Sunday, 27 December 2015

Thank you 2015

Thank you 2015.

Thank you for the ups, the downs, and the lessons along the way. 
Thank you for new friends, and the memories with old friends. 
Thank you for the exciting travels, and for the relaxing days at home. 
Thank you for pulling me out of my comfort zone, and then for giving me confidence. 

It seems unbelievable that every year that passes, I can continue to say, "Wow, this year has been my best one yet!". 
This year, I travelled to Austria, Germany, Spain, California, North Carolina, Alberta, Quebec, and around Ontario; all to train or compete. I had my most successful Nordic Skiing season yet, and ironically since I actually (finally) decided to focus more on cycling now. I had my most successful Canada Cup season for mountain biking, and although my bigger races of the season ended unfortunately, they too have helped me in other ways. 
Much to even my own surprise, I also ran cross country more competitively than ever, as I raced with McMaster's varsity team. 
This year, I graduated high school with high grades that I was proud of, and so was able to begin university in the fall, studying kinesiology at McMaster. I've lived away from home longer than ever, and no longer had my parents there to nag (I mean take care of) me. I had to leave all my closest friends for months at a time, but I also got to make many new, amazing friends. 

These monumentous events in my life are the direct or indirect result of many people who have supported and believed in me throughout the year. 
So I thank 2015, but really, I am thanking all of my supporters.  But, what exactly is a supporter to me? Most obviously, a supporter is someone who has helped me train or compete with financial, equipment, or coaching aid. These people have really made massive differences that have helped me reach my next level of athletic pursuit, but there are so many more supporters that generally go unrecognized, and these people provide many little aids which result in a big difference.
 A supporter is the person who wished me good luck or pumped me up before a race, or even a hard workout. The person who coached me, or gave me advice. The person who offered to help with my bike perhaps, or accepted my offer to train with me. A supporter is someone who gave me confidence when I didn't believe in myself, or even just smiled at me strengthening my feelings of a friendly, supporting community. A supportive family who invites me into their house for food or to warm up after training. 

Barry Near, the owner of my amazing team, Trek Canada Mountain Bike Team, has always been there to help me reach my important races with the best equipment, race/tech support, and encouraging vibes. My team mates are fantastic athletes to spend race weekends with, always lightening the pre-race tension with constant humour. 



I never have to worry about proper fueling with Hammer Nutritiom Canada support in my back pocket (literally, always have a bar in my jersey). 


Smith Optics is always keeping me looking fast and fresh with their performance glasses. The high quality glasses make me forget that I'm even wearing glasses! 



The OCA continues to support so many athletes, including myself, in so many ways with training camps and race projects. This allows for a great base to be built in the winter months down south, and race/tech/coaching/travel/food/entertainment support at races!! 

Back to Function in Orillia always finds time to help me with any injury that pops up over the year, or to help me with injury prevention. 

Being on Team Hardwood for skiing, along with coach Ron Howden and the parent helpers, is always a highlight of my year. Training and race weekends never cease to be anything less than amazing with such an incredible team. 

McMaster varsity trainers have helped me a ton throughout the fall during my running season, as I tried to go from not running in 10 months to running almost every day.

World gym in Orillia has provided an amazing training facility for my strength days with all new equipment!



Thank you to Quest for Gold and OHPSI for outstanding support programs for progressing Ontario athletes. 

A huge round of applause to Kevin Simms for proving yet again to be one of Canada's best coaches yet again with his plethora of successful athletes who, thanks to him, have a fun training year round while making GAINZ. 

Team Canada coaches, physio, and support staff have also been there through the year for outstanding race trips to Europe, training camps, and injury rehab. 

And last but certainly not least, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to my never faltering family and close friends for always being there for me. No matter if I'm crying from happiness, or because of an injury or sickness, they are there to help me celebrate, see the bigger picture, and reassure me that they care for me.  



Well, that was a lot of thank you's... And if you've made it this far: *ROUND OF APPLAUSE* 
Don't forget to thank all of the people that have made your life better this year! 

See you next year ;)
(I know that was cheesy) 

Soren Meeuwisse 

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

September through to December

Since I've arrived at McMcaster for my first year of university,  my life has taken many twists and turns and it's about time for a year-end catch up! 

First off, I'm so excited to announce my new position as a Hammer Nutrition Canada Ambassador for 2016! I've grown up using Hammer Nutrition products and I'm honoured to be able to represent their company. If you haven't tried their array of fantastic products, you can use my personal promo code to order anything with a 15% discount! Even if you have tried Hammer Nutriton products before, take advantage of this deal, you will be impressed with the products! 
Create and log onto your account on hammernutrition.ca and use the code "soren15" when purchasing your goodies! 



From September to the end of November I was running more than I ever have in my life! I'm so grateful for the Mac running team because I've met some of my best friends through the team, got to travel around Ontario for races, had some amazing training sessions, and I'm a part of a supportive, fun, and tight-knit campus family!



 I started off the racing season at the Kingston Open, where I raced well so was chosen to be on Mac's top 7 girls racing team for OUAs and CIS! Both provincials and nationals went well as both Mac's girl and boys teams finished 3rd at OUAs, and at nationals the boys finished 4th and girls 8th in Guelph! 

The team shaved "M"'s into their hair for OUAs and CIS!
Rookie squad

After the running season, I found myself on the bike everyday again and started buckling down for exams.
In November, I had a super interesting and beneficial testing camp at the CSIO building with the support of OHPSI! The OHPSI athletes got do to bike testing, physio screening, nutrition consultation, mental performances talks, concussion screening, use the DEXUS machine, and use the gym facility! All of these components provide marginal gains which all athletes are striving for to be even 0.5% better than before. 


As a Fast and Female Ambassador, I went to the Oakville Summit Event and spent the day having a blast with young girl athletes, other inspiring Fast and Female Ambassaodrs, and the Olympic Gold Medalist, organization founder Chandra Crawford! If you don't know what Fast and Female is, it's a non-profit organization that motivates and inspires young girls to stay in sport, spreading the importance of girl power! 



Training in the Hamilton area has been fantastic, and my training partners are to thank for that!! I rarely find myself riding alone, on the road or MTB trails. I'm very thankful for these people who have made training simply awesome over the past few months. 

OCA banquet!
Day at Joyride with OCA!

So now I am done my first term of university! Exams went well and I am very happy with my marks in my classes. I absolutely love McMaster and kinesiology is definitely the program that I want to be in! 

Now it's time to enjoy the 2 week break before heading back for term two. I'm looking forward to being out in Canmore Nordic skiing with my family! 

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!! 

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM

I just got an Instagram account for athletic blogging! I will be using it frequently for shorter posts, but will still be using Blogger just the same for longer posts. 
My username is @soren.meeuwisse on Instagram! 


Saturday, 12 September 2015

Andorra World Championships

Travelling over to Europe with Team Canada was yet another amazing and unforgettable learning experience. These trips never seize to surprise me with a curve ball with their ups and downs. 

First of all, Vallnord, Andorra is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to! The race venue was on top of a mountain with a 360* view of enormous mountains. It felt like we were riding in the clouds... and we actually were a lot of the time! 


Heading into race day, I was feeling on top of my game. I quickly felt confident on the hilly, hard-tail favourable course and I felt on form... Ready to have a killer race!
But, race day morning that was the exact opposite of how I felt. 
I woke up with awful stomach pains, and once I headed to the washroom I begun to feel like I was blacking out. The next thing I remember is waking up on the bathroom floor in a cold sweat, ears ringing, head spinning, and more pain in my stomach. Freaking out, I got up to go back to my bedroom, only to wake up again from being passed out on the hallway floor. It took me a while to gather myself to go find a coach for help. 
For the next 2.5 hours leading up to the time when I had to depart for the race site with the team, I was under coach supervision. I couldn't stand up for more than 1 minute without passing out, causing my ears to ring and cold sweat to begin. I eventually took an Advil which helped the stomach pain, and my fainting slowly started to go away. I rushed up to my room, got kitted up in 5min, and left to race site with the girls. 
At the race site, I was allowed to start a warm up on the rollers under coach supervision. I wasn't blacking out anymore, but I felt very dizzy and not "with it". The national team coaches were telling me to make a decision if I was going to race or not, and they made it clear they didn't want me to start. After talking to my parents, and they gave the coaches permission to let me race, I got into the starting gate just as they begin to call people up to the line. 


Despite feeling awful, I tried to refocus on the line to still stay in the game for my maximum race potential. However, once the race was underway, I really started to feel my sickness. I felt myself almost pass out and vomit several times before I pulled out at the feed zone, almost done one lap.


 I sat there for 30min unable to move without feeling like barfing, just trying to grasp the idea that all I've trained for this year got flushed down the drain by things I can't control. 
Of all the days of the year, the day of World Championships would be the worst time of the year for me to get the stomach flu. Nobody else got sick, I ate all my usual food, and I was more than prepared to race my best.
It's easy to sulk around asking, "Why me? Why now?" but the reality is that bad luck happens. However, my disappointment definitely isn't going to impede my motivation! You have to able to move on from whatever is getting you down or trying to hold you back, in order to maintain focus and comittment. May it be an uncontrollable stomach flu, a controllable mid-race face plant, or anything else. 

The Juniors  of team Canada had some outstanding results!! I was so proud of my team mates, as well as the U23 and Elite Canadian riders. #CanadianTough 

That night I finally hit the vomiting stage of my sickness, and for the next few days I couldn't eat anything without feeling sick. 
One day later, I had to leave Andorra early to head back to Canada for university at McMaster! It was really great to see my family when they picked me up from the airport, and we celebrated my dads, Carter's, and my own birthday in Hamilton. (Fun fact: my dads birthday is Sept. 5, Carter's is Sept 6, & mine is Sept 7! And my moms is Sept 11!) It's also crazy to think that I am officially an adult now as well... But not like I'm going to act like one!
 
Going straight to university from Andorra was quite the whirlwind, but after one week I'm starting to get comfortable at McMaster. 


Exciting news:
I'm on the McMaster varsity xc running team! 
I will be focusing on running, along with my cross season training for the next couple months. 



I already can't wait for next season!!! As of now, I am officially a U23! Wow I feel old... 

MASSIVE THANK YOU's

I want to say a MASSIVE THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me this season! I have had some of my best races this season, and have had some unfortunate races due to crashes and bad luck. Those great races along with the bad races have given me so much to learn and improve from, while I fall in love with my sport of mountain biking more and more every day. 
My second year on the Trek Canada Mountain Bike Team was even better than the first with such a strong Trek family with Barry Near as our hero! 
My training with coach Kevin Simms was outstanding as he puts so much time and effort into his athletes improvement and enjoyment of racing. 
Thank you to Hammer Nutrition for fueling me all year, Back to Function in Orillia for physio treatment, Smith Optics for my favourite glasses, World Gym in Orillia for an outstanding training facility, and all my family and friends for being there with me every step of the way!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Quebec in July: Nationals, Team Canada Camp + more

I feel like Quebec has become my new home since I've been here for most of July racing and training! Yet, I still fail to be able to hold a conversation in French... I'm working on that!

The Baie St Paul Canada Cup kicked off the expedition, where I had a solid race winning the Junior Girls category. This win was a relief because I had now met the criteria to be selected to the World Championships Canadian team! 


Going into Nationals, it's nice to have that as a safety net in case the Nationals race doesn't go well... And thank god I had that safety net...

On the cold, rainy morning of National Championships, I didn't get the National Champion jersey.... But I got a smashed helmet and a gnarly looking face instead. 

The race was going well for the first 2 laps as I was leading, yet only by 15 seconds. On lap 3, 2nd place found my wheel and we begun to battle it out as the anticipation of the finish line drew nearer. 


About half way through that last lap, I aimed wrong coming around a corner onto a rock bridge over a little river ditch and I went over the bars into the rocky ditch. My head took most of the fall as I smashed my helmet, got a swollen/bit lip, swollen/scraped cheek bone, and bruised eye, nose, and forehead... Oh plus a swollen knee, shoulder, wrist, and two thighs. Just close your eyes and picture a mangled peach; yup that was me. 

It's definitely race instinct to get up and keep going after a crash, and believe me; I tried. However, I felt really shaken up in the head from the impact, I was bleeding a lot from my face, and my whole body felt beaten. It was a minute or two before someone found where I was lying and I was given help to walk to the first aid. There, they tended to my wounds and did a lot of concussion testing.

 I had never DNF'd a race before, and all the pressure and hype around Nationals made it very difficult to mentally accept that bitter ending to my Canada Cup season. Although, it's an important part of the pursuit of athletic excellence to learn how to deal with disappointment and use it as motivational fuel while maintaining focus and confidence. 

Still in shock in first aid

I was told I had a minor concussion and that's when my concussion recovery protocol began. That next week was pretty brutal. I have a new understanding empathy for anyone who has ever had to deal with concussions now. I did recover well, and felt normal again after a week or so, but I know it's not that easy for many people's recovery. It's just so awful not being able to do ANYTHING, just waiting for brain recovery. 

Feeling pretty


I got a lot of amazing help from Back to Function in Orillia, Dr. Bell, and Tara Lazarski from Team Canada, and so I was able to travel back to Quebec for a training camp with Team Canada this past week! 

The World Cup was in Mont St Anne this past weekend, and since there is no Junior age category, the juniors had a training camp and cheered on everyone else in the downhill and XC races! It was a fantastic week with tons of climbing up mountains, descending rad downhilling trails, and team bonding.






I HAVE OFFICIALLY BEEN SELECTED FOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS WITH TEAM CANADA IN ANDORRA!!!
Putting nationals behind me, I'm focusing on performing my best for the rest of the season. World's has always been my main focus for this year and I'm going to continue to train hard for the high altitude race in Andorra! I can't wait to travel back to beautiful Europe in one month :) 

I also have to prepare myself for Univeristy! I'll have to travel straight from Worlds to university as I'll be getting back the first day of classes. I'm going to McMaster for Kinesiology, and I couldn't be more excited to learn about topics I read on anyways in my spare time! I'm quite a nerd for exercise science....

So this next month will be focused on quality training, preparing for Uni, and of course enjoying some relaxing cottage time!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Hardwood & Horseshoe Canada Cup

This past week has been non-stop action with the Pan-Am and COF events, school events/assignments as my senior year wraps up, and the past 2 weekends of Canada Cup races! 

I am ecstatic to have won both Canada Cup races with a strong lead on my Trek Superfly SL! I couldn't have had this success without the support of the Trek Canada Mountain Bike Team, Barry Near, Kevin Simms, and my family! 


Horseshoe was a very hot and dusty race, polar opposite from race day at the Trek Store Canada Cup at Hardwood.... 


It absolutely POURED rain during this race, but muddy races are always a blast!!! 




Congrats to my team members who also had strong races! Jon rode to another win, Tyler had his best race yet this year with a 4th in Junior Men, and our Elite Men, Peter and Mitch, endured the slippery conditions to finish with a 9th and 12th position finish! 

Now that the early season races are over, we are a few weeks away from the next big race: Baie St. Paul Canada Cup, where I can continue to wear the Leader's jersey! 

Being the podium girls with the Trek Canada Team for the 10:30 start awards! 

Sunday, 14 June 2015

#NowOrNever

Starting back in March I began working with the Canadian Olympic Foundation for the creation of their #NowOrNever Campaign for the Pan Am 2015 Games in Toronto! A few months ago I spent a day down in Toronto filming shots for the commercial and my short documentary... and both of these have now been released!
I was on live CBC television on the Heather Hiscox morning show this past Friday for the debut of the campaign and the release of my short documentary video. Getting interviewed on live TV was nerve-racking to say the least, yet such a crazy cool experience! I even got the whole makeup crew and everything!

LINK TO MY LIVE CBC INTERVIEW HERE

It was so great to meet Heather Hiscox.... despite my nerves, she made it super easy to be on live TV.

(Notice how wrong the description of the video is... I am not competing in the Pan Am Games for anyone who was unsure.  I am a next generation athlete, so hopefully the next Pan Am Games!)

 

Here is the link to the Canadian Olympic Team Press Website with my version of the campaign:

http://press.olympic.ca/building-olympians-nowornever 





Here is my short documentary video:

Here is the #NowOrNever commercial  (See me for half a second at 0:27 seconds!)

 
 
I am so honoured to have been involved with this campaign as a Next Generation athlete! As a result of this campaign I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing Olympic athletes, CBC broadcasters, and members of the Canadian Olympic Foundation. This whole experience has inspired me so much to continue to strive for my goals.
THANK YOU COF
 
 
This past week I was also a Torchbearer in Orillia!!!
(S/O to Carter for being an Oro Torchbearer!)

I cannot thank my parents enough for all of their support so I can be as involved in athletics as I am.
Also THANK YOU to the Trek Canada Mountain Bike Team, Barry Near, and Kevin Simms for making all of my success so far possible!  
 
Meeting Marni McBean with the other Next Gen Athletes that were featured in the #NowOrNever Campaign!
I got to HOLD one of her 3 Olympic Gold medals in Rowing
 


After my CBC interview I spent the day at the COF kids fun day event signing autographs along side Olympians, Marni and Julia Wilkinson, CBC Sports Broadcaster, Scott Russell, and my new Next Gen friend, Mariam Abdul Rashid who is a CRAZY good track sprinter!
 


Sunday, 7 June 2015

HAMMER TIME BANNEGGS

I made a Youtube video sharing my favourite breakfast with a special Hammer Nutrition touch!

Thank you to Hammer Nutrition Canada for all the amazing support and yummy training food/powders/gels!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Tremblant Canada Cup

Tremblant was, yet again, one of the most fun race weekends of the year! 
The party never ended in the Trek Canada condo, just kidding, we are very serious people (especially Jon Barnes). 

Race day was a huge success! Jon Barnes kicked it off with a win in his race, then Peter, Tyler, and I had a later start. 

I felt fresh on race day and went for a European style race, full gas start to finish. I managed to form a gap off the start, and keep it growing throughout the race. It felt great to take the win in the first Canada Cup of the season! 




Tyler's race was going great before a hard crash, and he persevered to the finish. Peter finished with a solid 18th in the Elite Men, and he was very nice when he caught me in the race. 


After the race, Tyler and I went with Team Ontario to Bromont for a couple great days of downhill training! 
My favourite Hammer energy bars were much needed to keep me going during the long training days!