. Just from writing about the event and getting into the heads of the athletes and trainers, I am having trouble sleeping. Continue reading

Rising Above Uncertainty

Meditator Composite

Behind every successful performer is a great manager. Just ask Michael Bubulé . Without the guidance and gumption of Bruce Allen, it’s unlikely Michael would have soared to the astronomical heights he has reached today. And behind Maridee, there is no one more invested in the outcome of her star than Christine Suter, owner of C2Sky Multi Sport in Whistler, BC.

Uber-trainer, Christine, is no stranger to Maridee’s development in endurance sports. For twenty years she has shepherded MD through every one of her many steps leading to her first IRONMAN in 2011. “When she started, Maridee didn’t want to put her head under the water. Now she’s a strong and efficient swimmer,” commented Christine.

She may have floundered as a little guppy back then, but she’s riding high on waves of confidence now. Even so, every athlete has questions about how they will perform on race day. “In spite of all the accomplishments under her belt, Maridee has doubts. It’s a normal part of the process,” says Christine. Continue reading

5 Days Until We Roll

Excitement crackles throughout the village of Whistler, BC as the countdown continues for the August 25th IRONMAN event. Although many settled in weeks ago, athletes are continuing to arrive from other parts of Canada and countries from around the world.

The race-registrants are visible around town, but in these final days of contemplation, you’re more likely to see these uber-achievers on a local hay ride than dancing on tables or pounding shooters in any of the notorious night spots. These people are not here to party – at least not until after the race – they have come from all over the globe for the ultimate test of endurance.

But there’s no need for local publicans or merchants to fear any loss of trade. Any deficit in night-life shenanigans or wild shopping sprees will surely be filled by hard drinking journalists and high flying senators on expense accounts – although it’s getting harder to distinguish between the two… Continue reading

6 Days to Go


Whatever your final time, no matter where you land on the list, you have won this race. Some will receive awards, others may gain professional recognition, but every one of the 2,792 brave souls who have entered the August 25, Whistler IRONMAN event have won our respect and admiration. Continue reading

Dealing with Doubts

MD Standing



More with Maridee Part 2





The Threshold to the Gorilla


Counting today, there are only 8 days left before the moment of truth. However, it will be more than a moment, it will the beginning of 14hrs of truth, reality, adrenaline and exertion. But for Maridee, before her big test begins, there will be a marathon of moments she must pass through to reach the beginning of her day’s destination. Continue reading

Do Triathletes Roll the Dice with Training Injuries?

Rolling Dice Grizdave

When you’re training for the endurance challenge of a lifetime, you can’t  be over-prepared. Or can you? When we checked in with Maridee, 9 days before her appearance at the Whistler, BC, IRONMAN, she was recovering from a “Glut-Med” injury that left her unable to run. When I asked her how she was dealing with it, she explained that she is swimming, biking, stretching and working on core strength, while saving her legs for the last push on race day.

A Glut-Med injury is a pain in the ass. Literally. Maridee described it as being “like pulling a ham-string in your butt.” Not a lot of fun when you’re only days away from running 40km – following approximately 10 hours of swimming (4km) and biking (180km). Continue reading

Electric Avenue

Here is Maridee putting in some long hours training on her bike (part of the 2,000 – 3,000 km she will put in during her 6 months of training for the August 25, Whistler IRONMAN. Coming from the city, we wondered why there would be a guard house at the edge of the park.

MD with Bike Cropped

Then a bit later in the ride, we realized that it was there for a reason. Stuff happens out in the woods – and I was worried about bears.

Burning Tree

The photo is a little blurry because we were running away to avoid being crushed, burned or electrocuted – take your pick. Look closely at the tree leaning on the power line and you will see the smoke coming off of it. We weren’t sure who to call; the fire department, the power company or Geraldo…

MD IM Bike Cropped

I guess we should have just stayed on the main road with MD. We eventually found the right way, the sun came out again and Maridee had a good workout – but she didn’t believe our story about the wrong turn and the tree. Only 16 days to go…

Socially, Do Triathletes Swim Against the Current?

Lake ResizeWaterfall UGArdener

Triathletes, do you go over the edge when it comes to your time commitment to your training? In your obsessive quest for ultimate endurance levels, do you wonder if friends will forgive for not hearing from you for 6 months in a stretch? To assist you in avoiding pitfalls of etiquette when you’re in the zone, here is a list of the triathlete’s top 10 social miscues:

  1. Displacing the host of your dinner party by requesting a spot at the head of the table in order to accommodate your IV drip pole and saline solution apparatus.
  2. Integrating your company picnic with your workout by modifying your bike training course with tight loops so every couple of kilometers you can ride by and toss off comments to coworkers. Continue reading

Do People “Get” Triathletes?

Get MD

The road to the pinnacle of fitness and endurance may be a lonely one. Long hours of training can be done with others, but practically and logistically, it usually makes more sense to do it on your own. But does this create an isolation effect? It may not be that much different from studying for medical school or prepping for the police academy, but it can still take a toll on your social life. Continue reading

On Race Day, What Do Ironmen Think?

Line of Pies Angled2Bike in Motion Final

During 14 hours of extreme physical endurance and torture, what do you think about? Your bed? Your mum? Your partner? Your childhood? As you herd your body through treacherous and uncharted regions on the way to your goal, your mind is likely to take unpredictable paths. In the heat of this battle, your entire life may pass before your eyes, but wandering thoughts are likely to head in one direction – toward cold, hard statistics. Numbers, measurements, calculations and ratios.

The devil may be in the details but survival will be in the statistics. How long until the next marker, when will I reach the next stage, how soon should I hydrate, what rate must I sustain to make my legs last a little longer?

A 4km swim, 180km bike and 40km run is taking a big bite of life. To make it digestible, it will have to be chewed carefully, incrementally, piece by piece. This is a huge meal and we don’t want to choke. Our mantra will be self-assurance, our enemy is doubt. But beyond the gauntlet we run (swim and bike) between the two forces, we will have to fight boredom.

Continue reading

Words of Wisdom Flow Like a River


In our latest interview with Maridee, we explore the emotional component of her process and hear how she deals with naysayers.




Flood of Emotion

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Serenity, Chaos and Champions

MD Lake CompressedSwimmers Ryan Jerz

Catching up with Maridee after her light workout (1hr bike, 1hr run), she stands amidst the staggering scenery at Alta Lake, the starting point for the IRONMAN race to be held in Whistler, BC. The calm waters will soon flood with calamity when 2,500 participants begin their bruising baptism into 12 to 14 plus hours of epic endurance, pain and ultimately, self-actualization.

And among those flailing limbs beat hearts of lions. Each one has her own story and reasons for the sacrifices they will have made just to hear that starting pistol on August 25th, 2013. Their motives are difficult for many of us to comprehend, as the most common question fielded by IRONMAN participants is, “Are you nuts?” Continue reading

Do Ironmen Care About the Environment?


You bet. Athletes who gravitate toward non-mechanized (running, swimming) and non-motorized sports like cycling are by nature closer to the earth. So it stands to reason that those who participate in sports that have low carbon-footprints relate to environmental causes and want to keep Mother Nature healthy.

This is not to say that Formula One drivers, drag boat racers and tractor pull participants don’t associate with environmental issues.  Perhaps, GoDaddy endorser and Indy race car driver, James Hinchcliffe, and members of other gas-guzzling sports support numerous environmental causes, but they would have to just to break even. Continue reading

4 Weeks to Go


There’s only 4 weeks left as she races to the starting line. Maridee has just 28 days to prepare for one of the monumental milestones of over 50 years of life, laughter and tears.  She has been training for the Whistler IRONMAN since January, but how she will feel on race day is still unknown.

“Every day is different. You train as much as you can and do your best to cross that finish line. Training is a key part of the process. You can never be too ready and you can’t fake it or phone it in. Preparation is everything and with 4 weeks to go, I feel pretty confident”, MD explained in our recent interview.

And train she has. Since the beginning of the year Maridee has biked 2,000 km, run 350km and swam more than Flipper, TV’s favourite dolphin did in an entire season.  She could have stopped in on her bike to see him at the studio, because the 2,000 cumulative km she has put in is equal to riding from her home in Whistler, BC to Hollywood, CA.  And don’t forget the 350 km Maridee has ran through rain, sleet and searing heat. Move over Forrest Gump, because that’s like running from Vancouver to Kelowna! Continue reading

Bear Minimum

Black Bear Crop

A machete wielding maniac would make me run, but not as fast as a 500 lb bear coming at over 40 km/hr. On the scenic trails of Whistler Mountain in British Columbia, Canada, bears have been sighted. But when I heard the rumour that organizers were releasing a hungry bear onto the course as a way to promote higher speeds for runners training for the 2013 IRONMAN,  I was surprised.

It’s not a bad way to generate interest and sell tickets, but you won’t find more dedicated, disciplined or motivated individuals than the top level triathletes who are preparing for a full IRONMAN competition. And that includes Maridee, the accomplished amateur athlete whose story and training we continue to follow closely. She went from couch potato to super fry in a few short years. She doesn’t like running and didn’t know how to swim – but she’s an IRONMAN and not afraid of bears.

We’ll be documenting her progress – the tears, the pain and the glory – right up until she crosses the finish line August 25th, 2013. She’ll tell us how she found her path to inspiration in a way that will motivate all of us, so please stay tuned…

Couch Potato to UberTuber Podcast (Part 2)

In this episode, Maridee tells us why she decided to participate in Ironman races – and how far she is prepared to go to complete them.

Maridee Shares Motivators

Look Better or Feel Better?

9263934093_d9c57d31beMD finish line


Photo by See-ming-Lee


Billy Crystal’s famous character, Fernando, told us it’s always better to look good than it is to feel good. But accomplished IRONMAN athlete, Rodney Buike , gave us a tip that you won’t find in the manual. When he heard that my friend, Maridee (crossing the finish line above), was training for the August 25th Whistler race, his sage advice was surprising: douse liberally with water at the last aid station to look fresh for the finish line photo…

Couch Potato to UberTuber Podcast (Part 1)

As we follow Maridee in her journey to the starting line at the Whistler Ironman on August 25, she will be the subject of a number of informative and entertaining audio interviews/podcasts. In episode 1, MD shares how she avoided sharks while learning to swim and her recent weekend training – 7.5hrs bike, 2500m swim and 2hr run – and how she relaxes:

Pain Leads to New Confidence (Part1)

Making the Grade – For All of Us

As Maridee climbs to reach a pinnacle of fitness – participating in the IRONMAN race in Whistler, BC, August 25, 2013 – we’re going look at the steps she takes to reach that summit. And in doing so, we may come away with some ideas and strategies to ascend to our own aspirations.

It’s easy to over-simplify things or to minimize how difficult tasks actually are. Then we can brush them off, put them on the back-burner or ignore them completely. But don’t fall into the trap. If we respect the difficulty of the challenge, we can take realistic action to reach our goal.

Incredibly, on race day Maridee will swim 4km, bike 180km and run 40km. But there’s a lot more to it. In the 6 months leading up to the event, MD will run over 500km, swim 100km and bike nearly 2,000km!

And those are just numbers on a page. Imagine running from Vancouver, BC to Portland, Oregon – that’s how far 500km is. Her cumulative bike training will be equivalent to riding from her home in Whistler, BC to Sacramento, California – and back! But it doesn’t end there. Here’s a look at the elevation (the hills) she has to bike:

Bike Profile


Enlarge Image

Continue reading

Aliens Arrive?

Lake Swim

These are not aliens arriving from another galaxy in search of a planet with water, they are swimmers. This was taken in the morning mist as Maridee (smallest, 2nd from right) and company trained for their upcoming IRONMAN event.

In the beginning, being the smaller one of the group was was a bit nerve-wracking for MD. Her trailing the group as the last swimmer gave other team members more comfort, but she feared that her size and place at the rear of the pack might have consequences – like in the horror movies where the last guy on the trail is always the first to disappear.

Lake shark sightings are rare, but an active imagination and a few slithering strands of milfoil weed clutching at your legs can produce similar effects…

Maridee Rides Again

And swims and runs. Not many – including Maridee – could predict that what started as a dare to do something she never liked (running), would get her off the couch, into her Nikes and on her way to the finish line in the 1995 Portland Marathon. It took courage, determination and a bit of taunting to make it happen, but happen it did. And all in a short time from when the challenge first charged out the mouth of her friend who doubted– for the last time – MD’s endurance (or her resolve).

5 years went by and MD had little to prove, until the idea of doing a triathlon emerged. There was only one problem – MD didn’t know how to swim. And I don’t mean she just couldn’t swim well, she swam like a rock. The girls used to push her into the water at pool parties just to get a chance to meet the lifeguard… Continue reading

Triumph and Temptation

It’s OK, Stan. Most of us struggle with this all the time. You’re probably torn between these:

GymP1050056 Resized2

If you need a little boost, focus on that face of the tow truck driver as he took your wheels away on a hook. That should get you on your feet! I try to draw from others around me who seem to have it going on. Here’s something that will get us all motivated. Continue reading