Larry's Blog Pages

June 30, 2011

Big Sale at Wheels of Oakville

Just heard that Wheels of Oakville has a huge deal on Zipps with built in power metres for crazy low prices.

If you are in the market for one of these amazing products make sure you call down to the store to see if they have your needs covered. Don't wait long as they are flying through these wheels!

Wheels of Oakville
2371 Lakeshore Rd W, Oakville, ON


June 24, 2011

New Direction for Peterborough Half Iron - July 10th

It is now official so I will post on my blog the recent adjustment in my race prep for Subaru's Peterborough Half Iron Distance race.

Last Friday, I received an email from Syd asking me to help out a visually impaired triathlete that was coming in from BC to race the Half Iron Triathlon. Syd is the guide for Ryan Van Praet and they are both very involved in the program and were looking for a guide for the day to help out a fellow athlete, Brian Cowie. (I believe Ryan and Brian went 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in Ironman 70.3 Worlds last fall so these guys are super talented!)

Thankfully, I was training for the event (as a duathlon) so my training hours were in line with the amount of time needed to race this event. The only worry I had was the lack of swimming in my training this year but, after speaking to Syd, he was very confident that I could guide Brian through the swim at a comfortable level and then Brian would display his cycling skills to move his way up through the field.

So after a day of thought, I knew I could not let this opportunity pass and confirmed my availability to help Brian around the course in Peterborough. Now that we have connected, I have found out that Brian is also going to be in the area for the Canadian Cycling Championships (TT and RR) so we will have some time to work out some of the rookie jitters I have before my guiding debut.

With a lot of his focus on the Cycling Championships next week, he is just aiming to have a fun and relaxed day on the triathlon course on July 10th so he has reduced the amount of pressure I was feeling when I first accepted the position. I was very honoured to be thought of by Syd and Ryan so I did not want to fail in my assignment.

The "Won with One" program is bringing in a large group of talented athletes for the Peterborough Race (Sprint and Half Iron) so please show your support for these amazing traithletes.

To find out more about Brian Cowie please visit his blog -

June 22, 2011

Guelph Lakes I - Triathlon Relay Race Report

For the full race report including Ang's swim and Richard's bike portions, click the link below...

My 10k Run of the Relay

We spoke about entering the Guelph Lakes Olympic race as a relay quite some time ago and made it official a few weeks ago as Ang, Richard and I got organized and completed the paperwork. Just like my FMCT teammates, I was coming into this event a little tired due to the large hours of training I was able to accomplish in the past seven days so I was a curious to see how the legs would perform over 10k. Thankfully, with the run being at the end of the triathlon, I had plenty of time to warm up and enjoy the amazing atmosphere around the event.

For the first leg of our race, Richard and I were able to watch Ang work her magic in the water. We stayed down on the beach for the first loop and cheered her on as she ran across the sand for her re-entry into the lake. We then headed back up to transition so Richard could suit up for his bike ride and I could start my nutritional intake and stretching. I wasn’t long into this routine before our super swimmer entered the bike zone and passed the chip band over to Richard to send him off on his ride through the Wellington County side roads.

I figured I would now have just a little over an hour before my part so I started to prepare as I chatted to Ang about her adventures in the water. Time passed so quickly and before I knew it the leaders started to make their way back into the park. Following the elites into transition was a cyclist who surprisingly placed his bike on the other relay rack across from our spot. You could tell he put in a monster effort by the way his team was reacting so I was curious as to where they were out of the water. As I started to ask them about their positioning, I noticed Richard’s yellow Cervelo coming into the dismount area on the far side of transition. The countdown was on.

Mr. Westwood had thrown down a mighty performance of his own and we were now just a little more than a minute back in second. After a slight hesitation, watching Richard rack his bike, I finally swapped the timing chip over to my ankle and sprinted out of transition. Usually, I don’t get to leave T2 feeling this fresh during a regular duathlon so I got a little excited and hammered across the first rolling portion of the run.

In the first kilometre, I passed a few of the top age group triathletes but could not find my relay target in the winding park roads. I had set my watch the night before to capture the splits every km so when I got my first reading (3:27) I knew I better settle down. We were running into the wind at this point and still had a grassy section to negotiate in the middle of the run so I didn’t want to blow up before reaching this point.

Shortly after passing this first marker on the road, I came to a straightaway on the course where I could finally see the lead runner in our race. He was a few hundred metres up the service road running with a couple of individual triathletes. I started thinking over a few strategies on my approach and figured it was best to continue the attack with limited knowledge of the talent of the runners behind me. If one of them posted a sub 35 minute 10k, it would probably be enough to catch me so I could not let up. As I inched closer, I was confident that the lead change would happen soon so I could then work at picking off some more of the overall leaders as they could keep me inspired to go fast. Although, they would blow the doors off me if they had not already swam and cycled!

As we hit the 3k sign, I made my way past the “Speedplay A” Runner and complimented his effort before carrying on towards the first turn around. During this tiny uphill piece, I caught a number of other triathletes but was not really motoring as quickly as I imagined. The passes were becoming tougher and tougher as I moved closer to the top ten of the overall race.

Just after 5k, the course sent us down a loose gravel trail that lead into a rough section of farm land. We were running on a soft path that was cut down about the width of a tractor. When I ran the route in 2009 (in a duathlon) we did this portion but I was expecting a right turn in the first field down to the forest. I guess they decided to change this and we were now sent out even further into a second field. I was working to stay on the tractor tire marks and keeping an eye out for other racers coming down the trail as it was a free for all for positioning.

Finally, I got to the back of the second field and saw that we were heading towards a clear cut in the forest. It seemed like this new section was running longer than the older course and I was starting to wonder how deep we would be sent into the bush. Thankfully, the turnaround popped up just a few feet into the trees and I could now visualize the finish of my run.

With my splits getting slower during this cross country adventure, and the gravely uphill just a few hundred metres ahead, I pushed as hard as possible to keep my tempo up. I eventually made my way back onto the tar and chip park roads and tried to force my form to resemble the track efforts I held earlier in the week.

This seemed to get me closer to my desired pace and I kept the pedal down all the way back home. After spotting Richard out on the course cheering me along, I got another boost for the final 1000 metres and arrived at the hilly section knowing the finish was very near. I used my climbing abilities to hammer up the slopes and tried to feed off some recent descending tips I have been eating up from the guys I have been running with of late. It all worked really well and I had a strong finish to hit 37:32 for my 10k.

In the end, Team Chocolate Pie Buttertart put in a very solid team effort with everyone making huge contributions to our Olympic Relay victory. Thanks to Ang and Richard for making the day so fun! I can’t wait to team up for our next race, hopefully, with some more FMCT teams in the mix showing off the Falcon colours!

Also participating in the same relay race was a very good friend of mine, Paul Galbraith, with his dad and sister. I grew up with Paul and his family so it was awesome to see them in their triathlon debut. Paul’s dad, who turned to swimming for exercise last year, has lost some serious weight and it was the Highlight of the Day to see him come into transition way before his expected time! Great work Team Galbraith!

Congrats to all the blog readers who competed on Sunday! Patryk B., Darcy B., Glenn C., Sean D., Stuart S., John E., John S., Paul G., Vittorio S., Duncan M. (hope I didn't miss anyone!)

June 16, 2011

Age Grouper Spotlight - Paul "Speedy" Gonsalves

Race mornings are nervous times, no matter how competitive or experienced you may be. Some athletes are weighed down by expectations. Some people are brand new to the sport and not sure what to expect. Others (including me during my first few duathlons) collect a stomach full of butterflies knowing there will be a point of exhaustion that will test you mentally and physically right up to the finish line.

When I first started this journey about five years ago, I built up a lot of pre-race stress. Often, I would be sitting in the registration line questioning my motives for driving to the event in the first place. As soon as I racked my bike, I could not wait for the darn thing to be over with so I could get to the food tent and just relax. Thankfully, I bumped into our featured Age Grouper early in my duathlon life and was able to pick up a few tricks to help smooth over many of the jitters I used to feel before stepping up to the start line.

It was my first time on the Grimsby course and many had extended a warning about the descent coming down the Park Road hill so I was getting a little worried as I set up my transition zone.

In a chance meeting, Paul “Speedy” Gonsalves, calmed these fears and helped me stay loose. He was in need of a tire pump and I happened to be nearby and able to assist in his search. During our conversation, as he inflated his race wheels, I was pleasantly surprised that someone very competitive in the sport could display a sense of humour and be so friendly in the moments before an event. Those usually tense moments were eased in a big way as we spoke and I had all but forgotten about the nerves I was battling minutes before.

From this encounter, I learned not to take things too seriously when approaching this hobby. I now make the time to mingle with those around me in transition which keeps my mind free of a lot of negative energy and gives me the opportunity to meet so many amazing people with the same passion for multisport.

Thanks to “Speedy”, I realized that you can have a bunch of fun at these events and still satisfy that tiny, competitive fire that burns inside us all.

10 Questions with "Speedy"

Q1. What brought you into the sport of tri/du?

- I started as a marathon runner back in the early 80’s (Yes, I’m that old). I lived in Rexdale but worked in downtown Toronto. I decided to ride to work 2 or 3 times per week for injury prevention and discovered I loved going fast. In 1986, I heard about a “Biathlon” in Mt. Tremblant that was an 80k bike and a 21k run. I did the event and recall having a blast and did very well at it. Soon after, I started racing Du’s with Trisport Canada. I wish to be still racing well into my 70’s and 80’s.

Q2. Have you always been strictly a duathlete? If no, why did you leave the swimming behind?

- I started off as a runner and started cycling as a means of injury prevention. I was also inspired as a kid by my Uncle Hilary, a world class rider who rode for the West Indies.

I don’t see myself as leaving swimming behind. I’m a decent swimmer and the reasons for doing Du’s has nothing to do my ability to swim.

Q3. You race a lot during a season, is there ever a point when you wake up the morning of a race and wish you had taken the day off running or duathlon?

- No, I rest like a “Rock Star”!  lol
I also have enough experience to know (i.e. Old) when I’m pushing too hard and when to ease off the training.

Q4. Are you more proud of what you currently achieve or what you accomplished in the past?

- I haven’t thought of what I do in terms of pride. Regardless of race results, I have a sense of accomplishment that on that day I raced as smart and as hard as possible without leaving anything in the tank.

Q5. What moment in your multisport life do you look back on with fondest memories?

- When I first heard my eldest son, Christopher, yell “Go, Daddy, Go!”

Q6. You told me you used to take the sport too seriously for a recreational outlet. Are there any examples of things you did back then that you shake your head at these days?

- Nothing specifically comes to mind, but definitely no joy. Intense focus and little or no social interaction with fellow racers, spectators and race volunteers/officials.

 I’m surprised when people make the assumption that my nick name is a function of my performance. “Speedy Gonsalves” is just my way of keeping the racing real and fun. I must admit, I do get a kick out of hearing people cheer "Ándale! Ándale! Arriba! Arriba! Hepa¡ Hepa! Hepa! Yeehaw!" ("Go on! Go on! Up! Up!).

Q7. At what moment did you change the focus from purely results driven to a fun, social event that should not be taken too seriously?

- The turning point for me was 2001 at my 1st World Championships in Italy. I was in Italy on 9-11 and the race was a few days later. I was getting more and more anxious about world events and the upcoming event. I remember cheering on the Canadian ladies race the day before my event and I couldn’t help but notice that the women were embracing the moment, flying through the course and appeared to be having so much fun. It was at that moment I remembered why I raced and that was to do my best and have fun. Immediately, I felt my shoulders relax as my anxiety faded away. The next day, I set a personal bests on the 10k run and 40k bike as part of the overall event. The more relaxed I am, the better I seem to do for the same fitness level.

Q8. Can you describe your bike mascot and the origins of this aerobar ornament? 

- You must be referring to “Rocky the Rooster” who is my 3rd rubber chicken/mascot. I can’t remember when the 1st mascot came to be but it was following the 2001 World Championships and my renewed “Sense of Fun”. The 1st time I used it, a fellow competitor complained to an OAT official that it “Gave me an unfair aerodynamic advantage”. I remember the OAT official having a good laugh. Now it’s true that it does represent an unfair aerodynamic advantage, but whoever said life was fair was selling something.

Q9. What keeps you motivated to stay in great racing shape with so many other responsibilities?

- My love of dark beer (Waterloo Dark, Smithwicks, Newcastle Brown, etc.), chocolate and cheesecake.

Q10. What is the greatest piece of advice you have heard during your tri/du career?

- "Keep the rubber side down"

June 10, 2011

YMCA 5k Relay - Race Report

I will keep this one short. Promise!

On May 31st, I traveled to downtown Toronto on a warm, humid evening. I had accepted a spot on the "30 Somethings'" relay squad that my buddy Jowene had put together for a YMCA charity event. The race consisted of 4 people per team and each of us were to complete 2 laps of the CNE grounds in order to run 5k per person.

With over 500 teams of runners and walkers, there were sure to be a lot of quick folks out there so we just threw together a group of guys that were all about the same speed to see what we could do.

Before the 7:00pm race start, we were a little late getting organized so Jimmy (our lead runner) did not have a lot of time to prepare but did an amazing job getting warm before being sent along for his opening laps. He got out to a quick start before some of the speedsters caught him during his 5k. He came into the relay exchange area just a little over 18 minutes and sent me off for my run.

I pushed things right away and was able to pass a number of teams during my first loop. I tried not to get caught up in my time as it was a hot night and I had been training pretty hard right into this race so I was just hoping to hit the 17:20 mark to give our team a chance.

On my second loop, the heat slowed me down a touch and I should have grabbed some water at an aid station but the slower racers on the course had grouped up in this area so I continued onto my exchange and handed off to Jo Jo (Jowene) posting a 17:30 split.

Jo Jo then put in another solid effort to move up a few more spots in the team classifications and completed his 5k in 17:59 (i believe that was what his watch split said) before handing off to our anchor, Andrew. Mr Cooke than hammered through the last two laps to maintain our position and came within 10 seconds of hitting the Overall Podium.

In the end, we came in 4th Overall and 1st in the Team Age Group rankings. This was a very fun event made even more enjoyable as we were handed some great weather for the first time this spring. I look forward to hooking up with the team again next year as we try to jump onto the overall podium in 2012.

June 6, 2011

Milton Duathlon 2011 - Race Report

The violent thunderstorms of Saturday were well past us when I woke early Sunday morning for my first duathlon of 2011. It wasn’t that the race time was particularly early but park entrance was mandatory before 8:30 due to the Try-A-Tri race. The race was held at Kelso Conservation Area just to the west of Milton so a very short 20 minute drive from home so I had no problem getting to the site by 8:00 and having lots of time to enjoy the incredible weather leading up to my 10:00 race.

Not having to rush, I had everything set up in plenty of time and was able to get in a quality warm up near the starting area. I used the time to look over most of the first run (which was pretty muddy from the rain the day before) and talk to a few folks hanging around, waiting for the games to begin (Thanks for the cheering Terry!).

Having so many new faces in the du field, I was not sure what to expect from the others. There sure looked like a number of them could take out the pace, but as Mitch sent us out for our race, I found myself up front without much of a sprint needed to get clear of the group. It seemed as though we were all going to ease into this one so I just made sure to run down the trail in a good line to avoid some of the puddles that had accumulated.

I was running together with a young, 23 year old for much of the first kilometre. He had a nice, long stride and appeared to be holding back compared to my effort so I was starting to wonder what he was going to bring on the bike. As we pushed closer to the turn around, Sean Delanghe (a name I did not know at the time but certainly do now!), put in a surge from the three hole and started to push the pace. I didn’t want to hammer the first run too much so I let him, and the other younger athlete, spread out in front as I comfortably held on to third around the sandwich board marker, just past 1km.

As we made our way back through the mass of runners, we settled into a solid mid three minute pace. The gap remained constant through much of the second/last kilometre so I was happy to hit transition in good shape with lots of leg left for the bike. I entered the zone fifteen seconds back of the lead covering the 2.21k opening leg in 7:55 (3:35 pace).

For T1, I had decided to put my cycling shoes on before mounting the bike as I have not practiced the transition much this season. I figured that I would save time by getting the shoes on nice and tight on my mat instead of slowing down on the bike trying to fumble around with straps. I believe this was the correct choice on the day as I got out to a serious pace on the Argon E114 with my best start on this course in four attempts.

With my course knowledge, I attacked the turns and caught the second place duathlete (Jerret Kennedy, coming off a strong 2010 season) right around the second km. As we climbed a minor grade on Campbelleville Road, a number of triathletes we sitting behind a slow moving mobile home. They had bunched up on the back end of the vehicle and were not sure what to do as crossing the yellow line would have risked DQ. Not wanting to give up more time to the leader (Sean), I told the crowd I was passing the RV on the right side so make some room. Not sure why they were not doing this themselves but I managed to get by without dropping too many seconds and was able to keep my cool. I then proceeded to pass the group of riders the vehicle was stuck behind before making a right turn onto Sixth Line.

Reaching Sixth Line hill, I was averaging a little over 40km/h even with the small traffic issue. My legs were feeling really strong so I decided it was time to push up this sucker with authority. I was making some good time moving past the triathletes on the course and finally spotted our duathlon leader a few hundred metres up the hill. He was moving well up this section so the gap remained the same during the climb as we hit the 5k marker at the top. Thankfully, I was able to recover from the ascent in good time and got on my horse to begin the battle for first place. Within a few minutes of hitting the top, I reeled in top spot and worked as hard as possible to make some space assuming he would be tough on the last run.

For the rest of the ride north, I tried to make up for the lost average (dropped more than 10km/h from going up the hill). This seven or eight kilometre section is rolling with a slight up slope and tiny headwind to hold the speed back. By the time I had crossed the top portion of the bike route, and hit the 15k marker, I was only averaging 32.5km/h so I had a lot of work to do on the way home to best my three previous efforts in Milton.

The next stretch, heading south (with tailwind), became a speed fest so I threw it down to my low gear and grinded away to pick up the pace. I was now finding some open space on the roads and could bury my head and hammer away. This continued until our last significant climb, just before re-joining Sixth Line, where I grabbed a small breather as I spun up the hill before turning right.

After the re-group, it was time to fly again and I managed to push the average to 35.5km/h before dropping down the escarpment where I picked up another kilometre per hour giving me some confidence to better my old times on this track. For the last four kilometres, I just kept the pedal down, using the wind and down slope to finally hit 37.5km/h just before the parking area in Kelso. At this point, there were some cars in line at the gate house and a few other athletes being cautious so I had to drop the speed more than I was planning for the dismount.

I reached T2 in first place but was not sure how far back my chasers were. I had a quicker transition but, as I started to run, I could feel I was not my old self. Our first challenge out of the bike zone was a dirt/gravel hill that I just could not attack. I tried to ease into the run hoping to find my legs up the trail but as I reached the next section nothing was turning on. I made my way through the park and turned north onto Appleby Line to face the tough climb towards Hilton Falls. Even though I was passing a lot of triathletes, I knew I was falling behind my goal of sub thirty minutes for this hard 7.5k run.

Trying to just get through the uphill portion (basically the entire first half), I looked for positives to motivate my legs but they did not respond. Finally, I made my way around the forest loop in Hilton Falls happy to know the way home would be downhill. I took a quick peak coming out of that park with just about three k to race and did not spot anyone from the duathlon.

After a long downhill run on Appleby, I finally made it to the back end of Kelso attempting to feed off the speed of one of the triathletes. It helped for a bit but I was still running a lot slower than usual and was not aware of the danger sneaking up behind.

With just under a kilometre to go in the race, a familiar runner pulled up beside me and started to pass. It was Sean and he was looking very strong. I tried to stay on his hip but a tiny cramp in my stomach was holding me back. I thought if I could keep the gap small enough for a final sprint I may be able to pull it off but the new race leader kicked it up a notch with around five hundred metres that I just could not close. I gave it one last effort but had nothing in the tank. I took a glance back to make sure nobody else was charging and set into a slow jog to the finish line way off the run split I had visualized for the past few weeks.

So overall, I ended up in 2nd place and 1st in my age group. I was happy with most of my race including the controlled first run and a PB on the bike course. I admit I am concerned with my final run off the bike as my run conditioning and speed is so much better in 2011 than the past but it did not translate into the duathlon on this day. I am sure Tyler and I will work this out and hammer some solid bricks in training before my next set of races.

Post race I got to thank my Aunt Cathy and Beth for coming out to cheer me along the course. It is always fun to race in front of family and friends so to have a decent result made it more rewarding.

I also had a chance to meet the winner, Sean Delanghe, and chat about his racing. It is always great to meet people that are excited about the sport so I Congratulate Sean on his impressive performance!

And…Congrats to all the others who raced in Milton!

Paul “Speedy”, Kevin, Darcy, Mat, Cameron, Jennifer, Carlos, Duncan (ageless wonder!), Shane. I hope I did not forget anyone!

Thanks to all my Sponsors and Supporters! HiPerformance Training, Mark Keating, FMCT Falcons, Endless Endurance, Feet in Motion, Zym

Lastly – a quick analysis of the top triathletes that competed in 2010 and 2011. Their 2011 bike splits were marginally quicker in most cases but their 2011 runs were close to a minute slower than 2010. Last year, the weather was cold, windy and rainy before the race (so I bailed) but this year the conditions seemed ideal. I guess we have not had time to adjust to running in the heat so it took a lot more out of us than expected. Interesting!

June 2, 2011

Age Grouper Spotlight - Rhys Spencer

The power of networking over the internet has allowed me to learn much more about our sport and the people who make it so great. Thankfully, many of them are incredibly friendly and more than happy to pass along advice and comments based on their wealth of experiences.

I first came across the name, Rhys Spencer, after the 2010 Victoria’s Duathlon. This race usually contains a solid mix of the region’s top triathletes and duathletes so you know the competition will be tough. The field is much larger than our typical duathlons with many athletes taking advantage of this first event of the season to assess their fitness levels. This is what makes it such a great, early season test.

When I was looking over last year’s results, hoping to see a respectable bike split after a lot of off-season training, I noticed several of the people finishing around me had hammered their two wheelers over the 30k course. From that comparison, Rhys’ name popped out in a big way as he was right beside me in the finishing column but his bike split was much faster. In fact, it was the 4th fastest of the day. Because I could not recall his name from a past race, I ended up digging through some of his other results on the web where I could see he definitely knew what he was doing out there on a bike.

Coincidentally, it was around this time I also noticed his name in a Twitter reply on my coach’s site. If he knew Tyler, I figured he must have some intriguing triathlon opinions so I decided to follow his tweets. Quickly, I could see that he had a vast background in triathlon and cycling so I sent a few cycling questions in his direction which he swiftly answered with amazing responses.

As I thought about future guests for this Local Age Grouper series, I figured I could use the forum to ask this interesting, Toronto based Ironman a little more about his racing history and the use of philanthropy in many of his events. Of course, he generously accepted and provided some fantastic insight on what makes him so much more than your usual weekend warrior.

10 Questions for Rhys Spencer

Q1. In early blog entries ( ), you mentioned that you had been through a significant lifestyle change. How did you get away from your bad habits to find the world of triathlon (and cycling)?

- Well, quitting smoking after 7 years was hard but I remember thinking, if I can do that cold turkey, I can do anything. So I started to mountain bike with some friends in Dundas who were very influential in my decision to me lead a cleaner life. We all enjoy our beer (then) and our wine (now!) but we hung out a lot back then and hit the local trail scene in Waterdown and Dundas. I was hooked and quitting smoking was actually quite easy because I had this outlet that made me feel really good and healthy which kept me away from the behaviors that I associated with smoking. You want to quit smoking? Three rules:

• you have to WANT to
• realize you are quitting a behavior as much as an addiction
• find an outlet and set yourself up for success

Mountain biking was that outlet. Soon, I was reflecting on my teen years, watching The Badger Hinault and Greg LeMond in the tour with my Italian neighbours, and the famous 1989 Iron War in Hawaii between Dave Scott and Mark Allen. I said, "well, you just quit smoking, picked up mountain biking & didn't finish can do anything...". From there, it was an 18 month progression from duathlon, to sprint tri, to the Peterborough half Iron Distance to Ironman Florida in 2000.

Lastly, at the time I was getting into all this, I met my wife to be whose dad, when alive, was a HUGE ROADIE! Luck would have it, I found the love of my life who also "got it" when it came to 6 hour rides followed by 2 hour naps and plates of pasta. I am truly blessed in that regard!

Q2. You have used your athletic abilities to accomplish much more than personal glory. Through fundraising efforts, you have given a large portion of funds back to the community. What initially gave you the idea to use your racing as a charitable outlet?

- Truthfully, it started on a whim and then quickly grew into something that "felt right". My first Ironman I did it initially via my employer where they matched what I raised and we donated to the Food Bank of Toronto. It was as fulfilling as the accomplishment of finishing an Ironman and that nugget of memory I placed very near to me and promised never to forget.

Q3. How do you decide which charities to support when you are drawing up a fundraising plan?

- One commitment I made to myself was to change it up. Sometimes volunteering turns to work because you are repeating year over year over year and the reward I have witnessed with others, begins to fade and it turns to work. So I said to myself, "what do you feel passionate about that needs help TODAY...?" So charities I have supported include the aforementioned Toronto Food Bank, Breast Cancer Society, Lymphoma and Leukemia Foundation, Sick Kids Hospital, United Way Peel Chapter, to name a few. It keeps it fresh and I get to learn about their causes and why they are important, under-funded and need awareness.

My mother passed of AML Leukemia and my wife's father, a brain tumor, so clearly those two charities are a constant thread for our charitable donations budget.

Q4. You changed your 2011 schedule due to a recent invitation to compete in the Ironman Championships, via the lottery. What will be the goal for this year’s Kona race?

- I struggle with this every swim session!!!!!!!! I want to compete, I would love to leave the Ironman sport on Alii Drive with a PB but I am realistic. I haven't raced Ironman in 3 years, I just started swimming, after a year off and I took 8 weeks off running this spring. So, I have a lot of catch up to do. Other side of brain is saying, the sport has become very fast in 40-44 age group so treat this race like a celebration of turning 40, a celebration of "what's possible", a celebration of where I came from, and a celebration into Ironman RETIREMENT!

I think that was therapy typing that, the goal is: HAVE FUN!

Q5. Will you still be able to ride in the Tour for Kids, as per your earlier plans? Or, will training for Kona be too much of a distraction at that point?

- My #1 commitment in 2011 is to do the Tour for Kids charity ride. 3 great cancer camps are supported by amazing fundraisers, athletes and volunteers. What a celebration! And, if we map out where it lands, in relation to Kona, I actually think the Tour for Kids is a perfect block of training. It is 7 weeks before the race, gives me a huge bike test (doing 800K over 4 days) and I can then recover for a week and hit out some hard epic runs and swims while maintaining bike fitness with some threshold work in the odd local road race/time trail. The whole package is just one big celebration of giving back and athletics, a perfect marriage!!

Q6. A few years ago, your major focus was the Ironman distance triathlon but in recent seasons you have concentrated more on your cycling. Why did you decide to switch the direction in your recreational pursuits?

- I hate swimming. I really do. That bloody black line is like a horrible relationship but you keep going back for more brutal suffering. And trust me, my wife Meredith will tell you, letting go of Ironman was like a break up for me because I couldn't figure it out. It had been 10 years of my identity and gave me a real belief in myself. I owe the sport that much. It has helped my career, my relationships, and my beliefs. Sounds corny but it is true. Then last year I crashed bike racing, got really battered and bruised and couldn't swim or run. That was the plug, I was done because I was forced away and I realized how free I felt. Kind of like finally walking away from a bad relationship!! So I focused 100% on the Green Mountain Stage Race in Vermont and had a superb time.

Kona is too sweet to pass, so 1 more year, and I will say knowing that I feel liberated and free to train and enjoy all of it. It is a great feeling!

Q7. To date, what is your most memorable sporting moment?

- As a competitor I have one very poignant, special moment. I finished IMUK in 2006, eight months after my mom passed. I crossed that line and had my dad, sister, bro-in-law, wife, niece and nephew there. I was a euphoric 30 seconds off a PB but a hard course. But that wasn't why it was euphoric. I ran the last 5K in 22:30 and it felt like a sprint, thinking only of my mom. I was running on air and when I finished and hugged my dad, it was that 10 seconds that told me so much about life, about my family. I will never forget that and it can't be repeated.

As a fan, being at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff with my dad and my mom in 2003 watching Wales beat Ireland for their first Grand Slam in 25 years. That means going unbeaten in the Six Nations beating Ireland, England, Scotland, France, and Italy. Think Canada - Salt Lake City Olympic gold medal game, on steroids.

Q8. Who is the one athlete from the sport of triathlon, or cycling, that you love to watch compete?

Simon Whitfield. He's such a warrior racing, and a down to earth great guy to ride a bike with and chat. What he did in Beijing, with that much pressure, was poetry in sport.

Q9. What is the one thing you would do (if you were running the show - OCA) to make the sport of cycling more popular in Ontario?

- Too many to list. I can't even start. I will say, culturally, cycling is a mess both from the athlete and the UCI, the CCA, and OCA. Wait, the answer really? Outsource race organization to 1 organizer to consolidate and create a consistent, safe race experience. That one person is Graham Fraser.


Q10. From your years of experience, what advice would you give to someone about to attempt their first Ironman?

- The same thing someone told me on the balcony of the Florida hotel the night before mine. A total stranger said this and it really resonated.

"You're prepped, fit and ready to go. Two things: you only do your first one ONCE so enjoy it, and something WILL go wrong. What separates a good from bad race is problem solving."

To learn more about Rhys and his Charitable Causes, please visit his blog.