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Friday, December 19, 2008

2008: Year in Review

2008 was a big transformation year for me.

At the start of the year:
- I could only swim 25m at a time
- I was a casual runner, running a 1/2 marathon in over 2 hours
- I weight 194 pounds

- I can swim 800m non-stop easily, in open water
- I ran a marathon
- I weight 176 pounds

The Ups

My first marathon ever - The Toronto Marathon - was my proudest moment so far as an amateur athlete. It was just such an amazing event, and to be able to beat my goal time of 4:00:00 was icing on the cake. I never thought I would be skinny and athletic enough to finish a marathon, and there I was, skinny and atheletic... I usually roll my eyes at the medals and such, but this one meant a lot to me.

My first triathlon ever - Binbrook Try-a-Tri - was a close second. I was happy to have gone from struggling to complete a 25m length in January to finishing a 400m lake swim. By August, I had improved a bunch for the Orillia Sprint Tri, and felt like a "real" triathlete. I can't wait to take triathlons to the next level next year!

My first running trophy ever - I was part of a team that ran a 5K and to our surprise actually won the thing! Sure, small race, but I've never won anything running and probably won't win again... so I'll take it! :)

One last highlight I'd like to mention was the two rides I did with my daughters (on the trail-behind bike). I did the 50K Ride for Heart with Meghan (5 years old at the time) and the 25k Tour de Greenbelt with Kacey (4 years old). They made their daddy incredibly proud, rode like real champs!

The Downs

ITBS pain sidelined me in the winter and early spring... it was a tough struggle just to get back to running. Finally after weeks of physio, I went to a podiatrist and he identified my overpronation as a likely cause. When I finally got the orthotics, it was hard to be patient and slowly build up the mileage... I did it, though, and the knee held up all year, I think it's finally resolved.

The guy who hit me with his truck while I was biking got a measly $40 fine, while I have permanently bent pinky fingers... oh well.

The Future

I've signed up for Ironman Canada for August 2009... as you've probably noticed, it's in the title of my blog, so obviously it's a big goal for me! It should be another challenging exciting year of firsts, I can't wait.

It's been a thrilling ride so far, and I've had fun documenting the ups and downs on this blog! I hope it was as enjoyable and informative to you as it's been for me.

Happy 2009! :) See you in the new year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tri Swimming in Flannel Pajamas

So my swim instructor tell us last week:

"Wear pajamas over your swimsuit next week, the flannel kind!"

I borrowed the manliest looking flannel PJs I could from my wife (at least they were blue!) and headed to the pool...

Coach says "get in the pool!"... and he was serious! So all of us tri geeks in our flannel PJs jump in the pool (after a quick photo op).

It was ridiculously tough... they soak up so much water, it was hard to stay afloat, and the drag made doing 100m a real chore!

After about 10 minutes he let us take off the bottoms (with swimsuits on underneath, of course). Even with just the tops it was no picnic, but at least the legs stayed up a little better!

Oh, and then they turned on the waterslide for us, and all us tri geeks in the fancy TYR/Speedo suits and goggles trudged up the stairs to take their turns on the slide...

Weirdest swim practice I've been to so far... not sure how he'll top it next session!

My instructor's blog entry about it, with picture!

Christmas Diet and Training Plan

I've been religiously (so to speak) tracking my calories for the last few weeks, trying to lose those last few pounds.

I'm down to 177 now. I was hoping to get down into the 160's by Christmas, but the weight just isn't coming off as fast as it once did. The less you weigh, the fewer calories you need, so the less you have to eat. It's become difficult to get those big caloric deficits that nail off 2 pounds a week... I'm closer to 1/2 pound a week, very gradual.

Holiday diet plan: eat, drink, and be merry!

You only live once... whatever I tack on in a week of holiday celebration I can drop easily enough in January when I enter the Base period of my training.

Holiday training plan: train!

No rushing off to work or making lunches, perfect time to get in those work-outs.

I'm still in the "Preparation" phase, so the focus will continue to be on swimming skill primarily, while maintaining the running and biking. Oh, and just down the street from my parent's place is an Olympic size swimming pool, with all-day lane swim!!! How do you spell FRICKIN' AWESOME!?

Have a Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The best-laid plans of mice and triathletes...

... often go awry.

My intention during my Preparation Period was to swim 5 times per week, bike and run twice. I even decided on what the typical week would look like, and made a pretty chart.

Life had other plans... I've been hit with a chest cold, again. What a frustrating few months! At least it's not a critical period in my training.

Last week was great, though, I stuck to the plan 100%. The swimming is coming along great, I've been following the drills in the Total Immersion book. This week's breakthrough was dropping my lead hand down to 4 o'clock (or 4:30). I sort-of knew to do this, but didn't make the connection that this would help my balance. Amazingly, it did, my feet came right up, much improved.

The other goal during this period was to get my bike set-up figured out. With the addition of the new saddle and seatpost, that's improved significantly. I'm going to tweak it a little, but it feels so good right now I don't want to mess with it too much.

Revised plan is simply to recover from this cold, and when my lungs clear out, get back at it. Gotta roll with the punches.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My Franken-bike: Trek 1200 for Triathlons

I bought a Trek 1200 a couple of years ago. It's an entry-level road bike, my first. I remember the first time I rode it... it seemed scary fast, and the smallest bump or gust of wind put me wildly out of balance.

Turns out, it's not fast enough!

In non-drafting events (ie. most triathlons) you can get more speed/efficiency by simply adding clip-on aero bars to your road bike.

Step 1: Add Aerobars

Bontrager X-Lite Clip-on Carbon Aerobar

Bought a set of aero bars and added them to my bike. And I will say, it instantly felt faster - when I went down to the aero bars I could pop it up a gear or two with the same effort, especially into a headwind.

But it certainly wasn't comfortable... I was stretched way out, and bent over causing some *ahem* discomfort in the *ahem* seat area....

Step 2: Change Seat and Seatpost

Profile Design Tri-Stryke Saddle
Profile Design Fast Forward Carbon Seatpost

(Plug: seemed to have the best prices of the companies willing to ship to Canada... good shipping cost too, I bought from them twice with good results both times)

I went out in search of a new seat, and the good people at trifuel had an extra piece of advice: get a forward seat post.

They both went on the bike at the same time, and WOW, what a difference. I still need to tinker with the set-up, but right off the bat I found myself right over the aerobars, not reaching at all. The seat is far more comfortable than my old one, it should be perfect for hours and hours in the saddle.

The only thing that stinks is that my bike is no longer all that comfortable riding on the brake hoods... but that's OK, that's not a priority. I want to be comfortable staying in the aerobars all the time.

Step 3: Road pedals/shoes

Shhh... don't tell my wife... when I got my road bike, I went with the Shimano SPD system that I already had on my mountain bike, so I could use the same shoes. They're fine, but... anyway, that's not an immediate priority! But on my to-do list.

Step 4: Buy a Tri bike

Definitely don't tell my wife!!! Eventually I want to upgrade to a "real" tri bike... probably carbon, certainly expensive... and definitely not this year.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Preparation: Weekly Plan

I sketched out a weekly plan based on my goals for this period:
  • Get into the habit of training daily
  • Improve swim speed skills
  • Maintain a reasonable long run
  • Become comfortable on the bike trainer
This is really more of a guildeline on what my weeks would look like, I'm not going to sweat it if things don't fall exactly into place! I'll alernate week 1 and 2.

Week 1:
Bike (min)-




Run (k)--5-7k---5-7K

Week 2:

Bike (min)-30-45 ----30-45
Run (k)--5-7k--15K-

For the swimming:

"Speed" refers to working on Speed skills, ie. technique.

"Class" refers to a triathlon swim class I attend

Thursday, November 27, 2008

One Hundred Pushups

I found this link and thought this would be interesting to try.

I've always been horrible at push-ups... not sure what it is exactly, just bad core strength I guess.

I'll do the initial test either tomorrow or on the weekend, then follow the rather simple program until I can do 100 consecutive push-ups.

UPDATE - I did the "initial test", 13 push-ups. Not great, but better than I expected.

100, here I come! :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

2009 Training - Ready, Set... GO!

Next week is the last week of the "Transition" phase of my training, then I officially dive into 2009.

The 2009 Plan

I've decided on the following periods, following the approach in Joe Friel "Triathlete's Training Bible". I've tweaked it a bit from my original plan so my "A" race is earlier, giving me more time between it and Ironman.
  • Preparation - 5 weeks - Starts Dec 1
  • Base 1 - 4 weeks - Jan 5
  • Base 2 - 4 weeks - Feb 2
  • Base 3 - 4 weeks - March 3
  • Build 1 - 4 weeks - March 30
  • Build 2 - 4 weeks - April 27
  • Peak - 2 weeks - May 25
  • Race - 1 week - June 8 (Muskoka Long Course Tri)
  • Transition - 1 week - June 15
  • Base 2 - 3 weeks - June 22
  • Base 3 - 4 weeks - July 13
  • Peak - 2 weeks - Aug 10
  • Race - 1 week - Aug 24 (Ironman Canada)
  • Transition - several weeks... - Aug 31
It's a 38-week plan, which gives me a long time to ramp up to the distance. The Base/Build periods have rest weeks every 4th week, where volume and intensity are brought down to recover.

Perod 1: Preparation
(Dec 1 - Jan 5)

This period is about developing/maintaining basic endurance, speed skills (technique), and getting used to a more structured training program.

Swimming - My primary concern and focus is on swimming skills, as that's my biggest weakness. I'm less concerned with distance right now, more concerned with becoming a better swimmer. I've been taking classes, and am going through a lot of drills to improve my technique. The goal is 3-4 pool sessions per week, which should be pretty easy to find time for.

Running - I'll be maintaining a 15K long run, which I'll do every second week. I did a 16k today, my longest since the marathon, that went well.

Biking - My main priority is going to be to get comfortable with the aero bars. I need to get a different seat, possibly a forward seat post, and do some work on adjusting my position. Hopefully I get that sorted out on the trainer, then I'll be ready to go once the weather cooperates!

I'm ready and eager to get started!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Jon: the 2000 and 2008 models compared

The new model is a huge improvement, well worth the higher sticker price!

Weight235 lbs180 lbs
Swimming25m? Without stopping? Are you crazy?750m lake swim, no sweat
RunningCan run to the bus... but give time to catch my breath...Ran a marathon
BikingLongest ride around 50K... and I have the hospital records to prove it160k at 30km/h
DietPizza Pizza on auto-dialLean meats, veggies, multigrain bread, brown rice...
Hours of exercise per weekExercise every week? Sounds exhausting!5-12
Rest Days per week7 sounds about right2 is too many
Self-imageI look and feel like crapI look good and feel fantastic

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mountain Biking - Slippin' and Slidin'

Bluebird Trail and Glen Major

There were a few hours between last night's rain and this afternoon's rain, so a buddy and I decided to go mountain biking.

We had never explored the "Brock Tract "section of the Toronto and Region Conservation trails it was pretty interesting. There was one section of pine forest that was just stunning, the entire forest floor was covered in pine needles, nothing survived by the super-tall pine trees. Really eerie and amazing feeling!

We were fully expecting mud, but I didn't anticipate just how slippery everything was going to be! My back wheel spent more time sliding out from under me than going straight, it was really tricky. The biggest hazards were soft mud patches and slippery leaves on top of rocks.

I had one pretty good spill, the terrain changed from a hard-packed trail to a soft forest floor. I was going a bit too quick through the curve, and my back end just stepped out from under me and I fell on my side. Ouch!

Oh, and the warning from the hunter we ran into in camouflage to "watch out for bow hunters" was slightly terrifying, actually. He wasn't on the Conservation area, but at that point due to some confusion in the trail markings, neither were we! Oops.

It was a nice time. We've spent hours and hours in the adjacent properties: Durham Forrest, Walker's Woods, Glen Major, and today portions of the Brock Tract... and we still haven't covered it all! It's just huge, and the diversity of terrain and trails is really cool (not to mention the effects of the different seasons!).

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Great weekend

When I told a friend of mine I was doing Ironman, he said "wow, you must like training!". Turns out, he was right! I really do enjoy swimming, biking, and running, and when I'm not doing them I get very restless...

... which has made the last two weeks very irritating indeed! I've managed just one 4K run and a swim lesson... and was sick as a dog.

After the super high of finishing the marathon, it's been a real low point for me. I can see why people get the post-marathon blues! After months and months of very regular and often intense exercise, it's hard to just take a break from it all and recover.

So this weekend was just what the doctor ordered.

Yesterday, a friend and I headed out for a couple hours of fall mountain biking. The forest floor was covered in fallen leaves, the temperature was just above freezing, it was perfect... we ended up doing some winding single-track sections, hammering over fallen trees, all of which just felt amazing! It was the most comfortable I've felt mountain biking ever... my fitness has improved tremendously this year, and my bike handling skills are better than they've ever been. It made for a fantastic time.

This morning I woke up and went for a swim, followed by a 12k run. For the run, I incorporated some trails at a conservation area near my house, which was a refreshing change. They were a bit mucky in places, but mostly it was really nice.

I'm in a Transition phase, so recovery is the focus, but I'm going to get back to frequent and regular workouts. I'm addicted to training!

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Transition Phase

I'm following Joel Friel's "Triathlete Bible" book, and so I've split my year up into periods.

The current period is "Transition".

The idea behind this period is to give your body and mind a chance to rest, before jumping back into training for the next year. It's unstructured time, you're supposed to avoid planning anything and put rest & recovery first.

This week:
  • Monday - Short run - left the stopwatch at home, and I don't know how far I went... feels weird
  • Thursday - Triathlon swim lesson
  • Saturday - Planning to go Mountain Biking
  • Sunday - Swim, and maybe run... maybe a trail run, even!
I'm enjoying having free time without having to obsess about timing every run and bike with my schedule... but at the same time I feel a bit aimless not training for something. So I'll probably do a 10 mile race in Whitby, it's in my town and gives me something to work towards, and it's short enough that it's nothing serious.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sick as a Dog

I felt something coming on before the marathon, but over the last two days it just slammed me... fever, no energy, brutal! I even fainted last night, fell to the kitchen floor (and scared the heck out of my wife!)

Went to the doctor, it's a chest/throat infection, so I got antibiotics and hopefully am on the mend.

This is the longest I've gone without running/swimming/biking in over a year, probably longer... I hate it! Can't wait to get back to my regular routine.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Toronto Marathon - Post-race Navel-gazing

This is more for my own records than anything, but if it's any interest to you then fill your boots. :)

Chip time: 3:56:42.2
Gun time: 3:57:59.9

Place: 742/1703 (75/146 in M30-34, 601/1177 men)

21.1k: 1:51:18 (pace = 5:16/km)
30k: 2:39:36 (pace=5:19/km)
Full: 3:56:42 (pace=5:37/km

Last 21.1k: 2:04:06 (pace = 5:53/km)
Last 12.2k: 1:15:48 (pace = 6:13/km)

This is data from my watch (time for each kilometer)... not always 100% accurate due to me screwing up a few times.

1 0:05:03
2 0:05:34
3 0:04:43
4 0:04:56
5 0:06:06 (I'm not sure if 3-5 are correct)
6 0:05:05
7 0:05:25
8 0:05:15
9 0:05:25
10 0:05:09
11 0:05:24
12 0:04:49
13 0:05:03
14 0:04:59
15/16 0:10:05 (0:05:03 average)
17 0:05:31
19 0:05:08
19/20 0:10:50 (0:05:25 average)
21.1 0:06:50
22/23 0:09:08 (Not sure about 21.1 and 22/23)
24 0:05:34
25 0:05:26
26 0:06:06
27/28 0:10:56 (0:05:28)
29 0:05:22
30 0:05:48
31/32 0:11:29 (0:05:45)
33 0:06:00
34 0:05:45
35 0:06:11
36 0:05:59
37/38 0:13:14 (0:06:37)
39 0:06:52
40 0:06:57
41 0:07:05
42.2 0:07:35 (0:06:19)

The short story is that I went out too fast and paid at the end.

The longer story is that I felt great for the first half, good until 30k, bad but hanging in there until 35k, then dragged myself to the end. This is reflected in my times.

If this was a 30K race I would have been in good shape! :)

The 7:00/km near the end sounds awful, but if I run the entire Ironman marathon at that pace it will translate into a sub-5:00 marathon... giving me 12 hours to do the rest. Easy peasy! I can't imagine feeling any worse than I felt on Sunday, right? Right? Please??

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Race Report: Toronto Marathon

This was my first-ever marathon after taking up running two years ago. What a blast!

Results - 3:56:42 (742/1703 overall, 75/146 in M30-34)



I got there about an hour early, just in time to watch the 1/2 marathon start. I couldn't believe the sea of people... I clapped and cheered them on with the rest of the crowd, until I started feeling chilly.

Weather was great today, it started off around 5C or so, warmed up to to the low teens. Perfect running weather, I went with shorts and a technical T-shirt, and my cycling arm covers.

Not much to say about pre-race actually. I munched on my Cliff Bar and drank some fluids, and kind of paced around nervously. With 15 minutes to go I took my first of many gels, then with 5 to go walked to the start line.

And they're off...

I positioned myself between the 3:45 and 4:00 pace bunnies, and started to plod along. Despite the mass of people there was plenty of room so I got into a rhythm quite early and easily.

I was doing walk breaks (10 and 1's) for this race, something that I took up to help me train without injury. The first walk break was so hard to take... the crowd is there, they're cheering, and pride is telling you not to walk! But I stuck to my 10 and 1's religiously, right from the first one, so slowed for the first walk break.

Despite everything I've been told over and over, I went out too fast... I didn't feel fast, I just kept what I thought was a very comfortable pace, but I know for sure it was too fast. Only a few kilometers in I was over a minute ahead of my target pace... but every time I would try to slow down, we'd come to a downhill section and I'd just keep the legs moving with minimal effort and the speed kept coming.

I love Toronto

Before I go on with any more of my race story, I just want to say how much I love this city...

Running through beautiful neighbourhoods, past Casa Loma, St. Lawrence Market, through the downtown core, the lake front, it was just amazing. And Torontonians get a bad rap for being "cold" (by Canadian standards anyway!), but today it was as if I personally knew every one of them. The spectators would read your name off your bib and yell things like "Way to go Jonathan, just 8K to go!"... and after the race I had literally dozens of people congratulate me as I made my way home, proudly wearing my finishers medal.

Toronto the Good was out today, in full force, and I loved every minute of it!

(Except the drivers stuck in traffic... lol... should have listened to 680 News, traffic and weather on the 1's)

Half a Marathon Down, the Tough Half to Go...

I hit the halfway point at 1:52:36. That is when it really sunk in just how fast I had been going, and it was not a good thing... this was faster than my stand-alone 1/2 marathon time from February! Now granted, I'm in much better shape now, but still. I had a pretty strong suspicion this early pace was going to bite me in the butt.

I started backing off at this point, trying to get back to my original pace goals. I figured if I could just stick to them, I would crush my goal time of 4:00:00!

At this point I still felt fantastic, the energy was there, and the legs were moving easy. Nothing hurt, I felt strong.

After winding through Queens Quay, we joined the lakeshore trail section. At about 26k, making my 5:24/km goal time (and keeping it under 6:00/km on walk break kilometers) become more challenging. It was starting to feel like work, but the legs kept moving.

By the time I hit the 30k mat, I was still doing well, but my hamstrings were starting to hurt, and my energy levels had sunk noticeably...

The last 10K

Pretty much everything they say about those last 10K is true. It is where you pay the piper. And I paid!

By this point my hamstrings were sore and stiff, and my legs weren't flowing along smoothly like they had been at the start. My times started to slip, and slip... and I didn't feel like I had the energy to keep the pace I wanted. I started doing math to see what kinds of times I'd need to meet my goal, and it was still looking pretty good, so I didn't panic... instead I took extra walk breaks and just made sure I kept myself going.

Before the race, I had some delusions about dropping the walk breaks at the end (Galloway suggests this) but instead I took more of them. Humbling indeed! So in addition to my 10 and 1's, I was walking through aid stations, taking the full minute.

By the time I hit York/University to go north to Queen's Park (about 3-4k to go) I was hurting, it took everything I had just to keep my legs moving. I took one rather brutal walk break that I didn't even remember deciding to take, my legs just stopped running.

But I kept my eye on that watch... and when I hit 41k I knew I had it in the bag, I had 10 minutes left to do 1.2k! So I dug deep and kept going... the crowds were lining the streets by this point, what a rush... clapping, cheering, people calling out your name, it was surreal.

I rounded the final corner of Queen's Park and saw the finish line... then started my finishing kick. I passed a few people in that last little stretch, using up everything that I had left in me...

The Result

3:56:43! I couldn't believe it, after all that suffering at the end, I'd beaten my goal time by over 3 minutes... it felt amazing.

I'm not usually one to get too sappy about medals, but when they hung this one around my neck I felt like I had really accomplished something special. When I took up running 2 years ago as a way to keep active in the cycling off-season (winter), never in a million years did I think it would lead to running a full marathon. Being a marathoner was something that fast, fit, skinny people did... here I am two years later, and I'm fast, fit, and... well 182lbs isn't skinny, but I'm not fat! :)

Next Marathon?

Next time I run 42.2K it will be in Penticton, during Ironman Canada... oh and before I do that, I'll have swam 3.6k and biked 180k. The piper will get his pound of flesh that day I'm sure!

So my next stand-alone marathon will have to wait, probably until 2010. I can't wait, though, I have the bug.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

One day to go... Toronto Marathon

It's the day before the Toronto Marathon, and I'm excited!

I did a short 3k shake-down run at 9am this morning. The weather was pretty close to tomorrow's forecast, so it gave me a chance to test my clothing choices.

It'll be around 5C at the start, warming to 13C by the end. I went with shorts and a technical T-shirt, and my cycling arm covers (which I'll take off as it warms). It was perfect!

My only concern now is that I'm feeling the start of a cold coming on... right now it's a very mild cough, but I'm worried I'll wake up tomorrow in worse shape. I hope not! I've done rides and races in the past under the weather, so it wouldn't deter me, but I'd prefer to be 100%.

I'm making sure I keep myself well fed, snacking on carbs carbs carbs all day. Popcorn, bagels, toast, bananas, strawberries... yum. :) Spaghetti dinner planned for desert, so I should hit the start line with 100% full glycogen stores!

Sub-4:00, here I come! (I hope!)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Swimming, Olympic Gold Medalist Style

I hooked up with a triathlon group in our area who managed to find a swim coach... and no less than Olympic gold medalist (and silver and bronze), Anne Ottenbrite.

It went well, she taught us a drills and watched as we tooled around in the pool. Getting immediate feedback was great, I realized quite quickly that my balance isn't what it should be... as soon as she took our arms out of the equation, I had trouble rotating, suggesting I'm relying too much on my arms to control my body.

Having two different swim instructors is confusing, though. I'm taking weekly triathlon swimming classes, and there's a few discrepencies in technique already surfacing. I'm sure some of it comes down to style differences, but I think there may be some differences between pool and tri swimming that might be coming out.

I'll keep it up, though, see what works for me, and getting feedback is always great.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mountain Biking and the Fall Colours

This is the time of year when I park the road bike and get in some dirt mileage.

This was a long weekend (Happy Thanksgiving, Canadians!) so I managed to find time between runs to get in a nice ride.

I ride a Gary Fisher Utopia... it's a hybrid, not a true mountain bike, but it gets the job done on the trails around my place. I biked up from my house on a series of gravel and paved roads to Walker's Woods and Glen Major, and right next to it the awesome Durham Forest, a large forested reserve north east of Toronto.

It was fantastic... the trees have turned red, gold, orange, and yellow... some fantastic views. The leaves are just starting to fall, so in a few weeks you'll get that really cool forest floor cover. There's nothing more thrilling than pounding through the forest leaves!

If you live in the Toronto area, drive up and check it out. Here is a link to where it is on Google Maps.

Next weekend: Toronto Marathon!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Preview: Toronto Marathon

The Toronto Marathon is October 19, just over a week from today.

The Race

The race starts on Yonge Street (the world's longest street!), winds its way through mid-town, then goes through the Rosedale Valley before curving through downtown Toronto. From there it's an out-and-back run along the shores of Lake Ontario before returning to downtown and finshing up at Queen's Park (the Ontario legislature).

A very cool way to see a lot of this great city!

The Preparation

This summer's focus was triathlon, so running got only 1/3 of my attention. I didn't start ramping up the miles until mid-August, so it's been quite aggressive to get to this point.

I also had a century ride (cycling) in mid-September! So that was a bit of an interruption in the run training as well.

It didn't hold me up much, though, and I managed to build up to a 32k LSD training run.

The Plan

Since I came back from my injury, I've been using a run-walk strategy. The theory is that by walking 1 minute for every 10 minutes run, you save energy and give your muscles much needed rest, which delays the offset of muscle fatigue?

Convinced? I wasn't at first, it's counter-intuitive, but now I'm a believer. It's really worked well for me, I haven't had any injuries in my ramp-up, and when I've tried it in a race (1/4 marathon) my pace was really good. I don't think it cost me any time, and I finished feeling fresh. And ultimately, my goal is Ironman, and the marathon there is certainly going to include some walking... might as well train the way I'll race.

My goal is sub-4:00. To achieve this without run-walk would be a 5:40/km pace.

With run-walk, I'll be targeting 5:24/km on the kilometers without walk breaks, and 5:52/km on the kilometers with breaks. Somehow this works out to a 3:58:00 finish.

Nutrition - I'm going to take gels with me, a 5-shot bottle, plus there are 2 gel stations along the route. I'll also take one right before the start. This gives me one every 1/2 hour, which should be plenty. I'll drink mostly water, and the occasional Gatorade. If it's hot (unlikely), I will back off the gel and have more Gatorade to compensate for lost electrolytes.

Goal Creap

Don't read this post. Please. If you do, you'll find that my goal was just to finish, and that I would be happy with 4:15:00, or worse.

Here I am a couple months later, trying to go sub-4:00:00...

I feel quite confident, though. I had a great century ride in September, and the running has been really clicking for me. I've done some quick 5Ks, and just generally feel like I have the pace.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Race Report: The Mill Five (5K)

I did this 5K today, more for fun than anything (and to encourage a friend of mine who just started running!)

It was a pretty small event, around 60 runners... they scheduled it on the same day as the Run for the Cure, which probably wasn't such a good idea.

The course was mostly paved roads through the conservation area (Bruce's Mill), really nice, lots of trees. A few hills made it a bit challenging, but nothing too serious. There was also a short loop right near the end through the woods along a trail, really beautiful in there.

I did this race with a jogging stroller, pushing my 1-year-old son. I was thinking of taking this one at a leisurely pace, but then they put the timing chip on me... so... you know... instinct sort of takes over.

My final time was 23:36, which was only a minute and change off my personal best 5k! Good enough for 10th (of 59) and 5/14 in Men under 39. I don't know how much all of that means, since there were so few people, but I'll take it! :)

Jogging strollers don't hold you up that much really, I only really noticed it up hills and in the trail section because of the rougher surface... the rest of the time I was able to keep my normal pace. Not my normal form, though, but it didn't seem to effect the result much.

Best of all - pancakes and sausage breakfast at the finish!!! Can't beat that!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Fueling for Endurance: Article

Sure, they're trying to sell you Hammer Gel, but this article goes into a lot of detail that applies to any product you're going to use while doing endurance activity.

Proper Caloric Intake During Exercise

  • Ditch the sucrose, glucose, fructose... if it ends in "ose", leave it at home
  • Fuel with complex carbs, primarily maltodextrin
  • Aim for about 250 calories from carbs an hour (or less if you're smaller than me, I'm big)
  • Add protein if you're going out longer than 90-120 mins, preferably from soy

Oh yeah, and :

  • Buy lots of Hammer products!!!

I don't know if I buy all that he's selling... I've had good experience with more of a mix of carbs, and I did my most recent century ride primarily fueling with Gatorade, gels, turkey wraps, cookies... felt great at the end, had energy throughout. Maybe I would have done better if I'd stuck to the complex carbs, who knows?

For my upcoming marathon, I'm going with a Maltodextrin-based gel. I plan to use one every 1/2 hour, giving me about 200 calories from gels each hour. I'll take mostly water from the aid stations, but will also grab the odd Gatorade to give me the 250 calories I should be aiming for. It's more or less what I've been doing in training, so I'm fairly confident it will work out.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

2009 Planning - Periodization

I'm following Joe Friel's book "The Triathlete's Training Bible" to set up my training for 2009, and have come up with a big-picture look at my 2009 season.

These are his steps, and my planning decisions from them.

Step 1: Determine Season Goals

I have one goal: Finish Ironman Canada

I'm sure I'll find some other smaller goals before then, but everything I do this year will have that goal in mind.

Step 2: Establish Training Objectives

My limiters to meeting the goal of finishing Ironman are endurance and finding the time to train.

So my training objectives come down to being able to get those long runs, bikes and swims into my weekly schedule.

Step 3: Set Annual Training Hours

I haven't thought this part out fully, I will get more in depth here when I start laying out my weeks.

Step 4: Prioritize Races

The goal here is to assign a priority to the races you're planning - A, B, or C.

Peterborough 1/2 Iron (July)
Muskoka long-course (June) (switched)

Around the Bay 30K run (March)
Paris to Ancaster 60K Mountain Bike (April)
Ironman Canada (August)

Sporting Life 10K or 1/2 marathon (May)
Sprint Triathlon in late May or early June
Sprint or Olylmpic Triathlon in late July / Early August

Step 5: Divide Year into Periods

Each week of the year falls into one of 6 periods that lead up to a race... so this is my plan based on the races I've identified as my "A" races. The date is the Monday of the week.

(Note - I updated these in this post in December... so ignore the below)
  • Transition - 8 weeks - Oct 20 - Dec 8
  • Preparation - 6 weeks - Dec 15 - Jan 19
  • Base (1, 2, 3) - 12 weeks - Jan 26 - Apr 13
  • Build (1,2) - 8 weeks - Apr 20 - June 8
  • Peak - 2 weeks - June 15 - June 22
  • Race - 1 week - June 29 (Peterborough 1/2 Iron)
  • Transition - 1 week - July 6
  • Base (3) - 4 weeks - July 13 - July 27
  • Peak - 2 weeks - Aug 10 - Aug 17
  • Race - 1 week - Aug 24 (Ironman Canada)
  • Transition - August 31 - ???
This ends up being a 36-week plan (from first Preparation phase to final Race)

Step 6: Assign Weekly Hours

I haven't done this yet... no rush, I have a few months before the structured training starts.

Comments and Feedback is appreciated!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Training While Sick

I've been sick for the last few days, which has caused a bit of grief in my training schedule.

My original long run (LSD) plan:

Week 7: 29K run (last weekend)
Week 8: 32K run
Week 9: 20K run (taper start)
Week 10: 13-15K run
Week 11: Toronto Marathon, 42.2K

I missed the 29K - I was just feeling too lousy, so I backed off to a quick 10k instead, and followed it up with a 15K Monday.

Question 1: Do I try to make up the missed long run? Or skip it?

Answer: Skip it. Based on all that I've read and the advice of those more experienced than myself, making up missed runs is a bad idea. I'm not at 100% yet after being sick, and that would give me a short 5 day recovery before the scheduled 32K run.

Question 2: Now that I've skipped the 29K, do I do next week's 32K as planned?

Answer: No.

My longest run before this was 26K... going straight to 32K is a big jump, violates the "10% rule" and then some. So I've decided to knock that down to a 30K. The extra 2K isn't really worth any risk of injury. I would have liked to have got to 32K, but it's not going to make or break my marathon. And I have a solid endurance base from all the cycling this summer, including the 5+ hour effort for the century ride, so I'm far more concerned in just getting those running muscles clicking.

Revised schedule:
Week 7: 10K + 15K while sick, resting
Week 8: 30K run
Week 9: 24K run (taper start)
Week 10: 13-15K run
Week 11: Toronto Marathon, 42.2K

Lessons Learned from Being Sick

This was just a cold - sniffles and a raspy sounding cough. My lungs weren't completely clear, but it didn't impact my breathing too badly. The biggest symptom was lethargy, I felt bagged all day.

I was able to run, but I could feel my energy was much lower than usual. I kept the runs short but tried to maintain the intensity, and skipped my long run.

If it weren't such a key time in my marathon training, I would have probably backed off even further and skipped some of those runs... I don't think it pays to push it, better to recover as quickly as possible by resting to be fresh for the next training sessions.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ride Report: Tour de Greenbelt (Rouge Park)

The Event

The Tour de Greenbelt. This is a series of recreational rides in the Toronto area. We did the Rouge Park ride, a 25K ride starting and finishing at the Toronto Zoo.

Great work, Kacey!

My 4-year-old daughter Kacey and I did this ride together, she was on the trail-behind bike (it has its own set of pedals, but latches to my bike seatpost).

She rode like a champ! Kept us moving really fast.

The ride

This was more of a "tour" than anything. The cyclists involved were largely environmentalist types and city riders, not many roadies. When there are 4 rest stops on a 25K route, you should really expect that I guess!

It's my off-season now, so I didn't have any goals here, other than to have fun with my daughter.

Mission: Accomplished! She had fun. We stopped for apples, ice cream, and just had a leisurely time.

The organization was a bit shaky... the rest stops were just being set up as we got there sometimes, and there was confusion where to go for things like the "free ice cream". Also getting back to the Zoo, it wasn't clear where we should go for the post-race lunch... we ended up just skipping it.

Oh, and I found it somewhat ironic that the environmentalists who put this on served BOTTLED WATER! And we got the usual bag full of flyers. Not really consistent with the conservation theme... doesn't really bother me any, but always fun to point out the inconsistencies of others. ;)

Dalton McGuinty

The Ontario premier was there to kick it off. I guess he gets his due, since he really was the architect of the Green Belt. It's a great idea - set aside a large swath of land surrounding Toronto to remain undeveloped. He didn't speak for too long, just enough to get his soundbites in, so that was fine.

The Verdict

If you're looking to tour the Greenbelt's points of interests at a leisurely pace, then this is a good way to do it. But if you're looking to pound the pavement in a roadie-style group ride, skip this one.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Toronto Marathon - The Progress

Original Plan

Week 1: 16K run
Week 2: Sprint Triathlon (features a 7K run)
Week 3: 20K run
Week 4: 23K run
Week 5: 160K bike (Ride for Karen)
Week 6: 26K run
Week 7: 29K run
Week 8: 32K run
Week 9: 20K run (taper start)
Week 10: 13-15K run
Week 11: Toronto Marathon, 42.2K

I'm currently at week 7, and I've stuck to the plan exactly! Everything is feeling pretty good. As I said in my previous post, my stability muscles are getting fatigued earlier than the rest on my long runs, but it's OK. The walk breaks (10 and 1's) seem to help a lot.

This weekend will be a 29K run, which will take me around 3 hours to complete.

Marathon Pacing

Now I don't mind finishing behind Lance... he's Lance... but no way am I finishing behind Puff Daddy. It's bad enough I likely won't beat Will Ferrel!

2:46 - Lance Armstrong (does he count? He's a "real" athlete! )
3:04 - Dana Carvey
3:44 - George W. Bush
3:46 - Gordon Ramsey
3:56 - Will Ferrel
4:14 - Sean (Diddy) Combs
4:29 - Oprah
4:58 - Al Gore
5:29 - Katie Holmes
6:04 - David Lee Roth

I've gone back and forth with what my target time should be.

Based on the McMillian Running Calculator, using either my 1/4 or 1/2 marathon result, I should be able to run sub-4:00:00. Of course the calculator assumes you're as well trained for the full as you were for the 1/4 or 1/2, which I won't be...

The pace to run sub-4:00:00 is about 5:40/km.

Plug the 4:00:00 into the pace band tool that accounts for walk breaks and I get 5:27/km as the target pace for those kilometers that don't include a walk.

I ran 5:24/km average in my 1/2 marathon in February without walk breaks, so I'm familiar with the pace. It seemed pretty tough at the time, but I'm much better prepared and trained now, not to mention 10 pounds lighter.

So that's the plan. Sub-4:00:00, or bust. I'll listen to my body, I know it pretty well now, if it's telling me the pace is too fast I'll back off to a Plan B finishing time.

Look out, Diddy...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

2009 Planning

I'm winding down the 2008 season with the Toronto Marathon in October, but with a goal as ambitious as Ironman for 2009 I will have to plan my next season sooner than normal.

Training Starts...

... January 1, 2009. This gives me around 2 months of rest/relaxation between the Toronto Marathon and the training grind for Ironman.

Training Plans

I'm still deciding which training plan to use, but I think I'll generally go with this 36-week training plan. It seems to match much of the common wisdom for the "novice" Ironman, ie. to build up over a longer period of time (36 weeks).

I'll also leverage the knowledge I've pulled in from other sources, mainly the book "Going Long" by Joe Friel. There is also a 20-week training plan aimed at beginners that I'm going to take into account.

36 weeks before August 2009 puts the start date for Ironman training somewhere in mid-December... I'll probably push that out until the start of January and shorten it to a 34 week plan, depending on how life goes around Christmas!

I'm going to merge all this into a formal detailed training plan over the next month or two.


This is a rough plan of what races I'd like to do.

The only "A" race is Ironman Canada, the rest are for experience, for fun, and for motivation.

March - Around the Bay 30K
April - Paris to Ancaster (Mountain Bike Race)
May - Sporting Life 10K or a 1/2 marathon
Late May - Sprint Triathlon
Mid-June - Muskoka (long course - Swim 2km, Bike 55km,Run 15km)
Early July - Peterborough 1/2 Iron
Late July/Early August - Sprint Triathlon
August 30, 2009 - Ironman Canada

Winter Training

My weakness is the swim, so over the winter that's my focus. I'm taking swim classes again, and will be spending a lot of time in the pool.

I'm hoping for a mild winter so I can get some outdoor bike miles in. Either way, I'll be making good use of my trainer. And I'll run through the winter again - I got through last year's record snowfall, I'll get through it again this year.

And Beyond...

I don't want to think too far ahead, but based on training plans and such the main goal is bike bike bike! That's basically what I've always done, so this should be just another season for me, only with more miles.

Can't wait!

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Longest Run Ever

Ran my longest run ever, a 26K on Saturday.

Grocery Store Stop

I stopped at a grocery store along the way to buy some Gatorade. There were too ladies in front of me who were going so ridiculously slow... I was already 10K in, so I was sweaty and eager to get back out there.

So in line, I popped open the Gatorade and drank a bit. Then I figured hey, it's open, might as well refill my water bottle right here rather than wait. At this point, I notice the lady behind me staring at me, looking a bit moritified... I finish off the little bit that was left, put the cap back on the empty bottle, and put it back on the conveyor belt.

The cashier takes the empty bottle, scans it, then pauses... I think she was going to ask if I needed a bag, but realized that was a silly question. Instead she asks "do you need this?" and I say "no, you can throw it out"... I give her money and leave empty handed.


The Run

The rest of the run went fine, although I had some pain here and there pretty much start to finish. Nothing that got any worse, so I was able to finish the run.

It's clear that the muscles I use for cycling - quads and hamstrings - are fine, and my conditioning was fine. But the stability muscles on the inside and outside are behind... especially around my hip. They were the muscles that fatigued first. Not much I can do at this point, other than get in my miles and stretch them, but going forward it's something I will focus more on.

Next week: 29K, followed by 32K, then I back off for a few weeks until the 42.2K Toronto Marathon!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ironman Canada 2009 - Here I come!

They released a few extra spots for Ironman Canada 2009 today...

I talked to my wife, got approval, and 10 minutes ago, I signed up.

I still can't believe I just did that... :)

I know I can bike 180k. I'm confident I can get through the marathon. And I know I can get the swimming there in time, I have almost a year to improve my technique and get the distance going.

It's going to be a wild journey over the next year, I can't wait.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ride Report: Ride for Karen (Century Ride)

The Event

Today I did the Ride for Karen, a 160K bike north of the GTA.

This is one of the best organized races/rides/events out there, they do a really awesome job. Sign-up is a breeze, they have well stocked rest stops, lots of support vehicles.

One of the cool things is the crowd... roadies, touring guys, and triathletes, they're all there to put in their 160k. I was a stealth triathlete... took off my aero bars. :) But if anyone asked I fess'ed up.

Rain rain, go away

The rain started about 2 blocks from the start... and didn't end until almost exactly when I finished. I don't mind biking in the rain, I was prepared, but over the course of 6 hours it starts to get on your nerves a little!

There are basically two options in dealing with rain:
1) Get wet or
2) Try not to get wet, then get wet anyway

I went with option 1, as did most of the others who lined up. A few people had rain jackets, but most didn't.

  • Cycling jersey
  • Cycling shorts
  • Cycling shoes
  • Arm warmers (no lining, just lycra to cover arms)
  • Leg warmers (again, no lining, just lycra to cover legs)
  • Thin socks that don't absorb much water
  • Cycling gloves
The arm and leg coverings are the only deviation from my usual cycling attire. If you're wet, the wind makes you cold, so protecting yourself from the wind is the big key. And not wearing anything that absorbs water.

The Ride

They start people by target average speed - 35km/h, 30km/h, or 25km/h.

I started in the middle of the 30km/h pack, but after the first steep hill I found myself near the front. Drafting in a bit peloton like that is really nice... sometimes you're not even pedaling, you just get sucked along by the pack.

I had this elaborate plan for how I was going to eat in the first 1/3, but it didn't happen... it's hard to eat when you're in a pack and only a foot or less away from the bike in front of you! I managed to get down a bottle of Gatorade and a bit of gel, but not much else. So much for 300 calories an hour... but I did scarf down a lot of food at the rest stops, so that kept my energy up anyway.

The highlight of my day was this one group I ended up riding with through the 20K or so flat section through Holland Marsh. This big German guy was pulling, I was right behind him, and I could barely keep up... we were absolutely flying. Our group started with about a dozen very capable riders, I looked back about 20 minutes later and there were only 4 of us! Felt great to be able to hang on where others couldn't.

I spent the last 1/3 of the ride mostly on my own. I was with a group at one point, but they weren't going fast enough, and didn't work together very well anyway. Two of us went off the front, nobody else had the legs to keep up, and then the guy I went with faded as well... so I just kept spinning and left them behind.

The Result

My final average speed was 30km/h on the nose - that had been my target, although I'd expected to do a lot less time solo than I ended up doing! Last year I was around 28km/h in the same ride. So I'm delighted!

I had energy and felt strong almost the entire ride, and finished feeling really good. I'm surprised this was the case, I didn't feel like I'd fueled as much as I could have.... but I guess stuffing myself at rest stops was enough juice to keep things moving.

The Bike

There's this saying, "it's not the bike, it's the engine". I ride an entry-level road bike, Trek 1200, aluminum with entry-level components (Tiagra/105). I spent most of my day riding with guys on some really sweet full carbon bikes, zipp wheels, the works... I left a few Cervelo Soloists in the dust. On the other side, there were guys hanging in there with old-school steel frames.

I'm sure I could have found a little more pace with a sweeter ride... but how much more? I'm not sure. It did make me realize that I can do well with this bike. Someday I'll upgrade, but it's not the priority I was making it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Century Ride Fueling

Here's a great article on fueling for long rides.

You can get carried away finding the "perfect" combination of food for your ride, but the guiding principle is to consume:
  • around 300 calories of carbs every hour (at least for a 180+ pound dude like me!)
  • enough fluids so you're not dehydrated
  • enough electrolytes (salt + potassium especially) that you don't cramp up
My foods of choice:

Cliff Bar = 230 calories, plus lots of other stuff
Gatorade Bottle = 100 calories
eLoad Bottle = 100 calories (+ more electrolytes than Gatorade)
Gel = 100 calories
Banana = 100 calories (potassium!)

The Ride for Karen has two rest stops with food, 55K and 115k. This will be around 2 & 4 hour mark in the 30km/h group that I was in last year. Basically breaks the ride into 3rds.

On the bike in the first 1/3 I'll have 2 bottles of Gatorade, 1 Gel, a Cliff Bar and a banana, which is around 600 calories. If it's hot I'll swap a Gatorade for eLoad, and will carry a couple eLoad packets for later.

From there on I'll play it by ear, fueling with whatever they have at the rest stops. It's mostly real food, which is a lot better than bars or gels... but I'll keep my gel flask full so I'm ready to top up if I find I'm low.

It sounds easy, but it can go bad in a hurry... the stomach gets awfully sick of sports drinks and gels in pretty short order, and your digestive system gets less bloodflow as your body decides your muscles need it more. It's really important to eat early and graze throughout, rather than pigging out only at rest stops.

And at the finish? A HUGE PIG-OUT!!! I'll eat anything they don't nail down...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Soreness: Two Days, 123K

The plan:

Saturday: 100K ride
Sunday: Easy swim
Monday: 23K LSD

The reality:

Saturday: 100K bike
Sunday: Easy swim... then 23K LSD

7 hours of training in 2 days??? Am I nuts?

The bike was fine, easy as pie. 100K has become fairly routine. A little over 4 hours.

The swim was fine (other than the wanker walking backwards in my lane that ran into me!).

The run... ohhh, the run.

It's funny how at the start of the run, it's hard to slow down to 6:00/km, but by the end it took everything I have to maintain 6:00/km. It just smoked me, the last 5K were tough. I had the food - started with Gatorade, refilled half-way, and had 5 gels on the route - but I was tapped. At the end of the run I was down 3-4 pounds from when I started... it was hot, I sweat way too much.

Two kinds of sore

I woke up Monday morning and everything hurt. My feet were a little sore, but my quads were on fire. In fact the entire day I've been sore.

Now there are really two kinds of sore.

Type 1: Oh crap what did I pull/mangle/tear/abuse
Type 2: Ow... my muscles...

Type 1 sucks. It has you questioning whether you'll be able to do your next race or training session... something might really be wrong, and worst of all, it could be something that requires rest. And who the hell wants to rest???

Type 2 rocks. It's a good sore. It's the kind of sore that reminds you you're alive. It's muscles feeling the pain of being pushed... the kind of sore that makes you better at what you do, and gets you closer to your goals.

This is all type 2. It's muscle pain, and I know it'll be better in a couple days. It feels great and painful at the same time... very satisfying.

Next up - 160K Ride for Karen, and hopefully more type 2 soreness! :) And in 2 weeks I graduate to a 26K LSD, which will be my longest ever run (beating a 24K from February). Can't wait!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cycling Nutrition & Today's 100K ride

In preparation for next week's 160k Ride for Karen, I did a 100K ride.

As usual, I went with my good riding buddy. He's fresh off a trip to Muskoka, which included riding the full Muskoka 70.3 bike course (90K+)... according to him, it's killer, and I believe it! Lots of hills, and it saves the best for the end. I can't wait to check it out next season.

Today's 100K went well. It's the 3rd time we've done this particular route this year, and my 4th 100K ride of the year. It was probably our slowest effort, but wasn't looking to break any records. Mostly just getting the legs spinning, and trying out some food.

What I ate:

Breakfast: Shredded Wheat with skim milk (and sugar) + coffee
Hour 1: Gatorade + 1/2 Cliff Bar
Hour 2: eLoad + 1/2 Cliff Bar
Break: Hot Rod (seriously) and a Nestea Iced Tea
Hour 3: Gel shot + watered down Gatorade
Hour 4: Gel shot + watered down Gatorade
Recovery: Banana, coffee, leftover Pizza Pizza (bacon & jalapenos, mmm!), Dr. Pepper, a glass of skim milk.

The Hot Rod was just because I was craving salt... I never get to eat those crappy fat sticks, so it tasted a little extra yummy. The recovery food choices were just because... I love to eat! And what better excuse than "I just biked for 4 hours and burned 3500+ calories!". :) Figured a banana and a bunch of sugar were good, the rest was because I wanted it.

I had energy the entire ride, legs mostly felt great. I really have the hang of the fueling thing now, at least with cycling.

My century ride motto: Eat anything that isn't faster than me!!!

Over 160k (100 miles) I'll burn about 5000-6000 calories. There's no way to get that kind of calorie intake while riding, so the critical thing is to fuel up the day before and the morning of, then take in as much as you can without feeling like crap while riding.

Last year they had a lot of food at the rest stops. I'll start with a couple eLoads (and will bring a pouch or two with me), some gels, but other than that I'll eat what they've got. Bananas, bagels, cookies, Gatorade, lots of grub to choose from.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Look Back at My First Multisport Event: Cobourg Duathlon, 2007...

I did this duathlon before I started my blog, but figured I should capture what I remember about it before my memory fades!

I didn't really set out to do multisport... I was really just looking for a reason to keep my running base from the winter, so wanted a goal to work towards. Never in a million years would I have anticipated I'd be doing triathlons a year later! It wasn't even a glint in my eye.

It was a Sprint Duathlon, with distances:

5K run
20K bike
2.5K run

Full Results

At this point, I had only been running for about 10 months, so I was still learning about pacing and such.

Run #1 - 5K

The run felt good... at first! I could see my fast marathon friend at the 1K point... surprised to be keeping up with him, I kept a pretty quick pace. At the halfway point I was just behind, thinking things were going OK... but by the end of the 5K I was really spent... and worse, I could feel my ITBS start to flare up. More on that later.
Run #1 Time: 24:56, 39/78 (4:59/km)

Transition 1

I don't really remember what happened, but for some reason it took me 1:27. Should have just had to change shoes, but I didn't practice beforehand.

Bike - 20K

The bike started out really bad... I had gone too hard in the run and was paying for it right from the start.

About 5K in, I was trying to eat a gel, but then hit a bump. I slammed my hand back down on the handlebars, with gel still in hand... it splatted all over my brake hoods, it was nasty. Worse, I didn't have a gel to eat!

I remember looking at the course description before the race which described the course as hilly. What an understatement... the hills were killer. I didn't feel comfortable on the bike until the last few kilometers going back into Cobourg.
Bike Time: 44:25, 31/78 (27.0km/h)

Transition 2

1:55... too slow! Not sure why I took so long, I'm much faster in transition now.

Run 2 - 2.5K

So here was the test... would my ITBS problems subside, or were they going to kill me?

Unfortunately the answer was they were going to kill me. Within a block I could feel the familiar pain, and not long after I was stopped and stretching.

Such a short distance, I should have been able to hammer through it, but I ended up walking almost as much as I ran, and stretching every 200m or so. It was miserable. I don't know how I had better times than two people, they must have been on crutches.

I finished the run and headed straight to first-aid for ice... but ended up feeling the effects of the ITBS for weeks after.
Run #2 Time: 22:00, 76/78 (8:48/km)


A neat race, and one I should do again now that I'm dedicated to triathlon. I have my ITBS well under control, orthotics resolved it, so that won't be repeated.

The big take-away, though, was not to go out so hard... if I'm doing another duathlon, I'll take the first run a lot slower, closer to 10K pace, so I have something in the tank for the rest of the race.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Preview: Ride for Karen (Cycling - Century Ride)

The Ride for Karen is a 100 mile (160K) bike ride through beautiful Ontario countryside to raise money for kids with cancer.

I did this ride last year, and it was fantastic. Very well organized, great support on the route, lots to eat and drink, perfect!

They break up the start into groups, based on your target average speed. Last year, there was a 35km/h group, a 30km/h group, and a 25km/h. You're free to go faster or slower as you please, but if you want the full benefit of a giant peloton, it's best to stick with the group!

Despite starting in the rain, I was able to stick with the 30km/h group until a little over 100K... until pfffffft! Flat tire. The good people from the Trek Store were there in a jiffy with a new tube, saving me the trouble, but despite my buddy waiting for me we just couldn't get back to the group. The last 60K were a little rough, but in the end our average was around 28km/h. Felt great to finish that first century ride!

The goal this year: stay with the 30km/h pack, but more importantly learn a thing or two. Anything this long (over 5 hours of riding) is more than just a cool achievement, it's a learning experience - hydration, food, pacing and energy management, etc.

Triathlon Off-Season Begins...

With the Orillia Sprint Tri in the books, my triathlon off-season has officially begun.


I'm gearing up for the Toronto Marathon in October, so this is where my focus is shifting! I have to do a lot of mileage to get that base where it needs to be for this race, so it's going to be a busy September of running.

Once that is complete, I'll take a few weeks to rest and recover. I'll run through the winter again, most likely taking in a few events along the way.

I haven't decided yet on a spring marathon. I'll let my body decide! I have a busy spring/summer of triathlons planned, including at least 1 half-Iron, so we'll see how it fits in.


I have a century ride (160K) in a couple weeks, so I'll be doing a few more long rides as I gear up for that. Once that's complete, I'll take a more recreational approach to cycling, once a week most likely. I'm eager to do some fall mountain biking, last year was spectacular!

If winter isn't too bad, I might be able to get in some outdoor rides again. A few years ago it was mild, and I was able to bike right up to the first week of January without much trouble. When that's not possible, I'll use the indoor trainer.


My next race with a swim won't be until June, so I've dropped the swimming down to 1 day per week. I'm signing up for a Triathlon swimming class starting in October, so that will keep me busy over the winter. I really want to focus on swimming over the off-season to get my form worked out, I can't keep coming out of the water completely winded!

The Off-Season Philosophy

From everything I've read, the off-season should be a time to rest, recover, have fun, and work on weaknesses. That's what I'm going to focus on so I can hit the ground running in 2009!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Race Report: Bill Harper Run (5K)

I can't say enough about this event!


- 5K timed run (not chip timed though)
- Free lunch (Subway subs) and drinks (water, pop, etc)
- Free T-shirt
- Prizes - gobs of them! This run is affiliated with 52 division of the Toronto Police force, and man, they're great at soliciting companies to donate prizes! I ended up with a DVD for my kids and a $100 gift certificate for a Toronto restaurant!!!

All for $10!

Amazing value. And if that's not enough, there's a short kids run... every kid got a medal!

The Race

The course is on Center Island, which is basically dead flat. It's a beautiful setting along recreational paths on the island.

I started out fast... maybe faster than I should have. But I was feeling good, the sun was shining, it was a great day to be alive! :) For the first 1K anyway.

I clocked in at 4:19 for my first kilometer, way ahead of where I needed to be. But thing were still clicking, so I didn't slow up. The second kilometer was almost identical, 4:19.

About the halfway point I started to remember why I hate running 5K... it's just so fast and so intense, I find I suffer a lot more than in the longer distances. My pace dropped off to closer to my predictions, 4:34 and 4:40, before kicking out a 4:33 out to finish it up.

Final time: 22:26.50 - a personal best for 5K!

(That was by my watch, they seemed to have hosed some of the timing and reported my time higher than it was)

I'm absolutely delighted... I was musing about 23:30 before the race, so coming in a minute under is just gravy.

The Running Daemons!

My friend who told me about this great event rounded up a team of 4 guys to participate as a team! They add up your 5K scores, fastest wins.

We were hoping for a podium finish...

Imagine our surprise when WE WON! I'm not entirely sure how that happened, none of us were podium finishers in our age groups, but I guess having us run 22-minute range, two in the 23-minute range, and one guy in the 28-minute range was good enough to get it done!

Moral of the story: enter small enough races and you can actually win something!!! :)

Fantastic event, I'll almost certainly do it again.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Preview: Bill Harper Run (5K)

Race web site

I don't actually know that much about this race, other than:

1) It's only $10
2) It's on the beautiful Toronto Islands
3) They have a kid's race that looks like fun for my two girls

I'm participating as part of a team (the "Running Daemons"), so our combined times will ranked against the other teams. We were trying to get four guys who could run sub-25:00 and try for the podium, but that didn't work out... so there's two of us, and two who probably won't.

The course is going to be flat, since everything on the islands is flat.

My last (and only!) 5K was the Resolution Run in January. It was snowing, there were a few inches of slush, and it was a hillier course... my time was 23:04, but I found out later they didn't measure the course properly and it was only 4.8K. Argh!

I'm hoping for a sub-4:45/km pace, which would be about a 23:30 finishing time. Or better! :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

My day in court

In June of 2007, I was hit by a truck while riding my bike. I was going straight, he was turning left, and turned across my path... I had nowhere to go and plowed into the side of his truck.

Pictures... warning, kind of gross

The guy who hit me was charged with nothing more than a traffic ticket for making a "Turn while unsafe". $85 and a few demerits, a very lowly charge considering he could have killed me!

Yet he still challenged it... sigh! And I was subpoenaed to be a witness in the case.

So today I took a few hours off of work and headed down to the courtroom. He showed up, and made his case... I overheard him speaking with the prosecutors, and it was quite laughable. Basically he said he started turning, then someone was backing out on the road he was turning onto, so he stopped in the intersection and I hit him.

The prosecutor basically ripped him, saying "sir, you were turning left, you didn't have the right of way!". He finally got that, and when he came back to court he entered a guilty plea, "with explanation". He blathered on with his explanation, including the fact that I made a 6 foot skidmark and the cop said I was going 25km/h... umm... yeah... guess what, most vehicles go a lot faster than that!!!

And his actual story is not even accurate, the moment he started turning I knew I was going to hit him... there was just no way to avoid it, and I don't remember him stopping in the intersection.

The court reduced his fine to a pathetic $40.

Justice served? Not even close. My fingers are permanently bent and I was almost killed!!! He's out $40. Oh and the cop said I left a huge dent in his truck... so that made me feel better too.

There's nothing I can do at this point, other than hope he got the message that when you're turning left you have to make sure it's clear! I assume he knew that already and was just careless, though.

Done, over with, now I'll never think about it again!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Race Report: Orillia "Northern" Triathlon

What a fantastic day! Beautiful weather, calm clear water, a gorgeous park next to the lake... big crowds, 500+ triathletes doing the Sprint (and a bunch of duathletes and try-a-tri'ers!).

Full results

Pictures of yours truly


This race was very well run, registration was a breeze. Got my swag, bib, timing chip, and got marked within about 5 minutes flat!

I set up my transition area... it was bike porn everywhere I looked. About half the bikes around me were Cervelos, then there were a smattering of every other kind of tri bike you can imagine. The guy who racked next to me had a smoking Specialized full carbon bike... I don't know what model, but it was just amazing. I felt a little "underdressed" for the occasion with my Trek 1200 with the clip-on aero bars! I kept telling myself "it's the engine, not the bike", but I bet this engine could go a lot faster on a Cervelo P3C!!!

With transition set up, I made my way to the beach for a pre-race swim.

The Swim - 750m

Getting into the wetsuit was a breeze, everyone was helping each other zip up so had no problem finding a volunteer for my own zipping!

Water was clear, calm, and warm. 24C they said... I very quickly knew this swim was going to be fine, all my anxiety vanished and I got my head into the race.

They split the group into 7 waves, 3 minutes apart. The elites went first, then my wave (Men 30-34). I was a little nervous about being in such an early wave, as I knew the waves behind me would catch up... but it took them awhile to do it, I was halfway done before I saw the first chasers.

The giant orange buoys they use were incredibly hard to see, as we were swimming into the sun! So mostly I just followed the people around me.

All in all, an uneventful swim, it went as well as I could have hoped! The wetsuit made a huge difference, I was barely kicking but the legs stayed afloat. But I still left the water huffing and puffing and feeling wiped... still needs work.
Swim Time: 19:36, 427/509 (2:37/100m)

Transition 1

Transition was smooth... got out of the wetsuit without any problems. I didn't transition as fast as I could have, was trying to catch my breath from the swim.
T1 time: 2:18

The Bike - 33K

I was completely wiped from the swim, so for the first 10K I was spinning just trying to get back out of the red. It doesn't help that the race course starts with a series of small hills, either! I kept the cadence at 90rpm or faster and tried to coast as much as I could without losing too much time. This is where having good bike skills paid off... I was cornering a lot faster than the people around me, and got better runs down the hills. Being able to keep speed rather than having to accelerate over and over really helps conserve energy.

The course was pleasant, mostly small to medium rolling hills on quiet country roads. Very similar to what I find on my training runs, so that helped. I passed a lot of people, and was passed by a lot of people... it was hit and miss! A lot of strong cyclists in the later waves, and duathlon folks as well.

By the mid-way I found my legs and was able to push a bunch on some of the flat sections. I tried to keep my 90rpm cadence up hills though... the temptation was there to power up, even to get out of the saddle, but instead I downshifted and spun. It felt wrong.
Bike time: 1:05:35, 217/509 (30.2km/h).

Transition 2

Another easy and smooth transition. I had to swap my orthotics out of my cycling shoes and into the runners which added a bit.
T2 time: 1:09

The Run - 7K

I started the run feeling pretty depleted... I missed eating a gel I was planning at the start of the bike due to losing it in my pocket (don't ask). So I got one in right at the start of the run, and then started plodding along.

In my training, I did a few brick workouts, where you go out on the bike then switch to the run. This helped a lot, but even with that training my initial pace was pretty off. Needs more practice!

I hadn't decided whether to take walk breaks or not before the run, but the way I felt I decided it was a good idea. I walked through the water stations, taking about 30s to recover. Definitely helped me keep up a reasonable pace through the full 7K!

After about 2K I started to feel good again, and picked up the pace. It was clear 5:00/km wasn't going to happen, I always underestimate how much the first two legs take out of me... but I managed to keep the legs loose and moving.
Run time: 37:26, 321/502 5:21/km

Overall Time: 2:06:03, 282/509, 31/41 in M30-34

The Post-mortem

I feel like a triathlete! It went well, I knew what I was doing, where to be, and I did well enough to feel good about the result. :)

The swim went great for me... I know I'm not fast compared to the field, but I expected to do worse! I only really started in January, and with 9 months until my next triathlon there is plenty of time to improve. My 2:37/100m pace was quite a bit faster than my 3:19/100m in the try-a-tri I did in June, so I've definitely improved here. More to come!

The bike was the bike - it always feels like home! :) If I wasn't so bagged from the swim I like to think I could have done even better, but being in the top 1/2 of the field is just fine with me.

My run was a little quicker than the pace I've done in 1/2 marathons... which in retrospect makes a lot of sense. They're similar lengths of effort, around 2 hours. I think I should be able to get the triathlon pace up as I learn to swim more efficiently and manage the race pacing a little better, but for now I'm happy enough with my run.

I had an absolute blast... as with any event where you push yourself to your limits, there are times when it hurts and you're suffering, but I feel I did a good job and was well prepared. The crowds were awesome, from the people at the transition site to the folks at the end of their driveways, there was a lot of support! I made sure to smile and wave when I could to show my appreciation.

I hope my schedule next year allows me to do this race again!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Race Day Checklist

I first posted this list at my previous tri, but there are a few additions.

To get there:
  • Map

For before:

  • Sun screen
  • Body Glide
  • Food (or gel)
  • Water (or Gatorade)
  • Tape to reinforce bib holes
At the start of the swim:
  • Goggles
  • Tri shorts
  • Cycling jersey (or alternate top)
  • Swim Cap (if two required - cold)
  • Wetsuit
At the transition to bike:
  • Bike
  • Helmet
  • Glasses
  • Socks
  • Water bottle (with water - to clean feet)
  • Towel
  • Cycling Shoes
  • Race number holder belt
  • Gel
On the bike:
  • Water bottles (with Gatorade or eLoad)
  • Pump
  • Spare tube
  • Tire levers
At the transition to run:
  • Running Shoes
  • Gel
For after:
  • Food
  • Change of clothes
  • Water

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Preview: Northern Orillia Triathlon

This Sunday I will be participating in my second triathlon, the Orillia Sprint Tri.

Swim: 750m swim
Bike: 33K
Run: 7K

The Goal
The main goal here is to get experience with swimming in a race. In my first race the swim was only 400m, and I did it without a wetsuit. This time I'm going almost twice as far, and with a wetsuit. It adds a whole new dimension to the swim and to the transition.

Once I emerge from the water and manage to transition to the bike, my goal will shift into just enjoying the ride and run, pushing with whatever I have left! They're short distances so I should be able to pound them out pretty fast, assuming the 20 minutes of swimming hasn't totally drained me.

The Race
I have never done this race before, but browsing past results tells me to expect over 500 competitors! That's a much larger group than the 150 or so I competed with in my first triathlon in June. This will also be my first time racing in the Subaru Triathlon Series. I get the impression the level of competition is a little bit higher in this series, I've seen a few of their events on TV (TSN) and there are some top notch names.

Expected Results

It's pretty unpredictable for me, there are a lot of question marks. I don't know much about the bike/run course, I don't know how the swim will go, so I'm kind of firing in the dark here!

Swim: About 20:00 in the pool... wetsuit should help, lake hinders, so ???
Transition 1: No idea... hopefully fast!!!
Bike: 1:06:00 (30km/h) the course map <--- looks hilly
Transition 2: Fast... dump bike, change shoes
Run: 35:00 (5:00/km)

Should be fun!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

My First Wetsuit Swim

I went for a swim workout with a local (Toronto) triathlon group.

Sidebar: If you're in the Toronto area, it's a nice group, and a great chance to get out there. It's run by the EnduroSport store in the Beach area (on Queen), details are here. Free to participate, $10 to rent a wetsuit if you need one. It's fairly unstructured, one group went out far and swam between some buoys, others stayed near the shore.

My Wetsuit Experience

Getting the wetsuit on took me a few minutes. They're very tight, and they don't just pull on easily, there's a lot of tugging, unrolling, shifting, squatting... and I needed help to zip up the back.

Once it was on I looked at myself in the mirror. One word: BATMAN! :) It's actually pretty flattering, tight but it also smooths everything out. I looked fast!

We waddled down to the water, which I'm sure was an amusing sight for anyone driving by. Think March of the Penguins.

The water was COLD. I don't just mean cold, I mean COOOOLD.

I started by getting some water into my suit, which was what I'd been told to do. It allows the suit to shift around a bit and get comfortable.

When I finally got to floating, the added buoyancy from the suit was immediately apparent. Without moving a muscle, I was floating! As I started swimming, my legs simply floated at the surface behind me, even without kicking. All that practicing my form to get those feet to the surface and here they were doing it without my help. :)

I swam for a bit, but the cold water was a lot to take... I had a cold going too, so my breathing was really wheezy. All in all, though, swimming in the wetsuit was completely fine.

I trudged back up to the store, and then came the next challenge - getting out of the wetsuit. I see a very long first transition in my future... it didn't want to come off easily! Kind of like peeling a banana without tearing the peel.

Really looking forward to the race next week! I just hope the water isn't as cold - that was terrible, really impacted my ability to swim.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Toronto Marathon - The Plan

The Race
The Toronto Marathon, October 19th

The Problem
My long runs are only at 16K, and there are only 11 weeks left... so it's going to be a less than perfect ramp-up, and a less than perfect race! I also have a triathlon next weekend (with a 7K run) and a century ride in early September, so there are those interruptions as well.

The Solution
  • Use 10 and 1's (walk breaks) to limit injuries.
  • Rely on my overall endurance, especially from cycling, and my previous running.
  • Ramp up quickly to 20K, then more normally to 30K+

My long run/event plan looks like this:

Week 1: 16K run (this week - complete!)
Week 2: Sprint Triathlon (features a 7K run)
Week 3: 20K run
Week 4: 23K run
Week 5: 160K bike (Ride for Karen)
Week 6: 26K run
Week 7: 29K run
Week 8: 32K run
Week 9: 20K run (taper start)
Week 10: 13-15K run
Week 11: Toronto Marathon, 42.2K

It's aggressive, but if I feel it's not going well, I will back off and do the 1/2 marathon instead.

The Rationale
Most marathoners are shaking their heads by now... but my goals are different than a runner's goals. I'm not trying to do a really fast marathon, I'm trying to push my endurance and understand my limits so I can someday complete an Ironman.

The Ironman run is not a running event for most competitors, it is a death march... if you look at the finishing times from any Ironman, it's clear the marathon at the end is slow and painful. I feel I will get more from doing the Toronto Marathon poorly prepared and pushing the limits than I would from doing a sizzling 1/2 marathon at this point.

And it's end of season, I have a few months to recover from it before I need to start ramping up for 2009!

The Goal
Finish. That's really about it.

Based on my previous 10K and 1/2 marathon results, I am confident if I trained properly I could do a sub-4:00 marathon... but since I won't be training properly I'm thinking a 6:00/km pace is about as good as I can do. That would put me around 4:15:00, assuming all goes well. I'll be taking walk breaks, so I might be even slower.

I have to stick to this goal and mentality and not try to push, or I will certainly get myself into trouble! A fast marathon can wait for another day, it's not an immediate goal of mine.

Olympic Schedule - Triathlon (and Related Sports!)

The schedule for the various Triathlon and Triathlon-component sports (source).

These are local dates, so sometimes they're actually the evening prior (middle of the night mostly). So check your local listings!

Women - 18th
Men - 19th

Road Cycling
Men - 9th (road race) 13th (time trial)
Women - 10th (road race) 13th (time trial)

Mountain Bike
Women - 22nd
Men - 23rd

Swimming (marathon swimming in open water!)
Women - 20th
Men - 21st

Marathon (not listed there, but found elsewhere)

There is also a lot of pool swimming, track cycling, and track running that I haven't listed.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Running Mont-Royal in Montreal

I went to Montreal Monday for a quick vacation, and ended up with about 3 hours to kill before I met my friends. A perfect window for a run!

I found a 10K route that went up Mont-Royal... the highest point is 794 feet, the lowest 43 feet.

A 750 feet climb is a lot more than my usual "big climb" of around 100 feet! So this was a big challenge for me. The first 5K is steadily uphill to the peak, followed by a steep downhill, then just when you're getting comfortable it hits you with a steep 1K climb before the final downhill to the finish.

I sure earned the short break I took to enjoy the view at the top!!!

The way up hurt my Achilles. I suspect this is due to the foot angle when climbing, it's like the toes are coming up toward the shin.

The way down hurt my knees and shins. Your no longer pushing to go faster, instead you're fighting against going faster than your feet can move!

All in all, it was a really good run for me. I wasn't pushing that hard, but finished in about an hour anyway. I paced myself well up the mountain, and had enough left for a kick to the end. And what a beautiful city!