Larry's Blog Pages

December 30, 2010

2010 Highlights

It is very close to the final day of 2010 so finding a topic for this week is easy, although, not very creative. I went through my entire year of postings and pulled out some pieces I am proud of. Of course, I did have some personal/family highlights along the way but I will keep it sports related for this blog.

2010 Highlights

1 - Timberman 70.3
I entered 2010 having completed two sprint triathlons in my multisport career. Both of them were done with the help of a very slow breast stroke so when I signed up for the Timberman 70.3, with a group of my FMCT Falcons, I was very worried about finishing 1.9k in the water. Also, with giving up so many duathlon opportunities for this race, I did not want to go to just finish but I really wanted to race this distance. Things did not look very good leading up to the event due to back issues and bike fit problems. It was to the point that I was very close to walking away from triathlon before that race. Thankfully, many friends helped me through the pre-race training and I joined my teammates on the starting line. My 4:36 finishing time was icing on the cake, especially, with a slow swim time. It was also great to have the opportunity to meet and share accomodations with Canadian Pro, Brent Poulsen.

2 - Run4Hope 5K
This is a great event that my tri club puts on in Brampton. It was my first race of the year so I was just hoping to gauge my training at the time, a little over a month out from Victoria's Duathlon. In the past, I had battled to break the 18 minute barrier for this distance, coming up seconds short on several attempts. Thankfully, I had everything line up properly on this day and I ran a great effort for a 17:18 clocking, good enough for second place overall. This was exactly the confidence booster I needed to start out the year.

3 - Tyler Lord
I was at a low spot after an early attempt at longer distance triathlon (Welland Half Iron) and ready to pack in the towel on Timberman. Following the race, I started talking to Tyler and he really changed my whole mind set. He worked with me to set up a plan of attack for my 70.3 race and restored my sagging confidence. He did such a great job that we will continue to work together in 2011 towards my many athletic goals.

4 - Road2Hope Half Marathon
It had been several years since my last Half Marathon (outside a tri or du) so I was curious to see how fast I could go in 2010. My previous best was 1:30 from Angus Glen back in 2006 so I knew I had improved but I really wanted to tackle a sub 1:20 result at this distance. Tyler and I got to work on this after the tri season wrapped up and set our sights on the Hamilton race in early November. I stuck to the game plan throughout the entire race and hit my marks all the way until the final part where race organizers added 400 to 500 metres to the distance (somehow). I ended up hitting the line in 1:21:10 but my 3:46 pace/km would have put me under my goal if the distance was correct. Overall, I finished in 12th spot and 1st in my Age Group. I had my Mom and Aunt watching so it was neat to do so well in front of them in a rather large event. Deep down, I know my pace was exactly where it should have been but I will hit the Mississauga Half to attempt to make sub 1:20:00 official on paper.

5 - Binbrook Sprint Triathlon
Due to weather, that I did not find enjoyable for racing, I ended up skipping the Milton Sprint Tri so Binbrook was my first official triathlon of 2010. I had raced two previous triathlons in my life but did not have the swim training to make it through the water without resorting to long breaks of breast stroke. Even though I was five and a half minutes (49th place) behind the leaders coming into T1, I was thrilled to actually swim the full 750m course and used that motivation to hammer the bike (top bike split) and put down a solid run (5th fastest). In the end, I finished 3rd overall and started to really get excited about the upcoming season.

Testing the waters in triathlon created a challenging season for me. As you can see above, not all was too bad so I can take several positives into 2011 as I work back into the Duathlon side of the sport. Tyler and I have already started to prepare for the upcoming year. It is not going to be easy to reach some of my goals but I think I will enjoy a lot more success during the next 12 months if I continue to train hard.

In my next posting, I will review my 2011 Goals.

Happy New Year!

December 21, 2010

Egg Nog Jog - The Analysis

As my Garmin decided to freeze before the race, I did not have the splits for this year on my watch but Robbie T displayed his on his race report ( ). He was right behind me just before the hill and then I was able to add a few seconds to the gap up the hill and towards the end.

I took his splits and figured where I was running at the time and then compared to my splits from 2009. It is very evident that I blew up (in my quest for sub 40 min) on the hills and could never recover on the slushy, icy roads.

I was hoping to go out at a similar pace to last year and then conquer the hilly portion in better form this year due to my increased speed. I guess the 5 extra pounds I carried this year did not help, especially, on this course! I have been racing with this extra load ever since Lakeside in September and cannot seem to shake it.

Next year, I am going to beat the battle with the calorie monster and race at a lighter weight. I am leaving too many seconds out there when I carry extra pounds compared to my competitors.

Below is the breakdown of my two years at the Egg Nog Jog to highlight the poor performance over the hills (km 3 on the rollers and km's 6&7 on the big climb). Sure, the weather was not ideal but I still put in solid enough run training to get me where I wanted to be.

December 12, 2010

Egg Nog Jog 2010 - Race Report

Once again I walk away from a recent race not knowing exactly how to feel. I thought the effort was there but the result did not translate. It seemed that way for many, due to weather conditions, but a few made large moves forward over last year's time including second place finisher, Kyle Ferguson, who made a huge jump in position and time over his 2009 posting.

The cold, rainy weather was not what I hoped to see coming off such a beautiful, December Saturday. The wet morning had made for a sloppier course than last year as it was not as cold enough to keep the roads hard. In 2009, we had enough snow before this race to have a packed surface, which was ideal for my spikes. Today was one of those border line days as the asphalt areas were exposed and would have made a mess of my feet if I used a full shoes of spikes.

I ended up settling with three front spikes to save the balls of my feet and my baby toe from rubbing on the spikes when running on the harder areas. This made for decent traction on most of the course but I could have used a little more grip on the icy patches on the top end of the course. I don't think I gave up too much time due to shoe selection.

Onto the race, I had a good jump out of the gate to find lots of space around the first turn, just outside of the Terra Cotta Consevation Area drive way. Last year's winner, Darryl Bank, was also flying off the line and started to set a blistering pace heading down the 1500 metre drop zone. I knew that was beyond my talents so I just tried to hover around my previous year pace. I was hoping to have my Garmin to be able to measure this but for some reason it froze and was stuck on the time I pulled it off the charger. Damn technology!

A little further down the hill, a group of three more runners made their way passed me. In that group was Tim Shannon (a solid 32 minute 10k runner from Georgetown) so I figured they would burn me out so I settled in behind them. I tried to get my stride together by the time we made the bottom of the hill but felt that I was being short and choppy. When we reached the rollers I was not feeling to confident about my speed and knew there were a number of others right on my tail. I could hear their footsteps and hear their breathing.

Coming off the 1.5k of rolling, slushy road, I somehow managed to hold mt spot in the race as my uphill surges were just enough to offset their downhill gains. Our next road was the gravel side road that led to the lung busting hill just after the half way marker. This section was very slow due to the loose footing of mush we had to deal with. I was trying to extend my stride and push my pace higher leading up to the hill and felt things were starting to pay off but once again, I had a strong runner (Kyle Aiken) pass me at the very bottom of the hill and slowly edge away as we trudged up the steep and twisting slope.

I now felt like I was falling back pretty bad, almost going too slow up the hill in an effort to save energy for the home stretch. Shockingly, nobody else pulled past me by the time I reached the summit so I used the short downhill that followed to get back up to speed, hoping to chase down Kyle and maybe one or two others that apeared to be coming back to me. I started to close the gap during the next few kilometres on top of the hill and thought I could kick it down a notch and make even more gains. This was looking good until we got back to the ashpalt roads where the group got moving quickly. I am not sure what my pace was along the final few kilometres but I know I was pushing hard so they must have been busting along at incredible speeds.

My final two km's were very strong and I assumed I was pretty close to my time from last year and moving faster through this section. As I hit the 10k marker, I got a great cheer from the Falcons watching from the side of the road and fed off their energy to plunge down the last winding decline a few hundred metres from the finish line. When I reached the driveway in pretty close to sprint speed I hoped to see a 3X:XX number on the time clock but instead found a 41:XX to my disappointment. I kept the hammer down and finished in 6th spot overall and 41:35 (58 seconds slower than 2009). I missed my goal time by over a minute and a half but don't think I could have run to that time under these conditions.

As I congratulated other runners in the finish area, I tried to figure out where I had given up the most time compared to last year but just cannot come up with an answer.

The great thing about this "home" race is all the familiar faces I bumped into during the course of the event. There were so many FMCT Falcons and Running Maniacs out for the Egg Nog Jog and it was great to hear their stories over some post race snacks. Great Work Folks!

Lastly, the Georgetown Runners put on a great show under tough conditions. The work of their members and volunteers made the day much more enjoyable. Also, I would like to remind everyone to thank Brad Mailloux and his staff at Feet in Motion for their very generous prizes. Please support Georgetown's local running shop and visit for more info!

Brad (Feet in Motion) presenting my AG Award in 2009

December 10, 2010

Happy 100th Birthday Grandma!

This event is bigger than any of my races or training sessions so I had to share. I am very proud of my Grandma as she has lived an honest, hard working life. She has always believed in me no matter who I was at the time as she knew things would turn out for the best.

On Sunday, December 12th, 2010 she will turn 100 years old and still remembers much more about her youth than I am able to recall about mine. Sharp as a knife that lady!

Happy Birthday Grandma!

December 9, 2010

Egg Nog Jog 2010 - Preview

So we are expecting a huge dump of snow this Sunday, just in time for the Egg Nog Jog 10.8k race in Terra Cotta. This race is tough enough as it is without Mother Nature hitting us hard. I know it will be cold and I am ready for that but if it is taking place during a blizzard, there is no hope to break the 40 minute barrier on this course. Check out the approximate elevation (in Metres) for this run. It is not a mountain run by any means but the lack of flats has your legs screaming for mercy. If you don't believe me, sign up for 2011 and I will see you there! 2010 has already sold all 600 spots so there will not be any race day registrations.

Might be another day to put on the spikes!

 Egg Nog Jog 10.8k - Elevation Chart

 2009 Egg Nog Jog - on the Icy Roads (needed spikes)

2009 Egg Nog Jog - Chasing Greg up the big hill (good luck catching that power house!)

November 29, 2010

Here comes one of those busy weeks!

It's not so bad but lots of regular and hockey work this week so I have to manage time wisely to get in all my workouts. Being back to a run/bike focus has really cleared up a lot of things and I am making the most of my training these days. I am really trying my hardest to push down run times and, from the results in training, I believe the progress is coming along very well.

On the bike, the Thursday morning spin classes are kicking my butt and that is they way I like it. Coach is going to make us all tough as nails with the routines we hammer through at the gym so I am not complaining one bit. The good thing about hitting the sheets early these days (thanks to zero diet cola in the system) is that this very early class is not as tough to make as I thought it may be. It actually works out very well as I have time to throw down 1:30 on the bike, clean up, drive home and still be back before the rest of the house is up. I get my workout in and still help get the kids ready for their day. It's win, win!

As the training has ramped up I do have one area that I have fallen way behind, updating my training log. I get an email out to Tyler but get too lazy to jump online to fill out my daily report on . This organizational tool would save me so much time if I kept it as current as I used to, especially, when I look for previous bests.

This came to light last week when I did some quick (for me) 800s and was wondering what I had put down the last few times at this distance. I am pretty sure I bested my old training splits but without the online report to fall back on, it will take me some researching to know for sure. Thankfully, all my emails sent to Tyler have been saved so I should make a point of transferring the data into my training log soon.

This past weekend I followed the XC Nationals from my phone and computer. I had planned to run in the 5k race but had to work and it would have been tough to get downtown without rushing things so I decided to save my energy for the Egg Nog Jog.

I noticed a lot of great performances in some tough racing conditions. Check out the photo below from the event.

Fellow Duathlete, Kevin Smith, battled hard in the Senior Men's category against some very impressive 10k runners. Even in these wintery conditions, Cameron Levins was able to go under 30 minutes for the National Title. Amazing!
In the Master's 8k, Rob Tolman, went out and had a great race against a lot of the top 30 year old + racers from across Canada. We get to run together and test ourselves on the roads of Terra Cotta in a few weekends and he looks to be in solid form!
I noticed some other names in the 8k and the 5k that I have raced against of late so it makes me feel good to think I am coming along in the running game. That being said, I know that I still have lots of room to improve if I can work on my form, hammer the training and drop a few pounds.
Time to run!

November 23, 2010

Du the Du

I gave it a whirl but it just wasn't what I was hoping for. I knew the swim portion of the triathlon was going to be very tough for me for a number of reasons but I battled through it for one full year to see if I could learn to love it and join the great athletes in the next step of the multisport world.

When this journey started back in 2006, I was just getting into the running game. I was looking for a fall challenge to keep me motivated so that I would not stray back to  my chicken wings and beer lifestyle. I had completed a marathon the previous year so I really did not want to run another one so quickly and these were the majority of the running races I noticed in the autumn months. As I flipped through the websites, I came across a Triathlon Series page and started to read the options for the races remaining on their schedule.

As I became more interested, I selected the duathlon. This was not because I was certain I could learn to  cycle but because I was sure I did not enjoy the water enough to learn to swim for a triathlon. I had not even been on a road bike in my life but could imagine myself enjoying that freedom and speed out on the bike. The funny thing is that I decided to race my first multisport event two months before the actual date and I did not even have a bike of any kind. I had better access to a pool during the lead up to Guelph Lakes 2 so you would think the triathlon option would have been easier. Something deep inside just would not budge on my swimming stance and duathlon won over the triathlon.

On the other side, I was so certain that I would enjoy the cycling that I shopped around for almost the full two months to make sure I had the fastest option for the money I had available at the time. I finally bought my first road bike on the Wednesday of the week of GL2. I rode it twice before the race and was only disappointed in one thing. Why had I not tried this sport earlier in my life!

Come race day, I had such an eye opening experience seeing all the fancy bikes and great athletes. I had a solid first run and then hopped on my entry level road bike with the strap style shoe holders on the pedals. I gave it my all on that 20k bike course (doubling any of the two training rides I had attempted). By the second run I was wiped but the other athletes were amazing, offering me encouragement along the route when I was forced to walk due to cramps. That picked up my spirits and I fought to finish that last 5k run.

If I remember correctly, I had only a few running races under my belt at this point (2 x 5k races and 1 x marathon) but still thought I could run a 20:00 5k coming off the bike for some reason. Man was I surprised how hard it was to run after putting so much effort in biking. It ended up being one of those, "I am going to teach you legs to run fast of the bike!" lessons that I have never perfected but has kept me coming back for more and more.

Two races (Niagara on the Lake Du as well) in 2006 led to three full seasons of duathlon. I was very passionate about the sport and just could not believe how few people were competing compared to the triathlon. It seemed like all the people I was meeting in the early years would move along to the tri or cycling so during the 2009 season, I decided that it may be best if I moved along as well.

I started to slowly introduce the swim into the routine but those days never seemed to be as enjoyable as my running or cycling days. Even during the first bunch of classes in my instructed lessons, I got nauseous and dizzy, having to leave a few of them mid-class to avoid being sick in the pool. Eventually, things started to improve to a certain point but to get to the level I wanted to be at, I just could not fit the local pool schedules into my work and family plans.

If I really wanted to get better I would have needed to join a masters class or have some one-on-one instruction a few times a week. Unfortunately, many of these in the Meadowvale area could not fit into my training hours and would have cost me additional money that is most likely better used for other aspects of my life.

The usual struggle to get my proper swim workout created several issues but I tried to keep a positive spin on things as the 2010 season approached. After a few real triathlons, I started to question my choice to jump into this side of the sport and was pretty frustrated due to the swim. I had one big event in August that I was already registered for so I tried to plug away. Thankfully, after the Welland Half Iron race, I got talking with Tyler Lord and he got my pumped up about the Timberman 70.3 race with a focus on the bike and the run. I ended up having the race of my life (to date!) but the reality of the day also set in seeing how amazing the talent is out there in triathlon. Without enjoying the water and being driven to swim as much as they do, I stand little chance to get to their level (70.3 Worlds or Kona). It would also require me to pass along some family duties to be in the pool during open hours and that would not be fair just for a hobby or recreational sport.

So in 2011, I will return to the duathlon world and really try to hammer down some of my past times. I didn't want to post this without running it past Tyler first so I am happy that he is staying on to help me get faster in the Run/Bike/Run. Hopefully, some of the strong duathletes of the past few years stick around so we can battle it out and have the same fun we used.

So now that I have had time to revamp my schedule, here are a few races I will be aiming for in 2011.

-Run 4 Hope 10k (FMCT organized event)

-Mississauga Half Marathon (go after sub 1:20 again!)

-Victoria's Du (a big race for du'ers as we get to race some great triathlete for the only time of the season)

-Ontario Du Championships (not sure of the location, yet)

I have picked a lot of other races but I should wait to see if I will be back with a particular sponsor next year before posting.

I am once again super excited about 2011 and just happy to be able to focus on my two favourite sports.

November 19, 2010

Quick Update

Let's see... Legs are starting to feel a lot better after the downhill beating they took in Hamilton on the 7th of November. I had an easy day on Monday before hitting the track on Tuesday for a barn burner. The workout was hard but I was able to pull off a good effort even in the cool, windy conditions on a gravel track. It is the closest one to work so I did not have too many options for a lunch time workout.

On Wednesday, I just stuck to the easy run that was prescribed and had to miss the swim due to a meeting during that swim opening. At this point of the season, I just don't have the motivation to seek alternative places to get that swim in so I have just done what I can during the time available. Thankfully, my faithful running and cycling can be done when ever I am ready to roll.

Thursday brought a very early call to get down to the gym for a spin class with a group of the Hi-Performance athletes lead by Coach Tyler. Coach put us through a very solid routine that had me sucking for air and sweating up a storm. Without the pop in my life, I am sleeping a lot more these days (huge caffeine reduction) so the early class did not go as bad as I expected. I have not been a morning person for several years (since my road construction days) so I am just getting back to the habit of early to bed, early to rise.

Today, I have off so I am taking advantage of the rest and letting things heal up. I will have a brick tomorrow and long run on Sunday to round out a recovery week. I am sure the big running weeks are coming again as I gear up for the Egg Nog Jog on December 12th in Terra Cotta.

Hope all the folks in Arizona have a great race (Glenn, Brian, Jennifer) this weekend. I will be rooting for ya from the computer!

Have a great weekend folks!

November 10, 2010

Road 2 Hope Half Marathon Race Report

,I knew it was going to be a chilly start to the day so I had a bunch of clothing options packed for the 2010 Road 2 Hope Half Marathon in Hamilton. With the extra hour of sleep it was easy to get out of bed in time to make the early drive to Confederation Park to grab my race kit and jump on the shuttle bus that would drive us to the start line up the "mountain" in Steel Town.

Since I arrived at the park over two hours before race time, I had very few people to worry about in the pick-up lines and breezed through this task and was back to the car debating as to what I would wear. I finally decided to go with long sleeves and my Falcons tri top as it seemed a touch too cold to go with only a tri top with arm warmers. With that job checked off, it was time for a bus ride to the start line.

Once at the school (where we could stay warm in the gym) I ran into a bunch of familiar faces so I spent most of my pre-race staying relaxed chatting with many of the folks I have met over the last few years through running or triathlon. Some of them (Stuart, John, Shanta, Rick and Hans, etc.) were tackling the full marathon while others (Ang, Dan, Jo-Jo, Brent, Gavin, Richard, Dave, Kevin, etc. and I) elected to test ourselves against the shorter half marathon.

As the time ran down I made sure to talk a little strategy with Jo-Jo as he was chasing the same sub 1:20 goal that I was. He has a lot more experience at this distance than I do and I knew he would be right there in the end so I made sure that our plans were set before hitting the roads. Once we got things organized, I headed out for a warm up and ran into Glenn (fellow Hi-Performance athlete getting ready for IMAZ) who was acting as support for his wife on this day.

Next it was go time so I made my way up to the front of the starting line and waited for the final few minutes. I looked around but could not find Jo-Jo so I wondered where he had settled in among the crowd. The clock was ticking down and I had to focus and pick my line out of the gate to make sure I got clear of the rest of the field. As they sent us off, I darted ahead with two other athletes to reach the first corner out of the school parking lot clear of the masses. We quickly hit the first road and started to settle in a line on the yellow road divider.

For the first five kilometres I sat in a small group of runners, including elite triathlete Sean Bechtel, trying to hide from the slight wind behind a Longboat member. We were clipping along pretty well as we made our way towards the expressway. My plan (set up by Coach Tyler) was to get to the 10k marker in 36 minutes so I knew I was on track when I hit 5k in 8:15 with a major downhill portion for the next 6 or 7 kilometres.

When we reached the on ramp for the Red Hill Valley Parkway a few runners started their accelerations so I knew it was time to go or be left behind. I stayed with the main group as we let Sean and another younger fellow travel ahead. It was at this point that Jo-Jo moved up with the group in a solid show of form. We were running around 5 or 6 strong and quietly working together as we snaked down the highway trying to pick the best line.

The splits were very quick during the decent and I ended up hitting the 10k marker in 35:35 (my fastest 10k ever) and in very good shape with only 11k to go. Making a slight climb off the parkway, I found myself leading the pack down Barton Street where we hit a stronger head wind than expected. The others were suddenly several metres back so I didn't know if I should wait or if they were fading? I decided to hold my pace and I hit the next stretch (Woodward Ave.) still feeling strong.

A few hundred metres down Woodward, the group had worked together to pull up and two runners jumped in front of me. I looked at our pace on my Garmin and we were still below race pace so I tucked in behind them knowing the QEW overpass was just a few km up the road and I wanted to save some energy for that. The three of us continued along and held a solid effort over the bridge just seconds ahead of the others chasing us down. We had hit the 15k marking in 54 minutes so I was really happy with the race plan and was sure that I would reach my goal if I could get to the 16k marker and throw down an average 5k.

Our next stretch of road was along Beach Blvd and we were again heading into the wind. It was not super strong but the pace was slower, up in the 3:55 range. One of the volunteers announced us as positions 7, 8 (me), 9 so I was also getting thoughts of top ten in my head at this point. This was short lived as the top lady, Nicole Stevenson, soon sailed past us followed by another two athletes with amazing form.

I stayed put as we rounded the top end of the loop and then started our home journey on the lake front running path. We only had 4 km to go so I just wanted to keep the pace below 4:00/km. The gentleman that was running behind me finally made his move and the two I was working with started to add a little distance between me. I had no answer but was just happy to be running sub 4 splits.

I was now just counting down the final markers and trying to visualize the finish as my legs were mush. Thankfully, my Mom and Aunt were on the course to cheer me on so I got a good little boost from them and knew I would make it to the finish.

At the 20k marker (which was right on the button with my Garmin), I was in good shape to break 1:20 and could not wait to celebrate at the finish line. Only one problem, the final 1.1km was taking much longer than usual to reach? What was going on? I soon watched as 1:20 passed and I was still not at the line. I was destroyed and had another athlete pass me so I was now unlucky 13.

I commented to the guy as he passed, "this is running long?". He agreed and was upset as well.

We finally hit the last hundred metres so I turned on as much gas a possible but could only manage to grab one spot back and ended my day at 1:21:10 in 12th spot.

After the race Jo-Jo, myself and several others commented on how the final 1.1km of the course was easily 1.5km or more. All our Garmins were bang on with all the signs heading up to the 20k marker and we were all on pace for our goal.

It was a little disappointing that it will not get recorded properly but I have a bunch of positives out of the race. 1st in my Age Group, 3:46 Race Pace of 21.5k, 35:35 at the 10k, 54 at the 15k, etc.

I also got to see a bunch of BQ's (Stuart, John, etc.) and PB's!

The Disappointment is Obvious

Road 2 Hope - Hamilton Half Marathon (photos)

Here are a few from my Mom's camera near the finish of the race.

November 1, 2010

Road2Hope (Hamilton) Half Marathon Week

I made it through the Halloween holiday without incident and stuck to my plan of zero treat intake for the past few weeks. It feels very good to watch the pounds fall off as I get closer to my usual race weight.

I am now only a few pounds away and know I will get to my happy spot before Sunday. Anything above that weight and I start to let it play on my confidence during the drive to the race. Bad habit but I know I don't need to be carrying any extra poundage down the 21.1k course.

With my registration officially submitted, I am now very excited to make the trip over to Hamilton this weekend and hope to reach my lofty goal of a sub 1:20 half marathon. I will easily break my PB in this race as I have not competed at this distance outside a tri or duathlon in several years.

At last year's marathon (my header photo comes from the 2009 Road2Hope), on the same course, my 21.1k split for the 42.2 distance was well below my last official half mary time so I cannot see how I can mess up the PB effort. The goal time is another question but I trust that my training and experience will get me in good position to take a run at it. I also found out that a good friend, Jo-Jo, will be chasing a similar goal so we should be able to work together to keep a consistent pace and for moral support. There are also a bunch of Falcons (Ang and Richard for sure!!) heading down the QEW so that makes it even more fun to race with some of the FMCT crew.

This is my first running race since the 5k in the spring (I, it's been a while) so I look forward to getting out on the open road and not worrying if I will make it through a swim or running into mechanicals on the bike. It is always nice to pack light for a race! HAHA

The marathon I ran here last year was a very good race and was a solidly organized event. I was debating as to which Half Marathon I wanted to run a month ago so I am glad my coach talked me into this race. It is close to home, well run, good roads, fun atmosphere and competitive at my level (so I have others to push me). Now if the weather works in our favour, the day should be very enjoyable once I get a few kilometres under my belt to burn off the pre-race nerves.

Before I hit the post button, I want to send my best wishes out to a bunch of friends hitting the Ironman Course in Florida this weekend. Coach Tyler, Bill V, Terri R and Nathalie B are all prepared and going to have a great race this weekend. Go Falcons and Coach!

Coming Soon - 2010 Egg Nog Jog!

October 20, 2010

Triathlon America - for some reason this has hit a cord!

Welcome to Triathlon America

"Our mission is to leverage the knowledge, talent, and resources of industry leaders in triathlon to the benefit of the sport. The mission will be achieved by increasing and retaining advocates of triathlon and by fostering a positive image of the sport.

Triathlon America has been founded by a coalition of industry leaders who saw the need for the triathlon business community to come together in an organization dedicated to promoting the sport and the business of triathlon."

(the above is the Mission Statement taken from the Triathlon America website)

So I read the self promoting article by Dan Empfield on Slowtwitch yesterday and I am left with a very bitter taste in my mouth. I have nothing against a group of industry leaders trying to work off each other to improve their businesses. That happens all the time.

My issue steams from the fact that their Mission Statement claims they will improve the sport and create a better image for triathlon. The problem with this statement is that you cannot improve the sport or grow the sport or improve the image of the sport without including the thousands and thousands of age group athletes.

We are the wheels that carry this sport. We buy most the products associated with triathlon and pay for most of race fees and membership dues (to governing bodies).  To improve the the pockets of a few players in the industry does not improve the sport or excite more people to get invlolved in triathlon.

If you want to improve and grow the sport you will need to take a look at what keeps many people away from the sport, cost. To train and race effectively and safely you need to pay out a lot of money for equipment, race fees, nutritional supplies, etc. Even for someone that elects to race close to home (to avoid travel costs), and races only a couple times a year, the price tag will be above the amount most lower and middle income earners are willing to part with for recreation.

Unfortunately, this is where the majority of the population finds themselves in today's economy. Disposable income for recreation is tough to come by for a vast number of the world so triathlon is usually off the option list when they decide they want to try a new pastime.

In my opinion, this new organization is nothing more than a few big names in the sport trying to make an even bigger name for themselves with a hidden agenda to increase their bottom lines. If this is the true goal than  they need to update the Mission Statement and ditch the "Super Hero" mentality that better business will improve our sport.

I hope that I am wrong and somehow they can improve the sport and draw more people into triathlon by cutting costs and fees. I cannot see this happening anytime soon so I will not hold my breath.

Your thoughts?

October 19, 2010

Focus, focus, focus!!!!

With so many things going on these days, I totally had a brain lapse and forgot to track my next race. What I mean is that I had not looked at the exact date of the race for a little while and was surprised to see Nov 7th as the race date. For some reason, I thought it was scheduled closer to the middle of the month.

To be honest, it should not make much of a difference as my coach has kept my workouts in line for the correct date (Thanks Tyler!) so it is more of a mental prep and diet note that I should have paid more attention to a week or so ago. I know I will be ready to attempt my first sub 1:20 Half Marathon in a few weeks but I just have to get in gear now.

On a more positive side, I have had been visiting the pool a lot more frequently in the past two weeks and things are starting to feel back to my form after a few months of relaxed swimming. I know my form is still much slower than everyone else but at least I can start working on it again from where I was around the time of Timberman 70.3 instead of where I was last spring. I was starting to worry that my laziness was going to put me miles behind in this element but my results from Friday and Monday have removed those fears and now I can look forward to improving, hopefully, catching up to the fish in my age group!

Another good note to pass along is that I have been able to knock a nasty diet cola habit for the past two weeks. I will not even mention the amount of cola I was putting back during a day but I have thankfully kicked it for now and have replaced it mainly with water (plus some juice and milk). I was hardly drinking any of these during the cola days so I hope the new addition to my diet helps out.

Although, they say diet cola contains additives that makes you crave carbs, and keeps you feeling hungry all the time, I have not had the benefit of a reduced appetite yet. I actually have craved a lot of sugar and carbs since I stopped drinking the stuff. This has added a few pounds during this period so I hope things straighten out shortly. Right now the cons (less energy due to lack of caffeine, less flavour in my drinks, more calories in my drinks (juice), bigger appetite, etc.) have out weighed the pros (less chemicals in system) of the drink change so I will need to see some more benefits soon to keep me from switching back to the diet cola. Common water, do your magic!

Well, time to hit the track for some 1k intervals. This could be tough!

 The good 'ole days of Duathlon!

Just wanted to pretty up the blog with a picture. I don't have anything recent so a classic will have to do.

October 15, 2010

Getting Back up from the Fall Blues

Here's a weekly update of what I have been doing to stay busy of late. Lots of family, work and hockey events these days so training has required some energy to get out and stay up with the program.

This week I finally peeled my butt out of my office chair to get back to the pool for the first good swim since Lakeside. After a few respectable lengths in my session, reality hit and the lap times got longer and longer. Time to focus again and try to make more gains in this area during this off season.

On the bike, I had a very solid weekend of riding which carried into this week for a few training rides and bricks. I feel like this part is still improving and I have a lot of confidence out on the road these days. Some great rides with the Falcons after the tri season wrapped really helped keep the form I had gained with Tyler's assistance this summer.

Running, although I feel a bit heavy these days, has been very good recently. We have been working on a few high mileage weeks to get the legs up and ready for the Half Marathon I plan to tackle next month. Also, the speed has been back close to where I would like it for 10k and longer races. For the shorter stuff, I will have to give up some treats that have been a very weak component of my training these days to drop a few extra pounds.

That being said, I decided that I was not really up for a 10k race tonight in Oakville. I think if it was on the road I would be more excited but on the trails in the dark is a recipte for disaster this close to a more important event. I can just see myself crashing hard on the trail and messing up my knees or feet so I will leave this one off the list for this year and just keep to my training routine for the weekend. To be honest, the weather these days has been so nice, it is almost more fun to just get the long stuff in to enjoy the great fall conditions we are having.

On a parting note, I would like to wish everyone doing the Good Life Marathon Races this weekend all the best!

October 5, 2010

Recovery Week

Since my last race (Lakeside Tri), I have had a couple of weeks of training with last week being a big mileage week building towards a fall half marathon. I think it may have been my biggest week ever for running so I was certainly feeling my legs suffering towards the weekend. Didn't help that I was also on a business trip in California. Long social events and traveling around the bay area didn't allow for as much sleep as usual but we had a good time, and the meals were very tasty and not on my dollar!

This week is much easier so I have a chance to catch up on some other aspects of life, such as sleep. I have been extra tired coming back from this trip and it has been very tough to get moving after we put the kids down for the night. I am starting to feel more energized today so I hope the weather improves so I can head outside and enjoy the nice, fall air.

As most of us tri/du athletes are aware, this weekend is KONA! It may not be the biggest event for all of us, depending on your race length preference, but it is one that I think we all enjoy checking out. In similar fashion to many other blogs, I will lay down my bet for the fun of it. You may laugh or comment on any of my picks!

Women -

1. Chrissie Wellington - easy choice for a 3 time defending Champ. Racing in Timberman with Chrissie in the field gave me a deeper appreciation for how great she is.

2. Mirinda Carfrae - second last year, may be closer to Chrissie this year but will start the run too far back coming off the bike to actually win the big one.

3. Rebekah Keat - She has been very solid this season and has raced well in Kona in the past. Has the 3rd fastest Ironman time in history among women.

4. Samantha McGlone - got to cheer for the Canadian and hope she has everything ready to show off similar form to 2007, before her injury woes.

5. Julie Dibens - has the swim and bike but needs to improve the run before being a podium threat. She would really have to push the pace early in the race and force the others to blow up to have any chance against Chrissie and Mirinda.

Men -

1. Craig Alexander - I cannot bet against my favourite Ironman athlete. He is too talented and determined to not keep his streak alive. Go Crowie!

2. Rasmus Henning - He will be very tough out there with his overall speed. If he puts together his best race he may upset the defending Champ and be the one to enjoy the Big Island glory.

3. Andy Potts - with another year under his belt at this distance, it is tough to ignore this proven triathlete. Super strong in the water and no slouch on the bike. If he puts in a solid time on the run, he may move up from 9th last year into a podium spot.

4. Chris Lieto - I am a big fan of Chris and hope he pulls of the win but I am not sure he is going to be able to be fast enough on foot to keep the others from taking away his lead coming off the bike. If anyone does dethrone Crowie, this is the man I would like to see on top of the results page.

5. Terenzo Bozzone - I would have Terenzo up higher if he did not race so much this year. I think it may catch up with him in Kona.

Let me know what you think!
So many others that could be on this list, especially in the stacked men's field, but I stopped with the top 5.

*Andreas Raelert
*Chris McCormack
*Marino Vanhoenacker
*Faris Al - Sultan
*Luke McKenzie
*Dirk Bockel
*Pete Jacobs
*Maik Twelseik
*Timo Bracht
*Mathias Hecht
*Eneko Llanos
*Luke Bell
*Cam Brown 
*Raynard Tissink
*Normann Stadler
*etc, etc., etc....

Have a great week!

September 23, 2010

Lakeside Olympic Tri - Race Report

My final triathlon experience of the season has now passed and the result was a mix of emotions for me. I had a goal time in mind of 2:10 for the Olympic distance event but I was almost ten minutes off that target. Certain portions of the race went well, and I am proud of the effort I placed out on the Lakeside Course, but a few other aspects left me a touch dissatisfied.

The 1.5k swim was a two loop journey in the cool Lakeside Resort waters. My plan was to turn things up a notch and see what I could manage for a time. I had big expectations and would have been happy with anything less than 28 minutes.

Out of the gate, I got my effort up substantially higher than usual for a water start. The water was not very clear so I could not tell how the others were doing around me but I seemed to be moving well and my sighting was bang on so I was not wasting time trying to stay on track. For much of the first lap I was feeling strong and was getting excited about my progress. I was even tempted to stop for a second before starting the second loop to check my split but decided to carry forward.

My second lap seemed even better and I was breaking each side of the rectangular final loop down into small bits to help make it feel like they were shorter little wins. Even on the last stretch to the beach I found more motivation to press harder for the last few hundred metres.

That’s why, when I was able to touch the bottom of the sandy beach, I was instantly dejected when I looked down to see just over 30 minutes had passed during my swim. I could not believe it! For the effort I placed out there, I was sure I was going to see a good time. To make matters worse, I was getting dizzy and could not get my shoulders out of the wetsuit on the slow walk to my bike.

The zipper in the suit had snagged on the flap inside and was only down halfway so the opening was very tiny. The rental was also new and the cuffs at the bottom of the sleeve seemed glued on to my wrist. I was starting to get flustered and even more light headed. I finally wiggled free and took a seat on the grass to catch my balance and throw on some socks for the bike ride.

Getting out to the road, I had a good mount and was off along my way. I was tired at this point and moving up a slight slope was not helping me. I knew this section was not going to be fast but I was hoping to be moving better than I was. It wasn’t until we made the turn around at two kilometres (extra little piece to the east first to make sure we hit 40k) out from transition that I started to find my cycling legs.

This next section was down wind and downhill so I started to fly past many of the other riders. I was making very good time on the field now so I started to feel good about the race again. At the 10k mark, I turned north for 2k which was now uphill with the wind angling into my front, right side. I did not want to give back all the speed I had just built up so I pushed hard on this road knowing the next right hand turn was going to be the toughest stretch of asphalt.

Sure enough, this is where everyone started to give back time as the mighty headwind and uphill battle really hammered the legs. This 16k slugfest was quickly dropping my average speed but I just stuck to the heart rate plan and figured I would eventually enjoy some wind benefit for the last 12k of the race.

After getting through this tough section, I turned south (around 28k area of the bike leg) and started to pick up some high speed but it was short lived as the final 9k heading west were much tougher than expected, even with the assistance of the wind. There were several rolling hills that were not close enough to use the benefit of momentum to keep the speed consistent.

With one final turn south back to the park, I knew I was minutes off my goal for the ride and was sure I was not going to be reaching any pb’s on the day. For the last several kilometres on the bike I was all by myself so I had lots of room to safely dismount and run into transition where I could tell I had still made some movement on the rest of the field. This gave me a little spark to finish the race in style.

The run part of the course I was more familiar with as I raced the Sprint in 2009. The bike course is very different from the Sprint but the running roads are pretty much the same.

The 10k run was two loops on mostly gravel sideroads with some hills thrown in for good measure. One being right at the turn around that was steep and on a loose, rocky running surface. I had moved through the first 2k in pretty solid fashion and was knocking off some more positions. By the time I hit the midway point of this hill, though, my legs were ready to fall off. The last push up was almost a walk to get around the turn indicator before free falling back to the bottom.

While out on the run course, I could see that I was not going to be top five as many of those spots were being filled by familiar faces well ahead of me. I made sure to encourage them as I continued and only hoped that I was hitting a respectable time so that the other Age Groupers (in later waves) were not closing in on my time.

On the second loop, I really dug deep and gave it everything I had. Even the gravel hill near the turn around seemed to flatten out as I cranked things up. Finally, I had made it back to the park and was directed into the finishing chute in 2:19, well off my hopeful race time.

So, although, most of the race did not go as planned, I was still happy to finish 11th overall with the 6th fastest bike time and the 2nd quickest run time on a challenging course. Many said the run course was actually a bit long so this made me feel even better as my run effort was deserving of a quicker pace on paper.


September 20, 2010

Lakeside 2010 - Oly Tri photos

For the past couple years I have done the Lakeside Triathlon as it is a chance for my Mom to come to one of my events to cheer me on. She lives closer to Sarnia and I do not do too much racing over on that side of the province.

At this race we also set aside some time for her hobby during and after the event. She loves to take pictures and we got some more great shots that you don't usually get from the race pics as they are always shooting head on and miss the side shots of the bike.

Hope you enjoy a few of the shots! I will post more when I have a few extra minutes this week.

September 10, 2010

Good Things Happening in our Backyard (Meadowvale)

Hi All,

I have been going to a local gym (McFit in Meadowvale) for a few years now, especially, on the colder days. During those visits, I noticed one gentleman that was a fixture on the treadmill, day after day, always putting in a very solid effort. Being the cautious people we are these days in the big city, I never introduced myself and we just went about our workouts not knowing anything about each other, except we both liked to run.

Well, a few weeks ago I was taking my little guy out for a bike ride on the trails of Meadowvale when we came across a charity walk/run at the Community Centre. It was just wrapping up so most of the organizers were packing up the event and loading the vehicles around the site.

I could tell I had just missed a fun run in my neighbourhood so I finally let my curiousity win over my shy side and asked a lady about the event. She told me that her son had organized the 5k walk/run in support of Team Fox and then she pointed over to him. Right away I recognized the fellow as the runner from the gym so I finally introduced myself. He then told me about his great cause and g.ave me some reading material that I would like to pass along via his website.

If you would like to read on about John Buchanan's story, please visit his site...

If you have a little extra to donate, please follow the link to help John reach his fund raising goal in support of the fight to find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease.

Thank you so much!

September 7, 2010

Fall Preview - 2010

Coming off a few easy weeks post Timberman, it is time to re-focus and gear up for the fall season. I was going to do the Wasaga Olympic Tri but it did not work into my family schedule so I can wait for Lakeside to take a run at my Olympic Distance Tri debut. This should be interesting as the distance is one I have completed on the duathlon stage many times. I know from last season that my long term goal of sub 2 hours was getting closer to being realized but with the additional swim, I have to re-work the goal.

Sub 2 hours in a triathlon is years away so I would like to push towards a sub 2:10. This is probably a lot to ask at this point of my triathlon life but I like to challenge myself.

With Lakeside taking place on Sept 19th, I am missing out on a large number of events. I am shocked at how many great things are happening on this date. Take a look below for a short list of the interesting happenings, most of them I would have signed up for if they were any other date.

- Terry Fox Run (I really wish I could make this as it is such an amazing event, Worldwide!)
- Centurion 100 (lots of Falcons hitting this event)
- Tour de Mississauga
- Run for the Grapes Half Marathon (want to race a half before it gets too cold)
- FMCT Team TT (thankfully the club changed the date after they saw all the events on Sept 19)
- Greg Stobbart Memorial Ride (Kelso CA, Milton )
- etc!!!!

As you can see it is a busy weekend, and that is just the evens close to home. After Lakeside, I would like to take a few shots at running events in the area. I don't want to travel too far and don't want to head downtown Toronto on a busy weekend. Here is a list I have put together and will work with Tyler to come up with a schedule that works for everyone.

*Erin - Sun, Sept 12th  (5k or 10k?, might be too much with Tanya's plans this weekend, very close to home)
*Toronto Scotia  - Sun, Sept 26th (half marathon, don't want to go right downtown TO, too soon after Lakeside)
*Caledon Kinetico -  Sat, Oct 2nd (5k or 10k?, new date and course! works better (was on Sept 19th), free kids run that we did last year)
*Toronto - Sun, Oct 3rd (5k x-country, would love to do one xc before guelph but this may not work with other events)
*Guelph - Mon, Oct 11th (5k, on Thanksgiving so may be tough with family)
*Oakville - Fri, Oct 15th (5k or 10k?, want to do a fast 10k at some point)
*Base Borden - Sat, Oct 16th (half marathon, maybe too far of a drive?)
*Toronto Good Life - Sun, Oct 17th (half marathon, same as Scotia, don't want to go downtown)
*Niagara Falls - Sun, Oct 24th (half marathon, done the marathon here, too far a drive?)
*Oakville - Sun, Oct 24th (5k or 10k?, depends where I pick my half, close to home)
*Waterloo - Sat, Nov 6th (5k or 10k?, want something for early Nov but is this too far of a drive?)
*Hamilton - Sun, Nov 7th (half marathon, too much downhill???)
*Angus Glen - Sun, Nov 7th (half marathon, love the course, may not be as fast as I was looking for)
*Guelph - Sat, Nov 27th (5k X-Country, awesome event, will sell out - sign up early!)
*Terra Cotta - Sun, Dec 12th (10.8k, ran last year and a big Falcon showing, sub 40 this year on those hills?)
Ideally, I would like to race once every two to three weekends as I have not even raced close to the amount this summer, compared to the last few years. I have some lofty goals in mind (when don't I??) for the 5k, 10k and the Half Marathon and I feel as quick as ever these days thanks to Tyler and the track. If I can manage my weight, I am pretty sure I can hit some respectable times for an older dude this fall.
If you are racing, let me know which event and I will see if it works. It is always more fun to make it a social day as well!

August 26, 2010

Timberman 70.3 - Race Report

It was a roller coaster ride leading up to what I had designated as my “A” Race of 2010. I had countless doubts and low moments over the past nine months, since I had purchased my entrance into this Ironman 70.3 event, so when I finally made a full commitment at the start of August, I knew I had to attack the challenge with all my ability.

During the times of indecision, I continued to train as if I would make the trip so I definitely put in the effort to expect a good race but there were a few things (bad races, being away from family, etc.) that had me close to scrapping the idea of traveling more than a few hours for a triathlon. Luckily, I have a lot of amazing people who supported this idea and allowed me to get into the right frame of mind coming down the stretch of this journey.

As most of you know, I enjoy putting my experiences to paper so I could probably roll out a complete novel about this race but I will save that for another day. I just want to get out the highlights at this time before it becomes old news…

With my tight transition spot set up and ready for a number of weather scenarios; I made my way down to the starting area on the beach with Peter Halferty to find the other FMCT Falcons (18 racing this event) and to wait for our age group wave. The 35-39 AG wave was divided into two due to the large volume of athletes so we would be going out with Brian Hastings with Peter Mueller five minutes back. Being in Wave 12 and 13 (of 19), we had a chance to wish many of the other club members the best of luck as they joined the masses in the holding area.

After the four of us put in a quick warm up in the water, we (minus Peter M) moved along through the timing mat to register and entered the shallow water with about two minutes to spare. As the countdown commenced for our group, I picked a spot in the middle of the mob, closer to the back to let the faster swimmers have their space. When the horn sounded many just eased into the race with a walk out to the deeper water (about 75 metres from the start) so my quicker walk/dolphin dive combo ended up moving me into the thick of things.

At this point, I was having some problems finding open water and spent several seconds rolling off the sides of other athletes trying to settle into a clearing. Finally, the stronger swimmers moved through and I picked out some bubbles to follow. I was not sure how fast we were going but was happy with the effort and just focused on staying on the course to save adding extra metres to the 1.9k mapped out for us.

Things continued to move along at this pace for a few minutes before I was joined on both sides by some others from my wave (I could tell by the cap colour) that were surging. As the one to my left moved past, he kicked me in the left eye and knocked my goggles up letting in a bunch of water. It was the first time in my short swim life that I had been the recipient of a kick so I was not sure how to react. The water was coming in both sides now but I did not want to stop so I reminded myself that the water was clean so, although it may have been annoying, it should not affect my eyes like a chlorine pool. Eventually, I got used to the feeling and pushed on around the first corner.

Now heading across the top end of the course, I started to experience the rolls in the water as it was becoming more and more choppy. This was another new race experience that I was determined not to let bother me. Even after a few breaths of water, instead of air, I was still focused to complete the swim to get a chance on the bike.

The top section of the swim was not too long but the waves made sighting a little tough for me so I made sure to take a more peaks to find the course and get to the turn as quickly as possible, hoping the rolls would help me surf into shore. By now, most of my wave was either gone or just behind me so I was working on my own as I turned the second corner to the long side home.

This is where it got tricky as the surf was working but it was also pushing to the side enough to knock me far away from the main path. Every time I looked up I seemed to be swimming farther away from the buoys and heading towards the kayaks that watched over us. I tried to angle back but it was a battle along that whole side to stay close to the course. Thankfully, I was still going forward so it was not totally demoralizing.

When I was around 400 metres from shore a huge pack of Wave 13 pushed by so I really got a feeling how far I was drifting when I saw those caps zoom past. Without going sideways, I knew I would have to just keep an angle approach and work by myself to get through the rest of the swim. And that is what I did, reaching the exit in 37:03 and excited to still have the energy to jog through transition to my bike.

In the transition zone, I did not rush things and just made sure to grab everything I would need. It was overcast at this time so I left the sun glasses and sun screen behind knowing the forecast was for showers on this day. Since there were 2700 athletes registered for the race the bike hold was rather large but the splits in wave times kept the area manageable and I got out to the mount line without any bottleneck. I took a running start to jump on the bike and, after a few little bumps with the shoes in their clips; I was ready to cruise out to the highway through the park entrance.

Once on the open roads, I quickly started my climb through the field as we were greeted by a gentle incline out of the gate. I spun up the hill past several other athletes and then got my feet into the cycling shoes at the crest to complete to change over.

The first portion of the bike course had several long up and downs but I found my target heart rate and stuck to it. I felt very strong after a week of full taper and just made sure not to get caught up in the action around me. For the most part this was not too hard as I seemed to be riding a little quicker than the packs around me.

This held true for most of the ride except one spot, not too far into the 90k, when the course sped me down a rough section of road and I was caught up in the middle of a group that I was attempting to pass. I guess I woke up a couple of the other riders and they started to hang on to me. Having such a long ride ahead, I did not want to get too aggressive and risk a flat on this bumpy patch and I could not lose them. I am not a big fan of being so close in a race, especially when the road is not predictable, so I broke back and let them go as we hit the middle of the hill just to stay safe. It may have cost me a little momentum (and time?) but I reached the bottom in one piece and eventually made my way past many of those guys along the flats that followed.

As I snaked my way around the challenging (yet fair) course, I remained very focused and positive (didn’t even notice the NASCAR track that we apparently went by). Only a few cyclists from the waves behind ended up passing me but I just let them go and stayed with my game plan. I know too well that things can change at this distance so even if you feel amazing at a certain spot, it can all come crashing down just a few miles up the road.

For the most part, I rode solo (cheering the other Falcons that I saw on both sides of the road) without any major disruptions from the other riders. I did have one incident in an intersection as a Police Officer sent through a landscaping vehicle and trailer that brought me to a stop. My yelling was not enough to stop the truck so I had to brake before t-boning the trailer. Not damage done so I just got back to the task at hand and continued on my way.

The only other spot that I could not cruise through was near the end of the steeper hills where I encountered a few congested areas going up the inclines on the back roads. It was disappointing to slow down (I was not going to risk crossing the yellow) as the others suffered up the slope but I stayed calm and then made my move as soon as they slid back to the right of the road.

After I took my 80k gel, I glanced at my wrist watch to check my time. I knew I was making good time out there but I was pleasantly surprised that I had some extra cushion to hit my bike goal of 2:30 on this track. I was very motivated now and the following rollers seemed to flatten out under my wheels. Right after those, I reached a very familiar, flat road (it was along the way to the Resort that held registration and the expo) and I knew the rest of the way was going to fly by.

At the final intersection on the bike course, I also received a great boost from Rick (didn’t expect any of our cheering friends to be out on the bike portion) so I pumped it up from the corner to start my last stretch to transition. It was around this time that the rain started to drop from the clouds above so, as we approached the park entrance, I had to be careful getting into the “No Pass” lane without hitting the ground.

The last couple hundred metres before the turn into the park were downhill and the asphalt was becoming slick. I didn’t want to hang too close to the wheel ahead so I backed off a few feet and made the corner nice and easy and followed the line of triathletes into the park grounds. At the dismount line, I was ready to jump off and run but all the other athletes in front of me stopped dead on the line to clip out so I had to stop my run with the bike before ramming into the back of the slower folks. This was a little frustrating as I was eager to get to the run.

Eventually, the area cleared enough for me to jet over to my rack so I could hang the bike, slip on some socks (didn’t want any blisters today), pop a gel and throw on a hat. Not my fastest transition but I still had a half marathon ahead of me and I wanted to make sure I was set to run. I also had a very lofty goal of running 1:30 for 21.1k and wasn’t sure if this was the run course that I would be able to tackle it on. Before leaving transition, I needed to feel 100% ready to attack this mark.

It was now raining very hard to start the run and I felt bad for all the cyclists still out on the course. For the runners, it felt kind of nice to get all the sticky sports drink and gels washed off. Coming into this run, I wasn’t sure how my back was going to react off the bike. Thank goodness, I had no issues during the bike leg and I crossed my fingers for the same luck for the duration of the race.

After the first five minutes I could tell my wish was granted and I bounced along the first few miles feeling very strong while holding a nice pace. I soon realized that most of the out portion of the run was sloping in our advantage so I had to take the opportunity to grab some time without jeopardizing the rest of it. Watching the pros finish their runs looking fresh and seeing all the FMCT gang all over the course really helped make time fly.

Near the turn around, we were directed through a lively little cottage community that had gone all out to decorate in American colours. The entire neighbourhood was helping hand out liquids, nutrition and wet sponges. They were so into the race that it felt like we were running through a theme park with music, flags, and bubbles. It was amazing to feed off their enthusiasm as we turned back to finish each loop.

As expected, the second half of each loop was more difficult than the first due to the uphill sections. One of those climbs, in the middle of that stretch, was a real burner which I hit too hard on my first attempt. Luckily, after a short flat spot on top, the course headed back down where I got my legs turning over once again. I quickly made note to pace it better on the next go around as there was still more than a mile to the finish and I did not want to kill my time with a walk back to the line.

After getting back up to speed, I curved my way back to the state park where I was directed around the right hand side of the fenced chute to begin my second loop. Having so many racers in the event, we (Falcons) were very fortunate to have a ton of fanfare in the crowd. Most of the support crew that came down with us were gathered around this area so it was very cool to hear them cheering your name as we prepared for our last half of the run.

Hitting the road for the second loop, I was now very confident in completing the course but just wanted to make sure I paced it properly to ensure my best effort possible. My form was still feeling pretty solid on the way out and tried to use the hills to accumulate as much time as I could knowing that the final three miles mostly going uphill were going to be tough.

Sure enough, it was just after the “America Land” turn around where things started to get rough. There was a gradual climb up to the lake view road and this is the spot where my pace began to struggle. As it turns out, Andrew Hanson (fellow Falcon), was just a few feet ahead of me. We made the corner together but I was not able to pull away and Andrew was right on my left shoulder. He then seemed to pick up the pace at this point which got my tempo up as I attempted to stick with him. This helped me regained focus and was off to the races again. Thanks Andrew!

From that moment on, I just looked straight ahead to the finish. When I reached the bottom of that tougher climb, I controlled the pace up leaving lots of energy to power through the final few kilometres of the race. As I arrived at the park, I was so relieved to be directed to the finishing gate that I hammered down the final hundred metres in a full on sprint with a few celebratory fist pumps. When I started the run, I thought 4:40 was going to be my target so to see 4:36:34 on my watch was even more satisfying as this meant a 1:30:38 half marathon finish. Mission Accomplished!

Now that the wraps have been placed on this event, I have had some time to think about the entire journey that lead to the joy at the finish line. I have to thank Tanya and the kids for their understanding. I try not to go away too often for the sport so to be gone for several days meant someone had to work extra hard to pick up my slack. Thank you Tan!

Next, the awesome support from Mom, Cak and the Milton Crew. They take such a big interest in my hobby which makes my little accomplishments feel so big. Thank you all!

After Welland, I was deflated. I owe a lot of thanks to Tyler Lord for putting the plan in place that allowed for such a fast time, beyond my dreams on this course. Getting out with Tyler and Glenn for training rides and runs down the stretch really gave me the confidence to control the race. Now for the swimming! HAHA

To all the amazing Falcons that inspire me in so many ways each and every day, I cannot thank you all enough. You all approach the sport for the right reasons and remind me that it is not the result that matters but the feeling you get from each accomplishment. Congrats to all of you that raced at Timberman 70.3!

A huge thank you must go out to Peter and Maureen Mueller for opening up a spot in their vehicle for the trip to New Hampshire. Maureen, I am sorry that we bored you with triathlon talk for the entire 26 hours of travel in the van. As well, Marko Durbic deserves a big hand for his work on the cottage rental for me and my roommate. Thanks Marko for all the follow ups with the rental people to make it a smooth check in. I owe you. Really!

Also, I am very fortunate to have met so many friends and triathletes through racing, blogging, networking, etc. I am amazed at the notes of support I have received during this season and really appreciate all the positive messages you all have sent. I do have to single out one person though as he was the first to see my passion a few years back when I started out. Thanks Syd! You told me so!

Among those I have met recently through the sport was my roommate at Timberman. A big thank you to Brent Poulsen for being such a great resource in my first Ironman Production experience. Please visit his site to read his take on the race…

Sorry for such a long Race Report! Can you imagine if I put all the pre-race stuff in?

August 11, 2010

A little Crazy but tempting in the future...

I have been tempted to race this ever since I ran their spring Endurace series a few years back. They put on a great event in Waterloo and it is usually very affordable.

Check this out as they are just finished stage 3 of the 7 stage (in 8 days) "Tour de France" of Running, The ENDURrun Waterloo...

2010 ENDURrun Stages

Stage 1 - Half marathon road 

Stage 2 - 15 km time trial road and trail 

Stage 3 - 30 km cross country 

Stage 4 - 10 Mile hilly road

Stage 5 - 26.6 km cross country alpine 

Stage 6 - 10 km time trial road 

Stage 7 - Marathon

August 10, 2010

Weekly Update - Timberman Lead Up

Less than two weeks before the big event at Timberman 70.3! I am getting pretty excited about this one now and am looking forward to the hype that surrounds an Ironman Production. I have not discussed the exact strategy for the race yet but am sure it will be more of a learning experience for the future when I have the swimming skills to compete with the amazing age groupers that show up to these challenges. Lots to take in on this tough course...

As for my training, I think everything is where it should be at this stage of the block. I am pretty sure I have tried my hardest to prepare, although, I would love to have my swimming stroke a little more efficient at this point of the season. I was very aggressive with my expectations and had to reel things in a touch to realize that it just doesn't work that way for the majority of the population (unless your name is Bruce Bird! HAHA). Luckily, I am still healthy and "young" enough that I can expect to enjoy many more years of triathlon so there's a lot of time to improve and reach my long term goals.

Since the Welland race, I have been working with Tyler Lord and his group to add some structure to my routine. I saw the need to bring in someone to set me up for a successful trip to New Hampshire or I would just blow up out there and waste a lot of time and money on a disasterous experience. Hopefully, the last few months of training will stick in my head while I am on the course and I will resist the urge to push too hard at the wrong time.

I had worked with Syd for a few years in the beginning of my duathlon days but with me in Mississauga and he in Port Perry, we did not get to do the face to face training. Syd has also just started his family (congrats guys!), is highly involved with the Port Perry Triathlon Club and is guiding a very good paratriathlete (Ryan Van Praet) so over the last two seasons, I did not want to add any more to his busy schedule.

After Timberman, I have three Olympic distance races on the plan. Cobourg will be tough one week after the Half Ironman so I hope I can be recovered by then. After that, it is up to Wasaga Beach Tri and then Lakeside Tri. I did the short version of Lakeside last fall and thought the Sunday race was still a sprint. I did not realize it was Olympic until I looked at the website the other day. Doh! I was hoping to swim a little less to hammer the bike and run for one final time this year ;-)

Speaking of bike, I tried to have it fit to my racing needs last week but that did not go so well. These new designs do not leave much room for adjustments, especially, when you buy used and don't have all to kits from the manufacturer. The bike is also too aggressive for my back and not really a great match for my triathlon needs. If you are interested in a quick TT bike or a fast bike for sprint Tri's, please let me know.

Talk soon,

July 26, 2010

Muskoka Long Course Tri - 2010

Trying to put a bad performance in Welland behind me, I anxiously looked forward to my next race in Muskoka. The Long Course in Huntsville was the site of two great duathlons for me and I was hoping to bring some of those positive experiences into my race on the triathlon side.

When I arrived at the event, a few hours before the start, it was nice and cool with only a small hint of wind. These were ideal weather conditions for our sport so I was excited to be able to race without having the elements affect the outcome.

After registration I grabbed my bike and headed over to the mechanic to make sure the gears were shifting smoothly after a wheel change I had to make recently. He quickly adjusted the rear derailleur and I felt much better about the sound coming out off the back end so I headed over to rack my ride.

As time ticked closer to the first wave send off, Mark Keating (another former duathlete making a go of it in the tri world) and I made the long walk down to the swim start and jumped into our wetsuits. We were both in the second wave so we headed out together to meet the other baby blue swim caps waiting for horn to commence our 2k journey in the water.

The large starting area thinned out the group of athletes as we waited but once the horn blasted, I seemed to get caught up in many crowded spots. The water was pretty murky and I was having issues seeing around me so I just put my head down and battled through, trying to find some open water. This didn’t take all that long and I soon had some space to myself where I could stretch out my stroke. I really wanted to go under my Welland swim time for this distance and started out more aggressive but still under control.

Once again, the layout of the course seemed so long when you see it on the open water. Even though my perceived effort was much greater than my last race, I was not getting too tired so I continued to work away hoping that I would be able to maintain the pace for the entire swim. As I progressed, I only took quick peeks at the large buoys in the water to keep me on track. I could not see anyone around me at this time so I assumed I was hanging in with the back of my wave and happy the wave behind had not swallowed me up yet.

Being in the open water without distance markers and the ability to see your watch (without stopping) I was going totally on feel. Making my way around the first few turns, I thought I had picked decent lines and don’t think I was off course too much, even though the lack of others around me created some worry now and then.

By the time the course funneled into the river portion, I figured I had to be on track to at least match Welland’s swim time. I now began to see some familiar caps from my wave (with even a few yellow caps from wave 1) and was making my way past several of these swimmers. In this area, you could tell the current was slowing things down but it didn’t feel like a massive struggle. When I finally hit the exit, I got my feet planted and checked out my time. Damn, 42:01 for 2k. This was over 5 minutes slower than Welland even though I had put in a much more confident effort in the water.

As I headed over to transition, I regained my focus. I knew this swim was not going to get me too far up the results page so I did not rush the bike pick up and calmly made my way out to the mount line. There were no issues getting on so I spun my way up the first slope to the main road and smoothly got into my cycling shoes before leaving town. My game plan on the bike was to keep my heart rate in check and to stay consistent with the effort throughout the ride.

It was not long, though, before I received my first challenge of the ride. The night before the race, I adjusted my seat angle down a tiny bit and thought I had everything tightened properly. After hitting the first bumped on the road, the seat pointed down on a 45 degree angle and created a slide for my rear end. I reached down and pulled the nose back up in an attempt to find the balancing point but I could not keep it from dropping every few seconds on the bumpy course. I would have to make the best of the situation as I was not going to end my race early today.

Before long, I got rolling and was making up a lot of spots, although, my speed was not where it was in the past on this course. It may have had a bit to do with the seat but in reality I was lacking my “hammer it out” drive that got me through so many duathlons. Also, I did not attack the hills in my usual way as I thought it would be better to hold some energy for the end of the ride.

Looking back, I am disappointed not to beat my previous times on this bike course. I did manage to keep my heart rate under control for the entire ride but may have been holding back too much as I entered transition feeling more fresh than the previous two years. I was hoping this would pay off on the run and was really looking forward to moving up through the field with a solid run off the bike. Everything seemed to be set up for this so it was time to make hay on the new 13k run course.

Coming out on the run, the course took us up a tiny hill that was not too tough but my back did not seem to like it too much. I started to feel the pain stretch across my lower back and I was not able to get up to speed. As the course flattened out near the first turn around, I tried to run through it but was losing time. After a few more twists and uphill sections (to make things worse), I rounded the second switch back near the 2k marker around 28 seconds over my goal time but was hoping the downhill portion ahead would bring my breathing down enough to rest the pain in my back.

Unfortunately, the pounding on my heels made things even worse and by the time I reached the bottom I was in walk mode. This was tough and I felt like quitting but I promised myself I would finish no matter what. The minutes ticked by as I tried to get back into a jog but it wasn’t happening. Thankfully, Stuart (a friend from my blog) went by and yelled some words of encouragement that got me rolling again.

As I slowly made my way around this incredibly hilly new run course, with a mix of walking and jogging, I finally found a respectable pace coming down a slope towards the start of the second loop. It was here I told myself to finish the last loop in style so I got back up to speed for a good 3k and was feeling much better about my finish. As I came back around towards the arena the pains came back and I watched all the folks I had just passed go by me once again.

Luckily, the triathlon community is so incredibly supportive. These athletes could see that I was not having a great day but so many of them offered up motivation and supplies (gels, salt, etc.) as they made their way around the course. It lifted my spirits again and I blocked out the negative issues and got back into the game. The final 3k was tough with a major climb involved but I dug deep and finished this sucker off for my longest triathlon ever.

After the race, I had the chance to hear so many amazing stories from the day. The people I have met in this sport keep me coming back as I would have moved on to another, easier pastime by now if I did not have the support of these great friends. Congrats to Glenn, Mark, Jackie, Adam, Luke, Speedy, Darcy, Peter, Dianne & Boleslaw (FMCT) on your great performances!

July 16, 2010

Weekly Update

It seems like such a long time since my last race so I am getting the bug to compete. I have decided to take a run at the Muskoka Long Course Triathlon next weekend (it has been a race I have had on and off the calendar so many times this season) so that has put the next race on the map and I look forward to the chance to mix it up with a very strong field.

I have been working very hard, in my opinion (HAHA), over the course of the last few weeks, since Welland, and received some great guidance to make my training organized and meaningful. The program is challenging, but fair, so I have been trying to stick to it as best as possible in order to allow the plan's proven track record to work its magic on me.

A few quick thoughts about this race next Sunday...
-as a duathlete, I raced twice on this course and it was my favourite venue. I was a little disappointed to see them change the run course this season and the distance of the new run is only 13k, as compared to 15k. It now has many turns and twist on smaller side streets so it will take more focus to stay on course. One of my long term goals was to go under 60 minutes for the 15k so it looks like I will not be able to chase this in 2010.

-after Welland, I have the confidence to complete 2k in open water. I am not fast by any means (with this field I will be lucky to leave the water in the top 50%) but I will look forward to getting to the bike on one of the more challenging bike legs in triathlon for this area.

-although, I had some decent cycling splits on this course (compared to the Age Groupers in du and tri fields), I am a little concerned about my bike set up going into the race. With work and some other commitments on the weekends, I have not had a chance to visit a local shop to get the bike fit completed. Last race was a major indication on how important this is and I don't think my personal set up is making the bike reach it's potential. I am not comfortable in the saddle and I feel I am too aggressive and leaving a lot of power behind with an overly closed hip angle. Need to get this done before Timberman for sure.

-the new date of this race due to the G8 Summit has placed it in a very hot and humid time of the year. This will be a huge factor if the weather trends continue into next weekend. I know from a few runs of late that my body is still not ready to perform 100% in these conditions. It has been a few years since we have had consistent high temps and muggy weather.

-lastly, I need to start racing my race and not worry about where I am on the result sheet this year. Mentally, it has been tough to see so many people ahead of me, especially when i get on the bike. In the duathlon, I was always up at the front on the first run and was hitting the bike portion up with the leaders. I have to manage expectations a lot better and swallow my pride until my swimming gets closer to the levels of the top age groupers. Easier said than done with my competitive spirit!

This weekend is the Ontario Duathlon Championships in Gravenhurst. It will be interesting to see how things end up on Saturday morning as it appears many faces from last year will not be racing. I wish Tommy Ferris the best of luck and hope to see him up at the top! He has worked very hard this season at putting himself at the top of the sport so he deserves all the best that comes to him. Also, best wishes to Adam Fitzsimmons (if he is on the starting line) as he has been solid this season and should be up there as well so I hope he has a great race. Roger Hospedales is always up for a Du so I know Rog will be there giving the course hell!

Not sure who else will be up in cottage country for that one but I hope everyone reaches their goals!

Take care,