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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Race Report: Logs Rocks and Steel 2014

Another year, another Logs Rocks and Steel is in the books.

Today was tough.  The conditions weren't bad like last year, but I have been battling knee pain and just haven't got the workouts in since Ironman.


The canoe went great, though.  We pulled away quickly from the other canoes, and were 3rd overall with just kayaks around us.  We had the fastest canoe of the day, I feel like it was by a pretty good margin.

Near the turn-around the cross wind was strong, really swung the boat around.  It was tough to keep straight and still alternate enough not to exhaust one side.  The entire way back we were into a headwind - some of the kayaks pulled out of reach, but they were solos and it was really teams we were worried about.

Run #1

A short hilly little trail run, about 1.5km.  My heart rate was through the roof, I just struggled to hang on to my partner's pace.


We seem to do well with our transitions, I think when the full results are in both of them will prove to have been quite quick.


What can I say... struggled with heart rate, had my rear brakes go completely soft after a small crash (ie. become useless!) only to later come back, navigational issues (that may have helped more than they hurt?)... it was just a big mess.

I don't love these trails, they're challenging but they don't have any flow.  Lots of rocks, roots, and mud bogs... I thought maybe last year with the rain it was a one-off, but this year it was still just not that fun.  Maybe I'm just being a whiner, or maybe it's down to personal preference, but I really couldn't wait to get out of the trails and onto the road - and ultimately off the bike.   For a guy who likes biking that's a bit not great.


The run felt OK, but we got passed by one team (relegating us to 2nd - no title defence this year!) and a couple of solos.  At the end the 3rd place team was coming at us hard, I could see them when I looked over my shoulder, but we managed to stay ahead - not by much, though!


I feel like we've kind of run our course at this one (so to speak), at least on the Wolf Course.  We won last year, finished on the podium a few times, if we go back it'll be more of the same I'd expect...  not sure I loved it enough to go back, we'll see what next year brings.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Paddling the Black River in Sutton/Baldwin, Ontario

We wanted to do a longer paddle today so we headed to the Black River.

Dam falls at Sutton
The river is basically three sections, divided by dams.

Lake Simcoe to Sutton

This is just over 3km, scenic, lots of homes/cottages.  Wide.  We put the boat in at the end of "King Street" in Sutton, paddled to Lake Simcoe, then back.


Sutton to Baldwin

We didn't have a chance to paddle this section as we just couldn't find a launch spot... it was incredibly frustrating!

Apparently the place to use is behind the Scotiabank on the main street in Sutton.  Another time.

Baldwin and up-river...

Another dam at Baldwin.  Again we had trouble finding a launch spot.  This fellow did a nice job summarizing the possibilities - he used a culvert in town, we ended up using an entry onto a creek at the bridge on Frog Road (east side of the river).

This section was great - you can go a long distance either way.  We first went down to Baldwin, where it is wide and very low current.  Then we went up-stream almost to Ravenshoe Road - it becomes very twisty, but lots of depth and no trouble (other than turning, turning, turning!).


All in all a pretty fun day, good paddle.  I would really like to pick up that section we missed, another time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Race Preview: Logs Rocks & Steel 2014

We are going back for our 4th try at Logs, Rocks and Steel!

This is an Adventure Race, but with a bit of a difference... most involve navigation, this one has a well-marked course, so it feels more like a triathlon (except with paddling, mountain biking and trail running).  Oh and way more laid back.

(There is a new navigation option this year for those who feel like getting lost in a pile of maps - have fun!)

Once again we will be doing the shorter "Wolf Course".  The long course is on the menu for one year, but this won't be the year.

Last year we finished as the top team on the Wolf Course.  Our canoe went really well as we had expected, which put us in a lead we never relinquished.  This was less fun that it sounds, as we had no idea who was behind us and how close they might be.  The bike was wet and washed out, slippery rocks everywhere, it was a tough slog... and even in the final 400m of the run we were pushing as if someone was about to come around the corner at any second.

This Year

I'm expecting some improvement in the canoe, since we invested in some new paddles and have more time in the boat under our belts.

Hopefully it's not pissing rain so the bike course is a bit more ridable, lots of wash-out last year.

Should be fun!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fake Bike Trip Report #15 - Yukon, ho!

5071km in the books in my fake bike trip.  Whew.

This puts me near Morley Lake in the Yukon.  Apparently it looks like this:

1083km to go.  Now that Ironman training is done, I'm shifting more to mountain biking, which is far more about time than distance.  I will try get in a few long rides to put me over the top, there are still several good months left before the snow flies!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Beyond Ironman... What Next!?

2014 isn't dead yet!  Still a lot of cycling and running to be done, not to mention paddling.

A few things I'm considering, I'll whittle this down to just a few events.
  • September 6 - 5 Peaks Kortright (10-14km trail race) - knee too injured
  • September 20 - Logs Rocks and Steel (Adventure Race) - registered!
  • September 20 - Oshawa 5k Runway - don't have the speed to do this justice, off the list
  • September 20 - 5 Peaks Hardwood Hills (10-14km trail race) - registered for Logs/Rocks/Steel same day...
  • September 27 - Fall Epic 8 Hour (MTB)
    • I did this solo last year and it was indeed EPIC!  Over the 8 hours (!) I managed 110km of mountain biking, which is just stupid and crazy.  If I go back it will be in a team to lighten the load a bit, 2 riders would probably be ideal.
  • September 27 - Chase the Coyote - Trail Race!
  • September 28 - Ajax 1/2 Marathon
    • Did this one back in 2011, didn't go very well.  This race is far from my favourite, as the course is not very kind - quite hilly.  It's close to home, though, so if I don't do the mountain bike thing it's an option.  Update: running not back yet and won't be in time to do this justice - off the list!
  • October 11 - Great Muskoka Paddling Experience 
    • We did this one last year, it was amazing and fun.  Would be great to go back with all that we've learned and do it justice!
  • October 18 - Vulture Bait (25km/50km trail race) - sold out!
    • I did the 25km way back in 2009 after my first Ironman... wouldn't mind going back, if I can find a bib.  Who knows, maybe 50km?
  • October 18 - Hardwood Singletrack Challenge (25km/50km MTB)
  • October 25 - Horror Hill (25km / 6 hour trail race)
  • November 16 - Whitby 10 miler (ugh)
    • Don't do it.  Please.  Whatever thought you have in your head, just don't do it.  You know who organizes it, you know how bad it will be.  DON'T.  But so very close to home... 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ironman Mt Tremblant - Post-race Navel-Gazing

Warning: this post is entirely self-absorbed and really for my own reference... feel free to read it (it's out in public after all!) but my apologies in advance if you get nothing out of it!

First off, my Stravas: the bike and the run.


2009:  1:32:12 (2314/2595)
2014:  1:53:04 (2166/2289) (bottom 6%...)

Wow, over 20 minutes slower.  I didn't focus on the swim, but my pool swims were just as fast as they had been back in 2009.

The water was definitely choppier in Mt. Tremblant vs Penticton (where I did by 2009 Ironman) but I didn't feel that bad.  But results don't lie - that was a really, really bad swim... only 123 people did worse!

There was a bit of a current and I did struggle to stay along the buoys, so it could be part of the reason.  I know other people who were disappointed with their swims (but they were only ~10 mins off their target times) so could be a combination of lack of preparation and the conditions.


2009:  6:50:34 (1937/2595) - 26.3km/h
2014:  6:16:44 (998/2289) - 28.4km/h (top 44%!)

Overall placing after the bike: 1426/2289

Almost 35 minutes faster, on what I thought was a tougher bike course.  I'm in much better bike shape overall, I really focused on it but just in general over the years I've seen a lot of improvement.  Nice to be faster than most of the people out there on the bike!

Loop one average was 28.9km/h, loop two was 28.0km/h, so some fading, but never stopped passing people (and rarely got passed myself).  I felt the worst around 150-160km, on the road back into town.  It's where I felt some pretty serious fatigue setting in, before that I had been pushing pretty well.  The final climbs on the out-and-back were leg burners, but since I was passing people it felt OK.  Maybe that was a bit deceiving.


2009:  5:20:24 (1459/2595) 
2014:  4:30:30 (921/2289) (top 40%!)

Dropped almost an hour and moved way up the charts!  Again I have to credit bike fitness - I didn't focus much at all on my running, a couple runs a week, didn't do a whole lot of long runs... but when you start fresh it changes everything.  It's not a real run anyway, more of a shuffle and dodge!

Loop 1: 2:08:27 (6:08/km)
Loop 2: 2:21:44 (6:43/km)

I felt really good coming off the bike, but despite trying to hold back I eventually hit that point where it was really tough.  On the first lap I didn't walk much, other than the odd steep hill (especially on the way back).  On the second lap I walked all the uphills and short walks through aid stations.  For the most part I never hit that wall where your legs just stop running on you for no reason, I managed to keep even a slow run going outside of the ups and aid stations.


2009:  13:57:55 (1689/2595)
2014:  12:54:58 (1159/2289) (top 50% more or less)

Between when I came out of the swim and the finish I passed over 1000 people.  Psychologically that helped me a lot in the race, always moving forward with people in front to chase.  Ultimately I had the endurance and just got better as the day went on as others faded - that feels wonderful.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Race Report: Ironman Mt Tremblant

I am an Ironman!  Again!

Final result was 12:54, just over an hour faster than my 2009 Ironman.  Placed 1159 out of 2500 or so - cracked the top 50%.  I'm delighted!


I'm not that delighted with the swim, though.

I started at the back of my wave and stuck with the wide line, trying to keep out of traffic.  For the most part this worked out OK, didn't get any serious elbows.

The way out seemed to go on forever... I think the current was against us.  As we got further out it got quite choppy.  It didn't disrupt me too much, I was calm and felt smooth.

The way back felt easy, except the current was now pushing me away from the course.  It was a constant struggle to keep near the buoys.

Still, I felt good, so when I got out and saw the time I was disappointed.  1:53!  Last ironman I was at 1:35... calmer water but still.  So at that point I was in 2217th place.

Transition to bike

Long run to transition, I wasn't that quick changing.  Ah well.


The good thing about a bad swim is you get to spend the bike passing lots of people.  By the end I had jumped to 1440th, almost 800 places!  Fun.

Took me awhile to settle in.  The first out and back had a tough headwind on the out, but wow was it fun on the way back!  Used the aero bars a lot.

It wasn't that hot so I adjusted my nutrition plan to have more gels than sports drink.

The last 15km out and back of each lap is absolutely brutal.  Steep climbs, get out of the saddle kind of stuff.  At 75k it was tough, at 165k it hurrrrt.

Managed a 28.7km/h average over the 180km which I was pretty happy with, and felt good and strong right to the end.  All those bike miles paid off!

Transition to Run

I was a bit out of it, almost forgot to change my shorts.  Haste makes waste!


I felt really good as I started the run, again a tribute to my bike fitness.

But at about 7km I felt some knee pain.  It got worse... it was the same pain as I had at the New York marathon that ruined my race... tight hip flexors causing hamstring overuse and tightening that pulls on the knee... bad!  I stopped to walk and really worked on getting the glutes firing to give the hamstring a break.  It never totally subsided, but didn't get any worse - whew!

The most diabolical part of this course is having to run through the finish area at the end of loop #1, only to pass right by and leave town again.  It's gutting.

My second loop started out rough, miles were catching up to me.  I walked the hills and aid stations, trying to get back on top of things.  My head hurt a bit, I was worried it could be the start of hyponatremia (low salt) so I started grabbing chicken broth at the aid stations.  Not sure if it helped but I definitely started to feel better.

I decided not to check my overall time... weird for me as I'm usually a slave to information, but I didn't want to pressure myself into a pacing mistake.  I just tried to stay within myself and keep eating as much as my stomach would tolerate.

4:30 (6:24/km) - I'm pretty happy with that!  I think it'll stack up well against the field, the ironman marathon is a beast.

The Finish

The best thing about this race is the finishing area.  It's amazing.  The crowds are lined up all the way back through the village, the cheering is maniacal!  So many people, you really feel like a rock star for those 30 seconds.  There's no feeling quite like it in the world.

My last triathlon?

It feels like it.  It's no secret I dislike swimming, and this result is about as good as it gets for me.  There are other things to keep me interested, road biking, canoeing, mountain biking, adventure racing... I want to stick to things I really enjoy.  Who knows, maybe the siren call of ironman will pull me back someday, it's big and special.  For now I'm going to ice all that hurts and focus on other things.