Even though the weather dipped below zero quite a few times in Canada this winter, Heather Pady refused to go inside. In fact, she’s excited because even though it’s technically spring, the fat biking conditions are the best they’ve been all winter.
“I don’t do trainers or anything much indoors,” said the Ontario resident. “Most of the time I’m on the trails with the same group I train with in the summer. We fat bike through the winter and I enjoy that every day is a little bit different out there. Some days are icy and some days are slick but it’s still good out there. Even when it’s 20 below.”
Ask anyone who has done an XTERRA, and they will tell you that in addition to training hard, you need to get pretty comfortable being uncomfortable. Pady is the first to admit that her tolerance of pain is a likely factor in her success. Last year, Pady was the third amateur overall at the XTERRA World Championship in Maui and she was second in her 40-44 age group to New Zealand’s Tanya Sharp. The only other amateur who was faster was Switzerland’s Loanne Duvoisin.
“My bandwidth for suffering is probably pretty high,” says the soft-spoken Pady. “But then again, I have people I run with and people I bike and swim with. As much as it doesn’t sound fun to be out when it’s freezing, it’s fun when you’re with a group of people that can all laugh at each other. It’s pretty good.”
Pady has lots of opportunities to hit the dirt. She lives half a kilometer from the Bruce Trail, which is the longest trail in Canada and stretches over 10000 kilometers end to end. However, the 45-year old mother of two didn’t even get into mountain biking until about six years ago.
“I’ve always done sports. I joined the triathlon club when I was in university just to have people to run with,” said Pady. “But I never really got into it because I’m not that into road biking.”
Then Pady nonchalantly mentions that she did an Ironman and a few 70.3’s after chiropractic school.
“I heard about XTERRA Mine Over Matter from a friend and I thought, I’m trail running and mountain biking and I swim once a week, so I’ll just go ahead and do that because I like a race. And it was really, really fun.”
Pady won that race and admits she was surprised by her success on the trails. Yet she handles her talent with a quiet confidence and calm determination.
“I’m pretty internally motivated and I know the race I want to have,” said Pady. “I don’t compare myself to other people. The first few times I won in XTERRA I was kind of surprised. Now, I don’t expect to win but I kind of get that if I race well, I’m going to be up there in the standings. In Maui I wasn’t surprised by how I raced because that was the kind of race I wanted to have. I knew it was all coming together during the race, but I was pleasantly surprised to be third amateur.”
While most athletes are starting to slow down in their 40’s, Pady keeps getting faster. Last year, she set PRs in 8K and 5K runs.
“I joke with the guys I run with that they started out too fast. They should have waited a little longer.”
Still, Pady’s talent is no laughing matter for her competition at XTERRA Oak Mountain this weekend. Pady aged up to the 45-49 division this year, and it’s likely she’s going to keep raising the bar as long as she keeps racing.
“In Maui, two women in the 40-44 age group were on the podium overall,” said Pady, acknowledging that in XTERRA, this is always a competitive age bracket. “It’s pretty awesome to think as women you can still compete at that level in your 40’s. It feels good.”
Pady will be heading down to Alabama this week with fellow Canadians Mike Mazza, Monica Wolf, Steve Faraone and Nathan Stewart. After training in the cold, one might wonder if the heat and humidity of the Deep South would scare Pady off, but she isn’t going to waste energy stressing about it.
“I’m pretty good to roll with things. If it’s hot, I’ve always tended to manage that well. I race and train a lot based on effort and not time so I think I’ll be able to handle it. In fact, I would really relish something hot right now. It’s been a cold winter.”
Learn more about XTERRA Oak Mountain.